A Bigger Problem Than Expected

Following him and the beam of his torch for a few tens of metres in the dusty darkness, the group soon came to a heavy blast door, set in the rock. Kumar was waiting there, her optics glinting in the darkness and with her assault rifle held at the ready.

“What do you think of this?” Rackham pushed the door open and shone his torch into the area beyond.

"Can you get it open?" Cass asked.

"Tried," Rackham said, "I think it's locked on the other side."

Jay puzzled over the door for a moment before looking to Tanaka, "Care to scope it out?"

"Eh?" Tanaka frowned, confused.

"You're a hologram. Can't you just walk through?"

Tanaka grinned, "I like how you think. Give me a sec." Tanaka shook out his arms and closed his eyes. There was a shimmer, and his blue shirt shifted to red. "Be back in a tick!" he said as he stepped through the door.

There was a moment of silence, then Tanaka's voice sounded on the radio, "I'm through! It's dark! I can't see a bloody thing!"

"Is there any way to get the door open on your end?" Cass asked.

"I'm feeling around..." There was another pause, and then Tanaka let out a girlish scream.

"Tanaka???" Rackham shouted, "You alright, mate?"

"The walls... are covered. In SLIME!"

Everyone shot bemused glances at one another.

"C'mon, man. Is there a panel... or something?" Jay asked.

Another pause...

"...Yeah! I found it! Big button. I'm pressing it." There was a loud clang and the bolts within the door began to move. Then a ear splitting screech deafened the group as the door slid open. Rackham shined his torch and illuminated a somewhat annoyed Tanaka, who was still trying to flick sludge off of his fingers.

"Nice job," Jamie said to him.

"Yeah," Tanaka flicked his wrist again, looking rather undignified as he did so. "Any time..."

Rackham stepped behind Tanaka and scanned the area with his torch. The beam revealed an immense corridor made of massive tendrils adorned with pink leaves that wound tightly together. Sap dripped from the walls. It continued for what seemed like miles before it turned into a corner.

"Remind you anything?" Rackham cocked an eyebrow as he looked to the others.

"Looks like that bit in Aliens where the soldiers get picked off," Tanaka noted.

"Thanks, as if this thing wasn't eerie enough already," Jamie said.

"You've gotta be kidding me!" Cass exclaimed. "How did we miss this?"

"This thing looks like it spans the entire arboretum!" Jade said.

"Makes sense," Jay said, slightly under his breath.

"Why?" Cass turned to him, quizzically.

"Those bodies we saw," Jay continued. "That must've been some sort of spot where it takes people to..."

"Drain all the nutrients out of them," Jade said in a hushed tone.

"Why would it do that? It's a plant, doesn't it get its nutrients from the soil?" Tanaka asked.

"It ain't an ordinary plant," Jay said.

"On a ship in the middle of nowhere, with no one to tend to it. Where else would it be getting the necessary nutrients it needs?" Cass pointed out.

"And so it's been feeding on the people it snatches to grow..." Jamie shook his head in disbelief.

"Worse yet," Rakcham interrupted. "I think this sucker's still growing."

"What're you saying?" Cass asked him.

"I'm saying we may have a bigger problem to worry about than a supply issue."

"If it's breaches the other decks we could be looking at a lot of losses, maybe even the ship entirely." Kumar said.

"So then let's kill it!" Tanaka said. "Let's grab all the weed killer and petrol we can find and toast the bastard!"

"What about the daisies?" Jade said. "We're already so close! Maybe it'd be best to just get them and deal with this plant thing later?"

"I'm tempted to agree with you," Jamie said. "Though if Rackham's right, can we ignore this?"

Jay was now quietly contemplating, staring down at the floor intensely.

"Well we'd better figure it out soon" Tanaka said.

So what are the Dwarfers going to do?
<Cat voice> I hate these "either/or" questions!</Cat voice>

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