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Hunters of the Dark Side (Part 6)

 

 

Chapter Seventeen

 

Dean was sleeping, really sleeping, almost relaxed for the first time in weeks. At first, he thought it was the hyperspace proximity alarm going off—Dean had it set to wake him a quarter standard hour before they reverted to realspace. But then, he realized that it was a voice, saying his name over and over again. Something warm and soft and human was shaking him. Sammy…

 

“Dean, Dean, wakeup,” Sammy said again, shaking Dean’s shoulder.

 

Reluctantly, he opened his eyes and rolled back on the bunk so he was on his back looking up at Sam, eyes blinking and filled with sleep grit. As he wiped the grit from his eyes, Sam spoke again.

 

“I think there’s something wrong; I had a dream a … I think we’re being followed.” Sam’s eyes were wide and desperate, his voice hollow and scared like Dean hadn’t heard since they were children.

 

“It’s just a dream, Sammy,” Dean tried, pulling himself into a seated position, tucking his uninjured ankle under himself.

 

“No, Dean, it’s not,” Sam replied, sounding terrified.

 

Dean could see tears forming in his brother’s eyes. Sam’s hands were clasping and unclasping over and over again, wringing with uncertainty.

 

“What do you mean, Sammy?” Dean asked, nervous. He knew his brother wasn’t too fond of the old nickname, but it seemed to soothe and comfort them both, so Dean stuck with it.

 

Sam seemed to deflate, crashing to the bunk next to Dean as his legs gave out from under him. He landed next to Dean, facing him, though luckily avoiding sitting on Dean’s barely healing ankle. “I dreamt about Jess’s death, about her burning on the ceiling, about the man with yellow eyes—days before it happened. Sam’s voice was deadly serious and filled with what Dean gathered to be guilt, overwhelming guilt at what had happened. “I dreamt about it for nights on end, and I did nothing, kept telling myself it was just a dream, a nightmare.”

 

Dean cut him off, not able to bear seeing his brother beat himself up so much for something he couldn’t possibly have controlled. “You didn’t know, you couldn’t possibly have known, Sam,” Dean pleaded, gripping Sam around the shoulders and holding his gaze. “You didn’t know about using the Force, and if you’d known it was really going to happen, what could you possibly have done?” Dean asked.

 

“Maybe a lot, maybe nothing,” Sam admitted, looking down t his hands. “But the point is, I do know now, and I can’t ignore this vision.”

 

“Vision?” Dean asked, trying to get up.

 

Sam scooted back to give Dean room, again, very careful of Dean’s injured ankle. “I think the dreams are like, Force visions or something,” Sam explained. “But whatever they are, I know this is going to happen, and we can do something about it—”

 

“What did you see?” Dean asked, pulling himself to his feet. He wanted to comfort Sam, to tell him it would all be OK, but he believed his brother, trusted him, and felt like the best way he could help would be to do what Sammy asked even though that meant affirming the danger and not soothing it away.

 

Sam shifted his shoulder under Dean’s stooping to help Dean keep his weight off the broken ankle. “When we get out of hyperspace, above Tatooine, the Sith is waiting. It’s following us right now. It’s in some sort of fighter ship, the kind with a hyperdrive ring, and it’s going to shoot at us as soon as we get into realspace."

 

“How much time do we have?” Dean asked wearily, leaning his head and hand against the doorway between the bedroom and the kitchen clinic.

 

Just then the audible repeating chime of the ship’s chrono repeating they were due to emerge from hyperspace in fifteen minutes sounded. 

 

“Not much,” Sam said grimly.

 

They continued to walk to the bridge in near silence, Dean thinking over what Sam had told him, really wishing his brain didn’t still feel so muzzy from sleep and the aftereffects of the painkillers he’d taken. As he lowered himself into the pilot’s chair, he asked, “What happens during the attack, Sam?”

 

Chevy trilled a concerned tone from her position next to the co-pilot’s seat.

 

“Sammy had a vision that we’re going to be attacked, ambushed,” he explained.

 

The little droid stilled, swiveling her dome to face Sammy, and waiting patiently for his explanation.

 

“He, the Sith, is going to near-wreck the Dream, Dean,” Sam said, pained. “I think he wants to delay us, delay me from doing something. He wants, he…” Sam’s voice trailed off.

