Omega Force Soldiers of Fortune Online - Joshua Dalzelle Page 0,1

His neural implant painted the target with a reticle that floated in his field of view thanks to this ocular implants. The ship had decelerated dramatically and was now in freefall as it pursued the large sheet of thermal shielding, the idea was to appear as just another piece of spent thermal blanket falling to the sea.

The target decelerated much more quickly than the Phoenix, however, and ended up passing below and behind them before Jason could react. Suffering from target-fixation, he kept pushing the nose over as he followed its path and failed to realize that he was approaching the ship’s stall speed while not under power. The warning from the computer came too late as the left wing slowed enough to stop providing lift and the big gunship rolled over onto her back and began an inverted, spinning fall towards the surface.

Other than Crusher, the crew was too startled to cry out as they were thrown against their restraints. “Activate the deck-plating!” Jason called to Kage. A split second later the pull of gravity reversed and they were slammed back into their seats as the artificial gravity was restored. The effect was wildly disorienting, but at least Jason wasn’t trying to control the ship while hanging upside-down in his harness. He reached over and flipped the four main engine controls to *ENGAGE/RUN* and watched as the switches went from a steady red to a flashing amber, indicating that the main engines were going into their startup sequence.

The first twinges of true panic began to creep up on him as the ship fell out of control through the atmosphere and the engines seemed to be taking an especially long time to come online. The plan had been to fly in cold and use the Phoenix's lifting-body to glide far enough down into the atmosphere that the engines' heat signature wouldn’t show up on anybody’s scan when they finally engaged them. The tumble they were in had ruined that plan; if the main engines didn’t light off in time, he wouldn’t be able to power out of the stall and the mission would be cut short by virtue of them plunging to their deaths into the Western Sea.

Rumbling signs of life from the aft section of the ship gave Jason a sliver of hope that the engines would come up in time as they descended through forty-five thousand feet. It would still be close though. The flight control surfaces were useless, so he fired the auxiliary reactive thrusters to try and get the nose pointed down to restore the airflow over the wings, allowing them to get some bite into the atmosphere and provide some stability.

The unorthodox maneuver worked and the gunship grudgingly righted herself and pointed her nose down, allowing them to pick up some airspeed. The Phoenix wasn’t a glider, however, and they were still losing ten feet of altitude for every foot they flew forward, the nose pitched too far down due to the steep rake of the wings. He was about to offer up a silent prayer when all the engine indicators greened up at once and a healthy BOOM! resonated throughout the entire ship; the mains had come online and were providing thrust. Jason shoved the throttle forward and the Phoenix surged, picking up airspeed and allowing the wings to start generating sufficient lift to keep them in the air. They leveled out a little less than one-thousand feet above the sea and settled into stable, controlled flight.

Finally trusting himself to speak, Jason turned to Kage, “Start feeding me navigational waypoints and get ready to bring the grav emitters back online once we’re clear of Corran City's sensor net.”

“Yes, sir,” Kage said, still shaken up by the close call.

The Phoenix streaked over the Western Sea low enough to whip up a foamy, turbulent wake in the water. They were paralleling the coast in a northerly direction, keeping just far enough off shore to avoid line of sight detection. Compared to the previous few harrowing hours under the freighter, flying at near-supersonic speeds at only a couple of hundred feet was child’s play. The timing of their entry looked like it was going to work out in their favor; the sun was now on the horizon and it would likely be dark when they reached their destination. Jason told the computer to maintain a constant velocity and released the throttle, now only concentrating on keeping them on course, flying towards the waypoints on his display that