Zenith

Post Wed Dec 04, 2013 8:04 pm

Re: Zenith

Regan nodded. "Quicker we move, quicker we get there..."

Post Wed Dec 04, 2013 8:04 pm

Re: Zenith

"And I get my feet on solid ground!" Burton added

Post Wed Dec 04, 2013 8:04 pm

Re: Zenith

McNally only nodded and headed back for the cockpit, slumping into the pilot's seat. He eased the contol yoke around, hauling the Roisin onto her new course, clearing her baffles and opening the throttles for a slow burn to Sihnon. 'Just like the old days,' he murmured as he watched the star glittering.

Post Wed Dec 04, 2013 8:04 pm

Re: Zenith

McNally monitored the Roisin’s approach vector as she sailed tail-first in low Sihnon orbit. ‘Above’ was the blood-red world, vast cities glistening as the sun rose behind the ship, the star-field fading ‘below’ along with a number of running lights and warning strobes from other ships manoeuvring for the surface. The comms buzzed into life as he watched the data from the attitude control system.

‘Unidentified incoming transport, this is Sihnon Systems Control, please identify?’

It was a stern female voice, accented with Chinese. He pressed the transmit key. ‘Sys-Con, this is Tango-Charlie-Zero-Four-Heavy, requesting ‘backing’ clearance.’

'Stand by Tango-Charlie-Zero-Four-Heavy.’

The comms-line went quiet for several seconds and McNally shifted in his seat, his hands light on the yoke. The advantage with Sihnon’s bustling orbital space was that few ships were run for a full profile and he had no doubt that a Roisin wouldn’t attract any unnecessary attention here.

'Tango-Charlie-Zero-Four-Heavy, you are cleared to de-orbit, contact local Air-Traffic Control for approach vector and landing permission once on station.’

‘Understood, Sys-Con. Commencing de-orbit.’ He killed the comms and switched in the intercom. ‘This is McNally, prep for de-orbit burn, I’m ‘backing’ now.’ He eased the throttles open fifteen percent, feeling the yoke tremble gently as he used a decent dose of primary thrust to scrub off orbital velocity and take the ship out of freefall and into the gravity well of the planet ‘above’. He had plenty of experience with ‘hard-in’ de-orbits and the ‘backing’ manoeuvre was far more sedate, almost leisurely. The nav-comp gave a soft alert sound as the Roisin reached optimal descent velocity and he closed the throttles all the way, pushing the nose over as a Firefly-class skimmed along their flank on an outbound boost-route, a half-klick distant. It made McNally smile briefly as the Roisin joined the ballet of vessels, large and small, rising from and falling toward Sihnon, the planet now ‘beneath’.

Regan came onto the deck. ‘How are we doin’?’ he asked.

McNally glanced up. ‘Fifteen degrees up-angle on the bow, descending at four klicks-a-minute, should be hitting-’ McNally’s voice was cut short as the ship shuddered and the yoke jerked violently. As Regan steadied himself against a bulkhead, McNally took a firm tug and steadied the Roisin. ‘And that’s atmo,’ he remarked, reaching for the intercom. ‘Grab your socks’n’hose and pull, boys and girls, looks like we’re in for some chop.’ As ionisation flares began to blaze past the windscreen, McNally piloted the meteorite that was the Roisin Dubh down towards Sihnon.

Post Wed Dec 04, 2013 8:05 pm

Re: Zenith

The ship shook wildly as it hit the atmosphere, then McNally's voice came over the intercom advising them it was going to be a little rough.
"Once, just once I'd like a smooth entry and landing!" Burton said as he clutched a bag, his stomach rolling.
Corbon looked over worriedly, Burton had gone a deathly shade of white. she was just about to go over and see if he was okay.
"This is where the fun starts, and you don't want to be nearby." Oz advised laying a hand on her shoulder, "Besides, he'll be fine once we're planet-side."
The ship shook again and Burton frantically opened his paper bag.

Post Wed Dec 04, 2013 8:06 pm

Re: Zenith

The yoke shook in McNally's hands as the Roisin Dubh shimmied, coughs of propellant visible among the fading blaze of ionisation as the reaction control system gave him a modicum of control on the predominantly uncontrolled descent. His eyes were focussed on the altitude as he wrestled the ship through the upper atmosphere. ‘Approaching the Karman line,’ he murmured. ‘Thirty seconds left to abort descent.’ He glanced briefly to Regan.

Regan nodded sternly. ‘Commit,’ he replied.