 

“He wants you dead, Dean,” Sam sniffed. His eyes were now moist with unshed tears that he swatted at and tried to rub away with the backs of his hands. “I saw you die, where you’re sitting now; the ship was hit so hard part of the overhead console fell and crushed you!”

 

Dean swallowed hard, but otherwise showed no sign of outward emotion. He’d sensed it back at Sam’s apartment. The Sith did want him dead. More disconcerting though, it seemed to just want Sam. Dean shuddered at the thought. He hated thinking his brother had dreamt—had a vision, whatever—of his death, but that paled in comparison to his fears. What would a Sith want with his brother?

 

“What about Chevy?” Dean asked, with a fake chuckle, trying to lift the mood.

 

Chevy whined in agreement, clearly wanting to know the answer.

 

“I don’t know, didn’t really see Chevy; I think she was ok, but I get the idea the Sith isn’t really interested in her,” Sam said, scrunching up his face in concentration. “But he wants you dead; he’s gonna kill you; you’re, you’re…”

 

“Sam, Sammy, look,” Dean said, sliding forward off the edge of his seat and going to his knees in front of Sam, earning a painful jot in his ankle for his efforts. He reached up to put his hands on Sam’s shoulders, steadying him. “Sam, I’m still here. That hasn’t happened yet. Come on, maybe we can change what’s going to happen; isn’t that why you told me this?”

 

“I don’t know,” Sam cried, voice broken; his confidence and urgency from earlier gone. “I don’t know how any of this works!” He threw up his hands in frustration and dropped them when Chevy and everything else that wasn’t tied down started to rattle.

 

“Let’s just start at the beginning,” Dean suggested. He glanced at the ship’s chrono. “We’ve still got seven minutes until we hit realspace.”

 

Sam looked down t Dean uncertainly.

 

“Come on,” Dean prodded, cautiously levering himself back into his seat.

 

Sam blinked, furrowing his brow and then turned to face the console, punching in the controls to bring up the holomap of the Tatoo system. “Ok, this is where we’re supposed to come out of hyperspace, right?” Sam said, gesturing at the approximate point in the system where the Dream should revert to realspace.

 

“Yeah,” Dean nodded. “We’re coming in on this line of approach,” he added, outlining their trajectory with his finger.

 

“Ok,” Sam said, nodding. “Well in the vision, the ship emerged from hyperspace right behind us and fired before we could get our shields up. It damaged the hyperdrive and took out the shield generator before we could raise our shields. We tried evasive maneuvers, but the Sith damaged the sensor array and the ship wasn’t responding fast enough because of all the damage, and before we could get into atmo, the fighter took out the port turboblaster and that’s when…” Sam’s voice faltered and he dropped his hand from the holo image, looking mournfully at Dean.

 

“That’s when I get crushed to death?” Dean supplied.

 

Sam nodded tearfully.

 

Dean took a minute to take in and process the information Sam had given him. His heart ached at the idea of his brother being forced to witness his death—at the revelation that Sam had endured dreams of Jess’s death. Dean shut his eyes and forced the images ack. He was still half asleep, pain meds still circulating through his system. It hadn’t really gotten any better since he’d sat down on the bridge, and he could really go for a cup of caf, but with only—five—minutes to figure out a way to save their—his—necks, he knew he didn’t have the time. “Ok,” did you see anything else?” Dean asked.

 

Sam looked up, searching his brain for any elusive details. “Um, the ship was a fighter, one of the small ones with the detachable hyperdrive ring. It was already de-docked when it attacked us, and the ring was over… here,” he recalled, pointing at the spot on the holoprojection. “Oh, and I think I remember floating—the hit that uh,” he nodded at Dean, “also knocked out the grav generators.

 

“Ok,” Dean said, taking in the new information and looking at the relevant points on the holo. “good news and bad news, we’re flying into Tatooine, which means super-lax flight control, no customs to speak of…”

 

“We’re not that likely to attract any unwanted attention if we get into a dogfight or take a nonstandard approach, but we’re won’t get any help, either,” Sam concluded.

 

Dean squinted at the holo for a few more seconds. “What if we came out of hyperspace four seconds later?” he asked, tracing the trajectory with his fingers.

