Carathumpian of Tethys

Acid Blood

Episode 4

"A clear mind can topple even the strongest will."

 


 

The light in the generator room was a dull yellow and slowly rotating, creating an overlapping shadowplay of dull grey shadows and golden cones around them. The dust they had whirled up in their entrance was drifting about the room and settling on the four men as they discussed.

"We have to go out again." Jac said, running his hands through his sweaty hair and stretching his back. He was standing in the middle of the group, the others were seated and morose.
"You go out there now and you're as good as dead, but be my guest, I'm taking a breather." Liams tone was terse and tired, he didn't look up from cleaning his gun  as he spoke.


"I have food, don't see what you're whining about." Red added innocently and produced a rationbar from his pack, he activated the heating on the little box and the smell of not-quite-meat and not-really-root-vegetables rose in the room.
He dug into it happily with an all-pupose knife as John looked over from his seat against the wall "Give me some of that? Thanks Red." He chewed on the lump of brown while thinking before continuing the conversation."Doc is right though, at some point we have to leave, and when we do we need a plan for how to handle that thing, any thoughts?"

"Shoot it?" Liam mumbled sarcastically from his maintenance routine.
"It's stupid mobile, and hard to spot – we have to corral it somehow for that to work." John, answered patiently, "could we get it into a bottleneck somewhere?"
"The short corridor leading to this room qualifies. " Red mumbled between bites, he passed the improvised kitchen utensil to John.
"That leaves us with nowhere to fall back to if it goes tits up, any other ideas?"

Jac stroked his chin stubble "If I can get to the control room over us we could drop one of those crates on it."
"Nice" John nodded "But we still need to go out there then and all the way to said control room for that to work."

Liam looked up from his rifle, he was done. "No matter what we come up with, we need to go back out there, but we are tired and that thing is right outside there now, so lets rest out a stretch and hope it fucks off." He leaned back against the wall and crossed his arms. "Think of something 'till I wake up yeah?"

The other exchanged some glances before following his lead.
 


The large blast door opened slowly accompanied by it's own low mechanical drumbeat.
John and Liam stepped through and into the short corridor leading to the cargo room, both were suited up and sweeping their weapons across every square inch, nobody spoke.

They advanced at a glacier rate to the point where the corridor opened up into the larger room. John backed into the room, his autoshotgun aimed up and above, scanning the walls and roof directly over them. Liam waved at the two others and followed him out, tracing his rifle across the containers surrounding them.
The four of them started on the path that would lead them to the Angelica, John in front, Liam watching the rear, the two others checking their flanks.

 


 

Jac and John were watching through the window as the crane moved the large container over the nest in the cargo bay.

"I think this thing is too smart for that trick" John mentioned, his gaze drawn to the shadows littering the room like plastic cups on a concert floor.
"It might work, as an ambush or distraction, you never know." Jac answered.
"Sure, what's next?" John said, his eyes didn't leave the dark hangar.
"Hooking the generator up with fuel" Jac looked up "We have to go back in."
"Of course" John grumbled "You know, Liam is saying we should just leave, pack up and go home."
"And you?"
"I say we fuck this teleporting invisible piece of shit up harder than anything we've ever fucked and piss on the corpse." He turned to the shocked engineer "But I'm a bit funny like that."

 



The generator hummed contently behind them as they returned to the cargo hold, as before it  was eerily silent, but now the lights were coming on, one by one, flickering the room from dull darkness to piercing neon glare.
A sound from behind the crates drew their attention, and four sets of leadspitters trained on the area.
"That must be it" Liam hissed.
"I'm going to see if I can track it" John  pressed the controls on his vambrace and a couple of small lights on his helm lit up a subdued blue. "There is too much steel between us, I don't have a clear lock on it yet."
Doc turned to him "Wait, didn't you say it could notice when you used the scanner?!"
"It already knows we're here, Doc." John replied.
"But what if -" Doc didn't finish his sentence as a black body dropped down in their midst and dark tentacles whipped out and threw him against the nearest wall. Liam was knocked over by a vicious appendage and John was pushed back by another.

Liam groaned and looked up to see Red being lifted by the throat, he was feebly swatting at the strong muscles as his feet treaded the air.

Yup, that's some cracked ribs again, but Red is getting it worse.

In the corner of his eye he saw John raising his room sweeper and then the whole hangar filled with automatic fire and light as the belter unloaded half a clip into the beast among them. Green liquid sprayed from countless wounds before it slumped to the ground in a fleshy heap.

Then the screaming started, Liam staggered to his feet just as he saw Doc fall over on his side screaming, his hands against his gut as steam was rising from his reinforced jumpsuit.

It's eating the suit.

He looked down at his own chest.
"Oh. Shit."

There was a clang as Johns weapon hit the metal floor, followed by a groan as he sank into a kneeling position, the tall belter looked at his blood covered glove.
Red hadn't moved since the monster dropped him.

I'm the only one standing.

 


 

Throwing the scapel to the floor and sitting down next to the immobile form of 'Red', Liams eyes met his "You still want to stay John?"
"Fuck no, L" John sighed and leaned against the bulkheads "Acid blood? …. that shit makes me want to go back home and become a farmer."


Liam chuckled, his gloves were red and he looked tired. "Indentured to a landowner? John Icarus? I think not, you would probably lead a revolution before the first month." He aimed red ringed eyes at his friend  "Your not made for normal work buddy, your parents saw to that, and Ranger training made it worse."
"None of us are" John grinned madly at the Earther, his teeth glistening with blood. "But maybe it's time to get off this ghost ship and save Red … You were right L."

The medic looked around the room at their unconcious companions "It's been known to happen."

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