The Bowels of Charybdis

Hitura Rael

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Sep 29, 2018
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#1
Lights flickered uncontrollably with the rise and fall of am electrical hum. The very colony rocked and shook, metal groaning in protest. Outside the stars faded away in a growing swath, consumed by the spreading darkness, pulling everything around it to its crushing embrace, to be consumed by the abyss.

Jake's eyes flickered open with a pained groan. His head felt sticky and cool with a resounding, lingering pain which echoed across his skull, threatening to spilt it in twain.

"Easy Jake, I got ya." Strong hands laid on his back to steady him. The pace in which he rolled over seemed to be more painful than his head with how long it took. He winced and dropped his arm over his face at the sight of the bright, flickering light in the hangar. The pounding in his head intensified three folks at the motion and burned just in the back of his skull.

Two pairs of strong hands took him under the arms and hauled him up to sit up. With wonder, the pain in the back of his head lessened to a throbbing sear. "Geeze that's a bad one, " the gruff voice from before commented with tightness. "Come on, let's get you up to the med bay. "

"They're probably packed. " Jake muttered, slowly uncovering his eyes and adjusting to the bright light once again.

"Your damn aversion to medical attention won't save you now boy. This cut needs attention and my bet is you have a concussion."

Jake grumbled under his breath, but made no move to stand. Standing felt all but impossible right now, weak as his legs felt, as if they were made of half solidified gelatin. "Any idea what happened boss? "

"Not a fucking clue. I think I passed out at some point."

Murmurs of agreement and shame echoed across the hangar. Less boxes than he had remembered being there. "Is everyone okay? " panic welled up as he turned to survey the battered room, searching for his younger brother.

"We got five dead," the boss said heavily, "And plenty of wounded. Aaron and Zach have gone to clear the hall so we can get people to medical attention.

Jake breathed a heavy sigh, feeling much calmer knowing his brother was ok. Figured the lazy little shit was fine. He was petulant far from danger when whatever hit the colony knocked them all out.

He frowned and reached around to the back of his head, flinching slightly at the burning sting spread across his scalp and the dry crust. He let out a sharp hiss of pain and let his hand drop beside him, "°What hit me? "

'From the look of it, wrench. Or the whole box of tools. Who knows. Could have been worse. Could have been the unfortunate sod who got hit by the saw blade. "

Jake winced at the thought. Hopefully that poor unfortunate soul was dead and out of his misery. He glanced around the room again, taking notice for the first time just how disheveled it was. Anything not secured down had fallen and strewn about. Tools, equipment, and parts littered the floor, occasionally resting in puddles or pools of blood.

It would take days to get the shop back in order, but that was the least of their worries right now...
 

Hitura Rael

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Sep 29, 2018
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#2
"Fer fecks sake lad! Are ya gunna help me er nat?!"

Aaron rolled his eyes behind the old man's back and tossed aside another chunk of scrap from the colony. "Fer fecks sake yer self ya daft coot," he had a terrible habit of picking up and mimicking the languages of people he spent too long around. "Work smart nae hard." He grinned and turned to the red head, wiggling a length of metal piping from the destroyed ceiling.

The old Irish man grumbled more as Aaron crossed the hall and jammed the end of the pipe between the twisted metal chunk and the door it blocked. With a strained grunt, he pulled on the pipe. Metal groaned in protest, lazily inching away from the door frame. He released his breath and eased back on the pipe, ignoring the burning in his arms and legs from the strain.

"Daft yer self if ya keep on," The old man huffed and wedged his own two by four into the small space Aaron had made. "On counta three."

Aaron nodded, "Aye, one...two...three!" The pair threw their weight into the motions and were rewarded with a symphony of screeching metal, agonizingly slow as the metal slipped away from the wall. Again and again, they threw themselves at their task, until their instruments were no longer able to get the leverage for the task.

Aaron puffed breathlessly, "Ya think that erryone kin git through? "

The old man grunted an affirmative and dropped himself to the floor. "Aye. You go on and poke yer head through, see how bad it is. "

Aaron frowned at the old man, then slipped between the scrap and the wall. It was a tight fit for himself, his uniform plucked at by the sharp bends of shorn metal. "Definitely needs more work."

"Yer brother kin do it!" The old man called back.

