“First Officer’s Log: Stardate… Uh… RIN, what’s the stardate?”
“It is the 50th day of the Third Cycle of the 150th year, First Officer Henley.”
“OK, so stardate 50.3.150. Today we’re-” shit, what was I gonna say? “RIN what was I gonna say?”
“I’m unsure what you were abou-”
“I know RIN, it was a joke.” I didn’t even say it that loud. Fuck. “The Union put me on the exploratory ship, the Starship Watanabe. We left the port off of Pluto about 10 days ago, I think.” I’m pretty sure they ran out of names if they’ve resorted to classic artists, like how many people on this crew actually know who he is? I do but that’s cause I spent my training years skipping class and watching ancient anime. At least I’m not the only nerd in the Corps.
“We’re to go find new planets, in the Milky Way, that they think we can terraform and don’t have horrible aliens or weird bacteria that will eat your ass or something. We’re actually reaching our first planet, today too. Nobody listens to the First Officer’s log! Why am I recording this?”
Beep-beep. “Yes, Captain Taggart?”
“Hey, Clark. Get down to the bridge. We’re close to the new planet. We’re gonna go down with a small team.”
“Alright… Wait, who’s on the team? God, please tell me we’re not taking Brenda.”
“Clark, she’s head of the science division. I don’t really have a choice in this! Also…”
“Don’t tell me…”
“Hi Clark!” Her voice is like an injection of sodium into my veins. “You know it’s been three years, right? Are you still angry about me breaking up with you?”
“I don’t know? Are you still a frigid bit-”
“Clark. Just get to the bridge.” I wish the Captain would’ve let me finish that sentence. Too late now, I hung up anyways. I should probably get dressed before visiting an alien planet though… Probably…
“Don’t worry, folks! I’m here!” The ship’s swishing doors allow for a wonderful grand entrance.
“Clark, you’re a loser.”
“Fuck you too, Lance!” The head engineer and I shoot a quick set of finger guns at each other before he turns back to his station. The ship’s deck is your standard affair. Various touch screen displays, of all sorts, dot the sides and rear of the room. Two arbitrarily large chairs sit in the center with the the pilot’s consoles a few feet in front of them. I honestly wish ship design would have branched out a little more than this, but I guess if it ain’t broke: don’t fix it.
As for the crew: Lance, our head engineer and my best friend, is a tall and lanky black man. He stays fit enough by climbing and squeezing through all the nooks and crannies of the ship. I’ve never once seen his green uniform this clean, either. Then came our three security officers in the classic red attire - I’m convinced it’s so we don’t see them bleed more than tradition. Simon (our resident cyborg on the deck) is our head of security. The cybernetics have taken almost all the color from his skin, leaving him a pale grey. The right section of his face, down to his cheekbone, and his all four of his limbs were all replaced with top of the line cybernetics. He was placed on assignment with us after his short period in the military section of the Corps ended in a heroic blast. Terry, the pilot, is a scrawny white boy with short blond hair. He’s supposed to be a crack pilot but he can be pretty jumpy sometimes, I’m not so sure yet. Shauna’s next to him running the weapons and tractor beam. Let me tell you, there is no one I’d rather have there. We met in the academy and became quick friends. A relatively tall black woman, she’s easily one of the toughest mother fuckers in the Corps. A disgusting whore is our head of science. Tall, blond, and with emerald eyes, her white uniform is pressed to a disgusting perfection. Her looks can kill and if you’re not careful they will. Finally, Yuki on comms. She’s got long jet black hair and a smile that will melt your heart. She’s rather shy but we’re hoping working in comms will help her with that. She’s even gone to the effort of putting little cat ears on her headset. I think our purple, leadership get-up looks infinitely better on her than it does on me or Taggart.
Of course, the ever fearless Captain, Rock Taggart, sits upright and stalwart in his chair. A chiseled jaw, fit body, and a face that belongs on the cover of a fashion magazine. Taking my place beside him, Terry turns to us. “Captain, we’re about two hours from Genesis VII.”
God, that’s a stupid name. “God, that’s a stupid name. Can we change it if we’re the first one’s there?” I turn to Rock, he’s got the Corps guidelines memorized forwards, backwards, and in ten different languages (three of which aren’t even Earth languages). Honestly, I don’t even think he knows those languages! He only knows the rules in those languages.
