The sounds of the ship around them were all wrong; frames groaning and high voltage arcing instead of quiet murmur of the life support.
– Main drive’s gone, orbital control thrusters are just about to, auxiliary gravs are gone, nav’s gone. Recycling packed up on the last hit, damage control shows lower deck underwater. We still have main power, but reactor took a hit, I’m reading leaks all over engineering.
– Do you have any good news for us?
– Well, we’re still alive, that should count for something.
– One: evac bubble through the airlock, wait for pickup, hope it’s not one of His Holiness orbital cutters; two: strap in here, hope the ship does not come apart at reentry, eject at survivable speed, head for the hills. Two and a half: don’t eject, trust that my legendary piloting skills are enough for a landing we can walk away from. Better decide fast, this orbit is unstable, we’re in for a barely controlled reentry in fifteen minutes or so.
A hushed conversation in the back of the cockpit. Then –
– We’re staying.
– Good to hear, I’d sure like some company. All right people, I’m setting the clock to minus ten minutes, everybody bring your go-bag and stow it in the ejection seat, if you don’t have a go-bag, go pack one and remind me to tear you a new asshole once we’re planetside, I want to see your asses back here and strapped tight in ten minutes, now move it!
There was a chorus of clicks as belt buckles opened behind him. The pilot paid them no heed, all his attention on flickering displays. Below them, a green planet turned, indifferent.