The Captain is Dead: Clean Up Call by Jon Del Arroz

The Captain is Dead: Clean Up Call by Jon Del Arroz

Acting Captain’s log, star date… I don’t know what a star date is, why am I even saying that? Sounded right, I guess.

It’s Tuesday. I’m in the Captain’s ready room, but I’m not supposed to be here. I saw the Captain making logs on this device when I was emptying out the trash bin and getting the dust off the windows. That’s right, I’m the ship’s Janitor. Starships need a Janitor just like anywhere else, and well, I’m the only one here. The Captain Is Dead.


The Captain went down planetside to wherever the ship is orbiting. It looks like a hazy green colored planet. He’s into green things, strange green drinks, green girls… I’m not judging, but it always seems to get the Captain into trouble.  I saw him leave with a couple of Crewmen in red shirts toward the end of my shift. Did I mention my shift has been over for four hours? I’m definitely logging for time and a half.

Anyway, he’d been down on the surface for a while by the time I’d cleaned up after the lunch rush in the mess hall. Do you know why they call it a mess hall? I’ll give you one clue to how these slobs leave the place after they’re done eating.  The ship rattled during that shift. Some torpedo or laser or something smashed right into deck three, which I’m sure they’ll make me clean up once this whole mission is over with.

The First Officer yelled over the comm about our engines being hit, that aliens had sprung a trap on the surface, taking out the Captain and the red-clad crewmen. Then the First Officer told everyone to abandon ship. Scary stuff. I saw members of the crew running up and down the corridors and every which way like they’d been mind-controlled by some Treldellian frenzy virus. The ship rocked again after another attack. This time a bulkhead collapsed from the ceiling. It grazed my head and knocked me clear out.

I woke up with a real dinger and no Medical Officer aboard to help me. I’ll be filing for workman’s comp for sure whenever we get back to Starbase. After figuring out where I was, I walked the corridors hoping to run into anyone, but it looks like the entire crew disappeared. They left tracks in the hallways too. It’s gonna take forever to mop once this is all settled.

First thing I did after that was head to engineering. I didn’t want the ship to be destroyed because of some weird explosion from the red-dark-anti-positive-matter reaction or whatever it is that makes these ships go. Do I look like a Chief Engineer? Well, I hoped to pull up an emergency engineering Hologram program, but I couldn’t figure out how to do that either. Computers aren’t my strong point. I couldn’t figure anything out, but everything seemed to be working fine. I think someone tricked the crew.

That’s when I heard footsteps. I have an access card to everywhere, including top secret clearance lockers in engineering, where all the good technology is stored. I slipped in there when I heard voices from down the hall. I could understand them thanks to the translator chip that they installed in all of our ears before we went on this mission. Don’t ask me why they spent money on the janitor for that. Government contracts never make sense. I’m just glad I had it!

From beyond the door I heard their sinister, alien voices. “Good, good! Now we’ll have our own top of the line ship that we can reverse engineer. The emperor will be pleased. We will bring our home system honor and glory!”

“How did you know that you could dispatch the Captain and so easily trick these fools into leaving their posts?” another asked.

“It was easy. Everyone knows the Captain never has been able to resist green temptations. No matter, he’s dead and gone now, along with those brightly dressed Crewmen he had with him. Who in their right minds would use that color and make their people into walking targets to shoot down?”

The second alien laughed.

My eyes went wide. The Captain was dead, and the crew in escape pods. That left only one person to defend the ship. I waited until the aliens were gone, and snuck through the maintenance tubes conveniently placed throughout the ship to the captain’s ready room. I tried to find some button to communicate back to the fleet, but all I found was this lousy log recorder. What’s this thing even for, anyway?

I figure even though union rules probably specify that this is not my problem, it’s my duty to take over. I may not have the training that the rest of the crew does, but I hope to be able to save the ship in the only way a Janitor can. I’m going to spill my mop bucket and leave wet floors… without putting up a proper warning sign! We’ll see how they like to mess with my squeaky clean starship after that slip and slide.

Acting Captain out.


The Captain is Dead is an upcoming new release from AEG that features co-operative gameplay as players race against time to repair malfunctioning ship systems, deal with hostile aliens, and warp the ship out of danger. Releasing in 2017.


Jon Del Arroz writes science fiction from the San Francisco Bay Area in California. He first gained notoriety for his webcomic, Flying Sparks, which has been hailed by Comic Book Resources as “the kind of stuff that made me fall in love with early Marvel comics.” He has several published short stories, most recently providing fiction and flavor for Alderac Entertainment Group’s weird west card game, Doomtown: Reloaded. He recently released his debut novel, Star Realms: Rescue Run, which is available in print and ebook editions at: