While we were running down the hall, the noise of our pursuers became steadily louder. Not the cute little bouncy balls of just a moment ago, but those giant titanium fight bots I had seen in the labs. With limbs and claws and—considering our luck of late—probably with AIs of their own.
I had seen field exercises involving the likes of them overrunning the simulation of a human habitat. Not pretty. Not at all. I sure didn’t want to get caught like a lab rat in this stinking set-up.
»So, Mr. Awesome Ape, what are you good for, anyway? Are you going to get us out of here, or what?«
»That was quite the racist remark, you know?«
»It was a question, but do let me rephrase it, Mr. Wonderful. If you have any brilliant ideas, I’d be obliged.« Even running for my life I managed a mock bow.
From the corner of my eyes I could see Nat frown and of course she was right. This was not the time or place for petty fights. This was the time for bloodshed. It was just that this SEAfie dude was getting on my nerves. If I did have to put up with him, he had better make it worth my while.
He growled. I was just about to reel back on him when I realized the growl came from above! From the other end of the tunnel daylight spilled in—finally!—but it seemed like something or somebody was already waiting for us out there.
I exchanged glances with Nat. She shrugged. There was really nothing to do about it. Fight bots in our back and an unknown machinery ahead. So we would go for the one scenario that presented at least a minimum chance of getting out in one piece.
We were ready to cover each others back filing out, but before we reached the exit the growling intensified into a roar and the cockpit of a speed glider stared right into our faces.
Searchlights blinded us. The turbulence and noise stopped us right in our tracks. Blind, deaf and numb I fumbled for the trigger that activated my helmet. It snapped in place and shut off the turmoil at once. Phew!
Nat had reacted a blink earlier, gun ready at the glider’s bilge.
»Don’t shoot! It’s here to rescue us!« hollered the SEAfie.
»Did you summon them? When was that?« Nat squinted at him suspiciously.
»I summoned it. It’s a drone. And yes, I called it back as soon as I found you in that tank. Before your friend here blundered into the room, in her unmatched professional way. Come on, hurry now!«
A swishing sensation and the stench of melting metal next to my elbow emphasized his call, for the first of the fight bots had reached us and opened fire.
No time to reconsider. The glider’s door opened just wide enough for us to squeeze in, soaring back into the sky immediately. A screech, a jolt, the engines howling! The glider shook heavily while something was hampering our flight.
»I guess we found our giant bugs,« I said.
Giant pincers clamping the wings of our glider were holding us in place. The AI tried to shake free, to no avail. Nat peeked out the other window, »There is another one on this side.«
The SEAfie raised an eyebrow. »Are you telling me, all this time you knew these critters were around? And yet you brought no backup, no shields, no weapons other than this… pistol… of yours?!«
I glared at him, but before I could muster an adequate answer Nat had entered the pilot’s seat and engaged the board cannons. The monstrous insectoid to our left pranced and was thrown backwards, a pall of smoke fuming from a blackened crater of destroyed shell and flesh.
Too bad, it wouldn’t let go of our glider. Crashing to the ground the monster tore us down with it. Letting go of my gun I grabbed hold of the nearest bunk with both hands. Nat’s safety belts snapped in place. The SEAfie had been aiming at the second bug and got caught off guard. The glider tumbled, a shot went off, the door melted into a clump. The SEAfie lost balance. When we slammed into the plastocrete, his head crashed against the hole in the door. I held on to my bunk for dear life. My shoulders almost got yanked out of their sockets.
Finally we came to a halt. The glider lay on its back, Nat was hanging off her seat. The SEAfie lay in a heap with his head tilted backwards in an awkward angle, his eyes staring blindly into the spaces beyond.
My hands felt numb. I willed myself to let go of the bunk and landed on the ground. Pro forma I checked for the SEAfie’s pulse. There was none. Though I couldn’t bring myself to trust him to the very end, one had to acknowledge the fact that he had done his best to help us out. I took a deep breath.
Nat quietly said, »Can you please help me get out of this seat? I can’t reach the release latch.«
I was cut short by a ›Thump! Thump!‹ and the screaming of giant bug pincers grating through the glider’s airlock. We were still on the monsters’ menues.
~ to be continued ~
2 responses to “Episode 5 – Soufflé à la surprise”
You have a new follower:):) I enjoyed this first episode:)
How wonderful, I’m glad you like it <3