As previously mentioned, I had three ideas I was working on. I have already posted the first two on here, but through oversight had missed the third. Here is me correcting that oversight with the beginnings of a piece with the working title of Pegasus. Enjoy and let me know what you think.
Flight Sergeant Erich Fenstein checked the twin ammunition readings of his sidearm again. It had become ritual for him on these dropship landings. The energy gauge was at eighty-five percent. He was going to have to replace the weapon soon if it kept bleeding power at such a rate. Meanwhile the solid munitions indicator told him that the magazine was still full. Fenstein triple checked that the safety bolt was still engaged. A slug penetrating the hull of the Hurricane-class dropship before it left the vacuum of space and entered atmosphere would be catastrophic as the artificial oxygen would vent into space and Fenstein knew that hurricanes didn’t have enough breather masks for his entire platoon to survive. He had raised this issue with both headquarters and the Musk manufacturing corporation. He had been met with the same indifference from both. Apparently it was more economically feasible to train a new recruit than it was to retrofit the dropship with enough safety equipment for a full passenger complement in case of emergencies. Fenstein tried not to think about that and checked his ammunition indicators again. Energy reserves were now at eighty-four point two percent. Soon, the hull of the Hurricane was shaken as a deep bass thrumming sound reverberated through the craft. The color had bleached out of one of the junior crewmen’s face the moment the reverberations had started.
“Is this your first planetside drop, Kowalski?” Fenstein asked the pale crewman.
Kowalski nodded his head to indicate that it was.
“Well, don’t panic. That sound just means we’ve entered the planet’s atmosphere. You can hear the engines running now that their sound has something to transmit through. Not hearing that sound means we’d be in a lot of trouble. So stop worrying and prepare to engage you’re a-g belt.”
“Yes, sir.” Kowalski said.
Fenstein activated is own anti-gravity belt and surveyed his platoon. Of the thirty men in the passenger bay of the hurricane, half a dozen were, like Kowalski, preparing to make their first drop into a hot zone. Or perhaps Fenstein should think of it as a combat zone, as there was nothing hot about the arctic region of Eteocles that was to be the landing zone. A soothing female voice that Fenstein assumed to be some kind of AI came over the ship’s public intercom system.
“Rapid atmospheric descent continues. Prepare for drop in four hundred meters. Three hundred. Two hundred. One –“
The rest of the countdown was lost to the hydraulic clanking of the passenger bay door opening and the roar of the planet’s bitingly cold wind lashing into the now open passenger bay. The hurricane’s artificial atmosphere vented as a white cloud that squirted out of the bay doors like the smoke of a condemned man’s final cigarette. Fenstein tapped two fingers to his neck to activate the sub dermal communicator and yelled.
“Okay, ladies. This is it. Go! Go! Go!” He wasn’t sure if the men could hear him so he held up both his hands in a thumbs-up gesture before popping the restraining harness that kept him in his seat, as well as the harnesses of the two men either side of him. The three of them approached the yawning opening that was the bay doorway and leapt out. The anti-gravity field of their a-g belts kicked in and they began to float at an almost leisurely pace to the planet’s surface. Fenstein looked up and saw that ten more of his troops, including Kowalski had made the leap and began their descent. That left seventeen still on board the Hurricane. He was going to have to work on their speed at drop zones in training; this wasn’t anywhere near fast enough.
As if to confirm this thought, a grey-black column of smoke came billowing up from beneath a glacier that Fenstein estimated was two clicks to the northwest of the landing zone. It took a moment before he realized that an anti-aircraft missile had been fired at the Hurricane. The robotic pilots attempted to evade it with a series of sharp maneuvers, but it was too late and soon, the dropship was nothing but pieces of white hot shrapnel raining from the sky. Fenstein took a chunk no bigger than two centimeters across in his left shoulder and blacked out from the pain.