Aer-May and Wolf spent what offtime they had on En'ton, in its city, having lunch at a small outdoor cafe.
On the way home, Aer-May wasn't quite the same. She was deep in thought, and always seemed to be somewhat mourning. Wolf hadn't interfered or asked what was wrong in anyway, though and decided to leave her be.
Tuesday, 6:45 AM, Yulair.
The sun was just rising, but Aer-May and Wolf had been up for a while before. Aer-May was in the same state she was the day before. Wolf was thinking if he should say something and went on preparing breakfast. Time passed quickly as Wolf played scenarios out in his head.
Before he knew it, Aer-May gave him a kiss on the cheek and began to walk out. "Aer-May." he quietly called.
Wolf put down what he had in his hands and walked over to her. "Is something wrong?"
Aer-May looked down and shook her head. "No. I'm fine. Just tired."
"I've gotta go, you know."
"Yeah. Love you, hon'. See you later, alright?"
"Mhm. Love you too." Aer-May said, walking out.
The Courageous sat in one of the station's hanger bays, polished and fully loaded, ready to go on its next mission. The boarding ramp was open, and the storage room full of supplies. A somewhat boring resupply was up next in the schedule. Aer-May walked onboard, and troops and officer saluted as she passed. She quickly made her way to the bridge. It was quite obvious Jennifer was having fun bossing people around. The LT was growing comfortable, getting used to the old life, with a new spin.
"Engines ready to go?" Aer-May asked, setting down a small briefcase and taking her uniform hat off of a console, putting it on.
"Things are ready." The LT replied, leaning back in his chair, watching Jen.
"Alright, then. Let's make this quick. If we can deliver supplies ahead of schedule, we'll have more time off for later on today."
The LT sat up and nodded to Jennifer. She smiled happily. "Alright, get us out of here." she ordered. The boarding ramp soon lifted up and closed. The Courageous then began to lift off, turning around and gliding out of the large hanger. It drifted into space and began moving away from the station, where several A-22s formed up with it. Once they got far enough away, it jumped, along with its escort.
The bridge was bustling with chatter as the Courageous and escorts travelled through hyperspace. Aer-May didn't join in, though. She was leaning against a console, thinking.
"Ain't that right, Admiral?" an officer chuckled. Everyone looked at her.
The smiles turned to slight-frowns and people seemed to try to veer away from continuing on, it quite apparent she was in her own world right now. The talking soon changed to another subject, and people went on.
What seemed like just seconds later, several alerts went off, and the Courageous dejumped in the high atmosphere of a planet. Everyone stopped talking and rushed to their stations, trying not to fall from the violent shaking. Aer-May jumped up. "What's going on?" she shouted.
"We just dejumped, our escorts too! We're in atmo, falling like a rock and the engines aren't kicking in!"
"Where are we?!"
"Data read shows we're...it's backwater, designated a no-go, Matrin is the name." Jennifer said over the noise.
Matrin, a small, out of the way backwater planet. The inhabitants were once a space-faring race. Part of it grew tired of the lives they lived and broke off, founding Matrin, where they lived simplistic lives with low-tech. The memories of space lived on, but the old days were what they lived in.
"Our escorts are with us, but they're dropping too! No signs of stopping!"
"Get any repulsors or boosters online now! We need to soften the landing!" Aer-May snapped.
The alarms that were still going off were incredibly annoying and made it hard to hear. That, plus the constant shaking made the enviroment extremely nerve-racking. The Courageous was now just barely 1000 meters above the ground and showed no signs of slowing down. Aer-May kept herself collected as much as possible, "Alright, save it, just...everyone brace for impact."
Jennifer almost immediately left her console and held onto something.
"Chances of us surviving that hit?" an officer asked.
"Minimal." The LT replied calmly, bracing himself.
The officer chuckled nervously in response.
The Courageous continued to fall, most of it systems offline. Once it reached 200 feet, the engines kicked in, though couldn't stop the fall. The Courageous moved forward and began to slow down, but it still crashed into a forest. Metal creaking and scraping was all that was heard, among yells.
"Courageous, do you read?" weakly came from the bridge comm. "Courageous?"
Jennifer stumbled to her feet and got on the comm. "This is Courageous. We're here."
