(This is an excerpt from my Science Fiction/Comedy novel in progress -- The Adventures of Danger Dave, a story of Galactic Exploration and High Adventure, produced and broadcast by 21st Century Weasel Entertainment.)
Chapter 3: The Search for Elvis
By Rick Carlson
They entered the solar system, and Dan tracked the signal to an Earth-sized planet with an Earth-type atmosphere and Earth-like oceans and continents.
"Hey!" said Dave, "It looks like Earth!"
Dan smiled and said, "Nothing gets by you, does it?"
"Okay, Funny Man, can you pinpoint the source of the radio signal? I'd like to see them before they see us."
"Sure, Boss, no problem, if you feel like ripping us apart tearing through the atmosphere, hurling sonic booms like Thor at his birthday party in Asgard. Or, you could ask Maria to use some of that new-fangled, high-tech comm. gear they call an 'an-ten-na' to figure it out -- that is, if you want to be slightly less subtle than a drunken Norse God. It's your call."
"Gee," said Dave, "I wonder what's behind Door Number 3. Since I already have a new car, we'll go with Door Number 2."
Dave pressed the button with the old-fashioned hand-cranked telephone icon and said, "Maria, can you…"
"Alrrrready ahead of you, El Capitan," interrupted Maria, in her thick Spanish accent, rolling her "R's" like the purring of the ship's mascot, Kat.
"All Fly Boy has to do," continued Maria, "is press the green button marked 'GO' in the center of his screen. Oh, and by the way, I've been scanning all other frequencies within the traditional radio range, and no one else is on the air. There are no satellites in orbit -- at least none that we can see, and there are no visible cities, no measurable pollution, and no lights on the dark side. Either they are way more advanced than us, and are hiding behind advanced technology, or they are a small, isolated colony using antiquated technology and may be panicked by our appearance. Either way, it could be dangerous situation. Watch yourselves. Maria out."
Dan immediately pulled out a hand mirror and posed for himself. Then, not satisfied with that, he popped up another flat screen display and patched it into the nearest camera feed. Now, apparently satisfied with the view, Dan pulled out a comb and reached up to comb his hair, stopping halfway through the motion. In his best Fonzie impression, he stuck out both thumbs and said "(H)eyyyyyy" glowing in the reflection of perfection staring back at him. Then, he calmly, coolly, put his comb back in his pocket, then pressed the on-screen 'zoom' button until just his face was visible. Finally, he turned his head to pose for a profile shot, then realized just how quiet the room had become.
Slowly, he turned his head even further and noticed the Captain staring at him with his arms crossed, tapping his feet.
"Just what on Earth was that all about?" asked Dave, somewhat confused, but amused.
"You heard Maria. She said 'watch yourselves,' so I did. Besides, It'll make a great poster for the fan club next week," replied Dan with a sheepish grin.
Dave burst out laughing, grabbing onto the railing to keep himself from falling over. After about 5 seconds, he tried to regain his composure by posing in a standard Hero Stance, and as seriously as he could, commanded "Press the button."
Now, it was Dan's turn to double over with laughter. In fact, he laughed so hard, he fell out of his chair and rolled on the floor, facing away from the nearest camera.
"If you won't press the button, I'll do it myself," said Dave with mock seriousness, all trace of laughter gone by this time. He leaned over Dan's vacated chair, poised over the big green button on the screen, as if he were launching Armageddon, itself and fighting some great inner turmoil.
"Keep your pants on," said Dan. "I'll do it," snapping a salute out of spite. Then, to the camera, Dan spoke to the next generation.
"Remember, kids. Stay in school, study hard, don't do drugs, and one day, you could join the Space Corps., learn all about aeronautics and astro-navigation, spend thousands of hours in simulators, so that you, too, can decide the fate of an entire world by pressing a button like this one. Countdown with me, from 3. Ready? Three…two…one…Press!"
Well, that's not quite true. Actually, quite a number of remarkable and seemingly unrelated things happened, more or less at the same time.
First, the gravity drive adjusted the Terra Vision's orbit based on feedback from the navigational computer. The gravity field encompassed the entire ship. The cameras, people, and even the mischievous Kat were accelerated and decelerated simultaneously at the sub-atomic level, giving the appearance of nothing happening.
