Danny Westwick, Pilot of the Kurmaja, Mission Year 1098

by Ed Jowett

Kurmaja Pilot’s Log, Mission Year 1098 – Duty Pilot Danny Westwick

23rd July Mission Year 1098

A week ago, Captain Rogers announced that we were landing the Kurmaja on Taranis.  Since then, he’s been running everyone he can think of through piloting simulations for landing the ship. The issue he’s having is that the person with the best chance of succeeding is me – an 18 year old. The simulations confirm it 100 percent – no-one but me has a chance of keeping the ship together. After waiting in orbit two years to make sure the planet is safe, he’s now committed for the first time in his career.

He’s desperate to give the responsibility to someone else, but the simple fact is that my step-father trained me extremely well. No-one knew this ship like him, and now that he’s gone no-one knows this ship like me. Just to make things a bit worse, I’m pretty sure the ship won’t survive the landing. I believe I can hold the ship together for the landing, but the chances of it staying airtight are… tiny. I don’t know how the captain expects it to stay in one piece – everyone knows the mission has lasted over 300 years longer than intended.

25th July Mission Year 1098

This will be the final entry for the Pilot’s log. I did it. I landed the Kurmaja on Taranis with no casualties.

I admit it, my voice wavered as I gave instructions to the navigator. Everyone on the bridge was staring at me. I know what they were thinking: that I’m too young for this, that they don’t want to be trusting their lives to a child. I know because the Captain took me aside and told me he had no choice. Like everyone else, they would have wanted my stepfather. I am the best pilot on this ship, and today I proved it. Perfect atmospheric entry, perfect velocity… the ship began to disintegrate about a kilometer above the ground, though, and I had to land less smoothly than people might have hoped.

Only about 20% of the ship is intact and airtight after the landing. As soon as we’d stopped moving, Captain Rogers rounded on me and started shouting that I’d wrecked his ship. That’s when Jenny Wilson, the navigator, told him to shut up. She proceeded to give him a long, technical description of where the hull integrity failed and how it would have happened to anyone. She continued by describing in detail all of the minor changes to the trajectory and speed I had made and explained which section of the ship it had protected or saved. I couldn’t believe it.

One by one, the other bridge officers rallied around, until the Captain had to agree that we weren’t going to tell anyone aboard about this, and claim that the ship was always intended to be dismantled to build a city.

This log should end with a note that the mission was a success. We have landed on a new world, and begun to let the colonists out of stasis. They are talking about calling a site nearby Kurmaja Park, in honour of the journey.

Thanks, Jeff. I know you weren’t my real dad, but you saved every member of the crew today.