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Chapter 20

She leads them to the central chamber where most of the station’s controls lie. On the walls and floors: nothing but consoles and computers, blinking yellow lights. Above the room, there’s a window, and on each other side are openings that lead to the other corridors. Before anything else, she heads over to a container-like object and grabs some bottled water and throws it to them. “Here, for hydration,” she says. “Ohhh, thank you, thank you!” Olivia expresses her gratitude, happy to see some water. She quickly opens it and drinks it all the way, as do the others. They must be very thirsty after all that. The cosmonaut then heads over to the central console and presses some buttons, and the station starts moving again. It moves by releasing bursts of air through small openings on its corners. They can see the rotation through the window by looking at the stars moving in the blackness. Of course, they aren’t really moving. It’s just the relative movement of the station. She then points to the window and says, “There is the object you seek, no?” Everyone tries to look at it, it’s difficult to see at first, but they eventually see it: the mothership. They all stare at it for a few seconds. “It is bigger than I imagined,” Sergey says. “That shouldn’t be much of a problem,” Takashi replies. “Why not?” “Because we don’t have a choice anymore. It’s now or never,” Olivia continues. “But that’s too far for us to just spacewalk. How do we get there?” he asks. “I have a small ship here. Should fit all of us,” Alexandra adds as she floats towards one of the openings. “All of us?” Olivia asks. “Yes, all of us. If you think that I am not coming with you…” “It’ll be dangerous,” she continues. “Of course it will be dangerous. But I cannot just wait here anymore, feeling helpless. Besides, I know how to handle myself, thank you.” She then grabs one of the edges of the consoles and launches herself to one of the openings. “Follow me!” she shouts.

“This corridor will lead us straight to the shuttle, but it needs to be refueled,” she explains. “One of us will have to do it, while the rest prepare the shuttle.” “Okay, I’ll do it,” Olivia suddenly volunteers. “What?? Why?” Takashi asks. “I don’t know. I can get around faster?” “Yes, good. She will do it,” Sergey says. “Alright, be careful,” Takashi tells her. She then gives him a kiss and a smile before heading off with Alexandra. She leads her to another corridor past the central chamber. At the end of it is another branch leading downwards. “Alright, so the fuel control is down there,” she tells Olivia. “Okay.” The cosmonaut goes down the slightly narrower corridor first. When they reach the bottom, she tries to explain how it all works. Of course, Olivia’s finding it a little difficult to follow her instructions, given her accent too. “Alright, so basically I just press this button to start the process and the one below to stop it. And I watch the gauge to see when it’s full before stopping it. Did I get that right?” she asks. “Yes, that is correct. Just one more thing, this lever is for emergency stop. Pull it in emergencies to stop the flow, but I am sure that is not needed,” the cosmonaut continues. “Alright, good luck. I will see you soon,” she says going back up, “wait for the signal!”

Back at the shuttle, the others are busy admiring it, especially Takashi. It’s a dream come true for him, to be up here and being able to experience all this. It feels peaceful. At least for now… The shuttle isn’t very big like she said, but it should be enough. Actually, a smaller ship would be better for sneaking quietly as they probably plan to do. There are only four seats plus two other for the pilot and co-pilot. Looks like one of them will have to stand, or rather, float. “Hey, we are ready for refueling,” Alexandra returns. She heads over to the pilot controls and opens up the fuel lines. She then grabs the radio and contacts Olivia, “Alright, you may start the transfusion now.” “Okay,” she responds as she presses the button. The gauges to her right suddenly light up and the needles begin moving from left to right in a curved pattern. “Uh, okay. Something’s happening here. It’s on, I think,” she says. Hearing the sounds of rattling and cluttering, “Yes, it is working. Standby.” She puts the radio back before going to check the fuel gauge on the shuttle. Yep, it’s rising. “Okay, now we wait.”

Olivia floats and spins around as she waits for it to finish, bored. She looks at the gauge again and finds it still moving, not even halfway there. “Huh,” she sighs. She spins upside down for amusement, though finding it a little difficult in the quite confined space. Back at the shuttle, they’re discussing a plan to quietly enter the mothership. Of course, no other plan really comes into mind other than driving straight towards it. Sergey thinks it’s way past sneaking around and time to just hit them directly, hard. “Maybe…” Takashi considers, “but this ship would never stand a chance with an attack like that. I say we use this ship to sneak aboard their ship first, and then we hit ‘em hard.” “That is good plan, I think,” the cosmonaut says. “Please tell me you brought some weapons,” he asks them. “Only the ones we brought. We did not bring more,” Sergey answers. And even that doesn’t have much ammo left. They have a few grenades and a grenade launcher… Alexandra floats to a cabinet and reveals a small cache of weapons onboard. “Do not worry, this will help,” she says. “My friend, you are savior,” Sergey tells her. Takashi stares at the weapons that could help them, amazed by Russians’ ability to acquire and have any sort of items. This is a space shuttle after all, though not your average type. It’s sort of a newer design the Russians have been working on, smaller than the usual ones.

