Space Cases

By: Ehren Hatten

"Who's Got a Bucket?"

Part One

Radu sat on his bed in the boys quarters on the Christa. He was wondering about something he had been hearing for the past couple of days coming from outside the ship. He could hear a girl's voice unknown to him and hear a sound that was like a ship's engines humming. He always dismissed it, but he could still hear that voice. It was as if it was in his head. Then, he started to think that maybe Suzee was part of it. Then, he dismissed that option. Suzee didn't like going into people's heads.

Harlan came into the area and saw an opportunity to play a gag on Radu. Not exactly, though. He was just going to startle him. "HEY CINNAMON BUNS FOR EARS!" Radu didn't even turn. He just stayed in his spot on his bunk. This wouldn't be any fun if the guy wasn't paying attention. How could he not hear Harlan anyway? Radu could hear everything. Harlan stalked closer to Radu. Radu still didn't even turn.

Harlan got infront of Radu and waved his hand in front of Radu's eyes. "Yoo hoo... Christa to Raduuuu..." He even snapped his fingers, still nothing. Harlan finally gave in. He got his books and walked out of the room.

Radu suddenly jumped and fell on the floor with a loud yelp. "Who called me `cinnamon buns for ears'?" He rubbed his backside as he realized what had happened. It was Harlan. The voice still rang in his head, but Harlan mixed in with the voice.

Harlan walked into "Davenport's Den of Doom", which was inevitably the classroom, but that was just one of the many names they like to call it. He found Suzee sitting and typing something on a compupad. Harlan sat next to her slyly and casually looked over her shoulder. "Whatcha doin, Suzee..."

Suzee jumped and almost dropped her compupad. She glared at Harlan and closed her compupad nonchalantly. "Nothing you need to concern yourself with, Harlan."

Harlan wouldn't let that stop him. "I thought I saw something about strange stuff going on in the engine room." He was congratulating himself on his good snoop work.

Suzee's expression was unchanging. "As a matter of fact, yes... We seem to be having some trouble with the crystals. They seem to be making odd noises and not even THELMA knows what the hell is going on. YOU wouldn't know anything would you?"

Harlan stopped grinning and coughed. "No.... I don't think I would."

"Well... maybe you would like to put your expertise into helping me figure out why they are making these noises."

"Uh..." Harlan had to think a moment. He might be able to do something, but engineering was not his thing. He was a pilot and a commander, not an engine doctor. "Certainly."

Suzee narrowed her eyes at him and went back to her compupad. "After class then. It isn't critical anyway."

Bova was sleeping on his seat in the classroom and Rosie did her best to keep him awake. Radu sat alone, trying to keep up with his notes, but always seemed to go into a daze. Harlan and Suzee sat together, Suzee taking notes and Harlan copying from her. Suzee every now and again took a quick glance at Radu as he inevitably would space out and realize it. She knew it wasn't his normal behavior, even in class with Miss Davenport going on about certain solar systems and their water systems.

Miss Davenport caught Radu's odd behavior as well. "Radu... Is something wrong?"

Radu snapped out of his umpteenth dazefest. He grinned sheepishly at Miss Davenport and looked as if he were about to hit his head repeatedly against his compupad. "Uh... No Miss Davenport, I'm fine..." The voice in his head was getting louder. He knew he wasn't fine, but the voice said something about not letting his crewmates know about this just yet.

Davenport narrowed her eyes at Radu. She knew better. "Radu... I want you to go the infirmary at once. Have THELMA check you out, and if you are still fit to be in class right now, come back and please pay more attention."

Harlan stifled a snicker and Radu shot him a dangerous glare. Radu picked up his books and compupad and walked out of the classroom.

Radu arrived at the sickbay and lay down on the medical bed. THELMA walked in and smiled. "Hello Radu... Are you not feeling well?"

Radu sighed and stared up at the ceiling. "I don't know."

THELMA walked closer and stuck a finger in his ear. He knew she was just taking his temperature, but it was uncomfortable. She then took it out and looked at it. "Your temperature is just fine. IT is perfect for an Andromedan."

Radu sat up and rubbed his temples. The voice was on the verge of screaming. He could make out what she was saying. Well, almost. It still was unclear. THELMA looked at him blankly. "I'm fine THELMA. Am I fit to go to class?"

THELMA looked at him blankly and smiled just as blankly. "Technically, you are fit. Judging by your movements, the Christa says you are not."

"I'm fine THELMA, I just have a headache."

She walked to the nearby table and grabbed a bottle of pills. "In that case, take two of these and tell the Christa about your condition in the morning." With that last note, THELMA walked out and turned the corner.

Radu glanced down at the two pills in his gloved hand. "Take two pills and call me in the morning." He was saying something that Harlan said not that long ago. He guessed that THELMA had told him to go to bed and try to sleep off his weird voice. He obligingly took the two white pills and walked to the nearest jumptube to the boy's bunkroom.

