Treya was nervous. She could feel the blood pumping recklessly through her body with each breathless beat of her heart. The Periculus Crystal on the comms board had been flashing red for nearly five minutes, and no one seemed to care but her. Treya looked left. The Skipper in her padded chair at the center of the bridge seemed lost in some memory that wouldn’t let her go. Treya looked behind her. Corlus, the Field Prepmaster, was fully absorbed in the intense editing of his flow charts, also ignoring the warning of the flashing crystal. The Seed always knew of trouble before its crew.
Treya couldn’t decide whether or not to speak up. The last time she spoke out of turn had caused more trouble than it was worth, earning her yet another official demerit. One more of those, and her aging parents at home would be looking at a five percent pension cut. On the other hand, The Seed may be in real danger.
In her mind Treya revisited yesterday’s meeting. She had been ordered to take notes by hand, so the topics were fresh in her memory. They were not to arrive at their new destination for another six days. The planet Rankrost was of particular value to the League of Humans, and it was currently being destroyed by its own inhabitants. The planet must be protected, at the expense of the people if necessary.
Treya was enlisted for this particular mission as a cultural liason. Though her background was more in remote collection of data, she was the leading expert on Lifeforms in her edu-cluster, which consisted of thousands of experts from seventeen different planets. Her job on Rankrost would be to work with the Rankrocians through the six-month duration to set them on the Path of Stewardship. If with Treya’s help, the people were unable to find the path after six months, they would be hurriedly annihilated by WeaponsMaster Balthar and his toys. Treya was not eager for her success (or failure) to determine the fate of an entire people…
The Periculus Crystal began flashing even faster. Treya checked her safety field readings, but somehow even knowing the indestructible magnetic restraints were secure did not make her feel any safer. What did Treya know about space ships? Not enough. Even the massive behemoth science vessel known as The Seed can be dwarfed by the titanic unknown hazards of deep space.
The Skipper finally noticed the ominous flashing of the crystal, but it was nearly too late. Her eyes met with Treya’s as they simultaneously realized that the only crewsman properly trained to decipher the Periculus Crystal was currently in lock-up for insubordination. Viren had been in space too long, he had lashed out at the Skipper one too many times. Viren had been restrained for his own good, but now Treya was wishing he hadn’t.
When the first asteroid hit, Treya was instantly cradled in a soundproof magnetic bubble as fire filled the air around her. She could not hear the crashing of equipment, the explosions of instruments or the screaming of the crew. Looking up, she saw that the roof of the bridge had detached and was hurtling out into space. Looming in the distance and getting closer by the second was a massive rock, a lifeless planet that was pulling in the now lifeless ship with its mighty gravity. They were going to crash, and here they would be stranded, millions of miles from home.
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