Voyages of the Cerberus episode 19: Grace meets the Saboteur

Farah returned to their hotel, alone.

“Where were you?” Kat inquired.

“Grace and I went to walk Baron,” Farah answered. “Then Miss Uras showed up and took Grace to play. Grace came back, like, ten minutes later and took Baron.”

“I’m surprised that she was willing to let you go at all,” Allison stated, shaking her head in mock exasperation. “She finally gets you alone and she lets someone ruin it.”

“Did the Ca’urr mention Paul?” Leon asked.

Farah shook her head. “Sorry, she didn’t.”

“Scuse me,” A Ca’urr slightly taller than Kat came running in. “You’re the offworlders, right? There was an accident. I’m supposed to tell you.”

“What kind of accident?” Kat asked. “Can you, maybe, give more details?”

“Paul’s hurt!” Leon cried. “Dammit, Man, take me to him.”

“Kay,” the messenger said. “Follow me.”

“Hold up,” Kat commanded. “I’ll inform Ophelia and Lucy. I’m sure they’ll want to come as well.”

*****

Uras and Grace hurried into the Queller facility. Grace was wearing a studded collar and carrying a small tote bag.

“This is Grace Albrecht,” Uras introduced. “Our new trusted friend.”

“New trusted friend?” Uhthli muttered. “What has she done to gain our trust?”

“She’s been given clearance at the urging of her brother,” Uras answered. “The council felt that, under the circumstances, it might be prudent to believe in his word.”

“I just hope it isn’t a mistake,” Uhthli said. “Sorry, if I come across as crass, Miss, but I would rather not risk losing such an important piece of equipment due to carelessness.”

“No problem,” Grace said. “I’ve looked over the schematics and I think that I can repair it quickly enough that it’s not going to lose power.”

“You and I will guard her,” Uras stated. “I’m sorry. I know it may be asking a lot given that you were just released from hospital, but I need to keep a strong detail of trusted soldiers on this.”

“It’s no problem,” Uhthli said. “With this I can avenge my honour.”

Uras nodded. “Indeed. Shall we go?”

*****

They looked in on Paul. The top of his head and left eye were wrapped up in bandages. He lay completely still on the bed.

“What exactly happened to him?” Lucy asked.

“Accident,” their guide answered. “Don’t worry. They say if he can make it through the next five or six hours he’ll eventually recover. Scuse me.” He took off. Leaving them alone.

“You guys can do what you want,” Leon said. He pulled a chair up to Paul’s bedside and gently took his hand. “I’m staying with him until he wakes.”

“Grace should be here,” Ophelia muttered. “You say that she went off with Uras?”

Farah nodded. “Sorry. I don’t know where they went.”

“I wonder,” Lucy muttered. “Was Paul already injured when she came for Grace?”

“You think this was deliberate,” Ophelia observed.

“Let’s just say I’m being suspicious,” Lucy said. “The lack of details and the whole part about her coming for Grace so shortly before we hear about this make me think that we’re going to get called in to see Grace next. Probably shortly after she’s grabbed someone else.”

“But what’s the motive?” Kat wondered. “Paul saved them from a plague. Why would anyone on this planet want to hurt him?”

“Plus, this is Ca’urrg,” Allison added. “The planet with a violent crime rate so low that the largely pacifist population of Themis thinks of it as a great example.”

“I’ve heard of that,” Farah said. “They make pilgrimages here to ‘eliminate their bad thoughts’ or something, right?”

“Maybe so,” Lucy said. “But I’d still like to see the crime scene. Just to satisfy myself.”

“It might be difficult to find the accident site,” Ophelia said.

“Don’t worry about that,” Lucy stated, opening her eyes very slightly. “I’ll find it.”

*****

Grace examined the Queller, keeping her mind focused on her surroundings. first, she’d use the two tools that she’d brought to deal with the saboteur. When that was done she’d have time to worry about the Queller itself.

That was when she noticed it. It was a subtle difference, given that it was surrounded by similar looking circuits, but it looked like someone had added something extra. She was about to go over it with her diagnostic equipment when Baron’s barking head burst out of her tote bag.

She rolled to the side, clutching the bag close. A large metal pipe came down where her head had been.

“Thought so,” she muttered. “That explains why you were the only one who wasn’t hurt badly.”

“I still have time to deal with you,” Uhthli growled. He lunge for her, his fangs going for her throat. She blocked with her left arm, his fangs sinking into it. She reached into her bag with her right hand and brought out her trusty wrench. Then she beat him upside the head as hard as she could. He yelped in surprise, allowing her to pull her arm free. Then she hit him again and again. Pummeling him into unconsciousness.

She dropped the bloodied wrench and stroked Wolfie’s head. “Thanks for the warning, Pal. I’m just glad the inhibitor actually works. Even if it is bloody uncomfortable. How do you wear a collar so easily?”

Wolfgang reached his head over to her injured left arm, sniffed it, whimpered slightly and started licking the bite wound.

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Voyages of the Cerberus episode 18: Ca’urrg’s Secret

“Something is off about this situation,” Lucy said. “Definitely.”

“Okay,” Ophelia said. “What exactly convinced you of that?”

“I tried to follow Paul and Uras,” Lucy answered. “But it seems that everywhere they went there were Ca’urrs determined to block my path to them. At least until I lost them.”

Ophelia scratched her head. “Are you sure it’s not just a coincidence? Their culture is very heavily into the whole approaching people as friends thing.We were approached by quite a few ourselves while you were investigating.”

“It wasn’t that,” Lucy insisted. “There was a definite purpose behind their movements. They didn’t want me to see where she was taking him.”

“All right,” Ophelia said. “Let’s say that you’re right about this. Let’s say that the Ca’urrs deliberately blocked your path. What exactly might Paul and Miss Uras be planning?”

“Hard to say,” Lucy answered. “I’ll have to question the good doctor when he gets back.”

*****

“Three patients coming through. Two of them are in critical condition.”

“We’ll prepare the operating rooms quickly.”

Uras followed Paul’s stretcher. He was in a bad way, she knew and it was her fault. She’d brought him here, established his cover and failed to protect him.

His hand weekly reached up and beckoned to her.

“Don’t try to speak,” she whispered. “You need to save your strength.”

“C… can’t wait,” he gasped. “I… I know how t… to find your saboteur.”

He managed to whisper four words to her before losing consciousness.

“We need to get him into surgery.”

Uras nodded. “Do everything that you can for him.”

