Iron & Glass: Episode 8 – Escape

       Our hero and his beloved search for escape as he learns about his unusual gifts.         At my words, Aeliana blinked and focused her eyes, which went wide as

       Our hero and his beloved search for escape as he learns about his unusual gifts.

        At my words, Aeliana blinked and focused her eyes, which went wide as she looked down at herself, clad in a spacesuit. “How did I—” She sputtered. “Where…” 

        She squeezed her eyes shut, and with a twitch of her fingers, collected herself and gave me a level gaze. 

        The intensity of it sent chills down my spine.

        In microgravity, she brought herself upright, relative to me, and adopted her voice of command. “What has happened to us?” It was an imperial ‘we,’ referring only to herself. 

        I could’ve sworn ice formed over my heart. “A station worker kidnapped, drugged, and stuffed you into some emergency pressure suit in an airlock. I, uh…went after you.”

        She gave a slight nod. “Anything else?”

        I gestured around at the vessel. “This weird ship showed up and secured itself to the station with pitons fired from side-mounted canons. A pilot came out with a gun and helped your kidnapper to take us hostage.”

        “I see…” She shuddered as she drew in a deep breath. “Thank you,” was barely audible as she squeezed my hand. My ice melted.

        She looked around the compartment and pulled off her gloves. “How long was I unconscious?” Half of her night-dark hair was stilled plastered to her head, while half of it swayed in tangled locks with the movement of her head. Her amber eyes were bright.

        “Only for a couple of minutes after they locked us in here.” I held up the orb. “This woke you up.”

        As Aeliana’s head swiveled, her eyes widened. At first, I thought it was her surprise to see the orb, but she looked directly at me. 

        “You used the orb?” Her words were ghostly, and I heard shock in her voice.

        I drew my brows down, confused. “Sure. It brought me here and then it led me to you. Why wouldn’t it work?”

        “Michael…” Aeliana grasped my hand with both of hers as she shook her head.

        My heart did a pirouette. 

        She continued. “When it transported you here and led you to me, those were instructions that anyone with the Inheritance could give to the orb, which it could carry out automatically.” 

        And merely touching it had transported me here.

        “But did you tell it to wake me?”

        I nodded in answer, thinking of how I tried to will the orb.

        Aeliana mirrored my gesture. “Then you have the Inheritance, the ability to use the gifts of the Fathers.”

        My mouth opened as I searched for a question. What finally came out was a long “Umm…”

        She cocked an eyebrow with a playful smile. “How? That’s what I’d like to know.” She waved her hand as she turned serious again. “Whatever the case, we need to get out of here.”

        It was time for me to shake the fog from my brain. “Right.” I looked about. “How do we plan to do that?” I thumbed at the door. “That’s locked.”

        “With this.” She lifted the orb from my hand, and I could see the faint trace of sparks in its core. “If it has enough of a charge.”

        I lifted a finger, a habit left from raising my hand in a classroom. “I get that the orb can do some crazy things, but—”

        Aeliana drifted to the back bulkhead of the compartment, holding the orb near its surface. She didn’t turn back. 

        “How is it supposed to open a locked door? A mechanical door.”

        “Do you remember how you found me?” She waved the orb over the surface of the bulkhead as if searching for something.

        “The orb acted like a compass needle, and I found this vault door—”

        “That opened on its own?”

        Then it clicked into place. “You integrated your technology with whatever the orb is?”

        “Correct.”

        The insights kept coming. “This is one of your ships.”

        “An assault shuttle, yes.” She nodded, still facing the bulkhead. “There will be an override somewhere around here…”

        As soon as she said that, a panel popped open to expose what looked like an oversized circuit board with a ring at its center, the same diameter as the orb.

        I looked back at the hatch. “If we open this up, we’re going to need weapons. And there’s definitely a shortage in here.”

        She turned back. “What would you suggest?”

        I stroked my chin and thought of space capsules falling into the ocean. “Is there any kind of emergency escape for, let’s say, water landings?”

Her eyebrows went up. “Maybe…”

        “We’re not in atmosphere, we’re in vacuum.” I tapped the helmet floating near me. “And we still have these.”

        She smiled for a second, but it faltered. She had the same thought I was having, that decompression was a horrible way to die. 

        All emotion fled from her face as she adopted a queenly hauteur. “Let me check.” 

        She touched the orb to the center of the panel and her eyes went unfocused for a moment. Then they refocused and she nodded. “Yes.” 

        I said nothing more, but nudged her helmet toward her as I put mine on. 

        With our helmets secured, she pressed the orb to the center of the panel. Everything jinked sideways and my shoulder was struck on one side, then my feet were clipped in a different direction, and my helmet collided from another angle. 

        It took me a moment to realize that the ship was spinning around us. I grabbed a seat armature, which almost yanked my arm out of my socket, and then got hold of Aeliana as she sailed by, arresting her movement. By some miracle, the orb was still in her hand.

        Now in sync with the vessel’s relative motion—and fighting a bout of dizziness—I gently pushed her toward the panel and gestured to it and the compartment hatch when my hand was free.

        The hatch popped open and I sailed into the cockpit, rapidly falling in and out of light and shadow as the vessel spun. Something was plastered across the cockpit window. Parachutes. So maybe those retro thrusters fired and some charges popped the shoots and that’s what set it spinning. 

        To one side, the cockpit hatch was opened to the black. And there was Eude the traitor, floating on the other side, his helmet on, having somehow escaped being ejected into the void. 

        To be continued…

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