Canto 120 – Space-Walk
Junior Aero found the antique vacc suits somewhat clunky and uncomfortable compared to what the Aero Brothers had available on the Leaping Shadowcat. Not that he’d had one on more than once, briefly. But they had rigid sections in the thighs and upper arms that restricted fluid movements and joints that didn’t allow flexibility. And there was no intelligence at all ln the helmets or in the systems circuitry. It was like wearing the stupid Nebulon Danjer suits, one-piece protective organisms that Nebulons wore in space. But even though levels of stupidness were the same, the current space-wear had none of the fluid movements that the totally stupid Danjer-critters allowed.
Ged was the one taking the lead. He held the hand-rocket that moved them all through weightlessness in space. All four students were tethered behind him.
Billy Iowa was tethered directly behind Ged. Sarah was attached to his suit from behind him. Junior had fastened his tether cord to the metal loop on the lower back of her suit. And Gyro brought up the rear. After the boobie-spotting plan hatched in the little blue guy’s evil little brain, Junior felt it was right to put him as the rear end of the line. For a Nebulon, Gyro could be a real little rear end.
Stars filled the universe outside the airlock, nothing but perfect silence besides.
The alien “seed-pod ship” was lit by Gaijin’s yellow star and Junior noticed how flower-like it really seemed to be. Could it be just some sort of wandering interstellar organism? Junior really didn’t know. Still, it was no more deadly than anything else they had faced on Gaijin. Even stiller still, it was certainly no less deadly either.
Ged signaled the start of the journey across open, airless space with the first blast from the hand rocket. The line jerked each student forward in turn.
Sara turned and signaled that everything was okay. Junior gave the “OK” sign back.
As they neared the big blossom-looking appendage, the scanner pad that Ged was holding identified the structure as an airlock.
As Ged drew near enough, prehensile tentacles of some sort reached up to take hold of him.
“Ged Aero-sensei, do we run for it?” Billy asked over the comm system.
“Let’s allow it to perform its apparent function,” their master answered.
Junior then watched in horror as the tendrils latched onto Ged’s suit and pulled him inside. It looked for all the universe like the thing had eaten him.
“Ooh! I don’t know about this!” said Billy, alarmed as the thing slowly consumed him next.
“Does it hurt, Billy?” asked Gyro.
No sound, of course, came back in reply.
“Sara, can you pull them out again?” Junior pleaded.
Sara didn’t answer as the blossom-thing swallowed her next.
Then it was Junior’s turn.
“Shneejara sohk nahl, Junior-san,” saluted Gyro as the thing grabbed Junior by the feet. That meant in Nebulonin, of course, “It has been an honor adventuring with you, Junior-san.” Then, the moving, living tendrils were all over him. He could feel them pulling at his suit, twisting, turning, and then, horrifically, popping his helmet off. Slime covered his head and slid down into his suit. All he could see was a faint reddish glow through the tendrils’ translucent flesh. He sincerely hoped the slime was not digestive juices.