Another Planet

glimmering lights

previously…

The floor is weirdly spongy underfoot as I make my way to my seat at the ship’s console. I strap myself in and grasp the arms of the chair. They seem solid enough. Calming my breathing, I close my eyes and focus. The ship is part of my imagination; the ship exists by the power of my mind. I hang onto these thoughts, visualizing the surroundings with which I’ve become so familiar.

Gradually I steel myself to open one eye. The ship has ceased shimmering and the walls are solid once again. I open the other eye and stamp my feet on the floor. All seems as it should be. The ship has stabilized. I let out a long sigh of relief.

I remind myself I’m in a cargo hold on the Millennium Falcon. I stare at the blank monitor in front of me, trying to piece together what it looks like. I see racking and boxes and a chocolate bar wrapper. I’m looking down at Han Solo, Chewbacca and my two crew-mates. I watch as they disappear through a hatch at the far end of the cargo bay.

I flick the switch for the outside monitor, only to find it’s already switched on. Why is the screen blank? I flick the switch repeatedly, while behind me I hear the swish-thud sound of the outer hatch closing. Then it occurs to me.

It wasn’t my imagination that created this particular voyage. It was Harris’s. Right from the start. I was just a passenger. What if…?

I cut off the thought and feel in my pocket for the communication device that Han gave me before he took my crew members on their tour of the his iconic ship.

… if Harris’s imagination is busy filling in the details of the Millennium Falcon and Stevens is busy sustaining them, where does that leave me? I’m not part of that story-line anymore!

The screen flickers into life. The cargo hold has gone. The Millennium Falcon has gone and I’m on the surface of a barren planet. The same barren planet where we first found ourselves on this ship?

Have Harris and Stevens been left behind in a galaxy far, far away..?

Then two figures appear on the edge of the viewing screen. As they get closer to the ship I recognise them. It looks like I’m still in the same Universe as the boys after all.

R2D2 and C3P0 on a barren planet's surface

What’s happened to Jemma’s crew-mates? Are they still on board the Millennium Falcon? Will Han Solo come to her rescue? Or will it be up to her new friends to try to help her?
T
une in next week for episode 7

And if you we’re wondering what on earth (or off-earth) is going on,
you can catch up with the entire first series of Space Cadets here


Image credits: Md Mahdi on Unsplash and thefactsite.com

Losing Control

Han Solo holding a weapon

previously…

I open my mouth to speak but, suddenly tongue-tied, I close it again. I look to Harris for help.

‘So you didn’t beam us on to your ship, Mr Solo?’ Harris says calmly.

‘Why would I want to do that?’ He glares back. ‘And less of the Mr Solo, kid. You can call me Han.’ He lowers his gun.

I find my voice. ‘We’re sorry for the intrusion, Mr So.., er Han, ‘but your ship has just saved us from the Death Star. We’re very grateful.’

Han raises a quizzical eyebrow.

A low-pitched roar comes from beyond the rear hatch. ‘It’s all right, Chewy,’ Han shouts over his shoulder. It’s just a bunch of kids.’

A huge furry head appears.

‘Chewbacca! Way to go!’ Harris says delightedly. He nudges me with his elbow. ‘We’re actually on the Millennium Falcon!’

‘Can I see round your ship, Han?’ Harris almost begs. ‘The Millennium Falcon’s my favourite ever starship and that flight in hyper-drive was awesome!’

Han gives Harris one of his lopsided grins, while Chewbacca tosses his head and roars gently in what I assume is agreement.

‘Okay kid, I’ll show you around this bucket of bolts, but then we’re going to have to find somewhere to drop you and your ship off. I’ve cargo to pick up in the Kessel sector and I don’t need any extra passengers.’

Harris and Stevens bound towards the exit hatch. I follow more slowly, wondering whether we’ll actually be able to leave the ship. We’ve never managed to do so before. But I’m curious. Not so much about the famous Millennium Falcon, although I am rather keen on its present owner, but it occurs to me that we’ve never actually seen our ship from the outside.