“Commander,” Uhthli saluted. “Request permission to aid the investigation.”

“At least let them examine you,” Uras ordered.

“What will we do now?” Uhthli asked. “We need to catch this villain quickly. Otherwise the engineers will keep ending up like Tyler.”

“I have a backup plan,” Uras said. “I’ll brief you on it once they clear you.” She looked towards the emergency room. “Let me know about their condition as soon as you learn anything. I have to go and begin the preparations for the backup plan.”

She headed away, hoping that Paul’s idea would work and she wouldn’t have to return with yet another comrade on a stretcher.

*****

Leon, Grace, Farah, Kat and Allison sat around a table. It was filled with a variety of meats as well as some fruitand there were a few things Farah couldn’t identify.

“He didn’t come back last night,” Leon muttered. “He didn’t come back last night.”

“I’m sure he was just looking after the pup,” Farah reassured him. “He’ll be back before you know it.”

“Farah,” Kat said. “I know you’re trying to help but just drop it for now. Leon is surprisingly needy. He won’t feel better until he looks into Paul’s eyes.”

“It’s almost a wonder that he can separate from him for long missions,” Allison added.

“That’s different,” Leon said. “When I’m on missions he’s on the ship with people I can trust. But he’s off on his own right now. What if the worst happened? What if he’s hurt? He has a terrible sense of direction. What if he got lost?”

“What if someone’s captured and doing unspeakable things to him?” Allison stated.

Leon’s eyes went wide and he started sniffling.

“Calm down” Kat said. “She wasn’t serious. Remember, this is Ca’urrg. That wouldn’t happen.” She glared at Allison.

“I didn’t think he’d cry,” Allison said, defensively. “I thought he’d get really mad and yell something about murdering them and their families.”

“That wouldn’t really be any better,” Kat said.

Farah felt a tap on her shoulder. She looked over at Grace who nodded towards the exit. Nervously, Farah excused herself and followed her.

“Did you need something?” Farah asked, looking at her feet.

“You can relax around me,” Grace said. “I won’t bite, unless you ask me to, anyway. I just thought you might like to leave the awkward situation and help me take Wolfgang for a walk.”

“Oh, sure,” Farah said. “I think I’d rather like that.”

“I thought you might,” Grace said. The two went to Grace’s room and picked up the little dog along with his leash. He followed them happily, wagging his tail and stopping to sniff things.

“There’s a forest over there,” Farah said. “I bet he’d like it there.”

“Then let’s go,” Grace said. “You want to hold his leash?” She held it out to Farah, who accepted it.

“I love dogs!” Farah declared. “They’re so cute and fuzzy.”

“I love em too,” Grace said. “Remind me to show you Wolfie’s hologram album later.”

“He has a hologram album?” Farah asked.

Grace nodded. “I’ve put him in all kinds of fun costumes. He’s very good about it.”

“Hi!” Uras jumped out at them. “It’s so good to see you again! Come on, let’s play!” She grabbed Grace’s hand and practically pulled her away. Farah was left holding the little Baron’s leash and looking perplexed.

*****

“What are you doing?” Grace demanded. “Take me back. I was…”

“Your brother is in hospital,” Uras said.

“He… what?” Grace stuttered. “H… how did he… Really?”

“I’ll explain,” Uras promised. “We just need some privacy first. I… I’m going to have to let you in on some secrets.”

She took Grace to a large building and into a sound-proofed room. “Do you need anything to drink?” Uras asked. She was using a small instrument to check for bugs.

“No, thanks,” Grace said. She noted the precision with which the Ca’urr woman worked. And how this whole situation was unlike anything she’d seen from them.

“We wouldn’t normally let outsiders know about this,” Uras explained. “Only a few trusted friends, like your brother, are aware of it. But he suggested that you could be trusted and I don’t have many options. But not even your own pack can know of this.”

“I’ll keep your secret,” Grace promised. “Once you get around to telling me what it is.”

“There’s a device that keeps Ca’urrg peaceful,” Uras began. “Keeps us safe from potential offworlder invasion. It’s called the Queller. The Queller suppresses violent  impulses, at least those of non-Ca’urrs. But there’s a problem we’re facing right now. Our mechanics have been stealthily attacked and the Queller is quickly starting to lose power. If it stops functioning while the Pacifians are here…”

“They will get medieval on your asses,” Grace said. “But I thought this thing suppressed violent impulses. How did someone manage to attack your people?”

“It has to be one of our own,” Uras stated. “At first, I thought it was an Offworlder with an inhibitor device. However, the last couple attacks have been in the Queller facility itself. With no Offworlders present, save Paul during the last one.”

“And you need my help?” Grace asked. “My engineering prowess?”

Uras nodded. “I won’t lie. It will be dangerous.”

“That’s fine,” Grace said. “I’ll just need two things and we’ll see if we can’t beat this traitor of yours.”

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Voyages of the Cerberus episode 17: A Saboteur Strikes

Uras and Paul entered an office building and quickly moved to the lift. Uras brought out a key, used it to open a panel and pushed three buttons underneath the panel.

“We’ll be there soon,” she said, as the lift began moving down. “I’ve got two of my men on standby to guard you. So don’t worry.”

“I’m not worried,” Paul said. “We’ll get this taken care of and your people can get the Queller running properly again.”

Uras nodded. “It’s show time.” The lift doors opened and the two walked out.

A couple of Ca’urr guards turned to them. “This is your friend, Commander?” one said.

Uras nodded. “This is our trusted friend, Tyler Morris. He’s agreed to help us fix the Queller. Tyler, these are Uhthli and Orhaf.”

“I’ve looked over the schematics thoroughly,” Paul said, adjusting his spectacles. “I’m confident that I can find the problem.”

“And Uras told you about our other problem?” Orhaf confirmed.

“Oh yes,” Paul stated. “Your saboteurs. I’m not worried about the likes of them. I’ll have everything running smoothly before they can make a plan to come after me.”

“I trust you two are prepared,” Uras said. “Remember, it’s your job to keep him safe while he works.”

The two saluted. “Yes, Ma’am.”

“Excellent. This way, Tyler,” Uras said. She led Paul away. Her comrades falling in behind them.

*****

Farah sat by the pool. She had a pad of paper in front of her and was carefully sketching, occasionally looking over for reference.

“Watcha doing?” Allison asked.

Farah quickly covered her work. “Oh… nothing really. Just drawing.”

“Whatcha drawing?” Allison asked. She craned her neck to try to get a look. “Let me see.”

