A little green light flashed and Mawkwashi smashed it with practiced ease in order to make it stop. "Coming up on it now, it'll be on the port side. That's left to you non-pilot types by the way. How're the life signs?"
Ikwana was watching a view screen in the back, seemingly immersed in that while Sedri was busy prepping to open the pressure seal - there was no time for airlocks on this craft and they were all wearing space suits anyway. "Faint."
"You're sure faint and not dead? Because the last one was definitely dead." Sedri commented while tugging on the tether she'd just connected to Ikwana's spacesuit.
He tried to turn away from the monitor to look at her but it was an awkward manoeuver in the suit while sitting, and she had already turned to make sure the equipment was firmly secured for decompression. "Hey that one was alive... it's not my fault their starship weaponry is effective at killing. It's like it was designed for it or something."
"I'm just saying, it was a long way to go dodging nuclear things and plasma whatevers for a corpse." Sedri commented over her shoulder as she tucked in any loose contents in the storage shelves, and ensured the shelf safety doors were secure.
"Hey it's not the plasma blast you have to worry about. One of those hits you you're done. And it's not my fault if radiation kills people slow-like while we try and get to them. Blame the people shooting the damn things. Besides, we really don't need to worry about stray fire. Space is a big place, we're squawking a pretty hard to miss ident on every frequency they use, and the odds of them 'accidentally' hitting us are like one in a million."
"You know I'm a little busy up here, what with dodging Plasma Whatnots and Nuclear Whatevers, but it occurs to me if there's about 160 million people in this system, then that means 160 of us have a very good chance of getting reduced to cosmic space dust. Not that I care that much." There was a brief pause. "We're there by the by, the wreck should be right outside, about 10 meters to you metric types."
"No one cares about your crazy alien space units of measurement. Ikwana, ready?" Sedri asked heading towards the pressure seal while Ikwana braced himself and gave a nod. Sedri depressurized the cabin and slid open the sealed door. What awaited them outside looked more like a molten hunk of twisted metal than anything that might have once been an operation starship. "Run me another line." She requested as she rummaged around for the tool kit they were going to need to cut their way inside. Ikwana busied himself retrieving another line to run the equipment across with.
"I don't suppose you can confirm whether whoever, or whatever, is inside is pressurized or wearing an intact suit for us. I'd just rather not kill it with decompression when I crack my way in. That would really ruin my day." Ikwana asked retrieving the line. "We're also going to need you to cut the gravity."
"Nothing recognizeable. Which is to say the computer can't really tell. I can upload the computer's best guess as to what their atmospheric requirements are like based on the scans. Would you say that meets your minimum expectations? Oh yes, and gravity's been cut."
"Yeah we sort of noticed." Sedri said raising an arm to avoid her head floating into the side of the door while her other secured herself to a conveniently placed handhold. Ikwana was busy floating the line to her which she quickly also tethered to her suit. "Upload it to our headsets. And Ikwana, be a dear and send this tool kit over to me once I'm there, I don't need it messing up my center of gravity while I try getting over there. Oh and find me an Atmo-bubble and send that to me too."
"That all princess?"
"Yes. Quite." Though her tone softened a little as she took another handhold and prepared to launch herself out of the ship. "Here I go. Wish me luck."
"Fuck you." Ikwana and Mawkwashi replied in unison, which was less an insult and more of an endearing ritual they performed every time one of them left the cozy confines of their little space ambulence.
It was about a 10m gap to cover, around 30 ft to traverse weightless, propelled only by two arms that had to give just the right amount of force, in just the right way to have a chance of latching on to the hulk on the other end. Too much force and she'd bounce right off, too little - she'd have to be patient - and if she failed to apply strength equally on both arms and you miss the target entirely. Sure there was a tether - she could try again - but someone was dying, and Mawkwashi and Ikwana would be incapacitated with laughter. With the help of a some special grips on the hands of her suit she landed it first try, and quickly went about finding a place to secure the second line. Sure they could have had spacesuits with fancy things like manoeuvering thrusters, but those were clearly an unnecessary expense.
