|Aurora Dancing With The Sky|
Sky felt the impact against the Castor as the ship returned to normal space. He was physically thrown from the helmsman station slamming into the bulkhead next to the view screen. The bulkhead squealed as he recovered his senses, he turned to look at where the squealing was coming from but it was already too late. The piece of scrap metal left over from the enemy bridge slammed through the ship's hull piercing the right side of his gut.
Sky roared in pain as the hull cracked and began to breach. He struggled as he was pulled backwards, feeling his blood draining out of his body along the metal spike drawn out with the air as the bridge began to hemorrhage atmosphere.
He heard the emergency bulkheads began to descend they were going to seal him off, he had no choice. As he felt his eyes start to go dull, he concentrated all of his remaining strength into his legs and used the lightning step.
The sudden pull of velocity dragged at his muscles struggling against the pull of the vacuum, but he struggled on dragging his body back off the metal spike. He ran for the bulkhead as it dropped he had barely half a second to spare and he dived under it to safety.
He collapsed prostrate on the deck his energy completely sapped, his eyes dark from the loss of blood that had been drained. "Commander! Commander! Where are you?!" He faintly heard a voice shout. He tried to call out, but found that he did not even have the strength to do that anymore.
He felt the warmth of a person's hand on his own and could hear the voice saying something. Its sound was loud yet somehow indistinct. The warm hand raised his own and placed something into his grasp. It was solid and familiar; making him feel like an old friend had come back to him. 'What is this?' He thought to himself; almost as if in response his mind answered him 'This is your katana! Now stand up! Are you a Misalli warrior or not!' The thought steadied him and he felt the pain of his wound again, but that was good. Feelings meant you were alive; feelings were something to hold onto to keep your mind alive.
Harmony watched as her commander's hand tighten on the katana's hilt. He was still alive! He had a huge hole in his gut and the Doctor's scanner had said that he had lost three litres of blood, yet somehow he was still holding on.
She looked up and saw Crew Chief Soren examining the door to the bridge and the control panel. "The bridge is inaccessible ma'am, there's a hull breach. It's amazing he got out before the emergency shutter closed, especially with an injury like that." Harmony felt the sentence tug at her chest, but she hardened her heart and took a deep breath. This was her duty as she was in command right now.
She considered the situation they were in. Sky ordering everyone to be sealed in main engineering had definitely saved them all. The Castor was so riddled with hull breaches, that it was a major miracle they had been able to reach the bridge entrance at all, never mind find their commander at the only remaining intact entrance way.
She looked back at Sky, but saw that their new Doctor Curador was already moving him. "Where did that sword come from? Get rid of it! Out my way, I'm taking him to the medical bay!" The last sentence was directed at Harmony, who only reacted when she remembered that when in emergency medical situations the Chief Doctor, whose first name she remembered was Joaquin, was the highest ranking officer on the ship. "His hand won't let go sir. I can't break his grip" Joaquin took one look at Sky's hand and left it alone. "Nevermind let's get moving. I want all surgical equipment prepared as soon as we get to the medical bay."
The voices faded away as they disappeared down the corridor. "Crew Chief, I need a list of all damaged areas and an injuries list. We'll repair as many vital systems as possible, before help arrives." Soren threw up a salute "It will be done right away ma'am." He then turned and ran away down the corridor. Sky had done the dangerous work and now it was her turn, she thought grimly, she wouldn't be beaten.
Two hours later
Doctor Joaquin Curador was sitting looking at the medical scanner's results in utter amazement. Somehow having lost over three liters of blood and received a huge trauma to his torso, his new commander survived the worst of it. Not only that but he had held on the entire time by gripping his katana in his hand. It was unheard of, almost impossible, yet there he was in the recovery pod as it ran on its emergency back up power. In most circumstances like these the recovery pod would have been pointless, as would have never been able to do enough yet it was working.
Joaquin was really feeling the pressure from the rest of the crew. The fact the commander had ordered all them to a place of safety before taking a risk had raised him from the level of good commander to virtual idol. Everyone one of them was desperate for any good news.
He could hear the shuffling footsteps outside the medical bay, causing him to grind his teeth in annoyance. He understood their feelings all too well, but their impatience was rather aggravating. He fixed his eyes back onto the limited test results his lab still had the power to produce. His professional curiosity was getting the better of him, there had to be something in the results to explain why he survived such a wound.
As he read the computer's analysis he heard a sudden sharp tapping noise. He looked around searching for the source of the noise. The tapping sounded again and Joaquin located its source. The recovery pod's lid was moving in time with the sound.
Joaquin ran to the pod to find his commander was conscious again. He was saying something, but the lid was preventing the sound from carrying to Joaquin. The doctor quickly activated the comm panel on the lid. ".....the crew? Are they alright?"
