Chapter 35: Do My Damndest

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: The House of Epic Sci-Fi

Reads: 129

Frank stumbled and almost lost his balance as Solstice was rocked by a powerful explosion.

Not being able to see his surroundings, the jolt was that much more disorientating for Frank and he swore in shock. "Did you two feel that?"

It would have been amazing if Walker and Nathan hadn't felt it, but they were in no position to reply. Especially since Walker was engaging not one, not two, but three rifle-wielding pirates all at once.

The marine corps philosophy wasn't just well-known, it was effective: hard weapons made hard men, and Walker embodied that philosophy down to his core. He was a warrior skilled enough to take on any opponent by recognising his advantages early on and relying heavily on them. In this case, his advantages were combat experience and reflexes.

Walker was used to fighting multiple opponents in close quarters, and these pirates were not. Not only that, but Walker was much too fast for them. Even with automatic laser rifles, Walker kept moving, ducking, weaving, ensuring that none of the pirates ever had a clean shot.

Nathan, however, stood to one side, arms folded leisurely as he watched the scene unfolding in front of him. "Come on, Nick!" he called disapprovingly. "Stop having fun and kill them!"

"Stay out of it, you!" Walker barked back.

Nathan rolled his eyes. "What are you even doing, this is embarrassing! Give it some welly, you bloody Yank!"

"Oh, shut the hell up you goddamn limey!" Walker shouted back, and Nathan laughed at this.

Walker had already abandoned his sword, and was fighting with his bare hands, and yet, the armed pirates were still out of their depth. He had his arm locked around one of the pirates' throats, holding him fast as Nathan had done before, using him as a shield.

The pirate's two comrades were four feet away, rifles raised, but hesitant to fire. Quick as a flash, Walker tossed his hostage like a bowling ball.

The pirate crashed into his comrade and bowled both of them over. Before the second could react, however, Walker was on him, raining punches into his upper torso. Next, Walker went for his gun hand. He looped his arm over the pirate's shoulder and thrust his free elbow into his lower abdomen. While the pirate was doubled over in pain, Walker grabbed the rifle and aimed it at the two pirates trying to get back to their feet. He fired twice and killed them instantly.

Walker jabbed with his elbow again, striking the pirate behind him a second time and then snapped his head back, smashing his skull into the pirate's nose. He stepped forward, turned around and roundhouse kicked him onto his arse. As soon as the pirate was down, Walker went for his sword, lying a few feet away. He threw it, like a tomahawk, and all that could be heard was the squelch of the blade finding its target, and then the slump of the body hitting the ground.

Walker bent over, resting his hands on his knees as he fought to catch his breath.

"Nine out of ten," Nathan graded him snootily. "Next time, give the bad guys some proper weapons and we'll see what happens."

"You're taking the next three," Walker breathed.

"I thought you'd never ask," Nathan grinned.

"If you two are done waving your dicks about," Frank cut in. "I've got good news."

"This better be actual good news," Walker said firmly. "And not just a bad news, good news, bad news sandwich."

"That explosion was us," Frank said plainly. "Whatever they did up there, there's no more comms barrier."

"And the lock codes?" Nathan asked.

"Last one is still holding," Frank said. "It'll take me two minutes, max. Oh shit."

"I knew it," Walker murmured. "Here it is. The fuckening."

"I hope you two are feeling rested," Frank said. "Because we're about to get swarmed. I've got three more squads heading this way, seven units per squad...that's twenty hostiles."

"No way," Walker and Nathan said simultaneously. "No way we can take that many. Harcourt, you gotta seal those doors."

"That's our way out," Frank shook his head.

"Does this station have teleports?" Nathan asked.

"Yes," Frank nodded. "And before you ask, I could probably access them from here, but the shuttle bay is crawling with hostiles now. We'd be cut down as soon as we arrived."

"So we cut out the middle man," Walker suggested. "Teleport right off this station and onto Trinity."

"No!" Frank barked, and for the briefest moment, Walker could have sworn he saw colour start to swirl in the whites of Frank's eyes, like his humanity had poked through for a split second.

"It's our only way out, sir," Nathan said. "You know it is."

"You'll forgive me if I don't take your word for it," Frank snapped. "You just handle the fighting and leave the technical stuff to me."

