This is part fifteen of my Describli-prompt inspired series. This one came fairly easily, though the ending was a bit difficult.
As the story doesn’t seem to want to end, Part 16 will be here next week. 🙂
Lena let out a frustrated breath. The engine had been drained of fuel, right from inside the working mechanism. She guessed that was the only way the blue-lipped woman’s workers could get to it. Like her, maybe they weren’t too keen on space walks. “We need fuel,” she said, and replaced the panel on the chamber, then stood up.
Leo bit the inside of his lip. “And we get that from where stuck out here?”
“Someone will have to take the shuttle, if it’s got any fuel in it, and get some from the nearest Station.”
“I suppose we should go and check.” He didn’t seem too happy about the idea.
Before she left the engine room, Lena radioed down to Zinna. When she answered, Lena asked, “How’s everything going up there?”
“He’s more peaceful now. I’m still trying to work out what he meant about the mountains.”
“Do you think it really is significant?”
“Instinct tells me yes.”
Lena had learned to listen to Zinna’s instinct. She had never been wrong. “Okay. I’m still thinking about it too, but I don’t have any idea yet.”
“Me either.” She sounded frustrated. “What about the engines?”
“We’ve got barely any fuel left. Someone’s going to have to take the shuttle and get some.”
She muttered a Brinnan curse word, aimed at the blue-lipped woman and her followers.
“We’re going to check the shuttle now. Hopefully it’s still working.”
“Okay.” The connection went dead. Zinna was in thinking mode, and in thinking mode, Zinna wasn’t very social.
Lena didn’t take it personally. She left the engine room, and led Leo up to the second cargo area of the ship. the shuttle she had spoken of was little more than a pod with an engine, room enough for one person inside, nothing more. Like the rest of the ship, it had seen better days. The outside was scratched and starting to rust in places, and the engine wasn’t one hundred percent reliable either.
Lena climbed inside and hit the power button. It sputtered, and her heart lurched, then came to life in a steady hum. The fuel gauge read half full, just how they kept it. It was for emergencies only. It was a Rithan ship, procured in an incident a couple of years ago, so had a different fuel source to the main ship, which meant she couldn’t just transfer it, unfortunately.
Leo leaned into the hatch. “Who’s going then?”
It had to be either him or her. Zinna was too tall to fit inside. Rithans were on the short side. She bit her bottom lip, unsure. She hated this craft, and the idea of being out in space with such little protection – but how could she tell her brother to do something that she was too afraid to do?
“I’ll go,” he said into the silence. “Come on, get out. You know leaving me and Zinna alone together probably isn’t a good idea, and you’ll be needed here in case your ‘guest’ wakes up.” He took her hand and gently pulled her from the pod.
“But-” she protested .
“But nothing.” He climbed in and checked the provisions in the small hatch to his right. Dried food bars and sealed containers of water sat there, packed away, just in case. “I’m going and that’s that. Get up to the bridge and open the hatch for me.”
For a moment, she stood dumbstruck. It wasn’t often her little brother was assertive, but when he was he was.
“Go on,” he said, then, in his more usual gentle tone, “let me do this for you, sis. Please?”
Her hands were on the edge of the hatch, gripping the rough metal. Their father’s words were running through both of their heads, she knew. Asking them, one at a time, at different points in their lives, to take care of each other. She would always remember. They were the last words he ever said to her. There was no winning. She took care of Leo so often, maybe it was time to stand back, let him be the hero for once.
She dropped down to the ground. “Okay. Prepare for launch, little brother. And,” she half-turned, “Be careful, Please?”
He smiled, but she saw the fear in his eyes. “Always.”
The reverse of their usual conversation. It was strange to be on the other side.
She turned from the shuttle, hearing the hatch close and the engines fire up. She raced up to the bridge, trying to settle what was happening inside. Trying to accept it.
She found the controls for the cargo bay doors, and took a breath. Then pressed the button to let her brother go out into cold empty space.
The senses beeped as the shuttle left the ship. The point of no return. She couldn’t go back on her decision now.
This week’s prompt: The point of no return.