"Five minutes out."
Allan gasped awake, his eyes snapping open, body going rigid in a sitting position. He looked around, utterly lost for a moment, those three words, tinny through his suit's comm system, ringing around in his head. It took him a moment to realize it, but he'd just received the warning. Hadn't they said they'd give him a ten minute warning? His brain was mired in tar-like confusion. Allan closed his eyes and focused.
If they'd given him the five minute warning, then he'd obviously slept through the ten minute warning. Stupid of him, and not a good sign. He was a light sleeper by necessity, you had to be in his line of work, so why hadn't he been woken by the call? Allan tried to stand but his equilibrium was thrown off because he'd fallen asleep on the floor. He fell forward, collapsing onto one knee, as though waiting to be knighted, and took a moment to get his balance back. He'd been having some kind of nightmare, something that left him in a cold sweat.
Allan counted himself lucky that he couldn't remember the specifics of the nightmare, though unfortunately he could still feel the negative emotions it had stirred up. Keeping his breathing calm and even, his eyes closed, he finally felt confident enough to stand up. He did so, moving slowly. Two hours, he'd been asleep for about two hours. His thoughts were still gently floating away from him, his head foggy. Someday, he promised himself, someday he'd be able to get out of this fucking suit and lay down on a comfortable bed and get some real sleep.
He was standing now, at least. Which was an improvement, but now there was a new problem. An indicator was silently winking at him, a little red light, flaring and dying, in the upper right-hand corner of his heads up display. Allan frowned, activating it with eye motions, and brought up a warning message. In pristine, glowing white text, his suit informed him that one of the power cells he'd installed was malfunctioning, leaving him with just sixty five percent power. He sighed. Well, it happened sometimes, they couldn't all be perfect.
It was a two minute fix. He moved over to the crate he'd pilfered previously and set to work on replacing the cell. After finishing this up, he'd make for the bridge and be there when they came out of hyperspace, or at least be only a little late. Hopefully no one would notice his brief absence. Allan got the panel off and retrieved the malfunctioning power cell. He set it aside, wondering if he should bother mentioning it to anyone, and grabbed a new one. Taking a moment to examine this one, Allan finally decided it was functional and slipped it in.
He replaced the panel after ensuring it was in right, then ran another check. The power cell seemed to be functioning adequately.
Allan's radio crackled to life. "Specialist Gray, we need you-"
The rest of the sentence was lost in a sudden, violent explosion that rocked the entirety of the little speedship. Allan lost his balance and fell to the floor. He landed on his back, stared up at a crate that had been atop the stacks along the peripheral of the room. It was falling towards him. He began to move, but saw its trajectory abruptly change, as though it was attached to a wire and someone had suddenly yanked on it.
It shot towards the far wall. Allan turned, following its path, and saw it slam into the wall, where it was briefly held before being sucked out into the dead of space. Allan felt cold fear tear through him. There was a hull breach in the storage bay and he could feel himself being inexorably sucked towards it. Turning, he began fighting against it, preparing to crawl through the door and put it between himself and the breach.
He made it perhaps half a foot before a second explosion rocked the ship and something slammed into him.
Everything came at him in a confused series of images and sensations after that.
YOU ARE READING
The eighth novel in The Shadow Wars. After the events of Ceaseless and Snowblind, Allan Gray, formerly a member of Security-Investigations, now a Specialist in Special Operations, is having some trouble keeping sane. He experiences sudden tremors, i...