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The Zodiac (3)
Today was definitely not my day.
The morning breakfast had been where it all started. My crew mates, namely Malark and Cove, had taken it upon themselves to fill my goblet with Emberwhiskey instead of my usual water. It was a drink that could make the sturdiest of drinkers fall to their knees, and the men seated around the breakfast table had taken a great delight in watching me splutter and gag as I tried to rid my mouth of the awful stuff.
Shortly after I'd reported to the pilots room to get an update on our position, only to find the pilot and co-pilot in a rather... Comprising position. They'd apologized profusely as they straightened their clothes and brushed their hair back into its rightful place. I had turned my head away, waving their frantic apologies off with a casual hand, confessing that I'd seen it all before and that there was nothing to be ashamed of. Whether or not that made them feel better I didn't know, but the pair had made up for it by printing off a chart of their current whereabouts, and then returned to their position at the controls of the ship.
Data in hand, I'd retreated to my quarters and pressed a brightly colored tack into the map strung up on my wall. The ship was scheduled to pass over an uncharted planet today. My crew was excited, joyously singing as they went about their duties. Today was the day they'd get off this blasted ship and get a good breath of fresh air. No one really knew what to expect from the planet; what it's inhabitants were, or what condition it was in. But they didn't mind, this was what they did. This was what the Ship, Ambrawna, was built for. It was a large ship, the makers having used the blueprints of many past vehicles. In all, it looked like a large jet, but the inside was modeled after both a plane and a submarine together. The hallways were small and cramped, and the quarters only fit two people, not even comfortably, mind you. The cockpit was primitive, using a wheel like a vikings ship, but was surrounded by the latest navigating equipment and thousands of blinking buttons.
My name is Somarion, Prince of Lerutia. And I am the captain of this ship.
Growing up, I'd always dreamed of traveling in space, just as my grandfather had done so long ago. The maids in the palace had always patiently listened as I rattled off facts and tidbits of information I'd picked up from visiting my grandfather. I spent many lazy afternoons daydreaming about piloting a ship, barking orders to a faithful crew and returning home with a bundle of newly made maps in hand. The King and Queen took great pride in their only son's knowledge and imagination, and had fed the fire in any way they could.
My kind mother, who was a fairly decent artist, had painted my room up with planets, stars, and spaceships as I watched with an ecstatic smile and wide eyes. And when my twentieth birthday rolled around, father had given me the ship I'd always wanted and the liberties of assigning a hand-picked crew. That had been the greatest day of my young life, and not a week later I'd left the port of Lerutia behind as I set out to explore the vast reaches of space.
But my grand adventure was about to tip upside down, leaving me vulnerable and unguarded to a world I could have never dreamed up.
"Prince Somarion! We have a situation up here!"
"What are you talking about? I was just up there a few minutes ago, how could something have happened so quickly?"
"Sir, please, the planet is sucking us into it's atmosphere at a much faster rate than we expected. Ambrawna isn't built for this kind of pressure. Our engines are failing!"
"Shit!" Storming out of my room and into the hallway, which was quickly filling with the members of the crew, I shoved and pushed my way to the cockpit. Many turned to acknowledge their Prince as I ran past, some going so far as to shout out at me, demanding to know what was happening. But I didn't quite know myself, and when I reached the front of the ship and gazed out the giant glass window there, I felt my jaw drop.
The planet was looming out of the gloom, just barely visible through the dark shroud. The black atmosphere had disguised the body within, and the pilots had flown too close. Now, they were plummeting straight towards the surface.
Ami, the female pilot, was desperately struggling to pull the nose of the ship back up while her partner, Kass, flicked and pushed every button within reach. They wore matching expressions of panic, and each let out a shout of surprise when I slammed his fist into the plexiglass window.
"What in the hell are we gonna do? If the ship crashes, we're screwed. Who's to say that the planet will have the proper supplies to repair the ship? How do we know the creatures or people, or whatever we're gonna find there won't kill us?"
"We don't." Kass moaned, returning to the controls with renewed vigor.
"Exactly... We don't..." I leaned my head against the cool glass, helpless to do anything but watch as the ship plummeted through the clouds. The lights flickered, and I clenched my teeth as I prayed.
'Please don't let them go out!'
There was a spark, and then nothing. The only light in the room came from the red alarm flashing above their heads.
"Powers gone." Ami said rigidly, resigned to dying with the ship. She pushed off the counter with her thick-soled boots and scooted across the floor. "There's little to nothing we can do now but wait and see how this plays out." Nevertheless, she stood and tromped over to the wall, running her hands over it until she found a panel. I couldn't see what she was doing through the darkness, but it was safe to assume she was trying to get the lights back on.
With the lights gone, the shouts inside the ship doubled, and the heavy stomping of confused workers filled the corridors. Someone was pounding on the cockpit door, ordering them to open up and demanding answers. A lock slid into place as Kass rushed over and sealed the door. He smiled sheepishly in the darkness.
"Sorry, we're doing our best in here. Just relax and try to calm down the rest of the crew."
A frustrated scream sounded on the other side, Kass sighed. The floor began to rumble beneath them, and as I looked, a beam of light began to pierce the clouds. Shielding my eyes against the brightness, I squinted to make sense of what I was seeing.
It looked... A lot like Earth. There were snow-tipped mountains, a vast ocean, forests, deserts, and an incredibly large village smack dab in the middle of it all. I grinned.
"There's a town down there!" I called, pointing down to the surface. Kass and Ami hurried over, pressing their noses to the window. They smiled too, then embraced one another. There was still a chance, all they had to do was land without, well, dying.
"I'll get the nose of the ship up, Kass, you go and gather the crew. Take them of the back of the ship so we can level this baby out."
Smoke curled around the nose of the ship, making way for flames that licked against the window, begging to break through and take over the ship.
"Might wanna get away from there." Ami grumbled absentmindedly, grunting as she held fast to the wheel. If she let go, the ship would spin out of control and crash into the planets surface. I hurried away from the window and stood awkwardly at her side.
"Try to aim for the top of the mountains, Ami. That way the momentum we've built up will help stop us as we slide down."
Ami nodded, carefully releasing the wheel little by little until the nose of the ship was aimed for the mountains. I noticed that the ship was beginning to steady, and that the confused murmur in the hallways was much further away. I decided to leave the room and check on my crew, just for a moment, and then I'd come back to check on their position. I would even run, that way I wouldn't be missed.
The locks slid out of place as I ran my hand over them, and as the door swung open, I hustled into the corridor just as Ami turned to give me a curious stare. A bead of sweat was running down her cheek, giving her the look of someone almost... Constipated.
"I'll be right back, I swear."
I sprinted, leaping over boxes and crates that had shifted in the confusion, tripping over a boot here or a helmet there. The heavy metal door that separated the back of the ship, which was contained by a large glass dome, was right before me when the artificial gravity turned off.
"Agh!" My feet slipped out from beneath me, and I did a dizzying spin in the air. But that wasn't supposed to happen! The gravity only shut down if the entire power source was burned completely! This couldn't have happened already, there was no way. Unless... Had someone... Planned for this to happen?
Before I could ponder on it further, the ship hit the mountain and my skull smashed into the ceiling of the ship, hard. The last thing I heard was a chorus of dismayed shouts before my body went limp and the world around me went dark.