The trio moved slowly down the beach, walking the border between the shore and the sea grass. They each had a specimen bag slung across their body collecting scraps of wreckage from their space ship, the Explorer Vessel Caelestis.
“Ever feel like someone is watching you?” Lt. Serveen Frayaz said, rubbing her hand down her neck, smoothing out the bristling hairs. “Do either of you feel that?”
Lt. Bimni Nidel bent down to brush seaweed off a mangled piece of metal, part of the skin of EV Caelestis. Straightening up, she scanned the jungle spreading out along the fringe of the shore.
“It’s mostly likely some of the indigenous wildlife,” Nidel said, tucking the debris into her rucksack. “If we leave them alone, they should leave us alone.”
“I don’t know,” Freyza said. “I suddenly had a bone-chilling sense of foreboding.”
Freyza hurried to catch up with Capt. Carlander Welcur, looking over her shoulder as she shuffled through the sand.
“It’s going to take a while for us to acclimate,” Welcur told his crew. “We all will be hyper-vigilant because of the crash”.
“I can help with that,” Nidel said. “When we all get back, I can facilitate a session with everyone.”
The three moved farther down shore, occasionally stopping to gather bits of debris. From deep inside the thick foliage, the small party was being watched.
Harkis Mont and Vynat Prium were also aboard the Caelestis. The two commandeered a small runabout used for shuttling between other Explorer vessels and destination planets. They escaped the doomed Caelestis ahead of the bridge pod.
“Jaipah and Beacue made it here too,” said Harkis Mont when he joined Prium. “They all must have been on the bridge before the Caelestis was destroyed.”
“What if Welcur finds us here?” said Prium, nearing panic. “We’re deserters, we can be court-martialed.”
“We’re not aboard the Caelestis,” Mont said. “Welcur has no authority over us now. They’re stuck here just like we are.”
“What do we do?” Prium asked. “Do we let them know we’re here.”
“We probably won’t get a warm reception if we just walk into their camp,” Mont said. “We have the advantage… we know they’re here, but they don’t know about us. For now, we wait.”