The glare made Sidewinder blink, but then it was replaced with the utter blackness of deep space. “FRACK!” he yelled as his console shorted out, electrical sparks ripping through the interior of the cockpit, and then the lights died—all of them.
“Everything is off-line, Sidewinder,” the EWO reported as he turned on a battery-powered emergency hand light and opened up the rear console. A second passed, and then two, and Kaboose inhaled sharply, “Aw, frack me. Every one of these circuits is blown—some of them are melted
Sidewinder sighed—his were the same. “Check your radiation tag, Kaboose,” he ordered as he opened a sealed compartment and cranked up the emergency transponder, which thankfully came to life. “ET is transmitting,” he said.
“We caught a pretty good dose, Sidewinder,” Kaboose reported as he came forward. “Better to take the injection now to be sure.”
Sidewinder took one of the two syringes that his backseater held out and he removed the cap from the needle and inserted it in the flight suits injection point—the sharp prick as the needle entered his flesh made him wince again and then he injected the anti-rad cocktail.
“Any Raptor, Sidewinder,” he broadcast on his helmet wireless. There was no answer. “Any Raptor, Sidewinder, report,” he repeated, but only cold silence answered him.
“Break out the emergency radio from stores, Kaboose,” he ordered as he unbuckled the straps holding him place—and began to float. “Artificial gravity is out as well.”
“Everything’s down,” Kaboose repeated as he dug into the survival locker. Sidewinder made his way to the hatch and he unsealed it, opening it to the vacuum beyond. “We’ll get more range without the hatch in the way,” he said as Kaboose pulled it out, and Sidewinder plugged one cord into his helmet. “Any Raptor, Sidewinder. Krypter! Krypter! Krypter! Any Raptor, respond.”
Nothing, not even static.
“Sidewinder,” Kaboose said softly. “Without power, how much air can we pull from the reserve tanks?”
“We’ve air for days, Kaboose,” Sidewinder answered. But the suits batteries for heat would run out in just twelve hours, he thought. And there were no replacements for that onboard. “I want a full inventory of survival gear—and then double check our coordinates. We might have misjumped.”
“Could be,” Kaboose answered. “We took a lot of radiation real close up there, Sidewinder,” and if his voice wasn’t—quite accusatory—it did have a questioning tone.
“Only thing we could do to get the squadron clear, Kaboose. If we had pulled away, those missile batteries would have locked us up before we could jump. We had to get in nice and close.”
“Any closer and I could have tagged that Basestar with spray paint,” Michael said with a chuckle. “Well, at least we can claim a Nova
kill,” he said and then he cursed, ripping up deck plates and opening a compartment and then he sighed. “The recorder is intact—the record of our kill is good.”
Sidewinder grinned. “Krypter! Krypter! Krypter! Any Colonial, this is Sidewinder. Repeat, Krypter! Krypter! Krypter! Any Colonial, this is Sidewinder.”
“Kaboose charge up the ET again,” he ordered. The emergency transponder wasn’t connected to the Raptor’s reserve power—no it relied on a hand crank to generate energy for a few minutes transmission. And muscle energy would keep them warm—for a while. He adjusted his own suit heat downward to conserve the batteries as much as possible, and then did the same to Kaboose as he cranked the ET steadily.
Suddenly Kaboose stopped. “Sidewinder,” he said. “Did you see that?”
The command pilot turned to the hatch and he shook his head. “See wh-. . .,” and then he saw it. Star-light reflecting off of a cockpit pane. And the glare of a reaction thruster. “Krypter! Krypter! Krypter!” he broadcast. “Are we glad to you guys! Raptor systems are dead—electronics are fried.”
“Attention unknown Raptor, this is Racetrack. Stand in the hatch—arms where I can see them,” a woman’s voice said as a bright spotlight suddenly illuminated the Raptor.
Racetrack? We don’t have a pilot named Racetrack, Sidewinder thought.
“Kaboose, move to the hatch,” he ordered as he did the same. A second Raptor turned on a spot light—shining through the cockpit.
“Racetrack, Shark,” the wireless broadcast, “no toasters on board.”
“Unknown Raptor, identify yourselves at once,” the woman said again.
Sidewinder licked his lips as the Raptor adjusted itself and he saw the emblem of the Battlestar Galactica
painted on the side of her nose. “Racetrack, Sidewinder. I am Captain Stefan Greene, commander Raptor Squadron, Battlestar Scorpia