Random Short #15: A Way Out

Hello internets!  It’s been a while, hasn’t it?  Well, at least it’s been a while since I posted something here.

College has gotten, as usual, crazy hectic and who knows how much more hectic it will get in the coming months as I try to find the motivation to sit and study up.  I figure I’ll get through it somehow, I always seem to.  But, that’s not why I’m here.  I just wanted to write a short update and give a taste of what’s been going through my head lately.  I’ve really been itching to get back to writing, but it seems like forever since I did anything writing related, so I’m feeling real rusty.  At the same time though, I did take the time to try and scrape off the layer of rust and finish up the last few chapters of the next book after Star Catcher.  I think I’ve called it a sequel in the past, but it’s really just a new story unto itself.

So, I got that finished up and now it’s time to start editing it.  I’ll have more to say on that later, but at the same time, I’m trying to get my mind back into novel planning mode, which I’m finding really hard.  I keep coming up with ideas and having no where for them to go, no good way to fit them into a coherent story.  I think I just need to sit down and start writing again.  So, I did!  And below is the result.  It’s not a beginning, it’s not an end, it’s somewhere in the middle.  It takes play sometime after the sequel that I just finished up.  So let’s call it a scene from the sequel to the sequel.  That’s a lot of sequels.  Anyway, it’s a little out of context, so if you want some back-story, head on over to the shiny new E-book page and pick up copy of Star Catcher– available in paperback soon!  This follows the characters from it, so happy reading!

Cheers!

Jayko’s grip tightened on his pistol as scrunched his eyes shut.  The plasma burst hit close raining dirt over their cover in a sizzle of scorched earth.

“We can’t hold out like this for much longer!” shouted Violet from the broken cement wall a few feet away.

Jayko opened his eyes and glanced over to her position.  He kept his back pressed against his own piece of cement wall blocking him from the line of sight of the advancing aliens.  The hulking armored beasts were slowly advancing on their position.  The rest of Violet’s squad was doing it’s best to hold them off however they could.

“Someone make a hole!” shouted one of the squad tossing a grenade over the walls at the advancing line.

“Not going to help, look!  They’ve got air support incoming!” shouted someone else as one of the alien dropships roared overhead, heading for a landing zone farther off behind the advancing line.

“Damnit!  Get down!” called out Violet.

Jayko peeked up into the sky above them.  Through the gaps in the gray clouds blanketing the sky, he could see a large ship, nothing more than a small figure from his perspective, hanging just overhead surrounded by several smaller forms of the remaining alien ships.  It was the one he’d seen before in orbit.  It wasn’t of alien origin, but it hadn’t come to help them either.  He knew why it had come.  He’d seen what it had done up in orbit to the remnants of the fleet.  It had been a stroke of luck he’d been able to land on the planet and get to Violet’s squad to let them know about it.

Now however…

Damnit, think! he snapped at himself.  There’s got to be a way out of this.

He glanced up at the ship again.  The distortion of it’s FTL drives created a rippling effect around it.  No ship that large was supposed to descend down into the atmosphere.  It had to have some powerful FTL drives in it to be able to hang in such a low orbit just outside the atmosphere.

That’s it!  Gravity!  Jayko reached up and tapped the call button on the radio headset rapped around his ear.  “JayDee!  Come in!”

“I am here,” came back the response immediately.

“The crystal!  It gives off gravity waves on the plank scale, right?  If power was fed back into it, what effect would that have?”

A plasma shot sizzled through the air and Jayko winced, sinking lower behind his cover as JayDee responded.

“There is a seventy percent probability based upon data gathered from the artifact the crystal was taken the gravity waves would increase into a stable form.”

A mischievous grin lit up Jayko’s face.  “I’ll be right there!” he called back, taking his hand from his headset.  “Violet!” he called in her direction.

“What, Red!?” she shot back.

“Hold the fort!  I’ve got an idea that could get us out of here!”

“What in the hell are you thinking of, Red?!” she called out.

Jayko braced himself and raising his pistol.  He checked the charge.  “I just need to get to my fighter.  I have something that’ll help us out!”

“That’s thing’s got no weapons on it!  What’s it going to do?!”

“It’s just an idea.  Just cover me!”  Springing up from cover, he took aim and let loose several shots with his pistol.  They hit their mark instantly, the plasma rounds burning through the faceplates of the advancing aliens.

“Shit!” cried out Violet.  “Get him covering fire!” she ordered.

The rest of the squad popped up, firing away with their rifles.

Turning, Jayko kicked off from the rubble and started sprinting for all he was worth.  Keeping and eye behind him, he danced and dodged between cover as plasma fire tracked him.  Leaping over a section of wall at a dead run, he crashed through in the brush at the edge of the clearing they were fighting for.  Behind it lie the dropship that Violet’s people had come in on.  JayDee was assisting their injured combat engineer with repair it’s thruster gimbal, so Jayko was going to have to do this on his own. But it wasn’t going to be hard he figured.  Dashing past the dropship, he headed deeper into the brush where the scout fighter was hidden.