 

“It would be close,” Sam admitted with a pained shrug, the bruising across his chest still obviously hurting him. “We’d be really close to the planet.”

 

“But we should have enough time to get our shields up and get the aft turbolasers charged and aimed before the Sith can get a shot off. Plus, our trajectory will be readjusted so we’ll line up perfectly with the suns’ worst glare, so he should lose us for a few seconds,” Dean said, smiling. His encouragement, however, was short-lived. Oh crap! a thought occurred to Dean, and he felt his smile falter. “Can this Sith like track us in the force? I mean will he know in advance that we’ve changed course?” Dean asked worriedly.

 

“I have no idea,” said Sam, frowning. “Dean, I really don’t know how this works—”

 

“Don’t worry about it,” Dean interjected before Sam could get any more worked up. He put his hand out to still Sam. “We’re doing it differently; it’s not what you saw, so this may be our best chance.”

 

Sam still looked uncertain, and Dean would give anything to wipe that overwhelmed look from his brother’s face. “Come on, we’re good at evading capture, or at least I am, maybe you’re too out of practice?” Dean goaded.

 

Sam’s face scrunched up in a half-smile. “In your dreams,” he shot back.

 

That’s more like it, Dean thought, mentally preparing himself for what they had to do next. He was worried, very, very worried, but struggling not to let I show. He had to keep Sam moving, had to keep him positive and not drifting in that dark pit of despair he saw every time Sam thought about Jess or the Sith. He could do this. Their lives were in danger all the time, this was just like any other hunt (except it wasn’t).

 

“Sam, go double-check the aft turbolasers; make sure there are no kinks or surprises in the remote firing hookup,” Dean ordered without any heat.

 

Sam nodded and stood quickly making his way to the rear of the ship.

 

“Chevy, can you take the hyperdrive off auto and let me pull us out manually?” Dean asked the droid, his tone gentle. He knew she had been listening to their conversation and was worried.

 

Chevy responded with a blurt-tweet that clearly expressed her annoyance with being asked to do something she should have understood from the conversation.

 

“Just asking nicely,” Dean said sheepishly, smiling fondly at the droid. “Oh, and strap yourself in,” he said as he swiveled his seat back to face the main bridge console. “Just in case we do lose gravity.”

 

Chevy’s whine could have been affectionate, but Dean didn’t have time to analyze it.

 

“Turbolasers are armed and ready to fire. Remote firing connection is good,” Sam shouted ahead as he jogged back onto the bridge, taking his seat in the co-pilot’s chair and strapping himself in.

 

Dean didn’t know where Sam was getting the energy from—maybe pure adrenaline—but he was grateful for it.

 

“Trigger control transferred to bridge; ready to fire,” Sam added.

 

“Good!” Dean said as he strapped himself in. “I’ve got the hyperdrive controls on manual, and I’m readying shields now.” He glanced at Sam, catching his eye and giving a reassuring smile. “We can do this, Sammy.”

 

“Ok,” Sam said. “I’m training the sensor array on the approach vector the Sith should be on given our adjusted heading.” Sam paused and turned to Dean. “Assuming he doesn’t know we’ve adjusted our heading, that is.”

 

Dean nodded again, but his attention was quickly stolen by the blaring alarm that signified their approach of the Tatoo system. Watching the chrono carefully, Dean counted out four and exactly four seconds past their prescheduled exit point and pulled back on the hyperdrive lever, watching the blue of hyperspace resolve to starlines and then stars.

 

Dean brought the shields up immediately and not a moment too soon. He saw blaster bolts playing just wide of the transperisteel viewport as he brought them about so that they could land on Tatooine and not fly into its twin suns

 

“I got him!” Sam called out. “He’s right where I saw he would be,” he added, turning his head to Dean, voice incredulous.

 

“That’s great! Try to keep him busy while I try to get us out of here!” Dean replied, flipping the Dream into a corkscrew. “Chevy, put a call in to Bobby.  Let him know we’re gonna be landing at his yard and we may have damage.”

 

“Shit!” Sam exclaimed, dismayed. “Make that definitely going to have damage.”

 

Dean raised an eyebrow and cocked his head in Sam’s direction all while pouring on as much speed as possible.

 

“I just got a read on what he’s flying,” Sam said in explanation.

 

“And?” Dean demanded.

