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The spaceship hit the atmosphere with a clang.

"That's odd," said First Mate Bishop, "ships don't usually clang at this high a velocity."

He glanced at the readouts on his glowing control pod and frowned. Something was wrong, and though he didn't know what that thing was it was a big important thing, and it wasn't good. Not good at all.

"Captain, something's wrong."

Capt. Drake Belleweather looked at his First Mate with a mix of annoyance and calm. Belleweather was almost always annoyingly calm, which mostly accounts for his rise through the ranks of the Imperium. It certainly wasn't because he knew what he was doing; mostly he just winged it.

"Yes, I heard the clang. Most unusual that clang. I don't recall ever hearing a clang like that before. Get me engineering. They know about clangs and things, one imagines."

Engineering, which on the I.S. Confident consisted of one human, Lt. Carothers, and one robot, General Robotics Engineer Mark V, was well versed in any number of spacefaring related noises. Bangs, wizzles, zaps, sproongs, whispers of air escaping a once airtight space were noise in their repertoire. Clangs not so much.

When the whistle denoting an incoming message from the captain sounded Engineering knew what to do. Carothers answered the call.

"Carothers here."

"Carothers, tell me what the hell that clang was. We're rapidly approaching the planet surface."

"Ahh, yes, Capt. You heard that too? I thought it might have been Ned's servos grinding again."

"Who the hell is Ned?"