Vampire-Tech by Bryan Romer

EXTRACT FOR
Vampire-Tech 
(Bryan Romer)


“Are you all right Viktor? You sound a little funny,” Tara asked in concern. They would have to cancel the test flight if he was ill. The violent aerobatics planned would not suit an already upset stomach. They were almost at the second waypoint and it would be a good time to turn back even if it would be a disappointment.
“No, I'm fine,” Viktor replied even as his gloved hand brought the pistol out of his pocket.
The tension in her navigator's voice was unmistakable and Tara frowned. Without consciously willing it, an inset screen appeared in the upper-right corner of her field of vision, allowing her to see Viktor without taking her gaze away from the front. At first everything looked all right, and then she focused on his hand. “Viktor, what's that you have in your…” She froze when she realised that her navigator had a gun pointed at her back. But Tara had a test pilot's nerves and reflexes, and she realised that the small calibre pistol was unlikely to penetrate the bulk of the navigation instruments as well as the back of her ejector seat, which meant that he would have to raise it up and around the head-rest of her seat in order to get a shot at her head or neck.
Annoyed that the pilot had spotted his gun before he was ready he said, “I have a gun, Tara. And it's pointed at your back. I'm taking the plane. You're going to land us on the approaching plateau.”
“And if I don't?”
“I'll shoot you and land the plane myself.”
“On that plateau? Be sensible, you won't be able to perform a vertical landing using the rear backup controls or a neural link.”
“Well if I can't then I'll shoot you and eject, so you'd better be a good girl and land this thing.”
“And then you'll shoot me anyway,” she said tersely.
“Don't be stupid. You're part of the package. But if I have to, I'll deliver just your head. It won't be as good, but I'm sure my employers can reverse engineer your father's work from your brain.”
They were nearly above the plateau and Tara searched furiously for a way out of her predicament. She had no desire to be vivisected in some research lab, nor did she want to die. A James Bond style ejector seat move would require ejecting the canopy first, which would give him time to shoot her before their seats were blasted from the cockpit. Then she realised that she didn't need anything so drastic as a rocket propelled chair. She focused on the position of the aircraft in relation to the rapidly approaching plateau. “You can go to hell!” she shouted and simultaneously issued a series of mental commands.
The catches on Viktor's safety harness silently disengaged just as he shoved his hand and the slim automatic pistol between Tara's head-rest and the canopy. He screamed in shock when Tara threw the aircraft into a tight outside loop and the extreme g-forces flung him at the canopy as if he had been shot out of a circus canon. His helmet protected his head from being smashed when it crashed into the canopy followed by his shoulders and upper back, but the impact and rapidly shifting g-forces stunned him more efficiently than a Taser. Unfortunately, it also caused his fingers to involuntarily contract and pull the trigger of his pistol.
Tara's helmet protected her from the blast of noise from the gun going off right next to her ear, but the bullet punched through her suit and went almost straight down behind her collar-bone and into her lung. Despite the shock and pain of her wound, Tara knew that she had to land the plane before she blacked out. When the NDIA pulled out of the loop she targeted the plateau and engaged the semi-automated landing system, praying that it would work properly this time and not auger them into the mountainous terrain. She could feel the blood pumping out of the tiny wound, and moving her right arm was agony and she couldn't feel her fingers. Any normal aircraft, even a VTOL craft such as the V-22 Osprey, would have been doomed, but so long as she could remain conscious they had a chance. She was having trouble breathing, but the oxygen system automatically compensated by increasing the air pressure and oxygen mixture in her mask. She felt something slide over her thigh and glancing down she saw it was a small chrome plated pistol. A glance at the rear cockpit monitor showed Viktor slumped bonelessly in his seat, tangled in the loose straps of his harness.
The aircraft swooped down towards the flat barren looking surface of the plateau and Tara felt the engines and wings easing into vertical mode. The thrust blasted downwards, slowing the plane's fall in preparation for landing and the undercarriage came down and locked with a thump. She could see the ground beneath the fuselage through the skin cameras with an overlay of slowly shrinking concentric rings indicating the precise height of the undercarriage above ground. She was nearly there. Just a few moments more and she could relax and apply whatever first aid she could manage. She had already activated the emergency beacon and frantic queries were coming in over the radio but for the moment she had blocked them off, unable to spare the concentration or breath to deal with any kind of conversation.
The wheels were just a metre above the ground when she saw the surface of the plateau immediately below the plane crumble and collapse under the ferocious pounding of the jet engines. The unfairness of it all made Tara want to slam her fist against the arm-rest, but instead she did the only thing she could, which was to trigger the zero-zero low level ejection and a time delayed emergency engine shut down. Explosive bolts blew the canopy up and free of the fuselage, and small rockets ignited, designed to lift the occupants high enough for parachutes to safely lower them to ground. But by this time the ground had completely collapsed, and without Tara's guidance the engines were unable to compensate. The aircraft toppled, with the nose going down first, followed a moment later by the tail. She knew there had to have been a huge roar of falling rock and earth, but it was drowned out by the sound of the engines. The aircraft was completely underground and almost vertical when the ejection rockets finally fired at full thrust and the engines shut down. For a second she thought that she was going to die, crushed like an insect against the cave wall by the power of the rockets and the mass of the ejection seat. Then she realised that the cavern was a huge yawing dark space, several hundred metres across and about fifty meters deep, at least as far as she could see. The parachute deployed and the seat fell away, slowing her horizontal as well as vertical flight. Because the aircraft was not actually on the ground, she actually had much further to fall than normal in a zero-zero ejection.
In the darkness the impact of touchdown came as a complete surprise and agony flared bright in her chest and shoulder. Worse still, Tara had landed on a slope and immediately began to slide. The parachute caught on some unseen projection and she choked and coughed up blood when the harness jerked her to an abrupt halt. She had an emergency LED torch in her trouser pocket, but her right arm was completely useless and she couldn't reach it. There was a faint amount of light coming from the hole that her landing had created and it seemed as if there was level ground not too far below. She hoped fervently that it wasn't water as she slapped the quick release catch in the middle of her chest. The slope was slippery and she immediately began to helplessly slide and tumble, and she would have screamed in pain if she had been able to draw enough breath to do so. She was unconscious by the time she hit bottom.

