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Memento Mori
Page Three













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Dramatis Personae | Page One | Page Two | Page Three





March 20, 2035
1345 hours
















Johnston ripped open the first aid kit as he stared into the mirror at the open wound gushing blood down the side of his face. With sterile wipes, he gingerly dabbed the extra blood away, then quickly applied a gauze bandage around his head. He was lucky he didn't have a concussion.

When the bandage was firmly wrapped around his head, he saw that blood was still showing through. Christ, he'd probably need stitches. He'd see to that once they reached the prison facility, which had an infirmary.

First, though, he had to get back to the rest of the troops. He exited the bathroom he'd gone into, and made his way down the dim corridor that led to the passenger area, and Captain Sullivan as the lights flared back on.

***

The captain was busy ripping himself free of the tangled safety harness that was imprisoning him in his seat, a task made much more difficult by the fact that it was pitch black.

"Jesus Christ," he muttered to himself as he struggled with the harness. The god damn thing was stuck. Finally, he managed to reach inside one of his pockets, extract an army knife. He used it to cut the safety belt, enabling him to escape from his seat.

"What the fuck?" he heard one of the other bewildered marines ask. He couldn't see who it was in the darkness.

"We must've crashed," Sullivan said. "Is everyone all right?"

Suddenly, the emergency generator fired up and the room was bathed in bright light. Fortunately, Sullivan could see that no one had been knocked unconscious. Almost everyone was still in their seat.

He clambered across the room, to the intercom. "Lampert, come in, Lampert? This is Sullivan."

No response.

"Lampert? Davidson? Is anyone there? What the hell happened?"

Still, no reply. Sullivan was about to give up, when suddenly, "Yeah, this is Lampert. We've crashed on Io," the pilot reported hastily in his southern twang.

"Jesus, how'd that happen?"

"I don't know, but my best guess is that we hit something in orbit. It fucked our engine room and three of our gas tanks."

"Are you all right?"

"I'm fine. I got little burnt, but otherwise okay."

"What about Davidson?"

"He's fine. He's checking the damage assessment."

Sullivan looked around briefly. "Where's Schmid?" he asked after noticing the engineer was missing.

"I sent him to check the engine room just after the first shakes, but I don't know if he ever made it there."

"God damn it." Turning around, Sullivan looked over the rest of the grim-faced marines. They were all there with the exceptions of Lampert and Davidson, who were in the cockpit, and Schmid and Johnston.

"What about Johnston?" Sullivan asked into the radio.

"I'm afraid I haven't heard from him."

"Shit."

Schmid was missing, probably dead for all anyone knew. He had no idea where the fuck Johnston was. The last time Sullivan had seen him was in the crew mess, where the lieutenant had been finishing his coffee.

Turning back to the radio, he asked Lampert, "All right, what's the damage assessment?"

The pilot's drawl came back after a few seconds.

"We've got hull breaches in the engine room, and along the port corridor running aft. But here's the biggie--the entire forward cargo hold imploded on impact."

"Imploded?"

"Yep, imploded. The entire thing was crushed when we slammed into this rock. Estimated zero survivors. If you were unlucky enough to be forward of mid-ship on the lower deck, you've been dead for twenty minutes."

"Good God...that means all the prisoners, gone?"

"That's right, sir, unless the computer is wrong."

"Shhhit," Sullivan cursed. "Fuck!" he almost screamed. "Lampert, radio the prison tower and alert them that their cons have all died and gone to hell, and that we're in a situation FUBAR here."

"Well, that's the problem, sir."

"Problem?"

"The tower's not responding. I've tried six times, not a single reply."

"Maybe the crash screwed our communications?"

"No, that ain't it. I tried three times alone before we even crashed, twice before the shakes began."

"God fucking dammit...just get down here with Davidson, and we'll figure out what to do next."

"Okay, we'll be right down, sir."

With that, the radio clicked off.

"Avatar, Private Moeller, get the hell down to the engine room. Try to find Private Schmid, and see what the situation is down there," Sullivan ordered. Immediately, the two marines dashed from the room towards the back of the ship.
















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