The First Version 1995 - Chapter 28
This is the very first typed version of Eric Olafson's Story (from 1995) . I put it here out of reguest of my oldest and first fan and reader, who wanted to re-read the first Version that made him start reading "Galactic Chronicles".
I think it is also shows the progress of the story and is a neat way for me to keep the old stuff as a searchable reference.
QUAGMIRE BOGEditA Lieutenant we never seen before seemed surprised to see us when we reported. He checked his E Board and shrugged.” Well everything seems alright. Those are HQ orders.” He mumbled more to himself than to us. Then he gestured towards a D 14 Shuttle and said.” Your equipment is loaded and the pilot is standing by.”
“Sir would it be permitted to request Destroyer Suits?” I asked. It was then when Clusen walked in.“ No, I can not authorize Destroyer suits without specific orders and your equipment list does not show any listed. Your orders are to make contact with the research team on the planet. Find out why they do not answer any of our calls. You are then to collect specimen and make a standard planetary survey. Also deliver the equipment requested by the research team already there. Now get aboard we only have a short launch window! The Captain would be very angry if he had to change flight plans because of you!” We boarded the long range shuttle, the hatch was barley as it accelerated down the launch tube. The Shuttle was a plain cargo version and we where in its cargo bay along with two large containers. The flight deck was separated from it by a door and the red light above it showed it was locked. “I think we just walked into a trap!” I said. “Sure feels that way.” Agreed Har-Hi. The flight only took 2 hours as we felt the characteristic movements of a shuttle entering atmosphere. The Intercom came on.” Here we are. Planet Quagmire Bog, I sure wonder why they send a team of Midshipmen here but then I am only a shuttle pilot. I got to return to the Devi right away. I drop you of at the old Camp and drop your equipment and I have to go back.” “Sir can you double check that we are supposed to be here?” I asked. “Already did that! Orders are to drop you and the equipment of.” “can you do me a favor and contact L. Merkus and tell him where we are?” “Sure will! Now get out and let me drop the containers.”
We stepped on a dura plast platform that was surrounded by brackish greenish water. The water belonged to a small foul stinking lake the shores where heavily forested. A robot carried a small box out, put it down and returned into the shuttle. The shuttle lifted off turned on its end and the two containers slid out its back and splashed into the water, close to the platform, almost dousing us with the mud green water. It then accelerated and disappeared into the cloudy sky. I looked around. The platform was perhaps 50 meters in diameter and two buildings where built at its center. Everything looked old and abandoned and in dire need of repair. “Now what?” asked Mao. “Let’s find the research team.” I said somehow knowing we would not find anyone. Both building where manufactured of Dura plast and had simple manual operated double doors. The buildings where rectangular shaped and about 10 meters long in each direction and 5 meters tall. Only one of them had windows, to dirty to see through. “Har-Hi, Mao, Elfi and Cirruit check the other building. Draw your weapons and proceed with caution. We check this one!” The inside was a common room with a table , chairs and a small portable serve-matic. Everything was covered with dust and mold. A cup on the table was covered with some fungus. There where 3 bed rooms personal belongings strewn around, Uniform coveralls hanging in a locker, the simple bed unmade, an E-board with reading material on the night stand. Krabbel said.” I found one of them!” Up a short flight of stairs were an office and a GalNet terminal. The GalNet terminal was