From: Gary Drennan <email@example.com> Newsgroups: talk.bizarre Subject: Chimera With Fleas Date: Mon, 01 Dec 1997 12:10:11 -0500 Organization: L M A S C Lines: 160 Message-ID: <3482EF73.firstname.lastname@example.org> Reply-To: email@example.com X-Mailer: Mozilla 3.0 (Win95; U) Chimera With Fleas The research ship Chimera was returning from its first major deployment. The crew of two had taken samples and made colonization studies of two planetary systems in the Pyxis system. Their final study was a large temperate planet of a yellow giant. Although they were able to determine this planet was probably not suitable for colonization or even terraforming, its only living species was quite interesting. With a gravity of roughly twice that of earth’s, the life forms had of course evolved to exploit its world. Virtually the entire land mass was covered with low-slung arthropods skittering around in slime five inches deep. In the week of exploration the team was able to gather samples in seven wide spread areas. The samples of the slime and crabs looked identical the world over. With limited time and testing equipment they couldn’t tell the relation of the crabs to the slime. Their working theory was that the crabs ate the slime and it provided a medium for mobility. The crabs ignored the explorers and were easily caught. At weeks end, the Chimera started its homeward voyage. The crew filled out logs and loaded messaging for autolaunch after hyperdrive initiation. Deepsleep chambers were prepped then manned after astrogation was confirmed. Eight weeks later the shipsystems initiated crew wake up call. Capt. Bill Merryweather stirred first. He hit the hydrator button and flushed out accumulated waste. With a head full of fuzz, he stumbled over to the sustenance allocator and keyed a post deepsleep repast. He was still sipping coffee when he noticed Millie dragging herself in for breakfast. She looked up and managed an almost snappy salute; “Ensign Bowens reporting from deepsleep, sir”. She looked like warmed over doggie doo. “Any easier this time?” “Well, rehydration was a real eye opener. The dreams were pretty intense. Hey, isn’t a chimera one of those mythical multi-headed beasties?” “No Millie, the Chimera is a fire breathing she monster of Greek persuasion with a lion’s head, goat body and serpent tail. They named this ship that for the mixture of odd parts that make up a research vessel. Dream was that good, eh?” “Just the typical eight week nightmare I guess. Hey, did you check if the logs went out?” “I’m pulling up the report right now. Hmm, logs and reports went out and we seem to have generated a lot of interest; there’s seven messages including official orders here.” Capt. Bill went to the orders first and grimaced. “We’ve got new landing orders. They’ve ordered us to Q-24, a quarantine facility on Luna!” “Why would they do that? Our report didn’t even hint that we were at risk of contamination.” Q-24 is mostly a docking platform in a rather mediocre crater on the moon’s dark side. With ample room for a crew of twenty, the Chimera would be it’s first visitor since construction. “Call up the navbeam and lay in the course. I’ll be in my cabin trying to get to the bottom of this. Hold course correction until my command, understand?” “Aye-aye, Sir!”, Millie returned with just a bit of sarcasm. Capt. Bill contacted his superiors at LunaCom who promptly restated the quarantine orders. They would not elaborate on why it was necessary and he was quoted Standing Order 183 exactly twice. He signed off and then checked the status of the storage bay. Things were amiss. “Ensign Bowens, report to storage bay!” he barked over the icom. She was there when he arrived. “Look at this.” Millie took the commtablet and saw what was wrong. “This has to be a sensor error. We only half loaded the forward and rear compartments. Center is empty, I don’t care what it says here.” “But look, two are full to the brim and center is nearly. You're the mission specialist, what could explain the increase in the sampled material?” “If it’s not an error then the slime and little crab guys have been breeding”, she said with voice trailing off. “That’s why we were ordered to Q-24.” Nods all around. “The other messages we got are in the form of suggestions, everything from isolation survival to dealing with alien life forms. They haven’t written us off or they’d have launched on us already. Engage the course correction to Q-24, Millie.” Twelve hours later they were landing at the bottom of a lunar crater. The pad had no connecting airlock; they had to don emergency suits to enter the bunker at Q-24. “So it’s a safety precaution keeping the ship at arm’s length, Captain?” “Yes, let’s get inside. I don't like this mylar monkeysuit and I sure don't trust it with my life.” He looked at the portal, no ingress security. It was simple push-button operation, so they did. Q-24 looked like a terrestrial ammunition bunker. Austere, cold and colorless, it was like a prison in that comforts just were not required. They doffed the e-suits and checked out the large single room. Dehydrated food rations and bunk beds were just about the whole of it, except for the commcabinet in one corner and personal hygiene in another. “Make contact with LunaCom, give’m our status and ask for an egress time table. I’m going out to inspect the Chimera. And Millie, don’t take any shit from those guys. I'd like to clear Q24 asap.” Outside the bunker Capt. Bill could see his ship in the landing lights. “Millie, what’s the ship’s status?” “Sir, I’ve got alarms going off. I’m showing plates buckling forward of the storage bay. What ever filled it up is coming out.” “Hull integrity?" “No problem yet, sir. Wait, stress alarm on aft escape hatch!” “I’m coming back in, Millie.” Capt. Bill headed straight for the CommCorner. He popped off the access panels and started his search. Half an hour later he was finished. “So what’ja find, Cap’n?” “A thermite charge and microwave repeater that don’t belong in there. I think I know the reason for them, though. The thermite would cause rapid decompression for those in the bunker. I’m betting that the repeater is hooked to a fail-safe device.” “Fail-safe for whom?” “You can bet it ain’t us. Millie, pack up emergency rations and suit up, we’re going for a quick walk.” It took two hours for them to reach the rim of the crater. From there they could see material spritzing out of the Chimera and floating out cloud-like forming a fogsack around the bunker. Then the bunker lit up and imploded. “That was the thermite. Quick, take cover, the fail-safe should be next.” Supine and clear of the rim, they looked up at the earth hanging in black ether above them. There was a big flash from the crater and the moon surface rippled under their bodies. A cloud of debris rose from the crater and wafted into space. “Somehow I don’t think they meant to do that”, stated Capt. Bill matter of factly. “You mean they didn’t mean to blow the hell out the Chimera?” “They didn’t blow the hell out, they blew our slimy crab creatures out. Look what’s going to get sucked up by Earth’s gravitation pull.” They stood and watched hundreds of thousands of the crabs in a cloud of vaporized slime rise and drift earthward. "It makes me wonder if the critters can survive space and re-entry or if that slime is all it will take." “Do you think those things can adapt to earth’s conditions, Cap’n?” “I think they will adapt our home to be there’s. The little crabs that only skittered around on their planet should be able to leap around quite well on ours. We’ll probably go down in history as the one’s who brought back space fleas.” “Yeah, history. Might not be much more of that to write. Hey, how far is Q-25?” “Five clicks as the crow flies. Let’s go and report this mess to LunaCom, they need to know what they did. Maybe they have a contingency plan or something for a scenario like this.” “Do you think so, really?” “No, but I do think they're going to be a bit surprised to here from us.” ---ooo000ooo--- Pure SF Stereotypical characters and everything. (unnewsworthy comment follows) Ya know, I hate what Hollywood did to a story of my youth. "Starship Troopers" was a comic book version of the Heinlien story. It looked like an UltraBright toothpaste comercial with a Nazi bug swat ending. Twinkle smiles and decapitations, ya gotta love it. Gary -sure I read your comments, I also save the really good ones to use against you at a later date.