The throbbing pain in the back of his head was annoyingly persistent. He was all in favor of ignoring it and going back to sleep but he swore someone was calling his name. Probably Kenric telling him to get up. Did they have an assignment today? He was aching all over and having a hard time remembering how he got home. Shifting a little he felt straps pulled tight across his chest. Straps? Opening his eyes he was surprised to find Ryan standing over him looking concerned. Aw shit. What the hell had he done with Ryan that would involve being strapped down?
“You awake, D? How’s your head?”
His head? Looking around he recognized the passenger bay of the Fairgold Deathtrap. What the hell was he doing…wait a minute. Oh shit. Now he remembered. He had helped Daisy carry in the boxes. The emergency lights had come on. He had got Daisy out. The breakneck run for the passenger bay. Unbuckling his straps he kept his eyes down to keep from looking at the red splatter on the wall where the late researcher’s head had impacted. Where was a bottle of tequila when you needed it?
“Shit. I was hoping this was a nightmare and Kenric had just knocked my ass out during practice.”
“I know the feeling, man. This was not what I was expecting when I left for work this morning.”
“Fucking Mondays. How long was I out?”
“I have no clue. There’s a lack of clocks around this place and what the computer tells us isn’t matching up with everyone’s watches but those are all showing different times too so it’s anyone’s guess. At least a few hours.”
“At least we didn’t blow up. There’s that in our favor. How’s everyone doing? Take off was a bit rough.”
Turning his head slowly to not aggravate his still throbbing skull he took a look at the three surviving researchers. One of them, a brunette wearing thick round glasses, was at the computer console typing furiously. Dimitri had no idea what he was doing but that grimace on his face didn’t bode well.
“Minor injuries. The sprained ankle, your head I’m guessing, and nausea. I’m thinking the nausea is from either the rollercoaster ride we just took or the fact we know exactly Jack about where we are.”
“My vote’s for Jack. Let’s meet up with the Senator’s group in the Biolab. We need to assess the situation and figure out what we’re doing next.” He undid his straps and slowly stood up to face the other men. “Everybody ready to head over to the Biolab?”
“What about Quinn?”
The shaky man from before was still having trouble getting his hands to release the buckles for his straps but his mind was apparently much more steady. Dimitri exchanged a quick glance with Ryan that was a bit too quick and made his head throb harder. It didn’t take much to guess that Quinn was the dead researcher. This job kept getting better and better. He hated dealing with dead bodies but the bloody ones always made his stomach churn. Brought up too many bad memories. Thoughts of car crashes and blood made it hard to focus on the moment and this was not the time to be distracted.
“There’s not much we can do for Quinn now but we’ll wrap him up and take him to the infirmary later. When we get back home we’ll get him to his family. We need to get together with the other group in the Biolab before anything else though.”
The loud smack of the brunette’s hand against the wall next to the computer console had everyone’s attention swinging over. Sharp pain exploded behind Dimitri’s eyes. He grabbed his head and swayed a bit on his feet. Ryan’s arm shot out to help steady him.
“How about cooling it with the loud noises? Not all of us are at a hundred percent at the moment.”
Ryan scowled at the brunette who responded in kind. Dimitri had to sigh, if they were already glaring at each other then that didn’t bode well for teamwork. He had to figure out a way to keep the tension from snapping everyone’s temper but he really needed something for his head first. Couldn’t everyone be civil? At least until his head wasn’t killing him anymore. Was that really too much to ask for?
“Loud noises are the least of our concerns right now! We’re lost! It would have been bad enough that the ship took off but the flipping Twitch Drive activated! With no coordinates! We could be anywhere and there’s no pilots or navigators on the ship to get us home! We’re all going to di-”
Everyone stopped and turned towards him. Doing his best to ignore the pain he looked each of them in the eye to make sure he had their attention. If the group in the biolab was panicking like this one was then they were in for a rough trip. He refused to lay down and die. He had to get them to work together so they could get out of this.
“It’s too soon to jump to conclusions. We don’t even know who else is on the ship. We need to get to the biolab and then do a search. We need to find everyone and collect anything useful. Once we’ve listed all our resources then we can start planning. How about we start off with everyone’s names? I’m Dimitri Thorne with Fenton Security.” Turning he looked at Ryan to keep it going.
“Ryan Clyne, also with Fenton Security.”
It was a moment before one of the researchers picked it up. The quiet blond with the sprained ankle spoke up. Pale blues eyes met his as he introduced himself. “Marvin Almaraz, I’m a botanist. Thank you both for carrying me here. I wouldn’t have made it by myself.”
