The cascading void came alive in the distance; reflecting the prismatic glow of every hue imaginable in the mind of Captain Jacob Costner. The vast horizon was infinite in scope, encompassing all directions and never ceasing in its expanse. Distant clouds of elementary creation sat motionless to the naked eye as a million distant stars shone their brilliance upon the
voyager. Slowly, calmly, almost methodically, Costner drifted deeper and deeper into the formless void of deep space. A faint bead of sweat made its way down his forehead. The perspiration made the man chuckle to himself. In his every experience space had been deemed as cold and dormant, and here he was breaking a sweat. Thoughts of his wife and daughter drifted through his mind like a ballet of haunting imagery. Questions of how he was going to return to them and what they would think of him if he did slowly died like waxing sunlight across the face of the lunar surface. Costner lifted his right arm to the sunscreen of his pressure suit. The long white sleeve contained a number of digital read-outs and various data windows. Costner focused himself on one of the many different windows in particular; across the main viewing area emblazoned in bright orange lettering the screen read: Oxygen levels: 43%. Costner lowered his arm and let out a sigh. His emerald eyes reflected the distant movement of a passing comet. He closed his eyes and thought once again of his wife. Karen- Oh how he hoped that he could wish himself back home. Holding his eyes closed so tight as to never give the hint he may be insincere, he wished upon that shooting star. Dreaming, praying, begging- asking anyone or thing in the depths of darkness for the miracle he needed. Jacob then pressed a small button on his information panel and sent his message in a bottle across the cosmos: “Houston command. This is Captain Jacob Costner of the Pegasus 3. I have been abandoned in deep space. Help me”.
The Pegasus 3 sat in stationary orbit around the Saturn moon Titan. The ship was a state of the art reconnaissance craft. Small and limber, the ship was one of the fastest in the entire system. While on a scheduled stop around the planet Saturn, her crew of 3 was to monitor the planet and its moons for any signs of possible liquid water. It had been discovered that in order to successfully terra-form an alien world there must be a small percentage of liquid water, and the most likely body in the solar system to have that accommodation was Saturn’s largest moon. Holding the small ship on its horizon, the stale canary and ash atmosphere churned with the stellar body’s seasonal monsoons. On board, Lieutenant Arthur Queen, an athletically built middle-aged ex-navy pilot slowly banked through the corridors of the spacecraft toward the starboard observation array. Placing his worn hands firmly onto the titanium bulkhead, Queen rotated in the zero-G environment to a sitting position to analyze the data coming in from the ships sensors. Cycling the image screen to show a broader view of the moon, Queen stared intently at the rapidly increasing numbers compiling themselves about the work station.
“Anything yet?” a voice said over the intercom.
“Nothing yet, but analysis is just now coming back” replied Queen.
“What does the atmospheric read out say?” the voice inquired.
“Exactly what we’ve assumed for the past 200 years- high amounts of Nitrogen, Methane, and Ethane. The storms aren’t helping with the constant flux they’re sending back at us, but it’s a general picture at least.”
Queen leaned closer to the computer screen as he watched the turbulent atmosphere swing and thrust with destructive force. Queen began to hear a very low resonance on the sensor array. A small amount of static was filtering through into the system and was being picked up by the antennae array. Queen moved his ear closer to the computer struggling to hear the rogue sound. Lost in his own imagination, Queen didn’t notice a figure come about behind him. The figure moved slowly closer to the daydreaming man and crept its hands closer and closer to his neck.
Queen’s senses suddenly kicked in and he turned to see a blur pounce upon him as it let out a loud shriek “Arghh!” Queen jumped in his seat letting out a scream of his own and instinctively threw a punch in the direction of the unknown shape. The punch sailed wide and the man’s fist was caught by a gloved hand.
“Whoa there killer, you almost took my block off. Thank God we’re in zero grav here, ha-ha” The creeping ghoul turned out to be a young astronaut named Hal Yazami, the ships technician. Yazami’s was a child prodigy when it came to engineering and computers. His youthful exuberance belied his technological prowess and his easy going nature masked a predilection toward perfection.
“Looks like monitor duty has its ill-effects after all huh Art?” said Yazami.
