A Roman God – Three
May 15, 2010
Jacques already hated the spacesuit, and he’d only been in it for an hour. He took a deep breath, and looked towards Kwog, who was sitting opposite him on one of the thin benches that ran down the length of the craft. The ‘bus’ turned out to not look much like a bus at all. Instead, it resembled a flattened triangle, with a curved underbelly, and it had been perched precariously on three legs in some kind of bay when Jacques had first seen it. Lince, being the only qualified pilot out of the three, took the control seat, and without much struggling, had managed to get the ship off the pad and out the bay doors. The flight was taking ages, Jacques thought quietly to himself, and craned his neck to look out the ships only viewport, the one situated at the front end of the ship. The bus seemed to have turned, and instead of displaying stars, the port was now showing the entirety of the countryship. It looked, from the outside, like a gigantic egg. The top half of the egg was glass which shielded sprawling metropolises from the vacuum of space, and the underneath was an exact copy of the top half; an ovular metal shell which proceeded to look flatter and flatter as the small shuttlecraft approached it. Lince swivelled the control chair around, until he was facing into the inside of the ship.
“Right then, we’ll be landing shortly. Everyone make sure your spacesuits are secure.” Lince commanded, drumming his fingers on the armrest of his seat.
“Lince, there’s something bugging me. Well, a few things bugging me.” Jacques said, fidgeting in his suit.
“What’s that, then?” Lince asked.
“For one thing, how come you lot speak English?”
Lince frowned, and tapped a finger against his temple. “We don’t. I’m speaking Yoorsian. So are you.”
Jacques nodded slowly. “Right… Are you sure?”
Jacques shrugged, not bothering to press the matter. “The second thing is; how did you get into this situation anyway?”
“Do you mean the whole crashing business?”
“Well, our refuse tanks were getting full. So we swung in-system for a suitable planet to dump them on, and were en route to that blue planet to dump everything when the engines suddenly just shut down. We got pulled in by that gas giant’s gravity.”
“You were going to dump your rubbish on my home planet?!”
Lince looked blank. “Which one’s that then?”
“The blue one,” sighed Jacques, “third rock and so on.”
Lince’s face coloured briefly, and he stumbled for words for a few seconds. “N- I mean- The red one! That’s where we were aiming. ”
“Oh, Mars? That’s alright then.”
Lince smiled at Jacques, and started to reply, only to be cut short by a metallic thump. “That was the docking clamps. Can you two start shifting one of those crates towards the door?”
Kwog stood up, and roughly grabbed one of the crates, lifting it up to his chest, and then dropping it from waist height onto the deck near the door. “‘Eavy things. What’s in them?”
Lince shrugged. “Explosives.”
“Explosives!?” squeaked Jacques. “What kind of explosives?!”
Lince bent over to read the label on the side of the crate. “Nukes, it seems.”
Jacques turned positively white, and even Kwog took a few steps backwards.
“What are we doing with nukes?!” whispered Jacques, as if he was afraid speaking too loudly may set them off.
“Planting them on the side of the ship, of course. The engineers reckon that detonating the nukes along one side of the ship will give us a big enough push to dodge the gas giant.” Lince offered, calmly.
“And what if- Ugh. Nevermind. Let’s just do this before we blow ourselves to bits.” Jacques said, and took a hefty step towards the door control, hitting the button with his fist. The doors slid open, and he heard a large hiss, before everything slowly faded into silence. Oh wow, he thought, and turned to see Lince waving his arm about, and pointing to his wrist. Jacques stared uncomprehendingly at the dancing Lince, and would have remained that way had Kwog not grabbed hold of his arm, and tapped a button on the wrist of his suit. All of a sudden, his head filled with the sound of static. After it cleared, he could clearly hear Kwog speaking.
“Idi’t didn’t know how to use the radio.” The scaly alien rumbled, pushing one of the crates out the door, letting it float slowly clear of the hatchway. Lince took a step outside, and was immediately dragged down onto the ship’s hull, his boots silently coming into contact with the metal.
“Magnetic boots,” he explained over the suit radio, “give it a try.”
Jacques did so, and was too pulled down onto the hull. Carefully, he tried to lift a foot up, and with a bit of tugging, managed to rip it off the hull. Planting it just as forcefully back down, he succeeded in taking a few steps forward. Looking around, he noticed that both Kwog and Lince seemed to have no trouble manoeuvring, as if they’d been doing this sort of thing a lot. Come to think of it, they probably do, thought Jacques.
“Oi, ship-breaker man,” Jacques heard Kwog say over the radio, “catch it.” Jacques frowned. Catch what? He realized what all too late, and was promptly hit in the small of the back by the crate of nukes.
“Don’t throw nukes at me!” he protested, trying not to sound as terrified as he felt. Before he could reconsider, Jacques turned and gripped the silver, rounded crate.
“Not nukes,” corrected Lince, “just one. ”
“That’s not really reassuring,” gulped Jacques, “now what do I do with it?”
“Hit the red button, drop it.” Lince replied.
“Hit the red button and drop it? That’s a bit …anticlimactic.”
“Why?” Lince looked concerned for a moment. “What were you expecting? Flashing lights and countdowns and keypads?”
Jacques shrugged. “Well, yeah.”
“Sorry to disappoint you, then.”
“No worries, I guess. Red button, right?” and without waiting for an answer, Jacques pressed it firmly, only to almost drop the crate as Kwog screeched at him over the suit radio.
“No, you fool! That sets it off!”
People say that it’s impossible to travel at the speed of light without inducing some mind numbing paradoxes. Needless to say, Jacques somehow managed it; he leapt as fast as possible away from the crate. He was several clumsy footsteps down the hull when he heard Kwog’s voice.
“Nah, just kiddin’.”
Jacques froze, and stood still rather foolishly, before making his way back towards the bus. Kwog pushed the crate down until it was around Jacques’s waist height, and then let go. The nuclear device automatically dragged itself down onto the deck, sticking firmly in place.
“That’s it, then. Only two more sites to go,” said Lince, “then we can get back inside.”
“Hooray. Two more chances at making myself look foolish,” whined Jacques.
“Oh, don’t worry about that,” grumbled Kwog, “you always look foolish.”