Last time, on Endeavour:
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.
The marines stack up on the cockpit doors, one to a side, motioning us away, having us stand behind them. Two solitary sentinels, mirrored visors hiding faces, muted comms hiding thoughts. They don’t signal, just float, and Dave and I float behind them, wondering what’s going to happen.
The comms channel sparks to life, and one of the marines, I’m not even sure which, speaks, adding to the mere handful of words the two marines have spoken so far.
‘We’re breaching in 10,’ one marine says, as the other straps his assault rifle to his back, pulls his pistol from its holster. ‘Do not enter till we give the all-clear’.
Dave nods, I simply float, trying to stop myself from floating away from the wall. I keep having to claw myself back. Zero gravity is hard.
The marine who drew his pistol puts a hand to the door controls, and nods at his companion. The other marine has his rifle in a ready position, stock to shoulder, held by just one hand, the other being used to steady himself.
The door opens, and the marines glide in, one after another, the one with the assault rifle going first.
Dave and I float outside, listening.
‘Everybody down! This is the UEE, we are authorized to…’
‘Aww, crap. Bloody hell.’
‘Are they all…’
‘We’ve got one living. Ma’am, make no sudden moves, or we will be forced to open fire.’
Silence. I look at Dave, he’s got one hand on a railing, the other opening and closing the zipper on his med bag. He’s itching to get in there.
I can wait.
‘She’s cuffed. Docs, get in here.’ one of the Marines says, on a closed channel through our helmet comms again.
On cue, Dave kicks off, grabbing a bar just beside the door for a second, using his momentum to slide in through the door. It takes me considerably longer, and a few attempts, to get through.
On the other side, chaos. Droplets of blood float aimlessly through the cockpit, crumbling to powder as they make contact with my helmet; they’ve dried. Whatever happened here, it happened hours ago.
The marine with the rifle is floating in the corner, one leg hooked under a chair, playing with the ship’s computers. Probably downloading flight data. The other is holding a woman, dirty and bloody, against a wall, pistol at the ready. She’s handcuffed, but her eyes are wide, her head cocked to one side.
Dave is in the center of the room, checking vital signs on a number of bodies. shaking his head and cursing at each one. I float over to the woman, fishing awkwardly through my bio suit for a flashlight.
‘Ma’am, are you alright?’ I ask, taking out a small penlight and flashing it at her eyes. She doesn’t blink, her eyes don’t respond.
‘Ma’am?’ I say again, leaning in closer. Her mouth is moving. Muttering? I can’t tell.
‘I’m.. so scared…’ she says, her voice terrified, her eyes immobile.
‘It’s okay’ I say, awkwardly pawing at my mobiGlas, getting readings on her temperature and vital signs. She’s running a bit hot, but not outside of normal. Other than that, she appears to be in perfect health. ‘We’re here to hel-’
‘They… they fought over me. I couldn’t… I couldn’t…’ she speaks at me, not to me, and her eyes stay focused away, trained on something else.
The bodies. In the room… i can’t imagine what she’s been through.
‘Ma’am, what’s your name?’ I ask, still looking for a sign that she acknowledges my presence.
‘We should get her back to the Endeavour’ I say to the marine holding her at pistol point. He nods.
Even just getting her to the Endeavour takes hours. There’s no evidence of a plague, so the ship docks, but the woman is still quarantined till a timeline can be established. Two marines posted outside her cage.
The rest of the bodies are lined up for cremation, their personal effects stored for next of kin.
The ship is flagged as a derelict, sent off to the job boards for some Reclaimer pilot to show up and scavenge. Nothing’s wasted, in the dead of space.
Dave and I are given the night off, and the rest of the marines head back to base. We’re stuck with the two guarding the woman’s cell, at least for now, but still.
Back on board the Endeavour, everything’s back to normal, and I can finally relax.
Will Dannet get to relax? Come on, you know he won’t. Find out why, next time, on Endeavour: really? I thought this wasn’t going to happen!