Her head was full of sweat.
Red lights were flashing all around her.
A robotic voice in her head, although spoken like a soft-natured female, seemingly sounded like perpetual shouts of grief in the claustrophobic escape pod.
"Warning. Automatic course correction, failure."
"Predicted impact velocity is 562% maximum survivable limit."
"Awaiting manual input."
It was 30 seconds ago that she heard a loud booming noise from her right side.
The panel with the image of the escape pod had part of its right side turned from orange to red, then a loud beeping permeated throughout the small room.
"So, this is where I end."
Emma wryly smiled to herself.
She reached out and procedurally cut off the fuel supply to engine number 1 and 2. But she knew it was useless. There was absolutely no way this escape pod could land well with two of its main engines blown out.
The pod has 5 engines, 3 main engines and 2 small engines for course correction. But now, all the remaining main engine could do would be to swivel the pod to the ground for a more stylistic death.
[I should have listened to my sister], Emma thought after turning on both small engines, a useless action at this speed of over 30,000 kilometers per hour.
[Space mining isn't a job for a young girl!]
[If you want a man's job that much, you can be an engineer on the ground. Do you know how many spacecraft we lost last year? Five! And 134 people along with those rickety machines.]
[What is it about space that you love so much?]
The memory of those hours of lecture flashed through her mind. Her sister, in her lawyer attire, with one hand on her hip and the other pointing at her, complained to her with great displeasure.
"I'm sorry, sis. I'm a bad sister. I hope you find a good man and get married soon."
"You can't keep rejecting everyone like that."
"Pitiful Michael. At least go on a date with him once. It has been 3 Galactic years. He isn't that bad."
Emma spoke to the onboard recorder while pressing the button to detach the fuel tank for the main engines. There was no way to send the message, though, not with the jamming signal of those freaks all over this space section.
A tear rolled off her eyes, which was immediately sucked dry by the spacesuit.
Emma turned off all the warnings in her head.
"This is not what I want to hear when I die."
Emma directed the neural chip to switch to music mode. After a series of confirmations explaining the law of the Corporation and how harsh the punishment would be if a pilot listens to music while there is warning onboard, her favorite song, "The Garden of Love", finally started playing.
Emma closed her eyes, her finger reached for the parachute switch, but then retracted. "It'll just get torn right off in the lower atmosphere anyway. Might as well get relaxed."
The altimeter was going to zero at an impossible speed.
Anver was resting as he chucked a mouthful of water from his leather sack.
[The man is finished.] He thought to himself.
Lying in front of him was his latest team member, a young man he did not even remember the name.
3 streaks of deep, bloody scratches ran along the man's body. There were also claw marks on his neck. The man was trying to say something, but could only manage incomprehensible gurgles.
He lifted his right hand holding a knife.
The eyes that knew death was near. They have a mix of fear, hesitation, and some tingles of acceptance.
[Sure. Why not.] Anver looked at the shaky, bloody teen, nodded.
In a quick, startling motion, Anver grabbed the hand along the knife and plunged it into the youth's heart.
There was a yelp from his left side as he did that. He didn't mind.
"May the Source travel with you in your departure." He spoke as he made a sloppy hand movement in the form of a circle in front of his chest. He then turned to his companion.
"Whelp, that does it. Let's go back. We need a new team member tomorrow."
The woman in black leather attire sitting next to him was still staring at the lifeless corpse. Anver raised an eyebrow. "Lena, hello? Are you going?"
The woman shook her head and stood up. She took her sword out of the ground and sheathed it. A quick circular hand movement was made as Lena mumbled something. "Tch!" She clicked her tongue after the prayer and followed her leader out of the wood.
The night was getting cold and scary.
As the mercenary team now consisted of only 2 people was walking back, Anver noticed smoke rising from the center of the small village.
"That's the third one this week. Hunting season is starting. We have to be extra careful these days."
Lena seemed to be startled out of thoughts as she heard Anver speaking. "No arrow left. Let's get more than usual this time." She nodded heavily. "We have to keep a distance. I hate these meaningless deaths."
"Wasn't your fault, you know."
"Yeah, of course, I know." Lena was back in thoughts again.
"We are staying outside until they're done burning people. I don't need more negativity today."
"Sure." Said Lena, as she removed her backpack and sat down with her leader in front of the village entrance.
"How long are we going to have to keep living like this?" Lena unconsciously asked.
The leader looked up as he mumbled.
"That is something I also want to know, dear Lena."
A lone shooting star cut through the beautiful starry night in a long, bright flash.
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