Joaquin suddenly felt the feeling that the Crew Chief had described to him 'He'll do something simple and somehow it makes you want to follow him even to face death itself'. The commander had just faced down an enemy capital ship alone at the helm and received an almost fatal wound before escaping the bridge as it was locked down. Yet his first question was whether his crew were alright, it was completely insane yet comforting.
"Everyone's okay sir, there are no casualties except for you." Sky's face lit up with perhaps the biggest smile Joaquin had ever seen. "Thank you, ancestors!" He then went on and checked his own body with his hands. "I feel okay now doctor, I think it's time for me to get out." Joaquin couldn't help laughing, however his laughter quickly ceased as he look over the scan image that the pod was showing. It was that of a perfectly healthy person, as if the wound he had received never happened. He quickly looked over the stats again; his body fat level had dropped considerably in such a short time. As if his body had used up all the remaining fat as energy to speed up the healing process.
"Sorry sir, but you're not leaving the medical bay until I like how your stats look." He pressed the release catch on the pod letting his commander out from his confines. "You need to get some high fat and high protein food or you'll collapse again. I'll call the first officer here now."
Harmony however seemed to have instinctively known something was going on and walked into the infirmary. "Is he awake? We need him right now." She stopped in the centre of the floor and a look of sheer relief washed over her face. "It's nice to see you too, Harmony. Good morning by the way." To her eyes he looked haggard and tired, yet the most welcome sights she'd seen in years. "It's the afternoon watch Sky. How are you feeling?" As she asked the question, she noticed Joaquin tactfully leaving the room.
He would no doubt be spreading the word that the commander was alright. 'After the pestering he's had he deserves to tell them' she thought to herself. "Well enough to know why I'm suddenly needed again." Harmony felt herself blush in embarrassment; she suddenly felt that she must have seemed really very desperate when she came in.
"The Chief Engineer has managed to bring short range sensors and life support system back online, sir. She had to cannibalize a lot of other systems to do it though, the Castor won’t move under its own power without a complete rebuild. We've also detected another ship nearby and its heat signature seems to show it has been dead in space for a couple of days. We've never seen anything like it sir. Some parts look vaguely similar to Tongalin ships, but everything else is completely unknown. We think it's a brand new class."
She watched Sky visibly stiffen at the words. Their home world fleet had been almost completely wiped out by the old class Tongalin ship with some new weapons. A whole new class or warship could be devastating. If a new class of enemy warship was disabled nearby it must be captured no matter the cost. "Are they sending out a distress signal?" Harmony shook her head "They may have been prior to our sensors being activated, but their comm systems seem inactive."
The door opened again to reveal Joaquin returning with a tray of foods with Crew Chief Soren in tow. "You need to eat this entire meal or as chief medical officer I will not allow you to leave this medical bay." Sky nodded his head taking the food from the Doctor. Soren threw up a salute "The crew have asked me to thank you for what you did at the end of the battle sir. You saved us all and you were hurt in the process. Thank you." Soren bowed his head, but Sky waved his hand at him immediately. “I did what I felt I needed to, no more, no less. We look after our own.” Soren simply smiled and said no more. "Well as it seems almost my entire senior staff is here, would you be so kind as to fetch the last member Crew Chief?" Soren immediately ran out of the medical bay.
It took only a few minutes for Soren to return with Azlynn wearing here new Chief Engineers Uniform. By which time he’s managed to finish the high fat, high protein meal Joaquin had brought him. “Now that your here Chief Engineer Dara, we’d better begin our strategy session.” All the senior staff looked puzzled. “As you know there’s an unknown ship nearby that we believe to be of Tongalin origin. It seems to be a new class and is dead in space. We are going to board and capture the enemy vessel.”
Their eyes widened and they looked as if they thought Sky had gone mad. Azlynn was the first to speak up “Sir with all due respect I seriously doubt if that’s going to be possible. We have barely any power, no propulsion and just enough life support strength to keep going for a few weeks, we’re dead in space too.” Sky stood up and began to pace around the room picking up his katana as he went. He looked at the doctor’s desk as he paced, it showed the results from the tests to see if his body had recovered from the shock of sudden decompression. Sky froze his mind suddenly buzzing as he read the report the decompression. “How many sections do we have near the outer hull, which still have air?” Azlynn jumped to her feet suddenly on the same wavelength as her commander. “We should have enough, sir. As long as the enemy ship stays where it is now we can get there.”
The other three senior staff members simply looked bemused at the half conversation they were witnessing. “Now all we need is a way to board them.” Harmony stood up obviously annoyed at not knowing what was going on. “Could you perhaps tell the rest of us the plan to get there, sir?” Sky looked over and couldn't keep a straight face any longer, though his amused smile he knew was only annoying Harmony more. “We’re going to blow certain sections of the hull out into space and use the force of the air released to travel to the enemy ship without propulsion. We just need a way to get into their ship when we get there.”
