January 1, 2184 EC // 7.3.6 SW
9:32/21 SW-CP-Local Time
Wombwood Forest > Sotillo

“Don’t worry about us, Ladon. Take care of yourself. If we get out of this, maybe we can all take care of Cowboy.”

“I’d enjoy that. Stay safe. Ladon out.”

Just as Captain Bolaji was finishing her conversation with Shusett, Cham entered the bridge, his skin and hair glistening from a recent shower.

“Heyo, Cap?”


“You seen uh, my cigar box?”

“Yeah, you left them over by the holo-table.”

“S’riiiight. Good lookin’ out, Cap! So who was you talkin’ to? That weird dude ‘works for Cowboy?”

“Yeah, he says the Montero is here. We need to be ready to do a possible run and gun.”

He put a cigar in his mouth.

“Well it's a good thing Davis and Rye were skimmin’ off the top, y’know what I mean?”

“No, what do you mean.”

“Hey, we was looking for one of them dollies earlier and we found a couple more o’ them crates hidin’ in the other cargo hold. In the shadows like they was hiding’ it or some shit. Skimmin’.”

“What!? You didn’t open them did you?”

The Captain was already moving quickly through the cabin and toward the companionway leading to the cargo deck, pistol in hand as Cham followed closely behind, continuing his chattering non-stop.

“Ha, shit nah! I told Girl not to mess with ‘em either but I went to take a shower. She was talkin’ bout findin’ some new hardware, y’know since she lost her piece on the Montero. Yo hold up! What’s the deal, B?”

“Shut up, Cham! We’re all about to be fucked!”

“Ok damn, don’t shoot the messenger!

By the time they entered the cargo hold it was too late. Hel lay on her back, bleeding from a slash in her arm. There was a knife and cutting torch near her hands, and a pale, spider-like creature that looked like two skeletal hands curled up close by.

“Jesus! No, Hel!”

She ran over to the body of Helen Bein, Cham just stood there stunned. He lifted his sunglasses.

“Yo, what the fuck?… Bo!?” He shouted. “Cap, yo! What is that thing? Nah, don’t touch it.”

Captain Bolaji prodded the creature and it flinched slightly.

“Nah, don’t touch it!” Cham instinctively pushed his hand out as if to ward against it, his stance was that of uncertainty as he searched around the vicinity for some kind of club and container.

“Shit, shit.” Bolaji looked for a pulse or other life signs. Hel’s chest rose and fell softly. “She’s still breathing!”

Bolaji grabbed the knife as Cham, keeping his distance, circled around to the other side of Hel. He could see a slimy, leathery egg-shaped object inside the opened crate that stood about 2.5 ft tall with its top unfurled like a flower.

“Mm mm, leave her, Cap! Let’s get the hell outta here while we can.”

Bolaji took the knife to the alien creature, it gave out a shriek and quiver as well as a splash of blood. When the liquid began to eat through the knife, the metal floor of the cargo bay, AND her skin, Bolaji screamed in pain.

Cham whipped off his yellow tank top and wrapped it around her hand and forearm. Then he got up and kicked the creature across the hold.

“Fuuuuck! It burns so much! Ooooh!” She groaned. “We gotta get Hel to the auto-doc.”

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