"Gracefully done. Just beware of plasma cannon related injuries while out there. I hear there's still a chance of that today." Mawkwashi commented.
"An insignificantly small chance quit trying to scare us into going home." Ikwana said attaching the cutting tool kit and atmospheric bubble to the line and floating it across to Sedri.
"Who's scared? I'm just frantically clinging to an irradiated, smoldering heap of a spacecraft in the middle of an intergalactic shitstorm waiting for Mr. Right to happen along. It's what I always dreamed of doing as a girl." And indeed, she did look to be clinging to that heap of metal like her life depended on it, but mostly because she didn't want to float off the wreck and look like an idiot having to do it all over again; because spacesuits with thrusters were an unnecessary expense.
"I live with my parents. I get to fly around, meet interesting corpses, and it pays my online gaming habit, so I'm pretty happy." Ikwana replied, watching from the exposed door as Sedri caught the first package, and then the second.
"I was kidnapped by slavers as a podling then sold as surplus labor then nerve stapled so I would contentedly work long hours, performing hazardous jobs like this one for minimum wage." Mawkwashi said in a matter-of-fact tone that left a full three second silence of air time.
"Seriously? You make minimum wage? I did not know that. That is downright criminal." Ikwana said.
"I'm setting up the cutting braces. I'll setup the bubble after I'm done." Sedri announced ignoring the turn the conversation had taken, at least for the moment.
"It is, in fact true Ikwana." Mawkwashi confirmed.
Sedri continued, straining a little under trying to fit a particularly uncooperative brace into the right slot. "But that is a bit of an eye opener. You always had that too-contented-with-his-job feel about you. Always sort of put me off."
"So, how's the nerve-staple thing going for you?" Ikwana asked.
"Well, we are about a million miles from nowhere, surrounded by a war raging essentially around us, and there's not really much hope for that changing for me in the future. I know it's probably the nerve staple in my brain talking, but I'm pretty okay with the whole state of affairs. I mean, look at me, I'm piloting an unarmed spaceship through a hurricane of hellfire and destruction. How cool is that, am I right?"
"Spot on." Sedri replied. "You know, we're trained medical personnel. We might just be able to pull that thing right out of there."
"I think it releases cyanide into my brain if tampered with. Plus I'd have to face the horror of my life situation then. I'll pass."
"Fair enough. Don't say I never offered." Sedri finished fitting the last bracer that would hold the cutting torch in place while she began cutting the ship apart like a tin can. "I'm just about done setting up, how are the vitals doing? They better not die before I'm ready or I swear I'll..." Sedri broke off and had only just had enough time to register the beginnings of a white flash of light before her helmet visor went completely black to protect her eyes from light that would have probably burned them out of her skull. Whatever the light was, she could feel it hot and tingling even through a suit designed to withstand deep space radiation, extremes of hot and cold and everything in between; she wasn't supposed to feel anything warm, tingly or otherwise through that suit. When the visor finally cleared, she was breathing heavily, and there was only static on the line. Her helmet display was dead, the com was dead, and the ship, Ikwana and Mawkwashi were nowhere to be seen. For a moment she could think of nothing, and a moment after that she then only that what had just happened could not have possibly just happened.
But it had. And all her medical supplies had still been in the ship. There was just her, some cutting tools, and a stupid bubble out her waiting to die from some poor creature that probably didn't even know she was there. Gripping the floating hulk with one hand she looked off into the stars, and watching the arcing flights of warships, and missiles working their way across the night sky. Sighing a little she looked at the radiation gauge on her suit, which had burnt out in the flash: that was never a good sign.
"Hey." She knocked against the hull of the wrecked alien vessel. "Whoever or whatever you are in there, I'm coming in. And you better have a working com system, or anti-rad meds, or something I can actually use otherwise I am going to be one pissed off visitor from another world."
Thursday, January 6, 2011
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