Author : Brian T. Carter
Baritone, protesting groans shudder through the cramped cabin as the shuttle strains against the upper atmosphere’s turbulence. Simon braces himself against the console wondering if he sent the distress call before he set the self-destruct. A rush of white, dense mist engulfs his view out the broad windshield as water drops streak up its surface obscuring his trajectory even more…as if he actually had a planned descent. Getting to the shuttle and off his foundering scout ship was his only concern three whole minutes ago. A heading, besides simply planet-bound, hadn’t broached the immediacy of the situation until now, when he can’t see anything beyond the claustrophobic, gray-white shroud around him. Of course sensors are barely functional probably due to the low position on the maintenance list the escape shuttle occupied.
An expanse of green rolling geography erupts into view as the shuttle plummets out of the cloud cover. “Oh SHI….!” Simon exclaims engaging the breaking thrusters slowing the plunge into the forest below. A peripheral flash of orange draws Simon’s attention and a furrowed brow out the front of the craft as a second pulse breaches the air ahead of him. A percussion radiates from the rear of the craft. Simon’s surroundings are thrown forward then back against the chair as the cabin is sent into a gyre, the view outside reeling into blurred streaks.
He wrenches to dislodge an arm from the intensifying mass bearing down on his body. His fingers in arthritic spasm claw a path along the chair’s arm gaining ground towards the console and survival. Blackness encroaches from the the periphery of his vision. “Argh!” he screams protesting the physical forces against him. His foundering consciousness focuses on the hand willing his outstretched fingers to their target. They gain a hold, pull themselves up along the console pounding frantically on section he prays the stabilizers are located.
The weight reluctantly lifts from his body, blackness recedes from his vision, exhausted muscles collapse deeper into the chair as chaotic thuds begin rumbling through the floor. Simon glances sidelong through the front. A solid jolt from below bounds the view upward displaying the overcast sky and a fleeting glance of a dark shape emerging from the low lying clouds.
Gravity’s hand takes hold dragging the front down, a headlong dive into an immense bark covered trunk. The impact slams Simon into the console. His surroundings pivot from the rear as another wrenching collision thrusts him back into the chair. The sense that he’s the ball in a game of keep away between the forest and the ground passes through his mind. The cabin lurches again, as the front window implodes and he’s engulfed in a flurry of needled roughage, accosted by pine scent. The ship tilts and drops, the branch pulls away delivering a solid fleeing smack across the ridge of Simon’s nose. Gravity exerts itself once more leveling the interior and Simon’s senses as the ground wins the game. Waves ripple through the craft sending protest screams throughout its punished structure.
Simon inspects his broken nose in a remnant of the shattered windshield as a stuttered, metallic thunder crowds the short-lived tranquility of the forested floor. He drops to his knees as a battered I-beam shaped ship shears the tree tops above, its engines’ sputterings pounding the air around him. Simon checks his pistol’s power cell, holsters it and bounds off through the trees in the direction of the ship noting he now has two against which reprisal will be exacted, those who attacked his scout ship and the tree that busted his nose.
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