"Okay, I'm going to overlook that comment because I know why you're freaking out!" Walker said sharply. "I was there the day that whatever happened to Commandant Atlas...happened. I might not have witnessed it happen with my own eyes, but I took him to the infirmary."

"I should never have attempted that," Frank shook his head. "It was stupid and reckless and I almost got Atlas killed."

"If you don't do it now, you'll get us all killed," Walker said firmly. He pointed at the doors. "Those pirates are coming. If you don't act now, the choice is going to be removed from our hands."

Frank realised that Walker was right. Suddenly, he wasn't feeling so cavalier about the mission. He began to move his hands once again, interfacing with the computer. As he did, a gentle blue light began to appear in the air, and glow brighter and brighter.

"What's that, what's he doing?" Nathan asked.

"Remember how I said this computer has a housed nano factory?" Frank prompted.

"Did you say that?" Walker blinked.

"I meant to," Frank shrugged. "Anyway, I'm using the nano-forms to build me something by pushing atoms together, one at a time."

Within minutes, Frank's device was finished: a long, tubular strip of metal, not unlike a screwdriver. "Here, Walker, take this," Frank tossed it, and Walker lunged to catch it.

"What is it?"

"It's a cellular data recorder," Frank explained. "We're going to need that to teleport out of here. Now shush, I need to talk to the Captain. Hotel to Trinity, you hear me Captain?"

Adrian's voice came through, loud and clear in the room. "I hear you, Frank. Tell me what's going on."

"Your guys did their work," Frank said. "They knocked out the Data Scrambler. I've already begun the process of transmitting all the data that I could get my hands on into Trinity's hard drive. But there was a slight complication."

"What kind of complication?"

"I'm changing the plan," Frank said. "We're stuck here, so we're going to have to teleport to you."

Adrian paused for a moment before he spoke. "Saffron looks like she wants a word with you," he muttered. "She looks pissed."

"Oh, for crying out loud," Frank said under his breath. "Saff, I don't want to hear it!"

The next voice that they heard belonged to Commander Dyvora. "You know!" she exclaimed, her voice shaking. "You know what happened last time you did this! You said yourself that teleports weren't designed to be used in this way! You said it was dangerous!"

"I know what happened!" Frank snapped. "And I know what I said! If I don't do this, we're definitely going to die, Saffron! If I do, we only might die! It's simple maths!"

There was a muted boom as someone or something rammed the doors from the other side. They had less time than they'd thought.

"You're right," Adrian said. "Get it done, Midshipman. And Frank?"

"Sir?"

"If you end up killing yourself, I'm going to demote you so hard."

Frank couldn't resist laughing at this. "Understood, sir."

"Anything you need from me?"

"Move Trinity closer to Solstice," Frank said. "Pull up alongside. The shorter the distance, the less chance we'll splurge into one another."

"Splurge?" Walker echoed.

"Yeah," Frank nodded. "Splurge. Now...I'm sorry to have to ask you two this, but one of you is going to have to draw the short straw."

"What do you mean?" Walker asked.

"I mean if I'm going to calibrate this perfectly," Frank said. "I need one of you to go first. And just know...there's a very real chance that you could die."

"Nick'll do it," Nathan said quickly.

"Oh, how nice of you," Walker rolled his eyes.

Nathan laughed at this. "Oh wait, I forgot, he's a pussy. Guess the honour's all mine."

"Yeah, because that's happening," Walker shook his head. "I'm his Sergeant, I'll do it."

Frank was losing his patience. "One of you decide. Now."

"Ignore him, sir," Nathan said plainly. He reached out like lightning and snatched the data recorder. "And if you try to argue, Nick, I'll just toss this off the edge and nobody will be going. Now, let's get on with it. What do I have to do?"

"Use that recorder to scan him," Frank said to Walker. "Private, stay perfectly still, keep your eyes open and try not to move your fingers."

Walker took the data recorder back, held it up at eye level and clicked the button on the end. A faint yellow light flashed and Walker panned the device from head-to-toe, taking in all the information that it could.

"Okay, great," Frank breathed. "Are you ready, Private?"

"Ready like Freddy," Nathan nodded. "Don't get me killed, Harcourt."

