Captain Eo, a young, single space captain new to the Voyager fleet, is given a last chance to atone for past mission mistakes by taking a group of cadets through a Martian nature exhibit. There, one misstep will force him to prove his worth as a leader.
Bad: 1986-1990, Angst, Fantasy, Humor, Mystery, Sci Fi Characters:
Michael, Original Girl
Jan 06, 2022 Updated:
Dec 03, 2022
1. Chapter 1 by yourburgersarethebest
2. Chapter 2 by yourburgersarethebest
3. Chapter 3 by yourburgersarethebest
4. Chapter 4 by yourburgersarethebest
5. Chapter 5 by yourburgersarethebest
6. Chapter 6 by yourburgersarethebest
Chapter 1 by yourburgersarethebest
Shooting stars were always a bad omen.
One zipped past while Eo, a young novice of the Voyager crew, stared out into the night sky from the window of a frigid starship observatory.
Eo watched the comet pass until the sparks from its tail fizzled into the ink-black space beyond the glass of the port. A small uprising of excited gasps from his comrades then filled the silence of the observatory. A group of astronauts made light conversation on how rare it was to see a comet at their distance from their home planet.
Eo's profile, made all the more boyish with his elvish nose and soft chin, remained hidden in the observatory's space, but an ocassional starlight would highlight his black, messy hair-coils or illuminate his brown eyes that were bent under his brows in deep thought.
Alike other captains in the observatory, his uniform was all-white and made of a material close to leather with many buckles and pockets for required gadgets or weapons. Eo's cape, white with a black underside, proudly displayed his rank as it blanketed his shoulders and ankles.
Eo noted there were higher-ups in the observatory who had also come to destress after a long day on-duty. They, the Commanders, wore all-black clothing paired with an intimidating pair of sleek, ebony boots and a long, inky cape. One Commander he couldn't quite place met his eyes, and nodded faintly across the room.
Eo's lips remained stuck in a thin line as his eyes lowered to his shifting white boots. His thin, caramel-skinned fingers filed once against the sill of the ice-cold port.
"Eo," greeted the deep voice from Comnander Bog.
Eo didn't flinch, expecting the voice to emerge last from the meeting room.
"What kind of face is that to make?" Bog inquired, now beside Eo. "You just had a successful mission." Bog had to mention, with a slight nudge to Eo's stone-like stance: "your first successful mission, may I add. Good work."
Eo chuckled, an automatic response to seeing the shadows of Bog's lopsided smirk in the starlight. His throat felt dry when he mumbled, "I was just following orders."
"Precisely." Bog tensed his jaw, and then searched for a constellation before him. "I suppose I should tell you the news."
Eo glanced to Bog to go on.
"The Commanders and I did not approve your promotion this year."
Eo sighed, and appeared even smaller than he already was.
"However, we have approved you for another mission. This time, to Mars. A few of the Space Academy kids need a chaperone for their first field trip out-of-planet. You're a wonderful listener, Eo. You're patient and a great teacher, not much like the other captains. Not everyone gets to have the privilege to be a role model to the students."
Eo left his starvigil and stalked towards the exit of the observatory. "Tell 'em I'm not interested," he tossed behind him.
Bog clopped his black boots swiftly behind Eo's heels. "I thought you'd be thanking me! Not every captain gets three ridiculously easy missions in a row, you know!" Bog called in exasperation. Eo was an incredibly fast walker in a temper, and Bog quickly grew winded trying to follow him on the runway towards the bunkers. "What exactly is your problem?"
Eo's cape swirled around furiously and he barked, "no one around here is taking me seriously!"
Bog glanced to a comrade who strolled by curiously.
Eo continued, more quietly. "I am the only captain not in an exploration route, and you've done nothing to change that. You're supposed to be my friend--you were supposed to tell 'em I'm ready for a real mission!"
Bog shut his eyes, exhausted at saying the same things in so many ways to his friend. He decided not to be vague. "You need more experience!" Bog faced Eo. "For all I know, it could be by pure luck that you're still alive."
Eo folded his arms.
"Your crew still doesn't respect you, your self-defense is sloppy and violent, your navigation technique is average at best, and you can be unreasonably late to meetings."
"It's not like I'd miss anything. It's just jelly donuts," Eo muttered to himself, hearing Bog's criticisms for the first time.
Bog blinked curtly and met Eo's volume with a serious overtone. "Do this mission, even better than the last, and I'll consider doing a little more... persuasion. Maybe you can be a Commander sooner than you think. There's nothing more I'd love than to have you working right by my side, like old times." Bog's rare smiling wrinkles arose near his eyes and mouth.
