See disclaimer in Part One

Search And Rescue

by

Werrf




Part Three

I opened my eyes slowly. The light filtering through the cracked canopy had a peculiar reddish-greenish quality to it. After a few moments, I realised it was because the light of the planet, naturally green, thanks to the thick green clouds that covered the planet, was having to filter through a thin layer of blood to get to my eyes. I reached up and flipped my visor open, clearing the red from my vision, then gingerly removed my helmet and felt for the source of the blood. It turned out to be a cut on my forehead, probably caused in the first few moments after ejecting, when the acceleration threw most senses wide of the mark.

Behind me, someone groaned.

"You had to do it, didn't you, skipper?" Mike asked. "You had to get us shot down."

"Sorry," I replied, "I thought you'd like a nice walk in the woods."

"Can't they come up with an ejection system that's not so painful?"

"Would you stop complaining and get the damn canopy open?"

"Okay, okay..."

There was a brief pause, then the canopy began to open slowly. I carefully unplugged myself from my life support equipment, then clambered painfully out of the cockpit. I sat on the edge for a moment, surveying the ground I would be dropping on to. It looked solid enough, so I let myself drop off the side. I landed up to my ankles in soft, spongy moss. It squelched. There was another squelch next to me as Mike landed in the moss.

"Oh, God," he complained, "did you have to land us in this stuff?"

"I didn't exactly get a choice of landing sites, y'know," I replied. "Now stop complaining and get out the survival kit."

While he squelched round the side of the cockpit to retrieve our survival equipment, I climbed back up on top of the 'pit. As far as I could tell, we'd landed in a small clearing, covering roughly an acre. Once again, I thanked the computers that controlled the parachutes and guided the cockpit to the best landing area.

Then again, I thought, maybe not so good. I could just imagine humanoid figures in black body armour crouching in the shadows of the trees - dead black eyes staring at me through the sights of a plasma rifle... I slipped off the side of the 'pit again and squelched round to the back.

"Come on, Mike, hurry up," I said, looking nervously back at the trees.

"This damn panel's stuck," he grumbled.

"Let me at it..."

I pushed him aside, grabbed the handles on the removable panel and tugged.

Nothing happened. The panel was bent in at the centre - probably during the ejection. I took a firm grip on the handles, braced one foot against the side of the 'pit, and pulled as hard as I could.

There was a sudden CLANG as the panel came free - but I didn't really hear it that well, as I went sprawling backwards into the moss. In fact, the only sound I heard with any clarity was 'Squelch'.

I managed to sit up, then struggled to my feet as Mike began pulling things out of the compartment hidden behind the panel.

"Right," he said, "We've got two SA-210 rifles, two K-Bars, two short range two way radios, one long range orbital radio, one emergency medikit, two temperature controlled bedrolls, two rucksacks, two torches - IR and visible light - various bits of climbing kit, and two personal packs."

As he spoke, he'd been pulling items out of the compartment and piling them on the ground. The last two items were a welcome peculiarity of the Tornado. The survival pod had room for two extra items for the pilots - anything that could be helpful in the event of an ejection could be put in there. Mike had brought along a personal CD player.

"Just to keep us going," he explained. I raised a cynical eyebrow.

"Entertainment is a recognised essential," he argued. "Man cannot live on bread alone, you know."

"Maybe man can't," I replied, "But the RAF are certainly supposed to."

"All right, then, what've you got?"

I carefully opened the second package to reveal a two foot long bayonet, wrapped in a standard issue towel with 'HMS Ark Royal' on it.

"French bayonet," I said, holding the sheathed blade up to the light. "A real antique. Nineteenth century. Still pretty good at cutting things, though." I pulled it out of the sheath and held the razor sharp edge up for Mike's inspection. Shortly after the start of the war, I'd taken the blade to the Royal Marine's armoury and asked them to put a 'good edge' on it. They'd done pretty well.

"And the towel?"

"Everyone should know where their towel is."

He looked at me as though I was insane.

"What are you on?" he asked.

"Forget it. Let's get to work."

I wrapped the towel around my neck and stood up. "Get the radio going. I'll set up the antenna."

Mike set to work on the radio while I carefully rested the miniature parabolic antenna on the side of the cockpit. I plugged the cable into the base of the antenna, then fed it back over to where Mike was sitting.

"Ready?" I asked. He plugged the lead from the small solar panel into the radio and looked up.

"Ready."

