My name is Starwing, and I’m a survivor of the DSS Maristela. My husband was the Lieutenant Commander of our crew, and we might’ve been the only crew members who reached the escape pods before the ship broke apart. We were en route to the M-708 solar system to study a potentially habitable planet.
At first, I didn’t have a clue about what happened. I was working in the hydroponics bay when Timo suddenly ran in and grabbed my hand, saying, “Come with me. We have to get off the ship right now!” We ran to the nearest Safety Station and climbed into escape pods.
Seconds after our hasty launch, the Maristela broke up and burned behind us. Timo contacted me on our short range communicators. “Are you okay?” he asked. When I told him I was, he confessed, “I abandoned my post… I just knew I had to get you off the ship right away.”
Right then, our escape pods entered an atmosphere even though we were nowhere near a planet when we ejected! I was so confused, but I focused my thoughts on trying to control the pod’s landing as best as I could. I crashed down on the planet before Timo, and turned back to see his pod approaching.
When he climbed out of the wreckage, we hugged each other before collecting the emergency supplies from the pods. “What the hell happened?” I asked. “Where are we?”
He shook his head, feeling as stunned as I did. “It must’ve been a malfunction with the warp engine,” he suggested. I checked all the sensors on my Personal Data Assistant, and found the atmosphere was breathable, but we were not in the M-708 system! I showed him the partial data my sensors picked up about the star system we ended up in. “Let’s just find a safe spot to make camp,” he replied.
We quickly discovered a familiar type of building near the location we crashed, almost as if we were meant to find it. It’s a Research Module–it can easily be transported and set up in nearly any location, for short term projects. I worked in a module like it before I graduated from the Academy.
I didn’t hesitate to go right inside because it was familiar, but what we found in there shocked me so profoundly that I couldn’t think. I froze, and Timo pulled me back outside. “It’s contaminated!” When I came to my senses a little, he repeated, “The lab is contaminated. We shouldn’t go in there, it’s not safe.”
“But we can use the computer and send an emergency transmission,” I suggested as I pointed to the large antenna next to the building.
He shook his head and insisted, “No, we’ll just stay outside. Maybe we can use the antenna another way, after we set up camp.” Thinking back to that night, I smile because he’s always like that: able to be firm but comforting at the same time, and able to keep me focussed on the moment instead of becoming overwhelmed by a situation I’m in.
We set up our Survival Constructors outside the Research Module, and began collecting basic resources to get through the night. Timo used his drill to break down some rocks to extract raw materials, then use our constructors to make the rest of the equipment we’ll need to survive on this planet until we can be rescued.
I searched for edible plants while he handled the ore processing, and I started to feel a little better when I focussed on what I know best: botany. When I returned, I shared some berries and plant protein with him. As we ate, he told me, “I found a deposit of promethium just up the hill, so I’ll go and mine some of it. We can make extra ammo with it.”
I agreed and suggested, “I’ll gather a bit of wood and more of these berries–we can even use them to make some biofuel, if we have enough of them.”
“Good thinking,” he said and smiled at me before he insisted, “Stay near this place though.”
I promised I would, and I started thinking about the two of us. We weren’t supposed to be married, because everyone on the mission was supposed to have no personal ties at all, but we kept our relationship secret onboard the Maristela.
I don’t know why I was so absent minded–it must’ve been physical and mental shock. There were so many other things I should’ve been thinking about, especially my environment! I was picking berries as the sun began setting, and I was transfixed by the beauty of this planet until I heard a loud shriek and saw an aggressive creature–like a raptor–lunging toward me. “Oh my God!” I blurted out as I ran toward the Research Module. Over the comms, Timo asked what happened. “A predator!” I answered. “I’m going in the Module.” He told me to stay near the door, away from the lab area.
I had to face what shocked me so badly in the afternoon: the computer monitor outside the lab section. The computer is unresponsive, and the final message indicated that a hazardous biological agent was detected in the lab. The automatic containment protocol sealed the lab, but was unable to decontaminate it. That isn’t what shocked me though–I was shocked by the heading over the status message, which reads, “Dreschner Corporation Ultra Clean Laboratory.”
Dreschner Corporation is our government. Our government has a mobile Research Module placed on an alien planet we knew nothing about! This is not a sector we ever heard of in the space program. The Maristela was on the first mission to study the “only potential new home” our Explorers found on their brave searches in deep space.
That structure, and the sign that proves Dreschner knows about this planet and never revealed the information, was too much for me to process when I first saw it. Soon the raptor was shrieking right outside the door and I heard another creature making strange sounds while moving around outside the small building, like it was trying to find another way inside. “Whatever it is, it’s more intelligent than I’m comfortable with,” I told Timo.
“I’m on my way back–just hold on,” he advised. “Have your chainsaw ready incase it gets through the door, otherwise I’ll kill it when I get there!”
To be continued…
© 2017, Starwing. All rights reserved.