But what might happen if we do leave the ship? I stop in my tracks at the entrance to the hatch.

‘What’s that, kid?’ Han turns to me.

I hadn’t realised I’d spoken out loud. ‘Our ship is powered by our minds and guided by our imaginations.’ I say by way of explanation.

Harris and Stevens have already joined Chewbacca outside the ship. ‘Never mind all that now, Jem,’ says Harris impatiently.

‘Sounds kinda weird,’ says Han.

‘We’ll tell you about it later.’ Harris is almost jumping up and down with excitement. ‘C’mon, Han, let’s go.’

As I step onto the ramp my stomach lurches and my knees start to buckle. I sit down abruptly.

‘Hey, are you all right, kid?’ Han crouches next to me.

‘I just feel a bit light-headed,’ I reply, trying to put on a brave face. ‘Our ship suddenly feels… less substantial…’

‘Low sugar. It’s the after effect of being in hyper-drive.’ Han looks up. ‘Chuck her one of those Banquet Bars, Chewy.’

Chewbacca rummages in a nearby cardboard box and throws me a crumpled package. The wrapper reminds me of a Snickers. I know the Earth-based confectionery company has been a multi-global for centuries; maybe they’ve changed the name in this galaxy.

Chewbacca nods encouragingly as I tear open the wrapper and take a bite, while Han pulls a communicator from his jacket and holds it out to me. ‘Go back inside and rest. Call me on this if… if anything should happen.’ He looks at the ship, frowning slightly.

As Harris and Stevens disappear through the hatch into the corridor beyond, the walls of our ship start to shimmer around me.

I have a bad feeling about this.

Md Mahdi on Unsplash

Will Jemma be all right alone on the ship? Will it still be there when Harris and Stevens return? Tune in next week for episode 6…

And if you we’re wondering what on earth (or off-earth) is going on,
you can catch up with the entire first series of Space Cadets here


Written in response to a prompt from Susan T. Braithwaite
Genre Scribes Friday Fiction Writing Challenge #50

The challenge this week was banquet.
Photo credit: Md Mahdi on Unsplash

 

Into Hyperspace

Star Wars Storm-troopers

Previously…

Without warning the Stormtroopers break ranks. Their faces are hidden behind their helmets but they’re clearly confused. The grey-uniform shakes his head in disbelief. ‘Where did it go?’ he calls out, waving his clipboard in exasperation.

Then it dawns on us. Our ship has cloaked itself like it did once before. They can’t see us!

‘We need to get out of here,’ says Harris, starting to push buttons on the control panel in front of him.

The viewing screen goes blank and I feel the ship start to move, but strangely I can’t hear the engines firing.

‘What’s happening?’ shouts Stevens, grabbing the arm of my seat.

All around us the ship begins to shimmer as if every particle is separating from its neighbour. I glance down; my body is becoming insubstantial too. My stomach heaves and I reach out to clutch Stevens’s outstretched hand. Air rushes past me. I grit my teeth.

Then with a jolt, everything stabilizes and comes back into focus. I hurriedly let go my grip on Stevens’s hand.

We hear an explosion coming from somewhere behind us and the ship judders. The sudden force flings us back in our seats.

‘Hyper-drive!’ yells Harris excitedly.

The ship continues to accelerate, but we’re blind. The viewing screen remains blank.

I struggle to turn my head in Harris’s direction. ‘Where are we going?’ My mouth moves in slo-mo and my words are elongated, drawn out by our superluminal speed.

A moment later the ship returns to sub-light speed and the viewing screen blinks into life. Expecting to find ourselves out in the enormity of space, we exchange puzzled glances. We appear to be crammed into a cargo hold. Inside another ship?

‘What the..?’ Harris removes his cap and scratches his head. ‘I wasn’t flying the ship?’

