Chapter Five

Bad bad badbadbad. It was a trick. A really crummy trick. Sure, she was trying to trick the bandits just a moment ago, but that was fine. She was part of the tick then. Only… now it was a trick on her as well.

‘Deoxygenisation in four minutes. If you are still within the contained section of the ship… take a few moments to reflect on the actions that brought you here.’

The hissing noise was unmistakable, even without the klaxon and the voice. Notch was simply going to jettison this part of the ship, and all her problems with it. Probably not the most graceful of moves, even a rampaging shipfire could be snuffed just by opening the airlocks, though the extinguisher system was a better way of doing that. Most ships wouldn’t even be able to cope, but this was an Igne ship. It probably wouldn’t even notice.

Mateo surveyed her surroundings. What did she have? A wide, completely sealed corridor that would stop being sealed the second it floated off without two of its walls. Twenty three space bandits, including one giant, all armed and currently freaking out one way or another and-

She slammed her fist on the red button. It did nothing.

It wasn’t like it was going to cancel anything, but she had to try.

‘Deoxygenisation in two minute thirty seconds. Please deposit your urine samples wherever you like.’

Did it have to empty the room of oxygen first? Surely it would just catapult them into space, unless the shp was setup to save the oxygen. Of course. Everything on a Tech Junker gets recycled.

This of course was very important to be thinking about right now. She needed to escape, or secure some kind of breathing apparatus. The bandits were flailing their arms around as they ran back and forth amongst themselves. Only one appeared to be remaining calm, the only one actually wearing an external suit.

“Well, i knew it would come in handy someday,” the safest man in the room said, “though i never imagined it like this.”

“There’s gotta be something we can do,” the guy next to him said.

“The cutter won’t have enough juice to bore through any of the hatches,” the guy now dropping the useless tool next to him.

“How about we blow it up against the hatchway, make a hole?”

“Not against these hatchways. It’ll just scorch them. It has to be concentrated to pierce.”

“Guys,” the man in the suit said. “Call our ship. Get it to hover round here. When this section breaks off, i can ferry people back to the airlock. I might not be able to get everyone but…”

“Right. Captain, please contact the ship and-’

“To the crew of the Bloody Space Mary,” the giant bellowed through a comms unit mounted on his wrist. This is ye captain speaking. Listen well, varmints, for these may well be my last orders.”

The men started to huddle together around the man with the air tank, aiming for the outer wall, each of them forming a chain to hold hands. Mateo appeared to have been taken out of the loop.

“We’ve been contained, and are about to be eliminated,” he continued, his men giving each other faint smiles of hope for what they hoped to be a desperate lunge to salvation. “If you don’t hear back from us in four minutes, destroy this ship and everything on it.”

The men froze. The Captain turned his comms unit off and walked over to his men.

“Now, listen here. We come up with a plan that saves all of us, or none of us. I won’t leave any of my crew behind!, you hear?”

‘Certain death occurring in T minus three minutes. If you know what the T means, please let us know.’

As the men stared at their leader in disbelief, Mateo decided that was enough. Running the way she had come from, she leant on the wall where safety sat on the other side, apparently along with malice. She had nothing bar her voice left. She looked to the camera slot.

“Notch, please don’t do this. ”

‘Please direct all pleas for mercy to the nearest available wall, which will be more than happy to hear your distress.’

“It’s not a plea. It’s a request.” Because it was always a good time to be quibbling pedantics. “Are you happy, killing me like this? Will you really look at yourself in the mirror tomorrow and say ‘yes, i did the right thing?’”

The pirates were in a frenzy now, a bunch of them were now charging the captain with futile screams, cracking their knuckles against his face and receiving fractures for their efforts. “Mutiny,” he cried out, before belting one of them in the chin. Some of the others were ignoring this, instead going for the man with the external suit and his tank, trying to rip the pipe off of him for whatever reasons.

‘Two minutes and fifteen seconds remain… i think. The system isn’t really timing this.”