Aaron rolled his eyes again. "Lazy old fecking coot!" He slipped through the black portal to the echoes of his partner's amused laughter. The lights above had all shattered from the blow that hit the colony. Down the hall, what hadn't broken flickered rapidly, illuminating the bend of the hall beyond.

He swallowed and fished his flash light from his pocket and flicked it on. He dragged the small circle of light around the space before him, covering every inch. His heart skipped a beat as the pool of light landed on a technician, impaled by shattered glass and shorn metal. The blood drained from his face, eyes locked on the corpse of his unfortunate companion. If only he had been on time to work for once...

Aaron jumped at the sound of a voice from behind him. "Oi! Ya ok back there lad? Ain't shitting yer pants are ya? "

He took a moment to swallow and wet his lips. "Aye. Garret's dead. Halls black as yer dirt arse ya oil monkey. "

"Fecking hell! Git back here, we'll go talk to the boss. Cannae let folk trample the poor bastard... and we need muscle. "

"Aye..." Aaron's voice wavered. His eyes returned to the corpse in front of him for too long before he tore his eyes away and made his way back through the abyss.
 

Hitura Rael

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#3
The dead laid in a row, covered by cloths and tarps that could be spared. Six total, gone in the blink of an eye. Aaron worked with a group of the younger technicians, sorting through the parts and supplies within the shop. His face hadn't regained color after finding poor Garret. Jake pat his younger brother's shoulder as he passed by, comforting him wordlessly.

He made his way down the hall, a powerful flashlight in one hand and a bag slung over his shoulder. It was a short distance to where the boss instructed the older hands in constructing a make shift pully. The boss cast his baleful gaze over his broad shoulder at the sound of Jake's footfalls. "You need to go rest."

"I'm fine. It's just a bump. Misha even said so. Head wounds bleed like stuck pigs. " Jake continued over to the massive peice of debris and set the bag of parts down. "Here. Brought more cable and connectors. "

The boss sighed, "Thanks. Now go rest. "

"I told you no. I'm going to go look ahead while you move that thing. What even was it? "

The boss shook his head. "Stubborn as your dad. I have no fucking idea what it was, it's so damn mangled. Probably a chunk of shrapnel from whatever hit us. "

Jake nodded and moved to the gap, squeezing through with some new scratches and tears in his shirt to show for it. "What are you gonna do if there's a fucking hole in the wall you idiot? "

"Scream really loud, 'holy shit don't come down this way there's a hole! '" he grinned and stepped into the darkness. He grinned all the harder at the faint 'smartass' remark from the boss as he moved down the dark hall.

Glass crunched under his feet with each step. He cycled illuminating the floor, walls, and ceiling, vigilant for danger, eats strained for the groans of metal. He paused when his light feel upon the pool of blood where Garret had laid. This was as far as anyone had gone out.

Slowly, the light was traced up the wall that separated the hall from the outside world. The emergency shutters had all fallen into place, shielding anyone in the hall from a breech, but not from the glass shattering from the force of whatever put that massive dent in the steel.

He took a deep breath and continued his slow journey to the flickering lights. He kept his torch lit, even in the light, just in case they failed. A damaged electrical system was nothing to play with.

A splash of color peeked through the window around the bend. With each step, more of the spray of rainbow hues became visible, floating like a spray of star dust hung in a pitch black and starless void.

What he saw when he reached the stretch of hall shook his grip on the flashlight. A huge chunk of land, easily the size of the colony, floated aimless and still in the distance. Green grass and trees were barely visible on it, thanks to the distance,. Light seemed to bathe it and other islands from all sides with no visible source.

He stared, mouth agape, at the vast field of stone and debris surrounding this chain of islands and the pure black abyss beyond.
 

Hitura Rael

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#4
He had to be dreaming. This could not possibly be real. Jake's mind clawed to grab on to something solid, SOMETHING to ground himself; to stop the cold sweat that prickled at his back, the bitter taste in the back of his throat, the feeling of his legs turning to jelly... But there was nothing. Nothing but a smashed colony and the floating debris past the glass panes.

Time slipped away from him as he stared out into the vast void. The shock was broken by movement in the outside. Something lurked out there, something big. It moved too fast for him to catch more than the glimpse of movement, a flash of light off of metal or some other reflective surface. His clenched his fists to steady his hands and approached the window, watching the flotsam for any sign.

