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Falling With Style

Posted on 30 Mar 2017 @ 4:41am by Lieutenant JG Felix Langston

Mission: Endgame
Location: New Bajor Orbit

Lt. Felix Langston looked out the window of his escape pod to see the remains of the Black Hawk plummet to the surface of New Bajor below. What was left of the ship streaked out brilliant orange and white flames as she entered her final decaying orbit. Shrapnel and loose panels from all over the ship broke off and burned to nothing in the atmosphere; it would've been beautiful had it not been the place he grew to call home.

"First chief posting and you had to blow it," Felix said as he watched parts of the ship disintegrate in orbit.

Felix grimaced as he felt a small ache of guilt in his gut. There would be people who would tell him that it wasn't his fault; that he shouldn't get down on himself for losing the ship. You did your best. There were too many ships. It was a miracle you lasted as long as you did. No one could've ever survived that gauntlet. They would mean well, but ultimately they weren't there; they weren't the ones in charge of making sure all the souls aboard weren't lost at sea. Now, the Cochrane was all that was left of the fleet that went up against the Consortium.

"Well, at least one ship you were on didn't blow up," he said to himself.

Felix turned his attention toward another part of the canopy, watching the Cochrane begin the process of picking up the survivors. He shuffled in his seat, trying not to think about the cramped quarters of the bridge escape pods. He reached over and tapped the COMM panel to his right.

"Black Hawk Pod H-5 to Cochrane," Felix said.

A crackle came from the other end. "This is Ensign Ch'vell of the USS Cochrane, go ahead."

"Ah, Ensign Ch'vell," Felix said, recognizing the Andorian Ops technician from his time as acting captain of the Cochrane, "this is Lieutenant Felix Langston, requesting escape pod retrieval."

"Request granted," the ensign said, "although it may take a couple minutes to get to you. We've got a lot of people at our current position and our transporter operators are busy with medical evacuation to the surface."

"Acknowledged," said Felix. Great, looks like I'm stuck here for a bit, he thought.

Just then, Felix felt a jolt reverberate through his escape pod. A slow shimmy started to make its way through the craft as Felix turned his attention to the display panel on his left. Everything looked normal until he got to one of the readouts. The main power level was falling at a slow, but steady rate.

"That can't be right," Felix said. "Computer," he said, "what's the status of the pod?"

Felix blinked as the lights in the cabin flickered while the computer gave its response. "MAIN POWER LEVEL AT EIGHTY-EIGHT PERCENT AND FALLING. WARNING: STRUCTURAL INTEGRITY COMPROMISE DETECTED."

Felix heard the crackle of the COMM panel come through again. "Cochrane to Pod H-5, you might want to check your pod's status, we just got a visual and there's a fairly large piece of debris sticking out of the pod's ventral side."

Felix looked out the left side of his canopy as he felt another jolt and the shimmy in the craft start to get worse. He could see faint green, gaseous wisps emanating from the pod itself. "Pod H-5 to Cochrane, acknowledged," Felix said. "I've got a bit of a problem here. Main power is dropping at a steady rate, almost like the main battery's been punctured."

"Cochrane to Pod H-5, standby," Ensign Ch'vell said. "We are dispatching emergency rescue shuttles. ETA three minutes."

Felix felt another jolt through the pod and then felt the shimmy get even worse. The giant world of New Bajor was growing larger and larger in the canopy's view. "Uh, Pod H-5 to Cochrane," Felix said, "I don't think I have three minutes."

"Lieutenant Langston!" Ensign Ch'vell shouted. "What's happening?"

"I think I've just entered atmo," Felix said trying his best to keep his cool, even though flames started erupting around his ship. "Guidance systems must have taken a hit when the pod became compromised."

"Lieutenant Lang-" Ch'vell's voice abruptly fizzled out as the escape pod's COMM system went dark from the atmospheric interference. The fire around the ship started to grow bigger as Felix felt the G-forces of reentry start to pull him back in his seat.

