Chapter 2: Emergency Landing (Part 1)

 


Translator: SFBaka


I remained spaced out inside the escape pod which was now in the middle of its descent planet-side. I haven’t been able to completely accept the mysterious attack and the death of all my comrades as reality just yet.

On the ship, I mostly just acted as Iris instructed. It all just began to sink in when I became all alone inside the pod and finally had the opportunity to calm down a bit.

The faces of everyone from my platoon and my commander flashed through my mind. Before I knew it, I was shedding tears.

“Dammit!”

At this moment, the pod began shaking violently.

“What happened?”

The AI of the escape pod currently entering the atmosphere of the planet responded.

“Are there any problems?”

[No problems detected. Everything is within expected parameters.]

The shaking became more intense.

“Hey! Is everything really okay!?”

[No problems detected. Everything is within expected parameters.]

The shaking further intensified.

“Hee~y!”

[No problems detected. Everything is within expected parameters.]

Something’s definitely off. Even if it’s installed on a disposable one-time use escape pod, this isn’t the way an AI should respond. It might have taken some damage or something.

Are things really gonna be fine? Come to think of it, I’ve never heard of an escape pod being used to directly land on a planet before. Let me check it out with my nanoms.

(Nanom, how many instances of escape pods descending on a planet have been recorded thus far?)

[12 times in the past thousand years. The last recorded incident was 320 years ago.]

There are only a few instances, just as I thought. Well, guess that’s natural since battles don’t usually occur this close to a planet.

I wonder just how much time had passed? When I’d finally lost my sense of time, the shaking suddenly subsided.

The thrusters fired up and the rotation stopped. After a few moments, an impact came along with a snapping sound.

Next, I heard a gushing sound. Was something leaking out?

“What’s wrong this time!?”

[The parachute has been successfully deployed, but it seems there was a crack which opened up somewhere due to the initial shock.]

The heck! Where’d they buy this thing anyway!? It’s my first time encountering a machine with such poor specs.

A crack opened up just because of the parachute getting deployed? I’m absolutely positive this thing isn’t up to regular Empire standards.

“Is there any problem with the parachute itself?”

[No problems detected. 25 minutes until we reach the surface.]

Whew. Guess we’ll make it somehow.

“Hey pod. What’s the name of your manufacturer by the way?”

[Orlando Heavy Industries Ltd.]

Ah. So that’s it. Orlando Heavy Industries was a long-standing company, but two years ago a critical defect was discovered on one of their products, followed by the discovery of more critical defects on most of their other merchandise. Presently, they’re a company burdened with lots of issues. I’m sure this escape pod’s also one of those defective items of theirs.

“There would be no problems with the landing right?”

[No problems detected. There is enough oxygen remaining.]

“Wait, are we actually leaking air!?”

[No problems detected. There is enough oxygen remaining.]

Damn, this is hopeless. …Wait, that’s it!

“Is the air outside breathable?”

[It is breathable. It has managed to clear the regular safety standards.]

Phew. That’s a relief. I tried to check out the scenery outside through the external monitor but couldn’t see much because the monitor was too small.


[We will land on the water in 1 minute.]

Finally… Hm? Wait, we’re landing where!?

“What do you mean we’re landing on water!?”

[The apparent landing point is above a lake.]

“Change course immediately!”

Or rather, tell that to me sooner dammit!

The thrusters activated once more.

[It’s currently impossible. The main thrusters are only calibrated for use in a Zero-G environment.]

I’m really starting to get pissed off at this damn AI.

“Will this pod be able to float on water?”

[There is a crack located somewhere in the structure. There’s a high risk of being flooded.]

I just knew you’d say that.

[We will be landing now.]

We impacted the surface quite heavily. I hurriedly snapped my seatbelt off and began to prepare for getting out of the pod.

I would be bringing with me a backpack, pulse rifle, laser gun, electromagnetic bladeknife, the pouch containing the processor module, uniform, cleanroom work overalls, and two blankets. It’s a considerable amount of luggage.

