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Monday, April 15, 2013
Crashed and Confused
Randy cursed as he checked his sensors. How in the hell did I run this low on fuel and not notice it sooner?!
His ship was equipped to handle several different fuel and energy sources in order to minimize running out of fuel, and yet, he only had enough fuel to last two days at megalight speed or several weeks at sublight speeds. Neither would help him if there wasn't a planet in range. If there wasn't, his best bet would be to stop his ship completely and put everything into sleep mode while he waited for someone to answer a distress signal. His fuel might last a year that way...
Randy rescanned everything within two days journey in all directions. He could see two Suns that appeared to be close enough that a planet orbiting either one just might be close enough for him to get to. Sure enough, there was a large planet that had three moons orbiting it. The bad news was that it was several hours farther away than he had fuel for.
“Maybe I can program the ship to land on one of the moons and use an escape pod to make it to the planet,” Randy muttered, and then immediately dismissed the idea. He had no way to know if there were people on the planet, much less if they would be to return him to his ship if he left it in space.
Not having any other choice, Randy set a course for the planet, and then shut down all nonessential systems in order to conserve as much energy as possible.
“Two Suns huh?” Randy mused aloud. In calculating the planet's orbit, he realized that the planet revolved around both Suns. “I hope this doesn't mean that the planet is too hot to support life.”
Two and a half days later, Randy was cursing once again. After he had discovered and repaired the leak in his fuel system, he had managed to stretch his fuel enough to get him to the planet, but it was nowhere near enough to get him to a safe landing spot. He would definitely crash, and not in a way that he was likely to survive. He had no choice but to “park” the ship in the one area where the planet's gravity was strong enough to prevent the ship from floating away, but not so strong that would pull the ship into the atmosphere.
Randy had never had to use an escape pod before, and while he knew it was designed to protect a person during a crash, he just couldn't quite trust that he would exit the pod alive.
He sighed. “Still, what choice do I have?”
To his relief, the planet showed plentiful evidence that it was inhabited. He took a few moments to create and send off a short video message explaining the situation to his family in case he never made it home. It would take quite some time to reach them. By then, he would either be dead or back in his ship with plenty of fuel.
Next, he entered the pod and plotted a course – into the minimal navigational controls – that would cause him to crash in an uninhabited meadow not too far from a large city. Hopefully – if he needed medical attention after the crash – he would be close enough to receive it before he died.
“Here goes... everything!” Randy said as he strapped himself in the safety restraints, and then silently prayed as he set his pod to activate.
Go To Chapter 2
Go To Chapter 2