‘Run!’, this one word echoed through the corridor. So they ran, dashed forward with all the speed they could master. Their steps echoed, filling the vast network of corridor with sound. They reached a large room at the end of the corridor. The room lit up and they discovered they were in a dead end, the room having only two other exits, which seemed like elevators and on one of them was hanging a <> sign. There was a giant sofa on the right and three huge lockers on the left. The middle had a fountain and a small potted tree. At the far end were the elevator doors.
‘Barricade the entrance!’, shouted the woman that told them to run. She was medium sized, with dark hair and dark eyes. These people had no reason to do what she said. They weren’t aware even from what they ran.
‘Oh, no, we are not going to do anything until you explain what’s going on!’, a tall man raised his voice. He had a grim face, short hair and what seemed a nasty limp. ‘I hit myself running.’, he explained when the woman stared at his leg.
‘It is how they get to you…’, she said very slowly. Everybody stepped back from him, ‘Mister, what is your name?’
‘Joe…’, he replied.
‘Joe, I want you to be very, very calm, go sit there!’, she pointed at a large sofa, ‘The others, tell me your names and for god sake, barricade that door!’
So Abby, Rose, Abdul and Bill blocked the door while the woman was examining the Joe’s leg.
‘Nothing is wrong with you, false alarm.’, she concluded.
‘So, what is your name?’, Joe asked.
‘Oh, I almost forgot, I am Sofia and we are in great danger.’
‘Yeah, do explain’, the others joined in the conversation.
‘It is the pink.’, Sofia started, but has interrupted by Abdul.
‘You mean like in that movie…?’, he asked.
‘They made a movie out of all this!?’, she looked shocked, ‘Never mind, then you know what it’s all about, so I will dispense with the explanations.’, Sofia paused, ‘The elevator cannot be called from here, we need to survive until morning, when the next shift will arrive.’
‘Who are you exactly, Sofia?’, asked Rose.
‘I am a…’, she began.
‘Excuse me!’, cried Bill, ‘I don’t feel so good…’, and he collapsed. Sofia rushed to him. His leg was bright pink, almost glowing.
‘Shit!’, Sofia exclaimed, ‘This is most unfortunate…’
‘What does it mean?’, Abby asked.
‘Oh, it means we’re all dead’, answered all the others at the same time. They all sat on the floor, while Sofia continued to examine Bill’s leg, soon he came together and claimed he was fine. Sofia doubted that, but didn’t let that slip, she just winked at Bill to his astonishment. Suddenly the sealed door started shaking, like something was trying to tear an opening through it. Sofia stood up. Something hit the door again. She approached the door and placed her hand on it. Hit!
‘We have less than 15 minutes before they break in.’, she shared. Then she strolled to one of the lockers. It looked locked but she did something and opened it. It was full of weapons, ‘Grab something that makes you feel comfortable!’, Joe looked distressed.
‘I haven’t used a gun, ever.’, he muttered.
‘Then you’ll need something user friendly.’, she picked a small silver gun, ‘It’s point and click.’, she smiled while handing it over, ‘I am impressed that all of you can handle firearms!’, she looked at the others. They were just shocked, ‘Oh!’, Sofia was disappointed, ‘Point and click for everybody that is!’, she made a clicking sound.
They got armed as fast as they could. Then they discussed their plan, took their positions and waited, while their enemy was banging at the door with all its might. Time slowed to a crawl. Every hit on the door lasted a century. And then it broke, ‘Open fire!’, Sofia shouted. Whatever was trying to come through that door did not expect what came for it. The people fired steadily for 20 seconds, then they ran through the door, down the corridor, making twists and turns in the planned pattern. It was almost amazing that none got lost. They found themselves in front of a massive door which was marked with <>. It had no visible handle or any means of opening it. Sofia touched the door, then made some sort of a gesture on the steel surface. To the rest it seemed almost artistic.
They entered another room. That one had a huge window on the far side. It seemed night time. There were stars in the sky, but no moon. The room had no other light other than few blinking red LEDs lacing the edges of the room. Those indicated some sort of an alert status. But none had seen other alert signaling systems on that building.
Sofia reached down her pocket and grabbed her flashlight, turned it on and lit up the right wall. It had a big sign <<E M E R G E N C Y E S C A P E P O D S>>.
‘Escape pods to where?’, asked Abdul and the others looked at Sofia puzzled.
‘Down to Earth.’, she answered quickly then pointed at the pods’ entrances, ‘It is time to bail…’, she grabbed Bill by his hand, ‘Not you, Billy-boy!’, he looked with panic in his eyes at her.
‘What do you mean, not me?’
‘You have the pink, I cannot let you go down to Earth where there are billions of people… And I am going to need some help in what I am planning.’
‘The Earth? Aren’t we on the Earth?’, asked Abby.
‘No’, Sofia whispered. She wondered how they haven’t figured out that they were thousands of miles away from home. That this special building of theirs was in open space. ‘People can be so gullible’, she thought.
‘I would ask you to warn people down there, but the people that can do anything already know of the situation, just go home and be safe!, Sofia waved at the all of them. They reluctantly climbed in the escape pods which soon fired. She didn’t tell them that it was a two day journey back to Earth.
