Clover smiled inwardly as Emme tapped her watch and gave her that look. The one that said I have an Algarian mind slug resting in my brain and you're not helping.
Emme massaged her forehead. "We should have been gone ten minutes ago.”
Clover raised her hands. “Relax.”
Leaning against the massive landing strut of their ship – Wanderlust she replied, “We have ages yet. The launch window doesn't close for another thirty minutes.”
She had lined up a last minute delivery that was not only high paying but also counted as a big favour to a local legitimate businessman. So she could afford to enjoy watching her business partner and friend squirm at the prospect of missing their take off window. She looked at her watch and grinned as the freight truck rolled up right on time.
Clover gave Emme a wink. The petite engineer responded by blowing a stray lock of black hair from her face.
The overweight alien driver didn't get out of the cab so much as fall. He waddled over and handed Clover a datapad with his tentacle. “Signature please.”
She signed it with a flourish. “Here you go my good man.”
He just rolled his eye at her. She signalled a loading droid to transport it to the hold. Watching the massive multiarmed droid lumber over and pick up the faded red container, Emme asked, “So what is this thing you’ve had me squirming over?”
“Nothing too dramatic,” replied Clover. “Just engine parts.”
She refrained from telling Emme the identity of the customer. She wasn’t in the mood for an argument. “They're paying double for last minute delivery.”
Emme put her hands on her hips. “You could have told me that.”
Clover shook her head. “And miss seeing that look on your face? I don't think so.”
“You're killing me.” She gestured to the ship. “Can we go now?”
She threaded her arm through Emme's. “Of course. The stars await.”
They took the exterior service elevator to the bridge five stories above them. Clover glanced out at the landing field as several other ships took off and departed.
Many were the newer Blue class, stream lined and more efficient. Emme had pestered her to consider buying one. Logically such a ship would be easier to manage, but logic had never played a large part in her life.
The elevator halted and the airlock door slid open with a mechanical whir. As they stepped in, the elevator retracted into the hull. The Wanderlust’s tiny cockpit was centred around a large view screen. Despite their constant cleaning efforts paraphernalia filled the room. Work related or otherwise.
Clover brushed some foodwrappers from her chair and sat down. Her hands danced along the console. “Beginning prelaunch sequence.”
Engines are online and powering up,” replied Emme. “Should reach launch power in five minutes. Though the Blue series would be done in two.”
“Thank you for reminding me yet again,” replied Clover. “Launch trajectory is clear and approved.”
Emme did a mock salute. “Just doing my job. Port engine is over heating dialling back power ten percent.”
“Compensating. Preparing to fire launch thrusters in three, two, one.”
Clover felt Wanderlust lift off the ground, after several minutes she said, “Preparing to leave atmosphere.”
“Finally,” said Emme. “This place had a weird smell.”
Clover smiled, “You think every planet has a weird smell. Have reached jump coordinates.”
“Jump coordinates confirmed. Entering coordinates for Turus. Preparing to jump in three, two, one. Jump.”
Clover felt a tiny push as Wanderlust jumped to lightspeed she looked at the console. “Engines are operating within normal parameters.”
She tucked a stray strand of blonde hair behind her ear and leaned back. “I do believe we might actually make a profit on this trip. When we reach Turus dinner's on me.”
Looking over her console, Emme replied, “So that'll make the tally a thousand to one.”
Closing her eyes, Clover tried adding the figure in her head. “Oh it can't be that many. What about Brio?”
“That was six months ago.”
“Yet it feels like yesterday,” replied Clover stretching her arms.
The bridge lights died and everything went black. Panic flared in Clover 's chest and she felt a sudden shove as Wanderlust reverted to normal space. Her feet drifted off the ground. She fell back to her seat with a thump when the emergency lighting and gravity kicked in. “What just happened?”
Emme's expression in the half-light was not encouraging and her voice was strained. “The engines were knocked offline along with the main systems.” She sighed, “I knew this ship would be the death of me.”
She tried to get Emme to stay relaxed. “Hey that's my baby you're insulting.”
“Not all babies are cute.”
"I know. I've seen your cousin."
"Ouch," replied Emme regaining her humour. "Is there any reading on why the engines went down?"
Clover's fingers danced along the controls. Emergency systems only provided limited information on the ship's condition and they couldn't change anything. All repairs would have to be done manually and the limited information she received wasn't comforting. She bit her lip. “There was an energy pulse from the cargo hold. Similar to a system bomb.”
