urrrrrgh this one came out terrible and ham-handed. Not at all happy with it.
The ship shook violently. It was Sarah’s third time landing on a planet, and as far as she could tell it wasn’t going to be any less rough. It certainly didn’t help that the mood aboard Umbra was one careless remark away from a shouting match. Her last two landings had been helped by the fact that they were routine, and the crew had been happy enough to put up with her panic and complaints of an upset stomach; if she complained now she’d probably get her head bitten off.
She’d only been woken twelve hours or so ago; the Umbra‘s slow approach through the solar system had been far too slow to wait through, and since she had no skills to contribute to the landing she’d been kept asleep for as long as possible. If she’d had her way, she would have been allowed to sleep until the ship touched down, but the captain hadn’t been confident that their approach would go undetected and had ordered every member of the crew to be woken up before the final approach, just in case things went pear-shaped.
That alone was odd, really. Before now, the captain had always acted with complete assurance. If something was spooking him, Sarah wasn’t sure she wanted to know the details. He was at least keeping his worries to himself; Rachel had shown no such restraint. The violent approach probably wasn’t doing the pilot’s temper any favours, but she had been snapping at everyone long before Umbra had needed her at the helm. To make matters worse, Sarah had found herself the target of more and more of these outbursts.
The price of duty, she thought to herself. Her patient was the reason the crew were going to Earth in the first place, after all: Rachel’s venom was only being directed her way because the broken cyborg was still lying in suspension. Sarah honestly didn’t know what the rest of the crew thought of her stubborn defence of the man; some of them seemed to have known him from before his loss of identity, but they hadn’t given her any clues as to what he had been like. It didn’t matter, anyway: his injuries were so horrific that she would have felt compelled to help him even if he had been her enemy, and his total loss of functional memory made the issue moot. She didn’t think that the pilot’s enmity came from a grudge, anyway: Rachel was scared, and the crippled man in Sarah’s care was only a threat because he compelled her to return home.
What could possibly be waiting for her there? Sarah knew that Earth was not necessarily a friendly place – the fact that they were approaching in complete stealth made that abundantly clear – but the crew were hardly unprepared. In the past, such a situation might have provoked curiosity, but this time Sarah found herself not caring about the reasons for Rachel’s temper. The woman was being selfish and cowardly, and if the crew thought it an unfair judgement then it was their loss: they had gone and made her the ship’s doctor, and she was going to damn well do her job.