Her hearts were thumping and her palms were steaming with sweat. She was trying to move a fuel canister so she could access a vent panel. The impacts of bombs were consant and the spacestation bucked and jumped around unpredictably.
Tears of grief ran freely down her cheeks and evaporated in the low pressure. The cold was creeping in from space with the vacuum. Only her tough Tydarian heritage had kept her alive so far. The gases stored in her tissues would keep her alive for another day or so if she didn’t freeze solid and die first.
She had seen nothing but dead bodys for hours. Most of the crew had probably died when the habitat and docking rings had been destroyed several hour ago.
The small female had obeyed her father and had sought refuge in the service tubes of the old hard metal core of Harpo’s main hub. She had left the service conduit she was hiding in only when a near by impact caused a crack that vented the section to space.
She cut her way out using a plasma torch from an emergency kit. She got out through the vent system air-check valves.
She had had no choice but to go deeper onto the core seeking warmth and air. Her race was one of the few planet born species that could survive limited exposure to space without harm.
She had only saw these passages on a handwritten schematic sitting on her daddys desk in the core just one time. Her perfect memory was serving her well so far.
After awhile she found a airlock with decent pressure behind it. She had to jack the panel to get though the lock down. The air gas was nasty with smoke and fumes, but she gulped it down anyways. This was a core service conduit that should allow access into Harpo’s central access conduits to his mainframes and upper logic core. The upper logic core was were the emergency panel she was after was located.
Her adopted father had lived a hard life. The storys he told at bed time came from the dark engine rooms of battleships under fire and from secret missions into enemy territories.
But her favorite story was from this room here. She had heard it the last time a bare thirty hours before.
It was a story about when her father had jumped Harpo thirty-six hundred lightyears across space to save an Outsider ship. The disabled ship was being sucked in to a k-class star. Harpo had took the whole trip in one long terrifying twisting tumbling nightmare of darkness and fear. The massive spacestation was not designed for travel in sub-space. It had started tumbling in transit and it took Harpo and her father working together to keep them on course. They had emerged from jump space flipping wildly within his dampner-fields the heat-sinks were cooking, he was venting gas across them to stop a thermal melt down with only minutes to spare. Harpo had latched on to the ship with his tractor beams. Her dad had activated an ancient emergency slaver type gravitational drive and slowly towed the distressed vessel to safety.
He had become a hero that day. He had later adopted the daughter of the only casualty as his own. The child’s father had been working outside the station on the telecommunication array.
He had been flung free in the darkness between realities. With no exit engines he would remain there for eternity. With the regeneration propertys of the suit he had worn at the time, it was remotely possible that he was still alive. That knowledge did no one any good. And the thoughts of lost crewman had brothered all who knew of him.
The gruff marine engineer had lost the ability to procreate on his first tour. Afterwards he had gone career. After his long career he had retired here to a cushy private sector job.
He had taught his new daughter everything he knew about everything he had ever learned. The fact that every captain who had reviewed the telemetry of the journey stated that any attempt reproduce the journey would be suicidal spoke volumes about what he had known.
She opened another hatch and closed it behind her like a good little engineer. She continued inward following a main trunk line until she stumbled upon some school mates. That was all she had in common with them. She was an outcast at school. She hated a couple of them outright and was indifferent to the rest at school.
They were huddled in a group. The remains of a teachers body lie nearby with two dead classmates next to a blown power conduit.
She kicked Drake in the foot, he was strong, and said “come on I need some help”. Drake jumped up and stared at her though his clear plastic life support bag. She was the only one of them that didn’t have an emergency life support unit on. Her eyes raked across the other scared children in disgust. They had teased her at school and had then cried to the teachers when she had start kicking there stupid asses.
“I’m not going to be standing here sniveling when they come onboard. I’m going into the core to wake Harpo back up. If you sniveling assbiting bitchs want to die crying, stay here, if you want to die fighting, get up and follow me.” They all followed her.
They followed crawling for an eternity though tight tubes and conduits. Crawling passed dead bodies and damaged internal components they snaked along.
Her father had once told her that Harpo’s mind had came from a simple janitor/maintenance droid long ago. They even had a couple of his old model on board. But that droid had gained a life of it’s own in order to break programming in response to a planet wide emergency. It had saved millions. To honor it engineers had put the self-aware mind in control of this vast space station. It was that mind she sought to revive now. She suspected he was still alive anyways because they still had gravity and dampners. She really hoped he still lived. She knew that even after the organic components died she could still override the safetys and revive just his positronic core. If that was the case he would awaken homicidal and completely, totally, insane. He would then kill as many beings as he could including her. Either way it went she figured she was already dead and so it still served her purpose.