Back at the fuel control, Olivia notices that the refueling is almost complete. “Hey, Al--Alexandra? The thing’s almost full, should I stop it soon?” she asks. They hear her chatter on the radio, mixed with a little static. She quickly floats to it to reply. “I thought you said the creatures can intercept our radio?” Takashi asks. “Only transmission outside the station, I believe. If it is within, we should be safe.” “Should be??” Olivia also notices that the pressure gauge is going up too high…probably. She doesn’t really understand fully, but it doesn’t look right. “Yes, Olivia. Come in.” “Uhh, the fuel gauge’s almost full, but there’s something else. The pressure gauge is reading...uhhh, very high. Is there something wrong?” The radio has a bit of interference on the other end. “Hello? Olivia?” she repeats. She tells everyone to quiet down and listens closer. Shocked after finally hearing what she said, the cosmonaut quickly rushes back to the central chamber. Indeed, all sorts of alarms and lights are, surprisingly, quietly ringing and flashing. “No, no!!!!” she shouts. She quickly tries to “swim” towards the panels, rushing, and she sees the gauges going critical. “Fuck!!” She grabs the radio close to her, “Olivia!! Get out of there now!! I repeat, get out now!!!” she screams. “Sorry, what?? I can’t hear you very well,” she replies. Takashi quickly flies out of the corridor, worried, followed by the rest behind, “Alexandra, what the hell’s going on??!!” Suddenly, they hear a bump coming from outside. They all stop what they’re doing and look up simultaneously. Between all the ringing alarms and flashing yellowish lights, it was a little hard to hear, but they heard it. “What was that?” Andrei asks. The cosmonaut’s eyes are looking around furiously. She launches herself up to the window above and looks outside. A creature suddenly lands on the window from somewhere, surprising them all. “Argh!” Alexandra and the creature spend a few seconds staring at each other before she pushes herself back, moving slowly. The creature then starts to punch the window in an attempt to break it, which makes them jump again. “Do something,” Sergey says to Takashi. The window starts to crack a little. He then forces it off the window, carefully, sending it flying off to space. “Hello? Hello?” Olivia talks through the radio. Alexandra grabs the radio to reply. All manner of problems are occurring down in the fuel control. “Uhh, guys?? All the gauges are spiking and these alarms are ringing…” she continues. White gases start spewing out as well. “My friend, listen to me carefully. Get out of there now. Do you hear me? Turn off the fueling process and get out now. We meet back at the shuttle. And seal your helmet.” Finally hearing what she’s saying, she can reply back clearly. “Alright, I’ll see you there.”

She shuts off the transfusion and starts heading up. “That goes for everyone, seal your helmets.” They all do so as she retrieves a helmet from one of the cabinets and puts it on. As they head back to the shuttle, something like an explosion rocks the station. Olivia feels it as well, knocking her back and forth in the small corridor. “Guys, what the fuck is going on??!?” she freaks out. “Just hurry up and get back here, Liv!!!” Takashi tells her. “Okay!” She launches herself up, but before she can exit, something breaks through the corridor and she’s flung out into space. She manages to catch herself outside, but two creatures are waiting for her. “Shit.” Hearing the explosion, Takashi quickly contacts Olivia to make sure she’s okay, but there’s no answer. “I’m going back for her!” he says. “No! We do not have time!” the cosmonaut warns him. “Do not worry about them! We have to prepare the shuttle!” Sergey tells her. Fuel is leaking out from the pipes into the cold darkness, forming bubble-like shapes as they float away. Olivia fights off the creatures as best as she can. Though in the space environment, it makes it hard to do so. She tries to fly towards the broken corridor to re-enter the station and get to the shuttle, but they keep thwarting her. She slams into the station’s outer wall, but quickly recovers and positions herself ready to launch. As soon as they rush to her, she launches and punches through its chest, killing it. Yellow now colors her suit and helmet. She slides her hand out of its chest as the other one catches her by surprise. Suddenly, a burst of energy forces it away. “Come on, Liv!! We don’t have time!!” Takashi yells to her. She flies to him quickly. “What the hell happened?” he asks looking at the blood on her. Then, an explosion rocks the station again. The mothership is trying to destroy it, firing electrical bursts at them. “Shit! We gotta go. Come on, Liv!” But unfortunately, the explosion causes the station’s emergency protocols to activate, sealing all the corridors. “Nooooooo!!!!” Sergey yells as he rushes to the sealing, circular door. Takashi and Olivia suffer the same fate. “Nooooo!!!” He starts kicking and punching the door to no avail. “Open this door now!!!” Sergey yells. “I cannot!!! Emergency protocols are activated, no way to open door!!!” Meanwhile, the station continues to get bombarded by the mothership. It eventually hits the fuel lines causing it to spark and explode too. “That’s it! Stand back, Liv!” He fires an energy pulse at the door, but it does nothing, only sending him to the back wall.

