Jul-15-09, 02:32 AM (EDT)|
"frontispiece: Battle 06: Independence"|
It was Saturday, October 22. I don't know what the weather was
like in Worcester, but where I happened to be just then, it was windy
and cold, with gusts up to... oh, I don't know... 200 knots or
thereabouts. I stood at the end of the Prince of Thebes' cargo ramp and
checked my gear. Everything was right where it'd been when I checked
it the minute before. I was as ready as I was ever going to be.
I turned to the person next to me and asked, "Are you sure you
want to do this?"
Thanks to my radio headset, didn't have to yell, though
the plane's cargo cabin was full of the roar of wind and the drone of
engines. The person I was speaking to had a headset too, but she
didn't answer me verbally; she just tugged one of the straps of her
harness a little tighter, then gave me a huge grin, her teeth and eyes
glinting scarlet in the red glow of the get-ready light.
Not for anything like the first time, I remarked to myself
that my recently-acquired apprentice was a strange, strange child, and
one who bore close watching. Fearlessness is a handy thing, but it can
get a person into a world of trouble.
I've done a lot of things in my life that weren't legal, but
today I was breaking new ground. If taking a minor into a potential
combat situation is reckless endangerment - and it is - I don't even
want to think about what getting her there by jumping out of an
I sighed to myself and turned to look out and down. Silly,
really. I couldn't see my target; A, by the time it would be visible
from this doorway, I'd better not be standing there, and B, it was 0217
hours local time and there was nothing to see out there but night.
Hitting a specific spot on what is, let's face it, an
inconveniently big planet from a moving airplane is a tricky business.
If your drop aircraft is off-course by just a little bit, or you jump
at the wrong time, you miss. If your target is near water and that
happens, you could end up taking a swim. If you find yourself
parachuting among huge craggy mountains and that happens, you might
find the ground a lot closer than you were expecting, or even, if
you're very unlucky, ride your drop aircraft into a cliff.
Nothing I could do about any of that, though. I'd just have
to trust Zoner to get me to the right spot at the right time, and then
it'd be my turn to do the rest.
The light above the door turned green and, for a moment, I
didn't have time to think any more.
"Let's go," I said to Sakura, and then I flipped my visor shut
and stepped into the night. Suddenly it was very quiet indeed.
As I plummeted toward - I hoped - the Province of Alberta, I
still didn't have time for a lot of rumination. While the icy wind
snapped at my clothes and the glowing dial of the altimeter on my
wrist wound down, I only had one stray thought:
How did I get into this again?
Alert | IP ||
Printer-friendly page | Edit |
Reply With Quote | Top |