Earplug Adventures: The Age of Stone (part 18)


 As instructed by the Supreme Being, the temporary crew of the Rhubarb Crumble ignored the celestial warning sign, and flew directly to the planet that they presumed housed The Galactic Court of Justice…

It appeared icy, but Magnuss knew that appearances could be deceiving. With the power of the Supreme Being at their disposal, those responsible for running the Galactic Court could make it look any darned way they wanted to. And whilst the crew went about their business, no one noticed the nosey God of Wayward Computer Monitors peek into the bridge…

But when the ship descended, and the planet’s surface became visible on the main viewer…

…everyone, including Magnuss, wondered if it was going to be possible to breathe on a barren planet that clearly possessed no atmosphere.

“Do we have any pressure suits aboard?” Magnuss asked no one in particular.

Miles had taken it upon himself to become the ship’s storekeeper. He checked the inventory on his monitor. “Nope.” He replied. “Apparently they’re yesterday’s technology: we don’t bother with them anymore.”

“How are we supposed to go outside the ship?” Rudi asked reasonably enough. “What if we’re holed by a meteor or something?”

Miles consulted his screen. “Ah, it fixes itself. I guess nobody figured the crew would leave the ship in an airless environment. They didn’t figure anyone would be so stupid.”

Valentine was about to say something like: “Far out, man: that aint no groove!” when external sensors detected an atmosphere developing. Not a thick one; but an envelope of gases sufficiently dense to allow a vapour trail to form behind the Rhubarb Crumble

This came as such a surprise to Susan (who had never dreamed such an unexpected event was possible) that she lost physical cohesion for a moment and two of her periferal bodies fell over and rolled around on the floor…

Suddenly doubts began to form in her shape-shifting brain. She took part of herself away to the darkened solitude of her ready room…

But when she noticed her slave monitor displaying something that looked suspiciously like open liquid-form water, hope swelled…

Particularly when mist became apparent, thereby suggesting the presence of moisture and warmth in the alien air. And this was more-or-less confirmed when the previously barren rock took on the hint of a green tinge.

Before long Rudi and Valentine found themselves in the Life Sciences laboratory…

…from where they could see an ocean forming beneath the ship. Even better was the fact that the read-outs now…uh…read a breathable atmosphere.

“Hey, man,” Valentine said appreciatively, “aint this supposed to be impossible? I sure dig it. Know what I mean? Totally cool – with a capital K. But these sticky-out pipes are still giving my knees a hard time.”

Much the same feelings (minus the painful knees)were being displayed in the Engineer’s rest room…

Douglas was probably the most thrilled of the trio. “A volcanic island,” he yelled as he led the others in a mad dash from the room. “Proof-positive, if any was needed, that this planet’s appearance is a result of a controlling intelligence. Let’s get up to the bridge and tell the Captain to land immediately!”

Well they did, and before long the Rhubarb Crumble swept down from a rapidly expanding sky…

“Okay,” Susan said, following a deep inhalation, “find somewhere flat and firm, and put this baby down.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

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