Distant sounds of sprinkling water drew louder, and looking up in alarm, Jensen saw the plastic trimming on the fire suppression system above them snap clockwise. Seconds later, powerful showers lashed down from above, daring to extinguish non-existent fires.
'Perfect.' Jensen muttered, brushing dripping wet strands of hair out of his eyes.
'It's a little late. The ship's been burning for hours now!′ Jason commented.
Jensen's face dropped in an instant. 'There was a major fuel leak, on the lower decks.' he yelled.
'We don't have enough time to evacuate everyone Jensen; I need you to go down there and fight those flames,' Jason said.
Staring blankly at the Captain, Jensen could not believe his ears. 'You can't be serious?′
'Get that fire out, or else we're all dead!′ Jason repeated.
Jensen started walking. 'James, with me.' he said.
James was standing his ground, refusing to follow. 'I'm no firefighter Jensen, surely the Captain...'
'I suppose you'd rather organise hundreds of people into evacuation groups?' Jason demanded.
James sighed fatefully. 'I see your point.'
Splodging through puddles of water, the ship was severely waterlogged. Not that it would matter now. The damage to all systems was catastrophic.
'Just down these ladders again, my friend.' Jensen said, bounding down the rails of the first set like he was about to go down a water slide.
'I'm not doing that.' James replied.
Several flights later, they were once more stepping through the bowels of 'Aspire'. Wherever they turned, they were met by the scolding heat of burning equipment. The sprinklers were doing a lot of the work, but they'd have to break out the handheld extinguishers as well if there were any left.
'Jensen, look out!' James cried, tackling me to the floor. A broken pipe was spraying fiery gases everywhere like a flamethrower.
Jensen grins. 'I owe you another one, James.'
'Don't mention it.' he replies, hauling the man back up onto his feet.
During all of the commotion, the putrid stench of burning flesh was overlooked. Following the drifting scent, Jensen sees a malfunctioning hatch door, opening and closing with no success. Wedged inside of the hatch access like a draft excluder of old, was a body, burnt to a crisp and utterly unrecognisable. Next to them lay a dried up extinguisher. It hadn't worked.
Feeling great shame, they step over the remains. In a ship this damaged, there'd be no telling whether the door would ever open to them again if it was closed, and this was the viable only route, heading aft, towards the rear of the ship.
Where corridors once looked the same, they were now unique in their damaged state. Fires were growing out of control in places, and there wasn't anything else that they could do about it. Even the sprinklers were faltering.
'What's through here?' James asked.
Grabbing his shoulder, Jensen pulls him closer. 'We can't go any further. We have to turn...'
Turning around, towering walls of fire were sliding up the walls and rolling across the ceiling. There was no turning back now.
'There's nothing for it. We might as well check.' James said.
Jensen sighs. 'Lead on.'
The smoke was getting toxic. It was black with a tint of green, where pieces of the ship were slowly burning into ash. They couldn't see a thing now, but they were at another hatch according to a blurred map on the ship's hull. Wiping away at the collecting soot on the plaque, Jensen could only make sense of it. So far they had witnessed the gory remains of the dead, with no signs of the living. They would have to hope that it was a result of the Captain's successful evacuation.
Beating against the hatch panel repeatedly, Jensen was getting frustrated. The mechanism continued to blink an angry red colour, and he knew that he'd have to try something new, something tactful. After a while, he managed to pry open the button's outer casing, shorting the fuse, and at last, the door pinged to life.
Bolting through the open hatch, they stumble to a halt. A dozen solar-powered rovers are sat idly at their charging stations. Grinning from ear to ear, Jensen and Hal turn to each other, realising that hey had found their way off of the ship.
There were no keys with any of the vehicles. They operated at the touch of a button, which Jensen found out as he fumbled around the steering column. The next step would be getting each of the vehicles outside of the ship. Still, there wouldn't be enough to carry hundreds of survivors. Maybe one hundred if they were lucky.
This was a cargo bay, but the only exit appeared to be blocked with debris. There was only one option left to them.
Turning on the engine, it began purring like a kitten, and after revving the throttle a few times, Jensen slammed his foot down on the pedal, crashing into the blockade in front of him.
It was working. Sliding the debris out of the way with the rover was still quicker than shifting it by hand. Yet their progress halted at the sudden sound of an explosion in the distance.
What started as a gentle rumbling, steadily brought with it, hisses of gases and the crackling of pursuing fire. 'Drive!' James screamed.
Three more attempts with the rover as a battering ram was all that it took, and at last, they were out. James followed behind in another vehicle, in an attempt to double their efforts. Blinding sunlight beamed through the windscreen relentlessly. They must have been inside of the ship for hours, and a new day was dawning.
Two vehicles were free of the stricken vessel, and from outside they could see external explosions ripping down its starboard side. There wasn't much time.
'Where are they?' James asked. There were still no signs of the evacuees, but the pair of them were already dashing back into the cargo bay.
'Hurry!' Jensen yells. The ship was coming apart at the seams.
James clears the outer hatch first, putting a healthy distance between them. Jensen wasn't so fortunate. Clipping tons of falling wreckage, as he accelerated to reach the exit himself, the roof of his rover was ripped off. And tumbling sideways across the barren wasteland, the exploding vessel threatened to pull him back.
Clambering out to get to Jensen, the shockwave swept James off of his feet in an instant. The mushroom cloud washed over them in a heartbeat, and diving for cover, James buried his head in the ground.