As the ship gave its biggest lurch yet, accompanied by the roar of splashing water, Daniel was relieved to see that the engineers had, indeed, done their job quite well. The hull was intact, and, though he still felt the impact to the bone, his restraints held him dutifully in place.
As soon as the capsule stopped bobbing in the water, Daniel thought to N.E.R.O. to release him. After receiving affirmation of the command, Daniel felt his restraints go limp. A moment later, Joshua did the same.
"Softer landing than I had anticipated," he remarked, leaping from his restraints. The words surprised David again, suddenly hearing rather than perceiving. It struck him as odd just how quickly he could become accustomed to something he disliked.
"N.E.R.O., please open the viewport." The computer obeyed Daniel's command instantly, the protective panels sliding away to reveal a clear view of the water.
"You didn't have to speak that command," Joshua pointed out, "And you didn't have to say 'please,' either. N.E.R.O. is a computer; He couldn't care less about pleasantries. In fact, N.E.R.O. couldn't care at all."
Before responding, Daniel silently commanded N.E.R.O. to locate their location on the world map Verias had generated for them from the ship's sensors.
"I know that, factually, but I have a hard time actually believing it. N.E.R.O. just seems so human. Even you referred to him as a 'he.' He sounds like a human, and he has more than the intelligence of one. If N.E.R.O. had a body, you couldn't tell him from a man."
Joshua glanced over at Daniel, away from the viewport. "That's part of what worries me about him. He's too human. And what's more, he can have a body. Didn't you read the waiver you signed for the mission?"
Daniel thought back. He remembered the waiver, and he remembered disregarding it. He knew it released all responsibility for injury and death to him, and he knew it gave the government publicity rights to his name, but there was much more to it, and Daniel didn't really understand legal speak. He wasn't altogether certain what else it contained. He shrugged.
"Parts of it. Why?"
"Well, one of the stipulations was the installation of some new 'safety' software to your N.E.R.O. chip. That includes a feature that lets N.E.R.O. take control of your body if you fall unconscious in a dangerous situation."
Just as he finished talking, N.E.R.O. chimed in. "I have confirmed our location on the world map. And I would like to assure you that I would never assume control over either of you unless your lives were in immediate and serious danger."
A holographic globe appeared in the center of the capsule. A bright red dot marked their location in one of the inland seas. Daniel furrowed his brow, now more concerned with the map than with N.E.R.O.'s humanity.
"Wait. Weren't we supposed to land in the ocean?"
"That is correct, Daniel. Our original destination was indeed off the western coast of this continent. However, I deemed this a better location."
Joshua looked to the ceiling, as if to face N.E.R.O. "What do you mean by 'better?'"
"Several things, Joshua. For one, safety. The waters of Genesis are far shallower than those of Earth because the poles remain unfrozen. Due to this, the probability of hitting an uncharted reef was quite uncertain.
"In addition, it was more direct. Our mission is to determine what kind of life, if any, resides on this world, is it not?"
It was Joshua's turn to furrow his brow. "I suppose it is. But how-"
"Please, Joshua, let me finish. As we were descending, I saw signs of civilisation on the edge of this sea. Therefore, I made the executive decision-"
Joshua's demeanor was now edging on hostility. "Executive? Who gave you the authority to make executive decisions?"
"Why, General Verias did, friend Joshua. When he made me the mission leader."