added to the story
The following story is not finished by a long shot. I decided to hang it out on a public clothes line and see what the wind brings to the process. When finished the editing will begin after a week or so. The character will, I believe, meet a intelligent species with an unusual outlook on the universe.
xz1home. I had traveled 3.2 light years to zx1 an oxygen rich planet at just under the speed of light. The mission was to orbit the planet, take readings and photographing the surface and return to earth with a report as to the viability of zx1 becoming the first colonized planet with another three year trip back home.
Long before finishing enough orbits to be in a position to start the return trip I encountered trouble thus ending the mission and forcing my ship, aptly named MISSION ZX1, into a glide path to the planets surface. The trouble arose with an orbit the was way to low, this was not the final straw that came when I realized that all propulsion systems had failed thus not allowing an opportunity to regain a proper stable orbit. Fortunately there were enough visual and scientific readings to confirm there was a livable surface and that was about all I knew.
AS to zx1, the planets circumference was 23250 miles as opposed to Earths 25000 miles. This was good in that gravity was a little less and since my mode of exploration was on foot I figured that foot blisters ought to be at a minimum. The planet had two oceans or rather shallow seas covering app. one half of the surface, a forest that circled the equator in a 400 mile wide swath with the rest of the land covered with several mountain ranges The seas occupying the surface on the north and south side of the planet. Between the forests and seas the land varied with large areas of grasslands, and heard's of grazing animals. The rest of the discovery's would be on foot.
The ship dispatched a satellite out into space in a geostationary orbit around zx1 where it would start dispatching message's back to Earth explaining the situation out here that basically said 'HELP!' The message would repeat 30 seconds a minute for a year or until there was a reply informing me of my future. I then settled back and worked out the approach I would take exploring this possible new world for human habitation once I landed safely. There was going to be at least a six year wait before any possibility of a rescue. I did not have any choice but to get out there and see what resources there were that would get me through several years of isolation. I had to step out onto the surface for a possibility of survival; I had seven years of supplies to keep me alive and well, not enough to comfortably set back and wait for a knock at the cabin door.
Space craft built on Earths moon did not have to be a specific shape for space travel so exploratory ships were built with the ability to glide to a surface landing in an emergency. Avoiding a crash landing the craft would brake to a given speed where it would then gain altitude and stall; that was when chutes would deploy for a decent to a hopefully soft landing. The drawback. The damn thing had no way to get back into space even if repairs could be effected. I now had, if cramped, a home for the next several years until a possible rescue while avoiding unknown troubles and disasters.
Before braving surface explorations I spent three weeks checking the ship for any further problems, supplies for living, equipment for exploration and figuring out how I was going to explore my surroundings. Probably the most valuable piece of equipment I had in the emergency stores was a four wheeler with a cab and truck bed. The mini truck possessed four wheel drive and independent suspension all around. Solar was the power source. There was also two spare tires a nice touch when the nearest service was 3.2 light years behind you.
By the third week I had everything I thought I would need for my first foray loaded into the truck. The airlock was just large enough for the truck and me. I drove it down the ramp at midmorning onto a savanna with widely spaced squat trees or bushes. My intention was to survey the land to the west the first day and then the north the next day. I would continue around in this manner until I had a good idea as to the direction I would finally pursue. I did have a general map of the planet from orbit but I wanted a good feel of the place before I headed off into the unknown. The final decision was to head north from the savanna towards the forests.
I would supplely the first camp with as much supplies as I thought I would need; this took two weeks. Much of the supplies were taken up with survival supplies such as a weapon for hunting, water purification, knives, fishing equipment, super light but strong tents, other items one would find around the kitchen at home.