The soon finished citadel now housed many people who, like us, just had moved in. For months there had been a steady stream of ships docking and people coming in. We had been among the first.
As work on the stations for the four empires largely had come to a standstill, the citadels built by capsuleer run corporations provided a new opportunity for people like my parents, who were construction robotics controllers. The main work on stations and citadels was done by robots, working after pre-programmed 3D-blueprints. But people were needed to supervise the construction and monitor the robots to ensure things were correctly built and put together. And when the citadel was fully completed they would have work keeping the systems and maintenance running, making this a permanent new home for them and us, their two daughters and one son. I, who was ten, my sister Saríle who was eight and our brother, Rémi, being five years-old.
We were all together in the main room of our appartment. My parents were sitting on the sofa, me and Saríle on the main bed with our Ferrus-cat, and Rémi on the floor by the entrance door.
Suddenly the whole room around us reverbrated. It was a deep, hollow sound, followed by the muffled sound of metal creaking.
We looked at eachother.
Then we felt the whole room shaking. A warning signal began beeping rhytmically. I knew it meant that everybody should go back to their rooms or homes. We were luckily already here.
‘Rémi?’ my mother asked, looking desperately around the room. ‘Rémi?’ my dad repeated louder.
‘He must have gone out through the door’, my mother said worringly and went out to find him.
‘Stay here. Don’t move. We will be right back.’ My dad said as he went after them.
We nodded and held tight onto eachother as the warning signal increased a level in intensivity. Then there were several loud noises, like something heavy collapsing, resonating through the floor and wall we sat leaning against, growing stronger and closer.
Saríle began to sob. ‘I love you, Jeni.’
‘I love you too, Saríle’ stretching my arms further around her.
Suddenly the ceiling next to us fell down on the floor with a loud clang. Our pet slipped out of Saríle’s arms because of the noise, running in panic out through the still open door. She immediately got up to try to catch him.
‘Saríle! No, wait! Come back!’ I shouted.
I went after her. Outside of the entrance door to the appartment, I saw her just as she reached the end of the corridor and ran after, but coming to a corridor cross-section I had already lost her.
‘Saríle!’ ‘Where are you?’ ‘Saríle! Come to me!’
With her being gone and not knowing which direction to follow, I despaired and began to panic. But I couldn’t wait, I had to decide what to do. I chose one corridor to follow, running to the end of it and pressing the door button that would lead into the next.
Smoke billowed out into the corridor I was in as the door opened.
‘Saríle!’ I screamed through the dense smoke.
I thought I heard her voice and took a deep breath, closing my eyes, holding close onto the wall. ‘Saríle?’ ‘Mom?’ ‘Dad?’ I shouted as I walked through, now noticing how afraid I was. There was no answer and I realized if there was any answer, I likely wouldn’t be able to hear it through all the noises. When I almost couldn’t hold my breath for longer, I had reached the end of the hall. I felt franatically for the door opening button that would be next to the door. I had to breathe a little but managed to press the button, stumbling into the next corridor which was free from smoke. The door closed behind me, as I fell to the floor and coughed. After some moments I got on my feet and looked around. There were no one to be seen, just the warning signal and monitors on the walls showing emergency messages. I knew I had likely lost where they were and I couldn’t go back through the corridor, the door had self-locked from this side.
I walked on heavily, not knowing what to do. Continuing past a metallic wall, my reflection showed in the mirror-like reflective surface, making me stop to look at it. My long blonde hair, face and plain dress were tousled and smudged with soot. My light gray-blue eyes were the only things that stood out. My expression showed the helplessness I felt.
A minute later the lights flickered and went out and were followed by red emergency lights turning on. I remembered that there were emergency capsules. I looked around if there was a plan of the sector on the wall that would show the direction.
Having found a map, I ran to the escape pod area, fortunately there were no obtrusions on the way. Getting there, I waited outside of a pod for as long as I dared, hoping they would make it here, before there was a strong shake making me fall down on the floor. Knowing I couldn’t stay and wait any longer I leaped into the capsule, connecting the seat buckles around me and pulled the lever that I had been taught would close the door and initiate the escape launch sequence. I leant my head back against the headrest in resignation, hoping they would make it to one of the other areas where there were escape pods. The voice countdown to release began. Ten… nine… I knew that the capsule would have had pre-programmed a route to the nearest station or colonized planet. I hoped that I had activated the capsule in time… five… four… The pod shook strongly from what must have been an explosion nearby. Two…