So, first off, apologies for such a massive gap between this and the last one. But as I said before, I’m running out of ideas, and no one else wants to play in the Nineteen Galaxies…. yet. I’m slowly grinding some people down.
And I did a sketch… kind of… it’s based on Hugh Jackman…
So, the return of the Tales series, albeit intermittently. And who else should feature? I mean, seriously, who else could it be?
That’s right… HE’s back! This story is set before the “All Fall Down” double-story at the end of The Legend of Adam Caine, this is a story focussing on Caine’s inimitable ability to be in the right place at the right time (or possibly not) and the relationship between himself and his wife, Polly.
GOING FOR A WALK
Metal fell from the sky.
Flames roared around the mass as it descended through a planet’s atmosphere. The falling starship was at an angle; thrusters were firing along one side, but not the other. Shields weren’t working, projectors bursting from feedback.
The massive whale-like ship rumbled and shook.
Something important exploded under the pressure, and the ship juddered.
A hatch creaked open, and then the ship’s wake ripped it off its hinges, nearly taking an arm with it. The owner of the arm swore, and pulled themselves out of the hole.
They were wearing a powered armature.
The servos whined and whirred.
The wearer pulled themselves out of the hatch, one limb at a time, grunting and groaning from the effort. Despite the armature, it was still incredibly hard going, his muscles straining to move the frame against the wake of the ship, the roar of the planet’s atmosphere and the heat of the re-entry flames.
“Stop complaining,” a voice said cheerily in his ear.
He tried to ignore the woman as he dug the powered arm into the ship’s hull. The hull was smooth –or at least it had been before it had hit the atmosphere- and didn’t have particularly large amounts of handholds.
“You’re the only one who could do this; the only one strong enough to operate that thing.”
“You’re not helping,” he grumbled back. A small hull vent ripped off and slammed into the frame, clanging away behind him. He pulled himself forward. “What kind of starship has a trinary backup control on the outside?”
“The kind you’re currently crawling across,” came the droll answer.
“Har-har very funny,” he bit back.
“I promised you an exciting holiday, didn’t I?”
He pulled himself forward another few steps before he answered.
“Yes, rock-climbing, or kayaking; not putting my life in danger for the umpteenth bloody time. I was looking forward to a relaxing time where we, you know, actually relaxed. We came onto this ship because you said we’d be relaxing and not having to save thousands of lives… again. Then the ship gets taken over by terrorists, set off a bomb, and we’re falling towards a planet’s surface. You were the one that convinced me to help the crew do their jobs for them. Tell me again; why aren’t they doing this themselves?”
“Stop complaining,” she repeated. “All you’ve gotta do is open up a panel, throw a couple of switches, and then you can come back, and we can get on with our holiday.”
“Is that all?” he grumbled. He muttered something else, but she didn’t hear it, or chose to ignore it.
He kept moving, heaving the arms over and dug them in to the metal. The servos growled and whined. The noise was audible over the roaring around him. That wasn’t a good sign; it meant the armature was struggling.
“Only another five metres, Obi-Wan.”
“Do you really have to keep calling me that, Polly?”
He could almost hear her gigantic grin.
“You don’t like being compared to a Jedi Master?”
“Didn’t say that,” he grumbled back. “There are other famous bearded people in history, rather than fictional twentieth century figures.”
“You mean like Sigmund Freud?”
He snorted. “Now you’re just being mean.”
“Isn’t that why you married me, mister Caine?”
“That and your razor-sharp wit,” deadpanned Adam. Hull panels ripped away from the ship’s frame, exposing the insides. Flames roared harder and longer from the oxygen that was ignited. The surviving crew and passengers were deeper in the core of the ship.
“And here was me thinking you married me because of my penchant for getting you into trouble.”
Adam muttered something under his breath that he hoped his beloved wife didn’t hear.
“What was that?”
“Nothing dear. I’m at the control panel.”
“You’ve got to open it carefully.”
Adam looked up at the armature he was in, and then at the roaring fiery wake, the ripping starship hull, and then back down at the control panel, which was about the width of a watermelon. The armature wasn’t subtle, used for cargo lifting.
“How exactly am I supposed to do that?”
Polly didn’t answer; he knew she couldn’t come up with anything.
So he improvised as only Adam Caine could.
Servos and hydraulics whirring and hissing, he ripped the panel off along with a large ragged frame of outer hull plating. The chunk of metal was torn from the claw of the armature by the force of the ship’s wake.
The chunk smashed against the torso of the powered suit. The force of the hit smashed him back. The clawed hydraulic feet struggled to gain purchase, and his arms pinwheeled, struggling to maintain balance.
The heavy suit whined and crackled with overloaded energy, fighting against the incredible forces smashing against it. Fire rushed past and knocked him back a couple of steps towards the hatch he had exited.
Adam swore colourfully.
He could hear his wife wince at the language.
The little HUD in the wraparound goggles told him structural integrity was at 15%. That was far from anything remotely good. The suit was, ironically, on its last legs. Steam was hissing from the joints, lightning was playing over the suit’s legs and arms. The HUD was plastered with red warnings.
He gathered his strength into his leg, forcing the armature to move. The foot clanked down into the metal hull and latched on. He did the same for the other leg, the top of the armature losing power.
“The suit’s losing power, Polly.”
“What? That thing’s got a fission power core that should last for centuries.”
“Considering this ship is plummeting to its untimely demise because of the owner’s cheapness, it wouldn’t surprise me if the armature was probably built with a few corners cut.”
“I’m sorry, Adam. I should never have put you in this position.”
He snorted again.
“Who else would be out here, if not me?”
“I love you.”
“And I love you,” he whispered.
He forced the leg forward again, and then again, and he was back to the hatch.
The HUD read 12%.
He was running out of time.
8%. Parts of the suit were shutting down. He focused all his strength, all his rage, all his will, all his desire to see his wife again into one big move. He swung the right arm of the armature –the left arm had ceased moving- and smashed the closed fist of the claw into the control panel.
Sparks flashed from the panel’s door.
The lights on the panel went dark.
The HUD read 0%.
The armature lost its hydraulic grip on the hull.
The armature tumbled into the air, the wake of the ship picking it up and tumbling it, and Adam Caine, end over end and away from the ship. The gee-forces pushed against his body, sending the blood to his head.
Just before he blacked out, he saw the thrusters finally blow along the ship’s flank, turning it into a proper re-entry vector.
He’d done it.
* * *
Adam looked up into his wife’s eyes. The armature was smoking, blackened and smashed around him. His limbs hurt, almost as bad as the incident with the black hole. He didn’t bother moving. He was still strapped in to the armature, and his arms and legs refused to budge by themselves.
The buzz of the teleporter’s effects wore off.
He was aboard the ship he had just saved.
Polly looked down at him, a massive smile on her face.