It would take the crawler a few hours to secure from harvesting rig and get to the nodule field with the radioactives. Therefore the as the crew went about their duties, a meal was being prepared and with the crawler on its way, everyone bar the driver and officer of the watch sat down for a hearty meal.
As Dirk was spooning dessert onto his plate, there was a loud bang and followed by pandemonium as the lights went out and a shrieking klaxon pierced the air. Everyone cried out in alarm or shouted questions, and the crawler lurched to a juddering halt. Dirk was pulling Ms Etye off her chair and getting her under the table when the emergency lighting came back on.
As the Captain, Arlarna, and the security guard were running around trying to determine the problem and ascertain current threat levels, Dirk guided Ms Etye back to her stateroom, where he stood guard with his body pistol.
It was not long, however, before a security guard called and asked them to reconvene in the lounge at the Captain’s request. Once there, the Captain explained what had happened. A bomb had exploded in the cargo hold and destroyed the crawlers’ power plant. We’re checking through the rest of the crawler now, but were not going anywhere soon, and there may be a traitor on board. Therefore, you will all confine yourself to this lounge, while I and Ms Jeric will conduct interviews and record statements.
A few hours later and the Captain spoke to those assembled once more.
“Well, as you know we’ve now interviewed everybody. However , there is no evidence to suggest that anyone currently on board was involved. It is possible, therefore, that the bomb was smuggled aboard last time the crawler was in dock, or there was another one in the resupply brought in by the air rafts, which we missed. The bad news is that there must be a traitor amongst us, and they may be just as good at lying and covering their tracks as they are at bomb making. The reason I know this is that both air rafts have been tampered – they are damaged and missing some key components. Also, the radioactives round here are preventing our communicators from working and without the power plant, the crawlers radio hasn’t got the power to cut through it”.
“Consequently, we are in a bit of a pickle. We can’t use the air rafts to get back to civilisation, and we can’t call for help. There is a very small chance someone will realise we’re missing, but they don’t know where we are or what our course was, so are unlikely to dispatch a hopper to search for us. So whilst there is plenty of food and water here, the only way out is on foot, and that will be a challenge. Alright, it will be dark in two hours, you have that long to get yourselves appropriately dressed and kitted out, before assembling in the cargo deck and being issued with food and water rations. Any questions ?”.
After half an hour, the general hubbub had died down and worried questions answered. Therefore Dirk took Ms Etye back to her cabin and supervised what clothes she should change into and what belongings she should pack. He then sought out Ms Etye’s holocameraman and asked him to take some footage of the devastated powerplant, cargo hold, and air rafts to hand over to the authorities once they were back at Enos downport. He then went to get himself organised, changing into his work clothes and ensuring he had enough things to look after Ms Etye – torch, medickit, knife, sewing kit, blankets, etc. He went to the bridge and downloaded a copy of the crawlers charts onto his hand comp as a back-up. He also sought out Arlana and gained permission to draw a rifle and pistol from the crawlers locker (and helped himself to some emergency flares and a small toolkit while he was there).
Soon they were all assembled in the cargo hold and the Captain was supervising the handing out of provisions. They would not be able to carry a large amount and so the concentrates and high nutrition foods were passed around. In addition to a personal supply of water, there were two drums, cleaned and filled with water that could be carried slung beneath two poles by two people. The captain reminded them about their desert survival briefing and explained how the journey would be conducted. He then led the motly crew through the hatch and down the ramp into the cooling desert air.