15 09 2009

“Can’t you turn off the jamming and get Ryan on the comm-link?” Jason started attempting just that when the view screen went blank. He tapped the buttons with increasing frustration. “I’m totally locked out of this panel. Whoever’s doing this does not want me tampering with the computer.”

“We need to get out of here,” Atlanta proclaimed. Jason stood up, more than eager to comply. The sound of whirring motors filled the compartment and instantly blast doors appeared where each of the three bridge entrances had been only a moment before.

Speakers flared to life above their heads and a sinister voice spilled out onto them. “Now, now, captain. Let’s don’t be hasty. I really do think it is a good idea for you to return to your ship, but not yet. I want you to have something to think about while you are orbiting this singularity for the rest of eternity. I want you to know what you have lost.”

“Brandon! What are you talking about?” Jason was incredulous that their suspicions had proved correct.

“Come now, captain.” He uttered the last word with contempt. “We both know you’re smarter than that. You always are. Right now you’re wondering how deep of trouble your foolish blindness has gotten you. Ah yes, blindness. You’re blind to your own blindness.”

“You’re mad!” Jason exclaimed.

The voice continued, ignoring the interruption. “You’ve always been blind to so many things. Take Atlanta for instance. I don’t see how, but she worships the ground you walk on, yet you want to lock her up in the cage of your jealousy. You don’t deserve her! She needs a man that can protect her.” Jason strode over to the door that led to the airlock and began inspecting it and the surrounding panels while Brandon’s voice continued on with its twisted soliloquy.

“I know all about you,” the voice was saying. “Believe me, I can anticipate your moves like a master chess player.” Jason picked up Atlanta’s rifle and handed it to her, then he picked up his own and motioned toward the blast door. “First, you’ll try the rifles against the blast door, but you forget something. Think about it. Why is it that they are called blast doors?”

Jason looked at the blast door again like it was the first time he had seen it. The door was covered with circle patterns of arc burn marks. He blinked a couple times and fired at it, making his own identical mark on the door. With a look of satisfaction, he took aim at the overhead speaker and tossed energy at it with the rifle. “Your rifles will have no effect, let me assure you that . . .” the droning voice was cut short when the speaker exploded in a shower of sparks.

“He’s right, you know,” Jason said. Atlanta looked at him puzzlingly. “About the doors. They were built to be impervious to blasts. There’s the proof,” he said gesturing to the door. “The purpose of the doors is to protect this compartment regardless of what nasty things are happening outside them.” He grabbed her helmet that had been sitting next to his on the deck where they had dropped them when they first found the bridge. He tossed it to her and she caught it. “Put this on,” he said as he donned his own helmet. “Who knows what they built these deck panels out of in the 21st century.” He trained his rifle on one of the deck plates in front of the door and fired a blast at it. A plume of acrid smoke wafted up from the floor. He knelt quickly, using his gloved hands to pull the composite flooring up to expose wires beneath. There were several conduits lying there, but a black and yellow striped conduit was the one that caught his attention.

“How did you know to . . .” Atlanta started.

“I don’t think we were the first ones that he’s pulled this on. Check out all those blast marks on the inside of the door. It just occurred to me that we needed to go about it a different way. This compartment is built to keep its occupants safe from dangers outside, I’m sure the designers must have thought of a provision to manually open the door from the inside.”

“So they planned to have the deck shot to pieces in order to open it?”

“Probably not, but they figured the crew would know where the manual release is. We don’t.” He continued blasting floor panels while he traced out the conduit line from the doors. It led to one of the bulkheads.

Jason raised his rifle to blast the wall when Atlanta yelled stop. “I know you’re having a fabulous time blasting this ship all to pieces, but let me get this one.” She calmly walked up to the wall panel and released it at the quick release latch. The panel popped free, exposing a yellow handled lever. She ceremoniously pulled on it and the doors opened to the sound of whirring motors. “Shall we?”

He took her hand in his and they hurried into the labyrinth of corridors toward the airlock. Both of them heard Brandon’s voice over their comm-links. “I know where you’re headed and let me assure you that even if you get there in one piece, you’re not going to leave in one piece.” The threat coupled with the rush of adrenaline urged them on despite the uncertainty of their path. All of the nondescript passages were the same, but Jason seemed to know where he was going so Atlanta let him lead. They finally turned the corner into the air lock chamber.

