Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Reformation: Chapter Five

Notes: More Jonah, yay! Not exactly in the best shape, but he's here. I'll be posting a little later about my upcoming trip to Cambodia and what it means for Reformation, so stay tuned, darlins.

Title: Reformation: Chapter Five


Chapter Five

Jonah woke to the steady splat of liquid against metal as it fell down from up high. He would have groaned, but his vocal chords felt too thick and raw. His eyes were swollen, and his nose was stuffed up in a way that could only mean blood, because he never got sick. He forced his eyelids open and looked around.

Looked down, rather, at the ceiling. 

Well, shit. Of all the outcomes he’d predicted, flipping his ship upside down wasn’t on the list. He’d have to check and make sure the engine coolant wasn’t leaking into the maintenance compartment when he and—

“Lacey!” Memory hit him like another blow to the head. Jonah twisted to the side to get a look at her. “Lacey?” She hung limp in her harness, unresponsive. Still just knocked out, Jonah hoped. If he was only waking up now, then it made sense a natural would be a little longer at it. He couldn’t see any blood, so there was that. 

Not that he could really tell the color of anything under the glare of the blinking yellow emergency lights. He needed to get her down and see if he could still fire up the ship’s medical system. The medbot wouldn’t be able to inject her with Regen, but it could still diagnose and treat simple things.

Okay, then. Jonah had to get himself loose before he could take care of Lacey. He let his head dangle and fumbled for the release catch that would open his harness. His fingers were slick and heavy, and his right wrist hurt bad enough that he switched hands after a moment, reaching cross-body to undo the catch. Almost…almost…

The webbing kept him from falling flat on his face, thankfully. Jonah got his feet under him, testing his balance on the slight curve of the ceiling before he pulled his arms free. The control panel in front of him was almost entirely inert, black except for the transmitter light. SOS. Jonah wondered whether or not it was a good idea to keep that going, all things considered. They’d been shot down by hostile forces, and the emergency system would lead anyone right out here. On the other hand, pirates wouldn’t be interested in hunting down one lone ship, while friendly forces out of the Box would. Better to leave it on.

Jonah stumbled the little distance to Lacey’s chair, needing his arms for support just to stay on his feet. He brushed her long, pale hair back and cupped her face in his hands. His fingers left glistening smudges. “Lacey? Honey, you with me?” No response. He needed to get her down.

Undoing her harness was easier than working on his own; catching her was another thing entirely. Lacey was a slim girl, but she was tall and Jonah was far from his best form. He managed to keep her off the ground, barely. It send a shooting pain through his ribcage, but Jonah gritted his teeth and ignored it as he half carried, half dragged Lacey down the hall to the medbot.

The medbot, like the engine failsafes keeping their fuel from irradiating the ship, had its own emergency generator. The bot wasn’t immersive, but Jonah could make do with the handheld diagnostic tool. He set Lacey down, primed the bot for emergency measures, then picked up the wand and touched it lightly to Lacey’s head.

“Diagnosis: concussion, moderate. Fractured ribs: 6, 7, 9, left side. Internal abdominal hemorrhaging: ruptured gall bladder.”

Fuck, that didn’t sound good. “Treatment options?”

“Limited. Remand patient to the nearest medical facility immediately.”

“No can do, I need treatment options for here.”


Jonah slapped the side of the wall, then immediately regretted it when his wrist throbbed painfully. “No, dammit, I need treatment for a natural! You know how to do this, you goddamn machineyou’ve been treating Cody for years, now figure it out!”

The medbot blinked contemplatively for a moment. “Recommended: painkiller injection, localized anti-inflammatory, stabilizing gel for fractures.”

“Confirmed. Get on with it, then.” The process of actually getting the recommended treatment into Lacey, usually a minor symphony of lights and tiny pinpricks from the medbot, came down to Jonah grabbing the things it indicated out of the cabinet behind it and injecting them himself. He thanked his stars that Lacey was still unconscious through his fumbling.