“God Damn it Yaz, What the hell is wrong with you? You nearly gave me a damned stroke. What, you want me to drop dead right here? Do ya? 6 months out here and you wanna try and kill me before we go home?” said Queen angrily. Arthur had grown anxious to go home as of late.
“It’d probably be an improvement” Yaz retorted with a grin, slowly spinning on his back.
“Why you little son of a-“
Before Queen could lay his giant bear claws on Yaz a voice boomed through the small observation area:
“Knock it off!” The thundering tone stopped the men in their tracks.
“You guys waste anymore time dicking around; we’ll lose the whole day” the voice said.
Floating in the entryway of the bulkhead was Captain Jacob Costner. Costner’s swagger reflected a near life long experience in space travel, but in looking into his eyes the men could see the innocent dreaming of a 6 year old child staring into the night sky wondering what was out there. Costner moved his way further into the compartment and looked at the data that Queen had been analyzing before.
“Did you calibrate these isotope receptors?” Costner asked.
“Plotted this morning Cap, receiving at 98% efficiency” replied Arthur.
“Look at that storm down there” Yaz said. “Remind you of any of the storms back home?”
“Only if you get homesick for Methane rain” Queen answered.
“Any obscure or unusual signals being caught?” asked Costner.
“Well Cap, I thought I heard some sort of low band radio static coming in on the B channel. I couldn’t clean it up because it was so hard to hear to begin with, but I can try and track it down again” responded Queen.
“Well there we go Cap, maybe Arty found a race he could commune with down there. And hey, maybe we could find him a nice exotic woman to settle down with. One with 9 fingers and a big ass” Yaz said ribbing the older astronaut.
Queen looked at the young man with a sour grimace.
“At ease Yazami” interjected Costner “Now, if there is some alien signal being bounced around that atmosphere than I want to find a way to decode it. Anything we find here could be invaluable, so don’t waste time. Yaz, find a way to calibrate the B and C channel com antennas to catch as many frequencies as possible. Give Queen the best shot possible to putting that signal on a hook and bringing it in.”
Yaz sailed back to the communications compartment and went to work.
“Queen, I want you to try and sharpen these receptors and get them to 100% efficiency by tomorrow morning. If we can get some sort of clean read out on the surface activity then we can get a clearer picture if anything noteworthy is in fact happening down there.”
“Aye sir” said Queen.
“I’ll get on the com with Houston and start transmitting data from the bridge. Let me know if you start receiving the static again”
Costner opened the sliding door to the main hall of the ship and made his way to the bridge.
Queen turned and sat back at the observation computer inputting new search parameters for the sensor array. Looking off into distant space, Queen suddenly caught the silent hum of the radio static. He quickly shifted stations and attempted to get an audio recording of the static. Clearing the view screen, the man began recording but before he could get a substantial feed going the static was gone as quickly as it arrived. Art sighed and returned to tweaking the sensor array, looking even closer at the face of the lunar horizon. Queen was once again lost in his thoughts. Strange images were floating around his head and he couldn’t understand where they were coming from.
Jacob sailed along the perimeter of the planet Saturn’s furthest rings. Giant chunks of ice, nickel, and other base metals slowly paced his movement as they orbited their celestial home. Costner began feeling excruciating pain in his inner thighs and calves. When a human being has experienced zero gravity for too long their muscles begin to decay and atrophy. The sharp bursts of pain began making him sweat more and more. In contrast, Jacob’s body grew colder and colder as he sailed through the ether. Costner quickly found ways to block out the pain. He mainly focused on all the nights he spent with his daughter Kaleigh on his ranch outside of Littleton. Pointing up at constellations and telling her all of the stories that had been told by ancient men to their daughters for millennia before. He remembered holding her small hand to the sky and helping her point at the thousands of tiny holes in the sky.
“Is that where you’re going daddy?” she would ask him.
“Someday sweetie” he would reply with a smile.
He found her hiding under her bed the day before he was scheduled to launch. She had been crying and wouldn’t come out when her mother called to her. He laid his head below the dark opening and found his daughter with a picture of him in her arms.
“I don’t want you to go daddy” she had begged him.
“Why don’t you want me to go sweetie?” he asked her.
“I’m afraid I’ll never get to see you again. I don’t want you to forget about me”
Costner nearly broke up at the statement. He slid her out from under her bed and held her in his arms as she buried her head in his chest.
