Back to IndexWritten August, 1998

"Sir, sir, wake up!" The man rose dimly to consciousness as if he was climbing a tall mountain. He longed to slip back into his deep sleep where the pain in his leg was forgotten but the insistent voice ringing in his ears and the none too gentle hand shaking his shoulder denied him the ability.
"What is it?" He asked, blinking his eyes open to find that he could only see marginly more than he could with them shut. "Who are you?" He tried to pull himself together and achieve more of the authoritative tone which denoted an officer.
"Perry, sir. Engineers mate, first class; ESS Hyperion."
Ah yes. It was all coming back to him now, most of it anyway. He twisted his head to face the source of the voice and could just make out the outline of the other mans face from the few functioning emergency lights.
"Good to see you, Perry." He managed to say, supporting himself on the other man's shoulder and pulling himself up. He then realised that his left leg was broken. "What the hell happened?"
Perry didn't know who the man who was questionning him was, but he was wearing a blue uniform and that made him an officer of some kind, and that was good enough for him. "I dunno, sir. We were attacked. Neutron bombs got most of the crew, we were shielded here by the reactor shielding."
The officer nodded slowly, painfully. He extended his hand and shook Perry's hand. "Yamato." He said simply. "It's good to see you."
Perry smiled idiotically. "Give me an order, sir."
Yamato nearly laughed at the man's simple trust in the officer's uniform. He thought for a second. "We're still here, so we must have fought the attack off. That means that there are other ships still out there. If we were hit we're probably spinning so they'll be waiting for us to stabilise ourselves before they send a repair team aboard. Can you reach the bridge on the intercom?"
Perry shook his head. "The 'coms working, sir, theres just nobody picking up."
Yamato murmured something unintelligible at the floor and then looked at Perry again. "Then its up to us. The reactors will have scrammed automatically, we'll have to restart them and inititate an automatic stabilisation routine."
Perry looked at him hopefully. "Why can't they just board us now?" He asked.
Yamato shook his head. "They won't risk it. Not with the inhibitor aboard, they risk leveling this entire stellar system if they set it off."
"Fine, sir. How do we restart the reactors?"
Yamato frowned, trying to remember the ships schematics. "We need to be in engineering control. Thats two decks up and about 50 metres that way." He pointed along the darkened corridor.
"In the dark?" Perry sounded disbelieving. "We'll never make it, sir1"
Yamatos voice brooked no arguement. "Oh, we'll make it, Perry. Or 6 billion people won't. Now help me along."
Yamato and Perry made their slow progress down the corridor, Yamato's useless leg trailing behind them. Frequently they would bump into pipes and conduits which had broken away from the walls during the attack and were now strewn across the floor. They tripped often, occasionally falling to the ground, but each time Yamato gritted his teeth and they continued on the way.
After what seemed like an eternity they reached the ladder. Perry took one look up into the darkness and blanched. "Sir, you'll never make it up there. Tell me what to do, and I'll go."
Yamato weakly shook his head. " my...access code and...DNA to activate the reactor. Only an officer can do it." He coughed violently. "We go together."
"Sir, you won't make it. We'll just have to wait until a repair team can match spin and get aboard."
Yamato coughed again. "NO!" He spluttered. "Our orders were time critical. We must detonate the inhibitor in the enemy system within the next 12 hours. We can barely make it even if we jump right now! We haven't got a second to lose."
Perry looked up once more and then placed his hand on the first rung. He pulled himself up, Yamato followed.
After ten minutes, they had climbed up one deck. "Sir, we're not going to make it."
"Wrong attitude...Perry." He coughed again. "We are going to make it. We were ordered to make it."
Perry was breathing heavily. "Orders! Orders! Orders that come from some general 30 light years behind the lines who has no idea how things work out here."
Yamato merely coughed in reply, he looked like he was about to faint. "When we get out of this, Perry. This officer is going to buy you a drink."
It lightented the tension and Perry almost laughed. A few seconds later they were off again, Perry still bemoaning higher command.
It seemed like an hour but they finally reached the correct deck. Perry heaved himself out and then turned round to help Yamato who had been doggedly following.
He pulled Yamato out onto the deck where he promptly collapsed. "Begin the start up procedure." He commanded weakly.
Perry approached one of the control panels, illuminated against the darkness, and tentatively touched one of the controls. An extra control panel sprung to life to its left.
"Procedure 3." Yamato said.
Perry touched the key labelled "3".
"ENTER AUTHORISATION CODE." The computerised voice rang through the room.
Yamato coughed and ran Perry through the code step by step.
"Bring me the DNA scanner." Commanded Yamato.
"Aye, sir." Perry detached the scanner and stumbled across the room to place in it Yamato's hand.
"Perry." Said Yamato, his voice growing weaker and weaker. "Retract the control rods."
Perry nodded excitedly and touched several more panels. There was a whir as the atmosphere units came back on line and a few seconds later the room was bathed in light.
Yamato felt short punches into his back as the thrusters fired automatically to reduce the ship's spin and looked around. Four men and women were dotted around the room in grotesque positions. They had died at their posts.
Perry looked sickened. "You won't get those generals here, sir. Oh no."
Yamato smiled weakly. A second later they felt the clang through the hull as a shuttle docked.

The ship was moving again. A skeleton crew raced from station to station, bringing the crippled ship back under control. In a few minutes the ship would be ready to jump, and complete its mission.
Yamato stood, swathed in bandages, next to Perry, who seemed somewhat overawed.
An orderly ran up and handed Yamato his coat with a salute and, once it had been returned, ran back to wherever he had come from.
"Well, Perry," Yamato asked as he swung his coat around himself, "How about that drink?"
Perry just stared and didn't reply. His gaze was fixed to Yamato's coat and unable to wander from the four silver stars which gleamed from each shoulder.

The only real point to this story is a) things are not always what they seem and b) keep your mouth shut ;-)

Oliver Pell