Life of Zu – Part 2

by holojacob

Link to Part 1

The dropship screamed through Athens’ atmosphere amidst a flaming contrail.

Zeta platoon filled the cramped interior with almost forty bodies. I held on to a grip above my head, glad the dropship’s zero field dulled the gee forces of its violent maneuvers to a manageable shaking.

Zeta-One stepped up to the central holographic plot. He summoned an image of two sky towers on his suit’s bracelet and transferred the image to the central plot. The towers rose above a ruined, smoldering cityscape. The larger and thicker of the two looked like it had once been much, much taller.

“Listen up, men,” Zeta-One said. “Our orders just changed, so keep up. This is the remnant of the SolGov tower. You can see debris from the tower collapse around its base. We’re coming in low and landing on the far side here.”

A white nav indicator pulsed a few floors from the top.

“The Exemplar tower next door is our target.” Zeta-One pointed to the second, smaller tower. “The pirates are setting up it up as a forward drone hangar. We’re putting them out of business.”

“Why not just flatten it?” Six asked, leaning against a support strut.

“Several superiors from the Exemplar Estate are being held captive within the tower,” Zeta-One said. “We’re not sure where. The pirates are using them as human shields. SolFleet has not authorized orbital strikes, so it’s up to us. We need to clear the pirates out, but securing the hostages is our highest priority.”

“How do we get to the Exemplar tower?” I asked.

“We’re going to use the SolGov tower to build a bridge,” Zeta-One said. A yellow nav indicator flashed. “Zeta-Two, take your squad to the tower’s master controls located here, about halfway to the surface.”

“Got it.”

“Zeta-Fourteen, your squad will go down to the basement AC reactor and turn it back on. Make sure Zeta-Two has all the power they need.”


“I’ll take the other two squads and secure this point here, where we’ll—”

The dropship lurched violently, almost banging my head into the ceiling. I grabbed my hood and pulled it over my face. The suit closed the neck seal, hardened the surface, and pressurized my helmet.

“Stand by for evasive maneuvers!” the pilot shouted over the intercom.

I linked with a visual feed from the dropship’s exterior and loaded it onto my visor. My dropship was one of a dozen breaking through a thin cloud layer in the stratosphere, descending fast.

“Incoming drone!”

The pirate drone, a hellion heavy interceptor, swooped down on our formation. It blazed away with a trio of nose cannons and shot through like a golden flash. Two dropships exploded into tumbling, burning fragments.

The hellion looped around and came at us from underneath.

My dropship rocked to the side, slamming me into the wall.


My suit absorbed most of the hit, but the impact still forced the air from my lungs.

The hellion ascended. Three missiles detached and accelerated towards the dropships.

A second drone cut through the clouds behind us and fired on the missiles. Two of the pirate missiles exploded, but the third struck another dropship and blossomed into a white-hot fireball.

The new drone corkscrewed through the air, descending towards the hellion. The two drones turned around each other, tighter and tighter, both trying to pull in behind the other.

For something as big as the hellion, it had exceptional maneuverability, but the new drone’s turn radius was just a little bit better. The hellion’s controller must have seen this, and tried to disengage by diving down.

The SolFleet drone followed, spraying shards from its cannons. The hellion’s gravitic shielding caused most of the shards to veer off course and splash into the ocean below, but a few hit, setting the interceptor’s hull on fire.

The hellion turned upward and accelerated, trying to get away, but the SolFleet drone pursued it relentlessly, hitting its hull again and again until its armor gave out. The hellion spun wildly and blew apart.


Six gave me a look.

“What?” I asked.

“Do you think we’re actually going to make it?”

“Of course.”

Six shook his head.

The SolFleet drone pulled into formation and came alongside my dropship, giving the hull camera a clear view of its angular, matte black hull.

It was a stiletto, a SolFleet light interceptor that normally had no hope of taking on something as nasty as a pirate hellion. My template didn’t know much about drone combat, but I could still appreciate the basics.

A 50-ton hellion outclassed the 20-ton stiletto in almost every way. It has better armor, speed, and weapons. Despite its size, it was almost as maneuverable. In a fair fight, it should have crushed the stiletto.

“Not bad, Vance,” I said quietly. “Glad you’re watching over us.”

The stiletto banked hard and vanished into the clouds.

“Landing zone ahead!” Zeta-One shouted. “Look lively!”

“All right, men!” I said, grabbing the rifle off my back. “Let’s kill some pirates!”


Link to Part 3


3 Responses to “Life of Zu – Part 2”

  1. Great how you took the reader quickly from normal operations to an action situation.


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