Eo felt Bog's glove land gracefully on his shoulder. Eo's early memories with Bog, as his then equally-naiive co-captain of his starship, flashed before his eyes. Like a telepathy, they both giggled at one embarrasing incident that had sent them to maintenance duty for nearly a light-year.
"Alright, when do I start?" Eo relented. He held one raised brow at Bog for what exactly his new mission had in store.
Chapter 2 by yourburgersarethebest
Please let me know what you think
Commander Bog returned to the meeting room and found the roundtable void of everyone. At the port to the space-view at the east of the starship, Bog saw his supervisor, the colonel, looking somewhere beyond the stars with his arms crossed and his lips bowed angrily. The dark-skinned colonel was still dressed in all black, as he was when he led the commanders' discussion of Captain Eo's renewal on the exploration fleet some hours ago.
With his back to the room's entrance, the colonel said, "yes, Bog?"
"I hope I'm not disturbing you, sir," Bog greeted to his supervisor's head of greying, wooly hair when he was a welcoming distance away. "I only wanted to wish you a good night."
"Captain Eo has accepted the Mars voyage?"
"Yes," Bog said, allowing the corners of his lips to lift. "I believe he will not let us down." Bog prepared to make his exit.
"Stay for a moment, Commander."
Bog halted and returned to his post from the colonel. In case the colonel wished to tell him a longer message for his morning duties, Bog joined his gloves behind him and rested them comfortably on his back.
"I'm making Eo your responsibility for the voyage." The colonel said.
"My responsibility? What do you mean, sir?" Bog asked.
"It means that if Eo fails this mission, then you will be relieved of your duties as well."
Bog blurted an unlikely sound--a small gasp--that surprised himself and the colonel. The colonel turned to Bog and witnessed Bog's mouth slightly agape, forming one question and then a next, and a next. Bog's eyes, the colonel also observed, were--strangely--panicked, searching him desperately for answers.
The colonel went on to explain, "if Eo is as capable as you claim, then you have nothing to worry about, commander."
"That is not fair," Bog muttered to his boots, his heart hammering his ribcage.
"It's the principle of the matter," The colonel reluctantly admitted. "Eo was your recommendation when I asked for a recruit. You had promised someone brave, full of integrity, with an energetic personality, and highly advanced soft skills."
"He is all of those things and more, sir."
The colonel shook his head in a delayed reply. "I know you are good friends with Captain Eo, almost too good. You were friends since childhood; Eo told me himself. You both dated the same officer, correct?"
"I do not understand your point."
"Eo constantly undermines your authority simply because you allow it to happen. I know that it was because of Eo that you chose to invest funds from this starship's budget to support 'Taco Wednesdays' in the concession hall."
"They are named: 'Taco Tuesdays', sir."
"Ever since Eo has joined the fleet, you have began to make unusual decisions because of his private influence."
"I assure you, there is no 'private influence' as you speak of," Bog replied, narrowing his eyes at the colonel as the colonel paced in front of the port.
"His last suggestion to..." the colonel let out a rueful laugh. "...deliver his gift of music to The Queen was another waste of our resources! The Queen is not a strong ally that we should concern ourselves with. I am surprised you even thought of moving forward with a captain's suggestion in the first place."
"I will forever stand by that decision." Bog said. "Sir, we must be acquainted with whomever we can in the stars. There's no telling who has plans to attack our ship; you know that. The Queen's Whip Warriors are highly effective at combat, if we should ever need assistance. Also, it is my opinion that every officer deserves a say in our strategies. The Commanders of this star-base no longer seek to be dictators, as of your generation, and neither do I."
"The Queen threatened to use her magic to turn us all into her slaves if Eo's welcoming gift was not adequate! It was nothing but luck that she had not turned Eo's crew into...what was it?"
The colonel remembered and scoffed. "In my opinion, Captain Eo and his disgraceful crew would be more useful as such." The Colonel stood still and then he busied his attention with the passing starships of the galaxy. A mammoth craft of steel appeared in Bog's and the colonel's view and flashed its orbiters just before its sparkly insignia ribboned past their gazes. The Colonel, knowing the pilot who waved, smirked at the glass. "We have a mission on this starship, to foster strong relations with reputable neighbors of this galaxy, and with their help, relocate to a new planet so our future generations will have a place to call home, just as Earth had been for our ancestors. Do you still believe in this mission? You swore an oath to protect it, after all."
"I have never questioned and never will abandon our devotion to the future of the Human Race."
The colonel nodded, looking relieved. "Yes, I know. But Eo has made you dangerous to our future, Bog," he continued. "and I am beginning to rethink my choice to make you my successor. Can you do this assignment, or not?"
Bog understood the colonel's statement wasn't a question at all. "Yes, sir."
