Chapter 5 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 5
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.
“She’s just sitting there. After she put her arm in a cast, bandaged us up, and made sure you were fine, she took her survival pack and went out there. She hasn’t moved for a couple of hours.” Kurn looked down at his three feet for a second. “She’s got some nasty burns. She needs treatment.”
Daria looked out across the desert at her friend. Jane sat against a boulder, her arms wrapped around the knees that she had brought to her chest, slowly rocking back and forth. She appeared to be holding something in her hand but from this distance, Daria couldn’t make it out. At least she had the intelligence enough to stay within the shade that the boulder cast, Daria thought. Daria looked up towards the Volturnus sun. It beat down on the desert sand all around them, making the sand burn through their boots. Must already be at least fifty five degrees Celsius out here, she thought. Daria lowered the edge of the tarp they were gathered under and turned back to her team sitting on the sand.
Her team. She was responsible for them. They looked to her for leadership, for guidance, for support. Now here they all were stuck on an alien planet with little to no hope for rescue. All they had were the packs on their backs and what little they had been able to scrounge up before escaping from the deathtrap above them. One team member had already died. How many more would before this nightmare was over?
Daria looked down at the chronocom on her wrist. The display was smashed. “What time is it?” Daria asked simply to buy herself some more time.
C’hting looked at the chronocom on his wrist. “Just after noon local time.”
Daria started removing the broken chronocom from her wrist. “Any idea when sunset will be?”
C’hting thought for a moment. “With the planet on a twenty four hour rotation, I’m guessing in about six to eight hours.” He gave what passed for shrug for a Vrusk. “Kind of hard to tell without the detailed scans we had planned on doing before we left the Serena Dawn.”
Daria looked back at Jane. “She’s going to get mighty hot out there even under the shade.”
Kurn spoke up. “The emergency packs have water in them. She’s got one out there with her. We haven’t seen her drink any, though.” He looked for a quick moment at C’hting and Bakchu. “We’re more worried about what’s out there. We don’t know anything about the life forms on this planet. Something might…”
“Something might attack her before we would have a chance to rescue her. It would be better if we stayed in a group,” Kurn suggested.
Daria nodded, her mind made up. “OK, I’m going to go talk to Jane. She’s my best friend and I need to be by her. Doren was…” She paused. “This isn’t the first time she’s lost someone close.”
Bakchu spoke up now. “Doren was our friend, too. Make sure that Jane knows that we’re her friends as well.”
“We’ll gather up the supplies, make a note of what we have, and distribute the extra items among us,” C’hting offered.
Daria looked at her team members before ducking under the overhanging tarp and moved out onto the baked sands. The rest of her team got to work.
Jane slowly rocked herself back and forth, her arms pulled in tight around her knees and her broken wrist now set in a cast. One hand held the laser pistol she had found within her emergency pack. Her eyes remained glued to the small patch of fabric set under a rock so not to blow away. Tears still slowly made streaks through the soot and dirt coating her face. Jane knew she was in shock and needed treatment but she didn’t care. She had quickly and efficiently bandaged the other members of the team, silently going through the motions to make sure that they were fine, double checked Daria who was still out cold, grabbed her own survival kit and walked away from where they had set up camp for the day. She had heard her friends calling out from behind her but she hadn’t paid them any mind. She just wanted to be alone. Alone to think.
Her thoughts had turned back towards Tom Sloane. She and Daria had dated him back in high school for a time during their senior year. Tom had been some rich kid from the local Fielding Preparatory Academy located back home. Jane had met him first at one of her brother’s infrequent band gigs. She hadn’t been too impressed with the beat up piece of crap hover car that he had driven but he made up for it in other ways. Whenever they had gone out, Tom made sure it was understood that he was to pay for everything.
Jane didn’t want to rely on him or have him assume that she was going to put out just because he had money, but kept quiet about it. In a small way, it felt good that a guy was willing to pay for her on a date. Most guys she had dated had insisted on splitting everything. When she had finally mentioned that to him, Tom had sat her down and explained that he was just trying to make sure Jane had a good time and not to worry about it. Tom had known that Jane’s parents and other family members were nearly never home and he assumed that money might have been an issue, especially after seeing the poorly maintained floor of the residence tower her family lived on.
Tom hadn’t minded paying for the dinners and whatnot. He knew he had money and knew some thought him to be a stuck up snob because of it. The car was an attempt to downplay his rich background. And he had been more than willing to wait until Jane was ready. She had given him one of her rare smiles and even let him beat her at some of the arcade games they had played that night.
And then Daria had kissed him. Daria said afterwards that she and Tom had been talking about her while they sat in Tom’s hover car. Jane had been heartbroken when Daria had told her the news. Jane had walked out of school, earning the wrath of the school’s principal, Ms. Li, as well as a three day suspension. She had confronted Tom, beat on his chest, and finally broken down and told him that she had loved him. It had been the first time that she had told anyone that she had loved them. She never had told anyone those three little words.