We hear running feet outside. ‘Get this damn thing open!’ an exasperated voice shouts.

We spin around in our seats as we hear the rear hatch of the flight deck open. A perplexed looking man, brandishing a gun appears.

‘Who the hell are you? And what are you doing on my ship?’

My heart misses a beat.

Han Solo holding a weapon

What next for our gallant cadets? Are they really on board the Millennium Falcon?
Will the Force be with them? Will Jemma swoon at Han Solo’s feet? Or will she remember her training and regain her composure?
T
une in next week for episode 5

And if you we’re wondering what on earth (or off-earth) is going on,
you can catch up with the entire first series of Space Cadets here


Photo credits: starwars.com

A Rude Awakening

interior of a space ship

Previously…

‘Wake up, Jemma. Wake up!’

Someone is shaking me by the shoulder. I open my eyes to see the worried face of Stevens looming over me.

‘What?’ I rub my eyes. Did I just doze off? ‘What is it, Stevens?’

‘It’s Harris. There’s something the going on with him.’

I shift my seat into the upright position and peer across the starship’s central console at Harris. He’s staring blankly ahead. His two thumbs are working away against his cupped fingers but there’s nothing in his hands.

‘Looks like he’s gaming in his sleep,’ suggests Stevens.

I lean over and wave my hand in front of Harris’s face. There’s no response. ‘Maybe he’s in some kind of trance.’

At that moment, Harris lets out an excited yell and punches the air. ‘Yesss! High score Harris!’ He beams at us, wide-eyed and triumphant, holding out his hand for a high five. Stevens leans over and obliges.

Red warning lights start to flash and the familiar rising wail of the siren blares. The viewing screen flashes a message.

WARNING! SHIP UNDER ATTACK! WARNING!

Shields, need to activate shields, I think to myself.

SHIELDS ACTIVATED

The message fades and is replaced by a view of our surroundings. The stars don’t look familiar at all. But there’s no sign of any immediate threat. So why does the ship think we’re under attack?

As if in response, a group of small star fighters flash past us on the right-hand side of the screen. There is a crackle of static from the ship’s console.

‘This is Red Leader. Good shooting, Harris! Cover me, I’m going in!’

‘Roger that!’ answers Harris excitedly, extending his right hand and curling his fist around an imaginary joystick. Our ship banks to follow the star fighters.

The view of the unfamiliar stars is replaced by one huge dark sphere.

The Death Star from Star Wars

Has Harris been recruited to the Rebel Alliance? Are the Cadets about to be caught in the crossfire? Tune in next time for the third episode of Space Cadets Series Two.


Image credits: Hanson Lu on Unsplash, StarWars.com

The Journey Continues

Hanson Lu on Unsplash

Series 2 Episode 1

The lights flash back on and I’m blinking in the brightness. Captain Kirk and Spock are gone. I glance across the star-ship’s command console; Harris and Stevens are wearing puzzled looks.

‘Hello, Cadets!’

We spin round in our seats to see our Professor emerge from the doorway at the rear of the flight deck. She trots over to us and perches on the edge of the console.

‘Are you all right, Professor?’ I ask. ‘The mind-worm, has it gone?’

She smiles serenely at me, her usual calm and confident self, touching a hand to her ear. ‘It’s if it was never there, Jemma.’ 

The viewing screen blinks into life revealing Matt Smith’s version of the Doctor pointing a frustrated finger at us. ‘You lot!’ He yells, wagging the finger furiously. ‘Get off that ship now! How many times…’

‘Okay, Doctor.’ The Professor flicks a switch and the screen goes blank. ‘It seems that we are free to leave.’ She shrugs. ‘Come, Cadets, let’s go.’

She stands and leads us to the doorway. A blast of fresh air suggests a hatch to the planet’s surface has opened.

We follow. Harris flexes his fingers and Stevens walks with a slight limp. My legs are stiff from sitting. How long have we been on the ship?