Chapter 3 by yourburgersarethebest
CAPTAIN EO DESCENDED his spaceship into the tangerine, hazy mist of Mars' atmosphere. As his spaceshield floated to the arid rock beds of the landscape, Eo kept a steady, white glove over the hull's micro-navigators. His eyes recorded the slight twitches of his fingers and matched the tilt of the craft's wings in milliseconds. Bog, standing by his side, judged the landing silently, not impressed by Eo's ridiscovered attention to detail in his presence.
Fortunately, Bog reasoned to himself, Eo's former crew were not needed for the simple students' escort to Mars' historical sites, and they had all more than agreed to take the requested vacation from mission duty. So far and so good was the consensus Bog reached after a routine departure and close-to-final landing on Mars' grounds.
The Academy students seemed bright and obedient, for they had kept their conversations in Eo's guest bunks to a reasonable level. Bog was relieved at the laughs and jitters of camraderie he had heard during the flight through the Milky Way galaxy, for the silence of space was always deafening, nearly tangible. Eo, who knew this as well as anyone, had been difficult to make conversation with, even after Bog had attempted an inside joke, leaving Bog to ponder if Eo wasn't speaking as his usual self at the command bay for the sake of the students' poosible listening ears.
Eo's reservedness had the air of a punishment, Bog thought, and it underscored how, frankly, boring the mission truly was. As if Bog hadn't already known that on a personal level; he and Eo had seen Mars more times than a toiletseat.
Reassuming his new role not as Eo's former roomate in flight training but as his reluctant superior, Commander Bog glanced over Eo's shoulder to make sure Eo's landing was correctly within the coordinates the Colonel had sent. "Easy...and a little to the left," Bog advised Eo lowly.
Eo toggled his navigation grips sidways, and the nose of the starship squeaked before the hull leaned left.
"Not so fast!" Bog shouted, gripping a balance rail. "Your model is an older and sensitive aircraft; be more gentle."
Eo obeyed, and soon his starship restored its balance. Bog sighed in relief at his navigation gizmo when the readers of Eo's starship showed that its real position and the landing coordinates were in-sync.
"Disengage all controls," Bog announced immediately, "and input power-saving mode, please."
"I did that already," Eo muttered. "Let's get this over with." Eo said, advancing towards the cabin's where the children from the space academy were waiting. Eo felt a hand push his center square once more with Bog's shoulders.
"Not quite." Bog said. After an indifferent pause, Eo remembered and he turned off the light-beams of his starship's rears, fins, and nose beacons with gentle flicks of his controls.
"Don't make faces," Eo said, ignoring Bog's satisfied smirk.
Meanwhile, in the starship's guest cabins, the academy pupils were waiting for Bog or Eo to knock on their port and escort them to Mars' geosphere.
One alien space academy student was Org. It was a salmon colored, four-foot, squid-like anthropod that buoyed above its own gravity emitted by its body. It didn't say much because it simply couldn't say much, for it didnt have vocal chords after all.
It hoped to find some rare Martian plants it had seen in a e-log and take their measurements so it could reproduce a model of them back at its home in the star base. It did not trust the other two students, mainly because they talked much more than usual, and they didn't like to include it in their conversations.
It did not blame those Human descendants, for it could not talk after all, but it did not like the feeling of lonliness, for it had suffered a lot of it in space academy classes. Org turned its head to his center when his name was mentioned.
Another student, a ebony-skinned, almond-eyed, and short-haired girl named Zephyr, had told it, "Org, you're so boring it's annoying. Anyway," she then turned to the third student who sat next to her on a comfortable bed.
Zephyr continued sharing to her partner that she wished to see all the nature that Mars had to offer, and hoped to take plenty of pictures to show her family, astronauts, and friends. She secretly hoped that during their tour, her knowledge of Mars´ geography might impress Xavie beside her, who was the last Mars exploration student of their group assigned to Captain Eo.
Xavie, olive-skinned and athletic, shared to everyone that a group of older classmates had betted that he would fail a ritual they had all done on their past visit to Mars, which was to go to the scariest part of the planet's ruins to touch 'the thing'.
He recoiled at Zephyr's zealous encouragement, but tossed her a nervous smile in knowing that her words were good-natured. The two humans, mostly Zephyr, talked on aimlessly.
Org did not look forward to being an outcast for the day, but it was inevitable, it seemed, that Xavie and Zephyr were getting along more by the minute. Org made a quiet burble to itself, looking low. Suddenly, it turned to the port when it heard a knock on the port.
Eo ushered all the students outside. "We have arrived on Planet Mars, known by Martians as the Red Planet. Your current position is safely within the free-exploration section of Mars' ancient ruins. I am sure you have heard before that ninety percent of the ruins are prohibited to non-Martians. Pause for effect." Eo recited to the students with his eyes glued to his gizmo's reader. "On Planet Mars, your objective is to learn all about the...."
