A loud groan echoed from the Stasis room. It was a deep grizzled growl that could mean only one thing, Thane was awake. The ship didn’t appear to be suffering any major damage, the view ports all appeared air tight and there was no sign of mechanical damage that I had always thought would be plaguing a ship after an incident like this.
I walked back to the stasis room dumbfounded to find Thane standing, quite nude, in front of his chamber. He rubbed his temples, eyes closed and grumbled.
“How was it?” I asked.
Thane looked up at me, or more accurately down, and his face stretched into perfect neutrality. He held an expression that a parent might when they’ve just seen their child do something inexplicably stupid.
“It wasn’t great.” He grunted.
“We’ve landed.” I replied.
His eyes opened wide, this news was enough to catch his attention. He grabbed a towel and wiped himself down. I took this moment to check on the others. I was not well versed in the operation of these machines and it felt a bit like Claire might not be either. Either we had the wrong predictions or the stasis was set for too long.
“Do you think we landed on the right planet?” Thane said, tugging up the waist of his pants and readjusting them back into place.
It was a thought that hadn’t occurred to me, could we be on a totally wrong planet? It seemed unlikely that we’d land on a random planet with life, much less complicated plant life. However the extent of the Scicaghe project was modestly extensive, if they were anywhere close to their target it might have been a target planet. One also can’t discount meteor strikes that launch debris into space, the life that was left on any of the target planets could have jumped to another.
A giant genetic pool game, that’s all space really is.
It seems fruitless to read the diagnostics on the machines, all three of them look calm and alive and that is enough for me. Most important is to take a round about the ship and look for any breaches or damage. I gesture to Thane and point towards the engine bay.
“Can you make sure there is no major damage? We need to make sure the ship keeps power until these three wake up. I’m going to check the cockpit, navigation, and Cafeteria.”
Thane nodded and slipped his shirt back on. “I’ll check the bunks for damage as well.” he added. “I’d rather we not forget anything and have friends onboard.”
Friends? That’s not something I’d like to think about at this time, any mobile life is questionable at best and likely hostile. Long before we are united in death, life is united in the hunt. I’m not going to be getting eaten today.
But I feel that’s a bit presumptuous, for all we know this place could just be foliage and some mold. Hmm, should certainly check the suits. If we are going outside I’d rather we not be contaminated, in fact is this vessel even equipped with a decontamination unit? It’s not meant for landing in alien environments.
I shrug, doesn’t really matter, either we are safe or we die. We’ll just want to not die if possible, that’s the official goal for the month.
The cockpit is entirely intact, I see no damage to the navigation systems nor even the loose papers and other nonsense we’ve left around. The cafeteria too, the cups we left unrestrained before the trip are entirely undisturbed. It looks like we didn’t crash at all.
I walk back into the hall and find Thane standing there a bit perturbed. “Have you noticed?” He said. “This place looks pristine.”
I nod. “It does look like we didn’t crash at all.”
“I’m going outside then. Survey the area.” He adds, rubbing his fist into his palm. “Tell the others when they wake up.”
“Suit up. You don’t know what could be out there, you could get sick and the rest of us would be screwed when you came back.”
Thane rubs his chin. “Yes, I could see you four being screwed. But lets play the game of ‘How many diseases can Thane get that you can?’” He holds out his arms wide. “Audience? If you answered ‘none’ you win the grand prize!” He grins.
“Metahuman…right. I understand that Thane, but we should really be cautious.”
Thane points to the doors. “Here is what we’ll do, I’ll go outside and you can suit up. Chances are fairly good that this ship is no longer air tight somewhere, if that is the case it is only a matter of time before whatever is outside gets inside anyways.” He points past me towards the front view ports. “You see those vines, plants don’t tend to treat ships very well. Once they get into the seams of the ship they’ll start prying this thing apart. They may have already done so.”
Thane taps the release and walks through the doors. One more click and the inner doors close and the outer doors open. I’m really hoping that Claire wakes soon, she knows the safety systems of this silly thing. I’d even be happy to see Dim right about now.
Well, alright, I wouldn’t be happy to see him but it would be helpful.
I check the stasis room one more time and none of them are awake. Out the front side I see Thane looking around, he’s breathing fine and doesn’t appear alarmed by anything. I can’t help but think this is an incredibly bad idea, I’ve read a few books in my day and this always ends poorly.
Someone is getting eaten and the lights are going to flicker and god-damn-it why did he go out there!
I snag one of our survival suits and make my way outside. This is ridiculous, I don’t care if he is a walking monolith we need to have protocols. If we end up bleeding from our ears I’m going to beat him with a pole till my last breath-
For as far as the eye can see there is green. I turn around and survey the ship, its resting at an angle with the front of the ship pointing slightly towards the sky. I’m a bit surprised that I didn’t notice it while I was on the ship, perhaps it just looks more pronounced from outside.
The ship rests in a thick bed of vines, they reach up around it like a hungry Sundew. To the front of the ship is a large plain of lush green that carries off into what appears to be trees in the distance. Long serpent like plants shoot up on the hills like fingers reaching for the sky. Some resemble the wings of butterflies and rustle in the winds.
There is a deep uncertainty in my mind, a hope that this place is as friendly as it is beautiful but a gut feeling of danger. I see no fauna of any kind, perhaps it is too young a place or perhaps something more sinister is at work here.
My scream is immediately masked by a deep thudding laugh. I turn quickly and stumble backwards to see Thane nearly toppling in laughter.
“Scared? This place looks so much like home. Did you have a tough childhood or something?”
My breathing stutters and I try to regain my composure, someday I will get him back. I don’t know how, I don’t know when, but someday and somehow. I’ll want to plan it well though, I don’t think I’ve got a chance if he catches me.
“I haven’t seen a single beasty.”
I look up to the glowing blue sphere in the sky. “We haven’t seen night yet.”
Thane shrugs. “If anything comes I’ll give it a welcome it’ll never forget. I don’t think we really need to worry.”
Easy for him to say, he probably tastes like a rock. I, however, am likely delicious. Darn me and my tasty genes!
“So what is the plan?” He adds.
“Well we need to establish a base, this seems like the obvious location. We need to find water, a food source, and then we need to figure out what to do next. I didn’t think we’d make it this far.”
Thane nods. “Yes, I presumed we’d die somehow.” He points a finger to the air and swirls it around. “But what can you do?”
“You sound disappointed.” I reply.
Thane shrugged. “You might not know this but my people don’t usually have very pleasant dreams.” He looked off to the horizon and grunted, his chest bouncing once as he did. “Imagine fighting for your life every night, then try stretching that fight across 5 years. Not a second lost and no certainty that you are dreaming.”
Well yeah, that does sound pretty shitty. “Uh. Damn, Thane. That’s pretty bleak.”
He nodded. “Yes, I wasn’t very enthusiastic about that stasis, but it could have been worse.”
How exactly could it be worse than a 5 year long fight for survival? “How is that?”
He pointed at my face. “I could have woken up looking like you.” He shivered a bit.
A blunt knocking sound catches our attention from the front of the ship. I look up to find a very disgruntled Claire looking back at me.
“She looks pissed.” Thane adds.
“Yes, something tells me she doesn’t appreciate us being out here.”
It was difficult to see what she was saying but her face was cherry red. Instinctively I look around to see if anything large and mobile is making its way towards us, this always seems like the moment that some big reptile eats someone. Nothing to speak of, rather boring really. It then dawns on me, perhaps what is panicking her is already onboard.
Art by: Makubi