By the time he was done, she seemed to be resting a little easier, at least. Jonah slumped down onto his hands and knees beside her, turning laboriously into a sitting position and just breathing for a second. He could feel his own ribs giving him problems, and his head ached fiercely. Half-heartedly, he touched the wand to himself.

“Diagnosis: Concussion, moderate. Fractured ribs: 4, 5. Broken nose. Internal bruising. Sprain to right wrist extensors. Recommendation: Regen.”

“Of course,” he muttered. “Of fucking course.” One little shot and he’d be spruced right up, while Lacey had to deal with goddamn ruptured organs and all she got was a painkiller. Part of Jonah wanted to refuse treatment, whether out of a bizarre sense of solidarity or guilt. Personally, he suspected guilt.

You can’t help her if you don’t help yourself. When had his inner voice started sounding like Garrett? Get the damn shot, feel guilt later. Or better yet, never.

The medbot had helpfully lit up the syringe with the Regen in it. Jonah took it and shot himself in the thigh. Less than a minute later, the double-vision he hadn’t even realized he’d had disappeared, he started to breathe easier as the muscles around his fractured ribs relaxed, and his headache vanished. Even his nose cleared up some, which—dumbass, he must have hit himself in the face with his own hand to break it.

“The wonders of modern—whoa.” Whoa, because the ship had just moved. It had moved. What the hell? Jonah took his jacket off, stained as it was, and laid it over Lacey, then headed for the back door. There was a porthole there, an old-fashioned one that usually just looked out on the blackness of space. Right now, though, it looked out on a wall of water lashing the ship. Jonah didn’t know exactly where they were or how they were oriented, other than upside down, but clearly the storm had caught up to them. The top of the ship wasn’t nearly as firm a landing place as the other side was, and whether it was rain or actual waves, the fierceness of the storm was moving them around. Too much movement and they might be swept away.

The ship had stabilizing, magnetic tie-downs that could be used in bad weather, but they all presumed that the ship was upright when they were deployed, so they’d be useless. Or…

“Oh, please still be on board.” Jonah headed for the storage compartment. The magnetic tie-downs were a newer innovation for the ship, retrofit into the old casings. The old version had been rather crude, by Central System standards, but a good solution for landing in adverse areas and conditions. The expanding harpoon heads had worked in rock, in dirt, even to a degree in sand. They were disruptive and environmentally unsound, but right now that was exactly what Jonah needed.

“C’mon, come on.” Spare parts for the engine, spare parts for the shielding, a box full of—oh, hey, good thing he found those before Cody got curious one day, because Jonah didn’t want to explain the use of analogue sex toys to his kid. Ten had probably told him all about them anyway. Harpoon, harp—there. There was…

One. One harpoon. Not even two, to distribute the load. No, he got one fucking harpoon.

Better than none. Jonah headed for the casing at the back, the one that had the shallowest angle to overcome. If he could get the harpoon into that one, he could swivel it so that it landed just a few meters away. The manual controls responded sluggishly to his handling, but the housings for the harpoon and the mag locks were a perfect match, and it didn’t take long to refit.

He’d have to divert a lot of power from one of the generators to get the juice for a good stick, though, and engine containment wasn’t an option as long as they were trapped inside the ship.

So. Emergency beacon or medbot.


 He had no idea how long they’d be stuck out here. The beacon could bring either good to the rescue, or bad down on them so hard they never even saw it coming. The medbot was basic, at its core, but provided help that Jonah couldn’t even begin to guess about. Then again, it had already recommended a hospital for Lacey. How much better could it do?

In the end, Jonah had the bot identify all the injections he’d need for Lacey, just in case it lost power completely. The ship was wiggling on the rock now, back and forth, helpless to the power of the hurricane. Whether they were on the verge of going over a cliff or not, he didn’t know, but he didn’t want to find out the hard way.

The power reroute was easy. Aiming the harpoon into the darkness and hoping for a stick was harder, but Jonah just took a deep breath, pointed it down, and fired.

The light on the top of the casing glowed green. It was sunk.

The light illuminating the medbot, and Lacey, went dark.

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