Captain Squito and his crew buzz around the mysterious Black Planet.
|"Stardate eleventy-twelve. Dear Diary, this is Captain Bartholomew Squito." I paused to peek in a mirror and make sure there wasn't any spinach in my teeth. With a smile, I continued my personal report. "The Cosmos Amalgamation has sent me and my crew on a mission to seek out new life and new civilizations."
A snort escaped before I could stop it.
"Just a minute, computer." I giggled and pressed a hand against my stomach. "Okay Qwerty, start recording again. Ahem, let's face it, we're not out here to discover advanced creatures or untouched cultures."
My lips twitched and I almost burst into another round of laughter. "No, we're out here for resources. Namely, Glitterantium and Strongerthananything-um. After much research the Amalgamation knew we had to get our hands on those prized metals. With one precious ounce of Glitterantium, we can mail our enemies envelopes full of its powder and drive them mad! And who couldn't use more Strongerthananything-um? I mean, c'mon! Everyone needs that stuff!"
My computer gave a little chirp and I jumped in surprise, ready to defend myself with a well-aimed karate-chop.
"Computer, pause," I commanded. "Oh, and open the door for the jerk who's interrupting my private monologue."
The door whooshed open to reveal Lieutenant Marshfield Beetle.
"This better be important, Lieutenant." I frowned. "I was in the middle of my diary, I mean, journal. And don't bother trying to find it and read all my secrets. I keep it in a very secure spot." My eyes flickered to my bed where I'd hastily stuffed the virtual journal.
"Uh, yes, sir!" Beetle saluted and licked his lips. "I promise I won't fish it out from under your mattress and read it to the crew, sir!"
"Very good," I nodded. "Now, do you have a report for me or what?"
"Sure do, sir! Commander Ladybird's been monitoring the world our sensors picked up at oh-forty-two hundred hours. She says we can't beam down and investigate."
"Why ever not!" I barked. "If there's Strongerthananything-um down there, we need to harvest it!"
"Well," Beetle blushed. "She says we don't have the tech for beaming down anywhere."
I kicked the wall and crossed my arms over my chest, "I knew I should've asked for a more up-to-date ship. What spacecraft doesn't have beaming capabilities?" I pouted. "Fine. Tell Lieutenant Mantis to ready Shuttle A for me instead. I want to unnecessarily put my life at risk by going down to the planet and creating some drama before successfully completing our mission. Maybe I'll even have an opportunity to lose my shirt!"
"Hey, a Captain can dream!" I grinned.
"What I mean," Beetle said. "If I could speak freely, sir?"
"Of course. Get on with it, man! I have a shirt to lose!"
"Well, Mantis said the shuttles weren't operable. He said you, uh, used the warp engines to make a space quad and go for a joy ride across the Alpha Quadrant?"
I chuckled at the memory. "Yeah, that was a blast. Unfortunately, the quad was sucked into a black hole. I barely managed to escape. Didn't lose my shirt in that little adventure but my helmet got a big enough crack that I had to hold my breath until help arrived."
"So," Beetle shrugged, "What do we do, Captain? We're stuck. Dead in the water, so to speak."
"We'll use this opportunity to study the planet." I thoughtfully tapped my chin. "We'll give it a good year of observation."
"Don't question my orders, Lieutenant," I glowered. "Now go tell the crew my genius plan."
The door whooshed open and closed again as Beetle scurried away.
"Ah, peace and quiet," I sighed. Pulling out my diary from its hidey hole, I woke up Qwerty.
"Start recording, computer. Ahem, Stardate eleventy-thirteen. This is the journal of Captain Squito. I have commanded the crew to spend the next year observing the Black Planet. You know, the one with the unusual marking of an 8 engraved on its side? Yeah, what can the symbol mean? Is it the eighth planet in its solar system? Is it a planet with an infinite amount of Glitterantium? Why does it have such an erratic orbit? We won't be able to reveal its mysteries until my son is born and I can record a heart-felt speech for him."
I glanced at a picture of my wife and I, standing on DungHill Mountain. How I missed my home planet of Insectopia!
"At that point," I continued, "I will make the illogical decision to fly our ship directly into the planet's exterior. Sadly, it is the only way we will ever make it to the surface of the Black Planet..."
Written for: Science Fiction Short Story Contest