Jettison Beaching

Nathaniel stood on the beach of the closest continent. As the waves lapped up against the man’s legs, he watched as bodies flowed out of the Novus into this strange new world. Some headed away from the claimed shore.

Someone tapped on Nathaniel’s shoulder, and the man’s head turned around and saw his friend, Marcus, standing behind him. Marcus stepped closer to his friend and pointed at the raft coming towards the shore. He squeezed his friend’s shoulder as he said, “That should be the last of the supplies.”

“Which way are they heading?” Nathaniel asked as he pointed towards the largest group fleeing from the shore.

Marcus shoved his hands into his pockets, “Most of the people still on the ship are coming here, Nathaniel.”

Nathaniel turned towards Marcus, and pointedly asked, “How many chose to strike out on their own?”

Marcus shifted his eyes away from his friend. “A quarter of those who survived the crash,” Marcus reported as he stared out into the ocean.

“What happened Marcus?” Nathaniel asked as he placed his hands upon his hips.

Marcus bent down and ran his fingers through the sand, and they collided with something hard. He pulled the object out and found a shell. He stared into the shell as he thought for about a minute. Then he threw the shell as far out into the ocean as he could. “We don’t know, Nathaniel.”

Nathaniel shook his head as he closed his eyes. “How can we not be sure, Marcus?”

“While the evacuation was getting underway, Victoria and I began searching for answers. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find anything.”

“That doesn’t make sense.”

Marcus lowered his hand into the water and waited as the sand was washed from his hand. With a sigh, he reported, “We couldn’t start the computers, which means we couldn’t get to the logs.”

“The computers should have survived the crash,” Nathaniel said as he whipped his head to look at his friend.

Marcus lifted another shell from the sandy beach and corrected Nathaniel’s assumption, “And physically they did survive.”

Nathaniel’s mouth dropped before he asked, “Why won’t they start?”

Marcus tossed the shell up into the air and caught it as he replied, “That’s what we don’t know, Nathaniel. All the systems check out, they just won’t start.”

“Tha… That… That’s not possible,” Nathaniel stuttered as his legs buckled.

Marcus watched as his friend collapsed into the shallow waters. And he immediate walked over to Nathaniel and helped the man back to his feet. “Victoria thinks there is something on the planet that is causing our technology to fail.”

Turning around, Nathaniel looked to the massing survivors. He took a small step forward and commented, “It looks so much like home, and I wondered what could have caused this.”

“I would expect that to be the first thing we try and figure out,” Marcus answered. He shifted his weight and watched as the last of the little boats returned from the colony ship as it stood out of the ocean.

“No, the first thing would be trying to survive,” Nathaniel decreed. “How many of the animals survived the crash?”

Marcus threw the shell back into the ocean and replied, “None of the ones that were out of storage.”

“How many were in storage? Also, how many did we get out?”

“Less than ten percent,” Marcus said. “And we lost another four percent to the fracturing of the crew.”

“The Novus didn’t just carry a crew, Marcus. It also carried colonists, and some of them didn’t want to follow us.”

“But how else are they going to survive?” Marcus asked as he watched the disappearing rafts at the horizon.

Facing his friend, Nathaniel gently chided Marcus. “They’re colonists, they know the headaches that come with the situation.” Marcus shook his head in disbelief, but Nathaniel pressed on. “Believe me, the ones who left us are asking that very question about us.”

“So what?”

“Knowledge is crucial, Marcus,” Nathaniel emphatically declared. “And right now they have the knowledge that will allow for survival. I’m happy we were able to convince some of the colonists to stay here with us.”

“But we won’t be here all that long will we?”

“Marcus, let’s get back to the camp,” Nathaniel said softly as he walked back towards the fledgling settlement.

“Sure thing,” Marcus said as he followed Nathaniel. The two marched back towards the main encampment, joining the leaders of the meandoring survivors.

“Have we had any luck getting the radios working?” Nathaniel asked Victoria as she hunched over a workbench.

“No,” A second figure called out as she tossed the radio she was working on to the sand behind her.

“Ruth’s right, Nathaniel,” Victoria muttered as she stopped working on the radio in front of her. “Russell has tested every piece of equipment and every circuit we managed to remove from the Novus.”

“And?” Nathaniel clutched his hands behind his back to try and keep the trembling out of sight.

“Nathaniel, I know you don’t understand,” Victoria muttered. “When we say nothing works, we mean nothing. From the most delicate computer to most of our tools.”

“What tools still work?” Marcus asked his fear causing his voice to crack slightly.

Nathaniel tensed his arms and lifted his motionless hands. “Victoria, how bad is it?”

Victoria scoffed as she lifted a metal tube. “Welcome to the stone age boys, this is our most advanced tool.”

“That’s bad,” Marcus concurred as he went to his knees to try and hide his leg’s collapse.

Nathaniel looked at all of them in turn and spoke so everyone could hear. “We will survive. And one day we leave this rock.”