Sample chapter from

STRANDED ON EARTH

by Commander Sanni Emyetti Ceto
© 2004 (all rights reserved)

EXCERPT from CHAPTER ONE

ONE STORMY NIGHT

The night cycle was upon us. We cruised dangerously near the military base. In the distance there was a turbulent thunderstorm battering the atmosphere. Brilliant flashes of electricity erupted spontaneously -- here, there and all around -- unpredictable and shattering.

"The mother ship is signaling," announced Naylaiu (Nay-loo). "They are asking that we retreat."

Without emotion I stared at my screen. It was my duty to maintain defenses. My mind interfaced with the computer at all times during flight. To break that concentration -- even for a moment -- could spell disaster.

"Tell them we acknowledge," I told Naylaiu.

My ship was on a purely scientific mission to study, observe and collect living specimens. In our storage compartments we had live animals, plants, rocks, soil and water to take back with us to the Home World. We had collected mostly single-celled animals, bacteria, mold and such, and had advanced up to birds, small mammals and fish. On the Home World we would bioengineer these specimens to adapt them to our planet and our environment.

Naylaiu projected her thoughts again to me. She was deeply concerned. "Lieutenant, these facilities have all been catalogued. I suggest we leave the area. That storm over the desert is extremely ominous."

It was, in fact, the worst storm we had encountered on the Terran world. We didn't know at the time that humans were experimenting with a new kind of radar technology. I stood at my computer console with my arms outstretched and my hands up against the tilted screen. I did not look at Naylaiu, but tried to reassure her. "We won't be in any danger, Naylaiu. I just want to have a closer look."

"They won't pick us up on their radar," Kiayha (Ki-ya) reminded us, "but there is always danger of observation when our ships come this close."

The other two crew members, Shienyah (Shen-ya) and Lorkiah (Lor-ka), stood behind me as they concentrated on their panels. They said nothing, but I detected their concern as well. Still, I wanted to fly over the base.

The lightning storm was now in full force. The sky danced with electrical surges and angry clouds billowed and threatened the cowering earth below. To me it was an exciting spectacle and we were in the midst of it. I guided our little delta-shaped craft even nearer to that which was forbidden. "Sanni, the shadow ship is signaling again," Naylaiu informed me. "They want us to pull away... now." The protective forcefield that surrounded our ship, as well as the sister craft that was following us, was in my total control. It was our life line to safety and security in this major electrical event. I suppose a part of me -- the thrill seeker -- was what had led me to dare coming this close. We were not supposed to be there. As a matter of fact, we were violating the orders of the Council by coming to Earth in the first place. Earth was strictly off-limits to all space craft, but my desire to lead a specimen-collecting scientific expedition there had been just too tempting to let a little thing such as Federation rules and regulations stop me. My crew of four colleagues had tried to talk me out of this, but in the end I had convinced them it was safe and we would get away with it. After all, it wasn't my first field trip. We had been on five flights beforehand. And the ship behind us, sharing the forcefield, had agreed to accompany us against their commander's better judgment, because they knew I had succeeded at ignoring the establishment before. Being scientists from Zeta Reticuli, we were all indelibly curious by nature. A series of nuclear tests being performed around White Sands and in the ocean on Earth had attracted the attention of many in space. Humans on Earth were playing around with Atom. They were detonating bombs and they did not realize the consequences of their actions. These detonations were what had originally led our people to Earth, to observe and to study. We wanted to know why Earth people were performing nuclear tests and why they would use this technology for war purposes instead of peaceful endeavors.

As a result, we came and studied all of Earth's cultures, all the different languages, and visited all the major cities. We made several flyovers of this particular desert region before the Council made the decision to quarantine the planet.

"Sanni, I think we should break away." There was urgency in Naylaiu's telephathic words. "Please..."

Shienyah behind me shrieked. "Look at that!" she cried.

"What is it?" asked Lorkiah.

Startled by their interaction, I turned my head to see what Shienyah was indicating on her panel, and just at that moment the connection to my computer was interrupted. The forcefield went down.

In that split second a bolt of lightning hit us. When the forcefield went down, the field surrounding the entire vehicle was left vulnerable. This caused electricity in the atmosphere to be drawn to the hull of the ship. The sister craft behind us went down first. A second later, the discharge of electricity was attracted to our hull, just like a moth to a flame, and then we went down.

All I remember is a loud explosion and a brilliant white light that filled our entire craft.
 



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