I nodded, then plugged the cable running from the antenna into the side of the radio.

"Okay," Mike said, standing up, "She's ready to go."

I nodded, then adjusted my microphone slightly and turned to face where the Ark Royal should be. There was no need, but it made me feel more comfortable.

"Ark Royal, this is Flogger One, do you copy, over?"

There was a moments silence, then the radio crackled back into life.

"Roger that, Flogger One, reading you loud and clear. Say your location please, over."

"Ark Royal our position is..." I looked at Mike.

"Lat' one-five-three degrees, two-zero minutes, one-five seconds, Long' one- zero degrees, zero minutes, five seconds."

I repeated Mike's list for the benefit of the controller on the Ark.

"Roger," he replied when I'd finished, "read your location. What is your situation, over?"

"No injuries, survival kit intact, no sign of enemy soldiers, over."

"Understood, Flogger One. Nearest extraction site is at Charlie Thirteen, repeat - Charlie-One-Three, over."

"Charlie-One-Three, received. Any further instructions, over?"

"Flogger One, you are to change your callsign to avoid confusion with air traffic. Please adopt callsign 'Crusoe' for communication with the ship, over."

I grinned wryly. Someone up there had an interesting sense of humour. Robinson Crusoe indeed.

"Understood," I replied, "callsign 'Crusoe', out."

Mike looked up as I finished the conversation.

"What're our extraction instructions?" he asked.

"Charlie-One-Three, and if you could translate it to English I'd be most grateful." The extraction orders contained both a location and a time, but only the navigator knew what it meant. Mike flipped quickly through his little code book until he came to the correct section.

"Charlie-One-Three...Bearing Zero-Eight-Nine, ten clicks, and we've got..." he checked his watch "...two hours to get there."

"Well," I said, picking up my pack, "we'd better get going, hadn't we?" I swung the pack up onto my back and squelched towards the treeline.

***

Major Bates thrust a magazine into his rifle and felt the click as it snapped home. He looked around the loading bay at his team - thirty soldiers, all fully armed and ready to go. He turned to the two officers standing behind him, Captain Kelly Thornton and Lieutenant Stephen Wilson.

"All right" he said in clipped tones, "Lieutenant Wilson, I want you with me. You'll command team two."

"Yes, sir," the Lieutenant replied. Bates turned to Captain Thornton. All of twenty five years old, to the veteran Major she seemed more like sixteen.

"Captain Thornton..."

"Sir."

"I want you to remain in the second APC with the support team. If we need support, come in and help us. Do you understand?"

"But sir, I..."

"This is an important mission, Captain, and you don't have the experience to carry it out."

Without another word he turned to his men and began barking orders. Behind him, the Lieutenant turned to the Captain.

"Don't worry, it's just his way," he said.

"What, to insult everyone, and undermine his XO in front of his men?"

"No, to be totally honest. He's not going to risk a mission just to make someone feel good. You'll get used to him. And he'll get used to you."

"Maybe."

"Anyway, if you want to stay here, you'd better get ready to back us up. See you in an hour."

With that, he turned and boarded the APC, leaving the fuming Captain behind him.

"Everything all right, Lieutenant?" the Major asked as the Lieutenant boarded.

"Yes, sir. Ready to go."

"Will she do the job if she's needed?"

"I think so. She's got experience."

"Not with us, she hasn't." After three years serving together, Wilson had become used to the Bates' dead, emotionless voice.

"Sir...may I speak freely?"

"Speak." The reply was short and to the point - the reply of a man who didn't want to waste words on needless chatter.

"With all due respect, she doesn't have experience with us, and she won't get it unless you use her on missions. She knows her stuff. And she's got the guts to put it into practice."

"What do you base that conclusion on?"

"She had the guts to kick you in the balls, sir."

The Lieutenant was rewarded with a brief flash of pain in his CO's eyes. It vanished quickly and was once again replaced by the dead look.

"That was training. This is reality."

"Yes, sir."

The door clanged shut behind them, shutting them off from the rest of the ship. The APC was now a sealed, self contained system. The deck lurched slightly as the cargo box was lifted up to join with the rest of the ship.

***

Deep in the bowels of the Ark Royal, Flight Lieutenant Becky Johnson surveyed her people. There were only seven of them - Drew and Mike were missing on the planet below, and Jane and Lewington were in the sickbay. Not the best start to her first mission in command. After only a week as the second in command of the Squadron, she was suddenly in charge. And she didn't like it one bit. It was one of the basic truths of Military life - advancement is all too often Dead Men's Boots. And in this case, the Boots belonged to the man she loved. She consulted her notes quickly, then looked up at the attentive pilots.

