And far below…
in the dark roaring depths
in the splintering metal shell of the submarine, Gloriana’s heart boomed like a war drum in her chest, steady and insistent and refusing to yield, a battle cry pulsing in her blood, surging through her, calling her name—as if her name were a secret, a sound she’d never known. It was the voice of her father and yet it was not; it was the hammer of her heart and yet something else. Gloriana. A circle of flame and she was the center. All was lost, she realized. She was free. The world she’d known crumbled, fell away. She gave herself over to the wild foreign rhythm within.
It was a rhythm that commanded her to rise, reaching past Sasha in the wet crashing dark, over the sprawl of bodies and broken equipment to the utility locker and the emergency flares.
The flare ignited with a hot hungry rip, a flame Gloriana held high, stabbing the Control Room with pulses of light. The room was a glossy blur of fire and smoke and what seemed like rain; the deck was knee deep with freezing water.
“SASHA!” Gloriana called. “Level OFF!”
“We’re hulled!” Jack roared, struggling to contain a fierce spray of water. “We’re finished!”
“We’re not hulled!” Gloriana reached down and hauled Clive to his feet. He was badly shaken, nearly paralyzed.
“CLIVE,” she screamed into his face, “AUTO DAMPERS AND HYPER-HULL NOW.” She shoved Clive on his way and she splashed to Jack’s side, the icy water from the breach striking her like a battering ram.
“Looks like this is it!” Jack gasped.
“Maybe,” she hissed, “maybe not. Try Number Two!” Together they tried to turn the N2 pressure valve as the water gushed and sprayed, drenching them both. At the helm Sasha pulled the control grips back; the sub lurched, then seemed to lift, leveling off. Gloriana and Jack strained together with all their might. The yellow metal pressure valve turned with a shriek. The bulkhead rumbled with a menacing groan. Here it comes, Glori thought, ten zillion tons of ocean…
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