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She shook away her doubts and looked over at the officer who handled the communications equipment, Ensign Laurie Terraz. “Signal all units to deploy and secure the landing area,” Lisa commanded. Terraz nodded and then the intercom system in the ship sounded.

“Attention all units, deploy and secure the landing zone. Repeat, deploy and secure the landing zone!” Soldiers scrambled to shuttles that would ferry them to the surface, armed with laser rifles and wearing thick olive armor. Soon the deployment was underway and the thruster trails of the shuttles could be seen as they left the ship behind. Lisa watched them go down, uninterestedly. It seemed so anticlimactic after such a long journey to have to wait for the shuttles to get down to the surface of the planet. She turned away and paced near the window, hands clasped behind her back as she thought about her mission.

She didn’t like being out here with only her ship and the transport. There was so much that could go wrong, and it would take months or years before anyone could get out to help them or find them. She knew that under these circumstances any captain would be nervous, but she was especially so because the Explorer was her first command and she had worked too hard to lose it now.

She had taken command of the ship about five years ago after she had been promoted to captain. She had served for nearly seven years in Washington, working for United Earth Alliance Command under her mother, the admiral in charge of Earth’s space fleet. It had been an experience she didn’t want to repeat. Hanging around bureaucrats all day wasn’t her idea of fun; she liked the freedom of space a lot more. She had spent a couple of tours on small ships when she had first graduated the Academy, but once she had reached Lieutenant Commander she had been sent down to Earth. She shivered as she thought about it and in a way was glad she was out here right now, at least she was far away from all of that. Still, she would much rather have had an armada of ships to back her up in case something bad happened. She turned back to the window, watching the last shuttles leave the hangar.

Ensign Terraz crossed the bridge to where her friend, and fellow Academy class graduate, Ensign Jack Laurants, was stationed. Laurants coordinated the sensors that swept the area for danger. He turned and smiled at her. They both snuck a glance at Lisa, who was turned away from them. “So, how long until we leave this dirtball and head back for Earth?” Laurants asked.

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