Marcus let his eyes drop to the vast array of sensors for the colonization ship. He had gone through these checks numerous times before, and they were always the same when the ship was coming to a new planet. When the great ship entered the system, the long-range sensors had registered five planets in this system. Of those five planets, one was too close to the sun to support life, while three were gas giants. But the second sphere from the sun was the only suitable planet for colonization, so the ship automatically set a course for the world. When they got close enough the ship’s sensors indicated that the surface wouldn’t need to be terraformed, which was a pleasant change from the last three planets.
Now that the ship was entering planetary orbit, the loneliness of the bridge was being erased with a vengeance. The ship’s automation was only designed to operate during the long stretches of space between planets. If the sensors hadn’t found its target, it would have plotted a course to a new system. But once it detected the suitable world, an announcement was sent throughout the ship so they could prepare to colonize the new planet. The most crucial part of this dance was the bridge crew assuming their posts to bring the colonization vessel into a stable orbit.
Two lights at Marcus’ console went out, and Marcus opened communications with the two cruisers. “Cruisers please confirm separation from Colony Ship control.”
Two voices confirmed that the ship’s escort was no longer being controlled, they would be able to defend the traveling empire if needed. With the confirmation Marcus let his eyes drift from those lights to another bank of sensors so he could monitor the ship’s progress.
“Marcus, how does everything look?” Nathaniel asked as he walked from his chair towards the busy Marcus.
Keeping his eyes upon his systems, Marcus replied, “Everything looks fine so far.”
“Nothing ever goes wrong, Nathaniel,” Kenneth said as he walked onto the bridge.
“Just because nothing has happened before doesn’t mean nothing will ever happen Kenneth. And you’re late.” Nathaniel chastized the young man as he was taking his station.
“Yes…” Kenneth tried to answer, but he was interrupted by the ship’s alarm.
Nathaniel ran to Marcus’ station, and gripped his friend’s shoulder as he asked, “What’s wrong?”
Marcus went from sensor to sensor quickly digesting the information. When he had consumed enough of the data to give an answer, he looked over to Nathaniel’s eyes answering the question with a tremble of fear. “Multiple systems are failing, we’re going to crash on the planet.”
Nathaniel’s face went slack before he rushed back to his chair and engaged the ship-wide communication before issuing a command to everyone. “Prepare immediately for a crash landing.” He disabled the communication system and looked back over to Marcus, “What about the cruisers?”
Marcus looked into his friend’s eyes and solemnly answered. “They’re already crashing, and they won’t make it.”
Nathaniel began looking at everyone on his bridge letting his eyes shift from one side to the other. “Marcus find us a safe landing site, and send that information to Victoria’s station. Victoria once you get those coordinates, put this monstrosity down in one piece.”
“Marcus, find me a nice and deep swath of ocean.” Victoria cried out.
“On its way to you Victoria,” Marcus cried out moments later.
Nathaniel secured himself in his chair as flames began to dance around the craft’s windshield. He watched the dancing flame and cried out to the bridge, “We need to survive entry, pour everything into the shielding and structural integrity.”
“Working on it sir, but the systems are all starting to fil.” One of his officers cried out with a voice full of rising fear.
“We’re trying to drop a moon into an ocean, transfer all power to those systems. And that includes life support.” Nathan replied as the flames grew more intense, before muttering a few words to himself. “Are our thrusters working?”
“No,” answered Marcus in a voice that rang out above the din. “But we’re doing what we can to cushion the impact.”
“How soon?” Nathaniel asked with forced calm.
“Sooner than I’d like,” Marcus answered trying to mirror that same calm. “Brace for impact!”
A moment after Marcus’ warning the ship collided with the planet’s ocean. Nathaniel was thrown against his restraints, but they did their job and kept him alive. He removed those restraints and stood taking stock of the bridge. There had been a couple of officers who hadn’t been able to get into their restraints. He said a quiet word for them before he went over to Marcus’ station.
Holding his side, he looked down at Marcus, “Are you sure the cruisers didn’t make it?”
Marcus nodded his head, as he wiped his eyes with his left hand. Nathaniel squeezed Marcus’ shoulder with his free hand. “Is the ship taking on water?”
Marcus scanned the displays before he answered, “More systems are failing, but I don’t think so. And before you ask, we’re already touching the bottom of the ocean here. I would recommend that we abandon ship with as much as we can take.”
Nathaniel nodded and walked over to his chair and issued his final command to the crew of the Novus. “Everyone, we’ve crash landed, and the ship’s systems are failing. We are going to escape the ship immediately.”