The two seat attack fighter soared out of the belly of the
Omega. Reemer was sitting in the front seat and was piloting the plane while Comet sat in the back and was in charge of weapons and radar. Reemer set a course for the
crippled Galman Destroyer and as the fighter sailed through the battlefield, Reemer
had a difficult time dodging all of the wreckage.
"How are you feeling Comet?" Reemer asked.
"I'm ok," answered Comet. "Let's do what we have to do and get the antidote back before we lose more of our friends."
"Agreed." Reemer said as a sneeze could be heard in his headset. It was followed by some sniffling.
"I don't regret any of it Reemer." Comet said.
The statement took Reemer by surprise. "What do you mean?"
Comet adjusted his helmet while he continued to monitor the radar screen for debris.
"I wanted to do something really great with my life so I decided to join the academy," Comet said. "Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would get assigned to the newest ship in the fleet or that I would have played a major role in helping to rescue the Space Cruiser Yamato. Then you helped me get promoted to bridge officer and my parents were so proud of me. I have seen quite a lot of action in such a short amount of time and wouldn't change any of it for all the money in the world."
"In a way I feel sort of responsible for it all," Reemer said. "I mean, if it wasn't for me, you wouldn't be in this mess."
"It is not your fault Reemer," Comet answered. "It is a risk we all take when we sign up for the job."
"I guess you're right," answered Reemer.
Comet sneezed again as his radar screen began to flash wildly.
"We're here," Comet said.
A huge hole had been shot through the starboard side of the Galman spacecraft. Pieces of metal and various objects floated freely around the exterior of the ship. One of those objects was a dead Galman soldier. It silently floated by the cockpit of the fighter.
"That'll ruin your appetite." Comet joked.
"Tell me about it," said Reemer. "Are there any signs of life?"
"There are very faint life signs located on the further end of the ship where there is less damage," answered Comet. "Environmental controls are running on a backup system so we'll have gravity in the secured areas."
Reemer brought the fighter to a stop alongside the Galman space ship. He pressed a yellow button and a small hatch on the side of the fighter opened and a long tube-like connector with a square magnetic end was shot at the destroyer. It fastened itself to the other ship's hull securing the fighter.
Reemer and Comet unbuckled their seat belts and tightly fastened their space masks. Reemer pressed a button and the cockpit of the fighter slid open. After fastening tie lines from their space suits to the outside of the fighter, Reemer and Comet stood up and made their way to the storage compartment on the port side of the plane. Inside the little storage area were four rifles and two backpacks filled with supplies.
They opened the compartment, removed the packs, strapped them to their backs and then took two of the rifles. They disconnected their tie lines and both pressed little activator buttons on their space suits. Small jets on their suits fired a burst of air and Reemer and Comet were on their way toward a small opening in the Galman destroyer.
The Galman ship was a horrible sight of death and destruction. Decks of the ship had been cut through without the slightest hint of prejudice.
"There's a pressure lock up ahead," Reemer said through his space mask's communication equipment. "That'll get us into the ship."
They floated to it without incident. Once there they turned off their air jets and Reemer began to turn the door's handle. After a complete turn counter clockwise, the door snapped open revealing a small room. They walked into the small room and Reemer closed the door behind them. There was another door about three meters directly in front of them. He made his way toward it and hoped that they wouldn't be sucked into space as he slowly turned its handle.
As the door opened, Reemer felt the slightest bit of suction on his space suit from the ships environmental pressure but it slowly dissipated. Reemer partially opened the door, cautiously poked his head out of the tiny opening and peeked in both directions down the hallway. It was a bit dark so Reemer turned on a small lamp that was on the side of his laser pistol. The hall lit up and Reemer was startled to see a dead Galman soldier on the left side of the hallway. A pool of blood on the floor surrounded the corpse.
"The coast is clear," said Reemer. "Let's go."
They left the room and Comet turned on his lamp. Without warning a laser blast narrowly missed Reemer's leg.
"Take cover!" Reemer yelled.
