Grivo’s ship plummeted through the atmosphere at 5X terminal velocity. From the city floating on the ocean surface of the moon, a thin grey streak ran across the sky.
The metal shutter doors over the windows of the cabin pulled up to reveal the vast emptiness of Ganymede. Silver waves reflected in the rays from the small sun on the horizon. The small furry Gederian pressed up against the window from the dash and looked over the curvature of the moon below. His ears perked up and his spiny tail weaved slowly back and forth. In the distance five circular citadels connected by sturdy bridges floated on the ocean surface: the capital. Grivo looked over to Lynda who had passed out from her dose of Mox V. She reclined deeply into the passenger seat with a sheepish grin plastered on her face.
Slowly, the lights in the cabin began to return and the glow of various controls on the dash returned. Grivo looked away from the human woman to the dashboard and sat back in the pilot’s seat. On the smart windows, the trajectory of the Ganymede entry services program showed an orange pathway down to the city far below. Grivo hit some switches to bring the electronics back online.
After a few silent minutes the surface was much closer and the curvature of the moon was becoming a flatter angle. The silver metropolis below neared quickly as the ocean waters closed beneath them.
A generic tone came over the speakers and the voice of an automated woman came over the comlink:
“Thank you for choosing the Ganymede entry protocol service. We are happy to report a successful entry. You now have landing permits for Capital City, docking bay 94 on the near side of the main citadel. Your trajectory and velocity can be modulated by the program, but manual control will be restored once a safe operational speed has been achieved.”
Grivo sighed. He looked to the speedometer and leaned back in his seat to wait for the program to take the ship down to the dock.
“Would you like to participate in a short survey to reflect upon the nature of your entry? This can help us fine tune our program to better serve you in the future.”
“No.” said Grivo into the comlink.
There was a short pause before the voice of the woman returned
“Thank you. This survey should not take more than five minutes.”
“No!” said Grivo.
“Question one:” Said the program as the ship hurtled closer towards the city. “On a scale of one to five, one being completely unsatisfied and five being most satisfied, how courteous was your GES representative.”
“Umm. three.” said Grivo as he massaged his temples. Lynda stirred in the passenger seat.
The recorded voice returned. “Question two: How comfortable was your entry experience. One being most uncomfortable and five being-”
“Ahh, are we there yet?” muttered a dazed Lynda.
As the surface neared, Grivo looked back to the speedometer. The speed was unchanged from entry.
” Um three.” Said Grivo into the comlink. He sat up in his seat and looked over the dash.
Lynda laughed “What does that mean?”
“I’m answering this survey. We’re just coming in.”
Lynda settled back into her chair. “Wake me when we land.”
Grivo’s brow furrowed “…But, our speed should have slowed by now.”
The ship shot trough the air of Ganymede towards the city below, now growing larger in the windows.
“Question Three:” Said the automated woman “How successful would you rate the GES program?” Grivo’s eyes flew over the controls and he began to pull back on the throttle. Nothing changed. The city neared before them.
“What?” said Lynda picking her head up.
“We’re coming in too fast!” said Grivo, now flipping switches and trying to pull the controls back.
The voice of the recorded woman was confused. “I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that. On a scale of one to five, how successful would you rate the GES program?”
“I don’t have any control, the program is locking me out.” The city was now much closer. Somewhere in one of the towers below, a worker monitored the ship’s progress. A smile spread across their lips.
“Are you Kidding me!” Lynda said, now bolt upright in her seat. The waves below could be seen lapping against the citadel platform in the sun.
“I need to override the program” said Grivo, suddenly diving below the dashboard near the rudder peddles. He began to claw at the underpannel.
The calm voice returned: “I’m sorry, i didn’t catch that-”
ONE!” yelled Grivo as he threw off the panel and began to pull out wires.
Their altitude continued to plummet as Lynda gripped the armrests of her chair. WIth wide eyes she watched as the silver city infrastructure filled the windows. Grivo pulled out a circuit board form beneath the dash and threw it across the cabin. Lynda rose as the towers below became clear. Speeder car traffic and monorails zoomed below in the tangled cityscape of the growing city below.
“What should I do!?” screamed Lynda looking over to Grivo’s feet sticking out from under the dashboard. The spines on his tail were frayed outwards as he furiously ripped out wires and electronics.
The survey continued. “Question Four: Would you recommend the GES program to any future travelers? Say yes or no.”
“NO!” Grivo yelled, “Take the controls, pull the thruster back and pull up on the wheel!”
The windows and towers were now flying by as the ship hurtled into the city at a blistering speed. Lynda shook away confusion and jumped the center console, grasping the controls with white knuckles and pulling back as far as they would go. The hanger was fast approaching in the main central tower.
The ship rocketed through traffic to the surprise of commuters on the skyway.
Red and blue lights began to flash in front of Grivo’s face as the wires hanging around him shook with the motions of the ship.
“Question five. Would you be willing to donate to the GES in order to reduce the cost of entry? Please say yes or no.”
Lynda closed her eyes and put her whole weight into pulling back on the wheel. Buildings and speeder cars were all around them as Grivo pulled out one last wire from the tangled underpannel. The ship groaned and shook as the craft suddenly hurtled upward at fantastic speed. Lynda held fast to the controls as they shook in her hands. The hanger building loomed in front of them and in a split reaction, Lynda twisted the wheel around. Dampers opened all around the ship and the thrusters dimmed as the craft corkscrewed away from the tower, spinning with velocity out over the city and into the sky. Grivo was flung from under the dash, past Lynda, and into the ceiling.
Lynda pulled back on the throttle and straightened out the ship’s course before letting out a deep sigh. The ship drove high above the metropolis and slowed to a safe and quiet speed.
Lynda crumpled over the dashboard and breathed heavy, the sweat beading on her neck and face.
“We made it.” she said
Grivo let out a manic laugh. Lynda looked back to see him dangling from the ceiling, the spines on his tail stuck into the upholstery.
The automated woman on the comlink returned:
“This concludes the Ganymede entry protocol service. Thank you and enjoy your stay here on Ganymede.”