Marsh laughed slightly and instantly regretted the action. It was a release of tension and the sudden jolt of the door release mechanism. The airlock beyond the outer doors was large, easily four metres wide and six metres deep. It seemed incongruous considering the size of the corridor, but it was practical. The airlock might serve as docking airlock at some future point so would have to be large enough to stow equipment and allow the passage of bulky goods. There were recesses in the walls and hatches for that purpose.
Marsh and Drick moved forward. Drick indicated to Marsh to place his helmet back on which he did as swiftly as he could before they pulled the release lever to close the outer doors. Once again there was a clunk of a mechanism unlocking and then the doors slowly closed shut. It was clear from this side that the doors were operated by massive hydraulic arms. The structural fittings were clear on the inside of the hatchway where they attached to the door and slid smoothly into the wall..
There was the slightest of clangs and a hiss as a pressure seal activated. To one side a small flashing light suddenly stopped its amber blinking and turned a solid green. Marsh moved over to the panel so that he could start the activation sequence that would cycle the airlock and open the inner doorway.
The panel was fairly simple. A small readout, a series of small safety lights and a few buttons. The airlock would function as a decontamination chamber if needed, but while still part of the larger vessel those functions were blank. Marsh reached out to tap the cycle airlock button which would check the pressure on both sides of the lock and equalise. His hand never reached the switch.
There was no warning as suddenly the floor below them and the ceiling above became opposingly charged surfaces. Immediately a current of electrical energy surged through both of them as the two poles discharged via the shortest possible route. Marsh felt his body arc backwards wrenching his spine and sending his arms flailing outwards. He couldnâ€™t see Drick through the blood haze that suddenly blurred his vision.
The charge lasted for a microsecond, but the two bodies sprawled on the ground lay twitching for several seconds until their convulsing limbs finally rested. There was a slight pause and then a clunk as the inner airlock door slid slowly open.