Stopping, Jason looked into her eyes. “You should go first. If he does show up, I can hold him off while you escape.”

Atlanta put her hand on his arm. “Jason, that is very chivalrous of you, but I’m certain Brandon killed Manuel and I’ve no doubt that he will kill you too if he does catch up. He’s obsessed with me, though, I can use that against him. I want you to go first.” He was about to insist when she pulled his face close to hers and kissed him. “Do you trust me?”

“Of course I do, my dear.” Jason hesitated for the slightest moment and entered the airlock. The air evacuation pumps seemed to take ages to bring the air pressure to zero, but finally the outer door opened into the cold darkness of space. In the smudged light, he could see the Delphinus drifting in slow counterclockwise circles about forty meters from the Proteus. He pushed himself out, activating the magnets embedded in his gloves to grasp the outer hull of the ship. His still warm rifle floated free, tethered to his back by its strap. The outer door shut and Jason had to consciously tell himself to breathe while he waited.

Atlanta absently tapped her fingers against the bulkhead while the air lock pressurized with air. Brandon’s voice in her comm-link startled her and she instinctively spun toward the end of the passageway, rifle gripped in both hands. “Lanta, listen to me. You know Jason doesn’t love you. He flaunts you around like some trinket he was lucky enough to find in the street.”

“Shut up,” she said evenly.

“At least I’ve got your attention, now. Lanta, you belong to me. You will understand it eventually.” She saw the air lock indicator light up and pulled the lever. Nothing happened. “I am a god,” he was saying. “I’ve discovered immortality.” She pulled on the lever again and again with no result. “I can see the future. How else can you explain my knowing your every move before you do? I can offer all of it to you, too.” She sensed him getting closer to her position. The sound of his voice in the passageway synched with the voice in her comm-link.

Atlanta saw Brandon start to step out from the cross corridor into view. She squeezed the trigger and scorched a bulkhead panel directly behind where his head had been the moment before. He cut out the comm-link and addressed her from his hiding place behind the wall. “I’ve disabled the airlock. You might as well accept your fate.”

“You’re out of your mind if you think you and I have any future together.”

Brandon chuckled, it was a cold, hollow sound. “Who said anything about the future? I’m talking about the past.”

Outside, Jason had realized that something was wrong. First he tried the handle to no avail. Then, after making sure he was anchored ,he began pounding on the outside hatch with the butt of his rifle. He was frustrated with the realization that Atlanta was trapped inside with the madman.

Atlanta could hear the ringing against the outer hull and an idea struck her. She made sure her helmet was on tight and took a couple steps back from the airlock. She brought her rifle to bear on the air lock inner door and fired. The door buckled, but it held. Brandon stuck his head around the corner, eyes wide. “What are you doing?”

She fired again and this time the door gave. She heard a heavy clank and turned to see that the passage behind her had been closed tight with a blast door. She was cut off from Brandon for the moment, but realized she would not be safe until she was on her own ship. She tripped forward and pulled the debris away from the air lock in order and pulled herself inside. Several eternal moments later she chastised herself for not realizing that yes, of course the outer doors would be locked out as well.

The pounding on the outer door had stopped. She keyed her comm-link to Jason’s channel. “Push yourself away from the airlock, Jason,” she said. “Do you copy?”

“I copy,” came his voice from the other end. He mentally plotted his trajectory and pushed off toward the Delphinus, landing like a cat on its hull a moment later.

Atlanta exited the air lock and did her best to brace herself as she brought her rifle to bear on the outer door. She held her breath regardless of her knowledge that the environ-suit would protect her from the vacuum of space.

With one last check that the rifle was at full power, she aimed and pulled the trigger. Energy erupted from the end of her rifle and found the outer hull, creating arc burns across the surface of the hatch. She fired again, hoping that her successful breach of the inner door could be recreated on the outer door. After several more shots, she stopped to peer through the smokey mist of atomized paint and dust that crowded the air lock.

It isn’t working, she thought to herself.

Then the world exploded.






One response

1 10 2009

I don’t know If I said it already but …Great site…keep up the good work. 🙂 I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks, 🙂

A definite great read..Jim Bean

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