The whole ship rocked and I was thrown forward against the console at the systems bank in the cockpit. The second pod had let off a massive explosion that sent fragments tearing through upper-deck sections of the SM5, including damage to the central corridor that runs the length of the ship.

I have never been witness to such automated calamity. I bolted from my seat and hit the hatchway. In the corridor was madness. Alarms rang, lights flashed, automated response systems were shouting orders, closing off hatchways and sealing sections of the ship. By the time I had emerged from the upper-level cockpit, the ship had already closed off the port-side observation lounge, medical lab, and an aft hold. Access denied. For a moment, I was stunned, motionless, my mouth agape. Just then, two compartment hatchways along the upper corridor slammed shut in front of me and hissed deafeningly as they expanded into the corridor walls and created an air-tight seal. Not knowing the extent of the damage, I shook myself from my frozen state and jumped the personnel lift to the mid deck. I ran aft toward the Evac gear compartment. My heart raced. I clutched my chest and took deep breaths. The thought that I could find myself sealed off in a compartment with no other crew onboard to resolve the damages and release unaffected sections sent panic through my entire body. Fortunately, the mid-level corridor was open through the entire length and I ran like mad. As I reached the Evac gear compartment, I heard loud bursts from above. I crouched and covered my ears. Looking up, I half expected the whole upper deck to collapse in on the mid ship. At that point, I could only assume that and sealed compartments within medical had violently exploded in the vacuum. I leapt to my feet and launched myself into the Evac gear compartment. The compartment housed general mobility suits for ten crew members and two heavy Evac rigs. Preparing for the worst, I took up with one of the heavy suits.

As I entered the suit and fired up the internal systems, all I could think about was the never-ending series of events that seemed to be constantly working against my getting home. I may never see home again. I sealed the suit.

[Communication sent: 12JAN2186 Shinkai Maru 5]

PDF24    Send article as PDF