“I promise I’ll come back kiddo. I would never forget about you, you hear me?” he asked her as she lifted her head and wiped her watered eyes.
He gave her a kiss on the cheek and hugged her tighter than he had ever thought possible.
On his way to the launch pad he held a picture of Kaleigh the entire trip. From suit up to strap in, Costner held a death grip on the picture of his daughter. Now as he stares off into infinity itself, his only thought is of the picture he can no longer hold on to.
The bridge of the Pegasus was a cramped space to say the least. Barely holding 3 grown men, engineers had also crammed in a complex series of high speed main frames and computer terminals along with what some would call a “suicidal” amount of “emergency” engine propellant that rested 10 feet below the deck. Costner switched on the com link and tuned the frequency to call mission control on Earth.
“Houston Command, this is Pegasus 3 with status update. Do you read, over?”
The time delay between messages had grown more and more as the ship travelled further and further from Earth, what was once an instantaneous transmission took close to a minute to retrieve. Costner sat and waited, staring at his favorite picture of his wife and daughter.
“Pegasus 3, this is Houston Command. Go ahead Jake.” A voice said.
“Houston, status update for reconnaissance of the lunar body Titan has commenced in full. Preliminary reports suggest a mostly nitrogenous atmosphere as previously expected. Further analysis indicates large amounts of methane and Ethane, over.”
“10-4 Pegasus, that was to be expected. What’s the show look like out there?”
“Mostly cloudy with a chance of rain, ha-ha, I wouldn’t want to be standing down there right now. No conclusive analysis of surface activity though. We’re still calibrating radar and Infra-red monitors to get a closer look.” Costner quickly flipped up 2 switches. Outside on the lower hull of the ship a large reception disk circled to face the alien world. On Costner’s screen he now saw the body in a blood red hue with specks of white and black decorating the picture.
“That’s a roger, Captain. Anything out of the ordinary going on out there?” the voice asked.
Costner thought for a moment as he recalled the supposed signal that Queen had said he’d heard earlier in the day.
“Arthur said he heard a low frequency static coming from the planet’s surface this morning during initial observation. By the time I had gotten to the observation bay there was nothing.”
“Lieutenant Queen said he heard this?” the voice said “Has he had any other encounters with any such transmissions since then?”
“Not as far as I’m aware, but I’ll check back with him and we’ll have a full assessment in 48 hours at the most.” Costner switched off the Infra-red scope and reclined in the captain’s chair.
“10-4 Pegasus let us know if you need anything out there.” The voice said cheerfully.
“Roger that, Pegasus 3- out.” Jacob switched off the communication channel and stared inquisitively at the face of the nearby moon. What was this signal? “Atmospheric static”? Nothing more than the collision of atoms? Could it be that something or someone was trying to communicate with them? He had no real clue, but the last thing he needed to do was jump to some wild conclusion. He laid back in the stiff composite chair and thought of possible explanations for the transmission, softly humming the theme to Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
That evening, Lt. Queen sat in observation bay typing in radio coordinates for the ships array to hone in on the phantom signal. His face was worn; his eyes blood shot. Countless times he had thought he’d finally found the origin to the signal, but to no avail. Each time it grew more and more distinct, almost as if he had stumbled upon a secret message held within the white noise. He was furiously decoding the antennae array and stripping it of all its “unnecessary” features so it could concentrate solely on its search. As Queen continued his search, Yazami entered the compartment to inform Art of his completed diagnostics.
“Hey Arty, find anything yet?” Hal asked.
“..Mmm…” responded Queen.
“…Is that a no?”
“I’ve recalibrated the array 13 separate times. I’ve gotten close to 10 recordings of the signal. I just can’t get a damn decoding to understand it” said Arthur.
“Well let me hear it, maybe I can pick something out of it. At S.E.T.I. we used to dream about listening to static” Hal said as he moved to the recording bay.
Queen pressed the play back button and let the young man listen to his findings.
Hal moved his ear intently closer to the speaker, all he heard was a snap or two from the pick up.
“Do you hear it?” Queen asked his crewmate.
Hal strained to try and hear the faintest noises- Nothing.
“There. Right there, it changes pitch and speed. It’s like there’s a transmission break” explained the Lieutenant.
