The trip back through the hyperloop to the station nearest to Tranquility seemed to McKinley to have taken and age. The door opened to the capsule and they all started to dismount, the mechanoids first then Blake and his Marines following with everyone else after.
“You and you team keep a look out, I have a feeling we can expect some resistance to our escape!” McKinley instructed Blake. The spacecraft which up until now had been all but silent now seemed to be started it’s death groans. There were groans in the ships structure, lights were dimming and flashing randomly. McKinley knew they had to get off and fast, time was short. Then a thought flashed into his mind.
“Endevin and the sentinels, will they be able to escape? What about everyone else being carried?”
“I’m afraid that anything left on board Titan when the core detonates will be destroyed along with the spacecraft?” came Dave’s emotionless reply.
McKinley motioned for Dave and everyone else to follow. “Is there nothing we can do?” McKinley was striding towards the service duct they used to reach the hyperloop station.
“Only if we’re able to initiate the transition sequence” Dave suggested.
“What’s that?” McKinley asked?
“It’s where the core’s temporal focus reaches…”
“Ok, sorry I asked Dave!” McKinley interrupted “I don’t need to know, can you tell me how we can do something to save at least some of these people and the sentinels?”
“I can sir!”
“But first, I want to know how to get to our landing bay without having to go down there!” McKinley pointed down the dark passage.
“Certainly, which one is your craft at sir?”
McKinley looked round for Jearo, meeting her gaze as everyone waited she squeezed round to help.
“Yes sir?” she asked
“Where’s tranquility? Can you show Dave please?”
Jearo pulled out the computer, and brought up the map, she held it to Dave. He paused for a second.
“This way sir!” the mechanoid strode forward through a bulkhead door and led them to a part of the craft they hadn’t seen before. A massive observation window showed them through the huge space in the centre of the craft, through to see the core platform and the hyperloop tunnels leading to it. Despite the urgency it was impossible not to gaze. The core operating platform couldn’t be seen with the intense brightness of the uncontained reaction now trying to break through.
“I estimate we have less than 60 minutes to escape to a safe distance sir!” Dave announced.
“Come on people!” McKinley shouted, “we’re out of time!” as he turned he found himself bumping straight into a familiar face.
“Seanna!” McKinley was obviously pleased to see his fist officer, trying to keep the focus on escaping he took her by the arm and led her away after Dave, the rest of the crew following with Blake and his men leading the way.
“What the hell did you do to me?” Seanna asked still a little groggy. But definitely alive and more or less herself.
” I rescued you!” McKinley answered.
“That was a hell of a rescue!” she complained “could you have made it feel a bit less like my brains were mashed?”
McKinley smiled, she was back. “I’ll tell you about it later, but now we have to get off of this ship!”
“Have you been breaking things again?” Seanna asked with some irony. McKinley didn’t reply, he didn’t know how to. It seemed that even if they got off alive, there were still many more that wouldn’t survive.
“Landing platform seven is through here!” Dave announced. Bulkhead doors perhaps 20 metres high and 50 metres wide slid apart in what seemed an effortless mechanism, only to stop a few seconds later. They groaned and shuddered as if malfunctioning, but there was more than enough space to get through.
“Come on!” McKinley motioned, there were still several hundred metres to Tranquility that needed to be crossed, but the end seemed in sight.
“Collins is ready and so is the Tycho!” Jearo announced
“How long until we can leave?” McKinley asked.
“Collins says fifteen minutes!” Jearo replied.
“Tell him to make it ten or we’re dead!” McKinley barked back. Jearo nodded knowing best not to argue. Seanna was now half running alongside McKinley and the rest of them. They reached about half way and could see tranquility when from nowhere blue plasma fire erupted from each side, two bulkhead doors were opened with a number of creatures entering into the landing platform.
A grilled service gulley would give cover, they all pulled up the grills and dived into it. Looking back McKinley saw two slumped bodies on the Deck, he looked around.
“It’s Orianne and Lennard.” Blake shouted in McKinley ear, the noise of plasma fire drowning out out everything else. McKinley looked back solemnly.
“Two more dead!” he thought, there wasn’t much that could be done now, but the burden of lives was something he never wanted.
“Let’s sort this now!” Seanna shouted, picking up McKinley’s rifle and readying to counter attack. Peeking up McKinley saw them surrounding their position, not even the mechanoids could help here, there were so many.
“I have a solution sir!” Dave announced.
“What to get us out of here?” McKinley asked ” You better make it quick!”
“No, to try and save the life forms we leave.”
“Hang on Dave!” McKinley screamed, he was holding Seanna and the others back as they were ready to jump out “It’s suicide! Just…”
On top of the hail of fire a deafening salvo of more fire kept their heads down, looking up with one eye McKinley saw the salvo flying above his head and back down the landing platform. The there was silence, except for the dying motors of engine thrusters. McKinley looked up, smoke filled the area but in a few moments cleared.
“Collins you old git! Well done!” McKinley lifted himself out of the gulley, turning he helped out Blake and Seanna. The mechanoids needed no help and almost leapt out.
“You keep trying to get yourself killed Seanna!” McKinley told Seanna
“You keep trying to stop me!” Seanna smiled back “One day you might succeed!”
McKinley smiled to himself, Seanna didn’t know. He then looked back at his not so fortunate crew members on the deck. He knelt beside them and closed their eyes, Seanna watched as he muttered something under his breath. Blake walked up with black cloths, each of them were covered solemnly and wrapped to be taken back. A mechanoid too each of them to Tranquility.
“Thanks Dave” McKinley acknowledged the help.
“Would you like to hear the plan?” Dave asked
“Plan?” McKinley replied “Oh yes let’s hear it, but I don’t imagine we have much time. So this had better be quick!” McKinley listened to what was the most succinct report from Dave that he had heard.
“We must activate the core release!” Dave suggested.
“How do we do this?” McKinley asked.
“I must do this from outside the spacecraft, once it is done then the core will detonate under the pressure of it’s own reaction after an undetermined time.”
McKinley looked at Dave “How long or short can this undetermined time be?”
“It could be a few minutes, or a few seconds.” Dave replied coldly.
“Do we have much choice?” McKinley asked Dave, realising that this quirky mechanoid that had served him so well and was almost a friend, was almost certainly suggesting his own destruction.
“There are no other options sir!”
“Will you just sit on the outside of Tranquility?” McKinley asked him.
“Yes, I will keep in contact with the pilot and guide them. You must hurry, time is running out!”
“Thank you Dave.” McKinley told Dave. He merely looked at McKinley for a few seconds as if he didn’t understand, the blue halo of his eyes showing no emotion. Dave Turned and climbed on top of Tranquility.
“Sir, we have to go!” Seanna shouted at McKinley “What’s Dave up to?”
“Just get on board and prep for launch Seanna!” McKinley told her, I’ll explain when we’re clear!” The hatches to tranquility shut tight, Dave watch the light of Titan flickering wildly. Looking ahead the mechanoid held on to a bulkhead and waited for the launch.
Copyright 2016 Simon Farnell