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Chapter 23

She turns on the flashlight to aid her, though it’s not completely dark in this area. Small fragments of light are around, coming from somewhere, though she also turned on the shuttle’s lights for extra illumination. She begins her journey and heads up the flights of stairs to the levels above, the place still seems to be empty—lucky for her. She still treads carefully though. She roams around the upper level for a few minutes, trying to get her bearings. She shines the flashlight to the distance to see, only to be startled by shadows and pipes and steam. (In the darkness, your mind plays tricks on you, you see, especially when you’re already insane or have been living alone for months) As a cosmonaut, she spent months in that space station, alone. It was actually kinda sad for her to see it explode and destroyed. It was her home. The metal platforms were arranged so that this chamber would fit the huge machine. Most of it’s at the far back, attached to the walls with long ones to the right and left, heading towards the gate. She looks up and there appears to be two more levels above. In the darkness, she can’t really see what’s up there and what’s below, meaning that she actually has to go and explore to find out—that sounds scary. Since the control panel doesn’t appear to be on this level, she heads up the flights of stairs again. Being alone again without anyone or anything around or with her makes her feel nostalgic of her time alone in the space station. After so long of no human contact whatsoever other than through the radio, it feels natural to her, this silence and quietness.

She can feel the stillness in the air as she goes about and searches the level. She remembers one time when she was in the space station with nothing to do, and she got bored—that’s no surprise, being alone and all. She was afraid of going crazy or insane. It was only her second month in space and she still hadn’t gotten used to it yet. How much can the human mind take before it snaps from loneliness? Humans are a social species, whether we like it or not, and require, at least sometimes, contact with other humans. Well, people say that humans aren’t meant to live alone, let alone survive by themselves. Thought it’s true some people prefer loneliness, yet even those people have some form of human contact from time to time, whether it’s with their parents, siblings, close friends, psychologists, etc. Pain…is a powerful thing.

Anyway, rather than going crazy from boredom, she decided to go outside for a little spacewalk. Maybe the “fresh air” would do her some good, she thought. She headed to the airlock and put on her EVA suit, made sure everything’s okay—made sure the tethers are placed, locked, and secure, and depressurized. As she opened the door, she felt…weird or strange. Even after a month, she was still adjusting to the sensation of weightlessness, especially floating around outside. But it also felt…amazing. It felt cool. She didn’t move or try to fly or anything…she just let it happen. Floating around and spinning in near-Earth orbit, it felt weird cause there’s really no orientation up there. Without gravity, there isn’t really up or down. She just enjoyed the experience though, looking at the huge, wide universe…seeing the Earth from above, the moon, and the stars… How many people get to experience this moment or get to say that they have and know what that feels like?

She leans on the railing with her hands while remembering that moment. The calmness was nice too, the peace and quiet…

It was an extremely rare experience. She spent some time out there for a while, forgetting about all the worry and boredom. Sometimes loneliness can be nice. And maybe this could be a beautiful experience after all.

She snaps back to the present and shakes it off. She picks up her gun that she lowered and continues her search. Shining her light to the distance, she can see what seems to be the object she’s looking for and heads that way. Every footstep makes a clanging and banging sound on the metal platform. She didn’t realize it at first (amazing how you sometimes don’t realize things at first) Finally reaching it, and the language on this one is also unreadable, of course. This is an alien ship after all. “Perfect, how am I supposed to open this thing?” she says to herself. With no idea what to do, she starts pressing buttons randomly. Some things activate around the area such as a crane-like object and extending platform. “Come on!” As she continues pressing, suddenly something opens up behind her, some sort of mechanism or panel? “What the fuck??” she says. Touching it gives her a mild electric shock. “Oww!” she exclaims. As she tries to get rid of the pain, she remembers that the aliens are electrical in nature. It must need an electrical surge to operate. She looks around and checks her person, but finding nothing, runs back to the shuttle. On the shuttle, she searches for anything electrical, anything that can give out electricity. Finding a taser, she quickly runs back out and up the flights of stairs to reach the mechanism again. She points the gun at it and fires, sending out an electrical charge. It gives life for a moment before dying again. “Fuck!! Not enough.”

She returns once again to the shuttle to try and find something else, but there’s nothing. Stressing out... The mothership suddenly gives another big rumble, prompting her to get out, worried, pointing her rifle everywhere. The flashlight then wigs out on her, as does the shuttle. Crash! Suddenly, something crashes through the back wall. An alien has crashed itself along with Takashi through the wall and they land on the platform, fighting. It’s then blown away by a grenade and falls down to the bottom. Sergey drops the grenade launcher down, saying, “That was the last of the grenades.” Olivia helps Takashi up and they run to the shuttle. “Alexandra!! Why the hell isn’t the gate open yet?!?” she screams. “It is difficult, you know??! You think it is easy?!? The mechanism is specifically designed for the creatures to interact with! It needs a surge of electricity to operate, a big one. And it must be constant,” she explains to them. “Well, do we have anything to do that??” Takashi asks. “No, just a taser. Already tried it, it doesn’t work.” “She is right. Only one of the creatures would have the energy necessary to power such a mechanism,” Sergey deduces. “If you are right, then unfortunately, we need one of them to open it for us,” the cosmonaut adds. “Great, sure, we’ll just go and ask them,” Olivia says sarcastically, “come on! Seriously??” Takashi wanders off in his mind, thinking. “Hmmm, does it need to be alive to do this?” “One would assume so,” she says. “But, it should still be able to generate electricity when it’s only been dead for a few seconds, right?” They all throw their hands into the air, completely clueless about how they work. “We don’t have a lot of time here, guys,” she asserts what they already know. Having no other options, Takashi quickly runs back inside the ship to change into a spare EVA suit to replace his damaged one, just in case, before walking out to find one of them. “Hey. Hey! Where do you think you’re going?!” she asks, grabbing and pulling his arm. “To find a creature. Like you said, we don’t have a lot of time. This is the only way.” “Well, then I’m coming with you. I told you, I’m not letting you do all this alone.” Roar!!! They all stare at the hole they created, worried; they fear the worst.