So much has happened, so many dangers averted; after all that we’ve been put through by our captor, can leaving really be this easy?

The Professor reaches the doorway. She stops and turns, blocking our path. Her face begins to fade and she grows taller. She is transforming into…

We take a collective step backwards.

A towering humanoid looms before us. One whom we all recognise. We saw him on the star-ship’s viewing screen when we first arrived. It’s the Zyborgatron and this is his ship.

The shiny silver mouth opens. ‘Return to your seats, Cadets. I haven’t finished with you yet.’

The ship’s engines start to hum.

~~~

What has the Zyborgatron done with the Professor? Could they be one and the same? (after all, we’ve never seen them together) and what are his plans for the Cadets?
Tune in next week to find out.

And if you we’re wondering what on Earth (or off-Earth) is going on,
you can catch up with the entire first series of Space Cadets
here

 


Written in response to a prompt from Susan T. Braithwaite
Genre Scribes Friday Fiction Writing Challenge #48

The challenge this week was path.
Photo credit: Hanson Lu on Unsplash

Coming soon…

Hanson Lu on Unsplash

Space Cadets: Series 2

If you’re new to the series or want to catch up and remind yourself where we left off, the previous series is here: Space Cadets Series 1

Kirk and Spock Space Cadets lunasonline

How the last series ended:
‘Fascinating,’ observes Spock. He puts the tricorder down. ‘Let me try something, Captain.’
Spock reaches across the console. He presses three keys, one after the other: Ctrl-Ale-Delete.
Everything goes black.

What next for our gallant Space Cadets? Tune in on Friday!

One Last Chance

Planet Earth watercolour painting by Elena Mozhvilo@miracleday Unsplash

Great Being Five had been twiddling her thumbs for too long at the Academy for Wisdom¹. Over the decades she’d re-educated many recalcitrant Great Beings and re-engineered their wrong-doings. She’d set them all back on the straight and narrow, repentant of their misdeeds in the management of their planets. But now she was bored.

True, she still retained responsibility for two planets, but one was still at the ‘rocks and slime stage’ and the other, Orea, the one she used to love so much, with its pretty pastel colours and cute, fluffy life-forms, was… well, just a little bit dull.

Five was missing her beautiful blue planet. Planet Earth, which she’d finally decided to delete² back in Earth Year 2033, before the greedy, selfish little humans destroyed it themselves and took off to infect another planet.

She missed those fallible little creatures. Back in the day, before they had too many technical toys at their disposal, they were such fun. So creative! Five sighed as a wave of nostalgia broke over her desk and splashed off her Universal Viewing Screen.

Back in the day. The thought crossed and re-crossed her mind.

It lingered while a plan formed.

She’d done it before, and she could do it again. As a top official in the Academy, she had both the authority and the autonomy. All she needed to do was turn back Time in that small solar system on the edge of the Milky Way. 

Once before she’d re-set Planet Earth, but sadly it hadn’t had much effect; soon the arrogant little inhabitants were back on the road to their inevitable existential fate. This time needed to be different. A planet-wide change of mind-set must be effected.

She knew just the Being to help her.

Five dropped a mind message to her first re-education subject, the one she knew best and her greatest success. She immediately sensed his enthusiasm for the project. He was primed and ready for action. She would take care of the Time-Grid and he would set up the means for a mind-set change.

He warned her it would be radical.
He warned her it would be tough.
He warned her it would take time.

She agreed.

Five aligned the Time-Grid: 01.01.2020.
A nice round number; not long before The Total Tipping Point.

She sat back. Watched and waited.

