They had made it. Maureen was both relieved and extremely sad to see the wormhole close behind the Jupiter, taking her kids away from her. She took a deep breath. How long would it take for her to find them? The possibility of never seeing Will, Penny and Judy again was unacceptable and hadn’t crossed her mind. Not even once. Maureen knew she was going to do whatever it took to reunite with her family again. It was just a matter of time.
“So, what’s our next move?” John came from behind her and broke her thoughts.
“We find our kids.” Maureen stated. “Let’s get to work. We’re taking the long way there.”
“When aren’t we ever?” John remarked.
The sight before their eyes was of the impossible. An astronomical improbability, actually. How could a planet be torn apart like that? Shattered like something fragile that could easily be broken? And that wasn’t even the shocking part.
When Judy had spotted that wrecked ship orbiting the planet, she somehow had sensed something big was about to happen. Life-changing even.
Fortuna. That was the word written on the side of the spacecraft (or what had been left of it, anyway). She was very familiar with that word. She had been since she was a kid and had heard it more times than she could count. Her mother used to tell her the story practically every night before she went to bed. It was a beautiful word, she had always thought. It was Latin for fortune. Luck. And even though fate hadn’t turned out to be all that lucky, Maureen had always made sure to tell her father’s story as a heroic tale about a man willing to sacrifice his own life for the greater good. Judy had always been incredibly proud of that man she had never known, but who lived in her in so many ways. In little quirks, the color of her skin, the shape of her hair, her spirit, her courage.
“What do you mean that’s your father’s ship?” Penny asked, dragging her back to reality.
It took Judy a moment to answer her sister. Mainly because she had no idea what to say. For nineteen years she had believed her father was gone for good and that was about it. But now, staring at the debris that once were his ship, somehow gave her hope that maybe he was still there. He was a brilliant man after all. A genius. So, if there was someone capable of living on a dead rock in outer space for two decades, that person was Grant Kelly.
“We need to go there and check if there’s anyone alive.” Judy said already speeding up towards the planet.
“Judy.” Penny called, full aware of her sister’s intention.
“I just need to find a place to dock our Jupiter…”
“It won’t be long. I just need to…”
“Judy!” Penny finally seemed to get her sister’s attention.
“I know what you’re gonna say.” Judy started. “And you’re probably right… but I need to be sure.”
Penny knew that her sister was, above all, logical and very rational (overly so, at times) but the redhead couldn’t help but worry about Judy’s unrealistic expectations in finding her long lost dad.
“I know.” Penny finally said. “I just don’t want you to get your hopes too high, you know? I don’t want you to get hurt.”
Judy smiled at her younger sister.
“My father’s been dead for twenty years, Penny. And I came to terms with it a long time ago. If there’s no one there, I’ll be the same old Judy you’ve always known, ok?”
Penny nodded in agreement, realizing that her sister would be just fine. She was the strongest person the redhead knew.
“All right. Let’s do this.”
The whole scenario was, at best, terrifying. If the wrecked ship floating in the darkness of space wasn’t scary enough, the dead half a planet behind it only gave the sight an extra touch of horror. Against all of the odds, they had found a place to dock the Jupiter in a sector of Fortuna that apparently hadn’t been as damaged as the rest of the ship.
“So, what do we do now?” Penny asked, trying to hide her fear.
““We” won’t do anything.” Judy began. “I’ll go to check if there’s anyone or anything useful on the ship.”
“You can’t go alone in there!”
“Penny,” Judy called. “I’m the captain, all right? I’m not risking anyone else’s life.”
“I’m going with you.” Penny stated, challenging her sister.
“No, you’re not. I need you here in case something happens to me.”
“What are you talking about? I’m not just gonna let you walk into that ghost ship by yourself! We, Robinsons, have to stick together, remember?”
Judy could see the concern growing on her sister’s face. But things were different now. They weren’t just the Robinsons anymore.
“We’re not just a family anymore, Penny. I’m responsible for almost a hundred lives here. Kids. I can’t just act impulsively and put everyone in harm’s way. I can’t and I won’t.”
