Towncraft: The Story – Part 4
“We should arrive at K-17 in a few minutes,” announced Mr. Kiwi.
“Excellent. Prepare to throttle down,” Kolgrath replied.
Kolgrath punched a couple of buttons on the dash and turned a knob. Mr. Kiwi reached over and turned an identical knob to the same setting. The engines’ emitted a hum that went from high to low pitch. The stars outside the windows that looked like straight lines of light were now rounded once again. Kolgrath picked up the PA microphone.
“Men, we’re about to enter orbit of our first target,” came Kolgrath’s voice over the ship’s intercom.
Reznovski looked over at his seat-mate, “Well, time to get dirty.” Philcraft let out a chuckle.
A few more inputs into the ship’s computer and Mr. Kiwi brought the vessel into orbit around the new planet. Once locked into a safe trajectory, the two pilots unbuckled themselves and headed back to where the rest of the crew was seated.
“Mr. Kiwi and General Gabriel will man the ship. Quilt, Phil, and Rez, you’re with me,” no sooner did Kolgrath give the order the men were up from their seats and preparing their gear.
In the cargo hold of the ship was a smaller shuttle on which the crew would go down to the surface. It seated 4 passengers and had room for limited equipment. It had to be lighter to get the team down to the surface and back again.
Kolgrath and his exploratory team boarded the shuttle. Once seated and the airlock sealed, Mr. Kiwi tripped a switch in the main cockpit to open the cargo bay doors. Kolgrath watched intently at the opening bay doors, and once opened to their fullest, pressed and ignition switch and got the shuttle on its way to the planet below.
The entry into the planet’s atmosphere was smooth and uneventful thanks to the autopilot feature on the shuttle’s computer. Hues of red gave way to white as they came down through the cloud layer, and then finally the planet’s rich blue skies were all they could see.
Kolgrath watched the landscape scroll by on a mapping system as he spied for a good place to land. A flat plain of rolling greens presented itself and Kolgrath took the control stick.
“Prepare to land,” Kolgrath cautioned the crew.
He circled the shuttle around a hill, fired up the bottom boosters, and carefully set the ship down on its outstretched landing gear.
The computer had already analyzed the atmospheric composition when broke through the planet’s upper layers and deemed the air safe to breathe. With that confirmation Kolgrath pressed the button on the cockpit dash that opened a door and lowered a ramp.
“Let’s move out!” At Kolgrath’s command the entire crew unbuckled, grabbed their gear and made their way down the ramp.
The land was lush, green, and beautiful. Nearby cows grazed on tall grass, and various colored sheep milled and mingled in between them. On the slopes of the hills they spotted pigs slowly pacing about.
Philcraft set his pack on the ground and retrieved a scientific instrument mounted on a sturdy tripod. He firmly planted the tripod’s feet into the soil, and lifted the cover over a control panel. Phil punched in a few codes and the machine whirred to life, slowly extending a drill into the earth below.
“Analyzing,” a tinny computerized voice emitted from the device.
After another minute the voice spoke again, “traces of iron, gold, lapis lazuli, redstone, coal, and diamond.”
The crew cheered! That was exactly what they were hoping for. All the raw materials of the earth they needed to rebuild their civilization where right below their feet. Now it was time to do some visual scouting of the surrounding areas.
“Phil, stay here and secure the shuttle. Everyone else, with me,” Kolgrath motioned with a wave and Quilt Jack and Reznovski fell in line behind him.
Quilt, Rez, and Kolgrath made their way over a hill and round an oddly shaped rock outcropping before coming up on a river that snaked in several “S” shapes until it disappeared over the horizon. Reznovski extended a dipper into the water attached to an instrument panel. He gave it a little shake, and a reading came back on the screen.
“Safe to drink!” Rez happily announced.
“Yes!” Kolgrath gave a mighty fist pump. Only one thing left to find. Wood.
The men continued their trek along the bank of the river for about another hour until they saw what they were looking for. Trees. And these trees reached up to the sky. Thick spruce trees easily bearing the weight of the snow piled on its branches. And just on the other side of the water from the spruce was a thick and welcoming jungle.
“Guys,” Kolgrath started with a proud grin on his face, “welcome to our new home!”
Quilt, Rez, and Kolgrath exchanged congratulatory embraces before setting on the trip back to the shuttle.
Night had just started to fall over the planet as Kolgrath, Quilt Jack, and Reznovski reached the shuttle. In the distance they heard the faint sound of the vessel’s radio.
“Phil, please, do you read me? Over.” It was Mr. Kiwi radioing down from the main ship.
As Kolgrath walked up the ramp, he saw no sign of Philcraft. “Philcraft, this is Mr. Kiwi. Please respond,” the radio pleaded again.
Just as Kolgrath was about to answer Mr. Kiwi a shout came from outside the front of the shuttle.
“Kolgrath! Hurry come see this!” It was Reznovski doing the yelling.
Kolgrath ran down the ramp and towards Reznovski’s direction. Reznovski was holding was appeared to be a piece of a bloodied uniform. Kolgrath took it into his hands. Embroidered on a patch: “PHILCRAFT 007”