Eo squinted at his gizmo, and then glanced at Bog, who Eo realized had inserted a hard-to-read correction to his briefing.
"Components of the universal geospheres, and the philosophies and anthropological origins of extraterrestial civilizations." Bog said.
"That," Eo continued, "and to complete all essential benchmarks needed to fulfill the requirements of your very first mission badges." Eo moved on to attendance, "Okay, let's take roll. Zephyr?"
"Present!" She said.
"It's Zay-vee." Xavie said.
Eo shrugged and texted himself a reminder. "Org?"
Org's tentacles breathed in place.
"It looks like everyone is accounted for. On to the ruins."
"Hold on," Bog interrupted quietly. "You forgot safety."
"Bog. It's an abandoned rock garden."
"Anything could happen. Please just follow protocol."
Eo adjusted his boots to a comfortable stance before his long recital, and then sighed, "It is important for everyone to remain safe at all times, inside and outside of a spacecraft. At all times we will use the partner system. You may know that the space force's motto has always been 'no man left behind' for centuries. That applies then, and that applies today, and for every single mission, including field trips. There will be no person seen alone, and if I see anyone alone, neither of you will earn your mission badge today."
Bog nodded with approval, and added, "You have been equipped with a safety laser on your toolbelts. Have you all been trained on it?"
The students agreed.
"Excellent. We are sure you will never have to use it, but if you may use it, always use two hands, and never aim at anything if you do not intend to stun it. Is that perfectly clear?"
"Yeah," Xavie said, "but how come you guys have two lasers and we only have one?"
" 'Cause one's for killing," Eo replied.
Bog regarded the students' excitement and reminded them, "it is highly unlikely we will ever need to use our other lasers, it is only for your safety. Now, to the ruins, shall we?"
The teens went ahead, with Org floating behind them at a distance.
"Eo, don't encourage them!" Bog said once the students were out of earshot. "They're unpredictable and unruly as they are!"
"I just told 'em the truth," Eo chuckled.
Bog huffed. "This may seem like a simple student's excursion Eo, but one slip-up, and...." I'll lose everything, Bog thought to himself.
Eo fixated on him with an incredulous glare. "What makes you think I'm going to mess this up?!" Eo accused.
Bog recovered, "just please follow my lead exactly this time, Eo, and we'll both be sure to get home safely."
"How about this? I'll follow my own lead, because I know exactly what I'm doing!!" Eo said. "And it's 'captain' to you, from now on." He recallibrated his guns and stalked ahead.
Bog sighed behind him and then he tracked Captain Eo and the space academy students towards a labryinth of massive, orange canyons on the horizon that led to Mars' ancient ruins.
Chapter 4 by yourburgersarethebest
Thank you for reading, please rate and review :)
"SO HOW OLD IS MARS, ANYWAY?" Zephyr piped up, following tightly behind Captain Eo and Commander Bog by hoisting her lower half over a bed of flat, crimson boulders. Behind her, Xavie leapt over a small ravine to reach her and Org drifted upwards, with more effort than the start of the hike up the corridor of a mountain path.
In the same nasally tone due to an airtight, oxygenated helmet, Captain Eo panted, "close to five billion years. Watch your feet!" Just in time, Eo and Bog hopped together across a wide crater, and then Bog, bending deeply and jumping, deftly forced his heels to plant onto another flatbed of rock. He followed his momentum to balance upright and continued on the marked climbing path.
Ahead, Bog continued to evade the more jagged formations that signaled the ancient ruins were near and focused on sure ways up the mountain. Eo instead looked for the riskiest foot holds to propel himself closer to Bog's impressive distance above him.
"Showoff," Eo grumbled to himself when Bog disappeared briefly out of sight on a wide ledge and peered below him to wait for everyone.
Zephyr glanced down in time to avoid a crater her heel nearly slipped into. Just before she took Eo's hand to settle on the ledge with Bog, she heard a piercing, low howl coo in the air.
"What was that?!" Xavie exclaimed. "Not that I'm scared, or anything."
Eo chuckled, and walked on to lead the students after Bog. "Are you sure about that?"
"It is only wind, Cadet Xadie. You may hear it differently on this mountain." Explained Bog.
"Just call me Xadie," Xadie corrected. He claimed a water break with Zephyr and shared a weary chuckle with her in happiness that the most physically demanding part of the hike was through. He turned his attention to stretching his calves when Zephyr's gaze lingered and she wouldn't look away from him first. Away from view, Zephyr hid her blush.
To Eo, Org looked nearly white in the mountain's shade. "Are you okay?"