damaged with a blaster shot and a mummified human was sitting in a corner of the room on the floor still holding the blaster which he had used to blow half of his head away. The body wore the uniform of the Science Corps and the name tag read:” Dr. Herford.” Wetmouth knelt down and examined the remains closer.” That is an old uniform. This style is no longer used. The last time it was issued was 30 years ago.” Muhammad picked up an E Board and activated it. He had to clean the read out window.” It looks like I found his personal log.” “Does he say why he committed suicide?” “The E Pad is damaged, maybe Cirruit can fix it.” We went back down and met the others. Har-Hi thumbed towards the other building.” It was their lab and storage facility. We found the remains of a badly decomposed body, whoever it was. The vibro-machete that was used to kill him is still there. The lab is somewhat trashed but there is enough food to last us a long time.” Cirruit added.” The power cell is fine and I think I can fix the water recycler, it’s just clogged.” I handed him the E-Pad.” See if you can fix that. It might help us solve the mystery.” He took the E-Pad and checked it.” The thing is useless even if I fix it. the memory crystal is gone. Whatever was recorded on it is gone.” “Someone took the crystal.” Elfi concluded. “There are three beds, three rooms and only two bodies. The killer might still be here.” Hans added. “So what are we doing now?” Krabbel asked me. “We do what we came here to do. Cirruit and Muhammad get the equipment working. Har-Hi, Wetmouth and Elfi you make recordings of the bodies and see if you find some container you can put the remains in then clean the living quarters a little. Hans and Mao you going to check the food supplies and prepare dinner. Krabbel you go on top of that building and take a blaster. Keep an eye, well eight eyes on our surroundings.” Mao grinned.” You got a knack for this. I would have never thought of all that!” Wetmouth’s mask was as unreadable as ever, but I knew her long enough now that I knew when she was smiling.” That’s why he’s in charge. Believe me, I am amazed at him sometimes too.” “You made him blush!” Laughed Mao. I grumbled.” Get to work! There is lot’s to do!” “What are you going to do?” Asked Wetmouth. “I am going to unpack and see what kind of equipment we got in those containers!” I went to the small box the robot had carried. It was a standard 50 x 50 x 80 small equipment container. I opened the first and on top was an E-Pad and I activated it. the screen came on and it read.” Briefing and Orders for Special Investigation Team. Lt Strasenburgh commanding. Recent scholar research indicates that Planet Quagmire-Bog was first cataloged and surveyed by the Saresii over 8000 years ago. The Saresii lost two survey teams on the planet and declared the planet dangerous and inhospitable. The Saran rediscovered it in 2100 and also lost a survey team and a subsequent expedition to rescue the first disappeared. The Sarans made a third attempt to find out what happened to their people in 2200 and yet again all contact to the planet team was lost. The Saran declared the planet off limits. The United Stars Science Council sent a team of Scientists in 3500 to investigate after 2 weeks contact ceased and a team of Marines was sent to find out what happened. The Marines found six out of nine scientists dead. All killed what seemed by a member or members of the team, not local life forms. Even after extensive search the two other scientists could not be found and where declared MIA. The Planet was placed under quarantine until more research could be done. In 5068 a team of Scientists under Dr. Hereford was sent to Quagmire to investigate. After 3 month of eventless research and continuous contact, with Dr. Hereford no new reports where filed and any contact attempt failed. We fear Hereford and his team fell victim to whatever danger lurks on the planet.
