Author : Julian Miles, Staff Writer
“The view from here is mighty fine, it sends a shiver up my spine.”
I laugh at Kara’s ditty as it arrives. Nothing but the truth, even out here. My suit keeps me spread-eagled on the side of cannon four as it thunders along with its seven brothers, sending the Espiritu de Sanctii further from the remains of my home.
“How’s things, big guy?”
“Sweet as, babe. Just hanging around waiting for the boys. Good view, rockin’ rhythm, best seat in the house.”
Canopus fades from view in the drive-flare as I finish my sentence. I had been top ganger at Wenceslas Station, the only man for the tricky job of checking the fuel couplings on the Vatican flagship. It had all been going well until a distress call from a convoy activated the ‘expedite rescue’ sequence. Not one of the holy orders had thought to obey the procedures for hard-lock maintenance, so the ship had obeyed the clarion call and lit out to the rescue at emergency speed while the crew got their asses in gear.
Wenceslas Station had taken a level two decompression when the ship tore loose. They were just scrambling to contain that major atmosphere breach when the station took the brunt of a full-bore eight cannon overburn. I watched in numb horror as eight thousand people died in a chain detonation that scattered fiery pearls across Canopian space. The ship did not deviate from its path.
I had just finished checking cannon four when the burn started. The violent lurch activated my failsafe magnetics, which combined with the fact that I was standing at ninety degrees to the thrust vector meant I slammed down onto the hull over drive number four that had been beneath my feet. My safety array became a prison. While we continued to move and the station beacon was not found, the array kept me stuck like a barnacle to a keel. Kara is forward and half a rotation separated from me. She had been in the tube between airlocks when it happened. Her magnetics had plastered her face down mere metres from the ship’s airlock.
“Dave, what are we going to do about this?”
“Tell your suit to seek supplementary power to maintain emergency state. It should probe and find an external maintenance panel to get you juice and goop.”
“Done that. What next?”
“Tell your suit to ready emergency hibernation measures with realspace restart.”
“Because at some point this bastard is going to dive.”
Dive being slang for entering drivespace. Consciousness cannot not tolerate that without experiencing sanity’s equivalent of a blancmange being hit by a sledgehammer. Driveships have suppressor fields to stop crew meltdown. Those fields are for internal passengers only.
“Not a problem. We get to doze for a bit and wake up somewhere new.”
“Promise. Plus we get to be famous.”
“Why would we – ”
Reality tore into spinning curtains of impossible colours and my suit reacted just fast enough. The lights went out.
My mouth tasted like the green greeblie from the back of beyond had done something unspeakable in it. The lights were too bright and I had a pounding headache.
Kara whispered: “Why would we be famous?”
I looked about the medical suite. There were several people in Canopian Ranger uniforms standing around with witness recorders. I grinned at Kara.
“Because no-one has ever survived doing something that insanely stupid.”
She hit me hard and low. Apparently she only kissed me after I had passed out, the rotten cow.
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