This is the fifth section of the eleventh chapter of Sonnets from a Proton. The novel starts here.
The next section is here.
“So what should I call you Sargent Bee, do you have a first name?” asked Laurence
“No Sir, no budget for one, you know how they don’t let us grunts at the bottom of the gene pool have any extravagances.”
“Ah you heard about that then, sorry.” apologised Laurence
“Not my job to take offence sir, just protect you, Commodore was it now?”
“Yes look thanks for this.”
The Sargent grunted. “Just lose the arrogance I don’t know how you got to how you are, maybe the arrogance helps, but it’s not nice, Sir”
“Let’s just get to a secure location shall we.” Laurence bounced off the incoming door as it wouldn’t open “It’s no good” said Laurence to the approaching Bee “hard vacuum the other side, no sanctuary to be found there.”
“No other way to it either that means” the Sargent paused while he looked around “Take cover I’m scouting ahead, we may have walked into an enemy held section”
Laurence receded into a doorway to the sound of a soft hiss then a thunk. “What was that?”
“Flechette round” responded the Sargent “Like shotgun, but tiny spears. Better for this situation because they can pierce armour but can be designed not to pierce hulls. They’ve been calibrated though to pierce the thinner internal walls so that cover is much harder to find.”
“They got into an armoury then I guess.”
“More than likely, this isn’t something you get on the open market.” The Sargent retrieved a small pistol from his belt and thrust it at Laurence, “Look just point this end at the people you want to stop being a problem, pull this trigger when you want them to stop,” a loud bang came from behind his head as a rifle slug hit the bulkhead, the Sargent carried on regardless, “The targeting computer will do the rest. Be careful, it’s in automatic mode so if there is anyone you like within thirty degrees of where you are pointing that weapon the computer will classify them as a threat and will shoot them. Well if they’re wearing the correct uniform or are unarmed it’ll try to just incapacitate them with the second shot killing them” at this the officer slammed in a new ammo cartridge and shouted “Now cover me” and dived across to the other side of the hall. He pushed himself against the wall and let the small magnets that were embedded in his armour cling to it to hold him in cover in the micro-gravity.
The sounds of the gunfight were immense, the long metal corridors of the ship were amplifying the already deafening sounds of the guns. Laurence tried shouting a question at Bee but got nothing more than a frantic waving response. Gritting his teeth he held the gun with a single hand and fired wildly down the corridor and jumped across to the other side to join him.
“You lucky son of a bitch,”
“You told me to come across”
“Not then you numptie,” he looked at the gun cartridge “you’ve used almost all the ammo up, well come on we’ve got to get to the armoury now we’re running low on”, the Sargent stopped speaking. Laurence felt his ears pop and heard a dull thump.
“Oh Shit,” exclaimed Bee “they’re venting the atmosphere,” he grabbed a grenade off his belt and threw it down the corridor behind them, the small rocket at the base of the grenade ignited and threw itself down the corridor before exploding killing the two bats. “They clearly don’t want any prisoners, come on we’ve got to get to the DC locker or we’re dead.”
Laurence tried to keep up with Bee as he sprinted along the corridor. Laurence watched as each step Bee zig-zagged off each side of the corridor which had strategically placed footholds seemingly for just this purpose, in the freefall situation he was travelling amazingly fast. Laurence could not get the technique to work for him and by the time Laurence had caught up Bee was already trying to open the door on an anonymous locker next to a pressure door. “Why the hell didn’t you throw that earlier if you could have killed them at any time”
Bee wrenched open the door to the locker and found it empty. “Shit!” He exclaimed, “Never go into battle in an unfinished tub.” He ripped out one of the shelves from the locker, used his legs to brace himself against the door and started beating the handle of a jammed bulkhead door with it.
“Because” he said between pounds of the handle “I needed to save it” He pounded again “For when” pound “we had no choice but to use it.” The door handle finally started to move “Now we have no get out of jail free card until we can get to the armoury”.
They both pushed at the door now against the air rushing through it and finally they managed to squeeze through the gap as the bulkhead slammed behind them.
This side of the door was another damage control locker that the officer was already rummaging through and handing Laurence items from.
“That’s a bit convenient having that there”
“Not at all, every bulkhead door has a DC locker either side of it, guess they’ve fitted every other one out in the rush to build this crate. Bit of a problem when the survival gear is in here and you’re the wrong side of a vacuum. “ He paused for a second while he slipped on the breather unit “Come on, no time now to waste they’ll have this section vented before long from the looks of it and we’re now we’re short on ammunition after your little corridor heroics.”
“Yeah sorry I missed out on basic training getting two doctorates and a nobel prize, how lax of me.”
“Why the hell are we still in free fall,” asked Bee to himself “Shouldn’t the Captain be getting us out of here”
“Could be people still outside, could be there’s no good exit route, could be because the engines are out” reminded Laurence in the annoyed tome of someone fed up of having to explain a situation he dreaded.
“Don’t think it’s that, last I heard from the Captain we were ready to go” replied the Sargent he glanced at the wall display next to the DC locker, understanding seemed to dawn. “Apparently there’s people in the lower decks and they’ll be bathed in radiation if the fusion drive is running. so they’ve got orders to get out of there before the drive can start.”
“Well get them the hell out of there.”
“I’m working on it Sir, but you keep talking to me rather than running” Bee slammed the door of the locker shut having got the last of the equipment out of the locker.
Laurence heard the puff of the flechette first and felt the agnoy in his leg second, but instinctively he looked down and saw a large pool of blood on the floor “Son of a” he broke off having lost consciousness.