Earth has been sending out manned probes to other planets now for fifty years.  The crews of these probes know that, due to the vast distances travelled, they can never return home.

     Explorer Probe 157 has landed & set up an outpost “Regal 1” on an unknown planet in orbit around Alpha Centauri B.  The inhabitants and the new station are secure at this time, but the station is not quite finished.

                   Survey Data
         Planet: Unnamed, can sustain human life
         Sun: 94 Million Miles distance
         Gravity: average 9.78033 m/s²
         Temperature range: -40°F/C to 130°F/55°C
         Oxygen content: 22½%
         Nitrogen content: 77%
         Argon: 0.93%
         Carbon Dioxide: 0.035%
         Other atmospheric components to be determined
         Water bodies: 71% of planet's surface
         Size: 8,000 miles Diameter from pole to pole
         Volcanic action: Yes


 Chapter 1: Regal 1 



     Jack is a forty-year old planet explorer. He wears a Rank 6 patch with a red star to one side of the number and a purple star to the other.  He’s standing in the medical bay treating Steve, a younger crew member.

     Jack admonishes, “You had to go outside our perimeter without your suit,” as he stretches Steve’s eye open with one hand while holding the eye scope with the other to examine what’s wrong.

     Steve replies, “Come on, Jack!  Just take it out, please!  You know how to do that, right?”

     Jack answers, “I just need to see if it laid any eggs in your blood stream.  In this case the eye is the best place to look for them and the easiest way to tell.”  He sticks a long, thin metal probe into Steve’s ear, guiding it on a monitor showing Steve’s head similar to an X-ray.  On the screen he sees the probe as it comes close to the creature.  He says, “Now hold absolutely still while I get it.”

     Some grippers at the end of the probe open up to grab the creature.  It awakens and bites off the end of
the probe.  Steve screams in pain.

     Jack says, “Damn, another probe ruined!  But you are lucky.  It’s a male.  I can tell by its teeth.”

     Steve, covering his ear in pain, asks, “Now what?”

     Jack replies, “Males don’t have gripping legs like
the females do.  I can flush it out.  It must have been waiting for a mate.  Just hold still, I’ll get it.”

     He holds a kidney-shaped pan under Steve’s ear
and squeezes a huge eyedropper of solution into the
ear.  He says, “This’ll take a minute.”

     Steve says, “Cool, it’s soothing.”

     Jack says, “It should be.  It’s mostly a morphine based solution with a lubricant added.  It numbs them and they slide out. . . .  Ok, lean to your right.”

     As Steve does, Jack pumps more fluid into the ear and the creature squirms and sloshes out into the tray.

     Jack exclaims, “Got him!”  He takes it, pours it and the liquid into a glass jar and seals it.  Looking at the creature, he says, “You’re lucky, it’s a young one.  If it had had a mate with it I would have had to open up the side of your head and you would probably have lost your ear.  So, from now on, wear your environmental suit, in full, when you go outside, understand?”

     Steve agrees, “I sure will, Sir, you can bet on that!  Thank you,” and Steve leaves the bay.

     Jack presses a button on another monitor screen.  A computerized woman comes on the screen wearing a doctor’s jacket, and says, “Jack?”


Medical Lab
 
Auto Doc


     Jack answers, “Yeah, Doc?”

     The computer doctor says, “I saw what you did. Why all the theatrics making a big deal about it?  The eye thing was classic.  It was only a Wheelie Bug.”

     Jack replies, “I’m glad you enjoyed it.  This is a
new planet for us.  We just finished setting up the outpost.  Who knows what’s out there?  I don’t want to lose any men to stupidity.  So I want to make sure our guys are fully suited up.  He’ll spread the word to the others.  I think he even peed himself.”

     The Doctor says, “Good point.”

     Jack says, “Even on Earth, being half polluted, they’re still finding new species all the time.”

     An alarm goes off and a red light flashes.

     Junior Officer Collins comes over the intercom, saying, “Jack, you need to come to the watch tower, immediately!”

     Jack asks, “What is it?”

     Collins replies, “You won’t believe this.  You’ll
have to see what’s at the outer perimeter gate for yourself.”

     Jack demands, “Collins, what is it?”

     Collins answers, “Ah, it looks like a woman, Sir,
and she’s not one of ours.”

     Jack questions intently, “What did you say?”

     Collins answers, “It kinda looks like a woman, Sir, and she, or what ever it is, is not one of ours.”

     Jack says, “I’ll be right up!”

 Chapter 2: Observation Tower 




     The station is modular, built so each unit is self contained.  The modules are connected with corridors, stairways and bulkhead doors.


Storage Corridor
 
Bulkhead Door


     Jack quickly comes through a bulkhead door into the observation room and over to a window that views the front gate.  Lieutenant Collins, standing at the window looking out, turns to Jack.