"You look dehydrated. Take my canteen," Eo offered. He unbuckled his full flask of dihydrogen monoxide and fed it to Org, who pinched his proboscis around the straw and slurped shakily.
"I'll carry you the rest of the way," Eo declared. When Org was done, Eo nestled Org under one elbow and toted him along.
The entrance to the ruins took only a short walk longer along a dark, paven cliff's edge. Once the crew was huddled safely near the mouth of a wide, sunlit cave, Bog surveyed his gizmo. He looked pleased that the group made it to the ruins many minutes before schedule.
"There's no one here." Zephyr mentioned to Bog.
"This isn't the most exciting destination on mars, nor the most creative level of the ruins. Most like to see one specific formation from the summit of this mountain, although, there are many interesting exhibits along the way."
"'Kay," Zephyr replied. "So what's this one?"
Zephyr pointed to a simple, humungous gravestone at the cave's entrance. It was planted directly in the path of explores and hosted a long string of geometric hieroglyphics. The crew gathered near the stone, tilting their heads upward to follow the shapes from top to bottom. Eo and Bog mentally translated the code to read a somber and reverent notice that no being was to disturb the intentions of ones who came before them. Meanwhile, the cadets stood by in confusion.
"Captain Eo, can you seriously read that?" Xadie said. The echoes from the cave amplified his challenge.
"Of course I can." Eo whispered, finishing his translations. He and Bog timidly met glances. Bog watched as Eo's eyes glinted full of memories from their rookie trip to Mars as former students. They then acknowledged to themselves that they were standing in the very spot they had first met.
"What does it mean?" Xadie reached out to touch a stone inscription, and had his wrist swiftly grasped by Eo's white glove.
"It says: if you touch anything, I will send you home without a pulse, and without a badge!"
"Eo," Bog scolded. "Xadie, and everyone: as you go through the entire ruins, I want to remind you that you must not touch a single thing. This is very, very important."
"And if we do?" Zephyr asked in true curiousity.
Bog genuinely raised his brow, and his lips squirmed into a gentle-like, dumbounded placement. "I am not positive."
"Better not to find out the hard way. Let's go," Eo commanded, still lugging Org close to his hip. To Eo's relief, Org had turned nearly two shades of pink that would bring him closer to his healthy salmon-colored shade.
Eo urged Org to take and finish his canteen of water and return with the other cadets, which Org obeyed good-naturedly.
Eo knew there was plenty of more water stores and oxygen tanks on his starship, and they all would more than likely return to it in no time after the short tour, so he didn't rush to refill his canteen at any of the cavern springs the group dawdled past. Eo reconnected at Bog's side once he had started the other cadets at a steady walking pace.
Eo leaned in toward's Bog's shoulder and suggested, "do you remember that one place here we visited, way back when...."
"Yes, I do," Bog chortled lowly, starting Eo into his own snuffed laughter. Bog stammered, "we certainly do not have time to visit; the cadets are our first priority and we cannot leave them long distances from us...."
Eo interjected foxily, "when is the last time you've been here, Bog? I mean seriously. It's been years. We have to see if it's still there!"
"Perhaps, perhaps, if there's time, Captain. Lower your voice, or the children will become suspicious." Bog said. Upon hearing voices from other visitors who appeared to be older cadets than the students he led, Bog resumed his serious countenance and tightened his steps along the smooth rockbed of the first grounds.
"You don't actually have to call me Captain," Eo said, apologizing for their spat at their arrival to Mars. "I'm sorry, Bog. I just want you, or someone at least, to have a little faith in me."
Bog looked to Eo and nodded once. "I can give you more than a little." His dark-brown eyes pocketed warmly from below when Eo held a mellow, grateful expression to him that Bog hadn't seen before.
The cadets followed the grinning starship leaders in front of them along the rocky exhibits as they took their own times to observe the basic cave formations of the initial ruins display.
All the while, Xadie discreetly kept his eyes shuffling the royal-orange stalagmites, stalacties, and columns of Mars' cavernous, ancient ruins for The Thing.
Chapter 5 by yourburgersarethebest
Hi, I'm back. Thank you for choosing this story and for reading. It means a lot. I hope to start picking up the pace with things by the next chapters or so.
Org's pronouns are it/it's. If there are any others, it's a typo, and I will be updating those pronouns typos soon throughout the story, and I'll also do some editing for other typos, probably with the next chapter so that I don't bump other stories down.
EO AND THE GROUP RETREATED after an uneventful first half of the mission schedule to come to a rest and dining area in the Martian ruins' visitors center. They settled at an undistinctive round dining table of copper-colored, sedimentary rock.
Eo slurped on a cherry-flavored electrolyte liquid while Bog had plain snacks to eat. Bog shared his limited supply of jerkied vegetarian snacks he had stored in his pockets the night before liftoff to Mars with Eo, under the dining table, along with two tongue-tablets.
