The streaks falling from the sky danced among the falling snow unseen by the people huddling for warmth around the fire.
The lead ship pulled parallel with ground and skimmed the tree tops, flying nap of the earth and the two wings fell into perfect formation behind the lead. They kept their speed just below the sound barrier to prevent the massive boom which would drawn attention to them. Sophisticated sound dampening technology baffled the engine noise so the only sound the created was that air being displaced by their speed. This sound was lost in the howling blizzard.
“Adjust course, 0.37 degrees.” The wing ships adjusted course with mechanical precision. “300 kilometers to target… 260 kilometers to target…” the ships juddered as they dropped speed. “3 minutes to target. Arm weapons.”
The left wing ship exploded without warning.
“EVADE EVADE EVADE!” the lead ship split from the remaining wing.
Marrus watched the two Hunt-Ships peel off above him. His own Jumper was hidden in a large cave a bit to the North. It was on low power in case they needed to leave in a hurry. Sure, this planet was a primitive one barely beyond the fire stage but the Corporations were grooming it. In another thousand years or so it would be time to begin processing it into the fold.
Danika had thought he was being paranoid but his instincts had kept him alive since he resigned his commission from the Al-Ger Corporation. He was surprised that they were still after him after all this time. Honestly, he had expected them to just write off his Jumper as “lost without contact” and collect the insurance and leave him be. Ah well, no one ever said being a privateer would be easy.
The hunters crossed back and forth above him searching for his location. Their scanners would pierce his personal baffles now that they were actively searching for him. He clicked the comm twice. The static break was enough to let Danika know to prep for dust-off.
He checked the weapon-pack charge. He had enough for 3 more shots but was unlikely to get as easy a target as that first one. Marrus knew that the odds of a single person on foot of taking out a single hunter was slim, taking out two was unheard of. He checked his belt for the transmitter. It had cost him a lot of money and put him in the debt of Shar Aleksei which was more troubling than his hard earned cash. But if it saved his life it would be well worth it.
Marrus turned and ran, activating the environmental actuators as he did. Each of his steps was amplified and in that moment he was the fastest ground creature n the planet. He blew by a group of native hunters. They clutched their spears fearfully and a new deity myth was born. Marrus would be long dead but Anutak, Lord of the Night Hunt would live on in stories.
Marrus slowed when he neared the face of the cliff. He dropped to his knee and canceled the baffle for a second and then raised it again. He was sure to have been spotted but there was no sense in making it too easy. As expected, the two ships adjusted their paths immediately and began an attack run. Marrus closed his eyes and said a quick prayer. He took the device off his belt and held it up.
“Aleksei, you better not be fucking me.” He whispered as he activated the scrambler. The ships both shuddered violently as their nav systems scrambled. They were approaching the cliff face. This was the moment of truth. If the scrambler worked as advertised both should be taking a dive any second as they intended to pull up. It was a simple programming swap but the question was whether the access codes were current or not.
Apparently, they were. The pilots were so used to the autoassist that they didn’t even think to deactivate it. Marrus was impressed to see that the wingman’s reflexes were better than the lead’s – he pulled all the way “up” and slammed into the ground while the lead was unable to clear the cliff. Marrus smiled and headed back to the cave where Danika was waiting.
“How’d it go, skip?” She asked him with a smile.
“I think the fact that I made it here before you left me is a pretty good sign.” He leaned into her and kissed her on the forehead. “Let’s go somewhere with a bit more nightlife.”
The hatch sealed behind him and they left through the snow, a white streak heading up into the night.
The hunters returned to the fire and told the story of the silver hunter they had seen who killed two demons of the air.