Towncraft – The Story: Part 5
The hum of the engines lowered as the scout rocket entered orbit around Yeterra. Kolgrath had already filed the report with Torrenz and Eli: Planet inhabitable, Philcraft lost. It was that last bit of news that made the journey back a very somber one. What was it that got to Phil? If there’s one, there has to be more. Not one more person taken, Kolgrath thought. He’d be ready for an encounter when they landed on the new planet again to start the building process.
It was the following day and Eli was calling out names as Minerraven entered them into a handheld computer. He wanted to account for every person in the world. The boarding process was very fast and citizens could only bring what they could carry. Tears flowed like rivers as people said goodbye to their dogs, cats, and homes. Eli swallowed hard. He could cut the pure sorrow in the air with a knife as families crossed the skybridges to board the rockets.
Torrenz let out a loud whistle as he directed the final load of cargo into one of the rockets’ holds. Workers stopped and turned their attention in his direction.
“That’s it mates. Go home, get your families,” Torrenz breathed a sigh of relief. They made the deadline. Now it was up to Eli and his team to make sure they’ve brought everyone on board.
After what appeared to be the last civilian family crossed the large bridge to the ship, Eli turned to Minerraven.
“Other than workers and their families, did we get everyone else?” Eli asked.
Minerraven traced down the list on the screen with his finger, “I show we’re missing two. Professor Squeaky and Ronin.”
Eli knew just where to find them. He instructed Minerraven to wait at his post to check in the remaining workers and their families as he hopped into a hovercraft. The engine roared to life and Eli sped off in search of the last two.
The Professor had moved to a remote location away from the city lights of Capitol City some time ago. He heard about the asteroid. He knew what it meant. Kolgrath, Torrenz, and Eli had all radioed him. They implored “Prof”, as they called him, to come back to Capitol City to evacuate. He said he’d think about it. And think about it he did.
The whine of Eli’s hovercraft could be heard as he approached the front of Prof’s house. Prof stepped out on his porch as Eli positioned the craft and cut the engine.
“It’s time to go. Come on,” Eli waved Prof over.
“I know,” Prof replied, staring off the distance and not taking a step.
“Well? Let’s go!” Eli shouted, with urgency in his voice.
“I’ve decided I’m going to stay here. Take my chances.” Prof looked up at Eli.
“Chances? There is no chance. Only death. Nothing will survive. Not even you.”
“I know.” Prof gave Eli a final nod, then turned away and walked back into his house.
Eli fired up the hovercraft’s engine.
“Goodbye, Prof,” Eli lamented under his breath as he sped off in search of Ronin.
“Coordinates confirmed. Everyone is in sync,” declared Kolgrath over the radio as he read over his rocket’s status screen.
This was it. Once the last few passengers were on board they would be taking off for their new home, leaving Yeterra to face its cosmic fate.
“Just waiting on Eli, and we’re clear,” Mr. Kiwi updated Kolgrath.
“He shouldn’t be much longer,” replied Kolgrath as he went back to checking flight information.
Eli made his way up the winding path to Ronin’s home, shouting his name.
“Ronin!” He felt eerily alone as his voice echoed off of the building. No reply.
“Ronin! It’s time to go!” Eli shouted again. He got a reply this time.
“I’m up here!” Ronin waved at Eli from a seated position on top of his house.
Eli made his way into Ronin’s house and up the staircase and to the ladder that lead to the roof.
“You missed check in. It’s time to go. We’re the last two passengers,” Eli placed his hand on Ronin’s shoulder.
“There’s only one passenger left to go,” replied Ronin. Not this again, Eli thought.
“That’s crazy talk. Come on, let’s go.” Eli tried to take Ronin’s arm and help him up, but he pulled away.
“No!” Ronin shouted. “My life’s work is here. In these houses. These hills. This land. I’m not leaving it!”
“Then you’re a fool! Your life’s work will be pounded into dust in less than 24 hours. You’ll go down with it if you don’t come now!” Eli was practically begging Ronin to listen to reason.
Ronin stood. Maybe he talked some sense into Ronin, Eli thought. That wasn’t the case. Ronin turned his back to Eli and stared out at the land below.
“There’s no point. If I come with you then what’s to say another asteroid won’t just come and wipe out the next planet? Or the planet after that?” Ronin wiped away a tear.
Eli’s radio crackled to life. It was Kolgrath.
“Eli! We’re waiting on you, let’s get out of here while the launch window is optimal.”
“I’m on my way,” Eli replied coldly.
Without a word Eli headed back to his hovercraft. Instead of having two comrades seated next to him and behind him, he was going back to the launch site alone.