Chapter 05: A Spark of Hope

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Allan felt relief surge through him. He took a quick look around, reconfirming that he was alone, and retreated to the nearest door, to the right of the bridge. Opening it up, he found a small security office that had been subjected to a brutal firefight. He closed the door behind him and locked it, then sat down in a chair.

"This is Gray...you have no idea how glad I am to hear from you. What happened? Where are you? How did you make it?" he asked.

A pause, and Allan instantly began to worry that he might have imagined that last part, that he was still alone on this ship. Then there was a crackle of static. "Allan! You made it! Okay, this is what happened. We were attacked by the Stygian, what might have been automated defenses left on. Colin, Hunter, Smitty, and I were on the bridge when it happened. Myself, Colin, and Hunter managed to get into an escape pod before the ship was totally destroyed. Smitty didn't make it, some shrapnel caught him in the head, killed him instantly. We're assuming Fletcher didn't make it, or any of the other skeleton crew on the speedship," Duncan explained.

"Jesus," Allan whispered. "Well...it's at least good that you three made it. Are you all right?"

"Just a few minor wounds. We managed to dock with the ship and we've just made it through an airlock bay. We're near the engine room. According to this map, there's an infirmary not far from our location. You want to meet up there?" Duncan replied.

"Yes," Allan said, suddenly desperate to see other people. "I'll get there as soon as I can. Give me the number of the infirmary."

"Um...Four B."

"Got it. I'll check a map and be there as soon as I can."

"All right. We'll be waiting."

Allan let out a long sigh of relief and decided to take this opportunity to check out the security center. His gaze was at first and immediately drawn to the trio of gun lockers along the back wall, but his hopes fell slightly as he saw they were all open and empty. He walked over to them anyway, just in case there might be something along the bottom or in the shadows, but his investigation revealed nothing. Next, he looked across the floor.

There were two bodies in there with him, one of them shot in the head, the other strangled to death. He patted them both down, but found nothing in any of their various pockets. As he was preparing to leave, he spied a bit of metal poking out from beneath one of the bodies. Excited, he flipped the corpse over, but then felt his hopes fall yet again. As if to add insult to injury, he found a shotgun that had been used as a club, it was utterly ruined.

With a sigh, he abandoned the weapon, stood and left the room.

The first thing he needed to do was get the locations of those three lockout consoles. He moved back over to the terminal and studied the holographic layout of the ship. It was large, not as massive as some of the cruisers he'd seen, but big enough to handle easily a couple hundred personnel. The three lockout terminals, all of them security centers, were, of course, spread out equally across the vessel, and none of them near the bridge.

Fantastic.

Still, that couldn't get him down. Not now that he knew there were other survivors onboard. He was saddened over the loss of Smitty, of the skeleton crew manning the speedship, but was at least consoled by the idea that (hopefully) their deaths were quick and painless. Sometimes, that's all a person could ask for in this nightmare of a galaxy. After memorizing the route to the three places and the infirmary where they were all supposed to meet up, Allan turned away from the terminal and began making his way back down the corridor.

Hefting his medical machete, he pondered his joy at hearing from the others. It seemed, ever since getting onboard the Stygian, that he was feeling emotions much more powerfully than before. Fear, hope, fury...speaking of fury, he passed the mutilated corpse on the way back. Allan paused briefly, flicking his glance down at it, then felt his stomach twist and churn and kept up his brisk pace, stepping around the body and hurrying until he'd reached the turn and it was wholly out of sight. Why had he blown a fuse like that?

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