“Grace?” Farah asked. “What are you doing?”
Grace was stooped over her desk. “Just preparing, I suppose,” she said. She reached out and gently stroked Farah’s cheek. “I really thought we’d have more time.”
Farah clasped her hand. “We will! We’ll definitely, definitely get rescued before the life support fails!”
“I admire your optimism. In fact, it’s one of the things I love about you,” Grace said. “But I’m afraid I can’t share it right now.” She sighed. “Hey, would it be okay with you if we lock the door and make love? If I am going to de today, I want to at least be intimate with you once more.”
Farah nodded. “I’d like that. I mean, if the worst does happen… if it comes to that… I’d like to have one last memory of us… together.”
“I hauled the suits in for Ophelia and Lucy,” Leon reported. “We’ll be able to get them suited up when the time comes.”
“Hmmm,” Paul muttered.
“Just what are you doing at a time like this?” Leon asked.
“Writing up instructions for how to effectively deal with survivor’s guilt,” Paul answered.
“Good grief,” Leon stated. “You really are too kind. We may die here and you’re worried about how those lucky few who survive will manage.”
“Survivor’s guilt is no joke,” Paul said. “It can be a source of acute mental and emotional distress. While you are right about the possibility of our deaths, the truth is that those left behind will be at risk. As their friends, we should try to alleviate that as much s possible.”
“I suppose,” Leon muttered. “It’s just really hard for me to feel bad for them right now.”
“Are you afraid to die?” Paul asked.
“Not really,” Leon said. “But when I think of you dying I get furious. Out of everyone in this vast universe, the kindest, most noble person I’ve ever known is going to get killed, and in such unfair circumstances?” Leon turned and punched the wall.
Paul pushed his work aside and got up. He put an arm around Leon’s shoulder. “It’s flattering that you think so highly of me, thank you. But you mustn’t be angry. It serves no purpose. Try to focus on the good times we’ve shared instead.”
“And what purpose would that serve?” Leon snapped.
“It’ll improve your state of mind,” Paul said. “And I won’t have to worry about you as much.”
“Fine,” Leon said. “But just for your sake.”
“Hey, do you really think that’ll work?” Allison asked.
“I am uncertain,” Yuri said. “However, if I can boost our distress signal then we may be rescued more quickly. It is the best chance that Grace and the others currently possess. You, the captain and the others will not function for a long period either.”
“Just out of curiosity,” Allison said. “How long can you survive in a vacuum?”
“My systems can persist without issue for twenty eight days, seventeen hours and fifteen minutes in a sustained vacuum,” Yuri stated. “After that point, they will begin to degrade. However, the damage would not be irreparable. Critical damage would take over five decades.”
Allison whistled. “Lucky you.”
“I do not know that it is fortuitous,” Yuri stated. “While it is a fact that my survival is more likely than any of yours, if I am the sole survivor then I will have lost my comrades, friends and lover. Should I be drifting long enough to suffer dysfunction, I will be at the mercy of whomever happens to find me first. One thing I am certain of, my life would be heavily altered for the worse. Particularly without you in it.”
“Aww,” Allison squealed. “That’s actually kind of sweet of you.”
“I was simply stating the facts,” Yuri said. “I have boosted our signal by ten percent. I am going to attempt to strengthen it further.”
Kat waited. She’d try and read something, but her books had all been lost along with half the ship. So, she just sat thinking.
In a way, it was fitting that she die in a broken, beaten ship. Not that she wanted to die. She just wished that she could save the others. Leon, Paul, Grace, Wolfie, Hyper. None of them deserved this.
The frustrating part was the helplessness. Every other time they’d been in a dangerous situation, there’d been something they could do. But, in this case, there was nothing. No way to stop the engines from failing. No way to get more suits. They were stuck. Drifting, waiting, hoping.
If no one came… Or, more likely, If someone came after a couple hours had passed… Everything was over.
“We’ve reached the source of the beacon.”
“Good work, put it on visual, I guess.”
“Idiot, it’s not like I want to hear that from you or anything.”
“You’re a very ssstrange human. You alwaysss act like you have a dissstasste for our captain. Yet I sussspect your feelingsss for him are quite the oppossssite.”
“Like you know anything about humans!”
“Come on, you two, don’t fight. We have people to help. Wait… I recognise that ship, I think. Why does it look familiar?”
“It’sss the Cerberusss, or part of it. With some monssstrousss thing attached to it.”
“Oh yeah, them. I liked them so let’s make sure and rescue them. I think we can guess the problem, but contact them to be sure.”
“I’ve already hailed them, but there’sss no resssponsse.”
“Guess we’d better board them then. You two, put on atmosphere suits and follow me, just in case.”
The trio docked with the Cerberus and moved aboard.
“Don’t you dare say it’s too quiet!”
“I don’t see any signs of them. I’ll head to the Bridge. You split up and check Engineering and Medical.”
“Fine, but not because you asked me to.”
The Captain headed for the Bridge. He found Yuri next to an atmosphere suit, presumably containing someone.
Yuri turned to look at him. “You must hurry,” she informed him. “Our engines will be offline within minutes and we will lose atmosphere.”
“Better hurry to my ship then,” he said.
“I will retrieve Wolfie and Hyper,” Yuri stated. “Allison go with him.”
“Happiest I’ve ever been to see an adventurer, ne’er do well, occasional solver of mysteries & noted horticulturist, if you count all the Cannabis you grow.” She clapped him across the shoulder. “We appreciate the rescue, Mister Elijah J. Tawaig and in the nick of time too.”
“I seem to specialise in that,” Elijah muttered. “Bugger if I know why.”