Chapter 17 - Saviour or Executioner

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2nd May 2311 19:02 EST - "ETA five minutes, engaging silent running."

The lights switched to a dim red glow as the Blue Ravens headed deep into space in a Caracara assault ship. The sound of the engines died down giving the indication to the team that it was now time for helmets on.

Jason raised his hand towards Donnelly as his helmet gradually appeared from the base of the neck of his armour, gradually covering his head completely. In response, she gave him a fist pump as her head gradually covered itself too.

Their mission was about half an Astronomical Unit (AU) from Saturn's satellite Titan. They were tasked to eliminate a pirate lord who was cruising on his private yacht between Titan and a space station deep in space.

The ship started to equalise the gravitational pull of the outside surroundings. The feeling of gradually decreasing weight had always amused Jason, how his arms and legs felt less heavy and movement became more flowing.

As silent running completed its activation, the only thing Jason could hear was the steady rhythm was his breathing. Despite having various people, equipment and electronics around him, it always felt unnerving how sound struggled to travel through the artificial vacuum that had been created.

"ETA two minutes, prepare for slingshot." The pilot instructed.

His voice was the only one still active in order to minimise the chance for others to notice their presence.

Major Elijah Turner displayed some hand signals for the rest of the Blue Ravens to see. As he did, the seats they sat on extended to put all of them in an upright position. A series of tubes then descended from the roof and enveloped each of the soldiers.

Despite the slightly claustrophobic feeling, Jason had practised this procedure so many times it had become second nature to him, but this was the first time he would be doing it out in the field.

The slingshot manoeuvre. The spacecraft initially comes to a complete stop before each of the soldiers would be fired through the roof of the ship like a torpedo. Based on the trajectory of the enemy vessel, the soldiers would use the inertia from the launch to intercept the vessel, decrease speed and hook onto its hull.

The Caracara, as it was engaged in silent mode, would be undetectable unless someone took a look outside. As a result of this, the distance between the ship and the enemy vessel would be at a point where neither ship would be visible to the naked eye. As a result of the extended distance, this made the slingshot manoeuvre extremely risky and needed to be rehearsed vigorously.

A failed launch would likely lead to death.

Jason ran all the potential issues through his mind. Too quick and he'd miss the ship, too slow and the same result. Both would then require reducing speed as much as possible or he would float endlessly in the dark of space to the likelihood of dying of either asphyxiation or hypothermia.

His suit had the calculations plugged into it, but it was dependent on the enemy vessel not deviating from its current speed and course.

Just remember your training.

His visor HUD burst into life-giving him vital information about his current physical condition. He sighed when he spotted his heart rate at a steady 82 beats per minute. Closing his eyes and taking deep breaths, he managed to slow it to approximately 70. It was key that he remained as calm as possible.

"ETA 30 seconds. Godspeed." The pilot said.

Godspeed? Hardly appropriate!

The final countdown appeared on Jason's visor and his heart rate started to rise. The excitement of what was to come, no doubt.

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