Planet Earth reappeared in its old position. The little humans had ceased their scurrying. They’d hunkered down and huddled in their homes. Five was saddened at the sickness and the suffering; the deaths of the elderly, the poorly and the poor.

The Earth turned and turned again
day after day
month after month.

Skies cleared. Rivers ran clean. Nature thrived and re-asserted itself.
The planet cooled down a little.

When the scourge passed, the little humans emerged. They had changed and the change came from within; a new understanding of their beautiful blue planet.

Five mind-melded with her colleague: thanks, Nineteen.

She hoped her little humans would get it right now.


¹ For the Greater Good
² And finally she pulled the plug

Photo credit: watercolour painting by Elena Mozhvilo

For the Greater Good

For the Greater Good by Chris Hall lunasonline
Source

Great Being Five gazed up at the three Superior Beings in Interview Chamber 4. She didn’t have to be told why she was here.

She had contravened the non-interference protocol¹, deleted one of her planets² and banished a fellow Being to the furthest corner of the universe³.

There was silence in the Chamber.

Five reflected on her transgressions. She must justify her actions.

She flung out a mind-picture of how she’d saved her lovely blue Planet Earth. One US president accidentally falling from the top of his own building had prevented the outbreak a third world war. It had only been a tiny tweak.

She visualized the moment when, years later, she’d reluctantly activated the total destruction of Planet Earth. It had been for the Greater Good. Those wicked little humans were about to infect another planet.

As for the fate of the odious Great Being Nineteen: who’d missed him with his destructive ways? Probably someone he owed money to. If anyone had contravened…

ENOUGH!

The thought-wave almost knocked her out of her chair.

The room vibrated as the Supreme Beings mind-melded.

Five gripped the arms of her chair.

Great Being Five, we are filing a guilty verdict.

Five braced herself.

However, your justifications are accepted.

You are assigned to the Academy for Wisdom.

* * * * * * *

Five sat expectantly in the big red chair in her shiny new office. Her screen flashed.
Assignment:
Great Being Nineteen – Re-education. Take all the time you need.

Five smiled. This was going to be fun!


 

Written in response to a prompt from Susan T. Braithwaite
Genre Scribes Friday Fiction Writing Challenge #29

The challenge this week was interview.

——————————
¹ Accident on Earth
² And Finally She’d Pulled the Plug
³ A New Dawn

 

Space Cadets Holiday Special – Part Two

Hanson Lu on Unsplash

Previously…/

I lean forward and tap on the blank viewing screen. ‘Can you get her back, Harris?’

Harris fiddles with the comms controls. ‘Nope. She’s gone.’

Stevens looks up from his side of the console. ‘There’s no trace of Greta’s Ark.’ He holds up his hands in frustration. ‘Doctor,’ he says swivelling around in his seat to face the time lord, ‘can’t you take us back in time to before she disappeared? Like when you saved us from the black hole?’

The Doctor shakes his head. ‘Sorry Stevens, it’s a good idea in theory, but the black hole was fixed in space and time. We’ve no idea where young Greta is on the space-time continuum. That monkey chap disabled her ship’s stabilizer and the Ark is spinning out of control.’ He taps his sonic screwdriver against the side of his head. ‘We need to find her.’

The Doctor starts to head towards the Tardis, but suddenly he stops and spins around to face us. He waves his sonic screwdriver at me. ‘Jemma, how did you lot manage to summon me just now? You had no idea where I was did you?’

The Doctor’s right. We just have to use our imaginations.

‘Genius, Doctor!’ cries Harris.

I look from Harris to Stevens. ‘We need to imagine Greta on her ship, just as we saw her. That should take us to the Ark, don’t you think?’

‘In theory,’ adds Stevens.

‘What about us?’ asks our new friend, David Attenborough. ‘What can we do?’

I glance at the Doctor. ‘The same: picture Greta on the Ark.’