Penny knew her sister was right. And she hated that.
“I need you here to take the kids to safety in case something happens, ok? You’re the second in command, after all.”
“I am?” Penny was surprised. “I was pretty sure that given the choice, you’d name Will as captain.”
Judy smiled at her sister. She was well aware that Penny didn’t think she was a good enough Robinson.
“I wouldn’t trust anyone more.” The doctor stated. “Now come help me suit up.”
Judy had no idea what she could encounter on the ship. The simple act of entering Fortuna and come in contact with an unknown substance could very well kill her in minutes. Seconds even. With Penny’s help, she had put her space gear on and the helmet should, theoretically at least, protect her from anything airborne, but still, one could never be sure. And, of course, there was always the not-so-remote possibility of being eaten alive by some dangerous alien life form that lived in that galaxy. She couldn’t deny she was afraid. She was used to having her family (her whole family) with her in situations like that. But this one, she had to face alone.
“Are you sure you wanna do this alone?” Penny asked for the tenth time.
“I have to.” That’s what Judy kept repeating to herself.
“I’ll be monitoring your every move, ok? I’ll be talking to you the whole time. If something happens, and I mean anything, you get your ass back here as quickly as possible, all right? Don’t you dare play the hero, you hear me?”
“I won’t. I promise.” The doctor said. She was really nervous.
“Be safe. Please.” Penny was almost crying, but she was trying to keep it together for her older sister and everyone else on board.
“Don’t worry. I’ll be back before you know it.”
Penny just nodded, maybe too freaked out to verbalize any of her thoughts. Judy let out one deep breath before opening the door that led to the exterior of the Jupiter and into the dark interior of the other ship.
The two sisters turned to face that voice they came to know fairly well during the time they were stranded on that alien planet not so long ago.
“What are you doing here?”
“Where are you going, Judy?” Dr. Smith answered Penny’s question with another.
“You were not supposed to be here.” Penny said angrily. “But I’m guessing you probably knew that.”
“I had to come.” Smith said. “Somebody had to look after you and Will.”
“That’s why I’m here.” Judy stated.
“Judy,” Smith started. “I know you’re not a kid anymore. But let’s face it, you’ve never been away from your parents. None of you have. You don’t know how dangerous things can really get.”
“And you think you can help us?” The doctor asked ironically.
“I know I can.” Smith said. “Unlike you people, I’ve been through a lot. And despite of what you might think about me, even you must agree that I am the best person to have around. Especially now that you’re about to walk into that ship all by yourself.”
Judy stared at the older woman for a moment. Smith was a complete mystery and it was a waste of time to think one could ever know what her angle really was.
“I can go with you, if you want. I know you won’t risk anyone else’s life.”
“What’s in it for you?” Penny asked, losing her patience.
“Does it really matter?”
Smith was right. It was hard to admit it, but she was. Obviously she had a hidden agenda like she always did, but Judy was scared to go in alone and the idea of having some company felt incredibly relieving. If anything happened, it wouldn’t be that big of a loss, anyway.
“All right. You can come.” The doctor agreed.
“What?” Penny was shocked.
“It’s gonna be fine, Penny.” Judy said. “And you,” She turned to Smith. “Go put your gear on. We’ll leave in two minutes.”
Something was wrong. Maureen had been looking at that hologram for about half an hour and was still trying to make sense of what had happened.
“What’s the problem?” John entered the room. He had been at the garage with Don making an inventory of their supplies. “I don’t like that face of yours… it usually means trouble.”
“I don’t know yet. But something doesn’t add up.” She said.
“What are you talking about?”
“Remember that human signal we intercepted on the Resolute?”
“Of course. That was coming from Alpha Centauri.” John replied.
“Well, that’s the thing.” Maureen started. “Come look at this.”
John approached her and stood beside her.
“According to this map, Alpha Centauri should be somewhere around this galaxy.” Maureen pointed to the right end of the hologram.
“But the coordinates to the signal we’ve picked on leads to somewhere around here.” She gestured to the opposite end of the map.
“So, what are you saying?” John was concerned.
