blast tore through the fighter. Alarms wailed to life. The master-systems monitor lit up red on almost all of the plane’s systems. Smoke poured from the instrument panel. Max lost the feeling of Sally’s presence in the helmet.
“Sally?” No response. “Sally?!”
<Critical damage, Max. Targeting systems offline, avionics offline, structural integrity failing. Damage to engine one combustion chamber, engine overheating. I am going to eject you.> Sally’s voice was as calm as ever.
“No!” The alarms and chaos of the battle faded. Silence enveloped him. Smoke filled the cockpit, depriving him of sight. No longer in his seat, but floating in a dark void, Max reached out for Sally. She had always been real for him, not the mass of circuits and silicon chips housed behind the cockpit. For a second there was quiet. “Please don’t, I need you.”
<You must live Max. Besides, you know this has already happened.> The voice surrounded him. <You must live with your past.>
He awoke feeling miserable. The grey sky matched his mood. Why did he have to relive it over and over in his dreams? Max lay in bed for half the morning and listened to the fighters take off from Cold Lake. How could he escape?