Background Information On The "LEIF ERICSON," And The STRATEGIC SPACE COMMAND SERIES
The Strategic Space Command has by the year 2075, become the single,
dominant force through which man is exploring the universe. From its
headquarters on Earth, SSC directs all activities in space, which it
divided up into Sectors (incredibly vast areas, covering millions of
square miles). Each Sector is assigned a Galactic Expeditionary Force,
whose job is to explore, open trade with friendly aliens, and establish
earth colonies on new worlds. Each GEF is therefore a rather large
fleet, with a wide variety of spacecraft. These include strictly
military-type ships, such as light and heavy destroyers and cruisers;
freighters and specialized supply ships; research, repair, and hospital
ships; colony transports; etc.
Each GEF is also assigned one Ranger Squadron, composed of four
Galactic Cruisers modified for the Explorer Class. The LEIF ERICSON is
type of ship, and is a member of Ranger Squadron Omega Delta. Her
sister ships in the Squadron are the VASCO DE GAMA, MARCO POLO, and
The Rangers are heavily armed, have a crew of 85 men (including seven
Midshipmen), and are each equipped with two fighter-intercepter scout
ships. Ranger ships are capable of galactic travel, and are powered by
two highly-advanced ion drive engines. The Squadron’s mission
operate far ahead of the main fleet, spreading out and penetrating the
unknown area ahead. Each Ranger ship therefore operates as an
independent unit with a variety of duties and capabilities, which
include exploration, mapping, reconnaissance, mineralogical research,
biological studies, routine patrol, and (when necessary) combat
operations against hostile alien forces.
The LEIF ERICSON is the first in a new series of AMT-designed space
ship model kits. Each kit will include an adventure story, involving
that ship, to help demonstrate the purpose or mission of that
ship. All of these stories will have a central character, Midshipman
Scott. Lance is 17 years old, tall for his age, and while he
not have a muscular build, he is stronger than he looks. He is highly
intelligent, quick on his feet, and is an expert in hand-to-hand
As is the case with present-day Annapolis Midshipmen, Lance (as a
Cadet") must spend a certain amount of his Academy training on active
duty assignments with various ships in the space fleet. In our first
story, he is one of the, seven Midshipmen assigned to the LEIF ERICSON,
and is working in the Weapons Systems department, under Lt. Evans, the
Weapons Systems Officer.
THE ADVENTURES OF SPACE
MIDSHIPMAN LANCER SCOTT
ON AN ALIEN PLANET"
Midshipman Lancer Scott sat at his computer console in the Weapons
Systems department, listening intently to the sporadic chatter on the
intercom. His brow was furrowed with concern, and the thin lines around
his eyes and mouth gave the appearance of one who has already lived far
beyond his youthful seveteen years. Without thinking, his left hand
brushed a lock of long black hair away from his forehead, in an
unconscious rhythm of nervousness.
The LIEF ERICSON had been on a routine exploratory mission, carefully
probing the five planets of a newly-discovered solar system. As usual,
one of the four-man scout ships (this time it was the VEGA) had been
sent on ahead of the LIEF ERICSON, for planetary scan.
Now the mission was no longer a routine one. The VEGA had radioed that
it was in trouble, and was preparing to crash land on the surface of
fourth planet. After sending a report of its intended landing position,
radio contact had been suddenly lost, and the VEGA was presumed to have
crashed. The fate of the crew was not known.
Captain Walker had ordered an immediate change in course, and was even
now entering the atmosphere of the fourth planet. Lance leaned forward
anxiously as he heard the Environmental Systems Officer deliver his
report, then relaxed visibly at the news, stretching his long lanky
in an effort to relieve the tension. The planets atmosphere was
breathable, although it contained an element which.could not be
immediately identified. At least the men had a better chance of
surviving on the surface. That is, if they had not been killed in the
Lance squirmed uneasily in his chair as he thought about Bob Ford, one
of the scout ship crewmen. Midshipman Ford was his best friend. He just
had to be okay!
Minutes later, Lance heard the intercom crackle with a new report. The
VEGA had been located. It had crashed in a wide grassy field, near the
edge of a large jungle and appeared to be heavily damaged. There was no
sign of the four men, nor were there any reports of alien life in the
vicinity. Lance drew in a sharp breath as he heard the
to land the ship near the VEGA.
The LlEF ERICSON settled slowly onto the planet surface, and for a few
moments no one spoke or moved. Then, apparently satisfied they were in
no immediate danger from unknown aliens, Captain Walker ordered an
detail of six men to inspect the VEGA. The six men tumbled out of an
opened hatch, and ran to the scout ship. Lance sat on the edge of his
chair, holding his breath as he waited for the radio report. Finally,
came. The four crewmen were not on board.
