The two of them looked at one another in the light of the flare.
“Shit aim, thank god.” The Captain sighed. “Do you think they sabotaged the rope?”
The Navigatrix was frozen, thinking.
“Nav. Can we get up this rope?”
She snapped back to the Captain.
“Sorry, I thought I heard something.” She handed the flare back to the Captain. “Let me test it.”
And so she was four or five feet up the rope, really putting her weight into testing it, when she froze, staring–
“Captain. Behind you.”
The Captain turned, and stared into the darkness of the cave, and at first all she was was the flare reflecting in the ripples of the water, but as her eyes adjusted, it was unmistakable – something had lit up in the depths of the subterranean lake.
“Is that where the water came in?”
The Navigatrix’s voice had a sharp edge to it. “I don’t want to find out, Captain. I want to get you out of this cave.”
The light was bright enough now it had a tint – maybe it was a faint teal? No, it was red, magenta, really – no, both.
The Captain tore her gaze away and looked up as the Navigatrix made her way back down to the raft.
“We’re going to have to trust this rope, Captain. I’ll get you hooked up, and then you get up as fast as you can, and I’ll follow as soon as you’re steady.”
“Nav, I can’t climb.”
They both looked at the Captain’s bad knee, visibly twice the size of the other one.
“I can’t bend it.”
The Navigatrix stared into the middle distance with visible distress on her face, and then snapped back to the Captain.
“There should be a second rope up there.”
“You’re gonna drag me up this cliff on your own?”
“The Engineer sent instructions. I can do this. Just…” and the Navigatrix turned to look at the growing glow as she put a hand on the Captain’s arm, then made eye contact again. “Just don’t die.”
The Captain nodded. “Go!”