I wasn’t able to bring the pet bottles containing water with me. I had no choice but to bet on the lake water being potable. If it wasn’t, bringing the pet bottles would only prolong my eventual death by just a little bit anyway.

I shoved the laser gun, processor module, uniform, and cleanroom overalls into the backpack and hoisted it onto my back. I also slipped the rifle’s sling over my head and onto my shoulder.

The blankets also had slings attached to them, so I brought them over my head as well and carried them under each arm.

I checked the outside with the external monitor. The heck! This thing’s really starting to sink!

“Okay, open the hatch.”

When the hatch opened, water started flooding in! I somehow managed to grab onto the edge of the hatch and pulled myself out of the pod.

The air… definitely has no problems.

From what I can see, the shore seems to be about 70 meters ahead. Looks like I came pretty far out.

I wasn’t exactly good at swimming but it’s not like I can’t reach it. The rolled-up blankets I held on both sides seem to be made of non-absorbent material and helped me to stay afloat. The rifle was obviously quite heavy.

I swam and reached the shore in about three to four minutes. Phew. I’m saved! I’m glad it’s daytime. If I landed during the night, I’m sure I would’ve had a harder time.

I scanned the surroundings. The local flora seems to be fairly similar to the ones I’ve seen on the other planets I’ve been to. They were mainly green in color and had shapes resembling those of the plants I’m familiar with. You can even say they somehow remind me of those from my home planet.

But what should I do now? When I thought about this, I noticed something important.

In the first place, the reason why I was forced to evacuate to this planet was because of the ship lacking oxygen and Iris needing some time in order to repair it.

Without the communication equipment on the escape pod, I won’t be able to contact Iris. The communication function of the nanoms can’t reach her after all. The effective range is only about a few kilometers.

“Escape pod, respond!… Please respond!”

It’s no use. I tried hailing it several times more but there was no response. Was that pod water-resistant in the first place? I should have confirmed that.

I was busy being frustrated by the AI’s stupidity earlier so it never occurred to me.

It was able to withstand a vacuum environment so it should be able to function underwater too, but I can’t really bring myself to expect something of the sort from that piece of junk.

At worst, I’ll have to find a way to salvage it out of the water. But that would be totally impossible on my own. Should I get in contact with the local lifeforms and ask them for help? That’s the only thing I can think of for now. Wait, hold up.

It was then that I finally realized something. Why the heck am I letting my guard down in a place like this!? This place is the same as a battlefield. Wild creatures often have habitats in large bodies of water. I quickly brought my pulse rifle up in a fluster.

This place really resembles what I’m usually accustomed to, so I lost any sense of caution before I knew it.

For now, I’ll just get out of here and find a spot with a good vantage point.

I saw something resembling a hill nearby so I’ll head over there.

The hill was a large, rocky formation with a diameter of more than 10 meters and a height of about 5 meters. There were a lot of footholds so I could climb up quite easily.

Well now, that’s quite a nice, wide view. Potential assailants would be able to spot me easily as well, but I got myself a rifle. That means I have a general advantage.

I scanned the area and noticed something falling from the sky to the east.

I recognized what it was almost immediately. I’ve watched scenes like this on the holobit lots of times already.

Dang. They’re burning up… A lot of smoldering objects were falling not only from the east but the northern and western skyline as well.

Ah… Those are definitely wreckage debris from the ship.

“Ugh… Was it no use after all?”

Iris stated that the odds of successfully reconstructing the ship was 54%.

Though the odds were barely more than half the ideal numbers, I really believed it would work out somehow.

Even if the odds were 50/50 at best, I just couldn’t imagine that Iris would fail.

Were there any other possible explanations for this happening other than failure? No, ejecting foreign materials on a planet was a serious violation of military regulations.

Furthermore, Iris wouldn’t drop these things on purpose because she knows I’m still stuck here.

“Ugh…”

No other words could leave my mouth.

The ship debris continued to rain down, seemingly without end.