System bombs were designed to knock out all Electronics and were supposedly only used by the military. Emme jumped to her feet. “A bomb! Why would anyone want...”
She suddenly halted and Clover looked up, “What?”
Emme shook her head. “It’s nothing.”
Clover forced a smile. “Remember just because it looks like a System bomb doesn't necessarily mean it is. So relax and take a deep breath. Remember that holiday on Aulus Prime.”
Emme raised her hands. “I am relaxed!”
Yeah real relaxed, thought Clover. She tried to keep Emme focused. “So with main life support down how long can we last?”
Emme ran a hand through her hair. “We have enough air and water in the backup systems to last several days.”
"Which should be enough to get the power back on line. So grab a torch. We'll head down to the cargo hold and check it out."
Emme nodded. "Yeah, good idea."
Clover walked to the door and waited for it to open.
“Forget powers out, genius?”
Clover smacked her head. “Right.”
She grabbed the crank besides the door and began twisting. After several seconds the door finally opened up and Clover peered through.
Old holovid posters decorated the hallway beyond, a personal touch by Clover. Seeing them in the eerie emergency lightning she suddenly wished she hadn’t chosen so many horror ones. With the creature from Modorain Monster staring back at her she said, “Let’s go.”
Wanderlust was a mid sized cargo hauler designed for moderate system to system hops. Most of its space was dedicated to its engines and cargo hold. The small living area was situated behind the cockpit with three rooms, a bathroom, and a small dining/kitchen/recreation room.
They had occasionally taken passengers, but thankfully this time the spare room stood empty. Clover wouldn't have wanted an agitated passenger on their hands right now.
The cargo hold, maintenance sections, engines, and life support systems were all below. With the elevator out of commission the only way down to the cargo hold and maintenance levels was by ladder.
Traversing the deck the only sound was their boots stomping along the metal floor.
They halted at the cargo hold door. Like the bridge door, had to be manually opened. Clover once again pulled out a lever from built in section of the wall and cranked it open.
As soon as they'd created a wide enough gap an acrid smell wafted back to them. Clover glanced over at Emme, but she remained stoically silent. Clover advanced inside onto the metal gangway that overlooked the hold. Barely visible in the emergency lighting she could just make out smoke billowing from a container near the airlock.
The independent fire suppression systems should have been enough to douse any flames, but like any equipment it was prone to breakdowns. Clover just hoped this wasn't one of those times. “Crap I hope it's not still on fire.”
“I'm thinking the extra you got for that container wasn't worth it,” said Emme, her voice strained.
“We don’t know it’s from that container,” replied Clover. “Besides why would Zhor want to kill us?”
Emme paled. “Did you say Zhor?”
“Yeah the crate was a last minute delivery to a partner of his on Turus. I figured it would be an easy way to get into his good books.” She cocked an eyebrow. “Why?”
Emme looked away and began fidgeting with her hands. “Nothing I just really hate that guy.”
“You and me both.”
Clover felt like Emme was holding something back but she didn’t have time to go into it. She strapped a fire extinguisher to her back. “Let's just make sure the ship isn't going to burn around us.”
She made her way to the side of the gangway and climbed down the ladder. She hit the bottom with a thud, tapping her foot impatiently for Emme arrive.
As soon as Emme touched down, Clover began threading her way to the container.
After several minutes, Clover raised her hand signalling a halt. “Did you hear that?”
The sound of something creaking in the background echoed back to them. Emme flashed her torch around. “You know how old ships creak,” she replied.
“I know how this old ship creaks,” said Clover squinting her eyes in an attempt to pierce the veil of darkness around them. Strange noises were common in the bowels of the ship but they were a lot less threatening with the lights on.
“Stop it,” said Emme. “You’re going to get me paranoid.”
Clover studied her. “Maybe you should be.”
Emme ignored the comment and they kept on going. They arrived at the storage section where smoke was coming from. The container wasn't on fire, but strangely she didn't feel any better.
“Bloody hell,” said Emme.
“Yeah,” Clover muttered. “Looks worse then your room.”
Ignoring her nerves, she edged closer the container. A large circular hole was burned into its side and a yellow slime trail led away from the hole and into the darkness of the hold.
Emme jerked her torch around. “Oh, I'm not liking this.”
“I'm not exactly dancing a jig either.” Clover peered inside the container. She wrinkled her nose at the coating of slime and rotten egg smell inside.
Clover jerked back as a life size hologram of an obese, greasy looking alien with a protruding nose and swept back silver hair flashed out from somewhere on the container.