Harmony looked surprised, but said nothing more. Neither did anyone else, they had just escaped a major battle and their commander was going to take the remaining wreckage of the ship into battle again. "If we let this ship get away we might lose our only chance to find out what the Tongalin are using to beat us." Everyone's faces went into hard expressions as they racked their brains for anyway to gain entry into the enemy vessel. It was Azlynn who spoke up first “If we time it right we might be able to use the magnetic locks on the one of the airlocks to grapple with enemy ship. As long the gantry isn't extended it should make a workable beachhead.” Sky nodded to Azlynn “I’ll leave it to you then Chief, use whatever resources and personnel you need. It doesn't sound as if there's much else for the crew to be doing right now."
His staff all threw up salutes and left the medical bay, except for Joaquin. "Commander with your permission I'd like to run a few more tests on you. The honest truth is I don't know how you survived your injuries. All medical logical tells me that wounds as grievous as those should have killed you before we could even get you to the medical bay. Yet you survived and have already healed almost completely."
Sky shook his head getting to his feet. "The Misalli are a genetically engineered race, Doctor. We heal faster than normal, we can withstand greater physical and mental stresses and our brains can hand twice the average information input. If you want to study that for personal use, I can allow it. However now is not the appropriate time." Sky pulled on his damaged uniform and put his sword on his hip. The actions told Joaquin that the topic of discussion was closed until further notice.
Three Hours Later
The main engineering department of the H.S.S. Castor was a hive of activity, with Chief Engineer Azlynn Dara at the centre. The calculations necessary to launch the ship on target at the the enemy vessel were extremely complex even a variance of a few degrees would have disastrous consequences.
The amount of air needed to provide an accurate thrust would be enough to ensure they would not survive long enough to make a second attempt. She could feel the pressure of apprehension coming from her engineering staff. She knew they must have come to the same conclusion as her.
They had figured out how to breach the hull in the right way to get the effect they wanted. So now they where arranging the breaches in the last few pinpoint exact locations she had given them. Perhaps it was because their newly idolized commander had asked it of them, but to her surprise no one had complained even once about the risks they were taking.
A tap on her shoulder brought her out of her reverie. She spun around to see her first officer with a kindly expression on her face. "The Commander wants to know how the preparations are going." The way the question was phrased showed that they weren't trying to pressure her and she was grateful for it. "I'm waiting of the last of the engineer to report in. After that we'll be ready to go anytime." Harmony's face showed no relief at the news, she simply nodded and walked briskly back out of the engineering department.
Azlynn heard the heavy footfalls of someone running behind her and knew the moment had come. The report her subordinate have her seemed to echo to her from a far away distance as the danger of what she was about to do hit home once more. Every member of the crew were staking their lives on her calculations. The crew's single life line now felt like an anchor weight tied around her neck ready to drop her into oblivion.
A warm hand appeared on her shoulder dragging her out of her spiraling worries. She looked around to see her commander standing smiling gently behind her. "It'll work Chief, have faith in your abilities, I do." Azlynn felt slightly surer of herself, but she was still far from confident. "We'll be abandoning the Castor as soon as we can board the enemy. I've had all the cabins that are still accessible emptied and the contents brought near the airlock we're planning on using. Once you've finished everything here gather your staff and have them drag our belongings over."
As Sky moved away he did something that took Azlynn totally off guard. He sat down in from of a reflective metal surface and began to apply a kind of face paint from a wooden box. She watched silently as he applied the war paint on himself the whole process enthralling her. "Give me five minutes to get to the air lock before launching us at them. I'm relying on you and the doctor to get the remaining crew and our belongings off the ship."
Sky reached out and took Azlynn's hand in his own. "Good luck, Chief. Stay safe." Before turning and walking away gathering crewmen to follow him as he went. He had walked into the engineering department as their kind Commander, now as he left he looked like he was a creature born and bred for war. Azlynn almost pitied the Tongalin crew who would be facing the sharp end of his blade.
Sky's mind was focused as he walked. He couldn't afford to show even a moments hesitation before his crew right now. If they doubted they would succeed for even a moment the doubts would plague them in the fight and the doubt could very well get them killed. He did not smile or try to raise the mood as he walked through his crew. The attempt would have failed instantly now that he had his war paint on. He would lead the way for them, carve a path for them though whatever enemies stood in their way and give them courage.