Hal grimaced in confusion. There was nothing on the recording. Art could have just as easily recorded dead silence.
“Art, I didn’t hear a thing. Are you sure that’s the recording the array picked up? Let me make sure the filter isn’t too sensitive” the young man said.
“No! – Here, here’s the next recording. This came up 28 minutes after the initial static. This one almost sounds alive!” said Queen excitedly.
Hal resumed his position next to the comm. speaker. Once again, there was the sound of dead air. Hal looked at the expression Queen was wearing across his face. There was definitely a sense of deep foreboding and anxiety. Yaz closed his eyes and tried his best to filter everything out to try and hear whatever it was that his friend had heard. Finally, there was no denying it; Yaz could not hear any type of voice or transmission. He looked at his friend with worry.
“How many recordings did you say you had of the ‘transmission’ Arty?” asked Hal.
“I’ve made 13 separate recordings. There would have been more if I’d had the system calibrated” replied Arthur.
Hal’s sense of worry grew even more.
“What’s the message say when you filter it through the cleaning heads?” Hal inquired.
“I can’t make out anything clearly, but you can definitely hear something” said Art.
Yazami unbuckled himself from his seat and slowly floated toward the bulk head door.
“Well let me know if you get another recording, I’ll see if I can clean it up a little better for you”
Arthur had resumed tinkering with the radio equipment, slowly mumbling to himself.
Yaz propelled himself through the doorway toward the bridge.
In the living darkness that is outer space a human can lose their sense of direction. There is no “up” or “down” any longer, only “above” and “below”. Without gravity to rely on, Jacob’s body simply flipped and spun through the ether. There was no possible way for him to stop himself so he simply resigned himself to the constant state of madness. Costner lifted his data pad to his sunscreen. Oxygen Level: 31%. He pressed the communication switch on the pad and repeated his call for help.
“Houston Command, This is Captain Jacob Costner. I have been separated from my ship and am currently adrift in deep space near the far side of Titan space. Send rescue vessel immediately”
Jacob looked into the distant face of the planet Saturn. There had been a number of research vessels in the area before the Pegasus had begun her operations. None of them remained.
Called away to other missions or simply recalled to Earth space, Costner knew of no other craft in his vicinity. He was slowly getting nauseous. The constant movement of his body against his will was debilitating. He no longer had a singular perspective to focus on. The stars were spinning, nothing was stationary. His path of trajectory would not be altered until something stopped him with force. He didn’t know if he would land on some small asteroid, moon, or burn up in an atmosphere. His situation became dire. Costner shut his eyes and attempted to control his breathing in an effort to calm his stomach and nerves. He had a very small amount of oxygen left. If no one heard his calls for help, he would surely perish. He would remain a floating corpse preserved by the cold of space for millennia after millennia. It wasn’t a pleasant thought.
Sitting on the bridge, Costner pulled back on the control stick and pitched the nimble craft slightly forward in an effort to gain a better view at the planet’s atmosphere. Switching the automatic pilot on, the captain pressed a series of buttons across the control panel to his left. An electronic grid soon became visible on the front window. The ships computer began mapping out various sections of the planet’s surface. As Costner watched intently, he heard a knock on the bridge door.
“Come” he said.
Yaz entered the bridge with a look of worry and confusion across his face.
“Captain” said Yaz. “I think you’re going to want to have a talk with Arty.”
“What’s going on?” asked Jacob.
“That signal he said he found earlier when we first got here” explained Yaz. “Well, Arty said he’s recorded several different transmissions he’s picked up- 13 to be exact.”
“What do they sound like?”
“Well that’s just it sir. There are no transmissions. Lieutenant Queen is hearing something that isn’t there” said Hal with a tone of anguish.
“What do you mean ‘isn’t there’?”
“He’s got these recordings of silence. Dead silence. Frighteningly ambient silence and he swears that he hears voices in them. He’s even run them through the cleaning heads and said you can tell when the- I don’t know who the hell’s- emotions change” continued Hal. “He’s scaring the living shit out of me.”
Costner unbuckled himself from the flight seat and made his way past Yazami. Hal followed closely after as they moved through the main body of the ship, back to the observation compartment.