“It’s not that interesting, really,” Farah insisted.

“You kept stealing glances over there, right?” Allison pointed. “Could it be that you’re drawing Grace?”

“No,” Farah said.

“You are!” Allison declared. “You’re sketching her in her bikini! Let me see!” She tried to snatch the pad, managing to grab a corner of it before Farah tried to pull it back. After some struggle, Allison managed to get the pad and looked at it. “Oh… It’s just Baron.”

“I never said it was anything else,” Farah stated. “Just give it back.”

“Oh, you put him in a little top hat!” Grace cried, taking the pad. “That’s so cute.”

Farah nearly jumped.”How long have you been there?”

“You two were making a commotion,” Grace explained. “I got curious. Still, that is a precious drawing. Look, Wolfie!” She held the pad out for the little dog at her feet. He sniffed it before sitting down near Grace’s feet. “Can I copy it when you’re done?”

“Sure, if you think it’s good enough,” Farah said.

“Awesome!” Grace declared, she handed the pad back to Farah. “Wolfie, sit here and pose like a good boy. I’ll go back to swimming.” The tiny dog wagged his tail and obediently sat, staring intently at Farah.

“Maybe when you’re done you can draw me,” Allison suggested. “I could wear some medieval style armour or do a super sexy pose.”

“Well… maybe,” Farah said, uncertainly. “If I can find the time.”

“You can just tell me no if you want,” Allison said. “I’m not going to cry to Ophelia and tell her you’re picking on me.” She headed off.

Kat watched the entire exchange, her eyes barely peeking over her book. She briefly wondered what kind of things Farah usually drew. Were animals here forte or did she do lots of different things? The sketchbook looked to be nearly full. She dismissed the thought from her mind. Ultimately, it didn’t matter. Not like she’d ever see what was in there.

Allison carefully crept up behind Leon. He was bent over a table, typing something into his handheld. She inched over and peeked over his shoulder only to quickly burst out laughing.

Leon’s face turned red and he shoved the device into his pocket. “The hell are you laughing at?”

“Sorry,” Allison giggled. “I just… I didn’t take you for the poetry writing type. Especially not such… flowery stuff. ‘Within your eyes I gaze at’…” she started laughing uncontrollably.

“Shut up,” Leon said. “It’s just some bullshit I scribbled out of boredom. That’s all.”

*****

Paul looked intently over the exposed circuitry. He had no idea what it was supposed to look like or how to read the diagnostic he was taking of it, but that wasn’t important. He just had to give the appearance of knowing. He kept his features completely impassive. Uras’ guards were watching him from a hidden vantage point. If something went wrong it would take them approximately ten point three seconds to come to his rescue. Plus Uras was monitoring the entire situation from very close by. The situation was pretty secure. Would the saboteur really strike under these conditions? Surely, they would figure out that there would be guards. Perhaps a trap of some kind… but they’d already checked the room for traps. So, where would they come from? He kept his eyes on the equipment.

*****

“All seems to be proceeding normally.”

“Thank you,” Uras said. She watched the monitor carefully, searching for any sign of trouble. that was when the entire control room went dark.

“We’ve lost power, Commander!” But Uras was already on her way. She raced from the control room to the area that housed the Queller’s main circuitry. It couldn’t have taken her more than a couple of minutes.

“Get the emergency vehicles here, now!” she ordered. “Uhthli, Orhaf and Paul were all down. With no sign of the culprit.

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Voyages of the Cerberus episode 16: Arrival on Ca’urrg

“We’re going to land on Ca’urrg soon,” Ophelia said. “The Doctor will treat Miss Uras’ pup and we’ll be on our way.”

“It may take a few days,” Paul stated. “I won’t know how sick the kid is or what he has until I examine him.”

Ophelia nodded. “In the meantime, the rest of us will be free for some leisure time.”

“Security isn’t going to be much of an issue,” Lucy said. “Violent crimes are virtually non-existent on Ca’urrg. Even those more militant species that have gone to obtain resource mining rights have always left peaceably after being rejected. But, right now, an envoy from Pacifia is in the midst of negotiations with them.”

“I don’t know much about Pacifia,” Farah said.

“they have a culture that heavily emphasises strength and the right to rule based on power,” Kat explained. “They’re known for picking fights just for the thrill of it.”

“I’m surprised they didn’t just attack the Ca’urrs immediately,” Leon said.

“Maybe the Ca’urrs aren’t considered a challenge,” Allison said. “After all, beating up on a bunch of them would be like blasting a pre-space travel planet from orbit.”

“It is possible,” Lucy conceded. “But if that is true then they may very well find our crew more worthwhile. So all of you should be on your guard.”

“We should pair up,” Kat said. “Just in case.”

“I’ll guard Paul,” Leon volunteered.

“No need,” Paul said. “I’ll be escorted directly to Uras’ residence. I won’t be anywhere near the Pacifica envoy.”

“You don’t think it would be wise to take him with you just in case?” Grace asked, staring at her brother with an upraised eyebrow.

“I know Fuzzy,” Paul said. “He’d be bored out of his mind while I did the examination and, since there is no real danger, it’s better to just let him go about his business.”

“You seem awfully confident of that,” Lucy observed.

Paul shrugged. “I’ve been to Ca’urgg before. I don’t anticipate any problems.”

*****

The Cerberus spent a couple days en route to Ca’urrg. During that time, Leon continued to train Farah in piloting her ship, Allison barged into the Engine room twice without knocking and Lucy kept watch over Paul, suspicious over his behaviour.

Finally, they arrived on the planet. The docking facilities were able to accommodate them right away and Uras was waiting when they disembarked. The entire crew came down, Grace was even holding Baron.

She ran up to them, her tail wagging. First, she greeted Ophelia with a lick on the cheek. Then Lucy, Kat, Leon, Grace, Allison, Farah and finally Paul.

“I got you all rooms over there,” she gestured at a large building near the dock. “It’s really nice. They have a pool with lots of games and they have a giant ball pit. It’s super fun to jump around and play in.”

“That’s… great,” Ophelia managed.

“Just give the clerk this and he’ll take care of you right away.” Uras handed Ophelia a laminated card. “Come on, Doc! I’ll take you right to my pup.”

Paul nodded, holding his medical bag close. “I’ll try to come back to the resort tonight,” he said. “Make sure to go to sleep on your own if I’m not there by midnight, though.”

“What if I’m not tired by then?” Leon asked.

“I packed your sleeping medicine. Take some,” Paul said. “You know how you get when you go without sleep.”

