This is part 10 of my Describli-prompt inspired story featuring Lena and friends. 🙂 I had some feedback last week that the installment was quite choppy, and I came to conclusion that I’d tried to fit too much story into too few words. So I’ve tried to go a bit slower this week, and let the story develop more naturally instead of trying to force myself to get to a certain conclusion.
Part 11 here next week.
“Okay, we’re out of the atmosphere and officially in space,” Leo announced, sitting back in his seat. “So now what?”
It was a good question. Lena turned to Zinna, who was leaving the bridge. “Where are you going?” she asked.
Zinna turned back to face her. “I thought I’d have a look around.”
“Is that really a priority right now?”
“About as much as when you wanted to stay on Earth to explore.”
Lena cringed. “Right. Well, you shouldn’t wander about on your own. We’ll have a look around while we try to think of a next move.”
“And you never know, we might find something that will help us.”
“You never know.” Lena turned to Leo. “Keep an eye on things?”
He sighed, and turned back to the slim screen in front of him. “Sure.”
Lena felt a little guilty. He was always the one left behind, but he’d never seemed to mind before then. She wondered why he seemed irritated. Zinna had left the bridge though, so it was a question for later.
Lena followed, and caught up to her in the hallway. The ship was like a maze, the hallways narrow and winding. The doors all looked the same, painted in the same brown colour as the walls. They were set back slightly from the walls, it was the only way to distinguish them.
Zinna stopped in front of one that was subtly different. Red and blue dots, painted side by side, stood out from the brown. Lena caught Zinna’s eye. And she knew they were both thinking the same thing. The red button that had transported them off their ship and away from their time.
Zinna touched the door. Nothing happened. She, and Lena, looked up and down it for a way to open it. There was no obvious method.
Lena spotted a small panel on the inner edge of the doorframe. It was black, and shiny. She pointed at it. “Do you think that might open it?”
Zinna touched it with one finger. There was a faint whirring sound, then a flash of red.
“I don’t think it likes you,” Lena said. She put her finger on it with the same result. “Hm. Me either.”
She crouched down, so that her face was level with the panel. It was part of the frame, but it had to be connected to the door somehow inside the wall. Otherwise it wouldn’t work. “How advanced were the Aireans?”
“More so than humanity,” Zinna crouched down beside her, “but not as far along as we are now.”
“Then I should be able to hack this,” Lena said. She felt carefully around the edges of the panel, and sure enough, on the outer edge, there was a tiny gap. “I need something fine,” she said, “like a very fine length of metal.”
Zinna looked thoughtful, then reached around to her back.
Lena realised what she was going to do an instant before Zinna winced as she pulled one of her feathers from her wings. The tip was fine, and strong. She handed it to Lena. “Here.”
“You shouldn’t have done that,” Lena said as she took the feather.
“Did you have any better ideas?”
“Then don’t worry about it. It’ll grow back.”
That wasn’t the point, but Lena didn’t argue. It was pointless. The deed was done.
She turned instead back to the panel and wedged the tip of the feather into the gap. With a little wangling and careful pressure the panel popped out from the wall. Lena used her fingers to pull it off completely. It was attached by wires, so she let it hang from them as she inspected the mess behind it.
It resembled other systems she’d seen. She moved a few wires around, pulled some out, cursed when she got a small shock from a stray spark of electricity, and finally the door whooshed open. A wave of cold hit her, but she refused to look inside the room. This was Zinna’s idea.
She stood up.
Zinna turned from gazing further down the hallway. A small smile quirked at the side of her mouth. “You’ve done it.”
“I have.” She rubbed at her slightly burned finger. “Shall we see what’s inside?”
Zinna came to the doorway, and Lena turned. She could barely believe what she was seeing.
A brightly-lit room, fog swirling around the floor, and in the middle the most curious thing she had ever seen.
A chair made of ice.
This week’s prompt: A chair of ice.