Ray and the Alien Princesses
Part Two – Going Down
The Halicarnassus tore through the upper atmosphere of the planet, a comet of blazing flame. The air brakes screamed and wailed in alarm, begging for relief, but to no avail. Ray rode them hard and the ship shook violently as a result.
Brian gripped on tight to the armrests of his chair, with nothing else to do but to close his eyes and hope for the best. Part of him wanted to watch, to see what was going on but mostly he dreaded actually seeing what was happening.
“Now that is interesting.” Ray’s mechanically composed tones were in stark contrast to the chaos that engulfed the bridge.
Brain permitted himself to peep one eye open slightly. “What?”
“I am receiving readings indicating that there is some form of inhabited structure down there. It is faint, but certainly present.”
“Interesting, yes, but of little help to us in our current predicament.”
“On the contrary, sir. Our descent path was taking us near it, so with a little jiggering I should be able to put us down almost on top of it. Close enough that they can send rescue parties at least.”
“In one piece?”
“That is the plan, sir.”
The ship shuddered again and somewhere a new siren started its morbid wailing. Brian closed his eye again as the ship jumped and bounced, his body riding each intense shock of the descent.
“Hang on sir,” Ray said. Brian found the warning a bit redundant. He was already gripping so tight his hands ached. A sudden shock hit the ship, harder and more ferocious than any previous one and there accompanied it the terrible sound of an ear-ringing shriek of tearing metal that went on and on.
Brian was unable to resist another quick look. The Halicarnassus was down, but was also sliding across a dusty, barren plain towards a series of hills that rose jagged up into the sky ahead of them.
The grinding sounds gradually diminished as the Halicarnassus slowed in its slide, jolting to a stop right at the feet of the hills.
“And we are down,” Ray announced. The bridge was a mess, with everything that hadn’t been bolted down now strewn across the room, lights blazing away on nearly every console and the whole room tilted at an angle.
“And what about getting back up again?”
“Give me a year or two and it may be feasible.”
“Wonderful, marooned on a desert planet. Just my luck.”
“You are being far too melodramatic, sir. Firstly the planet isn’t that barren and secondly, we have company. I did say I was aiming for the signal.”
In the tilted viewing screens Brian could see part of the hill ahead of them began to slide open, revealing a cavernous chamber within, and a pair of tiny figures emerging.
“Zoom in on them,” Brain ordered. The screen flickered and jumped and then the two figures leapt forward in size, filling the screen. One was a battered old droid, even more so than Ray, little more than a walking box, a model so old it had probably long since been forgotten. The second was most defiantly not a droid.
She – and there was no mistaking that fact – had long, lustrous black hair, a full figure that was barely concealed beneath her clinging, shimmering dress, and emerald skin. She was no human, but far more alluring than any human woman, Brian thought, a picture of perfection. His eyes glazed over as he stared at her image on the screen.
“Ahem,” Ray said pointedly. He couldn’t exactly clear his throat, but he was doing a fine interpretation of it. “I’m going to be able to wash the floors with your drool at this rate.”
“I am not drooling,” Brian protested.
“If you say so sir. Now, best let me do the speaking. We don’t want you making a total fool out of yourself. Again.”
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