“The weapon's Belmont radiation has hit its apex,” Trak said, as he reviewed the Afterthought's muddled sensor data. “Less than a minute before the cannon explodes."
Standing on the ceiling, Daniel leaned against a nearby wall to steady himself. The Afterthought's shock absorbers kept the weapon’s motion from tearing them apart, but it couldn't hold back every vibration.
There’s still a chance the Kep Effect will upgrade our engine, he thought desperately. Or make the engine more efficient, or —
“Daniel?” Trak said.
Daniel turned and watched in horror as the lower half of his friend started melting.
Trak's legs smoked and burned, all four of them torched with blistering infrared radiation from the Kep Wave. As evidence of the Kep Effect's random nature, the ceiling around Trak went untouched by the heat.
“This is certainly different,” Trak said.
While Trak felt no pain or fear, his internal sensors told him he was missing 50 percent of his mass. He had multiple redundant systems and found the injury merely an interesting occurrence.
Daniel, however, was shocked. He hadn’t really thought Trak could be damaged. Now his best friend sat in a metal slurry of what had been legs.
“I’m so sorry, Trak,” Daniel said. “We’ll fix you after the engine’s repaired—
Then Daniel realized he hadn’t heard the ping sound of the Quantum engine’s activation.
I ordered Rachel to fire it up the second the Kep Wave hit!
“Rachel! Why didn't you—?! Never mind. Fire up the engine now! NOW!” he yelled.
“Don't shout. And I didn't activate the engine because I can't tell if the Kep Wave has upgraded it yet,” Rachel-7 said, sounding strangely distant.
“If we activate the drive before—” she said, and stopped.
Daniel could have sworn he heard her grunt in pain.
He knew what she was going to say: if they activated the drive and the Kep Effect hadn't upgraded it ... the ship would burn up trying to pass through the Onean shield.
But we can't wait any more! Daniel thought. The cannon could go at any time!
“Just do it!” Daniel shouted.
Rachel-7 entered the activation code. Daniel heard a satisfying ping sound.
And the 17-ton Quantum drive fell apart.