He hugged Leon and followed Uras away.

“You guys go ahead,” Lucy said. “There’s something I’m going to check.” She headed in the direction that Paul and Uras were going.

“Is she really suspicious of the Ca’urrs?” Farah asked.

Ophelia nodded. “There’s an ongoing disagreement on Akumil over whether the Ca’urrs are exactly what they seem or they’re feigning being a goofy, harmless species for some diabolical purpose.”

“Like stealing all our snacks,” Allison said. “Given who we’re talking about.”

“I would question what the purpose is,” Grace stated. “The Ca’urrs stay out of disputes, don’t do much trading and are just generally friendly towards all visitors. There’s really nothing they gain by acting like they’re a bit thick.”

“Maybe it’s about peace,” Farah suggested. “They act a bit clueless so that people leave them alone.”

“Yeah, but they could stay out of conflict without that,” Grace said. “There are plenty of planets that adopt a neutral stance.”

The group headed for their accommodations, discussing the possibility that the Ca’urrs were more than they seemed. They opened the door when Ophelia bumped into a Pacifican on his way out. Leon and Kat visibly tensed.

“Sorry,” Ophelia offered. “I didn’t see you.”

“Oh, it’s quite all right,” he said. “No harm done.” He nodded and headed away.

“Odd,” Kat muttered. “I rather expected trouble there.”

“So did I,” Ophelia said. “But I’m glad that I was wrong.”

“Yeah,” Leon agreed. “I’m not really in the mood for a fight right now.”

“That’s a first,” Allison stated.

*****

“Thank you for coming, Doctor, truly,” Uras said. “Your help should be invaluable.”

“It’s okay,” Paul said. “I’m glad to do it.”

“Your pack doesn’t suspect?” Uras asked.

“Lucy may be suspicious,” Paul said. “But the others don’t.”

“Oh yes, the Akumillian,” Uras said. “She tried to follow us, you know.”

“Doesn’t surprise me,” Paul said. “How is young Urun actually doing?”

“He’s well,” Uras answered. “He’s gotten very good at sport and is excelling in his studies. Except for art. He’s quite bad at creative things.” She stopped. “We’ll go through the tube under this cafe.”

Paul nodded. “I’ll admit that I’m a little nervous about this. I’m not accustomed to being bait.”

“Be at ease,” Uras said. “Even though they will come for you I won’t let them get too close. Our world owes you too much.”

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Voyages of the Cerberus episode 15: Called to Ca’urrg

“Secure your suit before we go,” Leon instructed. “During combat your cockpit could be blown open by enemy fire and it’ll give you some margin of safety. Hell, we had one trainee crash her ship and rupture the cockpit.”

“Really?” Farah asked.

Leon nodded.

“Well, my suit is secure,” Farah said. “I’ll do my best not to crash.”

“Good,” Leon stated. “I’ll follow you in the Healer. If you lose control just let go of your controls and let me tractor you.”

“Yessir!” Farah declared.

*****

“Off for her first flight,” Ophelia muttered.

“She’ll be fine,” Kat said. “Unlike some people, she isn’t the reckless type.”

“Who might you be talking about?” Allison asked. “Grace doesn’t even fly a ship.”

“Maybe the only person we’ve had crash during flight training,” Kat said.

“I hear that she’s quite sexy and became the best of all pilots,” Allison said. “Maybe Farah could also learn from making a mistake.”

“We have a transmission coming in,” Lucy reported.

“Good. It might be another job,” Ophelia said. “Patch them through to the main screen. Kat, keep monitoring the flight training.”

“Patching through,” Lucy said.

A humanoid form with a distinctly canine appearance appeared on screen. She had grey fur, hetero-chromatic blue and brown eyes, and a long snout.

“Hi.” she greeted. “Is my friend there. I heard he was there.”

“A Ca’urr,” Ophelia muttered. “You must be talking about the doctor, Paul Albrecht.”

“So he is there!” she cried. “Can I talk to him? Pretty please?”

“Sure,” Ophelia said. She pushed her communication button. “Paul, I’m sending a call to you.” She turned back to the Ca’urr. “I’ll patch you through to the medical bay.”

“Yay!” She declared. Her fluffy tail wagging. Ophelia transferred her to the medical communication console.

“I’ve always wondered how they mastered space travel,” Allison mused. “They’re such a silly species.”

“I wouldn’t be so sure,” Lucy muttered. “Ophie, Paul’s activated his security lockout. I can’t eavesdrop on what they’re saying.”

Ophelia shrugged. “It’s not a big deal. The Ca’urr’s are harmless. Maybe they’re discussing what happened on Ca’urrg.”

“There’s no reason for him to hide that from us,” Lucy protested. “Everyone but Farah knows and she wouldn’t be able to hear it anyway.”

“Honestly, you’re making this a way bigger deal than it needs to be,” Ophelia stated. “We can trust Paul. He certainly isn’t going to cause any trouble with a Ca’urr.”

*****

Farah turned, slowly, carefully. She knew the controls, but she still didn’t have a feel for her machine. It was highly responsive. That much was certain. The movements were smooth and natural. It was almost like turning her own body.

“You’re doing fine,” Leon’s voice came in over her radio. “Just remember that you’re in flight. You can fly up and down. You aren’t limited to one plane.”

Farah steered her craft into a slight descent, pushing forward at the same time. She wondered what it felt like to dive, ascend, turn and dodge quickly. Would she get motion sick her first time trying?

She increased her speed ever so slightly. Moving her craft up, testing its responsiveness at the increased speed.

*****

“This is so boring,” Allison said. “When is Farah going to kick that sucker into high speed?”

“Farah isn’t the type to just turn the speed up,” Kat said. “She’ll increase it, get the hang of the faster speed and repeat until she’s mastered the controls at every speed.”

“Captain,” Paul’s voice said. “I’m transferring the communication back to the bridge. Apparently, she has business to discuss with you.”

“Understood,” Ophelia said. The main screen switched back on. “I understand that there’s something you need from me, Miss…”

“Uras,” the Ca’urr woman said. “My pup is really sick. I need you to bring the doctor to help him.”

“Is this another plague?” Ophelia inquired.

“No, Silly,” Uras said. “The doctor fixed that already. This isn’t so serious.”

Ophelia looked over at Lucy. “Well, Ca’urrg is out of our way. I;’m not sure if we can make the stop.”

“I know. You take jobs!” Uras declared. “So I’ll give you ten thousand credits. Kay? I’ll even get the rest of you some nice rooms at a resort while he works!”

