Tuesday, June 30, 2009


It hurt to open his eyes. He muttered and tried to paw at his stinging eyes, but his gloves scrubbed at his helmet visor.

Gloves ... helmet ... visor.... He was in his battle-suit. He must be in his Droidship—

Matt Channing forced his eyelids open and blinked them clear. Stars burned outside the viewports. He knew their positions: Delcro Sector. The instrument panel was in front of him but skewed at an odd angle. By reflex he cross-checked his instruments. Nav down. Com up. Power A down, Power B down, Back-up Power at 60 percent—what the hell is going on?

The cockpit wasn't skewed, he discovered; he was. He was floating within his shock harness and the whole cabin was oriented to the right and down.

No gravity... They were drifting. Must have been a hell of a fight—Sam!

Sam should have said something by now. Almost in a panic, Matt keyed the com and spoke: "Sam?"

No answer. "Sam? Sam ol' buddy, come on."

Matt winced as the ear buds crackled. "Skinny Minute, this is Bravo Flight; come in. Skinny Minute, do you copy?"

Matt cleared his throat and flipped over to Tac channel. "Yeah, Bravo, this is Skinny Minute. We're dead in the water, I think my Brain is hurt and I don't know about me yet."

"Skinny Minute we are in-bound 83 and up from where you are. ETA is 20 minutes."

"Copy Bravo Flight." Matt began pushing in circuit breakers. Some popped back out, but others stayed in, including some maintenance cameras. Muttering curses, Matt hunted for and found the circuit breakers he wanted. When he pushed them back in a screen lit up beside him. "That's better."

Matt grunted when he reached out for the joystick control; it hurt to move. "Come on, Sam..." he muttered. The camera slewed around, showing hull damage. Matt stopped swearing; it was bad hull damage, right in the middle.

"Aw, no..." he groaned. He switched cameras and brought this one to bear. It had a better angle and Matt could see...

Right into the hull chassis, through shredded and blasted plating and hull trusses. Right into the reinforced housing for Sam's shell. A shell cracked open by a direct hit. Skinny Minute's armor had absorbed most of the impact from the energy weapon, but enough bled through to shatter Sam's housing. A portion had fallen away and a small leg and foot dangled in the vacuum.

Matt had to look away. The leg and foot were like sticks, really. So small and frail.... Matt's eyes burned anew, this time with unshed tears. He was supposed to protect his partner. He was supposed to....

Time was no mercy. The minutes were hours. Matt answered the radio hails with mostly one-word responses. He just drifted. The stars were bright. With the enviro systems out, the cabin grew cold. The chill seeped into his battle-suit. Matt never felt so alone in his life.

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