Kat and Farah boarded the derelict.
“Keep your weapon at ready,” Kat instructed. “There may still be some survivors lurking about.”
“I understand,” Farah said. “Now, let’s get that propulsion system!”
“Assuming it’s salvageable,” Kat muttered.
They went down the corridor, moving deep into the ship. Eventually, they came across some corpses.
“These are Alliance uniforms,” Farah observed.
“It’s to be expected,” Kat stated. “We are in the area of the Alliance’s rumoured weapon designing laboratory. If this monstrosity was what they were working on, I’d hate to think what other experimental toys are floating around.”
“We’ll have to fire immediately if we do see a survivor,” Farah said. “Can’t afford the risk.”
“I agree completely,” Kat said. “Even if we aren’t technically enemies of the Alliance, this ship did try to kill us. I’m not inclined to grant anyone here mercy.”
They moved past the corpses, checking the rooms as they went. Finally, they came across engineering. The department was easily thrice the size of the Cerberus’ engine room with terminals set up and a huge team of engineers, judging by the remains in the room.
Kat pushed one of the bodies aside and checked the terminal.
“Now that’s an interesting measure,” she said.
“What?” Farah asked.
“It requires a retinal scan and hand identification to work,” Kat said. “Guess they were worried that someone might sneak aboard unnoticed. Help me with this.”
She and Farah took the body of the closest engineer and took off one of his suit’s gloves, pressing his hand against the terminal. Next, they opened his helmet and pried open his eye for the retinal scan.
“There we go,” Kat said. “Cover me while I look things over.”
“I really hate doing that to a corpse,” Farah said. “It just feels wrong.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Kat said. “We’re the only two alive around here. Not like we’re going to hurt the remains. When the Alliance returns for them, they’ll just take stock of the casualties and cremate them.”
“Still…” Farah began, but thought better of it. She knew Kat well enough at this point to know that she was just being pragmatic about it.
“Interesting,” Kat muttered. “This propulsion system has some serious power and it looks like we might just e able to pry it away from the ship.”
“That’s good, right?” Farah asked.
“There is a problem,” Kat said, matter-of-factly. “Well, two problems. The first is how big the thing is. Mounting it on what’s left of the Cerberus and making it actually stable, won’t be easy. The power is also going to be an issue. On a ship like this, that much power is required to get it moving at a decent rate. For the Cerberus… I don’t even know if we’ll be able to power it. And if we manage, we’ll be shot forward without much control at a great velocity.”
“So it’s no good,” Farah muttered.
“It’s a risk,” Kat said. “But it may also be our only choice. I’m going to download this schematic and send it to you, Leon & Allison. Together, we’ll get the system detached. Then we’ll see what Grace wants to do about it.”
“Grace, allow me to assist you,” Yuri said.
“Finish the smaller holes?” Grace asked.
“They have all been sealed,” Yuri confirmed.
“All right,” Grace said. “We’ll start by sealing the whole thing. When that’s done we’ll graft an opening that Farah and the others can use to board. I’ve got an intact airlock over there.” She nodded towards her pile of scrap.
“Understood,” Yuri stated.
They had finished sealing things up and were hard at work getting the airlock in place when Kat’s voice came in over the communicator.
“Grace, come in.”
“Grace here,” Grace answered. “Did you find my propulsion system?”
“The Cerberus’ was found in small pieces,” Kat answered. “We did manage to get the enemy ship’s. Trouble is, it’s over-sized and will take a lot of power.”
“Send me the schematics,” Grace ordered. “I’ll see what I can do with it.”
“Already done,” Kat said. “We’ll stand by in our ships.”
“Yuri, finish getting the airlock in place, please,” Grace said. “She went to work, studying the sent schematics.
“What are our options?” Ophelia asked, coherent in spite of the pain medication.
“We have to mount the propulsion system,” Grace stated. “It would simply take too long to build a new one.”
“But we’ll be out of control?” Lucy asked.
“Not entirely,” Grace said. “Thanks to her mechanical abilities, Yuri can react quickly enough to steer us. At least a little. If we pick a clear course, she should be able to prevent us hitting anything.”
“How will you power the system?” Ophelia asked.
“I’m going to connect the Nebula, Wyvern, Healer & Simurgh up to it, along with the Cerberus’ engine,” Grace said. “They’ll all blow after a little while, but we should have enough of a boost to get us out of Alliance space. At that point, we have to hope that we’re lucky enough to get some help. The Cerberus certainly won’t be in good shape.”
“And there’s no other choice?” Ophelia asked.
“I know it’s risky,” Grace stated. “But the only other options are to get captured while trying to build something new or to wait for capture. You know what they’ll do to us after we’ve trashed their toy.”
Ophelia sighed. “Agreed. Make it happen.” Grace turned to leave. “Oh and Grace.”
“Yeah?” Grace asked.
“How soon until the atmosphere is fully restored?” Ophelia asked.
“Eight minutes,” Grace answered. “Paul’s preparing Medical for you already.”
“Oh good,” Ophelia said. “At least your stunt won’t kill me while I have a busted leg.”
“My stunt won’t kill you because I’m a genius,” Grace said. “Don’t you worry.” She left the Conference room.
“Confident, isn’t she?” Ophelia asked.
“No,” Lucy said. “She’s nervous. There’s so much that could go wrong here, but she doesn’t want you to worry. She’s also right. We really have no other choice right now.”