Tuesday, 11 December 2012



Brook quickly glanced round at Si and Sully to see if they were seeing what she was. Given their slack jaws and wide eyes she figured that they were. Despite Fuller's almost jovial cry, it was clear that he wasn't having the best time. Rather than looking like he was some macho space cowboy riding the bucking bronco, instead he was holding on for dear life to the spyder's cylindrical body, while the drone poked and swiped at him with its long legs while also trying to throw him off, or at least work him around to either of the sets of jaws. 
Sully gave a little shake of the head, but he also had a grim smile at seeing his comrade, and friend. Raising his gun to eye level, he took aim as the spyder moved towards them, Fuller in tow. It was hard to get a clear target given how much the spyder was jerking and spinning, especially given that Sully wasn't able to use his targeting augments with the AI messed up - currently one augment was ominously telling him that the most effective aiming solution came from pointing the gun right at Si's head. Sully instead closed one eye and prepared to shoot the old fashioned way. Looking down the sight of the rifle, he took aim, held steady for a couple of heart beats, then fired. 
He shot Fuller clean in the arse. 
"FUCK" cursed Sully and Fuller simultaneously. The shot had caused Fuller to slip from the back of the spyder, the drone quickly turning round and upright to grab him in the body crushing set of door-opening jaws. However, this gave Sully a clearer shot, who fired a quick burst of three armour piercing rounds into the spyder. Rather than ricochet like the bullets had done in the canteen and machine-shop, these thumped into the spyder, two putting large dents into its armoured flanks, but the third punching through leaving a small hole. 
Fuller forgotten, the spyder turned and rushed at Sully. The marine fired another volley, but the front of the spyder was its most armoured part, the bullets leaving dents but no permanent damage. Sully pushed off the fire suppression protrusion, flying backwards down the corridor with the spyder in pursuit. The drone had learnt to target its attackers first; previously it had gone after Billington or Si with a single minded determination, which had given the marines time to concentrate fire upon it. Now it had worked out the immediate threats, it chased them down. 
Sully's gap to the chasing spyder was rapidly closing, the drone much more affective at travelling in zero g. Whereas Sully was a mess of limbs struggling to propel himself any faster, the spyder effortlessly gained speed using its long limbs to both push and pull itself along. Sully risked a quick glance ahead of him, there was a junction coming up with another corridor, if he could just get there and swing himself around and out of the way, hopefully the faster travelling spyder would carry on past; give him a few vital seconds to reload his almost empty weapon. 
The junction was almost upon them, Sully fired a couple more shots then switched the now empty rifle into his left hand, ready to use his right to grab the Trax rail at the junction and swing himself about and down the other corridor. Nearly there, come on! he urged himself; the spyder only a few metres behind, front jaws gaping. With a thud and a crack of pain in his wrist, he slammed into the junction and swung 90 degrees, pushing off the far wall with his legs to take off down the next corridor. As he'd hoped, the spyder's momentum carried it past him in a silvery-grey blur. For a split second hope bloomed. 
Then a slender spyder limb wrapped itself around his trailing right leg. 
Sully was wrenched back into the main corridor, screaming just a little bit. The spyder dragged him in towards the front jaws, Sully kicking ineffectively. Just as he thought he was about to lose a leg, Sully realised that the front jaws weren't working properly, one looked slightly bent, not moving freely. However, this realisation only gave him an extra couple of seconds in one piece; the spyder dragged him towards the large door opening jaws at the centre of its body. He tried to extract some ammunition from his belt. Grabbing a fresh magazine, Sully brought the rifle in front of him, trying to slam the new clip home only to have it knocked out of his hands by a flailing arm of the spyder, the weapon spinning out of his reach and down the corridor behind them. 
The large metal jaw clamped shut then open in front of him, as if relishing the meal it was about to receive. Sully swore, words tumbling out of his mouth in a torrent of vulgarity. But then he remembered, a lump pressed in the small of his back; Fuller's shot-gun. Frantically he tried to claw at it, left hand brushing against, then seizing the Fulcrum-Buster. He swung it round, spyder jaws gaping. He didn't have time to aim, not even time enough to grip it in both hands as he swung the barrel round to the spyder's flank. 
"This is for Billington" Sully growled as he pulled the trigger. 