‘Well, I guess that won’t do any harm,’ replies the Doctor. ‘I just want to check on something,’ he bounds over to the Tardis. ‘You carry on.’

‘Okay, guys,’ I say. ‘Now concentrate.’

David walks over to the console and leans on the desk opposite me. He looks up to the ceiling for a moment, then bows his head and closes his eyes.

I close my eyes and focus.

Space Cadets Christmas Special Greta Thunberg

Once again, the power of our minds works almost immediately and Greta appears back on the screen. The monkeys have vanished, and the only sign of the earlier disturbance is the broken down door in the background and the sight of her lieutenant patiently re-attaching the stabilizer lever on the control desk.

Greta smiles at us and leans on her folded hands. ‘What happened to my monkeys? They seem to have vanished.’

Suddenly there is a cacophony of screeching behind us.

‘Wait! No, come back with that!’ The Doctor is shouting from inside the Tardis. I turn to see the baboon and the spider monkey bowling out of the Tardis with the Doctor in hot pursuit. He grabs the spider monkey’s arm and prises a large silver key from its paw. ‘He’s only tried to run off with the Tardis’ ignition key!’

‘Doctor, what happened?’ I dodge the baboon, as it leaps onto the desk. Before the Doctor can reply, more monkeys spill out from the Tardis, screeching delightedly. ‘Did you bring them onto the Tardis?’ I say, edging away from the desk nervously as the baboon bares his teeth at me.

‘I don’t think so,’ replies the Doctor, dodging around a tiny marmoset which scrabbling about on the floor by his feet.

David Attenborough looks slightly sheepishDavid Attenborough raises his head. ‘I’m afraid that may have been me,’ he says rather sheepishly. ‘I was thinking about the way they were behaving.’ He eyes the two monkey ring-leaders who are both now perched on top of the console. Harris and Stevens are fighting to prevent them fiddling with the ship’s controls. ‘Sorry,’ he holds his hands up.

‘Okay, one thing at a time.’ The Doctor approaches the screen. ‘Are you all right, Greta?’

Greta nods.

‘And your ship is working correctly now?’

Greta nods again. ‘We’re back on course,’ she glances at her lieutenant who gives her a thumbs up.

Suddenly the capuchin leaps onto the Doctor’s shoulder and launches itself at the viewing screen. It peers at Greta. She leans past him. ‘You have the monkeys now?’

‘I’m afraid so,’ says David, reaching over to remove the capuchin. ‘You’re a nice little chap, aren’t you’ he murmurs to it, stroking its head. ‘Doctor, if I can lead the monkeys into the Tardis, will you be able to take us to Greta’s Ark?’

‘Just so long as they behave themselves,’ the Doctor frowns at the baboon who is now engrossed in watching Harris playing ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ on the pop-up screen in front of him.

David looks at Greta. ‘And you can be ready to receive them?’

Greta looks at her lieutenant. ‘I’ll get right on it,’ he says.

Apart from the baboon, who’s still mesmerized by the video game, the monkeys are screeching excitedly and chasing each other around the flight desk. The mess they’re making is unbelievable. What can they have been eating?

‘Righto,’ says the Doctor, raising his forefinger in the air. ‘I’ll get a fix on Greta’s Ark and, David, you round up this lot.’ He points at the excited animals. ‘I think we’ll better lock them in the basement.’ He dashes into the Tardis.

David feels in his jacket pocket and pulls out a small banana. He crouches down and holds it up to the nearest monkey. ‘What have I got here then?’ he whispers to it gently. The monkey puts his head on one side. David starts to peel it and the monkey lets out a squeal of delight. He breaks off a piece and hands it to the monkey. He breaks off another piece and gives it to the tiny marmoset which has climbed up onto his knee. Soon all the monkeys are crowded around him; even the baboon tears himself away from Harris’s game.

David produces more bananas.

‘Did you bring those with you?’

