Fiction: Safe Haven

Matthews watched the ship's thrusters automatically activate in an attempt to slow its entry down while his lifeboat drifted away in the upper atmosphere. It was strange, last week he was struggling to keep her running, but now he found himself praying that her drives would fail because then she would smash into the planet hard enough to kill It. Maybe.

But no, as his lifeboat's own drives slowed it down much more quickly he could watch the stupid engines that had spent nearly as much time offline as on keep running smoothly right until the last moment.

It was still far from a gentle landing, more of a crash really, the RX-79 class survey ships where never intended to land on a planet, and a human would have been lucky to survive, but It wasn't human.

He wasn't really sure what It was actually, other than dangerous.

The engineer turned his attention to his boat's projected course; his computer would try to bring him down as close to the local Safe Haven pod as it could, and it looked like he would be coming in nearly 500km to the south-west, and only about 55km from the pod.

Even if It bothered to chase him, and could figure out which direction to travel It wouldn't catch him before he reached safety. It was not like It had ever seemed to be able to figure out anything more complex than a door, so It wouldn't be able to use the ship's sensors or aircars.

Hell, he might get lucky and the fire he could see starting on the downed ship, or perhaps in the forest around it, would take It out.

Matthews stopped on a small ridge in the brush covered plain and double checked the display on the tracker, he was only about five and a half k's out from the Haven pod, but he'd already walked over 30km on his second day after landing, and it would be dark soon. Better to stop here and finish the journey tomorrow morning.

He started clearing a camp site in the vibrant green waist high bushes that made up the major vegetation in this part of the planet. He found himself glancing over his shoulder regularly as he worked, he had yet to see any native creature larger than a rabbit, but he still felt nervous, and wasted no time in setting up the light survival shelter. It's reinforced walls would stop any small critters, and it was electrified to discourage large ones, though not a particularly determined one.

Matthews climbed inside the shelter and sealed it up before eating a quick meal of tasteless survival rations, and falling into an uneasy sleep.

Matthews walked down the hall giving the new assistant geologist a tour of the ship. Katherine Shoobridge, the redheaded college student they'd taken on to help out Dr. Gardener. The engineer had been sneaking peaks at her the entire tour; she had a cute smile ... and other assets; of course it wasn't like she'd have a lot of competition on a survey ship.

"So, LSST-542a-4787--that's kind of a mouthful, have you guys given her a nickname or something?"

"Most of us just call her the ship, though Franklin--the pilot--calls her Helen for some reason; I've never asked why." The engineer gave her a friendly shrug.

He stepped through the next door, "And this is the galley."


Matthews turned back to the girl, "Umm, I guess because it's conveniently positioned close to work areas, and cabins perhaps?" But even as he said it he knew that wasn't what she was asking about.

"No, w-w-why did we g-go to th-th-that world?"

The engineer started backing away, as he remembered. Katherine had been Its first victim, and It never did figure out how to stop the stutter, perhaps the human tongue was awkward for It.

She--It took a step into the room as he continued to back up. There was something subtly and inexplicably off about Its steps, but then, there always had been.


His eyes flashed open, and the dream faded away, but no matter how much he tried to tell himself he couldn't convince himself that the final repeat of his name had been part of the dream and not real.

He clenched his fists to stop the shaking before grabbing the tracker and his pistol. He hesitated before stepping out of the shelter, not that it would do anything against It, but then stepped into the pre-dawn dark and scanned the surrounding brush, desperately trying to tell himself it was just a dream, and there was no way It had caught him, even if It had survived the crash.

Then he caught sight of what appeared to be an approaching bipedal shape 100 meters out.

Matthews emptied half his magazine towards it before sprinting as fast as possible in the opposite direction.

The sun was just peaking over the distant clouds as Matthews climbed over a ridge and finally caught sight of the Safe Haven pod.

He hadn't seen any sign of life since fleeing last night's campsite, so he was sure now that it had been his imagination, or perhaps he was just hoping that it was.

Regardless he would feel better with four and a half centimeters of high grade alloy between him and any potential threats.

Matthew inserted his Safe Haven key--all crew members had been provided with one by the Institute, and generally wore them on necklaces--and the door slid open, and he quickly jumped inside and hit the seal button, as the sun finally came up outside.

The interior lights started flicking on as the engineer stepped over to the transmitter and inputted the sequence to activate the mayday beacon.

Matthews smiled and said to himself, "Well, I'm safe now, a ship should be here in a day or two to pick-"

He stopped as a voice came from the opposite corner of the room.


Categories: Writing
Date: 2015-10-16 07:49:21, 8 years and 190 days ago

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