"I'll Do My Damndest," Frank promised.

Suddenly, Nathan's body began to glow with that telltale emerald envelope. Walker held his breath apprehensively, and then, with a rush of energy, he was gone. At once, Frank began shouting into his transceiver.

"Captain, do you have him?" he demanded. "Is Private da Silva aboard?!"

"I don't see him!" Adrian exclaimed. "Standby!"

Walker caught his breath. "What does he mean, Nathan's not there? Where else could he be?"

Frank didn't answer this, which led Walker to believe that the answer was exactly what he thought it was. Frank kept crossing and uncrossing his fingers, and saying "please" under his breath. Finally, they heard Adrian's voice again. "We have him!"

Frank breathed a sigh of relief so intense that Walker was almost blown off the walkway. "Where was he?"

"In the galley," Adrian replied.

"Excellent!" Frank rejoiced jubilantly. "So the coordinates are off by point-zero-seven...and a bit. So I'll just compensate."

A few moments later, Frank smiled and reached up. Slowly, carefully, he pulled the spike from his neck and uncoupled himself from the computer. His eyes swam back into focus, his pupils enlarged in his eyes and he blinked, ever so slightly disorientated.

"Give me the...uh...the thing," Frank muttered.

Walker handed over the data recorder, but Frank was clearly making a hash of it, and so Walker had to guide his hand as Frank scanned Walker's body. Then he took the recorder and repeated the process on Frank.

"Don't you need to be connected to the computer to teleport us?" Walker asked.

"It's on a time delay," Frank explained. "You hear that, Captain? Standby for teleport in seconds "one zero"."

Ten seconds, then.

Ten seconds until they were either safe, or they were cannon fodder. Ten seconds until they were saved, or they were dead. Boom! The control room shook as the doors were pounded again.

Frank was suddenly struck by an unwelcome memory. "You know what this reminds me of?"

"What?" Walker asked.

"That day on Rasputin," Frank said. "Pirates trying to breach the doors, two people standing against them. And I was one of those two in both scenarios."

"You mean the scenario where I saved your ass?" Walker drawled.

"That's the one," Frank nodded. "I hope I don't get you killed in return."

Walker nodded emphatically. "I hope so too."

Frank glanced back at the display. Two seconds left. "I'll see you on the other side, Walker."

Walker nodded. "Yeah. You either will or you won't."

And then the world went black.

DeleteCreated with Sketch.

Frank didn't know much, but he knew that his body was warm.

Then he felt a pleasant tingle pass through it. He was spinning, spinning so fast that he felt like he might throw up. And then suddenly, Frank's feet found solid ground. He still couldn't see. His vision was a pool of melted colours, his ears were a haze of mushed-up sound.

Frank had no idea if it were the effects of being hooked up to a Quantum computer, or the effects of his own shoddy teleporting, or both.

Suddenly, he felt hands around him. With a sharp snap, sound began to flood back into his ears, and the world around him spun into focus. Frank was standing on the bridge of HMS Trinity and Saffron was holding him fast around my midsection. He wondered why for a second, and then he realised that he was teetering back and forth and his head was spinning.

Frank grabbed Saffron's arm and spread his legs apart to steady himself. Suddenly, his head was pounding.

"You did it," Quickening breathed. He clapped Frank on the shoulder. "Well done, Frank."

"Where's Walker?" Frank croaked. "Did he make it?"

"He's fine," Quickening promised. "See for yourself."

A few feet away, Ryan Connolly was attempting to help Walker remain on his feet. He groaned. If his head felt anything like Frank's, then Frank understood his pain.

"Let's not do that again," Walker groaned.

Quickening laughed. "Don't worry, my friend. We have what we came for."

"We should get out of here," Saffron said firmly. "While we still can."

"Agreed," Ryan Connolly nodded. "Owusu's already back aboard. Let's pull out."

"That's what she said," Frank croaked. "Sorry, I'm going down, can someone put me in a seat, please?"

Next minute, his butt found a seat. As Frank's eyes began to adjust properly, he realised that he was sitting in the CQ's seat on the bridge.

Saffron was studying Frank carefully. "You okay, soldier?"

Frank smiled. "Well, I didn't get us all killed, so yeah, I'm just peachy. Why?"

