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High Dependency - Complete Short SF Story

I found myself in hospital again recently. Whilst awaiting the verdict on whether it was terminal or merely fatal, I scribbled this little Sci-Fi story. My writing group couldn't be bothered to critique it. So it goes to the worlds hot off the keyboard.




HIGH DEPENDENCY


‘Oh, Zick!’

‘Look at the state of that.’

‘What?’ I peered into the monitor screens that covered the approaches as far out as Rytor, the larger of the moons. She was heading in slowly, so clearly crippled. Limping. A moment’s more study, and I beeped down to the department – ‘High Dependency case coming in. Will guide her directly down your way once she’s inside.’


I glanced along the row of screens and consoles, dull-lit on a duty-shift, seven or eight colleagues beginning to look up, see what this incomer was.

Fine looker she was, too. Sleek; refined. Damnit – what a waste of a beautiful youngster to be in that state. On a night like this – both moons visible behind her. That’s not the scenario for an awful sight like this.


Coming in, closer. Taking double care with herself. No bumps and lurches aside as she squared off for the final approach. Careful navigation of the angles to get herself lined up.

Nicely… entering between the out-sensors of the Terminal Space now… ‘Delicately, Girl,’ I murmured. ‘That’s fine, don’t over-extend the magno-repellors.’

‘Lot of guts to make it here in that state.’


‘And still not stumbling and bumping into everything on her way in.’ Peiksy, next to me, nodded.

A clearer view as she began to turn. Oh, Yipes, the state of her, the Space Navy Corvette, ‘Moira’.

Crew of twelve at full complement. Must be at least two survivors to have brought her back this far from the fighting front. Zicks! The hits from metallo-ruptors – the whole front under-quarter virtually gone. Three weapons ports gunged in – just a mess of re-frozen sheet and girders, so twisted and half-vapourised.


Fuel pods towards the rear, ruptured open, her radionics blasting like – well, like rad alarms on full emergency mode. Oh, yes, definitely High Dependency, this one. I searched recent memory flashes – it must be her who was involved in the scuffle the other side of Cliffon. A mere corvette, the reports said, going up against two destroyers and a space cruiser ten times her size. She attacked, and defended with “outstanding bravery”. I heard the on-spot reports – saw the stillix. The cruiser crippled; one destroyer exploded; the other still firing, but much reduced effectiveness. Our corvette’s fate had been unknown. Presumed lost – ship and all hands.

But this is her. Survived – the epitome of courage. Nudging her shattered and battered hull along the magno-buffers


‘Ah! – No! – Don’t wreck yourself now.’ I watched her easing in, so carefully – desperate for her not to destroy herself so close to home.

‘Come on. Don’t lose it now.’

‘Zicks! Magnificent!’

‘What a ship! The Moira.’


Lords! The damage underside – terrible – life pod crushed – so where are surviving crew battened in? Two main weapon blisters mere gaping holes of burned leads and crushed fixings.

My mouth was open in awe at such a sight. The hero ship. The Moira.

I watched the screens; heard the guide systems talking her in; taking over with auto-grapples.

I stood. Not for any reason. I felt I ought to be stood. In such presence.


She loomed large in the screens. The buckles and bends and melts – the views of wrecked interiors floated across the screens.

A slight roll— almost a shudder.

She’d hit the docking gantry—

No – The magnos held her. Steadied her.


I breathed again. The Moira’s still with us. My hands came together.

Again… Just seeing the Moira there. Not lost.

‘What a symbol,’ I scarcely breathed to see her, and my hands came together again… and again… again.


Others around me stood. They joined me in… in making the sound.

Clapping, it’s called.

We all did it.

My eyes poured with water… tears. I saw others the same. ‘Moira’, someone said. ‘Moira.’

‘Moira,’ I joined in. ‘Moira. Moira...’

***

It is believed that the return of the corvette ‘Moira’ was the turning point in the war, in terms of our morale, fighting spirit, and renewed backing for the war against the humans.






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