Red Dawn II

(Edit- For info on the "codes", read through ElGuapo's "Darkest Hour, ch 1-2" post. Hope you don't mind my plagiarism 😄 )

Red Dawn, Part Two

"You have a choice to make here, James"
He's standing on the ruined bridge of his carrier, the metals protecting him from furious space torn like so much foil. Further along, the battle is suspended. Or is it that every last contender is dead, listing forever in what has become the largest graveyard?
"The time is now, sir, you must make a decision"
He looked around. Who was talking? The bridge was bare, infinite vacuum above and to his sides. Slowly, robotically, unknowingly, he responded. Looking up, down, and towards the distant fleets, his voice mouthed
"What is this?"

Everything exploded. "What the hell is going on?", I screamed. Or thought. In any case, my eyes were filled with a myriad of colors and shapes. Something was tugging on my leg, or maybe my leg was tugging on something. Someone struggled, and made a gurgling noise to my right, or below me. I looked towards the source, and could make out a figure slumped in a chair beyond a thick smoke
Smoke, I knew one thing to do with smoke. I was on the floor, so I hauled one arm up over the other and grabbed a chair I couldn't feel, although the stabbing in my shoulder was far too apparent. I struggled up into the chair. One leg and then, painfully, my torso. My lungs burned, my skin itched, and my bones were molten ingots
"Top Center", I reminded myself. "Top center, top center, top center!” I slammed my body down into the console to inspect the buttons. One especially was screaming red and white. "Emergency flush...if ever..". I reached my left arm up to the screen, and landed a broken jumble of fingers and palm onto the screen.

"Spacedock, this is Condor One. We have positive visual with the Firehand and Red Dawn. Red Dawn is Code 3. The engines are gone, and she's drifting. Requesting heavy salvage, immediately."
From the set of headphones, a man's voice spoke sharply:
"Very well, Condor. Salvage team is en route. What of the Firehand?"
"Code 3. Attempting hail"
The pilot's heavily gloved handed impressed a button on his controls. Meanwhile, his wingmen broke off to pursue a flight of escape pods jettisoning from the Red Dawn.
"Patrol Boat 102, this is Condor One. Can you hear me?"
Silence. Worse than static.
"I repeat, Firehand. James K'Chero, captain of the Firehand, this is Condor One of Spacedock. Can you hear me?"
Again, the gloved hand switched frequencies.
"Negative on hailing, sir. I'm bringing my ship in closer."
Those heavy black gloves work wonders with the built in thruster control, and the anaconda was soon positioned in front of the Firehand's cockpit. The running lights were still on, that's a check for power generation. The pilot and copilot, were slumping in their chairs, another crewman lay prone in the hallway. Artificial gravity is good. That's it. The glove switched to the intercom.
"Spacedock, I'm declaring a Code 5 for the Firehand. Life signs are negative, power and grav are good. Requesting assistance ASAP. Repeat, Firehand is a Code 5."

The foremost requirement for a Federation Pilot is the ability to withstand fear of great heights. However, clutching to a pillar support for the Kane Belt is going far beyond what is called for. James is scared.
"Is this where you want to be?"
Where is that voice coming from? His footholds are tenuous, and there is nothing to stop him from falling except that huge chunk of stone and water beneath. The voice became stressed.
"Answer me, dam nit! Why can't you decide?"
Clouds below him, dark blue sky above. The only chance is to try and climb down. It's a very long way down, and there isn't much to get a foothold with beneath him. Of a sudden, the support begins to tremble and shake. As James is tossed from the pillar like an errant grain of sand, klaxons begin to sound, and the band above begins to sag, and come apart at the seams

