The din splintered Jericha’s head, every clang reverberated through the metal against her back and the heat seared her flesh. “Charter!” she called again, trying to be heard above the screech of creasing and folding aluminium. “CHARTER, Number One, where are you!” she screamed, squinting beneath the blinding strobes.
She ducked sideways to avoid a steel shard, crashing from the floor above, and slid back round the corner. Her heart pummelled her ribcage as she drew shallow breaths which stopped dead as she stared down the collapsing corridor.
A body lie, prostrate, beneath a sheared off door, and a crimson river ran down the listing deck. Jericha released a primal growl and lost her balance as the ship pitched. She fell into soft, but sturdy arms and the two bodies crashed down to the floor.
Jericha ignored the arms that held her and writhed free, racing off back down the corridor to the body beneath the door. Within moments she was back in his arms, restrained, and this time she turned fury seizing her mouth.
His face quietened her.
“Damn you Charter!” she hissed driving her fists into his chest, “I thought you were following me, I thought that was you dead on the floor!”
Their eyes locked and the eerie echo of pulverising steel churned their stomachs. “Let’s go!” he cried grabbing her fist and taking off down the empty passage.
Their feet clanked down the metal floor, echoing their presence, but no one would pursue them now. When Jericha set the self-destruct, she knew there was no hope, she knew escape was impossible, but with Charter, maybe, just maybe she could make it to the escape pod on time.
Numbers flew through her head, a countdown ringing in her brain and suddenly she pulled up, yanking her hand out of his.
“What are you doing?” Charter’s eyes bored into her. “Why are you stopping?”
She stood, red-faced, grease bleeding into her wound and laughed. She shook her head, her dark curls sticking to her cheek. She placed her hands on her hips and stared candidly. “We’re not going to make it…”
Charter shook his head, lurching forward to grab at her hand. “C’mon Captain, we’re not giving up!”
She stepped out of his reach. “It’s too far, any minute now the ship’s going to blow – even in the pod we’ll never be far enough away from the blast!” she yelled above the whine of her complaining vessel. “Let me just look at you, one last time – before it’s too late…”
Her eyes slaved across him, across his heaving chest, and she watched him run his fingers through his bloody hair, his outstretched forearm rippling with muscle and frustration. She threw herself into his arms and pushed him up against the metal wall. Her sudden strength and ferocity caught him by surprise, as did her mouth against his. The aroma of oil and fear and sweat mingled with orange blossom felled him, and her tongue betrayed her need.
For a moment he fought her, fear conflicting with passion, but as detonations ripped through the ship’s inner sanctum, he gave way to base desire.
Jericha’s hands followed his hard contours, feeling rippling flesh beneath his torn shirt, and she rested her head against the hot wall as his mouth devoured her neck and their smouldering bodies cleaved together.
Screaming, shattering metal flew down the corridors and burning, acrid smoke engulfed them, but Jericha and Charter were past caring, and as the ship exploded they had already risen far beyond.