Thoughtful - Chapter 16
No one quite knew when the Underworlders had adopted David Bowie as their patron saint. Some said it had started as an in-joke, still others because sooner or later all the Underworlders discovered that a love for the music of Bowie was the only thing they could agree on. In truth, it was something that had begun as a passing phrase – All Hail Bowie, the Duke of rock’n’roll - and stuck as a greeting or exclamation. Luckily for everyone it easily served as both.
As soon as Fury had activated the Shimmer, he surfaced the Marvyl next to the Anhinga as promised, and extended a boarding ramp between them. Reaching Lady’s vessel, he found her standing on the sub’s topside, waiting for him. She smiled as he stepped onto the Anhinga, and bowed theatrically. Much to her surprise Fury stepped up to her and pulled her in for a massive hug.
‘She looks like a mess Lady,’ he said sternly, as he pushed himself back and tried to regain his composure, but his smile betrayed the seriousness of the situation. He was just glad to see her alive. They both knew this could have been much worse.
‘I’m just glad to see you, it’s been too long,’ Lady replied, as she looked up into his face.
Fury was almost a foot taller than her, which was not necessarily conducive to being a submarine captain and moving quickly in confined spaces, but somehow he made it work. As she took in his wide smile, she noticed he seemed tired. His handsome face had seen one to many late nights, and his body hung slightly as though he had the weight of the world on his shoulders, which Lady lamented, knowing Fury he probably did. Unintentionally her eyes wandered to the raised, jagged scars the ran across the left side of his face and down his neck, the only thing marring his dark skin. Lady knew how he got those scars. Fury had told her one drunken night, a few years ago. He had gotten them in the Barrens, when someone tried to steal his treasured USB. How he’d ended up in the Barrens to begin with was more of a patchy story however, and one Fury had never fully told her. That part of the story she had only ever heard in pieces, and never in what seemed the right order. Clearly it was something he found too painful, or traumatic – or more likely both.
‘Well it’s been a bit crowded down there lately,’ explained Fury, snapping her back into the conversation, ‘we’ve been laying low, gathering information … a storm is coming … but I’ll tell you about that later, right now we have to get you back underwater.’
‘Sagan is already working on something, but he’ll be glad to see your team, come on let’s get started,’ said Lady, climbing back up to the Anhinga’s hatch and trying to ignore the vague portents of doom that Fury had hinted at not a moment before.
The small group slowly climbed down inside the wounded submarine, and Lady hustled them down to see the damage. As they walked through the Anhinga, Lady’s crew, the ones who could move, greeted Fury’s small team with cheers and high fives. By now everyone knew just how much trouble they were in and how much help they needed if they were to get out of this alive.
A few minutes later, after hurrying through the sub’s maze like corridors, they reached the damaged section of the Anhinga. Fury’s eyes widened in disbelief as he took in the gaping hole and jagged edges of destruction in front of him. It was hard to believe the Anhinga was still afloat at all. He knew Lady’s sub had some secrets up her sleeves, but what he saw should have left the sub stranded on the bottom of the ocean floor while its occupants slowly suffocated or worse.
‘Bloody hell!’ one of Fury’s crew exclaimed involuntarily.
‘You can say that again,’ nodded Sagan, as he turned to meet his visitors.
‘It’s good to see you Sagan,’ said Fury taking Sagan’s outstretched hand and pulling him into a bear hug.
‘OK, ok don’t break my science-man!’ laughed Lady, as Fury released Sagan from his grasp.
‘So … science-man – what do you need us to do?’ asked Fury, all too aware that they had no time left.
‘I need power first up, the Anhinga is burning up just trying to keep the pressure field in place, then I need someone to suit up and help me apply this patch I’ve nearly finished,’ Sagan explained, waving at his makeshift work station, where Fury could just make out a gleaming, pod like contraption.
‘Too easy, I’ll go with you,’ said Fury. It was an automatic response, and in his mind required no thought through.
‘You don’t even know what it is we need to do yet!’ said Sagan, incredulous.
‘Swim outside, apply patch,’ stated Fury simply, leaning back against one of the room’s walls like Han Solo on the Millennium Falcon.
‘There’s a bit more to it than that,’ said Sagan, slightly offended.
‘Besides Fury, it’s my ship, so it’s my responsibility – I’ll go,’ Lady said sternly, not ready to hand over the reins to anyone, even her friend, and even if he was responding without thinking it through.
‘Actually neither of you need to go,’ said in Sagan, not wanting to get stuck in the middle of this tug-of-war conversation, ‘I’ll take Turing, in fact if you would do me this solid, Lady I need you both on the bridge in case something goes wrong, and Fury I need your team standing by down here … in case something else goes wrong.’
‘Whatever you need us to do Sagan,’ Lady agreed, turning to head back up to the bridge, ‘Fury, would you care to join me?’ she asked, inclining her head and intimating it was more than a request.
‘Of course, you got it,’ smiled Fury as he turned to follow her out the door.
As soon as his Commander was gone, Sagan turned to the leader of Fury’s team. A tall, gangly ginger girl named Phoenix. Her blue eyes startled out of her face as though they didn’t really know what they were doing there, and her small round nose was covered in a haze of freckles. Not conventionally pretty by any sense, she was strangely beautiful, commanding the attention of anyone she focused those startling blue eyes on. Sagan found her a bit unnerving, but by that same token wanted to spend as much time with her as possible. As fellow mechanerds, they could easily talk for hours. It was a shame about the circumstances.
‘Phoenix, nice to see you, I wish we weren’t minutes away from certain death, we could have had a drink,’ he smiled.
‘We all seem to be running on borrowed time these days,’ sighed Phoenix, following Sagan over to his work bench, ‘show me what you got.’
‘It’s not very elegant,’ explained Sagan as Phoenix picked up the small silver pod, ‘it deploys like a parachute and then collapses back on itself, when it hits the hull it’ll fasten itself over the hole, and then solidify in the water, it’ll hold long enough to get us to Royale, but that’s about it. More temporary shit, it makes me uneasy.’
‘Ingenious – but agreed, no one wants to be zipping around hundreds of feet down with a hubba bubba hole cover.’
‘Plus I can’t really test it – I just gotta hope it works.’
‘Yeap, it’s a whole lotta sucks,’ agreed Phoenix, ‘how can we help?’
‘Check my work, let me know if I’ve missed anything, we’re all a little shell shocked here and I don’t trust my own mind right now, there’s some crazy nonsense going down – you know this was an inside job right?’
‘Fury mentioned it.’
‘Well, that person may still be on board and to be honest that scares the shit out of me.’
‘Understandably, so the quicker we get this sub patched up and on its way the better, let’s get to work,’ smiled Phoenix, reassuringly patting Sagan on the shoulder.