As the two men entered the room, they could hear a faint voice talking quietly, as if it were trying to reassure something or someone and not give itself away. Unable to make out what the voice was saying; Costner made his way deeper into the room. Lieutenant Queen sat at the antennae array station with large amounts of digital recording tapes and various tools floating about the work station. Costner saw that it was Queen speaking in the low, subtle tone, but didn’t know to whom the man was speaking to. “Lieutenant” said Jacob. Queen froze in his place and turned to face his commander. His face had become beet red and his eyes resembled those of a drunk after a long, hard night. He looked back at the picture of the moon in his window.
“Yes Captain. What can I do for you?” Queen asked.
“Yaz tells me you’ve tracked down that signal you heard earlier” said Jacob.
“Yea- I mean, ‘yes sir’, I have. It’s become more and more frequent. I’ve got twice as many audio files as before. I’ve also been able to distinctively make out what the message says.”
Costner paused in surprise. “What exactly do these ‘messages’ say Lieutenant?”
“It’s a transmission from the moon sir- From Titan. There are people down there”
Queen’s face wore a smile of optimism with the awe of a drunkard.
“They- They say they’ve been watching us for some time now, us- Specifically!”
Hal balked at the statement. His friend had really lost it. Messages from moons, what the hell was going on? Costner just stood in reserved attention to the man in front of him.
“Look Captain” said Queen as he filed through a small number of data tapes he had compiled around his area.
“Listen to the latest one. You can hear 2 distinct voices. One’s a male, and the others a woman. They must have two sexes- like we do!”
Queen placed the data tape into the antennae array and pressed the play back button. Costner and Yaz stood in guarded suspense as the quiet hiss of the microphone pick ups keyed onto the tape.
Just as Hal had heard before, there was nothing. Silence. Costner placed his ear closer to the comm. speaker in the wall, struggling just as Yaz had to try and hear the faintest voice, but heard none.
“Do you hear that?” asked Queen in enamored glee. “We’re the first human’s to make contact with an alien race!”
Costner sighed and stared passed Queen out into the darkness of space. His friend had become detached somehow. Hearing things and voices out of nothingness.
“In the latest one” continued Arthur. “They sent us coordinates to a point on the planet. They want us to rendezvous with them.”
Costner looked at Yaz who had remained in the doorway to the compartment. The expression across the young Asian man’s face was one of horror and concern.
“Okay Lieutenant, I’m going to radio Houston and let them know of your discovery. You stay back here and see if you can get another transmission tracked for us, ok?” said Costner.
“Oh yes sir, I’ll let you know the second the next one comes in” said Queen.
Costner and Yazami returned to the bridge compartment at the front of the ship. Costner quickly cut power to the antennae array. Yazami watched the captain reroute all the tracking and observation data to the bridge computer, substantially quieting Queen’s transmissions.
“What are we going to do about him sir?” asked Yazami.
“Well, he has definitely separated from reality. What I don’t understand is ‘how’. The guy is one of the toughest pilots I know. His psyche evaluations are cleaner than mine” said Costner.
“Do you think we should confine him to quarter for a while until he straightens out?” Hal asked.
“No, wouldn’t do any good. I’ve seen cases where men will become detached and stay that way for days, weeks, and in some cases years. There’s no telling just how much Arty has actually lost. We’ve got to get him to a medical carrier or home to someone who can evaluate his mental state” replied Jacob. Yaz nodded solemnly.
“How do we get him secure until we get back?” asked Hal.
“We’ll give him a sedative and confine him to quarters. He should be out long enough for us to reach the fleet at the ‘Belt’” answered Jacob.
“Understood” said Yazami.
Costner’s breathing had been shallow for some time. He realized that his air supply was relative to his breathing patterns. Inhaling sharply, his suits heating elements had started to discharge. This was his next problem. With no heat, Costner would soon freeze to death in the frozen void. His sunscreen and helmet had developed a light coat of frost across the inside. It was beginning to get much harder for him to see outside his helmet. In effect he was now blind, but that was not necessarily bad. He could finally gather his senses and could escape the constant churning of the outside scenery. Closing his eyes, all he could see was his family. He had resigned himself to the fact that he would never see them again. His beautiful wife and daughter were probably staring up into the night sky wondering where he was; whether he was by “this star” or “that star”. Jacob soon lost consciousness; he slowly drifted out into the sea of blindness with no way of knowing his destination. He awoke uncertain of anything, save that he was still alive- some how. He knew he was still adrift, and tried to look at his data pad through the icy coat inside his helmet. He couldn’t make out the words on the panel. He let out a breath of warm air and it took enough off to see the pad. His eyes tried to focus as he looked at the bright orange lettering: Oxygen Level: 7%.
