Tuesday, 20 March 2012
"Why is nobody moving on?"
"Because the hatches are jammed." Snapped Cavendish. "If they could get through, they wouldn't be hanging about. The reactor won't last much longer." She turned and stomped away. Something was bothering her, but it would have to wait. We were trapped in this compartment and it looked like we didn't have anything to get us out. I wasn't prepared to give up yet.
Think, damn you. Cursing myself wouldn't help.
"Why won't the hatches open?"
"The power supply was cut." Answered Nonaka. The power supply ran through the middle of the the bulkhead. We must have been close to the missile's impact point. There was no way to reconnect severed power lines and cutting our way though would take hours. Many compartments had manual hatches in case of situations just like this but, if there was one, then we'd be using it so i didn't bother to ask.
"Tape power cells to the hinges and blow it open."
There was a pause as she thought about where to get power cells. I could see two laser rifles, but the capacitor charges wouldn't be high enough and they'd discarded their heavy weapons along the way. We came up with a solution at the same time, but she was quicker to give orders.
"Bad Girls, form up on me. Commander, get the crew down to the far end."
Nonaka herded the surviving crew back towards the entry hatches as Cavendish collected secondary cells from the Bad Girls' Ultima armour and, with some, fortuitously discovered sealing tape, fastened them around the hatch hinges. As she stepped away a blast of white light seared my eyes. in the vacuum there was no noise but, after a few seconds i could make out words from the confused babble coming over the comms. My eyes should have been recovering but i still couln't see and i realised that the compartment lights were out. This was confirmed as the beams from some of the Bad Girls' suits sent white beams across the darkness.
More shouting. "On your feet. Move out. Move now!" The voice was Gregory's rather than Cavendish's. Then i remembered seeing Cavendish at the centre out the explosion. As i looked for her i could see that the jammed hatches had been blown clear and had left bloody swathes across the deck as they carved through unfortunate crewmen. I could hear Nonaka doing a head count but was filled with dismay as he stopped at nine. Nine survivors. A moment later i felt a hand on my collar and then was sliding across the floor before being lifted throuh the hatch openings. The compartment on the other side was just as devastated and there were more bodies scattered about. A second missile had followed the first and had freed us, although the cost had been high.
"Gregory." i shouted.
"What happened to Cavendish?"
"She's fine. Just a bit dazed. Hall is making sure she gets out."
We were in the corridor that led to the shuttles. Several had already launched, but one was still in its cradle, powered up and ready. A handful of crew were already strapped in and we filled some more of the seats, but there were still spaces available. I could see Cavendish now, standing in the entry hatch, arguing with the pilot. She pointed a threatening finger then turned away and looked out into the dock.
"We have to go." muttered Nansen. "The reactor isn't going to last much longer."
It was quiet for another minute, then Hall called Livingston's name.
"You have to tell her."
"She won't go without Ross." Ross, Cavendish's second in command and best friend.
Cavendish turned. "We are not leaving without her!"
"She is not. I'm still picking up her signal."
"What channel?" i asked.
"Nine." The security channel which the marines used routinely.
I reset the comms to channel nine.
"York to Ross." Nothing. "Ross, respond."
"Captain." Ross' voice was faint. She was using her suit comms rather than the ship's systems and was obviously on the other side of multiple bulkheads. "Have you made it to the shuttles?"
"Yes. You need to get here quickly."
"We're not going to make it. You need to launch."
"No!" shouted Cavendish.
"There's no way through. The reactor is going to blow. You have to go. York, launch the shuttle. Blessings of the Emperor to you all. Goodbye Cavendish. Ross out."
Cavendish stepped back from the hatch and slapped the control to seal the boat.
"Launch the shuttle." She said, quietly.