A shock ran through Valygar as his hand closed over Imoen’s belt attachment point. He’d never be sure if it was residual electrical discharge from the explosion or just the mixture of shock and joy at actually reaching her, of accomplishing a deep space rescue without small craft support.
Which ever it was, it felt good. Very good. But the time for reflecting on that was later. He had tasks he had to accomplish in a very, very short time. One hand firmly on Imoen’s suit, his other pulled one of the emergency attachment lines from his belt. Hooking it deftly into her suit, he linked the suits together.
Almost out of time. Checking the connection with one hand, he pulled the appropriate vector from his wristcomp displays. Fingers flying, he punched in the course and slammed home on the ‘Commit’ button.
With a physical shock, his suit jets fired their remaining fuel in a desperate attempt to kill his forward velocity. The numbers sloughed off.
Now, if it would just be enough.
Heart swelling at Valygar’s voice, Jaheira closed her eyes in silent prayer. The first part of the rescue had succeeded, and she prayed that the gods’ mercy would allow for the second part to succeed as well. Achieving station keeping, she folded her arms against her chest to protect them as the velocity numbers ticked down.
It looked good. It looked like he was going to kill just enough for velocity to…
The tetherlines went whip taut, tearing at her as if she’d been chained between wild horses racing opposite directions. She gritted her teeth as the kinetic energy of Valygar and Imoen’s sudden decel broke over her, the strain trying her, the weakest link in the chain. Suit indicators flashed yellow as stress levels shot up wildly. The pain built to a terrible crescendo as her suit warped and strained around her.
And then, suddenly, they stopped.
Letting out a ragged breath, she checked her indicators.
Her suit integrity was green.
And more importantly, both tethers were still intact.
Cheering loudly at noble Valygar’s words, Minsc braced himself for the mighty tug that was soon to come. Positioning himself to minimize cablewhip, he thumped the wristcomp button that tightened the bracing lines he’d installed. Another button stab turned his mighty Mag Boots to Maximum Power.
He was ready.
His suit displays showed noble Valygar slowing. But another showed the tetherlines were about to play out.
Looking over towards Boo, he gritted his teeth and cautioned, “Hang on Boo! Here it comes!”
Before Boo could even squeak an affirmative, the tetherline went taut. It felt like a giant’s fist had grabbed a hold of him and was trying to rip him from the hull. Cables strained and his boots’ mag generators screamed in protest. But Minsc could not fail. He could not be moved.
Muscles and servos bucked against the straining force trying to pull him loose. It shook him and Boo mightly. And then, suddenly, the cable went slack and Minsc staggered forward.
Righting himself, he smiled first at Boo and then at little Aerie. “Ha ha! Nothing is as strong as Minsc, right Boo?”
This time Minsc heard the affirmative squeak.
The jerk from the tether pulling taut was not nearly as severe as he thought it would be. Still, it was hard enough to rattle his teeth and smack his forehead against his faceplate. Giving his head a little shake to clear it, he first looked over his suit readouts. Seeing the reassuring glow of green, he turned his attention to the suited figure now drifting a half meter away.
Hand over hand, he pulled her close, for the first time really studying her figure. Her eyes were closed behind her faceplate but thankfully there were none of the signs of the ravages of decompression or asphyxia. Her suit seemed intact, but there were some worrying carbon scores across the chest and legs plates of her suit.
Once close enough, he reached for her chest indicator panel. He flipped it open with a flick of his thumb. When he saw all the key indicators glowing a warm, steady green, he let out a long sigh of relief. “Valygar here. All life, life support and suit integrity indicators read green. She still appears to be unconscious however.”
“Excellent. What about other suit systems?” Jaheira replied, her voice controlled but he knew her well enough to pick out the warm edges of relief. The cheers of Minsc and sigh of Aerie were even more expressive.
“Wait one,” he replied as he lifted up her arm and pulled up the suit system status. Or at least he tried. Her wristcomp failed to respond. “Wristcomp non functional. Rebooting.”
