Monday, February 8, 2016

Nano-Fic: A Gentleman's Duty (13)

Once the Cutter was locked into its death spiral, Ruku left the cockpit and shot down the lift tube as fast as she could.  It was hard going, as the surplus NegMat that normally compensated for accelleration was pumped into the Launch.  Clamped to the belt harness of her space suit was a cable from the lift tube’s cargo winch.  As she climbed downward, the tension on the winch compensated somewhat for the pull of inertia.
Three decks downward, just under the level that accessed the ship’s Launch, Ruku found Sagkal wedged in the tube.  His bulk blocked the tube completely.  It took Ruku but a moment to realize that with her suit on, she could not reach down and secure the massive Sloak to the cable.
“Shit!”  Ruku became more frantic. What could she do?  She couldn’t reach her friend.  She couldn’t leave Sagkal, they would both plunge into the star -
-Wait!  With a mighty effort, Ruku climbed against the suit’s weight up a few rungs on the lift tube’s emergency ladder until she was level with the door to the deck above Sagkal.  She typed in the 515 passkey from memory and fell onto the deck once she got the hatch open.  Without pause, Ruku Mat struggled to the edge of the lift tube and lowered the cable down.  It took her three desperate tries before she managed to hook Sagkal’s shoulder harness.  She got to her knees and punched the winch control next to the hatch combing.  
Sagkal’s bulk resisted the cable for a few moments, then finally gave way with a lurch.  As he slowly rose, Ruku grabbed the harness loops on the front of the Sloak’s suit and pulled him onto the deck.  Once he was safe on the floor, Ruku stumbled and lurched toward the opposite end of the deck, where the Launch was waiting.  
Ruku, you’re in the corona!  Get out of there!”
Normally, such a stern admonishment, and from Master Vakh of all people, would freeze the diminutive woman in her tracks.  But Ruku ignored the voice in her ear and instead cycled the Launch’s airlock and grabbed its cargo winch.  She ran back through the deck, around the long corridor, and hooked Sagkal once again.
Ruku!  You have to launch now!”
She ran back to the Launch, vision almost gone from sweat beading in her lashes.  It took two tries to hit the winch control, and then Ruku was yet again careening down the passage, bouncing off of walls, until she reached the prone Sloak.  She grabbed hold of his harness so she could guide Sagkal through the turns in the corridor and into the airlock.  Seconds continued to pass.
“Gents, Mat:  Launching now!”
From the cockpit of the Gentleman Scoundrel, Kura, Vakh and Essuru watched their respective monitors for any sign that the Cutter’s Launch, now nearly a quarter of the way around the star’s circumference, has indeed made its escape.  Canto continued to key the comm trying to raise their fellows.
“Ruku, Gents:  Come in.  Come in Ruku Mat.”
Over and over again.  For minutes.
“Ruku, Gents:  Come in.  Come in Ruku Mat.”
Gents...Mat: ...I think I hurt myself….forgot to strap in…”

Ruku could hear cheers.

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