Thanks to the inertial dampeners and the other safety gear built into his fighter, it was an extremely hard, but controlled, landing. Not a crash. A crash would have obliterated the impossibly anachronistic village primary school less than one hundred feet to his left and most of the rest of the village as well. The place looked terribly familiar.
He released his safety harness and forced his aching body to climb out of the cockpit so he could set up the security/safety perimeter with the little slaved modules in his emergency kit. Fighter control knew where he’d gone down and they’d send someone to collect him and the fighter when they had a chance. He estimated that he’d be here for at least another hour. Both sides of his ribs ached enough that he was looking forward to visiting sick bay when he got back to base.
With nothing to do but wait, he seated himself on the join between the wing and the fuselage, and made himself comfortable against the side of the cockpit. Not too comfortable; his sidearm rested on his lap with his dominant hand on top of it. Unfortunately, when he’d had a chance to look around he’d confirmed that he knew exactly where he was.
Being in the middle of a village, the recovery team weren’t the first people to show up. That was the school kids. “Hey Mista, were you in the Battle for La Grange or at Lunar Perihelion?”
“Yes.” Standing carefully outside the perimeter, the kids weren’t a problem.
“Oooh!” “Wow!” “Cool.”
A car roared into the school grounds and slammed to a stop in a dramatic spray of dust and dirt not twenty feet from his perimeter and the crowd of kids and teachers.
The driver got out of the car and the pilot sighed, safe in the knowledge that his flight helmet obscured his own identity. The driver and his passengers were exactly who he expected them to be.
The driver exuded confidence as he strode towards the downed craft. He was a veteran himself and his years of service showed in his bearing. The pilot knew of the man’s achievements and of the demands he had made on others to live up to the standards that he felt had enabled those achievements. “See kids,” the man was addressing his two late-teen companions but speaking loudly enough for everyone to hear, “this is what the right stuff looks like. Pity your brother isn’t more like this guy.”
There were times he hated the man.
The driver looked like he was going to ignore the perimeter marked by the slave modules. The pilot spoke up. “Sir! Please don’t breach the security perimeter or you will get hurt.”
“These little modules?” The man smiled. “They don’t sting much.”
The pilot closed his hand around the butt of his sidearm and flicked off the safety. “Modular discharge would mark the point where I’d have to shoot you.”
“I know who you are…sir and I have my rules of engagement.” He rested his sidearm on his knee and the teachers hurried the children out of the way. “Don’t hand me a reason to kill you.”
The older woman who’d gotten out of the car asked quietly, “Borron?”