Saturday, March 19, 2016

Short story serial: Science Fiction tale part three

March 19   

This week I am doing part three of Roller Coaster Ride. A Science Fiction  thriller as in will they escape or not. As I mentioned in earlier post I am revising this old story as I go, I believe this week's segment is the best so far in regards to the writing. I got myself to spend some extra time on it plus it didn't need quite as much work as the previous segments. 

For those who may not have seen the first two parts two friends in a small runabout are on the run from a gang of pirates. Jonathan was delivering two very important cargos when the two sets of pirates came up them. Mantiee who was along for the ride happened to be piloting. He ran for a huge debris field from a space battle only a few days before this. So far he hasn't been able to lose the chasers. And they found out that some of the weapons in the debris field are still hot.

This is the longest segment at 2,500 and a few words. And obviously there will be four parts to this story after all.


Jonathan pressed a button projected in front of him. Raised a hand and made a motion as if he twisted a dial. 
      He said, “Got it with the tractor beam.”
      Mantiee said a little loud, “Tractor beam? It’s already coming our way on its own.”
      “Just head toward those others and when I say dive fast.”
      Mantiee steered the little craft toward the group of bubbles and as he did the bubbles moved closer to them. 
     He started to say something but Jonathan beat him to it, “I know. Its what I expected, just keep going.”
     Mantiee looked at his friend like he was mad but kept going. 
     Seconds later Jonathan said, “Dive!”
     Mantiee immediately pressed a double switch and a second one nearby. The ship’s nose dipped down suddenly. As it did Jonathan manipulated the controls for the tractor beam. As the ship dived the bubble kept going controlled by the tractor beam. It ran smack into a piece of debris drifting nearby. The piece happened to by in front of the group headed their way. As the bubble popped it released the explosive force inside it. The explosion broke up the piece of debris and sent pieces of it flying in three directions. One of those directions was toward the oncoming bubbles. Some of those popped when hit by slivers. Those not hit were sent flying every way. Most ended up hitting something and popping.
     Mantiee said, “So you did know what you were doing. Man, if just one of those things had hit us, at the very least, it would have taken out our shields leaving us naked and it probably would have damaged other systems.”
     He leveled off then dived under a small something or another floating right in front of them. As they came from underneath it he steered the ship up. Up further then the point he had started the dive from. Next he leveled off for a count of ten then sank for a few seconds. He steered in between two huge ship fragments that Jonathan pointed to. As they came out from in-between the two pieces they almost ran into a spinner coming to investigate the explosions. Mantiee let Jonathan fire three asteroid clearers and one set from both of the small double grasser turrets. These produced a beam only 6 cm wide. There was a turret located under each wing very close to where the wing met the fuselage.
     The crew of the other ship most have been just as surprise as they were since it took them a couple of seconds to react. When they did the first weapon they fired was the gamma plasma cannons. On this modal of this spinner there were eight sets. The barrels stuck out of slight bulges in the base. 
    A part of Mantiee’s mid insisted on telling him that instead of being full turrets these were slots that allowed the barrels to go up and down only. They could fire almost straight up, straight down and any where in between. 
      Three sets were in the right position to fire at him and his friend. Six streams of plasma shot out from the bottom of the spinner toward the little craft. Just the fact that they were streams of plasma straight from the drives would have been bad enough but these had been charged with gamma radiation. That made them stronger without increasing their power needs much. Two sets hit the ship as Mantiee frantically tried to turn the runabout faster than it should. His fingers punched at the control images hard enough for him to feel the power of the projection field. That was not a good thing.
     Even though Mantiee and Jonathan wore safety straps both were almost shaken out of their seats when the beams hit them. As the runabout finished the turn another stream impacted their shields. Something sparked in the back. Mantiee hoped it was nothing important, but he smelled burnt fiber optics. 
     The spinner had been turning in the opposite direction the runabout had taken but it took them only seconds to reverse the direction. Too soon they were ready to fire again. His sensor showed him that it had been hit by at least two of the grasser shots as well as two of the rockets Jonathan had fired. No damage. They can’t get lucky all the time. 