"Okay," she said, her voice cracking slightly. She paused, then tried again. "Okay. We've got two of our people down on the planet, and we've got the protect the APC that's going down to pick them up. And remember, our CO's down there."

"So, if he doesn't make it back, we all get promoted," cracked Flight Lieutenant Anna Winters. Her grin disappeared as Becky rounded on her.

"Another comment like that, and I'll make sure you spend the rest of the war flying APC's from Mars to the Moon!" she shouted. "He's our CO, and you'll damn well show some respect!" Winters, a large woman who was generally considered to be more at home with the SAS than the RAF, quailed slightly under Becky's wrath.

"Sorry, ma'am," she stuttered, "It was only a joke..."

"A JOKE?! You don't make jokes about killing your CO!"

By this time, Becky was face to face with Winters, despite being a good foot shorter than her muscular subordinate. Standing on tiptoes with her face thrust up as far as possible did nothing to take the menace out of her hissed words.

"Squadron Leader McLean is more than your CO. You owe him your life. Several times over. Never forget that."

Winters' face was pale as Becky stalked back up to the briefing board. She spun and faced the quaking pilots.

"Now," she said, quietly, seething with anger, "would anyone else like to make a joke about our Commanding Officer?"

The briefing lasted another ten minutes, then Becky dismissed the assembled officers, and they filed out to their planes. Chris Thompson was the last to leave, following Becky out. When he reached the door, he spotted Wing Commander Reginald standing at the inner door. As soon as Reggy saw Chris had noticed him, he beckoned the navigator over. Chris crossed the room to join him.

"Sir?"

Reggy looked worried.

"Chris."

There was a pause.

"Can I do something for you, sir?"

"This is unofficial, Chris. But it's officially unofficial, if you know what I mean."

"I think I can follow you, sir."

"Good. What's morale like?"

Chris sighed. He hated talking about Squadron morale behind their backs. "Well, considering we've just almost halved out effective fighting force, I'd say morale is pretty good. Becky's a rather upset, though."

"That's to be expected. How upset?"

"She nearly got into a fight with Flight Lieutenant Winters just now. She was so angry, I think Anna was actually afraid." Reggy was startled by that. They both knew that getting fear out of Anna Winters was like trying to get a straight answer out of a politician.

"Is she capable of commanding the Squadron?" Reggy asked.

"I think so. But I'm a bit worried about her. She's taking the Skipper's loss rather personally. I just hope to God we can get him back, otherwise we might lose a damn good pilot."

"Yes, I'd rather not lose McLean. He's probably the best pilot on the ship. Me included."

"Absolutely, sir. But I wasn't talking about McLean. If he dies down there, I don't know that Becky'll be able to carry on flying."

"You think it's that bad?"

"It could get that bad."

Reggy paused for a moment, puffing through his moustache.

"Keep an eye on her, Chris. I don't want to lose both of them."

"Of course, sir."

There was an awkward silence as they both considered the terrible idea of Becky leaving the war...or, even worse, taking a Tornado and making the Chigs pay for killing the man she loved. Finally, Reggy broke the silence. "You'd better get back to the others. You don't want them taking off without you, do you?"

"Right, sir."

Chris snapped to attention and saluted his CO, then turned and headed back to the Squadron. He faltered slightly when he saw Becky standing in the doorway of the briefing room.

"Have a nice chat?" she asked, her voice so cold that Chris actually shivered slightly.

"Just discussing Squadron morale, ma'am," he replied.

Her dark mood lightened slightly.

"Chris, we're the same rank. You don't have to call me 'ma'am'."

"Well, we may be the same rank, but you're the CO at the moment. That means I have to call you 'ma'am', ma'am."

She scowled at him. Her lighter mood had lasted approximately five seconds.

"Let's go," she snapped. "We've got a flight to lead."

"Of course, ma'am," Chris replied, and followed her out of the room and onto the flight deck.

***

The bayonet banged against my leg as we walked, the rifle weighed my right arm down, the straps of the bergen dug into my shoulders, and my feet were being rubbed raw by my boots. I turned to Mike, who was struggling along next to me.

"You still with me, Flight Lieutenant?" I asked.

