"Crash Landing" is one of the September Writing Challenge entries that was chosen to be a featured story.
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. . .
The starship began to shudder, breaking through the planet atmosphere. Alarms went off, the cabins temperature rose, the pilot struggled with the controls. She was quickly joined by her copilot.
“What can I do?!” He shouted over the noise.
“Silence all alarms and seal off the cabin!”
Moving quickly, he did as he was told. Before he could retake his seat, the ship lurched to the side – he crashed into the controls. Struggling to regain himself, he felt a sharp pain in his ribs. The absence of blood prompted him to ignore it.
“Shields?” The pilot asked, the cabin now quiet. The controls continued to jostle in her hands.
“Twenty-eight percent and dropping.”
Stealing a glance at the panel, she knew no matter her actions, the starship was going to take extensive damage. She did, however, have control of the damage their bodies would take. “Redirect all shields to the bow.”
“What?” The copilot looked at her in shock. “If we do that it could tear the ship apart!”
“I know.” For a brief second, the pilot allowed herself to feel remorse at the inevitable loss of her ship. She quickly pushed it aside though. “Just do it.”
Again, the copilot did as he was told. Immediately, the ship let out an earsplitting groan and the controls were jerked from the pilot’s hands. The copilot quickly grabbed hold of his, taking over for her. She knew she wasn’t strong enough to hold and, entrusting their lives to him, began redirecting any power she could find to the engines. As she moved about the cabin, the copilot warned her of their closing distance to what appeared to be a small lake among trees.
“Aim for it.” She said, strapping herself into her seat again.
She could see her copilot begin to struggle with the controls as she had. “You need to adjust trajectory by twenty degrees or we’ll overshoot — “
“I know — “
Another earsplitting groan and the ship began to quickly lose altitude. The pilot checked her panel again – two of the three rear thrusters were gone, torn from the ship.
“Forget what I said about the trajectory, gravity’s taking care of that now.”
Her copilot didn’t answer but quickly released one control to strap himself down. The lake was closing, fast. The pilot did one last check to ensure all shields were directed toward the bow — they held at eighteen percent.
There was one last groan from the ship, a cry from the copilot, and a splash as the ship crashed into the lake. The pilot felt the force crush her and her sight began to darken…
“Captain? Captain Rogers?”
The pilot’s eyes flew open at the sound of her name. It was her copilot, Commander Simon Morrison, calling her from his chair. He was struggling to get out of his constraints, but showed no sign of being hurt.
“Are you alright, Captain?”
She nodded, reached into one of her cargo pant pockets, and withdrew an old army knife. Rogers quickly cut the straps that held her and tossed the knife to Morrison. “When you get out, survey the land around us and watch for any incoming starships.”
As Morrison left through the emergency hatch, Rogers moved to the ship’s main cabin; she was surprised to see the entire back half of the ship had separated and crashed in the very middle of the lake. She stepped up to the edge of the ship, where there should have been a wall and lift, taking a moment to survey their surroundings. She immediately recognized the heavily wooded planet – it was a moon recently named Anov, by the Orkins. They had crash landed just inside friendly territory.
Rogers quickly grabbed what she had originally came for, two emergency survival packs, and made her way through the wreckage to where Morrison leaned against the hull. She handed him one of the packs.
“Smoke.” He pointed towards the horizon. “Could be a friendly village?”
“Definitely friendly. We’re in Orkin territory.” Rogers withdrew a small handgun from her survival pack. “Any ships fly by?”
“A Sibernese fighter.”
“Did he see you?”
“I think so.”
“Well then, Commander, should we die before reaching that camp and these invasion plans fall back into enemy hands,” Rogers patted the breast pocket of her uniform, where a small drive was tucked away. “Earth’s death is on you.”
Morrison nodded, then motioned for his commanding officer to lead the way down the wreckage. They moved quickly, swam the short distance to the lake’s shore, and disappeared into the woods. As they made their way to what was in fact an Orkin village, and just miles from a primitive spaceport, Sibernese troops landed and surrounded the dead starship.