Vampire-Tech by Bryan Romer

EXTRACT FOR
Vampire-Tech 
(Bryan Romer)


“Are you all right Viktor? You sound a little funny,” Tara asked in concern. They would have to cancel the test flight if he was ill. The violent aerobatics planned would not suit an already upset stomach. They were almost at the second waypoint and it would be a good time to turn back even if it would be a disappointment.
“No, I'm fine,” Viktor replied even as his gloved hand brought the pistol out of his pocket.
The tension in her navigator's voice was unmistakable and Tara frowned. Without consciously willing it, an inset screen appeared in the upper-right corner of her field of vision, allowing her to see Viktor without taking her gaze away from the front. At first everything looked all right, and then she focused on his hand. “Viktor, what's that you have in your…” She froze when she realised that her navigator had a gun pointed at her back. But Tara had a test pilot's nerves and reflexes, and she realised that the small calibre pistol was unlikely to penetrate the bulk of the navigation instruments as well as the back of her ejector seat, which meant that he would have to raise it up and around the head-rest of her seat in order to get a shot at her head or neck.
Annoyed that the pilot had spotted his gun before he was ready he said, “I have a gun, Tara. And it's pointed at your back. I'm taking the plane. You're going to land us on the approaching plateau.”
“And if I don't?”
“I'll shoot you and land the plane myself.”
“On that plateau? Be sensible, you won't be able to perform a vertical landing using the rear backup controls or a neural link.”
“Well if I can't then I'll shoot you and eject, so you'd better be a good girl and land this thing.”
“And then you'll shoot me anyway,” she said tersely.
“Don't be stupid. You're part of the package. But if I have to, I'll deliver just your head. It won't be as good, but I'm sure my employers can reverse engineer your father's work from your brain.”
They were nearly above the plateau and Tara searched furiously for a way out of her predicament. She had no desire to be vivisected in some research lab, nor did she want to die. A James Bond style ejector seat move would require ejecting the canopy first, which would give him time to shoot her before their seats were blasted from the cockpit. Then she realised that she didn't need anything so drastic as a rocket propelled chair. She focused on the position of the aircraft in relation to the rapidly approaching plateau. “You can go to hell!” she shouted and simultaneously issued a series of mental commands.
The catches on Viktor's safety harness silently disengaged just as he shoved his hand and the slim automatic pistol between Tara's head-rest and the canopy. He screamed in shock when Tara threw the aircraft into a tight outside loop and the extreme g-forces flung him at the canopy as if he had been shot out of a circus canon. His helmet protected his head from being smashed when it crashed into the canopy followed by his shoulders and upper back, but the impact and rapidly shifting g-forces stunned him more efficiently than a Taser. Unfortunately, it also caused his fingers to involuntarily contract and pull the trigger of his pistol.
Tara's helmet protected her from the blast of noise from the gun going off right next to her ear, but the bullet punched through her suit and went almost straight down behind her collar-bone and into her lung. Despite the shock and pain of her wound, Tara knew that she had to land the plane before she blacked out. When the NDIA pulled out of the loop she targeted the plateau and engaged the semi-automated landing system, praying that it would work properly this time and not auger them into the mountainous terrain. She could feel the blood pumping out of the tiny wound, and moving her right arm was agony and she couldn't feel her fingers. Any normal aircraft, even a VTOL craft such as the V-22 Osprey, would have been doomed, but so long as she could remain conscious they had a chance. She was having trouble breathing, but the oxygen system automatically compensated by increasing the air pressure and oxygen mixture in her mask. She felt something slide over her thigh and glancing down she saw it was a small chrome plated pistol. A glance at the rear cockpit monitor showed Viktor slumped bonelessly in his seat, tangled in the loose straps of his harness.
