Finish That Thought – 2

Prompt: http://alissaleonard.blogspot.com/2013/07/finish-that-thought-2.html

“Watch out for that tree! Left!” I didn’t know who yelled or what they saw, but my job was to do, not to think, so I pushed the yoke hard left and narrowly missed the sequoia that had popped up in front of us. The branches rubbed against the side of the ‘copt, and there was a stomach-turning tearing noise as something came loose. Had to be one of the stabilizers, from the way the ‘copt bucked in my hands.

I tongued the mic on. “We’re going down! Find a spot!”

“There’s a spot, two point four klicks ahead. Not uninhabited, though!”

“They’d better duck!” We’d make it that far, but no further without some repairs, and I wasn’t going to risk the mission for some partially-evolved life-forms who’d discovered fire but still worshiped it.

The landing was rough on us, rougher on the straw hut we landed on, and roughest of all on the poor bastard who’d built it. I had to step over him, or what was left of him, to get to the stabilizer. As I did so, and saw what we’d done to him, I felt bad for a moment, and hoped that his fire gods had at least made it quick. I wouldn’t lose much sleep over him, given the number of creatures from all over the omniverse I’d seen killed, or killed myself, but …ah, there’s the stabilizer.

Just a snapped strut, thankfully. I called for assistance, and it wasn’t long before the ‘copt was up and running again. As long as we were on the ground, though, we took some samples and added them to the archive. Maybe the techs would find something useful in Old Squishy’s DNA.

We were late to the rendezvous point, and I got reamed for a bit by the mission commander, but his heart wasn’t really in it. He’d been sleepwalking through his job since the mission in the Narindra Cluster had been such a cluster…well, not of success, and he needed to step down. If he didn’t by the time we reached the next waypoint, I’d help him along to his permanent retirement, and I knew he’d be glad for the rest.

“Sandstorm! Sandstorm! Sandstorm!” The ‘copt had broken out of Between and into winds that were a hundred kph if they were one. The sand was peeling the paint off the ‘copt, and I was worried that our field repair on the stabilizer wouldn’t hold. Turned out, though, that wasn’t the biggest worry we had. We were pointed down, not sideways, and the ground was coming up awful fast.

“Mayday! Mayday!” I’d never radioed for help like that before, but we were flying blind, and I had no control of the ‘copt. I fought as much as I could, but we were going to hit something, and hard.

The speaker clicked on in my ears. “Sorry, but no. I know what you were planning, and I can’t have that.”

Guess he wasn’t asleep after all.

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