The Last Two Alive by Alfred Coppel

The Last Two Alive by Alfred Coppel

Author:Alfred Coppel
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Planet Stories
Published: 1950-11-12T05:00:00+00:00

* * *

Jerrold woke. His head was pounding painfully and his lips felt mashed and bruised. The strap that had held him to the pilot's seat had broken, and he lay across the instrument panel in a welter of glass shards from shattered dials. The instruments were smeared with blood... his blood, Aratn realized numbly. He put a hand to his face, and it came away sticky and red.

The atomics throbbed, and the dials told him that the Serpent was still under way. The high pitched hissing of escaping air attested to the damage, but it also told him that the ship was in space... and clear of Atmion IV.

Jerrold got dizzily to his feet and looked about for Deve. She lay crumpled in a corner under a chart-locker, bruised and scratched by the impact of the crash. She moaned slightly as Aram picked her up and carried her to the pilot's chair.

Red alarm lights glared at him from several points on the panel, showing that five forward compartments had been crumpled and ruptured by the ramming of the locks. The pressure in the ship was low enough to add to his discomfort. Methodically, fighting off the dizziness, Aram sealed off the leaky compartments and started the aerators to build up the pressure. The grayness beyond the parts indicated that the energy shield was still operating. The Serpent was traveling in slow first-stage flight toward Kaidor, four and one half light years distant.

"Aram Jerrold turned to see that Deve had opened her eyes and was staring at him, horrified. He tried to grin reassuringly at her, but his bruised lips succeeded only in grimacing grotesquely through the bloody smear of his face.

Deve got to her feet, found the surgical kit that all Fleet vessels carried and set to work mending the damage. Aram was glad to find that aside from his battered lips, he had only a long scalp cut along his hair-line where the instrument panel had tried to decapitate him. The kit contained balms and soothing anesthetics, and presently both Deve and Jerrold were patched and cleansed of blood and dirt.

There were coveralls in the lockers, and spaceboots; and a hot drink from the robot galley added to their rising spirits. They had escaped a force of the best the Thirty Suns Government could throw against them and they were free of Atmion IV. Their ship was damaged, but serviceable... and they were together.

Deve cut the energy shield and Aram took star-shots to reckon their position. If the Greens had chased them in spacecraft, their long flight under the shield had certainly lost the pursuit, for the space behind them toward Atmion IV was clear. The three stars of the system blazed below them and Aram pointed the ship at the spot where the yellow Kaidor Sun lay just under the range of visibility, shifting into second-stage flight. The three suns of Atmion streaked into a polychromatic blur, and the Serpent plunged through the interstellar night toward the Thirtieth Decant and the unknown.


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