Second, the radio DJ put on a full album and walked down the hall to "de-fuel" himself. Of course, the Terra Vision's cameras didn't peer inside the radio station.
Third, a Galactic Mafia scout ship reported the location of the Terra Vision crew back to Xiggy Xambini, from a respectable distance, of course.
Fourth, Gus took a bath. Even BOB turned off the internal cameras for that event, focusing his attention and the cameras on…
Fifth, Maria shaved her legs, along with several other areas of her body, applying the barber nanites in slow, sensual strokes, then watching as the hairs magically detached themselves at the roots and slowly made their way down Maria's body to the collection bucket for recycling.
"Bob," called Dave.
"Hey, Big Brother!" called Dave, pressing the oval "Turbo" button.
"Wha-wha-what?" answered Bob. "I was, uh, monitoring the uh, native wildlife."
"Monitor this," said Dave, pointing to the screen. "We need to see what's down there. Bring up a visual."
"I'm afraid I can't do that, Dave," said Bob in his best Hal imitation.
"Cut the melodramatics and tell me what you can do," replied Dave.
"Okay," said Bob, "switching to SWARMS."
"Oh, yeah, Synthetic Wide-Aperture Radar Mapping System. Why didn't I think of that?" asked Dan.
"You were pulling a Cinderella, remember?" quipped Dave.
"Bob, let's see the SWARMS on the big screen."
"On screen, it is, your Swarminess," replied Bob.
A grid-work of green lines was overlaid on top of the real-time image of the clouds below, and the 3-D image began to take shape as the radar data was captured and analyzed by the SWARMS dedicated computers.
"Have we found the signal source yet?" asked Dave.
"Left center," replied BOB. "We're moving into synchronous orbit now. Zooming in."
On the screen, a red 'X' appeared near the left, and shifted into the center of the screen while the image of the clouds was magnified and more detail was added to the green 3-D grid overlay, outlining a valley nestled among rolling hills. As the image and grid zoomed in closer, the outlines of buildings could be seen, including one with an apparent radio tower on the roof.
"Can we get a visual yet?" asked Dave, staring straight at the thick clouds.
"The weather doesn't look cooperative at the moment, Mr. Wizard," retorted Bob. "Those fluffy white things are 'clouds.' Say it with me, class. 'C-l-o-u-d-s.' They like to play hide-n-seek with orbital cameras and the ground."
"Launch a camera probe, then," suggested Dave.
"Can't," said Bob. "You used them all on Planet BabeWatch last night, and the fuel cells haven't finished re-charging yet. That reminds me. We're almost out of high-definition film. We'll have to pick some up on our next trip to 21st Century Weasel Studios, or we can expense it at the Mega Mall. It's only 2 hours from here, once the wormhole traffic jam has cleared."
"Oh yeah, has Production processed them yet?"
"They have 120 hours of footage to use for the November Sweeps" replied Bob.
"Oh, that reminds me - perhaps Ambassador Zorro would like to…"
"Here I am!" announced the man in black satin with matching cape and hat, complete with black velvet tassels.
"Ambassador, I assume from this unexpected surprise that you have been monitoring, and would like to join us on a trip to the surface of this unexplored, but apparently occupied planet?" asked Dave.
In his flamboyant, exaggerated, hammed-up Spanish accent, Ambassador Zorro laughed and said, "Why, of course, Seńor Doright! I just adore mitting new pipples! Such adventure! Such excitement! Do you not tink so?" asked Zorro.
"No, I mean, yes, I do," replied Dave, a bit taken-aback by the charismatic, well-dressed figure stealing the show at the moment.
The man claimed to be the great-grandson of George Hamilton, who played the dual role of Zorro as "Don Diego Vega" and his gay brother, "Bunny Wigglesworth", apparently the inspiration for the creation standing before Dave.
With the current high ratings of the weekly "Danger Dave" TV show, the executives at 21st Century Weasel decided to introduce several Galactic Hero spin-off characters, starting with the flamboyant Zorro during the November Sweeps, when competition is fierce among the television networks.
(to be continued soon…)