They wouldn't let an armed ship down on the surface, so they came up in a shuttle to get us. The damn thing must have been a hundred years old! I doubt the main drive could even manage a tenth of a gee without firing the plasma afterburners.
Something had died in the air reclamator. I refused the offer of a drink of water and strapped in for the landing. From my seat, I had a partial view of the fading control screen in front of the pilot. A good third of the status lights glowed amber, three were red. One whole side panel was dark; life support, the pasted label proclaimed. I checked my suit and mask, just in case.
On final approach, the plasma burners kicked in, as I'd guessed. Even so, we weren't pushing more than a Martian gee. My radiation sensor started to blink, just a shade of yellow creeping into the green. I wasn't sure whether that came from Jupiter's magnetic tsunami or from the reactor beneath my feet. Either way, the shielding was failing.
I peered over the pilot's shoulder to watch a viewscreen of Europa's surface. A fifty meter dome stood near a lonely observation tower. The scene grew closer, centering on the specks of civilization in the white and brown desolation. The dome pealed back in two layers, petals receding to expose a deep landing tunnel. It was about that time I realized the pilot was taking us in on manual. I tightened my belts.
-- Lt. Commander Walker Tsume, IMN, 30 July 2519
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