The bergmann protocol, p.1
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       The Bergmann Protocol, p.1

           T J Kinsella
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The Bergmann Protocol
The Bergmann Protocol

  By

  T.J. Kinsella

  Copyright 2017 T.J. Kinsella

  Over the course of his long and distinguished career, Captain Robert Gillitzer, had not once been involved in an accident. From his days as a test pilot, to his many years of service with the Zeit Korps, he had always maintained an impeccable safety record. However, as he watched the sight of the ground growing rapidly larger in the ships viewscreen, he was starting to form the notion that both his perfect safety record, and his life, were in danger of coming to an abrupt end.

  The bridge of his ship, the Kolibri, was fast filling with smoke, and sparks were erupting from several of its display panels. The repetitive drone of the warning klaxon was drowning out both the computers automated emergency messages as well as the panicked shouts of his crew. Knowing that a crash was now inevitable, Gillitzer yanked back hard on the control stick, hoping to reduce the angle of impact, in an effort to, at least, spare their lives.

  “Brace yourselves!” he yelled out, as he shut his eyes, gritted his teeth and proceeded to take his own advice.

  The first impact was swift and massive. There was a sudden, bone shuddering crash followed by the sound of grinding metal. The hull of the Kolibri screeched horribly, as it buckled under the strain, as if the ship itself was screaming with pain.

  Gillitzer was thrown forward in his seat with such force it felt as if his harness would break his collarbone. His head whipped forward so savagely, that it snapped his jaw closed, causing him to bite into his tongue. Pain erupted throughout his body as the shock of the collision hit him.

  The horrendous noise of the crash abruptly stopped, as the craft bounced and momentarily became airborne again, tumbling uncontrollably through the air. Gillitzer briefly opened his eyes to find the bridge in almost total darkness, save for the light that came from the number of small fires and explosions that were crackling around him. Dizzy and disorientated, he battled to regain his senses.

  Despite the spinning sensation that he felt, Gillitzer initially thought that the craft had come to a halt. He could hear no sound other than the klaxon and, for the briefest of moments, he believed the worst to be over. Only a split second later, he was proved painfully wrong.

  The second impact, although slower than the first, was far more savage. The ship was spinning completely out of control when its starboard side dug into the ground with another great jolt. Once again there was the horrendous sound of tearing metal, as the craft first tumbled, then began grinding across the ground.

  Gillitzer was brutally shaken in his seat once more, although this time, the battering that both he, and his ship, were taking, was more sustained. More explosions rang out and there was as sudden blast of cold air as the ship depressurised. Gillitzer gripped his harness even tighter, grimly anticipating that each passing moment could well be his last.

  Gradually both the tremendous noise and vibration began to subside as the ship shuddered, then slid to a halt. Shocked and battered from the ordeal, he sat motionless for a time, still clutching his harness tightly. Then, after taking a deep breath, he began to unstrap himself. However bad the situation was, it was time that he took control of it.

  As he pulled himself out of his chair, the ships emergency lighting flickered on, bathing the bridge in a soft red glow. Through the now crimson haze, Gillitzer struggled to assess the state of the Kolibri and, more importantly, his crew. Despite his dedication to his mission and concern for his ship, Gillitzer’s first consideration, as always, was for the safety of the people under his command.

  To his left Gillitzer could see that Commander Braal, his first officer, had unbuckled himself and was unsteadily getting to his feet. Next to Braal, Ensign Harris was still in his chair and was struggling to undo his harness. The fact that both men seemed uninjured lifted Gillitzer’s spirits momentarily, although, his mood swiftly changed as he caught sight of the right side of the bridge through the clearing smoke.

  The first thing that he could make out was a gaping hole in the side of the hull, but more startling was the sight of his other crewmen. Lieutenant Ross’ seat had been ripped from its base and now lay on its side with Ross still strapped in it. Next to him, Ensign Leitner was slumped in his seat. with his arms hanging loosely at his sides.

  Gillitzer rushed over to the stricken pair, and hurriedly checked both for a pulse. To his immediate relief, he found both were alive, though badly injured and unconscious. He could see that Ross had a broken leg, whilst Leitner had suffered a serious blow to the head. Before he had finished assessing the stricken crewmen, Braal appeared by his side, clutching a med-kit.

  “How are they?” the commander asked with concern.

  “Not good,” replied Gillitzer, “What about Harris? How’s he doing?”

  “He’s okay, but I think he may have Broken his collarbone.”

  “We need to get them out of here, Braal,” said the captain gravely, “If the core has breached, this smoke will have enough toxins in it to kill us all within minutes. Get Harris out of here, and get a shelter up, then come and give me a hand with these two.”

  The commander handed the med-kit to Gillitzer then carried out his orders with his usual speed and efficiency, first fetching the emergency shelter from its stow point, then helping Harris out of his seat. With the hatch of the craft inoperable, Braal guided Harris through the tear in the hull, taking care not to cause themselves further injury on the razor-sharp edges. The two stepped out into the dark and were immediately met by a barrage of rainfall.

  A combination of the bad weather and almost total darkness, made it impossible for Braal to see more than a few feet in front of him, but it appeared that they had crashed in a desert. The ground was stony and bare, and as far as he could tell, almost totally free from any vegetation. His suspicion was confirmed when a sudden flash of lighting, briefly revealed the stark and barren landscape surrounding them.

  The ship has come to rest against a large bank of rock, with the rear end of the craft jutting up into the air. Braal led Harris along the bank to a point that offered both a safe distance from the Kolibri and some respite from the driving rain. The commander set down his injured crewmate then hastily erected the emergency shelter

  By the time Braal got back inside the ship, the captain had already dressed Leitner’s head wound and had placed Ross on a makeshift stretcher fashioned from the stow compartment door. Together, they carefully carried Ross, then Leitner, through the breached hull and out to the shelter. Once inside the tent like structure, the two sat for a moment, without saying a word, gathering both their thoughts and their breath.

  “How in the hell did this happen?” hissed Gillitzer, breaking the silence.

  It was a question directed as much to himself, as anyone else.

  “Not sure.” answered Braal, “Everything seemed fine as we exited the void, no alarm sounded.”

  “All systems were in the green, Captain,” groaned Harris, still in obvious discomfort.

  Gillitzer handed the med-kit to Braal, and in the shelters sterile light, began to check Ross and Leitner’s wounds more thoroughly. Braal carefully opened a vial of stabilizing solution and prepared two syringes. As he passed them to Gillitzer, the shelter lit up as lightning whipped across the sky.

  “There was that flash,” said Braal, struggling to make himself heard over the following rumble of thunder, “just after re-entry.”

  “There’s always a flash after re-entry.” said Gillitzer as he took the syringe from Braal and promptly injected its contents into Ross’ thigh.

  “No, I mean the second flash. The one just after you lost...” began Braal, before swiftly correcting himself, “I mean, after the ship lost control.”

&n
bsp; For the first time since the crash, the captain allowed himself a slight smile. Throughout their service together, Braal had proven himself to be a good friend and an excellent first officer, but he did have an extraordinary ability to say the wrong thing at the wrong time. Gillitzer had often thought that it was probably the main reason he was yet to receive his own command.

  “What exactly are you trying to say, Commander?”

  “This storm, Sir…I think the ship was struck by lightning!”

  “Lightning?” replied the captain, “Christ…what are the odds?”

  As unlikely as a lightning strike was, Gillitzer had to admit that, given the circumstances of the crash, it was the most probable explanation.

  “Well, whatever the reason,” he continued, “we’ve got to get ourselves out of this mess. Ross and Leitner need medical
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