Archaea 2: Janis

Archaea 2: Janis by Dain White Read Free Book Online

Book: Archaea 2: Janis by Dain White Read Free Book Online
Authors: Dain White
strongpoint in the deck plate.
    “Captain, we have the grounder secure, looking inside now.” I said, though I was terrified to think of what I might find.
    The Archaea briefly shook enough to stagger us around a bit as Pauli and I worked our way up and across the grounder, looking through swirling clouds of dust lit by the loading lights into what was left of the interior.
    The interior of the grounder was scoured to bare metal, every part that could have been removed was either blasted off or missing. What remained was bare metal, wiring harness and other ragged bits of strap, brackets, and the plastiform seats in the rear compartment.
    The dust was deep, drifted all the way up to the top of the passenger side window, but as we looked down, Pauli burst into tears when we saw Shorty caked with dust clawing her way towards us.
    “Captain, we have her!”
    “Very well Gene, outstanding. Get her strapped in and get back on station. This isn't over folks, we need to haul mass immediately.”

Chapter 5
     
    After we cut off the binders and laid her on the bunk, I wiped the worst of the dust out of her eyes while Gene administered a sedative and made sure her crash bars were clamped down securely. She gave my hand a solid squeeze and smiled, as her eyes sagged shut.
    Gene and I shared a look across her, of relief and accomplishment, but as wrung out as we were, the day had just started. We both set off on a run back to our stations.
    “How does she look, Pauli?” the captain asked, as I dashed across the bridge deck for my station. The Archaea was coming back around downwind, shaking violently as I pulled around the crash bars and fought to get them secured.
    “She looks great Captain, considering what she must have been going through. We were just in time... couldn't have cut that any closer – her grounder actually went up and over right after we hooked it.”
    Captain Smith whistled through his teeth and shook his head. “Lucky girl... any other survivors?”
    “No, sir. She was tucked in on the lee side, and almost completely drifted over when we pulled her out, but the driver of the car didn't make it... either he was blown out of the grounder, or...” I trailed off, unwilling to finish that thought. There was nothing left of the interior, scoured to bare metal. Whatever had happened, I hoped it was mercifully quick.
    “Easy son,” he said softly, “you did it, she's safe... now let's go round up Yak. I gave him a direct order to return to the Archaea, and I'll be damned if he doesn't get an opportunity to do so.”
    As we spoke, the Archaea started to lift and climb, falling off the wind, aiming for a safe distance for an orbital burn.
    “Janis, please shape a course for orbital burn and that bogey, it's time to go get Yak, dear.” He paused briefly as the course flashed on screen, “Very well Janis, that will be perfect.”
    “You're welcome sir. Please be advised, I am recommending an in-system assisted slipspace jump to match vector as efficiently as possible.”
    I felt the hairs rise on the back of my neck. With a response time curved past subjective now, Janis has the reflexes to pilot an in-system slipspace jump – though the thought terrified me.
    “Gene, I will need slipspace active and ready to use at your earliest opportunity.”
    A brief pause.
    “Aye skipper, powering up now.” Gene sounded as terrified as I felt.
    “Gene, I want you to know that I am flying a concerned eyebrow at the moment, lest you think I am just going to hurl us into the unknown at superluminal speed without a worry or a care.”
    “I know Captain... it's just been a pretty long day.”
    “Gene, Yak deserves our very best. I am concerned as well, but... I can't give him any less, and he's just about out of targeting range. I am completely out of options.”
    “Dak, you are making the right choice. I'm standing by. Let's go get Yak.”
    “Very well, all hands – stand by for a 12g compensated orbital burn, time to

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