Feeling trapped at Eo's side, Xavie meandered his hand in a bag of zesty, flaky Asteroid Puffs.
Org nursed Eo's refilled water canteen in its probiscis.
At the same time, Zephyr dipped her eating instrument in a frothy pillow of her candy-sweet Milky Way parfait Bog had bought her.
Eo used past years of practice from boring Academy lectures to take Bog's uppers in plain sight. As he suspected, the cadets hadn't batted an eye. Once one small disc dissolved in his mouth, Eo felt his heart thump faster and a warm chill fall to his toes, making him feel alert enough for the trip's second leg and possibly until the whole flight back to the cadets' Space Academy.
Eo sighed quietly in relief, and he then realized Bog was chortling at the sound of him with pity.
"The frozen ice pool in the rocks was really pretty," said Zephyr.
"Mars' geosphere is truly a sight to behold. I am sure you took many photographs on your journaling device," Bog said, grinning once at Zephyr.
"Xavie dropped some already. You should see it; he has a good eye," Zephyr said. She turned from Eo's surprised smile over to Xavie, who ignored the compliment and stared at a tiny-pawed creepy-crawler roaming the rocky ceiling of the dining area overhead.
"Cadet Xavie, what was your favorite exhibit?" Commander Bog said after his patience had worn thin.
"Just Xavie, mister," Xavie muttered. He let out a wind from his mouth and crossed his arms. "I dunno. They look all the same to me."
"I'd say so," Eo cut in. "It's easy to get lost in here." Eo slurped his electrolyte mix once. "There wasn't anything that you remember about the Forbidden Caves?"
"No," Xavie grunted. "why 'forbidden' if there's nothing to see?" He crunched puffy crisps in the quiet that descended on the table. Around them, visitors' conversations and laughter became louder.
Org bubbled its lips timidly, alerting everyone.
"Oh yeah, I forgot about Org!" said Eo. "How did you like everything so far?"
Org made a quiet, pleased burble.
"Glad to hear that," Eo grinned. Eo slurped his solution again and finally finished it. "Okay, kids. We'll stay here for a few moments and then...we'll go on to a secret passageway. It's somewhere a little off course...."
Bog's eyes flashed upwards from his last cards of dehydrated veggie-jerky. "How do you mean 'off-course'? The star-base is tracking our every move, captain--one degree out of the norm is not authorized."
"Believe me Bog, Colonel has way more important things to worry about than watching us digest in 5-K resolution. Follow my lead, like you promised."
"Where's it on the map?" Zephyr asked, cleaning her frozen dessert bowl.
"It's an old spot of mine and Bog's that we found when we were here getting our mission badges on Mars, just like all of you three," Eo said. Eo scanned the bunch, ignoring Bog's crazed glower, and then he rested his eyes finally on Xavie, who had his own eyes shut under brooding brows.
Eo, vexed some by Xavie's boredom, decided not to wait any longer to throw in the punchline. A smirk jimmied his lips into a cheeky smile. "A spot where we found a certain 'Thing'."
Xavie's eyes opened and roved Eo's way. "What're you talking about?"
Bog interrupted, "something that probably was a figure of your captain's imagination--!" he said swiftly. "We can barely remember if what we saw was even real!" Bog insisted in a pleading voice a volume above what he thought the cadets should witness, "Captain: no, and that is final!"
"What's the problem?" Eo chuckled. "It's not like you're putting your job on the line."
Bog recanted with a glance away from Eo along with a feeble, uneasy stammer.
"These kids may not get a trip like this for a while; let's have some fun! Everything'll be okay; trust me!"
Bog, feeling it was impossible to say no to Eo's eyes that were shining at him like two gigantic and brown Suns, nodded evenly.
Eo announced, "voting-to-go-off-route-in-one...two...!"
Eo and Zephyr giggled when they were first to shoot their arms in the air with Xavie, who had lifted his hand with gentle enthusiasm. Org looked agreeing--at least, everyone thought it did because it hovered in place without disagreeing.
That left Bog. Bog considered the disobedience to strict orders by the star-base was in a small way a repaid debt to Eo since he had accepted the Colonel's orders like a coward. He only hoped their detour to the dangerous ravine in his memory was quick and that everyone came out alive.
"Alright," Bog cheeped.
Please rate and review! Thanks for reading. :)
Chapter 6 by yourburgersarethebest
I am sorry I didn't mention this before, but I had imagined this fic's Commander Bog to look nothing like the man from the original movie, but like Neo (Keanu Reeves) from The Matrix. I think Neo's brooding but quiet-confident look suits Bog the best for this story. I will add cast images later to the cover page.
