It was decided at the meeting, that we wouldn’t bother the fully immersed until we knew what was on the rock. We decided we would send whoever volunteered, to investigate. I, of course, along with Ansel, chose to go. Opal elected to stay behind, she would continue the maintain the ship and monitor us. From there, another 50 agreed to accompany us.
We spent several months preparing for our departure while the ship meandered closer to the rock. Our androids continued to send back information about the planet. We accounted for every foreseeable possibility; we may not survive the journey, the landing through the atmosphere, how much power we need, the possibility of hostile life and the very reality, we would likely never see this ship again.
Our rocket was stocked and we were as ready as we could be. I was beyond thrilled but admittedly, even then I was scared about what we would find. What would life look like there? Would this place welcome us or would we be invaders?
We strapped ourselves in and began our initial checks. We would be in the rocket for several weeks before we actually landed on the planet. I didn’t want the ship to be pulled too strongly into the orbit of the rock, in the case this is all a big waste of time and resources. So, we set sail into the vacuum and set our aim on the blue and green rock before us.
Being in the rocket, was worse than the ship. There wasn’t anything to do, but wait and try not to let our fear and anxiety get the better of us. It was like telling ghost stories as kids, describing the utter terror of the unknown.
None of us had ever actually landed a rocket anywhere. Ansel and I had run through hundreds of simulations in our preparation but a simulation hardly compares to actually doing it.
Structurally, we knew the rocket would probably hold up through the atmosphere. We did not, however, know what we were going to land on. The ship would shake and rumble as it catapulted toward the rock from space. The exterior would catch fire in spots and I imagine we looked like a shooting star, crashing into the side of the rock, if anyone had been around to witness.
That’s exactly what we did, smacked down in, with catastrophic, cacophony of metal. I guess we use better brakes next time.
I don’t know how long it was before I heard Ansel calling my name and shaking me. I woke up, still strapped to my seat. His face was bleeding and my whole body ached.
“What is that?” I croaked through my helmet. My body felt so heavy.
“The gravity is a bit stronger than we expected but you get used to it. Take your helmet off,” he replied.
“Your face is bleeding,” I said, removing my helmet and cracking my neck in the process.
“What was it they said it that old movie? Just a flesh wound or something? He chuckled.
“How can you laugh and make jokes? What happened?” I asked.
“We crashed.” He said blankly and then “I don’t know how long ago, I’ve just come to myself. I don’t know if anyone else is okay or not.”
I began to unstrap myself from my seat and remove my suit.
“Can you pry the door open? Check on the others? I’ll see if I can reach Opal.” I said.
Ansel helped me to my feet. I was shocked to find nothing was broken but it certainly felt like everything was. Ansel went to the door and open the panel beside it to activate the manual latches. I got to work on the radio. My hope was minimal that I could get anything from it, the entire flight deck was dead but ideally, I could re-route power from somewhere.
The door from the flight deck creaked open.
“Oh…” was all I heard from Ansel.
“What is it?” I asked.
He said nothing and I felt something on my skin for the first time in my entire life. What was it? I walked over to him, his eyes locked on the other side of the door, a golden light was hitting his face. I have never seen light like that before and what was touching my skin?
I stood next to him and turned to see what he saw. A comfortable warmth hit my face as I was bathed in the same golden light. It was air on my skin. Real air for the very first time.
It took me a moment to realize the rest of our rocket had torn off and was scattered about around us. That explains why we didn’t have any power. I wasn’t expecting the rock to be so loud and quite at the same time. You would hear the air in the trees, as it whistled through. The colors you could see that are just here and not made by humans.
From a distance, we saw the passenger deck of the rocket. Around us, where tall structures that seem to fit in stark contrast to the wilderness that was working to consume them. These structures were old and falling apart but they jutted from the rock and touched the sky. They were all around us in various forms of decay. The ground was made of rock in many places, but green hair and leaves exploded from the cracks in the rocks. The green crept up the sides of the structures as if to lay claim to each of them.
“Well, we aren’t the first.” Ansel said, “something was here before.”
I didn’t say anything for a long time and just stared at everything before us.
Finally, I said, “Let’s see if the others are okay.”
Until tomorrow, friends!