Captain Costner opened the medical kit on the wall of the ships bridge. He withdrew a large pistol like instrument with a moderately sized needle protruding from the end. It was for medical injections and inoculations. He then took out a small vial of liquid and loaded the contents into the gun. The empty vial read in large black lettering: Ketomin, a high powered sedative. Yazami stood in the doorway to the bridge watching Costner conceal the device in his back waistband. The two then made their way down the corridor to the observation room. Costner entered the area with caution. He looked about the room but did not see Queen anywhere in sight.
Yazami entered the room behind the captain, propelling himself down to the computer bay where Queen had made his digital tapes. Both men remained weightless and unmoving, and just as quickly as they had entered- Queen was set upon them. Launching himself from a dark corridor of the compartment, Queen weigh-laid into Captain Costner; striking him in the back of the head with a heavy metal rod. Costner was immediately knocked unconscious and was delicately propelled about the cabin. Yazami quickly attacked his crewmate, struggling to get the metal rod away from the lunatic. Queen screamed and grunted as Yazami fought to gain leverage on the much bigger and much stronger man. The two moved about the cabin with a macabre grace as the silent recording of Queen’s messages played in the background.
“I heard what you two were planning to do Hal!” screamed Queen.
“What the hell is wrong with you Arthur, you’re sick!” Hal yelled.
“You two want to steal my discovery! You want to lock me away and take all the credit, don’t you?” Queen pushed off of a nearby wall and propelled the men toward the large panoramic window and slammed Yazami’s back into the transparent surface.
“We want to help you Arthur! Something’s happened to you and your mind is messed up, that’s all. We’re your friends!” Hal screamed, attempting to convince his maddened friend.
“There’s nothing wrong with me!” Queen said, battering his adversary across the face.
“You never take anything seriously. You never work hard, always playing around. Well you’re not going to take my credit!”
Yazami kicked Queen in the midsection and snatched the metal rod from his hand.
Queen floated in place and momentarily dazed as Yazami reeled back and swung the rod at his head. As Yazami followed through, Queen pulled a small military knife from his belt and stabbed the young man in the midsection. Yazami dropped the rod. His body went limp over the shoulder of the lunatic. Queen forced the blade deeper, twisting it to force the wound open, and withdrew the deadly steel. Yazami moved his hand to the freshly made wound. His pressed as hard as he could to try and stop the bleeding but rapidly moved into shock. Small droplets of weightless blood danced around the faces of the men. Yazami stared at the crimson orbs in confusion. He had never seen blood in space. He then looked into the eyes of Arthur Queen.
The older man simply stared with anger into the face of the dying young man. Hal tried to make his way closer to him, but could only float in agony and despair. More and more blood began to dance about the room like burgundy rain. Hal Yazami stared passed the floating masses into the darkness of space. His vision growing blurry, he joined the growing darkness.
Costner awakened in what seemed to be an unfamiliar area of the ship. He was surrounded by large metal containers, pulsing, humming cabinets, E.V.A. suits, and many various objects and devices. He was in the utility compartment near the very rear of the ship. He felt into his back waistband and noticed the injection gun had been taken. He rubbed his throbbing head as he pushed himself toward the compartment door- locked. He beat on the steel body screaming:
“Arthur! Open this God damned door, that’s an order!”
Costner’s calls when unheard, he repeatedly struck the steel door until he was exhausted.
He looked around the room for any manner of object that would help him open the door. He tried various steel rods, He tried prying it open, and he tried smashing the locking mechanism, all to no avail. He suddenly realized that Yaz was not there. He looked around under the piles of mechanical clutter and finally found his friend. He cradled the young man’s body in his arms. Hal’s face was completely white with fear, his eyes still locked ahead in frightened astonishment. Jacob closed the young man’s eyes and placed him by the window.
