This is the first short-story side-story to our comics – we’re planning on having one for each episode – although I don’t know if I’ll be dragging the short story out through the entire run of our first issue. Enjoy!
BEACHED - Part The First
August, 15th 2213 August 12th, 2213
Well, that date’s actually made up. I haven’t any idea what day it is – didn’t look at the chronometer before I crashed. Didn’t have time to think, really. Fine way to start a memoir, this. Oh well – we’ll scratch this last bit if I ever do see it published. I’m Doctor Matthias Kreutznär, graduate from New Cambridge College and the most imminent virologist in the Space Condominium. Add that I’m stranded, here on a desert planet, with no way to get back to society, and likely to die before any discover me. If you think that would conclude this story, you’re quite, quite wrong. You see, it is here that I believe I have discovered the root cause of Columbian Disease.
To truly understand what lead me here, you must understand that no disease in our modern time has been as confusing, or concerning as that known as Columbian Disease. The Yrgoans and Aqueans have reported similar cases throughout their respective histories, and only among those that are spacefarers.
As the first occurrence of the mysterious wasting took place, our scientists were convened to Winken, orbiting Groombridge 34AB, and we worked feverishly for days and weeks to understand the disease. The pathology was nothing we could ascertain. We scanned for virus, bacteria, prions, virs and still smaller pathogens, and could not find a one that lead to the listless death. There were no chemicals, no psychological aspects to it, other than most of those affected became listless and withdrawn a day or so before their death.
Our study was ended and our efforts directed elsewhere, but I couldn’t forget, and I wouldn’t forget. I was sent all over the quadrant, treating diseases and the like. When I finished settling the outbreak of Tychonian Influenza on Harlow VII, I knew the time was right.
You see, in the intervening years I had spent much of my time studying the history of the S.U.M. Columbian, her crew, and most importantly, her Captain, Yscius Cabell. Prior to the first case of Columbian Disease, the S.U.M. Columbian had resupplied the fledgling colony of Harlow VII, and then transited onward to Jespiria. I was due some vacation time, and took it, launching my vessel toward the uninhabited stepping-stone star that lay between Harlow and Jespiria.
This of course was my first mistake. But more on that later. I hear something rummaging about the crash site, and I would like to protect the little goods I have left.
August 20th, 2213 August 17th, 2213
I haven’t had time to write here, because, you see, I’ve just discovered I’m not alone on this planet’s surface. I have a companion, which I shall call Dimanche. He hasn’t spoken much, but I think that’s the shock of my crash that’s gotten to him. I fear that I mislead in saying crash, however. My landing was rather rough from my perspective, but it seems that the local stone and flora took much more the beating when my ship landed in this forsaken desert.
I had sat on my first day here, and began this account as a means to bring myself some concentration in the face of my survival. The damage to the craft, as I said, is minimal. This damage, however seems solely focused on the Crenixian Drive, and without that, I cannot even maintain a charge of the shipboard electrical systems. But let us speak of my mistake.
I had filed no flight plan, nor had I any but colleagues who would miss my presence, should mishap befall me, and I must admit that it embarrasses me to think that so small a thing is all that stands between my rescue and return to society. I set course and launched myself toward the star which now serves as my sun. As the field dissipated and I reconnected with the flow of time, I was forced to maneuver my vessel hard to port, avoiding the pass of one of this planet’s moons.
Thankfully, I successfully avoided the moon, but was quickly traveling deeper into the gravitic embrace of the planet. As I began to plot a course correction to restore my vessel, the S.U.M. DEFOE, to a surveillance orbit, Fate, or Murphy conspired against me, and I was hit by a beam from the surface.
The rest passed in a blur, and I next knew that I was on the surface, dazed and confused. I stumbled free from the crash to the cave where I currently live to find some sort of shelter until I could assess my injuries. This respite, alas, was short-lived as a thunderstorm rolled across the region, as they do, every day.
As I huddled in the cave, my memory began to clear and I remembered the process of the landing, barely setting the autopilot despite the stupor the beam had caused me, evacuating the ship past what seemed to be massively overgrown hydroponics labs, and I realized that it had seemed I was not alone in the ship after my consciousness returned. I wrote nothing of this that day, fearing that I had somehow imagined it, and that my fears would soon be put to rest.
Admittedly, I don’t know how Dimanche came to be with me in the wreckage of the ship, nor how he has managed despite suffering a broken leg, arm and jaw. Although my medical supplies are minimal, I certainly did my very best to assist the man – I may be lost and unlikely to ever be found again, but I will remain true to Hippocrates.
I’ll revisit my other memories of the crash later. At present I must shift the hydroponic plants and help Dimanche to get a bit more comfortable.
August 20th, 2213
The chronometer aboard the DEFOE flickered to life today as I rummaged through the bridge to secure any other emergency rations and supplies. I can only guess that somehow the DEFOE has made contact with the Transitional Relay Network and updated its time sense. I can also hope that those who might be looking for me have thus been made aware as to my location. These of course are likely idle hopes – I’m not due to arrive in orbit near Jespiria until some time next month, with the time dilation of Transit.
Dimanche has begun to be able to speak his mind to some good degree, and with my help we have created a pidgin of sorts between us, allowing us each to communicate our needs and preserve our dignity.
I have successfully sterilized the plague labs of the ship, thus preventing the spread of some terrible disease to the ecology of this planet. I must admit to some lack of interest in the process, knowing that such an introduction might only serve to improve the biome of this barren world. In the last three days I have ranged wide and not discovered a single sign of vegetation, and thus I fear this world to truly be desert.
But let us speak of my memories – after the blinding flash that overtook my ship as I corrected course, I was filled with a disturbing sense of being out of my own body, my voice disembodied, and then all went black.
I stated above that I felt I knew the cause of Columbian disease, and that is indeed the case—
Blast it! Dimanche has overturned the hydroponics!
You can find the continuation of the story here!