"Just about," he replied, his voice sour. "I'm beginning to remember why I chose the RAF instead of the Army."

"Really? Why's that?"

"Because I'm not all that fond of walking."

"Really? Why, I love walking," I replied, adjusting bergen, bayonet and rifle.

"You look it," he growled, pausing briefly to rub his complaining calves.

"Honestly, I signed up for the RAF, not the SAS. Why don't we get Bates to do this bit, then we can get back to what we do best?"

I froze. Up ahead I'd heard something blundering through the trees, stepping on fallen branches. Mike hadn't noticed, and carried on walking and muttering up a small ridge.

"Meant to fly, not walk...use a radar, not a rifle...all this time fighting G's, where do I end up...?" He finally noticed that I'd stopped, and turned back.

"What's up, ski...?"

I held up a hand to silence him, then pointed in the direction of the approaching noise. He looked where I was pointing, then understanding dawned, and he threw himself onto the ground and crawled back to me.

"What is it?" he asked.

"Probably Chigs. They're heading this way."

No sooner were the words out of my mouth than three Chig soldiers - quieter than their comrades - appeared at the top of the ridge. It's difficult to say who was more surprised - but it was probably us, since the lead Chig was already raising his weapon before we recovered from our shock. It was only by luck that his first shot missed, giving me a chance to raise my rifle. I didn't miss. The lead Chig fell, and Mike took the others down a second or two later. As the last Chig dropped to the ground, green spooge dripping out of the armour, we ducked and ran for cover behind a fallen tree.

Crouching behind the tree, Mike looked over the top, searching for something to shoot.

"What do we do now?" he asked.

"We haven't got a choice. If we let any of 'em get away, they'll know where we are. We've got to kill them all."

I pulled the bayonet out of it's sheath and laid it on the ground by the trunk, then pointed my rifle in the general direction of the Chigs.

"God, what I wouldn't give for a Tornado right now," Mike muttered.

"What I wouldn't give for the Ark Royal."

There was no time for any more talking, as a group of Chigs appeared at the top of the ridge. They took a couple of seconds to look at the three bodies at the bottom of the slope, then they raised their weapons. Too late.

The first two Chigs fell to Mike's rifle fire, dropping and sliding down the slope. I followed up by killing three more, then the two survivors turned and began to run awkwardly away through the forest.

"We can't let them escape," I shouted, somewhat unnecessarily. "You take the left, I'll go right."

"Right!"

I grabbed my bayonet and took off after my designated Chig as Mike ran off in the opposite direction. Ahead of me I could hear the crunching and crackling as the Chig lumbered quickly through the trees. I ducked under a low hanging branch, then suddenly realised my quarry had stopped and turned, and was now standing right in front of me, swinging his curved blade in a massive overhand stroke that should have sliced my skull neatly in two. I just managed to get the bayonet up in time to parry the blow, stopping it a couple of inches from my head. The Chig didn't seem to worry about his ambush failing, he just swung the blade again, this time going for my leg. I jerked backwards and swung viciously at his head.

Somehow, he swung his blade up again and caught my blow, then threw me backwards. We began to circle each other, looking for and opening, a chance to attack. He saw his chance first, and darted forward, aiming for my left arm. I dropped to my knees and held my sword out in front of me. This had two effects: the Chig's blade went harmlessly over my head, and his charge ran him straight onto my blade. There was a sickening crunch as the razor sharp metal cut through his armour and dug into the body behind. I let go of the sword and threw myself aside as the Chig collapsed to the ground, green spooge pouring in all directions.

When he finally stopped moving, I slowly approached the body. The spooge bubbled and fizzed slightly, squelching horribly around my boots. I steeled myself, then put one boot on the dead alien's chest plate, got a good grip on the hilt of the blade and pulled. The sword reluctantly moved a few inches, then slid out like Excalibur from the stone, sending me flying. I just managed to avoid landing in one of the puddles of spooge, landing unceremoniously on my backside.

I stood up, and activated my short range radio, while at the same time wiping spooge from the blade with a corner of my towel. "Mike? D'you copy?"

A few moments later, his breathless voice came through.

"Roger, Skipper, I'm still here. How're you doing?"

"One Chig down. You?"

"Same. I manage to get a shot at the little bastard. He lost interest in things after that."

"Good. Small problem, though is that their bosses are gonna miss 'em. We'll probably have company before long."

"Well, with a bit of luck they weren't due back for a day or two."

