TTC: The Cygnus War, Part 33

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For the first time in what felt like ages, Cordova buried his face in his hands and collapsed forward, a dead weight against the panel. Each breath came slow, shaky, somewhere between panic and resignation, but there were no tears, nothing but the slow, broken breathing, the growing weight that settled across his shoulders, driving home just how far up shit creek he really was.

Alone. Abandoned. Left for dead.

It was never supposed to be like this.

Rigs broadcasting the IFF ident of Osiris Squadron had passed within meters of his. They’d come darting over and through the debris field like burning dragonflies on their search for survivors, but the sweep they’d made had been quick, loose, spotty. He’d tried to get their attention, even waved frantically at the rigs as they burnt hard overhead, but with the transmitter out and everything else on the flitz, he was little more than a flickering contact, a sensor ghost, something easily overlooked on scopes and tactical displays, assumed out of commission when his rig disappeared from screens and just as easily flagged as an unidentified chunk of moving metal when his thruster flares happened to catch the sensors of other Terran rigs. It wasn’t TCGND policy to engage unidentified objects, even if they were metallic and moving at an unusually high velocity for errant space debris, but some pilots still did it anyway– in a way, he was lucky some hotshot hadn’t spotted him and assumed his rig was a Coralate running with minimal thrusters in power off mode. Sure, blasting him would have meant blatantly breaking with policy, but torching an unidentified target in the debris field at range in the heat of battle was the kind of thing that was easily dismissed as erring on the side of caution.

He sucked in another shaky breath, propped himself up momentarily with his elbows, then leaned into the console again. Being stuck in the debris field of a toasted planet at the ass-end of space with no hope of recovery wasn’t a situation they covered earthside. There weren’t any regulations written around it, no guides to help him get back to safety again. He was light years from friendly civilization, and with no way to let anyone know he was still alive, there wouldn’t be anyone coming back for him. He was on his own now, truly on his own, and as the reality of his situation sunk in, filling him with a cold feeling of dread and emptiness, part of his rigid nature started to crack. He looked at the sky and saw in it a terrifying void, an endless expanse packed with vicious Coralate fighters that wouldn’t hesitate to carve his ailing rig into tinfoil bits. But in that void there was also opportunity. He was no longer a pilot of the TCGND, and yet he was– the rules of the Navy still bound him, but not as tightly as they had before he’d been abandoned, before he’d become another missing man written off as killed in the detonation of Tarsis 12. The need to survive had seized its place as the top priority in his mind, and suddenly the universe felt like it was full of options. His eyes turned to the massive silver bulk of the Coralate warship, and suddenly it was no longer an omen, no longer death incarnate. It had become instead a monolith of possibility, a crossroads still unexplored. Massive dark furrows stood out across the ship’s hull where the Hok had carved it up and scorched away massive sections of armor, leaving kilometer long dead sections, blind spots.

Cordova blinked silently. He knew the kind of damage ship to ship weaponry was designed to do, knew how a warship was nearly blind from the loss of the majority of its skin sensors after a fight like the one the Coralate vessel had just weathered... His fingers twitched across the throttle, unsure, hesitant, slightly eager.

The decision had to come quick. The massive ship was already moving off, limping along, but still moving briskly enough that it would pass him by in a less than a minute as it trudged on toward the hole in space from which it had come. It was a long way to go without getting detected, but Cordova was still closer to the rip than the Coralate ship was– if he cut in at a sharp angle, came in slow, just drifting, like a chunk of rock knocked loose from the debris field... each of those scorch trenches had to be close to a kilometer wide, and almost as deep. They were big enough to get lost in, big enough to keep his rig lost in for as long as he needed. . .

Cordova nudged the throttle up half an inch, then cut it again, maneuvering by bursts. Piggybacking on a Coralate warship? It certainly wasn’t the sanest thing he’d ever done, but it sure as hell beat drifting around in the Tarsis system, waiting for a rescue that would probably never come. Stuck behind enemy lines with nothing to depend on but his wits, an ailing Seindrive and a few days worth of dried crap-paste for rations, it was probably his only ticket out, his only chance of running into his own people again. With a little luck, the warship would engage Commonwealth forces or pass by another ship bound for the front lines before he was detected and vaporized by the Cygnans, or worse, by indirect fire from his own people. At the very least, it might give him time to dig around in the guts of Stewart’s rig and get a few systems working a little more reliably. At the very least, he’d certainly get to know the rig’s resident AI a little better.

He pulled in a deep breath, held it apprehensively, cursed in silence.

Long way to go.

“Padre nuestro que estás en los cielos...” Cordova managed.
Full title: The Tessa Chronicles: The Cygnus War #33 (Left For Dead, Part 2)

Author Blurb: Cordova’s crazy plan... or is it so crazy?

For those of you who are wondering (lol,) I had this (and the upcoming stuff for Cordova – you’ll just have to wait and see) planned out way in advance. As irritating as he is in the beginning, he comes back to shine when it really counts– when all hell breaks loose. What else happens to our intrepid Lieutenant? You’ll just have to stick with the series to find out!

Progress report: Episodes are complete all the way up through #35, and I’m about half way through #36 with a handful of lines for #37. I’m trying to keep a buffer of at least a month, and with no major projects for winter break (besides designing the lesson plans for five two-hour classes – no biggie) I’m going to try to increase that buffer to a full semester’s worth, so that, while I’ll be WAY ahead of y’all in terms of the storyline and practically bursting at the seams with all the plot developments that will still be a half a year away from being released, I won’t have to cut the series short if school or life throws me a curve ball. Theoretically, at least, heh. Knock on wood times a thousand.

Anyway, this is the thirty-third installment of TTC: The Cygnus War. You can find the previous episode here: [link] The next episode will appear on Wednesday, December 24th, 2008 (PST)

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