The aircraft swooped down towards the flat barren looking surface of the plateau and Tara felt the engines and wings easing into vertical mode. The thrust blasted downwards, slowing the plane's fall in preparation for landing and the undercarriage came down and locked with a thump. She could see the ground beneath the fuselage through the skin cameras with an overlay of slowly shrinking concentric rings indicating the precise height of the undercarriage above ground. She was nearly there. Just a few moments more and she could relax and apply whatever first aid she could manage. She had already activated the emergency beacon and frantic queries were coming in over the radio but for the moment she had blocked them off, unable to spare the concentration or breath to deal with any kind of conversation.
The wheels were just a metre above the ground when she saw the surface of the plateau immediately below the plane crumble and collapse under the ferocious pounding of the jet engines. The unfairness of it all made Tara want to slam her fist against the arm-rest, but instead she did the only thing she could, which was to trigger the zero-zero low level ejection and a time delayed emergency engine shut down. Explosive bolts blew the canopy up and free of the fuselage, and small rockets ignited, designed to lift the occupants high enough for parachutes to safely lower them to ground. But by this time the ground had completely collapsed, and without Tara's guidance the engines were unable to compensate. The aircraft toppled, with the nose going down first, followed a moment later by the tail. She knew there had to have been a huge roar of falling rock and earth, but it was drowned out by the sound of the engines. The aircraft was completely underground and almost vertical when the ejection rockets finally fired at full thrust and the engines shut down. For a second she thought that she was going to die, crushed like an insect against the cave wall by the power of the rockets and the mass of the ejection seat. Then she realised that the cavern was a huge yawing dark space, several hundred metres across and about fifty meters deep, at least as far as she could see. The parachute deployed and the seat fell away, slowing her horizontal as well as vertical flight. Because the aircraft was not actually on the ground, she actually had much further to fall than normal in a zero-zero ejection.
In the darkness the impact of touchdown came as a complete surprise and agony flared bright in her chest and shoulder. Worse still, Tara had landed on a slope and immediately began to slide. The parachute caught on some unseen projection and she choked and coughed up blood when the harness jerked her to an abrupt halt. She had an emergency LED torch in her trouser pocket, but her right arm was completely useless and she couldn't reach it. There was a faint amount of light coming from the hole that her landing had created and it seemed as if there was level ground not too far below. She hoped fervently that it wasn't water as she slapped the quick release catch in the middle of her chest. The slope was slippery and she immediately began to helplessly slide and tumble, and she would have screamed in pain if she had been able to draw enough breath to do so. She was unconscious by the time she hit bottom.

EXTRACT FOR
Vampire-Tech 
(Bryan Romer)