“You, Ma’am, have got yourself a deal,” Ophelia said. “Send us the coordinates and we’ll have him there quickly.”

“Sent,” Uras said. “Thanks much!” The screen went dead as she cut the communication.

“That’s a lot of credits just to have Paul give a kid an exam and some medicine,” Kat said.

“I don’t like it,’ Lucy muttered. “It’s far too suspicious.”

“I would normally agree,” Ophelia said. “But Ca’urrs are the least deceptive species out there. They also don’t care much for credits. So, I think it’s legit.”

“They do always turn down enormous offers from people who want mining rights for their resources,” Kat said. “I suppose there is truth to that.”

“Did you sense anything odd from her?” Ophelia asked.

“I didn’t get anything from her,” Lucy said. “Humans are easy to read. But Ca’urrs are either too open or too skilled at hiding.”

“Well, we’ll head over there and be on our guard,” Ophelia said. “I don’t think there’s going to be any problem, though.”

“I hope that’s the case,” Lucy said, her voice betraying her uncertainty.

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Voyages of the Cerberus episode 14: Leon’s Apology

Paul finished treating Kat and began the checkups. He started with Farah.

“It looks like you dislocated your shoulder,” he said. “Does it hurt?”

“A little,” Farah admitted. “I messed it up saving Kat from the chimera.”

“Why didn’t you say anything?” Paul asked.

“We were kind of busy surviving,” Farah stated. “I’m sorry.”

“No need to apologise,” he said. “I’ll have you fixed up in a couple minutes. Lie down and stay perfectly flat for me.”

Farah did as she was told. Paul moved her elbow up and began the treatment. It didn’t feel painful, exactly. It was more a strange buzzing feeling. Finally, the procedure was over. Paul grabbed his medical scanner and checked her arm again.

“There you are,” he said. “All back in place.” He grabbed an injector from his desk, filled it with a solution and injected her arm. “That should accelerate the healing process.Take it easy with that arm for a while. If it starts hurting at all, see me immediately.”

“Yes, Doctor,” Farah said. She tested her arm. It didn’t hurt and she was able to move it just fine. She quickly headed out of medical. Leon was leaning against the wall by the door, waiting for his turn. He nodded at Farah and hurried inside.

“Never do that again,” Leon said.

“What might you be referring to?” Paul inquired.

“Don’t ever try to sacrifice yourself,” Leon said. “I like being with you. I care more about your life than my own, so don’t ever try to pull that shit again.”

Paul sighed. “You aren’t the only one who feels that way, you know. Every time you go out on a dangerous mission, I grow restless. I worry that you might be hurt or killed and I know that all I can do for you is be here and dress your wounds when you return.”

“It’s not the same!” Leon insisted. “I would never voluntarily get killed on those missions. If I an return to you, I will. Always!”

“You are right about that,” Paul conceded. “I’m sorry. I won’t try that again. But there are a couple of people you owe an apology too.”

“Don’t know what you mean,” Leon said.

“Yes, you do,” Paul stated. “You jumped to conclusions and made threats. I’m sure both Kat and Farah will forgive you.”

“Fine,” Leon said. “I’ll say I’m sorry when you’re done examining me.”

“Good,” Paul said. “You’re in perfect health. You can get back to doing your duty as normal.”

*****

Farah moved to the bridge. She wasn’t sure what else to do after the examination. She wasn’t even sure when Kat was going to be able to take her for her first flight.

Allison was in the bridge, talking with Ophelia. She looked over when Farah entered.

“Hey, Newbie!” Allison declared. “How’s life, the universe and everything?”

“Just fine,” Farah answered. “Thank you, for coming to our rescue.”

Allison waved a finger. “Hey, I told you what payments I accept. Thanks wasn’t one of them.”

“Oh, right,” Farah said. She looked down at the ground for a moment. Then she walked over and kissed Allison’s cheek. “Thank you, I mean it.”

“I was joking,” Allison said. “But I’m totally gonna brag about this to Grace. She’s gonna be jelly as fuck.”

“Might not be the best idea,” Ophelia cautioned. She looked at Farah. “You’ll have to take your first flight with Leon. It’s going to be a bit problematic for Kat to be flying with her shoulder like that.”

“I wouldn’t go so fast, Ophie,” Lucy said, her eyes shut. “Farah might be having shoulder problems of her own.”

Ophelia and Allison both looked at her. Farah looked away from them. “I… I may have dislocated it using a toolbox to bludgeon that thing. The Doctor already treated it. So it doesn’t hurt anymore.”

“Well, that’s not so bad,” Ophelia said. “We’ll give it a couple days and if it hasn’t started hurting again then you can go out. Taking a leisurely flight shouldn’t strain you. Just don’t try to do any tricks or show off.” She glanced at Allison.

“I just wanted to do a barrel roll,” Allison said. “I just needed more practice at that time.”

The door slid open and Leon walked in. He stood by the door. “Farah, come with me real quick,” he ordered. Then he marched out of the bridge without another word.

“Ooh, what could this be about?” Allison wondered. “Maybe he wants to adopt you.” She grinned. “Could you imagine being his and Paul’s daughter? I bet they’d spoil you.”

“I’m not that much younger than him,” Farah protested.

“I’m sure it’s nothing bad,” Lucy said. “You should probably follow him.”

Farah nodded, hesitantly and walked out. Leon was waiting in the corridor.

He scrutinised her for a moment and stared up at the ceiling. “Sorry,” he muttered.

“Huh?” Farah asked.

“Sorry,” Leon said, raising his voice. “I shouldn’ta threatened you and Kat on that ship. I was pissed and wasn’t really thinking. It was hasty and stupid. So, I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay,” Farah said. “I… I think anyone would get like that if they thought someone they loved was being threatened, probably.”

Leon nodded and walked away. Leaving her in the corridor by herself.

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Voyages of the Cerberus episode 13: Blocked Engine Room

“You still good to run?” Leon asked, looking over his shoulder. The Doctor seemed to be acquitting himself well and keeping up, but Leon worried that he might be doing too much and exhaust himself.

“I’m just fine,” Paul answered. “I may not be trained for this physical stuff but I am in good shape.”

Leon nodded. “We’re almost there.” The two turned a corridor and came to a screeching halt. The door to the engine room was blocked by a pile of debris.

“The hell?” Leon asked. “Was there an accident here?”

