The Frank will be the Endeavour’s connection to the plagued Orion. We won’t be connecting the airlocks, at least not at first, just in case. Complete separation of the two ships. A code 3 biohazard.
But I’m assigned to the Frank. Which means I’m going in, right off the bat.
It’s times like these where I ask myself if being an actor was really so bad a job afterall.
The door starts to open. The air hisses, the pressure of the Orion being matched to the pressure of the Frank, and I watch, far back in my seat on the wall, as the door slides open.
The marines stand in a square around the docking hatch, guns aiming down, flashlights pouring a white glare on the slowly opening doors, mag boots keeping them in place around the circular opening as the rest of the medical crew and I drift solemnly, confined in our harnesses.
There are twelve marines. Four right around the door, assault rifles aimed through the obscured hatch, watching for signs of movement, and another 8 at each point of the compass around them, ready to move. Their coordination makes me feel uncomfortable.
Three marines will stay with Charles, in the Frank, connected to the Orion.
The other nine marines, three each will be paired to myself, Dave, and Brihan. Each team of four will head in an opposite direction, try to make contact with the crew of the Orion.
The first three marines go through the airlock, flashlights dancing wildly in the unlit atmosphere of the Orion. They call the all clear, and Dave floats by. I didn’t notice him unhooking himself from the crash seats, but he flies through the airlock smoothly, only helped slightly by the leftover Marines that have stuck around the airlock.
I get myself unhooked and float clumsily to the lock, the six remaining marines helping me through, guiding me into the lock, handing me to my team of three on the other side.
They stay silent, the glare from their helmet-mounted flashlights obscuring their faces, but one of them hands me over to the wall, puts my hand on the wall, watches as I grab hold and claw my way close, confused by the lack of gravity in the narrow hallways. It’s hard to move, my limbs keep floating, unwilled, but with some pushing and prodding from the marine behind me, I slowly start shambling and crawling my way after the two marines ahead of me.
They move in tandem, pushing off each other as much as off the walls, one arm out, one arm cradling their assault rifles, always pointed straight down the corridor we’re travelling on, except when they check side passages, again, in tandem. It seems unlikely anything will surprise them.
The marines move methodically. They’ve trained for this, who knows how many times. Me? I fumble along, doing my best to keep up and not accidentally run into their legs. Again.
The plan is simple. My team heads to the cockpit, see if we can find the source of the distress signal, while Dave’s team heads to the engines, and Brihan’s team checks the tunnels in-between.
The corridors are tight, dark; lit only by our helmet lamps, they’re claustrophobic. Each time the marines sweep another intersection I worry something will jump out of the dark, grab one of them and disappear. The images of a thousand horror movies watched during a misspent youth keep coming back to me.
Vanduul Zombies 3, the re-zombuuling keeps coming to mind, especially the scene where the teens in the Genesis, fresh out of the hot-tub, swim-suits still dripping, find out the reason their fares were so cheap; the UEE was using the Genesis as a test-ground for re-animated Vanduul zombie soldiers.
It was the worst movie in an already terrible series, but… something about terrible movies and TV seemed to grab me as a child.
Now, moving through the empty corridors of a dead, lifeless and lightless Orion, heavily armed Marines flanking me in front and behind… now I can only see scenes from those childhood movies. Scenes of Vanduul arms breaking through walls, grabbing onto marines necks and pulling them through bulkheads; scenes of unknown alien lifeforms bursting from scientists’ chests.
Scenes of teams sent to explore dead and derelict space stations, killed to a man by a crew gone mad, exposed to some new, rare pathogen.
Needless to say my mind and I go back and forth with each other the entire trip to the front of the ship, arguing about whether my pants should stay unsoiled or not.
Most of the way, I stay in the lead, and my boxers stay clean.
As we approach the cockpit at the front of the ship, and traces of blood start to line the walls, palm-prints clear in the trails of human life, my bowels start to win the battle.