The Skeleton Crew
We set off from the desert planet of Sol, named after the intense sun that beams down upon it. Our crew was light, only four men. Our mission, to explore new settlement options and report back about whether or not the new planet was habitable, a seemingly easy assignment. From there, the government would send the TI-909s, massive transport ships, filled with people who were deemed suitable to colonize the new land.
Our ship was the Intruder, the fastest small transport in the known galaxy. We will reach the new planet, code named Alpha, in one year. We spent the time reading, exercising, playing games and arguing. Some of our crew did not get along very well. How our management chose the final four was beyond our comprehension. They knew that Mark and Bob, in particular, hated each other, but they tried to get along anyway. The year seemed to drag on, everyone was touchy. Maybe, being stuck on a small ship, with no women, and very few entertainment options, left a man feeling agitated.
Finally we could see Alpha in the distance. We were about two weeks away from the planet. That raised the morale a little bit. Preliminary data readings came back from the probes that we sent out. The surface temperature of Alpha was a comfortable seventy four rumens, about thirty seven degrees Celsius (by the old unit of temperature measurement).
Those last two weeks were pretty uneventful. Mark and Bob got into an argument about food, eventhough the nourishment dispenser has a near unlimited supply of items to choose from. Their bickering was nearly comical. I pulled Matt aside and said to him:
“We should send them out first to check out the planet, I can’t deal with their fighting any longer.”
“I could not agree more.” Proclaimed Matt.
We ran this by the two block heads and they actually went for it! The time came when we were within a mile of the planet and our teleporter was within range. The two suited up and made their way to individual teleporters. The ship’s cameras were zoomed in on the teleportation zone on the planet’s surface. The two soon disappeared and came into focus on the monitors. Something went horribly wrong, their skin and muscles were instantly vaporized, leaving behind two clean skeletons, standing straight up!
“This can’t be right, the surface temperature is only seventy four rumens! The atmosphere is mostly breathable oxygen.” I shouted in horror. “They should be fine!”
The two turned around and went back into the teleporters. Soon they came into focus in the ship and slowly walked towards us, bone striking the metal floor. Their eye sockets glowed red. One reached for Matt, who had no where to go, he was backed into a corner. He was touched by the skeleton and soon his skin and muscles were vaporizing, just like Mark and Bob’s. I was the last one left. The skeletons slowly walked towards me, white bones shifting and shuffling. I didn’t know what to do. If I stayed here I would be stripped of my flesh, if I teleported I would most likely meet the same fate. I noticed a moon in the distance…