When battle stations sounded, Jody grabbed the children taking them to what was considered the safest place on the ship down one deck below sickbay. BJ dashed away with the others going into the flight control room so the Zippers could be launched. Jody by the time she reached the elevator with the children, she found she had to wait along with other non-defenders letting them go ahead. She saw Brad and Toni make their way onto the elevator, she felt safe knowing they would be in charge. BJ along with others were already in the control room launching the first two wings. Jody was nervous but made herself stay calm for the children’s sake.
Jody spotted Austin waiting as well. Austin used to be one of the defenders but when the Marines were accepted into the crew, she found herself as den mother of the children along with three others. Austin was happy to do that with Carol Jean.
“I’m sorry about your loss!” Jody said referring to the deaths of Ron and Carol Jean.
“I feel it was my fault, I went through rejuvenation with another wife, she is now a Zipper pilot. So I convinced Ron and Carol Jean to go through it. They died doing what I wanted.” Austin said sadly choking back a sob.
“It wasn’t really your fault, accidents happen.” Jody said as Austin looked down at the children gathered around Jody.
“Let me take them off your hands, I’m sure you have a station to report to!” Austin said trying to smile. Children would take her mind off her sorrow.
“Would you please, I need to check if I’m needed in flight control!” Jody said putting on a big smile. She knew the children would be safe with Austin. They had practiced this in drills many times but never where she had to come from here down to the safe area and then back up to her station.
“NO problem,” Austin said taking the youngest one that was barely walking out of Jody’s arms. Even though she had no biological children to call her own, Jody thought all of BJ’s children as her own. She hoped they would have one together soon.
When the elevator returned to pick them up, Jody made sure they were all safely inside the elevator while giving each a kiss. She stood watching the doors close before turning to run to the flight control room.
Arriving in the flight control room, she found there was no room for her, because of the services everyone was awake and there. She didn’t want to stand there and do nothing. The stress was too much if things went bad for the pilots. She felt the ship shudder and knew it had been hit but she had no idea if they penetrated the fields or not? She had great trust in the fields holding after observing them in action.
Jody saw Patty over ordering that the eleven remaining Zippers be placed into the catapults for launching. Trained on a Zipper and qualified as a pilot, Jody rushed into the flight readiness room finding a flight jumpsuit that would fit along with a helmet with no name on it. Since she was not assigned to a wing, she wasn’t expected have her own.
Coming out dressed in her flight suit, Jody observed Patty climbing into the first unassigned Zipper. She dashed over to the next one climbing up the ladder to get inside. Not really drilled at this, Jody had some problems getting up into the cockpit but when she did. She recalled her training and went through the standard checklist. Finding Patty was waiting on her so they could launch together so she wouldn’t be alone, Jody gave her the thumbs up when she was ready then heard Patty say into the microphone, “Two birds ready for launch in tubes 48 and 47!”
“Launching!” was all Jody heard recognizing BJ’s voice but before she could tell him that one of the birds was her, she found herself out in space.
Jody’s stomach did a flip-flop when it discovered there was no gravity but Jody calmed her stomach down when Patty told her to stay right with me kid!
“Yes, Mom,” was all Jody could think to say.
“Is that you Jody out there?” BJ asked in a sour tone like he didn’t like the idea of her being out there.
“Yes, I’ll be alright, I’m with Mommy Patty!” Jody said then switched to the battle frequency just like she had been taught.
“We are joining Scorpio and Vic trying to protect the Lightning.” Patty said calmly then changed her direction of travel heading toward where Jody saw constant flashes going on. Jody was glad she didn’t go light, she wasn’t sure if she could follow her at light speed.
Within minutes Jody found herself in the dogfights. At first it seemed too easy as she got three quick kills that Patty set up for her being the bait. While the enemy fighter’s attention was on fighting Patty, Jody would slip up behind and destroy them. Then it got tougher as larger enemy ships showed up and ones that could fire in all directions making it tough to take them out.
Jody managed to get one of the larger craft with Patty getting another until she got brave and placed herself as the bait for Patty and others that joined them. Jody knew she was hit and crippled but Patty took out the craft that hit her.
“I will just limp back to the Lightning.” Jody said into the radio after making sure the Zipper didn’t lose power.
“Okay, kid!” Patty said then Zipped away to help others that were struggling in their fights.
Jody turned her attention back to getting home but found as she tried to increase speed, the ship would go suddenly away from Lightning pulling hard to the left towards Oceania. Having no experience at really controlling the Zipper, she tried once again to head back to the Lightning only to find she was headed directly into Oceania’s atmosphere. Figuring she could force her way of the Atmosphere with another blast from her drive as it plunged downward farther into the atmosphere. She tried to give it full throttle again but this time nothing happened so she knew she was going down and hoped to hit the Ocean part of the planet. She tried to recall her swimming lessons and remember she wasn’t a very good swimmer, so switched her thoughts to a land landing. Using the front bottom thrusters. She took it out of a nosedive making it a flat plane so the thicker air would slow her down at least that was her hope.
Seeing the land, she let the Zipper drift towards it wondering how she would survive if she did make it down safely? Thoughts about not wanting to live her life alone flashed through her head, so she gave a mayday call hoping Lightning would send someone to rescue her. Adding to it that she loved BJ and for him to give the children her love.
The Zipped kept trying to dive like a dive-bomber so her attention was focused on keeping it flat. Pieces came flying off from the heat but so far so good, Jody thought. Seeing the manual eject lever gave her an idea, she would eject herself just before the Zipper plowed into the ground. The ejection was not just her seat and she, but the whole cockpit part of the craft because everyone expected it to be used in outer space where she needed protection from the vacuum. She hoped the release would make her slow down and land safely. At least that was all she could come up with and why she had to keep the craft flat.
Checking once again to make sure she was going to hit land and not water, she breathed a sigh seeing she would defiantly hit land. Now, she hoped her plan worked.
The craft was falling fast and the ground seemed upon her. She waited until she judged she was thirty feet off the ground when she pulled the ejection lever by the time it hurled her out; it was ten feet away from hitting solid ground. She couldn’t see it but it burst into several pieces but most of it was buried into the ground from the impact.
She didn’t realize she was on some sort of plateau when she hit and it gave way sending her rolling down the side of a mountain into the green lands below. She didn’t know it but she had just missed landing inside the volcano. Even though the volcano was not active, she would have had a hard time climbing out of the crater and down off the rim.
Bouncing off big boulders and other rocks on her way down, she found the enclosure started to shatter and break apart. When the cockpit came to rest at the bottom of the mountain, she was happily right side up and looked around. She was in a lot of pain and guessed she might have something broken in her leg area when one big boulder crushed the side of the cockpit snapping her leg, she believed it was the right leg. Cuts adorned her face from the flying debris when the cockpit shattered. Especially from the glass covering not being designed for high impact even though it was suppose to be bulletproof.
Realizing the air must be breathable or she would be dying or dead now. Then she recalled a remark by Andrew that it had slightly higher oxygen content than back on Earth but slightly lower Nitrogen content. Jody slowly felt her fingers to make sure they were okay the checked her arms. She was glad the sun was overhead telling her it was noontime on the planet, plenty of time to get herself into safe cover, she thought.