“Jane, we’re running out of time!” Allan’s voice came on over the radio.
“Yeah, I’m ready… I think.”
It had been about twenty minutes as Ryan gave me a run through of every function of the ship. Why did it have to have so many buttons? At least I could turn and drop the bomb. Everything else will just have to be worked out later.
“Very well, Jane. I will be shutting down now,” Ryan said.
“Alright. I’ll see you on the other side,” I responded nervously.
Ryan turned back for a moment. “If it makes you feel any better, the probability of successfully navigating the trench is-“
“Never tell me the odds!” I interrupted.
“But the odds are quite favorable.”
“Really? Okay, I guess you can tell me the odds.”
“You have a fifty percent chance.”
“50%! Those are terrible odds! Why would you tell me that? There is a 50% chance I’m going to die! Flip a coin, Jane, tails is death!”
“All things considered, I thought those odds were rather good…” Ryan muttered.
“And since both we and Andrew are going in, that means one of us is going to die with 100% certainty! Oh, God!”
“That’s not how statistics work, Jane.”
“We’re all going to die!” I started crying.
“Um… Jane, what grade did you get in stats?”
“Ah, that explains… some things… Look, Jane, you can do this. If it was anyone, the odds are 50/50, but because it is Jane, I believe that we will definitely make it.”
“You… you really mean that?” I asked, wiping the tears from my eyes.
“It is part of my directive to protect myself at all costs,” Ryan responded. “If I did not have faith in you, Jane, I would not shut myself down. You can do this.”
“I’m shutting down then.” Ryan leaned back and closed his eyes. “You remember how to turn me back on?”
I blushed slightly. “Yeah, I remember… and thanks.”
There was no response. I was alone on this ship currently orbiting the moon. The Earth had only ten minutes left, if that. This was quite a pickle. No, not a pickle; more like a cucumber. No, still too small. More like one of those massive “toys” that Samantha showed me on Amazon. The ones we were convinced were a joke but had a handful of reviews that left us both uncomfortable after reading them. Well, whatever this situation was, there was one thing that was crystal clear.
“I am sooooo fu-“
“Jane?” The radio blared again.
“Ah, yes, it’s me!” I answered hastily. “It’s a go. Activate the EMP.”
“The internal electronics should be shielded, Jane, but in the event of a failure, you’ll need to eject from the ship before it crashes. There should be two small ejection tubes. Once the EMP fires, we’ll be able to get a ship and come get you.”
“F-f-failure! No one told me anything about failure.”
“It’s okay, Jane. There is only a 20% chance that the shielding will be penetrated.”
“One in four!”
“That’s one in five, Jane.”
“That’s even worse!”
“It really isn’t…” Allan sighed. “Alright, I’m launching the EMP. Ready?”
“We’re ready.” Andrew’s voice came on.
“I’m not!” I screamed.
“Alright! Let’s go!”
“I’m being ignored!”
At that moment, the radio went dead for a second. That was it. There was no massive wave of electricity, no shockwave, no explosion. Several of the lights on the surface of the moon were now out.
“Did it work?” I asked the surrounding air.
The static in the radio broke once again with Allan’s voice. “The EMP has been delivered. Make your descent.”
“Damn it!” Rune’s voice came on. “The EMP took out our propulsion. We won’t be able to make the trench run.”
“What do you mean you won’t do the trench run?” I almost shrieked into the intercom.
“We’re crashing, Jane.” This was Andrew’s voice. “We’re getting into the escape tubes now. You’ll have to do this on your own. I’m sorry, Jane.”
“Oh, no; there are only two tubes!” Rune’s voice came in the background. “No! Hey, no. I am not getting into that tube with a werewolf. No! Andrew’s not any better.”
“Daniel, tell him it’s either this or death.” Andrew had turned the microphone to the side as he spoke, making him sound further away.
“Screw it. I welcome death.” Rune’s voice responded.
“Hey, stop it! Bad touch. What are you guy’s doing? Ah, wrong way; you’re putting me in the wrong way! Ah, my cheek just touched his balls!”
“I’m not particularly happy with this either, Rune.” Daniel’s voice sounded exasperated.
“Why is it so sweaty?! It smells like the Discovery channel down here!”
There was a thumping sound, then Andrew grabbed the microphone again. “Jane, we’re sorry. Do your best.”
With that, the line cut out. I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry.
“Jane.” This time it was Allan’s voice. “We only have four minutes before the backup kicks in.”
“Shit!” I screamed, grabbing the controls and pushing the thrust. “I’m starting my descent. Red six, standing by.”
“Jane, there’s only three of us, we’ve already told you there is no reason to have code names. How did you even count up to six?”
“… you’re ruining my fun.”
“Just bomb the target!”
“Alright. I’m in the trench… I think…”
At the very least, the ship was now flying through a massive cavern. I didn’t see any guns or indications of resistance.
“Wait, why did you fly into the trench?!”
“Huh? That’s what you said! You said at the end of the trench lined with auto-cannons was a power core.”
“Exactly! Which is why you don’t fly through the trench. Come at it in literally any other direction and just bomb it! I was giving you the location referencing a landmark, not suggesting you approach it that way. Who’d approach in the direction with all the auto-canons? Ridiculous!”
“Then maybe you should have been clearer!” A beam shot out and struck the right of my ship, causing it to shake. “Ah! I’m being shot at!”
