The alarm again. The damned klaxon. Another sortie, after a day of nonstop sorties…it was only a matter of time until someone overdosed, as much as you had to rely on the stims.
Didn’t deter your flight lead, though.
The red-helmeted sprite looked like she was straight out of the propaganda posters. Most of the air wing wondered she was even human.
No one ever saw her face. Her helmet visor was painted over with a classic skull. You never saw her in the mess, or the head, or even the shower.
This time, she jogged up to you and punched you on the shoulder. Hard. You tried not to wince.
“You’re my buddy this time, got it? C’mon. Let’s get in the black.”
15 minutes later, you found yourself in the midst of the most intense furball yet. Keeping up with her was a challenge even in simulations, and this wasn’t a sim. Still…she was a fucking good pilot.
You didn’t fear for your safety once. It felt almost like she was babysitting you.
Another 5 minutes passed before the fighting died down and her voice cracked through the comms again.
“Ready to go home, kiddo? …Wait, ah, *fuck.*”
“Looks like the Cass took some hits.” the Cassander. Your carrier. “The deck’s not syncing up any more.”
The Cassander’s flight deck had gravity arrestors installed along its length. You didn’t pretend to know how they worked, just that they were extremely sensitive technology.
And when they didn’t work…the fighter’s RCS wasn’t enough for a stable, safe landing. *Fuck,* indeed.
“Okay, look. I know what I’m doing, so-“
Something – no, EVERYTHING – shifted. Your perspectives, your vision, it suddenly felt like –
“‘Kay, kid, I’m using the hardlink. It’s gonna feel weird.”
Her voice sounded like it came from inside your head. It *did* come from inside your head.
You felt like a passenger in your own body, watching your hands move of their own accord – *her* accord, guiding your fighter in.
The craft slammed into the deck with a horrid screeching as every single alarm in the cockpit went off, but you kept your calm. Her presence was like a warm blanket.
Finally, you came to a stop. “My turn. See you deckside, kid.”
Your awareness suddenly snapped back to yourself.
Everything hurt. Everything spun. You blew the jammed canopy off and tried to stand up, but your legs failed you. You slumped down in the seat and, despite best efforts, hurled your meager lunch into the cramped flooring. And your boots. Goddamnit.
You collected yourself in time to stand and watch her fighter come in. A brilliant red stripe across the nose, standing out amongst its nondescript peers.
She hit the deck. Hard. A thruster caught on a damaged deck plate and ripped part of the frame apart.
Her fighter’s carcass spun like a top down the deck, leaving a trail of flame and twisted metal.
You ran towards it, even as it came to a burning wreck.
She tumbled away from the dying spacecraft, her suit showing just as much damage.
Her back was to you, but she held up a thumbs-up. Shouted something, but you couldn’t hear it over the alarms and fires.
You jogged around in front of her to make sure she was unhurt.
Half of her visor was broken.
There was nothing underneath but…light, and…what?
It hurt to look at…that. Light, and what looked like…fluid, just…suspended there.
The last thing you remember before passing out is vomiting again, the smell of stomach acid and ozone in your nose.