A screech and crash echoed behind them. Then a cacophony of booms as part of the ceiling fell, effectively blocking Alioth for the time being.
“What’s happening?” Joelle asked.
“Vinaserat’s hungry, I think,” Jinn said. “That storm … I don’t think it’s like the others. The wind’s never come inside before. Inside this place. Inside people. Inside Alioth.” Tears trickled down her cheeks. Her lightly clothed frame shivered.
“I think you’re in shock,” Joelle said. “Should I slap you?”
Tears or no, Jinn looked down at the girl with a dry glare.
“I think the knife wound was enough, thanks.”
In dim torchlight Joelle watched the brave blue eyes search her own. There were no words. Just a silent understanding that they were two women against the Sphere of Mars. Then the lights were snuffed by another gust.
“You need to know that I may pass out,” Jinn warned. “Lost a lot of blood.”
Jinn was already thinking beyond the subject of her health.
“Don’t suppose you’ve ever heard of a shuttlecraft?”
“Give me your shoulder. Alioth will find a way around soon. I’ve decided you’re not going to die today so I’ve got something to show you.”
The two pressed on and arrived at a large cargo bay. Oil fed torches lined the walls. No wind disturbed the light. But in the distance behind them could be heard the screams of priests and acolytes Alioth had found.
Jinn closed a thick metal door. Then she pulled down on a lever and steam hissed. A massive bar shot across the door.
“We’ll be safe in here,” she said.
But the sounds of the storm outside were strong. They could hear twisting metal in symphonic reverberations above them.
“It feels like the whole top is going to be torn off,” Joelle said.
“Maybe. That’s why we’re getting out of here.”
“How? We’re trapped now aren’t we?”
Jinn smiled and walked toward the center of the room. There was an old canvas covering something large and square, about the size of a carriage. She tore off the cover. Underneath sat something completely foreign to Joelle. Foreign and yet …
“It looks like the great space ship above the temple!”
“Only smaller, more manageable, and … fully functional. We call it Nasa.”
“What is Nasa?”
“Not entirely sure. We think it was a cult of people hell-bent on space exploration.”
Joelle tilted her head. “You said it’s functional? But it’s electric. Electric is dead. Electric is anathema.”
“And yet electricity is our only hope to see tomorrow so, cursed or not, it’s all we got.”
A boom shook the door and the women jumped. Another boom. And another.
A singsong voice that barely sounded like Alioth called Jinn’s name, sickly sweet.
“Will the door—“
“It’ll hold. Come on.”
Jinn turned a latch on the shuttle and pulled hard, placing one foot on the old world metal to brace herself. Every tug and yank seemed in time with the vicious slams against the cargo bay door.
“He’s denting the door!” Joelle exclaimed.
“What? That’s impossible.”
The dents were visible, accumulating along the metal with every ram against the bolted door. It groaned and with the next slam a screw snapped. Joelle screamed. Something outside growled in triumph. Just then the old shuttle door popped open. She was flung back, hitting her head against the floor and uttering a string of slurred curses. She felt her back. Wet. The stitches had split.
Joelle screamed again as more screws snapped and something flung the bay door aside.
“That was challenging,” came Alioth’s voice. “But a fitting effort for a climactic end. We are the last, you know.”
He stood, breath heaving, body splattered in blood.
“Get inside,” Jinn breathed to Joelle. The girl complied, scrambling into the cockpit. Jinn scraped her own way to the vessel. She had her fingers gripping the doorway when the gust pushed up from behind. Instead of shoving her forward, somehow it caught her and began suctioning her back.