It was if the side of the spyder disintegrated, the armour pealing away, innards rupturing and fragmenting in front of Sully's eyes in a burst of light and sound. If only he was able to appreciate it. Instead to force of the single-handed recoil pinging his shoulder out of joint like a chestnut being cracked at Christmas, the rest of his body spun across the corridor and into the far wall, his head banging on the looming bulkhead.
For a few moments both Sully and the spyder drifted lifelessly in the dimly lit corridor. The few moments it took Brook and Fuller to catch up with them, both breathing hard after their frantic pursuit. It was Fuller that arrived first, grabbing Sully and attempting to patch into is vital signs, but met with static. Instead, the first sign he got of Sully's state was a loud rasping cough, followed by a string of obscenities. 
"Sul? Sul? You ok?" the big marine hurriedly enquired.
"MY ARM! FUCK, IT HURTS" Sully cradled his left arm, the shot-gun released, slowly drifting in front of him. 
Fuller hastily patted his compatriot's vac-suited arm down, it not taking him long to find the disjointed lump that currently passed for Sully's shoulder. 
"Ok Sul, I got it. This is going to hurt maybe a little bit" Fuller had wrapped an arm under the shoulder joint, another levered over the top. Spinning a few degrees in the zero g, Fuller put the point of a knee into the middle of Sully's back. "Ok, on three. One, two" with a wrench, Fuller pulled back Sully's arm while pressing into his back; there was an audible crack, followed by an audible cry from Sully. 
"HOLLY FUCKING SHIT BALLS, YOU SAID THREE!!" Sully yelled "WHY THE HELL DID YOU GO ON TWO YOU BIG FAT MANIAC?!" he hugged his arm tight, rolling over in the zero g, spinning like a small sweary asteroid. 
"You'll live, tough guy" Fuller replied sardonically "It's a small price to pay for shooting me in the ass" he rubbed his backside absent-mindedly. 
Brook almost offered to do it for him, but the moment didn't quite seem right. 
"You both ok?" she asked, casting an eye over the lifeless spyder as she spoke. 
"We'll live. Maybe spend a bit more time on the firing range though, eh Sul? Fuller used a large booted foot to arrest Sully's pained spin. 
"I got that spyder bastard when it mattered though, didn't I?" Sully still held his arm, bent double in front of the other two.
"Couldn't miss. Although firing a Fulcrum-Buster one-handed was just showing off if you ask me" Fuller smirked. 
"I figured that maybe you needed a few pointers on firing it, save you leaving it behind in the corridor again" said Sully, a smile on his face despite the acid tone to his reply.
"I got blind-sided, not my fault" Fuller mirrored the smile, relief starting to filter through to the marines' demeanour. 
"So what did happen to you?" asked Brook, still picturing those blood droplets outside the machine shop. 
"It came out directly above me, pulled me up into the pipework. Only reason it didn't tear me to pieces was that it front jaw wasn't working properly" Fuller explained.
"Yeah, I noticed that too. Must have been damaged in the previous attacks" Sully flexed his left hand experimentally, grimacing as he did so.
"So it tries to drag me towards its main jaws" Fuller continued, "but it can't quite manoeuvre me round in confines of the pipework. By the time it emerges into the corridor system I'm grabbed onto its back with no plans of letting go. Like a pissed off limpet. Was a hell of a ride, until you shot me in the ass"
"Well it worked out in the end didn't it? And you're not the only one hurting, big guy" Sully bristled.
"I guess. So what is the plan now then?" 
"We should go check how bad Si shat his vac-suit when the spyder came back, but then we're gonna try and reset the AI core" Sully explained.
"Sounds technical" Fuller wasn't a fan of technical. 
"It does involve destroying a wall" Brook pointed out. 
"In which case, count me in!" 
"Hnnn, I'm thinking maybe you should go get your, er, war wound checked out. Maybe also see how Gumelar is getting on?" Sully talked sense, but the mention of the Sergeant brought the post-spyder good mood back down. 
"Ok" said Fuller after a brief pause "You want to keep the Fulcrum-Buster, or can I have it back?" 
"I'd be happy never to see that contraption ever again. I swear it nearly took my arm off"
"That's what happens when you try to play the action hero Sul, reality bites back" Fuller grabbed the still drifting shot-gun with a snigger, then manoeuvred himself around the remains of the spyder and pushed off down the corridor. 
