Sep 2nd 2011, 09:26 by E O Hatterpol | 1228 AU FROM SUN
I TORE at Ravi's wall of books, my fingers searching desperately for purchase, but the man made entirely of books had built his blockade well.
"Nixie!" I pleaded. "Nixie! Come with me! Sail the sable seas of outer space by my side, us, together, on the Starship Flybrary! Nixie, please! Please, Nixie! Please!"
"Lifting anchor in two minutes," came the Carptain's voice over the PA.
Ravi pinned both arms by my sides and dragged me back from the wall of books onto the Starship Flybrary. I never stopped struggling against him, but he was much more powerful than I.
"Let go of me! Let go!"
"Promise me you won't go back," Ravi said.
"Will. you. let. GO!"
Ravi flew wildly off my back and smashed into the wall behind him, bookspines crunching sickly. For a moment, my entire body had been on fire with blue energy, and somehow that had produced something that was somewhere between a force field and a full-body Iron Man-style Repulsor Blast.
I ran for the door to go back on Starbase Octopus but it had already sealed well tight by that point; Ravi had managed to wrangle me on board and make sure I stayed there.
"Sandy, I want those nuclear engines on NOW!" came the Carptain's voice over the PA.
"Clammit, Ravi! Clam you! Clam you to shell and back and there again! I'll kill you! I'll kill you if I have to!"
I don't know what had come over me. Inside me, I felt a curious disregard for human life - like it was all just a game with players that come and sometimes go - but also an insatiable desire to take control of the situation and force the outcome my will desired. It was like Captain Makemake and Heartbreak were battling it out inside me.
"Here," Ravi said thickly, disguising the pain in his voice. "She obviously wanted you to have this."
He held his palm up to me, offering Nixie's locket. I reached down and snatched it from him. It was a beautiful piece of jewelry made of silver so polished it looked as if it were glowing faintly blue, like if I held it close to my eye in pitch darkness, I would be privy to some magical aura not seen in normal light. It was heavy, heavier than it should have been, with a great big keyhole in the centerpiece.
"What is this, Nixie?" I asked, so weak from sadness and exhaustion I nearly fell to my knees. "Why, Nixie? Why didn't you come with--"
I never had the chance to finish my sentence because the wall Ravi was crumpled up against suddenly seemed to jump out at me, smashing me flat from cheek to calf. An incredibly forceful pressure smooshed me so tightly against the wall I could not lift my head away from it; it was so forceful, in fact, that I thought I might lose consciousness.
"What's... happening...," I managed to ask Ravi. I could barely hear myself in the roaring din; the entire Flybrary was shaking so violently all around me it felt like a balloon in an earthquake.
Ravi gritted his teeth; the ship was shaking him so violently it looked like he had five heads. He couldn't even turn the one he really had to respond properly.
"We've... blasted... off."
Above the BPOD, the Carptain had been so cowardly he had not waited until he had reached a safe distance to fire the Starship Flybrary's nuclear engines to full throttle. He had been so craven, so weak, so without honour, that he had put the lives of his Flybrarians and of himself above those of all the innocent women and children on Starbase Octopus. Somehow I knew he viewed the Starbase and everything on it as dangerous and chaotic and contagious; the only way to ensure everyone's safety, then, was to blast out of there at full speed.
Nuclear power is powerful. Nuclear power had gotten us over 114 billion miles from Earth. Now it was getting us away from Starbase Octopus, and so fast that everyone aboard the ship had been thrown violently backwards.
And caught up in that massive nuclear explosion, completely obliterated into fine particulate by a man-made mockery of the deep-down processes at the heart of every star - one Tentacle floating this way, another Tentacle loping off aimlessly that way, three more Tentacles completely wiped out - with no hope left at all, in the cold dark reaches of space with no oxygen or power or life boats or any warning whatsoever, was Starbase Octopus.
E O Hatterpol and Ravi the Bookman blast off at nuclear speed... but to where?
Starbase Octopus has been utterly destroyed by the Starship Flybrary's nuclear engines; is there any chance at all that Nixie and Captain Makemake are still alive?
What about Colonel Condor? Did he and the Roosterman and Sergeant Likes-to-Fight lift the Dryheave's anchor in time?
THE ADVENTURES of E O Hatterpol in outer space continue on 19 September! Until then, you can get your daily dose of salt on Twitter, Facebook & Google+. Cheers, huzzah & stay salty my friends!