Baritone, metallic, protesting groans shuddered through the cramped cabin as the shuttle strained against the turbulence of the upper atmosphere. Simon braced himself against the console wondering if he sent the distress call before he set the self-destruct. A rush of white, dense mist engulfed his view, out the broad windshield water drops streaked up its surface obscuring his trajectory even more – had he actually planned a descent. Getting to the shuttle and off his foundering scout ship was his only concern three whole minutes ago. A heading, besides simply planet-bound, hadn’t broached the immediacy of the situation until now, unable to make anything out beyond the claustrophobic, gray-white shroud around him. Sensors were barely functional probably due to the low position on the maintenance list the escape shuttle occupied.
An expanse of green rolling panorama erupted into view as the shuttle plummeted out of the cloud cover. “Oh SHI….!” Simon shouted into his spartan surroundings. Both his senses and the shuttle’s decrepit sensors registered the speed the forested ground was rushing towards them. Blaring alarms intruded on Simon’s mental scramblings to located the breaking thrusters. A heaviness strained against the cabin, and in his stomach, as the thrusters engaged after a final, frustrated fist pounding to the illuminated console. He leaned back into the chair allowing his body a quick respite before looking for a landing spot.
A peripheral flash of orange drew his attention and a furrowed brow out the front of the craft. A second skimmed the air beyond the windshield as a concussion radiated from the rear of the craft. His surroundings pitched forward throwing him into the console then back against the chair as the cabin is sent into a gyre, the view outside reeling into blurred streaks.
He struggled to dislodge an arm from the intensifying mass bearing down on his body. His fingers in arthritic spasm, clawed a path along the chair’s arm gaining ground towards the console and survival. One digit grasped but failed to hold the controls’ edge. His entire musculature strained, forcing its full energy into those straining fingertips. Blackness encroached from the the periphery of his vision. He screamed protests at the physical forces against him. His eyes focused on the remnants of his foundering consciousness, willing his outstretched fingers to their target. They discovered an anchor, hauled themselves up and along the console’s surface using button edges as fingerholds. They pounded frantically on the control section he prayed the stabilizers were located.
The weight reluctantly lifted from his body. Blackness receded from his vision, exhausted muscles collapse deeper into the chair, his chest rising and falling as he gulped in deep breaths of relief.
A multitude of thuds rose from the floor, rumbling through his feet and up into his legs. Simon glanced sidelong through the front window watching chaotic sprigs of greenery spraying into the air. The view bounded upward with a solid jolt from below to the overcast sky he emerged from moments ago. A fleeting glance of a dark shape emerging from the low lying clouds, Simon squinted attempting to identify it.
Gravity’s hand took hold dragging the craft down, a headlong dive into an immense, bark covered trunk. Simon slammed into the console. The surroundings pivoted, another wrenching collision from behind forcing him back into the chair. His perception stalled, hung in the air before the front plunged again into the grasp of another tree. A sense that he was the plaything in a game of keep away between the forest and the ground passed through his mind. The front window implodes as the cabin is flung into another player. Engulfed in a flurry of needled roughage, accosted by pine scent. The cabin tilted and dropped, the branch pulled away delivering a solid fleeing smack across the ridge of his nose. Exerting itself upon the meager craft once more, gravity leveled the interior and Simon’s senses as the ground won the game. Waves rippled through the little ship sending protest screams throughout its punished structure.
Simon leaned a shoulder against the tortured hull and inspected his broken nose in a remnant of the shattered windshield. A stammering, clangorous thunder crowded the short-lived tranquility of the forested floor. He reflexively dropped to his knees as a battered I-beam shaped ship sheared the tree tops above, it’s engines’ sputterings pounding the air around him. Simon checked his pistol’s power cell, holstered it and bounded off through the trees in the direction of the ship noting he now had two against which reprisal will be exacted, those who attacked his scout ship and the tree that busted his nose.