Author : Michael “Freeman” Herbaugh

It was time. The ship was on course for a slow burn into atmosphere, which it hadn’t done in over a millennium. Though Lars had every confidence that the ship would make it, his palms were slick holding the yoke which adjusted attitude should the navcomp vary slightly on approach.

He’d been set on this course by his father who had died three years ago and would not see the fruits of his planning. It was his father who had recognized that theirs was no longer a self perpetuating environment. While it had been many generations since the Great Travis had exterminated the last pilot liberating the colonists on board, no one at the time of the Revolution realized that the ship’s environmental systems were on a slow degrade.

His father saw it coming and knew they would have to find a planetary system to support them. He was the one who figured out how to access the ships logs and databanks. When he discovered the flight manual with everything one needed to know about controlling the ship, he also realized his own shortcomings. It would take a lifetime to master the ships controls.

This was when he set Lars on his path.

Lars had been thrilled at first, he was only 10 years old at the time, but 23 years later it felt as though he would never fulfill the destiny his father had set before him. Sure they had passed habitable systems several times, but after generations of living at near zero-g, it had made them a race with brittle bones and elongated bodies and extremities. He had to find a planet with a very low gravitational pull but enough to sustain an atmosphere and life as well. They would be weak at first, certainly, but they would survive and grow stronger.

Practicing with the ship was no problem – there was plenty of fuel on board as that was part of the equation their ancestors didn’t figure on. One of the waste bi-products from the engines was a part of the environmental cycle, without pilot’s to do periodic burns the cycle had been broken and now was beyond repair. So Lars was able to grow up making adjustments to the course by trial and error while studying his on-screen manual. It upset some of the elders to feel the ship shift as it adjusted course, but his father had managed to keep them calm and convince them of the necessity of a new pilot.

Overcoming obstacles to a near impossible mission had been all he’d ever known. Now he faced his last two. First, could the ship handle the descent; was the heat shielding still in place? Second, could he deal with the ships controls in atmosphere?

It didn’t matter though. If they didn’t land here they would be dead inside of three generations.

Lars flipped on the public address system, “Firing retros and beginning descent”. Grinning, he couldn’t help but be amused that the manual even told him what to say.

This was it; he could see the surface of the hull begin to glow.

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