At the shuttle, Alexandra initiates start-up sequence and prepares to launch. “What the fuck are you doing??!?! We are not leaving without them!!!!!” Andrei yells to her. “You want to die???!?!?!” They both stop, catching their breath, frustrated. “Sweetie, are you okay??” she asks him as everything crumbles around them. “Yeah.” “Okay, cause I think I found another way outta here!! But we gotta hurry!!” She reaches up to the ceiling where a vent cover appears to lie. She pulls it open and they go through. The cosmonaut closes the door and activates the engines. “Alright, we are ready!!!!” Takashi and Olivia emerge from the vent in the shuttle corridor and they can see the shuttle’s door already closed. “Fuck! They’re gonna leave without us!!!” Olivia shouts. Most of the station has already been destroyed or has exploded sending metal parts into space. They speedily launch themselves to the door as the central chamber explodes. “Hey!!! Open the door!!!!” they shout and they bang on it. “It is them!!!!” Sergey yells. He quickly gets up and opens the door. As soon as he does, they fly in and he sees the explosion behind them, racing to catch them. He hurriedly closes it back up and yells to Alexandra to floor it!!! They barely made it out of there as the entire station is decimated in a fiery explosion. The shuttle suffers some minor damage, but it’ll still take them to their destination. It isn’t that far anyway. As the vibrations and aftershocks come to an end, they take a moment to relax and breathe a sigh of relief. “Fuck, that was close,” Olivia says. “That is why I told you not to touch anything,” the cosmonaut replies. “But we didn’t touch anything,” Takashi adds. “Well, there you go.” Fortunately for them though, the aliens don’t seem to notice that they’re still alive. Maybe their plan to sneak aboard may still be viable.

“Alright, we are making our approach.” It’s much, much bigger up close. It seemed quite small from the station. The ship is a huge rectangular shaped, metallic vessel, and not very wide. And like the hovering machines before, it’s lined with spikes or spiky protrusions like antennas or rods. Electrical arcs fire off from these from time to time. They fly up close to its side, taking care to avoid the electrical sparks, and try to find a place to dock. “I don’t see any kind of…opening,” Takashi says. “So we keep looking,” the cosmonaut replies. The wall suddenly grinds and starts moving in front of them to their left, opening up. She stops the shuttle immediately as one of those hovering machines exits and makes it way towards Earth. “We should destroy it,” Sergey suggests. “No, if we destroy the mothership, it’ll stop every one of those things at once. Quick, get in before it closes!” Inside is a huge docking area, now empty, as the vessel had just left. “Stick to the plan. All we can do now is try to destroy this ship before all those small ones succeed,” she explains further. They fly through carefully and quietly, but they don’t have much time. The damage caused by the station’s explosion makes the shuttle not space worthy for much longer. They’re not major damages, but it’ll make it unusable for a while. “We have to land or dock somewhere soon, she cannot take much more.” There are lots of platforms around, but none of them seem big enough to land the shuttle on. “Wait, there,” Andrei points to a space they can land on. “I see it.” She sets it down carefully and shuts it down. “Okay, so the shuttle requires repairs, yes? I fear I have to stay behind and do that while you guys go and stop them,” she explains. “Alright, good luck. And stay safe,” Olivia says, “I don’t think we should remove our helmets, we don’t know if the air’s breathable.” “Or if there’s even air,” Takashi adds. Andrei, Sergey, Viktor, and Alexei grab some weapons and a few grenades and explosives from the cabinet, and they all refill their oxygen supply before they exit out.

