The Ithaca Sails
A flash fiction piece by Ryan J Goodman
A shower of sparks and slivers of shrapnel exploded from the bulkhead in front of Pedro's face. The crack of gunfire drowned out Pedro's cursing as he scrambled for cover. More cracks ripped through the air as men on the deck began to shout. Warm blood flowed down Pedro's face making him see red, still he popped out of cover, aimed, and fired his jezail at one of raiders in the surrounding hills; identified by the cloud of gunpowder smoke.
Pedro never saw if his shot hit true as he ducked back into cover to reload. While Pedro reloaded the captain barked orders out to the men; telling them to keep firing as they waited for the away team to return. Eventually after pausing to wipe his own blood from his face Pedro finished reloading. With the click of his jezail's lock Pedro leveled his gun for another shot. A raider was charging for the ramp, screaming with a crude sword held above his head. Pedro fired; a plume of smoke erupted from his barrel. A hole exploded from the raider's chest as Pedro's jezail once again added its thunder to the cacophony of gunfire.
It made sense to wait for the away team. If the ship did not get those needed supplies it would almost be better to let the raiders end their lives now rather than starve in the sky. While reloading Pedro heard footsteps racing up the ramp. Standing Pedro drew his pistol and shot a raider in the jaw. Strange drugs in the raiders system had given the savage a battle rage. Unperturbed by his mangled face the raider leapt at Pedro. Dropping his pistol Pedro ducked the raiders reckless swing, hand reaching for the hilt of his saber. With no time to draw his sword before the next swing of the raiders axe Pedro bounded forward and headbutted his foe in their mangled face. The wet crunching impact created pain that overpowered the raiders combat drugs, causing the savage to stagger back. Now with room and time Pedro drew his saber and cut the cringing raiders head from his shoulders.
Three more raiders howled as they ran up the ramp. One had his skull split by a bullet; another was disemboweled by gunfire. The third raider made it through the shower of the crew's lead and leapt at Pedro. With quick precision Pedro sliced the raiders weapon hand off as the savage swung downward. Momentum, adrenaline, and drugs compelled the savage to, despite the lack of a hand, not even slow down. The raider landed on Pedro and sunk his teeth in Pedro's neck. Pedro yelped as the rider's teeth tore into his flesh, and dragged Pedro down to the ground. The two combatants fell into a tangle of blood, teeth, and blade. Pedro was stuck in a struggle of two problems, keeping his throat from being torn out, and to draw his dagger.
The raider suddenly shuddered; his jaw went slack and his eye's rolled back. The steel blade of an away team member was buried into the raider's skull. The raider's twitching corpse was rolled off of Pedro, then a hand was given to help Pedro up. Pedro gave the crew member an appreciative nod before grabbing his jezail and sending one more bullet the raiders way.
With haste the walkway was retracted, the ship shifted, and The Ithaca lifted off one more time. Bullet holes adorned her bulkheads, blood decorated her decks, but The Ithaca set sail into the deep blue sky. Bullets from the raiders pinged the hull, but as the ship gained altitude the shots swiftly faded away.
Pedro sat down and stared at the thin clouds smeared across the endless blue of the sky. The adrenaline had worn off making Pedro's limbs feel as though they were weighed down by lead. Pedro listened to the wind as it flew by his head; he breathed deeply the fresh air as it whipped by. The panicked drumming of Pedro's heart slowed. After this moment of peace Pedro stood to help the wounded; they would need him.
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