In the co-pilot seat the android Gepuanmat (General Purpose Android Mark Two) worked swiftly, carefully, to gain control of the ship. Nothing could be done for the injured pilot until the erratic spinning was stopped. Short puffs of fuel jetted out of the attitude jets around the ships body, and gradually, the spinning slowed and stopped. Gepuanmat sat back with a sigh, then pushed the call button for the Medbot, stood up, and bent over the pilot.
Two hours later the pilot walked onto the bridge, healthy and strong again, having spent the time in the healing cabinet. “Do you know where we are?” he asked the android. “And thanks for taking over, and looking after me.”
Gepuanmat turned from the controls and shook his head. “No, I have been trying to locate stars I can recognise, but nothing matches anything in our charts. And what I did is only what I have been programed and trained to do. It is good to see you well again.”
“Well, I’m still grateful for it, whatever the reason.” Nosaj looked at the screen for a moment. “Ok, Gep, we seem to be nearing a solar system with planets in the life zone. Let’s move in carefully and see if one of them would be a safe haven. We certainly can’t go on, not with one engine and the warp drive down.”
Gepuanmat nodded, and waited for Nosaj to sit down. Working together, they steered the ship past the outlying cloud of icy, rocky bodies that might turn into comets or asteroids. They continued on, finding varying sized bodies circling four large gas planets, all of them ringed, then through a wide belt of asteroids. Finally, they came to a rocky planet, circled by two small moons. It was dry and arid looking, with no signs of life. On they went, and after several weeks they saw it; a beautiful blue and white ball, with a very large moon orbiting it.
The ship moved closer, while they used the large telescope to study it. There was definitely life there. There was a smallish space station and numerous satellites in low orbit, some remaining over one spot, others following what were obviously pre-set paths. Gep looked at the engine indicators and sighed.
“Looks like this is our destination, Nosaj. That engine won’t last much longer.” Even as he spoke, the engine coughed, stuttered and then resumed its even roar. “Hmph! Not even a long as I thought! We need to turn the ship now, and start slowing down while the thing still works. Otherwise we’ll turn to cinders in the atmosphere.”
Nosaj stared at the dials and gauges for a nano-second, and nodded. Their hands and fingers flew over the controls, using the attitude jets to turn the ship and still keep it from spinning out of control again. Once it was sailing tail-first toward the planet, they used short, quick blasts from the main engine to slow down. The planet rushed toward them at incredible speed, but they were slowing down. Hopefully, it was enough to make entry into the atmosphere feasible. At last Nosaj leaned back, wiped his wet forehead, and sighed.
“I think that did it. Hey! Look at the space station! Do you think it’s possible that they have star travel?”
Gep studied the space station for a second, and shook his head.
“No way. That is too primitive for a star-faring race. If we manage to land in one piece, this will be our home. If they accept us, we can perhaps help them, teach them what we know, and advance their space program. They will get to the stage of star travel, but by what I see, not for a long time yet. With our knowledge, we can speed that up. But take a look at the telescope. They seem to be very warlike. Do we want to turn that lose on the Universe?”
Nosaj looked through the telescope and watched as they circled the planet, getting closer with each orbit. He could see signs of battle in many places, and also signs of natural disasters, too; floods, draughts, and earthquakes. This was an active planet, then.
“Perhaps we should try to teach them to get along with one another, before we give them any advanced knowledge. If they accept us. Races who fight like that among themselves seldom greet strangers in a friendly manner. We’ll have to be very careful. And we can’t let them know you are an android.” He sighed. “Well, we’ll soon find out. Either we make it to land and are killed soon after, or we’ll make it and meet people who will give us a chance, or we don’t make it through the atmosphere at all.” He turned to Gepuanmat. “I have enjoyed our time together, Gep.” He reached over and touched his friend on the shoulder.
“Yes, it has been a good time. We have learned much together. But let’s not give in yet. We are at a good attitude for re-entry; soon we can flip the ship so we are going in heat shields first, and we have a very good chance of making it safely to land. Then it will be up to how well we can communicate, and convince them that we can be more use to them alive than dead.” He glanced at the dials. “Ok, time to flip.”
For a few moments their hands blurred around over the buttons and switches as they manipulated the attitude jets. The ship swung over, end for end, and they were safely on course, heading for the planet.