Suddenly he heard the intercom key on and made his way to the small wall unit.
“Jacob” the voice was Arthur’s. “Captain Costner” he said.
“You can stop trying to open the bulkhead. I’ve put a pass code lock on it. It’s 10 characters and you would never be able to break it, so you need to stay calm and ride out the trip in peace.”
“What are you doing with the ship Queen?” Costner asked.
“I’m going to follow the coordinates that were sent to me. I’m going to rendezvous with the aliens that sent the transmission you so arrogantly tried to take credit for discovering.”
“What are you talking about Arthur? I wanted to help you! You’re suffering from gravity deprivation and space dementia, you need medical help!” Costner screamed.
“YOU need help Jacob!” responded Queen. “YOU do. Because when I finish landing this ship on the moon’s surface, I’m going to throw you out onto the surface and leave you there to die!”
Costner looked out the Pegasus’s rear window and saw that the ship was slowly descending closer to the moon’s atmosphere. This sight frightened Jacob to the core. He rushed back to the intercom.
“Arthur!? Arthur, you can’t take the ship into a planet’s atmosphere! It can’t take the stress, it’s too big!” Costner warned.
There was no response from the bridge.
“Arthur! You’re going to get yourself killed if you try and take the ship onto that moon!”
Still no response; Jacob quickly looked around the storage area for anything that could be of use.
He looked through all manner of nameless items that had their specific uses and practicalities.
The ship descended closer to the moons upper atmosphere, the ships heat shield would register the temperature change in less than 5 minutes. Costner hurriedly looked for anything that could get the door open or stop the ship from trying to land. Then he saw it. The Extra Vehicular Activity Suits, capable of withstanding the freezing temperatures of space and set with their own communications signal; the crew used them for repairs on the outer parts of the ship. Jacob looked at the rear cargo hatch. He now knew that the only way to stop Arthur was to threaten the entire ship. Costner quickly suited up in the E.V.A. and made his way back to the intercom.
“Queen!” Jacob yelled. “Queen, do you hear me?”
“I’m turning off the com link Jacob. I don’t need you distracting me any further. If you survive the landing back there I’ll be sure to check on you at some point. Good-bye.”
The intercom went dead. Costner screamed into the com, trying to call back his former crewmate but there was no response. He only had a small amount of time to make a decision before it would be too late. The temperatures in the atmosphere would burn the ship up, his only chance to save himself would be to jettison himself out the rear hatch and hope that his oxygen lasted long enough for a rescue ship to arrive. He had a little luck on his side in that any time a space craft depressurized, it would activate its emergency distress beacon, signaling for help. This was his last, best chance at staying alive. Costner moved to the cargo hatch and pried open the key terminal. He quickly and methodically re-wired the doors activation switch and disabled its safety lock. The captain stole one last look at the foreboding atmosphere. He keyed the switch and the large cargo bay doors slid open. The vacuum was instantaneous, the shuttering metal of the Pegasus ceased. Captain Costner was jettisoned out the back of the ship and sent hurtling into space. As he sailed away, he watched the ship enter the Titan atmosphere. The open hatch gave entry to the intense heat and radiation. The ship went up like a match and never even made it into the lower regions of the planet’s skies. Costner sailed rapidly away from the moon. He had to fight to remain conscious. Debris and items from the ships hold were scattered around him as he flew into the stellar night. He watched the body of Hal Yazami slowly, gracefully, glide off into infinity.
Costner gasped for air. He shook and shuddered as his E.V.A. suit was near completely frozen. The read out on his data pad was flashing red in distress as his oxygen levels were nearly depleted. He looked off into the distance and saw the moon of Titan, no bigger than a baseball now. He had sailed the cosmic seas forever it had seemed. He knew his journey was at a close. The beacon more than likely had gone off, but there was no one close enough to make a difference. He radioed one last time; a broken word being all he could muster:
The last breath of Jacob Costner came 4 minutes and 12 seconds before a static filled message penetrated his comm. link.
“Jacob! Jacob, are you there?” a voice cried out frantically.
“This is Houston Command” the voice continued. “We have your location, just stay with us.”
“Captain?”…“Captain Costner, come in!”
In Deep Space there are no oasis for the lost and forgotten.