**Just a note before reading - the names of the aliens are of no significance and really don’t matter. I just needed to call them something. Also, this story was written as a possible explanation of how the three young aliens got stranded on earth. I realize that this story may become obsolete as the series progresses, but oh well.
* * *
Year: 1947 Location: Somewhere in Space
The ship drifted slowly through space, seemingly traveling nowhere in particular. It was very large, circular in design with odd geometric shapes jutting out here and there. As the large vessel passed a nearby ice planet, it almost seemed to engulf the smaller sphere.
Inside the ship, all was quiet. The control room, located in the exact center of the craft, was dark and empty. The corridors were void of life. The only indication the ship was still alive were the small lights on the control monitors that blinked at regular intervals. Not only that, but a very deep, soft hum echoed throughout the entire ship, almost like the sound of an engine.
In the bowels of the ship was a room, a very big room that was cylindrical in shape. Several rectangular compartments rested against the walls, each one holding a frozen life form. Most of them appeared to be of adult maturity, except for four which were very small in size. None of them moved, and their eyes remained shut tightly as they slept.
As the others rested peacefully, one of the chambers suddenly lit up. Small rectangular lights lit up on the front of it, and inside the life form began to stir. Moments later, the transparent door keeping the man encased opened, allowing him to slide out smoothly. He was tall and thin, and looked human but for eyes that appeared strangely reptilian. As he became more alert, his eyes quickly clouded over, then changed to appear normal, more human.
After regarding the others with a smug sneer, the alien moved quickly out of the room and into the corridors. Sensing movement, the ship immediately lit-up so that he could make his way through easily. He walked at a brisk pace, intent on his purpose. Within minutes he reached the control room and sat in the pilot’s chair. He ran his hands rapidly over the control panel, typing in and overriding commands. As soon as he was finished, yellow lights began flashing throughout the entire ship, and an audio alert signal resounded through the rooms and corridors.
In the suspended animation room, the remaining chambers began to activate, awakening their inhabitants and releasing the door mechanisms. The humanoid aliens stumbled out groggily. The four children, three boys and a girl, rubbed their eyes and looked around at the flashing lights in bewilderment. Almost immediately three adults went to them and gathered them together.
"What’s happening, Momma?" the girl asked her mother.
The woman hesitated, then turned to her husband. He returned her look.
"Something’s wrong with the ship," he said, "Take the kids to the escape pods."
"Go, Dav!" he told her. His instinct told him something was very wrong, and he wanted his children safe.
The woman nodded, then took hold of her daughter’s hand in one of hers, and her son’s hand in the other. She led them out of the room. Her husband turned to the man standing with the other two children.
"Take them, Ked," he told him.
"I can help, dad!" the older boy insisted, looking up at his father.
"Me too, dad!" the younger one piped up.
Their father shook his head.
"We have to keep you safe," he told them.
While the others separated to figure out what was wrong with the ship, Ked quickly led his sons to the escape pods, joining Dav and her two children. The four kids huddled together, holding hands. All of them were feeling apprehensive about the suddenness of their awakening, and then their haste to the escape pods.
"Why are we here, mom?" the youngest boy asked.
"The ship might be broken," she explained to him, "If it is, we might have to leave."
"Where would we go?" the girl asked.
Dav hesitated, looking at Ked.
"There’s a planet nearby that should be safe," he replied, "if it’s absolutely necessary. But we’re still not sure what’s going on. It could be a glitch in the computer."
"I hope so," Dav said quietly.
* * *
Linn walked briskly into the control room, and was a little startled to find someone already there.
"Captain Fel," he spoke up in surprise.
The man sitting at the main controls turned at the voice, then let go of a slight grin.
"My chamber awoke me before the others," he said, "I came right here to see what was going on."
Linn approached the main station and gazed down at the monitor.
"What’s happening?" he asked, "It looks as if the computer has been scrambled."
Captain Fel shook his head.
"I don’t know how this happened," he replied, "It was like this when I arrived, and nothing I’ve tried has worked."
Linn tapped several of the buttons on the console, but none of them responded. He shook his head in frustration.
"Nothing," he said, "The guidance system is down. This ship could take us right into one of those planets. We’re going to have to evacuate."
He turned to the Captain for confirmation. The other man did not return the gaze, and stared silently out of the main viewscreen, showing a small red planet right in their path.
"Captain?" he asked, "We need your order to evacuate."
