The colony’s productivity, formerly the highest of any Richter colony site, has dropped 19% in the last month with no reasonable explanation provided. In the same period, the colony medic, Dr. Henry Holzer, has died; the administration has been vague regarding cause, though it has been intimated that he committed suicide. Over the objections of colony administrator James Kingsley, Richter Dynamics has sent a team of corporate troubleshooters to investigate these two issues and make recommendations to revive productivity.
Virgil then hears click-click-click and a nasty high pitched scraping sound like nails down a blackboard.
He leans on the door so that it clicks shut.
And speaks in a desperate whisper on his comm: “Virgil here, I’m in security. It’s got Tyson.
I’m trapped and it’s... it’s outside the door. If I don’t make it, the answer is at Waystation. Illegal op... security code alpha four seven kilo f...
Oh my god!
From the other side of the door Virgil hears Tyson, 'Stay the fuck away from me...' There's an odd, splashing noise. 'Eugh...'
There is a long period of silence, maybe a minute. Then Virgil begins to hear a banging, and the door shakes, something is crashing into the door. Click-click-click. Click-click-click.
Virgil leans against the door, trying not to look at the dents or consider what might have made them. He feels exhausted but needs to hang on, waiting.
At Virgil's approach Tyson looks up at him, he seems to be in a lot of pain. He spits out a gobbet of blood and laughs, 'Couldn't happen to a nicer guy.' Tyson looks up and Virgil feels a tingling across his skin, a sudden knot in the stomach, awareness on some level of an imminent threat causing him to freeze, like the instinct of a prey animal. He forces himself to slowly look up into the roof space.
There's something up there, he can't focus on it because it moves so quickly. Jerkily, but quickly. Then it drops, suddenly, heavily. Crashing to the floor but landing with an alien elegance. Almost no sound beyond the sharp, scraping reverberations of several hard points shearing through the metallic floor. It straightens up, towering over Virgil, what he takes to be a head closing to within a few inches of his face. He smells something oily, acidic, it tastes spicy in his mouth. Click-click-click.
It is so close Virgil can't really take it all in. A hideous crystalline form of claws and spines. Six, yes six limbs encrusted all over with sparkling, ridged layers of minerals. Superficially it resembles the Xenoform, but where the Xenoform was just alien, this thing is incomprehensible, like a living geode. There are no eyes or even a face to speak of, no mouth even. But a viscous white exudate drips from the head part, extending down past Virgil's face as a stringy elongated liquid, before splitting off and dropping onto the floor where it pools.
A blur of iridescent and spiked crescents, claw like on the end of crystal arms, swings towards Virgil in a hypnotic syncopated motion.
Virgil stands, mesmerised as the face lowers to his, he hears the acid dripping onto his shoes and the sizzling as they start to dissolve.
His training takes over: a ‘matrix’ manoeuvre as the appendage strikes and then he tries to back through the door again.
Instead of swinging at him again the creature's multifaceted carapace starts to shift, rearranging itself, the crystaline structure almost flowing, as it extrudes a tapering shard from the centre of its abdomen. Then this spine projects out rapidly, targeting the middle of Virgil's chest, a few drops of the caustic white liquid spilling onto the floor.
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