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223 The First to Leave a Sinking Ship

    "Empty.." Muttered the middle aged woman after entering the bridge. "There isn't even blood.. There is just nobody here."

    "I was not expecting for them to be operating normally anyway.." Said Daniel with a matter-of-fact tone. He then added while looking around "Where is the sound sphere?"

    Instead of responding, the woman turned to look at Daniel with a face marked with anxiousness, and said "No.. you don't understand.. If the captain isn't here.. then.." She then let her voice die in her throat, leaving the rest to Daniel's interpretation.

    Soon enough, Daniel's eyes narrowed, and he barked furiously while punching one of the chairs into dust "They left already.. Pieces of **!"

    The woman had already told him that the captain had a method to abandon the ship. That method consisted in a fist sized shalop, which contained a pocket dimension that was allowed by the spatial barrier. If something extremely dangerous like an attack from pirates, or members of an hostile faction were to happen, an announcement that would direct the passengers to a designated area, would be sent through the entire ship. Once regrouped, the passengers could then enter this shalop, and escape along with the rest of the crew.

    The woman had specifically told Daniel that there was only one of these shalops on board, and for a simple reason. It was near impossible for the ship to be destroyed by natural causes. The protection of the ship was made so that it could prevent it from crashing against the objects found floating through space, and if something that the barrier couldn't protect them from was sighted.. something like a spatial rift, or something that would definitely destroy the ship, they would then have the time to change course, and avoid it altogether.

    On the other hand, the shalop was a stealthy method to escape from human attacks, and it was equipped with a dark essence formation that would make it extremely hard to see in the darkness of space. There is no need to mention that, that shalop, was always in the possession of the captain himself.

    "Hold on.. Did they change course?" Daniel then asked to the woman, which immediately walked to the area where the helmsman worked, and noticed that the course hadn't been changed ever since the crossing had started.

    She was looking at a rocky platform, on which a small formation had been placed. On this formation, a small-scaled reproduction of the solar system where they were currently in, had been replicated. Each planet, the stars, and their ship, were present in the form of small light sphere.

    Based on the position of the ship, and the direction in which it was slowly moving, the woman quickly found out that the course hadn't been changed. Another detail that she was able to notice, was that the key to operate the helm was not inserted.

    "They haven't.." She responded.

    Daniel's hands tightened in rage. Not only had the captain left the ship while leaving the survivors on board, but he hadn't even bothered with changing the course to spare the isolated planet from the fate of being invaded by these monsters. Daniel couldn't be more furious than he was at the moment.

    "Think.. Think.. Think.." He muttered while walking left and right.. He then suddenly stopped, and after turning towards the middle aged woman, he said "My plan can still work.. We will only have to modify it a bit.. Can we change the course?"

    The woman shook her head in response while saying "We can't.. Only the helmsman or the captain can.. Only they have the component of the formation that allows to operate this formation"

    "Isn't the helmsman the larger monster that we've seen earlier?" Asked Daniel after thinking for a moment. A crazy idea was forming in his mind.

    "Yes."

    Immediately after, Daniel asked "Is it possible that there is a spare key in her cabin?"

    "Possible. This area is usually restricted, and the officers that live in it are all in line for taking up command of the ship, in case something were to happen to the higher ups. If the captain and the helmsman were to die, the next one in the chain of command would have to take over." Responded the woman with newfound hope.

    "How do you know all of these things?" Asked Daniel with curiosity. He couldn't understand why a simple receptionist would know the internal workings of such a big ship.

    "I used to be one of the officers in this ship.. once.." muttered the woman with a hint of embarrassment.

    "How did you end up becoming the receptionist?" he then asked.

    The woman let out a heavy sigh, then responded by saying "I was caught stealing from a passenger."

    Daniel and Jerigh finally understood how the woman knew so much about how the ship workings. Of course, they didn't care about what her job was. What they wanted, was to leave this ship as soon as possible. "Where is the announcement formation?" Daniel then asked after putting the matter to the back of his head.

    "Right there." She responded while pointing at a second panel, placed just below the helmsman's post.

    This panel was identical to the previous one, but instead of a map made out of light spheres, the formation contained a single dimly lit sphere placed right in the middle of it.

    After the three hastily approached the area, Daniel asked "Can I use it?"

    "It still needs a key.. Most of the officers that work on the bridge can use it.."

    "Okay, so.. Nothing is going to happen unless we find the helmsman's key.." Daniel muttered before turning to look, once again, at the door that lead to the living quarters of the officers.