“No,” Paul stated. “These were placed here. The cuts are consistent with the piles of garbage on the bridge. But these have been placed much more carefully to deny access to the engines. That thing must have anticipated someone trying this.” Paul scratched his head. “Is there another way in?”

“Yeah,” Leon said. “Ships of this design have emergency access tunnels. We just have to find the entrance. Come on!”

*****

Farah and Kat ran. They were still ahead of their pursuer, but their lead had been gradually lessening. Kat looked ahead of them. She noticed some rubble, including a metal pipe.

“Keep running,” Kat ordered. She had no choice, it would catch them soon if they did nothing. Farah needed time to escape and the boys needed time to disable life support. She scooped up the pipe and turned to face the chimera.

*****

“The Nebula is approaching the Prometheus,” Lucy said. ” But it looks like its emergency docking procedures are offline. She can’t get aboard that way.”

“Could Kat and the others have disabled them?” Ophelia wondered.

“It would be against our regular operating procedures,” Lucy stated. “More likely the bio-weapon’s doing.”

“So it’s a smart killing machine,” Ophelia said. “Wonderful.”

“Allison’s commenced cutting her way in,” Lucy stated. “It shouldn’t delay her more than a few minutes.”

“But do they have those minutes?” Ophelia muttered. “And how long will it take her to find them?”

She knew that she was being morbid and that she should trust her crew, but it was difficult to do so. Their enemy had been designed to kill and she had sent them right to it.

*****

The chimera stopped out of Kat’s reach. It carefully scrutinised her. Probably, she realised, trying to judge how effectively she could hurt it with her pipe.

It acted quickly. Kat barely had time to react, she swung the pipe wildly, ignoring the pain in her sliced open shoulder.She felt the pipe connect, but didn’t see where she hit it. Her opponent sliced upwards, cutting her weapon in two. She tripped backward and braced herself. That was when Farah jumped in, swinging a heavy metal toolbox into the side of its head, causing it to stagger away.

“Let’s move!” she cried, pulling Kat up. The two ran, hand in hand. Their opponent recovered quickly and resumed its chase.

******

Paul and Leon crawled through the tube. Leon took point since he knew the layout. “Almost there,” he said. “It’s just…”His voice trailed off. The route to the engine room had been blocked off. “Dammit!”

“Any other routes?” Paul asked.

Leon shook his head. “I think we’re going to have to fight that thing.”

“Then we should hurry,” Paul said. “While we still have backup.”

*****

“You can let go of my hand,” Kat said. She glanced over her shoulder. They had maybe a minute or two before it closed in on them.

“No,” Farah said. “If I do you’ll go off on your own again. I don’t leave my comrades behind!” The two turned and found themselves in a hallway filled with debris. They were out of room to even try to escape.

“Did it herd us here deliberately?” Farah panted.

“Doesn’t matter,” Kat said. “We have to fight our way past it. On my mark we rush it. You go low, I’ll go high.”

Farah nodded. The two stood side by side, prepared to stake everything on this last rush. The chimera circled towards them, cautiously.

“Surprise, Asshole!” a familiar voice called out. The chimera as a canister landed at its feet, gas exploding from it. The creature staggered for a moment, trying to force itself to stay up, before collapsing. “Sexy space warrior Allison Aiza to the rescue!” Allison declared. “I accept old games, credits or kisses from cute girls in appreciation.”

“How did you get here?” Kat asked.

“I brought the Nebula,” Allison answered. “I’m glad you two had your helmets on. Otherwise I’d have had to carry you and you’d have slept through my awesome rescue and speech. That would’ve just been rude and reflected poorly on you. Where are the guys?”

“They went to destroy the life support system,” Kat answered. “Let’s find them and get out of here.”

*****

The three quickly met up with Paul and Leon. Leon was able to replace the fuel line while Kat got the shuttle started. Allison left on the nebula, enlarging the hole as she did to enable the shuttle to exit. Finally, they were able to get out.

Ophelia was waiting when they docked. “Welcome back,” Ophelia said. “It’s good to see you all alive and well.”

“I have to give Kat some stitches,” Paul reported. “I’d like to examine Farah and Leon as well. Just to be safe.”

“Of course,” Ophelia said. “And I’ll have Lucy look you over later. You three cooperate with Paul. I have some business on the bridge. ” She excused herself and hurried back.

“Lucy, target the Prometheus and fire,” Ophelia ordered. “Once it’s destroyed we’ll make our way to the rendezvous.”

“The Alliance won’t like it,” Lucy said. “They’ll want their toy back.”

“That thing almost killed the bulk of my crew,” Ophelia said. “What the Alliance wants, I just don’t care about.”

“Agreed,” Lucy said. “Just making sure.” She fired, hitting the engines directly. Without shields, the ship was quickly blown to shreds.

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Voyages of the Cerberus episode 12: Splitting the Party

The four ran down the corridor. Occasionally, Leon or Kat would push something over or open fire over their shoulders in a vain attempt to slow their pursuer.

“What do we do?” Farah asked.

“We have to lose it,” Kat answered. “And double back to the shuttle. If we can get enough time we may be able to repair it.”

“I’m game,” Leon said. “How do we do that?”

“Not sure yet,” Kat stated. “We need a plan. Preferably before we get tired.”

“I’ve got one,” Paul said. “There only seems to be the one creature if I can get its attention the rest of you should be able to get away.”

“No!” Leon yelled. “Absolutely rejected.”

“It’s the only way,” Paul argued. “One of us has to go and you three are better equipped to fight it and escape.”

“Rejected,” Kat said. “It may be a rational plan. It might even work, but we don’t sacrifice our own. No matter the circumstances. We’ll have to think of something else.”

“For the moment, we need breathing room,” Leon said. “And a chance to catch our breaths.”

“A security door,” Farah said. “We head to the first room with one and jump in.”

“But it can slice through those,” Paul reminded her. “And there won’t be anywhere to run.”

“It’ll at least buy us some time to think,” Kat said. “We’ll do it.”

*****

Allison tapped her foot rapidly. She was quickly losing her patience. Ophelia stared at her view screen intently, worry creasing her brow. The Bridge door slid open.

“I’ve got your delivery system,” Grace reported. “Just put a canister of the gas in and spray it everywhere.”

“Good,” Ophelia said. “Now we just need the gas itself. I’ll check on Lucy’s progress.”

She strode out of the bridge, moving quickly and purposefully.

Grace looked over at Allison. “Make sure you get Farah out of there. My brother too. He may be odd and kinda delicate, but he’s the only brother I’ve got.”