Tom sat her down, they had cried a bit, and then promised that they would be friends. Tom had cared for her as well but they had grown apart recently. Jane had sighed, thought about it for a few minutes and agreed; they had grown apart. Jane chuckled slightly as she remembered Tom telling her afterwards how wonderful she was followed by her calling him a dork.
Daria and Tom had dated for a short time, never really hitting it off. Daria had never dated beforehand and had felt very uncomfortable. Both Jane and Tom had suggested that she just think of it as spending time together like Jane and Daria did, but to no avail. After a short time, they too broke up.
Neither Daria nor Jane had seen much of Tom after that. Jane and Daria had graduated from their school and gone off to visit Daria’s Aunt Amy in Capital City while Tom had gone on to some prep school to take some classes before going off to college. It had been a great surprise for all three of them when Tom had walked into the same pizza joint where Daria and Jane had been enjoying lunch and complaining about the lack of security within the building where Aunt Amy worked. Tom had honestly seemed happy to see the two of them and they sat for a couple of hours just talking about anything they could think of.
At the end of lunch, Tom had offered to drive them back to their office. Daria had made some wise crack about the old hover car that he used to drive. Jane had seen Tom’s face begin to fall and she quickly took him up on the offer, dragging Daria out to the sidewalk. The old worn out hover car sat there like before. Jane knew the reasons why Tom drove it. Daria knew that what she had said bothered him and climbed into the back without a word.
They had just pulled out into traffic when the escaped alien creature from the Capital City Zoo had slammed into their hover car. The safety devices in the car had automatically cocooned the girls, saving their lives. Tom had been instantly crushed. Daria, not knowing what had happened, had instantly gone after the havoc causing creature, pulling her laser pistol from beneath her jacket. Jane had sat there for a few moments watching the blood pool in his seat. Kurn, C’hting, Bakchu, and Doren had come running up to see if everybody was alright. Doren had sat near her holding her as she wailed while C’hting had called in the accident to the authorities and Bakchu and Kurn had gone running after the monster.
“Jane, are you OK?”
Jane turned to look up at her friend, Daria, standing just inside the shade cast by the boulder behind them. Jane noticed a look of worry on her face along with about a half a quart of sweat dripping from her face.
“I’m just sitting here.” Jane turned back to her study of the small piece of fabric. “Thinking.”
“Jane, you need to take care of your injuries. You just crash landed on an alien planet.”
Jane held up the cast on her broken wrist. “And I’ve taken a shot of biocort…”
“The all purpose healing drug that you carry in your medical kit?”
Jane nodded. “Yup. There are about twenty doses in that medical kit the guys found. They were fine and you seemed to be as well except for the cut on your head…”
Daria lifted a hand to her forehead. She felt the clean cotton taped to her.
“…They didn’t seem to need me so I came out here. Of course, we only have nineteen shots left of the biocort. Once that runs out, we’re going to be stuck.” Jane looked out over the sands. Daria noticed that she didn’t look at the crash site. “Yup, just sitting here all alone. Not going out into that sun where I’ll burn up like a Dralasite with his head stuck in the…” Jane broke off and buried her head in her arms. Daria could hear some sniffling.
Daria knelt down beside her. “Jane, you’re not alone. You know that, right?”
Jane looked up at Daria, fresh tears mixing with the older ones. “I know. It’s just that it seems like whenever I find a guy I like, something bad always happens.” She looked up into the sky and raised her voice. “Not that I’m complaining or anything but I still can’t see how *SOMEONE* rolled five tens in a row like that.” She paused. “Don’t give me that look. I noticed that you rolled the dice behind your screen too so that we couldn’t see the results.” She paused again as if she was listening to someone else. “Oh, bull. The rules didn’t say anything about having the hydra creature being able to destroy a car like that. You just hate it when I pick some NPC to…”
Daria looked puzzled as she looked into the sky as well, trying to figure out who Jane was talking to. “Excuse me?”
Jane shook her head and reached out for the piece of fabric. “Never mind. We’ve got to get going anyway…”
The sand sifted near Jane’s hand. They both froze. The head of a snake-like creature shot out of the sand. It also froze at the sight of them, its red serpent tongue flicking in and out.
“Maybe it’s friendly,” suggested Daria as they both stared at it.
The creature turned towards Jane’s hand, still posed over the fabric. It flicked its tongue at a much quicker speed.
“And maybe it’s not…” replied Jane as she slowly swung her other arm around, this one with her laser pistol.
They both gazed at the creature. It resembled a one and a half meter long cross between a snake and a salamander. It had good sized back legs with webbed feet but its front arms only ended in short stumps. The snake like creature had a rough, scaled skin like a snake but the body and the tail of a salamander. It slit its eyes and lower its head slightly.
