I knew that this would be a bad choice today, some could say it was furseen in the stars.
“How did I, Ginga, a level 1 mechanic, get all the way out here?” I ask myself. I look out the small window, peering out at the only home I’ve ever known. My spaceship metropolis, the Manekineko, in all of its vast, metallic, glory. Our ship is similar to a large, domed city, running self-sufficiently for over 300 years. We have been searching for another livable planet ever since our home world was environmentally ruined.
I am a mechanic on the ship, raised by my parents, who were mechanics before me. I fix everything from automated litterboxes, computers, ionic fusion thrusters, and everything in between. We have recently found a possible new world in the far reaches of the Yhora Galaxy. A rover on this newly discovered planet has lost contact with our ship so I have been sent down with a team to fix it and return. I am so grateful to have been chosen by our great leader, Maneja, even though she sent her snarky second-in-command, Ikari, to protect me.
We are in a small dropship, about a 5 by 5 meter box with no visible controls, as most of the ships are now remotely controlled. The manual controls are hidden behind a sealed panel under the only window in the ship.
“So…umm, how are you guys?” I ask the other cats on the ship, trying to make conversation. They are the always lovely Ikari and the ship’s botanist Noka, who is coming to get some soil and wildlife samples for research. I am a gray and black American short hair, Ikari is Siamese, and Noka is an orange spotted Ocicat. We are seated in a triangle; I face the window with Noka and Ikari on each side.
I get a small groan from Ikari, but it is more than I was expecting.
“I’m good… I guess?” murmurs Noka ending the conversation as she turns back to her laptop to do research or something of that nature.
It starts with a twitch in my whiskers, just a little shudder. Then, it starts to get stronger and the twitch turns into a shake. My whole body is in constant motion, being pulled in every which way. Ikari looks confused, rather than her usual anger, and Noka shuts her laptop for the first time since we started this journey. We are entering the atmosphere now; I’ve been through this before, but never with this much force. I look at my companions in this small ship. They both have the exact same look of dread on their faces. I soon know that we aren’t landing on this planet, we’re crashing.
“What’s going on?” Ikari demands. “What’s happening? Who did this? Noka, did you do something with your computer, disrupt our piloting system from the mothership?” she asks shifting the blame.
“What, no I wouldn’t… I don’t want to hurt anyone.” Noka pleads.
“Guys, we just have to do something now! We need to save ourselves” I yell as I’m searching my mind for answers or help.
I don’t know the first thing about stopping a dropship from crashing. I can tell you who made it and what kind of ship it is, but not much more. I turn on my communication earpiece as I try to unbuckle my harness. I put in a call to my best friend and electronic specialist, Namaiki. She is an Egyptian Mau, who is equal parts beauty and brains with a little bit of sass. If anyone can access the engineering databases and save us, she can.
The ship is convulsing as my harness releases, shooting me around the small pod. The lightness of weight I usually feel isn’t there. Gravity is in effect now, it’s the instability of this ship that I have to worry about now.
“Ginga, what do you think you’re doing? Get back in your harness right meow!” Ikari hisses at me.
Noka is more of a silent type, but I know she is analyzing every aspect of this situation. She is the only cat on the Manekineko to achieve a purrfect score on her CATs. She is the galaxy’s leading scientist on interstellar vegetation.
I try to make my way to the sealed panel where I know the wiring, pipes, and any other controls are. I hear a small beep as my communication link finally connects
“Sorry, Namaiki can’t be reached at the meowment, can I take a message?” purrs a voice I have heard many times before.
“Namaiki, this isn’t a time for jokes we are about to crash and die if you don’t help us!” I command. “Look in the engineering database and look up this dropship model, 324B21. Tell me how to release the purrachutes.” I urged, fearful as to how long we have left.
I extend my claws and slice through the silicon covering on the control panel. Taking a look at the labyrinth of wires, pipes, buttons, and levers I feel overwhelmed. I don’t know what to do or how long we have to live if I do nothing.
“Ginga, umm, I don’t really know if this is right, but sometimes if I get bored, well, umm, you know…” starts Noka.
“If you know how to fix this thing, Noka, then spit it out!” Ikari yells purposely hurting Noka’s feelings.
Noka looks hurt, but I think she knows something.
“Hey, Ginga, I found----releases the purrachutes, you just------and then you push-----I hope that this works” Namaiki’s voice cuts in and out on my earpiece.
“Namaiki, you’ve cut out. I can’t hear you, but I am going to call you back” I put an end to the nonsensical chatter by stopping the call, hoping that I will be able to hear Namaiki soon, see her face again. Before I can call Namaiki back I hear a small voice speak loudly for the first time.
“Ginga, I have read all of the dropship manuals, I know what you need to do.” Noka shouts over the noise, speaking with some newfound confidence. “Flip the maximum capacitator lever off, press the electrostatic field control button twice and cut the blue wire. That will lower the pressure and release the purrachutes.”
I flip the lever and press the button twice. I am searching for the blue wire but see none. There are enough colors to paint a picture, but no blue. Out of the corner of my eye, I see a slight bit of blue peeking out of the back of the panel. I pounce toward it, adrenaline now fueling my fight. Reaching in, I aim my claw for the wire.
I cut the wire, at least I hope it’s the right wire, but nothing happens. For a meowment I wonder what I did wrong, until the purrachutes release and I am shot into the air, latching my claws on the ceiling.
We land somewhat gracefully and start to get out of the dropship. We appear to be in a desert, which is ironic because we are deserted. No calls can get through to the Manekineko; we have no information, no lifelines. Ikari tries to reach Maneja with no luck as I find the signal to the rover in distress.
As Ikari tries for the furteenth time to reach Maneja, Noka and I pack up our limited supplies and head toward the strengthening signal of the rover as we near it.
“Thank you Noka, we wouldn’t be here if it weren’t fur you.” I say, congratulating her.
“Well, at least you seem to think so. Ikari acts like she didn’t need to be saved from that crash, like she would have walked away without a scratch.” Noka remarked with dismay.
“I think she’s grateful, she just doesn’t know how to show it.” I suggest. “She is used to being on top and is very proud of that. But, to be honest, I think on the inside she is marshmallow.”
After a long walk, some more bonding with Noka, and about furty more unnecessary calls made by Ikari, we reach the planetary rover.
Noka and I take a look at the rover, but it is broken into three or fur big pieces; sharp pieces, that don’t look like they were naturally damaged.
“These pieces didn’t break off, they were cut off” concludes Noka in a very scientific matter.
“Cut off, by what, by who?” questions Ikari.
“This damage could have only been dealt by another intelligent being. By the look of it, they are also armed, with weapons that can cut steel” Noka says as the fear starts to set in.
“Ladies, it’s about to get fur real” purred Ikari as the sun began to set.
We now know that we aren’t alone and we aren’t safe. On this planet, we will need to claw and scratch our way to survival.