“It’s Zhor,” muttered Clover.
The crimelord smiled, displaying a set of blackened, discoloured teeth. He spoke in his thick Golorain accent, “Hello, Gunnar. I hope the pulse didn't disturb you too much, but I had to ensure you couldn't leave the bunker without my gift and with your systems down I can't see that happening. I know this isn't the package you're expecting, but then I wasn't expecting you to cheat me out of my money. The animal slithering out before you is a Griffod. Very rare, comes from Iglif, has a very slow digestive system, so its poison breaks you down while you’re still alive. So hopefully you're hearing this in a lot of pain. I'll send the guys around in few days to clean up.”
As the hologram flickered out, the pair exchanged knowing glances.
Emme groaned, “This is all my fault.”
Clover studied their surroundings, trying hard not to picture some horrific beast coming out of the dark at them. "Don’t blame yourself. I’m the one who let it onboard. The device must have gone off early."
Emme looked down. “You don’t understand. Last time, Zhor’s men came looking for protection money. I might have reported them to the Viglif Police. That must be why he chose us to haul such a cargo. If something went wrong he lost nothing more then a minor player who had the habit of annoying him.”
Operating a small cargo hauler was a constant balancing act between keeping on the side of the law and keeping on the good side of the many criminals who operated on the Fringes. She’d tried to keep that balance by doing the occasional favour for the crimelords like Zhor. Emme had responded by dropping hints to local law enforcement. Unfortunately neither approach was effective when you got caught in the middle.
Now it was Clover’s turn to massage her temples. “The Viglif Police are more crooked then a funlark. You know that. They probably had a good laugh about it when they were collecting their bribes.”
Emme tucked a loose lock of hair behind her ear. “I was just sick of them taking our money.”
Clover sighed, “I am too, but sometimes you have to take the good with the bad.”
“I’m sorry,” said Emme.
Clover bit her lip and forced herself to remain calm as she studied the cargo bay. “Spilt milk, we just have to focus on the now.”
“Have you ever heard of a Griffod?” asked Emme.
She shook her head. “Damned if I have, but I don't want it running or squirming around the ship. Let's get to the bridge, grab some blasters and kill the damn thing.”
Emme studied her. “You alright?”
Clover forced a smile. “You know me and creepy crawlies.”
“Just imagine it as a big slug.”
Her tone strained, Clover replied, “Not really helping.”
Trying hard to ignore the creaking sounds around them, the pair walked quickly back to the gangway and up to the habitation level.
The ship didn't have an armoury as such - more of a lockbox in the storeroom filled with some hand blasters and a pair of high-powered rifles. Pirate attacks in this sector were rare, but conditions varied widely between planets so it was necessary to carry a few weapons for personal safety.
Much as Clover would have loved to get the rifles out, they were for ground use only, the high power rounds being strong enough to breach the hull. This was an occasion for the less powerful blasters.
She banged her head on piece of fitting. “Dammit! I wished we’d bought those nightvision goggles.”
“The back massaging flight chairs were on special,” Emme reminded her. “We’ll just have to make do with torches attached to the blaster barrels.”
Rubbing her head, Clover replied, “Well next time remind me not to impulse buy.”
Emme fumbled over her blaster's settings - letting out a host of expletives in the process.
Clover raised an eyebrow. “When was the last time you practised?”
Emme shrugged. “When I shot those tin cans on Eros.”
“That was six months ago and you missed.”
Taking the blaster from Emme, she readjusted it to the correct settings. She tapped the barrel. “Just remember this end goes at the thing you want to die.”
Emme looked it over and bit her lip. “So do we have a plan?”
Clover stroked her blaster. “We'll go back down, follow the slime trail and kill it. Piece of cake.”
Emme crossed her arms.
Clover shrugged. “Probably. Give me a break, I’ve never hunted a Griffin before.”
She slapped Emme on the shoulder and gestured to the door. Let’s go bag us a Griffod. We can mount its head in the living room.”
After some frantic preparations, Clover led the way back to the cargo hold, threading her way through the stacks of containers stored below. She shone her torch on the slick, yellow slime that marked the Griffod’s trail and winced as she stepped in a particularly large, yellow glob. “This isn't as glamorous a life as I'd planned.”
“There’s a plan?” whispered Emme, peering around wide-eyed.
“Sure,” replied Clover, eager to get Emme to relax a little. “It's got diagrams, mission statements, the whole works. I'll show it to you some time.”
