The Last Flight of the Cynnabar Breen



From the Flight Log of Freighter Pilot Camdon Rod

I’d just finished the hyperjump and arrived in the Delta Epsiloni star system when the meteor struck my craft’s main drive section. Fortunately, it was a small meteor, otherwise the ship might have been destroyed and me along with it. Unfortunately, it was large enough and going fast enough to pierce the re-enforced outer hull, punch a three centimeter hole through the jump drive’s control systems, ripping them to shreds, and exit out the other side of the hull, making a hole much, much larger than the first.

Also unfortunately, it hit at just the right angle and velocity that instead of rendering the drive inoperable, it triggered another jump through hyperspace. With the control systems gone, the ship jumped blind giving me an over 99% chance of emerging somewhere outside of known-space. Now I have no idea where I am.

Oh, for the record, my name is Camdon Rod and I’m the pilot and owner of the freighter Cynnabar Breen. Hey. I didn’t name her. The pilot I bought her from did. But that’s her official designation in the Consortium’s ship registry and I’m stuck with it.

On this run, I was assigned to take a large number of diverse microscopic biosamples, all suspended in stasis, to the fourth planet orbiting Delta Epsiloni, specifically the Bio Research Center for Evolutionary Design. The docs and lab geeks like to take what we’ve got and see if they can make it better.

They won’t be getting their shipment on time. In fact, they won’t get it ever, at least from my ship.

Like I said, the meteor hit me less than a second after I emerged from the hyperjump. The jump destination areas are supposed to be swept of debris. Coming out of hyperspace in an area where some sort of matter already exists, even dust, always results in disaster as in a big BOOM. The sweepers are incredibly efficient but somehow one stray hunk of iron and nickel got past them. It must have been too small to detect or someone got really lazy. It doesn’t matter. Here I am, wherever here is, and here I’m going to stay.

The freighter’s drive section is sealed off during flight. I can only open it for maintenance in a docking bay planet side, so there’s no way I can even try to repair the damage. That means no more hyperjumps. That means I’m stuck.

I exited my unscheduled jump within reach of a planet orbiting a yellow main-sequence star not too different from my own. I’m actually incredibly lucky because the planet has liquid water, lots of it, and an atmosphere I can breathe. Now I just have to find a way to land safely and stay lucky, at least until I get a response to my distress message.

I’ve been sending out a general ship-in-trouble message through the hyperspace domain ever since I arrived here. My ship’s jump drive creates a point-to-point link between origin and destination points, so for me, the trip is instantaneous, but communications doesn’t work that way.

All hyperjump capable worlds in the Consortium extend virtual transceivers into hyperspace and they’re used to send and receive faster-than-light signals. The physics of communicating through hyperspace are tricky since things like velocity, distance, and duration don’t mean much.

If my luck holds out though, a hyperspace listener will pick up my signal, which includes images of what I can see of this solar system and the constellation of visible stars in the region. That’s the only way anyone will be able to figure out where I am so they can send out a rescue vessel. Since my damaged jump drive dropped me here at random, there are no log recordings available for me to be able to plot my position.

So I might be rescued anytime from the next few moments to the next few years.

If I can safe land on the planet I’m approaching, in addition to air to breathe and water to drink, after my rations run out, if I’m not rescued by then, I better hope I can find food I can eat that won’t poison me and that possesses enough of the nutrients I need to stay alive.

I’m close enough now to scan the planet. No evidence of civilization that I can find. No technological objects in orbit, no artificial pollutants in the atmosphere, no roads, no large constructed structures. As a matter of fact, there no evidence of any kind of life at all. Of course this looks like a pretty young planet, so maybe there’s nothing down there bigger than microbes, or at best, insects I couldn’t detect from space. Okay, something the size of a small rodent wouldn’t exactly set off any “life forms found” alarm, either.

I’m less than an hour out from the planet now. If it’s not in any of the Consortium’s records, I’ll get to name it. Small consolation, since the Consortium gets to claim its resources. I’ll still get a finder’s fee, but I’d much rather have the mineral rights.

Had to jettison the jump drive. It’s useless anyway and if it were still attached to the ship when I entered the atmosphere, with two holes in it, the jump drive’s power system would superheat and then explode, vaporizing the freighter and me along with it…well me and thousands upon thousands of microscopic life forms in stasis.

I’ve been only using thrusters for course corrections while checking out the status of the space normal drive. The control systems explosion caused enough feedback to fry half my diagnostic monitors so I can’t be sure if I’m getting correct readings. Looks like I may have a fuel leak for the space norm drive. If I run out of fuel during my descent through the atmosphere, I’ll lose control and crash. So much for the hope of being rescued. So much for having to worry about food, water, or air either.

No choice now. I have to fire up the space norm drive. Entering the upper atmosphere. Glide path looks nominal. Re-entry’s always rough for a freighter even under the best of conditions. Heat of re-entry is being absorbed well enough, but I’m getting more vibration than I’d like.

Damn, I’m not going to make landfall. My descent is too steep and I’m not getting the power from the norm drive I need. I’m low on fuel for the fusion reactor but something must be wrong with the power relays as well.

Might just have enough fuel for a crash landing on the ocean’s surface. I won’t die right away, but this thing will sink like a rock. I’ll barely have time to blow the emergency hatch, deploy the water survival gear, and get out before she goes down for good.

I’m in the water. The raft has a small motor and I managed to get far enough away from my broken up ship before she could pull me down below the waves with her. The last flight of the Cynnabar Breen. May she rest in peace.

I’ve got a portable transmitter with me set to emit a constant emergency locator beacon, but it only signals in the radio band. A jump ship would have come into the system and be close to the planet to pick it up. Hope someone got that hyperspace signal and sent help.

It’s warm. My readings told me it would be, but with these gray skies, it looks like it should be colder.

The raft’s motor isn’t designed to take me any significant distance, certainly not as far as the nearest land mass, so I just hope the ocean currents favor me. So far, I’ve either had really bad luck or really good luck depending on your point of view.

Just out of curiosity, I took a sample of ocean water and tested it for common microscopic life forms you’d expect in a salt water ocean environment. Nothing. Absolutely nothing alive, at least in this little part of the ocean. Maybe life doesn’t exist here yet. It is a really young planet.

Then again, that’s not going to be a problem for long. Once the power went out on the freighter, the stasis fields around all of those biosamples collapsed. When the ship went down, it broke apart, exposing the cargo carrier section to its watery environment. This planet better not have indigenous life. If it does, thousands and thousands of highly aggressive species are going to thrive in this ocean, reproduce like crazy, probably mutate, and take over every conceivable ecological niche.

Of course, I won’t be around to see it. That would take a few billion years. I’ll either be rescued off of this rock, collect the insurance from the freighter’s loss plus a big fat negligence fee from the Consortium for not making sure the Delta Epsiloni jump destination space wasn’t clean, get back to my career, and eventually die of old age after a long and happy life, or I won’t be rescued and I’ll die here on this barren mud ball when my rations run out.

Wonder which one it’ll be?


Camdon Rod’s cargo did indeed thrive, prosper, and go on to evolve into an untold number of species on the Cynnabar Breen’s last destination world. In about two billion years, the first human beings will emerge and walk the face of the planet Earth.

Continue reading the adventures of Camdon Rod in The Day I Destroyed the Universe.


6 thoughts on “The Last Flight of the Cynnabar Breen

    • Yeah, the story was supposed to be a “one off,” but I became so interested in the character, that I started a series. I just wrote the sixth episode today.


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