TTC: The Cygnus War, Part 12

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The Tessa Chronicles: The Cygnus War #12 (Against All Odds pt. 2) By Earl S. Wynn

“Cordova’s rig can make it through most of Tarsis 12's atmosphere using standard Earthside procedure for a power-off atmo approach, but he can’t glide in on his own, right?”

Phoebe grinned, eyes alive with excitement as she pulled a lazy turn back toward the planet. Her Seindrive’s resident AI was tracking the rest of Minerva squadron, Davidson’s rig halfway through atmo, Cordova’s floating, grazing the outermost layer, Tessa’s sliding in toward the planet at a strange angle, and Izzy’s bee-lining for the newbies and the colony. “I say we go inverted, get in underneath him, and use the opposing magnetic forces of our rigs’ hover systems to give him a little piggyback ride to the airfield.”

Dead silence. Finally Izzy thumbed the mike “I– ” Tessa cut her off.

“Sounds great, Lieutenant.” She brushed the back of her hand across her lips, wiping away blood, trying to ignore how much she was losing and forcing herself to concentrate instead on Phoebe’s plan. “If everything works the way it should... we can pull away at the last second and let Coriolis force take him the rest of the way in, right?” She paused and squinted, fighting the pain. It was getting worse, every breath a harsh, labored draw of thick air. “There should be enough ambient lift under his Seindrive to carry him down those last couple of meters... It’ll be rough, he’ll be touching down heavy on the hover systems... probably blow a suspensor or two with the piezo-kinetic feedback shooting through the dead Schrödinger panels, but at least he’ll walk away from this one.”

“Exactly!” Phoebe practically cheered. An uncertain noise from Cordova crackled across the channel. “Great plan LC! You’re a genius!”

Tessa tried not to laugh– white hot needles screamed inside her with the effort, every movement harsh and searingly painful in the fleshy tangle of her abused innards. She forced herself to speak, and it came out as a wet croak. “You’re the genius, Phee. It was your plan.”

“Sounds like it should work.” Izzy cut in suddenly. “I mean, it’ll be tight, pulling out that close to the ground...”

“What about direction?” Cordova broke in suddenly. “There’s no way my rig is on a vector for whatever airfield they’re using, and I can’t trigger my retros if you’re going to be right under me!”

“Don’t worry, Cordova!” Phoebe’s voice crackled across the channel again. “We’ll just play hot potato with your rig until we get it lined up right!”

“Hot po– what?”

“Hot potato!” Phoebe’s voice had picked up in speed, excited and totally withdrawn into the intricacies and nuances of her plan.“By coordinating tiny, AI assisted corrections in the magnetic fields of our Seindrives’ hover systems, we should be able to shift your rig just enough in any direction to get you lined up with any airfield on Tarsis 12!”

“Dang, Phee.” Izzy whistled. “You sure that’s gonna work?”

“Positive!” The young lieutenant had to be grinning from ear to ear. “I did something similar in a simulator once when I was still in Earthside training.”

Similar!?” Cordova broke in again, almost frantic. “How similar are we talking here!? What model was the simulator!?”

Tessa thumbed the mike before anyone else could respond. She didn’t have time to deal with whatever doubts Izzy or Cordova might decide to suddenly express. “Phoebe! Just how close are we going to have to get to the ground before we can pull away?”

“Uh... I’d say about eight meters or less to be absolutely sure, LC.” Phoebe paused, sounding preoccupied. “Less would be better.”

A wry laugh from Cordova crackled across the channel, wrapped in static. “Less than eight meters? You’re kidding, right? That’s crazy! That’s like twenty feet off the ground! At the speed we’ll be traveling after burning through atmo...” He trailed off, leaving a rising note of panic in his wake.

“The whole plan sounds crazy, but I think we can pull it off.” Izzy hardly paused before she clicked the mike again and added. “Tess, I volunteer.”

“We don’t need volunteers.” Tessa shot back, stifling a deep, wicked-sounding cough. “Phoebe, you and I will handle Cordova– Izzy, stick close and standby in case we need you.”

“Stick close and standby!?” Izandra jumped in, suddenly furious. “Tessa, this isn’t exactly a cakewalk we’re talking about here! You’re going to need two good, uninjured pilots– ”

“It’s not up for debate, Lieutenant.” Tessa cut her off harshly. “What I need is a good, uninjured pilot standing by in case Lieutenant Jenkins or I blow it somewhere between here and touchdown, Class?

“Class.” Izandra grumbled. “Thanks for reminding me that I’m beneath you in rank.”

“You can get even with me later... if it matters that much to you, Izzy.”

“Oh, trust me, I will.” The other woman shot back just as suddenly. “And if something goes wrong...” She let it hang ominously in the air. Phoebe chuckled in the silence.

“That’s great.” Cordova broke in, forcing mock cheeriness into his otherwise acidic tone and dropping it an instant later. “Can we get my rig on the ground now, please?

“As soon as I get the telemetry for the active airfield from Davidson.” Tessa grinned, flicked up her helmet’s visor, and rubbed her eyes. “Why, is it getting hot in there yet, Lieutenant?”

“Not yet, not really... but uh, it’s just...” Cordova paused, swallowing uneasily in the silence “It’s just that Tarsis 12 is starting to look really big right about now, and my angle of approach is making me real nervous.”

Tessa glanced at her display, eyes flicking across the readout for Cordova’s rig and the display for the active comm channel. Still no word from Davidson.

“Right.” She flicked the visor back down, biting her lip. “Phoebe, let’s get this show on the road. We’ll work the angle on the fly once Davidson gets his narcoleptic ass in gear and sends us the data we need.”

“Roger that, LC!” Jenkins responded immediately, as chipper and perky as ever. “I’m ready to move in whenever you are.”

Tessa managed another grin. “See you on the ground, Izzy.”

“Wouldn’t have it any other way, Tess.”

“Padre nuestro que estás en los cielos...” Cordova mumbled.
Full title: The Tessa Chronicles: The Cygnus War #12 (Against All Odds Part 2)

I love the ending in this one. It’s so... BAM BAM BAM, three short lines. Tessa says her piece, Izzy shoots off a great response, and Cordova is reciting the classic “Lord’s Prayer” in his native Spanish, because he knows that if the three girls from Minerva squadron can’t pull this off, he’s totally screwed.

But will they pull it off? Check back in one week to find out! (Don’t you hate how I keep making you wait a whole week between episodes?) *laugh* Must be my sadistic streak.

Progress report: 18 is laid out and (I think) close to being done. It still needs revisions and it needs work to make everything “gel.” Right now it’s more like the product of not-enough-sleep than an actual installment. Beyond that, I’ve laid out the framework for 19-21, but haven’t really written anything. Still tossing around ideas for which “Future plotline” from the current list I’ve got secluded in it’s own little file to use for the next arc. So far, the most promising idea is rather mind tingling.

This, though, is the twelfth installment of TTC: The Cygnus War. You can find the previous episode here: [link] The next episode, “Planetfall” is done and scheduled to be released first thing next Wednesday (October 4th, Pacific time.)
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M4dLeprechaun's avatar
Man, I live in a border town I can't even translate the Spanish down there in the last line. I feel silly. Oh well.

Awesome chapter, it's like whoosh! And blood! And things flying and ready to explode! I like it, yet another cliffhanger, roar. Eh, more reason to follow up next week.

Poor Cordova, hanging around on the line while everyone else bickers, aww..