Tales of Deepspace

A webserial set in a lost sector of space.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

S1E5: Emergency Landing

Blinking red lights circled the ceiling while a loud alarm blared. Zeke covered his ears to try to lessen the sound some, but to no avail. Although it rarely played, Zeke dreaded the alarm not because of the fact that it only triggered when he was in a very dangerous situation, but because it was so bloody loud. He flipped a switch on his control panel and the noise stopped, but the lights and red message remained.

Zeke pressed a few more buttons on the panel to see what was wrong. The computer chattered to itself for a few seconds, then displayed a small graphic of the rear of the ship. Apparently some circuitry on the back was short-circuiting. Although this was not exactly a good thing, a question remained in Zeke's mind. How was the ship depressurizing? A problem like that shouldn't cause depressurization. He decided to read the alert text that accompanied the graphic.


"Ah," he muttered. That explained it, after all, if the ship's circuitry couldn't maintain the air pressure in the cockpit, then the cockpit would lose air pressure, which in turn would set off all of these bloody air pressure alarms. Made sense. He hit a few buttons to see the actual damage, not this stupid computer graphic.

A small "Whirr" sounded as a camera on the back spun to look at the problem. The screen shifted again to display a new image. Sparks flipped off of the wires into the cold vacuum of space. Sparks? In space? Must be combining with solar wind or something in order to be visible. But he wasn't near any stars, was he? Suddenly a few holes appeared alongside another panel. Bullet holes. They were accompanied by the all-too-familiar "rat-tat-tat-tat" of machine gun fire.

"Shit!" Zeke yelled. He pulled hard on the joystick, and the ship lurched strongly up, forcing Zeke into his seat with several g's of force. He flipped a few switches, and his left-hand screen switched to a rear camera.

It was difficult to make anything out on the screen, but behind him, he could just barely see a bright light behind him. He worked a second joystick to center the camera on the dot. "Magnify ten times." The camera lurched in closer, showing the object in more detail. It was very clearly an enemy ship. He pressed a few buttons, and the computer began working to see if it could find the homing chip in the ship's computer. That chip would contain data on the type of ship and status of it. After a few seconds, the image froze and text appeared. Zeke didn't care about most of it, but there was certainly important information on it. Most notably it was an S-12 type fighter craft - the same type as the one from Station 7 that disappeared when Kiah did. It had an identifying number of 3725, which Zeke seemed to remember as fairly important, but wasn't sure if his bounty had listed the identification number of the stolen ship.

Another round of bullets tore up the back of the ship more, and the sirens turned back and the red lights turned brighter. Bloody sirens! The computer spoke out in a more monotone than usual voice. "Hull integrity at 72%. Recommend immediate emergency landing." Zeke muttered a few curses, then spun quickly aorund to the right in the hopes of catching the S-12 off guard.

He had a problem, though. He could not destroy the ship, since his bounty required him to talk to Kiah. Destroying the ship would also be illegal if Kiah was on board, since Zeke was not registered for the other bounty call. Something needed to be done, but attacking his enemy was not it. And if the ship was not Kiah's, but rather a regular Imperial strike craft out on mission, that would cause problems he didn't even want to think about.

"Computer!" screamed Zeke, as a third round of bullets hit his ship. "Find nearest habitable planet and set course!" An emergency landing was exactly what he needed now, before the ship broke apart and he wouldn't have to worry about who was piloting that ship. The computer beeped quickly, an acknowledgement that it had recieved his orders.

A few seconds later, the computer returned with an answer. "Planet found, name Rashii II. Setting course now." The engines flared, but not as strongly as Zeke had expected. Those bullets were taking their toll - not that he expected differently.

Zeke looked back in the rear camera, and saw that the pursuing ship did not look as close now as it had before. Perhaps it was breaking off the attack? That wouldn't make much sense, since it obviously wanted to kill him, but for whatever reason, it didn't seem as aggressive as before. Zeke relaxed a little, then tensed up as yet another round of bullets struck the ship.

"Hull integrity at 48%. Converting power to shields." The lights dimmed, and the two outer screens of the main terminal turned off. As much as he hated to admit it, Zeke knew that that was the right thing to do. Keep going at full power for the cockpit and the ship wouldn't last much longer, even if that was the last round of shots. He hit a button on the control panel, and the main screen flipped to a diagram of the distance between his ship and Rashii II. He was certainly getting closer, and switching his view screen to the front camera, he could see the planet in the distance.

The ship lurched again as more bullets entered the hull. The lights in the cabin went off; only the main screen was on. "Switching control to manual," chittered the computer, in response to a few keystrokes by Zeke. He grabbed the main joystick, and began piloting the ship closer to Rashii II. If he could make it look like his ship had broken up in the atmosphere, the pursuer wouldn't have a reason to chase him onto the surface of the planet. Then he had an idea.

He pressed a few buttons, switching power from one of the most critical parts of the ship's CPU. It would dramatically reduce the power of his shields, but it would also shut off his homing chip. Maybe now the pursuer would break off the attack.

Just as he was thinking that, the hull burst into flames as the ship entered the atmosphere. He pulled hard on the joystick to try to slow his descent as much as possible. Thank whatever powers that be that he had spent the money that he had on retroburners like he had, he thought. The ship slowed considerably, and as he watched the rear camera, the other ship had broken off of the attack. Obviously the loss of a homing chip followed by the ship burning as it entered into the atmosphere led the other ship to think that he had been killed. That should fix that problem.

The ship's descent was not as smooth as he would have liked, but he managed to slow the ship down enough to land safely near a dark patch on the sandy surface of the planet. He pressed a few switches, and the computer brought back the command module to full power.


A breathable atmosphere. Always nice. Zeke pressed a button, and the hatch on his ship opened up. He stuck his head out and looked out. He gasped as he looked out on the landscape. The dark spot was not simply an area of rich minerals, like he had assumed.

It was a city.


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