 


8 Comments

  1. Quite the fun Ain in that POD thanks for the chapter.

  2. What’s with most of the products from a large military supply company being defective? It’s par for the course with all the bribery in congress during peacetime, but during wartime that would viewed as traitorous.
    The 5 man escape pod only carrying supplies for 1? I’m surprised anyone survives in space even without the war with the Bugs.

    • I thought the same thing. Supposedly, it is a 5 person escape pod. And yet, it only contained 1 Pulse Rifle, 1 Laser Gun (pistol) and 1 Electromagnetic Knife? Furthermore, it only contained 2 Blankets and 1 bottle of rare metals (100 tablets).

      What idiot in charge of the logistics of a galaxy-spanning military would put in just 2 blanks for an escape pod designed for 5 persons? Moreover, there are not enough weapons for everyone.

      Also, considering how important those rare metal tablets are – such as compensating for blood loss and replenishing Nanoms that are responsible for communications and keeping their bodies healthy, that does not sound like enough. Important stuff is important. I’d think the Empire would place more emphasis on ensuring the survival of their soldiers, particularly if they might carry valuable intel.

    • Two words: Lowest bidder.

      Some high-ranking bean-counter went with the cheapest option(s), not the most reliable, so all the equipment, supplies, etc. are all sub-par.

  3. Although this story seems well-written and there are several very refreshing and creative things about it, there are are several things I feel that I must nitpick.

    The Galactic Empire has a very high level of technology, considering that they have hyperspace FTL ships, extremely advanced AI, humanoid robots, laser and energy weapons and even nanobots. Yet, some of their limitations seems downright contradictory.

    The AI, Iris, seems to be a dufus. And the engineers of the Galactic Empire seem extremely limited in imagination.

    The hangar section of the ship that was discarded contained many dozens humanoid robots and drones, yet it was discarded. Why shouldn’t those be transferred to the part of the ship that was salvageable to help repairs?

    Moreover, if the crew of the ship had Nanoms (i.e., networked nanomachines with AI) that are more than capable of diagnosing and repairing human bodies, then why couldn’t the ship be equipped with nanomachines that can repair? If they did, they should be able to repair virtually any damage to virtually any part, given enough time and materials.

    Galactic Empire planners and engineers should have foreseen the possibility of a ship being alone and damaged far from a repair dock and without much if any support. For such a scenario, the smart thing to do would be to have sufficient repair facilities onboard and have the ship gather raw materials from space dust, asteroids or rock bodies that lack sufficient gravity or atmosphere to impede such efforts. At the least, Iris should have been able to break down parts of the so-called “unrepairable” sections to repair the rest of the ship.

    Also, Iris seems awfully quick to label the engine section as unrepairable and the first to be destroyed, despite how doing so would most likely make them permanently stranded in this star system. Logically, a starship without engines or even an engine section would be little different from an orbiting space station.

    And isn’t it better to repair what is heavily damaged rather than trying to recreate it from scratch? I’m assuming several sections of the ship, including the engines, contain rare elements that are not easily found everywhere.

    • No SF world is smarter than the person who created it. So like many other SF or Fantasy worlds we can lay much of the “well that’s stupid” at the authors feet. I agree wholesale with the points you’re making but no human is perfect so letting it way too heavily on the mind in the pursuit of a diversion isn’t worth the effort.

  4. Short Barrel Raifu

    About 1 rifle in a pod made to fit 5 people …

    I suddenly have a flashback about a scene in Generation Kill series.
    “… You want logistics, You join the Army, the marines make do.”

    Sometimes, or almost all of time … Bad decisions were made, and the mere soldiers had to “excercise creativity” to make do/stay equipped.

    So, in this case let’s imagine the logistics got screwed up real bad, and rather than going to face the bugs ill equipped, the troops decide to supply the minus from somewhere nearby … The life pods.

    This story reminds me how WW2 US Marines had to plunder … Ahem “pay a visit” to a certain warehouse & got their hands on ‘stuck in the harbor’ Johnson rifles, while the rest of US Militaries already got M1 garand rifles before being shipped to the frontlines.

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