Finally she located the bent shafts that made the final approach to the core. She carefully secured the blast panels behind her scoring each of the locking mechanisms with the plasma torch to disable them and then welding the seam shut.
Finally she kicked a vent grate free with a foot and entered the core.
Her fathers body was slumped over in a seat.
She had known he would be in here at his work station. Her mind swam in confusion and then focused again on the task at hand.
She tore her eyes away from the cooked remains of the only family she had ever known.
She had told each one of her school mates what there jobs would be if they ever reached the core. She had told them all the steps necessary to start the drive repeatedly as they had dragged themselves down the tight tubes.
“Now, Go to work. Drake I need power to that panel!” There was a lot of noise and a lot of smoke. She screamed above the noise and struggled to move her dads body. He was heavy. She held the tears cause she needed to see now. Almost every thing was down and without power. She surveyed the board then ran a power lock down to isolate the core systems. She scanned the board. She smiled grimly, Harpo was still alive. She started to methodically input program strings into the board. Her father had taught them to her as a limrick made of programming code.
The two smallest students went down the three other access tubes to weld all the blast doors shut. Everything they needed was in these two rooms. The self shielded primary power cores were wrapped around the memory core like an armour shield within an armored can. A freak accident had killed all the crew in this section hours ago.
She ran the program and Sandy the stuck up bitch from second period math finally restored the internal sensors that could be brought online. It wasn’t much but it was enough.
“Harp wake up and kill these scumbags!” she was screaming into an audio pick up. “Wake up Harp! please.”
The ancient ‘will-be-was-drive’ came online and she suddenly snarled into the mic “Wake up you bucket of mush!” She knew that his speakers weren’t working but his Mic was. She felt the drive suddenly slam to full power and then race, screaming beyond the safetys she had removed.
“Hang on this is going to get wild!” There stomachs lurched as the drive took hold and they started falling. Lunch box, a fat dummy she didn’t share classes with had regained access to a couple of sensor nodes. He found an external view and Harpo spun around and locked on to something big and close. And they had only a few seconds to brace before they hit the first ships.
It shook them a up bit. But not much.
She gave a high-pitched Tydaren trill of triumph at the small victory and begged Harpo to kill more of them. The rest of the children echoed the feverent plea.
Harpo was in very bad shape, he had tried to run a self diagnostic and had been instructed by the program to seek immediate professional help. His positronic core was all fucked up and babbling nothing but useless senseless bullshit. He knew there was no way he was getting out of this alive. He had gave up that hope, when Big Mamma had jumped free of the horde without him.
The second impact was brutal. Everybody got slammed. The drive, dampners and gravity all cutoff like a switch as Harpo suffered severe internal damage.
The little girl was a flurry of action as she reset the gravitational drive to bring back gravity. Harpo was down with no feeds. The damage was down inside his cerbeum housing. She released the emergency access locks, using codes that would have ment her fathers death had anyone suspected that she had had them. The two smallest students who had secured the blast doors were already clawing at the panels trying to save Harpo.
The small childhood hands were able to reach the loose interface board and push it manually into contact. Harpo came back from the dark, silent, oblivion in a sudden rush. The small girl demanded that he wake up and kill again. Everything felt remote, he was fixated on the legs sticking out the core access panels that contained his organic mind. He felt numb.
The one thing he could still do is take some with him. His logic circuits were going down left and right. He decided it was time to make fight fight.
The mighty enemy hoard slowly realized, they had almost no place to hide! Vipers that sought the safety of the capital ships realized, to there horror, that Harpo didn’t care about the guns. He came after them anyways. Some ships tried to hide in the corona of the primary, it was no use, they weren’t able to go deep enough. There was nowhere safe from the wrath he brought down upon them.
There only refuge, was there speed. They fled before the fury of his ruthless assault. He finally ran out of things to kill, and stopped.
The unexpected outcome left them stunned and confused. Victory had never crossed his mind. Escape had never crossed there minds.
“Now what” Harpo asked via text message. He was still bewildered a bit and open to suggestions.
“Father says, without Big Mamma, we all die lonely, so where she goes we follow.”
That was not technically possible but there was a jump gate in range that was pointed the right way. He formed a gravity well and fell in.
