I rested far longer than I should have, but I needed the sleep. I was pushing myself too hard lately trying to get to the core on schedule. My first trip out this far is proving to be quite the challenge. It doesn’t help that my client is extremely insistent that we keep to this ridiculous schedule, almost to the point that I’ve considered tossing him out of the cargo hatch. We’re over five-thousand light years from occupied space, sitting on a planet in the middle of a nebula… No one would ever find him out here. Luckily for him, I need the money he is offering for this trip of his, so off we go.
I get comfortable in the pilots chair and check all the ships systems as we make our ascent into the open space above the planet, a planet I recently dubbed the Cats Paw Hilton. Not a bad place to stay if I may say so, five stars just for the view. The thought of staying in a hotel lingered in my mind long after we escaped the Hilton’s gravity, and made our first few jumps. The farther we traveled from the bubble of humanity, the more I felt homesick and alone, more so than usual anyway.
Muscle memory took over and guided the ship from system to system as my head went deeper into my memories of home. I was there again for a brief moment, home. I went to a time before all of this nonsense began. Before I got the ship. Before I was a commander. I went back to when things were simple. I could see it clear as a sunny day…
…In fact, it was a sunny day. I was on my way home from work. The dust trail behind my truck was being blown off on an easterly breeze. That same breeze was carrying the crisp smell of salt water. I enjoyed that smell of the ocean more than I enjoyed the ocean itself. Is was always a relaxing, clean smell for me, reminding me of happy memories such as those from my youth, and of the summer that I met her…
Over the next hill I could see my home in the distance. I pulled into the drive and as always they were already outside waiting for me to come home. She was standing in the doorway wearing a sheer white, loosely tied sundress that combined with the easterly breeze to make her look like a Greek goddess flowing in the wind. I pulled to a stop and our two children came running up to me just as I stepped out. I looked right at their little faces in that moment, but now I can’t remember how they looked. I try, but the memory was faded. Too much time had passed. I try to remember her face but when I look up all I see is the white dress reflecting the suns light. The brightness burns my eyes and I squeeze them shut. The thought of not remembering my family’s faces nearly drives me to tears. I felt like had a planet resting on my chest.
“WARNING! OVERHEATING! WARNING! OVERHEATING! WARNING!
The brightness of that dress turned out to be more than my imagination. The memory faded away instantly as my mind pored back into my body. We just jumped into a Binary Star system. This was bad! I was flying us into a fucking STAR! I pulled back and reversed trust all at once. The surface of this monster filled my whole view screen. The ship was shaking violently while warning klaxons filled my ears with high pitch noises letting me know that death was coming soon If we didn’t do something fast. To make things worse, my passenger decided now would be a great time to chime in.
I punched the comm button to off and continued to pull back on the controls. It felt like an eternity but I could finally see the blackness of space again. I wasn’t sure how much that really mattered though, we were practically sitting on this star now. My faster than light drive was nearly charged. All I had to do was make it a few more seconds and the jump would take us out of here. I had the ship aligned with our destination when the warning signals started to list off malfunctions inside the ship. We were about to lose our FTL drive. There was nothing I could do now but wait and hope that this thing held together. A moment later, the stars in front of us began to stretch and fade one by one, beginning at the outer edge of my view screen working towards the center. The drive was working. The computer counted down to one and we jumped.
I assessed the damage to my ship, and once the adrenaline rush was over, I reactivated the comm channel. Immediately Mr. happy was in my speaker. “What in the HELL was that! I thought you were a pilot mate!”
“We jumped into the middle of a Binary sir, nothing much I could do, however… I would like to point out that we are still alive…” I said this with more aggravation in my voice than I anticipated.
“I’m done! This mission is done! Turn it around NOW!” .
A piece of me was relieved to hear this news. I was done with this mission a thousand light years ago. “Roger that.” I replied blandly. The comm clicked off. I was about to begin plotting the route home when I noticed a warning light flashing in the corner my HUD. I examined the report, instantly realizing that we were not going to be returning home just yet. I scanned the solar system we just arrived in looking for a landable body and found exactly what I needed. I took the controls and began supercruiseing through the system towards our next destination.
I flipped the comms back on I made the announcement. “Prepare for planet fall! We’re making a supply run!