It’s dark out on the platforms with very minimal lighting. Though they can sorta see the other platforms to some degree and where the machine would dock. The place seems even bigger than before, cold too. They can see their breath as they exhale and shiver and rub themselves. “Okay, so where do we go now?” Sergey asks. She thinks for a second before saying, “This way.” She starts walking even though she can barely see what’s in front of her or what she’s stepping on, but nevertheless she finds her way. Leaving the docking area, she leads them further into the ship—they hold hands so they don’t get separated. It’s dark everywhere, it feels like a cave, though the walls are made of metallic materials. Since the aliens don’t need light to see, it does make sense that they don’t have forms of lighting on their ship. There’s also some kind of transparent conduits attached to the walls, presumably to allow them to travel around the ship faster. “Wait a second. There has to be a flashlight on this gun… Yes!” Sergey says. He turns it on and their path is finally illuminated. “Don’t everyone use all at once though, it might attract them,” Takashi tells them. She touches the wall with her right hand and her arm glows bright white, her eyes too. The residual energy she absorbed from the staff before is interacting with the ship’s environment. Through it, she’s somehow “connecting” to the ship and…something else. “Aaarrggghhh!” She falls back. “Liv! Sweetie, you okay??” he picks her up. “Yeah,” she mutters, “I’m fine. Come on, I know where to go.” “Wait. How do you know again?” She looks pretty excited, breathing heavily, “I don’t know. I just know. You know?” “No, I really don’t,” he replies confused, “is this another aspect of our powers or something?” “Maybe. I don’t know. I don’t think so. Please, trust me.” “Well, we don’t have much of a choice anymore.” She nods and they proceed back on their way. Sergey continues to light the way. It seems to get darker and darker as they go deeper, though the electrical conduits on the walls provide very small lighting. Olivia though sees the world differently right now. The energy inside her allows her to see almost as the creatures do, to see energy paths. It appears to be leading her somewhere. After a while, they reach a branch where they can go straight, left, or right. But she only sees the path that the energy shows her, and it seems to be going left. “This way,” she says. As they go through this corridor though, the conduit to their right lights up and sparks. “What’s going on??” she asks. Right now, she’s pretty much blind to everything else, only seeing the energy that’s leading her. Sergey points the light at the spot and they back up from it. “Liv, get back,” he pulls her back. It gets distorted, like it’s coming out of the electrical conduit. They all stare at it in confusion. It suddenly blasts them through the wall and they fall through to the room adjacent. Everyone slams to the floor, which is lower than the corridor’s, and it hurts. “Oh, come on!! Really??”

Olivia still can’t see anything. Everything is just dark. “Guys! What the hell just happened?!” She crawls around a bit trying to get a feel of the room. That seems frustrating, and annoying. The others are still feeling the impact. “Ohhhh… Liv? Are you okay? What’s wrong with you?” Takashi asks. “Takashi, I can’t see.” “What??” “I can’t see. Everything’s dark.” “Uhhh, what is going on?” Sergey asks. “I can only see a moving light, where we need to go. It’s higher now.” “My friend, what is going on?” “I have no idea.” The roars and screeches of the creatures are getting audible now. “We should get moving,” Takashi suggests. “Uhhh, my friend?” Sergey says pointing to his leg. “What?” He looks at it to realize that a sharp, steel object went through his left leg. He goes into a bit of a shock at the sight and loss of blood. He tries to pull the object out, very painful, and successfully does so after much screaming. “Baby, what’s going on?!” She then starts to regain her normal vision, “Omg, sweetie!” “I’m fine, just…” he says starting to get a little faint. “That is not problem, my friend. Problem is, your suit is now ruptured. You will start to lose oxygen faster.” “Great,” he speaks sarcastically. “We should go then, now.” Olivia picks him up and holsters him on her shoulder. He tries to heal it, but is too weak to focus his efforts. They are ready to go, but there seems to be no way out. They appear to be standing on a platform, and the sound of rushing water can be heard. Below them is flowing water, something akin to a sewer: a sewer system perhaps? Right now, the broken wall where they fell through seems to be the only way out. But suddenly, it repairs itself and the walls to their left and right open, in a weird, alien way, to reveal a new passageway. Cranking and metallic noises are heard throughout. A bridge system also materializes that allows them to cross the chasm. The environment is suddenly reminiscent of an old castle-like structure. Even though it’s not, gears start to come to their mind. It may look old, but the machinations of this ship are definitely pretty advanced. Who knows how advanced. Or maybe it’s just very old.

