V&A Shipping 2: Hollow – Chapter 7
“Argmon! What’s going on? Stop bumping the ship around like that. I’m trying to get Vic into a medical pod. This isn’t easy, you know?”
“June, do you want me to put Victor into a stasis bubble?”
“No, Muffin. What I want is to get Vic into the medical pod and for Argmon to fly a little smoother. Dex, pick up his legs. I can drag him all on my own. You’d think at least one being on this ship could help me.”
“Eep. Eep. Eep.”
Dexter finally picked Vic’s feet up again. Going up the ladder proved to be nearly impossible, but Dexter did do most of the heavy lifting as he pushed Vic up the ladder while June mostly held him steady. She had no idea what had happened on the exterior of the ship and it didn’t matter. All that mattered was finding out just what the extent of Vic’s injuries were. Hopefully, they weren’t too severe and the medical pod could do its magic.
One of the many upgrades they’d made to their ship had been the inclusion of the medical pod. Vic had tried to insist that nothing bad ever happened on the SS Acid Rat, but with Joey’s lost hand and the fact that Mike, their old engineer, had tried to kill Vic, June disagreed and the medical pod was installed. It would assess Vic’s condition and begin treatment. If nothing was required, at least it was comfortable. She’d slept in it one night when she just needed to get away from everyone on the ship. It made the perfect hiding spot.
“Muffin, do you have the ability to open the medical pod?”
June poked her head into the room where the pod sat. It was a small enough room with a couple of chairs. She would stay here until the machine reported Vic’s condition.
“It’s open now, June.”
“Thank you, Muffin.”
Indeed the pod was already open. She wondered if Muffin had done that before or after she asked. Unlike Tootsie, she couldn’t get a feel if the new ship computer liked her or not. As best she could tell it wasn’t a hostile relationship, but there had been multiple occasions the two had bumped heads and it was always when no one else was around.
That didn’t matter right now. She struggled to lift Vic’s upper body, but Dexter had dropped the legs and stood in the pod. He pulled Vic in, and then jumped out as the lid closed.
“Analyzing.” The machine said in a mechanical tone.
“June! How’s it going up there? B.O.B. finally helped me out of my suit. I’m on my way up.”
Oh, now Joey was on his way. He couldn’t have gotten out of his suit faster than that, making her do all the work of getting Vic up here?
She rubbed her face. It wasn’t his fault. “I’m already here. Come on up.” She dropped into one of the chairs.
She wanted to be mad at someone, but the only person she could be mad at was sitting inside the medical pod. Vic probably just wanted to play around outside. He loved spacewalks. He could find any excuse to go outside the ship. It was a wonder he hadn’t figured out a game they could play outside while flying through space.
Joey ran through the door, puffing and panting. Somehow he’d managed to scratch his face and a trickle of blood ran down from his forehead to his cheek. He sat next to June.
“What happened to you?” She reached up to touch the spot where he’d been cut, but pulled back and grabbed a rag from a wall dispenser.
“Oh, well you see, B.O.B…”
“That’s all I need to know.” She put the rag on his forehead and pulled his hand up so he could apply pressure. “At least you’re here.”
While he applied pressure to his head, she put her head on his chest and hugged him. He was alright, that was the most important thing. His thoughts were about trying to relax and worrying about Vic.
Dexter tapped her on the shoulder. “Eep. Eep. Eep?”
June let go of Joey and sat up. “Sure Dexter, head on up to the galley. We’ll probably be there soon as well. Joey, are you hungry?”
“I’m starving now that you ask.” Joey stood up and offered her his free hand.
She looked at Vic through the clear cover of the pod. “I think I want to stay here and make sure he’s alright. You two go. This shouldn’t take too long.”
“We’ll only be upstairs. He’s two seconds away. As soon as the machine…”
The machine beeped. “Analysis complete. Beginning treatment.”
“Machine, pod, whatever, what’s the diagnosis?” June got up and stood next to the machine. “What happened?”
She wanted to bang on the machine. Why was it already administering treatment? It hadn’t reported what was wrong with him. She didn’t want to just stand here and observe, she wanted to know what was going on.
“June, the medical pod does not have voice recognition,” Muffin interjected. “You’ll need to use the manual input device to retrieve a report.”
“Gee, thanks. Aren’t you tied into this machine? Couldn’t you tell me what’s wrong?”
“I’ve got it.” Joey typed on a keyboard. A small screen scrolled some words.
“It appears there’s some internal bleeding and he’s got a concussion. The suit must have taken the worst of the impact. He’ll be out while the machine works on him.”
They looked into the pod. Vic’s shirt had been removed and a long metal prod was stuck into his side. It moved back and forth and a small amount of blood dripped from the entry point.
“I can’t watch this.”
June thought she was going to be sick. It didn’t matter if it was from seeing Vic in this condition or from the sight of a device poking into his side. She needed to get out of the room and get some air. She took a step and stumbled. Joey grabbed her.