Sofia looked at Bill. He wasn’t very happy that he couldn’t go back home but she saw that he was very anxious to discover what was all this about.
‘We will no longer need guns.’, Sofia said when she saw that Bill was collecting the guns that the others have discarded.
‘Ok.’, he nodded, then very slowly turned his face at hers and asked, ‘’What is this pinkthing. And am I in any danger?’
Sofia laughed and didn’t answer, not right away. Rather than that she pointed at the corridor and started walking past. Bill soon followed, wondering where the hell were they going. Sofia remained silent and walked in a medium pace, indicating that they weren’t in any immediate danger. The corridors had windows, but they didn’t show the exterior of the space station. Instead they were high resolution monitors programmed to show a changing weather outside, like they were on a skyscraper. Bill was amazed at the detail of this illusion. Nothing in that corridor reminded him of space travel. There were even fountains and potted plants, just like in any fancy HQ building of a rich corporation.
They once again stood in front of a door that didn’t look quite like the rest. These seemed were the doors to the service rooms of the station. He could have sworn he’d seen dozens of them on the different floors, but then they looked like wall ornaments. Funny thing is the human brain, always accepting the most likely thing imaginable. Sofia once again touched the door but nothing happened.
‘Damnit!’, she cursed, ‘I cannot open it! And this is the main control room. Everything we need is right behind that door.’
‘And we can’t blast through it?’, Bill asked.
‘This door is made from a 5 inches thick alloy that I can’t even begin to name. Something with poly and lots of stuff. Never mind. There’s an auxiliary control room.’
‘Then, let’s go, lead the way!’
‘Well, it’s on another deck and elevators are reprogrammed. He have to… climb down on foot.’
‘And how much time it would take us down?’, Bill was guessing where this was going.
‘16 hours, assuming that we have the clear direct path.’, she said. That was disappointing. They might as well wait for the elevators. ‘There is another way.’, she quietly said, ‘But it is very dangerous.’, Bill swallowed slowly. Whatever did she mean?
‘One deck above us is the experimental lab. There they have a working prototype of a molecular transporter device. There are two problems with that.
One – that device requires enormous power, so it has to have a working fusion reactor to power it. That is where the drama is. In case of alert all fusion reactors are automatically shut down, to prevent meltdown…’
Bill looked at Sofia. He had no idea how to restart a fusion reactor and by the look on her face – neither did she.
‘Well, there is another way to get the required power. There is a micro station in orbit around this station that is used to gather information on solar radiation and via radio adjusts the shielding on the station. It has a small fusion reactor that does not shut down, on account of being uninhabited, if there is an accident on board it will just break orbit. If it is still out there, we can get all the power we need. We just need to find a way to transfer that power.’
‘Isn’t there a power relay…’, Bill started.
‘I don’t think it’s called a power relay and I don’t think such a thing exists. I mean for the kinds of power we need it doesn’t…’
‘There is no way to transfer all that power from that far away. The reactors are down and you have a software security engineer. Isn’t that helpful. But I really want to know what the pink is… In that movie, they didn’t explain, leaving a cleaver ploy for a sequel.’
‘I am not sure how to explain either. I am in a very unique situation, I don’t really know that much about the pink. It is a creature, creatures, shadows, smoke and dust or just a legend. I am not sure. This is new to me too.’
‘Then, what is it with my leg?’, Bill asked very seriously.
‘Nothing is wrong with it, don’t worry.’, Sofia smiled. Bill felt kind of played.
‘So you chose me at random.’
‘Well, your fainting scene did help… But yeah, anyone would’ve done.’, she explained. They were still walking towards the experimental lab. They reached the end of a corridor. There Sofia opened a hidden hatch and they climbed up. It seemed like and eternity. They didn’t talk cause they knew that only thing that was on their mind was how to get to the power source. Sofia started singing a soft tune.
Aye, Heliina, aye!
I can see it in your eye,
you’re unwilling to lie,
letting apathy die
‘What is that?’, Bill wondered out loud.Sofia didn’t answer but she didn’t sing anymore. They again continued their journey in silence. It was the perfect time for something bad to happen. And naturally it did. A loud hissing sound filled the narrow passage.
‘’What the…!’, Bill exclaimed.
‘Hull breach!’, Sofia shouted and hurried up, ‘We need to exit this passage or we will die!’, dying didn’t sound very nice so they climbed out of the nearest hatch and sealed it.
‘So much for that plan.’, Sofia said, struggling to breathe.
They were in a very dark room.
‘What is this place?’, Bill asked.
‘Oh, … shit!’, she sighted upon realizing where they were, ‘Cybernetic experimentation.’
Suddenly the room started lighting up. There were a dozen beds. Some of them housed strange creatures. One of the beds looked trashed up. The door on the far end had a gaping hole in it.
‘That solves what the pink is…’, Sofia noted, ‘But then again I don’t know why I called it the pink.’, she approached one of the other creatures that was bound to the bed. It looked like a dog but it had cybernetic implants. It was fast asleep but it looked vicious.
