Day 33. 127 pages, 58,252 words.
“You realise, don’t you,” Melvix said, while Çrom industriously fired his stolen heat-baton at the edges of the core access door they’d just closed behind them, “that as soon as they mow through the quarantine plates the entire crew will be congregating on the recycling plant. And they will be extremely annoyed.”
“And don’t forget smelly,” Blue added.
“Well golly,” Çrom said, still playing the baton methodically over the hinges, “maybe we’d better not stick around.”
“Yes,” Melvix said, “so what are you doing? You’ll never cut through that access door using a heat baton – and besides, we were just in there, and we just locked it behind us.”
“I know,” Çrom said. Somewhere down the corridor, a janitorial began reminding nobody in particular about basic quarantine and sterilisation protocols in a loud, clear voice.
“You’re making it look as though we tried to get in, and failed,” Melvix concluded, “and had to settle for that … gag … you had me pull in the recycling plant.”
“Won’t they know we were in the subluminal drive core because their friends on-duty in there are dead?”
“Maybe,” Çrom twirled the baton happily, and stuck it back in his belt. He examined his handiwork. There were streaks and smudges of blistered surface across the door and frame, and some very minor warping in the fixtures. Perfect. “But they’ve got a lot of other problems right now.”
Melvix clearly gave up. “Did you take care of the subluminal drive?” he asked.
“It’s firing up now,” Blue replied as they trotted off down the corridor, “and it should burn out as soon as any major effort is taken to direct the ship – not that it looks like they’ve even tried to keep the flight controls working since they docked her. Nothing short of a full strip-down and rebuild will correct the alterations, and with any luck they won’t see that we’ve made them anyway.”
“Especially if they think we never got in there,” Çrom said, pleased.
“And the sludge explosion will keep people out of the crew quarters,” Melvix said with grudging admiration, “so they won’t find the hole we actually did cut. You devious son of a whore.”
“They might find the hole from the core side,” Blue said, “I mean, I just shoved the section back into place. But this is all a question of temporary distraction anyway, right?”
“Right,” Çrom agreed, as they arrived at a ceiling hatch. Blue leapt, caught the monitoring bumper with her lower hands, punched the panel open with her upper hands, and heaved herself smoothly inside. “We’re going to destroy the ship anyway. And the alteration to the subluminal drive will still allow us to nudge her a little from the maintenance panels on the freezer level, as long as we stay inside the precise tolerances that only we know about, because we input them,” he glanced expectantly at Melvix.
“Captain?” the Molran raised hairless eyebrows. “Do you want more praise?”
“No, I want a boost,” he pointed at the ceiling. “You think I can jump all the way up there and pull myself into that hole?”
Blue Persephone braced her lower arms inside the hatch and lowered herself back down into the corridor, extending her upper arms to catch Çrom’s wrists.
That was about when the remainder of the Nope, Leftovers’s crew appeared.