But there wasn't much cover in the open hallway so they dropped to the floor. The hallway was filled with flashes and burning metal as the bolts began to singe the hallway. A bolt landed about an inch from Reemer's head as the two soldiers tried to fight back.
"We're sitting ducks if we don't get out of here!" Comet yelled.
"Comet, give me cover!" Reemer yelled as he placed his rifle on the floor and unbuckled his backpack.
Comet tried to protect his friend as best as he could given the circumstances. He repeatedly fired his weapon in the direction of the enemy lasers.
Reemer pulled out a small cylindrical object from his backpack. He pulled the small pin from its side and threw it toward the returning gunfire.
"Get your head down!" Reemer ordered.
In a blinding flash the concussion grenade went off. Reemer grabbed his rifle and charged into the area. Two laser blasts later, the small skirmish was over and Reemer signalled the all clear.
Reemer and Comet walked another twenty meters until they came to an intersection. It looked deserted until a Galman soldier appeared from around the corner and fired his gun. The shot missed Comet and Reemer but the Galman wasn't as lucky. A shot from Reemer's gun struck the Galman in the head nearly blowing it off its shoulders.
After catching his breath, Reemer sneezed and the spray went all over the inside of his helmet. "Oh man! I think I need a squeegee." Reemer joked.
A few moments later, the two soldiers came to an apparent dead end. What once was a working elevator had become an inconvenient obstacle.
"Do you think we took a wrong turn somewhere?" Comet asked.
"I'm not sure." Reemer answered. "Maybe."
Reemer tried to open the elevator doors manually but they appeared to have been jammed shut. He reached into Comet's backpack, pulled out his laser cutter and started to cut an oval opening in the elevator doors. Two minutes later a large oval piece of metal was sent careening down the elevator shaft.
Reemer stuck his head into the opening while Comet stood watch.
"Okay this is the deal," Reemer said. "We're on the wrong level. We need to go up two floors to get to the science labs. There's a ladder in the elevator shaft but it is missing about a ten foot section about half way up. Follow me."
Reemer slung his rifle over his shoulder and then stuck his arm into the hole and grabbed the ladder just inside the elevator shaft. After making sure his grip was tight enough, he swung out to the ladder and then climbed six rungs.
Comet followed Reemer onto the ladder and after climbing a few rungs, they came to the ten foot gap. Reemer carefully climbed as high as he could and stood on the top rung. With only six inches of space from the ladder to the wall there was very little room to maneuver but Reemer was able to get his balance.
"Well, the good news is the distance is equivalent to a goals height in Astro Ball," Reemer said. "The bad news is, I am not sure I can make this jump with all of this equipment on." Reemer looked up at the rung above him and shook his head. "Well, here goes nothing."
Reemer reached down and pulled out his tie line from his space suit and fastened it to the top rung of the ladder. He was not sure the ladder would hold his weight if he fell but it was worth giving it a try. He bent his knees the best as he could, pushed off with the balls of his feet and grabbed the rung above him with one hand. He tried to pull himself up but his equipment weighed him down and he dangled precariously from one hand.
"Comet help! I'm slipping!"
Comet raced up the ladder. He reached the top and with one hand pushed the bottom of Reemer's feet straight up. The extra boost gave Reemer the leverage he needed. He grabbed the rung with his other hand and pulled himself up. After a few deep breaths and lots of perspiration Reemer regained his composure.
"Thanks Comet." Reemer said. "That was close."
Comet released Reemer's tie line and Reemer pulled it up and fastened it to the upper portion of the ladder. Comet then pulled out his tie line and tossed it up to Reemer. Reemer fastened it to a different rung on the ladder. Reemer reached his arm down and as Comet jumped, Reemer grabbed his arm. Seconds later Comet grabbed the lower rung of the ladder and pulled himself up.
Once they reached the correct level of the ship, Reemer saw the release for the doors and pulled up on the lever. The doors opened into another hallway and they climbed out into the corridor. Because of the strenuous climb, Comet began to wheeze. His breathing tubes were slowly being blocked by a swelling in his vocal chords caused by the Bollar Virus.
