The seed pods were a heck of a cargo to load, particularly once the artificial gravity took over. Normally Kershaw would have turned it off in the cargo bay while they were loading but some rewiring Smats had been doing for the last four days to increase engine efficiency made that impossible. So he and the rest of the crew tried to shove around the six ton seed pods while Flanger’s blue eyes watched from the catwalk. He hadn’t made many friends up there, but neither had Kershaw down in the seed pod corral. Smats had rigged up some sleds that let the things roll, though turning them was near impossible. After about six hours of pushing and pulling and shoving and turning and tempers flaring, the seed pods were stowed enough for the time being.
Most of the crew stumped off to the showers or to lay down in their bunks to sooth their aching muscles. But Kershaw knew he had sensor and mechanical reports to check and plans to make about how these stupid pods were going to be delivered. He dropped into the navigator’s chair and fell asleep before his body had settled.
The next thing he knew was the explosion.
Enough of the ship’s guts and controls had remained in place that he could close internal air locks, seal bulkheads and build a small refuge for himself. Sensors weren’t really working so he couldn’t tell if any of his crew were alive or even the extent of the damage. For all he knew the forward decks had been sheared off from the cargo bay and engine room. Most of the crew bunks were above the cargo bay so he presumed them dead, though he still held out a little hope.
He decided to try the comms once more. “This is Kershaw, anyone out there? Repeat. This is Kershaw, anyone out there?”
Nothing but static came back for a long moment.
“Kershaw? That you?” Came a voice.
Kershaw was so happy to hear another voice, the nasal whine and the inane nature of the response didn’t register at first. “Who’s there?” Kershaw asked the added hopefully, “Smats?”
But before the voice replied, the identity of the caller sunk in.
“No, it’s Reginald.” Flanger’s first name that no one used but him.
“Oh.”Kershaw grunted. “Where are you?”
“I’m in the lifeboat.”
“How’d you get there in time?
“Oh, I went in there to nap, in case something like this happened.”
“‘Something like this’?” Kershaw repeated. “You knew?”
“Well… I had heard rumors, but nothing concrete.”
“You knew they could explode?”
“It was just a rumor.”
“And you weren’t going to tell me?”
“It seemed unlikely.”
“Yet you slept in the escape pod?”
“I was just being safe.”
“You are so very lucky the weapon systems are offline.” Kershaw fumed for a minute before his sense and survival training took over. “Is the lifeboat damaged?”
“I don’t thinks so,” Flanger replied.
“Good, I think I still have an external airlock in operation. Once I’m aboard we can look for-”
“I don’t think that’s going to work.”
To Be Continued…