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   Chapter 21 No.21

Bypass Gemini By Joseph R. Lallo Characters: 5878

Updated: 2018-01-19 12:02

It quickly became clear that navigating the mess of wreckage and trash was nothing like the Briar Patch a few minutes ago. There was literally no way to avoid hitting at least some of the smaller stuff. His weak shields were constantly glittering with their own little fireworks display as he jostled his way through clouds of gravel-sized junk. It was like flying through a hail storm, only the hail stones were made out of high-density tungsten and moving at orbital speeds. Larger slabs ground against each other ahead of him, rebounding just enough for him to slip through.

If he'd had the brainpower to spare, right about now Lex would have been doubting the wisdom of entering this death cloud rather than just taking his sentence like a man. As it was, every spare cycle of his brain was busy plotting the trajectories of half a dozen hunks of wreckage, trying to figure out if the gap between them would be big enough to squeeze through by the time he reached it. Normally this was the sort of thing a flight computer would do for him. Unfortunately they were designed to keep him out of situations like this, not get him out of them. Thus, his very expensive, top of the line nav system had decided the best course of action was to flash a seizure-inducing array of warning lights and blare out an annoying siren right when he most needed to concentrate.

Things only got worse the lower he went. The wreckage got bigger and more plentiful and the swarms of nuts and bolts got denser. The shields were now shimmering with a pretty much constant and uniform glow. He'd never seen them do that before. A moment later, the glow abruptly stopped as the shield generator finally overloaded. Now the flash and sparkle of deflected debris was replaced with

t have been hit at some point, because when time came back, it brought centripetal force with it. The rotation threw him out of his seat and pinned him painfully against the force field for a moment or two before he hauled himself back into the seat. He buckled himself back into the harness and made a mental note to never, ever unbuckle it during a flight again. He then pulled up the auxiliary controls and gave them a try.

There wasn't a whole hell of a lot of functionality left in old Betsy. There might be one engine left that was still running and had controls intact. One or two of the maneuvering thrusters was still working, too. That would have to be enough.

A little trial and error and an awful lot of finesse took the ship out of its death spin. The ground wasn't as close as he'd expected. Gravity must have been a little weak here. A little more fighting got the ship oriented generally upright, and the time came to say his goodbyes.

"Well, girl, we had some good times, but this is where we part ways!" he yelled over the rush of wind and rattle of broken machinery, patting the arm of the chair one last time before hammering the eject button.

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