This story is by Heather Shannon and was part of our 2017 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the Summer Writing Contest stories here.
Noise, such noise. The sound of metal twisting and scraping as it echoed inside of her fighter. They were hit with the debris and shrapnel of the destroyed vessel. Smoke spewed into the corridors and cabins; the nano-weld technology worked overtime sealing the gouge on the side of the hull. Finally, the fans kicked in, purging the stinking smog into the vacuum of deep space. All that remained was the thick and acrid stench of grinding metal.
Odessa stared through the thick visor of her fighter, a thick, clawing lump writhing in the pit of her stomach threatened to climb her throat. The bastards knew precisely where to hit them, taking out the propulsion units was one thing, but sending a chaser into Kane’s fuselage was overkill. His was the largest ship, filled with small fighters and emergency vessels. Now it was nothing more than a shell and debris floating in space.
Repercussions from the blast rocked the outlying fighters as they were hit. Odessa didn’t understand what the roughly spoken commands coming from the communications unit meant, but she knew what betrayal looked like.
“Damn you, Kane!” She slammed her fist against the thick protective glass in front of her. “I told you they would do this! I told you!”
“Trust me, Odessa,” Kane had told her, never listening to her warnings, trusting in the Interplanetary Munitions Program’s decision to align with the rogue Russian group from Earth-Origin.
Just like every time he got her into some sort of trouble in the Academy, this was a scenario where he simply refused to listen to her. She knew the statistics and probability of everything, she could calculate the outcome faster than a calculator, but Kane was the tactician. He could coordinate plays in the simulators that had never been tried before. He was also the only person in the known universe who could throw off Odessa’s calculations, being unpredictable as he was.
Despite the tempestuous nature of their friendship, together they rose through the ranks until he was Admiral Peter Kane, and she a Fleet Commander. They were a team, two halves of a whole.
Now he was dead or dying on that idiot ship of his.
“Fire at will, let’s take these traitorous bastards down!” Odessa hollered at her crew as she ran for her seat and the controls that she was in command of. The writhing mass within her turned hot, it fueled her, feeding her demand for revenge.
“Aye, Commander,” Her gunner hurried to climb into the raised capsule behind her.
Only hers and a few of the other small fighters remained undamaged. All were under attack, their shields taking most hits even as Odessa issued orders to retaliate. The rag-tag bunch were undermanned but enraged over the subterfuge of the Russians. Among them, Odessa was a force to be reckoned with.
The firefight was quick and dirty. Laser light and missile trackers lit the unfathomable black that surrounded them in the shadow of the planet. Firework explosions shook each of the ships as they traded heavy fire. Every laser, missile, and delayed reactive munition was used to fight off the rogue Russians.
Commands left Odessa in staccato rhythm and were carried out just as fast. Every soldier that remained on their ships were as vengeful as she, but they were outnumbered. It would be a miracle if they could take down the Russian force. They fought valiantly, but unless there was a miracle, there would be no victory.
There was only one way to take them down. Only one way to break through the shields of the enemy. Tension built like a hot brand as every muscle in Odessa’s body flexed while she manoeuvred the fighter. It became an extension of her. Moving with the slightest twitch. Steering them towards the large command ship. The approach was quick. Heart pounding in her throat, she screamed her battle cry and veered the nose of her fighter down at the last possible moment, diving under the massive Russian battleship so her gunner could take out the main booster.
Heat flared through her visor as a white blaze burst from the huge battleship. The noise as blast after blast cannoned over her was immense, soon all she could hear was a faint buzzing, feel the icy cold of the extinguishers and smell meat burning. Turning her head, she could see the flare of flame as her gunner fell from his pod to the floor in a writhing red mass.
It was then that Odessa realised the battle was over. She looked through the cracked glass of the visor to see the remainder of the ally ships, scattered, listing in the pull of gravitation of nearby planets. There would be no survivors, not even she would make it. Not with that crack in the glass getting longer and fraying as it spread like a spider’s web.
“Body scan complete. Bio-rhythms unstable. Blood loss imminent.” The automated voice echoed for the hundredth time. According to the scans, there wasn’t much time left. “Medical unit non-functional. Cryogenics disabled.”
Kane glared through the glass of the escape pod as he watched the visor of the fighter fracture. Immobilised as he was, there was no way he could get to the pilot who fought to the last to bring down the enemy. He thumbed the box in his uniform pocket and watched as his best girl realised her life was about to end. “Odessa. Damn you for being right.”