Scurvy - Malisane Sadow 6169
Slowly he opened his eyes. He was hungry. He turned his head to the left and stared at the blank metal walls, and then rotated it to regard the equally featureless right. He tried to angle his body upwards to look ahead but the restraints holding his arms in place restricted that. He lay back looking up at the dull light shiny down on him and closed his eyes again, the black lenses sliding over them. He listened and reached out with his limited force senses. There was only silence and he could not feel anything around him. That was unusual, for the past few days between them gassing him he had heard the hum of machinery and the rattle of the ventilation pipes, and occasional footsteps followed by the door opening and the black armoured guards entering to stare at him before spoon feeding him the thick, grey and flavourless liquid that counted as food here. Now their absence was clearly noticeable.
He took a deep breath. “Hey!” he shouted. He waited. They ought to be able to hear him if they were listening, the cell was constantly monitored from the camera he knew was pointed at his bed. They had made it clear when they had brought here. “I know you can hear me!” He waited for a few more seconds. This was not right. In the first few days of his captivity the slightest appearance of movement or resistance had brought the guards with their sedatives and blunt weapons which depending on their mood lead to a drug or trauma induced unconsciousness. By now they should have been bursting into the cell. As a further test he began to rattle his wrists and ankles against the restraints, creating a loud jangling noise. Finally he stopped. Was this a test of their own to see what he would do?
He waited for a few more moments and considered his options. He could stay here and try and sleep or wait for them to give up whatever game they were playing if that was the case. Or he could try and escape and see what happened. The worse scenario of the latter was another sedative or beating. He could live with that, probably. In either case he had nothing to loose. He still had no idea why he was here or what they intended for him, whoever they were. He raised his wrists a little testing them against the restraints. They were made of a thin metal, but despite their thinness they felt quite secure. He took a deep breath and focused, and then pushed upwards as hard as he could with his arms, but the restraints held. He sagged back down. He was weaker than usual, partly due to the sedatives or the diet they had fed him. Taking a deep breath he closed his eyes, focusing with the force. After a few seconds there was a satisfying metallic snap, closely followed by three others. Cautiously he raised his arms, and then got to his feet, slowly manoeuvring himself off the metallic bed.
He looked around him, glancing up at the camera above him which was stationary. After a few seconds he turned to the door and walked towards it. He felt it's smooth surface and then moved to the edge, and was surprised to find a slight gap. He took a breath and pushed his fingertips into the gap, before planting his feet and beginning to pull. The door slid aside with a slight grating sound. He frowned. He could not understand why was it even unlocked. He opened it a little more and stuck his head out. Either side of the door was a blank metal corridor. It was empty and like his cell silent. He slowly pulled the door further open and walked out as quietly as he could manage. Unsure of which direction to head on he went left, making his way slowly along the corridor. There was a strange warmth in the air, bearable but uncomfortable. He continued to walk his body tensed as the numbness he had felt on the bed began to wear away. He came to the end of the corridor to reach another metal door. This was also unlocked with a handle he used to pull it open. Slowly he entered the room beyond.
He looked around suspiciously. It appeared to be some sort of small mess hall and had odd signs of recent abandonment. Several metal dishes stil lay on the table containing a browl rice substance, and when he walked over and inserted a finger in one it was still warm, though that might have been the room temperature. He picked up the plate and began to eat with his fingers. It was not well cooked but after the diet he had been fed it was an improvement. Thoughts raced through his mind. What he had suspected to be a trick of some sort was now looking more like an abandonment. Why? He picked up a half drunk container of liquid and knocked it back. It was also warm and slightly sickly but it quenched his thirst a little. Finishing the rice substance he put the plate back down and picked up a knife discarded on the table. It was small and quite blunt but it was a weapon at least. Slowly with a glance around the room he made for the opposite door to the one he had entered.
The next corridor was as quiet and featureless as the last one. The temperature was slightly warmer here and he sensed he was moving forward. He pulled the door at the end open and walked cautiously through it, his blunt knife held in one hand. The flight deck was also empty. He walked forward and then stopped, a cold feeling passing through him despite the heat. At the other end were two chairs in front of terminals that were mostly dark except for a few dull lights that suggested the vessel was running on minimum power. Above the terminal was a large viewscreen and filling most of it was an even larger yellow sun.
Slowly he made his way forward and sat at one of the terminals, studying the controls. He was not much of a pilot, certainly not as good as he used to be but he was familiar with basic ship controls. He flicked a few switches and was dismayed by their lack of response. The navigation system was
locked out, whether purposefully or through failure he could not tell. He suspected the latter, it fitted into place like the last piece of the puzzle he had been trying to figure out since he had regained consciousness. If his captors had abandoned their ship in the face of the sun ahead then he would guess they had been unable to do otherwise. He flicked another few switches that should have brought up a display of the ships status and this was also unresponsive. Finally he tried everything in front of him and the best result he obtained was a slight flicker of the remaining dull lights.
He got to his feet, his mind racing. The situation did not look promising. Without the ship's computer he had no way of judging how close he was to the sun or the rate at which it's gravity was pulling the ship towards it. He looked around the rest of the flight deck. There were a couple of cupboards that were open and empty, presumably their contents taken by the evacuated crew. After a few moments he turned and walked back off the flight deck, heading back the way he had come.
