Prompt: What’s behind the door? Why is it closed?
I lower my gun and move toward the door, signaling to Markus. He nods, keeping his gun leveled at the door. I creep closer, boots quiet as they can be on the metal grating. The door is closed, closed when all other doors have been opened. We might have this thing cornered.
My hand shakes as I reach out, something I hope Markus doesn’t notice. The handle is cold metal, almost icy to the touch. I grip it firmly, mentally preparing for the worst. Markus nods to me, and I yank the door open.
The small closet it empty, panic immediately setting in. We’ve searched every inch of the ship. How could we have missed it? I flip around, scanning the hallways, looking for motion.
“We need to get back to comms,” Markus says, his voice steady despite the nervous dart to his eyes.
It’s slow going, each corner holding death, my heart racing so fast it seems a continuous thunder in my ears. Julia is waiting for us, her face hopeful through the enhanced glass windows. I shake my head as she unlocks the door, letting us inside before bolting it tight.
“You didn’t find it?” she asks, face falling.
“We searched the whole ship,” Markus says, putting his gun on the table.
I tune out their talking, busying myself with checking and counting our gear. I try not to calculate the odds of us surviving, the odds that we won’t blow this ship to pieces trying to kill the very creature we were sent to collect. I look at the mag boots in our inventory. Usually, we don’t operate in zero-g, the constant spinning of the core simulating about 0.7g. A plan begins to form.
Julia and Markus are at the comm array, scanning once again for any nearby vessels. I watch for a moment, the screen blank, waiting for any sign of life in this sector.
“How far to engineering bay?” I ask quietly.
Markus looks at me before exchanging a glance with Julia.
“What did you have in mind?” he asks.
“I’m not going to blow the ship if that’s what you’re thinking,” I reply, rolling my eyes. “We have mag gear for three. If I stop the rotation of the core, our chances of survival go up by 73%.”
“Do I want to know what they’re at right now?” Julia asks, her voice wavering.
“Probably not,” I reply.
She sighs, pulling her hair out of her face and pulling up the ship blueprint.
“We’re here,” she says, highlighting the comm room on the display. “Engineering bay is on the other side of the ship.”
Markus swears. I exhale slowly.
“Will you be safe here?” I ask Julia.
“I should be. I can maglock all the doors and power down everything but essential functions. The fans in airflow should hide any noise I might make.”
“Well then,” Markus says. “Let’s not waste any time.”