I looked out the window in front of the pilot seat. There is a feeling of freedom that comes over me when I look out this window in to the blackness of space. That feeling was washed away when Captain Kara came on to the bridge asked me how long till we arrive at the planet for our first delivery. I told her it would be less than an hour before we made contact with the outer markers of the community known as Coliseum. Notify me when we make contact was her reply.
The automated contact told us to land on the space pad when we entered the atmosphere. As I piloted the ship in Ann (the ships A/I) told us about the planet. It was a mining community that had been established less than 10 years ago. The planet’s atmosphere would not support human life and the natural gravity was just slightly less than what is comfortable for humans. The mining had become successful and the community had grown to nearly a thousand humans.
I landed the ship and radioed in that we were ready for inspection. The automated security scan moved over the ship checking for contraband, biological contaminants, and weapons. I hate the feeling you get from the scan and I was glad when it is over. The radio man called in that the groceries were ready for pick up. There was no answer. After several calls to the control center I started hacking in to the computer system. The cameras in the control center showed that no one was home. I expanded my search in to the halls, no one. After several minuets I was unable to find anyone on the cameras.
Captain Kara decided that we would go and take a look. She picked me, the Doc, herself, and the lizard man that was in charge of security. His brother did not go as he was still in the infirmary with is head injury. The others suited up in enviro suits so that we could get in to the complex.
We got to the door and found that it had been forced open by hacking the system. This made it simple for me to do the same thing. When we got inside we found that the main lights were off but the emergency lights were working. That made the hallway dark and spooky. A scan of the air in the coplex told us that the air was safe for the others to breathe so the captain and the security officer took off their helmets. We moved down the hall to the center of the complex without hearing or seeing anything. We came to a terminal and were able to find that the control center was four levels below us. We could see the one and only bank of elevators that were built at the center of the complex.
I was leery about using the elevators while the power was out. The captain felt that there was nothing to worry about pressed the button to enter. The security supervisor warned against it and said he would be taking the emergency ladder, as well as the doctor. I followed the captain. The light toned happy music being played added to the spooky factor of the situation.
About two floors down the elevator came to a halt between floors. We tried to use the communicators to get a hold of the other two or the ship but there was no answer. We heard a noise on top of the elevator. It was a shuffling sound. I gave the captain a boost and she opened the door on the top of the elevator and looked out. She found a little girl with a bag of food hiding on the roof of the elevator.
She told us that she was the daughter of the mayor of the settlement and that he father had hidden her and told her to stay put and be quiet. The security supervisor stuck his head in to the shaft from about one and a half floors up. He was at some sort of access point. He told us that he was attacked but some sort of robot spider. The doctor called it more of a face fucking. He climbed down to us and told us. We were discussing what had happened to the settlement with the little girl. All we could get was that a ship came and sent the Chitterers. We figured out that it was the sound of the robot spiders moving.
Just then we heard the sound she described. It was above us in the shaft. The security officer pulled up his assault rifle and fired before we could think about what to do. The sound of the gun I the shaft was so loud. The spider spun off the wall and came bouncing down the shaft. It hit the elevator roof hard. The emergency brakes on the car slipped and we could hear them grinding. The security supervisor shot up the shaft jumping and leaping from point to point. The captain started up the ladder at a quick pace. I grabbed the girl and moved to the ladder. The girl was protesting that she was to stay on the elevator.
Just as I got ahold of the ladder the brakes gave way. I tried to push her up the ladder she would not go, if I left her here she would die when the elevator hit the bottom and the elevators power supply ruptured. I saw the captain climb through the access hatch followed by the security supervisor. There was nothing else I could do. I shoved the girl back in to the recessed ladder and I pressed my body against hers covering her completely. My hope was that my suit would protect both of us.
I heard the elevator hit the bottom of the shaft. I hoped that the power cell would not rupture, but I heard the explosion. I pressed in tight against the little girl hoping I could seal her off from the danger and I told her to hold her breath. The flames washed over me. Instantly I could feel the heat, warning alarms went off in my suit. There were several suit systems, tempter control, self-sealing, and sensors, that went off line. I could feel the heat on my back, and then the burning.
When the fire ball past by us, I pushed away from the ladder to check on the little girl’s wellbeing. My suit complained and the joints were stiff. The girl looked at me and laughed. Can we do it again, she asked me. I grabbed her and started to climb up the ladder. I watched parts of my enviro suit crumble away. I tried to remain calm but my feat was rising fast. I did not know how bad it was but I knew it was not good. Just when I got to the opening where the rest of the crew had gone the doctor stuck her head out. I could see her face through her mask. The horror of what had happened to my suit was evident on her face. She caught herself and changed her expression. It’s going to be alright she said. We will take care of you. She leaned back in to the hole. I could hear her say to the others, they are alive but he is in a bad way. We are going to have to move fast. The captain leaned out and took the girl from me. Then I slowly climbed in. The captain and the security officer were already climbing down the later with the girl between them. The doctor looked me over for a second and then told me that she was going to give me a shot to fight off anything that may have gotten inside the suit. Then she gave me a shot for the pain. It worked right away, I could no longer feel the blistered skin. When we got to the fourth sub floor the little girl and I waited in the access compartment while the others went out to look for supplies. The three of them had horrified looks on their faces when they went out. The last thing the doctor said to me was don’t touch anything.
I stood in the center of the small space trying to keep from touching any of the walls and pipes. The girl kept asking me questions and trying to touch my burnt suit. I had to explain how bad this was for me and to not touch me. Thankfully the captain opened the hatch and handed me a human space suit. It was bulky and huge. It was in a sealed sterilized package. I took it out and put it on over what was left of my suit. I got the helmet on over mine with some help from the captain. It did nothing for my fear but it was temperature controlled, sealed, and sterile. It would work for now.