 

“And it’s a brand new Jedi Fighter—one of the ones the Support Corps Navy is using. The Dream’s fast and has good shields. You’re a great pilot, and I’m a good shot, but that thing’s being flown by a Sith and it’s designed to disable and intercept Hutt smuggling frigates. It’s got top-of-the-line Czerka Arms quad turboblasters!” Sam’s voice was both awed and shaky.

 

“Ok, ok, I get the point, we’re Bantha Fodder if we don’t land this thing—Crap. How do we know that he won’t follow us down?” Dean wondered aloud, his voice and mood sinking with the realization as he juked and rolled the Dream to try to avoid any shots from the fighter’s super-charged weapons.

 

“I don’t,” Sam admitted, voice tight with concentration as he squeezed off shot after shot at the agile fighter. “But I told you, it felt like he wanted to disable the Dream—do something to slow us down so we can’t follow him. Shit!” Sam broke off as Dean felt the ship rock hard with the impact of a blaster hit. “Sithspit! He’s targeting our sensor array,” Sam panted out, punching at the controls.

 

Dean knew he was probably trying to shift shield power to compensate for the hit and to add extra protection to that sector of the Dream. Dean did his bit to help by twisting the Dream into a looping barrel roll that should give Sam a better shot at the fighter’s weak spot—if the rumors he’d heard about these new fighters were correct, then the ship should have weak spots in its shields on its underbelly on either side where the fighter docked with it’s hyperdrive ring. 

 

“Like I was saying,” Sam continued, “I don’t think he’s trying to kill us—or, uh, kill me.” Sam was straining against the momentary disorientation caused by viewing the looming planet tumbling outside their viewport.

 

Dean heard Sam squeeze off a few more shots as they streaked under the pursuing ship and set up to approach Tatooine from a slightly different angle. Dean saw their turbolasers hit close to the rumored weak spot, making colorful flashes against the shields, a few more missing just wide. Dean noticed the bolts’ distort slightly and the fighter dart even more slightly, almost imperceptibly, as the shot hit… He couldn’t help thinking that Sam’s shots would have been successful if not for the Sith using the Force to avoid them.

 

“Then what’s this about?” Dean asked, returning his focus to getting the Dream out of there as quickly as possible. He transferred as much power as he dared to the engines and gunned it towards Tatooine’s atmo. “Is he just trying to kill me?” he added, not waiting for Sam’s response as a sick feeling twisted in his gut.

 

“I don’t know if he’s trying to kill you, or if he just doesn’t care if you live or die,” Sam answered frustratedly. “I didn’t read his mind, Dean, I just know that in the vision there was this incredible sense of concern about stopping us. Slowing us down so we couldn’t follow him.” Sam squeezed off more shots, doing his best to track the fast-juking fighter.

 

Dean’s stomach twisted further. “So, he’s probably going to go do something really bad or important,” he said grimly. Like set another house or family on fire or worse!

 

“It certainly seems that way,” Sam gritted out as a particularly strong blast rocked the ship slamming them forward against their restraints.

 

Chevy gave an annoyed bleep in response and followed by scrolling a message across the bridge consoles. “Bobby acknowledged our message. Says shipyard is ready for Dream. Asks if ‘Winchesters are involved in the space battle that’s entertaining Hutt traffic controllers?’”

 

Dean chuckled in spite the direness of their situation. That sure sounded like Bobby, always keeping an eye and an ear open to what the local Hutt crime lords were doing and saying. That and having impeccably awkward timing.

 

“Tell Bobby ‘thanks’ and ‘yes,’” Dean instructed Chevy as his attention was diverted yet again by the ship rocking even harder. The console almost stuttered and died, and lights and alarms all over the Dream started flashing and blaring.

 

“That was the sensor array,” Sam added grimly over the din. “He punched through. I don’t know how he’s, shit—”

 

Dean saw the problem just as Sam did, twisting the Dream into an evasive roll, but not fast enough. Blaster fire from the fighter clipped the shield generator and damaged it, causing all the shields to blink out and fail. Oh, this was not good; really, really not good! Dean frantically scrambled to transfer power from every system he could conceivably spare (not that there were many he hadn’t already tapped into)—including power that had been going into the shields, at least the power that hadn’t been lost when the shield generator was hit and overloaded—and pour it into the engines, sending them racing towards Tatooine far faster than was advisable.

