Chains – Chapter Sixteen

“I’m out of air, am goin to blow the canopy and jump over to you.”

“Ok Hania, I will line up ahead and you can jump into the cargo scoop if I get close.”

Out of the corner of his eye, half an eagle reflected the red light of the star. How had this happened? The star had been left out of the standard charts but still on the galaxy wide it was marked as a red giant. Why would they scoop here?

The T6 was metres ahead of the Condor. He could see thermal scars from the star’s corona and gouges from impacts.

“Hania, are you ready?”

She raised her arm and gave a thumbs up.

~

“Decompression Alert”

The ship’s jaunty voice rang out the warning again inside Hania’s helmet. She flipped the striped yellow and black tabs to unlock the canopy releases, grasped them both and pulled.

The cracked cockpit launched silently outwards in a cloud of dust and spun towards the T6. It bounced off the cargo door and twisted sideways.

She’d done this once before, but then it had all been planned and there were several ships to help.

She undid her harness and pushed off slow towards the open cargo door.

She tumbled out of the old fighter, her foot clipped the side sending her into a slow twist. The hand holds were lit up ahead, orange and red.

She reached out, felt the metal brush her fingers and slip past her. The rotation from her leap had thrown her judgement.

“Three minutes thermal compensation remaining, fourteen minutes atmosphere support remaining”

The temperature readout on her wrist showed heat in the red zone, 2400 degrees and rising.

Another grab rail loomed, closer this time. She grabbed it with both hands and clung on tight. The door mechanism started to vibrate through her hands. The temperature readout fell quickly into the orange zone as she was pulled inside the bowels of the ship.

~

“Hania child!”

The girl was rolled out of the cargo handler into Jola’s arms, her once purple and red suit was now blackened from the star’s heat.

Jola fumbled the catches on Hania’s helmet and pulled it free to spin above them both. She pulled the child into a tight embrace, round pools of tears quickly welling up around her eyes. She would not let the girl go now, not even for a second.

Morris clunked into Hania’s view behind Jola. He stood white faced among the handful of others that had come with them.

“What happened kid?”

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