Mustered Out on Mertactor

296: 1107; late morning

Up and Away?

The falling ash was now moving horizontally. In the thin air of Walston there was a strong wind picking up, driven before a 75kph cloud of superheated steam and volcanic debris. The cloud would bury the scout ship easily if it was caught on the ground, and the heat would overload its systems and broil the occupants alive. The only chance was to run for it. But with only a minute to impact Will realised that his options were limited.

He could try to climb above the cloud, attempt to outrun it or, oddly enough, fly straight into it. This was not as insane as it seemed. He doubted that he could either reach above the cloud or outrun it, but heading into it might lessen impact due to the ship’s aerodynamics, and it would at least have its strongest axis pointing at the threat.

“Hold tight!” he yelled, as the black wall rose above him.

The wall hit the ship, and WIll struggled to hold control. The wailing of their passengers, mingled with the cries of a very distressed wolf provided a background cacophony.

Will realised that the ship was being flung upwards and backwards, out towards the sea. His geological training informed him that the base of the cloud would be superheated steam, and as long as they sat above that the ship would survive the high temperatures. The biggest risk came from the shockwave . As it hit he gritted his teeth, and the ship tumbled upwards and backwards. And then the lights cut out.

“The power systems !” screamed Grim over the intercom, as the ship tumbled powerless towards the top of its arc. Then it would start to spin, Will knew.

“We’re in an unpowered, tumbling, spinning deathtrap that used to be a space vessel. " thought Will. They had been flung out of the cloud but would soon fall back through it into the ocean. People and objects were flying about inside the ship.

Grim and Taeva scrabbled frantically in their webbing to reboot the power systems, and after what seemed an age Will realised that some of the controls were operational again.

“You should have power !” yelled Grim, “I’ve overridden the safety cutouts!”

As the scout ship is neared the apex of its crazy tumble through the sky it was spinning wildly, though Will did his best to bring the ship back under some sort of control. The ship did seem to stabilise somewhat, but Will realised that this was partly due to aerodynamic effect as it turned into a flat spin. But he had power now and he fought push the nose down and build up airspeed.

Just as he had almost given up hope The ShakenVacc pulled upwards and lifted her nose, scant hundreds of feet from the ocean. Moving at a terrific speed now the ship accelerated across the surface of the ocean, and climbed unsteadily to a safe altitude. They were safe.