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Artemis 7: Skyfall (#5)

April 27, 2018

The ship rattled violently on entering the atmosphere. It went dark for a moment, then flashing red lights engaged accompanied by a siren that was only surpassed by the sound of the hull burning away. Brooks's face was tightly focused on keeping the ship in one piece. Stavos was shouting something, but Hargrove was unable to make it out. She craned her head to look at the engineer but the forces acting upon her prevented that action. 

It rattled some more, shuddering as they passed through the cloud cover. An expanse of blue stretched out around them. In the distance Hargrove could spy the semblance of land. The rattling quieted a bit, but Brooks still held tight concentration on the controls. Hargrove felt like a giant deity was pressing her into the chair with its meaty palm. Breathing was difficult. Voices called out as blackness crept over her vision. 

She awoke to the sound of whimpers and groans. Her eyes fluttered open to see a cracked window, and beyond that a rocky stretch of land. Numbly, her hand fiddled with the release on her harness. After a couple unsuccessful attempts it fell away. Her chest heaved upon release, taking an instinctive breath. A soreness spread outwards from her sternum.

"Report," she croaked. Her voice struggled to escape her ass he stood to her feet. 

Brooks was slumped forward looking much worse for wear. Blood stains decorated his suit. Hargrove went cold. Her hands shook as they reached out to her pilot. The two fingers of her right hand inched closer, and closer until finally they pressed into his neck. She held her breath, releasing it upon seeing a regular pulse displayed on his visor. Patting him on the shoulder she turned towards the rest of her crew. A few were finally coming to, Drake and Reed to be specific. They looked around them in wide eyed disbelief. Their eyes locked on Hargrove. She nodded encouragingly. They checked on the others, everyone seemed to be mostly okay, they were alive anyways. The moment felt so surreal, a few hours ago they'd been undergoing one of the biggest scientific missions in human history. Now they were on an unfamiliar planet as the last living members of their race. There were so many questions that had to be addressed about what to do going forward.  Things looked bleak. Even if they survived the next few days, weeks, month, what would be the point. Those odds alone were depressing to consider, could they rebuild civilization with just the lot of them? Would anyone want to? Hargrove was already thinking about the next steps to take before she even learned to walk. She took a breath, calmed herself down and focused on the immediacy of their situation. 

The ship was messed up. The front visor was cracked, and had a gaping hole in it. Hargrove was relieved to have her exo-suit on. If at any moment they'd taken their helmets off they could be dead. Despite how habitable the planet looked, even the ship's advanced sensors could miss a deadly detail on an unknown world. All the console displays had been cracked, rendering them useless going forward unless someone repaired them. A situation that was unlikely given their lack of supplies. It was just supposed to be a routine mission, she reminded herself. Get in, get out. 

The rest of her crew were quickly brought to consciousness. Now they had to figure out a further course of action. 

"We could travel further inland, look for food or shelter," said Brooks.

"We have no idea how far that is. We could get caught in a storm, or encounter predators. I say we try to get as much systems online as possible, maybe get the ship airborne enough until we find a better spot to hold up," Stavos countered.

"I might be able to craft a fishing pole, get us some food," Drake volunteered.

"Even if you had the materials for that, they could be poisonous. We don't know what kind of life, if any have developed here," Keller countered.

"We could split up," Reed suggested.

"Then half of us die here, and half die out there. We should stick together," Wilson replied.

Hargrove took in all their arguments. Only five minutes had passed since they'd crash landed, already tempers and ego were threatening to get in the way. "Alright," Hargrove announced, standing to her full height. "Our first priority should be to repair as much of the ship as possible. We've got enough food to last a couple days while we explore the surrounding area. I want everyone pulling their weight around here. Stavos, see what's fixable and what's not, we're not wasting time with anything that's beyond repair. Keller, once its night I want you charting those stars, we're going to need some way to navigate this place. Everyone else, help out where you can and stay out of the way where you can't. Everyone clear?"

"Yes, captain," they all replied in unison.

"Then let's get to work."

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