Author : Algor X. Dennison

“Are you out of your mind?” Captain Lurren screamed at me. She clung to a broken strut over the glowing red chasm where solid deckplate had been a few minutes earlier. I wanted to tell her that she looked like the crazed one in that position, and that she was lovely anyway, but I couldn’t speak like that to my captain.

“Live for both of us!” I yelled. Turning, I ran down the tunnel to the cargo bay where we were being boarded. Another blast to our dying ship’s underbelly could suck us out into cold, dark space. Without a shieldbelt’s bubble field to push away the -450 degree vacuum, we’d be finished. I couldn’t let that happen to my captain. I had been hers to command since graduation, and I loved her despite repeated attempts to have me discharged. For her I would die, and relish it.

Shocktroops poured into the cargo bay. Before I could open fire, a burst from an enemy laser rifle cut down a pipe which fell and hit me. A novel tactic, but they shouldn’t have given that idea to a grenade man. I emptied my explosive rounds at the ceiling on the other end of the bay. Debris rained down and a pressurized tank above blew out with a colossal boom. Taking heart, I charged the alarmed shocktroops with a battlecry.

A distant roar drowned my hearing, and vapor streamed toward a dark gash that had appeared in the ceiling. The bay lit up in the wash of fire from another explosion. I stumbled, whispering my captain’s name one last time as I fell. My head and lungs were bursting.

As if summoned by my dying wish, Captain Lurren appeared next to me with a shield-belt in hand. She activated the protective bubble around us just in time. I could breathe again.

“Don’t suck up all the air!” Captain Lurren shouted, but to me her voice was honey. We floated a meter off the deck as gravity failed, watching the shocktroop assault craft pull away.

“They’re leaving!” I exulted.

“You breached the hull, you imbecile!” Lurren growled. “Of course they’re leaving. My ship is tearing apart!”

My head cleared even more under Captain Lurren’s freezing glare. “You came back for me,” I said, tears glistening in my eyes.

“Yes. The crew had taken every last shuttle,” she grumbled. “They left one shieldbelt.”

We watched in silence as the ship broke in half around us. Twisted pieces of hull twirled away and we were left in the dark of space. “We could not save our ship’s body,” I eulogized briefly, “but we saved its honor. When they pick us up, we’ll be heroes.”

“We have about two minutes of oxygen in this bubble,” Captain Lurren said flatly. “All they’ll find is two bodies.”

“That does sound romantic,” I agreed, “but don’t lose heart.” I detached a cylinder from my belt and held it up, smiling. “Oxygen refiltrator. We’ll share each breath, clinging together in a tight embrace as we make our way across the starscape. Two officers of the Fleet, loyal to the last.”

“If we survive,” Lurren grated, “You won’t be an officer any longer. Not on my ship!”

I could have pointed out that her ship could hold no more officers at all, but I decided to savor the moment with her instead.

“It’s a beautiful view, isn’t it, Captain? Look, there’s Cassiopeia, just past that burning section of the hull.”


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