As he reached the airlock door he could see that he'd gathered almost his entire crew with him. Harmony and Soren stepped forward from the crowd to stand next to him as the time ticked down until the attack was launched. In his heart he knew that Azlynn would succeed and that he only needs focus on the fight. "I will be the first to be and I will clear the way!" He stated as loudly as possible. "First officer Dentelle and Crew Chief Soren will split you into two halves and give you your instructions as we move. I want a new ship, who's with me?!" The crew roared their approval.
As he turned to face the airlock and alarm sounded from far away. The alarm to say there was a hull breach; the sound grew and grew until the ship was filled with the alarm sounds. He could feel the ship shuddering as the breaches widened blasting air out into the vacuum of space.
He waited patiently as his battle calm took hold. He hear the crew behind him being split into two groups and silently prayed that the ancestors would watch over them. He would fight hard and make sure that the ancestors could give his crew their undivided attention.
The ship shuddered as it slammed into the enemy hull. Sky felt a small burst of elation, Azlynn had done her job right. The electromagnets around the airlock buzzed and they worked at full capacity to drag the two ships together. Until the final thud announced the electromagnets had done it.
Sky took a step back from the door and took a low drawing stance. The technique would allow him to strike at any opponent before the door had completely opened. As the door slid upwards Sky saw his first sight of the enemy ship as a plain blue grey floor. There was no opposition, not a soul waiting for them. He stepped through and checked the airlock for traps and explosives, there were none.
Sky's feeling that he should use caution shot through the roof. If the enemy hadn't had a chance to booby trap the airlock or be prepared to repel them at the breach head they must be waiting at another location. He advanced quickly down the corridor to the first junction, there was still no opposition. "Commander?" A voice called from behind him. He didn't respond as a new plan was quickly forming in his mind. "Lieutenant Commander Dentelle, take your crew back to the ship and have them assist the engineering and medical staff in the evacuation and unloading of the Castor. Crew Chief Soren, have your group set up a defensive perimeter for the airlock at this junction. Get to it." He looked around and saw the two were already putting his orders into action.
Sky knew the risk of giving up the power of the morale he'd build up in his crew. His new plan to build a stable beach head would stop any chance of building momentum in their attack for quite a while. However if he took the chance to get his crew and supplies onto the enemy ship, he would be able to disengage the Castor and decrease the possibility of the enemy damaging the air lock to vent he and his crew into space.
He heard heavy foot falls from the corridor around the corner from where he stood; the enemy were coming. Sky stepped out into the corridor to see two lines of armed men charging down the corridor, melee weapons at the ready.
Sky launched forwards using his full strength to make his lighting step surpass the visible spectrum. The drag of the air as he sped towards the enemy made his skin tingle with the heat. He was within three paces of the enemy when he drew his blade. He hefted the edge upwards through this first opponent feeling the man sheer apart before the searing blades edge. The severed torso had only fallen halfway to the ground when Sky struck the man beside him, slicing across the man's throat.
Soren stood ready at the corridor junction with a few crewmen beside him. They watched in awe as the commander vanished mid-charge and enemies began falling. Soren watched as the fell into shocked disarray as their Commander disappeared and reappeared within their two ranks. He left a trail of corpses in his wake, his long katana sliced cleanly through men, weapons and uniforms as if there were no difference between them.
The crew were as much in awe as he was as the enemy, who turned and started attempted to flee in vain. Each in turn were cut down until Sky, finally, fully re-appeared. He was facing away from his crew and was not even breathing heavily. Soren suddenly felt a surge of relief that Sky was on his side and that the Misalli tribes were not his enemy.
Sky turned back to them as he sheathed his katana. His expression was completely blank and unemotional as if he had simply strolled from one end of the corridor to the other. The only sign that he had done anything was a slight glow in Sky's red eyes.
"Crew Chief, I want that perimeter set up at the corner now! Do not advance off that perimeter until I give the order." Soren spun round to his men without a word, deciding action was his best course. It took only three minutes for the last of the crew and equipment to be hauled across to the enemy ship; far faster than Sky could have hoped. Though in the back of his he knew this was likely the result of most of the crew losing their belongings.
"Seal that hatch! Chief Dara your people are on lugging duty until we find somewhere to dig in." He walked past their perimeter and turned to face his crew. "It looks like the enemy knows we're here, so we need to move fast. I will lead the way, all crew who were with Crew Chief Soren move behind me; Lieutenant Commander Dentelle will take the rear guard; Chief Dara and the engineering crew will stay on the centre. If we're going to take over this ship, we'll need your engineers ready to go Chief." All the crew go themselves in position, their resignation showing on their faces.
Sky turned on his heel and accelerated off down the corridor. He could hear his crew running behind him, feeling the weight of their presence like a heavy stone laid across his shoulders. He would protect his crew, his people, to his last breath.
|Aurora Dancing With The Sky|