Saturday, March 26, 2016

Short story serial-Science Fiction tale Fourth and last segment

 March 26 

Last segment of the Roller Coaster Ride. 2,751 words. Next week might be another story revised like this one was. I have two or four others I would like to share. But I also have excerpts from a new book or two.  

To this story:
Did they escape? Get blasted or their cargo taken? And what were those pirates after?

Great readers' fun.  :)

No way to move the Ant out of the way, Mantiee felt useless and almost dead. A movement, he glanced at Jonathan. He motioned with his hands above his control panel. Mantiee couldn’t see the image he was adjusting-a recording of his last will and testament going out with a last love letter to his wife? 
    No, a slight noise from outside on the hull. Jonathan must have quickly adjusted the other turret and triggered a very short shot. Two beams short term beams shot out. Both hit the bubble, it popped and the explosion inside triggered. Jonathan fired another shot at another bubble with the same result. Next he grabbed the tractor beam controls and used its beam to grab another bubble on its way to them. He brought it closer then up and over them. It hit the wall right above them exploding. 
      As pieces of armor rained down on them Mantiee first let out a breath-told his heart to calm and said, ”What are you doing?”
      “I am trying to use them to knock us loose.”
      “By careful man those things are powerful.”
      “I am. I want to make it home. It wouldn’t be good if my wife killed you because we didn’t make it back.”
      Mantiee looked at him and just said, “Good.”
      Jonathan asked, “What happened to the shark?”
     After a quick check Mantiee said, “Two of the bubbles in that group you sent their way hit them. They blasted two others before they pivoted around and took off around the corner with the left overs and two new ones chasing them.”
     “Good, now rock this baby and lets get loose before any more show up.”
     Mantiee said, “Sounds good to me,“ pressed his hands into the image before him. The Ant began to rock up and down. 
     The drives started to over heat after a few second so he cut back.
     Jonathan said, “Try reversing course but keep it as level as you can and slow at first.”
     After a thirty-second cool down he did just that. He tried that is. He slowly brought up the drives to half power but no movement. 
     Jonathan said, “Try again. Line us up at the same angle we came in on. Go slow again and keep it level.”
     Mantiee said, “I’m trying to.”
     After another try and failure he angled the ship slightly and tried once more. The cockpit was becoming warm or so it seemed to him. Maybe the environmental controls had been damaged. No time to check. With the drives back on it had all the power it needed.
    Despite his thoughts he kept a rock steady hand on the controls. This time with a screech of metal the runabout moved backwards. Mantiee managed to back it up while keeping his eye on the level readout on his control panel. It usually didn’t matter that much if he kept the little ship on a completely level course or not but now he was sweating as he kept barely touching four different touch points. 
    He shook his head, hoped the head’s controls stayed up. He needed to pee again and he would need a long hot shower when this was done. Not to mention an extra hot wash for the clothes he wore.
    He watched the level. A green line on top of a red one showed the Ant’s relationship to the crack it had gotten jammed in. When a tiny bit of red showed he gave the 3-D image the tiniest of touches. Finally the runabout’s wing arrived in the wider part of the crack, probably the section it had slipped into while he had been paying attention to something else. He stared at that crack for a long moment. Space armor didn’t split like that. Dent maybe but not that. He wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of whatever weapon did that. Not even that shark could handle it.
    He noticed Jonathan get up. His turn to use the head? Getting a snake? No time to think on it, he wiped sweat from his eyes.
    Five-seconds more and he stopped the backward movement of the Ant. He let loose a breath and breathed in deep three times. A moment later he slid the craft sideways until the wing was all the way out. He sighed, wanted to faint. 
    His friend clipped him on the shoulder and said, “Very good, that's almost as good as I could have done. Now lets get out of here.”
    That almost startled Mantiee for he hadn’t noticed that Jonathan had come back. Something tapped the front of his right shoulder. He reached up and felt cold. What? A bottle? He looked at the container he now held. Frizzy water: cold. It contained electrolytes and other good stuff. It tasted just a bit like limes. Before he knew he had moved his other hand he had the top twisted off and drank a third of it. Ohhh that was good.
   Jonathan said, “Lets go.”
     Mantiee nodded raised the Ant above the large piece they had been stuck in. Just as they cleared the wreckage Mantiee saw something ahead, stared-his lips narrowed, then suddenly he sent the ship down nose first.
