Chapter 4 : Being There
I creeped around the corner of the open door with light feet and a heavy palpitating heart. Stepping into Hayden’s the dimly lit room for the first time I couldn’t help but feel dread as my mind flicked over all the worst that could be waiting for me in Hayden’s quarters. I slowed down to let my senses adjust to the room; my pulse slowed to the point that it no longer was a drum racing faster and faster in my ears.
In the still silence of the room, I couldn’t hear much besides a soft sobbing. I called out, “Captain, are you there?” As soon as the first syllable had left my tongue the crying was stifled. “Hayden, it’s me, Clarke, I don’t know what’s wrong but you can talk about it if you’d like.” A silence gripped the room and while only a few seconds passed it felt like years went by in this soundless void of a room.
“They…they’re all gone…but they won’t leave me alone,” Hayden’s voice was hoarse with the tears and sobbing that had racked her body in her dark room, “Kid, I’ve seen and done some terrible things, but I don’t ask forgiveness or that they hadn’t happened.”
“You don’t need to explain yourself to me captain,” I responded confusedly and aimlessly into the nothing as my eyes struggled to adjust.
“There’s a street I can’t cross by myself Clarke…won’t you help me cross it?” as soon as those words left her lips I felt myself being dragged down suddenly to my left. On the wooden panelled floor, I came face to face with Hayden in the dark.
I opened my mouth to speak but before air could pass my lips she put her hand over my mouth to stop me from talking. I felt her grab my hand and place a cool metal object into my grasp. It was her gun. It was heavy. She took my hand and placed in it the gun and raised it to point at the side of her head, I knew what she was asking me to do. I wasn’t going to ever do it though, not like this. “Please…do it,” she pleaded to me. “I’m sorry, I can’t do that, captain,” my eyes started to well up with tears. I dropped my hand from the side of her head and put both my arms around her. No sooner had my arms went around her than had we both started to bawl our eyes out.
Mere moments passed but the wet silence felt like it lasted for decades. It was broken by a sharp ringing noise followed by ship wide alert, “hull breach on engineering deck two, multiple intruders detected, Captain immediate action required.” Hayden sat there with me, brushing off the channels that her tears had left running down her cheeks towards her chin. She looked at me once again smiled; got up, cracked her neck as she shuffled to the door and escaped out her chambers using her arms to pull herself quickly through the door into a run down the corridor her feet never stopping once till she reached the bridge the clanking of her boots of the metal floor echoing down into the room where I sat alone.
Chapter 5 : Empty Clip Full Chamber
Not much time had passed since Hayden charged down the corridor, slowly I got up looking around the room. My eyes fixed to the floor. She had left her gun. It was still there on the floor, Hayden would rush whatever came aboard moments ago without her gun. Fuck, fuck, fuck. I grabbed it and scrambled out the door faster than a needle rushing into the gravitational pull of a black hole, the world warped around my eyes, the ships colour faded to a monochromatic blur, the lines of the ship blended into one as I channeled myself towards finding Hayden, racing to the bridge. My lungs wanted to burst, my legs wanted to jelly, my hands wanted to drop the heavy gun on the floor, the blood vessels in my head filled with oxygen starved cells.
I blinked. I was in the bridge. Everyone was here. I gasped for air having not taken a breath the entire time. My legs collapsed and my knees met with the thick steel grate of the floor; it took everything I had to keep my grip on the gun. Looking at Hayden I gasped, “captain, you’ll need this,” returning the smile she gave me not long ago while offering up the gun to her with both my hands to a level where she could take it with ease. Taking the gun from me with a startled look, “Thanks kiddo, but how did you get there?” I looked at her only just realising that I hadn’t come through the door, how did I get here, this specific spot? The room spun, my head ached, my eyes closed over as my body slumped onto the cold floor.
I came to in the med lounge where both Doctors Evana and Valentine where looking over charts and scans in the bright white room. I coughed to which they both seemed to be startled by me momentarily. Looking briefly over there charts they walked over to me, I tried to sit up to face them but my arms and legs had been fastened down to the bed, “Hey docs sorry but can I reschedule this checkup for another time? Next Tuesday the earlier the better.” Nothing they just looked at me and the charts they held. Dr. Evana cleared her throat, “I’m sorry, the restraints are for your good and our safety; Captains orders till we know how you appeared in the bridge.” Next was Dr. Valentine, she had lost a lot of weight and I hadn’t seen her very often, “What do you remember Clarke?” I took a second, complied, “I was with the captain, she dropped her gun and ran off, it took me a second to figure out she had dropped it; I picked it up and ran for the bridge after her.” Dr. Evana looked puzzled at me as they crowed there over me as I looked up at them and into the bright light above. “Clarke do you remember anything about engineering deck two?” “I remember an alarm about a hull breach and multiple intruders? What has that got anything to do with me?”
