"Here, here's one," Eric said.
They'd found two emergency oxygen stores on the bridge, but both had been ruptured in all the fighting and were useless. So they'd headed back into the tilted main corridor which, mercifully, remained empty, and started checking out whatever rooms they came across. With just two minutes to spare, they found a large emergency oxygen store in a bathroom. The pair of them hurried across the dark room, which seemed mostly untouched by the slaughter, and hooked their suits up to the store, beginning the process of draining it.
"That was stupid," Autumn said. "We could have died."
"Yeah...sorry. I lost track of time."
"Well, I did too. I guess this is kind of a distracting environment...at least now we know where these things came from."
"It's disappointing," Eric replied.
"Everyone here died because another corporation took another gamble in order to make money," Eric said, sighing. The tank bottomed out. They each had gotten back up to an hours' worth of atmosphere.
"And thus the galaxy spins," Autumn replied. "The little people get fucked by the giant corporations."
"Maybe, if we're really lucky, we can turn this into something. Expose whoever these assholes are. I'm sure someone could dig something up."
"Yeah, you're right. Come on, let's hurry this up. I want to be back inside."
They left the bathroom, returning to the central passageway once more. They wouldn't have to go too far to get the beacon. Ideally, the process of launching the beacon was a simple one. It was already preloaded into an airlock that, at the press of a button, would shoot it out into space where it would begin transmitting. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case here because they weren't exactly in space where things just floated free.
The gravity of the asteroid was weak, but it would be enough to drag the beacon down. For maximum effectiveness, it needed to be up and out. Which meant they needed to find a way to essentially toss it up. Eric had been stumped at first and, as he'd been explaining this problem to Autumn while they were searching for atmosphere, she'd suggested something simple: launch it out of a missile tube.
Eric thought about it for a bit, then realized it could work, with a little modification. So that's what they were going to do. The beacon itself could be accessed via a bay across from the cargo area that had originally held the creatures, so it wasn't that much of a walk. Eric kept going, picking up the pace. He not only wanted to be out of here because of the obvious dangers of limited oxygen and being on an unstable ship, but for another reason. With every second that passed, Eric couldn't help but feel there was some kind of danger building.
It was ridiculous and a bit superstitious, and yet...well, he had good instincts. They'd kept him alive for years. So why start ignoring them now? They managed to reach the emergency beacon bay without any more trouble. Eric opened the door and pointed his flashlight inside. The bay was a bit of a mess, but he could see the airlock mounted in the far wall. It looked intact. He quickly crossed the room, let his SMG hang by its sling over his shoulder and took a look at the airlock. Through the glass, he could see the beacon.
At least it wasn't very large.
"I see it," he murmured as he started trying to open the airlock.
"Can you get to it?" Autumn replied.
The door had no power, but he could get around that. Basically everything made had some kind of manual release catch. It was a crucial safety precaution. Eric spent a moment looking over the small door and eventually located a side panel. He grabbed a tool from his pocket and pried the panel off. After replacing the tool, he hunted down the release catch and found it. Pressing hard on the concave surface, the door suddenly popped open a few inches. Perfect. Eric pried open the door the rest of the way, reached inside and carefully pulled out the beacon. It was roughly the shape of a thermos, though it was about twice the size of an average one.
YOU ARE READING
The twelfth novel in The Shadow Wars. Eric Starck is a man adrift. After fighting in the Systems Wars that ravaged the galaxy, he's spent the past three years drifting from one job to the next, never quite feeling comfortable. The latest in a long l...