The edge, p.32
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       The Edge, p.32

           Leslie Lee
shuttles would expose the crew to the effect."

  Mak felt the crew deflate around them. He hadn't realized it had even been a possibility until it was snatched away. "Understood, captain. We'll manage. I think your course of action is a good one. We're making plans for leaving as well. Good luck, M'hin'rah."

  "To you as well. M'hin'rah out."

  The line went dead and they watched the M'hin'rah move away from the cluster and out of close sensor range.

  "Get me Engineering," Mak said in the sudden silence. "The rest of you. We need weapons, propulsion, sensors, and navigation. In that order."

  Thurber's haggard face showed up. She was a mess.

  "Mak!" she said. "Are you on the Bridge again?"

  "Yes," He stifled the 'for now' he wanted to say.

  "I need some help down here. I've taken over as Chief of Engineering. Everybody else is dead. We're being attacked."

  That perked up the Soldiers and the security personnel. Mak felt them pause and look at their weapons. Everybody knew what the sides were. This was going to be interesting.

  "Who's attacking you?" he said carefully hoping she'd catch on to the incendiary nature of the situation. But she was in the midst of coughing. Then she screamed instructions at somebody.

  "Everybody," she finally managed to get out. "It's a crazy house. Some people on our side will suddenly turn on us." He could hear her hysteria starting to rise. "They don't seem to know us. We've had to restrain our own people. We need some help, Mak, right away. I mean that. Right away."

  "We're on it, Thurber," he said calmly. "But we need propulsion of any kind."

  "There's been a lot of damage here, Mak. We're doing the best we can but we have to watch for sabotage and I'm running out of people. I've got Soldiers, crew, anybody who can still walk doing stuff." She looked around wildly. "I don't want to turn into a zombie, Mak. What are we going to do?"

  "I'm sending some of Blue Box down to you. But you're going to have to know that they're from us."

  "If they can talk, then they're okay. But what good is it going to do?"

  "We're going to move Brenn down there with you."

  "If you think it'll help, but hurry, alright, Mak, it's getting bad down here."

  "Got it."

  Hasui looked pale listening to the conversation. His green eyes were wide, and he nervously tugged at a strand of blonde hair poking out from underneath his helmet.

  "Don't worry," Mak said to him. "She usually sounds a lot worse."

  "Okay," Hasui said, rousing himself. "For a second there, I thought she'd flipped out."

  "Nah, it's all an act," Mak smiled. "Look, we're going to move the Bridge as close to Engineering as possible."

  "Move the Bridge?" Hasui said blankly. "You mean the functions?"

  "Nope, Soldier." He waved at the interior of the Bridge. "I mean the Bridge."

  "The Bridge moves? This whole thing, it moves?"

  Mak grinned then looked over at the unmanned bridge control station. "Come with me."

  He jumped down into the pit and started grabbing ship's personnel.

  "We need to get the Bridge moving we need it as close to Engineering as possible."

  At least some of them knew the Bridge moved. They hustled over to the controls.

  "This isn't a joke? The Bridge really moves?" the Soldier asked again.

  "Right through the core. Keeps it from being an obvious target. We're going to move it the rear of the ship. That's where Engineering is." He looked at the haggard crew. "But not yet. When I give the word. Hasui, I want you to make sure these guys get whatever they need."

  "Yes sir."

  He left them and while walking back to command central, ran into Th'han'dra.

  "How's it going?" he asked.

  She shrugged. "Swimmingly. Trying to get ship sensor's going. But it's a mess. There's fighting breaking out all over the ship. Life support is on emergency backup."

  "We need everybody as close to Engineering as possible. We're going to move Brenn down there and hope he can keep everybody from turning into zombies."

  "Got it. I'll get the word out."

  He flicked on his comm. "Ranger," he said.

  "Ranger here."

  "Move Brenn down to Engineering."

  "We're already on the move. They know where we are."

  "Who's they?"

  "Don't rightly know. But it's a mess of Soldiers and ship's personnel. I think they're zombies."

  "Alright, if you see anybody who's not, then get them as close to Engineering as possible."

  "Bad news for Jamaal. His son looks like he was leading the attack. Good thing we had an out. Reeves is dead."

  "Got it. Good luck. Mak out."

