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Nell didn’t like it, but Xendri was right. What other choice do we have? She set her jaw, and set herself to the task at hand. One flick of her tail was enough to disengage the airlock, and before the station had the chance to react to what that action meant, Nell put The Majestic into action and rocked the ship as hard as she could to break them loose.
Tearing metal is a terrifying sound to hear when you know there’s only a thin sheet of it protecting you from the vast deadliness of space. Despite her fear, Nell kept up her work and whether the clamps gave way or the sides of The Majestic did, the ship came loose and she started pulling them away from the enemy station.
That’s when she saw it. Below her feet, the glass panels were positioned perfectly for the pilot to be able to check on the progress of the loading and unloading of the cargo bay, or in this case of the state of the bay doors. The ramp was down and hanging loose, but this she expected. What she didn’t expect was to see the hot white light of a laser weapon being fired, followed by a black-armoured form being pushed out of the open airlock.
Nell watched the humanoid form spin off into space toward the red-orange planet they were in orbit of for the space of two heartbeats before she realized the implications of what she had just witnessed.
“They’re still on our ship,” Nell stated.
“On it,” Xendri stated grimly, grabbing for the pistol Nell had absently clipped to her suit’s belt.
Nell swallowed nervously, but before she could protest Xendri was gone, shutting the cockpit door behind her. Alone now, Nell could do nothing more than stare at the lone figure drifting through space. It was then that she noticed the slight build and feminine form of the metal suit. Shit, that’s Elise. She wasn’t sure exactly how she knew, but it was the only thing that made sense. She’s the only one Captain Droon would have reason to distrust. The only one he could blame for our actions. She watched the spinning form for the length of another heartbeat. This is my fault…
In that moment Nell made her decision. If there’s a chance she’ll live, I’m not leaving her out there.
Heedless of the guns she knew were tracking her every motion, she urged The Majestic forward. It would take great finesse, but she knew her airlock was open and she knew exactly where it was and how large of an opening she was dealing with. Here’s hoping Xendri can deal with Droon before I get her back inside.
It was a race against gravity. Elise’s spinning form was unerringly drawn toward the atmosphere of the planet. Nell angled The Majestic so that she could skirt along the edge of the planet’s atmosphere and made a beeline for her target.
Xendri’s voice came through the comms, “Nell, what are you doing?”
“I won’t let her die out there,” Nell responded tersely, her attention on the task at hand.
The Majestic was almost there when the unthinkable happened.
The ship’s scanners beeped loudly in warning, but Nell couldn’t risk altering her course. Taking the risk now that The Majestic was far enough away not to be a threat to them, the terrorists aboard the station had fired their guns. The impact shook The Majestic hard and Nell lost sight of Elise’s form. Did I get her?
“Nell!” Xendri protested.
The scanners lit up and whined once more as the station fired again. This time Nell banked hard to the left. The Majestic shook again, but not as badly this time.
Ugh, Nell raged against the situation. There’s no way I can outrun their guns…not like this. And the planet probably isn’t any safer. She was still considering her options when the scanners lit up with some rather surprising information. Another ship?
Nell’s eyes widened, taking in what limited information her screens were able to give her. By the rough size and shape of the thing, the ship was of Jorn make, and it was massive. A military vessel, most-likely. But whose? The Jorn government or the JLF?
The answer became clear when they fired upon the station, immobilizing their guns. Nell let out the breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding.
“Majestic,” the word crackled over the exterior comm system and Nell realized that they’d never shut it off, just muted it.
“Uh, yes?” She lifted the mute so she could respond.
“If you’re still capable of maneuvering, rendezvous with us. We’ll open a hangar for you.”
Stuck between a station she knew wanted them dead and a warship that had just saved their asses, Nell was pretty sure she knew which direction was best to go now, but she couldn’t help feel a sense of dread as she brought The Majestic to rest within the oversized hangar bay of the Jorn vessel. It didn’t help matters that Xendri had gone silent in the cargo bay below.
The hangar bay doors shut, sealing them inside, and the lights came on as oxygen flooded the interior of the bay. Nell powered The Majestic down.
Interior doors opened on the far end and in walked Jorn soldiers, armed and armoured. Nell sucked in a breath. Wherever we are now, we’re not the ones in charge here.
She put up her hands in the cockpit, knowing they could see her through the glass, but it wasn’t her they were interested in. Through the glass panel beneath her feet, Nell watched as Quattro and Xendri led Captain Droon out of The Majestic’s airlock at gunpoint.
Nell grinned, showing teeth as the Jorn army formed up around the Captain and took him into custody. Then a team of medics swarmed in with a stretcher carried between them and Nell sobered. I hope she’s okay, Nell watched eagerly for signs of life as they carried Elise’s armoured form out of the ship’s lower level. She didn’t see any, but by the speed of the medics, they must still feel they had a chance to save her.
“I assume everything is all right up here?” The unexpected voice startled Nell, causing her to whip about and reach for the pistol she was no longer carrying, but it was only Vox.
The crystal man stood immobile in the open doorway to the cockpit. She’d been so preoccupied with worry over Xendri and Elise that she hadn’t even heard the door open.
Nell nodded, worrying her lower lip between her teeth.
“We were lucky the Jorn took the threat seriously enough to come as quickly as they did,” Vox noted and Nell gave him a questioning look. “Xendri had me send an information packet out broadband as soon as we disembarked from the space station. I alerted the authorities to the JLF’s presence and their plans with the explosives. We may be implicated in their crime, but I think them firing on us should be evidence enough to see us clear of this.”
Nell was floored by this new information. I guess Xendri really did have a plan. Huh.
Sue made her way up to the cockpit from Engineering, shaking her head. “The engines are mostly okay, but the ship’s sustained a lot of damage, especially to the fuel lines. We’re not going anywhere any time soon.”
A troop of Jorn soldiers entered the hangar bay, their eyes on The Majestic and their guns in hand.
“I’d say we’re going with them,” Nell noted, gesturing with her chin, “and it doesn’t look like they’ll be taking no for an answer.”
*** To be continued….***
Justine Alley Dowsett is the author of nine novels and counting, and one of the founders of Mirror World Publishing. Her books, which she often co-writes with her sister, Murandy Damodred, range from young adult science fiction to dark fantasy/romance. She earned a BA in Drama from the University of Windsor, honed her skills as an entrepreneur by tackling video game production, and now she dedicates her time to writing, publishing, and occasionally role-playing with her friends.