“Look, i’m not the best of people. I talk my way into getting what i want, and that’s what i’m doing right now. I want to survive. More than anything that’s the most important thing to me. Keeping me alive. I know i’ve only known you for about five minutes, but i get the feeling we’re the same. You want to survive to.”

A loud hissing noise spelled the doom of the one guy that moments ago had been guaranteed to survive. Mateo was ignoring them.

“Now i don’t know if it was fear or anger that made you lock me in here with them and i don’t care. I know you did it to guarantee you your survival. Well guess what? The Captain just ordered your ship destroyed in five minutes if he doesn’t make it, meaning you better be preparing for a jump before they get the chance.”

The speaker panel was silent.

“Why did i tell you that? Because hearing you earlier. I kind of want you to survive. Having a goal like that is something i want to see you achieve, and i can’t have that if you’re dead. Yeah, it’s kind of corny to have some impossible dream. It’s a little naive to think you may actually be able to accomplish it and yes, i am saying all this in the hopes that you’ll see it in your heart to let me the hell back in.”

Her teeth were started to collide with each other between her words, arms wrapping around her. There couldn’t be much oxygen left at this point.  Some of the men were screaming now.

“But i’m not going to beg you. I swore i’d never beg again and i won’t start at the end like this. If you don’t let me in i die right now and you lose the best crewmate you ever could have had. The one person that may actually be kind of able to understand you.”

Her lungs wheezed. Her knees were buckling. Holding onto the wall was necessary now. Behind her people were falling silent.

“Humans suck, Notch. There’s no denying this. We’re stupid and meaningless. Even with the whole universe at our fingertips there’s nothing the majority of us actually do that’s worth anything. If i die, that’s it for me and everything i wanted to do. I never really had any plans. I just wanted to see the universe. Not exactly the best of dreams.”

She was feeling a little lighter, the wall was kind of climbable now. She lifted herself up to the camera panel and looked right at it.

“But honestly, i’d kind of like to go find the Centrepoint with you.”

“Woman!” a voice called out behind her. She turned without meaning to, the giant approaching her. “Who are you talking to? What are you planning?”

“If you wouldn’t mind having me!” she shouted down the camera slot, hoping she hadn’t been speaking to no one this entire time. The giant was coming toward her, rage pulsing from his face with hands outstretched before him. The klaxon stopped and Mateo inhaled one last time.

‘D-deoxygenisation complete. Beginning decoupling process. All… essential personnel, please grab hold of the available handrail’ Besides her a sheet metal pole popped out of nowhere and locked into place against the wall. Reaching for it, her arm was looking and feeling more like lead than anything at the moment, she gripped it tightly, hauling herself up as she found herself floating and wrapped her elbow around the cylinder. Her stomach didn’t like her very much at this point.

‘And exhale as hard as you can. I don’t quite know how this works!’

Then the exterior wall and ceiling were gone and all she could see was black.

The ship had been heated nicely. She realised that now. Everything was very toasty when it came down to it. Even on horrible horrible Grognar the suns were always out and everyday was a tanning day.

Even on all her trips off planet. She had never really noticed space.

It was so very cold.

She would have been warmer being thrown out of the airlock. No one had shot away. She kind of thought they would. Instead they were just floating. No longer bound by the ship’s gravity sinks, they slipped into the nothingness, only her elbow keeping her from sharing their fate.

“Yar, don’t you be thinking this be enough to stop Captain Giye!”

How could she hear him? Her lungs burned. They were asking her very nicely if they could inhale. It didn’t matter if there was no air. If they could just inhale once, they were sure they could find something out there to bring in for her. She willed them down, forcing even more air out of them. The giant was lunging for her. She was frozen as he floated towards her, his large hand outstretched and aiming for her foot, his men turning into specks in the distance, his ship appearing off to the side with five guns all pointing directly at her.

She clenched her teeth and pursed her lips as everything went white.

Captain Giye shot off in the opposite direction.