But Tanja Neddegard did not budge. Her arms tensed and still in contact with the panels whose color had turned a dull red. Her fingers now almost totaly inside the bio interfaces.

He saw her eyes roll in the back of her head and her mouth gape.
His instruments blared alerts of a rapid increase in her heart rate and neurological activity. Her tried to pull the young woman away but she was stuck fast. He looked down. The ooze was bubbling now.

Searing pain blistered across the stim feed, accompanied by bewildering of visions of alien vistas and unearthly skies. Pallid creatures stalked the scenes, which flashed past, one after another; slices of memory that flickered and blurred past into a shreking crescendo of agony, until everything suddenly went black.

Vidar’s eyes snapped open the instant the stim link went dead “Shit!”

Dakini, his chief of staff, sat forward in her chair, gently massaging her temples “What the fuck was she thinking?”

Erik>>Bloody idiot. I told her not to<

Vidar>>“We all did. Did you capture everything?”

Erik>>“Yeah, right up to the link going down. It’ll take a few days to analyse, but the good news is that I should be able to patch it into an alpha; so Tanja won’t have lack”

“If she actually survives this, I’m kicking her arse” Dakini stood and smoothed back her long white hair “What now, Vidar? Do we wait, or...”

Vidar slowly shook his head “We need those Frankish thugs prepped and on standby for an extraction” he raised his voice, for the internal comms system “Captain? Priority call”

There was no reply.

“Are comms down now as well?” he tried again “What’s the current location of the Captain?”

“The Captain is currently conversing with Mr. Alex Burman in the cargo hold” the ship’s AI replied in sonorous tones.

“Urgh” Dakini scowled and shook her head in disgust.

“I’ll head down there and let him know we’ve got an incident on our hands” Vidar stood and started towards the door “Let me know the instant if you hear anything from Tanja”


Back aboard the alien vessel, Neddergard’s knees gave way and she splashed down into the bubbling ooze, slumping awkwardly against the console, with her hands still immersed in it’s guts

Navarra shook the young woman by the shoulder “Tanja!?”

Her head lolled inside her helmet. Things were not looking good.

Navarra’s concern deepened as he rechecked her vitals. He was no expert, but by rights, he reckoned she should already be dead. With critically low blood pressure and enough neurological activity to suggest a seizure, he could only presume that the machines riddling the young Kalmar were the only thing keeping her alive.

The ship groaned and rumbled again, sounds he felt through his suit, rather than heard, and the chamber they were in lurched making the ooze swirl higher.

He made a vain attempt at pulling one of her hands out of the console, but it was no good - she was stuck fast. The only way he was going to free her was by damaging or even destroying the console - a priceless artefact, unique in human history, and the first evidence of alien intelligence that had ever been discovered; it’s destruction would be an unforgivable crime.

The only other alternative wasn’t appealing either. Navarra wasn’t sure if he would ever be forgiven if he amputated Neddergard’s hands. One thing was certain, though: The chances of him getting into her knickers tonight was looking increasing slim.

An alarm pinged.


Neddergard was flatlining. What the hell was he going to do?


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