G581: The Departure

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Chapter One

Code Red

“Always listen to experts. They’ll tell you what can’t be done and why. Then do it.” – Robert Heinlein
Date: 01.27.2104
Calypso Colony Ship

 

Somehow, he had to save them. Daniel’s hair was matted on the left side of his forehead, still actively dripping blood from a gash near the top of his head. Each breath was a challenge. It felt as if he were underwater, sharp knives with each gasp in and thick bubbles on the way out. He tried to breathe shallowly; it hurt less when he did that. One of his ribs felt cracked, possibly broken and he tried to think clearly as dizziness and pain fought for his attention. Attention that was desperately needed elsewhere. 


 “I never should have left them.” His fingers moved feverishly over the damaged keyboard and his vision blurred. The blood dripped into his eyes and a fresh wave of dizziness washed over him. 
 

Oxygen levels must be low. 


A dull red light flashed through the Cryo Deck, accompanied by the thick, oily smell of melted plastic from the handful of Cryo pods a few rows over. His mind, desperate to compartmentalize, to avoid the full panic he found rising inside, lingered on the memory of Janine’s skin beneath his.  The memory of Toby’s small hand on his cheek, his brother Luke and his easy smile hung there beside him, real enough to touch. The years had passed easier for him – not knowing, barely realizing the truth until it was years gone. Were they all ash and bone now? 
 

Each Cryo pod was equipped with a shrieking alarm. They were designed to emit a series of escalating warning sounds from a simple “Hey, something seems out of place” warning beep to a “The pod is failing and the subject will die,” shriek that energized each nerve in a Cryo Tech’s body to do something now.


But Daniel wasn’t a Cryo Tech, Deeks, Daniel’s poker buddy and best friend on Calypso was. And Deeks was dead, along with his assistant, Evers. Their lifeless bodies had been shoved into storage lockers at the far end of the Cryo Deck. And the doors leading to the rest of the ship, where there were others far more capable and knowledgeable than a Comm Tech could ever be were shut, the opening mechanism fried. Daniel was trapped and alone.


He could hear them, working at the doors, doing whatever they could to get through, the banging only adding to the cacophony provided by shrieking alarms.


All of the doors on Calypso were thick, reinforced steel, with rods of titanium woven through for maximum security. Space travel was an uncertain thing, and all areas of the ship had double and triple protections to stop any hull breaches as well as prevent against the unlikely event of a ship-wide contagion. However, the blast doors were something new, yet another layer of protection that ensured that anyone remaining on the Cryo Deck had the best chance of survival.


It was ironic that this added security precaution might be their undoing. 


The people in these pods were integral to the mission. Without them, those currently not in Cryo would have a hell of a time and that was just the realistic side of his brain talking. God damn it, Sam was in one of these things.


The screen on the console in front of him scrolled the same message...


OVERRIDE PASSWORD FAILURE
PERSONNEL RECOGNITION FAILURE
SYSTEM FAILURE - CODE RED
SYSTEM RESET ON ALL CRYO PODS IN 14:39 MINUTES


Daniel pounded the keyboard in frustration. The man on the floor to the right of his foot moved slightly and moaned. Like Daniel, he was bleeding heavily from several wounds – one on his head, where Daniel had slammed it against a pillar during the fight. Daniel gave the man a hard kick. 


“You sonofabitch! What the hell were you thinking? Why would you do this? WHY?” 


Daniel’s left arm hung uselessly at his side. His left foot slipped sideways and he realized there was a sizable puddle of blood on the deck, accumulating over the long moment he had fought with the half-melted keyboard. The hole in his shoulder screamed red hot agony at him every time he moved, but the arm itself just hung there, whatever muscles it needed to move rendered useless by the knife still buried in it. It hurt, bad, and Daniel debated pulling it out. 


“Not low oxygen levels, no. It’s got to be from the blood loss, onset of shock.” 


He said it, mainly to himself, a part of him distanced from what was happening, the words sounding as if they were issuing from someone else. 


“Yeah, blood loss. It affects higher brain function and reasoning skills.” 


His voice was barely registering over the endless shrieking of the alarms. Had his lips moved? Had he actually spoken out loud? Another wave of dizziness washed over him. 


Behind him, the hammering at the doors had taken on a different tone. Sharper, higher grinding sounds, instead of the dull pounding. What was it? Some sort of saw? Daniel felt a flicker of hope. Perhaps they could break through in time, do something he couldn’t.


But did he really have time to wait for the others to break through? Should he wait for the captain and the others to get here, so he didn’t screw something up further? He wiped the fresh blood from his brow; droplets fell to the view screen below, almost obscuring the countdown. 


The message continued to scroll...


OVERRIDE PASSWORD FAILURE
PERSONNEL RECOGNITION FAILURE
SYSTEM FAILURE - CODE RED
SYSTEM RESET ON ALL CRYO PODS IN 14:18 MINUTES


The door behind him looked untouched, despite the application of the saw or whatever they were using on the other side. It could be hours and from the looks of it, none of the people in the Cryo Pods had hours. How the hell had this madman done it? And why?


Daniel struggled to clear his mind, muddled and confused from the fight, filled with memories of the past. He had to stop this countdown before it was too late.

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