But the klaxons still ring in his ears. His ears? My ears, those are my ears that the klaxons sound in. Or am I still dreaming? Because it looks like the angel of death is in front of my cockpit, come to embrace me. Wait, I see. It's the anaconda from Spacedock. I'll just stand up to get his attention.
Looking up at the ceiling, that may not have been the best idea. My whole body is in agony as I grasp for breath, my ribcage hinging exactly the way a ribcage should not. If I could just go to sleep..
There are nine other people on this boat, if I'm lucky. I need to lift this arm, and I need to grab that chair. Anything else is unacceptable; I wouldn't have it any other way from my crew.
Muscles tearing, will close to breaking, I just barely pull myself into the seat again. The pilot of the anaconda was still sitting there, speaking to someone. I met his eyes, and he waved to me. He turned around, flew off a few meters, and turned back. What?
Right, protocol. I look down; the whole console is lit, with more than a few patches of blood. I nudge my hand over to the throttle, and tell the engines to begin a low thrust. The boat shakes, and small metal things keep hitting the floor as the lights dim down. The anaconda slips to the right, no, the Firehand is drifting to the left. Drifting to the left, because my leg is leaning against the controls. When I get my leg into position, the ship straightened course.
The Anaconda wiggled his wings, and matched my speed as he turned to guide me in the direction of Spacedock. Keeping the Firehand under control is the hardest thing to do with one operating arm to control tonnes of junk with a rocket at the end, but I manage to keep myself awake by listening to the ship pop and shake every few moments.
This moment was different, as nothing popped, shook, or creaked. Instead, something exploded, and then something whirred down. As I wondered what it was, I realized that only the loss of a horizontal stabilizer could result in the ship to begin corkscrewing.
Fighter up. Fighter down. Fighter up, Fighter down. Focus on the fighter. Spacedock is still a way off. I'll have to start buckling in now, like Yuri did, the smart bastard.
Nothing. Out Cold.
Crap. I can't save him and the ship.
Fighter up, Fighter down. Fighter with orange lights. White lights. Orange, white, Orange, white, Orange, white. Yellow salvage ships silently slip by, going the other way, like these two coming up will do.
Will someone tell those two that if they want to catch the Red Dawn, they shouldn't slow down? Wait, if they're matching my speed....but, I don't need help right now. If they latch on while I'm at this velocity, then
Thrown against the far wall, I can't help but curse those jackass port lackeys. I could have made it into Spacedock myself. "Screw them", I thought. "My head is pounding", was my next thought, seeing as how I just got thrown around. My lungs still burn, even as I hear the hull being cut away, and I might be able to hear the oxygen being pumped in, if my ears hadn't begun to pop. I've got to get back up to the chair, but..if only I could to sleep.

"Salvage Bravo One to Spacedock, we have latched to the Firehand, and are proceeding post-haste to Dock Fourteen. Get an Emergency team ready, She is pretty beat up"
The beat up speaker crackled back: "Roger, Bravo. ERT is standing by, you just worry about getting the Firehand home."

It must have been quite a site for anyone in the area as the yellow salvage ships brought the Firehand to dock. Their huge bulk grippers embraced the length of the patrol boat, their engines firing with all the fury possible. Yellow and white lights flashed through the abyss between them and Spacedock. The Anaconda escort broke off from the group, reversing course to rejoin his flight.
As Spacedock's face loomed larger and larger, the salvage vehicles finally began to slow down. The engines on the boat were still burning hot, though. Together, the vehicles raised the pale-blue boat to just above the hangar doors, then downward again to angle James in for a near-proper landing. Yellow, then red lights began to flash from the outside in as the station prepared to receive it's wounded comrade. The salvagers unlatched themselves and veered off on either side, returning to life as usual.
The Firehand was alone, now, drifting towards the hangar. Warning lights began to reflect from her skin as the full scope of the damage was seen. Where once was a bank of rocket launchers in the belly was replaced by nothing more than hanging wires and a gaping hole. The hull was scorched and dented, like some child's cheap toy.
Slowly, and as gracefully as possible, the Firehand slowly passed through the shield holding at bay the appetite of space, slightly beginning to corkscrew. With the introduction of oxygen to the volatile gases spraying from numerous holes, flames began to erupt towards the rear of the vessel. With the introduction of artificial gravity, the boat's engines lost their last, tenuous hold on life, and shut down with an unhealthy amount of smoke.
The emergency response team watched as the Firehand, slightly on a bank, drifted into the hanger, and just as quickly slammed it's full mass onto the deck, throwing a few men's legs from beneath them. Game time. After years of training, each man went to his assigned position. Six ran to the fire suppression systems and began to smother the engines in an enormous sheath of foam. Still, two teams of three began to cut furiously through doors that had become twisted and useless.
As Medical teams rushed in, emergency ducts switched into operation to swiftly remove the acrid smoke. Every man went in with two long sticks, and all seven men came out with a man or woman lying in several states of consciousness on a shimmering blue-green stretcher. As the last crew was out of the bay, the fire team reacted. Realizing a lost cause, they dropped their equipment and booked it to the doorways as fast as possible. Watching from above, the dock master slammed down on the controls as the last man sprinted through the open doorway.
An explosion rocked the midsection of Spacedock, and viewers with the right amount of luck were able to look out their windows were able to see the doors to Dock Fourteen jettison themselves from the station, with a patrol boat following close behind. The boat began to tumble front to aft. Those with enough patience and some powerful binoculars were able to watch as a small pop of flame in the atmosphere of New Babylon marked the passage of the Firehand.

This post has been edited by Dr Funk : 10 June 2005 - 05:36 PM

Very, very nice. The first two paragraphs were a little unfocused. Not sure how they latch on to the rest of the story, but the rest was excellent work. I still half expect you to jump out and say "ha ha, I'm actually UE_Research&Development, or Bomb, or Andiyar," or any of half a dozen other members of the old guard. 🙂

Really, it's that good. You've got an understanding of how informal technology is.


Thanks for the compliments, ElGuapo. I've had the first two sections of the story running through my mind for the last few weeks, and I'm still deciding where to take it with part three. I'll try to help resolve what the dreams are in part three, probably four. Thanks again.