Clover heard a soft thudding ahead of them and pointed to the corner of a stack of crates. As they edged closer to the corner a faint crunching sound echoed back to them. Paling they exchanged glances.
Clover raised her left hand with three indicating she wanted a timed attack.
Emme replied with a shakey thumbs up.
When Clover got to the final finger she sprung around the corner first firing her blaster in the general direction of the noise. They didn’t stop until her blaster suddenly seized up indicating it needed several minutes to recharge its power couplings.
Emme stopped firing. “Did we get it?”
Clover struggled to see through the wispy smoke, while she waited for her blaster to recharge. “I can't see crap. I'm going in closer.”
Clover edged forward, her eyes watering at the aroma of rotten meat. “Smells dead.”
The smoke cleared slightly and she saw the Griffod writhing on the cargo hold's metallic deck. The beast was three metres long with shimmery, black skin and eight lizard-like legs. Suddenly it reared up on two of them, snapping at her with its beak. Clover reeled back. Hoping that her blaster was recharged, she fired point blank at the Griffod. The blaster worked, her shots did not.
Despite being struck several times, the Griffod raised itself up, releasing a stream of acrid, yellow liquid out of its beak - striking the container beside Clover.
She didn’t know what it was, but she wasn’t taking any chances. “Go!”
The two collided with one another. Clover shoved Emme forward. She flinched as she felt a glob of goo hit her leg, pain flared instantly through the fabric, but she ignored it and kept going.
They careened through the near darkness in a state of panic. Emme tripped over a loose piece of decking and went sprawling. Clover pulled her up.
“Come on,” she said as more yellow fluid s streamed by them.
As Emme flew up the ladder, Clover fired her blaster, the beast apparently unaffected and taking them with little apparent effect. Cursing, Clover put away her blaster and clambered up behind. They slumped down on the deck, ragged breathing filling their ears. Clover peered over the side, but the Griffod had vanished back into the shadows.
Through the pain she heard Emme say, “What’s wrong?”
She mumbled back, “Creature... hit me...poison.”
Emme patted her shoulder. “Okay, Okay. Just hold on, I’ll be right back.”
Clover barely heard the words. Her vision drifted in and out until Emme rushed back with the first aid kit.
Emme brushed sweaty blonde hair from Clover’s face. “I’m going to inject you with an all-purpose antivenom. This will hurt.”
“Do it,” mumbled Clover.
Clover spasmed as an even more intense pain flared through her body and then the pain lessened with each breath. Sweat running down her face, Clover slowly sat up. “Ow.”
She peered down at her leg, there was a slight brown discolouration on her leg where the goo had burnt through her pants and into her flesh.
“You had me pretty worried there,” said Emme.
Clover’s leg was throbbing but at least now it didn’t feel like it was being cut off. She glanced over at Emme. “And I didn’t think you cared.”
Emme frowned, “I always cared.”
“Then why’d you want to leave?”
“I just wanted an easier ship.”
Clover proceeded to deposit her last meal across the grated floor. Wiping her mouth, she saw several long, thin worms thrashing about in the vomit. “Bugger.”
Emme squashed them beneath her boot. “You okay?”
“Dandy,” replied Clover, slumping against the wall. “I haven’t felt this bad since I tried that Novian salad.”
“Come on let's get to the escape pod,” said Emme grabbing her hand.
Clover suddenly felt like she’d been punched in the gut again. “I'm not abandoning Wanderlust.”
Emme's face paled. “You saw that thing, its poison nearly killed you. The blasters barely scratched it and we can't fix the ship with it running around down there.”
“Then we’ll find another way to kill it,” replied Clover, gathering her strength.
“Is this ship worth our lives?”
Clover studied the fixtures and fittings. “This place is my life.”
"Look, despite running it down," replied Emme looking away. "I love this ship too, most of the time, but I don’t want to die in it.”
“I wouldn’t ask you to,” replied Clover, taking her hand. “Take the pod, get somewhere safe. If... when I get out of this I’ll contact you.”
Emme arched a red gold eyebrow. “And what about you?”
She ran a hand through her hair. “It's like you said. I can't let it have the ship, Emme. We have axes in storage. If that’s not enough we have some detachable blades and piping I can make spears out of.”
“You can’t go after that thing with an axe,” replied Emme shaking her head.
“I’m open to ideas.”
Emme pursed her lips together. “What about the Biofields?”
Still a little bit groggy, Clover scratched her head. “Biofields? Those are meant to go up around the ship to prevent animals from getting near the hull dirtside. I’m not sure the spikes even work inside.”