Saffron narrowed her eyes. "Because your eyes have changed colour."

"Pardon?" Frank exclaimed.

"Wait, not both of them, just one," Saffron amended herself.

"Let me use your mirror," Frank said urgently.

Saffron frowned. "Why would I have a mirror on me?"

"Don't women carry mirrors?" Frank asked.

"You didn't," Saffron said indignantly.

Frank narrowed his eyes. "Oh, ha-ha. Remind me to never open up to you again."

Saffron chortled. "Let's just call it even for the "don't women carry mirrors" comment."

"At least mine was funny," Frank whined.

"Right," Saffron rolled her eyes. "So funny. King of comedy over here. Expect my laugh to arrive in three to four working days."

"Never mind, forget the mirror," Frank dismissed this. "Hey, Walker, come here!"

Walker approached, slightly unsteadily. He smiled as he approached. "Well, looks like we're alive. And in one piece. So, good job on that."

"I wouldn't speak too soon," Frank murmured.

"What?" Walker frowned.

Frank stood up out of his seat and gazed into Walker's eyes. And there it was, exactly as he'd suspected. One brown, and one blue. Walker had one of Frank's eyes, and the other way around. 

Idiot must have blinked as I was scanning him or something, Frank thought inwardly. Although, in fairness, he himself must have done the same.

"Why are you staring at me like that?" Walker sounded alarmed.

"Do you notice anything different about me?" Frank asked casually.

Walker took a step back and considered the Quartermaster. "Two arms, two legs, two ears, you look alright to me. Why?"

"My eyes," Frank said plainly. "One of my eyes is blue."

"It wasn't before?" Walker asked, nonplussed.

"No, mine are brown!" Frank exclaimed. "You didn't notice that?!"

"Why would I notice your eyes?" Walker rolled his own. "Wait, what are you saying?!"

"I'm saying we switched eyes!" Frank exclaimed.

"Whoa!" Walker froze. "So wait...I have one brown eye now?"

"Yeah, and don't ask me for a mirror," Saffron said.

"Could be worse," Quickening remarked, eavesdropping on the conversation. "It still works, right?"

"Yeah, it works fine," Frank said, rolling his new eye experimentally in his socket.

"See?" Quickening said. "No harm done. Which would be a bit awkward, given the circumstances."

"Circumstances?" Frank asked.

"Well, put it this way," Quickening said. "You successfully passed for me, infiltrated a martian stronghold and managed to secure data that will be invaluable to us."

Frank smiled. "It sounds cooler than it actually was when you say it like that."

"Be that as it may," Quickening said seriously. He held out his hand for a handshake. "Consider me impressed. And consider your mettle proved. Lieutenant."

Frank felt his mouth drop open as he realised what was happening. Suddenly, Saffron nudged him. "Well don't leave him hanging."

Frank accepted the offer of a handshake with gusto. "Thanks. Thank you, Captain. Thanks."

"You said thanks too many times," Saffron pointed out helpfully.

"It's my pleasure," Quickening returned the smile. "I'll finalize the paperwork once we get back. You might want to think about getting a new jacket. And speaking of, give me mine back."

Frank smiled outwardly as he shrugged off Quickening's jacket, but inwardly he was going crazy.

I just made Lieutenant!

Frank was officially one of the youngest Lieutenants in UE history.

Lieutenant Francis Harcourt. It had a nice ring to it, Frank thought.

"Captain," Connolly's head of communications called. "We're getting a transmission from Valiant."

Frank frowned, and Quickening seemed equally confused. "What do they want?"

"Let's hear it," Ryan Connolly said at once.

Suddenly, they were hearing the voice of James Carlisle. "Is AJ there?"

"I'm here, James," Quickening said, striding into the middle of the bridge. "What's the problem?"

James sounded...sorrowful. Frank had never heard his voice like that. "Something's wrong," he murmured.

"We...we just got a message from Johannesburg, AJ," James said solemnly.

"What transmission?" Quickening asked. "What's happened?"

"It's Commandant Atlas, sir," James said finally. "He passed away in his sleep. He's gone."


Submitted: February 01, 2021

© Copyright 2022 MrSyfy. All rights reserved.

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