The moment we'd been handed the mission, I knew it wouldn’t end well. Sure, I could understand why President Kane would be anxious about the strange large orbital array the Spectrans were building around a nondescript red dwarf near the Crab Nebula. People tended to get anxious about anything the Spectrans did. But between the isolation, and the flimsy construction which meant there was no way of transporting it anywhere, I just couldn't see why it warranted a dangerous mission into deep enemy territory.
Nope, no power to the cockpit, although the engines themselves looked intact. Inspecting more closely, I found the power cables running from the cockpit to the rear of the ship had eaten themselves.
So, back to Lieutenant Ninatchi's bird it was. While the front portion of his ship had been blown away, the engine compartment was still intact and had power. A little hot-wiring of the system might allow me to jump.
Mindful of my dwindling oxygen supply, I poke around a little more, finding that the small sensor system 'black box' recording module looking none the worse for wear. I grabbed it. Heck, if I got out of this I wanted something to show for it.
A backpack labeled “Terrestrial Survival Pack” would be of no use, but an included emergency beacon might. Not seeing anything else, I stuffed the Black Box into the backpack and turn to head for Ninatchi's ship. Looking back I found the brown-red sun partially blocked out by the familiar black shape of a Spectra Night Raider.
The Raider came to a stop near Ninatchi's ship and fired two missiles, quickly followed by the other two ships disappearing in ball explosions. The practical side of my head not in awe of the colorful fireworks reminded me that all that wonderfully sharp shrapnel would now be hurtling towards me. Despite knowing I was pretty much dead at this point, I inched my way to the other side of the ship to use it as protection.
The ship lurched, and only grabbing a maintenance handle prevented me from drifting away from it. Strangely, the ship wasn’t drifting away from the explosions. As the nose of the Night Raider appeared overhead, I understood. They wanted a ship to look at, and they chose this one.
As the cargo bay doors of the Raider closed, an insane part of my mind came up with a desperate plan of survival and revenge. But what the heck!
Clamps grabbed the ship, and the weightlessness of space gave way to sudden gravity, causing myself and the debris cloud to drop to the bay floor. The next moment I was at the front airlock, and as I hoped, the doors opened easily into an airlock. Silently I thanked the designers that had decided that Spectra ships didn’t need elaborate internal security, only outer security.
After the airlock cycled I took off my helmet and grabbed the firearm on my utility belt. Leaving behind the survival pack with its precious Black Box, I moved quickly through the second airlock door into the main cockpit. The pilot didn't even flinch, but the engineer turned and saw me immediately.
I was the last thing he ever saw.
The pilot swiftly turned his chair around at the sound. Fortunately, the seat behind him absorbed the bullet instead of continuing through the cockpit window behind him.
Dragging the bodies into a corner, it then came time to decipher the controls. Fortunately only the jump system itself presented any problems. Streaking stars outside the window told me that I hit the correct activation sequence. Unfortunately, I wasn't strapped in, and I ended up flying to the rear of the cockpit along with the Spectran bodies as the ship engaged its engines.
After what felt like forever, the stars returned to normal, and I dropped to the floor, much to the annoyance of the bruises I'd previously obtained. Opening up the airlock and retrieving the items I'd left behind, I moved back to the pilot’s chair. A small part of me had worried that the jump system would default and take me to the Raider’s home base. A quick look at the navigational map proved that wrong.
Sirius. Definitely friendly territory.
With a smile I pulled the emergency beacon out of the survival pack and activated it. Then came the job of shutting down the ship.
It didn't take long for a small fleet of Galaxy Patrol ships to respond. "Spectran Night Raider, stand down or be destroyed."
My heart lifted to hear a familiar voice. Activating the short range communication system I answered, "Captain Brosht, can't you read your sensors? It's already shut down! I wasn't about to escape only to be blown up by my side!"
For a moment the radio was silent and then an incredulous Captain Brosht asked, "Lieutenant McKinney?"
"You got it. The ship is under my control. Can you provide me with a tow? I don't trust myself to land this thing safely without damage."
Captain Brosht laughed, "A tow is on the way. Keep the systems shut off, or the guys here will have the sad duty of blowing your cute little hiney into space dust. Welcome back, girl."
Laughing in relief, I sat back. Knowing the debriefings and reports that would soon follow, I might as well enjoy the short rest.
This was inspired by the BotP Idea Generator with the following prompts:
A portion of the story is set in a vehicle.
The story contains an interlude with a wish of revenge.
The Story involves a nebula.
Someone avoids a transformation.
The story may incorporate a/n anxious President.