Catastrophe is inevitable.
2 Weeks Later - Space Prick - Damocles (Orbit)
I wake up to my doctor poking me.
“Sorry.” she says. “We’re here.”
I sit up. Rub my face. “Peachy.” We head to the bridge.
There’s a lot of bustle. Most of the original Hephaestus crew are at their stations. We gave back control of the ship after we changed course to Damocles. That maneuver burned so much fuel, they couldn’t change course again if they wanted to. I wonder how many still want to?
I look down on Damocles. It’s beautiful. I mist up a little. We made it. I wish we were coming in slower.
Pookie is in the Captain’s chair. Captain Wick is the one crewmember not allowed on the bridge. He keeps trying to kill me. Pookie offers me the chair. I wave him off. He can crash the ship as well as I could.
My doctor pulls me over to some acceleration couches. I remind her to blow her nose before she puts on her helmet. We strap in. Here we go.
Hephaestus was supposed to land on a small planet with barely any atmosphere. Damocles has the same mass as Earth, with a robust atmosphere. The Hephaestus was to skim Mars, using the atmosphere as a brake. Hitting the Damocles atmosphere at full speed would be like hitting a brick wall. So, we spun the ship around, and blew the rest of our fuel to slow down. We also blew the fuel from the rescue rocket. And the dregs from Hermes’ rescue rocket. And whatever else would burn. We’re still coming in hot. And arse first. Pookie cracks his knuckles, grabs the airfoil controls.
Pookie manages to bite the atmosphere and flip the ship around. It takes less than a second. Two deft jerks of the airfoil controls. It’s an amazing piece of flying. Our biggest danger was skipping off the atmosphere and back into space with no fuel. Followed by cannibalism and death.
Our next death threat is hitting the surface. We need to fly in the atmosphere for 49 seconds to slow down enough for a survivable crash. But the atmosphere is only 2 kilometers thick, and we’re still flying at interstellar speeds. The slightest miscalculation with the airfoil will send us slamming into the surface, or back to space cannibalism.
Pookie lets go of the controls. Takes a hit from his flask. Slaps down his helmet. Puts his hands over his visor.
We rocket through the atmosphere for 55 seconds. We skip out after that, but we’ve slowed enough that gravity pulls us back in. Pookie grabs the controls again, screams like a murder monkey. I study my view screen. I think I see water. I send the coordinates to Pookies view screen. He nods. Fights the airfoil. We fly fast, and turn slow. It’s almost enough.
“Fuck.” I say.
We slam the water. Hephaestus fractures. The superstructure fails. Hundreds of compartments come loose, skip off in different directions. The bridge is loose, but intact. We are spinning violently. All around me, helmets fill with vomit. Woof. I do not feel well.
The bridge tumbles and skips across the water. Suddenly, the impacts get a lot harder. I think we found shore. We stop rolling and the impacts come rapid fire. We stop. The bridge groans, Does a slow half turn. Stops again.
I guess we’re here.
We sit for a bit. God damn that sucked. Still, we’re alive. Another win for Pookie. I start to rally. Holy Fuck! We’re alive! Fuck, I wonder if the settlers are okay? I unbuckle, check my doctor, stagger over the sensor array.
Pookie and I get some visuals up. We’re in a huge fucking jungle. Like, the trees are huge. Not sure how big the jungle is. The bridge is alone. No other capsules within sight. Not surprising, the speed we were going, we could be spread out over hundreds of miles. Damn. I hope everybody is okay. I can’t imagine every capsule survived that landing. Each capsule has communication equipment, but we disabled them. I want to turn ours back on - the settlers may need our help. Can Earth Command still blow us up?
My Doctor is analysing the air outside. There’s a few tree branches poking through the hull. I see a few dozen crew members with their helmets off, wiping vomit off their faces. I think the air is probably good. I leave my helmet on. Let’s see what My Doctor says.
Pookie taps on the viewscreen. There’s something huge headed our way. Disappointing, but not unexpected. We knew the dominant life form on Damocles is giant space dinosaurs. We hoped the ship, or humans, would be far outside their experience. Strange enough to weird them out, make them avoid us. Apparently, that is not the case.
“Everybody stay calm. This guy looks like a plant eater. He’ll probably give us a few sniffs, and fuck off.” says Space Lieutenant.
The huge space dinosaur rears up, and slams down on the capsule. Starts making angry love to it.
“Huh.” says Space Lieutenant.
The capsule is flattening, splitting. A dinosaur dick the size of two chevys batters through the wall. It’s alarmingly moist. I’m glad I left my helmet on.
I look over at Pookie, but he’s gone. Good idea. I grab my doctor by the hand and jump through one of the holes in the hull. We do a hundred meter dash, duck behind a tree, and look back.
“Looks like everybody got out.” says My Doctor.
“Good. Hey!” I smile. “Welcome to your new home! Let’s find a place to hide. We’ll plan our next move from there.”