Shifting his weight, he dropped down sliding under it to a stop just under one of the access panels surrounding it’s fusion reactor.  Pulling on the handle, he popped the dented hull plate off and tossed it aside.  Reaching up in, past the other components, he wrapped his hand around the modified power converter sitting in one of the slots where a power cell would normal reside.  He pulled it out with a quick jerk of his arm.

There were a loud pop of electricity and it came away.  He dropped it quickly on the ground, blowing on his hand. The shielding around it was still hot.  He’d pushed it and the ship too hard on re-entry.  The fusion reactor itself hadn’t even had time to cool yet enough for him to effect any sort of repairs on it, but it was going to have to wait for now.  It had gotten him and JayDee down to the planet it could hang on a little longer.

Gingerly reaching up into the compartment again, he pulled the fuse from the slot.  If he was going to accomplish this he would need more power than the system was designed to handle.  And blowing a fuse now would not help the situation.  Tugging at the wire on either end of the fuse slot, he ripped it free from it’s housing.  Carefully he touched it, winding it together.  He would need a more permanent solution, but for now it would have to do.

Making sure it would stay, he grabbed the power converter casing and popped it open real quick.  The crystal inside shown a bright, luminescent green from it’s cradle within.  Nodding to himself, he closed the shielding around it and reached up, popping it back into place.  There was a bright blue spark and he withdrew his hand quickly.  Closing up the hull panel, he slid out from under the craft, and hopped up onto one of the wings, dropping into the open cockpit.  Pulling the handle overhead on it, he closed the canopy over him.

“JayDee?” he called, one hand to his ear as he brought up the scout fighter’s systems with the other.  Everything was in the green so far.

“Reporting,” said the bot.

“I need you to link with the ship and run some calculations for me.  I’m going to shunt power to the crystal and I need a resonant wave that will encompass the ship but not harm it.”

“Acknowledged,” replied the bot.  “Working.”

Jayko saw the small computer screen to his right light up and start to scroll through calculations rapidly.

“Increase power when ready,” came JayDee’s reply.

Jayko smiled as he touched the screen showing the power readings for each of the cells. The one containing the crystal was well beyond the safety limits for a normal power cell, but that was how it normally showed and it hadn’t changed yet.

Slowly he slid his finger on the power input to the cell and watched as the number started to climb.  A safety alarm started to trill on the console, but he silenced it quickly.  This was going to take all the power he could shunt from the remaining cells and the reactor.

At two hundred percent power, he glanced up, feeling the grip of the planet start to fade. His view outside the canopy of the surrounding brush was warped, as if he was looking out from the inside of a bubble.  Which was exactly what was happening.

A triumphant grin lit up his face and he grabbed the fighter’s controls, resting his feet on the control pedals.  Firing the small vertical maneuvering thrusters at the base of the wings, he felt the slender scout fighter lift off the ground.

Time to get everyone the hell out of here!

Firing the main thruster, he maneuvered the scout fighter through the tall brush, bringing it overhead.  Keeping thrust low so as not to overshoot his mark, he swung the craft around, coming in overhead of the squad.

He knew they would recognize the roar of his thrusters immediately.

Bringing the ship right overhead, he dropped down just meters over the cover where Violet’s squad was.

They scrambled to move from the downdraft kicking up dirt around them.  The aliens had turned their attention to his fighter for the moment.

Reaching up to his headset, he signaled JayDee.  “Give me a ten meter sphere please and then pulse the gravity wave outward.”

“Working,” replied JayDee.  “Ready when you are.”

Jayko nodded to himself, fixing his stare on the aliens outside the slowly expanding bubble.  “Do it.”

The large bubble warped violently suddenly and the gravity pulse shot outward almost instantaneously.  Wave kicked up anything in it’s path, leaving a massive impact circle on the ground at the edge of the bubble.  Cement walls crumbled.  And as it hit the advancing aliens, they were thrown back, their armor fracturing, crushed, their weapons exploding as they were destroyed by the overwhelming impact radiating outward to encompass the entire advancing force.

Jayko’s triumphant grin could not have been larger.  Held safely within the sphere, Violet and the rest of the squad watched in disbelief as the remains of the alien force fell before their eyes.

Over the dull roar of the scout ship’s vertical thrusters, he head a whoop of joy.  Then, Violet’s voice came over his headset.  “That’s one helluva trick, Red.”

He could head the awe in her voice.  He touched the headset, responding, “I aim to please.  Now let’s get the hell out of here before that ship in orbit tires to pick us off.”

“Agreed,” replied Violet.

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