Original Story by Chase Lawless
There was an eerie silence looming throughout the cabin of the Veteran.
It was not because the vessel was old and barely held together by its bolts,
nor was it because there was only one person aboard; the unsettling silence was due to the complete lack of radio communication from anyone.
This may not have been too bad, except that the pilot was without a squadron to command, without a way off the planet, and he was without his astromech droid, which he immediately regretted.
He had lost track of the time that he spent trapped inside the shuttle, everything that had transpired was a blur, but his stomach was growling and his throat was parched.
The lone pilot rubbed his eyes in the hope that they might adjust properly.
It took a bit of effort to depress a button on the console of his vessel, a retired Resistance transport that wasn’t nearly as sophisticated as an X-Wing fighter was,
not to mention it had been devoid of a hyperdrive engine for years, stripped down to only the necessities for flight.
“This is Commander Poe Dameron of the Veteran, do you read me?” The old transport’s radio crackled with some static but was otherwise silent.
“I repeat, this is Commander Poe Dameron,” his voice sounded heavy with fatigue and borderline annoyance, “is there anyone even listening?” Nothing but static.
He had not been able to boost the signal through the atmospheric interference with what little technology he had available onboard, the ship was losing power rapidly,
and there were no food rations to speak of, would this be how a great hero of the Resistance went out?
Vaguely recalling the order to send him to the planet’s surface, he had found it rather odd when he was asked to personally survey and collect samples from the planet’s surface,
a terrestrial planet known as Odim.
It was a discreet little world nestled just outside the outer rim, it had a breathable atmosphere, and the surface was mountainous and thrived with enough vegetation to support biological life,
not to mention the violent crashing of his ship. Nothing about the mission seemed out of the ordinary, except that he was a pilot, not a biologist.
All he could recollect of the rapid descent through the clouds was a bolt of blinding light erupting from the atmosphere and how it must have struck the ship,
for when he had regained consciousness several hours later; his shuttle was half-buried in the ground with its nose in the air.
On the way down, he remembered only sending out one desperate message to the Gial Star, but everything then went silent as the ship spun out of control, plummeting like a rock in water.
He was intact at least, he had some minor scrapes and bruises, the immediate concern he had was why had the Gial Star not sent a recovery crew to get him, or even tried to make contact.
He groaned as he got up from his chair in the cockpit and stretched, the bones in his body aching with every step.
He carefully navigated his way to the dispensary in order to refill his water bottle, but with only a couple drops wetting the bottom of the bottle, he realized even that had dried up,
now he had to go outside and brave whatever was on the foreign planet.
He maneuvered his way around empty cargo crates to get to the rear of the ship and approached the door, but when he used the console to try to open it, it refused to open.
He curled his arm against his chest and without a thought, rammed it, trying to push it open.
The pain shot up through his side as he hit the solid durasteel door and with another groan, he shook his head disappointedly.
You’re a damn fool Commander Dameron; why not use the escape hatch?
The words were in General Leia Organa’s voice as he imagined she would have said them, and he couldn’t help but think in agreement, why not use the escape hatch,
it was so much more logical than breaking his arm on the door.
He worked his way back into the cabin of the shuttle at the odd angle it sat at, and looked above him to see the hatch,
so dragging over one of the cargo crates and placing it on somewhat even ground; he stepped up so he was just under the hatch and tapped the release. Again, nothing.
“Open, damn it!” He slammed his palms against the door and finally pried open the console beside it and looked at the mess of wiring.
Some of the wires had fused from the heat, so he reached down to his utility belt and grabbed a small pocketknife,
opening it and carefully placing it between his teeth as he freed up his hands and found the wires he wanted.
He cut away the damaged section of the wires and quickly spliced two new strands, a brief burst of power barely opening the hatch,
it was just enough to pry it open with his hands and pull himself up.
He shielded his eyes for a moment as they adjusted to the brightness of the late afternoon sun directly shining down on his face through the trees.
Looking back, he could finally see the full extent of the damage, a long trail of charred and damaged trees that had cushioned his fall, ultimately saving his life.
He climbed onto the roof of the shuttle and made his way down to the ground, quickly setting out to find a water source, anything that he could drink or eat for that matter,
he would not be able to survive much longer on false hopes.
“Has anyone heard from Commander Dameron yet?” General Leia Organa asked as she stood at the helm of the Gial Star, looking at the planet Odim from a distance.
“He should have been finished with this mission by now, how long does it take to collect surface samples?”
“No word from the commander ma’am, we haven’t received anything since his last contact.” The young woman looked back at Leia briefly from her seat at the cruiser’s communications console.
Communications officer Bri Seigart was a fresh recruit, just barely old enough to service a starship the size of the Gial Star.
She had short, layered brunette hair and fair skin, too pretty to have ever seen the types of battles that Leia had witnessed during her career.
“Play back his last message, maybe we’ll be able to make some sense of what he said from here.
” Her voice was urgent; they had been trying to piece together the static message that Poe transmitted before his ship had disappeared from their radar completely.
“Yes, ma’am.” Bri answered obediently and pulled up the last known communication the commander had sent.
“This is Comma—Poe Damer—,” static interrupted every other word of his sentence.
“I’m descending on—, send—,” The recording abruptly cut out with more static and Leia leaned against the railing in thought, her fingers tapping on the surface.
“Send what, what was he asking for, why did we lose all communication with him?”
“There appeared to be a fluctuation of weather on the surface of the planet as he was transmitting the message ma’am, it may have been what caused the loss of communication.”
“A fluctuation of weather, which hardly seems like something he couldn’t navigate on his own, he’s the best pilot in the Resistance.” She sighed, in her mind, there was only one choice.
“Whatever it is, we need to get something to him on the surface, I have a bad feeling about this message.”
“There are heavy electrical signatures in the atmosphere ma’am; it may be too dangerous to send another shuttle to retrieve the commander.
” The communications officer’s tone was rather grave for Leia’s liking.
“You’re detecting electrical signatures in the atmosphere and you didn’t think to mention that instead of a fluctuation of weather on the surface?” Her palms curled tightly around the railing.
“Find a ship that can get through that atmosphere, we may have lost touch with him because he crashed.” Leia turned abruptly, only to nearly topple over BB-8.
The droid emitted a series of worried beeps and whirring and Leia immediately answered the frantic droid.
“Don’t worry, we’re going to get to the bottom of this, he’s out there, we just have to get down to the surface without ending up in the same situation.”
The droid did not sound convinced in the slightest, spouting out another volley of beeps and whistles.
“BB-8, I need you to stay here and—,” she paused mid-sentence and shook her head. “What am I arguing with you for, you’re an astromech droid, and we could use your scanners to find Poe.
Come on.” She beckoned the droid with a wave of her hand and he quickly rolled after her. This simple research mission had now become a complicated rescue mission.