I...need...to level...this...thing...out... Felix thought while his mind still had capacity left to think. He reached a hand toward the controls to try and stabilize the craft as it plummeted ever closer to the surface below, almost doomed to share the fate of the Black Hawk.

"ALERT," the computer chimed. "MAIN POWER AND THRUST CAPACITY AT FIFTY-TWO PERCENT AND FALLING. STRUCTURAL INTEGRITY AT FORTY-FOUR PERCENT AND FALLING."

Felix strained against the forces pinning him back and tried his best to counter-thrust to level his descent. The fires around the craft grew less intense as Felix saw clouds streak by in a horizontal direction. He felt the force slightly relent as the craft slowed its descent. Felix breathed out a sigh. "Computer, status," he said tersely.

"MAIN POWER OFFLINE, EMERGENCY BATTERY AT FIFTY-THREE PERCENT AND FALLING. WARNING: PLANETARY COLLISION IMMINENT."

"No kidding," Felix said, still dazed from the violence in the atmosphere. Felix looked outside the canopy. It was only a matter of time before the pod completely ran out of power and he would vaporize on the ground below. He thought quickly. "Divert all power to thrusters," he said as the computer beeped an affirmative response.

Felix's hands moved as deftly as he could toward the flight controls. He stabbed the console with his fingers, firing a short burst from the thrusters. He then looked at the monitor. Forty-nine percent. The planet's surface was still quickly approaching.

Felix fired the thrusters again. The pod slightly slowed, but still traveled fast enough toward the surface to ensure that there wouldn't be much to clean up should the pod make contact with the ground below. Felix looked at the master display. Forty-one percent. It would take quite a bit more to completely slow the pod and make a safe landing. Felix fired the thrusters again. Thirty-seven percent. Felix took shallow breaths as the air started to leave the cabin.

As the pod careened toward New Bajor's surface, Felix's eye caught a patch of land looked suitable for a landing. Waves lapped up on its shore as the sand looked like it would be forgiving. Felix cycled through the math in his head as he fired the thrusters to match his calculations. Twenty-three percent. That last thruster burn had to be especially long to compensate for his chosen landing site. Felix fired the downward thrusters again to slow his descent now that he had somewhere to land the pod. Seventeen percent.

Felix could see the surface get closer and closer in the canopy's view as he fired the remaining thruster power to slow himself down. Felix felt a final jolt as the pod made contact with the surface and skidded to a halt. Felix reflexively reached up and grabbed the emergency release handle and the canopy blew off the rest of the pod. Felix gasped for air, coughing as New Bajor's friendly atmosphere rushed into his lungs.

Felix pressed the release on his harness and climbed up out of the right side of the pod. He hung himself over the side and spilled onto the sand below. "Oof!" he said as he landed with a thud against the grainy beach. The waves gently brushed against the pod and were cool enough to keep Felix from passing out. He slowly brought himself to a sitting position.

Felix tapped his COMM badge. =/\=Langston to Cochrane=/\= he said, slightly dazed and breathing heavily.

=/\=This is Ch'vell of the Cochrane, go ahead=/\=

=/\=I've landed safely on the surface of New Bajor,=/\= Felix said

=/\=You've WHAT?! How?!=/\= Ch'vell's voice sounded quite incredulous.

Felix sighed as he looked at the escape pod. =/\=Y'know, I'm not even sure myself.=/\=

=/\=That must've been some fancy flying,=/\= Ch'vell said.

=/\=Not flying, just falling with style.=/\= Felix said, coughing a bit as he chuckled.

Ensign Ch'vell's voice came from the other end of the COMM badge again. =/\=Acknowledged, Langston. Rescue shuttles might take a bit longer than three minutes, now.=/\=

=/\=Take your time, Cochrane,=/\= Felix said, =/\=At least I've got a beach to sit on for a bit.=/\=

=/\=Affirmative, Langston. Cochrane out.=/\=

Felix sighed again and laid back on the sand, folding his hands behind his head as he gazed toward the sky. He drew one knee in as the waves washed in and out. "All in a day's work," he said to himself. "All I know is, there better be some shore leave after this."

 

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