Part 3: An Emu Takes a Nap
“At least your emu’s suit is still tethered to the ship,” Phil said, running a hand through his hair.
Sometimes when odd things happened to Sophia, she tried not to think about them until her brain, like a browser with too many tabs open, crashed. She’d managed to accept and push back that they were in space going faster than the speed of light. She’d even managed to accept that she was on this ship with the dreamy character from the ship’s stories.
Seeing Hagrid floating outside of the ship, wearing a spacesuit, and flopping around, was just a little to far for her. She sat down on the ground and said, “Gah!” a little too loudly.
The Prince jumped up and alternated his gaze from her to the space walking emu. His wide eyes and head movements meant he was having the same sort of mental freeze or he was replaying a particularly traumatic ping-pong game.
The two of them contemplated the farce that had become their day when Prince Phil looked out the window and said, “What the hell is that? That’s not part of my ship.” Then looking at Sophia he asked, “Did you put that there?”
She stood up shook her head clear and looked out the portal. Ignoring Hagrid flopping around, she looked for what Phil was pointing at. It was a small grayish box with a blinking purple light. “No, what is it?”
“I don’t know but your bird is going straight for it.”
Hagrid’s flailing turned to flouncing and suddenly he moved with purpose. He reached the place where the box was and started trying to peck at it. Since his head was in a spacesuit helmet it just looked like he was headbutting the ship. His head hit the ship, but the momentum of the hit pushed his entire body away from it.
His mask stuck onto the device and the rest of him just floated there like a disturbing and misshapen space accident.
“He’s still tethered,” she said, reaching for the controls to reel him in.
“I already said that.”
“Sorry, I have breakdown.”
Reeling him in was much easier than she’d expected. He just stayed there and didn’t move.
Once the emu was in the airlock and the air had been pumped back in, Phil opened the hatch and took a tentative step inside before turning to her and saying, “You may want to be the one to come in first… it’s a very large bird.”
Hagrid, however, offered no resistance to them taking the suit off. Once it was off, he gave a happy chirp and wobbled out of the airlock.
“It’s a good thing I have spare suits… this one is completely ruined.” His eyes widened as he picked up the helmet. “Holy nebulas! The thing is in the mask.”
The small box had embedded itself in the mask. It took her a little work and the right tools to take it out. “So engineering girl, what is it?”
She was about to tell him she didn’t know, but decided to see if there was some sort of transmission coming from it. It did. “It’s a tracking beacon!” she exclaimed in English.
“What barbaric language is that?” The Prince asked his mouth frowning as if he’d eaten something disgusting.
“English. The box is sending signal. Someone following us.” She grabbed a hammer and was about to smash it, but he picked it up and looked at it.
“I’ve never seen this tech… Can you tell where it’s sending information?”
“It send everywhere.”
“Oh… can you disable it without destroying it?”
Nodding she took the box and started studying it. The ship had sensors that let her see inside the box and she took her time trying to understand how it worked. Phil was right that it didn’t look like it was made by the same people as his ship.
Her study and tinkering took several hours. Eventually she figured out how to sever a small wire to stop it from transmitting.
When she was done, she looked up to see that both Phil and Hagrid had left her in the engine room. She found them in the small kitchen where Phil was eating something that looked like cereal and Hagrid was asleep in the corner, his head under his wing.
“Did you do it?” Phil asked, almost knocking over the bowl of cereal.
“Yes. It is disabled.” She gave it to him and went to the food replicator and ordered a muffin. When she turned around, Phil was gone and Hagrid was snoring.
Phil was on the bridge and looked really upset. “Why aren’t we there yet?”
Looking at the instruments she replied, “We are. We circle coordinates until we have exit coordinates.” Without a safe place to exit they could appear next to a ship or inside a planet.
Pulling up the map, Phil pointed at a place slightly out of the way of this solar systems fourth planet. She punched in the coordinates and they dropped out of hyperspace.
Scanning around she looked back at Phil and asked, “Are you sure this home? No radio signals or signs of life.”
She looked back at the large view screen in time too see that the planet was surrounded by a halo of metal debris. A large asteroid flew by them and the proximity alarms started going nuts.
“We are in an asteroid field,” she told Phil.
“That’s not possible. Where are the stations? Where are the ships? Where’s Innas?”
“There is too much things. We must go back to hyperspace.” She pushed a few buttons and lacking any idea where to go, she headed back to Earth.
They said nothing for a little while and finally Phil said, “There should have been people… how could this happen? My home is destroyed. My family is gone…”
She could think of nothing else to say, so she stood up and gave him a hug.
If you’re enjoying this year’s serial story why not check out those from past years?