Dimitri could tell that had embarrassed Ryan a little though he doubted anyone else noticed. It was their job to see to the safety of the Fairgold employees and neither of them had given it a second thought. They both nodded and looked to the brown haired mouse of a man. He was still having trouble with the straps of his seat so Dimitri walked over and undid them.
“Thank you! I don’t usually have this much trouble with my hands.”
“No problem. Being shot into space can put anyone off their game.”
“I can’t believe this happened. I’m Jude Lontz, a marine biologist.”
“We’ll find a way home, Jude. Some day this will be an interesting story you tell your kids.”
Dimitri smiled at Jude and got a watery one in return. At least he had stopped shaking. Huzzah for minor improvements! Everyone waited for the last man, still standing by the computer console with his arms crossed looking like someone had shoved his face into something unpleasant.
“Zaine Shaul. Entomologist. Not that you’re likely to know what that means.”
“You study bugs.”
That earned Ryan another glare from Zaine and a cough from Marvin that failed to hide his laugh. “Now that we all know each other we’ll make our way to the Biolab and see who else is here but I think a short stop at the infirmary to fix Marvin and me up would be good. Maybe grab a kit in case there’s anyone injured in the biolab.” That met with everyone’s approval and off they went.
The group was feeling much better after their stop at the infirmary. Marvin was walking easily with his splinted ankle and Dimitri was medicated and pain free. They had tried to contact the biolab before leaving the passenger bay but there had been no answer. Not knowing what the current situation was he and Ryan were playing it safe. Ryan in the lead, Dimitri pulling up the rear, and the three researchers in the middle. He wished their neck communication units would work inside the ship but the damn Twitch Drive messed with them. He bet that was what was messing with everyone’s watches too. Coming to an intersection Ryan signalled a halt. Dimitri moved up next to him and they peered around the corner. The doors to the biolab were closed and sealed.
“Who was supposed to be with the Senator’s group?”
“Katcha and Cecil. Sealing the doors sounds like Cecil. Should we just call out?”
“Better that than walking out there. Oy! Katcha! Cecil! We late for the party!?”
A familiar head of black curls appeared in the clear door to the biolab. Dimitri and Ryan both sighed in relief. Katcha grinned at them and disappeared for a moment before the doors opened. Leading their group toward the petite woman Dimitri had to smile. At least he had one of his best friends out here with him.
“You’re late D! He slowing you down, Ryan?”
“Had to stop by the infirmary for supplies before heading over. Why didn’t you answer when we called?”
Katcha smiled at the three researchers as they passed her to enter the biolab, already talking to the people there. She gave Dimitri a glance he recognized and he pulled Ryan to the side so they could talk out of earshot of the rest of the room.
“Our engineer Bridget pitched a fit until we agreed to escort her to the engine room to check on things down there. Good news! We’re not all going to die from radiation poisoning! Here’s where it got irritating. Lazen insisted on accompanying her since he’s in charge. Senator Lawrence had to go too because he doesn’t trust Lazen. The researcher moron didn’t want to be left alone here with just Cecil or me after someone made a reference to that new alien movie that’s out, forget who. It got them all a little paranoid that there’s something else besides us on this creepy ship. We wanted to contact you guys but the idiot is the one you talked to before. He couldn’t remember which passenger bay you were in and neither did Lawrence so we couldn’t call and let you know where we were ALL going. We only just got back and since everyone is STILL paranoid we had the doors sealed. Cecil of course didn’t argue and it shut them up so I didn’t argue either.”
The annoyance on Katcha’s face did a lot to cheer both Dimitri and Ryan up. If they were going to be stuck in a situation like this at least they were in good company. Knowing Katcha as well as he did he also knew she had something else to tell them. She glanced back to check on things before continuing. This time she had a slightly worried expression on her face.
“We need to keep an eye on Lazen. There’s going to be a row between him and Lawrence over who’s in charge.”
“Great. Who we backing as if I have to ask?”
“I vote for whoever isn’t being an idiot.”
Katcha grinned at them cheekily before answering. “Lawrence is our horse if you ask me. Lazen I doubt would piss on you if you were on fire. Better go in now. Don’t want to leave Cecil by himself for too long.”
Arguments over who was in charge was exactly what they needed right now. If they wanted to get nothing done and end up dead that is. That wasn’t Dimitri’s goal but it was exactly what was happening when they entered the room. Time to earn his paycheck and get everyone home safely.