When the Phoenix is caught in a trap five hundred years old, Dace faces the most demanding challenge of her life.
The ship lurched to the side and started sliding towards the planet. Clark muttered under his breath as he checked the ship. I turned back to my own boards. The engines whined as they tried to hold us to the course Clark had set. Something was pulling us down to the planet. Clark pushed the engines to maximum, fighting whatever it was.
Something in the controls gave with a bang and flash of light. Sparks flew across the controls. The smell of burned components filled the cockpit. The scanning screens flashed pure white, then went dark. Completely. She tried to reboot them, but the systems were dead.
“Where are we going?” Clark asked over the growing sound of the engine rumble. He fought his controls, trying to keep us steady.
“Your guess is as good as mine,” Jasyn answered.
It was my turn to swear. I’d made several blind landings, the worst in a defective emergency pod. I hated not knowing where I was going. I hated not being in control.
“We’re going down,” Clark said, unnecessarily. All of us could hear the sound of thin atmosphere tearing past the hull.
He throttled back on the engines, no longer trying to fight whatever was pulling us in. Both of us worked to just bring the ship down in one piece. Without scans, it was going to be dicey.
Air screamed over the hull. The temperature in the ship rose. Clark feathered the thrusters, trying to push us sideways. Each pulse of power yanked us farther towards the unknown planet. The hull creaked. I smelled burning fluid from the engine.
Jasyn paused long enough to strap herself in before working on the scan equipment again.
“How thick was the atmosphere?” Clark asked.
“Barely breathable,” Jasyn answered.
Clark cocked his head. Another burst of power dragged us lower. My stomach lurched. Clark hit the throttles. The ship tumbled sideways. I fell out of my chair, smacking my face against the edge of the control board. Clark pulled the ship around, goosing the engines. He counted as he pushed the controls. I scrambled back into my seat and belted in.
“Got it!” A single glowing screen lit Jasyn's face. “You’ve got two seconds."
Another pulse grabbed us. Clark shoved the throttles wide open. The ship dropped and slammed into the ground. We bounced into the air. I fought the stabilizer controls, trying to keep us right side up. Clark goosed the throttles. We scraped along something hard, the ship slewing to the right. I hit the reverse thrusters. The ship slid to a bumpy stop. Clark slammed the controls for an emergency shutdown. The whole ship filled with greasy smoke.
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