A dozen questions buzzed through Lance’s mind. Where were
they alive? What had happened to them? His thoughts were abruptly
interrupted by another radio message from the scout ship. Footprints
other, unidentifiable, tracks led away from the VEGA and into the
"They’ve been captured !" Lance shouted, half rising to his
gripping the arms of his chair.
The Weapons Systems Officer threw a sharp glance in Lance’s
"Mr. Scott! That is a hasty conclusion. I suggest you keep your mind on
your duties, and let the Captain do the worrying about the missing
Scott’s cheeks burned red with embarrassment, and a touch of
the reprimand. "Yes Sir," he said, in a voice shaking with emotion, and
then hurriedly tried to focus his attention on the computer panel in
front of him. But he could not push the thought of the men from his
A short time later lance looked up with a start, to find Lt. Evans
standing beside him. "Mr. Scott, Captain Walker has ordered a search
detail of twenty-five men to go into the jungle and try to find the
crewmen. I will be leading the detail. I know that Mr. Ford is among
missing men, and ..." Lt. Evans paused, and for once let a warm smile
cross his normally impassive face. He continued, "...well, I thought
might want to be a member of that detail."
"Yes Sir!" Lance was on his feet instantly, a broad grin lighting up
"Very well, Mr. Scott, report at once to the ordnance room, draw your
weapons and other equipment, and proceed to the primary entry port. The
detail is assembling there."
Heart pounding with excitement, Lance was off and running. Within
minutes, he was at the entry port. An equipment belt was strapped to
waist, and from the right side hung a SonicWhip, neatly tucked in its
paralon holster. The slender, L-shaped form belied its deadliness as a
weapon. Within a planet atmosphere, there was nothing more lethal than
Sonic Whip. The equipment belt also contained a small transceiver,
emergency food and medical supplies, a small repair kit, and several
other items, all designed to help its wearer meet and overcome almost
any possible emergency situation.
With Lt Evans in the lead, the detail emerged from the ship, strode
quickly over the alien ground to the VEGA, picked up the tracks, and
began following them into the jungle. Even as they did so, other
from the LIEF ERICSON were making preparations to bring the damaged
aboard for repairs.
As the search party entered the jungle, each man was struck by the
strange alien silence in the air. There were almost no planet sounds at
all, and even though the men were trying to walk as quietly as
they quickly discovered there was little need for concern. No amount of
feet stamping could produce a noise loud enough to be heard more than
five feet away.
"Strange," Lt. Evans muttered to himself, "Perhaps the unknown element
in the atmosphere acts as a dampener on the transmission of sound." As
precautionary measure, he instructed the men to insert a tiny receiver
in their ears. If they couldn’t hear each other speak, from
more than a
few feet away, at least they could still communicate effectively
It was not long before the men made another discovery. The jungle
floor, while appearing to offer a solid footing, was actually
pock-marked with shallow depressions and somewhat larger holes that
concealed by fallen jungle growth. After a number of the men had taken
several spills into these holes it became obvious that the going would
be much slower than anticipated. In single file, the men cautiously
their way ahead, threading in, out, and around the jungle growth.
The planets red sun filtered hazy light down through the trees, and
with it, an oppressive heat. The men by now were perspiring heavily,
were constantly wiping the burning, salty moisture from their eyes.
In the lead,’ Lt. Evans suddenly threw his right arm over his
signaled a halt. The search party had covered less than a half mile
the edge of the jungle. Using his transceiver, Lt. Evans spoke to the
"We seem to have lost the trail, what with this dense undergrowth, and
having to circle our way around these brush-covered holes. In order to
search the area more quickly, we’re going to split up into
five men each. Spread out, but stay together within your teams. If you
get in trouble, or if you find the men, radio the rest of us the nature
of your situation, and then activate the homing beacon with one.of your
transceivers. That should make it easy for the rest of the party to
The five teams were formed, and once again the men began moving
forward, each team in a slightly different direction. Lance was part of
the team led by Lt. Evans. Almost immediately the teams were lost from
sight of each other.
After about an hour of what seemed, to Lance, like aimless wandering
through the jungle, Lt. Evans suddenly threw himself backwards,
Lance (who was following close on his heels) flat on his back. Quickly
picking himself up, and. motioning for all to be quiet, Evans pointed
the jungle in front of him. Lance got to his feet, and gasped, as his
eyes followed the gesture made by the Lieutenant. They were only three
feet away from the edge of a jungle clearing and in the middle of the
ctearing was a large alien village. Lt. Evans had very nearly stumbled
out into full view!