 

“Hang onto something!” Sam cried out suddenly.

 

Dean didn’t have time to ask what had caused Sam’s remark. The reason was immediately obvious. A blaster bolt from the fighter hit the now-unshielded Dream and punched through the hull causing a breach and damaging the grav generator in the process. Dean found himself launched against his restraints fighting the overwhelming nausea that always accompanied weightlessness for him. At the same time, he heard the hiss and felt a breeze created by the decompression. Dean numbly realized that his left shoulder was throbbing, and heard more cursing coming from Sam. He carefully turned his head, trying to avoid the even less pleasant experience of vomiting in zero-g.

 

“Emergency force field is in place!” Sam announced victoriously at the same time the hiss and breeze stopped.

 

Well, at least that was still working.

 

“Something’s wrong,” Sam said alarmed, his hands stilling on the controls. “He’s not firing,” Sam added turning to Dean, his expression wide-eyed and scared.

 

Dean was about to remark that maybe they were damaged enough to meet whatever sick purpose the Sith had in mind, when his thoughts were abruptly cut off. Something slammed into the starboard side of the Dream with so much force it overwhelmed the inertial compensators and sent Dean slamming hard against his restraints, even with the lack of gravity. Then it was like something was holding the ship and then shaking it before giving it a sickening push and spinning it end over end. 

 

Dean heard Sam gasp with what sounded like pain and heard objects collide hard. Chevy made a terrible squealing sound, but Dean couldn’t look over to see why because he was transfixed by the all-too-large image of Tatooine looming in the viewport and then disappearing again as they tumbled towards its atmo. Dean lost his battle against the nausea and found himself vomiting unceasingly into the weightless environment. Finally, he stopped, but it still felt like his stomach was going to turn itself inside out. Then something slammed into the back of his head, and the blackness consumed him.

 

 

Chapter Eighteen

 

When the Sith slammed into the Dream with the Force, Sam wondered why he hadn’t seen that coming—or rather why he had taken so long to process the feeling of acute danger that had come over him the moment their hull was breached and the Sith didn’t immediately fire again. It all made sense now. Sam’s musings were abruptly cut off as the full force of the Sith’s actions caught up with the Dream. Sam was thrown so hard into his restraints he felt the harness on his chest cut in, tearing fabric and flesh, biting with fire-hot pain into his badly bruised torso. He felt himself cry out with the pain, only to have one of the bolts holding the restraints tear free, sending him forehead-first into the console. He was dazed, but conscious, knowing immediately he was also concussed. Stars still bursting before his eyes, his vision blurry at best, he reached up and felt blood and broken skin over his right eyebrow where it had collided with one of the sliders on the console.

 

All the while, the ship still tumbled and lurched and twisted. The Sith must have struck the ship where he sat, intentionally causing a painful (and momentarily disabling) injury, but not one that would kill him or threaten his life, in order to teach Sam a lesson. 

 

He wondered why the restraint had torn free, Dean was usually so god about maintaining the Dream that it seemed strange, only then Sam realized that Dean likely hadn’t had any reason to use or test the co-pilot’s seat in years. Sam felt sick inside, and it was only partly from the concussion. He heard Chevy squeal, but couldn’t look over right away, because he was distracted by the sudden smell of sickness. He wondered for a moment if he could have puked without knowing it, only to realize that hey, look at that, he was floating. Right, the grav generator was out, and the ship was tumbling, and the vomit over there hanging in midair was Dean’s space-sickness rearing its ugly head. 

 

Sam then felt with it enough to spare a glance at Chevy, determining she was all right. A loose datapad had slammed into the emergency release for her restraints, nearly sending her flying. But she had managed to use her utility arm to grab onto the console while she magnetized her treads, leaving her more or less stable; although, he noted, she was still gripping the console, probably to avoid sliding across the deck if the Dream was hit again.

 

Sam looked back at Dean to see how he was doing, alarmed by his brother’s quietness. He gasped and icy dread gripped his insides when he saw Dean hanging limply in his restraints, a trail of blood floating behind his head and a free-floating hydrospanner drifting away from what was obviously the point of impact.

