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Out of Breath

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The electrical feeling faded, and the brief respite of silence ended. The ship groaned, metal snapping and breaking somewhere in a horrendous cacophony of noise. Trevis was thrown hard against his restraints as the ship went wherever it was going to go. The gravity generators must be out, or otherwise not compensating for the movement. Someone screamed in terror. Maybe it was him? He didn't know.

He tried to steady himself against his console, trying to make out just how badly the ship was damaged. Everything seemed broken at a brief glance, and there was no position data. That was bad. Given their momentum they could very easily crash into the planet if they hadn’t gone anywhere. Assuming those torpedoes didn’t hit. He had no way of telling right now, the console seemed to be disconnected from the ship’s network. That was bad.

He tried to yell out to report this to the Captain. But a deep, loud rumble interrupted him; something in the ship gave away. No, no, the hull gave away - with terror he could see the wall forming the pressure bulkhead bend outwards and then crack. And then it faded; the room filling with mist and the sounds of wind and the droning of a decompression alarm. He fumbled with his restraints; he had to get to an emergency oxygen mask. They were… somewhere. He wasn’t sure. Usually when in a battle he had a vacsuit on. He’d never needed to go for a mask before. They never had time for drills. They’d had a few. Trevis never paid attention. He cursed a bit at his foolishness. Then tried to calm himself. The masks had to be somewhere obvious… the door. Near a door. He remembered now. But he’d been floating. Where were the doors?

He moved for a handhold, trying to orient himself. The room was getting cold, and he could see a thin layer of frost on his uniform as he reached out. It looked beautiful, like snow. It reminded him of winters back home, when the farm shut down and they only had maintenance work to do. In the middle of it, in the truely cold months he and his family and the other farmers of the cooperative would celebrate a holiday. In theory to the righteousness and generosity of their king; but even then nobody believed that more than putting up a show. Or at least Trevis didn’t think they believed it. Or didn’t think he thought they believed it, thinking was a bit of a difficult thing. The holiday wasn’t, though; each year it would form some of the happier memories he had as a child. A younger child, at least. He still had time before he was officially an adult. He felt like an adult, or at least what he thought of one being. He must be one soon; it was cold and it did seem like another holiday was coming up. He looked forward to the food - meager as it was, this was the time of year it was always spiced. He could almost feel it on his tongue, as if something was burning and boiling away the water on it. He wanted the nice drinks they had. At least he had the pretty, decorative lights, blurred ahead in his vision. And the peaceful silence of snowfall. But he should get home. It was getting dark. It was very cold. He should get home. It was very dark.

He awoke on a bed in a darkly lit room. No, the medical bay. He groaned; his body ached, and hit hurt to move. But he did try to at least move into a sitting position. The room was intact. There was, at least, air. He took a deep breath and coughed. This triggered a groan. Not from him; to his side was the Captain. He was mostly motionless, but at least breathing.

Trevis reached out to touch him. He was warm, but didn't seem to react. Where were the others?

The answer came in the form of the chief engineer, who looked as if he hadn't slept in awhile. How long had it been? He decided to vocalize it. "How long was I out?"

The engineer looks a little surprised. But pleasantly… at least somewhat. "Three days. Autodoc wasn't sure if you or the captain were going to make it." He'll stop to check a console. "...Still not sure about the Captain. But. Still. You're awake. I was starting to think I'd have to fix this all myself."

"...Shouldn't everyone else be helping? "

"I was the only one who took the time to jump in a vacsuit when the alert went out. It doesn't take that long and I keep telling the captain…" the engineer starts ranting. "Well. He'll maybe listen if he recovers."

"...You… the others?"

"I couldn't save them."

"I should've… if I'd jumped sooner-"

"Trevis. We all knew what we were signing up for. Better dead and free than alive and their slave. Now, they died so the rest of us - all of us - can have a chance to be free, and you damn near joined them."

"They didn't have to."

"Fine. Feel bad about it. But we need ships. Help me get us back in the fight."

"I just know how to fly it."

"And I'm a bartender but now I'm an engineer and a medic and whatever else we need. So help me out?"

"...Okay. Okay. …We should salvage stuff from that battleship."

"It fell into the planet days ago. So we've got what we've got."

Trevis cursed. "It's bad, isn't it?"

"Yeah. Well, if we die, at least we took a battleship with us. Now come on, the ship isn't going to fix itself."
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