When his rocket descended towards the planet, its pilot couldn’t help but feel apprehensive. He wasn’t afraid of fire but re-entry always made the hairs on the back of his head stick up.
“Commander Roderick.” the system called out. “You are not breathing.”
“I’m just holding my breath.” Roderick replied. “I’m nervous.”
“Structural integrity is holding at ninety-seven percent.” the rocket replied as it continued to dart through the flames. “There is nothing to fear.”
“Except fear itself.” Roderick whispered to himself as he closed his eyes and took a deep breath.
While he was confident in the machine and its ability to take a beating, Roderick always feared that the ship would break down and he would burn to death. It never did, but that never stopped him from worrying about it every time he entered someone atmosphere. But as usual, his fears were for nothing as the ship broke through and the flames faded out of sight.
“We have entered the atmosphere of Vector Twelve.”
The pilot breathed a little deeper and sighed as the worst was over. “Set course for landing zone five.”
“Course has been set, approaching landing zone five.”
Roderick waited as the ship made its way to the desired location and then made a perfect touchdown.
“We have landed on Vector Twelve.”
“Thank you.” Roderick said as he unstrapped himself from his seat and began to remove his space suit.
Vector was a name that the pilot and his fellow workers reserved for moons that were capable of sustaining life. This moon was actually located near a gigantic planetary mass known as Sub-Prime Alpha. The massive planet, which was roughly the size of Jupiter, was uninhabitable so it was ironic to discover that four of its seventeen moons were. It was his job to patrol the moons, to make sure there were no problems, no conflicts that would result in bloodshed and possibly the loss of life. As Roderick stepped out of the rocket ship, he took with him a bag that held rations for a few days travel, a change of clothes, weapons and other things he needed to bring with him for his mission.
“How long until sundown?” he asked the rocket.
“Sub-Prime Apha will block the sun in three hours, seventeen minutes.”
“Guess I better get going then.” Roderick replied as he put the bag on his back. “Lock up.”
The doors closed and the ship closed all it’s windows with a thick plating of metal. It was locked down to prevent anyone from breaking in. Once the ship was secure, Roderick began what was going to be a decent hike into town. There were several colonies on the moons of Sub-Prime Alpha. Some of them were small like the one he was visiting today, while others were pretty much mega cities. Usually when he was visiting a mega city or a colony that was open to unlimited technology, there was no need to park outside of town. But this colony was a settlement that scowled on technology and only used a sparse amount of it, only enough to help them live a simple life. Rather than upset the folks with his space ship, the pilot always did the respectful thing which was to park his contraption far out of the town limits and walk in on the two feet God gave him. It was an approach that hadn’t failed to keep tensions low whenever he came into town.
Roderick took different paths into town, so it would be more difficult for people who were curious to find his ship. He didn’t mind the walk either as he could use the exercise after sitting on his arse in a spacecraft for so many hours a day. As Roderick was coming down a hill, he stopped as he could have sworn he heard something.
“Did you hear that?” he asked.
“Someone is crying for help.”
Even thought he was away from it, Roderick always kept in constant communication through an interface that was inserted behind his ear directly into his brain. This was a secret that was only kept between Roderick and his fellow pilots. He even carried a radio to fool people into thinking that is how he communicated with his ship. A rouse that often saved his life.
“Where is it coming from?” Roderick asked.
“I am picking up a life form south east of your location.”
“I’m going to investigate.”
“I should warn you that Sub-Prime Alpha…”
“I’m aware of the time,” Roderick replied as he didn’t care. “Someone’s in trouble, you can guide me to town after I take care of this.”
“Affirmative, Commander Roderick.”
Roderick was aware that he was already running late, but this wasn’t something a man of his statuette could ignore. This was after all his job, to protect people. He deviated from his trail and began to move towards where he though the cry had come from. Soon there was another sound that caught his attention.
“What the hell was that?” Roderick called out.
“That was a Sabre Lion, Commander.”
Roderick kept moving in that direction, but drew his sidearm to be prepared to defend himself. Once the situation came into sight, Roderick was able to see what was going on. A small child, no more than ten had climbed into a tree to get away from the Sabre Lion. The creature chased the child and was clawing away at the tree but unable to climb after what it was hoping would be its next meal.
“I am detecting that the Sabre Lion’s adrenaline has its heart racing at top efficiency. Hitting it with a stun ray will have no effect.”
“I was afraid of that.” Roderick replied as he set sidearm to lethal.
He didn’t like to take life any kind of life, but never backed away if the situation deemed it absolutely necessary. There was a child that needed his help and if that Lion refused to retreat, he would put it down. As Roderick approached the situation, he picked up a stone and tossed it in the direction of the Sabre Lion to get its attention. When the lion finally noticed he was there, it began to charge.
“The Sabre Lion is attacking.”
“I can see that!” Roderick replied as he quickly aimed his gun at the approaching beast and fired.
A small pale blue fireball exploded out of the small gun and hit the beast square in the chest. Upon impact the animal exploded as if someone had shoved a grenade down its throat. A light green ooze, which was the beast’s blood splattered in all directions at least twenty feet. Roderick wasn’t close enough to get drenched, but some of it caught his boots.
“I just had those cleaned.” Roderick said as he walked closer to the tree.
“There were two more Sabre Lions in your area, but they retreated after you discharged your weapon.”
“Affirmative” Roderick said as he slowly approached the tree. He slowly lowered his gun and put it back into its holster. “Hi there.”
“Hello.” The child called back. Roderick could now see that the child in the tree was a small girl.
“Are you all right?” he quickly asked. She didn’t respond but based on what he could see she only had a few scrapes and bruises. Roderick held out his arms to her. “You can come down now. They’ve all run off.”
After a short pause, the little girl reached out and took his hand and fell into his arms. Roderick carried her a few feet from the tree so she wouldn’t get green ooze from the deceased lion on her feet. He then put her down on the ground. “My name is Commander Benjamin Roderick of the Rocket Patrol.”
“I’m Emma.” the little girl replied.
“It’s nice to meet you Emma,” Roderick said as he shook her hand. “Can you walk?”
“Yes, Sir.” She answered.
He offered her his hand. “Let’s get back into town before the sun is completely blocked out.”
“Two hours, eleven minutes.”
“Thanks for the update.” Roderick called out.
“Who are you talking to?” Emma asked.
“It’s not important,” Roderick answered. “Let’s get going.”