By Alex C. McDonald
Phantom 500 – Episode 16
By Alex C. McDonald
Copyright 2015 Alex C. McDonald
Thank you for purchasing Phantom 500 Episode 16. If you leave a review at your favorite retailer, please e-mail the author at and you will receive the next episode in the series for FREE.
“And that’s it. You work hard and you’re going to earn a lot of money,” said James Riker to a room of miners who had been on strike.
“ So you’re going to give us 1% of the profit for every drop of Europa water we mine?” said one of the miners.
“That’s right and that is a huge deal,” said Riker.
“Well, what about the other 99%?” said another miner, a few of the other miners nodded in agreement.
“Hey, don’t be greedy. This is actually a very generous offer, more than the EMC would ever have agreed to. I’m being generous enough offering this to you. I respect all of you because you’ve been out there doing it. But let’s be honest, there would be hundreds of thousands of people down on Earth that would take a lot less than this offer. This is a new company and you can either take this very lucrative deal or go and find a new job,” said Riker. He was holding the meeting on the International Space Station in a conference room with the miners who had been on strike from the Europa Mining Corporation. The EMC had since gone bankrupt having not been able to come to a reasonable deal. In a cunning swoop, Sergei Starov, Riker’s investor, had bought the EMC and all its equipment at a cut of the cost.
“Well what about our protection? The Lycan’s seem to want Europa,” said a miner.
“I know completely about the Lycan threat. I was there with all of you the first time and I was there when you had all left. As much as I hated to do this I have agreed a deal with Starfleet that includes regular patrols of Jupiter. Starfleet are also taking the new Lycan threat very seriously. I’m not saying there is no risk, but as I keep saying, this is going to put a lot of money in all of your bank accounts,” said Riker.
“ Well, I’m not signing. I want 10% of profits,” said a very stubborn looking miner crossing his arms.
“You won’t get any more than 1%,” said Riker.
“You can speak for yourself, Roger,” said another miner speaking to the stubborn one. “I’m signing. I’ve got five kids to put through college and this will help. Where do I sign, Mr. Riker?”
“Right here,” said Riker holding up a tablet. The miner walked forward and signed. “Welcome, you are the first miner to work for Phantom Europa Inc.”
“Thank you,” said the miner. There was no stopping the flow of miners who lined up to sign up for a job. All that was left in the end was stubborn Roger, who rolled his eyes.
“Alright then, I guess I’ll sign. But I’ll say this one last thing, this is absolute robbery,” said Roger, but before Roger could sign Riker took the tablet away from his finger.
“I’m sorry, but there are no more job openings. I only want people working for me with the right attitude,” said Riker. Roger scowled at Riker.
“To hell with the lot of you then!” shouted Roger and then he stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind him.
“Okay, ladies and gentlemen, if you follow me we’ll head to my ship The Phantom 500 and head off to Europa right now. I would like a shipment of Europa water by the end of the day,” said Riker.
As Riker led the miners through the busy halls of the International Space Station, his heart beat excitedly. He had done it. A successful business coup. He was now a partner in the only company mining the water of Europa. With his financial backer, Sergei Starov, behind him Riker was set to make a lot of money. However, when he got closer to the terminal where the Phantom 500 had been docked he could see out of the window that his ship was not there. He could see a worried looking Kakura standing waiting at the entrance.
“Hello, Captain,” said Kakura.
“Kakura, where’s my ship?” said Riker.
“Um, not here, Captain,” said Kakura.
“I can see that, Kakura. But where is it? I want to ship out now to Europa,” said Riker. Kakura bent down and got close to Riker’s ear.
“I’ve located it on the moon,” said Kakura whispering.
“The moon? What’s it doing on the moon?” whispered Riker back angrily.
“You know why it’s on the moon,” said Kakura trying to remain discreet. Riker nodded and then looked back at his new workforce.
“Looks like there’s a slight delay, folks. What I am going to do is put all of you up in rooms here on the space station until the ship is ready,” said Riker.
“Where’s the ship Mr. Riker?” asked a miner looking a little worried.
“Nothing to worry about just off getting some maintenance,” said Riker, who quickly began tapping away on his tablet. “Okay, all reservations have been made at the station hotel. If you head to the reception you’ll all find your reservations there. I’ll call on all of you when it’s time to leave.”
The miners all looked a little confused, but filed away together to the International Space Station’s Hotel.
“Come on Kakura, we need to find a ship,” said Riker.
“Are you kidding me, James? I can’t just give you a Starfleet ship,” said Chief Petty Officer Sean Noland.
“Why not? I’ll only be an hour,” said Riker. They were standing in the main reception area of the International Space Station and had approached the Starfleet desk. It was noisy as it was bustling full of Starfleet officers, other merchants and tourists who had just arrived from Earth.
“What are you kidding me? You know that we’re on the brink of another war with the Lycan’s. Plus there’s the question of rebels amongst our own ranks. I’d be put in jail if they found out I let you take one of our ships,” said Chief Petty Officer Sean Noland.
“Look, Sean, no one needs to know. Just tell me where to go and I’ll just quietly make my way there. Your mother still sends me cards at Christmas,” said Riker.