Radu ended up in the hallway to the mess hall. He found that it was lunchtime and everyone was there. He decided to get something in his stomach before he would try to figure his voice out.

Harlan looked up and grinned. Suzee stared at Radu and seemed as though she was summing up his condition. "Hello, Radu. Are you feeling any better?" Suzee narrowed her eyes at him.

"Yeah... I.. I'm fine..." He waved his hand walked over to the food wheel. He spun the wheel and pulled out his "food". It was dehydrated. He walked over to the table and poured the contents of the food cylinder onto the plate. He then added two drops of water onto his powdered food and watched it become some nutrition food that the Christa had thought up for him.

Harlan looked at Radu's meal and grimaced. "I wouldn't eat that for all the gold in Fort Knox." Then, he continued to eat.

Radu just glanced at Harlan and took a fork to his food. Radu didn't feel much like eating. The voice kept creeping up in volume. IT was starting to make his head feel as if it were about to split in two. Radu put his hands to his ears to try to calm the voice down. He tried to shut it out, but it kept getting louder. Radu screamed and fell off his chair. He rolled in agony on the floor with his hands pressed against his ears. "STOP! STOP SCERAMING! I CAN HEAR YOU! STOP SCREAMING, PLEASE!"

Suzee and Harlan stood up and grabbed Radu by the arms. "RADU! RADU!"

Radu wouldn't take his hands from his ears. Blood seemed to be seeping from his hands. Radu continued to scream. The voice was getting louder. Finally, Radu went limp as he lost consciousness.

Harlan tried to pick Radu up, but Radu was too heavy for him alone. Suzee helped in trying to get Radu up. THELMA came in and picked Radu with ease and took him to the infirmary.

Radu stood in a darkened room, gazing into the inky blackness of the room. He saw someone started to come closer, but couldn't make out their face. It was a girl about the same age as Harlan and about as tall. He squinted to make out the girl's face. Suddenly, she was gone.

Radu looked around and finally found her standing infront of him. She was taller than him by about an inch. She had a regal look to her face. The shape reminded him of Elmira. She looked human except for her long green hair. Her bangs were slightly chunked in her eyes almost, starting from her part where eyebrows began and went down to her cheekbones. Her eyes were of the purest blue and she stared at him as if she could see right through him. She wore a gray uniform that looked like what his shipmates wore. The zipper on the front was unzipped to under her breasts. Her neck and clavicle were exposed and he could make out strange black symbols starting on her neck and continuing into her white tank top. She smiled at him.

"Hello?" his voice almost a whisper. She pulled back a lock of green hair behind her ears. Her ears were slightly pointed like that of some imaginary Earth creature called an elf.

She put up a hand to him and brought up his hand as she did so. He kept his hand up and watched in amazement as her hand went through his as her hand turned into water. "Find the pod. I am stuck inside and am in need of help. You and your friends are in grave danger."

Radu suddenly, came to and found that he was lying on the medical bed. He sat up as best as he could and rubbed his head. "What happened...."

Suzee walked up and kneeled to him. "You had some weird episode of screaming. You said stop screaming, I can hear you. Then, you blacked put." She was running a scanner over him and found something odd. "Hmmm... THAT's odd."

Harlan walked over and raised an eyebrow as he looked at the scanner. "What's wrong, Suzee?"

"It seems as though Radu has a friend that is invisible as well."

Bova sighed and slapped his forehead. "Figures. We just had to get another one."

Radu ignored Bova. "What do you mean, Suzee."

"I mean, Radu, that you seem to have the same type of thing that me and Catalina have. You have someone talking to you through several dimensions." She thought for a moment as she listened to Catalina talk. "No, Cat... I know it can't be anyone on Yensid. No one there would do anything like that except me of course."

"The girl talking to me... She said that we were in grave danger. She said that we had to find some kind of pod or ship." Radu could feel the silence in his head. It was a relief to what had been happening to him for the past few days.

"How! If she's in another dimension, how could we even find her! It's a trap, I tell you. We're gonna die!" Bova the conspirist had to say his piece.

"Bova, we aren't going to die. She, whoever she is, needs our help and we need to give it to her." Harlan snapped at Bova.

"I am not entirely sure she is in another dimension." Radu said as he sat with his eyes focused elsewhere. He could still remember the girl's face. He could still see the symbols on her right side on into her flight suit. He listened to a faint singing and the sound of strange engines. "She isn't far. I can hear her."

"Well, then... Let's find this mysterious girl, shall we!" Harlan looked as giddy as a schoolboy who was about to receive a new toy. They all ran to the nearest jumptube and went to the bridge. They all took their respective posts.

