The hull of the starship Tidings shrieked in protest as she exited Transit and broke into normal space once more. The captain clapped his hands to his ears as the decibels climbed; behind his station, crew fell to their knees as the sound caught them unawares.
“Damage report!” the captain ordered. “I want a complete systems check within 10 minutes.” Minutes were a ship-board convention born from long tradition; the Empire used a form of time tracking that dated back many millennia to the original home world of humanity, now long since lost and forgotten.
Stations all over the small ship began calling in at once, bridge crew taking reports of hull stress and micro-fractures throughout all outer sections. The captain’s executive officer forced his features to immobile stoicism. “It’s bad, sir. We won’t be able to make Transit again until we effect repairs and with the stress fractures we’re looking at, that could be weeks.”
“We don’t have weeks, we’re on a short-range mission. Estimate of best possible time ‘till repairs?” The captain’s face was impassive, but the XO knew him well enough to know when he was sweating inside.
The XO barked the command and junior officers began running the numbers through diagnostic computers. “We need to find out if we can effect repairs. Nav, where the blazes are we?”
A young woman on her first ship-board tour of duty responded after a moment’s hesitation. “We’re right where we ought to be, sir. Sector 42-A spinward, and I’m reading the ordered coordinates.” She hesitated a moment more, and spoke again. “We arrived where we wanted, just not how, sir.”
“You can say that again.” The XO sighed. “System report?”
“Exactly as predicted by long-range observation, sir. Sol-analogue medium yellow star with a surrounding system of planets and asteroids alike. I’m reading … 4 rocky planets in-system, divided from the rest by an asteroid belt, several gas giants, and several more rocky planets farther out. Sir, the 2nd, 3rd and 4th planets could potentially be habitable.”
“Any hope of setting down to land and repair?”
“Resolving more detailed scans, sir.” She manipulated a console with deft, sure motions. “The second planet looks too hot. The fourth is on the cold side, but with suits it’d be suitable. The third … it’s nearly ideal, sir. At least on long range scans, anyway.”
The captain sat up straighter in his command chair. “Let’s take a look at that third planet, then, and take detailed scans of the asteroids we pass on the way in-system. According to these reports, we’re not going to have enough supplies on-board to complete repairs. We’ll need to fab new supplies, so let’s take advantage of the bounty this system offers.”
“You heard the man, let’s get moving!” the XO barked.