“Actually, we can! If we deem it hospitable to life and can begin the terraforming process, we gain the right to name it as a crew… Also, yes, the name is shit.” … He said that whole thing without breaking eye contact with the main screen. He’s gotta be some kind of robot, right? No offense Simon. Simon can’t hear me… Or can he? Simon, can you hear me…? OK, cool, cyborgs don’t have access to our brain chips, yet.
Fuck… What was I thinking? Oh yeah. “Hey, Cap, you know most people look at the person they’re talking to, right?”
“Yes I do!” He’s still looking at the screen. “But I must keep my eyes on the screen for any immediate threats that could appear.” I look at the screen, then back to him, then back to the screen.
“Rock, there’s nothing out there for hundreds of thousands of miles… We’re staring at black and stars. Also, that’s literally what Terry and Shauna’s jobs are. It’s a pretty big fucking screen too, I think if you looked at me you’d still see just about all of it in your periphery.”
“Even so: I, a Corps captain, must always stay alert. Thus, I won’t be taking my eyes off of this screen except in the case of an emergency.”
“And if you have to pee?” No response. Wait! He’s reaching for the communicator on his chair…
“RIN, connect me to Dr. Medli in med bay…” Hmm, what’s he planning? “Carla, it’s Captain Taggart, I’d like to request you bring a rather sizable, opaque bottle to the bridge.”
“Dude, you can’t be serious.” Thank God, Lance said something cause I’m not sure I can close my mouth in order to form any words.
“Captain, I believe that’s a bit overkill.” Thank you, Simon!
“Yeah, I think I can watch the monitor for a few minutes.” Terry, bless you!
Shauna’s next, “Yeah, I think we can handle it.”
“Captain, you can go to the bathroom if you need to. No one will reprimand you for it.” Shut up, Brenda! You’ve single handedly made me switch sides to Rock’s. I mean, it would be pretty funny to see him try and pee into a bottle without breaking eye contact with the viewing screen. Actually, now that I think about it, that’d be hilarious!
Eh, I don’t really wanna deal with the HR complaints though. “Cap, for all of our sakes, don’t piss in that bottle. We’ve got things covered here. Hell, most of the weaponry on the ship is for show. We know of two hostile races and they’re on the other side of the galaxy. We’re fine. Also, the bathroom is twenty steps down the hallway. I know, I’ve counted.”
Lance is looking at me with a look of confusion and mirth. “Why the fuck were you counting how many steps it takes to get to the bathroom?” God dammit, Lance.
“That is quite odd. Also, it would take a different amount of steps per person based on leg length.” You’re not helping, Simon.
“Yeah, that’s really weird, dude.” Terry, I swear to God!
“It’s cause he’s got nothing better to do with his life.” Shauna, for fuck’s sake!
“Guys, leave him alone. He just does stuff like that when he’s bored is all.” Now I want to make fun of myself! Fucking thanks, Brenda!
“Now that we’ve all had a good laugh at my expense, can we get back to the fact that our Captain was about to pee into a bottle on the deck cause he didn’t want to stop looking at the view screen? Does that not concern anyone else?” Looking around the room, everyone either turns back to their stations or gives an apathetic shrug. Everyone except for one person that is. “Yuki, I keep telling you, you don’t have to raise your hand. You can speak freely. You’re the comms officer so it’s actually pretty vital that you do.
Yuki, finally bringing the courage to raise her soft voice, returns her hand to her lap. “Y-yes, sir. I just wanted to say that I agreed with you. I think the Captain should go to the bathroom if he needs to… And it’s thirty two steps for me.” She looks down to her feet and turns her chair away from the group once again.
“Thank you, Yuki.” I turn my gaze back to Rock, “So, you gonna go pee?”
The Captain lets out a deep sigh and finally looks to me. “Yes, I concede. I will go to the bathroom if need be.” It’s clear this is his hurting his pride… I can live with that. He’s now sitting a bit more sullenly, leaning on his arm and placing his head on his fist. He’s still staring at the screen, but his eyes have glazed over.
“We still have like an hour and a half before we get there, you mind if I go take nap and I can just meet you at the teleporter? There’s not really a reason I need to be here.” Rock waves me away dismissively. “Careful Captain, staring at a screen that much kills brain cells! …No one? OK, cool, I’ll be in my quarters if anyone needs me, except you.” I point to Brenda, she rolls her eyes, and I leave.
