Page the Second


A fronte praecipitium a tergo lupi. (In front of you, a precipice. Behind you, wolves.)

Saturday, March 23, 2013


I'm putting a little snatch of A TERRIBLE MAJESTY here: 
When Kit woke, he looked around, thinking that Heaven looked an awful lot like a wrecked Wasp. And it hurt like hades, too. His leg felt as if it were being flayed to hamburger by hot plasma. There were droplets of his blood careening about in the cockpit. The rest of his body felt like one big bruise covering a whole lot of little ones. He hit thrusters to slow his chaotic flight and frantically checked his systems. Part of the cockpit was stove in and still pressing agonizingly on his right leg, but amazingly, not breached. Targeting was down, but hopefully he wouldn't need it. At least Navigation and Life Support were still up. He didn't even bother to check his comm. Surely the antennae were fried to a crisp. He had to run deeper diagnostics on all his systems and try and figure out where he was.
“I'd like to send Chacon and Fullmont down the nearest black hole,” he muttered to himself. “What a couple
of brainless clowns. They nearly scrubbed my mission.”
There was still a mission, though. He dug his head into his hands, suddenly feeling ninety five years old. He was still bleeding from somewhere besides his leg, and the droplets were starting to get in the way and annoy him. He finally corralled them all in his flight suit coif and used it to stanch the blood from what turned out to be a cut on the back of his head.
He had to get to the plas-skin. To do that, he first had to release himself from his webbing and get loose from the wreckage. The webbing wouldn't release, having locked on impact. He had to use a shard of metal to cut his way out of the restraints. He screamed again as he dragged his leg out from the pincers of the seat and the caved-in wall using the material of his flight suit. He nearly passed out again, breath coming raggedly in fits and starts. Finally it came loose from the trap and he fell out of his seat onto the decking. He gasped, the agony threatening his very sanity. Slowly, so slowly, he inched back to the meds locker. It took him what seemed like a decade to make the two-meter trip.
He flipped open the locker and rifled through the supplies. At last! A tube of plas-skin and some webbing. A medic would have been handy, but there was nobody. He would have to set the bone himself. He looked around until he found an aperture into which he jammed his foot. He bit down on a length of cloth and threw himself backwards.
Pain exploded, white-hot and cloying, smashing into Kit's head, knocking him into blessed oblivion. Nearly a half hour later he woke to the teeth of his pain chewing through his body like the razor fangs of the Deep Warden, but the leg was set. Now to cover it all up with plas-skin, and a webbing bandage and hope it could all be fixed the right way later. He squeezed a pearl of the goo out and applied it to the edges of the skin around the wound. It was going to take half the tube to close the whole thing. Good thing the skin had a built-in antibiotic and painkiller. He cracked the heat tube and applied it to the plas-skin seal.
After what seemed like forever, the seal gelled and the bleeding slowed. He felt the heat reaction starting to knit the skin back together. The energy was terrifically warm. Kit nearly bit through his bottom lip. The heat and pain began to ebb a little as the anesthetic function of the gel began to work. It's about frakkin' time! They should change the directions to read “Numbs when it feels like it”. He worked the webbing around his leg and released the tourniquet slowly. The blood throbbed like a sledge hammer in the wound, but he had no more time to worry about it.
He dragged himself slowly back to his chair and, clenching his teeth over a yell, hauled himself into it. The dent bit into his leg, but there was nothing he could do about it. At least it would keep his leg stabilized. Kit dragged air through his laboring lungs trying desperately to stay awake.
Finally he was able to concentrate and determined that he had shot past the Anomaly at an angle and was headed for parts unknown. He hit the thrusters, some of which were malfunctioning and making flying difficult. It was like rowing a boat with one broken oar. He chose a course based on the data they'd last received on the Anomaly ship. The data was now old and wouldn't guarantee he'd hit the correct location perfectly, but it was all he had. Somehow he doubted he could really miss something as big as the Anomaly.
True to form, it wasn't a half an hour before the moon-sized vessel emerged from the shadow of an asteroid and rapidly began to fill his port. As it hove into view, Kit felt the bottom of his stomach drop away. If he let himself think about it, panic would take over. He couldn't afford that. He had to have his wits about him when the Intrepid opened a hole, or he'd run screaming into the dark and forever lose the respect of his peers. His Poppy would be right.
Still, he was nearly petrified with fear when the silvery markings began to writhe before his eyes. He tore his gaze away from the sinuous swirls. “I'm not going to plunge in like a noob on his maiden flight,” he grunted to himself. “This is going to be a controlled, elegant landing.”
He got close enough to arrive fairly soon, but not close enough to be hit by debris from the MAC blast if there was any. Who knew if the Intrepid would even manage a hole? They'd botched the mine field. At least most of the mines were intact, apparently. With all the explosions, the Anomaly guys would have to be functioning on the level of amoebas not to have noticed. He fully expected the enemy ship to be hot-footing it back to whatever part of hades it came from, by now. If they were smart, of course. Right. They probably eat nukes for lunch. Who am I kidding? They'll be coming at us not even caring if they run right through that mine field. They probably have the speed to ram past those mines before they even blow up.
He fired his thrusters judiciously and the Wasp slowed to a stop. It was as good a place as any to wait for the clowns on the Intrepid to get their act together. He used the time to try and fix what he could and clear away floating nuisances. He was still amazed his ship hadn't sustained a hull breech.

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