Chapter 3 of my Daria/ Star Frontiers Crossover – Crash on Volturnus
I’m putting up a table of contents since it appears some of the incoming websites haven’t updated yet for Chapter 5.
Crash on Volturnus – Chapter 3
By Dr. Mike
Story originally created by Mark Acres and Tom Moldvay with Doug Niles. Story originally edited by Troy Denning. Original story copyright 1982 by TSR Inc.
Jane smirked. “Suddenly, I feel more experienced. Hmm, imagine that.”
Daria had no time to question Jane’s bizarre comment. She was too busy flinching from the pirate’s bullets, which impacted into the life pod. The craft continued its movement along the tracks underneath it, passing through the force field and into space.
Daria peered out the nearby porthole to see for a brief second the armed pirate laughing at them before the pod’s thrusters turned the craft and began to accelerate it slowly away from the Serena Dawn. They heard metal knocking against the skin of the craft as it began to push through the debris field around the ship.
Once they had reached a safe distance from the ship, the pod’s engines kicked on fully and they began to accelerate at a much greater speed, pushing them back into their heavily padded seats. Daria knew that the life pod was programmed to seek the nearest inhabitable planet and land in the first safe spot that it found. She just wished that the designers had given some thought about sound proofing the noise of the engines.
Jane looked up towards the ceiling of the craft. “I hope the shots didn’t damage anything important,” she yelled.
The rest of the group turned as one towards her with signs of disgust on their faces. “Jane, how many times do we have to tell you not to say things like that?” C’hting yelled at her. Jane shrugged and gripped her armrests as hard as she could.
Heads whipped back towards the front of the craft as alarms screamed over the roar of the engines.
“What the hell is it?” yelled Doren. Daria couldn’t do anything but stare as nearly every warning light came alive on the panel in front of her, filling the life pod in red throbbing light. She tore her gaze from the panel to the porthole in front of her. The planet Volturnus loomed underneath them. As they passed over the line that separated day from night, she saw that the planet was shrouded in clouds. Daria hoped that the onboard computer would hold together long enough to find a suitable landing site under the cloud cover and get them down safely. The life pod began its descent towards the planet and into the night side.
“Come on. Hold together,” whispered Daria. The outside of the shuttle began to glow with the heat of reentry.
The electronic panel above Doren’s head blew open with a shower of sparks.
“Shit!” yelled Doren as he slammed the quick release of his harness and dove for cover under Jane’s seat. His vacated chair ignited under the mass of sparks that continued to issue from the overhead panel. Smoke began to fill the cabin.
“Doren!” Bakchu screamed as the craft began to jolt from the turbulence of re-entry.
“I’m fine. I just need to brace myself…” Daria watched with fascination as Doren began to form himself around the base of Jane’s seat. The glow outside the porthole began to fade and the craft lowered itself into the dark clouds.
They almost made it.
The pirate had gotten lucky. While most of his bullets impacted without effect against body of the craft, a single bullet had made its way into the guts of the engine, making a small knick in a vital oil line. It only took a few minutes with the engine under full power before hot oil had coated the components and for the volume of the oil reserve to drop dangerously low. First one part seized up, then a second and then others followed. It didn’t take long until a vital part seized up.
Daria watched in horror as another set of red lights flashed on in a group joining the set already blaring for attention. Their heads whipped around to the rear of the life pod as the engine exploded and flames began entering the passenger compartment. The temperature within the compartment quickly rose from the flames as the entire back wall was now engulfed. One overhead panel after another began exploding, showering the compartment with white sparks as they tried to cover themselves with their arms. Daria couldn’t make out who was screaming at the top of their lungs behind her.
They never saw the high outcropping of rocks that the life craft slammed across the top of, spinning it out of control and back into the sky. It tumbled end over end in the air, corkscrewing as it went.
Doren screamed in pain. He had only been able to get a few centimeters of membrane to reform around one of the supports under Jane’s chair. Without any of his body material filling in the flaps of membrane, the support tore thru the membrane and he skidded along the floor, body material dripping like blood from his torn membrane.
“Doren!” Jane screamed in horror as a jolt sent Doren went flying through the air again. He slammed into the back of Daria’s chair, causing her head to bang into the panel in front of her.
Doren flew over the top of Jane’s seat, his arms and legs flailing. Jane threw both of her arms up in an attempt to catch him.
“I’ve got you!”
The lights on the life pod’s control panel flipped back from red to green as the backup computer finally kicked in and took control over the craft. Without knowing what was occuring inside of itself, the computer extended its atmosphere glide wings, corrected for the out of control spin using its thrusters at full strength, righted the craft, and began looking for a place to set down.
Doren screamed as his body whipped around. Jane had been able to get a hold of the end of his cape but it wasn’t enough. Her wrist snapped as Doren’s cape pulled one way and then the other. They watched in horror as Doren made one more pass over their heads. He screamed again as he plowed head first an open control panel causing it to explode and fill the compartment with another series of sparks and flames.
“DOREN!” screamed Jane as she strained against her harness in an attempt to reach him, ignoring her broken wrist.
The life pod skimmed a desert dune, reached back into the sky for a moment and slammed back to the earth, skidding along the sands until finally coming to rest against a small grouping of boulders. The flames coming from the engine compartment began to increase.
Daria leaned back into her seat, one hand holding her head, knocking into the hanging survival pack that had popped down upon impact. She turned back to the chaos behind her. Daria could smell the burning metal and flesh around her.
Kurn was the first out of his seat. He grabbed his survival pack and threw open the escape hatch.
“We’ve got to get out of here! It’s going to blow!” Kurn yelled as he grabbed one of the supply bags, jumped out of the burning craft, and ran for cover.
Daria reached up for her own bag, noticed the fresh red blood on her hands and tried not to pass out. She could feel the blood oozing from the gash on her forehead. She watched C’hting and Bakchu grab their own survival packs and the remaining supply bags. Daria hit the quick release on her own harness and made her way to the hatch. She turned back to check on Jane.
Jane sat in her seat, holding her bruised arm close to her body. Her eyes were glued to the remains of Doren still wedged in the overhead compartment. His body, now hanging limp from the opening, was engulfed in flames.
“Jane?” Daria yelled over the flames. She wavered slightly from the blood loss.
Jane turned to face her, tears mixing in with the soot and burns on her face. “I… Couldn’t… Save…” She opened her uninjured hand to show a small piece of fabric that had torn from Doren’s cape. Jane choked on her tears.
Daria grabbed a hold of her. “We have to get out of here, Jane!”
Jane shook her head wildly. “No! I killed…” She clutched the fabric to her chest, her broken wrist sticking out at a weird angle.
Daria slapped the quick release on her friend’s harness and yanked her upright. She shoved Jane towards the open hatch, picked up both survival packs, and made her own way out of the life pod. Bakchu was dragging the now lifeless Jane away from the crash while C’hting carried the bags. Daria turned back to the craft and gave Doren one last look. The flames had now consumed the interior of the life pod. Daria said a silent prayer and then turned and ran for cover.
Daria made it about 30 feet before the life pod behind her exploded into a fireball, lighting up the night sky. She was forced into the desert sand from the explosion as wave after wave of flame and debris flew over her.
After the flames had died down, Daria lifted her head slightly, noticing that the sky was beginning to get lighter. The sun had begun to rise. She could already feel the unbearable heat coming from the sun and it had not even fully risen yet. Daria looked out over the wasteland of sand and rock. No trees or grass or water or anything. Nothing but sand and rock. Daria struggled for a moment to get back to her feet but felt her strength leave her. With a moan, she slowly slid back down into the sand, drifting into sweet oblivion.