Steve Danard

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Steve goes tribal on a distant planet.

Submitted: July 16, 2013

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Submitted: July 16, 2013

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Steve Danard was a regular, small-town American boy who wanted to be an astronaut.  He got good grades and never fell in love so he had lots of time to devote to his studies and lots of money to spend on space camp and the finest university for astronauts.  Steve eventually graduated and was inducted into the space program.  He was set to launch in three weeks, having already been trained and condition for years previous.  He waited the approaching day going over specs from the ship, the weather forecast, and what-to-do-if scenario books.  Finally the day arrived and it was a beautiful one.  The sun shone, the breeze was cool but light enough not to mess up any trajectory functions and throw the ship off course.  Steve approached his ship, having waited his whole life for these next few moments.  The excitement was almost too much.  Steve boarded the ship and awaited the List.  The operator rattled off his prompts and Steve answered promptly with “check, check, check.”  Finally the countdown began.  Steve awaited his favorite number: zero.  The rocket beneath him shook and ignited lifting him into the air.  Still climbing, the air thinned and became a more and more translucent layer that was fading away.  Here he was.  He never wanted to be anywhere else than where he was right there.  It was space alright, he recognized it from the pictures in his books and the pictures from space camp.  He had done it.  He made it to space.  “Now what?” he asked himself quizzically.  “I think I’ll revel in it some more.”  Meanwhile, while Steve Danard was sitting in his capsule in space, 15 years ago, on Steve’s fourteenth birthday to be exact, a rock collided with another rock sending them both flying.  One moved lazily further into the mass of similar lumps of rock and was obliterated.  However, the second lump of rock headed inwards towards the inner planets.  Fifteen years later, that lump of rock banged right into the moon.

Steve Danard, after this almost horrific experience continued on with his astronaut work.  But after he got back from space he was briefed for another mission; this one slightly more dangerous than getting hit by a large asteroid.  He and two colleges, Peter Southgate and Robert Swadski, were meant to check out a new planet that had been discovered to see if it was a viable replacement for earth.  The earth nowadays has managed to slow its fossil fuel use but with all the strides in science and life being made, new horizons were at the doorstep.  The earth is overpopulated now too so, a little extra space is much appreciated.

The planet, Caplin 684-58, or El Cap, as seen from a screen that only sees in infrared, radio-wave, x-ray, and gamma-ray receivers and projectors, but not in color, looks like a great place to be; with huge tracts of open land and more land overcome with “wild foliage”, or so we think.  The flight to El Cap was a measly five light years away so the age of the travelers was a notion to be concerned about; “… to young, too inexperienced” is what Mortimer Jones, the eldest member of the Board of Actual Owners of Space Things, when asked about what age to consider for the trip, while Ben Grinn said, “Whatever man, what does he know, ya know?  Like, he doesn’t even go, like, anywhere man.”

When the decisions were finally made, mid to late twenties were thought to be best.

Finally, the day came for the men to fly to El Cap, and thanks to the startling strides that science had made in the field of energy manufacture, use and efficiency it would only take them six years to get there.  That was good news because the travelers could go, set up a simple terraformation station and return to earth as heroes.

The engineer in charge of building the hyper-cryo-bolic-sleep chambers was fired one day for eating at his work station and not recycling the trash.

While in flight, three days before the craft was due to land on planet El Cap the life support systems needed to run and maintain the hyper-cryo-bolic-sleep chambers failed due some crumbs that had sat in the control box for too long, which burned and damaged the console.  This limited the oxygen in the cabins where the travels slept and caused much confusion among the sleeping bodies, but since Steve had seen the near destruction of himself and his planet before, he was a bit calmer about the whole thing.

Upon landing, safe because that engineer did not eat at his work station and litter the landing gear and computing systems with crumbs, Steve emerged from his cabin for a much needed stretch and real exercise.  After a moment he noticed that he was alone and went to check on the others but what he found would have made him rather he had died with them.  Their bodies were blue, cold, lifeless and smiling.  Apparently the dream inducers were working fine too.  Steve left them while he did what he needed to do setup the next few years worth of work.  He tried to radio earth but got a garble of static.  “We must be on the dark side of the planet,” Steve thought.  “I’ll try again later.”

When he gauged later had rolled around he tried the radio again but got more static so he decided to see if there was anything he could do to fix the radio and pried open the vast computer bank, manual in hand, and began to work.

After some time fiddling with wires he noticed that the radio had been fried.  “Must have been the same guy who did the sleep chamber job,” Steve thought, when in fact it was a different person, he just so happened to be a bit more sly than the sleep chamber guy and actually managed to clean up after himself.

Steve buried his ship mates and carried on with his mission.  He setup the shelter that the Real Owners of Space Things had sent with him when he couldn’t find the correct pole to fit into slot AAB 664, he got frustrated and ransacked the entire crash site for the piece.  It wasn’t in the smoking remains at all; he imagined it had probably been broken in the crash, which is surprisingly coincidental because it appeared to be the only piece that had been broken or misplaced.

