Star Brink: The Crash

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An Unusual Rescue

Chapter 1: An Unusual Rescue

Jack watched in amazement as what appeared to be a starship plunged towards the earth at great speeds. Though the sharp turn has slowed it down and put out a majority of the flames crashing was inevitable. From his position in the tree stand Jack had the perfect view of the ship as it plummeted slowly towards a hilly area not far from his location. He could only stare, nearly dropping his rifle, thankfully it was strapped the stand, watching as if he was hypnotized.

Though it all happened in the span on a few seconds to Jack it seemed like an eternity watching the starship disappear behind the hills. The starship descended at a decent angle that Jack knew would lessen the impact, hopefully limiting the damage to both the ship and the pilot. The direction and location it landed would no doubt play a role if Jack would see where exactly it landed but with a hill blocking his view he couldn’t get a good view of the exact crash site. He was able to see a plume of smoke and debris shoot in the air from where it landed but it wasn’t anywhere near as big as he assumed it would be. There was no massive explosion or any fire that he could see telling Jack it was a decent landing and no doubt the ship had survived mostly intact.

“Huh, that wasn’t anywhere near as big as I figured it’d be.” Jack spoke with a hint of amazement. “He or she must be an extremely skilled pilot to pull that off.”

Jack leaned back in his tree stand’s seat as he watched smoke rise from the crash site. Though there wasn’t a lot of smoke, indicating the starship didn’t land hard, he knew from past crashes himself that no one would just be walking away from it. There had to be at least minor injuries and he was certain no one had died. He was also certain that given the isolation of the area it’d be a while before anyone showed up to assist, besides people hunting the area or game wardens. The last thing he wanted to do was get out and go assist himself after his bad previous experiences with crash sites. Instead, he wanted to leave the area as soon as possible and not have one more problem in his already complicated life.

“Yeah, it’d probably be best to stay here and let the . . .” Jack began softly speaking only to cut himself off when some much dreaded memories entered his mind.

A shiver went down Jack’s spine as the memories came flooding back of a time when he didn’t question orders from his superiors. A time he deeply regretted serving people with dark, ulterior motives that led to him committing many evil acts under the guise of planetary protection. The actions and operations he participated in were often the cause of the nightmares he experienced. After everything he had experienced serving those bastards the thought of just sitting back and doing nothing did not sit well with him.

“No, I can’t just sit here, not again.” Jack growled to himself as he stopped up in the tree stand and glared in the direction of the crash site.

Jack swallowed what courage and determination he could muster before unhooking himself from the tree stand safety harness, slinging his rifle of his shoulder, and climbed down to the ground. Once on the ground he practically ran in the direction the starship crashed but at an alerted pace. The darkness made it even more difficult to see what was around him but the rising sun made it significantly easier. Every so often he reached back to feel the stock of his rifle so to make sure it was there due to his cautious and anxious nature since he didn’t know what to expect when he arrived on the scene and he had learned through unfortunate experience to expect the unexpected.

However, the distance to the crash site was further than Jack had estimated and the terrain to be steeper than he guessed it would’ve been. There were far more hills and thicker underbrush than the area he usually hunted, causing him to move slower than he wanted to. Given he wanted to get to the crash site as quickly as possible the pace he moved at was not pleasing to him, especially since Jack knew what would happen if the PDF, an organization he was unfortunately too familiar with, got there first.

After nearly fifteen minutes of running up and down steep hills, Jack was starting to find himself gasping for breath. It didn’t occur to him till the moment he crested his fourth hill how out of shape he was. Though Jack was up the upper side of his thirties he was still in better shape than most people but not in the ideal shape he would’ve preferred to be in. He was glad to be able to see the outlines of the crash site though there was still a downhill trek to get there. Jack was certainly happy to finally have the crash site in his gaze but a bit upset that he still had a lot of trekking left to get there.

“Damn it, how far did this thing fly?” Jack stated with a huff.

A sudden, loud, feminine shriek echoing through the air caused Jack to freeze on the spot. With how quiet it had been the scream stood out like a tuba blasting over a loud speaker at a clarinet concert. Though it didn’t sound like a human, if he had a guess it sounded like a combination of animal and human, he had a pretty good assumption that whoever, or whatever, made it, was in serious distress. Due to that he found himself not caring who or what made it but only in the reason they screamed in such a desperate and fearful manner. That caused him to throw caution to the wind, unsling his rifle, and take off running as fast as he could in the direction it came from, which seemed to be the same the starship crashed.

It wasn’t even a minute before he came to the top of a mound where he got his first view of crash site. The starship had crashed on the slope of a small hill with an indent trail that showed it slide a good ways across the ground up the slope, taking out several trees in the process. Apparently the way it crashed going up the slope reduced the size of the crater though he wasn’t close enough to see much accurately out the crash, he’d gave go get closer for that and to see what damage the starship took.

