I heard his limb shatter the instant he hit the steel bulkhead. It sounded like stepping on loose gravel and paper being crumpled into a ball, only sped up to last a tenth of a second. The beast crumpled into a heap and slid down the curved wall of the gravity well and away from the remaining members of my security team.
I reached over to the wall and it responded to my chipset and turned translucent as it displayed pertinent information, I touched the wall with 4 finger tips and rotated as if spinning a knob. The gravity well increased 20 times more and began to tug at Svenson and myself. I adjusted quickly as my training had kicked in and what had moments before been a corridor was now a deep well. At the bottom of that well was the snarling intruder who had managed to dismember 3 of my team. Svenson was behind me, er, now above me and climbing away from the grips of the gravity well. I followed him up toward the safety of the level 7 bulkhead and the blast door that protected the rest of Tiger’s Eye crew. Below us the beast was bellowing some incomprehensible jibberish that made the tiny hair of my neck stand on end. Thankfully, my breather was still in place otherwise his stench would burn the inside of my lungs and I’d die, the way Omad had – literally coughing up a bloody lung.
“It won’t open Skip,” Svenson said over the comms, “The bastard flight crew is refusing to open the bulkhead.”
I knew they were scared shitless, as we all were cause of that thing thrashing at the bottom of the gravity well, but that was no excuse for their current behavior. There were 10,000 settlers in statis in the hold. 7,000 farmers, 1,000 administrators, another thousand medical and service personnel and the remaining 1000 were military and security. They revived 20 military when they realized the beast was loose. Svenson and I were the only two who survived.
“Open the freaking door, Snow. Now!” I wasn’t asking. I had heard the fifth chime of my breather as I approached the bulkhead. The sixth chime would be last and I’d suffocate without a recharge or being let past the closed bulkhead door into the atmo.
“Sorry Ben, I can’t do that.” The captain said into the comms. Behind him I could hear the bridge crew screaming at him, at anyone in fact not to open the bulkhead. No matter what.
“Yes you can Ben. The beast is contained. As soon as we’re clear, you can flush the atmo in this corridor and eject it into space. You simply have to let Svenson and me in first.
“Yea, we’re going to do that. Just as soon as we can override the life/safety protocols.”
I looked at Svenson and could see the panic in his eyes. He held up 6 fingers.
“When we revived you 20, we knew the beast secreted some kind of agent that attacked DNA. You all were infected. So were a few of my bridge crew before we figured out what was going on. To let you past the bulkhead would be to jeopardize the mission and the remaining settlers. It’s a simple equation that says the mission is more important than a single man’s life.” My breather chimed its sixth and last time.
Over the open comms I could hear someone yelling success and the background sound of the vent alarm. Down below I saw the lower bulkhead open to space and the beast slip past into the void. First Svenson, then I lost my grip and the gravity well sucked us down and outside the ship.
All I could think as I froze was what that ancient roman said on that mid-March day.