Radu took his post and listened to the sound of the girl breathing. Except, she wasn't breathing. He could hear some kind of respiratory action being performed, but it wasn't hers. IT was the sound of the ship's engines. Her ship's engines. It sounded as though her ship were alive.

Harlan started the ship's engines and prepared the ship for jumping. "Suzee! Are we ready to jump!"

"Yes, Harlan!"

"Radu! Rosie! Can you find the ship!"

Rosie couldn't find it on her scanners. "No, Harlan.... It isn't showing up anywhere on these charts!"

Radu realized why. "It's a living ship! Scan for tech-living organisms!"

Rosie did just that and heard a squeal from the console in response. "I have her, Harlan! She's in Sector thirty-four by five by two! Sending information to the other consoles!"

Harlan got the information and programmed the crystals to go that way. The Christa's head scrunched up against the back and the wings retracted. Then, She flew off toward the ship in its data banks.

Freya felt the on coming of another ship. She felt the on coming of Radu. She floated in her suspended animation pod, the water inside flowing through her long green hair; it was quite relaxing for her. The sensors in her ship were starting to register a ship coming closer to hers.

She opened her mind to her ship's controls and found something that terrified her. It wasn't the Christa coming to her aid. It was her people's worst and foremost enemy. It was scanning the area for her. She knew that if the Christa didn't show up soon, her ship would be destroyed along with her. She sent her mind to Radu's and let one word touch his mind before she had to put her energy to working her console. Shekra.

Radu snapped from another glazed over moment. "Shekra... Shekra...What the hell is Shekra..." He whispered the name over and over again. He only caught images that the girl was seeing. A monstrous ship was firing at her. "Oh no.... Harlan...! Harlan! Someone has gotten to her first, step up the speed! She's being fired at!"

"WHAT!?"

"Just do it! I don't how much longer she keep going!" Radu was feeling a twinge of panic. He was frightened for her. She was being strong for them. He could feel her emotions.

"All right, man! I'm increasing speed. Suzee! Increase power flow! Keep those engines working for me!"

"GOT IT HARLAN!"

The Christa got to its destination. Bova started firing on the vessel that was firing on Freya's ship. Harlan continued flying the Christa towards Freya's vessel. Freya's vessel however, was in shambles. She crawled to her console dripping wet from the suspended animation pod and pulled herself in her chair.

She fired what she could and fainted on her console. The water from the pod seeping into the machinery, starting a small fire.

Finally, the strange vessel flew off and disappeared. Harlan and the rest of the crew panted and sighed in relief from the fight. "Let's go over and get the girl." Harlan stepped down from his console.

Radu followed suit and Suzee followed as well. Miss Davenport watched them and Commander Goddard go over to Freya's ship. They opened the airlock and Radu walked inside. He looked around seeing only smoke and hearing nothing but a fire crackling and live wires cracking and popping. Harlan came in, then Suzee, followed by Commander Goddard.

"Radu be careful. There is live electricity flowing through this ship and I think a fire is in the cockpit." Commander Goddard pulled some wiring from a panel and started to locate the data banks.

"I'll be fine, Commander..."

"Radu... I'm coming with you." Harlan jogged up behind Radu and held his rifle ready for anything.

Radu hit a button to the cockpit and the door slid open. Radu looked around and was suddenly hit by a thick cloud of smoke. He heard her moaning softly through the noises of the fire and the ship itself as it started to break down. He ran inside and followed her sounds. He lightly touched surfaces to find his way through the smoke. He finally found something soft that felt alive. He got closer and looked at her face. It was she, and a strange, furry animal, that looked like a black cat, was on her shoulder. It hissed and growled at him. She was bruised and scratched pretty badly. And She was soaked through, as well. He picked her up and the animal ran towards Harlan. "Harlan! Grab that animal coming towards you!"

Harlan jumped as the cat like creature jumped onto his shoulders and crouched as it watched Radu coming closer. "Uh...Radu... I don't think it likes you."

Radu walked out of the cockpit, carrying her. Harlan looked at the girl and smiled. "She's pretty cute. I didn't know you had such luck, man!" Harlan chuckled and hit Radu on his shoulder.

Radu smirked and then felt the whole ship begin to fall apart. The ship shuddered and squealed. "Let's get out of here! She's going to blow apart!"

"Gotcha, man!" Harlan and Radu ran back to Suzee and Commander Goddard. They were waiting in the tube.

"COME ON BOYS! WE HAVEN'T ANY MORE TIME TO DAUDLE!" Commander Goddard shouted at the top of his lungs, choking as the smoke tried to fill them instead of air.

They ran through the tube, jumping into the airlock and hitting the "close" button. Commander Goddard hit his link. "THELMA! GET US OUT Of HERE!"

The Christa responded and they jumped just as Freya's ship exploded.

To be continued....