Written in 365 Parts: 160: Already Dead

The two points of light were closer now, more distinct so that it was obvious they were small shuttles. They were two bulky to be fighter craft, though the speed they accelerated indicated someone had done some retro-fitting. 

They were accelerating ahead of their now lumbering parent, each taking a slight arc. It was a sensible approach pattern that widened their sensor reach but still allowed them to overlap and use triangulation for extra precision.

The cameras in the suit could make out a few more details of the vessels, but it was still little at the distance and Drick’s confused mind was having to fill in the gaps. The vessels could not be identified by the automatic recognition database in the suit but Drick recognised the general shape. Space to surface craft. Used by larger vehicles to ferry passengers and cargo from a planet’s surface to a much larger vessel that would stay in orbit. They would have some kinetic engines and likely a booster. It was probably the booster that was accelerating them towards Drick. No doubt they had fitted extra long boosters with more reach as they were coming in still burning fuel. There was a bright light of gases behind each vessel and the camera could just make out the diamonds of a jet-propelled liquid propellant fire.

Suddenly a noise in the helmet. General radio broadcast. The vessels were much closer now. How did they get so close, so quickly. Drick tried to shake their head but it was hard to move, breath was rasping and eyes wouldn’t focus. There were spots across their vision, some bright twinkling lights, others areas of black. There was a burning sensation all the way into the lungs and a flashing red glow. Out of oxygen. How long for they had no idea. Drick had been breathing toxic gases for a few seconds. They passed out some time ago. Radio signals must be from the shuttles. They were using short wave so they were close. How close.

Drick tried to talk but the only sound they made was a rasping squeak. Eyes started to burn as salty tears died on puffing cheeks. Drick tried to hold their breath to stop breathing in the toxic gasses that the suit was pressurised with. How quickly the body betrays even the strongest of wills. Maybe a few seconds before Drick was once again panting and suffocating. Heart was hammering in their chest. Lungs were on fire. Whole body felt as if it was burning, lava running through veins. Whole body was itching as if thousands of insects were biting their way into the flesh and burrowing under the skin. A last gasp before Drick’s body slammed against something. 

A ship. The shuttle must have rammed them. Why bother? They were already dead.

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