Erina Lissak dropped the welding torch and spun around. Beneath the never-ending roar of the engines she could have sworn she'd heard someone whisper her name. But that was just ridiculous, wasn't it? She was alone in Area 27. Yeah, she was always alone. She looked down the corridor, peering into the darkness. She was alone, wasn't she?
She took a step forward.
'Who's there? Riley?'
Yup, she figured, turning back. Riley Vashtee, winding her up. Winding her up to impress the others.
'Just stop mucking about.'
But there was silence. Silence except, of course, for the never-ending roar of the engines. Erina sighed and picked up the welding torch.
Which is when the never-ending engines... ended.
And suddenly, there really was silence.
She dropped the torch and ran over to the nearest terminal. She stopped and stared at the screen.
IMPACT PROJECTION: 46:27
She stood back, terrified. The engines had stopped which meant forty-six minutes until... Desperately trying not to panic, she ran over to the nearest porthole and looked out... forty-six minutes until they crashed and burned.
Right, she thought. Don't sweat it. Something's gone wrong but things that go wrong can be put right. And, who knows, perhaps this could be her chance to finally impress the others. Taking a deep breath, she ran over to the nearest communicator and pressed the call button.
'Ashton, come in please.'
Dev's voice crackled through the speaker. 'No time, Erina! Try someone else!'
Great. The brush-off. No change there. Fine, she'd try someone else.
'Captain McDonnell, come in please.'
'Erina? Where are you?' McDonnell sounded as if she was running.
'Area 27,' Erina replied. 'The engines...'
'Have gone dead.' McDonnell cut her off. 'Yeah, we'd noticed, thanks.'
Erina took a deep breath. Stay calm. They don't mean to be rude.
'What should I do?'
'What?' McDonnell laughed. 'Do your job! Activate the distress signal and sit tight. I'm heading to Engineering with Scannell and Vashtee. Out.'
The communicator crackled once more and for a second, Erina thought she heard her name being whispered again. She stepped back and looked at the speaker.
'Just interference,' she muttered.
She ran back to the computer terminal and activated the distress signal. Things must be bad, she realised, if the Captain was calling for outside help.
IMPACT PROJECTION: 45:48
Erina watched as the seconds ticked away and suddenly felt very alone. She collapsed against the hull and waited. She wasn't even sure what she was waiting for. Orders? To be rescued? Or was she just waiting to die? That's it, Erina. Cheery as ever.
IMPACT PROJECTION: 45:29
She turned away from the monitor and bit her lip. She could smell something burning.
'What the hell am I doing here, anyway?'
She thought back to the coffee house where she'd met Riley Vashtee only a few months before. Back on Torajii Alpha. Back home.