By Jamie Burns
“Do you owe money to everyone in the galaxy?” I yelled at Nathan as I steadied myself while Clara’s ship pitched and rolled from the last blast that barely missed us.
“No, but very nearly.” He replied. He was clutching at his seat making sure the harness holding him was still secure.
“This is ridiculous Nathan!”
“Speaking of ridiculous, will you two put a cork in it!” Clara snapped. “Dodging an attacking ship is easier for me when people aren't screamin’ in my ship.” She said in her deep southern accent.
“Sorry.” Nathan and I said in unison.
I really liked Clara, as far as former ‘associates’ of my brother’s go. So far I was pretty sure she would be the only one that I would ever like. Especially when you consider the fact that every other ‘associate’ of his I’ve meet has either tried to kill us or stolen my most prized possession.
Clara was no nonsense, which was a mentality I could get behind. And I thought that was probably why my brother liked her too. She was the kind of woman that made her own way. She didn’t wait for a man to come along and get her what she wanted. If she wanted it, she went out and got it!
I’m not saying she didn’t use her femininity to her advantage though. After all she was a beautiful woman. Who doesn’t love a sassy buxom blonde? She was only a bit shorter than me but instead of my oh so flat physique, which Nathan always likened to a bean pole, Clara had the kind of curves men would get lost navigating.
I’ll admit I was a little jealous. My total lack of curves made my overly long arms and legs look that much more awkward. Nathan and I were the same height. So I was already tall for a female. When Nathan and I started at the flight academy we were both tall and awkward, but eventually Nathan put on some muscle and started looking more… proportional. I on the other hand, well I still looked like a gangly 16-year-old boy. Which really sucked as a 25-year-old female. That's why I kept my hair so long. It was my redeeming female feature. Light ash brown, stick straight, and down to my waist. It got in the way a lot so I wore it up about 90% of the time, but I loved it.
Other than Clara’s unfair good looks and physique, she had many other qualities and resources. Since setting off from the planet Ciera four days ago, I had learned she owned the bar we located her in, as well as two other establishments on the adjacent planets, plus of course the ship we were currently in. Yes, Clara turned out to be quite the entrepreneur, but at the moment she was being a crappy pilot.
A fifth blast knocked Clara’s ship, ‘The Lamplight’, back and forth. The intercom was still connected from when they originally hailed us. A scratchy male voice called over it. “Come on Nathan, I want my money and if you don’t have it this time well… I think just two digits will cover it.” the voice chuckled.
Nathan looked at his hands in a panic. “Can’t this thing go any faster?!” he called to Clara.
“I’m trying sugar but, Lamplight, she wasn't built for out runnin’ anyone.”
Clara was right the ship was made for a slow and steady travel life. But if we didn’t do something we at best would be caught and they would cut off my brother fingers, at worst they would blow us out of the sky and we all die a sad, choking in space kind of death. Sorry Clara, you're being demoted.
“Clara, move I’m taking over.” I said as I started to push her out of the way.
“Excuse me?” The look on Clara’s face was a mix of outrage and confusion.
“I need you to go to the engine room and manually turn off the shields.” The outrage left her face and there was only confusion left.
“Honey, if we turn that off we'll get blown to bits.” She told me
“Only if they can hit us. I’m not gonna let that happen. But having that shield up is slowing us down. If we drop it, we can divert the power that was maintaining it to the thrust and if we’re lucky maybe get some distance from them.” I explained
“Then I’ll have time to come up with another brilliant idea, but right now it’s all we have. Clara, GO!”
A few moments after Clara left, I saw the light indicator for our shields go off. The moment I did, I diverted every power source we could spare in the ship to the thrusters.
“Clara! get back up here quick and buckle up!” She was back and in the copilot seat just in time. The ship behind us had just launched another attack and I pushed the helm all the way forward. Sending us into an impossibly steep dive.
Clara might not be able to fly while people were yelling but it didn’t bother me at all. Which was a good thing because the only sound that filled the room was Nathan’s screams, drowning out the alert tones from the ship, the sounds of the blast just missing us and the threats that still sounded over the intercom. There was a reason I graduated top of the class at flight academy and Nathan ‘decided to pursue other ventures.’ to quote what he told our parents. We all have our strengths, and this was mine.
I was right, the extra power and quick changes in direction was just enough to put some distance between the Lamplight and the attacking ship but we wouldn’t be able to maintain it for too long before they would be back on top of us.
“Clara, bring out our start location and tell me what’s near us. Nathan… NATHAN! You need to stop screaming now.” I ordered.
He stopped and looked around the room. “Oh, was that me?” His pale face dripping with sweat.
“Clara what do you see?”
Clara searched over the map of the surrounding space. “The nearest planets are too far.” Then she looked over to me with an eyebrow raised. “Exactly how good a flyer are you?” she asked.
“We have an option, but he ain't gonna like it.” She said with a sideways glance at Nathan.
“More or less than losing his fingers?” I pointed out.
“Alright then, there’s a gravity dump quadrant close by. If we can lure them in, The Lamplight is small enough she can get back out of the gravity field. But them, that ship’s too big, they'd probably get sucked in. They’d be trapped ‘til they could get maintenance to come out and release them. By then we'd be long gone.”
I couldn't help but grin. “I love it. Which way?”
Clara put the location on my display and I corrected our course. The large attacking ship following right behind us.
Copyright 2016 JAMIE BURNS ALL RIGHTS RESERVED