Then they handed me another suit it was child size and they told me to put the girl in it. I was confused but I put the girl in the suit, she thought it was a game. They told me to put the sun shield down on the helm before I put it on the girl and tell her it was broken. Once we were both dressed we moved out in to the hall.
I could see why they put the girl in the suit. The hall was painted in blood and human body parts. There had been a battle there and the humans had lost, badly. There were no obvious enemies that could produce such carnage. There were just a couple of the chiterers’ metal bodies broken buy gun fire. I took the opportunity to collect a new assault rifle. The humans had dropped several of them.
We got out of the hall and made it to the main control center. There were no bodies here but there had been a gun fight. The computer equipment had been destroyed by all of the shooting. There was no log or server files of the security video. That meant that we would have to go deeper in to the complex. There would be a storage server in the panic rooms in the bottom of the complex. No one wanted to go but everyone knew it was the only way to figure out what happened.
We started for sub level eight, more and more halls and stairs of nothing and no one. We got to the three panic rooms. The first one was full of equipment but no people. It was designed for around 400 people to live in for 6 months.
The second room was jammed. I had to work on the electronics of the system to get the door to open. As soon as the door cracked the vaccume started sucking the air from the hall. I immediately resealed the door. I looked at the captain, how is there a breach I the complex 8 levels underground? She looked at me with a puzzled look and shook her head.
We went to the last door, I had to hack the lock. It opened, and showed us a room that was meant to house thousand humans for a long time. Now it housed something else. There were neat rows of what looked like cocoons hanging from the ceiling. They were tan in color. They would show movement in side them, but it was not movement that you would expect from a human. It looked like small things moving under the flesh of the cocoon.
All the way in the back of the large room you could see the computer hub for the complex. There were silver colored strands that ran from the cocoons on the ceiling connected to the hub. I explained to the security supervisor how to disconnect the server hub from the system as he was going to seek in and take it. The cocoons were only about 5 feet off of the floor so he had to crouch and sometimes crawl across the room. If he made any noise the cocoons around him would stir.
He made it to the hub and activated it. He worked on it for a little bit and then looked to us and started making hand gestures that none of us could understand. I finally decided to make the move to him. I crawled down to him in the bulky space suit. I knew that I was going to get killed at any second by whatever was in the cocoons, but nothing happened. I made it to the hub. It took me a couple of minutes to get to the central server cube. The silver strands were woven around the cube. When I touched one a small group of cocoons stirred out in the center of the room. But the strands felt flimsy and breakable. I explained to the security supervisor that he would have to bush down on the cube and then turn it to the right and pull. It should come right out. He told me to go back to the door and he would get it when I was safe. So I crawled back to the door.
He looked at all of us and smiled like he was having the greatest time. He reached in to the hub and pulled out the server cube. The first cocoon hit the floor before he could start running but that did not stop him. He jumped over the thrashing body that came out of the cocoon and hit the ground running.
The body started to chase him. It had no eyes, mouth, or hair. It looked like a human skin stretched over a metal frame work. It ran like a new born animal, gangly and without balance. He on the other hand ran like a man possessed. Jumping, spinning, and rolling to avoid the monsters falling from the ceiling. He even ran on one of the falling bodies before it hit the floor. I started working on the door so it would close when he got here. I threw my new rifle to the doctor. She and the captain started covering the security officer.
He slid under the door as it was closing. A few of the monsters got arms out but they were smashed by the door. I slid the cube in to a shoulder bag I had collected and we started moving. We could hear chitterers coming. We ran back to the stairs that we had taken to get down here and got back up the fourth sub level. We checked the access tunnel that we had used to get down here but it was full of chitterers.
So the captain ordered us in to another elevator. I really did not want to go but I got in it. We got up one level and then the chitteres started landing on the roof of the elevator. We got off on the next floor. We were one level below the ground level. There was no way up this was the only elevator system. We debated using the escape pods but being that I was the ships pilot I did not know if the ship would be able to get to us.
We came to a hover train. It was used to get the miners to mines outside of the complex. That ment there was an exit at the end of this train tunnel. I hot-wired the train and unhooked all but one seating car. The captain and the security officer put on their enviro suit helmets A large group of chiterers came in to the end of the hall way. I do not known how they knew we had found a way out.
The others piled in to the seating car and started shooting. I punched the throttle and without the weight of the extra cars we took of pretty quickly. I pushed the hover train to its max following the tunnel that ran through the complex. Different groups of chitterers tried to block our path, but we were moving to fast. We came to the air lock and I pulled right in and jumped off to hit the button to close the doors. I opened the outer door and got back on and took off as soon as the door was open far enough to get out.
We shot out across the open planet. We could finally get a signal with our coms and contacted the ship. They had been attacked and gotten Anna to take the ship off the planet. I told them to lock on to our signal and take an angle of pursuit to pick us up. The captain yelled at me to look behind us.
I looked back to see a huge black cloud rolling and boiling. It was coming after us way faster than any cloud should have. I pushed the train just as fast as it could go. I had never been so happy to see the “Slice of Life” pull in and land out in front of us. I stopped the train at the ramp to the ship and ran as fast as the space suit would let me. I got in to the pilot seat and closed the ramp and took off at the same time. I announced over the intercom for everyone to hold on as we were going to be making evasive maneuvers.
I pushed the speed up on the ship and darted in to the mountains trying to get as far as I could from the cloud. I also need to get the ship up to speed to break the atmosphere. After dodging and weaving I saw the mountain I was looking for. It was a long slope up that I could use to get extra lift for a fast exit from the planets gravity. I started the run up the mountain pushing the engines to max power. We shot past the top of the mountain streaked out in to space. I kept the speed up for an hour before I backed off. The cloud did not try to follow us. We were safe I thought.