‘I didn’t, no, Jemma. They just seem to have appeared. It just occurred to me that they might be useful. It seems your ship obliged.

‘Way to go, David,’ says Stevens admiringly.

I’m reminded of the ancient Pied Piper story as David begins to lead the monkeys into the Tardis. We follow too, watching as they troop down to the basement. Soon they are all secured for the transfer.

‘Ready to roll then, David?’ says the Doctor springing up the stairs.

Regretting that we are unable to leave the ship, we watch over the monitor as the monkeys are safely delivered back to Greta’s Ark and safely locked in their cages.

Greta, flanked by David and the Doctor, waves her thanks. The Doctor turns to David. ‘Can I give you a lift back to the BBC? I was in the middle of a spot of filming with Professor Cox; quite a bright chap, by human standards.’ The Doctor winks at us.

The screen goes off and we’re alone again. I wonder what our Professor’s doing right now.

The Space Cadets will return with a new series later in the year.
Meanwhile, the Head Scriptwriter has a novel to finish.

Happy New Year

Space Cadets Holiday Special – Part One

Hanson Lu on Unsplash

As promised, our gallant Space Cadets return to your screen…

I’m woken by a vaguely familiar song playing over the star-ship’s hailing channel. Rubbing my sore neck, I look around. I must’ve been out for some time. Stevens and Harris are in their seats on either side of me, heads lolling. Stevens is snoring gently.

Then I hear a voice. ‘May Day, May Day! This is Greta’s Ark. Anyone receiving? May Day!’

The voice is lost in a burst of static. Greta’s Ark? It sounds familiar. Then it dawns on me. We’d learned about Greta Thunberg when we studied early time travel. She was the girl who travelled back two hundred years to the 21st century to save the Earth’s animals. How can we be receiving a distress call from the long distant past?

I jab angrily at the console, trying to get the message back. What’s wrong with the ship now?

‘Hey, what’s the drama, Jem?’ Harris has finally woken up.

‘Comms aren’t working. Drat this ship!’ I prod at the console again.

The static clears and we hear Greta’s voice: ‘May Day, May Day! This is Greta’s Ark. Come in, somebody… please!’

Harris puts his ear to the speaker. ‘Wow! That’s the Thunberg girl, isn’t it? Cool!’ He pulls an uncomprehending face at me. ‘But hold on… she was, like, a hundred years ago…? How come she’s hailing us now?’

‘The timey-wimey thing?’ Making air quotes with my fingers, I mimic the Matt Smith version of the Doctor, who saved us from the black hole.

‘She sounds as if she’s in trouble,’ Harris says.

I roll my eyes. ‘Yes, right. So fix the console so we can find out what’s wrong!’

‘What gives, peeps?’ Steve rubs his eyes and yawns.

I can’t hide my sarcasm. ‘Welcome back, Steve.’

Harris, meanwhile, is fiddling with the comms system; the static whines and crackles. Finally, Greta Thunberg’s face appears on the view screen. I catch the end of what she’s saying: ‘… and they’re going ape!’

Space Cadets Christmas Special Greta Thunberg

I lean forward. ‘This is Jemma Kirk. How can we assist, Greta?’

‘Thank goodness.’ She doesn’t seem surprised that I know her name. ‘Listen, the monkeys have escaped and are causing mayhem. We need to get these animals under control before they do any more damage to my ship.’ Behind her we see a young man in a khaki uniform fighting to hold the flight deck door closed against a barrage of blows which are accompanied by excited screeching. ‘Please, get me David Attenborough!’

‘Who?’

‘He’s the naturalist from the 21st century who’s been helping us gather the animals. He’s from the BBC, you must have heard of him.’

Stevens is busy searching the ship’s data banks. A clip from an ancient British TV series pops up at the side of the viewing screen. I recognise the man who is crouching in a leafy rain forest next to a group of gorillas.

‘Yes, that’s him,’ Greta exclaims! ‘I’d go myself, but I can’t leave the ship.’

‘Well you can’t be in two places at once…’ I begin.