“Don’t you two have an older brother?” Allison asked.

“Not one either of us is going to claim,” Grace said. “Just get them out of there.”

Kat reached the chambre first and positioned herself by the door release. Leon grabbed Paul and ushered him in, worried that he might still try his plan. Farah brought up the rear and Kat slammed the release, forcing the large door shut.

They looked around. They appeared to be in someone’s quarters. Holograms showing scenes of family members, lovers, friends, colleagues or a mixture of the four lined the walls. The room also had a variety of synthetic plants.

Farah was startled out of her study of the room when the loud sound of scratching hit her ears.

“We need a plan, fast,” Kat said.

“It’s a tough opponent,” Leon said. “Smart enough to disable our craft in such a minor way that we wouldn’t notice to try and lure us in. Strong enough that our weapons are useless.”

“It probably disabled the systems on this ship too,” Paul stated.

“Leaving only the life support and reserve power,” Kat said.

“That’s it!” Farah said. “Strong and smart as it is, it still needs to breathe.”

“No shit,” Leon said. “Your point?”

“We can survive for a while with the oxygen reserves in our suits,” Farah said.

“So we take out the life support,” Kat said. “And suffocate the bastard.”

“It should work,” Paul said. “We just need a way out of here.”

“We blow the wall,” Leon said. “Set one of the blasters to overload and run like hell through the hole.”

“It should work,” Kat said. “But we’ll have to combine it with Paul’s plan.”

“No!” Leon screamed. “We are not sacrificing him! I swear that I will kill everyone here except for him before that happens.”

“Calm down,” Kat said. “We aren’t sacrificing anyone. We all put on our helmets. We blow the wall with my blaster. Farah and I leave through the hole. You and Paul hide in the restroom and wait for it to follow us before leaving through the cut open door. Whichever team reaches engineering first blows it with the remaining blaster.”

“And if it comes for us instead of following you?” Leon asked.

“I’ll have to count on your strength,” Kat said. “Either way, we have to hurry.” She looked at the door. The creature’s blades were starting to come through, but it didn’t have enough room to peek in yet.

“Fine,” Leon said. “We’ll do it.” He took Paul’s arm and the two hurried into their hiding place. Kat set her blaster to overload and placed it against the wall. She and Farah quickly took cover. Farah glanced at the door, watching as the hole grew larger and larger. Finally, the wall blew and the two ran into the adjourning quarters, running out the door. The chimera stopped its work cutting into the door, glanced directly towards where Paul and Leon were hiding, and then made up its mind and chased after the ladies. Paul and Leon waited until their footsteps started to fade before running out, heading in the opposite direction.

*****

Ophelia paced back and forth. “How much longer?”

“You can’t rush chemistry,” Lucy said. “I know you’re worried about them, but they’re a skilled group. They can make it.”

“We thought that about Jane once,” Ophelia said. “I don’t want to lose anyone else.”

“It may be inevitable,” Lucy stated. “This isn’t exactly a safe line of work, but I don’t think it’ll happen today, at any rate. Because I’ve just finished.”

“we’ll get it to Allison and send her over right away,” Ophelia said. “I just hope she’s in time.”

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Voyages of the Cerberus episode 11: Chimera

It all happened quickly. First, the creature seemed to absorb the blaster fire without getting hurt. It charged them. Farah noticed Leon position himself between the creature and Paul out of the corner of her eye. Katie was more proactive. She grabbed a piece of debris and rushed right for it, knocking it to the side and earning a nasty cut across her shoulder for her efforts.

“Run!” she cried.

The four hurried out the door, the beast following close behind.

*****

On the Cerberus’ bridge, Ophelia was watching her view screen and tapping her fingers against her chair impatiently. Lucy was rapidly typing away at her console and whistling to herself, her eyes slightly opened. Allison was leaning against hers with her eyes half-closed.

Allison yawned.

“Are the sensors breaking through yet?” Ophelia asked.

Allison glanced at the controls in front of her. “Nope.”

“You really should take more pride in your work,” Lucy said.

“Grace’ll tell us when they’re up,” Allison said. “My staring at it isn’t gonna help.” She craned her neck towards Lucy. “What are you doing that’s so interesting, anyway?”

“Hacking into their system,” Lucy said. “Soon I’ll know their mission, who they’re carrying and everything else.”

“I’m sure that’ll be great reading,” Allison said. “Alliance ship Whatever, no one cares. Carrying a survey team to see if we can free our heads from our own asses.”

“I think this may be more illuminating than that,” Lucy stated. She looked at her screen.

*****

The four stopped briefly and Paul quickly dressed Kat’s wound. “I’ll have to give you stitches when we get back,” he said. “But this will suffice until we reach safety.”

“Is it not following us anymore?” Farah asked, looking back.

“Did we hurt it more than we thought?” Leon wondered.

“I don’t think so,” Kat said. “What kind of creature is that, anyway? Any of you guys know?”

Farah shook her head. Leon shrugged.

“Not a natural one,” Paul answered. “The way it’s built would make no sense if it had evolved naturally. My guess is that it’s some kind of bio-weapon.”

“So that leaves us with who made it and where are its handlers?” Kat wondered.

“I think getting off the ship is more important,” Farah said.

“The kid’s right,” Leon said. “Time enough to worry about who’s fighting the Alliance when we’ve saved our skins.”

*****

“Can I get a sensor check?” Grace asked over the intercom. “I think I may have gotten it.”

Allison checked the console. “I’m getting life readings,” she reported. “But all I can tell you is that there are five of them. Where they are, what kind of life forms they are. I can’t tell you that.”

“At least it’s something,” Ophelia said. “But only one survivor…”

“That’s probably not true,” Lucy said. “According to this, the Prometheus was a science vessel. They were designing the prototype for a new bio-weapon, code-named the Chimera. It was designed specifically to be released on an enemy ship where it will wipe out the crew and disable everything but life support. They even made its hide immune to blaster fire and resistant to most types of grenades. It’s a brutal and efficient killer. After it deals with the crew, they’ll use a specially designed anesthetic to put it to sleep and break into the enemy’s computer banks for information. Their captain was completing the forms to request a field test. They were never quite finished, though.”

“It got out,” Ophelia muttered. “Damn! We’ve sent them into a mess.”

“I’ll get in the Nebula and jet over there,” Allison said.

“Wait!” Ophelia cried. “I’m not sure what you’ll be able o do for them. Not as things stand, anyway. Lucy, do we have the stuff to make this gas of theirs?”