The Lieutenant radioed a report to the other four teams, and then
activated the homing beacon on his transceiver. Only when this had been
accomplished did he turn his attention once more to the village. Taking
care to stay well-concealed, the five men lay down on their stomachs
crawled to the edge of the undergrowth, where they had a clear view of
There were perhaps as many as a hundred buildings, some larger than
others, and many, undoubtedly were dwellings. The buildings were made
jungle materials, with roofs covered with some type of large flat green
leaf. The aliens might be primitive, but they were intelligent enough
construct buildings. And the large number of buildings meant a sizeable
population—probably four hundred, at least. A few adult
aliens could be
seen walking about, and a few children were also visible. The aliens
were humanoids, very tall and muscular, with slightly bluish skin. They
wore brightly-colored clothing that resembled the ancient Roman toga,
but made of a coarse, obviously handwoven material.
Both young and old alike were characterized by tiny ears and mouths,
and overly large eyes and noses. Via his transceiver, Lance quietly
remarked that all the adult males appeared to have the same type of
scar running across the right cheekbone, from the tip of the ear to to
corner of the mouth.
The voice of It. Evans crackled in Lance’s earpiece.
Mr. Scott, on an astute observation I was about to make the same
statement. Its probably a symbol of manhood, or something likethat."
Lance briefly wondered to himself if he had rightly detected a note of
mockery in Lt. vans' comment, then shrugged and turned his attention
back to the aliens.
Evans continued, "it would also appear that their small ears are a
biological result of the atmospheric sound phenomena we’ve
noticed. They probably don’t hear very well, unless the
All of the adult male aliens were armed, some with short spears, others
with a type of crossbow, and without exception, each wore a long,
vicious-looking curved knife at his waist They did not look friendly.
Once again the voice of Lt. Evans crackled in Lance’s
think we’ve done enough observing from this position for now.
circle around the village and see if we can detect any sign of the
Keeping well-concealed, the five men began slowly working their way
around the edge of the clearing. They had scarcely gone more than a few
hundred yards when the Lieutenant signaled another halt. There, in
view, were the four crewmen.
Each had been tied hand and foot to large X-shaped wooden frames which
were standing upright in the middle of a wide flat area between the
buildings. Lance suppressed a cry of despair as he saw Midshipman Ford
suspended from one of the frames. His head hung forward limply, as
though unconscious. The remaining three men were still struggling, in a
vain attempt to free themselves.
Gathered aroung the captured men were a group of about thirty alien
males. All were waving spears and knives in a strange, rhythmic motion,
as if keeping time with a chant. But they made no sound. Abruptly, the
rhythmic movement increased in speed, and the aliens began advancing,
one step at a time, toward the four men.
"Sir!" This time it was Lance’s voice, speaking frantically
earpieces. "They’ll be killed.at any moment!"
Lt. Evans turned toward Lance, gesturing for silence as he did so. "Mr.
Scott, I think that is rather obvious." Then, speaking to the men as a
whole, he continued, "Gentlemen, we don’t have time to wait
others, If we do, it may cost us the lives of our four shipmates. We
will therefore attack at once. Draw your weapons, spread out side by
side, and on my signal, we’ll charge them. I don’t
think they’ll be any
match for our whips. And be careful not to hit any of our men."
The five were just starting to draw their weapons, and had turned
towards the clearing, when they were suddenly attacked from behind by
about a dozen aliens. The men, taken by complete surprise never had a
chance In the brtef confused struggle of swirling bodies, Lance was
knocked unconscious, and Lt. Evans was shot through the shoulder by a
crossbow. The last thing Lance remembered was falling into an inky
Slowly, painfully, Lance regained consciousness. His head hurt
horribly, and his body ached in at least a dozen different places.
Without opening his eyes, he gradually felt his head, arms, and legs,
using his fingertips to gently probe for any obvious injuries. At last
satisfied that he was not seriously hurt, he opened his eyes and looked
around him. And stared in disbelief.
He was lying at the bottom of one of those brush-covered holes in the
ground! Carefully, Lance raised himself up to a sitting position, then
shifted to his knees, and cautiously peered out of the hole. To his
amazement, he was still at the scene of the recent alien attack, but
there was no one around. Apparently, in the midst of the confused
fighting, no one had seen him fall into the hole, and he had not been
Lance stood up, and was then able to see into the clearing again. His
four companions, including the wounded Lt Evans were being tied in the
same manner as the four scout ship crewmen. A much larger crowd of
aliens had gathered, and were beginning to start their strange rhythmic
waving of swords and spears again. If he was to do anything to help his
companions it would have to be fast.
