As I discussed the other day I am feeling the writing bug again now that I am off my NaNoWriMo slump. Here it is, my entry in Chuck Wendig’s flash fiction challenge “An Affliction of Alliteration” . Weighing in at 636 words, I present to you;
Round Rhea’s Rings
I paused to look around as we floated in space, waiting for our turn to run the Rings. Our small flotilla of patrol craft, small specs in the vast emptiness around the moon.
We all watched as one after another our classmates were given the signal by the flight leader to begin their run. On my display each attempt was shown, both time taken and distance covered. I knew the theory, in the right situation a further actual path could be quicker if you used the rocks of the Rings as small gravity slingshots.
I flexed my hands on the controls, testing the responsiveness of the control surfaces. Watching as the craft before me in line burst into motion at Lieutenant Lee’s direction, I tapped first my left foot, throwing my ship into a stationary spin around one axis. Killing that motion I tapped my right, switching the spin to the other axis. With a quick tap of the left again, I now spun in a different direction completely.
“Quit messing around Cadet,” Lee’s voice came through my headset, “you are almost up.”
“Sorry Mam, just checking the ships responsiveness.”, I answered back, “I don’t want to plow this baby on my run.”
“Whatever, hotshot. You’re up.”
I quickly killed all motion, leaving my self pointed directly at the marker lights for the start of this quarter’s ring course.
Quickly checking all my gauges I keyed my mic to the flight common.
“Ready when you are, Mam.”
I tensed, adrenaline started to pump, as I waited for her signal to start my run.
“OK then. Three…”
Relaxed grip on the controls.
Thumb over the main engine power.
Control jets aligned to give extra boost.
I’m slammed back in my seat as my ship hurls itself forward, shedding inertia rapidly as the quad engines in the back roar at maximum, the small control jets on the back of the three wings burning for all they are worth. The extra gain from the little jets is not much, but every bit of extra velocity I can put on going into the run will better my time.
In next to no time I shot through the plain marked by the lights, starting the official time for my run.
The world narrowed around me, there was nothing except me, my ship and the floating rocks around me. Zipping between them I raced forward, dodging over and around the obstacles as I flew towards the end on the other side of the field.
Twice I skirted one of the smaller chunks by such a narrow margin that I nearly took some of the bright orange paint of the side of my craft.
This is what I live for, flying and pushing myself and my ship to the edge of the envelope.
Almost there I spot a larger boulder blocking my best path in, the end was probably placed so this would be there. Skirting a smaller rock and letting its small gravity add to my velocity and fling me towards another, I angled around the second coming out on the other side perfectly lined up to just barely avoid the big one.
I flew in, pulling in my wings to miss the boulder. As I swung around it and once past opened the wings out again and brought the quad and the control jets up to full again.
Shooting through the finish, seconds ahead of the fastest time so far, I flipped myself around, lost speed and killed the engines, coasting to a stop not far from the rest of my flight.
“Nice flying,” the Lieutenant said, “we’ll have your time and distance read in a minute.”
It really didn’t matter to me, I had made it, and I knew my time was the best.