Standing on an Elevator at the Edge of the Abyss

Written by Omni

~On the Cronus~

Roku, Reyes, and Dr. Flynn were standing on an elevator at the edge of the abyss. A field of stars surrounded them.

Asahi floated between them, held aloft by nothing more than two of Roku’s fingers.

They remained there for several minutes just catching their breath until Roku broke the silence.

“Asahi… I know this isn’t going to be especially comforting… but if I let you go… don’t flail, don’t try anything. If… if you do start floating away… just hold tight… we will be able to help. I have the harpoon grappling gun and the Montero should still be on the other side of the Cronus. We all move together…”

Space walks… always daunting, but right now it seemed a better option than having an alien explode from your face, being smashed by an angry mutant or being devoured by a swarm of hungry spiders.

Roku temporarily let go of Asahi and gracefully oriented herself upside down on the underside of the Cronus. Her boots met the hull with a slight magnetic snap. Then she helped Reyes and Dr. Flynn do the same.

Together they slowly and carefully continued along the ship, each carrying another person in tow. As they rounded the starboard bottom edge of the ship, they saw the underside of the Montero below them (or was it above them?) There was another ship they didn't recognize actively maneuvering into position of one of the cargo bays.

“That man we saw in the airlock… he must have been with that other ship.” Reyes said.

“Salvagers from Sutter’s World… or pirates? They must have cut and run when they saw what happened to Mimi… poor cat…” Roku said. “They either found us by absolute coincidence, which I doubt, or they followed us all the way from Anchorpoint Station…”

“Anchorpoint?” Dr Flynn said.

“I suppose you two have a lot to catch up on.” Roku chuckled, but soon she began to wonder if bringing these people back was such a good idea.

When they reached the starboard top edge, they saw a tether arcing freely around the Montero. Then they spotted something else unsettling. The person that Vera had seen hours earlier on the hull was standing about 10 meters away swatting his long distended arms fruitlessly at the Montero. It didn’t see them. Not yet anyway. If they were going to get to the Montero they had to approach the creature and try for the tether or risk a long shot from far away with the harpoon gun. Option 3 was to try and kill the thing that had once been human.

Seeing the creature, Roku decided to take the difficult shot.

"Fuck fuck fuck! Damnit!" she cursed in frustrated panic as her hands trembled, her grappling gun pointed at the ship floating above them.

"Hikari, calm down. You can do this! Come on!” Reyes said in a gentle yet commanding tone.

Roku breathed. "...yeah... ok... ok... if I miss... We jump."

Dr Flynn looked up at the Montero. "This is impossible! I..I.. can't..." he said. The man was feeling very disoriented. Shaking his head, he let go of Vera and searched around for cover. There was nowhere to hide so he slowly retreated, nervously climbing backwards over the edge of the ship.

"Dr. Flynn! Where are you going?" Roku started after him, looking back and forth between the creature and the doctor.

"Everybody just stop. It doesn't see us, we still have time. Roku, I can take the shot." Reyes said.

"No, I've got it." Roku assured her. Then he grabbed Dr Flynn's arm and pulled him back over to the dorsal side of the Cronus.

She moved about 5 meters closer to the creature to get a better vantage and she shot the grappling harpoon up into the ventral side of the cocked Montero; luckily it stuck. The creature turned its attention toward them and started to stomp toward them, mag boots sticking with each step.

"Everyone hold onto each other! We are going to repel quickly!" Roku yelled.

Together they flew toward the Montero, arms linked together. Asahi linked with the disabled Vera. The abomination in a spacesuit reached for Dr Flynn. The abomination pulled him, hard by the leg, out of Reyes' grasp and the doctor screamed in agony as the tendons tore and the bones separated. Roku lost grip of the harpoon gun and Reyes let go of Asahi's arm as they all continued to tumble up and away from the Cronus.

Roku easily managed to flip her body around and clanged onto the hull of the Montero but she failed to catch Asahi and Vera as they came crashing down on top of her. Asahi let out a groan of discomfort, but was uninjured. Reyes spun, reaching for Dr Flynn but he fell away so she turned from the sight she knew was coming. She managed to stop herself with her arms and right herself onto the ship. No one could bear to look at what was happening to Dr Flynn as the sounds of brutality burst over the comms.

Valerie Reyes wept out of fear, sorrow, and shame at the loss of another Cronus crew member. She saw Vera the android's body spinning laterally above the hull and clasped onto it with a tight grip.

Roku retracted the end of the grappling gun and holstered it, then put her fingers in the belt clamp of Asahi's suit and dragged him along again, trudging toward the nearest possible airlock.

After what seems like forever, they reached the C1 Airlock and Roku prepped the chamber for entry. The hatch opened into darkness and auxiliary backup lights.

"Ugh… What now?!" Roku lamented. "Captain?! Paddy!? Glenn!? Does anybody copy? This is Hikari Roku. I'm entering the C1 Airlock on B Deck with Asahi and Reyes from the Cronus. We recovered Vera's body. Please respond."

When they finally got inside the Montero, Roku and Reyes carried Asahi through the corridors to the decon room, leaving Vera’s body behind. They found the entrance with lights on and the evidence that someone was inside.

Hurrying back down the corridor and returning with Vera, then they went through decontamination sterilization protocols, first with their suits and gear on, then stripping down. They both carefully stripped Asahi as well, then entered the showers, where they found Clayton who was just finishing up.

"Clayton... you made it..." Reyes said, still out of breath. "...we lost Dr Flynn..."

"What!? You lost the one man we had left, with any knowledge of how this parasite virus works?" Clayton seemed more angry than sorrowful over the matter.
Reyes was speechless at first. "If he knew anything more, he wasn't sharing, but thanks for caring about your fellow employees." she replied.

“73 bloody years, Valerie! If this company still exists I can’t afford to go back empty handed. And I would gather the same is true for yourself. If I’m lucky, the data cube I managed to retrieve will be something worth cashing in.” Clayton retorted and then stomped out.

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