Forbidden Moon

Forbidden Moon
A Mysterious Call For Help

Security Chief Muldoon rubbed his eye spots and stretched his three arms and three legs while arching his torso against the computer chair in his cabin. He let the chair snap upright, grimaced, and then straightened his Medical Services Organization uniform.

The white uniform bothered him as it was a great way to stand out in the wrong environment. If he was honest with himself the truth was he missed his Royal Marine uniform. After all, where they were headed, Station Romeo Alpha 047, was on a frozen moon and white was excellent camouflage. He supposed it was the stupid short sleeves of the MSO uniform that really bothered him; as they clearly revealed the implanted holo tattoo of a lion holding the Royal Marine crest with the motto “Obviam Nox Noctis” seemingly floating on his skin. The tattoo tended to constantly draw his attention since his retirement as well the attention of everyone else around him. With the ship being a MSO rescue scout he could easily get the holo tattoo implant removed in minutes but that would be an admission that the tattoo was really a problem and beside he was too proud of his former career to do that.

The rest of the crew could suck vacuum if they didn’t like his tattoo. After all this was a civilian organization and despite the prig’s of a captain’s delusions of still being in Space Fleet, no one stood on formality anyway. Plus he hadn’t been chosen as security chief for nothing and there was no doubt he was the single most dangerous individual on board, retired marine or not. Frag headed former Space Fleet captains didn’t even count let alone the rest of the civilians. He nodded to himself deciding that maybe he should get two more holo tattoos on his other arms and spit in anyone’s eye who complained.

Muldoon rubbed his eye spots again to re-focused on his computer screen. He’d let his thoughts wander and it wasn’t any wonder since he reviewed all available data on this mission for the infinite time and still drawn a blank. The original call for medical re-supply and possible med-evac was all too brief and vague and every other sub space communication over the intervening two weeks had maddeningly gone into too little detail. So they really had little idea about what was really wrong and that worried the master chief in him. It also didn’t set well with him to be told by Mr Space Fleet that his job was only to keep the ship safe and secure. What did Captain McAllister think asking questions about a possible threat was? idle chit chat?

Muldoon sighed and keyed the play back on the original message with the sound muted, studying the expressions of the face on the screen. Like all dralasites he was able to detect lying due to physiological changes in the skin and face of the one lying but it didn’t work so well with recorded images. Still, his gut told him the director of Science Station Romeo Alpha 047 was not being completely honest or at least he was failing to tell everything that he knew. Muldoon shook himself, he wasn’t getting any answers staring at the video logs yet again.

He pushed up from his chair and decided to quietly sneak onto the bridge and take his station at the laser battery controls before Mr. Space Fleet made a point of calling general quarters just before dropping out of void. No up tight Space Fleet puke who had captained a desk for eight years prior to getting this gig was going to school him on protocol. None of the medical staff paid any attention to the fuss over military protocol and he suspected they were half amused by the pissing contest between the captain and the security officer. All in all Muldoon had the honor of the Royal Marines to uphold and everyone knew Space Fleet sucked vacuum compared to the Royal Marines of Clarion.

Muldoon was irritated. They had transited into system Xiu 55618 without event. He had taken immense pleasure at rattling the Captain when McAllister had idly suggested to the astrogator that they should sound the GQ alarm for void transit and Muldoon purposely misinterpreted that as an order to do it himself. Mr. Space Fleet had failed to notice him at his station for nearly forty minutes or even that he had brought the astrogator a cup of coffee. Captain McAllister had jumped clear out of his chair at the blare of the alarm with a distinct look of panic that caused Muldoon to suspect that the captain’s prior combat experience had required the changing of his shorts after it was over.

Now the science station had fobbed them off, claiming the need to button up as the moon passed behind its gas giant for the projected storms during that event. Yet it was clear that they had nearly two hours before they lost communication and that time could be put to good use finding out what was going on. Yet the captain being heated over his embarrassment had gone along with the station’s excuse and denied Muldoon his opportunity to ask questions. Muldoon knew both of them were being petty now but he didn’t care. The panic on the captain’s face had been too precious and beside, now the captain had a taste of what he’d been doing to the civilian crew.

For once the captain decided to forgo the GQ alarm and simply use the intercom to warn the crew of the orbital insertion maneuvers. Muldoon smirked at that while setting up his gunnery station’s tie-in to the radar and scanners using Royal Marine procedures. It wasn’t so much of a snub against Space Fleet as it was comforting to follow the procedures he could have done in his sleep after doing them for twenty years.

The captain executed the final deceleration burn putting them into orbit and zero gravity. Muldoon didn’t relax with him and the astrogator preferring to stick to marine procedure and confirm their orbital proximity was clear. The captain had left his chair to fetch a squeeze bulb of coffee when Muldoon spotted the first object. He queried his targeting computer and swore as its answer came back. The object was starting to move and it was on a collision course with the ship.

His fist smashed the GQ alarm causing the captain to squeeze coffee all over his white uniform. Muldoon ignored the captain’s swearing, focusing on what were now two mysterious objects on a collision course with the ship with plumes of escaping gas jetting out behind them. It was going to be tight to target and shoot both bogies. The laser battery responded crisply and his first shot scored resulting in a bright explosion. Muldoon had the battery training on the second bogie when the astrogator had finally shaken off his surprise and updated the tactical plot revealing yet a third bogie. Muldoon’s second shot went home resulting in a second bright explosion. He could tell he wouldn’t get the third bogie in time but still tried.

Somehow the captain had found his chair and activated the all hands frequency warning the crew of imminent impact. Muldoon rushed the final shot not waiting for a solid targeting solution preferring to shoot by eye spot rather than not get any shot at all. The laser beams missed and seconds latter the ship was rocked by an impact.

Muldoon knew instantly something was off. He had been in ships hit by weapons, asteroids and even other ships and this impact was not like any of those occurrences. He was wondering to himself what was next when the computer announced the orbit was decaying.

The bridge was crowded with the addition of the ships engineer, chief medical officer and the xeno biologist. A feed from the external cameras was on the main view screen. It showed a blob like throbbing organism that was sticking to the hull like a lump of wet clay.

“Facinating!” exclaimed Mason, the xeno biologist.

Muldoon wished he had actual eyeballs to roll since this was the twentieth time Mason had said that. Why was he the only one concerned that an organism had attached itself to the ship and then angled its gas bladder to push the ship into the atmosphere? He could think of a number of things to call it like alarming, concerning or downright scary but not fascinating. Any minute now Mason would be asking, yet again, if it really tried to use its gas jet to force the ship toward the moon.

Lucky for them Muldoon had shot down two out of three. With the way the captain had struggled to regain control and return to a stable orbit it was positively frightening to think what would have happened if more than one of those things has struck the ship.

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