Part of SS Vondem Rose: Tequila Mockingchair

Trust me, I won’t let go

Providence Fleet Yards
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The Void.

Fathomless abyss.

Inky black nothingness pinpricked with light.

Depths that sophonts the galaxy over wrapped themselves in starships and flung themselves through in defiance of the classical laws of physics.

In defiance of common bloody sense.

All she could see, feel, know was that moment when she knew she was dead, left floating in the void, all by herself. Wreckage was strewn around her, but no means to even reach out for any like a sailor desperate for driftwood. Her visor slowly fogging up, her brain fighting itself as one part wanted to hyperventilate, another was trying to steady her breathing, to stretch out what precious little air she did have. Alerts blaring in her ear with one dire prediction after another.

She was barely a teenager and was facing death by herself, floating in space.

Then a gentle bump broke Sidda’s reverie. Revin, sweet, glorious Revin, had put her visor against her own, her voice coming through but somewhat muffled.

“You sure you’re up for this love?”

A few steady breaths and the fog disappeared. She could see clearer now, brought back to reality. “They know I don’t like spacewalks; I can’t let them know I’m fucking afraid of them.” She suspected Gaeda knew but he’d never challenged her on it and no one else ever said anything. But she’d confided in Revin, like she did most things, but not the reason why.

“It’s a phobia, you’re allowed to have those.”

“No,” Revin countered with a smile, “I’m not. I’m a hardass pirate.”

“You’re not a pirate.”

“Am too.” She grinned at Revin, gave her a wink, then reached out to hug the other woman. “I’ll be fine once I’m inside the Endeavour.”

“Twenty minutes of free-floating.” Revin’s words cut right through the meagre mental defences she’d been trying to build, to hold on to, and her rapid breathing came back before Revin started to count, nice and slow. “One…and…two. One…and two…” This went on for eternity, or barely a few seconds, but the steady rhythm helped.

Then she felt something around her EV suit’s belt and looked down to see a safety line clipped to it, the reel on Revin’s suit. And another line between Revin and T’Ael, then on to Chalmers and Tavol. All of them were now clipped together, with a bundle of cargo nets for hauling a chair and whatever loot T’Ael could scrounge up.

“My idea. That way we all get there or we don’t.” Revin offered one last smile, then parted their private conversation just as T’Ael started to speak up over their comms

The power and range had been purposefully limited to reduce any chances of being detected but with all gathered on the outer hull of the USS Hollande, it was as crystal clear as normal. “Right, since somehow despite Chalmer’s here being ex-Starfleet, I’m the one with the most EV experience, the spacewalks are done on my orders,” T’Ael started, giving Sidda a defiant look as if asking for her captain to object.

No objection was forthcoming.

“Right, we’ve all got thruster packs, but they’re of the hull inspection variety, not the fighting space monsters kind. Do as I say, when I say, we’ll all get to the Endeavour in one piece.” The thruster packs were as varied as the EV suits they all sported but had all been seen to by the tender skills of T’Ael’s brother, their designated EV suit specialist. “No unclipping safety lines for any reason. If you think we’re going to hit something, you say so and we’ll adjust.”

A chorus of ‘yes ma’am’ rose up, save for herself, her own fears coming back, distracting her. It took an elbow to the side to get the same response out of her.

“You good to go Cap?” T’Ael asked.

“Yah, I’m good. Oh…the gift box?” she asked, rewarded with the case they’d brought aboard, though now with the rose logo purposefully scratched off the top of the purple case. Surely someone would be able to reconstruct it, but not with a simple casual look.

Setting the container down on the deck, she popped the latches on it to inspect the contents, to admire T’Ael’s handiwork. Sitting inside a hardened foam interior lay a sword nearly eighty centimetres in length, a scabbard the same purple as her own previous Vondem Rose. The blade itself was straight and polished to a near mirror shine, with a hint of a crossguard and leather-wrapped grip complimenting it. The metal itself was from the Rose’s own hull, which some scientist would likely be able to tell was ‘typical of Klingon metallurgy’.

The blade inspected, it was carefully sheathed and placed back in the case, next to it in their own holding spots were two bottles of her own choice. One bottle of Romulan ale, older than the vast majority of spacers today, was sourced from a distillery that only existed as part of an ever-expanding plasma front like so much of Romulus. The other bottle was of a Terran drink called tequila which she’d included since it was the divine liqueur that gave birth to this crazy scheme. She wasn’t sure if it was good or not, but Gaeda had insisted it was sufficiently above the top shelf he’d had to get a couple of ladders.

He may have been drunk at the time of swearing as to its quality.

Contents inspected, her vision purely focused downward at a task and the Hollande’s hull, it was time to close it all back up. Steady breaths, calming breaths, then she looked up.

She had a safety line. She had a thruster pack. She even had an emergency transponder and a ship with a transporter nearby. She wasn’t going to get left floating in space.

None of that helped.

Panic rose with the bile in the back of her throat, the only thing preventing her from being sick were the drugs she’d taken before stepping outside. Then a hand clamped down on her shoulder and her eyes shot straight to it, then to T’Ael.

“It’s okay boss, free-floating scares me too.”

If only she was scared.

This was a bad idea. The worst idea. What was she thinking?

“Right, everyone, boots off, let’s go,” T’Ael announced and before Sidda could raise a protest her hand was clasped by Revin’s own.

The mere act of holding someone else’s hand was infinitely better, more reassuring than a stupid safety line.

She could do this.

No, she couldn’t.

Revin didn’t give her a choice, reaching over to disengage her boots and pushing both of them off the hull gently.

“I know you are afraid love, but I know you’ve got it set to follow through. Trust me, I won’t let go.”

Comments

  • The way you use a reader's own sense-memory to imagine what your characters are going through is truly poetry. That helpless, claustrophobic feeling from the very start of the story provides both aesthetic pleasure in the way the words are arranged, and also hits a reader in the pit of their stomach. Or mine, at least. That dread was all the more sweet the way it was followed by the relief of Revin's introduction. And then the double hit became a triple because "I can’t let them know I’m fucking afraid of them" made me laugh out loud. Even though I knew it was coming (from the title) that last line still made me catch my breath in my throat. Very affective.

    March 30, 2022