The auspicious day finally arrived – the convergence of leylines have finally opened the path to Meridian. On the Pathfinder Square in Capital City, Nexus, a milling mass of onlookers have also arrived to see one of the largest collections of airships assemble overhead.
In the center of the fleet is the largest jump ship ever created – the IS Endeavor. Fitted with state of the art ether jump drives, the Endeavor is capable of creating a jump field large enough to hold a hundred smaller ships. And the jump field is definitely being used. Clustered all around the mothership, nearly a hundred smaller vessels have gathered from small prospector skiffs to large industrial frigates.
Somewhere in the fleet is the Lightning Bug. Aboard the ship, confidence is high and the crew seems in a lighthearted mood. Even the first time jumpers are more nervous with excitement than fear of danger.
The time approaches for the jump and the crowd below begins counting down the seconds.
10… 9… 8… 7…
The energy shield extends from the Endeavor. First as a small patch of bright, crackling blue above the mothership then it starts to arc around the fleet. In the space of just a few counts, the shield has come together forming a giant egg like jump field around the ships.
6… 5… 4…
The crew can feel the massive amounts of energy being generated and the Endeavor seems to hum with power.
A spark shoots from the one of the mothership’s main ether drive. It seems to ripple like waves in water through the shield.
Another spark. Is this normal? A gasp from one of the crew members on the bridge causes everyone to turn their heads.
Even as the crew shifts against the seats restraint to get a better view of the mothership, the ground seems to fall out from under them. Weightlessness. Time seems to stop and impossibility slowly one of the ether drives on the mothership appears to overload in a shower of energy fragments. Concurrently, the nose of the jump field starts to extend further and further until it’s is but a pinpoint in the distance.
Though there is no movement – indeed, time still seems frozen – there’s a feeling of rapid movement. Flash of lights explode and fade along the jump field and suddenly time comes back. From nothing now a large blue planet dominates the forward view. The shield begins to flicker and ships begin to sway as if floating in a rough sea.
Captain Burke shouts, “No! It’s too soon!” and jumps to the ship controls. The fleet is hurdling towards a small dot of a moon that can only be Meridian. Ahead of the Lightning Bug, ships lose control and smash into the shield. Some explode, others seem to vanish into nothing. Burke fires up his ship to full power and attempts to pull back from the fleet. But it’s too late. In the last seconds before landfall, jump field drops entirely in a blinding light.
A moment later the Lightning Bug is crashing into Meridian’s upper atmosphere. A shock wave of resistance shutters through the airship far exceeding its own maximum speed. Controls fins snap and the ship’s frame buckles.
A large, metal pipe containing coolant snaps from the bulkhead and whips across the bridge like a lash. It catches Captain Burke along his chest and steaming hot liquid splashes his face. He doesn’t even have time to let out a scream as he is thrown across the bridge and slams into the wall.
First Mate Beler Aviro wastes little time and jumps up to the flight controls. The Lightning Bug is not responsive though and the controller appears to have lost connection. Avrio attempts to divert more power through the ether drive, but it overloads the system. The ship control unit explodes and Avrio is thrown back. Her right arm is clearly broken and blood dots her face.
She shouts for help and Rish Al’Mar jumps to her aid. They’re able to get the manual override operational, but the ship is practically uncontrollable at this point. Rish is not a well-trained pilot and he’s unable to stop a crash landing, but he does manage to minimize the impact.
The Lightning Bug slams into the ocean a few hundred meters from the shore. The water rips apart the ether drive, but cushions the landing. It doesn’t stop forward momentum though and the ship rips though the water, slides onto a sandy beach and continues its forward path until coming to abrupt stop at the base of a rocky cliff.
The crew of the ship are thrown around like rag dolls, but fortunately their safety harnesses spare them from the worse of impact. For a few moment, the crew sits in stunned silence. In the span of just one minute the journey went from nervous excitement to unknown crisis.
Ladon is one of the first to recover – his medical training taking control. He scanned the area, assessing crew members for deadly conditions. Immediately, he realizes that Theos, is in urgent need of aid. His leg has been sheered off above the knee from a broken segment of the bulkhead.
Ladon’s skills quickly amazed everyone. He stopped Theos Wawar from bleeding out, he saved Captain Burke from certain death and mended Bel Aviro’s broken arm and hand. He even found internal injuries in James Conroyd that would most definitely been fatal had left untreated.
The immediate health of the crew seen after, they begin to take inventory of their situation. Cletus and Rish look through the lower decks to assess the damage to the cargo. Broderick and Jack Reese search the area surrounding the ship for clues of other shops and signs of life.
After a few hours, the crew is fatigued and likely still in shock. No other survivors have been found and the communication equipment is broken beyond easy repairs. Captain Burke is still unconscious and the crew seems unwilling to make decisions in his absence. Bel regains some of her composure though and orders the crew into the ship’s hold for a rest. Daylight is breaking on Meridian and the crew retreats to their first “night” in their new home.
Alda Dodar is asked to set guard and watch a large fire that’s being used as a smoke signal. Many of the crew have already fallen asleep when they are awoken to Alda’s blood-curling shrieks…