by Christopher W Gamsby
My ship's warpdrive was still not functional, but I fixed the hyperdrive after months of labor and fundraising. I was finally ready to leave Perfection and strike out for our solar system's two other planets, Barren Archipelago and Empty Darkness. I said goodbye to my parents, and only needed to pick up X before departing for space.
I placed my hands on the ships smooth panel and the controls lit under my fingers. I deftly motioned over the light touch screen, and the ship's thrusters burst on. The ship's take off thrusters shot a force wave into the ground, and my ship shot into the lower atmosphere. I hovered in place a few moments to watch my parents waving to me from the edge of Homestead. They were proud I dedicated so much effort to live my dream, but also sad I was leaving. A swell of emotions stifled my will, and I balked at departing until I found my courage again and activated the horizontal thrusters.
I sped through the lower atmosphere for several minutes, and arrived at X's tradepost. I circled the station until my ship linked with the post's automated landing guidance. Two landing pads sat on the post's western and eastern flanks and three pads sat on the southern edge. The trading post guided my ship to the center southern pad, which was the one closest to the main trade building. After landing on the central strip, automated mechanisms turned my ship's pilot compartment toward the tradepost's primary structure. The pilot compartment's hatch depressurized and I climbed onto the walkway.
I took two steps toward the tradepost's waiting area when X bolted from outside of the main building.
“Get in! Hurry!”
I returned to the ship and climbed into the cockpit. Just before X arrived at the cockpit, his parents burst through the central structure. They spotted X and let forth a high pitched chirp. X flinched at the sound but continued to the ship. He scrambled inside and crawled to one of the cockpit's side storage compartments.
“ Hurry! Go!”
I closed the cockpit's hatch and once the ship re-pressurized, I kicked on the launch thrusters and ascended. X's parents ran to the edge of the launchpad. They shook their hands and their visors' lights flashed red. I looked at X, and he shrugged while laid out in the ship's side compartment.
“They looked angry.”
“They didn't want me to go, but it wasn't their choice.”
“Did you ever even tell them you planned on leaving?”
“Yes. If they wanted to help, they could have purchased a ship for us a long time ago, or at least paid to fix this one up, but they weren't supportive like your parents.”
We arrived at Perfection's outer atmosphere. Perfection had no moon, and instead packs of meteors circled the planet. We made an amateur mistake and launched just as a dense cluster arrived near our location. I slowed as we approached the rocks and weaved between colliding rocks. Ever meteor collision created a chain reaction which caused the whole field to change speed and direction. The meteors shot passed the cockpit's main compartment, and my hands shook. We continued, and the field became denser as we reached the center.
A meteor approached ship's port side, and I gently drifted starboard and the way forward appeared clear. A starship-sized meteor barreled through the field and smashed into a building-sized meteor and pushed the rock in front of my ship. The initial meteor bounced around the field and propelled more rocks toward my location. I slowed, but I couldn't stop fast enough to avoid the meteor straight ahead. Every angle or change in trajectory was only going to end the same way, smashing into a boulder. The only chance I had left was going through.
I started the phase beam and it collided with the massive meteor. Sparks, dust, and heat shot from the beam's impact location. The meteor's face crack and splintered. A chunk of the rock burst and minerals sprayed into the weak vacuum of space. Our ship collected the iron and thanium. The beam drilled into the large body and a few moments later another piece blasted from the rock's face. The phase beam lost half its charge, and the rock approached. A few moments passed, and the meteor crept closer. A third section exploded. The mountainous rock was less than 20 meters away when the beam finally punched a hole to the other side, and I accelerated through the opening.
I pulled free, and after 2 minutes we left the meteor belt. Unobstructed onyx spread before us, dotted with glimmering stars. Some of the stars twinkled so lightly that they were barely visible to the naked eye and stars from nearby solar systems shone bright enough to paint the blackened canvas with colored swirls. Only two celestial bodies embellished the perfect star-scape that spread before our ship. I pointed my ship's nose to the green and blue planet with white swirling clouds covering its surface. I punched the ship's hyperdrive, and the stars corrupted from fine shining points and clustered swirls to blended streaks. Two minutes later the hyper-drive disengaged at Barren Archipelago's outer atmosphere.
The ship descended through the planet's atmosphere and even though we were traveling slower in orbital descent than we moved in the vacuum of space, the ship reddened and burned around the edges. The ship shook, and the sound of air running over the vessel’s base roared as it cut through the atmosphere. The ship hit the lower atmosphere with a sonic boom. The heat, noise, and shaking all stopped and the ship flew smoothly through the atmosphere. Islands spread around a vast blue ocean. The islands ranged from barely wide enough for the ship to land, to several kilometers.
The islands and ocean raced by beneath as we flew a trail just below the clouds. We approached a series of small islands, and I slowed to circle the little formation. I stopped above a crescent-shaped island with a hooked inlet bay. X pressed his faceplate against the cockpit's window and his mask's lights flashed yellow. I landed on the crescent island, next to a series of gray, porous mountains. The hatch disengaged, and the cockpit depressurized. I leaped from the cockpit and onto the island's smooth surface.
“So that's an ocean.”