“We only need to set up two,” replied Emme. “You can try and kill it. Then if the spears don’t work you can lure it in and we’ll fry it.”
“I’m not leaving you here by yourself,” replied Emme. “Besides all my stuff is here.”
Clover tried not to let her relief be too obvious. “Thanks.”
The pair made their way to the supply room. Clover picked out the largest axe they had, which considering it was only for survival situations wasn't very comforting.
“I'm going to need something to lure it out,” said Clover.
“How about those steaks?”
Clover winced. Those had been expensive. “I guess sacrifices have to be made. I don't think it'll come out for corned beef.”
“We’ll also need something to combat its poison,” said Emme, pointing to Clover’s leg.
Clover shuddered involuntarily. “Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. Do we still have those chemical suits?”
Emme shook her finger. “Nice. Those are class one. They should hold back animal venom.”
“Let’s hope,” replied Clover. “How much anti-venom do we have left?”
Emme frowned. “None.”
Getting the tube of all purpose industrial glue out, Clover squeezed its contents onto the end of the broom handle. She attached the blade to the end, being careful not to cut herself.
When she was satisfied that the blade was bonded to the handle, Clover swung the spear experimentally.
Emme reappeared with a bag slung over her shoulder. "Six defrosted steaks as ordered. So are we armed?”
Clover lifted the spear. “I’m no expert in hand-to-hand fighting, but it feels serviceable.”
“Given that we’re betting our lives on them, they better be.”
She reached into her pocket and handed Clover a miniradio. “I also have these.”
Clover placed it in her ear, then posed with the spear, “How do I look?”
“Like the escape pod's looking better all the time.”
Clover smiled. “Let’s get suited up.”
They found the chemical suits folded up in a box under a set of tools. Clover pulled out the thin, black, mesh jumpsuit and gave it the once over. Despite their flimsy appearance the suits were weaved from some of the toughest fibres available. Clover remembered their specs because the price she’d paid at Flork’s Surplus Emporium had not been cheap. They could also adapt to the body shape of the wearer.
“God I hate these bloody things,” said Emme. “They’re more clingy than that Martian guy you dated.”
“Better than getting hit by poison, believe me.”
They stripped off the top layer of their cloths and clad only in their underwear pulled on the suits.
She felt a slight tingle as the suit settled around her skin.
“I feel like I got bugs all over,” said Emme.
Clover had a flashback to the poison that nearly killed her and shuddered slightly.
Emme grabbed two of the biofield spikes. Only about thirty centimetres long, the silvery blue spikes extended out to a meter and a half – the bottom end carving a hole in the ground or mounted on a tripod. A field was projected from one to the other until a field was created around a whole ship. Tapping the two spikes together, she asked, “Where should I set them up?”
“If I can’t kill it, I’ll lure it into Section J. There’s a lot of curves there. So even if it suspects something, it’ll be zapped before it realises it.” She patted Emme’s shoulder. “I'll try to lure it to me, but we have no idea where it is so be careful.”
Emme forced a smile. “If I see it, I'm sprinting back here. We got a plan if the spikes don’t work?”
“You are demanding today,” she replied. “Anything else you’d like me to do?”
Emme raised an eyebrow.
Clover raised her hands. “This doesn’t work we’ll head to the escape pod, okay?”
“Really,” replied Clover.
“You sure you’re up for this?” asked Emme pointing to her leg.
Clover made a show of jumping up and down - trying hard to ignore the pain jolting through it.
“I’m fine, see?”
Emme laid a hand on her shoulder. “Be careful.”
“First time for everything,” replied Clover. “I'll comm if I see anything, though you'll probably hear my screams first.”
“I’m sorry for reporting Zhor without telling you.”
“I’m sorry I took a job from Zhor without telling you,” replied Clover. “When this is over we’ll have to work on our communication skills.”
Clover opened her arms. “Come on.”
The pair quickly embraced, Emme let go. “That’s enough emotion for one day.”
They walked silently back to the hold and made their way to opposite sides of the gangway. Constantly adjusting to her body, the suit should have provided some comfort, but ensconced in its confines she felt like it was slowly strangling her. Which wasn’t helping her disposition as she tried to ignore the growing knot of fear twisting in her stomach. Peering over the edge, Clover’s heart started to race but there was nothing in the inky blackness. She gave Emme a thumbs up and they descended down the stepladder.
