The Hunter-Gratzner crashed most horriblye, but only two survived to face the horrors of the planet.
Somewhere there was an alarm going off, blaring and beeping and dragging Carolyn Fry out of the not-so-cozy embrace of cryo-sleep. The world was blurred as she opened her eyes, the transparent flat panel display on the door of her cryo-locker screaming silently for her to understand. Oxygen flooded back into her lungs, suddenly her eyesight cleared and she could focus on the flickering images set right at eye-level on the screen.
A layout of the ship popped up, one section of it blinking red to indicate a hull breach somewhere near the nav bay. Immediately following that came the readouts on the life systems for the crew, whose cryo-lockers were set to automatic wake-up in case of an emergency. Fry's eyes flicked upwards, past the screen and out into the main cabin, settling on the cryo-locker across from her own.
Inside was the just rousing form of the captain and his eyes opened slightly to lock on hers with the disoriented gaze caused by extended use of cryo. His expression almost cleared and then things went to hell, for no sooner had he taken in his first breath since the last dock, did he start convulsing. Fry stared in wide-eyed horror, watching helplessly as his body became riddled with holes from micro sized bits of god-knows-what breaking through the hull and the walls of his locker.
Finding herself able to move, Fry reached up for the manual release for her locker door, yanking it as hard as she could. The door fell open and she fell with it, landing with a thud on the cold metal floor, gasping when something heavy landed on top of her back. Grunting, she tried to push herself up, to push the weight off and was greeted by the confused voice of one of her crew mate, the navigator, Owens.
"Why did I fall on you?" he asked, oblivious to the fact that Fry was trying to shove him off her back. She recalled that cryo-sleep disoriented him more than it did the rest of the crew, something she did not need to be worrying about right then. Her eyes fell on the captain's ruined locker, and the blood now seeping to the floor on the inside.
"He's dead," she coughed, trying to pull herself away from Owens. "Captain's dead, I was looking right at him wh-"
"Chrono shows we're at twenty-two weeks out, gravity wasn't supposed to kick in for another nineteen," Owens cried, cutting her off and pushing himself up with one hand while looking at the watch-like device on his wrist. "Why'd I fall at all?"
Fry rolled over, climbing to her knees before giving Owens a look.
"Did you hear what I said?" she half yelled at him, calling his attention away from the surrounding lockers and electrical junctions. "The Captain's dead."
His eyes went wide in horror at this revelation, mirroring what Fry herself felt on the inside.
Within seconds they both scrambled to their feet, running towards the front of the ship as fast as their legs could carry them. Owens paused a moment to grab their jumpsuits, tossing one to Fry while hastily trying to pull his on with one hand. She caught it, slamming the door panel with one hand to open the control sector doors. She didn't bother to wait for them to open fully, but squeezed herself through when there was enough room.
Pulling on her suit over her regular uniform, she jumped into her usual chair amidst the screaming alarms and the frantic beeping of the control panels. She read the screens, processing the information that her eyes were feeding her.
"Fifteen-fifty millibars, dropping twenty MB a minute. SHIT!" She yanked one arm of her suit on, gritting her teeth at the screens as Owens climbed into the nav station, slapping on his own consoles. "We're hemorrhaging air! Something took a swipe at us!"
"Just tell me we're still in the shipping lane," Owens said to himself, looking over his own screens while she was pulling her suit on all the way. "Just show me those stars, all those bright, beaut-"
He stopped and Fry turned, seeing the flicker of terror in his eyes that only served to amplify her own fear.
"What?" she cried, scrambling over to look at the screen. It showed a view from one of the exterior sensors, the curved surface of a planet rushing up at them. "Jesus Christ!"
She dashed for the ladder that led to the cockpit, ignoring Owens' mumbling as he went and pulled up the comms. The alarms were still screeching as she vaulted into the pilot's chair, hurriedly strapping herself in. Fingers flew over the switches, slipping once or twice, but she finally found the one that opened the crash shutters. Golden sunlight flooded the confined compartment, blinding her for a moment, but the sudden cease of the alarms drew her attention back to the task at hand.
Fry slammed up some switches to pull up the aft engine breakers and was thrown violently forward against her restraints, snapping her head painfully forward. She felt the ship start to spin and cursed under her breath as the computer yelled at her to deploy the forward air brakes.
"Shit, shit, shit!"