‘If what attacked us was just a cybernetic gorilla, then we must’ve killed it, when we fired at it.’
‘Probably, but…’, she started but she neared another bed that it’s experiment had escaped. Well, saying it was a bed was kind of like saying that the Moon was an asteroid. That bed was freaking huge.It was so huge that it drew their attention for quite a while from the giant creature sleeping on the floor in front of it. Of course, the light was being very disturbing for it. So it awoke and it wasn’t happy. The creature was all covered in metal so they couldn’t tell what it had been. It looked out of our world, anyway. The first thing it did when it fully woke was to roar its throat out at Sofia and Bill. The sound was like a thousand bears scraping their nails against an aluminum surface, whilst riding a supersonic jet. Then it proceeded with grabbing both of them in its giant claws and then it threw them at the wall. That wasn’t the smart thing to do, but it seemed that the creature had no intellect enchantments. It gave the duo precious time to organize a counterattack. Bill saw a pair of electric sticks and grabbed them. They used them like spears, but didn’t foolishly just throw them at the creature, they cornered it. That was their mistake. It may have been afraid of the energy sticks in the open, but cornered it saw no other alternative other than launching its giant body at them, who narrowly escaped, jumping out of its way. It hit the opposite wall, knocking itself out, for the moment.
Sofia and Bill went through the hole in the door and fount themselves in a similar room, but all the creatures had freed themselves. They were now running amok all over the station, releasing all kinds of hazards on board.
‘SELF DESTRUCT INITIATED’, roared through all the comms systems.
‘Just great!’, Sofia muttered. Now they had to get to the primary control room. She wondered where all the crew of the station had gone. Then she remembered the uneasy sounds in the deep right before she started running with all the people on her deck, ‘Bloody cowards!’, she thought. They exited the cybernetics room right into a bulky corridor.
‘Right through here!’, Sofia said and moved a panel, which uncovered another hidden ladder up. They continued to climb. Fifteen minutes later they were finally in the Experimentation Laboratory. They climbed through a hole in the floor. The lab contained huge rooms, connected through a center command room, which housed a console for all the projects. Too bad it hadn’t any connection with station operations. She started up some program on the console and it showed a schematic of the lab. They went through one door which was supposed to lead to fusion reactor control room. There they discovered some luck at last. Reactor 09E was still operational, its emergency shutdown had failed due to unknown reasons. They had all the power they needed for…
‘There is an experimental molecular transportation device on board. We will use it to get to Central Control. One big problem! It has never been tested on humans…’
‘Of course’, Bill thought. These things never get proper testing before being needed in a crisis.
Sofia pressed several buttons to connect the power output of the reactor to the transporter.
‘Shit, the transporter has enough buffer size for barely one human.’, she looked at Bill, ‘You will have to go.’
‘Why me?’, he asked.
‘Do you really know how to operate this device, besides, when you do what I ask you, every place on this station except special quarters will lose life support. The Control Center is a special quarter, it has natural life support… This place will be deader than the vacuum of space.’, Bill made a gesture to disapprove, but she shunned him, ‘I brought you into this mess, I cannot let you sacrifice yourself. Now do as I say… I will be fine, do not worry, I will find a safe place.’
‘Can’t you transport right after me?’, he asked.
‘I will try’, but cannot gamble, ‘Once you are in the Control Room, you need to do two things. First – raise the emergency life support system, meaning raise the shades from the forest on the lowest deck. It is connected with the life support system of certain areas. Second. There is an Electromagnetic Pulse Device on board, build within the station. It can generate enough disruptive energy to destroy all the cybernetic organisms on board and render all the tech useless. Don’t worry. Help is on the way. In three days you’ll be evacuated. So will I, I hope. Before that you have to give me 20 minutes to do something, understand?’, Sofia explained and Bill nodded. He climbed in the transporter. It was a tiny space which had tubing all around it, energy surged from cables connected to the device. Sofia entered something in on the computer and Bill disappeared in a puff of smelly smoke, ‘Hope I didn’t fry him.’, she thought. Now that she was all alone, she headed to the temporal mechanics lab.
There she found a young woman asleep, oblivious to the danger. She woke her up gently. The other woman was very shocked at the face that greeted her. It was her own. Sofia briefed herself, but deliberately left some details she had come to acquire on her own. Future Sofia made some adjustments to a time travelling apparatus and made it operational. Just as present Sofia was getting ready to go to the past she asked about the nature of the danger.
‘Oh, it’s the pink…’, she said and sent her back in time. The memory of her shouting run to the people echoed reassuring through her brain. Now she was truly on her own. She could try to transport herself after Bill, but she was truly afraid of that machine, which was ridiculous. She had travelled through time and space and now she was afraid just to travel through space. As she was contemplating about this the EMP hit the station and all technology froze up. It gave her a headache and she fainted.
* * *
She awoke. She and Bill and several other that were not evacuated from the station were on board a very strange shuttle. It looked very alien in nature.
‘They just answered our distress, they will bring us home…’, she heard Bill saying to her.
‘Aliens!’, she thought, ‘What a load of crap.’, then she fell asleep and dreamed of ponies…