“Turn off the lights,” he says to the soldiers and the cosmonaut, “turn it off, now!” The cosmonaut quickly does so. “You guys stay inside, okay? No matter what happens. And hold on to your weapons,” she tells them. “Let’s go, Liv.” The both fly up over the “abyss”. As they feared, the queen shows her ugly face entering through the hole. Luckily, their combined energy is enough to make her focus on them and not on the shuttle. “Oh, shit. What do we do?” Olivia asks, terrified, whispering. “We can use her to open the door.” “What??” “Alexandra, where is the mechanism?” Suddenly her tentacles come for them. They just barely dodge it and fly up one level. Her majesty transforms quickly and speeds up through the stairs in a flash, transforming back just as quick. She grabs them both with her tentacles and tries to absorb them, though they’re resisting. “It is one level above you, at the far end near the gate!” “Aaarrggghhh!! Got it!!” Takashi grabs the tentacle, channeling the energy into himself and, and redirects it to her. The blast knocks her back and through the wall, severing the tentacles holding them. They shake it off for a few seconds and he’s suddenly struck with an idea. “That’s it.” “What’s it?” “Our way outta here.” The ship begins to crumble all around them. They need to hurry their ass up. “Guys, what are you doing??” He flies up to the control panel, Olivia following behind. “I’m gonna need her to grab me again!” he says. “What??! No way! That’s too dangerous!!” “Liv, we don’t have time for this!!! Look around you!! I have to do this! Now please listen up, here’s what we’re gonna do.”

He tells her the plan, and also for Sergey and Alexandra to hear too. The queen then returns from behind and zips to them quickly in a flash, knocking them back. “Argh!” they fall down, seemingly unconscious. She wraps them in her tentacles again and lifts them up… “Now!!” he shouts. Olivia screams and punches her majesty right in the face, doesn’t do much of course, but then she flies to her back, wraps her arms around her neck, and starts squeezing. With that, the queen begins electrocuting them again, just as planned. It’s very painful, yes, but one they have to endure for a few seconds. They resist with all their might and energy. Takashi again channels the energy into himself, but this time redirects it to the mechanism, powering it up. It’s activating. “It’s working!!!!” he shouts in pain, but happy too. The gate cranks and moans as it opens to show an ocean of stars behind it in the dark background as the air begins to get sucked out. “Liiiivvvv!!!!” He slams with all his might to her majesty as the platform breaks and falls down. The electrocution stops and the three fly and levitate in the air—fighting the force of the suction—the queen making it difficult for them to do so. They both close their visors back up and Takashi cuts the tentacles wrapping him and flies to Olivia to assist her, but her majesty grabs his leg while Olivia tries to break free. They slam and smash into the wall and drop to the platform below. They quickly grab on to avoid being sucked out. It was enough distraction for her to free herself from the queen. Takashi then manipulates and moves the platform to stab her and wrap it around her, holding her in place for a while. Or at least they thought. She gives out a loud roar. “Guys, just take off!!!! We’ll follow you!!! Wait for us outside!!!” he contacts them. “Okay!!!” She activates the engines….clang!!! An alien jumps to the front window. Her majesty, with her roar, has called back her army to the fray. It punches the window several times, just as it’s about to break it clean through, it’s slammed away to the corridor. Regaining her composure, the cosmonaut then quickly shuts the door, refills the oxygen supply on the shuttle, and takes off. Throwing the throttle to maximum, they fly back out to space as more and more creatures zip in. She stops just a few meters away from the edge of the ship to wait for them. Olivia’s still fighting with the creature she slammed away. Takashi tries to help, but one of the aliens grabs his leg by tentacle and pulls and slams him down, to which then they gang up on him. He fights them off as best he can. “Sergey!!! Blow it up, now!!!!!” he screams. “No, you guys are still there!!” “Just do it!!!!” Reluctantly…he presses the button, setting off the explosives scattered around the ship. Boom!! The ones planted on the reactor goes off too, and along with it, the explosion is enough to destroy everything as it spreads outwards. Olivia forces and slams the alien on her to the roof of the corridor, then levitates it over the darkness to let it fall and gets sucked out. She then flies at mach speed to help Takashi and crash through the aliens, releasing an outward horizontal burst of energy. The aliens get sucked out. “Sweetie, you okay??” “Yeah… We need to go, let’s go, now!!” She picks him up and they both fly towards the exit as fast as they can, avoiding falling debris along the way. They barely exit as the entire ship explodes piece-by-piece, ending in a glorious flash of light followed by an outwards horizontal energy wave that sends them further away from the ship. “Urgh!!!” they exclaim.

Takashi passes out from all the excitement, just floating in space. Olivia wants to as well, but stays strong for a few more minutes. The shuttle then comes up on them and, using her last remaining strength, grabs him and heads for it. Sergey opens the door, his friend holding him back, letting the oxygen rush out. “Hurry!!!” After they enter, he closes the door back up, struggling to do so. “That was perfect. You guys just wasted our supply of oxygen,” the cosmonaut says, half-jokingly. Catching her breath, “Please just tell me we have enough to get back to Earth?” “Hahaha, yes we do. Next stop, home,” she tells them with optimism. The monitors and screens flicker for a brief moment. “Everything okay?” Sergey asks. “Yes, the explosion, both of them, caused minor glitches in the system, but we should be fine,” she explains.
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