On Alkya, a planet a long way from Earth, the Division of Investigation – Other Worlds, has set up a base where hundreds of prsonnel live and work. Among them are two men, Major Joshua Marsden and Lieutenant Matthew Ronson, who are part of one of the survey teams.
Dropping through the atmosphere to land on Theta for their latest survey, the ship is disabled by a strange energy force and crashes in an immense ice field. Matt awakens in the debris of the control room to find Josh and Dennis injured and the ship badly damaged. He does what he can for his colleagues and attempts to repair the tear to the ship’s skin. They struggle to keep warm in the freezing temperatures and when it transpires their comm-unit isn’t working it becomes a fight for their very survival.
Oh God, which wall did I slam into this time? I tried to move, I was too damn cold to stay lying wherever the hell I was, but nothing seemed to work properly. Besides the pounding in my head, which probably accounted for the dancing black spots behind my eyelids, my left leg was on fire and it hurt to breathe.
Just the sound of his voice made me feel better and I forced my eyes open. Thankfully the spots faded somewhat. “Matt,” I said, although croaked would be a better description.
“Try to stay put Josh, I think your leg’s broken,” he said.
“No,” I said gruffly, “my leg’s definitely broken.” I looked around but that certainly didn’t make me feel better. “What the hell happened? And why is it so damn cold?”
“Not exactly sure what happened, except that we crashed in what looks like an ice field.”
“Crashed? Ice field? There was no ice field where we planned to land, wasn’t one for thousands of miles.”
“Yeah, but somehow you found one.”
“I’d have an answer for that except that I can’t think with this constant drum roll in my head.”
“I know, Josh. I can give you a painkiller.”
“Let’s hold that in reserve,” I sighed. With those things the cure can be worse than the pain. I glanced around at the mess that had once been the control room. “Where’s Dennis?”
“In the rear compartment. I’m afraid he’s hurt too. He’s still out.”
I tried to sit up and Matt helped me lean back against part of the console. “What’s wrong with Dennis?”
“Head injury, doesn’t look good. There’s been a fair amount of bleeding, but it had clotted before I found him. There’s something else too. The cold isn’t just because we crashed in this ice field, there’s a breach in the rear bay.” Matt sighed. “I patched it as best as I could, but I’m not an engineer.”
Matt handed me a jacket as he spoke and helped me struggle into it. He then passed me a pair of gloves and I swiftly pulled those on. He pulled the blankets up around me that had covered me when I was flat out on the deck.
“What happened when you reported in?”
“Ah, I haven’t. I couldn’t get anything from the comm. The main console seems to be dead.”
“What? Fuck!” I tried to get my head around everything he’d said. No question though, we were in shit creek without a paddle.