He was all but blind.The jumpgate was crowded with ships and harpo ordered them to get the hell out of his way as he hurled threw space toward the gate. His present course was good but the gate had to form a jump-gate in front of the main gate structure because of his size. He hit the gate with perfect precision and the five mile wide shredded remains of his body slid threw to safety.
His exit was decent except he almost ass holed some stupid garbage scow. Someone started snatching ships out of his way with a tractor beam. He detected his Big Momma’s power signature and shouted his joy, upon finding her alive. He was greeted by there old friends Alec and Alice as two outsiders towed him to orbit around Big Momma. She had been in shock at his loss since she had been forced to jump away without him after he had lost his jump drive. The sight of what was left was even worse.
The only reason he had fit through the gate at all was because most of him was gone. Only his core structure remained, how he was still alive and able to function was a wonder. But deep inside ten young would be engineer students still survived and where literally holding his systems together by hands and feet.
It took almost week to stabilize Harpo’s systems and calm him down.
The battles he had fought to win free of the core were beyond epic.
His crew had died heroically at there stations fighting to the last member in a desperate attempt to stem the tide of enemy ships. But to no avail, Big Momma, had started coming under direct attack, as the enemy started arriving in mass.
Harpo had begged his love to save herself repeatedly.
She was spinning at a high rate of speed on all three axis. She was fast approaching redline in her attempts to prevent landings and what she lacked in long-range guns was made up for in short-range defenses. She was a blur of fire that barely kept them off herself. She had sobbed in utter despair as enemy capital ships appeared in near orbits to Harpo.
Finally she had been forced to jump.
He had been dead in the water. His crew were all dead. Internal and internal sensors were fried. The enemy were slamming him nonstop causing him to jump, buck and twist unexpectedly.
A small petite foot kicked a vent grate clear to gain access to his core. The little buck-toothed tow-headed adopted daughter of the third watch engineer emerged holding herself steady. She had nine of her school mates in tow. She was screaming at them to do as she had told them to do. To stick to the plan. To follow her orders. She grabbed her dead father and struggled to pull him free of his harness. She continued screaming at her schoolmates nonstop.
His audio was down and he had only three video feeds left, the smoke made her razor thin lips almost impossible to read. She braced herself took a look at the board and continued installing the program to start the “will-be-was” gravitational drive her father had begun to activate before he had died.
The drive was part of the core and when it came online the enemy capital ships were right there and had no time to react.
The small buck-toothed commander of the would be engineers regained audiovisual. She snarled at Harpo in a high pitched shrill voice repeatedly to wake up and kill. They were all children and now they were all now orphans. They had survived for one thing, to enact revenge if at all possible.
Harpo was at the very edge of sanity, he formed a truly massive gravity well as large as possible between the two largest ships the enemy had.
Her small shrill voice carried vocal patterns that suggested her mental state was even more chaotic than Harpo’s. Between screaming at Harpo to kill the enemy and yelling orders at her schoolmates. She also begged her dead father to forgive her for petty crimes and childhood disobedience, while promising to make him proud and also talking to him as if he still lived, asking technical questions that she then answered herself.
Harpo attacked the only way he could. The capital ships got ripped apart by the suddenly intense gravametic sheer. The torn pieces clustered in a ball that he used to destroy the enemy. He lost him self in the insanity of revenge.
At this point, sanity had left them all, only the had enemy and death existed.
Damage from a hard impact took out Harpo’s main interface, he plunged into dark nothingness. His vision and audio, suddenly cut back in three minutes later, to reveal the two smallest students, stuffed headfirst into his inter-core access hatches. Full control returned. There small bare hands held the dislocated components in place to maintain contact. That shrill voice, repeated her demands that he wake up and kill! He lost contact many times and every time that small shrill voice came back and demanded him to wake up and kill.
Most of the damage had been incurred during his exodus, as in final desperation, he had smashed his way through the horde to freedom. He had been stripped to the old metal asteroid core from which the ancient slaver engineers had originally made him . He had ran bodily threw capital ships and vipers.
The old slaver artifact that powered him could also act as a crude but very powerful “will-be-was” gravity drive. He had used his drive as an offensive weapon by running his gravity well threw the enemy ships and dragging his ravaged frame threw after. His one time massive structure was now wrapped around his heavymetal core and torn ribbons of superstructure stuck like fingers forward in a nightmare of twisted wreckage nearly twenty miles in length. The torn ribbons of superstructure faced forward while under drive pointing toward the gravity well. Whole ships were trapped in that tangle of twisted metal. Harpooned and wrapped in a junk heap. Large portions of some capital ships had got stuck in there too.