While ransacking the wreckage, Steve Danard found something way better than the piece that fit into slot AAB 664; the emergency radio!  It was an old crank driven type but its power cells were still intact, the transmitters were still clean, and the crank was there.  Steve cranked wildly until he knew the device had enough juice to transmit a message across the vast distance that he had traveled.

“Mayday, Mayday” Steve said rather calmly.  “There was a problem with the hyper-cryo-bolic sleep chambers and a wreck.  I, Steve Danard, am the only survivor.  Don’t try to radio me back, the receivers are dead.  Just get here as quickly as possible and in the meantime I will continue the mission.”  Steve clicked the microphone and radio off and settled down to a much earned meal.

Over the years, Steve scoured the whole planet and discovered many things.  He found that the planet’s atmosphere was much like Earth’s; it supported many types of life, flora and fauna, which Steve could survive on; the planet circled a binary pair of stars that were revolving around each other which gave the planet an odd orbit around both; the planet’s year was way different because its orbit was so irregular; “seasons” were there but only lasted a few days at a time; the days were much the same, maybe just a few hours longer.

Most of the vegetation on Cap was lettuce like, but there were many succulent tubers scattered around too.  Steve found then when he was a small mammal like creature digging for them.  Steve caught the creature, ate it, then busied himself with the question of what the animal was digging for.  He found the tubers, much like yams or potatoes, and feasted.  He learned how to find them and began to notice all the other little, or slightly big, creatures and what they ate, and Steve went about finding what he could and could not eat.

Steve built many structures on El Cap; many of them dedications to good hunts, to rain, to the sun, and to his dead companions.  In his loneliness, he stopped recognizing himself and humans in total.  He saw the souls of his ship mates, Peter and Robert, in the eyes of the animals he killed and ate.  Steve saw the cruel and beautiful circle of life and death every day, and Steve murdered his friends every day and ate them for strength and courage to continue until rescued.

One day, rescue came.  It had taken12 years for it to show up; six for the message to reach Earth, a couple months for politicians and military heads to make up their minds about a rescue mission and continuation of the terraforming mission of El Cap, and six more years for the team to reach the planet.  Steve had no idea that it had been that long.  He stopped keeping count of the days because they had very little to do with how to properly survive in this wild and changing world.

Earth has, among mostly boorish culture and mostly boring people, has a rule, a law more or less, named for one of these boring people, Mr. Moore.  His law states that with the increased speed of micro processors, which doubles every two or three years, there will be an equal increase in most technologies.  So after twelve years of living off of now truly outdated soft and hardware, not to mention the complete isolation from his own species and a lot of time spent alone, Steve didn’t exactly recognize the “people” that showed up to his planet.  Steve didn’t recognize them because he was pretty sure he hadn’t seen the whole planet, and in fact he hadn’t, so he wasn’t too skeptical to believe that there was a “highly” developed humanoid life-form somewhere on this planet.  But there were two things he was skeptical about: One, that if this life-form was so “highly” developed then why hadn’t they seen the whole of their own planet yet, and two, he was skeptical that they deserved to keep living.  So Steve went tribal and dispatched of the “rescue” team; they had only sent a few because the politicians didn’t want to waste human life, at first, but then they noticed exactly how over populated the Earth was so they started adopting kids at very early ages and raising them to be soldiers, astronauts, or DMV clerks.

After dispatching of the rescue team, Steve then went about taking apart the suits of the humanoids he had killed in order to better understand what sort of technology this pesky group of high-tech foresters had and grasp how best to defeat them in the future.  When he had removed the suit from one, he noticed a face; a face the looked much like one he knew a long time ago, and had buried.  He searched the figure for identification and found the name Southgate on the uniform, which confirmed that he was a human male in the astronaut program, Steve recognized the uniform.

Steve used their radio to call back home and wanted to ask for rescue but he staggered and thought about the balance he had found on his planet.  He could call it his planet because he was the only thing on His Planet to recognize that things can be owned.  But instead he rushed and stammered on about how the “planet is too hostile for another rescue team, the original survivor has been killed,” and that by the “time this messaged is heard, I too will be dead.  Repeat do not send another team to Caplin 684-58.”

Many “years” went by on His Planet; Steve had grown old and grey.  Steve had found the Piece he had long been searching for.  He was slot AAB 664 and his Piece was peace, harmony, solitude, and routine; all of which is against the astronaut code.  On this particular morning, Steve was sitting on a mountain top, hovering about it actually, his long grey beard floating in the breeze the suns, near dusk.  A bank of clouds had started to roll in, thick and heavy with slightly acid rain.  “I had better head home” thought Steve, “oh I have a little time.”  So Steve hovered and watched the storm clash and clang with thunder and lightning.

Steve suddenly stopped hovering and crashed into the top of the mountain with a thud.  But his eyes didn’t stray, or even blink, when this happened because they were stuck, trapped and trying to justify, register, and formulate a plan for the giant flank of destroyers, bombers, cargo ships, and soldier deployment vehicles Steve’s eyes had just seen.


© Copyright 2020 Frank Li. All rights reserved.

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