Newly built stations burn in the skies overlooked by the Witch’s Head.
They will declare it a worthy price of expansion. And we will fly to the rescue.
There is a new calm in me, navigating these fires. After being eye to eye with them once more, after the hyperdictions. After the thunder of my heartbeats was answered by the eerie sounds of the scan. The red behind the mail slot is no longer the biggest monster around. But it kills nonetheless. And the Probable Rescue
does what I outfitted her to do, carries the victims without fail, her movements still too sluggish for my liking, but that’s a Python for you.
Keeping my times of the flight deck short, I stay away from the bravado talk of the young crew, the laughing that they wish would turn them into cool cats – and that does not impress the old dogs at all.
Still, having another awful coffee, I see one of them lose it. A young NCO, by the looks of him working hard, holding on too tight, just like I did. Hear him screaming about the other ones until someone leads him off. I pick up the display he kept staring at and get it.
The other ones. The ones in the other half of the station.
The station is an Ocellus. It can jump. It has a drive. It has engineering. In the other half of the station.
Foolish to assume that everyone made it to the docks.
I finish the coffee, staring at the display.
Minutes later, I stare at the station, for once taking in more that the red glow of mail slot. The ring is broken. The mid-section burns. At the end, the other sphere with the drive.
Blue light claws at the ship, as we get close. The audio system crackles. The computer issues a warning. Then it dies. The holographic displays flicker, become unstable, dance in front of my eyes or wink out completely. Getting the Probable Rescue
close is a worry. The reason for it spells disaster.
An open wall. Blue light. An open core. Cherenkov Radiation. They breached the core.
Knowing what it means, what now already happens in my body, I swing by, close the distance.
How could I not. I can see them. They see me.
Never, ever, give hope – and fail.
Figures in space suits jump, some just drift, magnetic pistons hit the hull, while I race to deploy a rescue chute. Fully suited up I open the airlocks, secure myself, grab the first hand that stretches out for mine.
I see blistered flesh behind the visor. Burned out eyes later.
So I just work. In the blue Cherenkov light.
Someone screams at me. Get us out. Just get us out.
The dizziness on the way back tells a story about the damage done.
To them. To me.
I remember the alarms starting to wail as the metallic clamps of the rescue vessel secure the Python.
Foam hits the ship and it gets dark.
Waking up in hospital, I get the rest of the story. The damage reports.
Get the plain fact: You cannot do that. Not even once.
Foolish ever to assume that we could save them all.
Flying rescue from Landing Pad 07. Or any other place like it.
[which – probably – concludes the mini-series ‘Landing Pad 07’]
[it started 5 episodes ago here