Greta cuts in. ‘I can actually, aren’t you familiar with quantum superposition?’ She throws her hands in the air. ‘Look we’re wasting time. Can you get hold of Mr. Attenborough, or not?’

‘We’ll get the Doctor,’ I say confidently.

‘Doctor who?’

‘No, just the Doctor. Don’t worry, he’ll track down your Mr. Attenborough.’

I glance at Harris and Stevens. ‘Okay, let’s do it.’ I turn back to the screen. ‘Hang on in there Greta, we’ve got this.’ I signal to Harris to cut the comms.

‘You hope…’ says Stevens.

I look from Stevens to Harris. ‘Come on, guys. We need to focus.’

All we need to do is imagine. That’s how our ship works – powered by our minds and guided by our imaginations – although I’m not sure how Greta’s distress call fits in, but there’s no time to worry about that now.

Space Cadets 5 by Chris Hall lunasonline

‘Guys, think of the Doctor! Imagine the Tardis!’

Almost immediately we hear the familiar sound of the Tardis materializing, and sure enough, the iconic blue police box appears at the other side of our flight deck. We’re getting good at this!

The door opens and I’m delighted to see the Matt Smith version of the Doctor.

‘Hi guys,’ the Doctor lifts his hand in greeting. ‘You seem to have summoned me.’ He frowns. ‘Slightly inconvenient, but I’m sure it’s important.’

‘It is, Doctor,’ I assure him.

‘So’, the Doctor claps his hands together, ‘what’s the problem Jemma?’

I explain.

‘Oh yes, David Attenborough, lovely man. Don’t you just love his nature programmes?’

At that moment, the Tardis door opens and David Attenborough himself appears. He looks around, a mildly puzzled expression on his face.

‘And here he is!’ announces the Doctor.

‘How did you do that Doctor?’ I ask.

‘No idea, Jemma.’

David Attenborough is scratching his head. ‘Oh, hello, Doctor.’ He gestures vaguely at the Tardis. Sorry, I must have wandered into the wrong studio.’ He looks around again. ‘Are you filming?’

‘Just the man we were after!’ The Doctor claps him on the back.

‘I’m going to be in one of your episodes?’ David exclaims excitedly.

‘Well, not exactly. A young lady by the name of Greta is asking for you.’

‘Ms Thunberg? I was only with her the other day.’ He frowns. ‘Has something happened to the Ark?’

‘She needs your help, Mr Attenborough.’ I guide him towards the console. ‘She’s having some trouble with the monkeys on her ship.’

‘Monkey trouble, eh?’

Harris brings up the comms and Greta’s face appears on the screen. ‘Mr Attenborough,’ she sighs with relief. ‘Thank goodness!’

At that moment, the door behind her gives way and her lieutenant is pushed off balance. He lands in a sprawling heap on the floor and a group of around ten monkeys of assorted shapes and sizes start leaping around the flight deck screeching mischievously.

‘They’re totally out of control,’ Greta cries, ‘they’re all over the ship!’ She deftly removes a cute-looking capuchin which has climbed up onto her control desk and is peering at us on the screen.

A spider monkey appears at her side and starts fiddling with the controls on the desk. ‘Get off that now!’ She tries to bat the animal away, but he persists. Another one joins it. This one’s larger; a baboon.

David leans into the screen and points a finger. ‘Now stop that at once!’ His voice is calm but authoritative. The baboon pauses and looks at the screen, turning his head to one side. Then he turns his back on us and his large red behind fills the screen.

‘Charming,’ observes the Doctor.

The picture flickers. We see Greta desperately wrestling with the spider monkey who now seems keen to sit on her head. The baboon turns around and brandishes a large lever at us which he has clearly wrenched from the control desk. ‘No!’ Greta bellows. That’s the stabilizer!’

Our viewing screen goes blank.

‘Where did they go?’ asks David.


Will the Doctor and the Cadets be able to locate Greta’s Art? Will they be in time before the monkeys dismantle Greta’s ship? And will David Attenborough take charge of the escapees?

Find out in Part 2 – coming soon!