Observation Room
 
Jack and Collins


     Collins says, stunned and surprised, “It’s gone!  It’s gone!”

     Jack asks, “Where was it?”

     Collins points at the front gate and says, “Sorry Commander, whatever it was is gone now.”

     Jack, as he looks out the window, asks, “Did the video cameras pick it up?”

     Collins answers, “No Commander.  They aren’t in place yet.”

     Jack, pissed off, says, “Great!  Just great! Order the ground crew to get the cameras up now and no one goes outside the fence with out a direct order from me.  And count heads!  I want to make sure no one is missing.”

     Jack turns and looks out the window with a pair of binoculars.

     Collins goes over to a console and gives the order to the ground crew and an order to the officer of the day to count heads.

     He comes back over to the Commander and asks, “See anything?”

     Jack answers, “No, but it seems a storm is coming.  So, what did you see exactly, you know the drill.”

     Collins says hesitantly, “It took me by surprise.”

     Jack demands, “What did you see Lieutenant?”

     Collins answers, “It’s hard to say Commander.  It was a human type female figure, about 5’ 10” wearing some kind of,” he hesitates, “ahh . . . ahh . . . armor, like from medieval times.”


     Jack, stunned, asks, “What?  What did you say?”

     Collins repeats, “Armor, like from the medieval times.”

     Jack pauses for a moment, then asks, “Are you absolutely sure?”

     Collins answers, “Yes, I am sure, commander.  I couldn’t get a good look at her face.  It looked like she was studying the fence.”

     Then Jack asks, “Was she or it carrying a weapon?”

     Collins answers, “It was carrying something but couldn’t tell if it was a weapon.  Out of all the planets we have encountered, I haven’t seen anything like this, just strange creatures.”

     Jack remarks, “We scanned this place before we landed and it didn’t give any indication of life forms higher than animals and no settlements of any kind.”

     Collins says, “Maybe she lives underground, or they do.  The scan wouldn’t pick that up.  Besides some of the creatures we discovered here are pretty fierce and we just started looking for life forms.  And the scans didn’t pick up those big beasts.  Besides you know scans aren’t always right depending on a lot of factors for any given planet. ”

     Jack Orders, “Right, go to yellow alert till we find out what it is and how many of them there are.”

     Collins comments, “You know, we really lucked out getting the perimeter fence up before those huge beasts arrived.  And now this.”

     Jack replies, “I don’t believe in luck.  We’re just good what we do.”

     Collins warns, “You know we can’t report any of this yet.  Our radio towers aren’t up yet.”

     Jack states, “That’s fortunate, just in case it was a hallucination.”

     Collins replies, “I know what I saw, Commander!”

     Jack says, “In a way, I hope you were mistaken, but on the other hand, just think how things will change if we’ve found another human type race!”




 Chapter 3: Two Weeks Later 


     Lieutenant Jason and two other crew members are on a reconnaissance mission, scouting the area for whatever oddities they may find.  Fanned out, three abreast, going through the forest, they are searching for anything to explain what Lieutenant Collins might have seen.  Corporal Hogan comes across an incredible find.

     He shouts, “Lieutenant, you’ve gotta see this!  I don’t believe it!”

     The Lieutenant and Private Mischief come running over.

     Hogan puts up his hands to motion them to stop and warns, “Watch where you step guys!  There are specimens of blood all over the place and who knows which belongs to who or what.”

     Lieutenant Jason, carefully coming over and seeing what Hogan found on the ground, exclaims, “Oh, my God!  Look at that!”  He stoops down, examines it more closely and says, “Well done Hogan. Bag it carefully.  Collins will be a happy camper seeing this.”


The Helmet


     He turns to the Private and orders, “Mischief, help Hogan bag all these samples, and don’t mix them up.  Make an exact grid map of our findings and tag each according to its location.”

     He turns back to Hogan and asks, “Did you photograph the site?”

     Hogan replies, “You know me, I’m a stickler for detail.  I did that before I called you over.  And look,” as he points to the ground, “They dragged someone off in that direction.”

     Jason says, “Good work, we’ll let the commander know,” as he looks around the area.  He spots something shiny in the grass by some bushes.  He puts on a rubber glove, carefully goes over to it, leans down and picks it up.  It’s an emblem of some kind, like from a uniform.  He bags it and, looking around some more, finds an exquisite comb with an ornate top.  He bags that too and looks around for any more evidence of what happened.


The Emblem


  


     Commander Jack is in the observation tower, searching the forest with his binoculars.  As he is scanning a heavily wooded, moss-covered area, Lieutenant Collins approaches him.

     Collins inquires, “See anything, Commander?”

     Jack replies, “No, and it’s been two weeks since you saw your, ah, armored girl.  We haven’t even seen any of those huge beasts, either.  Very strange.  I’ve sent out a reconnaissance team to search within a one mile radius around the base.  They’re coming back now.”