    -----

    "Where is everybody?.." Said Der after seeing that the bridge was completely empty. Not a person could be seen working, and the place looked like it had been abandoned recently.

    While Der was busy wondering where the crew could have gone, the two young girls ran towards the other side of the bridge which would take them to the living quarters of the officers, and right where they and their parents lived.

    Suddenly, a few loud sounds came from the other side of that door.

    Der immediately dashed towards the two girls, and stopped them from opening the large metal door. He then opened it himself as quietly as possible, and moved his head past it to observe what was going on on the other side.

    A single big monster was wandering the corridor, but was far enough for Der and the two girls to ignore it, and quietly walk into one of opened rooms on the other side.

    What they found, were empty cabins.

    The two young girls wanted to run towards the cabin where their family lived, but then.. Der saw something on the other side of the porthole. The view on the other side of the porthole gave to the deck, and from the scene that was playing out on it, Der finally understood what was happening.

    About fifty people had grouped up on the deck, and were currently moving into a smaller ship one by one. Next to this smaller ship, was the captain himself.

    Unable to believe his eyes, Der kept the two girls from running out of the cabin, and instead looked at the last of the crew members enter this shalop. Once everybody had entered, the smaller ship rose up in the air, and took off in the distance.

    Just as the small ship was about to leave the area covered by the spatial formation, it started to shrink, and be shrouded in darkness.. But then, it began to vibrate, and after only a couple of seconds, it exploded.

    "Damn it.." muttered Der with shock.

    It was clear to Der that the crew had abandoned the ship.. But also that, whatever had stopped people from escaping through their pocket dimensions, had also destroyed the secondary ship on which the crew was escaping on. Of course, he felt no pity for the crew. They hadn't even sent a warning or a message to the passengers before leaving. Death was the least that they deserved.

    What was problematic for him was the fact that now, he had to take care of these two young girls. He of course would have never left them alone, but it was extremely likely that the girl's parents were inside the ship that had just exploded. They would never survive without his help, so he had no choice but to take them with him.

    In his mind, he had already set his next objective.. And that was, to find Daniel.

    At first, he couldn't understand why. He had never relied on anybody else in his life but himself, but his guts told him that Daniel would manage to find a way out of this mess.

    After clearing his mind, he and the two girls quietly walked back into the bridge.

    "Do you know a way to reach the cabins of the passengers from here?" He then asked to the older of the two sisters.

    -----

    "I hope that there is a key in the room.. Otherwise we are screwed." Said Daniel with a wisp of sound essence to the two, while they observed the slow moving transformed member of the crew.

    Jerigh was about to grab a broken handle from the floor, and throw it past the monster, and towards the other end of the corridor, but he was quickly stopped by Daniel, which grabbed his wrist, and said "No.. he will hear the sound of your arm waving before that thing will hit the ground.." He then turned towards the woman, and said "What does the key look like?"

    The woman started to gesticulate, and finally, she pointed at her neck, then at the monster.

    Daniel quickly turned to look at the monster, and around its neck, he saw a necklace half stuck inside a piece of rotten flesh. What was attached to the necklace, was a small rhombus-like crystal of a red color. It did not shine, nor emit any form of essence.

    After nodding in understanding, Daniel made a hint for Jerigh and the woman to hide, then put all of his focus on the sound essence in the surroundings. What he wanted to do, was to separate himself from the monster, but instead of doing it through space, he did it with sound.

    Almost as if two dimensions were sharing the same space, Daniel approached the monster without making the slightest noise. He slowly creeped next to it, and close enough for the monster's smell to invade his nostrils. That alone was enough for Daniel to lose focus, and make the sound blockade disappear for a moment..

    Just in that moment, the brushing of Daniel's clothes against the wall made the monster turn towards him, and thrust one of his bony legs against against the part of the wall next to Daniel. The leg went through the metal, and ripped Daniel's clothes.. But it didn't hit him.

    For a few moments, the monster moved closer to Daniel, and tried to feel the wall with the tentacles he had where the person's head was supposed to be. At the same time, Daniel made his presence as small as possible, and prayed that none of the parts of the monster's body touched him.

    Just a few seconds later, the monster lost interest, and mindlessly walked past him.

    Daniel quickly entered the helmsman's cabin, and started to search.

    Never in his life had he hoped with so much intensity to be lucky, and find what he was looking for. For various minutes he opened drawers, turned mattresses over, looked behind paintings and mirrors, but he found nothing.

    He was starting to lose hope, but then.. While walking across the room, he saw what looked like the side of a safe behind one of the drawers.
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