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Stories from the Verse
In Verse Proportion
Chapter 138: Brown 242
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Kondor 219
Derek suddenly caught himself; his knees had almost dropped him, and he must have blacked out. He was holding on to something. The air was thin, but it seemed to be getting a bit better. There was a whistling noise somewhere, and he tried to focus. His hands were gripping something familiar. It must be the controls of the simulator. The image in front of him was a planet, and he was on a crash trajectory.
“Report,” he shouted, and glanced over to the navigator’s seat. Vashti was slumped there. He was on his own for this.
Instruments showed that the ship was not fully responsive. He didn’t remember whether he had ever flown with simulated damage, but he supposed it was an important lesson. He pulled up. There were buildings on the ground, but he spotted an open flat grassy area in their midst. He slowed, he turned, he aimed for the space. Hopefully he could--
The landing was hard; the screen showed the bow dug into the lawn. As everything powered down, the floor tilted--it took a moment for him to realize that this was because the floor actually was tilted, and the artificial gravity had deactivated. This wasn’t the simulator.
He remembered. They had smashed the asteroid and turned back toward the planet. This, though, couldn’t be that planet. The buildings here were not the factories and plants that they had been building for the little green men. This was something else entirely.
“Vash,” he called quietly, “are you all right?”
She shook herself and looked toward him.
“That hurt,” she said. “A lot.”
“Yeah, death by vacuum is probably one of the worst ways to go. Sorry about that.”
“Death? Then, we’re in another world?”
“That’s what I think. The ship has shut down. I can see through the porthole, and the world looks earth-like, but the instruments have shut down and I can’t tell much more than that. I think the atmosphere is breathable--I think we must be breathing it, because we must have cracked the hull and lost pressure, then got it back when we entered the atmosphere--but I think I’ll send out the robot first, if it’s working. Robot?”
There was a response.
“Please perform a brief planetary survey to determine whether it is safe for us to exit the ship.”
It moved to the airlock and let itself through to the outside.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with twenty other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #456: Versers Prepare. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: