Farah opened her eyes. She wasn’t sure when she’d lost consciousness or how long she’d been out. The first thing she saw was Grace examining the Cerberus’ engine. She took her time undoing her restraints and took some uncertain steps.
Her entire body felt odd, probably as a side effect of how fast they’d gone. “Grace,” she said.
“Mmmm?” Grace muttered.
“Is something wrong?” Farah asked.
“Definitely,” Grace answered.
Before Farah could ask for clarification, Kat burst in. “How bad is it?”
“The engines won’t last for much longer,” Grace answered. “There’s no way to fix them either. We have an hour at most before were drifting without power. That means no life support. No artificial gravity control. Nothing.”
“That’s two pieces of bad news,” Kat stated. “According to Yuri, the fighters could be made operable, but it would take weeks and resources we don’t have.”
“I’m afraid there’s three pieces of bad news,” Leon said, walking into Engineering. “Our jump damaged most of the space suits. There are four that will still work.”
“Which means that if no one answers our distress beacon soon…” Grace glanced at Farah and went quiet.
“It means only four of us will survive,” Leon finished.
“Five,” Grace corrected. “Yuri can survive in a vacuum for an extended amount of time. Probably even longer than the suits last.”
“How long will the suits last?” Kat asked, turning to Leon.
“We used a lot of their built in oxygen supplies while the ship was in two pieces,” Leon said. “Assuming that the lucky four could scavenge some extra tanks from the trashed suits, they might last an extra day.
Kat sighed. “All right. We’ll leave Yuri to check for signs of communication. The rest of us will have a quick meeting.”
“So, how do we decide which of us get to live?” Allison asked. “Should we draw straws?”
The group had gathered, save Ophelia & Lucy who were still unconscious in Medical.
“It might be the fairest way,” Kat mused. “We can also draw for Ophelia and Lucy so that everyone has a fifty percent chance.”
“And just abandon the others to die I suppose,” Paul said.
“I don’t like it either,” Kat said. “But what choice do we have?”
“Do what you need to,” Paul said. “I won’t take a suit.”
“Paul!” Leon exclaimed, grabbing Paul’s shoulder.
“I’m a doctor, Fuzzy,” Paul said. “It’s my privilege to safeguard the lives of others. I won’t… I can’t take anything from someone else that will result in their death. Even if it kills me.”
“You’re being way too noble here!” Leon cried. “You can’t just…”
“Fuzzy,” Paul interrupted. “It isn’t just that I’m a doctor. It’s also that I care too much for the people on this ship to let anyone here die for my sake. I’m sorry.”
Paul hurried out, heading towards Medical.
“You know,” Allison said. “If I were into men that might have done something for me.” Leon glared at her. “I admire that kind of self sacrifice is all,” Allison said.
“As much as I hate to admit it right now, so do I,” Leon said. He sighed heavily and turned to the ladies. “Truth is, my life doesn’t mean anything without him. If he won’t take a suit, there’s no point in me having one.” He went to the doorway. “I’m gonna go be with him as long as I can. Good luck.”
“You know,” Allison said. “We could say the four of us won and they’ll never know.”
“We aren’t doing that,” Kat said. “Ophelia and Lucy deserve a shot. I’ll get six straws, two short.”
“We’re really doing this?” Farah asked.
“We have little choice,” Kat said. “If we run out of time, it would be foolish for all of us to die. No matter how distasteful this survival method may be.”
Kat left and quickly returned with six straws. “Okay, Ladies,” she said. “First, Grace and Allison can draw for Ophelia and Lucy.”
Grace went first. “For the Captain,” she said. She drew a long straw.
“Then I’ve got one for Lucy,” Allison said. She drew a long straw. “Can I keep this one and draw another for Lucy?”
“No,” Kat said. “Now, all three of you grab one.”
The four of them gathered together and pulled. Farah felt the straw she initially grabbed being held tightly and another being thrust into her hand.
She examined it. It was a long straw.
“Yes!” Allison cried. “I must be super lucky!”
Grace and Kat looked at one another. “Guess it’s settled,” Kat said.
Grace nodded. “I’ll keep an eye on the engines, let you know when to put the suits on.”
“Wait!” Farah cried. She thrust her long straw at Grace. Take mine.”
Grace shook her head. “If anyone else here had made that offer I’d do it.” She stroked Farah’s cheek. “Live, My Love.”
“I’ll sit in the Bridge with Yuri,” Allison said.
Farah waited until she was alone with Kat. “Why?”
“Why what?” Kat asked.
“Why did you hold onto the short straw and give me a long one?” Farah demanded.
“I didn’t know the one I was giving you was long,” Kat said. “For all I knew, giving you that one didn’t make a difference. All I knew was where one of the short ones was.”
“But why make sure you get it?” Farah asked.
“Because I can’t stand to have anybody die for me either,” Kat said. “When it comes right down to it, all of you deserve a chance more than I do.”
“But…” Farah began.
“Stop right there,” Kat said. “There’s no guarantee we won’t be rescued in time. But if we don’t… stay close to Grace for as long as you can. Make some good memories and never feel bad about surviving. Someone has to.”
The wrecked Cerberus continued drifting, time swiftly running out for Paul, Leon, Kat, Grace, The Baron & Hyper.