Silver Wordsmith: An author's journey
“Hmm,” Boro heard Meeron say and turned his head to find the provincial colonial staring intently at his manifest and then looking at the readout on the display of the latest crate to be delivered from Yshot Station by Tuka and Ryo.
“What is it, Meeron?”
“Probably just sloppy record keeping. No surprise really, if Intelligence was involved.” Meeron lifted his head and looked towards the two Intelligence officers with a slight eye roll. Boro followed Meeron’s gaze and found that for the first time, the two Humans were not looking ahead, but the one with the black eyes and long face was giving the one with the mismatched green eyes a hard inquiring look. Boro’s stomach twisted, and as he approached Meeron, he kept one eye in their direction.
“What’s the issue?” Boro asked, picking up the tablet from Meeron.
“Weights don’t match on these. Here.” Meeron pointed to the displays.
“Looks like at least we got more instead of getting shortchanged.”
“Yeah, boss, but we should probably open it up anyway.”
This was already taking longer than it needed to, but something that Boro would later attribute to his keen Commander senses told him that Meeron was right.
“Tuka, Ryo, do you mind holding off on the next crate while Meeron and I check this out?”
The two maintenance crew workers were already inside the station releasing the maglev clamps on a crate to move it onto the gurney. This order, too, Boro eventually ascribed to a ‘Stevin-ian’ intuition that flowed through his blood.
“Commander Stevin,” said the Intelligence Officer with the ever-present pout, “Is this really necessary? We’re behind schedule as it is.”
“Your schedule is not my concern, Officer. This is coming aboard my ship, so we’re going to do it my way.” Boro bent forward to help Meeron open the crate and caught movement from the corner of his eye. The next sequence of events happened so quickly that Boro would only be able to piece it together from security footage.
As the lid of the crate Meeron and Boro were inspecting hissed open, the Intelligence officer with the black hair and eyes broke the stare she’d previously fixed on her partner and vaulted over the side of the crate Tuka and Ryo were handling in order to get to its control panel. The Parsk Nahur, as ordered and without hesitation, fired twice at the Human. The first shot missed the mark, while the second one hit her in the chest right below the shoulder, though not before she managed to reach the crate’s controls.
Her partner though, the man with the green mismatched eyes and who had been closer to the crate, in an apparent attempt to finish the job, arrived at the panel and slammed his open palm against the crate’s controls, a mere moment before the Parsk Nahur got another shot off and hit him in the arm. The crate was sent hurtling backwards into the depths of Yshot Station’s cargo hold, pushing Tuka long with it. When it hit a stack of crates nearer to the back wall, it detonated. Boro had the presence of mind to order “Get back!” the moment the crate started moving, which gave Ryo and the Parsk Nahur just enough time to return inside the Forseti before the shockwave hit them and sent them flying forward.
The force of the explosion compromised the seal between ship and station. The loss of pressure jerked Boro forward as he tried to help the fallen Ryo, but the emergency seal kicked in before he was sucked into the hole that had formed between the Forseti and Yshot Station. The Forseti’s loading door was having a rough time closing. Another explosion slammed against this side of the ship and shook the cargo hold, this blast likely coming from Yshot Station itself due to the damage it sustained from the exploding crate.
Boro lifted himself from the floor, his head ringing and his vision blurry. Somewhere to his right the Parsk Nahur had gotten up and was pointing the neural devastator at something Boro was unable to make out. He reached Ryo who was lying sprawled on the floor, his arm bent under him at an awkward angle, and found that that the maintenance worker was still breathing. The Forseti, he could feel, continued to list without power and another shudder went through it.
Boro reached for his tablet and found it lacking, so he used a communication panel on the wall to call in an update.
“We’ve got casualties down here, send any assistance you can.”
“Got it,” came the curt and strained reply from Surch.
The pilot would later report to Boro what happened on the bridge when the initial explosion shook the ship. “Detonation out of Yshot’s hold,” Maggie announced, her voice to Surch sounding almost amused, like she was glad it had broken her out of her boredom. “Contained in our cargo hold, retained with emergency membrane, no other hull breaches, but Yshot’s coming part.” All of this was reported almost before Surch was back in the pilot’s chair, just as the Techevers were designed for.
As the engines came online, Surch struggled to pull the Forseti away from the station before another explosion from within Yshot rocked the ship. “Minor engine damage and a near breach of the emergency membrane,” Maggie reported, trying to slow her speech down so that the bridge crew could keep up. “You need to go easy on it Surch or the membrane might rupture.”
“Any easier and Yshot will ease us right out of existence.”
“Their power core is still stable. Yshot will hold for now. We might not.”
To undermine Maggie’s assertion, another piece of the Station blew and hit them with debris.
It’s this final blast that knocked the Forseti to a safer distance from the Station but that also resulted in the jamming of the cargo bay door, more than two thirds of the way to its destination.
Maggie knew about this immediately of course, as Surch called in a moment later.
“Boro, we gotta get that door closed if we’re getting out of here in a hurry.”
“I know, I’m on it.” Boro grabbed onto the door’s manual release, but here things were not so simple. Due to the damage to the membrane, the air immediately by the door was frigid and losing oxygen. Another pair of hands may have helped, but where was the Parsk Nahur when you needed him? It was Meeron who finally came to Boro’s aid. The steward’s impressive arms struggled only briefly with the mechanism before shutting the door.
Boro should have told him to step back, should have seen what was coming next – the part of the door that sharply descended, missing Meeron’s head by a mere inch and then slamming into his thigh and knee before it fell into place with a definitive hiss. Meeron’s blood had already started to pool under him as he clutched his leg, the deathly white of bone protruding from the wound when the ship’s vibration changed. They were under full thrust now, though unable to start skimming subspace just yet.
Help was coming, yet help should have already been more forthcoming. What had the Parsk Nahur been doing? Getting up from Meeron’s aid, Boro looked back into the Forseti’s cargo hold and realized what had been preoccupying the ship’s weapon’s officer this whole time. The Parsk Nahur stood aiming the neural devastator, at the end of which was their newest passenger – the Intelligence officer with the mismatched green eyes.
Michael is a husband, father of two, lawyer, writer, and is currently working on his first novel, at a snail's pace. A very leisurely snail. All opinions are author's own.