“Yeah, that must be it.” Jack quietly spoke. “Hopefully I’m not too late.” He chuckled a little to his statement. “And when did I start speaking like a cliché.”

Jack slowly made his way through the downed trees that made getting close difficult. He didn’t want to move too quickly and miss a threat, especially after hearing that woman scream, so he progressed carefully checking his surroundings and kept his rifle at the ready. His attention was mostly on the starship but it wasn’t hard to miss given the massive crater it had created. As he got closer he couldn’t help but be surprised that he couldn’t see any real damage other than the nose was slightly bent.

“Huh, it’s in much better shape than I thought it’d be.”

Jack carefully made his way towards the starship, sticking close to the shadows and bushes as he could to avoid detection. He wanted to rush in but restrained himself from doing so since he didn’t know the full situation and didn’t have a good view of everything. Past experiences taught him to move slowly, he didn’t want to risk getting shot again. However, as he got closer his nose picked up an all too familiar scent that made him gag and almost halt his progress. Though he didn’t drink much the smell of strong as hell alcohol, if not near lethal, was something he knew quite well due to having relatives who drank it. If his senses weren’t already on full alert they certain were at that moment.

“What the . . . Is that moonshine?” Jack softly whispered to himself.

Jack’s answer came in the form on someone in the direction of the starship screaming at the top of his lungs. “MORE MOONSHINE FOR US AND GET SOME FOR THE BITCH!”

Jack dropped to his knees for cover and concealment both on the alert and very confused. He had heard some strange things yelled but that surpassed even what he heard while driving past bars. Whoever said it had to be in a state drunkenness only moonshine was capable of. It put Jack on high alert as he scanned his surroundings but saw nothing. However, he could hear them as plain as day shouting and laughing at something. From Jack’s best guess it sounded like they were in the direction of the starship. That pushed Jack to pick up his pace and move towards the starship at a slightly quicker but alert pace.

As Jack came to a small patch of bushes that allowed him to clearly see the starship he kneeled down and took things slowly when he spotted who was making the noise. Standing near the nose of the starship he could see three large men dressed in old camouflaged clothing, covered in mud, and each carrying a bottle of what he assumed was moonshine and a firearm; he would call them the definition of drunken hicks or hillbilly so. From what Jack could see, saying they were standing would be an inaccurate as each of them appeared to be so drunk they could barely stay on their feet. Two of them appeared to be so drunk Jack was surprised they weren’t passed out.

What the heck? Where did they come from? Jack thought as he closely watched the spectacle unfold before him. They must have a hidden camp up here. A slight chuckle escaped Jack’s lips. It wouldn’t be the first moonshine or pot camp that’s been busted out here.

Jack slowly knelt close to the ground and practically crawled forward using the underbrush and darkness to conceal his progress. He moved so slowly that he made no sound, though it felt unnecessary with how drunk the men were. The amount of noise they were making shouting at each other, Jack couldn’t make out what they were saying due to their drunken slurred speech, quickly made him feel like an idiot for the pace he was moving out. It didn’t take long for him to decide to quicken his pace and quietly run to a downed tree on top of a small knoll overlooking the crashed starship.

Once Jack was at the tree he took cover, keeping as much of his body hidden with his head peeking out. From his position he could clearly see the three men jeering at the pilot, who he still couldn’t see. Though he couldn’t see whoever the pilot was but could hear her or him shouting at the men, in a language he couldn’t understand. From the behaviors of the men he assumed the pilot was aiming a weapon at them given they were just standing in their position instead of forward. He didn’t think that would last long as they seemed to be getting impatient and making the occasional advances forward only to jump back for some reason. Eventually, one of them would get the courage, or stupidity, to advance forward and commit what would probably be considered an authority.

After a few moments, Jack’s assumption was right when he saw one of the men draw a large knife, and step forward. The man said something Jack couldn’t make out as he approached the concealed pilot that sounded somehow both sexual and aggressive. He didn’t need to be an expert to know what the man intended to do and caused Jack to quickly raise his rifle and point it towards the men.

“FREEZE, DROP YOUR GUNS!” Jack shouted at the top of his lungs.

The three hicks spun around in Jack’s direction and began looking around to see where the voice came from. It didn’t take them more than a few seconds to spot him and the biggest, and apparently the most drunk, saw him first. The man shouted something incoherent and slurred before waving at the other two then pointing in Jack’s direction. Any hope Jack had of the situation being solved peacefully were dashed when the man drunkenly pointed his pistol towards him.

Oh no, I can’t take that risk. Jack thought as he didn’t wait for the drunk idiot to shoot first.