They get confused and don’t know which path they should take. The one to their left seems promising, no one knows why, so they take it. “It’s coming back, Liv,” Takashi says, half-crying, as they cross the bridge. “Nooo!! We’re gonna make it through this!! You can do it!!!” she replies. “I know!!!” he starts to fully cry. Sergey and Andrei get even more confused about what’s going on. Nevertheless, they continue onwards. Going through the darkness, they find themselves arriving at the same place they were in before. “What is this??” Andrei asks. They’re back on the platform, and below them is the flowing water again. The bridge dematerializes and the walls close. Now they appear to be stuck again. “What’s going on, Liv??” he continues to cry, “it’s coming back!” She grabs him by the face as they both kneel down and says with a serious expression, “Now you listen to me. We’re gonna make it through this, okay?! I know it’s hard, but we can do this! You…can do this.” She wipes away the tears from his eyes and cheeks and gives him a smile. “It’s stupid, isn’t it? This repetition,” he says. “Maybe it is, but that’s just the way humans are,” she replies, “but you know, we don’t really have to follow that. All you have to do is let go.” He lowers his head in despair, “I can’t…I just can’t.” “You can… You have to.” What does that feel like? To be burdened by that feeling. Is he crazy?? Is he insane?? Is it all just in his head? Maybe… But that doesn’t mean the emotions aren’t real. This is just one of those things that he has to deal with…accept and deal with. He understands, but wonders yet again what keeps him going. Why, after all the pain, does he keep fighting? “If you guys are done…” Andrei says. “Give them a moment,” Sergey tells him. “Sweetie, if you can’t do it for you, then do it for me,” she says to him. He’s reluctant, really wanting to just give in, but accepts. “Now let’s fix this wound of yours before we go.” Of course, she understands too. Those feelings… Most people, if not everyone, should know those feelings. Perhaps she was right. It’s just a part of being human…of living. She is right. But it seems that some people can handle it better than others. For those who can’t, maybe they’re just incapable of handling it, and are “fated” to feel like this for the rest of their lives. Or until they kill themselves, which is a very sad ending to their story. But is it though?

As Olivia begins to heal him, the walls above them dematerialize and an alien stands behind it. It continues to open up all the way and reveals a many amount of aliens. The gang stares at them in worry. “Oh, shit.” Takashi really wants to say for them to go and leave him here, but he shakes his head around, a little furiously. Olivia stops the healing and picks him back up so they can get out of there. One of the aliens jump down to the platform, shaking it a little, and slams Takashi and Olivia away, going through the wall as it opens and closes back up, trapping them behind it. “Hey!!!!” she bangs on the wall. Without them, Sergey doesn’t like their chances of survival right now. “This is not good,” he says slowly. A few of the other aliens join the lone one at the platform to finish them off. Sergey and Andrei aim their gun at them, while Alexei and Viktor aim at the ones still on top. Speaking in Russian, “What do you think, my friend?” Andrei asks. “I think…we should start firing now,” he answers. “I think that’s a good idea.” Bullet casings start flying as the aliens screech and jump to them. Olivia can hear the gunfire and battle from behind the wall, screams too. “Noooo!!!!” Takashi lies down on the floor, his wound taking its toll. “Ohhhh...” he moans. “Takashi!” She runs back to him and quickly tries to heal his leg as best as she can. Unfortunately, the object broke through his bone when it pierced his skin. Healing a major wound like that won’t be a stroll in the park. And being tired already doesn’t help at all with the healing process. He screams in pain as his leg heals. The bone growing back, muscles and nerves stitching back together… Though she can’t muster up the energy to fully heal him, she stops after a while, sweating profusely from exhaustion and worry. Her hands are red colored from the blood. “Liv, stop. Please don’t push yourself too much,” he tells her, “you’ve done enough. I feel better, really.” She doesn’t really believe that, as she sits down, looking at the still existing hole on his leg. “What happened to Sergey…and the others?” he says gasping for breath. “I don’t know, we were separated by the creatures. Can you walk?” “Yeah, just…help me up, will you?” He notices that she’s also sweating tired. “Forget about me, are you okay?” “I’m fine. Just a little tired from trying to heal you.” “You shouldn’t do that. Not too much, at least. With me like this, we’re gonna need you at full strength if we’re gonna get through this,” he explains. “Right. Come on.”

She drags him a little quickly because they just don’t have time. “Oh, no,” she says. “What?” Her vision changes again, the pathway returning. “I see it again. Should we follow it?” “We don’t really have a choice do we?” Going again through the maze of corridors on this ship, they follow this strange vision in her head. It’s pretty scary for him, having normal vision, seeing the darkness around, the sounds of clanging and cranking makes him jump everytime. She doesn’t get even a little annoyed at this, that’s how much she believes in him…how much she loves him. She knows what he went through. He knows how lucky he is, but still can’t help feeling that despair. No matter how small it’ll always be there. But he can outgrow it to make it seem small.
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