“I don’t think it should be doing this.” He pointed to a screen next to him which displayed a flashing warning. “And she’s not–” He yanked on the controls, but the ship didn’t change course. “This doesn’t seem right.”
No fucking kidding it didn’t seem right, Leta almost said. She pushed herself to her feet, bracing her hands on Cyrus’ chair as she stood over him, scanning the array of controls. “Can you move her at all?”
He pulled on the controls again. “Nothing.” There was a crack in his voice. “I’ve got nothing.”
“I don’t fucking know!” he snapped. “There’s something wrong!” He slapped the warning console with the back of his hand. “I don’t know what this means!”
“Okay, calm down,” was Leta’s advice to him, but more to herself. “Calm down, we just need to figure this out, it’s–” A streak of bright fire zoomed past the window, barely missing them and making the Spirit quaver relentlessly. “Just a problem to be solved,” she breathed.
“It’s a problem I don’t understand,” mumbled Cyrus as he finally let up on the useless controls and started furiously scanning through the ship’s data. “There’s nothing wrong with the engines, the steering, the systems are all fine, running smoothly, just–” Another blast narrowly missed them. “Just I’ve lost control of them.”
Leta’s eyes fixed on the warning message flashing on the screen beside him. “Secondary mode active,” she read and Cyrus lifted his hands in a dramatic shrug.
“I don’t know what secondary mode is,” he wailed. “I don’t know how it became active, I don’t know how to make it inactive, I don’t–”
“Did you press anything?” Leta asked, hearing her own franticness in her voice.
“What?! No I didn’t–”
“Well you must have done something otherwise it wouldn’t have–”
“I know how to fly a ship, Leta, I don’t just press random buttons, I’m not a–”
“Well somehow it turned on, so–”
Whoosh. The entire ship shuddered so hard, Leta’s vision blurred. She almost lost her footing before she grabbed onto Cyrus’ chair and steadied herself. That was three very close calls in a row. All around them, fire kept falling from the sky in indistinct patterns as the Carthian ships surrounded the planet. They probably could have been hit no matter where they were, given the frequency of fire. Yet she couldn’t help but ask the question.
“Are they trying to hit us?”
Cyrus gave her a look of alarm. Before he could answer, though, a huge force pushed the Spirit across the sky. The sudden displacement knocked Leta to the ground and Cyrus barely stayed in his seat. The overhead lights switched back on, this time stark red. The alarm began to wail.
Clambering back towards the console, Cyrus was heaving deep breaths when he said, “Well if they were, they succeeded.”
Leta forced herself up, only to feel the ground beneath her feet wasn’t as solid as she would have expected. It was sinking. Fast. And the skyline outside the window, she realized in horror, was rising. Faster.
“Okay, we’re hit, we’re falling, what can we do?” Cyrus’ facade of having it together was shaky, but it was better than Leta’s.
“Oh gods, oh gods, oh gods.”
“She must have some sort of–I don’t know, emergency something?”
Leta heard herself let out a high-pitched whimper, her eyes never leaving the window, the city growing so close and yet so very very far away.
“Oh!” The exclamation was just hopeful enough to pull Leta out of her panic. “Okay, bad news, we are definitely crashing, but good news!” Cyrus whacked the nearby console with his palm and then seized the controls. “Secondary mode is inactive!”
“How is that helpful if we’re crashing?!”
Cyrus’ wild laugh of response wasn’t exactly reassuring. “We can crash with direction?” he suggested as he pulled up on the controls and by some sick miracle, the ship finally responded. Leta stumbled into a seat, holding onto the armrests as the Spirit plummeted (with direction) faster and faster towards the surface.
Beside her, Cyrus grit his teeth and yanked harder on the ship’s control. The descent slowed, but only by a little, her nose tilted upwards so the city swung out of view.
“I’m sorry, this was a bad plan,” Leta heard herself shout over the blaring alarms.
Cyrus’ answer was distracted as he continued to manipulate the ship. “It’s okay.”
She was starting to feel a little frantic. “It’s not. We’re going to die before it’s even done. We’re going to die here in this tiny little ship and we won’t be able to return it to Corra and your daughter’s not going to have a father.”
“This is all my fault, why did we do this?”
“Cyrus, I’m in love with your brother.”
Finally, Cyrus looked over at her, if only for a moment. “Yeah. I know,” he admitted shortly. Leta gawped at him.
“Why does everyone keep saying that–”
“If you’re done,” Cyrus interrupted, still holding the controls firmly in place, keeping the ship’s descent even if not steady, but now he stood up and gestured towards them. “Can you take this?”
Confused, but without arguing, and feeling a little more like herself now, Leta carefully shuffled over and took the helm. Cyrus immediately abandoned it and headed for the back of the ship at a sprint.
“What are you doing?” she called back to him, pulling down on the ship as hard as she could.
“I have an idea!” he called back and she heard the sound of a metal panel hitting the floor. “We’re gonna follow Corra’s advice.”
“Wha–” Leta frowned. “Not die?”
Well, that sounded good to her at least. Impossible, given how quickly they were headed towards being a mere dent in a Paradexian street. But good.
Cyrus returned moments later with, of all things, a rope. Which was not quite as good as Leta was anticipating. “I’m gonna tie this around you, okay?” He started to do just that, looping the rope around her waist and securing it in a knot, then, further along the rope, did the same to himself. This idea was already making Leta nervous, but when she glanced over her shoulder to see him fiddling with some sort of makeshift device at the end of the rope, it made her even moreso.
“What the hell is that?”
“It’s a rope attached to the ship’s bonding core inside the backup release valve,” he answered, as though this was all simple and elementary. “Think of it like a–magnetic grappling hook.”
“A grappling hook?!” She spun around to look at him, but inadvertently loosened her grip on the controls, causing the ship to stumble a little. Hurriedly, she reclaimed it. “This isn’t a movie, Cyrus!”
“I’m aware of that,” he snapped. “But this ship is going down and I can’t fix that so all I can do is get us out of it. And apparently there are no parachutes so.” She felt him tug on the rope attached to her waist. “Grappling hook.”
“This is insane.”
“You got a better idea?!”
Out of the window, Leta was starting to see the tops of buildings in the distance. They had a minute, maybe less. Probably less. And no, she didn’t have a better idea. The lump in her throat went down protesting. “Fine. Just–tell me when.”
Almost instantly, she heard a metal thunk of the door opening behind her, followed by a blast of air, loud and riotous, filling the Spirit’s cabin. The noise was so much, that Leta barely heard Cyrus’ voice when he shouted, “When!”
Heaving a deep breath and trying in vain to direct her windblown hair out of her eyes, Leta let go of the controls, practically fell from her seat and, as the Spirit started to tip downwards again, ran towards the back of the ship. Before she even reached Cyrus, just as she caught a glimpse of the side of a building out of the open hatch and felt more sick to her stomach than before, he pushed a button on the valve and the chunk of bondage-whatever they were attached to went soaring out of the ship, the rope flapping in the wind behind it.
She didn’t see it land, but when Cyrus yelled, “Jump!” she didn’t think. She couldn’t think because if she did she’d only think about how she was committing suicide. So instead, she approached the open door of the Spirit and she jumped.