"Yeah, let's hope so. How far d'you think we are from the rendezvous?"

"Not far. I'd say no more than a mile."

"Good. I think I can find it from here. See you there in ten minutes?"

"Roger. If you get lost, give me a call."

"Understood. See you there."

***

The major drawback in being a navigator was the position of the seat. It was impossible to see anything in front of the aircraft - that privilege was reserved for pilots. Still, Chris didn't mind much. As long as he had his computers and his Lidar, he was at peace with the world. There were moments, though, when you wished you could see out ahead. Such as the moment when the space doors opened in front of the plane, providing a beautiful view of clear, open space. Moments like this one. Seconds before the engines threw the little ship away from the carrier, there was a chance to truly appreciate the awesome size and majesty of the universe.

Not for the poor Navigator, though. All he got to look at was a bank of computers.

Still, the thought of missing out on that sight was infinitely preferable to the thought of him flying. Despite Squadron Leader McLean's insistence that he, Chris, was perfectly capable of taking control of the plane, Chris Thompson could not fly to save his life. Or anyone else's life for that matter. The one time he'd tried to fly a straight and level course - in a simulator, thank God - he'd ended up running straight into the side of a hill. Even that wouldn't be so bad, if it weren't for the fact that the hill was only four hundred feet above sea level, and he'd started off at thirty thousand feet.

"Are we ready, Chris?" Becky's voice came over the intercom.

"Roger that, Becky. Ready for launch as soon as you want."

"Good."

Without another word, the fighter shot out from the carrier, followed by the rest of the Squadron, and curved 'upwards' to join formation with the APC carrying the SAS rescue party.

"APC four-three-niner, this is Flogger One, we're on your three o'clock, you are cleared to begin atmospheric insertion, over." Becky's voice was clear and authoritative over the radio. Chris was struck by the similarity between Becky's command voice and McLean's.

"Roger that, Flogger One," the APC's pilot replied, "Come left, heading four three niner, stand by for atmosphere insertion."

"Roger that, four-three-niner."

The Tornadoes turned in perfect formation to follow the APC down to the planet. This was where the fun started.

"Chris, watch the Lidar. I don't want the Chigs creeping up on us."

"Definitely," Chris replied, gluing his eyes to the Lidar screen.

***

I squinted over my rifle, peering out through the leaves. The clearing was about twice the size of the one we landed in, but otherwise it looked identical - complete with a thick layer of moss. I shifted uncomfortably on the branch, then resumed peering out at the treeline. I started as a loud voice sounded in my ear.

"Can you see anything?" Mike asked.

I peered down to see the Flight Lieutenant looking up at me. "Mike," I replied, "This is just a thought, but it might not be such a brilliant idea to startle someone who's sat forty feet in the air on a branch, looking for signs of aliens who'd like nothing better than to blow your head off. Next time, give me some warning."

"Sorry, Skipper," he replied. "But can you see any Chigs?"

I made one last pass before replying.

"I can't see any. I'm coming down."

"Roger that."

I strapped my gun onto my back, checked my harness, then swung my leg over the branch I was sitting astride, braced myself for a moment, then slipped off and abseiled to the ground. Mike stood guard as I freed myself from the harness. There were a few spots of spooge on the front of his flight suit, but other than that he seemed okay. Then I noticed a white bandage on his right leg with a few spots of blood just showing through.

"Any sign?" he asked.

"I couldn't see anything," I replied. "What happened to the leg?"

He looked a little embarrassed.

"Oh, nothing much. Just a scratch."

"Come on, Mike. I know you, you wouldn't put a bandage on anything less than a severed artery. Less than that, you'd use a band aid and an aspirin."

"Well, I was going over that Chig I killed, I found his knife. Thought it'd be a good souvenir, so I pulled it out and...well..."

"And...?" I prompted.

"And, I dropped it. It sliced me leg on the way down. Pretty sharp." He was clearly embarrassed - he wanted to end the conversation, but I couldn't let him off that easily.

"Oh, God, Mike, no wonder you didn't join the Army. If you can't even handle a simple knife...!"

"Careful with your disparaging comments, skipper, or I might just have to mention the minor incident of Reggy's birthday present."

It was about time to finish this conversation. I very smoothly changed the subject.

"Yes, well... anyway, we've got twenty minutes to wait. I just hope the Chigs don't find us first." I rested my rifle against a nearby tree, then sank gratefully to the ground. Mike grinned and sat down next to me.

