Gaslight (Part 17)

((Sorry for the delay/hiatus! Real Life and all that)

Patch nodded in agreement, stretched briefly to alleviate the soreness he was now feeling all over and hoisted the unconscious Vas onto his shoulder. The kid was surprisingly light for someone that strong, he thought. They wandered through the small station for a while until they finally located their docking bay. Through the plastisteel partition, they could see the remnants of whatever happened. One of the loading arms appeared to be going through the motions of loading the canisters but grabbing nothing as they were strewn about on the floor. “Well, looks like that loadin’ arm’s busted.” the mechanic offered his expert opinion to a situation that would be obvious to anyone. A sickly yellow haze crawled along the floor in the docking bay. Patch pointed it out. “One or more of the tanks musta got damaged”, he concluded. “We gotta vent that before we can get Sleepin’ Beauty here tucked in.” he weakly joked as he raised a shoulder, ragdolling the Crew Chief a little.

Serena pulled her shirt up collar up over her nose and mouth like a neck gaiter. She wasn’t sure about broken Quik-Load arms or busted canisters, but she knew Noxious, and she knew the crew chief. “We gotta secure him first, on account of you don’t know. If he wakes up? He might be mad.”

“Then we gotta find somethin’ out here because we dunno if that stuff in there is safe to be around.” Patch explained, jabbing the thumb of his free hand towards the hazy docking bay. He took note of the docking bay number. “A-6” he said aloud. “Now let’s see if we can’t find somethin’ to secure ‘im in case he wakes up.”

Serena’s stomach felt a little off. Maybe Mr. Kapowski was right about the fumes. What if he got sick too? How would she explain knocking two people out with pipes? And she wasn’t sure she could get him on the shuttle, dragging him up the ramp wouldn’t be easy. “Tool kit in the shuttle has zip ties an’ rope,” she offered. “I’ll square him up, an’ you vent out the room. He’s still out cold.” She poked at his head with the end of the pipe to see if there was any signs of consciousness. “But just remember, I’m Serena. Don’t try an’ kill me.” The teen dropped her boots to the ground and slid back into them. “I’m gonna keep the pipe just in case.”

“You do that.” Patch agreed, sloughing the Crew Chief off of his shoulder and bringing him gently to the floor. “Can’t be too careful.” He looked around to get a gauge of their surroundings. “I think I can get at the scrubber controls from that panel over there. If that fails, I could always run a partial depressurization. Upside? The flashing lights from the alarm system’s got a good chance a signalin’ the Veil that somethin’s up.” the mechanic added hopefully.

“Signalin’ the Veil?” Serena asked warily. She has hoping that they wouldn’t find out. What if Riley got mad, and what if she fired the crew chief or if she marooned him, then she’d have to stay and if they were lucky another ship would come before the vending machine ran out of food, unless he didn’t get better in which case, the vending machine food at least could be stretched longer. “Right. Right, they’ll know what to do. I got the crew chief.” Or Vas Jat, one or the other. She held the pipe tightly so if he even twitched, she’d be ready. Once Patch cleared the gas, she planned to quickly tear apart the tool kit on the shuttle to grab zip ties and rope, not wanting a repeat of playing hide and go not get yourself killed.

Patch got right onto tracking down the control systems for the docking bay. Unsure if that gas they were carrying was flammable or not, he decided not to take any chances and shut down that faulty loading arm if he was able. If that thing throws a spark, the Veil’s DEFINITELY gonna see that signal!, he thought. He hustled with as much speed as his hurting large frame would tolerate without too much protest. He couldn’t be sure how long Vas would remain ‘compliant’ and prepared himself for the possibility he or Serena might need to make the punk ‘more compliant’. After a short search, the mechanic located a control panel in the corridor leading up to the bay entrance. It might not allow him full access, but he didn’t have time to head to the main control room. He touched the screen and it winked to life. After familiarizing himself with the control layout, he managed to power down the loading arm. “Ok, that’s one disaster avoided” he said aloud to himself. “Now...where are you, scrubbers?” Patch moved deftly through the various control subroutine menus but no luck. If this place had manual controls for the air scrubbers, he wasn’t going to find them here. “Time for Plan B!” he shouted down the corridor to Serena. “How’s our patient?”

“Hasn’t moved,” she replied, toeing beneath his ribs with her boot. “What about you?” She asked, pipe at the ready. “Are you still normal?”

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