We split up into three teams: Vincent, Laura and myself would comprise one surveying team, and Derik, Maria and Dmitri the other. Sylvie and Marsha would remain in the ship as a base team, and Marsha would cycle in and replace other team members as required. I ordered that the ramp should remain up and Sylvie and Marsha were to retain their side arms on duty in the ship.
The logical first step was to make sure our own base area was secured, and so my team started stripping panels and checking feeds in the lower part of the hanger, while Maria’s team floated above us checking the upper hanger area. The whole proceeded without incident and by the end of the third watch we were satisfied with the result, and took a short meal break inside the ship.
We determined that for the next shift my team would survey the mining drone stable, while Maria’s team checked out the warehouse area, both on our current Hanger Deck 4. We separated and started to make our way through the opposite ends of the Docking Control area to our respective destinations when Maria called over the radio.
“Lars. The hatch to the Command Deck level is open. I’m pretty sure it was closed when we came here the other day.”
I checked on the radio and no-one had opened it.
“Ok. Cover the hatch. We’ll just do a quick check of the Drone stable then we’ll join you. Sylvie: pull up the ramp and lockdown.”
We spent 10 minutes checking the Drone area but it had been emptied and was fairly straightforward to check. Maria’s team did a quick sweep of the warehouse area over on their side of the rig.
Fifteen minutes later we were together outside the open hatch. I went down first and found myself in a hatch alcove leading onto a corridor which separated the Research lab and Accommodation areas of the command deck. On my right was a closed door; on my left the corridor led across the width of the rig. My helmet lights couldn’t see more than a few metres along, but when Maria climbed down she pointed to a snack packet which was floating in the middle of the dark, icy corridor: it was slowly spinning round in mid air, plotting a slow spiral motion towards one of the bulkheads. Something must have caused it to move. I hate Doritos.
Dmitri joined me and we both moved along the corridor towards the floating packet. Maria and Laura joined us, and being a fairly stealthy pair they passed us and moved onwards towards the intersection about halfway along the corridor.
At that moment the radio burst into life.
“Shit. SHIIIIT!” Vincent’s voice; he was still upstairs.
As I started to turn round I caught a double flash ahead of me in the corridor, and saw Maria do a spin and get flattened against the bulkhead.
“Get back! BACK!” I yelled, not having a clear shot with Maria and Laura ahead of me. I didn’t know how badly Maria was hit but her suit would be ruptured. Laura started to pull back, and Maria disappeared into a hatch alcove just ahead of her, which led down to the Crew deck. Hopefully the ambushers couldn’t get a line-of-sight on her there. I exchanged a few shots with the two shapes ahead of us, but their cover and the darkness made it tricky. Dmitri was trying unsuccessfully to get a clear shot past Laura.
Suddenly Maria popped out ahead of us and poured a burst of auto fire into the shooter on the opposite side of the corridor to her. She was still alive then, and after firing she popped back into her alcove. Vincent was still screaming over the comms as Laura finally pushed past, giving a Dmitri a clear shot with his 12mm Anvil-the one I have noticed him talking to on occasion. The shot blasted the remaining attacker backwards into the corridor he was shooting from.
“Back upstairs Now!” I yelled, “Maria can you make it?” She replied in the affirmative.
When we emerged back on the hanger Deck, Derik and Vincent were covering the doorway which led through to the warehouse area. Vincent was giggling and talking to himself over the comms. I talked to him and he turned to face me his Bandit 9mm still in his hand. I palmed the pistol away and took it off him-he was babbling away.
Dmitri looked through into the warehouse. “3 of them. Dead I think, floating”. How on earth Vincent had managed it I don’t know.
“Alright. Grab their pistols. All hands back to the ship now. Sylvie-1 casualty. Get ready.”
She lowered the ramp and we bundled back into the ship. Maria was staggering a bit and we got her in the elevator upstairs, where with Sylvie’s help we stripped off the Vacc Suit; Maria had been able to slap an emergency patch on this, obviously. The slug had taken her in the right shoulder, which is why I had seen spin her round.
Sylvie sucked her teeth. “This will hurt” she said, and jabbed a painkiller into Maria’s shoulder. We then pinned her on the dining table, and Sylvie washed her arm down and sprayed on medical disinfectant and a local anaesthetic. I looked away but kept Maria pinned down as she jerked. Dmitri held her down on the other side.
“There . 9mm bullet. Very clean wound. She will be ok I think.” I heard it tinkle as she dropped it into a tray, and then started to bind up the wound.
The rest of the day was a Wash, but at least we knew we were not alone on the rig. And whoever they were, they weren’t friendly.