He pulled with all his might on the stick, and he could feel the craft begin to level off...or, at least, not plummet quite so crazily toward the landmass growing ever-larger in his view screen. Populated areas appeared fairly small and scattered about; there was plenty of green to aim for a landing. He figured that he needed an area at least five times the diameter of his ship to put it down safely. Was that evidence of agriculture on the horizon? That might work....
Still too fast.
His options were dwindling. Eject? No. Too close to the small population center now presenting itself on the edge of the agricultural area. A good pilot, and he was a good pilot, would never punch out and let his craft plunge, uncontrolled, into innocent victims. It was time to ride it out, for better or worse.
Impact alarms sounded in his ears, an unnecessary reminder of what was about to happen. At the last instant, he released the stick and covered his face with his hands, anticipating the worst.
His craft struck the ground hard, but flat, tearing a furrow through the tall, green vegetation as its speed dissipated. As it came to a stop, after what seemed like an eternity but was only a few heartbeats, he dropped his hands away from his face. He was alive, and with only a few bumps and bruises as souvenirs of his crash landing.
The ship was another matter. It would be a total loss, definitely not space-worthy anymore. Getting home was going to be difficult.
He worked quickly to extricate himself from the wreckage. Standing atop the remains of his craft, he could see that he had landed almost exactly in the middle of the field for which he had aimed.
Tall stalks, bristling with seeds, surrounded him and his craft. The vegetation was taller than he was, but it was perfect for his next task. Using a dislodged support beam from his craft, he began to flatten the vegetation around him in an ever-widening circular pattern. It was the distress signal his people always used, and it would be visible from a great height.
He made his way to the edge of the field and sat down on the flat ground. Rescue would, hopefully, come soon.