McNally shook tension out of his shoulders. ‘Fifteen seconds,’ he said calmly as the altitude reading ticked down, the yoke continuing the shake as the attitude feedback system gave him a clear sensation of the ship’s movements as the curve of Sihnon’s horizon became visible. ‘Five seconds... four... three... two... one. We are past the point of no return, coming up on the mesosphere. RCS shutdown in ten seconds.’ He snapped two gated switches. ‘Auto-spoilers prepped.’ He clicked in the intercom once more. ‘Standby for braking impulse, five seconds... four... three... two... one.’

There was no braking impulse.

The control yoke suddenly felt dead in McNally’s hands.

An instant later the alarm panel flared into life and a warning klaxon sounded.

‘Gorram it,’ Regan hissed.

McNally shook his head grimly. ‘Ventral spoilers ain’t deployed.’

‘Manual override,’ Regan grunted.

McNally shook his head again. ‘We’re too steep on the bow, she sinking into her tail. We’re already up to twenty-five degrees up on the bow and climbing. I need her nose down. I pop all the spoilers now and we’ll be tail-first into downtown Sihnon City.’ He clicked the intercom to the engine room. ‘Hopscotch, reset the RCS system, I need attitude control now!’

Astrid’s voice came back sharply. ‘Fa feng, McNally, that’s not going to work, RCS won’t give you enough thrust to put the nose over.’

‘I don’t have time to discuss it,’ McNally growled. ‘Jus’ reset the ruttin’ RCS before we hit the stratosphere.' He checked the altitude. 'Hopscotch, gan kwai?!’

‘RCS reset... I hope you know what you’re doing.’

McNally cancelled the com-link. ‘So do I,’ he muttered. The Roisin was now passing forty degrees nose up as the yoke seemed to come to life once more. He arrested the pitch at just under forty-five degrees, but had to use continuous thrust to just maintain the balance, a new alarm sounding as the RCS system showed a thrust overburn. The altitude dropped below 60 kilometres as he activated the ship-wide intercom once more, leaving it open. ‘Everyone hang on to something, this ain’t gonna be pretty.’ With Regan quickly strapping himself into the co-pilot’s seat, McNally yanked the yoke all the way back, switching from stabilising thrust to adding thrust component into the tail-slip.

The lightening sky filled the windows as the Roisin reached vertical, continuing to pitch over, Sihnon’s landscape ‘above’ and then filling the view. Dull thuds and bangs indicated that some items had broken loose but the still-active false-grav managed to fight the unnatural manoeuvres being input from the pilot.

'Come on,' McNally roared as if physically hauling the ship over until she was hurtling, nose down. There was a sudden crack audible throughout the hull. ‘Local sound barrier,’ he grunted. ‘We’re stratospheric.’ He reached for the manual spoiler release. ‘Brace for spoiler deployment. This is going to hurt.’

Regan gripped the console in front of him as McNally unlocked and pulled the lever. The braking jolt was violent, sounds of tearing and clashing metal echoing around the ship as several of the spoiler panels were torn away. Mercifully, the yoke now felt different in McNally’s grip and he hauled it back, the Roisin responding more naturally, her nose beginning to rise to meet the horizon. ‘Someone open up the ram-air feeds, I need thrust.’

Kid answered. ‘Ram-air feeds open, you have detonations in the PDEs.’

McNally didn’t acknowledge, reaching for the throttles and opening them halfway, feeling the sensation in the seat of his
pants. ‘We’re aerodynamic at...’ he paused to read the altitude, ‘twenty-seven klicks, give or take.’ His voice was surprisingly measured and calm.

'I take it we're not crashing anymore?' Regan asked with a lop-sided smile.

McNally just shook his head.

Post Wed Dec 04, 2013 8:06 pm

Re: Zenith

The world was turned upside down, then right side up all in a very short time. Dr Corbon head spun as the ship rolled over, holding tightly to the counter. The crash and clatter could be heard clearly as bottles, hip flasks and the other assorted items from her pockets skittered across the room.

'Brace for spoiler deployment. This is going to hurt.’ McNally's voice sounded right before the breaking jolt, tore Alisha Corbon's grip from the counter. The young doctor was flung into the corner of the room, closely followed by the items previously in her pockets.

Muttered curse words left the doctors lips as she sat up and checked the various bumps, bangs, scraps and bruises, before eventually re-pocketing her loose possessions. "A little more warning might have been 'preshiated..."

Post Wed Dec 04, 2013 8:07 pm

Re: Zenith

Regan shook his head, still grinning. Not many pilots could've made that turn, and somehow he'd managed to find two of them, maybe three, remembering how "Hopscotch" got her new name.... He hit the Comm...