"What is it they say about infantry work?" he asked. "Ninety eight percent total boredom, two percent abject terror."

"I'll be quite happy with twenty minutes of boredom, thanks. I'm not really into terror."

"I hope the Chigs feel the same way."

***

The red glare outside the windows slowly faded as the APC settled into atmospheric flight. Sergeant Paton turned away from the window and back to the squad, who were receiving their final briefing from Lieutenant Wilson. "There's not really much to say. Two pilots are trapped on the planet, and it's our job to pick them up. We're not expecting any enemy activity, but be ready, just in case." He turned to the Major and saluted.

"Company briefed, sir," he reported.

"Carry on, Lieute..."

"Sir!" he was interrupted by the Private manning the scanners.

"What is it, Private?"

"Signs of firing near the extraction site, sir."

The Major pushed his way through the men and leaned over the screen.

"Where?"

"Here, sir. Looks like two SA-210's and about fifteen Chig rifles."

"They've been compromised." He straightened up and turned to address the rest of the company. "Everybody get ready, we're going into a hot zone. Sergeant Paton, get up to the flight deck, tell them to inform the fighters we have enemy activity around the LZ."

"Yes, sir." Paton responded quickly and efficiently, slipping between the men up towards the flight deck. Bates hurried back over to the screen.

"Have we got a picture of the landing zone?"

"Here, sir." The Private tapped a few buttons, bringing up a picture of a clearing on the screen.

"No bloody cover," Bates muttered. "We'll have to stay with the ship." He turned round to see Sergeant Paton standing next to him.

"Paton, get back up to the flight deck and see if the fighters can give us any air cover."

"They can't sir. They've picked up twenty four enemy fighters closing on the LZ. Once we touch down we'll have thirty seconds to get out again or we'll never make it back to the Ark."

"Oh, that's bloody brilliant."

***

I glanced quickly around the side of the tree, ducked, and ran for another bit of cover that much closer to the edge of the clearing. As I ran, Chig plasma bolts followed my course, some of them getting so close I could hear the sizzle as the water in the moss boiled away. I jumped, rolled, and came up firing from behind a tree. I could see Mike just a few yards away, up on one knee, taking pot shots at any Chigs that showed themselves.

"How long?" I asked into my microphone.

"Five minutes, tops," he replied.

"Roger that. Watch your six over there."

"You bet."

I squinted down the sights of my gun - not very easy when you're wearing an airtight helmet, but just about possible. Was that a flash of black behind that tree? I fired a couple of rounds, just to check, and was rewarded with the sight of a large Chig soldier to lurch out and die. What a shame.

I became aware of a dull rumble from somewhere overhead, which slowly grew to a deep roar. A British Army APC swept in low over the trees, then swung round and touched down in the clearing, the exhaust from the engines producing huge clouds of steam from the moss. The door opened a second or so after the big ship settled onto the ground and an SAS officer leaned out.

"We've got thirty seconds!" he yelled over the engines and the firing. I held up an hand to show I'd received the message, then activated my radio.

"Mike, get going. I'll join you in a minute."

I saw him nod, then he broke his cover and ran for the APC. Immediately, five Chigs appeared and started firing at him. I returned the complement, killing two of them and forcing the others to duck. Looking back I saw Mike being hauled into the ship by the SAS. I gave the Chigs one last burst to keep their heads down, then made my own run for the ship.

As soon as I left my cover, the two remaining Chigs started firing. I heard their shots pass either side, and threw myself to the ground as one sizzled overhead. Looking up, I guessed I was still fifty feet from the APC. I could hear the people on the ship firing into the trees, but the Chigs carried on firing at me. I rolled onto my back and fired into the trees. How long left? Ten, fifteen seconds? It couldn't be much more than that. I rolled over again and began to crawl towards the ship, but even as I did, I could hear the engines revving up, ready for takeoff. Forty feet to go. The engines began to rotate downwards to provide thrust. I tried to stand, but the Chigs began firing again, only just missing, so I fell flat on my face again. I looked up just in time to see the APC slowly lifting up and away from the planet, then slowly accelerating away as four Tornadoes fell into formation behind it. I was trapped on the planet.


To be continued...

Werrf February-April 1998


Image kindly provided by the author himself, showing a Tornado

Go back to the Fanfic Depot
Go to Space: Above and Beyond page
Return to Home Page