A ship-wide announcement informed the crew of the current situation, while the head of departments assigns and prioritize tasks to their people.

The next several hours onboard UNS Singapore was like a kicked anthill. Medical personnel and Marines worked to stabilize the wounded while other crewmembers stripped reserve O2 tanks from lifeboats and even the water converter to convert O2 out. The mechanics also managed to fabricate out the CO2 scrubbers, which lowers the CO2 content in the air.

As everything was being prepped, Dr. Sharon using the med bay, managed to produce enough Cyro shots for each crew member using the stock medical biomaterials onboard. The medical computer analyzed the requirements and fine-tuned the medicine to be used.

"Sir," Ford appeared next to Blake. "Here are the plans I have worked out with Ops."

Blake took the tablet and quickly glance through.

"We will load the more severely wounded on the lifeboats while the rest stay on their crash seats. Then on the designated time, all crew members are to inject themselves with the cryo shot while the computer shuts downs all non-essential systems and vent all heat out of the ship. All thrusters will also activate at the same time pushing us towards Blake's World."

"Blake's World?" Capt Blake raised his eyebrow.

"Ahem, yes sir. The rest of the crew is calling that planet, Blake's World, so it kind of stuck." XO Ford looked away. "All preparation should be ready in a 1 hour. But even with everyone in cryo-sleep, including the oxygen stores from the lifeboats, we barely have enough for the 2 weeks of travel to allow us to land on the planet surface."

"Are you not scared?" Blake suddenly asked. "We might not make it."

"Sir?" Ford was confused. He was, of course, scared. This was supposed to be a simple assignment before he gets promoted. A stepping stone for his climb up to Fleet HQ. How could he not be? He didn't want to lose face nor give up and he should put up a brave front. After all, he still has his pride as an officer. "Of course, yet there is nothing to do about it. I do want to survive and return to Earth, and preferably get a desk job at Fleet HQ," he responds.

"Hahaha, you still thinking of climbing up the staff ranks?" Blake joked. "I'm terrified, yet excited at the same time." He tapped his artificial leg. "They took this from me, and my friends and family too. I wanted revenge so much that I jumped at any opportunity to fight them. Even if it wasn't on the front lines, I can still do some good training new crews." Blake looked at Ford in the eye. "So even we are lost out here. We shouldn't give up, I almost did before. Even if we're afraid, there are still over 400 people counting on us, so we have to stay strong for them."

Ford was surprised as he looked at Blake. Ever since he joined as XO, he found Blake was mostly indifferent to what the crew does. Blake usually agrees to anything Ford proposed and generally kept himself out of running the ship other than attending meetings or major issues. Ford realized that maybe this was what drove Blake, the combat and life and death situations.

"We will not orbit the planet but instead crash into it." Blake declared.

"What?" Ford was shocked. "But can we survive re-entry?"

"The City class cruisers were designed to be atmospheric capable. It will be able to enter the atmosphere and land somewhere safe. I will set the computer to wake me up and I will pilot the ship down." Blake said. "Even if we don't survive re-entry, it will be painless, the crew won't even feel it."

"But, it's too dangerous! Half the ship is gone, shouldn't we follow my team's plan?" Ford argued.

"By fabricating drop pods for materials and supply, converting the haulers to atmospheric travel and using the lifeboats to land?" Blake shook his head. "Not enough time for that."

"Its a gamble! One against the odds, Sir!" Ford stood his ground. He pointed out the viewport. "There is no telling if the ship will break up during re-entry!"

"I have already had Chief Matt and Ops Greyson to check the ship's integrity. This old lady won't fail us." Blake pats the smooth bulkhead. He returns and faces Ford. "It is my responsibility to save the crew and the ship if possible. It is the only way left."

Ford kept quiet and his thoughts race through his head. Finally, he nodded, "Yes you are right, we can't complete the evacuation of the crew and most likely the heavily wounded will be left behind."

"But Captain, only you alone to pilot the ship, will that be enough?" Ford asks.

"Of course! I have plenty of experience piloting her." Blake grins. "Alright back to work." He pats Ford's shoulder and walks off with his hand clasped behind his back.

"Here, help carry this." Cpl James bends over a stretcher with a wounded crew on it. With the help of a fellow marine, they moved the injured into a lifeboat where medical personnel took over.

"Urgh, I am still wounded, Corp!" Pvt Mills complained. "How much more shit do we need to carry?" He rolled a massive canister of over 200 kg with the markings O2 stenciled on it onto a hoist with several others. "I'm claiming overtime for this!"

"Cut the crap and get those down to Engineering." SSGT Pike roared behind Mills, making him jump. "Hurry up, this shit is gonna save your arses soon!"

"I am so gonna put in a letter of protest for this shit," said Mills out of hearing from Pike and the rest of the crew and marines nearby laughed as they continued their tasks.

Finally, the crew of UNS Singapore completed all preparations to enter cyro sleep. Blake sat on the command chair in the bridge and watch the rest of the crew strap into their seats. He activated the ship-wide announcement systems and addressed the crew. "All hands, this is your Captain speaking, all of you have done very well in the fight with the Swarm and in the past few hours. All of you have gone beyond your call of duty and for that, you have my respect. Now we will be entering deep sleep to preserve our oxygen and prepare for a 2 weeks journey. I shall see you all there on the other side! Godspeed!"

Blake presses the injector against his thigh and injected the cyro serum into his body followed by hundreds of crew members who injected the cyro shot into their arms or thighs simultaneously.

Blake felt a cold numbness spreading from his thigh until his whole body is feeling cold, he felt his eyelids getting heavier and heavier before he fell asleep. Throughout the ship, crew members slowly fell asleep from the drug and as the computer vented the heat from the ship, the temperature drops down to around 3 degrees Celsius.

The computer AI following the instructions that are given earlier by the command crew, ignited the maneuvering thrusters to the maximum, placing the crew on a force of 7 gravities. Following an order that was given by the Captain and XO, but unknown to the rest of the crew, the computer uses up all but 10% of the remaining fuel for the thrusters putting the ship onto a collision course with Blake's World. It will not enter orbit but instead enter the atmosphere of the planet and land on its surface.


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neo Koh


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