The Planet is nitrogen Oxygen Garden-World with moderate climate and open water. Such planets are rare and valuable. The Star system is strategically close to the Nul-Nul empire and in a very likely upcoming conflict could serve as an important base. You are an experienced Navy Officer and along with you are six fully equipped Marines to assist you. Your orders are to keep constant contact to a second team that remains in orbit. Report any an all findings without delay. At the sign of any danger you can not handle, you are permitted to evacuate immediately. If you are able to determine the nature of the danger, your orders are to establish a permanent base on the Planet. To this purpose a LEGO-III Nanite factory and 20 Engineering Bots have been issued to you!” I was to occupied reading the E board, as I noticed the movement out of the corner of my eye it was too late! A dark green tentacle coiled around me and pulled me over the hip high railing into the muddy green water. The last thing I heard was Krabbel’s alarm, before I was pulled below the surface. I instinctively opened my gills and gagged! The water was full of debris and almost no oxygen. But my legs hit the ground. The bog was not too deep and with all my strength I tried to stand up , and managed to get my head out of the water. But more tentacles started to coil around me and I soon would be totally helpless. My blaster was pinned to my hip by one of the tentacles and as unreachable as my combat knife in my boot sheath, but my right arm was still free, so I pulled the 45, thumbed the safety and fired the entire magazine into the barley visible black blob just in front of me. The thing reared out of the water, pulling me forward. I felt the tentacles go limb and knew the beast was dead! Two sun bright beams singed over my head vaporized water and much of whatever got me. At the same time Har-Hi jumped with Dai knifes in both fists into the water and started cutting tentacles away from me. Krabbel holding two blasters kept firing and whatever had me was long reduced to atomic ashes. Har Hi’s face was covered with green slime and filth:” Are you alright?” “I think so!” He grinned at me.” I know you like swimming but you should choose your swimming partners a little better! Besides this water is not exactly water!” Two powerful fists grabbed us and pulled us with no effort back on the platform. Wetmouth came running with a first aid kit. In her voice vibrated more than concern, almost something like fear or panic. This surprised me, she was usually the most un emotional of us all.” Is he alive?” I struggled to my feet.” Yes I think so. If the tentacles had any poison or so, it didn’t penetrate my suit.” She ran a medical diagnostic scanner over me never the less and checked the read out.” Other than a few contusions and ecchymoses you seem alright?” “Ecchy…what?” I repeated Her voice had the usual unemotional quality again:” Medical term for bruises, black and blue marks on your skin left by those tentacles.” Cirruit and all the others had come too and he said.” I just finished fixing the plumbing. Looks like just in time you both need a shower.” Elfi wrinkled her nose.” Yes you both stink!” Wetmouth took me by the arm. “The next time be more careful we are on an unexplored possible dangerous world!” “More dangerous than you realize! Read that E-Board!”
--‘’’— Wetmouth was right I did have red marks around my waist and legs but nothing serious. The shower felt great and I rinsed my gills and was amazed how much dark green stuff came out. It felt even better to breathe fresh water. I called a meeting in the common room after Har-Hi and I where clean and when everyone was assembled I said.” So how are we doing, so far?” I looked ad Har-Hi first. “We recorded the crime scene, Wetmouth secured any possible evidence for later. We stored one body in a specimen container and where just about to do the second when Krabbel raised alarm and you decided to examine a local life from close up!” that reminded me and I took the 45 put it on the table and took it apart as the Marine instructor had showed me to clean the gun. It came in quite handy and I promised myself to keep it in perfect working order. Wetmouth was next.” All crime scene evidence suggests that he was not murdered but committed suicide, but I am going over the forensic evidence I collected more closely, later. Not that there was much left. I also read the E Board you gave me and I concluded with 95 percent probability that we should not be here, but Lt.Strasenburgh his team and most of all the Marines. I further conclude that Lt Clusen set us up somehow.” I nodded.” I came to the same conclusion. Not that I put any percentage to my results. That means there is some dangerous life form or condition on this planet that is responsible for all those expeditions getting lost. While I am confident that we might be able to survive whatever it is, I would feel better if we could leave this planet before we have to find out