Eager as she was to kill the Griffod, she wasn't looking forward to confronting it. As big as the ship was, if the Griffod cornered her, she would probably end her days being digested in its stomach.
Clutching her spear, she advanced to the largest vacant section of the hold. With only the emergency lighting going, the darkness crept up on her and her torch wasn't giving her much comfort. She hadn't been afraid of the dark since she was a child, but she was still mindful of it. Especially when it harboured a large man eating alien.
Still, she reminded herself, she wanted it to appear. “I'm in position.”
“So am I," whispered Emme. "But I’m having trouble getting the damn spikes set up.”
Clover cursed, “How long do you need?”
“The longer the better,” replied Emme. “
“More specific, Em,”
“I don’t know. At least 20 minutes. Any sign of our friend?”
“No, the place is a graveyard.” She frowned at her choice of words. “I'm dumping the steaks as I go - that should attract it.”
“Keep me posted. I’ll try and get these bastards working.”
Clover emptied the remaining steaks on the floor. She resealed the bag and climbed on top of a nearby container. She leaned down to await the Griffod's response.
She heard a rising slurpy sound and the padding of soft feet - the smell of rotten meat hit her nose. In the darkness a shadowy figure shuffled towards the steaks. It emerged from the shadows and seeing its glistening reptilian skin up close, Clover shuddered. A large tongue shot out, wrapping itself around a steak then pulling it in.
Trying to ignore its loud digestive sounds, Clover looked for a weak spot, but it was all leathery skin and spikes. The only vulnerable area she saw was the inside of its beak and she wasn't going near that.
She reminded herself that easy was for chumps. Heart racing, she tightened her grip on the spear and leapt down from the container. Barely pausing to get her bearings, she charged. Closing in she frantically stabbed her makeshift spear into its hide, ignoring the green blood that splattered all over her. Clover stumbled back as the beast spun around - roaring in pain.
She looked in horror as its beak lurched towards her. She drew her axe and decided it was time for plan B.
Sprinting in the opposite direction, she activated her communicator. “I pissed it off. You ready?”
“I’m putting the last connections together now,” whispered Emme. “Are you sure it's following you?"
Clover dared to glance back, wincing as she saw it was only a few metres behind and slithering quickly in her wake. “Pretty sure!”
Seeing the large oversized door to the maintenance section up ahead she redoubled her efforts. As Clover careened around the corner, the Griffod slammed into the wall with its great bulk but that didn't slow it down any. They spent less time in this part of the ship and it looked it. The walls were grimy and assorted equipment and tools littered the ground. Stubbing her foot against something hard and metallic, she muttered to herself. “Maybe a nine to five wouldn't be so bad.”
Coming around the corner she saw the Biofield’s faint blue force field emanating between the two power spikes. The energy fields were designed to allow only one type of creature through – Humans, but any technology could glitch, she just hoped it didn’t choose now.
Clover shuddered as she felt something impact the back of her leg. Suit don’t fail now, she whispered. She dived through the field, feeling a slight tingling on her skin. She hit the ground and rolled to her feet. Just in time to see the Griffod come charging straight at her. Despite owning the spikes for years, Clover had never seen the results of a large creature storming the field.
The Griffod charged through, the field should have been enough to kill it instantly but the Griffod didn’t seem to know that. Steam began rising off its body as it writhed in pain. Despite being blinded it somehow refocused on her.
Opening its mouth it spat out more poison. Clover dived to the side and hit the deck with a thud. The poison splattering just centimetres from her head. With a nerve-rending scream it launched itself at her.
Emme leapt out of the darkness, furiously stabbing her spear into its head until it let out a load groan and went quiet. Clover grabbed her arms. Emme spun around a look of pure fury in her eyes.
“I think it’s dead,” said Clover softly.
Dropping her spear, Emme slumped to the ground. Clover crashed down beside her.
After several minutes Clover finally had the energy to say. “Thanks for the assist.”
“Assist?” smiled Emme. “I just saved your ass from that thing.”
Clover ran a hand through her hair. “Only because I wore it out.”
Silence descended between the pair, finally Emme said, “So what are we going to do?”
Clover picked herself up, then extended a hand to Emme. “First we fix the engines and get the systems restarted. The sooner I can shower, the sooner I can wash this fear sweat off me.”
Sniffing, Emme replied, “Is that what that is?”
Clover feigned laughter. “Then we deliver our other cargo. After that I say we track down Gunnar and tell him what Zhor had planned. Maybe we can arrange a little payback.”
“Sounds like a plan.”