THE ASTEROID PIRATES
"You will have to go undercover Commander." Admiral Ryerson said. "Officially, my hands are tied."
"But what of my ship?" asked Comet, with a note of concern in his voice.
Ryerson smiled and said, "She is due for updating and routine maintenance, Commander, so she will be still here when you return. Remember, Dan, I used to command a space cruiser so I know what you're thinking. She is still your ship. The crew will be given shore leave and no one will know about your mission."
"There is more to this than finding and bringing to justice these criminals isn't there Admiral?" Comet said in a firm voice.
Letting out a small sigh, Reyerson answered, "finding these ... people is your top mission but ..."
"You are not the first to have seen this film and no one at the Science Center has any idea how these ... these people can have the weapons on their ship fire and hit the same spots at the same time. Who ever they are, if an enemy of the Patrol learns how to do this then a few ships could hold off a full squadron of Patrol craft. This cannot be allowed to happen Commander!"
Comet nodded in agreement and said "I am going to need a few things before I can start this mission, Admiral."
"Whatever you need, Dan, you'll have it. I promise!"
* * *
Carol loved her job, and why shouldn't she. Being part of the crew of the finest space liner and having a staff of five under her authority. Every time she saw the ship a thrill would flow through her spine like a mild electric shock. In less than three hours she would be space born and heading for a journey through the asteroid belt and a landing on Mars.
A little game that Carol would play in her head was to guess the story of the various passengers as they boarded. One by one they would walk up the boarding ramp and she would have to check off their names and give them their cabin assignments. So far the passengers were normal with nothing out the ordinary. A woman wearing the latest fashion trend, a copy of a Venus Royal dress. Had to be a copy as the real item was far too expensive. Some business men, a couple of others that didn't really work up the imagination. Looks like this is going to be a routine fight.
Looking over the passenger list to see if everyone was aboard she did not hear Commander Comet approach. It wasn't till he cleared his throat that she looked up with a start. Looks like this flight is going to be interesting after all thought Carol.
His name was David Altair on a business trip to Mars. Carol made sure she, personally, showed Mr. Altair to his cabin. Things were looking up this flight, she thought.
* * *
With the practiced eye of a spaceman, Comet took in all the beauty and functional grace of the space liner. She was a real engineering marvel and he would have loved to look over every square inch but he was on a mission. The rest of his crew were already aboard and Omniac was in the cargo hold in a shipping container labeled as hydroponics supplies. If his theory that this flight would be stopped was correct, then the pirates would need to take that container was well as some others.
The stewardess, from the boarding ramp, was overly eager to show him to his cabin and that made him a little uncomfortable. He thanked her for the personal service and closed the door of the cabin.
Less than one hour to go till liftoff. Time to check the link to Omniac and stow the luggage. The link checked out OK and so Comet strapped himself into the acceleration couch for the launch. Oh, he thought, this is very comfortable. Maybe its a good thing that the acceleration chairs in the Patrol aren't this comfortable. Everyone would fall asleep! Well, nothing to do till we hit space.
* * *
"Control Tower, this is space liner Pegasus. Our status is green. Awaiting clearance to launch."
"Roger Pegasus. You may begin launch sequence."
"Thank you tower. Pegasus out."
* * *
Comet awoke with a start. Quickly remembering where he was he let out a breath of air and relaxed. It was the sudden vibration and roar of the rockets that had awakened him.
Feeling movement, he was pressed firmly back in his acceleration chair. Next stop space station Bravo Alpha!
* * *
"Station Bravo Alpha this is space liner Pegasus, how copy?"
"Pegasus this is Bravo Alpha. Copy you five by five. Over."
"Bravo Alpha, Pegasus request space inspection, over."
"Pegasus come to a heading of 167 and adjust velocity to match station. Over."
"Roger Bravo Alpha, coming to a heading of 167 and adjusting velocity. Over"
* * *
The sudden silence was deafening. Comet felt the familiar feeling of weightlessness. They were in orbit. Just then an announcement came over a small speaker below the televisor.
"This is the Captain. We are now in orbit near station Bravo Alpha. We will remain here till the Rocket Patrol inspects the ship. Please be patient, this inspection is for your safety. Feel free to enjoy the view from orbit."
Comet unstrapped himself and headed toward the ships lounge. Time to touch base with the rest of the crew.
* * *
Click on the picture to see a larger version
The ships lounge was large and dominated by a beverage bar. Already there were passengers getting drinks and starting up conversations with their fellow passengers. Comet headed toward the large view plate that was off to the side of the lounge and stared out into space. The small taxi craft were drifting to and from the station. One was heading this way while the majority were headed toward the new construction near the station.
"It's a telescope."
Turning suddenly, Comet had not realized that Princess Liana had joined him at the view plate.
"Everything OK on your end?" he asked.
"Yes, everything is fine. All we have to do is wait and see. "
"How did you know that they were building a telescope?"
A smile came over her face as she said "You didn't read the ships bulletin board did you?"
The Commander was about to say something but stopped short. A smile came over his face and he answered, "No, guilty as charged. Could this sad excuse of a passenger take you for a bite to eat?"
When she nodded yes, the Commander presented his arm and she placed her delicate hand in the crook of his elbow. They slowly walked toward a table to order some food. Only Rusty and Sparks looked their way as all the other passengers were busy doing other things.
The next week was spent with Commander Comet's crew mixing with the passengers. The Pegasus would be entering the asteroid belt the next day and the day after that, Mars. If the pirates were going to strike then it would be tomorrow.
© 2002 John Dunaj
Back to the Commander Comet homepage.
All text, illustrations, photographs and design are © 2001-2002 Dan Thompson, except where otherwise noted.