Random Short! #9: Jayko’s Re-Entry

This is something I wrote back a while before I had started Star Catcher, and I thought I should edit it to bring it up to date.  I used to write scenes like this with Jayko in them all the time way back when.  So, here you go, enjoy!

The large, boxy freighter dropped from FTL trailing a swirl of ionized particles. It broadcast no telemetry and made no attempt to contact the planet it had appeared in orbit around, rocketing into orbit. Its twin rows of thrusters flared a blue-white as the reactor went critical.

Suddenly a massive explosion erupted from its port side and the freighter veered off course, toward the blue and green planet below. The lone pilot sitting at the controls of the dying ship let the gravity of the planet, take control, bringing it onto a crash course.

Another explosion rocked the freighter, but its pilot held tight to the ship’s controls, keeping it on course. He reached over and flipped a switch on a panel to his left, activating what was left of the freighter’s heat shielding.

Incoming and outgoing starships dodged away from the freighter as it descended toward the planet, picking up speed.

To the right of the pilot, a speaker on the communications console crackled with interference as the planetary flight control tried to establish a connection. A voice came through, barely audible over the static, “Unidentified freighter, you are on a crash course! Pull up! Repeat, you are on a crash course! Pull up!”

Reaching over, the pilot hit the switch to reply putting him on open mic. “Can’t do that, the maneuvering thrusters are all I have currently and the reactor’s just about critical. I’m coming in for a hot landing, so I suggest you clear a strip,” the pilot called back calmly as if he had everything in control.

The flight control’s response was lost in another explosion as the freighter hit the outer layer of the planet’s atmosphere, skimming off it before plunging in with a violent shudder.

Heat started to build up over the freighter’s heat shields, burning through them to the hull underneath. A fiery explosion ripped through the crew quarters behind the small bridge, taking pieces of the ship with it. The communications array above the bridge’s viewport disintegrated within seconds under the intensity of the fire surrounding the ship. From deeper inside there was a rumble and then the sound of twisting metal echoed through the bridge.

With another explosion several of the thrusters ripped free flying off into the trail of smoke and fire coming off the freighter. Still it continued picking up speed.

With a shriek of twisting metal, the starboard crew section ripped free of the superstructure. Smaller pieces of hull flew off the ship ripped apart like tissue paper. One by one, exposed support girders were ripped from the freighter’s belly and sides. More and more of the ship collapsed and was torn free.

Casually the pilot ignored the warning lights that lit up all the consoles around him and flicked several switches up by his head, locking down the bridge and closing off other sections that were still barely intact. Then, he gripped the controls in an attempt to keep what was left of the ship steady as it streaked through the sky.

The fireball plunged through the last cloud layer and suddenly there was no more sky. The ground came rushing toward the viewport at a sickening angle. What was left of the belly of the ship hit the paved landing strip and the mangled skeleton of metal that had been the freighter skidded and bounced back into the air for a thirty meters before it came crashing down again. It started to skid out of control, and the pilot, who had been calmly hanging onto the controls, trying to keep the ship steady, knew it was time to leave.

Taking one hand off the violently shuttering controls, he reached down beside the pilot’s couch and firmly pulled up a lever beside him. A large panel of hull above his head blew away. He released the ship’s controls and his seat shot up through the hole and out into the air. The remains of the ship roared past under him on its way to the end of the landing strip. The ejected seat reached its maximum height and started to head back down.

Pulling on a cord he gripped in his hand, he unfurled a parachute on the back of the seat. Air caught under it, and the pilot slowly started to descend to the pavement. Slapping the release on his restraints, the pilot grabbed a fist full of the parachute’s cords and pulled himself into a standing position on the chair, with one foot hanging off.

A medical van raced across the landing strip toward him, it’s emergency sirens wailing loudly. Farther along, small emergency vehicles were spraying fire foam all over the scorched wreck of the freighter. The van stopped near where he would land, and a medical crew scrambled out of it prepping to receive him.

The seat touched down and the pilot stepped onto the pavement, striding out from under the chute, before it settled over him. He walked past the team of medics who tried to usher him into the van to be checked out. They were at a loss for what to do when he walked around the van, ignoring them.

As the man passed the med-van, he gave a small smirk at the medic’s loss. His tall form was completely unscathed from the crash. He wore a red long-coat, that hung unbuttoned down below his knees and matched his pure red hair. A dark red shadow of stubble along his jaw showed the beginnings of a beard. He opened one side of his coat, revealing a large silver pistol strapped to his belt, and produced a tattered straw-hat, casually placing it on his head. On the back of his coat styled in gold around a skull-and-crossbones was the name Jayko Troven.


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