     Jonathan told Mantiee to pivot the ship when he said now.
     Mantiee just nodded since he was trying to run from the spinner and at the same time keep from bumping into the side of the very large fragment they were zipping by. It was a long piece and had protrusions sticking out every now and then. Jonathan was continually firing the grassers managing to hit the spinner a number of times. It still caught up with them and pulled along side. 
     Jonathan said, “Now!”
     Mantiee pivoted the runabout toward the attacking ship right where a depression appeared. It must be for docking or repairs Mantiee thought. The suddenness of the move surprised the other ship. Jonathan hit it with two rounds from the blasters. All eight energy balls hit. He next fired the grassers once more and as he did their foe shot back with its GP cannons and two of the mini-missiles they liked to carry. This time two streams hit quickly followed by one mini-missile. The impact of the combined strike sent the runabout spinning away. The view window spun around, Mantiee had to close his eyes or his last meal would come up. Bile had already. 
     The shields fluctuated just as Mantiee managed to get the runabout’s course straighten out. A sudden grinding metal against metal sound made him “yip”. Jonathan cursed which made Mantiee want to stare at him for a half second. Before he could decide what they had run into a kind of crunching noise happened. The forward movement of the ship stopped abruptly. Mantiee was jerked into the seat belts, then back into his seat. His head felt like it hit something hard dissipate the seat padding. 
     A buzz sounded loud. Oh oh that was the structural integrity alarm. A readout warned, “starboard wing was in danger of separating from the main hull” 
     Mantiee shut the drives down even as Jonathan said to, just as another readout showed that the drives were overheating. He waved his hand in front of him to bring the sensor images closer. 
      The spinner drifted away. From the damage the sensors showed The first set of ion bolstered blaster shots accompanied by four grasser beams had brought down its shields. The next set had hit the bare metal of the ship. One of those punched though a patch. Air came out. Another one must have landed on one of their turrets. It did not damaged it much but the ion charge had  disrupted its electronics so it could not fire. One grasser turret had been aimed just right so its two beams dug into the base of the attacking ship. One of those found a drive unit burning a pencil thin hole though it. That might be why the ship was now drifting. Its helmsman had had to shut down the other two drives, Mantiee thought, because they had started to push the ship out of control.
     A sigh, then he sat back, Mantiee said, “I think we are stuck.”
     Jonathan said, “Yes, I figured that.”
     Mantiee said, “What is the chance of that happening though? Its got to be huge.”
     “Whatever it is, we did it. We can celebrate later. Try reverse.”
     “I have already, but I can try again as I wiggle the runabout.”
     He did, then tried again. Out of the corner of his eye he saw his partner startle. He bent forward and adjusted controls.
     Without turning Jonathan said, “Stop the drives now! Turn them off.” 
     His warning had such a urgent tone that Mantiee immediately obeyed.
     He asked, “You see something?”
     Jonathan said, “Take a look out the side view window.”
     Mantiee did and as he saw, what his partner had seen on his sensors, he paled. Three of the energy globes they had had trouble with were floating by. They were quite a distance from them but evidently could still come their way. 
     Jonathan explained that he had notice them on his sensor screen. They had come around the corner of the piece they were stuck to. It seemed like something was pulling them. There was more then just the three Mantiee had seen. 
      They sat there for a two and a half minutes.
      Mantiee spoke up, “They still there?”
     “Yes. One might be out of reach but the others are still drifting by as slow as bubbles in a slow breeze.”
     “If they stay around for much longer I am going to have to use the head.”
     “Well, it looks like we will be here a while and the head is working so go ahead.”
      Mantiee unstrapped himself and was just standing when Jonathan spoke.
      He said, “Turn everything off now,” he started flipping every power switch in reach. He had used that urgent tone again so Mantiee dropped back down in his seat and started turning off every power control.
     Jonathan said, “I mean every thing. The lights and environmental controls also.”
     Mantiee looked at him funny but he touched the power controls images, one by one. When he was done he turned to Jonathan.
      He asked, “What more bubbles?”