what it is. Unless of course they send us those marines. Whatever it is those marines that investigated back then seem to be the only ones that returned.” I pulled the recoil spring plug off.” Any chances that GalNet terminal could be repaired?” I looked at Cirruit. “I didn’t have a chance to look at it. I get right to it. As for the other equipment, the Pile is about half way drained so we should have enough power for at least a hundred years. Water recycling works fine now, there was some nasty stuff in those filters I tell you , the self clean cycle has to run all the time. The lab equipment is pretty much intact. In addition we have six old style Marine TKU Rifles, A full sized F-9 Paralysator on tri-pod mound. Several boxes of explosives and detonators.” Har-Hi interrupted. ”Old Style TKU’S? Intact?” “Oh yes they are still in their shipping crate along with lots of fully charged cells.” Har-Hi’s eyes glittered.” Whatever is down here, we have nothing to fear. Do you know why they don’t have them no more? “ I shrugged.” No I don’t.” “Because they where to powerful! Ahhh I always wanted one!” “Then take one and relief Krabbel, and only fire it a few times and warn us!” Har-Hi almost flew out the door.” I will!” I looked at my Multi Com. “ Let’s continue with what we started to do. I would like to have dinner at 2000 hrs and everyone get dressed for it. I would like to have it as formal as possible. We are Navy Officers and let’s face the challenges with style.” They all got up. Elfi commandeered Krabbel and told him what had been discussed. I cleaned my gun, reloaded it and put it back in my holster. Almost padding it, like an old friend. I went back to the box to see what else it contained. There was a rectangular multi task console, one that could be carried with a strap before the waist. The unit had the manufacturer’s designation written on the side:” Portable Construction Command Console.” After I activated it, it had a simple easy to understand layout. The two large containers the shuttle had dropped where almost completely submerged into the muck. I pressed the robot activation key. I could see the slide door opening and water rushing in. Twenty robots emerged. I saw only parts of their heads sticking out of the water. Engineering robots where designed to work in almost any environment and neither the mud nor the water mattered to them. A voice from the console asked.” Choose project.” A pullet list appeared and I scanned down the list: •Defense Bunker •Landing Platform •Space Port •Landing Field •Settlement •Small Standard planetary base •Medium Planetary base. •Large Planetary base.
I didn’t bother to scan further and selected Medium Base. One of the robots launched a small device into the air and it disappeared into the sky.” Survey Satellite launched. Mapping in progress….Select site.” An aerial picture of our location appeared on the console. It was Jungle and mud bogs everywhere. So I simply drew a circle right here next to the old base. “Selection process complete. Construction phase indicated!” The robots worked on the second container. A big chute extended on one end just below the water. Water rushed in the chute and the robots began gathering mud and debris and putting it into the chute as well. The output conveyor was under water but I saw other robots taking square bricks of 2 meters x 1 x 1 meter and carrying them away. Long poles appeared and robots placed them in regular intervals into the mud forming a circle of perhaps 300 meters diameter. The robots worked tirelessly and with unerring precision. I saw a robot dragging a black blob of tentacles and scales towards the chute. It was the same or at least a similar animal that had attacked me. It had no chance against the raw power of the robot and seconds later the last tentacle end disappeared into the Nanite factory, where it would be disassembled into its molecules and reassembled into something the construction project needed. Bushes and water plants, rocks and mud everything was devoured. It was a fascinating process and I could have watched it all day long. I turned to return to the others and see their progress. Something caught my eye and I saw Har-Hi on top of the building aiming his blaster gun at me! At first I thought he was aiming at something behind me and I turned but there was nothing. Har-Hi was trembling and the gun was shaking. With a sharp thunder-crack a bolt of super heated plasma burned a 20 centimeter wide hole right before me through the dura plast of the platform. The heat was still so intense it burned with stinging sensation all over my face and hands! I was shocked. Har-Hi had almost killed me! My eyes where still blinded from the bright bolt and I heard shouts and Har-Hi’s angry voice. In heard Wetmouth close to me and the characteristic sounds of the medical scanner.” Second degree burns all over your face, thank to the Goddess your eyes are not permanently damaged. She sprayed something cool in my eyes and then over my