The Captain remained silent a moment longer, then turned to face Linn. He forced a small smile.
"This expedition has been canceled," he said.
Linn frowned in puzzlement.
"Captain Fel no longer exists," the other man replied, standing erect.
Linn became even more puzzled. But then the man whom he thought was his captain began to change, and immediately he understood what was going on.
"A Shifter!" he exclaimed under his breath.
Before he could make a move, the Shifter lunged with one elongated, clawed arm and wrapped it around Linn’s neck. Gasping, Linn struggled to free himself, knowing he had only moments before he was rendered lifeless. While pulling at the other alien’s muscled arm, he reached down with his other hand to push the small red button at his waist. Almost immediately afterward, Linn’s body suddenly stiffened, his eyes bulged out of their sockets, and his limbs extended painfully. He stayed frozen in that position for only a short moment before his entire body went limp. The Shifter dropped Linn’s lifeless form, then quickly exited the control room to seek out more prey.
* * *
Dav stared down at the flashing light on her belt in surprise, then fear. Ked noticed it too. Seconds later three crewmen ran toward them frantically.
"The ship is about to crash into the red planet," one of them spoke up, "We have to take the pods."
"Where’s Linn?" Dav asked.
"He went to the control room," another replied, "We haven’t heard from him. Communications is down too. Nothing is working."
"And Captain Fel?" Ked asked.
All three shook their heads.
"We couldn’t find him," they replied, "The indicator on his chamber showed he was released an hour before the rest of us."
"That’s strange," he puzzled aloud.
"We have to escape now," the first crewman repeated.
He and the other two went to one of the pods and entered. There was more than enough room, since each pod was the size of a small ship. The four children watched as the hatch to the pod closed, and the small craft jettisoned from the main ship.
"We have to get the children off the ship," Ked said.
"I can’t leave without Linn," Dav insisted.
"I’ll stay and look for him," Ked said, "You have to take them to safety."
"No, dad!" his oldest son pleaded, "I want to stay with you. I can help - please?"
"Me too, daddy," the younger boy said, "Let me stay too."
Ked shook his head, smiling proudly down at his sons.
"I’ll be right behind you," he promised, "I just have to take care of a couple things. Dav will take care of you."
Ked nodded to Dav, who glanced back and forth down the corridors once before reluctantly leading her children into the pod. After giving them both a short embrace, Ked ushered his own children inside.
"I’ll see you soon," he told them.
The two boys watched as Ked turned and rushed away. At the front of the pod, Dav settled into the pilot’s chair and activated the craft. The hatch leading inside began to close, and the four children watched forlornly as it did, knowing their fathers were behind them. Then, just as the hatch was halfway closed, Ked’s oldest son clenched his fists and lunged for the small opening, jumping through and landing roughly on the corridor floor. His little brother gasped and moved to follow him, but it was too late. The hatch shut firmly, and the ship began to pull away.
Dav turned her head to look back at the children.
"Where’s Jat?" she asked.
They all turned to look at her, eyes wide. Dav’s face went pale.
"We have to go back!" Jat’s little brother cried.
Dav turned around, staring out at the dark monitor in front of her.
* * *
Ked hurried through the corridors to the control room. He met no other soul, knowing that most of the crew had already escaped. But two were still unaccounted for. As he neared the control room, a heavy weight fell on his stomach. He sensed danger, but he didn’t believe it had anything to do with the ship’s course.
He reached the control room and entered. Immediately the sense of danger heightened. Then he realized the reason why. Linn’s dead body lay sprawled on the floor directly in front of him. Slowly Ked stepped closer, until he could see the telltale marks on his friend’s neck. He drew in a deep breath and let it out noisily, then looked around quickly. No one else was in the room. With his heartbeat quickening, Ked hurried out of the control room and back the way he came. He was startled when he saw a familiar figure running toward him.
"Dad!" Jat shouted.
Eyes wide in surprise, Ked hesitated a moment before running to meet his son. He immediately took the young boy by the arm and started leading him back at a run toward the escape pods.
"We have to leave," he said.
"What about Linn?" Jat asked.
"He’s gone already," Ked told him, "We have to go before the ship is destroyed."
Half-carrying his son, Ked quickened his pace through the ship, trying desperately to shake the feeling he was being followed.
