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 The Only Thing That Counts

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Anthony van
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PostSubject: The Only Thing That Counts   Fri Oct 27, 2017 6:32 pm

Chapter 25- The General

 

“Where’s Jimmy?” Steve glanced around again at the small group.

“I passed him near the dispensary. I told him what I just told you.” Doc Rose said it without knowing the ramifications of what he had just said, because he didn’t know Jimmy.

A sudden look of alarm appeared on Steve’s face. Decisions invaded his mind and he didn’t hesitate in giving directions. “We have to move now! Sean, Phil and I will try and get Kelly and her father. Penny can you take Jodie with you and try and keep an eye on the Transit 1? Phil, can Jodie and Penny take your radio? That way they can let us know what is happening. Can we change the frequency so that no-one knows what we’re doing?” Steve was looking at Sean.

“Yeah... Phil set it on 15.” They both adjusted the frequency and Phil handed his over to Penny, ensuring she knew how to use it.

“Be careful!” Steve urged as the two girls set off.

            The three men also headed off, taking the same route to the detention cells that Sean had taken the previous day. Restraining themselves from a headlong rush which their high adrenalin state and low gravity environment promoted, Steve, Sean and Phil wound their way along the corridors to the back entrance of the passage leading to the brig. Shouts and a scuffle were immediately followed by a shot and a cry of anguish. The three bustled into the narrow corridor, Sean and Phil drew their guns as scuffling and a piercing scream added to the mayhem.

            They burst in as Kelly screamed, “No! Don’t shoot! Look out Jimmy.” Klein was pointing his pistol at Jimmy who was on the floor clutching his leg. Shelly was behind him pulling Kelly along. An ear-splitting explosion erupted from Sean’s gun as he fired out from what looked to Klein like a stampede of bodies. The shot slammed into the edge of the doorway’s metal frame and a spray of metal fragment lacerated the side of Shelley’s face, causing him to gasp in pain. He was pinning Kelly by the arms and dragging her as she was screaming. Before the resonating boom of Sean’s shot had waned, another thundering blast sounded in the confined space causing Klein to turn and bolt firing indiscriminately behind him. Two shots thudded harmlessly into the metallic floor but the third ricocheted off the wall and grazed Steve’s arm. The slight tug on his shirt gained his attention and he saw a dark stain of blood slowly grow near his left shoulder. It was the same arm that had suffered the gash from the sub.

            By the time they got to Jimmy and assured themselves that they were in no immediate danger, the sound of the retreating pair with their hostage was muffled. Steve checked on his friend. Sean and Phil went on ahead as a precaution to defend their position. Jimmy had taken a bullet to his lower leg and he was holding it to restrict the blood flow. His tenacious grip was also in response to the pain.

“Here take this.” It was the General. In the ruckus and confusion Steve hadn’t noticed the open cell door. He was handing Steve a strip of torn sheet to constrict Jimmy’s wound, but quickly changed his mind.

“No I’ll do this. Looks like you’ve been hit too.”

            He took back the rag and kneeled by Jimmy. General Roberts looked at Jimmy, “That was the stupidest, dumbest and probably bravest thing I’ve seen anyone do.” He shook his head and began wrapping the strip of cloth around Jimmy’s calf.

Jimmy’s face contorted in pain, “I didn’t do too well. They still have Kelly.”

            Aware now of the burning sensation on his arm, Steve examined the flesh wound.

“You okay?” Jimmy looked up from the floor when a drop of blood fell nearby.

 “I’ll live.” He tried to grin and alleviate any concern. Steve then went into the cell and tore some cloth to bind his own wound and stem the bleeding.

“You have to save my daughter,” stressed the General vehemently, and came across to take over from Steve’s inept attempts at tying off an amateurish constriction bandage.

“Thanks General,” grimaced Steve as the wound burned beneath the constriction.

Don’t thank me Steve. From what my daughter tells me, we have a lot to thank you for.”

            Sean and Phil came back, “They’ve long gone. What do we do now?” Phil was caught up in the action; his eyes ablaze with the rush of battle.

“You okay?” Sean saw the seeping bloodied bandage.

“Yeah, I’m okay. Phil, you need to get Jimmy to the Doc.” Jimmy looked as if he was about to object as he tried to stand, but spasms of pain caused him to wilt and tears filled his eyes. General Roberts caught him as he started to collapse. Near faint from pain, Jimmy hobbled off with Phil trying to support him.

            “Sean, find out from Penny what’s going on.”

Sean called on the radio.

They all stood around and listened.

“Penny, Can you hear me? Over.”  There was a short pause and Sean repeated his call.

“Penny, Can you hear me? Over.”

A soft agitated reply came back, “I can hear you. Keep it down.”

Then in a suppressed voice Sean went on, “What’s happening Penny? Over.”

“They’ve taken Kelly on board through the cargo entrance and Klein has come out to talk to some of his men.”

Steve motioned for the radio and Sean handed it to him.

Penny is Jodie there, I want to talk to her? Over.”

“Sorry Steve, Jodie is trying to sneak closer and find out what they’re saying.”

“Can you get her back?” Steve was worried for Jodie, but an idea was beginning to gel.

“No, she’s too far away. Oh, no....” There was a long pause and then some muted shuffling.

“What is it Penny?” Desperation was creeping into Steve’s voice. Exasperating silence followed, but Steve held off calling for a bit and gave an anguished stare at Sean and the General.

            “Penny, are you there? What happened?” Steve was dropping off the two way radio conventions now. Very quietly a whispered answer came.

“Jodie’s been caught! A soldier came from a different direction and grabbed her... I could just hear the Colonel laugh. He said it’s just what they needed, another hostage!”

Steve groaned inwardly. He knew he had to act quickly, but he struggled to combat the inertia of his tormented emotions.

“We have to go. When we get to the supply bays you two go down the cargo tunnel connection. I’ll go around to the passenger tunnel. Give me about a minute and then create some sort of diversion—Sean, fire a few shots.”

“What are you going to do?” asked the General.

“I’m going to try and stow away on board. One way or another we have to end this.”

“You have to stop him. He has the codes.”

“What does that mean? Sean told me something about a weapons system.”

“It was designed for delivery of nuclear warheads, but it would serve Klein well as a delivery system for his germs.”

“You mean low level dispersion?”

“Yes.” General Roberts’ reply was succinct and tight lipped.

Steve detected regret in his answer before bracing himself to move. “We have to go.”

“Good luck.”

            Steve shook his head. “Do me a favour and pray.” Then looking up and tilting his head audaciously asked, “Can I have your cap General?” General Roberts put it on his head without any hesitation. As an afterthought he flicked the transmit button.

Penny, don’t move. We’ll be down there in a minute or two.”

            Steve let the General and Sean take the lead as they quickly travelled the short distance to the connecting passageways. They soon separated and Steve moved more carefully down the unfamiliar passageway to the accordion like, telescopic tube connected to the front half of Transit 1.

            He hesitated in the shadows regaining his breath and waiting for some sort of distraction. Two indistinct thumps were followed by distant shouts. He jumped in fright as two men in uniform ran from the side and up the tube.

            Steve charged off behind them head down, forcing himself to think like the guards. ‘What was that? I have to check it out.’  Maybe his role playing, his purposeful stride and visible officer’s cap was convincing, as he only attracted a quick backward glance which seemed to motivate those ahead to greater effort at getting there first. The cap came off as he ran up the ramp but he didn’t bother about it as he focussed on getting aboard.
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