ENROUTE TO G024
There were times when the journeys seemed infinite, even to one that would never know the kiss of death. While working with this small, private corporation, I remember one such journey vividly …
The alert klaxons sounded deeply throughout the ship. Even within my pod, and with Aura beginning my resuscitation cycle, the stimuli was overwhelming, my mind racing to keep up. I had been asleep the better part of two weeks, hibernating within my pod to minimize the amount of atrophy my body would endure. Capsuleers lived for months at a time within our pods, but it was taxing to the body. The longer we embraced “pod life”, the harder it was for our systems to re-acclimate into the ordinary universe.
The freighter was showing multiple perforations in the hull. At first I thought perhaps we had been attacked by pirates, but after quickly finding our current system location, and allowing my brain to process the hull damage pattern, it was clear we were not under fire.
Aura. Status. I thought through my neural interface, instantly receiving all the needed data to plan my next moves. The hull had been pierced by micro asteroids, nearly undetectable until too close to avoid on autopilot. Life support had been shut down on several decks to contain the worst of the damage. Unfortunately, the warp drive had sustained multiple direct hits, as well as the port side navigational stabilizer being torn clean through by larger debris. We were spiralling clockwise, caught in the grip of the nearest planet’s gravity well.
Six of my crew had died instantly. The remaining twelve were scurrying about trying to regain control of the ship. The main support ballast of our cargo hold was in danger of shearing off, taking our engines with it, if I couldn’t adjust our descent angle and speed. The loss would inevitably leave us in an even more perilous position.
“Attention, all decks. This is not a drill. Prepare for emergency landing.” My words bellowed throughout the ship, and I could feel the crew responding, strapping themselves into crash harnesses.
I shot hard with counter rotational thrusters, but it was too much for the cargo hold struts to bear. A deafening shriek of metal filled the ship, followed by a nausea inducing spin on two axes. Our angle entering the atmosphere was horrific, and Aura quickly reported that all external arrays were melted from the main hull nearly instantly. This included the communications systems.
Deep in Sleeper space with no way to call for backup. And that was Tuesday. I laughed to myself, subconsciously trying to calm my nerves.
Alarms were sounding in the cargo area, where several crew members struggled to manually force emergency bulkheads closed. Life support was failing ship wide. I already noticed five more crew members were unaccounted for.
Passing through the upper cloud layer of the planet, I could see our velocity was much too fast. I watched the altimeter readings as we plummeted towards the planet like a solar stone. The hull temperature was far beyond safeties, and I could feel my pod fluid struggling to stay tepid. I could only imagine what the crew was going through.
We shot through the clouds and I could see the ground approaching far too quickly. We were at a seventy three degree angle, nearly straight down. We would be incinerated on impact.
Aura, override safety protocols. Disengage intertial dampeners. Overheat docking thrusters to maximum.
I would only get one shot at this. The timing had to be beyond perfect.
3 … 2 … 1 … I mentally exerted the command to fire all thrusters at a twenty degree angle against our current descent trajectory while also angled against the current rotation along the Y axis.
It wasn’t enough. We hit hard. I died.
7 HOURS LATER
“Alright then. Looks like it’s just the three of us.” William said. “We’ve got enough supplies to last us ten days if we ration, and no fatal wounds. Our pilot was an egger, so I’m sure there’s already help on the way. We just need to sit tight and not get into trouble.”
The other two survivors nodded in agreement.
It was very bright on the planet, given the three suns within the system. Very hot.
One of the survivors went wide-eyed, causing William to turn his attention in that direction. It seemed as though a larger planet within the system was rising over the horizon, eclipsing all three suns, which were aligned in order behind it.
What were the chances of that? he thought to himself, his eyes suddenly whitening in fear.
“Oh shit.” he said to the others. “I’ve seen this movie. We’re screwed.”