     Jonathan said, “What? More bubbles?”
    “No, a missile orienting on us,” came the tense answer.
    “A missile? One of those round globe shape ones? I haven’t seen one of those.”
    “No, a long straight human type.”
    “What? How would one of those survive? If it was launched it would go for some target even if it couldn’t find its main target.”
     “I don’t know,” Mantiee said as he steered the craft up followed by a very short hop over a round fat huge canister piece of debris. He dropped down then zipped under a patrol ship with a shuttle design. It was listing to one side so they could see a series of holes blasted along it side. Five, all of which were the same size and the same distance apart. Each hole was just a bit wider then the runabout. He drove the ship up and up way past the patrol craft. 
     He dived the runabout again and said, “Maybe that missile was knocked out of its tube before it could be launched but after it had been armed. Whatever it’s coming closer fast and I cannot shake it.”
     Jonathan said, “Up again and when I say now go back the way we came,“ as he fired the grassers at the missile.
     He fired two sets of double short duration beams every couple of seconds. They all missed. It was one smart missile. The missile either moved up and down to avoid the shots or ignored them as they missed on their own. Many hit pieces of debris, sometimes with spectacular results. Mantiee directed the runabout along the underside of a big ship, probably a cruiser, then up as Jonathan had said. Instead of going straight up he steered them on a curving course going to port as well as up. 
     Finally his partner said now and he flipped the ship over on its back and zoomed back the way they had come. Seconds later the missile crested the piece the had just come over and followed them. Jonathan watched his sensors and directed Mantiee to go to port then starboard. They went though the top potion of that debris field made up of many small pieces of many different ships. Tiny bits sparkled on the Ant’s shields. The missile, however, avoided every piece. Three bubbles started after it but the runabout and missile were going too fast. It would catch them before they would catch it. 
     Finally Jonathan said to go over this upcoming fragment then down. Mantiee did that with the missile in hot pursuit and closing fast. He thought this ship looked familiar but thought it must be a second one. Seconds later though he saw he had been right. It was the ship with that long crack in it for there flew the second spinner they had fought. It now had its drives going. Jonathan said to aim straight at them. When he glanced at his sensor screen he added something about emergency power. 
    Mantiee said, “That would use the power for the air and heat.” 
    Jonathan said, “It will but if we don’t do something we won’t be needing the environmental circuits.”
     Mantiee frowned, nodded, switched to emergency power. Jonathan meanwhile had been adjusting his controls so he added power from the rear shields, the grassers and comm to the drives. This amount of power could burn out the drives real fast but they would only need it for a few seconds. He fired the front weapons at the spinner as suddenly their craft acted like it had been kicked and doubled its speed. They zoomed toward the other ship aiming at its center. The ship reacted and fired at it but the shots that hit were absorbed by the shields. Jonathan kept up his firing and soon Mantiee executed a very fast zig to port going around the round ship. It continued to fire. Probably its gunner thought they had been on a suicide run therefore was slow on the uptake that they were no longer in front of it. The Ant continued on along the side of the spinner, then Mantiee zagged back to the center Jonathan said to cut emergency speed as he quickly reestablished the rear shields. Seconds later there was an explosion on the other side of the spinner. The blast easily overwhelmed what was left of that ship’s shields then began to eat into the ship itself. It vaporized much of the front of the spinner while sending small pieces tumbling away. Some of the pieces went flying after the runabout impacting on its rear shields. None were large and none did any damage.
     Mantiee said, “Whew, scratch one missile and one pirate.”
     Jonathan said, “That missile’s computer most have been damaged. Since it targeted on us I was hoping it would also consider the spinner an appropriate target.”
     “It did and good thing it did. That thing was fast but as you said earlier lets get out of here.”
     “Sounds good to me. Go up I think I know of a way out.”
     “Good but what about the shark?”
     “I saw some explosions on the sensors in the same direction 
it ran. Hopefully it has been taken care of, but we will keep a 
sharp eye out for it.”