Regret was a drop of water in a sea of ice and terror. The monster emerged from behind the island. It was absolutely huge, not big enough to make out any details, but enough to know it was absolutely massive to be seen in any capacity as distant as the island was. And it was not alone. It clashed with something much bigger, light flashing off of their metalic carapace as the two combatants clashed. Charybdis rocked as an errant beam clipped somewhere higher up and out of sight. The lights flickered with the tremors before dying entirely. A bright light engulfed one of the creatures, something like explosions in the distance.

Jake finally snapped out of his shock and terror, rushing forward to close the shutters on the windows by hand. Without power to the sector. If they shattered, the crew would be dead. Either from starvation, dehydration, asphyxiation... He shook his head, he could not think of that right now. He had to get these shut.

"Jake! You okay down there?"

Jake froze, sure he was hearing things. The crew was not supposed to follow him yet. His brother was supposed to stay behind where it was safe damnit! Aaron and several of the younger men emerged from the dark hall, guided by a torch light.

"What the fuck are y'all doin here!?"

"Nice gratitude. You were taking too damn long!" The two other mechanics joined Jake. With a few good hard tugs, the metal sheet slid down into place and locked. A symphony of slamming metal followed after as the lights flickered back to life. Aaron got to his feet and shook his hand out. "At least you didn't get sucked out to fucking space. Wow, you look worse than when you caught the flu."

Jake glared at the younger boy, cheeks burning hot. "Shut up. Git yer asses back down there!"

"No way. Something happened! Your accent's showing!"

"Aaron, you can't see accents..." One of the apprentices whispered not too quietly.

"You know what I meant!"

Jake shook his head. "Ya'll ain't gonna believe me..."
 

Hitura Rael

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#5
Aaron's leg bounced at a rapid pace, lacking rhyme or rhythm. He leaned forward, an elbow resting on his still knee, and a finger perched on his lips. He was not a subtle nail biter, but at least no one would call him out for the nail biting over the annoying leg bouncing. The colony council argued and debated inside the room down the hall, lit by the still flickering lights of the colony's power system. He could not particularly hear them, just the muffled voices and tones of anger, fear, and defiance. Occasionally, someone grew loud enough that those waiting outside could make out the muffled words.

Before the meeting, the diagnostics on the colony had been completed after hours of forcing their way from the damaged sections. Charybdis reported extensive damage to large swaths of the colony, but she was mostly whole, save where the emergency locks had been engaged to prevent the vacuum of space from sucking out the residents. It would take a long time to repair with the hands they had remaining. It had taken three nurses and a sedation to get Jake to stay in a damn sick bed. The other four injured mechanics didn't give any fuss, but Jake... He was stubborn as a bull with no lead ring.

Aaron's leg stilled, his head turned to the door where the raised voices returned with a new fury. He could clearly pick out his boss's voice easier now. He bit his lip to force down a smile as his eyes fell on the young merchant who held the door open enough to eavesdrop. None of the attending apprentices were going to rat him out or tell him to shut it. They were all anxious and curious, after all.

"We CAN NOT LEAVE!" One of the older councilmen's voice echoed off the steel walls of the hall.

"Don't be stupid and stubborn!" The boss bellowed, "She's too badly damaged! We don't have the hands to repair her! Not even mentioning the damn tools and equipment! You think that went undamaged when we were shaken around like a goddamn frog in a box of rocks by an overly eager toddler?! She could collapse around our ears from the structural damage long before we get to the portions that need the repairs most!"

"This is our HOME! Where are we even going to go?!" A scraping sound accompanied the statements from the councilman.

"There's plenty of floating islands out there! We can find a way over to one and set up there while we stabilize Charybdis!" The boss growled out, his own chair scraping. Hopefully this would not come to blows.

Low voices murmured, siding with one or the other, indistinct words mingling together, too quite to distinguish. Aaron shook his head at the ongoing argument. He agreed whole heartedly with the Boss. Staying here would be folly.

"How would we survive out there?! There's no guarentee of food or water! We have wounded! Where would we put them!?"

"We have enough in the colony to sustain us! We make a sick bay out there and bring the wounded who can come, then focus our repairs on the wounded!"

