Take her back down.” Sweat crept along Zander's hairline, and he took a second to wipe at the gathering drips.
“Navs aren’t responding.” Apart from her words coming fast, Petros’s tone sounded mostly calm. Good, because he needed her to keep her head if they were going to get off this shuttle alive. The whole vessel was shaking hard enough now that anything not bolted down skittered across the grate floor. The groan of stressed metal was audible under the shrill chime of the emergency sirens.
He abandoned the shielding as a lost cause. The only play they had left was to disconnect the autopilot, which was taking them higher into the ether. Another few moments before they left the stratosphere altogether. Without the shielding, the craft would burn and implode almost in the same instant.
His breath came too short, chest too tight as the same error message kept blinking at him, telling him autopilot could not be disengaged. Frecking christ, the higher they got, the harder it would be coming down. And he had no doubt they were going down. Whether or not they got destroyed in the planet’s atmosphere before they crashed was still up for contention.
Swiveling the chair away from the all-but-useless control panel, he ducked down and pulled a section off the bottom of the console.
“What are you doing?” Petros demanded as he wrenched out a whole bunch of wiring.
“Manually disengaging autopilot. Until that’s off-line, we’ve got no hope of doing anything.” He skipped through several wires until he found the one he needed and yanked it clean out of the micro-crystal panel.
A new warning siren joined the dozen others already wailing, and the ship dropped sharply to the right, on the verge of going into an uncontrolled spiral. Zander’s stomach flipped up into his chest, and he grabbed hold of the chair’s armrest.
Petros pulled the physical flight control from out of its recess and jerked them to the left to counteract the ship’s listing. The angle of their hard decent lessened, but they were still going down on a bad, barely-in-control trajectory. Her face twisted into a grimace as she fought for control of the vessel, yet the shuttle hardly responded. They were beyond hope. There was only one way this crisis was going to end.
He tightened his harness and glanced over his shoulder to where his three crew were holding onto their seats in much the same way he had been. “We’re going down and it’s not going to be a soft landing. Brace for impact.”