Chapter 4 of my Daria/ Star Frontiers Crossover – Crash on Volturnus
I’m putting up a table of contents since it appears some of the incoming websites haven’t updated yet for Chapter 5.
Crash on Volturnus – Chapter 4
By Dr. Mike
Story originally created by Mark Acres and Tom Moldvay with Doug Niles. Story originally edited by Troy Denning. Original story copyright 1982 by TSR Inc.
“Cynic One. Cynic Base. I have you exiting the airlock. You’re looking good, Cynic One.”
“I’m wearing a space suit, Cynic Base. You can’t see anything. Of course I’m going to look good in it.” Daria smirked as she heard chuckling over the radio.
“Cynic One, this is Cynic Doc. I’m reading an elevated heart rate that’s near the top of the scale. Please pause for thirty.”
“Cynic Doc. Cynic One. Anything that I need to be worried about?”
She imagined the doctor double checking his readings. “I doubt it. Just take a small break. If anything goes wrong, Cynic Three is suited up and ready to go.”
“And I’m itching to get out there, Amiga. Save some of those hunky space aliens for me,” joked Jane.
“Roger that, Cynic Doc. Pausing for thirty.” Daria wondered yet again who Jane had slept with to get approved for this mission. She had been nothing but trouble with the male crew for the entire trip. Not that they complained of course…
Daria paused at the top of the ramp, closed her eyes, took a deep breath and slowly let it out. She opened an eye to see if the planet was still there.
The stars were still visible in the purple sky overhead. She had been surprised that the reflection of the two full moons also in the sky hadn’t overpowered the star’s light. The rings around the planet were visible as well. The landing site was surrounded by reddish mesas and mountains but they had landed in a fairly clear spot. She would have to detail a flyer sometime to have a look at them. Maybe sending Jane off for a few days would be a good idea. Allow the rest of the crew a chance to heal.
Another shooting star skimmed across the sky, a fiery trail behind it. Daria made a mental note to increase the orbital scans. She didn’t want any surprises landing in the middle of their camp this mission.
“Cynic One. This is Cynic Three. I know I’m the one with the bad math skills but I would say thirty seconds are about up. Not that any of you could last thirty…”
“Roger, Cynic Three. Cynic One. Cynic Doc. I’m showing that you’re green across the board. Five by five. You’re clear for a descent.”
“Cynic One. Cynic Three. Try not to trip this time. It’ll look bad for the viewers at home.”
Daria couldn’t resist. “Cynic Base. Cynic One. Why did you have Cynic Three suit up? I thought she was on kitchen detail for the next two weeks?”
“What? I’m not on..”
“Cynic One. Cynic Base. There’s no way in hell I’m going to let her near the kitchen again.”
“Hey, wait a min…”
“Cynic One. Cynic Doc. I concur. We almost had a mutiny the last time she tried to make pizza. Let alone the wear on the kitchen. And the full sick bay. I couldn’t keep anything down for three days.”
“Hey, I had some of that pizza, Cynic Doc.”
“Cynic Three. Cynic Doc. Yes, and how was it?”
Jane paused. “Well, it wasn’t that bad…” Jane said in a small voice.
“Cynic Three. Cynic Base. Could you please repeat that? There was some static on the channel.”
“Cynic Base. Cynic Doc. I didn’t hear her either. Jane, what did you say?”
Jane raised her voice. “Cynic Base. Cynic Three. Steven, see if you ever get any any more!”
As they continued discussing Jane’s culinary arts, Daria smirked inside of her helmet. The crew didn’t need a morale officer. They had Jane to keep their spirits up. Daria reached up with a gloved hand to turn on her helmet light as she started her way down the ramp. They just were not going to stop.
“And another thing. I keep telling you guys over and over again. You’ve got to wine and dine me. An alcohol bulb, a blanket behind the waste disposal unit, and a rubber doesn’t mean…”
“Cynic Three. Cynic Base. That’s not what you said last night.”
“Cynic Base. Cynic Three. I don’t know who you were with last night but it wasn’t… Hey, Cynic Base. Take a look at camera five. I think you’re missing something. And it wouldn’t be the first time.”
