Last Flight of the Intrepid
The Intrepid rocked wildly through the buffeting atmosphere, a long black plume of smoke trailing behind it. Seldon wrestled with the controls, trying to keep the struggling craft level. After what seemed ages, Seldon was returning home. The fuselage groaned as the crippled ship hit another air-pocket. With its a-grav stabilisers offline, the captain had been forced to use retro-rockets and air-braking to slow the ship’s descent. It was not slowing appreciably.
My ship, thought Seldon. My own design, months to build. Years of exploration and discovery and it comes to this - a damned marauder! The Intrepid shuddered violently as an explosion rocked the rear of the ship. Bolts of blue energy sped past the view ports. Graves, Seldon’s nemesis, had again caught up with him. A once long term comrade and friend, now turned pirate, Graves had tracked his entry back into the system and attacked him as he was preparing to enter the atmosphere, when he was most vulnerable. Damn him! cursed Seldon silently. After all this, I won’t let him take me down.
He risked a glance at his sister Jen, sitting nearby absorbed in her own tasks. She was always by his side, loyal, but he could'nt be distracted by her now. He turned his attention back to the view screen. The clouds were thinning and he was able to catch glimpses of the planet below.
Another blast from behind pummelled the Intrepid, sending it into a spinning nose dive and the planet began to rush at them at a terrifying speed. Sick and sweating, Seldon gripped the controls and began to level the ship out. He could hear the structure cracking and buckling and flames were now pouring from the dying engines. Graves’ ship, a wicked looking dart of black armour and bristling weapons arrays sped past the plummeting exploration vessel, banking sharply for another run.
Another loud explosion came from the engines, and with a shower of sparks they whined and died. A deathly silence enveloped the Intrepid as the snub nose of the cockpit began to tilt vertically and it again spun into its final, terminal dive.
There’s no point now Graves. You’ve got me, thought Seldon glancing again at his sister. Curiously, she didn’t look up. Seldon could now see the planet surface quite clearly – blue lakes, green fields, peaceful homesteads. All rocketing up to meet them in a final, deadly embrace.
Their last vision was of a beautiful manor in a grassy, tree-lined field. The ship was heading right for it. Then the view screen suddenly went dark, and Jen began to scream.
“Seldon! Stop it, pull up! Do something!” she shrieked
“I can’t!” he screamed in reply. “The controls aren’t responding. I’m sorry”. Her pale face and ice-blue eyes stared at him in numb shock.
The Intrepid spent its final seconds in a gut wrenching tailspin, fire engulfing it’s back half as it slammed into the homestead in a bright ball of expanding plasma and fragments of hull. The homestead burst apart, ceramoplast pieces flying in all directions.
Seldon cursed loudly and threw the remote down in disgust, kicking a half-melted doll’s head out of his way.
“Seldon!” wailed Jen, staring teary-eyed at the burning conglomerate of Intrepid and dolls house. “I’m telling mommy!” she sobbed as she ran in the direction of their dwelling. Seldon stepped over to the smouldering mass, wrinkling his nose at the smell of burnt synthetic hair. Fragments of tea cup crunched underfoot as he lifted the twisted remains of the Intrepid from the wreckage. He could hear the faint gales of Graves’ laughter floating over from the next residence module.
Ok Graves, you bastard. Next time I build a gunship...
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