The doctors looked at each other worried and puzzled for a reason I did not know. “What happened while I was out cold?” I whimpered. Dr. Evana pulled a screen over and adjusted it so that it was clearly visible to me, “this is the security footage from engineering deck two, before you appeared in the bridge”. The screen flicked to life the date thirty-one/twelve/one hundred twenty-one thousand one hundred ninety-six and the time twenty-one-thirty-two, mere frames later a flash of white light followed by an implosion of the wall revealing the void of space. The void took everything in the room out into the empty like a hungry animal trying to fill a stomach that would always be empty. The lights doors into this room and floor had shut as soon as the breach had happened, which was strange as normally the sensors activate upon impact in order to minimise damage. From the hole in the hull they came, the intruders. They were clocked in robed of pure light, their frames were slender and nimble yet regal posed as if entering a royal court as its owner. Hair as fiery red as dying leaves from tall old trees in the wet and darkening Autumn on a planet I’ve never seen. Skin as white as snow atop the highest mountain of a planet that had left our universe like an electron jumping from one ring to another, yet we had still to find where it had gone. Angels of the void, beings of the deep, harbingers of ships with journeys doomed to fail. They boarded the WSC Alexia through the breach into the illumination of the blinking lights. There were four of them in total all gliding through the room as their feet never touched the floor yet they moved with ease without touching anything or each other.
A second later a pulse manifested in the centre of the room. It pulsed five quick times, first as white, then blue, purple, green, black then finally red. A figure appeared in the room, the four beings looked at it in anger, shrieked at it; but just as their final sounds the figure from the rift raised a gun with two hands and emptied the clip into them, bullet after bullet at each target after another till the gun was empty and twelve shots had been fired. Pink viscera coated the walls and the heads of the four were smashed to pulpy bits three lead slugs floating in the space where their heads had been. The figure from the rift came into focus as it turned towards the hole into the void, it looked like me. It, me? Whatever it was, was still slowly giving of pulses of white. It raised a hand to the hull and with hand out and palm up retracted its fingers, as it did the contents of the room were regurgitated back, every object every atom that had been present in the room beforehand all rushed back in from the hungry empty void. With one finger a circle of green light was drawn in front of the figure, the hole in the hull flashed and the wall was back as if nothing had happened to it in the first place. With that the figure pulsed one last time the clock in corner of the screen read twenty-one-thirty-four. Three minutes from the hull breach and apart from the bodies of the four and the viscera the room was exactly as it had been before.
Dr. Evana turned the monitor off, looking at Dr. Valentine, “I still can’t believe any of that happened, I’ve heard of strange encounters in deep space but even then; Clarke, do you not remember any of this?” I looked at her with a disturbed gaze that epitomised more than words that had no recollection of this at all. Just then the door opened breaking what would be containment protocol, “let Clarke go you fuckin’ plaster nitwits, we’ve got work to do, not a lot of time to do it and before you ask I’ve got Hayden’s permission to boot, check your damn coms once in a while.”
There was a lot of chatter in the background but to me, it was all just white noise. The restraints were removed and I was sat up and told some stuff and let loose under Ewan’s wing to check the ship and get back to work. The world was numb, my head was full of thoughts yet empty of reason.
Chapter 6 : Listening to the Void
We got back to engineering deck one, we didn’t see anyone on the walk there, the numbness had receded and my thoughts had become less noisy. I just wanted to do some work to get my mind off what had happened. Ewan gestured to the suits and told me, “suit up we’re going on a walk, we’ve got the entire area around engineering deck two to check”. I slipped out of my clothes into just my undershirt and underwear, the suits were heavy and kinda warm once you got moving in them to be honest. The suit itself was heavy and padded yet it was very snug to the conforms of the body, the boots were magnetised but had impulse thrusters, this really just made them super heavy when you were inside a gravity zone. The gauntlets were padded but not enough to make it difficult to use energy tools while in the suit; the helmet itself was a hunk of metal that had an inbuilt HUD for the visor that was synced up to the Alexia helping to identify areas that had been damaged or parts that were needed, this was more for Ewan than for me and ships were my skin, parts were my bones and so on.
“Look don’t get me wrong, I know you didn’t hurt anyone and you don’t even know what you did, but that’s what’s got people scared,” Ewan said to me while grasping my shoulders, his words and voice coming through the coms to reassure me. I raised my gaze to line into the dark of his visor, “I know, lets worry about the weird stuff once we know that the ship is safe and if your drunk cooking hasn’t killed us anyway”. With that we dragged the ourselves in the heavy suits towards the maintenance airlock, “we should really have these suits closer to the shit hole of the air lock this extra weight is hella bad on my knees,” Ewan grumbled probably to himself but the microphones on these things didn’t really turn off.
I started the airlock sequence, inputting the code two-four-one-four, the tanks on the backs of the suits filled with air enough to last twelve hours, not that it mattered there were stations we could use to re-fuel as it were; the air in the room was sucked out till the room was a contained void. Then the door opened, making no noise at all, not to us anyway and the blackness of deep space winked at us with purple star light. We strolled out of the airlock the extra weight that had been imposed on us inside the ship was lifted in the absence of almost everything.
