I know you’ve all been waiting with baited breath for the 3rd instalment of my major bestseller (haven’t you?) so here it is.
For those who are new to the adventures of Don Dorke and LD the bionic duck (yes you read that right) I suggest you go back and read the first two chapters as things are starting to hot up – oh yes they are!
Even more exciting – I’ve found the original cover and yes James York is me, it’s the pen name I used for this, well it seemed like a good idea at the time.
So anyway, enough waffle let’s crack on with ‘The Night The Earth Moved’.
Andrews and Rippon were making their way cautiously through the storage crates of Section Three, Andrews staring intently down at his Shaft waiting for a sign of life.
“What do you think’s happened to them?” he said turning to Rippon.
“Who knows,” Rippon replied, “this hold’s vast, they could be anywhere.”
The two men carried on along the walkway, listening intently for any signs of life. As they came to the end of the section, Rippon turned to Andrews.
“We’d better report in,” he said, “you contact Jennings and I’ll have a look down the end.” With that, he started to make his way towards the next section.
Taking out his com-link, Andrews reported their position to Lieutenant Jennings. Replacing the communicator, he walked to the junction which Rippon had taken. Looking around, he could see no sign of his partner.
“Rippon,” he shouted, wondering where he could be.
Rippon’s voice shouted back from the darkness.
“I’m over…..” his reply was cut abruptly short and replaced by a terrified scream.
“RIPPON!” Andrews shouted, running to where the scream had come from, “Where are you?”
Turning a corner, Andrews stopped dead in his tracks. Facing him was an ore container with a four foot hole ripped into the side. Stepping forward, he felt his foot squelch in something. Looking down, his eyes widened in horror as he saw the pool of blood that he was now standing in.
Suddenly, he heard a noise coming from within the crate.
“Rippon,” he shouted, “is that you?”
A wave of fear flooded over him. Raising his staser, he started to back away from the crate, failing to notice the large shape appearing from the darkness behind him.
Robertson and Hartley, also searching their sections, were having little luck.
“They must have got themselves into a bit of a jam,” Robertson said.
Hartley nodded in agreement.
Continuing their search, they were both wondering what could have happened to their crewmates and, what could have caused them to lose contact completely.
“Robertson,” Hartley suddenly said, “I know that this is going to sound strange, but,” he turned to look at his partner, “do you get the feeling that we’re being watched?”
Both men stopped in their tracks, Robertson swallowing hard.
“Don’t be silly,” he said in a strangulated whisper.
“You do then,” Hartley replied, his voice rising.
They looked at one another nervously before carrying on along the passageway.
“Check mate,” L.D. declared triumphantly, “that’s five nil.”
Captain Dorke pursed his lips and switched the 3-D console off.
“Yes, well,” he muttered, “I’ve rather a lot on my mind at the moment.”
Rising from his seat, the Captain crossed to the computer console and tapped in a flight information request.
“Typical,” he said sarcastically, “nothing available to Alpha Centauri for a month.”
L.D. turned to look at the Captain.
“Pardon?” the duck said.
Dorke sat glumly in his seat.
“Oh, nothing,” the Captain replied, “just checking holiday destinations.”
Suddenly, L.D. sat bolt upright in his chair, a serious look crossing his face.
“Captain,” he called, “I’m picking up a strange signal.”
Dorke swung his chair round to face the communications console.
“Where’s it coming from?” he demanded.
L.D. punched a data request into his terminal.
“I’m not sure,” he replied studying the information, “hang on,” he continued, “it seems to be coming from deep space.”
As L.D. finished, the lights and computer screens started to flicker and dim. Captain Dorke ran to the control console and punched in a request for a full systems report. Studying the information, his eyes widened in amazement.
“Something’s draining our power,” he gasped.
“Captain,” L.D. shouted, “the signal’s getting stronger.
Dorke punched at the controls and a small panel slid aside to reveal a large red button. Operating the inter-com, he spoke into it.
“This is red alert,” he instructed, “I repeat, this is red alert. We have a power drain, all crew on standby.”
With that, he hit the red button and sirens began to wail all over the ship.
Down in the cargo hold, Stevenson and Lewis were having their ears assaulted by a loud whining and throbbing noise.
“What is it?” Lewis shouted, his hands clasped tightly over his ears.
Stevenson’s face was contorted in agony.
“I don’t know,” he shouted, “but I think we should get out of here – fast!”
As he finished speaking, he leant against the nearest storage crate but jumped back in surprise as he felt it pulse with energy.
“It’s the crates,” he shouted in horror, “there’s something in them.”
Almost immediately, the sound of tearing metal filled the hold. At first the noise seemed a long way off, but steadily the noise got nearer and nearer until they saw a crate less than ten feet away begin to bulge outwards….
Back on the Command Deck, L.D. was keeping a close eye on the availability of systems.
“The power drain is increasing,” he shouted to the Captain, “we must come out of hyper space or we’ll break up.”
“We can’t do that,” Dorke snapped fiercely, “if we do, we’ll be late back to Earth – and you know what that will mean.”
“Yes I know,” L.D. counter reacted, “we’ll blow our bonus. But I’d rather be a live duck without a bonus than a dead duck with one.”
The Captain sat thoughtfully for a moment.
“You’re right,” he finally conceded, “prepare to pull out.”
As he stabbed at the control deck, a steady whine filled the room as the ship pulled back into normal space. Looking intently at the viewing screen, Dorke studied the starfield before him, a concerned look suddenly crossing his face.
“What on Earth ……..,” he started.
He looked down at the control console and punched in a data request. Immediately, a page of information filled the screen before him.
L.D. looked across, wondering what was happening.
“What’s wrong? he asked.
Captain Dorke turned and looked at his companion, a look of total amazement on his face.
“We’re in the wrong part of space,” he replied, “we’ve been flying off course since we left the space station.”
L.D. was dumbfounded.
“Well where are we?” the duck asked.
“The computer doesn’t know,” the Captain replied with a look of growing horror on his face. “We’ve come out of hyper space in a totally uncharted sector – there’s no information at all.”
L.D. turned back to the communications console, a look of disbelief crossing his face as he realised the implications.
“That means,” he said, “if this power drain continues….”
The Captain finished his sentence for him.
“We’ll be drifting helplessly in the space void – forever……..”