"Ok boys and girls, we're out of the woods. Astrid, Kid, you have some work to do on her before'n we take off again. And somebody check on the Docs, Burton must be floatin' in it by now, and the new girl might need calming down some." He clicked the comm button off, unbuckled the seat belt and stood up. As he walked away, he clapped a hand on McNally's shoulder.

"Chuckles, you earned your credits today... Another happy landing...."

Post Wed Dec 04, 2013 8:07 pm

Re: Zenith

In the engine room, Kid grabbed at a switching bank that had shaken itself loose, forcing it back into place and holding it there with a quick application of gaffa tape. She'd mentally been counting the noises as the spoiler panels tore loose, and reckoned on it being at least a days work to get it all in order. Not counting figuring out where the problem had been this time.
She exchanged a quick glance with Astrid, glad to see she was happy with the state of things, then left in search of the doc. Must be her turn to clean him up by now. Besides, by the slight warm trickle she felt down the back of her scalp and neck, something had bounced off her during the atmo entry and probably needed looking at. Was always good to get his mind off the whole space sickness thing.

Post Wed Dec 04, 2013 8:07 pm

Re: Zenith

‘Tango-Charlie-Zero-Four-Heavy you’re clear to turn on final, landing stage niner-two.’

‘Roger that,’ McNally said as he eased the Roisin down over the crowded spaceport. He switched over to the ventral landing thrusters and closed the main throttles, kicking the tail around so the cargo ramp would face the landing field. ‘Twenty metres,’ he murmured, calling out the altitude and deploying the landing gear. ‘Four greens, gear down and locked. Ten metres... five... four... three...’ He killed the vertical thrust, the cushion of low pressure air beneath the ship doing the rest and she sank gently onto her landing struts, settling with a slight bounce. ‘Down and safe,’ he remarked, shutting down the flight control system and sitting back. His right hand trembled slightly and he clenched his fist as a distant memory of a descent under fire returned to him briefly. He closed his eyes, squinting as though flashes of recollection hurt, but he blinked them open and shook his head, the memory evaporating.

He slipped his harness and sauntered back to the common area, the reek of vomit assailing him from inside the infirmary. Burton was sat looking haggard, Regan was in conversation with Astrid, and Kid was swabbing the deck.

Astrid held a piece of burnt-up circuitry in one hand. ‘The RCS control relay got fried so it never tripped the ventral spoilers.’

Regan shrugged slightly. ‘And what about the back-up?’

Astrid chuckled coldly. ‘There isn’t a back-up. It’s an ‘original design feature’. Travellers-class only had one RCS relay but most were retro-fitted with an auxiliary... except this bucket wasn’t. I’ll source a couple of spares and me and Kid can jury-rig something.’ McNally was almost off the deck when Astrid called after him. ‘Hey, McNally, I never really figured on you doing a lot of fancy flying.’

McNally stopped at the bulkhead and turned slightly, but wouldn’t make eye contact. ‘I just do what I do. If you don’t mind, I’m gonna check on my cabin, see what’s broken loose, check Soc too.’

‘Just how did you know that was gonna work anyway?’ Astrid asked.

McNally looked at her now. ‘I didn’t,’ he remarked almost smiling, then he nodded to Regan. ‘Sorry ‘bout the mess.’ He left them in his wake he made his way through the disarray and headed down to the quarterdeck. His own cabin was a state, clothing flung from the stowage bins above the cot, articles from the desk strewn across the floor and the metal case from beneath his bunk out in the open. He closed the cabin door and moved slowly around the room. ‘You in here cat?’ he murmured, listening for any sound and hearing a soft plaintive mewl. He reached the narrow wardrobe door, now hanging by one hinge and crouched to the small cubby-space at the bottom, seeing a furry ginger face peering out at him. He offered a hand and the cat crawled out, rubbing his knuckles and purring loudly. ‘Another lousy re-entry, uh?’ McNally asked Soc as the cat padded around the scattered clothing. He crouched and checked the locks on the case, finding them secure. He popped the latches and opened it regarding the contents with abject resignation, the crumple of paper and the bible. Beneath he lifted the large pistol which externally appeared to be in good order but he knew the action was corroded and in need of a repair. ‘We might need this on Zenith.’ He said as Soc sat and cleaned a flank. ‘You reckon I can find someone in the city who can oblige for the right price?’

Soc looked at the human with feline amusement and yawned.

'Good answer,' he muttered.
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