3-14: Downer

“Enough of this,” Laurie growled and pulled the restraints over her shoulders. “Scorch, get below and get in the turret. Bartender, you’re gunning up here.”

“Are you sure this is the best idea?” he asked as he strapped in next to her. “They look pretty well-armed.”

“They don’t seem particularly open to negotiation.” She throttled forward, accelerating towards the fighters. They reacted by moving into a tight formation, steering vanes shifting and giving off small plumes.

“They sure can move,” The Bartender observed.

“Try shooting them,” she said through clenched teeth as she brought them into range. “This thing sure can’t,” she said, under her breath as she wrestled with the controls of the Dead Corps ship.

Laser fire leapt from the chin, under the cockpit, as well as the dorsal turret which Scorch occupied. It hit one of the fighters, sending several of the thin vanes off into space. The other ship sped away from it, flanking their ship. It pivoted, firing as it remained facing them. The hull pinged as lasers spattered the hull.

Laurie swore. “Scorch, you want to take care of him?” She rotated the ship to give Scorch a clearer shot, while trying to keep the Bartender sighted in other ship. It sped directly toward them, laserfire pouring from it, tearing into the belly of the ship. The Bartender fired back, finding the main generator. The ship exploded spectacularly, shrapnel still speeding towards them.

“Not good,” she said, nosing down hard.

She wasn’t fast enough. A large piece of the destroyed ship found one of the engines, passing clear through it. It sputtered, made a choking noise that reverberated through the hull, and then detonated. The ship spun sickeningly, spiraling towards the planet.

Laurie clenched her jaw, trying to gain control over the ship with the one good engine. She managed to stop it from tumbling just as they hit the atmosphere. The cockpit glowed red as they descended, far too fast, and warnings blared as the heat shield began to fail.

She gritted her teeth, now in contest with the gravity pulling them down, the friction from the atmosphere trying to incinerate them, and the lack of control on one side of the ship. She fired the one good engine, trying to turn the ship so the engine would fire into the descent, and slow them enough.

The Bartender glanced at her nervously, but she paid him no mind. The ship was turning, but painfully slowly. She hoped there was no weakness in the hull, or they would be torn open by the heat. She watched the altimeter tick down, the falling numbers a blur.

The bartender again looked at her. “We can detach the cockpit and bail out.”

“We’ll loose the ship.”

“We might be going down with the ship.”

“Scorch, get up here,” she shouted. “We need to do it now if we’re going to. But a burn should slow us enough.”

“Do you trust our lives to ‘should’?”

 

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