  He looked over the men and women feverishly working at the stations. Fatigue suddenly threatened to overwhelm him. He didn't want to be the one to tell Jamaal. What would he say? If he had a son, what would he want to hear? A son. He couldn't imagine having one. What would it be like to have someone call him Dad? He never had the problem of calling someone in his life dad. What should he say to the Security Chief? He'd always been the receiver of bad news, not the giver. He contemplated just postponing it. Maybe somebody else would deliver the bad news. Or the Security Chief would find out some other way.

  "Jamaal," he said flicking his comm alive.

  "Mak? We're packing up and heading to Engineering."

  "Your son led an attack on Brenn." How would he feel if he heard these words?

  Jamaal was silent for only a moment. "I was wondering what had happened to him. He was supposed to have checked in here. I'm glad he's alive."

  "Me too." God, that sounded lame.

  "Damn," Pause. "Joe, my son, how did he seem?"

  "I didn't see him myself," he said carefully. "The report says he's not himself. My guess is getting close to Brenn doesn't help once he's, uh, not himself. We're going to need some other way of getting them back. Have you located Ives?"

  "Not yet." Jamaal sounded broken.

  "Capture one of the zombies, Jamaal. Make the med's cure him."

  "On it, Jamaal out."

  Mak looked at the command chair. Someone had righted it and welded it back down again. One arm was broken, the cushions were singed, stained with what looked like blood. From his vantage point, he watched the crew struggling with the damage. He felt like he was the only one not doing anything. And it gave him time to think about what was ahead. One thought was clear. They were well and truly screwed.

  And that rock was doing the screwing.

  He had noticed P'leh'run had led the security team to the Bridge. Mak weaved his way to where the security officer was trying to get a console up and running.

  "Can we get a look at where that rock is?" Mak asked.

  P'leh'run kicked the console one last time. "Let's try a different station."

  He led the way to a security console and punched in some codes.

  "There," he finally said. "What the hell?"

  The image was fuzzy with interference. It showed the damaged area but the rock was gone.

  "It's been moved," P'leh'run said.

  "It's still there." Mak pointed to something hanging from above. It was the rope he had dropped earlier. It was difficult to make out.

  "That's new," P'leh'run observed.

  "I put it there when I was thinking about climbing down."

  "It's coiled up on something we can't see."

  "Definitely bigger. And now it can shield itself."

  "What's that?"

  There was movement close to the rock. There was people there. Most of them were stationary, like statues. But others moved freely.

  "Audio?" Mak asked.

  P'leh'run shook his head. "Lucky to get even a visual. That damned rock. We've got to eject it."

  "We've got to get OFF the rock," Mak correct. "it's stationary and isn't going anywhere."

  "There's General Tennet And that man, he's the one in charge, Jones. He's just a sergeant."

  "He's no sergeant." Mak stated. The man moved with the aggressiveness of somebody used to being in charge.

  Tennet and Jones were both shouting at each other. Mak suddenly realized Hasui was looking over his shoulder. Two more Soldiers had also stopped to watch.

  "Put it up on the big screen," Mak said.

  P'leh'run pushed a couple of buttons and the Bridge suddenly hushed.

  The argument seemed to get even more heated when suddenly, the general just stopped. The other man didn't seem to even notice at first, continuing to shout and gesticulate. Then he noticed. He pushed the general as if to rouse him, then shook him. But he was ignored. Jones looked at where the rock should have been but where nothing showed. He backed up a little and seemed to be saying something. He kept backing up until he was off-screen. The general suddenly looked up at the camera. His face was blank and a small trail of drool seeped from his lips. Then the screen went blank.

  "I don't think we're going to be getting a bunch of commands from the general," Hasui said.

  "Are we ready to move the Bridge?" Mak shouted into the silence.

  "Fifteen minutes sir,"

  P'leh'run peered at another display. "There's a large amount of movement in our vicinity. They seem to be heading towards us."

  "Get everybody inside the Bridge," Mak shouted again. There was a sudden rush into the Bridge from the hallway. "Anybody on the way here?"

  "Negative," somebody yelled.

  "Send everybody else to Engineering. Secure that hatch."

  He watched a team struggling to close the door. It wasn't happening, The mechanism jammed with the door partially closed. The interior door belonging to the Bridge stubbornly refused to deploy. Mak watched the Soldiers and security teams erecting barricades. He clambered over the debris. A young officer was directing the defenses, while techs struggled with the door mechanism.

  The officer looked concerned. "When we encountered

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