Thoughtful - Chapter 12

What's the damage?

Persephone made her way past the chaos of fallen crew members, not entirely sure where she was going. All she knew was that she needed to find Lady, and to see that she was OK. After the upheaval she had experience in the past few days, Lady was the only constant in her life and right now she didn’t want to lose that.

She ran on through the damaged submarine, desperately looking for answers but no one seemed to know what had happened. Finally, as the initial adrenalin rush began to wear off, Persephone stumbled to a stop, out of breath and admittedly now terribly lost within the labyrinthine corridors that comprised the inner structure of the sub. Slumping against a wall, she slid slowly to the floor and then the tears came. Trapped below water in a metal cylinder, overwhelmed by the dream of her parents and the isolation of not knowing anyone on board was what did it for her.

 ****

Tyler scooted around the corner, trying madly to help the rest of the command crew assess the damage and get everything back under control. He knew, thanks to Strychley, that is Commander was OK and the crisis had been averted for now, but there was still the bedlam of the unknown casting its pall over the sub. Passing the corridor where they kept most of their food supplies, he saw a tragic figure alone and in tears. He knew right away who it was, and hurried towards Persephone worry etching dark lines in his face.

‘Hey,’ he called out softly as he approached, not wanting to startle her especially as he knew she’d just spent the past 2 days unconscious, ‘hey now, are you OK? can I help?’

Looking up at him, salt water staining her face, Persephone smiled bashfully. Grateful but also slightly ashamed.

‘I’m fine really, I just got lost in all the commotion, is everyone OK?’ she asked, roughly wiping her face free of tears with the back of her hands.

‘Well, you don’t look OK, but I’ll take it, so far only minor injuries except for Cato’s repair crew who are in intensive care with Charlie, but they’ll be alright, he’s a genius with gauze,’ Tyler smiled back.

‘And the Commander?’

‘Cool and in charge as always.’

‘Phew, that makes me feel better, I don’t know what I’d do if she was … ’ sighed Persephone, not able to finish her sentence.

‘She has that effect on people, she’s below decks repairing the sub, I don’t know how long she’ll be …. You wanna come with me? I’m helping with the rest of the crew and checking out what else might be damaged.’

‘Are you sure?’

‘The more the merrier,’ quipped Tyler, reaching down and grabbing Persephone’s hand, pulling her to her feet, ‘now come on, there’s literally tons to do!’

****

While Persephone spoke with Tyler in the corridors above, deep below decks, Lady and Sagan took some time to inspect the sub’s wound. The explosion of the Condenser had sent debris hurtling throughout the room, but the majority of the blast had thankfully been absorbed by the inner wall of the sub. It could have been much worse. As he ran his hand over the shattered remains of the Condenser, Sagan frowned and chewed on the inside of his cheek, deep in thought. He didn’t like what he was seeing or feeling. The metal of the Condenser housing had been split and forced inwards, meaning the explosion had been initiated from outside the Condenser. Someone had deliberately tried to destroy the Anhinga. This was an inside job.

‘What are you thinking?’ asked Lady as she watched Sagan’s hand gently tracing the ragged edges of the shattered Condenser, his concern increasing with every inch he inspected.

‘She’s repairable, but ….’

‘You want to know how this happened?’ Lady nodded slowly.

‘The damage just isn’t consistent with an outward explosion,’ Sagan explained, looking up at his Commander meaningfully.

Lady took in a sharp breath, weighing up what Sagan was implying. She suspected it herself, but hearing someone else suggest it made it so much more real.

‘Well, you know Condensers don’t just explode,’ Sagan continued, ‘I mean why would they, there’s really nothing to them right? And there’s nothing else in this room that is overly flammable or manifestly unstable, so this has to be deliberate.’

‘Sabotage,’ Lady growled.

‘Well, yeah, I would say so.’

Lady glanced quickly down at the internal display on her helmet’s visor to make sure her commsline was still switched off, then she made a decision.

‘We keep this between us OK Sagan? I don’t want to spread panic and suspicion throughout the crew, I have a feeling that this was part of the intent, either destroy us physically or break us down mentally, and I won’t let that happen.’

It was more an order than a request. Lady knew she needed to stay in control, and to shut this situation down as quickly as possible. If chaos is what the saboteur was expecting, then that is what they would be denied. It might even help to flush them out. Whoever they might be.

‘Agreed Commander, any ideas on who it might be?’

‘Not yet Sagan, but before we go down the slippery slope of accusation we need to get our house in order.’

‘What do you need from me?’

‘Catalogue the damage, and then lock this room down. No one gets in aside from you and I, I’ll let the crew know its temporarily off limits,’ Lady answered, choosing her words carefully, ‘and set up some of those tiny cams,’ she continued, ‘I want to know if anyone comes sneaking around down here.’

‘Aye Commander,’ Sagan nodded solemnly. He didn’t like where this was leading at all.

‘It’ll take at least 6 days to reach Royale from here, assuming it’s an uneventful Atlantic crossing, so we’ll have time to inspect that new tech, but I want that spider to remain safely inside the catcher for now,’ Lady sighed and leaned back on one of the intact Condensers, ‘all I can think of, is thank the maker we got that decoy deployed before this happened.’

‘And Demise?’ Sagan looked pointedly at his Commander.

‘Hopefully he assumes we’ve been too stupid to figure out his spider and goes for the decoy.’

‘But do you think he’s behind this?’ Sagan threw out an arm towards the ruined machinery.

‘Probably, but I won’t fall into the trap of jumping to conclusions, in the early days I worked with a crew that mutinied due to a rumour, a lot of innocent people were killed and all for nothing, whispers in the corridors.’

‘Well, loose lips sink ships as they say.’

‘They were too loose if you ask me, but not my vessel, not my Command,’ Lady brushed away the past awkwardly, slightly annoyed, and not wanting to go into the details.

‘But if it was Demise?’ Sagan pressed on, looking for an answer his Commander seemed unwilling to give.

‘Well, if he has any faith in his infiltrator he’ll think we’ve been destroyed, and probably expects his agent is either dead or will make contact with him soon, but either way we have to get moving.’

‘What’s the plan?’ asked Sagan.

‘Dry dock at Royale and make repairs, I also have a feeling we might be missing someone by the time we’re through there,’ Lady mused darkly, ‘for now, we keep our destination on a need to know basis, that should allow us an uneventful journey.’