Read More Steampunk: Journey into Space, pt 11

The story so far: While exploring a derelict ship the Royal Navy crew of the Albatross, are threatened by the first living person they've found. Finley-Blythe distracts the man by throwing his helmet.

Links to all episodes (and audio versions): http://bit.ly/journeyintospace

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Title: A Journey into Space (Part 11)

Sept 3rd, 1874, 1114

During our training, the risk of a puncture to the hull had been a constant worry. We had drilled on the actions incessantly to take in such an eventuality, the exact action dependent on the nature of the breach. We had not drilled how to deal with being on a foreign vessel when under threat from a third party, at whom one had just thrown one’s helmet.

The explosion inwards from the hull was short-lived. Within moments the desire of the interior atmosphere to escape into the Void overcame the power of the explosion. The air was filled with the screeching of escaping air, while lose articles floated at increasing speed towards the rupture in the vehicle’s skin.

Recovering my helmet was foremost in my mind as the movement of the air pulled me across the bridge. As I tried to locate it I saw the Captain pulling his helmet into position, and the feet of our adversary disappearing into the room behind him. He had not been wearing a void-suit so I surmised he was intending to put one on.

I spotted my helmet, drifting at every increasing speed towards the breach in the hull. In a moment of terror I realised there was nothing in my vicinity I could use to push myself off at the velocity needed for me to catch it before it disappeared through the opening and was lost to the Void. I struggled against air around me, trying to gain purchase on its very particles. To little avail.

“Finley-Blythe!”

The Captain’s voice cut through my panic and turned towards him. His helmet was in position and he had launched himself from the table in my direction. He rocketed along a trajectory to intercept me his arms outstretched.

In times of emergency, any means will do. As he approached he twisted his body in the air so he impacted feet first, bending his legs to absorb the impact. Then he straightened his legs in a firm thrust that launched us in opposite directions, he towards the ceiling and I down into the corner. It was reminiscent of billiard balls careening off one another.

The impulse he had imparted to me caused me to rotate in the air; however this was to my advantage as I came up against the wall feet first. Just as the Captain had done I allowed my legs to absorb the impact. I craned my head to see what I must do.

Those instant mental calculations at which then human mind is so skilled told me it would be close but the moving air would accelerate me also. I launched myself with as much force as I could muster. It did not matter with what violence I struck the far side as long as I had my helmet.

I miscalculated.

It took me less than a moment of flight to see that my path through the atmosphere was changing. While I had become skilled at determining straight-line flight in a weightless condition, I had not allowed for the rotation of the very ship itself, and how it turned the atmosphere within it. My mass was considerably more than that of the helmet, and this significantly less affected by the air particles that were forced to turn with the ship. As a result, the helmet did not maintain its straight course, but I did. In the short time it took me to traverse the distance, it moved just out of range. I flailed my arms in a vain attempt to reach it.

I struck the window and turned to watch in despair as my life saver moved inexorably towards the breach in the hull.

Seemingly from nowhere Ishar appeared. He was not moving fast but, like a rugby player, he intercepted the helmet and caught it in the crook of his arm, holding it tight to his body.

A movement beyond the window caught my eye as an unexpected shadow crossed my view. My attention was pulled from Ishar as I realised there was a group of three men in void-suits outside on the hull. Each had a gun in his hand and watched the escaping air and random oddments it carried with it.

I could not conceive what kind of internecine battle we had stumbled into but these men must be part of the “Lassiter” faction. As I watched, the flow of escaping air reduced sharply.

Bringing my attention back to the interior I saw that Ishar had been carried to the rupture and his body now blocked it. He had released my helmet and it drifted. I pushed off and grabbed it before it floated too far.

Filled with relief I turned it to the correct position to put it on, and went cold. I remembered the gunshot when I distracted the crewman barely a minute ago. A neat bullet hole punctured the glass with striated cracks leading from it.

Ishar jerked and cried out. I stared at him in confusion. He was fumbling at the latches of his own helmet but he did not seem concentrated on the task. Again he cried out and was clearly in great pain.

“Take my helmet,” he said, his voice strained as if he were in agony.

“No, you need it,” I replied, though my heart went out to him for such a noble gesture.

But he was not listening. His eyes lost their focus. His hands ceased to work the catches of his helmet then a few drops of blood escaped from his mouth and floated from his face.


#steampunk #voidships #scifi #saturdayserials
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