As he walked out of the canteen and past his cell he was considering his options. He could not reverse or steer the ship away from the sun. He clearly only had a limited time before they temperature on board the ship was past his tolerance and he had no obvious way of leaving, so far at least. There had to be a way off the ship somehow, given the crews disappearance, a hangar or escape pods. He just had to find them and hope they gave him an option.
Just beyond his cell was another door. Curiously he pulled it open and entered. It was a dark storage room, one dull red light illuminating it. The shelves were half empty, presumably the more valuable items had been taken by the escaping crew. Looking for something that might be of use he searched several boxes. They contained a mixture of dried food and bottled water, random cables and tools, stationary and crockery, and a couple of tanks of a gas, the identity of which appeared to be written in a foreign language. The tools might be of use, the rest probably were not. After a few moments he turned and left, heading back along the corridor.
When he finally reached the docking bay he examined his surroundings. There were several discarded crates that either had not been a priority or had not fitted in whatever vessel the crew had departed on. The large doors at the other end were shut and he wandered over to examine them. There was a panel next to them that was palm sized and he guessed that this operated the emergency release. He guessed he would be unable to operate this as he would not be on the crew's list of registered users, but was unwilling to experiment with it in case it actually did open and blasted him out into space to a certain and fairly rapid but unpleasant death. He turned and stopped in surprise. At the other end of the bay near the door behind two of the crates he could make out a space suit. He quickly walked over and knelt by it. The suit seemed in good condition and a check of the oxygen supply showed it to be three quarters full, probably good for about eight or nine hours of breathing. Whether it was any use in his present situation was unclear. He gave it a few minutes thought then headed back to the main corridor.
Turning left at a junction he came upon the ships medical bay, which oddly bore a strong resemblance to his cell, including the bench in the middle with the same restraints. Like his own this was also occupied, though in this case the occupant was definitely dead. He moved closer and examined the corpse. He was not medically trained but could not identify any signs of injury or serious disease, though from the uniform it appeared to be a member of the crew. He had been a middle aged male human, about five foot eight tall and average build. He was not wearing any identification tags or bracelets and there was no indication of why they had been left behind during the evacuation, either to avoid contamination or to save space. Looking around the room there were a series of medical instruments and tools, some obvious like saws and scalpels, others that were more of a complex or intimate nature. There appeared to be nothing of any obvious use.
With no much else to do he returned to the bridge, collecting a bottle of now warm water en route from the stores. The air was warmer now and the star in front of him seemed a little larger. At his current rate he guessed he had maybe a few hours left before the temperature increased to an intolerable level, leaving aside how much oxygen he may or may not have left. At the moment his death seemed fairly assured. He felt oddly calm. He had faced it many times, admittedly with a chance of survival, but even when the situation seemed at it's darkest a solution usually presented itself. He had to admit at the moment though he was fairly stumped.
He sat down in a chair and sipped the water, considering his options. Firstly, he had to get off the ship. Secondly he had to do so in a way that he could survive. Thirdly then had to find a way back to civilisation. He took a mental inventory of his assets. He had a space suit, admittedly with a limited air supply, some tools, some gas of an unspecified nature, food and a corpse. Slowly a plan began to form in his mind. Sipping his water he got to his feet and began to walk back towards the rear of the ship.
It had taken about ten minutes of assembling his plan, made harder by the fact his breathing was becoming more ragged with the thinning air supply and the now dry heat on the ship. He felt a little comfier now though with the helmet of the space suit over his head. The panel on the front was still open though, he wanted to close it at the last minute. Slowly he walked forward, the suit made heavier with the gas cannisters strapped to him held in place with the cables he had found. He reached the bay doors and took a deep breath, and then raised the long handle of the broom and glanced at the severed hand that he had nailed to it's end. Taking a deep breath he brought it forward and then pushed the palm of the hand against the panel as he closed his helmets visor.
He felt an impact as the force of the escaping air from the opening doors blasted him out into space, sending his suited body spinning end over end away from the vessel, his rapid rotation occasionally bringing it into view on each cycle as it and the burning sun beyond moved further away from him. So far so good. His momentum begun to steady out after a few seconds and he felt himself begun to slow, as the gravity of the sun began to match his escape speed. Hoping for the best his hands went to the bottom of the cannisters and turned the release wheels, feeling a gratifying surge again as the escaping pressurised gas propelled him forward again.
As he began to drift away from the sun now he felt it's heat slightly decreasing. He reached down and found the controls on the suit. There was a small beacon fitted into it, presumably in case the wearer somehow managed to accidentally propel themselves into space like he had. He did not know how strong it was or how long it would last but with nothing to loose he activated it. He still estimated his air supply at the original eight hours or so. He had one option remaining. Slowly he began to calm himself and slip his body into a preserving meditation trance. As he felt himself begin to calm and his pulse slow and his breathing lessen he gave one last glance at the empty space around him. He had a slim chance, but it was still a chance. Reassured by this he closed his eyes and waited.