     Collins asks, “Wouldn’t they call in if they found or spotted something?”

     Jack answers, “No.  I have them on radio silence unless they are attacked.”

     Surprised, Collins asks, “Why is that?”

     Jack says, “Just in case there are Welpits here, like on Alpha Nine.  You know, those bat-like creatures that attack someone who is using his radio.  Those creatures pick up on the frequencies and think whoever is using them is a banana or some kind of fruit and attack him.”

     Collins says, “You’re right.  We have tons of research to do here.”

     Jack gets a call on his comm link.  He responds, “What is it?”

     Jason says excitedly, “Jack, I’m in the base!”

     Jack replies, “Jason, you’re back.  That’s great.”

     Jason says, “I can’t wait to show you what we found!”

     Jack orders, “Bring it up to the observation deck.”

     Jason replies, “Coming right up, Sir!”

     Within minutes, Jason, Hogan and Misfit present themselves to the Commander in the tower.

     After they exchange salutes, Jack asks, “OK, Jason, what do you have for me?”

     Jason, smiling widely, reaches into Hogan’s research pack, pulls out a specimen bag and says, “Hogan found something really interesting, Commander.  Get a load of this!” as he hands the specimen bag to Jack.

     Jack and Collins see what’s in the bag and exclaim in unison, “Holy . . . !”

     Jack, holding the bag, looks at the specimen and exclaims, “It’s a warrior’s helmet!”

     Hogan says, “I treated it like an artifact, rubber gloves, tissue, the whole works and carefully inserted it in the bag.”

     Jack, astounded, says, “Look at that incredible workmanship.  I’m amazed.”

     Hogan remarks, “It has blood on it, and some hair.  There were a lot of blood samples around the site.  We bagged them all.  Looks like it must have been one hell of a fight.  I want to take it all to the science lab, to test the blood, hair and metal and look for fingerprints, to see exactly what we have.  I’ll give it a full 3D scan and run some other tests.”

     Jack says, “Let me know about the blood tests as soon as possible, and be sure to run all the tests.  Especially look for bacteria, viruses and immunities.”

     Hogan says, “The helmet has a gash in it just above the eye,” as he points to the other side of the specimen bag, “By the look of it, the one who wore it either has a hell of a headache or is dead.  There were drag marks on the ground.  Someone was taking whoever it was somewhere.”

     Jack, still looking at it, responds, “I Understand.”  Then he turns to Collins and says, “Well, we got your proof.”

     Collins replies, “I told you, I know what I saw.”

     Jack says, “I believed you, but you know that as commander I have to operate on established facts.”

     Jason adds, “I also found these,” and has Hogan pull two more bagged items, the emblem and the comb, out of the research pack and hand them to the Commander.

     Jack studies it and says, “Oh my God, it looks like Latin on that emblem.”

     Collins asks, “Jack, are you serious?”

     Jack replies, “Yes, I know a bit of the language from studying medicine.  This is interesting, there was an anthropology professor at the university where I was studying.  He had a theory that all the different races on earth were from different planets in the Universe.  You know, he just might be right.”

     Collins says, “You’ll have to tell me about that some time.”

     Jack looks at the comb and says, “Interesting, looks Greek.”  He turns to Hogan and orders, “Run these symbols through the computer with a Latin database and see what you come up with.”

     Collins asks, “So what do we do now?”

     Jack says, “We stay on yellow alert.  We still don’t know what we are dealing with.  And we need to see all the test results.”  He calls on his comm link, “Mack?”

     Mack, a big, tough looking commando, answers, “Yes commander?”

     Jack orders, “Get team 5 together.  Full AE gear, you know, gear for any encounter, that new stuff, and pick someone who’s a good tracker.  Take 3 days rations and enough ammo to hold out if you need to.  We’ll also need a tranquilizer gun.  We’re going on a hunt.  Be ready in 10 and I will brief you what’s happening.  I’ll suit up on my way down.”

     Mack replies, “Great Commander!  Our boys need some action.  On it!  Out!”

     Collins, grabbing Jacks arm, demands, “I want to go!”

     Jack replies, “I need you here to watch the place and stay by the com link.  I may need you to put together a team in case we need help.”

 Chapter 4: Not What Was Expected 


     Jack and the team, fully suited up, are at the site where the helmet was found.  Sergeant Spike is crouched down looking at the drag marks.

     Mack says, “Finding that helmet is wild,” then asks, “So what are we really after or up against?”

     Jack replies, “Not sure, may have to save a life form like ours.  Just keep frosty.”

     Spike gets up, signals the others, and starts to follow the drag marks and the tracks that are with it.  The team takes up their positions and moves out.

TO BE CONTINUED