She reached down and started pulling the levers for the brakes, one after another until it came to the last one, the second lower air brake. This one stuck fast no matter how hard she yanked at it, the back of the ship sinking dangerously downwards.
Recommend purging ballast now::
The computerized voice rang in her ears and Fry mechanically began turning the knobs that would allow her to do as it said. Again she heard Owens, yelling about the comms missing, but it sounded so far away. She reached overhead for the main release lever and pulled it down, feeling the kick as the back part of the ship, the part with the main drives, fell away.
"What the-" she heard Owens yell. "Was that a purge Fry?"
"Too heavy in the ass," she shouted back by way of explanation, reaching for the next set of the knobs. The first purge had done nothing to receive the fact that they were falling in a way that would kill them all if she couldn't fix it. The second purged helped for mere seconds, but the sheer strength of the wind-speed in this atmosphere pulled the nose of the ship back up again. "Can't get my fucking nose down!"
She kicked her foot against the console, glancing out the window catching a sudden glimpse of the fast approaching ground.
::Recommend purging ballast now::
Mechanically, she did as the computer her bid her, hands moving of their own accord while her mind seemed to drift somewhere else.
"Fry?" Owens yelled, calling her back to reality.
"Got to dump more load," she said, her own voice sounding haunting to her ears.
"What, that load of passengers?" Owens shouted back, sounding panicked. "Damn it Fry, Company says we're responsible for each and every-"
"The Company isn't fucking here!" she shouted back, reaching up for the handle, a sudden certainty overtaking her mind. "I'm not dying for them!"
Back in the passenger cabin the bulkhead doors had just closed shut with a clank, cutting the rest of the ship off from the cockpit. The turbulence wreaking havoc on the hull outside was causing the cryo-lockers to shift from their original positions, creaking with every jolt. Shaken awake from one of those particular jolts, one of the passengers, registered on the manifest as Williams Johns, opened his eyes.
He blinked away the blurry feeling in his head, trying to focus his gaze on the outside of his locker. But something nagged at the back of his mind, an ominous feeling that was confirmed by a sudden violent jolt that threw him forward, out of the locker. He landed with a crash against the floor and was promptly thrown against the ceiling as the entire compartment began performing somersault.
Cryo-lockers all along the walls began to rip loose from the force of gravity, one of them tumbling right into him, pinning him to the wall with such force that he felt like he was being be ripped in half. Johns cursed inwardly at the pain, unable to get a breath to shout about it as it tore him apart. His eyes fell on one of the few cryo-lockers still adhered to the walls, mind barely registering the glowing words of warning on the doors before something went flying past, drawing his pain blurred gaze.
Johns never realized that what he'd seen was the lower half of his body being flung to the opposite end of the cabin. By the time his neurons fired that synapses his heart had already stopped beating.
"FRY!" Owens shouted as the ship jerked back, the result of the rest of the back compartments separated themselves from the cockpit. She heard his shout but was forced to ignore it because the proximity alarms were screaming at her again. Her gaze flicked to one of the screens displaying the altitude and she scrambled with the last airbrake, kicking it down while Owens screamed at her from the nav station.
"FUCK!" Fry yelled as she looked up again, ground racing up too fast for her to follow, the panel from the last air brake snapping off to slam into the window.
It shattered in her face, glass and sand streaming into the cockpit with a deafening roar, forcing her to shield herself. The last thing she saw before she covered her eyes were the tall spiky spires of what resembled termite mounds and the orange-red stained sky.
Then the nose of the ship hit the sand, catching it roughly and flipping the entire thing over. Fry her own scream tearing at her throat, but the ability to hear anything was temporarily lost as the roof of the ship came smashing down, screeching to a rumbling dusty halt. She was thrown forwards, arms and chest slamming against the control panel, knocking the air from her lungs.
Fry tried to breath, but dust and sand clawed at her throat, preventing the air from entering her lungs. Her head swam and her eyes began to lose focus on her surroundings. She coughed once, her
eyesight blurring as she tasted the blood in her mouth, then faded completely as Owens shouted her name for the last time.
Then there was silence and stillness in every form shouting loudly for attention after the cessation of so much noise. The passenger cabin had, by some miracle, fallen into a relatively upright position after plowing a deep furrow in the sand; scraps of metal and detached cryo lockers flung out in the wake of its landing. Within it there was a sight roughly equivilant to that of a mildly populated area in the aftermath of a category five hurricane, minus the thankful survivors.
They hadn't woken up yet.