      Jonathan just pointed out the view window again. This time Mantiee saw a more deadly sight then the energy globes. It was the shark coasting on by. It was small looking because of the distance but he knew it was deadly. They would not be able to bring down its shields as easy as they had the spinners. Its design was typical for sharks: two narrow triangles set base to base. The second one was much shorter and slanted downward a little. Two nacelles rested near the sides underneath the rear triangle. These were where the drives were located and if it was the same as the other sharks Mantiee had seen the forward end of each tube like nacelle had four blaster barrels sticking out of it. Two were the largest size for that style of blaster and two were the size under that. He shook his head, they probably won’t be ion charged but there were big enough to cause big problems for the little runabout even so. 
    Along each side of the front triangle were three larger double laser turrets. They would be at 25 cms. It also would have two turrets with more of the full size blasters. The aft had four gamma plasma cannon emplacements and two more lasers. These would be twice the size as the ones the spinners used. The side lasers and the GPCs were in slots so the barrels could elevate up and down but not sideways. 
      Mantiee spoke, “Oh oh. But they will be able to detect us. Our life signs will show up easily around here.”
     “I am betting that they will be looking for drives and other energy signatures not life signs. If they detect our batteries they will hopefully think they are back up batteries still functioning in this wreckage. There probably are some still providing power to busted systems.” Jonathan answered.
     “Sooner or later they will figure we are running silent and 
check for life signs.”
     “True but by then we will have to think of something and I think I know what.”
     Mantiee looked where Jonathan was looking and said, “Uh huh, we are not going to surround ourselves with those energy bubbles. Way too dangerous.”
     “I have another idea but that one has merit maybe we should do it instead.”
     “No, no. Forget I thought of it. Your idea is better.”
     “You don’t even know what it is.”
     “Its got to be better then that because it would be safer.”
     Jonathan smiled and said, “It is actually but you should have seen the look on your face when you thought the only reason we were going to do it was because you thought it up. Now we are going to have to time this right. We need to pre start the power source and aim the grasser turrets.”
     “Aim the turrets? One can only shot at the piece we are stuck on.”
     “I know but we may be able to use that one to weaken where our wing is stuck.”
      They busied themselves for a while. The searching ship had moved on but it would be back. The spinner still seemed to be drifting. If they had completely blown that drive it might drift until someone came to help or the helmsman decided to control the spinner’s thrust with only two drives. He might be able to do it with both at half power. That would get them out of here and to one of their partners. The crew of the shark must not care if they survive or not or so Mantiee hoped.
     Jonathan not only aimed the turrets were he wanted them but he used the tractor beam to move some of the free floating globes. Powered only by batteries the tractor beam was on low power but the globes were easy to move. He managed to arrange five of them before the shark came back. This time it was closer.
     Mantiee said, “Why do I have a certain base line popping into my head at the moment?”
     He watched Jonathan glance at him before he said, “Ok power up. Time for us to leave.”
     Mantiee touched the controls for the power supply and seconds later started the drives. The shark turned suddenly and made a bee line for them. Jonathan used the tractor beam to give the cluster of deadly bubbles a push. He had moved five but five more had joined them which meant ten moved toward the shark. 
    He said, “Its drives were more powerful then the runabout’s so I think they would zero in on it instead of us especially with the push I just gave them.”
     As he spoke  Mantiee noticed that he adjusted the firing controls with a wave of his fingers. Finally he fired the grasser on the side of the fragment they were stuck to. He reached to the image and slowly rotated his hand which moved the turret as the two pencil thin beams cut though the armor of the ship fragment way too slow for Mantiee. Suddenly the computer chirped, Mantiee looked then squeaked out his friend’s name loudly. Sweat formed on his forehead and under his arms again. They were clammy enough already. He could smell his own sweat, Jonathan’s and burnt components with the environmental controls still off.  
    Jonathan turned and looked out the side view port. He must have seen what Mantiee and the computer had seen: a bubble coming straight at them. Mantiee was glad he had used the head after all for that one was close and moving in fast for a slow bubble. Mantiee took a second to think that some gum would be good for his last taste.

End segment

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