"WHAT ABOUT OXYGEN!? THAT'S SPACE OUT THERE!"

"Bullshit! You saw the damn animals on those far off islands running around without a problem! One of our mechanics even stood in a hall with the damn void of space exposed to him!"

"Oh yes, the same one who said he saw giant fighting metalic animals! The same one with a CONCUSSION?"

Aaron clenched his jaw and fists. A hand gently pressed on his shoulder. He settled back down on his seat, showing no surprise at the sudden space between it and his bottom. He did a lot of things without thinking. It had given him a bit of a reputation.

"The boss will handle it," Misha said in a soothing, quiet voice. She did not remove her hand though.

"Concussions don't rock colonies Darm! Concussions don't make lights flicker after said rocking! And the diagnostic shows that the damage from that tremor was from the OUTSIDE!"

Darm's further arguments were cut off by the door sliding shut. The apprentice rushed back to his seat to try to look as innocent as possible before one of the other councilmen emerged, heading down the hall before disappearing around the corner.
 

Hitura Rael

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#6
Jake laid out on the hospital bed, sheets tossed aside in a tangled heap. He stared at the ceiling for lack of other things to look at. The room smelled heavily of hospital cleaners, burning the nose with each breath. No amount of laying here would get someone used to it with the amount of reapplication. The light was dimmed, thankfully, so as not to disturb the patients with head trauma. Wroth the bright lights. Unfortunately, that did not lessen the noise levels.

There was only so much room in the medical bay and many injured. There were few bed left to spare. The medical crew couldn't be spared to attempt to save everyone, just enough hands to stabilize those who could survive and if that person was lucky dull the pain. The sobs and moans of pain filed the air in the trauma bay, only just audible over the shouts of bustling nurses and surgeons trying their best to tend the steady flood of the wounded and dying pouring in.

He wished it were respect for the desperate attempts of the medical staff that kept him in his bed. He was fine, honestly, he had no need to be there. It was only a bump on the head! He sighed and pulled at the restraints again that kept his hands far away from each other and limited his movement. How cruel, to prevent a man from even turning over onto his side.

He closed his eyes, bored to tears with the same ceiling and no desire to witness the results of this carnage around him. Really, it was only for just a moment with no way of having fallen asleep, he would swear to it.

The presence of another standing by his bed dragged his eyes open with some difficulty. He was not tired, just resting his eyes! He grumbled several unsavory words under his breath. He was fully prepared to chew out the nurse who- did not stand over him.

An older woman raised an eyebrow at him, her features hardened, a displeased purse to her lips. "You are the mechanic with the head wound I take it? The one who saw the.... creatures? "

Jake blinked and grunted at the tight tug around his wrists, the rattle of metal accompanying the sudden halt of his arm. Damn them! He couldn't even run his eyes! He took a deep breath and lowered his arm, a tight tone to his voice, "yes ma'am. How can I help you? "

She glanced him over as if surveying a carcass for butchering. "Tell me what you think you saw. As detailed as you can."

He gave a low grumble with his sigh. How many would come to ask this? Why couldn't they just let him up so he could go to the damn meeting and tell them all at once? "Yes ma'am, " he swallowed back some insults and shifted uncomfortably, "I saw two massive things in the distance, good mile or two off, fighting. I know they were fighting because I could see the... lights. You know, like explosions n stuff if two supers fighting in the distance? " he paused to watch her nod, lacking the blank expression others had had when asked that question.

He locked his lips and continued, "I didn't get a clear look at either. They were tiny looking. One fired a laser though and it glanced the colony. I lost track of them after that cuz I was trying to close the damn shutters."

The council woman nodded again. "And why close them?"

He shrugged, closing his eyes again. "I didn't want to get pulled out into space if the glass shattered. The power was down there too. Mostly unreliable. "

She nodded along, watching his every move. Even with his eyes closed he could feel that cold hawk eyed gaze on him.

"And then?"

He opened his eyes and stared at the ceiling, "others came down. We stayed down the line to get it shut, found broken windows without the shutters down. But we were fine..."

The woman nodded again and turned on her heel, "Thank you young man. Rest yourself, recover quickly. We will need you soon. "

He tried to raise his head as much as the restraints let him to watch her retreat from the medical bay. Just what did that mean?