* * *
The ship wobbled as it entered the stormy atmosphere, and seemed to lose control as it rapidly descended to the surface. As the planet’s gravity field took over, the ship careened toward the soft earth and impacted heavily, sending debris flying in all directions. The second ship followed, impacting at almost the exact same location. Except it didn’t land, but bounced off the surface and flew back into the air, only to land again a few miles away.
Dav groaned as she extricated herself from the control panel. Everything had gone wrong. The escape pods were designed to provide safe, easy landings in any atmosphere. Instead it had flown out of control and crash-landed. Fortunately they had landed in a small patch of greenery, softening the impact enough not to split open the ship. It was damaged enough as it was, and Dav knew without even having to look that there was no way they could fly it anywhere.
Her thoughts quickly turning to the children, she forced herself up and looked at the three small figures strapped into the seat harnesses. All of them looked bedraggled and frightened. But they all seemed OK, which made Dav breath out in relief. She immediately went to them and unbuckled them. All three kids latched onto her, fussing in their high-pitched voices.
"It’s all right, it’s OK," she assured them, "We’re OK."
"How come we crashed?" her son asked.
Dav frowned and shook her head.
"Let’s get you outside," she told them.
Dav turned to the escape hatch, but it had been mangled in the crash. Fortunately the impact had caused a narrow gash in the side of the ship. She stepped out through it onto the soft, damp earth outside, then reached in and lifted out each child one at a time. The weather on the planet they had crashed on was rainy and stormy. Dav looked around for shelter, and found an outcropping of rocks nearby. She herded the children there, and made them duck underneath a large flat stone out of the rain.
"You stay here," she told them, "I’ll be right back."
The children huddled together in fear, watching her return to the ship. As soon as she was back on, Dav went to the control board and started looking over the damaged instruments. Noting nothing abnormal aside from the damage due to the impact, Dav pulled off the covering to peer down at the computer boards underneath. She pulled them out one at a time, then gasped at what she saw when she pulled out the last one.
"Oh, no!" she breathed.
Backing away from the control boards, Dav hurried to the back of the ship where the supplies were located. Among the supplies were two suspended animation chambers, meant for short-term emergency use. Fortunately they were light-weight. She grabbed one and began hauling it out of the ship, and then toward the cluster of rocks. The children watched her from their shelter. As soon as she had the oval-shaped chamber in place, she stood straight and gathered her strength.
"What are you doing, mommy?" he daughter asked.
"I’ll be right back," she told them quickly.
Minutes later she had the second chamber sitting next to the first. Once finished, she went over and crouched beside the children.
"Kids," she told them, "We’re going to have to go back to sleep for a while, at least until help comes."
"But I don’t wanna!" Ked’s young son spoke up.
"No one knows we’re down here," she told them, "It could be a long time before anyone comes to get us. And we’ll all be safer in the chambers."
"But there’s only two," her son said.
"There are two more on the other ship," she said.
"What about the other people?" the little girl asked, "Aren’t they going to sleep too?"
Dav hesitated, then shook her head.
"Two of you will stay here in these ones," she told them, "The other will come with me to get the others."
"I don’t want you to leave, mommy," her daughter told her, her voice trembling.
"You and your brother will stay together," Dav assured her.
She stood and opened the doors to the chambers, preparing them to hold her two children. Then she turned and waved them over. Her two kids ran over to her. Dav lifted them each into a chamber. Her daughter clung to her, unwilling to let go. Her son just watched his mother with sad eyes. Dav kissed them both, then made them lay down and closed the doors over them. As soon as they were settled, she dragged each container to the outcropping and nudged them inside a narrow crevice, out of view.
As soon as she was finished, Dav ran back to the ship and climbed inside. She found a panel on the wall that was undamaged and opened it. Underneath was a small control panel. Dav hurriedly typed in the right code, and activated the ship’s self-destruct. As soon as it was done, she ducked out of the ship, then ran back to the rocks. She grabbed the remaining boy by the hand and led him away from the crash site. Once they were just over a hundred yards away, a muted explosion erupted behind them. The boy turned to see the ship disintegrate completely.
* * *
It took them a little more than two hours to reach the first crash site. The weather was starting to clear up, and the sun was beginning to show itself, but they were both still wet and muddy from the rain. Dav, carrying the small boy on her back, slowed her pace as she caught site of the other ship. It was in much worse shape than theirs had been. The cockpit of the craft was completely destroyed, having been the first part of the ship to strike the earth. The rest wasn’t much better off.
