Chapter 22 Die Planet Die!
"Captain Walter, we have a problem," said Trey, as they prepared to leave the planet.
"Of course," muttered Dustin. They didn't even get off the planet.
"What is it?" Walter moved over to look at his monitor.
"The Gaklut have arrived in the system. They must have traced our jump."
"They'll see us as soon as we try to leave the atmosphere," worried Sherry.
"I'm not wanting to live here," said Dustin.
"No, but we can hide here for a short while. They may leave if they don't find us when they scan."
"And how are they not going to find us when they scan?" asked Dustin.
"We'll have to find a cave to hide in."
Dustin started laughing, then realized Walter was being serious. "You're going to risk your ship to hide from them? Just jump from here."
"If we try to jump from atmosphere, that would doom this planet to explosion. Nothing will remain but debris. There is life here!" cried Sherry in shock.
"Look around you!" shouted Dustin.
"He's right," said Walter quietly, causing Sherry to gape at him. "This planet is tearing itself apart. If we try to hide from the Gaklut in a cave, we risk it collapsing on us in an earthquake. If we jump, this planet will explode, but the Gaklut will not be able to follow us. They may not even realize it was us that caused the explosion."
The ship rocked and Dustin grabbed his monitor to keep from flying across the room. The others weren't as lucky. They picked themselves up as alarms started going off.
"We've been hit!" cried Sherry.
"From the Gaklut?" asked Walter, tapping on his monitor.
The screen in front of them popped to life and all they could see was black smoke, with fire balls flying by.
Walter gritted his teeth as he took command of the ship and started to steer them away from the newly active volcano.
"Glad it waited till we were inside the ship to do that," said Dustin, strapping himself into his seat.
'PED, I want you to send a couple nanobots into the system to copy all of the information related to locations. If this ship explodes, I have no doubt we'll survive, but I'll need to know how to get back.'
As a stream of nanobots disappeared into his console, Walter grunted and the ship veered to the left.
"The Gaklut have found us!" shouted Trey.
"I noticed," said Walter, as he veered the ship the other way.
The Gaklut ship had entered the atmosphere to try and shoot at them. Walter was steering them around the flying fire balls, lava plumes and dense smoke clouds as they were fired upon.
"The engines will be ready in five minutes," said Sherry, somewhat subdued. She still didn't like the idea of jumping while in atmosphere, but it would be their only saving grace at this point. The Gaklut would never let them live now. They had refused to leave their space, and had actually stolen from them.
"Five minutes!" cried Walter in disbelief. "Get those engines working or you won't have to worry about us destroying this planet!"
She swallowed and started typing with more devotion. Dustin typed onto his monitor, bringing up the info he could find on the military station they were going to be heading to.
The ship did a barrel roll, causing Sherry to give out a small scream. Trey looked like he was going to be sick.
"Sorry guys," said Walter, too focused to really put much feeling into it.
They swung one way, then another. Blasts from the Gakluts flew by, grazing the ship but not causing much damage.
"We're ready to jump!" cried Sherry, clutching her seat as the ship went sideways momentarily to avoid another shot.
"Preparing to jump in 3…2…1!"
Everything seemed to freeze for a moment, and Dustin wondered if the ship got hit just as it was jumping. Then everything jumped back into place. They were in space, floating calmly towards a dark space station. There was a weak sun surrounded by a dense debris cloud. If Dustin didn't know any better, he would think there had been several planets that blew up.
"We made it…" whispered Sherry.
"They did not." Walter turned to look at her, but she didn't look up.
"I thought you said this place was dangerous? It doesn't look so bad."
"See that debris field? That was created by asteroids. They swing this way every couple of rotations. Anyone who's in the area risks being destroyed. The station is actually in a blind spot and should never be hit, but anyone coming or going is in danger. Also, there's no resupply locations for several jumps in any direction. It was abandoned because of how difficult it was to get here."
"Let's get inside!" said Dustin excitedly. He couldn't wait to see what their computers might hold.
"I'm not seeing any asteroids in the area," said Trey without looking up from his monitor.
"The one's we need to worry about won't show up on the sensors."
"Micro meteors?" whispered Trey in horror.
"Get us docked as soon as possible."
Dustin watched as the space station drew closer. Long thin connecting pieces made it look like a child's string art gone wrong. There had once been solar collectors but they had been destroyed by the debris. He wondered what else might have been destroyed. Was the station as secure as Walter claimed? He could survive, but could they if there was a breach?
"We'll stay here in the ship, and be ready to leave as soon as the engine finishes syncing with the new crystals. You can probably survive despite the lack of life support, since you went for a spacewalk."
"How long do I have, again?" asked Dustin moving towards the door.
"Two hours minimum," said Sherry firmly, staring intently at the screen.
Dustin didn't even pause in his walk. He had already studied the map and knew exactly where he wanted to go. Two hours would be plenty of time.