“Are you all right Viktor? You sound a little funny,” Tara asked in concern. They would have to cancel the test flight if he was ill. The violent aerobatics planned would not suit an already upset stomach. They were almost at the second waypoint and it would be a good time to turn back even if it would be a disappointment.
“No, I'm fine,” Viktor replied even as his gloved hand brought the pistol out of his pocket.
The tension in her navigator's voice was unmistakable and Tara frowned. Without consciously willing it, an inset screen appeared in the upper-right corner of her field of vision, allowing her to see Viktor without taking her gaze away from the front. At first everything looked all right, and then she focused on his hand. “Viktor, what's that you have in your…” She froze when she realised that her navigator had a gun pointed at her back. But Tara had a test pilot's nerves and reflexes, and she realised that the small calibre pistol was unlikely to penetrate the bulk of the navigation instruments as well as the back of her ejector seat, which meant that he would have to raise it up and around the head-rest of her seat in order to get a shot at her head or neck.
Annoyed that the pilot had spotted his gun before he was ready he said, “I have a gun, Tara. And it's pointed at your back. I'm taking the plane. You're going to land us on the approaching plateau.”
“And if I don't?”
“I'll shoot you and land the plane myself.”
“On that plateau? Be sensible, you won't be able to perform a vertical landing using the rear backup controls or a neural link.”
“Well if I can't then I'll shoot you and eject, so you'd better be a good girl and land this thing.”
“And then you'll shoot me anyway,” she said tersely.
“Don't be stupid. You're part of the package. But if I have to, I'll deliver just your head. It won't be as good, but I'm sure my employers can reverse engineer your father's work from your brain.”
They were nearly above the plateau and Tara searched furiously for a way out of her predicament. She had no desire to be vivisected in some research lab, nor did she want to die. A James Bond style ejector seat move would require ejecting the canopy first, which would give him time to shoot her before their seats were blasted from the cockpit. Then she realised that she didn't need anything so drastic as a rocket propelled chair. She focused on the position of the aircraft in relation to the rapidly approaching plateau. “You can go to hell!” she shouted and simultaneously issued a series of mental commands.
The catches on Viktor's safety harness silently disengaged just as he shoved his hand and the slim automatic pistol between Tara's head-rest and the canopy. He screamed in shock when Tara threw the aircraft into a tight outside loop and the extreme g-forces flung him at the canopy as if he had been shot out of a circus canon. His helmet protected his head from being smashed when it crashed into the canopy followed by his shoulders and upper back, but the impact and rapidly shifting g-forces stunned him more efficiently than a Taser. Unfortunately, it also caused his fingers to involuntarily contract and pull the trigger of his pistol.
Tara's helmet protected her from the blast of noise from the gun going off right next to her ear, but the bullet punched through her suit and went almost straight down behind her collar-bone and into her lung. Despite the shock and pain of her wound, Tara knew that she had to land the plane before she blacked out. When the NDIA pulled out of the loop she targeted the plateau and engaged the semi-automated landing system, praying that it would work properly this time and not auger them into the mountainous terrain. She could feel the blood pumping out of the tiny wound, and moving her right arm was agony and she couldn't feel her fingers. Any normal aircraft, even a VTOL craft such as the V-22 Osprey, would have been doomed, but so long as she could remain conscious they had a chance. She was having trouble breathing, but the oxygen system automatically compensated by increasing the air pressure and oxygen mixture in her mask. She felt something slide over her thigh and glancing down she saw it was a small chrome plated pistol. A glance at the rear cockpit monitor showed Viktor slumped bonelessly in his seat, tangled in the loose straps of his harness.
The aircraft swooped down towards the flat barren looking surface of the plateau and Tara felt the engines and wings easing into vertical mode. The thrust blasted downwards, slowing the plane's fall in preparation for landing and the undercarriage came down and locked with a thump. She could see the ground beneath the fuselage through the skin cameras with an overlay of slowly shrinking concentric rings indicating the precise height of the undercarriage above ground. She was nearly there. Just a few moments more and she could relax and apply whatever first aid she could manage. She had already activated the emergency beacon and frantic queries were coming in over the radio but for the moment she had blocked them off, unable to spare the concentration or breath to deal with any kind of conversation.
The wheels were just a metre above the ground when she saw the surface of the plateau immediately below the plane crumble and collapse under the ferocious pounding of the jet engines. The unfairness of it all made Tara want to slam her fist against the arm-rest, but instead she did the only thing she could, which was to trigger the zero-zero low level ejection and a time delayed emergency engine shut down. Explosive bolts blew the canopy up and free of the fuselage, and small rockets ignited, designed to lift the occupants high enough for parachutes to safely lower them to ground. But by this time the ground had completely collapsed, and without Tara's guidance the engines were unable to compensate. The aircraft toppled, with the nose going down first, followed a moment later by the tail. She knew there had to have been a huge roar of falling rock and earth, but it was drowned out by the sound of the engines. The aircraft was completely underground and almost vertical when the ejection rockets finally fired at full thrust and the engines shut down. For a second she thought that she was going to die, crushed like an insect against the cave wall by the power of the rockets and the mass of the ejection seat. Then she realised that the cavern was a huge yawing dark space, several hundred metres across and about fifty meters deep, at least as far as she could see. The parachute deployed and the seat fell away, slowing her horizontal as well as vertical flight. Because the aircraft was not actually on the ground, she actually had much further to fall than normal in a zero-zero ejection.
In the darkness the impact of touchdown came as a complete surprise and agony flared bright in her chest and shoulder. Worse still, Tara had landed on a slope and immediately began to slide. The parachute caught on some unseen projection and she choked and coughed up blood when the harness jerked her to an abrupt halt. She had an emergency LED torch in her trouser pocket, but her right arm was completely useless and she couldn't reach it. There was a faint amount of light coming from the hole that her landing had created and it seemed as if there was level ground not too far below. She hoped fervently that it wasn't water as she slapped the quick release catch in the middle of her chest. The slope was slippery and she immediately began to helplessly slide and tumble, and she would have screamed in pain if she had been able to draw enough breath to do so. She was unconscious by the time she hit bottom.

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