 

For a moment, Sam was lost in the images of his vision, Dean crushed dead beneath the console, but then he sensed that Dean was live, ok even, just knocked unconscious, and not badly so. Sam looked up and checked the overhead console, relieved to see that it was firmly intact, undamaged, and showing no signs of going anywhere. He could see Dean’s chest rising and falling and was relieved to notice that the bleeding showed signs of stopping all on its own. 

 

He felt something, like the sudden absence of a presence at the edge of his mind, and realized the Sith ship had left the system. He was sure if he could get a visual or get the Dream’s backup, short-range sensors online (those not affected by the loss of the sensor array), he would find that the Sith had rejoined with his hyperdrive ring and left the system, leaving those telltale hyperspace distortions in his wake. 

 

But right now, Sam was in too much pain to check—his head and chest throbbing, blood soaking his shirt, his breathing getting tight, the image of Tatooine filling the viewport every time the Dream tumbled its way, an orange glow tinting the viewport’s edges more and more with every tumble.

 

Sam felt his eyes open wide in alarm, the warning of the Force shooting through him like a bolt of lightning, pushing everything else from his mind, and filling him with a sense of urgency and action. Out of control. Crashing. Atmo. No grav. No shields. The concepts flitted through Sam’s mind, instilling him with an intuitive sense of what needed to be done.

 

“Chevy,” Sam called out, alarmed at how hard it was to speak and at how weak his voice sounded. Punctured lung, his brain supplied, recognizing the symptoms and effects of the injury from past experience. He would need to treat himself soon, but first he had to get them safely landed at Bobby’s without any further injury to the Dream or him or Dean (or any harm to Chevy). Taking a carefully measured breath, he continued. “Get the backup sensors online and get a read on the Sith’s trajectory and probable destination. Then get a hold of Bobby again and tell him we’re coming in hot and wounded. Shields, grav, and long-range sensors out.”

 

Chevy trilled an affirmative followed by a mournful sound.

 

Sam recognized it for concern that she wasn’t strapped in. Reaching out, trying to ignore the horrible grating of bone on bone in his chest, he meant to grab her and try to pull her back the twenty-five or so centimeters she needed to move to reengage her restraints. But Sam found himself stopped, held back by his restraint harness which was still hooked around him, and still firmly attached to his chair on the left side. Still, much to Sam’s surprise, Chevy moved! She was sliding back to the spot where she could hook into her restraints. 

 

Sam looked down at his hand, then at Chevy, then at his hand and the gap between them. Oh! he realized. Apparently, his newfound Force sensitivity came with some instinctive use of telekinesis. It then dawned on him that he had been using the Force to sense that Dean was ok and that the Sith had left. He wondered, as he took an even more difficult and shallow breath, if he could also use the Force to heal himself, only to realize that he didn’t want to risk it. 

 

He knew healing was a particularly specialized area of Jedi training. Sam didn’t want to try using himself as a guinea pig, especially not when everyone was depending on him to land safely. 

 

He let out as much breath as he could as Chevy clicked into place and released her death grip on the console.

 

She made a series of bleeps that he understood to mean she was thankful and doing as he asked, but still rather alarmed by how she had wound up back in her restraints and at the still-uncontrolled, tumbling descent of the Dream.

 

“I’m working on it,” Sam managed to choke out, pushing off against the seat and swinging himself forward while gripping the restraints with his left hand to ensure the part that was still attached to his seat would stay attached to him. He could feel the webbing bighting and shifting against his wounded skin, but pushed the pain to the back of his mind and ignored it so that he could focus on the task at hand. 

 

A quick systems check showed that the inertial compensators and repulsors were still functioning at near 100% capacity—meaning that the Sith’s Force toss of the Dream had only temporarily overpowered the stabilizers. Sam sighed with relief because landing with either or both malfunctioning or out would mean near certain death, especially with the shields also out.

 

Sam flipped through the controls with his right hand, double-checking the shields. Sure enough, the Dream’s computer was reporting that the generator itself had been damaged, the circuits on the generator were pretty much fused and melted, if the Dream’s self-diagnostic was to be trusted (and it was), so there would be no way for Sam to bring even the auxiliary shields online. He cursed under his breath and moved on.