With reflexes like lightning, the creature lunged at Jane’s exposed arm. Jane was quicker though. Too close to fire her laser pistol, she brought down the butt of the weapon against its head. It leapt back in pain and confusion, shaking its upper torso in an attempt to steady itself.
Jane didn’t give it a chance. With a one handed flip of her weapon, she aimed and fired. The energy released by the weapon blew a chunk out of its middle, almost cutting the creature into two. It landed five meters away in the hot sun. Jane turned to look at Daria and smirked.
“Well, Tex. That there was some mighty fine shooting I done just did.” She looked Daria over and frowned. “By the way, where’s your weapon?”
Daria froze. She had broken the first rule of explorers. Never be without your weapon. She mentally kicked herself.
“I was more worried about you?” Daria suggested.
Jane placed her laser pistol on safety and holstered it. She looked at her friend, thought for a second, pulled out her weapon and handed it to Daria.
“Daria, I don’t want to lose you either. Take it. You’re a better shot anyway.”
“Actually, we’ll just give her her own weapon.” Daria and Jane turned to see Bakchu handing her a loaded backpack and her laser pistol. “Fully charged. Should be twenty shots unless you turn up the power. We have a few extra clips but not many. Make them count.” Bakchu turned towards Jane. “You OK?”
Jane shrugged. “I’ll survive.” She turned towards the destroyed lifeboat. It was the first time she had looked at it. Daria could see a small shudder pass through her body. Jane wrapped her arms around herself tightly. “Yeah, I’ll survive,” Jane added in a small voice.
Daria took the offered items, holstered her laser pistol and strapped on her backpack. Jane picked up her own pack and strapped it on as well. After a moment, Jane reached down and recovered the small piece of fabric, looked at it for a second, and placed it in a belt pouch.
“We better get going,” Jane suggested. Daria shook her head and scanned the sky. No clouds.
“No, it’s too hot and we’ll just burn up. We’ll drink all of our water within a day.”
“Kurn thinks he sees some sort of oasis off to the east,” Bakchu suggested. “He thinks it’s about eight clicks off.”
“Eight clicks. What a surprise,” Jane said.
Daria nodded. “We’ll wait until dark and then head out. It’ll be cooler and we’ll save water.”
“I don’t know about you two but that snake thing is beginning to smell as bad as Trent’s room. I think we need to leave.” Jane covered her nose and mouth. “At least from around here,” Jane mumbled.
Daria took a whiff. “That’s an understatement.”
“Damn, why did it have to be a snake? I hate snakes.” Jane smirked when Daria turned to give her a dirty look. Daria rolled her eyes before she, Jane and Bakchu made their way quickly back to the rest of the team.
Daria strapped on a new chronocom that she had found in her survival pack and set the local time. It was a combination wristwatch, calculator, and a communicator with an approximate five kilometer range. They could probably live without the watch portion and she doubted they would need the calculator but the communicators they couldn’t deal without. If something happened and they got split up, this was a mighty large planet to get lost on. She turned to watch the Volturnus sun start its slow slip past the horizon. Soon it would be nightfall and they would begin their trek across the desert.
“I think we better go over what’s in our packs and make sure we have everything,” C’hting suggested.
Daria nodded. “I agree. Since you guys worked on the supplies…”
“Ok, in addition to the spare chronocom that you’ve already discovered, each pack contains the following. One machete for cutting through jungle growth.” Bakchu read off from his list.
Jane pulled hers out of her pack and turned it in the light. “Now, that’s a knife!”
“One box of matches. One all weather blanket. A first aid pack each containing a spray bandage, an antiseptic spray, and a single dose of Stimdose, a mild stimulant, and Staydose, a stabilizer in case you’re heavily wounded.”
Jane help up a large bundle. “I’ve also got the full medical kit filled with wonder drugs, anesthetics, plastiflesh, sonic and laser scalpels, antitoxins, and other neat goodies.” She pulled out an electronic device and pointed it at Kurn. “And with this device, I can tell that you’re male or what passes as male with you guys, you have a few bumps and bruises, and a slightly higher temperature than normal but I guess that’s OK considering of where we are.” She shut off the device and looked at Kurn. “And, oh yes. You’re not budding. That’s a good thing I guess as we don’t want any little blobs running around now.” She smirked as the group chuckled.
“We also have one compass each, a lifejacket…” He paused to look out over the desert and shook his head. “Ten salt pills to help us conserve our water, one flashlight, ten meters of rope, one toxyrad gauge to detect poisons and radiation, a pair of sun goggles, an extra pair of stretch coveralls, a pair of magnigoggles to see off in the distance, and one pocket tool with knives, screwdrivers and an extra flashlight built in.”
