“I thought the survey team said most of this planet was arable.”
Commander Thaller frowned in concentration as she highlighted sections of the image. “We’d better hope it has potential for it, at least,” she muttered to her second-in-command. “Otherwise, we’ll get to come back and rescue these settlers and they’ll fight us every pico of the way.”
The Explorer-class vessel Delta Bonita was on hyperbolic transit through the system, following an arc that would aim it back toward Pax Sector HQ. Thaller’s shuttle, the Foxtrot, had brought over the first load of settlers and their gear. The Dee-Bee‘s hyperbolic course meant limited time for them to either turn around or put everyone on the surface.
“All right, listen up!” she called out as she manoeuvred into the passenger compartment. “Here’s a new screencap of the surface near our intended landing zone. There’s a mix of land types across your chosen latitude – mostly river basin, desert, and rock. You’ve got two minutes to make the call on whether to start the landing process or turn around and try the next planet on the list.”
After handing the photo capture off to the settler’s leader, Arton, she headed toward the cargo area to double-check everything was ready to offload when they hit dirtside. The surface patchwork wouldn’t give the settlers much land to live on unless they chose to stay in flood zones, but these people were determined to found their own colony. She gave it 10-to-1 odds that they’d demand an immediate landing.
The would-be colonists hurriedly unstrapped and huddled together over the picture, their voices quiet but intent. The extent of the river basin area appeared liveable, but it looked like there were few arable zones and they were far distant from one another. Each area looked able to support a small group indefinitely, but not all of the settlers together. Not without the ability to travel easily between those zones. Arton looked at his wife, his thoughts evident on his face.
Thaller came back into the passenger area, resealing the door to the cargo bay. “What’s your choice, people? Drop or go?”
Arton came smoothly to his feet, gesturing with the screen cap. “Commander, this igneous rock appears able to bear the shuttle landings and takeoffs, and it’s close enough to the delta area that we won’t have much trouble ferrying gear over. We drop.”
She nodded, studying the faces of the other settlers. They looked excited and apprehensive, but not terribly concerned about the dangers inherent in the planet’s topography. It was their problem now. “Very well, get strapped back in and we’ll pass along the alert to the other shuttle crews. We’ll be on the ground in about 15 minutes.”
Thaller managed not to shake her head in disdain as she strapped back into the pilot’s seat. Every batch of settlers thought they were unique and capable, but their shared hatred of the United Planets government kept them from properly evaluating planetary hazards. She gave it three years, tops, before they’d call for rescue…and she hoped the UP placed a high price on that service.
“Dee-Bee, this is the Foxtrot. We are go for drop. Out.”
Copyright 2013 – Christine Clukey Reece