Jaclyn’s eyes flicked toward the fusion generator and then back to me. “You’re not going to ask me to smash it are you? Because that sounds like a bad idea.”
I shook my head. “No. I wasn’t thinking of doing that. We’d probably all die.”
Jaclyn eyed me. “You think? So how were you planning to trash their plant?”
“Well, there are emergency procedures in case you need to shut it off. This generator looks a lot like the jet’s. It should be easy.”
Jaclyn smiled. “Kind of like how Rook’s headquarters wasn’t supposed to contain nerve gas.”
I was about to say that there was no way we could have expected that, but Jaclyn spoke before I’d gotten my thoughts together.
Shaking her head, she said, “I’m not arguing, let’s go.”
We ran toward the fusion plant. Jaclyn arrived ahead of me, but not by much. We weren’t racing. We stood among the pipes and cables, looking up at the white box in front of us. A few screens glowed next to it, giving the plant’s vital statistics in a language or languages that I couldn’t read.
Izzy landed next to us. “Do you need help?”
“Maybe,” I said. “What happened to the Hrrnna?”
She let out a breath, slumping a little. “Dead,” she said, “or its armor is so damaged it can’t move.”
She turned around toward the body. I followed her gaze. The Hrrnna wasn’t moving.
Travis came up as we spoke, carrying the monkey person. Not that “monkey person” was quite right. It (he) had a tail and feet that appeared to be made for grabbing branches, but he wasn’t furry, and outside of the obvious differences, he was otherwise a normal human. The man wore a form fitting jumpsuit and what I assumed was a tool belt.
Travis said, “He doesn’t know a word of English, and doesn’t have a translator device either. I’m not sure why I bothered to grab him.”
He frowned, thinking, and said, “He started to run away, and I jumped him before I had time to think about it. Maybe we’ll get some use out of him.”
I doubted it, but didn’t say so. Turning to Jaclyn, I said, “It takes two people to kill the generator. If you stand by that wall, and I go around the corner, we can start.”
Jaclyn walked up to the box, stepping over a foot high cable. “Where do I stand?”
She wasn’t far from where she needed to be. “You see the glowing symbol with what look like handholds on both sides?”
“Grab the handholds?” She asked, stepping up to the wall.
“Yeah.” I walked around the corner, ducking under a pipe, and stepping over two cables to stand in front of the same symbol. Glowing red with two protrusions sticking out of a vaguely triangular shape, it made me think of a demon’s head, but I knew it was some kind of alien symbol.
“I’ll tell you what to do.”
Grandpa had made me memorize the order. It was one of those things that spaceship crews knew how to do.
It didn’t take long before Jaclyn and I each gave the handholds a final twist and push. Inside the box came a crashing noise, followed by a sizzling sound that reminded me I hadn’t eaten in a while.
I reminded myself that it meant that important pieces of the power plant were melting, and that we’d just destroyed something that Earth’s scientists had yet to build a native working version of.
It didn’t bother me much. I wished I could look inside and watch how it worked. Even professional spaceship crew members didn’t normally have any reason to do this.
The generator gave off heat that I couldn’t feel, but did register in my HUD.
“We probably ought to go. The gravitics should start failing soon if they haven’t already.”
All the same, I was noticing what hadn’t happened when we shut off the fusion generator. The lights didn’t flicker, and I didn’t feel the ship begin to sink.
When the inertial dampers started to hum, I had a very bad feeling. Inertial dampers protected against sudden changes of direction, so I shouldn’t feel anything, and I didn’t. The dampers were working normally—like they would with a working fusion plant behind them. If the ship were running on battery power, the dampers would be using up the batteries quickly.
Most of my experience in space combat came from simulations the jet had run me through, but simulations were accurate. Typically ships that had lost their generator barely used their inertial dampers at all.
Well, there was one more thing I could try. I could call outside the ship with the suit’s communicator. Shields took too much power to run for long on batteries.
I clicked on my palm, and tried to switch to the regular League channel, but got no connection.
Rachel faded in near us, empty air filling with a figure in a white costume. Her mask covered the upper half of her face, but left her hair uncovered.
She didn’t look happy.
“Bad news,” she said, “there’s another engine room. Oh, and they know we’re here now. There aren’t many of them left on the ship, but some of them are coming this way.”
Izzy’s face tightened. “More? I don’t want to kill anyone else—not today. Not ever.”
I knew the feeling, but more as a feeling than anything else. I remembered killing the Xiniti, and I knew I’d killed more aliens than that, but the fighting had mostly been a blur.
Part of me hoped it would stay that way.
Rachel looked over at Izzy. “I get that, but we’re not out of this yet. The ship turned around a second ago, and it looks like we’re going toward someplace more populated.”