Jennifer looked around the bridge. It appeared everyone was okay, aside from being thrown to their feet.
"No. We're okay." she replied.
"Alright. How is the ship?"
Jennifer moved her eyes to a console screen that had a diagnostic already up. It showed a bit of damage on the hull, but all the systems were working. "Things are good."
"Alright, then, what are our orders?"
"Circle around, we'll launch again. Maybe try to figure out what happened." Aer-May said.
Aer-May turned to Jennifer, "You alright?" she asked.
"Yeah, fine. You?"
"Alright. Then...let's get the engines going again and launch."
"Do you think that's safe? I mean, they didn't work until we hit 200 feet."
"It might've been the unexpected dejump in the atmosphere. I doubt anything will go wrong this time." Aer-May said. Her words were reassuring, bet Jennifer remained skeptical. Odd feelings aside, Jennifer began firing up the engines.
Aer-May went around checking a few things as everyone else re-situated themselves.
"Matrin, you said?" an officer asked.
"Yes." Jennifer replied, keeping her eyes fixed on the console.
"What's the backstory of that?"
Aer-May looked over to him, "Matrin is... Well, there was a civilization. Space-faring, actually. Ships and all those things. They controlled a few planets. Though...over time, they began to get tired of the...life they had. Many people felt this way in the civilization. Dealing with galactic conflicts, and so on. So...they abandoned what they had and moved to a small planet, the one we're on now. They said... "Don't come here. We don't want your problems. We don't want your issues." and that was it. They abandoned most of their technology and just lived...simple...lives. They basically de-evolved themselves because they wanted a more simple life. They're all intelligent like us, yes, but... Well... They are just like us. They just got sick of the world's problems, and founded their own little corner where those problems could be forgotten about."
The officer leaned against a console, "Huh... That's...interesting. So, we're on that planet now?"
"Yes." Aer-May replied.
"Oh, crap." Jennifer exclaimed. Everyone looked over at her with a questioning look. "The engiens aren't working. They won't even start."
"Did you run a diagnostic?" Aer-May asked, moving over to her and looking at the console.
"Yeah, I just did. It says everything's in working order. Look." Jennifer said with an annoyed voice, pointing to the console.
The console did show that everything was working. "Well, keep trying. Get the fi--"
"Admiral." an officer said with a worried look.
"Comms are down."
Aer-May sighed. "Keep trying the engines. LT, come with me." She said, walking out of the bridge.
Aer-May walked down the boarding ramp with the LT in tow. The area the Courageous was in was of course wooded, as they had crashed in a small forest. What seemed like a mulch path was visible a few yards away from the ship. Aer-May walked onward towards the path.
"Think someone's nearby?" The LT asked.
"Maybe. We'll see."
The two walked down the winding path through the woods. Most of the path was hard to walk in from ruts and holes, but they continued on nonetheless.
They soon came to a gate, which led onto a gravel drive going in several directions. A wooden barn was visible near the gate.
"Umm...Admiral?" the LT murmured.
"Uhh... Let's...go look around." Aer-May said cautiously, slowly opening the gate and stepping onto the drive, the LT following.
After a short walk to the barn, they stepped into the center aisle. A figure was visible towards the other end of the barn. Aer-May walked onward towards the person, which soon became more clear that the figure was female. "Excuse me?" Aer-May said, moving closer. The woman looked up, slightly startled by the LT, most likely because of his armor. "C-Can I help you?"
Aer-May nodded. "I'm... Aer-May Swizër. This is Levan Terak." she said, motioning to the LT. "Um, is there a...manager I can...talk to?"
"Well, you're looking at her. Marienne is my name. What is it you need?"
Aer-May nervously chuckled. "Well, I know this is the planet Matrin." she started. Marienne seemed to grow slighly concerned. "And I know it's...off-limits, you could say... But, our ship...um...crashed." she said.
Marienne sighed in relief a bit. "Yeah, I figured as much. That...bang was pretty easy to hear."
"I know we shouldn't be on the planet, but..."
Marienne smiled, "Oh, well, it's our little secret. To be honest, I don't think many people would've noticed. It's... Well, would you mind coming to the office and I can speak to you?"