Walking through the halls, various faces and colors pass by making noises at each other. Occasionally, I’ll get a nod or a “Sir,” but for the most part they ignore me and I ignore them. Fine by me. Arriving at my quarters, the doors slide open at my presence. I don’t care what anyone says, I swear I can feel the chip tickle my brain when it reads it though.
I get a pretty sweet room as the First Officer. A desk greets you the moment you step in as the room stretches off to the left in the classic shotgun house style. A wet bar sits against the near wall across from a plush couch and viewing monitor. Beside the monitor is the doorway into the bedroom where a grand bed awaits, unmade of course, with the bathroom just beyond that. Collapsing onto the bed, it eats me up and spits me out into a deep slumber.
Beep-beep, beep-beep, beep-beep. “Huh?! Wh-what? I’m awake!” I make a vain attempt to wipe the grogginess from my face. “RIN, patch ‘em through.”
The Captain’s distinct voice booms into my ears. “Clark, wake up. We’re preparing to warp down to the planet. Grab a laser pistol and meet us in the teleporter bay.” God, I don’t want to go. I mean, practically, the Captain and the First Officer shouldn’t go down together the first time. The planet could be highly dangerous! If we both eat shit out there, who will watch the ship? See, these are really things he should consider, being Captain and all.
Twenty minutes and a trip down to the armory later, I enter the teleporter room to see the Captain, Shauna, the Wicked Witch of the West, and two security officers all waiting on the pads. Shauna is the first to speak up. “There ya are. We were all ready to ditch your ass on the ship.” She’s adjusting a large rifle she has strapped her back, obviously more comfortable handling it than the other two officers who continue to fidget and change their grips to maintain the weight. Brenda finishes with some handheld device before putting in the bag hanging at her side. The Captain continues to stand there as rigid as always.
“Thanks Shauna, I’m only like, what, five minutes late? You can cut me a little slack.”
“Actually you’re twenty minutes late, Sir.” One of the officers pipes up behind me as I take my spot next to the Captain.
“You know, I don’t think I turned this pistol to stun…” I look back to the guy who made the smart ass remark and give a friendly wink. The lights beneath us begin to glow as our bodies begin to disappear. It’s a rather strange feeling to watch it happen. It’s like cell by cell, you’re stretched and shot up into nothingness. That’s why I always close my eyes and pretend it’s not happening. Also, it kinda tickles.
A few awkward feeling moments later and I open my eyes to see a whole new planet before me. The sky is an astonishing shade of red and orange that beautifully light the rocky landscape. We stand at the mouth of a large canyon, towering stones of blue and pink on either side. The air is dry but the temperature is perfect and a soft breeze blows at our backs. Suddenly, I’m not so mad I was brought along. “Wait, Brenda, you made sure the air isn’t like poisonous or anything, right?” I turn to her with a look of quizzical sarcasm.
“Oh, did you not get your shot? I gave everyone an injection to protect from the millions of space diseases down here!” Her voice sounds calm but her expression screams ‘shut the fuck up.’
“Ha ha ha, anyways, where to Cap? This planet isn’t gonna terraform itself. Also, I call dibs on naming it.” I look to Shauna who, in turn, kicks the dirt and mutters ‘damn.’ “Sorry, Shauna. Be quicker on the draw next time.” I pat her on the back and join Rock at the entrance to the canyon. “You think any civilizations could even thrive on a planet like this? All our readings indicated that almost every source of water was located underground.”
“It’s hard to say. There was certainly an abundance of the stuff, whole oceans under ground, it just depends on if they were able to tap into it, or perhaps even set up shop down there. Brenda, where do you think we should start looking?” He turns around to Brenda, who’s already digging through the large satchel for the right equipment.
Finally settling on which of her devices was the right one for the job, she pulls out a small black cylinder with a screen on the top. Unscrewing a cap on the base, the contents of the tube come falling out, extending the tube into a long spike like those old “light sword” toys or whatever they were called. In one swift motion, she stabs it deep into the ground. I’d be surprised she got it so deep into the rock but she’s actually, surprisingly strong. Plus, the device has a some pneumatic something or other to help in the process. After a few seconds, a green light flashes on the top of the screen. Brenda studies it carefully before making a confident smile and pulling it back out. Turning it upside down, the spike contracts back into it’s tube and she screws it up once again. “The nearest cave entrance is down this canyon. I believe the Captain is correct in saying that, if there is intelligent life, we’ll find them either in that cave or around it. I say we head there first.”