ZEPHYR GIGGLED SECRETLY as she followed Xavie, who was meters ahead of Org as they all continued to trot along the rocks with Captain Eo.
Bog felt comfortable on the flat terrain that led away from the main center of the Matrian exhibit, but the ground became less trodden the further he took the group away from the clustered gift shops, and the sun became a furnace.
Bog scouted their trail to a hazy memory of a ravine that probably housed the creature they were looking for, kicking hot cheddar dust with the others along the way.
They were hopelessly late for the excursion—a full half Earth-hour—and it was all his fault.
Eo was naturally in his element with the children, chatting non-stop with them and completely distracted from the danger in which he and his cadets wanted to put themselves.
Bog cursed those damn big brown eyes of Eo’s, remembering how they had begged him to forget orders and continue this ridiculous side quest for The Thing.
Bog hated that he would do anything to make Eo happy, even if it meant losing his job. Being around Eo made him feel like a big kid, and somehow Bog always found himself giving in to playing by his rules.
Bog’s stomach churned. The colonel had read him like the stars. Eo indeed had a secret influence on himself that Bog couldn’t explain. Whatever it was, Bog was afraid to even consider exploring why.
Bog, squiting through a susurrus of red dust, turned to Eo, who was still enraptured by Zephyr’s tale, which was being told slowly between her wandering over the bumpy path behind Eo.
Bog took a needed pause as he placed his boots on the leveled ledge, the cape behind him as a black flag for the crew.
“The sooner we reach the cave,” Bog panted, his voice muffled by the wind and helmet, “the faster we can complete the coordinates of our assigned mission. Hurry.”
“Yes sir!” Eo tweeted. He beckoned the cadets forward until he retreated behind Org, his own white and black cloak flapping dust in his own eyes.
Satisfied with Eo’s rare and polite response to an order, Bog continued on his way and let his thoughts reappear.
As futile as the detour to find The Thing was, the enthusiasm of the crew had some merit. Bog hadn’t seen The Thing in years: it was a mythical, rare creature.
Unsurprisingly, rumors of what The Thing really looked like persisted even after he and Eo had completed their missions.
But he and Eo had been the only ones to glimpse it, and had told no soul where. Until now. Why Eo had chosen to show their secret to a group of juveniles, Bog had no idea.
It didn’t seem like a good time to ask Eo why in front of them, so Bog kept his reservations private.
Xavie suddenly walked past Bog with a defiant look on his face.
“Stay behind me, cadet,” Bog ordered, shoving him back for a second time. “Perhaps you can direct me without an e-compass when you pass your navigation capstone.”
Xavie snickered. “I already did, mister. With honors.”
Xavie lingered close to Bog’s boots, looking so sure of himself that Bog resolved to keep a sharp eye on him if he tried disobeying again.
The year Bog and Eo met during their academic pilgrimage to Mars, instead of a bone stolen from the Martian rocks that had usually been sufficient enough to pass for a talisman from a real Thing, some try-hard had mutated a claw of a common butterfly rat, a species that even Eo had made a pet.
The claw had been shaved to match the imagined monstrosity of The Thing, convincing even the traveling astronaut then that it had really come from the enigma.
Unlike cadets from his own generation, Bog had a feeling that Cadet Xavie was not an unnecessary liar and would not leave Mars empty-handed without something authentically forbidden.
For the rewards of legendary popularity if Xavie trapped the real animal, Bog already knew, Cadet Xavie would do anything.
After passing more rusty outskirts the Martian exhibition, Bog, Captain Eo and the cadets slowly made their way to the mouth of the gorge.
When they all reached the wall of the gorge, the stone gates of the giant cave were barred by a ladder of laser beeams.
“That’s strange,” commented Eo.
“I guess they’ve beefed up their security since we were here,” Bog reasoned. They did it smartly. His relief flooded him; they were now out of danger.
“Easy stuff,” Zephyr whispered. Everyone turned to look at her. She shrugged and gestured to the senders. “I can hack them in two seconds.”
Xavie said, “prove it.”
“You’re pretty handy, aren’t you?” said Eo. He fished out his logger to record the moment.
“Your log is useless,” said Zephyr. “The starbase still thinks it’s in starship mode. I changed your’s and Commander’s settings when we took a water break just now.”
Eo’s eyes widened. He saw that his device was in complete disarray and set to an emergency radar. “You little sneak,” He smiled.
Xavie looked at Zephyr. “Seriously?”
Zephyr shrugged at him, but couldn’t help but respond to seeing his dimples by beaming a smile of her own.
Org warily waved his tentacles in the air when Bog’s brows carved over his eyes at all of them.