Rolling her partway over, he keyed open the duty service panel. Numerous breaker switches had thrown, likely from the massive EM burst. Lips thinning at the thought of the likely damage, he switched them back and pressed the master reboot. Indicator lights flashed as her higher suit functions restarted.
Her wristcomp flashed luridly as it came back online. He queried it again and sucked in a breath. The ambers and reds far outnumbered the greens. The entire stealth and cloak suite were out. Her suit sensors were down 50%. A number of the specialized functions were reading yellow. Her comms flashed yellow for a moment before switching to solid green. Thankfully her nav systems read green, even if her magboots were reading yellow. Even the computer’s syscore showed some damage. Shaking his head, he called back, “Significant damage to most main suit functions, but comms and nav are still intact.”
“Good. We’re going to reel the both of you in,” Jaheira ordered.
“W..what is her medical condition?” Aerie chimed in.
“No significant injuries, if the medpack is to be believed. Medpack systems are reading green.”
“Linking now…” Aerie trailed off. His mind’s eye showed her fingers flying over her wristcomp. “I confirm. Initiating medpack.”
A few lights flashed on the wristcomp and suit displays. As he watched, her breathing quickened and eyelids fluttered. Not even aware of the smile on his face, he watched as her blue eyes opened. At first, they were unfocused and fuzzy, but they quickly focused on him. Blinking, she said muzzily, “That was stupid.”
“Good,” she groaned. “Can’t go ruining everyone’s expectations.”
“Of course not.”
“Unconscious, but alive,” he quickly asserted.
She sighed in relief. “Thank the heavens. I’d hate to think I did something that stupid for nothing.”
“Never stopped you before,” Valygar tweaked.
“Point taken, bufflehead,” she blinked and looked down at her suit displays, or at least which ones were working. “How bad?”
“You’ve got life support and integrity. Comms of course. Nav systems. Most of your computer functions. The rest…”
She groaned again. “When Nalia rescues us, she’s going to shoot me.”
“Possibly some place important this time.”
A weak smile formed on her lips, one that quickly faded away. He watched her eyes go wide. Reaching out, he grabbed her around the bicep and squeezed, cutting off the words he knew were coming. “It was nothing.”
The look she gave him blazed with disbelief and then annoyance. Finally, she settled on one of the warmest smiles he’d ever seen. She reached up and squeezed his hand back. “Course it wasn’t. Just a little jaunt into the Void, right?”
“No other reasons for it, right? Just a little bored?” she said, her voice soft and warm.
“You know me so well,” he replied with another slight nod.
Her smile, in defiance of all physical law, somehow managed to get brighter. “That I do, Valygar. That I do.”
“Now, shall we get back? I believe Jaheira might be getting impatient,” he said with a smile of his own.
“Well, we can’t have Ms Cranky Pants getting crankier.”
Grinning massively at Boo and little Aerie, Minsc reeled in the tetherlines. When Jaheira ordered him to pull them in so they could save their limited jet capacity, he activated the little servo that was supposed to spool the tetherline. It even functioned for a whole 12 seconds before its might was spent. So, he gave Boo a look and started pulling them in the old fashioned way, hand over hand.
Not that he minded. All of his mighty companions were returning and little Immy was fine. And it’s not like their combined mass was all that much for him and the powerful strength enhancers that little Nalia had built into his mighty Armor.
Whistling merrily, he hauled them closer. First back was Jaheira who flashed him a smile as he pulled her. The smile became a little more annoyed when he grabbed her both arms placed her boot first on the deck. He beamed at her while she groused, “Minsc, that was unnecessary. I was capable of reattaching to the hull myself.”
“Of course wise Jaheira could do that!” he boomed as he quickly switched the tetherlines. “This was just a faster way to get little Immy back!”
She paused and then smiled. “You are correct, Minsc. Now let’s bring Imoen and Valygar back.”
“Aye aye!” Minsc boomed happily. Grabbing a fresh hold on the other line, he began to work anew. It was easier now with only the mass of the other two and quickly the two little tiny figures grew into the full size of his friends.
