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“C.H.I Caleuche”. Ricardo Miranda Tapia

― We have to handle the slow running jet!
Nobody in the whole misfortunate and ramshackle history of the C.H.I. Caleuche, had never had a single clue about what this indecipherable expression could mean. The only thing clear was that the subaltern pilot Bráyatan spat it out every now and then, when some unavoidable technical failure threatened to atomize them or turn them into pork rind, which used to happen most of the time. And the troubled planetary descending of the Chihuinto 4, in which they had launched themselves, along with the mechanic official Marikunga and Tartán (the only alias by which the engineer chief was known), could be classified undoubtedly as one of those moments. Mostly by the alarming overheating that made the small ship crunching and quivering, as they entered into the planet atmosphere in a rescue mission that seemed more like a suicide mission.
― I told you, this piece of shit is useless! –yelled Tartán, terrified, trying to pass his voice over the roar of the hecatomb, facing a control panel beaming blinkers and chaotic, alert signs, on which he tried to maneuver vainly.
― The slow running jet, the slow running jet! –reprised subaltern Bráyatan, grabbed hysterically to his chair and the stabilizer lever, that shook in a ridiculously unstable way.
― Cut your crap, Bráyatan! –howled officer Marikunga out of her mind, while remained pressing buttons and trigging levers–. If we don’t stabilize this shit we’re gonna wrack into the fuck!
― Oh, noooo, Marikunguitaaa…! –whimpered Bráyatan.
― Stop weeping, you fagot, and unlock the lever! –bawled Marikunga.
The subaltern pilot grabbed with both hands the lever, that jumped rearing up, and pulled with all his energy towards himself, squeezing his eyes and teeth so hard that he reddened from the neck root until the scalp. Suddenly, an abrupt and deafening burst of hot air echoed over the rattling of iron and screws.
― What the fuck was that! –shouted Tartán, smelling what was about to come.
― I’m just shitting on meeeee…! –grunted subaltern Bráyatan, convolving under the monumental effort of putting the level in movement.
― Shit, piss, do what you want on yourself, but move that damn lever! –commanded officer Marikunga, putting up with the awful smell and the urge to vomit.
With a sudden metallic click, the stabilizer level relented, just in the moment when the ship was entering in an initial phase of disintegration. With a skillful and quick maneuver on the controls, Tartán and Marikunga managed to relocate the horizon line, and give impulse to the engines in order to pass through the planet atmosphere in a blink. The ship kept in shaking, but at least the alert sounds and the metallic friction had been reduced to the minimal range.
The three crew members relaxed on their seats, with a deep breath of relief, which immediately turned into an attack of retching.
― God, you fart like fucking hell, moron –coughed Tartán, switching on the air intake so that the disgusting odor could be fanned out of the ship.
― And I think it was a poopfart, Tartán, sir –followed Bráyatan–, because I feel my…
― Oh, shut up, you idiot! –cut officer Marikunga, sickened–. We better focus on keep this crap flying.
― I hope we find them soon –warned Bráyatan, checking out the sensors–, ‘cause this shit is fucking overheated.
― It started to overheat right after the ignition –said Tartán–. It was a miracle that it worked. I don´t know how in the hell we listen to you for boarding this shit…
― Boss Chupilka said this prototype was ready –answered back Bráyatan–. And it worked well in the test flight…
― Just like the other three prototypes –replied Tartán, agitated–, and they crumbled down at the second flight test that, by the way, has been always performed inside the ship, never in real outer space… We can’t even get in contact with the Caleuche!
― Ok, enough –cut Marikunga–. We didn’t have another choice; the garbage collecting vessels don’t have exploration ships, and the Captain, Libiak, Mata and Chupilka have been more than two days out of reach, so let’s get ready and make this shit work…
― Listen –stammered Bráyatan, hesitant–, what if they are…?
― Stop that crap –said Tartán, turning to his panel–. The signal we tracked two hours ago came from the planet, so let’s move this shit until we get again…
― There it’s again! –shouted officer Marikunga, pointing at her panel.
― Don’t lose it, officer –exclaimed Tartán–, and sing that coordinates…
The Chihuinto 4 had descended enough to have a sharp view of everything what moved down there, as long as it had over a meter of height, of course; so its crew had no issues to discriminate the dense cloud of dust raising and spreading exponentially, as they approached to the source of the signal, more and more clear and strong.
― There, boss! –shouted Bráyatan, pointing through the window panel the blurred contours of buildings and arteries of some city, that started to outlined under the think cloak of sand in suspension.
― What the fuck is that shit! –exclaimed officer Marikunga at the sighting of the first giant Guarch.
The beast moved among the buildings, as a gigantic skinned rat, wriggling fiercely against minute bursts of light shattering on their wrinkled fur semi-hairless.
― Closer, pilot! –commanded Tartán.
― More? –hesitated subaltern Bráyatan, looking at him, scared.
― I told you closer! –repeated Tartán.
They descended until overflying the buildings, perceiving the dangerous birdcall in the metallic structure of the Chihuinto 4. Then was when they saw it clearly: an awful wave of destruction spread by the creature, and tiny human forms running back and forth among laser blasts fired without rhythm nor reason.
― I can see them over there! –shouted Bráyatan, pointing upon the crowd, where four figures stood out by the familiar uniform of the C.H.I. Caleuche.
The command of descending more not even reached the mouth of Tartán, when the sudden apparition of three huge raging bulks made him exclaim:
― Motherfuck…, subaltern Bráyatan!
Having been a faithful and regular volunteer in hundreds of flight simulations for every prototype of the Chihuinto, was the only thing that could explain the skillful maneuver performed by Bráyatan in order to avoid the frenzied creatures. With an impressive handling of the primitive stabilizer lever, he managed to revolve the ship, that squeaked awfully as Tartán and Marikunga squeezed tight their eyes and teeth, clinging to their control panels; and with a second movement he managed to take position just over the crowd, where the Captain, deputy officer Libiak, internist Mata and engineer Chupilka looked up, recognizing them.
In the paroxysm of the excitement, Tartán commanded:
― Fire at will against the beasts, officer Marikunga!
The officer stared at him with an indescribable incredulity before such kind of absurdity:
― And how in the fucking hell am I gonna do that? -exclaimed–. If we’re lucky that this piece of shit have a handle lever…
― Shit –muttered Tartán, losing heart.
― I get the solution –jumped Bráyatan, leaving his seat quickly and running to the back of the ship.
― Whatever you get, better hurry up! –shouted Marikunga, looking on her control panel, nervously–. The thrusters of this shit are mashing themselves in this position…
A minute later, they heard the opening of the side hatch, followed by a violent gale filtering into the cabin, and a thunderous noise of metallic recipients falling down. When they looked through the window panel, they saw empty containers of quantum waste rolling down from the ship, and bouncing gracefully on the fevered beasts.
― Are you fucking kidding me? –jabbered Tartán, unable to believe his eyes.
It was the only thing he managed to say before the debacle that followed after.

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