Dav set the boy down, then approached the ship. The right side of the ship was lodged against a short rocky cliff. Dav went to the rear of the ship, looking for the hatch. It was bent almost in half, one whole side having been rent from the ship. Dav peered through the narrow opening. She could see the bodies of one of hew fellow crewmen. He was not moving.
Wiping her brow with the back of her hand, Dav took a step back from the ship, then reached out and placed both hands on the damaged hatch. Concentrating, Dav slowly separated the hatch from the rest of the ship, and jumped back when it finally fell to the ground heavily. Once it was out of the way, Dav climbed into the ship and went to the crewman. She breathed a sigh of relief when she saw him breathing. Then she grabbed his arms and began dragging him out of the ship and onto the ground.
Though she knew what she would find, Dav re-entered the ship and walked toward the cockpit. As soon as she reached it, she immediately turned away. Both of the remaining crewmen had been crushed by the impact. Dav tried to put them out of her mind as she went to the storage area, looking for the two suspended animation chambers. She found the first one, and groaned as she saw that it had been damaged. With apprehension she checked the remaining chamber. It was a little scuffed, but not seriously damaged.
It took her a while to drag the chamber out of the ship and onto the ground. By that time the surviving crewman was beginning to stir. Dav went over to him and put a hand to his forehead. A moment later his eyes opened, and he looked at her groggily.
"How are you feeling, Gar?" Dav asked.
"What happened?" he asked.
"Our pods crashed," she told him, "They were sabotaged."
"Sabotaged?" he asked, confused, "By who?"
Dav hesitated, glancing at the young boy who was watching them with wide, innocent eyes. She looked back down at Gar.
"We’re on earth now," she told him, "We have to hide evidence we were here."
Gar nodded, then groaned as Dav helped him to his feet. His face fell when he saw the ship.
"The others?" he asked.
"It’s just us," she told him.
He looked at her in surprise, then hung his head. Dav grabbed his arm.
"We have to hurry," she told him, "It’s almost daylight. A human could come by any minute and find us."
Gar looked at her, then nodded.
"What do we do first?" he asked.
Dav nodded toward the little boy.
"We get him into a chamber and hide him," she told him, "Then we destroy the ship."
The boy ran up to them.
"I want to wait for dad and Jat," he told them.
Dav knelt by him and put her hands on his shoulders.
"I’m sorry," she told him, "Your dad and Jat aren’t coming. Now you have to hide so no one finds you. When you wake-up, someone should be here to rescue you."
The little boy frowned and looked down, tears coming to his eyes. Dav pulled him to her and hugged him tightly. After a moment she pulled away and looked down at him.
"Are you ready to go to sleep?" she asked.
The boy looked up at her, wiped the tears from his eyes, and nodded bravely.
* * *
Once they had the remaining child safely tucked away, Dav and Gar went back to the ship. While Gar stayed outside to gather any nearby debris and drag it to the ship, Dav went inside to activate the ship’s self-destruct. When she saw the panel that housed the mechanism, her face fell. The panel had been punched in deeply. When Dav yanked the flat piece of metal away, she saw the control pad underneath had been destroyed. She sighed heavily and dropped the panel to the floor, then went back outside.
"Gar!" she called, "Gar!"
She looked around, but saw no sign of her crew-mate.
"Gar!" she repeated.
Dav froze as soon as she heard the voice. It sounded very, very familiar. She turned around slowly, and then saw a familiar figure appear from around the corner of the ship. He smiled widely as soon as he saw her.
"Linn?" she asked.
He nodded and took a step toward her.
"But, how?" she asked.
"I found Captain Fel’s body," he told her, "and figured out what was going on. I couldn’t leave you and the kids by yourselves. I took the last escape pod and came here."
"Ked and Jat?" she asked.
He frowned and shook his head. He took another step.
"How many survived?" he asked.
She looked up at him.
"Just me and Gar," she replied.
"And the children?"
She clenched her teeth and shook her head slowly, looking down. Linn reached her and put a hand on her shoulder.
"It’ll be all right, Dav," he told her in a calm, soothing voice.
She nodded slowly, then suddenly shoved him away and started running in the opposite direction. Linn watched her for a moment, then grinned and started running after her.
* * *
I’ll leave it at that, though I reserve the right to change a few things as the series progresses.~Cbjam
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