“Paul probably has all of it in medical,” Lucy answered.

“Can you make it?” Ophelia asked.

“It’s not really my area of expertise,” Lucy stated. “But I could probably trudge though it.”

“Do it!” Ophelia ordered. “We’ll have Grace whip up a delivery system for it. Then, Allison will go over and use it to knock that damn thing out.”

“It may be too late for them by the time it’s finished,” Allison said. “Is it really okay for me to wait?”

“There’s no real choice,” Ophelia said. “We’ll have to count on their skills to keep them alive. Keep monitoring those life signs. I want to know the second anything changes.”

*****

They made their way to the docking bay. They were on edge, keeping an eye out for their foe.

“Did it give up and go back to the bridge to eat?” Farah wondered.

“More likely it’s waiting somewhere to trap us,” Leon said. “Wouldn’t it be just our luck if we get to the bay and it jumps out to rip our faces off?”

“Leon,” Kat cautioned.

“He has a point,” Paul stated. “We don’t know how smart this thing is, but if it was artificially created as a weapon it probably has some sense of strategy and the docking bay would be a good ambush spot.”

“Point taken,” Kat said. “We’ll approach with caution.”

They stopped at the entryway, not wanting to peek or go inside. Kat studied the inside. Their shuttle was tantalisingly close and undamaged. Farah tapped on her shoulder and pointed. Kat followed her finger and her blood froze. Her judgement had been hasty. The shuttle’s fuel line had been cut. You could barely see it from the entrance. Their only means of escape and it was going to be useless unless they could find time to effect repairs.

Kat motioned for everyone  to get back. They were starting down the corridor when the creature burst out of their shuttle’s door. They fled and the chase was on.

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Voyages of the Cerberus episode 10: Aboard the Derelict

“Stay close to me,” Leon entreated. “Whatever happens on there just stick close to me. I’ll keep you safe.”

“I’m certainly not going there to sight see,” Paul said. “You don’t have to worry about me wandering about.”

“I’m more worried about what’s waiting for us,” Kat said. “This reeks of a trap. Paul, you’d better carry a blaster, just in case.”

“That would be ill-advised,” Paul stated. “In an emergency situation I would be just as likely to hit one of you by mistake as the enemy. My medical training didn’t exactly include aiming a pistol.”

“Suit yourself,” Kat said. “If things do get hairy just take cover and stay out of the way.”

“We’re approaching them now,” Farah reported. “Do we cut our way in?”

“No,” Kat said. “This time we’ll use the docking bay. Since they called for help we should be able to initiate the protocols fairly easily.”

“But if it is a trap whoever’s behind it will be able to track us,” Leon said.

“And if it isn’t we would have blasted through their hull, potentially killing some of the people we came to help,” Kat said. “We go through the docking bay.”

Kat tried to reach someone on their ship, but there was no response. Fortunately, she was able to get the bay’s automated systems to open it for them. They parked their shuttle inside and waited for the bay to close.

“The bay is pressurised,” Kat said, checking the instruments. “Farah and I will take point. Leon will guard the rear. Doc, you stay in the middle. If we see any injured people we’ll stop so that you can treat them.”

The four headed out of the shuttle, keeping in formation. There was no sign of anyone. The only sounds were the dim whir of the life support system.

The first thing Farah noticed when they reached the corridor was the rusty stain against the metallic wall. “Is that blood?”

“It is,” Paul confirmed.

“So, why did they leave the wall like that if they were well enough to walk away?” Leon wondered.

“I don’t know if we can say that they were well enough,” Paul said. “The floor is stained as well. It looks almost like the injured person was dragged off.”

“But to get them help or for another reason?” Kat pondered.

The four kept moving, encountering no one and hearing no sounds of life. They eventually came across a door that had a massive hole torn into it, seemingly from blades.

Kat cautiously peeked in, keeping her back against the wall. She relaxed her body instantly. “No one’s in here.” She led the group inside. The room had several lockers filled with blasters, grenades and other assorted weapons. There was no sign of life.

“Looks like this was an armory,” Leon observed. “But why was the door blown open if the intruders were just going to leave everything?”

“Unless it was done to keep the intruders out,” Farah said.

“Someone was in here,” Paul said. He pointed at the wall. “That’s brain matter. Given the way it’s spread, it looks like it was a point blank blaster shot.”

“These too,” Kat said, noting a nearly identical stain on the opposite wall and one on the ceiling.

“How did the intruders get close enough to shoot them like that?” Farah wondered. “I mean, if there were three of them shouldn’t they have been able to hold them off? Especially with all these weapons.”

“And where are the bodies?” Leon added. “Who cleans out the corpses and leaves the bloody stains?”

“At least we know someone’s alive and active,” Kat stated. “But are they friend or foe?”

“There’s something else that bothers me,” Paul said. “If the intruders had blasters, why did they rip the door open like that? It would have been simple enough to overload one of them and blow it open that way.”

“It’s also not tactically sound,” Kat added. “I’m not sure what they used to slash the door open, but it couldn’t have been done instantly. The people who were in here would have been able to fire through the hole while it was still small.”

“And yet there are no signs of blood near the door itself,” Leon observed.

“I’m sure we’ll be able to figure out what happened when we find the survivors,” Farah said. “Let’s keep going.”

“Agreed,” Kat said. “Speculating won’t help us.”

The four continued, making their way towards the bridge. They found several more areas with blood staining the steel, but never any bodies. Never any signs of life.

The bridge was a mess. The consoles and furniture had all been uprooted and tossed to the side. The floors were sticky with blood. Paul put on his gloves and pulled up a small white fragment. “Bone,” he muttered. “Human bone.”

“This is the most blood I’ve ever seen in one spot,” Leon muttered.

“Why here?” Kat muttered. “Why move everything here and nowhere else on the ship?”

“It’s predatory behaviour,” Paul’s voice was so low that Farah could barely hear him. “It brings its prey here to consume it.”

“What’s that, M’Love?” Leon asked.

“We have to get out of here!” Paul declared. “We have to get back to the shuttle before…”

The three turned to the sound of the bridge door sliding open. The thing that came through had razor sharp blades jutting from its forearms, compound eyes and razor sharp teeth jutting from a long, needle-like snout. Fragments of human flesh were stuck in them. It had long, muscular limbs and a smooth, armoured body.

Kat, Leon and Farah turned and opened fire. The creature dropped the corpse it was carrying and ran towards them, showing no signs that the blaster bolts had fazed it.

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