The Claw

8.3.6 SW
Afternoon
Wombwood > On the bridge of the Sotillo

Saygin backed towards the comms terminal, keeping his eyes and rifle trained on the hole in the viewport.

The buzz of comms static was low and quiet but in his state of fear, it rang loud in his ears. Suddenly an outgoing message on repeat kicked off and went out across the frequency.

--tzzt Yo, skinny, come in. This is the Sotillo. Over. tzz--t

--tzzt Lodi? Laddie? Pick up. Requesting immediate fuckin' assistance. tzzt--

Then it went to a plateaued, quiet static again...

Saygin tried to override the outgoing repeater to send a wide-band message of his own.

There was no response.

"Shit. Fuckin' interstellar broadband can't make it over a little fuckin' hill." Saygin kicked the comms array, then started weighing his options.

He edged closer to the hole in the viewport to see if he could make the drop. He really didn't want to leave the way he came in.

The scraping sound came again from the starboard landing gear below the viewport. Now he could hear it just outside the viewport before seeing a large black claw attempting to get a grip on the glass.

Saygin steadied himself for an aimed shot at the grasping claw which slipped a couple of time before finding purchase on the steel support.

HE fired three controlled shots at the claw. The first two split into glass and steel surrounding it but the third bullet met its mark, taking off fingers. A hail of liquid sprayed the window. The claw was no more and there came a blood curdling shriek followed by two sickening thuds down below.

Before he knew it, the viewport glass was warping and melting strangely into a sort of liquid, then dripping out of its frame as the steel supporting it started to fizzle as well.

"What the hell!" Saygin knew jumping was out of the question now, and the fumes from the melting glass were burning his eyes. He backed towards the comms panel again, plugged in his SDD, and looked for another way off this death trap.

A Deck Ventral Egress Landing Ramp
C Deck Ventral Cargo Elevator (where you entered)
C Deck > Cargo Bay > Class C EEV Type 337 FTL Shuttle
D Deck > Dorsal Access Hatch

Saygin sealed all but the relevant doors again, stowed his SDD, and moved for the D deck. He wanted to put as much steel between him and whatever the fuck that thing was as he could.

Moving up to D Deck, Saygin found the dorsal airlock hatch wide open. As he climbed out to the top of the ship, he noticed immediately the buzzing of insects. Storm Flies. They covered the dorsal comms array, eating away at the metal and blinking their bluish bio-luminescent glow. Generally the things were just a nuisance that came in the summer and ate away at the electrical wires and comms arrays of the colony, but when agitated they could shock you and give off high doses of some bio-generated radiation. These ones were bigger than what he had ever seen before.

Luckily, they ignored Saygin completely from the distance he stood. Saygin also noticed a tool belt splayed near the comms. It seemed someone had been up here lately, but now they were long gone.

He backed into the ship slowly, making sure not to agitate the swarm, and looked around for the nearest single-entry-point room he could seal himself in. He needed to catch his breath and plan his next step. The closest rooms were the cryochambers and the armory. Saygin looked for the closest point to patch in and realign the doors to get to the Armory.

It was no issue with his SSD. Inside he found very few weapons and none were any better than what he already carried. Instead the armory seemed more like a workstation with work bench covered in lubricant, grease, and spare 'Seegson Working Joe' parts.

Saygin decided to try for the ventral ramp off A deck. He figured that was closer to his cruiser than the dorsal hatch anyway. Make for an easier sprint if he could ever get off this goddamn ship.

Climbing back down through the Sotillo and into the bridge was less stressful this time as there was no sound coming from outside. Access to the ventral ramp was located just behind the bridge. If he lowered it, it would put him right under the ship with boots on the ground.

"Ah shit...... No time like the present." Saygin pressed the button to lower the ramp, ran to the end that would tough down first, and readied his rifle to fire on anything that moved.

He saw nothing in the clearing but the melted glass and steel.

Saygin took off running at a full sprint the moment the ramp hit the ground. He ran up to the VTOL and started to get in, then had a flash of what happened to Malloy and backed up. He readied his rifle and started to circle the VTOL looking in every window for anything suspicious inside.

Thank God the vehicle was clear and the area is secure. Saygin climbed in and started the liftoff procedure of the VTOL, tapping nervously and looking around outside the windows the entire time.

Saygin took off and started hailing every secure frequency he could the moment he cleared the tree line. He then turned and flew for the Sotillo to do an overflight and see if he could spot any indication of what had happened to Malloy. He saw streaks of blood on the starboard landing gear and tiny scratch marks in the side of the outer hull of the bridge.

A response came up fairly quickly with a little static.

--tzzt Saygin this is Ops. Go ahead, over. tzzt--

"HQ We got attacked man! Some kind of fuckin' animal, way too fast! Got Malloy! Doing a flyover now! All I see is blood! No body, no tracks!"

There was a pause…

--tzzt 10-9: Say again? tzzt--

"For fuck's sake don't make me say this a third time. Malloy and I were out on a patrol looking into an unregistered landing in Wombwood. Found a big girl in a clearing, named Sotillo. We were investigating the craft when Malloy went to have a smoke and we got FUCKING ATTACKED! Some kind super fast animal. I never got a good look at it. Send help to my coordinates. Send EVERYONE!"

Saygin could hear some talking in the background.

tzzt ‘Another animal attack… No this one’s in Wombwood…’ We copy, Saygin. The team is spread thin with the missing people and the animal attack at the hatchery… move to a safe location and hang tight while we try to redirect some officers to your position. tzzt

As he rose above the trees, Saygin could see dark smoke rising in the distance to the southwest.

"Nowhere for me to land out here HQ. I'm totally exposed. You have the coordinates of the Sotillo from this comms log. I'm heading back to the settlement."

--tzzt Understood. tzzt--

Saygin banked for the settlement and gunned it.

< Prev : To The Bridge Next > : A Broken Woman