Black Honey Wings, Part X

Drago forced open the elevator maintenance shaft and swan-dived.

He probably could have taken the elevator itself and lost no more than a few seconds, but there had been a shoot-out in the officers’ quarters and the whole situation was clearly a cluster-fuck, so the rest of the Black Honey Wings’s crew had to be on high alert by now. This meant that either there would be troops on the way up in the elevator, or the mechanism itself would have some sort of security lockout. If at all possible, he needed to avoid getting himself trapped in machinery-operated places.

That was a joke all on its own, in a starship adrift in deep space.

He curled in the shaft as he plummeted towards the exchange field, then – with a teeth-clenching act of will – spread himself out in a belly-flop starfish the moment he emerged onto the exchange level itself. Maximise resistance and slowdown rate, minimise bounce. He’d never dived this way into water before. Well, not from the equivalent of eight storeys up. The impulse to protect yourself from belly-whacking was a weirdly difficult one to get over. Maybe it was monkey-stuff, he had time to think as he forcibly spread himself out and completed his plummet into the exchange.

The exchange level was open plan aside from the series of elevator rotation points where the lift shafts bored through from one half of the ship to the other. Big, wide, gleaming and pale, with the plane itself … well, it was there in the middle, but you couldn’t see it. It had some impact on light and the air, and there was always a little scattering of dust and grime hovering on it in between its cleaning cycles. But all of those were things you needed time to see. Diving, there was no time – and all you could do was hope that the last guy to use the maintenance shaft hadn’t dropped a tool box or anything for you to smash your head open on as you plunged through.

He hit the exchange plane face-first, and of course encountered nothing aside from a mostly-imaginary puff of dust across his skin. Down suddenly became up, one micron-thin slice of his body at a time as he dropped through the gravity field, but it happened so fast that he barely had time to register the stomach-loop before he was tumbling upwards through the other side of the exchange level towards the corresponding maintenance shaft on the opposite hemisphere of the modular, flying under his previous falling-momentum.

He curled and straightened himself swiftly so as to ascend into the tube without braining himself on the sides, but he had lost a lot of momentum already and he was being pulled back now, so a moment later he stopped and dropped back down the shaft and out into the cavernous exchange level. He starfished again.

Another drop through the plane, and he was basically zero-momentum. Hovering right on the plane like a piece of debris was a pretty unsettling experience, though, so he hooked the nearby elevator rotation bulb and pulled himself up arbitrarily into one of the modular halves.

He climbed the shaft, let himself back out through the access hatch, and sprinted for the docking blister.

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