Aer-May nodded, "Of course."
Near the entrance to the road infront of the facility stood a crackerbox-style wooden building. This small, old-style building served as the barn's "office"
Aer-May sat down at a desk, and Marienne did so the opposite side. The LT had left to check on the Courageous. Marienne went on telling her that recently the police enforcement and laws had been set aside and viewed as nothing to a gang of pirates using advanced ships. They had been taking advantage of the small region that the people populated on this small planet and subdued them into obeying them. The more they listen, the less people get hurt. Aer-May in turn told her of their problem, and also of Yulair, and that they could help. Marienne thought that getting involved with off-worlders would bring them back to their old ways, but she also thought it was the only way to get rid of the gangs. Though, it wasn't her call, and it was unlikely the remains of the government would allow Yulair to intervene.
Marienne sighed, looking down. "I know you could help, but...the government wouldn't let you..."
"Well... we could talk to them--"
"They wouldn't listen. Off-worlders are...strictly forbidden." Marienne said, with a slight chuckle at the words she was using. "I mean, we'd love to have your help, but..." Marienne said, seeming to daze off for a second. "What would you do to get rid of the gangs?" she asked.
"We'd probably talk to them. When they have someone who's...bigger than them, you could say...staring them down, they become intimidated. If they think we're on your side, which we would be...they wouldn't want to mess with you. We'd apprehend them later for...breaking laws of course."
Marienne grew a look of thought and inquiry, "Huh... You know..."
Aer-May grew slightly hopeful. Marienne went to say something, but was interupted by a knock at the door. Marienne got up and went to the door and opened it, Aer-May had followed. Two combat officers were standing there, one seemed slightly angry and annoyed, the other just seemed worried.
"What's wrong?" Aer-May asked. The first officer motioned for her to step outside, and she did.
The four of them walked out of the office. The two officers led, going on the path leading to the gate and barn. "Well, Admiral, our engines still aren't working, but diagnostics show everything's fine. Comms are also down." one of the said.
Aer-May raised an eyebrow, "Are you sure? The diagnostics wouldn't be saying things were working of they weren't. Are you forgetting something in the start up?"
"Ma'am, you and I both know it's a push-button system. On. Off. On. Off. We click on, but it stays on off. And we know the diagnostics would say "Problem. This is the problem. Do this to fix it." But the diagnostic isn't saying that. It's saying: "Everything's a-okay!"" he said, growing more and more aggrevated. "Oh!" he angrily exlclaimed. "And, did I mention, comms on the A-22s are down, along with all of the needed systems for out-of-atmosphere flight?"
Aer-May gasped slightly. "Really?"
"I'm tellin' you, Admiral, something weird's going on. This ain't coincedence." he said. A glance over to Marienne worried her, putting the idea into her head that the new-comers thought the locals did something. "We had nothing to do with it." she quickly said.
The officer chuckled and looked back at her "I have no doubt about that. Infact, I'm not so sure anyone did this."
"A something?" Aer-May asked awkwardly.
"Who knows? I've been a lotta places and seen a lotta strange things, Admiral, and I'll tell you there's a higher power that always gets its message across somehow."
Aer-May found it slightly odd, him saying that, but set it aside and continued to walk, "Alright, can we fix it?"
"Well, we don't know what the problem is. We'll have to do manual checks."
"Then do that."
The officer nodded. "So... We're..." Aer-May started.
"We're stuck on this planet until we fix the problems, or until Yulair finds us."
Aer-May found that a bit daunting. "Alright, well... What about the fighters?"
"They're gonna have to land, since they're running low on fuel." the officer replied.
Marienne quickly intervened, "You can't. The... The gangs I told you about, Aer-May. They'll..."
Aer-May nodded, not needing an explanation. She understood the odd feeling Marienne had. "Where can we land them, Marienne?"
By this time, they had reached the gate. She looked around nervously. The covered arena stood out to her. She pointed to it "Would that work? It has cover. And with the trees, they couldn't see anything with the height they fly at."
Aer-May nodded once again. "You tell the fighters to land there for the meantime." Aer-May said to the officer.
"Yes, Ma'am." he said, opening the gate and walking through along with the second officer, leaving Aer-May and Marienne.