“Okay so we’re just headed down one deck pretty much then?” I asked Ewan, “yea, it’s not really that far which is lucky for us, but the captain and the Alexia herself have given me a list of other places we need to check over, we’ll both look at the hull around deck two but then we’ll split up, I want to get back inside before we miss all of the new year celebrations,” Ewan chortled over com. The walk was short, the metal contours of the Alexia were smooth, gorgeous and flowing. At the site of the hull breach there was nothing, not a scratch or a dent in the metal and even the paint was perfectly intact and coloured.
“Well I gotta hand it you, whatever you did seems to have to made our jobs so much easier today, not a single scuff,” Ewan said jolly across coms. “Yea it’s good that nothing is out of the ordinary, you know other than the initial damage and how ‘I’ fixed it don’t you think?” “Well you did say you had a knack for space tech being raised on Titan by those state of science extremists.” I looked at him sharply with the mention of extremism, “what do you mean by extremists?” “Nothing really, but you do know the theories about what happened to Earth three, right? That the state of science was playing around with electron jumping and as a result displaced the entire planet that still hasn’t been found, all I’m saying is all advancements that they come up with are either genius or madness, I class everything you do as genius by the way; anyyyyyway you go check the area around Hayden’s quarters, then the bridge and then meet me back inside our cozy little headquarters,” Ewan snorted when he said our base was cozy. Probably because we were both messy, chaotically organised I guess, tools and parts everywhere, tech piled on top of other tech, things being made and fixed all in this smaller space we shared for operations. If either of the Docs got in there we’d never find anything though, organised systems weren’t really our things as much as they were theirs.
I turned away from Ewan giving him a thumbs-up with my left as I continued my space walk up to Hayden’s, hopefully the windows were obscured. The walk was a bit longer as I had to go up two decks and along two-hundred meters towards the bridge before I’d be outside the quarters. I clicked my fingers, started as good a run as you could get in magnetised boots, disengaged the mag-lock, and floated towards my target. After the brief thought of flying through space had stopped giving me happiness and replaced itself with the fear of how in the name of George Takei was I going to stop…duh air thrusters. Use compressed air stored in the suit to slow down and readjust to the direction and orientation of the Alexia. Simple in theory, getting the angle down however, that was a bit more of a pain.
Two minutes of flustered EVA and just shy of one-hundred and eighty-five meters later and I had my boots back on well not the ground but sure I was grounded. Anyway, not far to go now. “Yo, you still there Clarke? Better not have went on a little flight without a tether to keep you safe,” Ewan chipped in over the com suddenly. “Eh no, no, I decided to run for a little bit to get there a bit faster don’t want to be out here any longer than I need to now I know that ‘Angels’ are real.” “I wouldn’t worry about them, they’re rare to see alone, never mind four at once, I’ll turn the com link on if anything happens, see you soon.”
I sighed and got up to the window of Hayden’s quarters. The lights were on inside, the ‘glass’ was free of scratches and cracks the frame also was entirely fine, nothing out of the ordinary. Just as I was about to walk off to the bridge Hayden walked into sight. She was getting changed, I dragged myself away from the portcullis almost as fast as I had looked into it. I left quickly feeling guilty about having been there at that particular moment in time making my way towards the bridge.
I got to the bridge not long after, spurned on to get away from the window as fast as I could, nothing. The bridge was perfectly fine, monitors flickered normally inside, the instruments on the outside were also fine, no abnormalities, no scrapes, no dents no chunks missing, no small rocks in any crevices. The bridge was designed so that it could be detached from the main ship, I’m still unsure what this feature is designed for truth be told.
On the walk back, I could swear I could hear a voice calling out my name, whispering to me. People went mad out this deep in space all the time, best to just hurry on back inside. The coms burst into static life. I crouched low holding my head, it was loud, piercing static white noise. I could see, hear and feel only the noise. The noise settled, raised high and low like the waves of an oscilloscope; it stopped, tried another pattern of static, again and again and again. Until, “I have watched you, I have watched many, I am everything yet nothing, I can do many things yet there are many things I know not how to do, what do you, desired being who can hear me, ask for something and I will deliver upon you what you desire,” the static voice subsided. I got up, and started walking when I did it began to whisper, “I grant wishes, all you need do is wish, wishes have a price but what is a price on something you yearn.” I pushed this voice far to the back of my mind, ignored its insistence that I wish for something. As I got to the air lock it said, “you need only give yourself to the void to receive my gift when you wish little one.”
I opened up the air lock with the code two-four-one-four, got inside and began the cycle process. I got back to the small main room where Ewan was waiting for me, “what took so long, I tried to raise you on the coms and you didn’t respond?” “Yeah, something must be up with my helmet I was getting a lot of static”, I shrugged. “Okay well let’s go give our report to Alexia and the captain then, chop chop.”
And we put our suits away, apart from my helmet, which had said strange things to me, was left on a messy table as we dressed, and then went to give our report.