Hel’s Spawn

Earlier that day

Her preliminary search of each deck was fruitless; there was not yet any sign of the parasite creature that had birthed from Hel’s chest. Captain Adisa Bolaji took the body of Helen Bein out of the shower and wrapped it in a sheet. She called for Cham several times without a response, even attempting to get his attention through the intercom systems. The coward must have split. That could spell trouble for her. She might be on her own now. First she would have to dispose of Hel’s body, then figure out what to do next.

She dragged the body down to the bridge deck then out the airlock ramp to the forest clearing. Had she gone the other way she might have seen the body of Lyron Cham, but from her angle, the ramp was obscuring the view. She dragged Hel toward the towering trees on the port side of the ship and returned to the ship’s cargo hold looking for some kind of digging tool. She found a small military style trowel.

The ground was earthy and fairly easy to dig but her bandaged hand started to throb in pain again. She was working up a sweat and by the time she had a shallow hole ready it was already past midday. The forest was dim and cool and mostly quiet until she heard something moving fast through the foliage. Bolaji dropped the trowel and looked up with her pistol in hand. She saw now that it looked like a pack of wild cats, not much bigger than ship cats, chasing down a deerlike creature several yards away. Beautiful as it was, this planet was bound to have hostile fauna. As the pack turned from the deer and headed toward Bolaji, she abandoned the body beneath the ferns, leaving it to the beasts of the woods and headed back to the Sotillo as quickly as she could.

She closed the ramp and tried to hail Ladon aka Irving Shusett on the comm system. Nothing. After a few minutes, she followed in Cham’s footsteps, checking all internal comm systems and the external arrays. She decided to wait a while before going back out to check the ventral antennae so she instead went up through the dorsal airlock and saw the corroded dish engulfed in chittering insects. There were a few tools laying about but no sign of Cham. Fuck it. She would have to go to the colony on foot later fully armed and armored, but first she needed to get rid of the parasite.

Bolaji armed herself in Hel’s kevlar vest with a maintenance jack and holstered her pistol. What good would her shots be against a target so small and fast as the snake-like Hel Spawn parasite? And her knife had been eaten by the blood of that other parasite. She would have to smash the thing.

Turning off many of the inessential onboard systems that hummed and chattered, Bolaji continued the search trying to see if she could hear the creature moving around. At one point she thought she heard it somewhere in the ventilation ducts, but after an hour or so she gave up and turned the systems back on. The creature must have escaped into the woods while the ramp was open. Maybe she should just risk landing at the airfield. What did it matter if that bastard Cham was about to give her away? Damn. She decided to hold off and wait to see if Cham was coming back. Her later dose of pain killer was making her drowsy and before she knew it, Bolaji was falling asleep in the pilot’s chair.

7.3.5 SW
Early Evening SW-CP-Local Time
Wombwood > Sotillo > A Deck > Bridge

She awoke to sudden thunder. Rain smattered and streamed down the viewport. A bolt of lightning hit the ship. Shit! She jumped out of the chair in panic, blinking bleary eyed and looking around. Cham hadn’t returned and now the power was down. Bolaji stumbled through the dark of the bridge for the emergency kit from which she pulled out a flashlight. She would have to check the reactor and reboot the systems.

Heading up to the engineering shafts, she moved through the darkness with caution, checking the floor for any sign of the little alien. Thankfully it seemed to be gone. Before she even reached the reactor room, she could hear the machines humming. It was likely fine, and she didn’t think there was the chance of a cascade failure as long as she could ensure the cooling system came back online.

So she didn’t bother entering. Instead, Bolaji headed to the power maintenance junction and found the array of levers and fuses. The procedure was fairly simple. A few button pushes, switch flips and lever pulls later and the power had returned to the ship so she turned off her flashlight and climbed the ladder heading for the APOLLO mainframe. As she moved through the dark tunnel she brushed against a pipe, shiny and slick with something wet. ’Something’s leaking. Brilliant’. She hoped it wasn’t a part for the cooling unit. The mainframe should be able to tell her where the issues were.

As she wiped the slimy substance on her pants, the pipe shifted somehow, turned slightly and towered over her and that’s when Adisa Bolaji knew it was over. All that she could see was the reflection of the emergency and runner lights gleaming across the curved, menacing head with dripping metallic teeth of the creature that was about to be her doom. Hel’s Spawn had grown quickly. It was over in a flash of the thing’s sleek barbed tail.


< Prev : The Sad Man Next > : The Mausoleum