The ground shook violently. A deafening clarion trumpeted saturating the
overpopulated communications chamber, as it pierced through sounds of straining metal, raised
anxious voices, and crackling transponders chirping reports to announce an incoming message
from the orbiting relay station. Commander Charrah-558-Taklo coughed back smoke from
burning polymers whirling about through showers of sparks. She gyrated, contorting her
tall slim frame across the groaning quaking floor plates to reach a large pulsating amber
light on the transceiver console at the rear of the room. Her naturally curled hair was
flattened by sweat and grime; it fell pasted against her dark gaunt face. With a full
fist pounding, she quieted the unnerving horn and awakened a large static ridden view screen
above the console. Panting, she shook her head furiously to speed cleansing
tears. Mentally tuning out the background noise, she cupped her right ear with her hand
aiming it at a speaker; she glared at the screen.
"...come in-Ba-four...," scratched the speaker synchronized with an equally scratchy image on the
Charrah only glimpsed Captain Jnaet as she instinctively whipped her head around in the direction
of a sharp crash and cry of pain; she turned back to the optical screen.
"...four...in...," again from the audio speaker.
"Damn it! Bhala, boost reception," she barked.
"Tryin' Commander," shouted the ensign.
"Atmosphere's turning to soup," interjected a tech staring into a display.
"Got'em sir," said Bhala; the screen cleared.
"Come in Base Sixty Four," said a weary looking Captain Jnaet.
"Charrah here captain," she replied.
"What's your situation Charrah?" asked Jnaet.
"We're gettin' tossed around a lot sir," she began, "the outer structures'
Okay; the inside's fallin' apart-next mission'll probably piece it back together -- but I don't
think we're supposed to be here when it does." She paused, coughed, and dodged some flying
debris adding, "We gotta get out of here," crash, "Sir!" - A shocked response.
"Understood," Jnaet quickly cut in. "Status on the seeding patch?" inquired the captain
business-first, but sympathetically.
"The First Mission did very well; the patch is productive - somewhat - and the site is
secure. We're finished down here sir. Survey team seems to have run out of things to do
"Commander," breaks in a battered Tech Faetl, "another big one's on the way." Charrah turns
to face Tech Faetl and Medic Nelst who adds bending over his patient, "Tomr's critical sir."
She returned to the screen.
"We're done out here too," informed Jnaet, "and should be able to bring you up in about two
"We'll be ready," says Charrah. "People are startin' to get hurt down here; the tectonics
report looks bad too; soon you pick us up the better."
"Understood Commander. Hang in there. Jnaet out." The display went blank, and the
audio snapped off with a peculiar chirp.
No matter what the site would hold up, thought Charrah, but will we? - she thought
melodramatically. She watched her crew bobbing around like Narian hop toads, and imagined
that things at the patch site were probably not much better. What we need..., she shuttered
at the thud of a wall support directly behind her; what we need is to get the hell out of here she
thought more desperately, but knew she and her crew would have to tough if out for two more
turns. She decided to keep busy.
"Bhala, get me the patch site," said the Commander.
"Right away sir," replied the officer.
"Faetl, finish your survey with the patch crew," Charrah began as counted
off items with her finger while addressing the survey team leader at the patch site, "get your
reports transmitted, get your people packed, and get it done in two rotations. Can do?" she
"With time to spare sir," replied a confident Faetl.
Charrah snapped about face in her chair, and finding her target in the medic
asked, "How's Tomr?"
"Okay. But he really doesn't need this banging around," answered the medic.
"Translate to the Platform with'em, we'll pick you up there on our way out,"
ordered the Commander with a hint of compassion. The medic left without a word.
"Patch Commander," hailed Bhala.
"On screen," she said as she turned to face the display. "Ilaesha?" she asked.
"Here sir," replied the First Officer, "What's the good news?"
"We're goin' home Ilaesha; two rotations. Are you ready over there?"
"Ready and waiting Commander," said a gleeful Ilaesha. "And if anyone is interested, we're
starting to see separation along the fault line sir; the next mission's gonna find this place
thousands of units west of here. The Patch is holding up quite well despite the
activity." Ilaesha was speaking from a make shift communications set-up outside her command
tent. In the background the sky was painted purples, grays, and red behind where the sun
should have shone. She stood with her long tangled auburn hair blowing in the gale wind, her
open shirt flapped off her back and shoulders, and cyclones of reddish dust filled the air; stung
her face. She almost shouted into the dust and wind when she spoke to be heard over the
constant weather dynamics. "The shields are installed and functioning; the Patch is
fueled. I assume we're sticking to the original retrieval schedule Commander?" she asked.
"That's affirmative. Get your nonessential people back here; the rest we'll translate right
to the ship." And as a second thought she added, "We're also moving some of he injured up to
the Platform till pick-up. Everyone all right over there?" asked Charrah.
"We got a couple of exposure cases; no broken bones, nothing serious." Leaning close to the camera,
and with a bit of informal flare - as Ilaesha and the Commander shared long friendship in and out
of uniform, "Nothing serious, but this place is hell on the wardrobe," she said stepping back and
modeling her torn overall uniform. "I'll be picking things out of my hair for quite a while;
some ice cold Klubula'll fix us both right up when we get out of here."
"I'll call 'Mother' and place an order," referring affectionately to base ship that so would arrive
to bring them all back to the People. "Pack it up Ilaesha, and we'll see you in two; Charrah
out," ended the commander with a wink and a smile.
The display went black. "I'll be in my ward room Bhala," said Commander Charrah-558-Taklo as
she stepped aside to avoid a spray of sparks from a very unhappy control
Mission Two of the Peoples Research and Reconnaissance Group Vehicle 064
ended. The crew of he third and fifth planet, the Orbital Platform, and the third
planets satellite would now translate out to the orbiting ships for the journey to their
massive ship "Mother" - Vehicle 064, which circled beyond the oort cloud of star
The team on the fifth planet had determined that the planet was highly unstable, and in a rather
short span of galactic time would be ripped apart by shifting gravitational forces caused mostly by
its erratic orbit. The captain of the expedition decided to leave a beacon behind to mark the
planets present orbit, and a probe city operated by intelligent machines and a thought computer
programmed with Jnaet's essence to witness and record the planets demise, and to monitor the
development of the inner planets of the system.
The third planet in the system was still going through growing pangs.
Continents were in constant flux. The face of the planet was not yet mature. A
vast ocean of water would one day separate the patient seeding Patch from the subterranean
support structure of Base-64, but that was a problem for a future mission to handle; this
mission had come to a close. Left to guard the Patch, and the support base were
communication and defensive systems that had been installed on the Orbital Platforms circling
the third and fifth planets, and installations on the young, lifeless satellites both growing
The Seeding Patch would wait; the People would return.