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   Chapter 20 No.20

Black Sunrise By Christina Engela Characters: 6847

Updated: 2018-06-30 12:02

From the control tower, Cindy-Mei watched proceedings with the sincere admiration and gratitude of one who, deep down, was very glad she wasn't there. It was a lot like watching a game. The kind you didn't like to play alone at night in an otherwise quiet house. One so graphic you would have to push the pause button just to wipe the blood and entrails off the screen and move your coffee cup aside in case of floaters. A game that you finally quit playing because of the cold creepy feeling you got from behind and the certain knowledge you weren't going to sleep tonight. A game that gave your nightmares nightmares.

"Popcorn?" Mac Dugless offered, chewing noisily.

* * *

Bannor Class loderunners were not meant to make planetfall, ever. If one ever did, it would most certainly be a one-way trip ending in a smoking crater in the ground, leaving some interesting bits of metal for future generations of archaeologists to speculate about.

There was no one on the bridge – except for Fred, and he had to do something. He was going to do something. Just him and the computer. 'Puter ol' buddy, ol' pal… Pressing various controls on the brightly lit multifunction control desks, he managed to get Duval to dip slightly into the atmosphere. It was a sudden movement and the sudden shift of gravity so close to the planet caused a stack of books to fall over somewhere in the library. On the rec-dec Captain Johannsen toppled off his stool with a loud thud (that nobody heard because he was alone and now unconscious as well), and the little fountain overflowed. (If Fred had known, he would have speculated, at length, whether a drunk Captain falling off a stool on a rec-dec without anyone there to hear it, would still make a noise when he fell?)

Fred was being careful. He had to do it ever so slowly or the resultant friction and heat of re-entry would melt the ship like a four-kilometer long swizzle stick over a candle. The cargo manifest flashed up on a different display, also being operated by one of Fred's spare branches. On ano

fireworks display. Droplets of unlit fluid rained gently over the carnage and began to soak the combatants who had not been blown down by the blast and were still at each other's throats.

From where Marsh'k lay sprawled on the concrete quite some distance away, still smoking, he watched as tongues of flame licked through the shattered view-ports into the night sky. Where the air lock had been was a bright hot place that looked like what was left of a blazing toaster oven. One of the landing struts collapsed with a rending noise and the buckled, blazing, shattered wreck fell onto the concrete with a dull roar and the sound of protesting metal. A large metal sphere dislodged from the shattered hull and rolled away slowly with a rumbling noise before stopping, like an elephant drunk from eating marula fruit, against a small cargo ship. Secondary explosions tore out what was left of the hammerheads' already blazing insides. The mob paused in mid-fight, staring with disbelief at the sight before them. How did it come to this, he wondered in abject happiness, oblivious to the detail that if he'd had eyebrows he would have lost them as well. Twenty minutes ago he was in complete control of the situation, and now it was all over bar the shhisgah. Wisps still rising from his singed skin and armor, Marsh'k sank back and surrendered to the blackness.

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