“Cynic Base. Cynic One. I was beginning to feel lonely out here.”
“Cynic One. Cynic Base. Um, yeah. I have you on the planet’s surface. Sorry about…”
“Cynic One. Cynic Three. Speaking of kitchen duty…”
“Cynic Three. Cynic One. Nice how you finally remembered proper radio procedures.”
“Cynic One. Cynic Base. There’s a small hill off to your eleven o’clock. Looks like a good candidate to me.”
Daria slowly turned in her suit to face the direction in question. About a hundred meters off, a small hill rose up. A few rocks dotted the red surface but nothing she couldn’t get around. Daria’s gaze skimmed over the landing site. Seemed like the best place.
“Cynic Base. Cynic One. Looks good to me. Should take me about five minutes…”
“And would someone please sit on Jane to shut her up.” The crew’s cheering and laughter drowned out Jane’s trying to get a word in.
Daria slowly skipped over the rough terrain in the low gravity, kicking up clouds of red dust as she went.
“Cynic One. Cynic Base. I have you approaching the hill.”
“Well, duh, Cynic Base. I think the billions of viewers on their 3D sets watching at home can see that.”
“Cynic Three. Cynic Base. Jane, I don’t care if you’re the captain’s best friend and have known her for a dozen years. But if you don’t stop interrupting, I’m going to drop you from the…”
“Shut up! Cynic One. Cynic Doc. I have you pegged off scale in the red zone. Talk to me, Daria. Tell me what’s going on.”
Daria stood frozen about five meters from the base of the hill, her mouth slowly closing and opening. No words came out though.
“Cynic One. Cynic Base. Daria? What’s going on?”
“Cynic Three. Cynic Doc. Something’s wrong. Jane, I want you out of the airlock now!”
“Daria? Can you hear me? Talk to me, Amiga.”
“Jane, just go out there. Daria’s in trouble.”
“Cynic One. This is Cynic Base. Talk to us, Daria.”
“EVERYBODY SHUT UP!” Even Daria rocked at Jane’s sudden yell over the radio.
“Daria, it’s Jane. You ok, Amiga?” Daria heard the airlock cycling in the background over the radio.
“Um, Jane? I…”
“I’m sorry about the billions crack. It’s just you and me, kid. OK?”
Daria closed her eyes and relaxed.
“Jane, I’m fine. Just… Just give me a minute.”
“Cool with me. You and I both know that you just want some more screen time.” Jane and Daria shared a laugh.
Daria took another deep breath. “Cynic Doc. Cynic One. How am I doing, Roger?”
“Cynic One. Cynic Doc. Your numbers are beginning to settle. I’m still sending Jane out there in case it happens again.”
“Cynic Doc. Cynic One. Oh, come on. You guys are just afraid to sit on her. Don’t give me that…”
“Now I know you’re fine.” He chuckled a bit. “Cynic One. Cynic Doc. Your numbers are back in the green. You are go for the crest of the hill.”
“Cynic Doc. Cynic One. Roger that. Jane? I’ll meet you at the top.”
“Not if I get there first, Amiga!”
Daria used the inside of her helmet to wipe off the sweat on her forehead. She turned back to see the airlock’s door open, Jane patiently waiting for the hatch to finish cycling. Daria swore that Jane was tapping her booted foot impatiently on the airlock’s floor.
As Daria turned back towards the hill, she removed a foot long metal tube from a pouch on her leg. As she slowly climbed the hill, she extended the tube into a three meter long bar.
“Cynic One. Cynic Base. I have you at the crest of the hill.”
“Cynic Base. Cynic One. Roger that. I’m planting the flag now.”
She positioned the pointed end of the bar against the ground and stood it up straight. With her free hand, she removed a hammer from her tool belt and slowly pounded the bottom half meter of the bar into the ground. It was slow going for Daria due to the low gravity.
“Cynic One. Cynic Three. You always get to do the good stuff.”
Daria smirked inside her helmet as she reattached the hammer on her belt. With her hands free, she pulled out the end of the Truane’s Star flag to it’s full length. There wasn’t much density to the air on the planet but it was enough to fill out the flag and let it snap in the breeze.
