He Who Is Brave Is Free

You are reading: The Final Bounty

Written by Antagony on 23 Nov 2017 00:57.

It was as if the typhoon knew exactly what the Makassar were planning. Maida and Sarawak continued to labour at the controls, so the maelstrom came at the ship even harder. They weren’t just fighting to master the rapids now, they were going full tilt against them, trying to stay afloat.
While Varuni and her crew had come close to the eye of the storm, they never made it inside. Like some berserker swinging his hammer wild, the storm bent both wings out of shape, crushed and dented the hull as it tried to breach the outer shell, and finally discarded it like some broken plaything.

***

Though Kalimantan remained strapped down and in place, his seat had not. The bolts coming undone, let gravity take over and sent to the chair flying. It was flipped over now so Kalimantan’s face was pressed into the grate floor.
Groaning when he came to, the Samarind immediately unfastened the belts, and threw the mangled chair off him. It was a dull ache, but that’s when he discovered he had broken a wrist and was probably concussed. Minor injuries to be sure, which could have been a lot worse. He considered himself lucky, but his safety was in no small part thanks to his suit, still in working order.
He quickly glanced around the room. The bridge was in disrepair. Fans and individual blades and whole sections of ceiling had come down; Electrical fires burned everywhere; Frayed wires and cables dangled, still sparking from the surge of the last lightning strike; So did a number of tubes, swaying gently, and lengths of pipe, broken from their course, which fell to the ground and echoed loudly throughout the ship. The wreckage of the ship. Outside he could hear that the wind was gentle now. At last, the eye was looking over the ship.
Since he was in no immediate danger however, the damage was the least of Kalimantan’s concern. It was the crew he cared about. Once he saw them, he couldn’t believe his eyes.
“No, oh no. No no no no no no!” Kalimantan growled. With each denial, the volume mounted.
He saw the hole in the floor where his chair used to be bolted down. Evidently, something fell through the floor to a lower deck, and would have landed on him if he hadn’t been ripped from his place.
Next to where Kalimantan used to sit, was Maida. Or rather, his charred remains. From the look of things, an oil had leaked onto him from one of the pipes above his station, and once his console had ignited, so did he. The fire burned so hot and fervent, it roasted him in his armour, which continued to crackle as it cooled. The smell was putrid, like that of sulphur and ether.
Behind Maida was a massive pile of metal beams and more pipes. They had fallen from the ceiling and most likely… crushed Rusukan to death.
Muara was dead too. If Kalimantan had to guess, something ricocheted off the walls and hit his head, snapping it right back and breaking his neck. The windpipe stuck out of his throat and his suit, but there wasn’t much blood.
Tarakan had died in a similar manner. A high velocity object shot out from the ceiling, but it was sharp enough and thin that it pierced his helmet and went through his skull. Kalimantan tracked the metal shard sticking out of the wall behind Tarakan. It was longer than Kalimantan and Pontianak together.
That brought Kalimantan to Pontianak who sat on the other side of Tarakan. When he ambled over to him, he thought he had passed on as well, until he woke suddenly, his eyes open wide. Though he didn’t say anything, he breathed heavily, and convulsed in his chair.
Kalimantan rushed over to help, when he saw what was wrong. Where once he had a chest, he now had a massive hole. It had cauterized the wound as it went through him, his suit, and the chair. But Kalimantan couldn’t see what did it, whatever it was. He suspected it continued burning through the floor to a lower deck.
Amidst holding his comrade back by the shoulders— to stop him from seizing so savagely— Kalimantan could see Pontianak trying to say something, despite insisting he save his breath. Not that he had any breath. He opened his mouth but he only spat up blood, daubing the inside of his helmet.
“It’s alright Pontianak. You’re almost there.” Lies, but there wasn’t much else Kalimantan could say to reassure the man. Pontianak may not have even heard him at all, he suffered not briefly enough. However, his mouth did for a moment resemble a smirk. A moment later Pontianak closed his eyes and stopped moving. Kalimantan gave one last, light squeeze of the man’s shoulder. He released the body and backed away. His head hanging reverently.
“Kalimantan… is that you?”
In a flash, Kalimantan spun around to see that his older brother was also a survivor. For how much longer however, was up in the air.
Embedded in the captain’s side was the blade of a fan. It had struck him at an angle, under his rib cage, missing his arm by so much. There, it stopped spinning deep in his gut, so, even if Sarawak managed to remove the blade he would then bleed to death, and his intestines would spill out in his lap.
“Sarawak! What do I do?”
Sarawak laughed, and hacked a lung. “What do you do? It’s a hard task, brother, but you know what to do. If you live, you take our bodies to Almadine, or Makka and you burn them on the altars, or you go to Ar Rafft and you place them on the mount to be left to the elements. Wherever, I’ll leave up to you, since I have no preference.”
“Captain—”
“Fuck that. I told you, you’re the captain now. If it pleases you, leave our bodies to rot here. Who are the dead to tell the living what to do, hmm? We’re only brothers. You don’t see my head sewn on to your body do you?”
Already his skin was blanching, his mind was going. Being overly sentimental, and talking of funerary rites were tell-tale signs. His brother was dying, and he added, “This is the way of all things.”
“Sarawak, I can get the wand; I can seal that wound.”
“Aye, but you have to rip this propeller out of me first. And good luck doing that. Good luck keeping my entrails inside my body. I can feel my organs cut up, and twisted out of place. I have… minutes maybe.”
“What about the pain?”
“It’s excruciating,” grimaced Sarawak. “But… that’s dying for you.”
Kalimantan shook his head, not knowing what to do about his feeling heart. “Well I have to do something. We’re blood. It wouldn’t be right to sit here and do nothing.”
“Fine then! If you’re going to be soft, I have one request. Get my gun, because I can’t reach it… and shoot me in the head.”
The first officer did as he was told. Removing the helmet, drawing the weapon from the captain’s holster and pointing it between his superior’s eyes. But he sighed, reluctant to kill his brother.
“Kalimantan, either shoot me or snap my neck. Don’t stare back at me with craven eyes.”
“Don’t call me craven,” growled Kalimantan.
“Or what, you’ll shoot me? Do it. Pull the trigger or you’ll prove me right.”
“I’m not craven.”
“You are. You’re a fucking coward if you don’t shoot me.”
The man’s scarred nostrils flared and his green eyes reddened. Kalimantan’s pulse was unwieldy and his breathing harsh. But his hand was steady and his trigger finger now caressed the lever.
“How do you think you’ll survive, or get off this planet if you can’t even do this simple task? Valiant never taste of death but once, Kalimantan. But cowards… Cowards die many times before their deaths. And you don’t look brave looking at me like that. You look pathetic, Kalimantan. Pathetic, emotional, maudlin, cowardly, spineless—”
“Shut up!”
“Make me! End me… It’s a mercy. It’s a good death. Quick, painless.” He hawked coarsely, but stifled it. Keeping his mouth closed, and the blood down.
Hush fell over the wreckage. At last Sarawak twisted his brother’s arm and largely had said all he was going to, or was simply too weak to argue much more.
“I’m a killer, Sarawak, not a bloody executioner.”
“No. But you’re my brother. And there’s no one else to do it.”
Where the blaster had drifted away, Kalimantan replaced the muzzle to the centre of Sarawak’s forehead.
If he had tear ducts, Kalimantan would have wept. He muttered his final words to his brother, “Goodbye, Sarawak.”
“We’ll meet again, Kalimantan.” Sarawak closed his eye.

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