“I don’t think the kids went to Alpha Centauri.”
“So where the hell did we send our kids?”
“I have no idea. But now we really need to find them.”
“So, how’s everything so far? Any scary-looking alien ready to eat you alive?”
“We’ve just entered the ship, Penny.” Judy said over her comm.
“I know, but you can’t really blame me for being super nervous… Especially since you’ve decided to take Dr. Evil with you on this deadly adventure.”
“You know that I can hear you, right?” Smith spoke.
“Yeah, I know.” Penny stated.
“Everything looks fine so far.” Judy started. “It’s just… a ship.”
And it really was. It was a very dark and awfully quiet ship, but a ship nonetheless. Fortuna was somewhat similar to their Jupiter. When Grant Kelly went to space in order to look for planets to colonize for the Alpha Centauri project, they were already testing that design for the spacecrafts that would take the colonist groups to their new home. It was easier to navigate through a place that was familiar, Judy thought. She was beginning to feel less nervous and scared.
“And how are things over there, Penny?” Judy asked.
“So far, so good. Will and the Robot are watching over the kids.” The redhead said. “And according to the atmosphere diagnosis I’ve just run, the air on the ship is breathable, so you can take off your helmet, if you want.”
“Good. Keep me posted, ok?”
“Yeah. You too.”
With Penny on standby mode, Judy removed her helmet and took a deep breath. The air seemed pretty Earth-like, at least for now. She then decided to concentrate on the task at hand, which she wasn’t entirely sure what it was anymore. Now that she was inside of Fortuna, it felt silly to think that her father could have survived there for almost twenty years. The place was completely lifeless. There was nobody there.
“Why are we here?” Smith broke the silence and removed her helmet as well.
“I’m trying to find something we can use on our Jupiter to make contact with the others.”
“You’re lying.” Smith was blunt.
Dr. Smith smiled at her.
“I know you.” She began. “You wouldn’t risk coming here alone on the off chance of finding something useful. That’s not you.”
When Judy didn’t say anything, Smith decided to carry on:
“You’re a scientist just like your mother. You don’t act on impulse… It’s gotta be something more… I saw how agitated you were when you saw this ship.”
“I think we should keep goi…”
“Penny was very nervous, too. It’s like she knew that no matter what she said or did, you’d still go through with this.” Smith cut Judy off. “The only thing that makes you, Robinsons, act irrationally is family… so this is personal. Why are we really here?”
Judy was amazed at how good Dr. Smith was at reading people. She could be a bitch most of the times, but she had to be given credit for that skill. Maybe she really was a therapist after all.
“This…” The doctor started. “…was my father, my biological father’s ship.” She finally came clean.
“Well, that’s a twist.”
“Look, I know how crazy this is, to think my father could still be here, but I needed to be sure.” Judy had no idea why she was explaining herself to Smith.
“I’m not gonna judge you. Coming here and risking your life was a bad idea, but I think we all make questionable decisions sometimes that might hurt other people. But that doesn’t mean we can’t change and do better.”
Judy knew Smith was referring mostly to herself, in an attempt to be forgiven for all that she had done. That was her M.O.
“Let’s go back to the Jupiter, all right?” Smith continued. “As you can see, there’s nothing here.”
As much as Judy hated to admit, Smith was right. That was a ghost ship. Nobody had been there for God only knew how long. It was time to put hope behind her for once and for all and focus on trying to find a way out of that rock.
And that’s when it happened. She had been feeling a bit woozy for the past ten minutes, but she had blamed it on her anxiety. But now, the sensation of drowsiness seemed to be taking over her body and her mind. What the hell was happening? Smith. It had to be her. Somehow she had managed to drug Judy before they boarded the ship and was probably working an angle to take over the Jupiter and become captain.
“What did you do to me?” Judy asked in a groggy voice.
But when the doctor turned to finally face the other woman, Dr. Smith was already unconscious on the floor. Judy was about to join her in a minute or two. She could feel her body give in no matter how hard she tried to stay awake. Before blacking out though, Judy could make out one last thing: a silhouette of a human-like figure approaching her. And then everything went dark.