Content Warning: fear, and bodily injuries.
Leo was panting and wincing, and completely grateful to see Captain had arrived. She was bleeding from a cut in her forehead and one of her arms was hanging loosely in a bad way.
“Mollin has a live link into Shiner’s systems through a handheld and his corrupted smart,” Leo explained. “Are you all right?”
“I was on a maintenance ladder for the initial impact. Do you have control of any of Shiner’s systems?” she asked, glancing toward Mollin and then scanning the room. Her boots crunched over the broken glass which had been the antique handheld’s screen as she limped past panels for NavCom and knelt to press her fingers against Lastin’s throat.
“I’ve cut into Shiner more than I ever did or could here,” Mollin confirmed, cocking half a smile at her.
“They’re still close to us?” she asked Leo. Another bumping jerk shook Dockland.
“Yes, Captain,” he said with a nod, not looking away from the hull integrity screen. “Is Lastin…?”
“He’s alive for now. Mollin, deploy their dock locks and then format Shiner’s entire control system set,” Captain ordered. Mollin blinked at her, frozen. “Relay yell. Captain’s order: all crew evacuate to lifeboats,” she ordered over her shoulder to the first person in the hallway. “You two, ensure Lastin is taken directly to Lifeboat Medic,” she added, aiming the order at the two nearest crew members.
“Captain, I –”
“Mollin, Shiner has lifeboats,” she interrupted his protest. “Deploy dock locks and set every system on Shiner into a complete format.” Captain stood and limped to the L.R.P.W. panels, dropping into the seat Leo had tried to make Lastin strap into.
Mollin sat in the seat beside Captain and hunched over the handheld. Leo buckled the straps to hold Mollin in the seat, freeing the other Analyst to continue corrupting Shiner as he'd been ordered to. Captain started programming commands Leo hadn’t seen before into the L.R.P.W. panel.
“How did you keep the control room live?” she asked as she punched in commands.
“The power interruption pressure panel on the wall by NavCom. Mollin found out about it in the handheld,” Leo answered as he turned to Captain. “It triggered the switch for the shielding on the battery system and control room’s power source.”
“Too bad it didn’t shield Dockland’s main power,” Mollin muttered.
“No way of keeping that size of illegal shielding out of inspections,” Captain answered.
“Relay yell to Captain! P.W. door overrides manually engaged! Doors locked open!” was a distant call in the hallway.
“Acknowledge that, Leo,” she said. He yelled confirmation for her into the blackened hall. Everyone who’d gathered there was gone now. The evacuation order had sent them – and the light from their smarts – away to the lifeboats.
“Shiner’s dock locks deploying,” Mollin stated.
Leo buckled Captain into the seat and then grabbed onto whatever was solid and close. Shiner attempted to retreat out of range of their magnetic locking system, but they were too close and the attraction overcame the engine thrust. The impact of the locks slamming Dockland’s hull knocked Leo down to his knees, but his grip on two handles on the integrity panel (which, now that everything was shaking around again, he realized were there for this exact reason) stopped him from getting tossed to the floor.
Everything was shaking from Shiner locking onto Dockland... “Mollin? Can Shiner pull us back into safe orbit?” Leo asked quickly.
Mollin didn’t reply as he swiped to another screen. Metal groaned and Dockland vibrated. Mollin growled wordlessly and shook his head to the negative. The metallic groans and vibrations stopped with a touch of his fingers to the handheld display. “Dockland is too massive for their engines. We’ll rip both ships apart,” he said through clenched teeth and swiped back to the screen he’d been in before. “But our crash trajectory will miss the assembly yards now. And all Shiner’s emergency control systems are now locked,” Mollin updated.
“Why lock the emergency control systems?” Captain demanded. The extra step between dock locking and system formatting seeming like a waste of time they didn’t have.
“So they can’t use their manual emergency release to drop the dock locks before the format finishes,” Mollin replied.
“Good thinking,” Leo said when Captain didn’t.
“And… Shiner’s lifeboats are now isolated from the format,” Mollin added.
“You’re kinder than I am,” Captain muttered.
“I’m not a murderer,” Mollin admonished her.
The hard lines of Captain’s face softened into a smile she gave to only him. “That makes you a better person than I’ll ever be,” she praised him quietly. “Everyone who is still here is in violation of Captain’s orders! Get to the lifeboats! Both of you!” she barked. “Start another relay yell for a full evacuation on your way, make sure you yell up and down ladders and into open maintenance hatches,” she added.
“Full evacuation means you, too,” Lissa’s voice yelled from somewhere in the dark hallway. “Leo! You still in there?”
“Yes, InterStel Officer!” Leo called back.
“Is Captain injured?” Lissa was closer now.
“Yes, InterStel Officer,” Leo answered, yelling quickly before she could order him not to reply.
“No wonder she’s taking too long,” Lissa admonished. A moving light in the dark hallway announced Lissa’s arrival. He glanced around the dimly lit control room, his eyes following the spot of light created by the pocket torch he always carried, and frowned at Captain’s one-handed attempts to finish the commands she’d started. “You two, stop standing there being loyal, mutiny up, and drag her to your assigned lifeboat. Now,” Lissa ordered.
“I’m not finished,” Captain snapped back. Leo and Mollin backed up a step from where they’d been standing as Lissa closed the distance to get in beside Captain.
“And you won’t be if you keep trying to do it with only one hand.”
“You’re out of line, InterStel Officer,” she threatened.
“And you’re out of time,” Lissa replied in exactly the same tone Captain had just used. He reached over her and released the buckles holding her into the seat, and then wedged his pocket torch between two knobs on the next console over so it was shining at the controls where Captain was working. He stepped close beside her and leaned over to elbow her good arm off the controls so he could start entering commands.
“You’re in insubordination of a direct order to evacuate, InterStel Officer,” Captain snapped as she attempted to push aside Lissa’s hands.
“Yes I am,” he replied, unmoving from the console he’d usurped from Captain. “But you’re too injured to perform your duties and I’m the next ranking bridge officer, so get out of that seat. And I already told you two to mutiny up and get her to your assigned lifeboat,” Lissa ordered, not even glancing back.
Captain’s frown cracked into a small smile aimed at Lissa, then she nodded to the two waiting Analysts. Leo and Mollin quickly helped Captain stand and followed her to the door. They passed the frame of the old handheld, dangling from its chain, the jagged edges where the glass screen had been looking like a maw of broken teeth gaping down at the shards on the floor.
When Leo looked back from the hall, Lissa had plunked into the seat Captain had vacated and was manoeuvring the L.R.P.W. controls even faster than Captain when she’d been performing demonstrations while training crew members. Leo decided to leave his smart snapped to the wall. It wasn’t a bright glow, but it was extra light added to Lissa’s small torch and the dim panels. Leo wasn’t sure if the smart’s glow would help Lissa with whatever he was doing, but he figured any extra light in the dark was a good thing.
A weekly blog updating on Fridays with quick personal blurbs about me, as in what's going on during my life as an Author and mom, and that doles out my short stories and novellas in bite-sized parts for everyone to read for free!