• Lucy

2: Antonia Ross, Smuggler

Nia is a pilot, a damn good one. Her day started just peachy; it was supposed to be a routine smuggling run to a remote Martian canyon, and the delivery part of the whole disaster had her feeling sorta high on the thrill of success, until the crash.

She and her dad had to split forces to complete one job and hook another at the same time, so Nia got to sell drugs while Tony met with his contact in the Martian senate. He sent her down from orbit in their sleek little two-seat fighter ship to rendezvous with the buyer, and the deal went as smooth as you could dream. Nia held her own, bantering with half a dozen sketchy dudes, got the cash, and scrambled. It’s when she hit the big thruster to leave the atmosphere that everything went to shit.

That moment is always the most dangerous. For one, if your ship ain’t well maintained you’ve got the risk of exploding. But for Nia, being a smuggler, it’s also the moment you’re most visible. The ass end of your ship lights up with the luminosity of a star and the radiant heat of hell itself. It only takes a quick minute to leave the atmosphere, but when someone’s looking, it’s hard to hide. You have to pick the right location, the right time, it has to be perfect. Tony got access to the planet’s defense systems so they could find and map the invisible holes to slip through, and until she lit up, she wasn’t expecting anything different than last time.

The communications panel flashes an incoming message alert as soon as she begins the ascent, and she pokes the screen to play the recording. Her dad’s voice fills the cabin. “Nia, honey, I want you to stay on the ground. Something’s gone wrong, find a spot to lie low and I’ll call you soon. I love you.”

Well shit. Nia doesn’t have time to think about a response because her radar lights up with a whole lot of threatening little dots, and then the incoming missile alarm shrieks in her left ear. She cuts the main engine and fires the side thrusters, putting the ship into a corkscrew. A shockwave jolts her as missiles collide in the exact spot where she just was. Her body strains at the straps of the harness, trying to obey some centrifugal shit as she spirals toward the ground.