 

The grav generator wasn’t too badly damaged, surprisingly. It looked like the majority of the damage was caused by a peripheral graze. The generator itself could probably be easily repaired with a few swapped-out circuits when (if) they ever made it to Bobby’s. The breach had happened in the mercifully systems-free patch of hull adjacent to the grav generator. Still, there would be no way to get the grav field back online without doing repairs to the generator, repairs which Sam definitely couldn’t accomplish with a punctured lung, no shields, and the Dream hurtling ever-closer to the planet’s surface.

 

Back to the landing. Landing without shields was totally possible, but less than ideal with a ship the Dream’s size. Without the shields to protect her from atmospheric friction, the hull would superheat. Durasteel and transparisteel could usually withstand several such unshielded reentries without incident, but it was still risky. 

 

What worried Sam the most was the hull breach. Small though it was, the emergency force field might not be enough to withstand the head and friction, and if it failed, the ship could depressurize or catch on fire. Especially catch on fire, and worse, the fire would move inside the ship or through the ships systems just inside the Dream’s hull. Normally, one would patch a breach with a durasteel patch and at the very least, magnetically seal it to the hull before entering atmo or landing. 

 

However, with Dean unconscious, the grav generators out, and the planet’s surface fast approaching, there was no way to fly the ship and attempt a repair. Even Chevy with her magnetized treads couldn’t safely make it to the location of the hull under these conditions.

 

Sam instead shunted all the power he could find into reinforcing the emergency shielding, bleeding it away from the engines now that they didn’t need to go so fast (or rather really, really could use to slow down). Now he just needed to fix their tumbling descent and align them for a smooth trajectory and landing at Bobby’s.

 

“Chevy, can you give me a hand here?” Sam asked weakly. “I need to get the Dream under control and lined up for a landing.”

 

Chevy immediately responded, using her utility arm and computer jack to adjust and interface with the controls.

 

Sam reluctantly gave up his grip on the harness to take the yoke with both hands. The Dream had a good auto pilot system, but it would simply take too long to correct their current spin. Together with Chevy, Sam managed to pull the ship out of her haphazard spiral and straighten into an even descent. The exertion made Sam’s head throb while the harness cut into his chest and black spots appeared in his vision; he wasn’t getting enough air, he realized, feeling his breaths growing steadily shallower. His lungs felt like they had a pile of bricks steadily crushing them, and they were growing weaker and weaker against the strain.

 

He managed to stay conscious, his need to make sure they would be all right keeping him alert. Thankfully, Bobby’s home was on the dayside of the planet and Sam’s approach would have Tatooine’s twin suns at his back as they landed. He throttled back to just short of cutting the engines and braked hard, slowing the Dream to a normal rate of descent, the deceleration and the reemergence of the planet’s gravitational field causing some unpleasant Gs onboard the grav-less ship. 

 

When he had the landing pad in view, colorful lights twinkling in the afternoon sun against the windswept monochrome of the desert below, Sam asked Chevy to drop the landing gear, while he brought the repulsors online and cut the engines, bringing them in for an anticlimactically smooth landing. Sam’s unrestrained harness didn’t even cause a problem, as the smoothness of the landing combined with Tatooine’s own gravitational field settled Sam gently against his seat.

 

He glanced over. Dean was still out cold. Sam felt the adrenaline rush start to recede and realized his breath was now coming in short, shallow, pained gasps. He had to treat his quickly collapsing lung and fast. “Chevy,” Sam wheezed, getting the droid’s attention. “Get Bobby in here, quick.” He reached forward to release Chevy’s restraints, and punched in the controls to lower the boarding ramp.


Master Post | Part 5Part 7

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
lycaness
Jul. 8th, 2009 04:13 pm (UTC)
Holy crap. That was so cool. :D
Obviously very glad that Dean didn't die, but I had confidence in you and Sam that he would be alright. ;)
I wonder if Bobby will be calling on John to tell him that his boys are hurt, or if John will be calling them up to let them know he's okay like Dean asked.
*runs off to read more*
paleogymnast
Jul. 8th, 2009 09:11 pm (UTC)
Haha!! Well, John is still John, and so behaves like John, so you shall have to wait and see what he does. :D

Glad you enjoyed!! :D Thanks so much for reading and commenting!! :D Space battles are challenging to write, no matter how many books or stories you've read that contain them, no matter how many movies you've watched, etc. So, I am very glad that this one came out OK.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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