“Look James, you were and still are the best Captain I ever served under. But I’m sorry, you’re just going to have to line up with the rest of the tourists and hire one of those ‘for-hire ships’,” said Chief Petty Officer Sean Noland.
“What? Do you know how slow they are? They can’t even make it to light speed mark 1,” said Riker.
“Well there is another way. You could tell me why you’ve lost your ship. That way I could launch an investigation and we could use a Starfleet ship. Captained by a Starfleet officer though of course,” said Chief Petty Officer Sean Noland, slightly smugly. Riker looked at him cautiously.
“Come on, Kakura. Looks like Sean is ‘one of them’ now,” said Riker turning around, Sean Noland had a smug smile on his face. “You know if it wasn’t for me pulling your head out of a toilet, you’d still be those young Ensign’s bitch.”
The smile was wiped off Sean’s face as several people looked around and stared. A few of the tourists giggled as Sean’s face went red with embarrassment.
Riker and Kakura stopped at the end of the large line of tourists waiting at Hertz Spaceship Rentals. Riker sighed in annoyance.
“Is she still on the moon?” said Riker handing Kakura his tablet. Kakura tapped away.
“Yes, she is,” said Kakura.
“God-dammit, Aurora. This line is going to take ages,” said Riker, as more tourists joined the line behind them. Kakura sniffed the air.
“Mmm, I’m going to get a hot dog,” said Kakura.
“Hey, get me one while you there,” said Riker. Kakura nodded and then put out his hand. Riker rolled his eyes and took out his credit card and handed it to Kakura. “Hurry up, I need that when I get to the front of the line.”
Riker had barely moved through the line when Kakura made it back with five hot dogs, fries, chilli fries and onion rings. Riker took one hot dog from the tray and then Kakura turned his back to Riker and began eating the rest.
“Are you hungry?” said Riker, jokingly.
“Yes, you can see that I ordered a lot,” said Kakura not picking up on Riker’s humour.
Finally, after waiting a long time, Riker was first in the cue. An attendant began waving his hand overly enthusiastically. Riker and Kakura made their way over.
“Hi, my name is Jeconya. How may I help you today?”
“I want to rent a ship,” said Riker.
“Certainly, and what are you planning on using the ship for?” said Jeconya.
“We need to go to the moon,” said Riker.
“Your companion is very big. You’re going to need to get a large ship to fit him in,” said Jeconya, typing away on a screen. Kakura grimaced.
“Why how small do they get?” said Kakura.
“Well we have single person ships all the way up to family-sized ships. You’re going to need to get a family-sized one,” said Jeconya. “You’re lucky as it’s the last one we have available.”
“It doesn’t happen to have light-speed capabilities?” said Riker.
“Oh no,” said Jeconya laughing. “Those are incredibly expensive. We don’t even have one in our fleet. But our ships are very fast. You’ll be on the moon in less than five hours.”
“Five hours!” said Riker annoyed.
“Yes, I know. Super quick, right. Do you know when they first landed on the moon it took them 4 days to get there,” said Jeconya, not picking up on Riker’s annoyance. “Okay so are you planning on renting space suits as well?”
“Well, no. We have our own,” said Riker.
“There all on the Phantom, Captain, so we’ll need to rent two suits,” said Kakura, Riker sighed.
“Ooo, I like how you called him, Captain. Role playing, I like it,” said Jeconya. “You know, sometimes when we are allowed to take out one of the ships we also role play. I like to be Lieutenant and Alfie over there, he likes to be Captain.”
“Yes, but I actually am a Captain,” said Riker.
“Oh very good, staying in character, I love it!” said Jeconya. “Okay then, ‘Captain’, that will be $10,732 for the rental of the ship and the suits.”
“What!” said Riker shocked at the price, Jeconya just smiled. Riker begrudgingly handed over his credit card and Jeconya scanned it. His scanner then went red.
“Oh! I’m sorry, ‘Captain’, but your credit card has been rejected,” said Jeconya.
“Try it again,” said Riker.
“Ahem, this is not 2007. The scanner never lies,” said Jeconya.
“The hotel rentals for the mining crew must have maxed out my card,” said Riker. Kakura then pulled out a gold visa card from his pocket with ‘Kakura’ written on it.
“Here try mine,” said Kakura.
“Certainly, maybe you’re the ‘Captain’ then,” said Jeconya smirking.
“You have a credit card?” said Riker.
“Yes, I got one last time we were on Earth,” said Kakura.
“And you still let me pay for the food?” said Riker.
“A business expense. I expect you to also pay me back for this,” said Kakura.
“Perfect,” said Jeconya as his scanner’s light went green, accepting Kakura’s card. “Here are the keys, if you make your way to Terminal 31. You’ll find your ship waiting for you.”
“Thank you,” said Riker, snatching the key off Jeconya before Kakura could get his hands on them.
“Have fun, ‘Captain’,” said Jeconya saluting Riker.
“This is all coming out of Aurora’s pay,” said Riker.
Riker and Kakura squashed into the Hertz rental. It was more like a 1970’s Pontiac than a spaceship. It would do though. They needed to get to the moon.