Jack quickly aimed the sights on the center of the man’s chest and pulled the trigger. He was rewarded with the sight of blood spraying from the man’s chest and the impact knocking him off his feet. Having seen what a frangible bullet does to a deer, Jack didn’t need to be close to know that the bullet had shredded the man’s lungs and probably his heart along with it. Instead of focusing on the fact he had just killed a man he quickly chambered another round and moved the crosshairs over to the nearest target but didn’t pull the trigger; hoping the sight of their dead friend would sober them up.

The two men starred at each other with shocked expressions, or seemed to be till Jack realized they were just starring drunkenly at each other. They appeared to be so drunk that they didn’t seem to even realize their friend had been killed. Instead, the shortest one vomited while the other laughed.

Yeah, this is why I don’t drink. Jack muttered to himself in disgust as he watched the spectacle before him.

Once the man was done laughing he seemed to regain his composure and turned in Jack’s direction before letting out some kind of roar that sounded like a bear after it had drunk a few gallons of moonshine. Jack could only shake his head as he tried not to laugh, till he saw the man raise his rifle in his direction. He quickly stopped laughing and readjusted his aim, placing the iron sights directly on the man’s head and pulled the trigger. The bullet hit the man’s head, rewarding Jack with a decent view of pink mist exploding from his forehead and him instantly collapsing to the ground like a man dropping a sack of flour.

Before Jack could feel remorse he heard a gunshot and bark from the tree he was taking cover behind exploding, some of it hitting him in the face. He quickly ducked behind cover ignoring the bark that had hit it before another bullet hit the tree. Once he was behind cover he quickly chambered a round.

“YEAH, TAKE THAT YOU . . .” A loud burp echoed through the forest. “. . . SON OF A BITCH!”

Jack shook his head as he heard another shot but could tell it missed the tree by a long shot. He guessed the person doing the shooting was the guy who was throwing up earlier. Somehow he had recovered enough to fire shots accurately enough to keep him behind cover. Though the guy was drunk Jack had enough combat experience to know that he was at the disadvantage being pinned behind cover. Fortunately, Jack knew the guy was using a pump action shotgun, giving him a very brief moment to get a shot, though definitely not an accurate one.

Jack took a deep breath, waiting to hear another shot, and after a moment was rewarded for his patience by another shot hitting the tree. He quickly sprang into action and spun out of cover with his rifle at the ready to see his assumption was right; the drunken moron was clambering another round. As quickly as possible, he shouldered the rifle, aimed as best he could, and pulled the trigger. Though the shot was quick it says accurate enough to hit the man in the shoulder.

The man screamed out in pain as he collapsed to his knees, holding what was left of his shoulder. The screams were so, last enough to make Jack feel sympathy, if it wasn’t for the fact the guy and his friends were planning to violate a woman; an act he has no sympathy for. He quickly chambered another round and aimed at the screaming man’s head before pulling the trigger, putting him out of humanity’s misery.

“Damn it.” Jack muttered to himself as he lowered his rifle.

The thought of killing three men didn’t bother Jack much as he reloaded his rifle, even though they were drunk off their asses and probably didn’t have the mental capacity to realize what they were doing. It was easier for him knowing that he gave them the choice to leave and they choose poorly. He also had no sympathy for people who tried to “assert themselves” onto women, assuming that it even was a woman. Jack still hadn’t actually seen the pilot of the crashed starship so for all he knew it could’ve been a tentacle alien with a female voice. He wasn’t going to find out just standing there and his curiosity was bugging him to find out.

Before Jack could stand up he heard a loud scream that sounded like it came from a small child followed by a pleading beg that no doubt was from a woman. He instantly dropped behind cover again and shouldered his rifle, aiming in the direction of the scream which was the starship. It wasn’t a long wait for Jack before he spotted another man, cradling a large bottle of moonshine with a revolver strapped to his hip. The man was clearly the drunk as well the point Jack could smell the alcohol on his breath to the point he nearly had to cover his nose. However, it was what Jack saw the man dragging that filled him with disgust.

In the man’s arms was what appeared to be a humanoid, anthromorphic canine child, possibly a young girl, who was struggling to break free. She had the body of a human the facial features, tail, ears, fur, and claws of a canine. To Jack, the young girl appeared to be a hybrid, giving the appearance of a humanoid wolfdog; if he had to guess wolf and German Shepard. Her fur was a mix of black and brown with most of it being black with large spots of black on her face and if he had to guess on her arms and back as well. It was hard for him to tell given she was wearing something he would consider close to green cargo pants and a red t-shirt that hung loosely off of her.

However, Jack’s shock of seeing such a strange creature girl was quickly pushed to the side when he was able to fully assess the situation. Any shock he had was gone upon seeing her crying and struggling to break free from the drunk idiot. The cries and pleas from a woman he couldn’t see, due to the starship blocking his view of her, heightened his concern but didn’t some deep breathing was enough to keep him calm enough to aim.

