Space Combat

By: David Ihnen

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--- T -30 seconds

I stood at attention, helmet in hand. I had just put on my pressure suit. It was thick like a parka worn on earth, but the wrists, ankles, and neck were fastened with a combination of zipper, velcro, and a plastic seal. We had been training in them for some time, and now we were learning to seal them completely.

"psshpsshpssh!" said the instructor, glaring at me.

I glanced at my wrists in puzzlement. She shook her head and said it again. "Psshpsshpssh!" I checked my wrists again. The velcro was misaligned, causing a bulge in the seam. I opened it and refastened it, doing the same check on my ankles and wrist and neck. Two other fasteners had the problem. While I was working on refastening them, my helmet rolled away to the corner of the muster area.

I defended myself, pointing out to the instructor that it would be tethered to me normally, and she just shook her head. We put our helmets on and our suits sealed with soft sighs.

--- T 0 seconds

"All right!" her voice crackled over the comm, "You've been working on this station for the last three months. Think you can make it to the main bay in less than a minute? Prove it! Here's the scenario. We're under attack. They're breeching the main bay doors. Solve the problem!" She yanked a lever and the pressure door snapped open with a gasp, the lower pressure outside making our suits bulge. Two soldiers who didn't have their hand on a grip flew out, slamming painfully against the opposite bulkhead.

"Go go go!" she said, swinging out and around the corner to the left.

I ran out, turning to the right with my buddy Monica. We were on the lowest level of the large disc station, to the right was with the rotation. It made it harder to run. Around the first bend Monica skidded to a halt, kneeling with her fingers interlaced. Without breaking stride I planted my boot in her hand and she launched me upwards. I arced in the peculiar way the rotation caused, through a cieling panel. I gripped the wall with one hand and foot as I whipped out my rope, dropping it down through the hole I made. Monica grabbed on and jumped, and I yanked. She grabbed the lip of the cieling, pulling herself up.

--- T 8 seconds

i looked up. As we had planned, a shaft went straight to the center of the station from here. Monica started climbing past me, using the pattern of circular cutouts in the bulkhead. "Go go!" she said. I swung over and started climbing too. We were practically running up the bulkhead, the peculiar gravity of the rotating station making it possible to run up a seemingly vertical wall. The effort slowly slackened as we neared the center, moving faster. Then we burst into the open space of the bay, tucking our limbs in as we tumbled across. We straightened gracefully and grabbed onto a cargo net suspended some meters from the far wall. We lay there panting, grinning at each other. The gravity was very slight this close to the center. None of the other cadets were in sight.

--- T 25 seconds

"We beat them!" she grinned, high fiving me.

I nodded, "Operation nab, Lets get'm."

We unsnapped the net and dove across the bay. We looped a rope through the edge of the net and around a couple hand holds, bunching the net to one side of the door.

"When they come, pull." Monica directed, the trap set. We crouched, waiting for a long minute, the only sound the distant clang of the operating station beneath our feet, and the hiss of our environmental units.

"Shit, I have to pee." I gritted my teeth, concentrating on being ready to pull.

"So go." snapped Monica, leaning up to peer over the edge. "Here they come!"

I sighed and let it go, my suit-diaper absorbing it completely after a moment of dampness. A few seconds later the drinking water available indicator lit up. I made a sour face.

--- T 33 seconds

"NOW!" commanded Monica. We yanked, snapping the net across the doorway just in time. Half a dozen cadets slammed into it, carrying it out into the bay. The edges cinched in as it reached the extent of the rope. I counted the flailing, angry bodies quickly, switching their comms on ignore to silence their cries.

"One two three four five six seven eight! There are two more!" I called, swinging myself to the back side of a large crate fastened to the wall. I opened the latch and found it empty. I started reeling the net of writhing cadets in, pulling them towards the crate.

Monica took up a defensive position on the other side of the bay. "Hurry up over there, they've regrouped by now."

I yanked, and the ball of humanity thumped into the crate. I closed the top with one latch, smirking at the outraged expression of Dirk, his helmet framed by the cargo netting.

--- T 39 seconds

"Secure!" I sent.

"On your Four mark 6!" snapped Monica. I grunted as I kicked off, sommersaulting over backwards to land against another crate, my attacker now in view. It was Mark, charging his stunner. The stunner would 'stiffen' the suit briefly, allowing the soldier to be tagged. They charged slowly and would fire only once every thirty seconds or so. He turned, keeping it pointed at me as he waited for it to fire. I could tell by the lights on the side that it was almost ready. He leered at me.

I kicked off from the bulkhead at full strength, rocketing out of range as I flew across the bay, arms and legs tucked in. I heard Mark swear about my sanity over the comm as the bay reeled around me. I caught sight of the bay door nearing as I tumbled. I straightened, impacting neatly with my feet. I took a fraction of a second to stabilize my reference, then sprang again, this time straight at Mark. I was below and behind him now, the stunner in his hands pointing at Monica, her glare turning to a smirk as I hurtled up behind him.

Mark started to turn as I hit him full force in the back, slamming him into the bulkhead alongside Monica. "Gotcha mother fucker." I said through the helmet contact, opening his suit panel and hitting the freeze button. I separated as his mouth worked in outrage.

"Down." Monica directed, swinging into one of the radiating shafts that surrounded the bay.

I moved down beside her. "Three left." I said, touching our helmets together.

--- T 48 seconds

Monica pulled me into an alcove off the corridor, and indicated downwards. A cadet was gliding upwards, peering to the right and left nervously. "we're in shaft C" she whispered, "Go over to B, down two decks, and come up behind him. Quick."

I nodded and launched myself back into the bay, snagging my hand on a hand rail briefly to change my vector. I caught the handrail just my side of B and swung down, flying down the coridor too quickly. "Shit." I gritted my teeth as I grabbed a ladder rung, slamming myself against the wall. Two other rungs bruised my hip and calf. Shaking off the pain I bounced down deck 2. The gravity was very slight here. I pulled to a halt at the edge of shaft A, looking up to see the cautious cadet peering into Deck 1. I launched myself gently up behind him, grabbing on, my arms holding hers to her sides, her legs clamped by mine.

--- T 60 seconds

"Let me go!" roared the instructor, struggling in my grasp.

"Sorry." I said, letting her go. "Thought you were somebody else."

"What in tarnation are you doing?" she demanded as I pulled her into the alcove with Monica.

"Just a little game." I explained, "We are capturing the crew."

"You're supposed to work WITH the crew, not against them!" she growled, kicking off the wall and floating up into the bay. Mark stood rigid on the bulkhead. The crate had come open and the cadets were extracting themselves from it noisily.


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