skin. My eyesight returned and I saw Krabbel restraining Har-Hi and Hans aiming his immense fist at his face.” Did you loose your mind? Why in the world did you shoot at Eric?” Something that I thought I would never see, tears where rolling down Har-Hi’s face. “yes I lost my mind! I don’t know why but I suddenly felt so angry and hateful against Eric. For a moment he was the killer of all those Dai. I saw him attack me and the anger became stronger and stronger by the moment! I wanted to kill him! Deep down I knew it was all wrong and what I wanted to do was not me! I could not kill you. I was able aim the gun elsewhere the very last moment!” Elfi made a serious face.” I am latent Psionic talented and I felt it too! It was not Har-Hi but someone or something influenced him. For a moment I hated Wetmouth! I wanted to kill her so bad! I hated her for being so beautiful and intelligent. At the same time I knew it was wrong. I never saw her face how could I even know if she was beautiful or not!” “Let him go Krabbel.” I said. Hans still was aiming his fist and his face showed anger.” You verfluchter Dai Pirat! You tried to kill Eric! I will rip you apart!” “Hans! Stand down that is an order!” I said as loud as I could without screaming.” Stand down at once. He is mine!” Hans gleamed to me and his face was barley recognizable, it looked like the face of a raving lunatic. Then his expression relaxed. His fists opened and he stepped back.” Oh mein Gott! I was ready to kill you! What is happening to us?” Wetmouth said.” Someone or something out there has Psionic powers to Hypno suggest. Probably latching on at the smallest emotion and increasing it!” I looked around instinctively towards the jungle. It was for a moment as if someone had tapped on my shoulder , but there was no one. A sudden painful headache made me groan but it disappeared and I shook my head.” I am alright. What can we do to protect ourselves?” Wetmouth said.” I am immune to Psionic attacks, all Sojonites are. Our wigs have small Saresii psi tech shields! I got four extra wigs along.” “Give one to Hans. If he goes beserk no one can stop him. Har Hi needs one!” I grinned despite the serious situation.” It’s going to look good on you!” Cirruit raised his hands.” I am immune too, nothing biological to my brain, no psionics.” “Alright then. Krabbel how about you?” “I am not sure. My Heidelberg score is less than five but Saresii can read my mind.” “Krabbel you take a wig too.” Elfi said.” I think I am able to detect the thing. Somewhat that is. I felt a wave of pain, something has injured it and it retreated. It is not around or within my range to sense it.” “Mao you take the last wig. Those without stay at all times with a wig wearer. At the slightest sign of trouble we must be restrained or paralyzed. That includes me!” I turned and looked towards the jungle. It was getting dark. The poles the robots had erected where now equipped with flood light heads and the construction area was as bright as daylight. “We can not assume there is only one being out there with this capability, but I have a feeling their range is limited. I took the Construction command console and put it on voice command input.” Robots, interrupt construction process and clear any vegetation for 500 meters in all directions centering on my location.” The Robots dropped what they where doing and marched towards the edge of the lake and the jungle. I couldn’t help but smile when I saw Hans, Mao, and Har-Hi and Krabbel wearing the pink wigs. Har-Hi gave me a sinister look.” What I am thinking now is all my own! Only because I almost killed you I won’t ask for an honor fight!” I put my hand on his shoulder.” Har-Hi you never missed in your life. The very fact that I am still here and you missed proofs that your friendship is stronger than whatever is out there. That my friend makes me prouder than you ever know. Say the word and I kill myself if I offended your honor!” He looked at me for a long moment.” You are my brother!” He then turned to Hans.” And so are you! What Eric said holds true for you. I know you could have killed me like an insect with those fists.” Wetmouth hugged Elfi.” Thanks for not killing me either!” I looked around and paled.” Where is Muhammad?” Cirruit said.” He was helping me taking the GalNet Console apart and he was working in the Lab with a microscope to repair a modulator component. We all rushed to the lab and saw Muhammad, his eyes glued to the micro scanner eye piece while his hands manipulated micro tools. He looked up almost annoyed as I called his name, but then he smiled.” I am almost done. I think this modulator is working!” We told him what happened and he shrugged.” I am a Virtu Helmsman. All Helmsmen are implanted with a Saresii psi shield. So no one can manipulate us while we steer a ship.” “Well that leaves only Elfi and me then. How long till dinner?” “You still want to do the dinner?” Hans asked. “Absolutely!” “It will be ready at 2000 hrs. Or in about 40 minutes!”