‘Blip,’ went the console, softly, and the front of the flight compartment abruptly became the floor. Cait found herself plunging towards it, and instinctively reached out, grabbing a nearby handhold and swinging down to slam quite heavily against the wall.
“Ow,” she understated.
“Sod,” she added.
She glanced down at the helm panel. As she’d half expected, there sat the velocity indicator, glowing innocently at the very bottom of its range arc, where she very definitely hadn’t put it. The control had, yet again, set itself to zero while she wasn’t looking. Or sitting down, comfortably and safely strapped in. And if the sudden drop hadn’t been enough evidence in itself, the faint blue glow from the edges of the forward view-cam image showed her that the forward thrusters were firing, working to bring the ship to a relative standstill.
“Gods damn you!” She swore at the indicator, at the panel, at the thrusters and at the ship in general, as she lowered herself, handhold by handhold, down to the flight chair. “Kill thrust!” she bellowed. Nothing happened. She swung herself approximately into the seat and wrestled with the straps, kicking out with her foot at the helm panel. The kick didn’t connect with anything that helped, but it did hurt her ankle, so there was that.
“Kill the damn thrusters!”
Still nothing happened. Okay, okay, she told herself. Calm. This is clearly one of those belligerent situations; one of those wire-snare ones, tightening its grip the more you struggle against it. Fine. I can do calm.
Hanging awkwardly to the strap, her backside half-resting on the arm of the pilot’s seat, she reached out with exaggerated care and delicacy, and tapped the Kill Thrust key. Immediately, she felt the weight of her body lift from her, and the on-screen glow darkened away. She felt the seat beginning to float away, and she scrabbled to pull the straps around her and clip herself in. Settling herself down, she kicked the console again.
“Bastard,” was her mechanical assessment. She pictured the thruster control computer, sitting somewhere down there in the arcane innards of the ship and smirking at her. “Right,” she told it through the deck plates, “Enough. Very next station we fetch up at, you are being stripped out, beaten completely out of shape and then I’m going to re-install what’s left of you.”