"Easy Comet," ordered Reemer. "Just breathe slowly. We're almost there."
Comet took Reemer's advice and stopped for a breather. After a brief rest they continued on their way. As soon as they passed a dark room to their left a soldier appeared from the opening.
"Look out Reemer!" Comet yelled.
Comet aimed and blasted the soldier right in the chest. The force of the blast sent the Galman soaring through the opened elevator shaft doors and into the abyss below.
At every turn, dead Galmans were littered throughout the passageways. Each had died from various causes. Some had appendages blown off. Others were caught without their space helmets on during a hull breach. Their hideous and grotesque faces were constant reminders of a painful death.
After another turn, the soldiers saw a gas canister on fire in the hallway. Reemer was concerned that the canister may explode so he decided to take an alternate route. Just as they changed direction Comet saw movement off in the distance. In a flash, lasers started flying. Comet took aim at the canister, set his rifle's sight on it and pulled the trigger. The corridor became an inferno.
As they approached the medical labs, they noticed that the area had taken heavy damage. They appeared to have been completely destroyed.
"There are four labs," Reemer said. "Let's check each one. Maybe we'll get lucky. God knows we could use it right about now."
Three of the rooms had been totally destroyed. The doors had been blown away and it looked like a grenade went off in each of the labs. Reemer made his way to the fourth lab.
The door was intact and shut.
Hope began to swell in Reemer's heart. He looked at Comet and then nodded his head. Comet raised his rifle and prepared for an all out assault. For all he knew, an entire battalion of Galman soldiers could be waiting inside.
Reemer tried the door. It was unlocked and opened without any resistance. Seeing that there wasn't a welcoming party, Reemer took off his backpack and set it on the ground. He poked his head through the door and noticed that the room was empty and had sustained only minor damage.
"Here goes nothing," said Reemer as he entered the room. "Stay here and keep watch. I'll be back in a minute."
Reemer saw three large refrigeration units on the far wall. He slowly opened the first but it was empty. As he began to open the second unit, the door on the refrigerator flew open with tremendous force throwing Reemer backwards across the room. Reemer was covered in small debris and medical equipment.
Comet stuck his head in the room to see what was going on.
"I'm okay," said Reemer. "The pressure must have built up inside the fridge somehow."
After freeing himself from the debris, Reemer walked into the second unit. There was nothing of any value worth salvaging inside the refrigerator. It contained mostly supplies and other equipment. As hope began to fade, Reemer approached the third and final unit. Reemer opened it and to his horror he found hundreds of vials of antidote smashed on the floor. They were all ruined.
All except one.
A few moments later Reemer emerged from the Galman medical lab.
"What did you find?" Comet asked.
"All I got was this one vial," Reemer answered. "All the rest were smashed. Let's hope this one's enough."
Reemer opened his backpack and pulled out a transport container. It looked like a metallic egg and was about a meter in length. He unscrewed the container until it split into two equal halves. He placed the vial in the middle of one of the halves and then screwed the container back together. When that was done he pressed a small button on the outside of the container and the egg filled with a shock absorbing foam goo that completely surrounded and protected the vial from any damage.
"It's secure," said Reemer as he placed the container in his backpack. "Let's get out of here!"
As Comet and Reemer started their journey back to their fighter, the Galman destroyer began to rumble and shake. They stumbled and tried to get their footing as the ship buckled beneath them.
"I think we better move fast, this place sounds like it is going to blow any minute," said Comet.
Reemer agreed so they started to run down the corridors trying to get out of the ship before it shook itself apart. An explosion right behind Comet sent metal and debris flying through the hall. It knocked Comet to the ground but he quickly got back to his feet. Time was running out so they picked up the pace.