“Drop your gun or I’ll blow this little . . . brats head off.” The man blurted out, pulling his revolver and pointing it at the girl.

Really, that’s what the idiot says. Jack thought with a disappointed shake of his head. Can’t these idiots ever think of something original? Thankfully he is so drunk he doesn’t realize to use her as a shield. Jack carefully aimed at the guy’s head. I can drop him with ease before he does the girl any harm.

However, before Jack could pull the trigger, the guy’s chest exploded with a large ball of fire burning through leaving a massive hole. From his position he could only see the exit wound but it looked large enough for him to fit his fist through. The guy instantly let go of the girl, who ran back towards what he assumed was the other female, and looked down at the hole in his chest before collapsing on the ground. Jack, seeing the whole thing, for a few moments could only stare blankly in a combination of shock and relief.

“Okay, that’s one less thing to worry about.” Jack softly spoke to himself as he stood up. “Unfortunately, that leaves a whole new problem; what to do with them, assuming they don’t shoot me on sight. I definitely can’t leave them for the PDF to find, that’d be a death sentence for them.”

Much against his better judgment, Jack slung his rifle over his shoulder and began the slide down the slope towards the starship. After seeing the last guy get a hole blown in his chest that would’ve put the Predator’s shoulder mounted plasma gun to shame, approaching the starship didn’t seem like the best idea. If he had to guess what it was that kept him going towards it other than past experiences and not wanting to go through them again combined with sympathy he thought he had gone numb to long ago.

It wasn’t till Jack was nearly at the starship that he halted his progress after hearing what sounded like soft whines from a small child and moans of pain from a woman. He stopped in his tracks knowing it was certainly a bad idea to go any further. Given the situation they were no doubt on the defensive and getting any closer would certainly come with the high possibility of having a hole burning in his chest as well. If he wanted to get any closer without dying as a result than Jack’s only option was to make himself as little a threat as possible.

“PLEASE DO NOT SHOOT!” Jack shouted. “I AM NOT A THREAT!” Jack raised his left arm into the air as he knelt down and laid his rifle on the ground. “I AM CURRENTLY UNARMED TO SHOW YOU I MEAN YOU NO HARM!” He waited a moment, hearing no response, before slowly stepping forward. “I JUST WANT TO HELP YOU SO PLEASE ALLOW ME TO ASSIST YOU!”

Jack took each step slowly with both his hands in the air, taking deep breaths to keep his anxiety as low as possible along with the thought of getting at any moment. It didn’t help that he had to walk around the nose of the starship to get to their position which made the trek even more stressful for him. He occasionally glanced at the starship, observing the damage it took on the crash, and was quite impressed at the landing. The pilot had managed to landing a crashing ship in a manner to negate damage to the cockpit though destroyed the front. Such a landing would’ve taken incredible skill and a calm mind. Jack also noticed that the engines appeared to be damaged, not by the fall, but by some kind of explosive impact; no doubt damaged by some unknown enemy of the pilot. Given the situation the starship had taken significantly less damage than it could have, especially if it had been piloted by someone with even the slightest less skill than who had flown it.

Jack slowly turned past the nose tip of the starship and did his best to restrain his composure when he saw who was waiting for him. Pressed tightly against a small tree trying to hide was the little girl cuddling against the chest of a large, female humanoid canine dressed in what he guessed was a black flight suit, which clung tightly to her form especially her well-endowed chest, both starring at him. From the way the child was pressing herself against the woman, and considering how similar they looked, it didn’t take much for Jack to guess they were mother and daughter. Their fur was almost the same color except the woman’s fur was solid black with no brown spots. The morning sun practically shined off her black fur giving her a beautiful glow. Their eyes were the same shade of blue further enforcing Jack’s assumption. However, the woman had more physical features of a sol than the girl with bigger paws and a more defined jaw line. The hair on the woman’s head was strangely dark red and was tied in a ponytail.

Unfortunately, Jack didn’t have much of an opportunity to take in the woman’s features with her pointing a large pistol at him while she bore her teeth in a similar manner he’d seen dogs warned approaching threats. She had her finger on the trigger ready to shot him but didn’t pull it, instead watching him closely. She seemed to be waiting to see what he’d do, if he truly meant what he had said. To make things worse, a quick downward glance brought to Jack’s attention that the woman’s right leg was severely injured. He could see a deep gash on her leg that had been bleeding quite a bit. Though the woman had tried to fix her injury by wrapping it in some kind of cloth it didn’t appear to be doing much to stop the bleeding. He couldn’t tell how severe the injury was from his position but it was clear from her pained facial expression, she probably wasn’t going anywhere without some kind of help.

“Oh boy, why does complicated always follow me.”

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