He had never experienced true turbulence. That is what he realized as his ship fought to leave the atmosphere.
“This is insane!”
“Get off the comms, Kyle!” Blasted kid. “Spinz, tell me we’re not blowing up.”
“I know not? I see ship from window of mine.”
“I mean the engine, Spinz! The engine!”
“Oh. Engine holding, yes.”
“How many ships left?”
“Three are catching up,” his co-pilot told him, “we have two engaged.”
“Nice! Hannes, you okay in there?”
“He’s okay,” he glanced to the side.
“I’m boilin’ alive in ‘ere!”
Daigo looked across his panels, his prosthetic eyes being quite helpful in parsing the data. He imagined they were gyrating, glinting the characteristic gold people normally associated with his face, a visage he would never get used to, not really.
He sighed in exhaustion, burying one hand in his messy black hair, irrationally feeling it helped him concentrate.
“This plan of yours is at a whole new level of screw up, Daigo.”
“That is an appropriate observation.” His mind was unable to multi-task a cleverer retort.
Calling them plans always felt a bit too over the top. Daigo wasn’t one to second-guess himself, so much so that his plans were more like ideas. Under appreciation and constantly in mutation.
“New ships coming in range.”
“I’m going, I’m going!”
He ran past the Hornet’s cybernaut who was back to ground with head and hands inside some panel, doing last-minute optimizations to the targeting systems. Nothing could be seen except for a thin layer of pale white skin between trousers and shirt, visible since her dark robe was plastered open like a sheet beneath her.
“Are we going to die?” She casually asked.
“Sorry to disappoint!” He yelled back.
He got inside a gun, discovering just how hot it was. With a grunt of effort, he put his hands on the red-hot scalding equipment and made the gun traverse the ship. He found himself placed right next to Hannes, shooting back at their pursuers.
“Are you okay, Daigo?”
“You’re not funny,” he locked into targets.
Daigo shook his head and kept his nerve as green plasma shots splashed against the few inches of hull shielding that was thankfully still holding. They were trying to hit his guns but the ship was rotating and so were they. That didn’t upset his locking. However, his eyes straining his brain to zoom in on the ships so he could better follow them with the targeting system. Times like these, he wondered if prosthetic limbs would do a better job of keeping up with his sight.
And whether it was correct to even call it sight anymore.
“Sará, will I have this calibrated anytime soon–ok, there we go.”
“You’re welcome…” a bored voice stretched out of the communication panel in his pod.
“Yeah yeah.” The panels beeped happily and he saw reticles around the three ships. He steeled himself, firing the homing missiles was going to hurt him a lot more than the burns did, they were so expensive.
He saw them propelling themselves towards the enemy ships that were quick to switch on perpendicular thrusters to attempt a dodge. One of them exploded in the silence of space, the other was disabled, Daigo saw the lights going out. The final one was still moving despite taking a side hit.
“Oh, God…Daigo! Get back here right now!”
He nodded, knowing Hannes would take the last ship down, and took the gun to slide back to docking position.
“On my way!”
He exited and ran to the cockpit, tapping his hands against his pants to the sound of involuntary grunts. He waved them, he opened and closed them, trying to get them used to function properly as fast as possible.
Another day, another narrow survival by the skin of their ship. Or so he thought.
“Am I seeing this right?”
“You are,” she said spitefully.
He didn’t have any funny quip. There was nothing funny about what he was seeing.
Representatives from every faction in the known galaxy were right there on the horizon of his vision. The silence of their anticipation could be heard across systems as they stared down the Hornet’s Nest.
United Republics of Humanity. Jinari’kos. The warrior reptiles of Muena. The Monarchs of Centauri. Aslac Tralud. The Seventh Empire. He didn’t have time to voice the rest in his head as hails and communications started piling through to his ship.
“You’ve really outdone yourself,” she again complained.
He covered his mouth. He was certain none of them knew what the Hornet’s Nest was, who they were, nor had a real clue about why the situation was what it was. What they did know was what they were carrying, and each one of them would want it for themselves.
His mind wasn’t coming up with any scenario in which they would survive that situation.
The real kicker? They didn’t even have it.
He really had outdone himself.