“Easy does it. Are you alright?” He helped her sit down. “Just put your head between your legs. My mom used to have me do that when I got light-headed. It’ll help the blood flow back into your brain.”
A bang rocked the ship.
“Are those still going on?” June asked no one in particular.
“Yes, June. Those are still going on.”
“Muffin, have you finally figured out what happened with our cargo? Is that why you’re talking again?”
“I’ve been talking to you for a while now.”
Sure, Muffin had been talking to them for a while, but June had been busy dealing with Vic. “Muffin, what’s going on?”
“The planet was in a stable orbit. During one revolution the orbit became elliptical. The next orbit it had gained enough velocity to escape orbit.”
“She can be so literal.”
Joey groaned. She assumed he meant to agree with her.
“Muffin, why did the orbit become elliptical?”
“From the data I have available, I was unable to determine why the orbit grew unstable. Would you like me to run…”
“…the calculations again?”
The shaking of the ship from the impact had knocked Joey to the floor.
“No, new order, Muffin. Figure out where those rocks are coming from that are hitting us. Joey, get up. I can’t just sit in this room.”
June offered to help Joey up, but he shook his head, put his hands on his knees, and got up himself. She hadn’t noticed before, perhaps because they’d spent so much time together, but he’d gotten taller, a little more muscular, he even looked like he might need a shave. She leaned in and gave him a peck on the cheek.
“What was that for?” he asked as he put his arm around her.
“Dex, I hope you’re not eating everything you find up there.”
“Eep! Eep! Eep!”
“Does he even eat the same food we do? I don’t think I ever noticed.” Joey let her go up the ladder first.
“Sometimes, it depends on if Argmon is doing the cooking or not.”
Joey made a noise like he was thinking about food.
She paused and looked down at Joey. “Do you want to fly the ship and Argmon can cook you something or do you want to suffer with my cooking?”
“No, your cooking is alright.”
“Oh, I think you’re going to be cooking breakfast yourself.”
“Wait, I mean I like your cooking. I didn’t mean anything by that.” He apologized all the way up the ladder.
“Shush. I was just kidding.” Again she gave him a peck on the cheek. “What should we eat?”
“Muffin! What’s up with the rocks?”
Muffin beeped but didn’t respond.
“Is that a good sign? Didn’t Tootsie do that before…”
June cut him off. “Yes, be quiet. Muffin is a newer model. She can handle the complex computations.”
“I think you’ve been hanging around me too much.”
BANG! BANG! BANG!
The lights dimmed and came back up.
“That’s not good, is it?” Joey said.
“I don’t think I’m going to be making you breakfast yet. I hope you weren’t that hungry.”
“Yeah, I think I can wait.”
“Argmon, is everything alright?”
The Shathar growled, chuffed, and barked. She needed to learn what he was saying. June sensed that Argmon didn’t feel overly concerned with what was happening. The dimming of lights didn’t bode well for their trip, though. Down the passageway, Argmon’s arms moved as he adjusted controls. More bangs and again the lights dimmed.
Dexter appeared. “Eep. Eep. Eep.”
“I don’t know Dexter, just stay on alert. I hope you got something to eat, it could be a while before we have a chance again.”
“Joey, go help Argmon with the ship.”
“What can I do?”
“I don’t know. Just go!”
Joey’s head dipped and he sulked toward the bridge.
She needed time to think. Vic was incapacitated, Joey was stressed out and on the verge of passing out, Argmon was…arghing, and Dexter just stood patiently by looking up at her with his eyes blinking out of unison waiting for her to decide on what to do. She wanted Vic out of the pod so she could crawl in there and just hide for a little bit.
Wait! She knew what needed to be done. Muffin wasn’t responding. The ship’s sensors couldn’t detect where the rocks were coming from. There was only one thing to do.
“Joey! We need to take a little flight on the Iron Butterfly.”
He turned around, jaw dropped down. “We need to what?”
“You heard me right. Do you remember how to fly it?”
They’d spent a good deal of time alone in the Iron Butterfly. Joey did alright learning how to fly. They were out in the middle of space now and he could fly behind the SS Acid Rat. Maybe then they could see where the rocks were coming from.
And hopefully, the ship was small enough they could avoid anything that might be out there. It was only small rocks they were running into. If it were anything bigger, the ship’s sensors would have picked it up. They needed to be outside, but not in space suits. The Iron Butterfly would provide them with better protection and they could use its onboard computer to also try tracking the objects while they looked at the damage on the SS Acid Rat’s hull.
“You’re kidding, right?”
She grabbed his hand. “Dexter, get up to the bridge and do whatever you can to help Argmon.”
“Eep. Eep. Eep.”
BANG! BANG! BANG!
The lights on the ship went out. The emergency lighting came up.