     Mantiee nodded and followed Jonathan’s directions and soon they were skimming along the top of the manmade debris field. After just a minute Jonathan told him to go higher, to pivot the runabout in a certain direction and to slow. Mantiee did that and soon they were watching three ships headed away from the field. One had the unmistakable shape of the shark. On the side they could see it had two holes in it. One was about midships on the shark and the other was back toward the stern. That one was significantly bigger then the other and had very jagged edges. The small warship was leaking air from that hole. It was not traveling at full speed either. The two other ships were spinners. One was untouched as far as they could see but the other one had smaller holes toward the front and a gash along one side. It was the one they had originally hit which had gone spinning away. By the looks of it had hit something probably a jagged piece of some blasted ship. It might have been leaking air also but it was too far away to tell for sure.
     Mantiee made the runabout execute a smart looking about face and before it zoomed away at its top speed. Six hours later they were at the outpost and had unloaded their cargo. The outpost was a small station near an area of space not populated or even traveled though much. Miners and other such worked in the area. Just the perfect location to delivery cargo no one should know about. Hopefully there were no pirates there. 
   The two important items were now in the appropriate hands. Jonathan had warned about the pirates and were told they would watch for them.
   They both now walked back to their landing bay with money and credit chips in their pockets. Stores and cafes brought people from all around the station but it wasn’t wall to wall people yet. The smells made Mantiee remember that he hadn’t eaten for a while. They stopped for three different types of meat on a stick and cold water. They had changed and bathed already so Mantiee, and anyone else, only smelled the food. He had placed the bottle in a pocket and it froze his thigh but he could take it for the walk back to the Ant.   
     After a few bites Mantiee said, “I think I know how those bubbles were able to move.”
     He watched Jonathan raise his eyebrows and say, “Oh?”
     “Yes, as you discovered they oriented on our drives. I believe that the Zoonu now include something in the make up of the bubbles so that they would be attracted to a certain radiation. The type drives produced. Much like a magnate is attracted to metal.”
     Jonathan started to say something but Mantiee raised his hand and said, “Yes, I know steel is attracted to it but if you were to let a small magnate loose and brought a heavy piece of metal to it the magnate would move not the metal. Same thing with those new bubbles.”
     “So the faster you go running away the faster they would move after you?”
     Mantiee nodded and Jonathan continued, “And the bigger the drive unit the more they would be attracted to you.”
     Mantiee nodded and said, “Makes sense to me.”
     Jonathan said, “Hmmm, and do you know which cargo the pirates were after?”
     “I think so,” came the response, “They probably were after something we didn’t have.”
     “Oh?” came Jonathan’s surprised response.
     “Yes, just before we left the Beta dram station some of the people we had drinks with were hauling a Thrumer treasure chest.”
     “One never knows for sure what is in those chests but the Techno terrorists like them.”
     “Exactly, back when they were terrorists before they became the guardians of that double system, they had some good finds with a couple of treasure chests. Now they go after each one they can.”
     Jonathan said, “That would explain what they were doing 
around these parts. They most have caught wind of the find,” he 
shook his head then continued, “All of that destruction and lose of lives for something we didn’t even have.”
      They walked further and two minutes later Mantiee spoke again.
     He said, “Hey, if you want to increase the speed on that runabout of yours I know where you can get a couple of Jaguar drives.”
     “Those things are expensive and hard to come by. They would be fast though.”
     “I know where you can get some for free. I know someone who knows where a jaguar crashed. Its on a planet that is difficult to get to. All he wants is the star navigation computer and some info in its main terminal. I saw a picture of it. At least two of the auxiliary drives survived the crash. They should be about the right size for your little ship.”
     “He would be willing to give those up?”
     “He doesn’t have much money so they would be your payment.”
     “I would have to rework the power converter and maybe put in a better power source but those drives could also up the shield power and…”
     Mantiee smiled because he knew his friend and knew he would go for it. He also smiled for he had learned that he was a better pilot than he had thought, with a little help from Jonathan he had saved their butts. That made this trip worth it but he would still keep his share.  
     He continued, “After we go home to pick up your freighter of course. We can back track though that battle field, I still want that power converter cylinder. Your tractor beam should be able to handle it.”
     They went on arguing about the dangers and benefits of going back into that armed debris field, all the way back to their runabout.

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