Title: One Life
Rating: PG-13, a little danger and angst.
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
"This is not good. This is so not good."
"What is it? What do you see?" Tyr's voice shook Harper out of his panic mode and made him turn and go back to the wounded Nietszchian. He crouched down again next to Tyr.
"Umm, it looks like you're right. The debris is shifting. I don't know if it's going to give way or not. It might just be settling more into place. I really can't tell."
"I have no desire to stay here and find out. Is there anyway you can contact the bridge?"
Harper looked irritated. "Don't you think I would have tried that if I could? The comm systems were damaged again by the blast and there's no other way to reach the bridge."
"Is the station you were repairing still there?" Harper nodded uncertainly. "Could you fix it a second time?"
"I don't know. Maybe, but I don't know how much damage was done. It could take hours and I'd be working right next to the debris. It's crazy!"
"What's crazy is sitting here doing nothing and waiting to die. Either try to repair the station or I will make sure the vacuum of space is the least of your worries."
Harper stared at him in astonished fear. Tyr was still very calm, too calm maybe, but he'd said the threat with absolute conviction. And he was right. Harper had to at least try. He picked up his tool case, took a deep breath and headed back down towards the panel.
On closer inspection, there wasn't as much damage to the panel as he'd feared. It would probably take him about fifteen minutes to fix. Trouble was, he didn't know if he had fifteen minutes left. This close to the debris, the whistle was even louder and the air was cold. He could see his breath as he worked and his fingers quickly went numb. He tried not to think about his remark to Tyr about how cold killed more people on Earth than heat. Right now, there were three things threatening his existence and cold was the least of them. Still, tools occasionally slipped out of his numb hands causing him to curse softly as he had to shine the light around to find them, wasting more time.
There was no sound from around the corner and he hoped Tyr was just conserving his strength by not calling out rather than unconscious.
After what seemed like an eternity, his efforts were rewarded as the panel crackled into order. Beka's voice came over the comm halfway through a message. She sounded angry and a little panicked.
"...hear me? Harper? Tyr? Damn it, somebody answer me! Is anyone there?" Harper's teeth were chattering from the cold and it took him a moment to respond.
"Beka? I'm here. What happened?" Beka let out a little yell of truimph.
"Harper, I knew you were okay. Are you hurt?"
"Nothing serious but Tyr's got a concussion. He needs help and we're trapped near the site of the explosion. I don't know how much longer we can last."
"Alright, don't worry. Trance and Rommie are on their way to get you out. Just sit tight." He grinned in relief. Trance was coming. Eveything would be okay.
"Harper, we hit a mine left over from the Ebron war. It didn't register on the scanners so we didn't see it until we were nearly on it and then it was too late to miss it completely. How bad is your situation down there?" He gave her a quick rundown of the damage and then Trance's voice cut in.
"Harper, we're on our way. Rommie and I will be there in a few minutes but I want you to go back and stay with Tyr. You need to keep him awake until we get there."
"But if I go back around the corner, I won't be able to communicate. I gotta know what's going on."
"We'll handle everything. Please, just do this for me." Damn. She knew he couldn't argue with her when she asked him like that in that little pleading voice.
"Okay, I'm going but hurry up, will ya?" He ended the conversation and went back to Tyr. The Nietszchian had his eyes closed again but he opened them when Harper approached. Tyr looked weaker and less focused.
"They're on their way. Now where were we?" Harper settled down again and began talking. He talked about the settlements where there was little if any law and the worse ones where there was law dealt out by harsh men who tolerated no opposition. He talked about how most people didn't look up at the stars anymore because they represented an escape, a false hope for a better life somewhere else without mentioning how he himself had never stopped looking at the stars even now when he was in that better place. He talked for what seemed like hours and Tyr never responded. His eyes were open and now and then he would move slightly but Harper couldn't even tell if Tyr was still listening to him.
Finally, his one-sided conversation was interrupted by the sound of clanking on the metal plate above him. It sounded like someone was manually opening the hatch and he jumped to his feet in anticipation. The plate moved aside and Trance's face appeared looking down at them. The hallway was flooded with light from above as she started to climb down.
"Are you okay Harper?" He stared out her and then burst out laughing.
"Okay! I've never been more okay in my whole life. You don't know how happy I am to see you, Trance." He hugged her as she made it to the bottom of the ladder. She smiled and hugged him back briefly before going to check on Tyr. Rommie followed her down. "You too, Rommie."
"I need to get Tyr to the med-lab right away." Trance looked worried. Between the three of them and a couple of the robot drones, they got Tyr strapped to a stretcher and carefully eased him up the ladder. The drones were lifting the stretcher under Trance's supervision while Harper and Rommie guided it from below. Harper was half-way up the ladder when there was a horrible screeching noise from behind him as the metal finally gave way.
The pull of the vacuum would have gotten him right then if he had not wrapped his arms around the ladder in a death grip. Rommie had been above him and he could hear her yell for him to climb. The vacuum ripped his breath away. He couldn't breathe, he couldn't move. The minute he even shifted his grip, he would be gone. It's not fair, the voice screamed in his head, I was so close! I can't die now!
Something curled around his wrist and he managed to lift his head enough to see Trance reaching for him. Her tail was around his wrist and Rommie was holding her feet. Taking a chance, he let go and threw himself forward to grasp her hand. They connected and for a moment he was horizontal in mid-air as the vacuum pulled at him from one direction and Rommie and Trance pulled from the other and then his friends won out and he was through the hatch which was quickly shut.
Harper lay there for a moment, gasping for breath and trying to come to grips with the fact that he'd survived. Trance helped him to sit up and waited for his breathing to return to normal. The drones waited patiently with Tyr as he was helped to his feet.
"Thanks." He coudn't even express how much he owed them for their rescue but that one word was enough and they both smiled and helped him along as the drones led the way back to the med-lab.
Harper lay back on the bed and tried not to think about how bored he was. Trance had ordered him to rest for three days to heal up from the bruises and emotional trauma of his latest brush with death and Dylan had seconded her order. Rommie and some of the drones were working on repairing the damage from the explosion. The first day was nice like a vacation but now he was just bored. As much as he sometimes disliked his workload, at least he was doing something then. At least, he could finally get back to work tomorrow even if he were only on light duty for a while.
There was a chime at his door and he sat up quickly. At least a visit from one of the crew might relieve his boredom even if it was Rev come to lecture him about giving his pain to the Divine again.
"Come in." Tyr stepped through the door. Nietszchian's healed faster than regular humans and Tyr bore no sign of his ordeal of only three days ago. He stopped a foot away and regarded Harper silently.
"I didn't get a chance to thank you before both for your help and for the information you gave me so I'm doing that now. You did a good job, Harper. You saved
my life. I won't forget that." Harper stared at him.
"Uh, you're welcome." Tyr started to turn away. "Wait! Just out of curiosity, was there really a reason you wanted to hear about Earth or was it just a random topic?"
"I told you why. The information is valuable should I ever find myself there. Also, I figured you should talk about something you know and it was either that or listen to you talk about mechanics for an hour. Get some sleep. You'll need it for tomorrow. There are a lot of repairs for you to work on. You're of no use to anyone if you're tired." Tyr turned and left then. Harper stared after him for a few minutes even after the door had closed behind him. Had that been actual respect he'd heard in Tyr's tone? And all it took to earn it was saving Tyr's life. Not too bad. Laughing to himself, he lay back and drifted off to sleep.
"He who has saved a single life, it is though he has saved the entire world." from the Talmud