"Back to the task at hand then" muttered Sully, heading off back towards the store room, Brook following behind him, still quiet after the mention of Gumelar. 
They found Si still crouched in a corner near to the storeroom, the drone controller sheepishly brushing himself down as he emerged from his cowering spot. 
"Is it gone?" Si asked, glancing down the corridor. 
"Yeah" answered Sully, moving to open the door "Time for you to step up to the plate now" the marine briefly made eye contact with Si, as if trying to appraise if the slightly shaking man in front of him was up to the task, before pulling himself through the hatch. Brook quickly followed, but Si waited a heartbeat or two; a heart beating fast and hard enough that he could feel it thudding against his ribcage.  
"We'll need to seal the door shut" said Brook inside the store room "When we open up the wall, we don't want the vacuum sucking up the crew quarters". It was obvious stuff, but Sully's now brooding demeanour was unsettling her. 
"Might be hard with the door control on the fritz" Sully mused.
"I can sort it" said Si entering the room, although the usual cocky tone to his voice was missing "Door AI is at a pretty low level, I can get past the corruption there. Just not much deeper" 
"Ok, go to it" Sully instructed, before turning to Brook "You got a plan to take down the wall, engineer?" 
The formal address caught Brook a little off guard, delaying her response which only succeeded in Sully's frown deepening behind the vac-suit face plate. 
"I, er, have still got my, er crowbar?" she pulled it free from the clasp on her suit's waist. 
"Old school, but should work" Sully nodded slowly "We got a seal yet Si?" he called over a shoulder. 
"Just a couple more seconds, ah....there we go" the door squeaked a little as the hatch was pushed up tight against the rubber seals around the edges, trapped air hissing out before promptly stopping as the seal held.
"Ok, all yours" Sully looked at Brook and beckoned at the end wall. 
"Er, you want me to do it?" 
"Uh-huh, my shoulder's fucked and I'd hazard a guess that you're stronger than Si" Sully folded his arms, wincing slightly as his arm flexed. 
Si looked as if he might argue the point, but thought better of it as he realised the reward for winning that particular debate would be the exertion of battering the wall into submission. Instead he drifted silently as Brook moved towards the wall, hefting the crowbar. 
After three heavy blows Brook didn't think it was going to work, the wall stood firm while her arms already ached. But after the fourth strike a small notch in the wall appeared, a chip of polymer floating away. This didn't stop her arms hurting, but it did give he a renewed belief that she could get the job done. More blows rained against the wall, sweat starting to drip down her forehead and back. 
The notch turned into a delve, the delve into a crack and eventually the crack into a hole. The breach of the wall caused the air remaining in the storeroom to rush out through the hole, Brook's vac-suit flapped in the wind. The hole gave her purchase to fit the curved end of the crowbar in, to start levering against the wall rather than striking it. The gush of air running past was distracting at first but eventually slackened off as the air in the room disappeared into the vacuum. 
There was no sound in the room now, but Brook imagined that there would have been a satisfying clunk when a door-sized chunk of wall she'd been levering against cracked then snapped off. She pushed it out of the way to get a better view of what she had uncovered. A small box with a collection of wires sticking out. Is that it? Brook wondered. However, she didn't even have time to make the remark out loud before Si was at her side, pushing her out of the way. 
"The core" he said, with more than a hint of awe in his voice. Si lent into the hole, following some of the wires that came out of the box, quickly finding the one he was looking for. Pulling the wire in question, he dragged the connected hand-terminal into the storeroom. "So let's see what we have here" he said, pushing a few of the rubberised buttons on the terminal and staring intently at the display. 
After a few seconds of button pushing and frowning, Si rummaged about in the pack at his hip of his vac-suit and pulled free a blue and red striped wire, connecting one end to the terminal and the other to a connector at the base of his helmet. 
"Need a physical connection" he said in explanation to the puzzled looks of Brook and Sully who were floating nearby. 
"Be careful" Brook urged, wary of what might be contained in the terminal or core. 
"I know what I'm doing, just give me a second's piece" some of that conceited swagger was coming back into Si's voice as he got into a job he felt comfortable with. However, that swagger was quickly forgotten as he exclaimed "WOAH!" just a couple of moments later. 
"What is it?" asked Sully in alarm, rifle pulled round and aimed at the gap in the wall. 
"This is amazing”. Si replied in dreamy wonder. “Totally fucked up, but amazing all the same"

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