The trio exited Brocktazrolo’s office and turned back down the hall the way they came. “We need to get back to that window, if we can get there, my plan is ready in motion!” Mirideth said. They ran down the hall, their footsteps echoing through the mostly empty level. They heard the distinctive ‘ding!’ of the elevator arriving. The doors opened, and they heard the sound of many footsteps.
“Oh fuck oh fuck oh fuck!” Lolanene began to panic.
Lucia Grabbed her by the shoulders, stopping. “Lolanene! Keep it together! We’re getting out of this! Together. Okay?”
Lolanene took a few deep breaths and said “Okay. I’m trustin’ you, Lucia.”
“Oh Playthings, We do need to keep moving! Now!” Mirideth shouted down the hall. The pair ran to catch up to her. They stopped upon reaching the corner around which was the window and elevator.
“What now?” Lucia whispered.
“Wait for it…” Mirideth replied, as she counted down with her fingers. A rumbling sound became audible from outside, and Lucia heard the authorities outside the elevator shout in surprise just before an ear-shattering explosion of sound overtook them. The window shattered, and intense heat and air rushed in.
“Fall back! Fall back!” one of the officers called, before screaming in horror and pain as the heat intensified. Other screams joined his, and then only the roar of the heated air rushing in the window. The heat and roar stopped, and Mirideth called out “Now! Go!” Lucia turned the corner to see a scorched, blackened hallway, along with malformed blackened corpses. The cargo ramp of the Epsilon VI was just outside the window. She realized Mirideth’s plan, even not knowing how she’d done it. She sprinted full speed at the shattered window, and jumped, landing on the ramp easily. Niarith came next, her eyes no longer glowing, and the ship wavered slightly before stabilizing. Lolanene was last, barely making it onto the ramp. Lucia followed Niarith as she quickly made her way to the cockpit.
“This is too much heat, we can’t hide here. We need to go.” Niarith began pressing buttons and turning dials.
“Go where? They own this planet, they’ll-”
“We’re not staying on the planet.” She handed Lucia the metal box containing the Ghostinite pendant. “Take this through the door to the left of the cockpit door. You’ve never been in there before, because I didn’t think it was safe. But I need you to take the pendant in there, and place it in the FTL fuel chamber. I need Lolanene up here co-piloting. Go!”
Lucia took the box and exited the cockpit. She immediately opened the case and removed the pendant, taking it with her as she squeezed through the incredibly narrow door outside the cockpit.
The room inside was a narrow corridor without any wall panels. Exposed, moving machinery and pipes filled the space, and every move had to be carefully calculated to avoid getting caught in the machinery. The corridor was sporadically lit by glowing blue sparks that emitted from several places at once. Lucia felt the ship accelerate as she carefully inched her way through. The corridor quickly turned right, and Lucia barely managed to edge her way around the bend. She looked down the corridor and saw a transparent cube that glowed with several colors of light at once. The ship shuddered as something impacted it, and Lucia braced herself against some of the less painfully hot pipes. The shuddering stopped and she continued her slow journey to the Ghostinite receptacle.
After what seemed like an eternity, Lucia found herself in a slightly more open space in front of the transparent cube. She looked down at the fragment of Ghostinite in the pendant, and the receptacle. The cube had an indentation on the bottom, large enough to fit a chunk of Ghostinite many times the size of the pendant. Lucia carefully reached inside and placed the pendant within the indentation. The cube seemed to immediately take notice, and thin metal shutters closed over the entire assembly. Lucia could only assume the job was done, and began the arduous trek back to the ship’s interior. Several minutes later, after several more impact shudders and dizzying evasive maneuvers, Lucia made it out of the corridor.
She entered the cockpit, dripping with sweat and weak in the knees. “Niarith what the absolute fuck is that room?”
Niarith was concentrating on the ship’s controls and simply said “No time, hang on to something!” Lucia did so as she watched the front panel shift into various colors and felt herself pulled in all directions at once. The ship shuddered and almost seemed to stretch at times. After several long, uncomfortable moments, it calmed, and things felt more normal again. Though the shifting colors outside remained.
“Ho-ly shit!” Lolanene exclaimed “Holy shit is this LightDrive travel!? Fuck me in the dark, I didn’t know y’all had that capability!” She started at the front panel with an expression of intense awe.
“Niarith, can you please tell me why I just had to navigate a gauntlet of death?”
Niarith spun the pilot seat around to face Lucia. “I’m sorry, Luci. The Epsilon VI is old. Like, really old. It was built before Ghostinite’s properties were discovered. So it wasn’t built with a LightDrive. It had to be added afterward. It… wasn’t a smooth integration. I would have warned you if we’d had time. I’m sorry.”
Lucia walked over and kissed Niarith gently “I understand, Nia. I do. It’s okay. Where are we going?”
Niarith didn’t answer immediately, simply sitting there. “Uhm… I… I don’t know. I just turned on the LightDrive without a destination. You’re never supposed to do that but, they were on us. So, when that bit of Ghostinite runs out, we’ll be… wherever we end up. I’m sorry this hasn’t been the glamorous life we wanted. In fact it’s been pretty terrible.”
Lucia put her hand on Niarith’s shoulder “We got into this business because it would be exciting. I’d say this was pretty exciting. And we’re together. We’ll always be together. No matter what. I love you, Niarith Venaz Velnazranak. So much.”
Niarith’s eyes sparkled with tears, and she suddenly jumped up from her seat and threw her arms around Lucia. “I love you so much! I’m so sorry you almost lost me I’m so sorry!” She began sobbing, and Lolanene decided to see herself out of the cockpit. Niarith and Lucia simply stood there, embracing and crying for some time. Then they found themselves in a heap on the floor, after the ship slowly quickly to a stop. Lucia tried to stand up, but Niarith hugged her closer. “Stay with me, just a bit longer?” And so they laid there, on the floor of the cockpit of the Epsilon VI, with an uncertain future ahead, and with each other.