“I thought this was ‘family-sized’,” said Kakura.
“Look, I’m not happy about this either,” said Riker brushing off the control panel. He took off from Terminal 31 of the International Space Station. This ship was slow, cramped and took 5 hours to get to the moon. Its landing gear was pretty rough and the rental shook violently as they passed through the moon’s thin atmosphere.
“There,” said Kakura, spotting the Phantom 500 on the moon. Riker nodded and steered the shaking Pontiac type ship and landed it next to the Phantom 500. They awkwardly dressed into their rented spacesuits and got out onto the moon’s surface. Riker began ‘bounding’ over to Phantom 500 and checked it for Aurora.
“The ship’s locked and there is no sign of Aurora,” said Riker.
“She’ll be in the cave. Why else would she have come here?” said Kakura.
“We could just open the ship and fly off. Leave her with the rental and teach her a lesson,” said Riker.
“We could, but that would be cruel. I am a little concerned as by my record Aurora has been up here for about 9 hours. If she’s been out of the ship for that long her oxygen would have depleted and she would be breathing mostly carbon dioxide,” said Kakura.
“Let’s move,” said Riker who began taking long fast steps towards the cave where Aurora was. They turned on their torches and walked further down into the lunar cave. Soon their torches reflected off a black metallic object. It was the large object they had found on Europa, in the shape of an ancient geometric shape known as ‘Metatron’s Cube’. There next to it lay Aurora. Kakura quickly ran over to her.
“She’s passed out, but alive, barely,” said Kakura.
“We’ve got to get her back to the Phantom,” said Riker. Kakura nodded and then scooped her up and began carrying her out of the cave. Out of curiosity Riker approached Metatron’s Cube and then touched it like Aurora had back in the mines on Europa.
“Captain?” said Kakura, worried that the electrical pulse that had shocked Aurora would happen to Riker too. However, nothing happened.
“Huh? Nothing,” said Riker.
“Captain, we need to get her back to the ship. Are you coming?” said Kakura.
“Yes, yes I am,” said Riker, trying to shake a dreamy feeling. He turned and ran after Kakura.
They arrived at the Phantom and keyed in the command to open the ship. They quickly boarded, shut the door, stripped off their space suits and carried Aurora into the infirmary. Kakura quickly put an oxygen mask over Aurora’s nose and mouth. Her eyes then began to blink open.
“Kakura?” said Aurora.
“Good, you’re awake,” said Kakura. Aurora removed the oxygen mask and sat up.
“Aurora! What in the world do you think you’re doing?” shouted Riker, unable to hold back.
“Captain, let her recover,” said Kakura.
“To hell with recovery, do you know how much you’ve cost me over the past few hours!” said Riker.
“Captain, I-I don’t know what to say,” said Aurora.
“Plus there’s the fact you could give away our secret hiding spot,” said Riker.
“Look, I just needed to be close to that thing,” said Aurora.
“Close to it? It’s just a big metal thing, we don’t even know what it does or is supposed to do yet. Crystal is still translating the message from that being,” said Riker.
“You don’t know what I’ve been going through, Captain. I’ve been dreaming of it, every single night. It’s been drawing me to it, like I just needed to be close by,” said Aurora.
“And what did it feel like when you saw it again?” said Kakura. Riker rolled his eyes.
“It was like I was back with my parents again. I mean, not my real parents, but a different kind of parent. Like a creator or a maker, who loved me unconditionally no matter what. It made me feel like I could just be there and anything that I’d done or been or any dreams that I have no matter how small or stupid were accepted and approved of. Then there was just this glowing fuzziness and warmth that went over me. So I just lay down next it and it felt so good,” said Aurora.
“I felt nothing when I touched it,” said Riker. Kakura and Aurora turned to him.
“Well I wish you had, because it was amazing to see the object again,” said Aurora.
“Well welcome back to reality, Aurora. In the time that you decided to go all hippy on us, you’ve gone and cost me thousands of dollars, plus time. You’re paying me back. Now get to the helm of this ship and take us back to the International Space Station. We’ve got a whole bunch of miners to pick up and ship out to Europa,” said Riker.
“What about the rental, Captain?” said Kakura.
“It’s not in my name,” said Riker.
“Well, maybe I could just say it broke down,” said Kakura grumpily. “Ugh, this is going to hurt my credit rating.”
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About the author
Alex C. McDonald is a writer of fantasy, apocalyptic horror and science fiction.
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Phantom 500 – Episode 1
Phantom 500 – Episode 2
Phantom 500 – Episode 3
Phantom 500 – Episode 4
Phantom 500 – Episode 5
Phantom 500 Anthology – Episode 1-5
Phantom 500 – Episode 6
Phantom 500 – Episode 7
Phantom 500 – Episode 8
Phantom 500 – Episode 9
Phantom 500-Episode 10
Phantom 500 – Episode 11
Phantom 500 – Episode 12
Phantom 500 – Episode 13
Phantom 500 – Episode 14
Phantom 500 – Episode 15
Phantom 500 – Episode 16
Phantom 500 – Episode 17