They reached the elevator shaft and Comet began to rapidly descend into the ship as Reemer followed closely behind. Comet reached the break in the ladder and dangled from the lower rung. In his haste he forgot to fasten his tie line. He lost his grip on the rung and fell to the lower portion of the ladder. Before he could plummet to his death, he reached out and grabbed the top rung of the bottom portion of the broken ladder. Just as Comet caught his breath, the rung broke. He reached for the next rung but his hand slipped and he continued to fall. Instinctively, he reached for his tie line and pulled it out. He tried to grab the next rung but his hand slipped again. With his other free hand he was able to fasten the tie line to another rung but he was already in free fall. Twenty feet later the tie line reached its end. The line went taut and Comet's body was snapped to a stop. Comet was slammed head first into the wall and was knocked unconscious.
Reemer rapidly climbed down to check on his friend. He reached the break in the ladder and attached his tie line. He hung down from the last rung of the ladder and fell onto the bottom portion. His feet hit the rung and slipped off but Reemer threw his arm around the ladder and it stopped his fall. He looked back up at his tie line and shook his head. He had no way of unfastening it. The line was twenty feet in length but was not long enough for him to reach Comet. He had no other choice. He reached into his backpack, pulled out his laser cutter and cut the line. He hoped the ship didn't move too much or he would have a free ride to the bottom of the elevator shaft.
He climbed down the ladder to where Comet was hanging. Upon quick inspection Reemer saw that Comet was out cold. He placed him over his shoulder and carried him fireman's style to the opening in the elevator shaft. At the opening, Reemer pushed Comet out of the shaft and then climbed out into the hallway.
"Wake up Comet!" Reemer yelled as he shook his friend. "We have to get out of here!"
Comet opened his eyes and began to move. With a glazed look in his eyes he put his hand on his helmet and slowly sat up.
"I got a headache." Comet said as Reemer helped him to his feet. "What happened?"
"You decided to be a bonehead and not fasten your tie line." Reemer said. "You're lucky you're not splattered at the bottom of the elevator shaft. Now get your act together and let's go!"
Reemer and Comet continued their way toward the airlock. They rounded another corner and came face to face with four Galman soldiers. Startled, the soldiers just looked at each other for a brief moment wondering what they should do. When they finally came to their senses, the Galman soldiers started firing. Reemer and Comet tried to get out of the way but Comet was shot in the arm and hit the floor with a thud.
Reemer shot one of the Galmans and then fired and killed another before dropping to one knee. As Comet sat up and shot the third soldier, Reemer fell to his right to shoot the fourth. But the fourth got a shot off before he was killed.
The blast hit Comet squarely in the chest.
"Comet!" Reemer screamed.
Comet fell backwards as smoke rose from the newly formed black hole in his chest. Reemer raced to his fallen friend but before he could do or say anything Comet looked at him and smiled.
"I don't regret any of it Reemer." Comet said as he closed his eyes and silently passed away in Reemer's arms.
The Galman destroyer shook violently and in the distance Reemer heard another explosion. He stood up but before he could do anything else he heard a clicking sound.
"Do not make any sudden movements Earthling."
Reemer slowly turned around. Staring him straight in the face was Commander Malisk. He was bloody, beaten and his clothes were half singed but he was alive and kicking.
"I want the antidote you are carrying in your backpack." Malisk said as he pointed his gun at Reemer.
"No!" Reemer yelled as the tears streamed down his face.
"You will either give me the object in your backpack or I will kill you." Malisk said.
Reemer thought about his options and realized there was only one thing he could do. He removed the backpack and placed it on the ground. He opened the pack, pulled out a cylindrical object and tossed it to Malisk.
Malisk caught it, looked at it briefly and then placed it on the floor.
"Say goodbye to your future!" Malisk said as he pointed his gun at the cylinder.
Reemer dropped to the ground and covered his backpack as Malisk pulled the trigger. When Malisk finally realized what he had done, it was too late. The concussion grenade exploded blowing Commander Malisk to bits.
After the dust had settled, Reemer looked up and saw that the hallway was covered with blood. He got to his feet, opened the backpack and looked inside. The container carrying the precious antidote was intact. He closed the pack, slung it over his shoulder and activated his communications link.
"This is Reemer calling the Omega. We're coming home."
Reemer leaned down, gently picked up Comet's body and resumed his walk back to his fighter.
It was the longest walk of his life.