Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Traveller's Gambit

"Pull the next one out!" Jared screamed over his shoulder.

Everything was orange. The star was pumping out far more heat than the astrogation system had said, it was also much wider than the chart details noted. The Canberra Song was being baked by the star's radiation and brutally smashed up and down by the turbulent hydrogen in its outer atmosphere.

Taz was begin bounced around the small crawl tube underneath the sleeping space. Hot and burnt electronic boards spun about him as he reached further into avionics cabinet.

"That was the last one!"

Jared pulled hard on the controls, an accompanying whine rose up from aft of the ship but the hauler's Nose remained pointing just above the fiery orange horizon.

Warning, temperature levels at 120%. heat damage detected

"Could we speed up?"

Taz was back up in the flight deck, gripping the back of Jared's chair.

"I tried already, it just pitched the nose down more, and if we slow down we drop out of super cruise and get instacooked."

Jared dropped his hands from the sticks, and pushed his head into the back of the seat.

"What now!? We could just try jumping?"

Jared remained silent, the view up through the transparent triangles in the roof was orange too. Streaked occasionally with specs of material evaporating off thee hull. You could just about make out a slightly brighter dot. A planet perhaps? Or another star.

"It's over kid."

"What? Come on. We must be able to get out of this!"

Jared reached around behind himself and grabbed Taz's arm pulling it down painfully. To bring the kid's face level with his own. His eyes were wide, angry and his jaw set.

"Over Taz. Over! The only choice we have now is of how long we want it to last!"

Taz turned away, he pulled himself along the grab rails leading back down to the cabin and paused half way down looking back to Jared.

"I know it's all my fault. I know.. Sorry Jared."

Jared didn't ever imagine his final minutes would be like this, cooked alive, resenting rescuing a stupid kid from a mis jump and yet still feel responsible for him, mixed frustration and fear welled up inside him as he let out a kick at the flight console. The metalized plastic that helped project the holofac scanner split.

Jared was suddenly flung sideways in his seat as the ship started to spin and twist. There was a howl of pain from below.

"What the hell are you doing?"

The spin slowed and started back the other way as Jared pulled himself free of the pilots chair and over to the hatchway.

The kid was in the avionics box again. There was blue smoke drifting about weirdly and the sound of shorting electrics.

"Argh, just a bit more power."

Jared reached the entry to the access space.

"What are you doing kid?"

"Trying to drop us out of cruise, but it won't disengage"

Seems that the kid wanted to end it quick too.

"Taz. It's OK. This isn't your fault, its the will of the void."

"I'm not going to boil alive in a Hauler Jared!"

The determined statement seemed at odds with his actions. The heat from the star in normal space would be even worse.

A sudden bang threw Jared forwards as the ship burst out into normal space. Alarms sounded and a loud creaking came from the roof. A second of juddering movement upwards and then a huge blast threw them both backwards to the rear of the cabin.

As they both were pushed backwards Jared caught a final view through the hatchway out of the cockpit window to see fragments of the ship silhouetted against the boiling orange surface of the star and then a thud and darkness.


A bitter sweet taste was the first thing he noticed, Coffee of some obscure cheap blend. And the smell of toasted almonds.

Jared opened his eyes to see the messy inside of the old Hauler. Was this a joke? He'd never really believed in an afterlife. Perhaps this was it, like one of those stories where you'd live your final day forever.


The kid's voice came from the engine bay behind.

"Had a nice kip boss?"

Jared's head hurt, judging by his insides he'd been out for quite a while.

"What happened?"

Taz had a smug grin on his face.

"You can thank me later"