Chapter 15: Coming and Going

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“You might wanna ease up a bit on the throttle,” Fiearius warned, his tone surprisingly calm given the wide-eyed expression of repressed horror on his face.

“The what?” Cyrus barked, trying to maintain calm himself. He was clutching the handles of the main manual navigation system, hunched over in the pilot’s chair and staring out the window at the oncoming planet as if it were the mouth of a beast that was about to swallow him.

And it might as well have been, for how prepared Cyrus felt. After a horribly unsuccessful last job with Goddorra, the ship was approaching a crisis: an injured captain, low fuel reserves, no money; not to mention, no medical supplies to heal that injury. Heading to Archeti was a desperate move, but at least they had a move at all.

And as if leading the trading job on Archeti — the most gang-ridden, murderous planet in the cluster — wasn’t quite enough, now Fiearius had decided that with his arm (and presumably piloting capabilities) out of commission, it was time Cyrus learned how to land the ship, too. Which was just so easy for him to say, of course, as he enjoyed a break from managing the crew and didn’t have a crisis to deal–

“The throttle,” Fiearius repeated patiently, leaning back in the co-pilot’s seat, one arm in a makeshift sling and the other casually draped over the back of the chair. “You know what that is, Cy.”

“Right,” said Cyrus, as the ship blustered its way through the atmosphere and continued its descent downward a little quicker than necessary. “Right, I know what that is,” he muttered and carefully reached to adjust a dial with a shaking hand.

At his side, he could feel Fiearius eyeing him. “Gonna wanna start leveling out right about now,” he said. “There’s a lot of momentum still from that push, you need to scale it back, hit the dampeners.”

Cyrus nodded, trying to ignore how the ship was plummeting much faster than normal. They still had some pretty hefty distance left to cover before hitting solid ground, but the further into the atmosphere they got, the more the ship continued its violent turbulence.

“Cyrus?” Fiearius asked pointedly. “You should hit the dampeners,” he said, and that was when alarm shot through him.

Cyrus whipped his head around and stared as if Fiearius had just sworn at him in a foreign language. “What?”

“The dampeners, Cy. Hit the dampeners,” Fiearius repeated, his patience clearly waning as the ground came closer and closer.

“I don’t–what?”  Quite suddenly, the controls in his hands became completely unfamiliar to him as if he’d never seen a bridge before in his life.

“For fuck’s sake, Cy, pull up!” Fiearius snapped, pushing himself out of his chair and almost immediately falling over as the ship jumped suddenly to the left. Over the deafening sound of rattling metal, he yelled, “Do you need me to do this for you?”

“No!” Cyrus shouted back, almost instantly returned to a higher level of confidence and comprehension as he reached over and switched on the dampeners. “I can do this!”

“Really, can you?” Fiearius growled, looking out the window again as the city continued to grow larger in its view, though now at a slightly lower rate. Still, they’d been hit far too late. She still had way too much momentum. “’Cause right now, it doesn’t look like it. Get out of my way,” he barked, trying to shove Cyrus out of the chair, but Cyrus elbowed him off.

“No, I can do it!”

The buildings were starting to become visible. Just barely. Little dots, getting bigger and bigger, turning into more complex shapes, almost discernable as real objects rather than just a two dimensional image.

“Are you even aiming?” Fiearius realized suddenly. “You’re gonna crash us into the goddamn town square!”

“Shut up!” Cyrus shouted back, though it probably couldn’t be heard over the metallic roar of the ship’s struggle against gravity. She was still going too fast — he really was going to crash her. Cyrus glanced around at the controls in front of him, desperate for some way to amend this problem. His eyes fell on the blinking device he’d hooked up months back and he reached over and yanked the cord out of it, abruptly cutting off all auxiliary power to the engine.

With a tremendous draining noise of electricity, the system powered down. Somehow, miraculously, the view of the city panned away and out the window was only sky as the ship leveled itself. Of course, now it was just dropping like a rock without controls. Barely thinking, Cyrus reached across the panel and fired up the underside thrusters to their maximum capacity. Initially, the ship refused the action and bounced uncomfortably between falling quickly and complete suspension.

Finally, she gave in and, shuddering like a child left out in the cold, she dropped the last thousand feet at a steady freefall and landed on the cobbles of the town square with a surprisingly light thunk that made the entire inside of the ship rattle innocently.

Cyrus’ hands were still grasped onto the controls, his eyes round and his breathing shallow, entirely unable to comprehend what had just happened.

Fiearius, who had lost his footing in the landing and fallen back into his chair, stared out the window at the scattering people with the same wide eyes as his little brother. And then those wide eyes turned to that little brother and he frowned thoughtfully.

“Well, that’s one way to make an entrance.”

–  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –

“What the hell was that?”

“What happened?!”

“That was some landing — “

Leta hurried through the crew deck and toward the bridge. Around her, the crew muttered in a flurry of excitement (and the occasional groan of pain) as the Dionysian finally relaxed after tossing her passengers out of their seats and against her walls.

Clutching the side of her head (a shelf in her room had fallen on her in the impact), Leta hurried to the bridge. As she approached, she found a grumbling Rhys picking himself up off the floor and rubbing his neck, grimacing through his thick grizzly beard.

“Cyrus was flying?” he growled. “Why the hell is he — ”

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