“Somehow the builders of the life pod knew exactly what types of people were going to be on their ship and provided the correct sets of coveralls. Hmmm, imagine that,” said Jane.
“We also each have a poly-vox. It’s used for translating any alien languages from any aliens that we meet. For weapons we have a tangler grenade, a sleep grenade and a laser pistol with a clip of twenty shots with ten extra clips.”
“Minus the shot I took of that snake-salamander thingie so I only have nineteen shots left.”
“We also have a couple of jars of Dralasite steam bath perfume that, for some reason, Kurn brought along, the holographic fireworks projector C’hting picked up, and our skeinsuits.”
“We need to put those on. No telling what we’ll meet out there,” C’hting suggested.
Bakchu look up from his list. “Each one of us also has enough ration packages to last eight days a piece. Plus the rations that we found aboard the ship which will last us a total of twelve more days.”
“Twenty days,” Daria added together.
“Our water will run out first, though. We only have eight liters each,” Jane reminded them.
Daria spoke up. “They told me in survival class that one of us will go through four liters of water within one twenty four hour period.”
“Volturnus is on a twenty four hour cycle,” offered Jane. Daria nodded.
“We can save half of that by traveling at night. We can also save some more by taking some of those salt pills each day.”
“So if we travel at night, rest under shade during the day, and take some salt pills…”
“I’d say we’ll only need two liters of water each day.”
“Four days,” Kurn added up.
“How many salt pills do we have, anyway?” asked Kurn.
Jane opened the top of her bottle and did a quick count. She turned the bottle and read the label. “Looks like ten pills total. The instructions say take two a day. That means we’ll only have enough for five days. After that, we’ll need more water than the two liters a day.”
“So, we’ll have to find a water supply somewhere and soon,” Kurn said.
“We could walk faster,” suggested Jane.
“That’ll just burn up more water,” Daria answered.
“How far can we travel in a day?”
“About sixteen kilometers. Again, we can go faster and take shorter breaks.”
“The water is what’s holding us back,” Daria confirmed.
Jane stood. “I don’t know about you but I’m getting tired of sitting here and talking about our problems.” She looked at the setting sun. “It’s night time and that means we can move out.” Jane strapped her backpack to her back, flipped on her flashlight, and walked out from underneath the tarp. She turned back towards the group. “Well?”
“Jane, which way are we headed?” Daria asked.
Jane looked around for a moment until finally pointing east. “I thought we would go check out that oasis that Kurn thought he saw to the east.” She shrugged. “We’re going to need water soon. That seems like the best place to find some.” Jane turned and walked off for a bit. “Better hurry up. These boots were made for walking!”
The rest of the group looked at one another, rolled their eyes and started breaking down camp.
“So, what are the neighbors doing now? Should I throw them a ham?” Jane smirked as she looked upwards.
Daria stood on the top of the boulder, her set of magnigoggles held to her face. She adjusted the controls in an attempt to get a better focus. “Looks like some sort of hut with a few trees around it. Don’t see any animals or people or aliens around it though. Maybe the hut’s abandoned.” She brought down her magnigoggles, replaced her glasses, and looked down at her friend. “But where there’s a tree…”
“…there’s got to be some water.” Jane helped Daria down from the rock. They walked back to the group resting up against another boulder. They had come about seven clicks east from the crash site in about four hours. Daria had watched Jane turn briefly to view the crash site from a small hill before leaving the area. Daria hadn’t said anything about it to her. “Daria says she sees some trees off to the east with a hut.”
The group gathered their packs and headed off once again.
Jane and Bakchu stopped a few meters from the oasis. They scanned the area with their flashlights as they drew out their laser pistols. A small dome made out of loose rocks stood in the center of a half a dozen trees. It was errily silent. They advanced a few more meters while shining their lights overhead.
“Anything?” Daria asked over the suddenly loud chronocoms. They both quickly lowered the volume on their communicators.
“Don’t see a thing, Amiga.” Jane shone her light on the dome in front of them. A wooden door about a meter tall was seen on the left side of the dome. It was barred with a lock securing it. “The door looks solid. Locked up tight, too. You better send up C’hting with his kit to see if he can unlock it.”
“On my way,” C’hting responded.
Jane lowered her arm and resumed shining her light over the area. Bakchu joined her. “If it’s locked from the outside, I seriously doubt that there’s anything in there.”
Bakchu thought about it for a moment. “Unless it’s some sort of jail.”
Daria looked out over the desert. She saw something ripple through the sands near Jane. She frowned.
“Nah, too small.” Jane turned and shone her lights over the sands. “You wouldn’t have room for…”
Jane’s eyes went wide as two large creatures burst out of the sands in front of her. She threw up her arms over her head as large sets of teeth latched down on her legs and torso. Jane and the creatures went down in a heap.
“JANE!” Daria screamed as she pulled out her laser pistol and ran to help.