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.
“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.