Lance instinctively reached for his whip, but his hand felt only an
empty holster. With a half-stifled cry of anguish, Lance began
frantically searching the ground around him for his lost weapon. It was
nowhere to be found. Sinking to the ground, Lance forced his mind to
clear, and then when he felt he once more was in control of himself, he
concentrated on the problem of how without weapons he was to save the
lives of his companions. There had to be a way!
Like a bolt out of the blue, the answer hit him. Working quickly, but
confidently now, Lance removed his transceiver from his belt, and using
the repair kit, made several quick adjustments in the broadcast circuit
He then replaced the transceiver on his belt, and stepped from the
jungle into the clearing in plain view of the aliens The thought
through his mind that if his plan didn’t work, he was already
dead. He was seen immediately, and as a band of aliens charged towards
him, Lance reached down and turned on his transceiver, adjusting the
volume to full strength. A steady, high-pitched whine, like the wail of
a siren, ripped through the air, blasting out in all directions.
The effect on the aliens was immediate and dramatic. They began
screaming, and dropped to their knees, clutching their ears. Within
moments they were rolling about on the ground in agony, totally
helpless. Not one was unaffected. The captured earthmen were not
bothered by the noise but were clearly dumbfounded by the sudden turn
Lance wasted no time, knowing the transceiver would not maintain full
strength level for long before running out of power. He raced across
clearing, jumping over alien bodies on the way grabbed a long knife and
began cutting the men loose This was not a time for talk or
so he worked quickly but silently. Soon all the men were free. They
quickly reclalmed their weapons where the aliens had dropped them, and
ran for the edge of the jungle. Just as they reached the edge, the
transceiver lost its power.
The strange eerie silence once again decended over the jungle. With the
noise now gone it wouldn't be long before the aliens recovered from the
ill effects they had suffered, and gave chase to the fleeing men. Lt.
Evans, although wounded, was able to walk, and once more took command
the small group. He ordered a halt, with weapons out and ready for
action, and waited while Lance "fixed" another transceiver. Once in
operation, Lance placed it on the ground, and the men continued their
retreat back to the LIEF ERICSON. The new noise would effectively halt
pursuit, allowing the men to reach the safety of their ship.
Lance stood at attention, facing Captain Walker, who was sitting behind
a small desk which occupied most of the space at one end of his cabin.
It was now little more than an hour after Lance and the other men had
returned to the ship. Lt. Evans, his shoulder bandaged and his arm in a
sling, sat in a chair at one corner of the Captain’s desk.
trying not to show it, Lance was uncomfortably nervous. He had never
been in the Captain’s cabin before, and while he was there on
Captain’s orders, he still felt like an intruder caught in
Captain Walker cleared his throat, and then spoke, breaking the silence
in the room. "You can relax, Mr. Scott, please be at ease." Lance
relaxed visibly from the rigid position in which he’d been
the Captain continued, "I have read your report, as well as that of Lt.
Evans, and I want to personally commend you for your quick thinking at
time when the lives of eight of your crewmen depended solely upon what
you might do. I was particularly impressed with the way you put several
observations together and came up with the conclusion that the aliens
would find a loud, high-pitched noise unbearable for their small, and
apparently delicate, ears."
"Thank you, sir"
Unsmiling, but with a twinkle in his eye, the Captain leaned~forward
and said, "You could have been wrong, you know."
Lance swallowed hard. "Yes, sir, I thought about that at the time. But
it was the only chance I had, and I felt I had to take the gamble."
The Captain laughed, and leaned back in his chair. "Forunately, your
gamble paid off. I shall make sure that higher authorities are made
aware of your recent actions. The ability to think fast, correctly
interpret sketchy data, and know when to gamble on a decision is a
necessary requirement for a man who hopes to hold a command position
some day. That will be all, Mr. Scott. You may go now."
"Thank you, Captain." Lance turned and strode quickly to the door. He
placed his hand on the latch, then stopped and looked back at Captain
"Yes, Mr. Scott, what is it?"
"Excuse me sir, but I haven’t heard yet Just how did the
crew happen to be captured in the first place?"
"Well, it was actually through no fault of their own. They climbed out
of the damaged ship, determined that there was no danger in sight, and
began trying to repair the ship as best they could You know about the
noise phenomena on that planet." He paused
"While the men were working on the ship they were attacked by the
aliens They literally did not hear the aliens coming."