Monday, February 8, 2016

Story Seed - Mission Failure

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"All readings normal, telemetry from the probe is starting to come in." The astronaut flipped a handful of switches and brought up a readout on the secondary display. "Oxygen is in the normal range, but the carbon dioxide is higher than expected; eighteen percent." The astronaut leaned forward and peered out the capsule's window at the orb below, it was covered in greens, yellows and reds, all shot through with swaths and lines of blue. "Looks nice enough out the window, but I don't think the tourist industry is going to far."

"Roger that Pod One. Decrease orbital distance to one one zero klicks. Deploy lander probe when your new orbit is stabilized."

"Received. Firing thrusters to bring orbit to one one zero kilometers." A shudder went through the pod as it tracked closer to the planet. After a moment it ceased as the pod glided through the orbital space in silence. Another burst and the pod stabilized. "Preparing to deploy lander-"

The pod rocked as if hit by a great fist, accompanied by the sound of an explosion that was quickly muffled by the lack of atmosphere in space. Inside the pod klaxons warned of an explosive detonation in the probe deployment mechanism. "No kidding," the pilot muttered trying to stabilize the pod's quickly deteriorating orbit. "Uhh ... command, I'm having a little problem here!"

No reply came. The pod suddenly shuddered as it slammed into the atmosphere. The astronaut, no longer holding hope of preventing a forced landing, concentrated on preventing a crash landing. Ten minutes of terror, stress, and desperate fighting for control ended in an abrupt jerk as the pod broke through a canopy of vegetation, followed by a hard stop as it slammed into the ground.

The pod was broken open like an egg. There was no was it would get off this planet. With a resigned sigh the astronaut keyed his radio again, but still there was nothing, just static and the bleating of the pod's transponder. "Well ... this is less than ideal."