“Looks great.” Jane came up behind her. Daria heard the sound of someone biting into what sounded like an apple.
Daria paused. Something was up. She turned to face her friend.
Jane stood in front of her wearing a long white dress, one arm propped up on the other, one strap of her dress falling down off her shoulder. She took another bit of the red apple she was holding, chewed for a second, and pointed at the flag with a finger. “I can’t believe we came all this way to stick a rod and a half meter of fabric into the ground though.”
“Um, Cynic Base. Cynic One. Are you getting this?”
“Cynic One. Cynic Base. Not sure what you mean. Everything looks OK to me.”
Jane swallowed. “I don’t know why you’re still wearing that monkey suit.” She looked around at the sky. “Everything’s fine.” Jane turned back to the ship. “Isn’t that right, Cynic Base?” Jane yelled across the rocky ground. There was no way her voice would carry…
“Cynic Three. Cynic Base. That’s an affirm.” Daria heard back over the radio. Jane turned back towards Daria and raised an eyebrow.
“Wait a minute…”
Jane rolled her eyes and tossed her half finished apple aside. “Cynic One. Cynic Three. I don’t know what’s wrong with you.” She reached up to Daria’s helmet and flipped the lock. Daria raised her hands in alarm but Jane was quick to brush them away. “It’s perfectly safe.”
Jane pulled the helmet over Daria’s head. Daria was holding her breath, not understanding what was happening around her.
“Daria, you’re going to have to breathe sometime soon.” Daria made a quick grab for her helmet but it was simple for Jane to keep it out of her reach. Jane moved her head closer towards Daria and looked her straight in the eye. “Daria, you’re turning purple. You do remember how to breathe, right? You learned how to do it as a little baby.”
Daria couldn’t hold back anymore. She gasped for breath, looking around in amazement. Jane leaned back with a smirk. “Now that wasn’t so bad.” She shoved Daria’s helmet back into her arms.
“Um, Jane. What’s going on?”
Jane shrugged and turned back towards the ship. “Cynic Base. Cynic Three. Everything OK?”
“Cynic One and Three. Cynic Base. Everything’s hunky dory over here. Wompa Flight will be overhead shortly. We’re about ready to have tea and lollipops. Care to join us?”
Jane shrugged. “In a few minutes. Please keep an eye on us.” Jane laid herself on the ground.
“Jane, what are you doing?”
Jane looked up at her friend. “Cynic One. Cynic Three. And you gave me crap for not maintaining proper radio procedures.” She looked down at the dirt underneath her. “I don’t know but something tells me to get into this position.”
“Cynic Base. Wompa One. Passing over head in fifteen. Over.”
“Um, Jane, you’re going to get your white dress dirty.”
Jane looked down at it and shrugged. She looked out at the landscape. “Oh, what’s that?” She pointed off into the distance. Daria placed her helmet under an arm and looked in the direction Jane pointed.
As the aircraft passed overhead, Jane lost her balance and grabbed one of Daria’s legs.
Daria looked at the scene from a distance. It seemed rather strange to be able to look at herself. It looked like something straight out of a recruiting poster. Daria looked down at the green jacket and mustard and black coveralls she wore throughout high school. Something was nagging her about all of this. Where was her space suit? And how could she be in two places at once?
Daria looked around for the voice calling her. No one was near her. She turned back towards the landing site and watched herself and Jane, now back in her space suit, making their way back to the landing craft.
“Daria? It’s time to wake up.”
Daria looked around in confusion. “Where are you?”
“Daria? Come on now. Please wake up.”
Daria slowly opened her eyes and instantly regretted it. She lay on a tarp of some sort while a second one blocked the sun over head. The worried looks of C’hting and Kurn looked down at her.
“Where… Where am I?”
“Oh damn! She’s lost her memory! Can anything else go wrong with this damn mission?!?” Kurn yelled into the sky.
Daria turned towards him. “Kurn, I’m fine.” She started to sit up but a sudden wave of dizziness went through her. “Well, maybe not.” She looked at her two team mates. They didn’t look too happy. “What’s wrong?”
C’hting and Kurn looked at one another before looking back at her.
“Daria, we have a problem.”