Waking after a stun wasn’t like being asleep. It was like coming alive after dying. Alien hands on her ankles severed the bonds on her feet. A double-thumbed hand dragged her upright, supported her until her knees could hold her weight.
She focused on her surroundings. The back of an Overseer fighter. Cold, dark, dank, humid. Inhaling was like breathing through a sponge. The Overseer crossed the deck and hit the yellow lights on some shipboard organelle. A door rolled open, liquid dripping from its sides. A wall of steam rolled in behind it.
Swamp, gray with twilight, waited beyond. Not an improvement.Bad, bad, bad luck. We don’t have missions to swamp zones, we don’t have outposts near enough a swamp to make a difference to me. Overseer planets are cinders in the process of being reterraformed. This is an independent planet with some kind of deal with the monsters. Which means rescue might not come at all.
The alien regarded her for a moment, as if measuring what she could take. Then it pushed her out into the murk. Spongy black dirt squished under her feet, and mud splashed up her torso when she fell to her knees. The Overseer clomped down the gangway with a heavy box of Enzyme under one arm. It pulled her upright without pausing and dragged her into the murky trees.
The ground gave way to water and the muck below it wrapped around her ankles. Knobby tree roots jutted from the surface like an old man’s elbows. Hidden branches tangled in her boots and dragged her face first into the water, over and over again. Twice, the alien waited while she righted herself, the second time coughing up murky water. The third time, it lifted her to its shoulder and braced her there as if she were a sack of grain. Then it went on, tracing a purposeful path though the drab green-gray around them.
Swamp. What a perfect place for an Overseer to hide. Yellow flowers curled around bugs like mouths. Vines wound into trees and choked them to death. Small, froggy things blinked up at her with golden eyes. It was almost a relief when the natural horror gave way to glossy Overseer tech. Black carapace twisted around vine-choked trees, blinking yellow and blue lights indicating some sort of filtration system. It brightened as the alien came near, leading them both to the outpost. It was a mound of blackness teaming with strange lights, some organic tech, some phosphorescent bugs. The lights brightened, the outpost welcoming its master back home.
Doors unfolded like pill-bug shells, fluids dripping from well lubricated joints. She braced herself for some unholy alien stink. After twenty paces or so, she had to admit it didn’t smell that bad. Wet, like concrete on a rainy day. It was warm, and mist rose from the floor, cross lit by the dim hallway lights. Barely enough light to see by. After a few days of this, she might well go insane. Monitor screens blinked some kind of information to the monster in its native tongue. A power-pack heart beat as they passed by. I’m in the guts of a living thing
, she thought, and would have gagged if there were anything in her stomach to bring up.
Scene from STARBLEACHED, my self pubbed novellette. More information can be found here: [link]
and the book itself is over here:
Starbleached--Full Text available for purchase
Starlight without atmosphere was cold. It stole more life than it lended. Beams from New Houston’s sun lanced through the USS Marel Sanders’s front ports and tinted the interior graveyard gray. The fire bled out of Adrienne Parker’s auburn hair. Her trembling hands now resembled a corpse’s.
“Brace!” a voice screamed from the cockpit. Adrienne grabbed the arms of her crash couch. The Marel was a claustrophobic shoebox for supplies and personnel, and all fifty meters of it shook as enemy weapons fire grazed their rear. Electric bolts blasted through cockpit and tiny hold, playing over stacks o