“Cadet Zephyr,” Bog said. “You should have checked with me first. Right after lunch I already shut down some tracking systems just in case, but it would be highly suspicious for the base to find Captain Eo and I in emergency stealth-mode. Now we are completely cloaked. The base has no idea if we’re still on Mars or lost in a wormhole!!”
Zephyr’s face paled. “I can put them back!”
“Well, I think it’s very funny,” interrupted Eo. “You’re very bright in your profile. But you overstepped your bounds. But I think you should also apologize to us. You took our equipment without permission; we need them to protect you in case we need backup.
“If you want to go in the cave, we need everything we can to protect you. You are not as experienced as we are and you are not at the peak of your physical fitness. If the Thing ran at you, you would run and hurt yourself.”
“So, The Thing is in there...right now?” Xavie asked, taking a step away from the cave.
Zephyr said, “if you were already going to break the rules, Captain Eo, why are you mad at me? I just helped you do it faster!”
Eo shared a look with Bog for solidarity, but Bog instead looked back at him contest. “The main thing is,” Eo continued. “It would be nice if you showed some remorse.”
“Ok. I’m really sorry for taking your loggers without permission.”
“Thank you, Zephyr.”
“And I’m sorry for stealing all of your jerky, Commander.”
“Pardon me?!” Bog exclaimed.
“And I’m really, really sorry Captain Eo for using your lip gel; I think you’re out of it.”
“You little sneak!!” Eo shouted.
“Perhaps...we should be concerned with actually getting inside this formation, since we have walked all this way.” Bog said.
He surveyed the gorge’s cave gaping before them. “And doing so without being seen,” he added, perturbed by a lens-like flare in the corner of his eye at a place embedded in the rocks.
Eo looked over the grounds too. He caught what Bog might have saw. It was only an ionized sliver of rock. Eo knew Bog had just realized the same, because he suddenly lost interest in the spot.
The ravine’s location was too remote for cameras, Eo reasoned. And, the Martians loved booby-traps. The crew had not been attacked yet, so there was likely no fancy traps involved with the cave.
“Go on, give it a hack,” Eo said to Zephyr. He pressed a conspicious button on one of the emitters, and then a holographic display unfolded before them all.
Org, Xavie, Eo, and Bog watched Zephyr bend to the emitters and toggle some controls to release a floating board of scripted key-blocks.
The screen listed a passcode request for access to the emitter’s control panel.
“Have you finished your Martian classes yet?” Bog addressed Zephyr after a while of watching Zephyr’s eyes race over the keys and poke a timid sequence.
“I’ve got a few lessons left, but I think I got this.” Zephyr tried typing a code, and after the fields had filled, the glowing, sans-serif calligraphy dissolved, resetting a blank query.
Zephyr grumphed and tried again. And again.
Eventually, Xavie pushed her aside and typed in a string of passcodes.
“Try: we come in peace,” Zephyr suggested. “That’s literally on Mars’ flag.”
“I already did. That’s a little way too obvious,” Xavie mumbled, spelling another code with more fervor.
Zephyr rolled her eyes that Org thought anything he said would mean anything, but waited to see if his suggestion would work.
“Try what Org said,” she pushed.
Xavie huffed, “I don’t speak jellyfish-nerd, sorry.”
“Be nice, cadets!” Eo interjected. He wondered if he should intervene more harshly on their bullying of Org, and wondered how long Org had to put up with them in the Academy.
“Let me--” Zephyr interrupted.
Xavie held out an arm before Zephyr took over the hologram’s query. “No. I almost got it!”
Zephyr said, “I’m just trying to help.”
“Well, don’t,” Xavie muttered.
“Why are you so mean to me all the time? In class too. All I’ve ever been is nice!”
“Because you’re annoying.”
“Enough,” Bog said. He waved the cadets out of the way to let Org try. Org rushed to the screen. He carefully read the keys and began to strike them with his tentacles.
Eo placed a hand on Bog’s arm when Bog returned. “Give it time; this is actually a great learning experience for them; you know they’ll never get in right?” Eo whispered. “They haven’t spelt one word right in Martian. I was kind of let down with Xavie.”
“At their age, I was a polyglot,” Bog whispered back. "What the hell are they teaching kids these days?!”
“He didn’t have our teacher,” Eo chortled. “Remember astronaut Levensky?”
Bog broke into a grieved smile. “Let us allow them a few more tries, and then return to the original iternary. Hopefully we can adhere to it from this point forward? Much time has already been wasted.”
“Yes, sir, I understand,” Eo admitted sheepishly. It was getting a bit too toasty in the remote area they had trailblazed. The insides of his gloves were becoming squishy with sweat.
All at once, the cadets gasped. The lasers shielding the dark cavern vanished before everyone’s eyes.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.