With one last haul, he dragged the other two into range of his arms. Opening them wide, he swept them both into a big hug. A hug that little Aerie quickly joined while Jaheira stood to the side and smiled. Grinning ear to ear, Minsc exclaimed, “Minsc and Boo and Larry are so happy to see you!”
“S… so am I!” echoed little Aerie.
“Hey, no one said I was happy to see them!” whined the massive disruptor.
Minsc laughed and squeezed tighter. “Ignore Larry! He’s just being grumpy because there is no Evil to shoot! But we are all so happy to see little Immy and Valygar back. Minsc was almost worried about you, little Immy! But with Valygar and Jaheira and Minsc and Boo and little Aerie, there was nothing to be worried about! Such great heroes!”
“Unh... happy to see you too Minsc,” Imoen replied with a little bit of groan. “But, a little less excitement, big guy? I don’t want to go squish.”
“Indeed,” Valygar echoed with a little groan.
Grimacing, he loosened his hug and put them down. Carefully he adjusted their suits and flushed red. “Sorry. Minsc sometimes forgets his own strength. Boo usually reminds me, but we were both so happy to see you back!” Minsc smiled earnestly at both of them while the small, suited Boo nodded from his shoulder perch.
Rolling her shoulders and stretching her back, Imoen smiled back at Minsc and patted him affectionately. “Good to see you to big fella. You too Boo.” She sighed. “Really good.”
Valygar nodded. “No harm done, Minsc.”
“Excellent! Now we mighty heroes are reunited!” He stared down at the Helios and pointed down at the hull. “Do you hear that Evil! The Heroes are reunited! And once Captain Bran wakes up from his nap, we are coming back in there and shoveling you out like the damp wood chips of Stinky Badness that you are!”
His head hurt. In fact, saying it hurt was like saying that stars are a little warm. His ears throbbed so much it felt like his whole body throbbed with them. Of course, it could be, as angry nerves reported in from his extremities to protest their rude treatment.
Blinking the pain back, or at least making a noble effort to do so, he started to take stock of the situation. His suit displays read green for the most part, but the warning indicators for open service panels flashed luridly. His comms were offline. And his suit servos seemed to have locked.
Pressing the servo release with a jab of his chin, he sagged as the suit released him from its cybernetic grip. One hand on his knee, he reached up and started closing service panels. Then with a quick command, he brought his comms back online.
The sounds on the guard channel were enough to make him cringe in agony. In a voice testier than it probably he should have been, he demanded, “What the hell is going on?”
“Bran?” Jaheira responded with something that sounded dangerously like jubilation and far too loudly.
“Yes. And please, no shouting. Gah,” he griped.
Another cacophony of voices descended on his poor suffering ears as his crew cheered. Grimacing, he growled, “No shouting. Wasn’t kidding.”
“Sorry, Bran,” Jaheira said quickly and thankfully more softly. She stepped over in front of him, smiling widely even as she checked his suit readouts. “Excellent.”
Fighting the urge to bat her hand away, he grumbled, “Good. What the… I mean, report.”
“Everything is green, sir,” she replied with that same grin.
“What was with the yodeling?”
He heard another bout of laughter over the guard channel, especially from Minsc and his sister. Looking over at her, he could make out some serious carbon scores over her suit. Straightening, he demanded, “What the hell is going on? Are you okay, Immy?”
“Just dandy, Brancakes. Feeling fine. Certainly a heck of a lot better than you look, bro.”
“What the hell happened?”
“Imoen used… an unorthodox solution to resolve the sonic assault that seems to have left you in such a poor mood,” Jaheira explained calmly. “There were some unexpected results, but nothing of serious concern.”
Bran stared at his X.O., the woman he loved, even as he heard a few more chuckles over the comms. Her green eyes met his calmly and unflinchingly, even though he knew something wasn’t quite right. He debated for a moment calling her on it, demanding more detail. But frankly, he just couldn’t muster the will to do it.
Instead, he simply shrugged. “Well then.”
“Orders sir?” Jaheira replied crisply.
“Well, if nothing important happened that I need to be informed of, I suppose we should get moving.”
“Well then let’s be about it people.”