Survivors

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An alarm blared on the Astrid. Loud hissing, crackling, and sizzling noises came from the back -coolant leak? Air leak? The lights flickered wildly. Cassia floated weightlessly in the piloting chair -gravity generators offline. She unlatched her seat belt and pushed out of the chair. It was difficult to see with the strobing light.

"Nigel?" Cassia shouted over the ship's alarms, and the buzzing and hissing of damaged equipment. "You okay?"

He only groaned. Cassia couldn't see him clearly, but from the posture of his slouching silhouette, Cassia thought something might be wrong. "You injured?"

"Uhh..." He groaned again. "What happened?" His speech was slow and slurred. "We're alive?"

"For now... But we've got some other problems to deal with." Cassia pulled herself by the back of her chair, floating through the ship towards the back. She passed through moisture hanging in the air, and her back brushed against tubing hanging from the roof. That isn't right.

She glided to the rear cabin stopping herself gently with palms against the primary maintenance panel. The metal was hot, and equipment behind buzzed and hissed loudly.

"I'm rebooting all systems!" She yelled to Nigel at the front. Cassia plied the panel off, burning her fingers on the heated metal, then threw it aside. The searing metal drifted away, clanging into the side wall, as she was hit with a shower of sparks from behind the panel. Cassia turned her head to the side and closed her eyes. Stinging sparks burned her cheek as her fingers probed blindly within the maintenace panel. She felt to the series of switches, and swiftly pulled them all.

The sparks subsided and the ship's systems went offline. Cassia found herself in pitch darkness. It was now deathly quiet -even the familiar, gentle hum of the ship's equipment was gone. Cassia could hear own, heavy breathing in the darkness, and faintly, perhaps even imagined, the sound of her own pounding heart. With eyes closed, she tried to relax and slow her breathing, floating nearly motionless in the dark and silence of the deactivated vessel.

"We need to wait for the control system to reboot." Cassia shouted to the front of the ship, where Nigel remained strapped in the co-pilot chair. "It'll boot us up with working essential systems only. Should be up soon." I hope. As she sat in the darkness, Cassia couldn't help but realize that, without power, they no longer occupied a ship -they were drifting helplessly through deep space in a tin can.

The ship hummed as subsystems came back online. Lights blinked on, no longer flickering. Cassia breathed a sigh of relief. She turned towards the front of the ship, gently kicking off the rear wall, and floated back to the seats in the cockpit.

"Oh shit!" Cassia looked over at Nigel as she stopped her momentum on the back of her chair. Large globules of blood were escaping from a gash on the side of his head, pumping out with each beat of his heart. In the weightlessness of the ship they had formed a large red cloud that expanded around the right side of his body, and deposited droplets on the walls and instrument panels.

"What?" Nigel looked dazed as he answered.

"Just sit tight." Cassia made her way to the medical kit under her chair, and pulled out the tube of med-salve. "You got a little cut." She squirted the paste on the wound, and Nigel flinched as she smeared it in with her hand. The bleeding stopped. "Don't worry. You'll be fine."

"I can't see!" Nigel shouted. "Shit! I can't see anything!"

"Just calm down, okay? You'll be fine." Cassia headed to the middle of the ship and unlatched the vacuum tool that hung on the wall. She clicked it on and set to work sucking up the cloud of blood that was hanging in the air.

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