“The auto-canons aren’t affected by the EMP, obviously. That just took out the energy shield.”
“That’s information I could have had yesterday!”
“I didn’t expect you to fly into a trench! You’re in a spaceship; you could literally approach from any direction!”
The shooting started to pick up the pace. Suddenly, I was getting hit every few seconds.
“Ah, I’m being hit! I’m being hit!” I screamed as the ship started to shake and sparks started to fly from a nearby console.
“Fly low; the guns can’t target you when you’re close to the ground.”
“That sounds like an implausible weakness that any gun designer would instantly fix!”
“Just do it!”
“Ah!” I grabbed onto the controls and got down near the bottom of the trench. “Now this is pod-racing!”
“Jane, get serious!”
“I am serious! Seriously terrified here! Ah, someone’s shooting me from behind!”
“Did you think I’d seriously let you save this planet?” A voice came over the intercom, interrupting me and Allan.
“Skyf!” I shouted. “You bastard!”
“Hahaha. You’re one to talk. You’ve basically ruined my plans to join the council. The very least I could do is end your planet.”
“Those two actions are not proportional!”
“Like you’d understand! Don’t you get it? I’m done here. I won’t become king. The destruction of your planet is the only vengeance I’ll get.”
“You expect me to be sympathetic?”
“No, I expect you to die- arrr-”
An explosion erupted behind me, but I really couldn’t see anything. “What happened?! What just happened?”
“We got him, Jane. You’re good to go!” Allan declared. “You know what to do!”
“Ignore the computer’s targeting system and launch with my feelings?”
“No! The computers are designed to make those exact precise calculations. Use them, Jane; use the targeting system.”
“I’m locked on. Releasing the payload.”
There was a thump and I pulled the controls up. My view pulled away from the horizon and I could see another ship rising up next to me. That must have been Allan’s ship.
“It hit! The power core is down. You succeeded, Jane.”
“What do you mean? You’ve saved Earth! The planet cracker has fallen apart. You’re a hero.”
“Yeah… but where’s the epic explosion? I didn’t even hear anything.”
“Sound doesn’t travel through space.”
“Yeah, but what about the shockwaves?”
“It’s space; what exactly is waving? Besides, did you really expect the entire moon to blow up? I’m pretty sure that would be bad.”
“That’s no moon; that’s a space station.”
“It’s still the moon, though.”
“Man… this is so anti-climactic. Real space is so freaking boring.”
“Jane, has anyone ever told you you’re kind of a weird person?”
“They have now…”
“Sorry… I didn’t mean it that way.” Suddenly, Allan seemed a little unsure of himself. “I… well… it’s been fun. I look forward to-“
“You think this is over!” Skyf’s voice cut in once again.
“You! Why won’t you die?!”
“You’d think I’d board that ship in person? I was piloting it safely on the other side of the moon. I install all of my ships with remote piloting controls.”
“What do you want, Skyf? You can’t do anything now!” Allan snapped back.
“You’ve taken my conquest and you’ve stopped my revenge. However, I can still take a bit of vengeance.”
“Wait. He said he equipped all of his ships with remote piloting control! Allan, where did you get that ship!”
“Son of a…”
“Hahaha! Well, goodbye!” The ship suddenly veered off course, turning around and heading back down towards the moon. “Enjoy your one-way ticket into a crater of the moon!”
“Fool,” The voice came right next to my ear, causing me to jump. “Doesn’t he know I’m always ten steps ahead?”
Allan’s form had appeared right next to me. A moment later more boys appeared.
“Ah! Boys, everywhere!”
A cockpit made for two suddenly became the home of eleven people. I found myself staring at nothing but skin all around me.
“What the hell is going on?” I demanded as I spit out someone’s elbow.
“Sorry, Jane, you were the closest point for my teleporter. It’s not comfortable… but we’ll live.”
“Someone’s sitting on my face.” One boy shouted.
“Ah, stop elbowing me!”
“I hope that’s an elbow!”
For my part, I tried to ignore what I thought was a hand on my knee. I couldn’t even tell which guys were pressed up against me, every voice coming from a disembodied portion of the ship.
“What about Skyf?” I asked.
“Nothing much. He took control of the ship and is crashing it as we speak. However, hypothetically, if someone had altered the navigation controls before he took over the ship and tweaked the coordinates a bit, then the ship might not be landing where he thought it would.
“Goodbye!” Skyf’s voice shouted over the radio in between fits of laughter. “Huh? Why’s it getting dark all of a sudden? OH, you son of a b-“
The radio cut dead as the boys’ abandoned ship crashed into Skyf’s location. I couldn’t help but give out a dry laugh in response to everything Skyf had done.
“Allan, I could kiss you right now.”
“Ridiculous. Ah, my glasses fell off! Don’t look, Jane!”
“I don’t even know where you are to look!”
“Well, hello, Allan, I didn’t realize you were so… sexy.” A female voice suddenly shot out from the crowd.
“Huh? Is that Alex?”
“How about you and me find a quiet little place and…”
“Jane, help me! Your sister is looking at me like a piece of meat!”
“Quick, stop her before she tosses her underwear at him!”
“Oh ho, well, that’s fine… I’m not wearing any.”
“Get me out of here!”
“Wait, who just farted?”
“Don’t worry guys!” I panted, pushing my hands through the mounds of flesh until I found the ship controls. “We’re going home! Engage!”