Thoughtful - Chapter 19

If this doesn’t work…

Sagan and Phoenix were huddled together over a makeshift workbench, deep in conversation and oblivious to all that was around them. They had managed to buy themselves a small amount of time thanks to the Marvyl’s cloaking device, Shimmer, and to the extra power they’d been able to direct into keeping the pressure field in place and the water out. Most of the area was drying out thanks to the hard work of Turing and the crew, but it was still brown trousers time until they fixed the gaping hole in the side of the submarine and were able to get back to safety below the surface.

As Sagan and Phoenix continued to talk, their hushed tones metering out a conversation not many could follow, Turing was growing ever anxious. He didn’t like to be kept out of the loop.

‘What’s the plan Sagan?’ he prompted, absently squeezing a smiley face stress ball over and over again, rhythmically in time with his breathing. 

‘Well, Phoenix here has come up with a way to modify the cotton candy so that’ll last for days not hours! This will get us too Royal where we can make the repairs we need, she’s quite ingenious really, I never would have thought of it.’

‘That’s nice, you two can talk it over dinner later, but how long will it take? We’ve still got to get out of here first, and I want something solid to tell the crew.’

Sagan and Phoenix both blushed a violent shade of pink at Turing’s jibe.

‘I need about an hour to prepare the solution,’ explained Phoenix, ‘while Sagan will need slightly more than that to modify the cannon’s on one of the mini-exploratory subs so that it can deliver the cotton candy correctly, we’ll have to do this from the outside, but it’s gonna be tricky because we need to sink the Anhinga so that she’s just below the water line.’

‘Bowie,’ Turing muttered under his breath. 

‘Yeah, I hear ya buddy, but not much we can do, we need water to activate the ‘candy and a portion of the area we need to cover is right now above the water,’ agreed Sagan.

‘Fuck it, just do it, we’ve got no choice, I’ll let Lady and Fury know’ said Turing, turning away so they wouldn’t see his unease and heading over to the comms panel on the wall. Locating the bridge on a technical readout of the ship on the screen, he touched the screen and called up to his Commander.

‘Turing to bridge, over.’  

‘Hey Turing, how’s it going down there?’ Lady answered right away. 

‘I know it’s a cliché, but I’ve got good news and bad news,’ he answered.

‘Hell of a choice, ummm … how about give me one of each,’ Lady responded.

‘OK, so the good news is that Phoenix and Sagan can patch us up enough to get us to Royale, but they need over an hour to do it, time we can’t spare. 

‘That’s not such bad news,’ said Strychley.

‘Oh that’s not the bad news,’ sighed Turing, ‘that’s only half of it … we gotta take the Anhinga down so she’s below water for their patch stuff to work.’

‘Oh shit,’ muttered Fury.

‘You said it,’ agreed Turing.

‘That’s asking a lot of the pressure field and sounds like one hell of a gamble,’ added Lady.

‘I know, but at this stage we have no plan B so that’s it I’m afraid.’ 

‘Do what you have to Turing, Strychley and I’ll handle the dive from here, and I’ll alert the crew,’ said Lady decisively, hanging up on Turing and turning to Fury, ‘and that’s your cue to leave I’m afraid, but I have one more favour to ask, let me evacuate my crew to your sub. I don’t want to put them in danger if this idea fails like Duckie’s plans to make Andy jealous. 

‘You got it, but I’m going nowhere, and neither is Phoenix, you’ll need our help.’

‘As much as I’d love to argue Commander, I think he’s right,’ added Strychley before Lady could respond.

Lady sighed and looked towards the ceiling. She hated this, she didn’t want to put anyone’s life in danger, but she knew she had too, and she knew Fury was right.

‘Fine, but no one stays who we don’t need to execute the plan.’

‘You got it,’ said Fury, nodding solemnly.

‘We could all die down here you know,’ added Lady, trying a list ditch effort to change his mind.

‘Anything’s possible,’ smiled Fury annoyingly.

‘Gargh! OK, let’s fucking do this then,’ said Lady, punching up the commsline to talk to Turing again, ‘Turing, you still there?’

‘Yes Commander.’

‘Right, this is the plan, we have an hour to evacuate the entire crew to Fury’s ship, everyone takes only what they need, one small bag each, the only exceptions are Sagan and Phoenix who will stay behind and get their work done, while Fury, Strychley and I will manage the rest from up here.’

‘Aye Commander, but what if people want to stay?’ asked Turing, who could feel the eyes of the crew around him burning holes through the back of his head. He knew most of them wouldn’t want to leave.

‘Not an option my friend,’ Lady answered roughly.

‘But what if Sagan needs more help?’ Turing prompted.

‘Sagan? I assume you’re listening in here, do you need anyone?’ asked Lady growing impatient.

‘Sagan?’ added Turing, raising his eyebrows with a knowing look on his face. 

‘No Commander,’ replied Sagan as Turing looked at him angrily.

‘Damn it all to Bowie, Sagan! I’m not leaving you guys to do this alone,’ he burst out suddenly.

‘Turing, listen to me,’ began Lady calmly but with authority, ‘you’re my right hand man, you need to lead the crew if we don’t make it. You and Magenta need to get everyone out on the Marvyl OK?’

‘But, ahhhhh fuck it,’ Turing gave in.

‘Good man, now I’m about to make the announcement to the crew,’ said Lady, ‘get yourself up stairs and be ready, they’re going to be looking to you for leadership here, show ‘em what you’re made of.’

A few moments later Lady’s voice came over the Tannoy. She was short but firm in her instructions. Everyone was to take enough clothes for a few days, and anything precious, within reason, that they couldn’t live without, and head topside. There they would be met by Fury’s second in Command, Magenta, who would settle them in while they waited to see if Sagan’s plan had worked.  It was a tense hour, but everyone did their part, including helping Charlie get the wounded over to the other sub. He wasn’t happy to move them, but it was better than the other option of dying slowly in a watery hell-hole.

Finally, Sagan and Phoenix were ready to roll as Sagan took a medium sized cannon shell, filled with the modified cotton candy, and went to get himself into one of the mini-subs while Phoenix called up to her Commanders. The mini-subs were a minor work of art in a steampunk-esque kinda way. However, what looked like a glass embedded web of copper or brass was in fact no metal or silicate known to man until the Mellions came to party on this tiny planet. They were just big enough to fit one to two people, though that’s when it would start getting cramped. They were equipped not only with enough doodads to take samples from any environment imaginable, but they were also minor battle-subs, fully loaded with small cannons, laser cutters and blasters. They were one of Sagan’s favourite toys, and the Anhinga was lucky enough to have two of them. Sagan called them Shoop and Doop.  Shoop was his favourite.

After removing all other ammunition from the cannon-stock, and loading the mod’ed cotton candy, Sagan settled into the confines of Shoop’s small cockpit, and radioed Phoenix to tell her he was on his way. Estimated time of arrival less than two minutes. 

‘Time to dive,’ he added as he turned on the power, and the mini-subs systems came instantly to life.

‘You gonna wait until we under before you deploy?’ asked Phoenix.

‘Nah, I’m gonna go out now, get a good look at the damage and keep an eye on things while you guys go down, I’m not taking any chances.’

‘Sounds like a plan!’ Phoenix agreed, before calling up to the bridge, ‘Commanders, we are ready to dive in t-minus 60 seconds and counting.’

‘Gotcha Phoenix,’ came Fury’s reply as Lady and Strychley got to work.