Saturday, March 4, 2017

Star Trader Update - Academy Brats - 020.10

“I hate to nag, but if you guys don’t put a move on, we are going to have uninvited company on the bridge very soon!”

All night long we’d been listening to the criminals digging below Ma-rye-a in an effort to get to the broken gun turret and into the ship. They were here now and prying at the make-shift plate Drake and I bolted across the opening. There was enough of a gap that we could hear their voices drift up as they strained and cursed. I could make out at least six distinctive possible intruders. Far more then I was willing to deal with the kids aboard. I wanted out of here.

Sam, with the aid of Callen’s hands, had been working all night to get the power back up. “Get the engines back up,” had become my manta over the last few hours. If we could just harness hovering power it would be enough, although full-out thrusters would be my preference. I really wanted to get the Hell Out!

Whatever Callen had done to Ma-rye-a, thinking he was only jazzing up the Speedster program, had fried a lot of her circuits. Sam was talking Callen through the repairs and on occasion he had worked with Mims when Callen needed a break. The kids were fully capable and I wanted to keep my head up and not find myself laying under a control panel when the bad guys finally broke through.

The make-shift bulkhead gave a squeal as it popped one of its rivets.

“Captain…” Drake sat up straighter and put a tense hand on the trigger of his tri-pod mounted gun.

“Guys…” I pleaded to Sam and Callen. Over my shoulder the rising sun was visible through the viewport. They had been at this all night.

We all heard the engines kick in just as I was reaching the panic point, and collectively we all let out a sigh of relief.

“You’re on manual for the moment,” Sam informed me as Callen came out from under the control panel. “I am going to log off for now to save power until the system is fully stabilized. Ma-rye-a will do a full diagnostic in the background and reboot all of us once the power grid is stable. You need to get the ship out of here.”

He didn’t have to tell me twice. “Take your seats, ladies and gentlemen. This may be a bumpy right.”

Drake dragged his gun over to one of the jump seats in the wall and strapped himself in with his gun still pointed toward the place the criminals were trying to access.

Callen took the seat beside him and I was pleased to see Drake extend a hand of congratulations for a job well done.

Mims and Tiff actually buckled up together in the co-pilot’s seat.

Ma-rye-a had her nose driven into the hillside. I threw the thrusters into reverse. That would most likely do away with the threat below us. They dug their tunnel in from the rear of the ship.

I heard screams as Ma-rye-a shifted backward with a jerk. There must have been a lot of debris on her starboard side. I heard it grind and crash, rocks rolling down her outer bulkhead. But, she was stuck.

Using alternate pulses of the thrusters, I rocked her from side to side. We heard more screaming, but of human voices and of metal against rock. Finally, the hillside gave up the death-grip it had on her and we moved out slowly at first.

I did a full circle so I could see the threat we were leaving behind and the damage I had done. There was what looked like a rockslide at the base of the hillside. Boulders and stones were still settling. The men digging must have been lined up in the tunnel, because some of them had escaped and were gesturing at us with angry fists. A shiver ran over me. I assumed the rest were buried alive. I turned Ma-rye-a around and pointed her away from the scene.

“I’m going to stay low, beneath the drone’s scans,” I told the kids. “Help me keep an eye out for a place to land where we are high enough up to be seen and not be easily molested.”

My passengers all glued their eyes on the view out the front port.

We flew for perhaps half an hour. I hugged the curve of the mountain range in order to mask our movement to the drones. I was not going to get shot down a second time.

“There!” Tiff said and pointed out the viewport. “That plateau.”

Sure enough, she spotted a flat area on the sunny side of the mountain range. It was almost the perfect place to remain safe. The cliffs leading up to it were shear and would not be easily climbed by the criminal element on the planet, and the peaks high above were snow covered. So, there would be no descent from above. If, or should I be more positive and say ‘When’, the Galactic Forces came to look for us, they would have no trouble spotting us. We could even climb up on Ma-rye-a’s roof and paint a huge red ‘X’ on her.

The only drawback I could see was that there would be no hunting up here when we ran out of food. We would have to take the pod and go down into the valley. Doing that would be risky, but for now we had enough food and a safe haven at last.

I maneuvered the ship in and put her down without a hitch.

The kids all bustled out of their seats and stood around congratulating each other. You could feel the relief and the tension melt away.

I smiled and raised my voice above the others. “Let’s have some breakfast and then we can go out and explore our new landing pad.”

I didn’t have to ask them twice. Adrenaline will do that to you. Gives you a big appetite for food and sex. I smiled as I followed the kids down the hall. I would have to keep an eye on Drake and Mims even if she had been angry at him earlier.

As I walked by Drake’s room I saw a flash of red out the window. It just caught my eye. Thinking back, I remember my mind crediting it to one of those bi-winged, two tailed birds I saw in the valley. I should have thought about it more. They most likely wouldn’t have been up that high in the mountain range.

But then again, who would have thought that the leader of the criminal gang, in his red poncho, would have had the courage to hold on to the gun mount in the turret and sail with us to our new location. Hindsight is such a nasty thing when it finally raises its ugly head.

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