Monday, May 13, 2013

The Rahab Conspiracy #24 - Tangled

by Jeff C. Carter

Dros slouched behind his menu and scratched the yellow fuzz sprouting from his scalp.  A perky waitress skipped over and he shooed her away.  The bright, airy food court on the lower cordeck was a great place to hide in plain sight, but he’d take a dark smuggler's cove and an air gun at his side any day.  He pulled a hat back onto his prickling head.  Constant scratching was the only giveaway of a good bio-disguise, and Dros knew that he was being watched.  He could feel eyes upon him from some unseen corner.  The walls were closing in.

Smuggling contraband spider eggs onto Avenir had been risky, but the offer had made it worth any risk.  Or so he thought.  The first time he tried to return to Port X his travel credentials were denied without explanation.  When he saw the alert out for his backup identity, he knew he was in serious trouble.  Then his contact at Customs turned up dead.

Someone was trying to keep Dros from getting off this station.  He didn't know who.  He didn’t want to find out.  He just needed to lay low for one more hour.  There was a shuttle leaving with a reservation for his name to match his new biometrics.

A fresh-faced enforcer in a crisp uniform strolled past the mammoth viewport window that lined one side of the dining area.  Dros clenched his teeth as a burning itch crawled across his scalp.  The waitress waved at the rookie officer and he sauntered over.  Dros buried his face in the menu. 

The sudden clatter of plates made him jump.  Someone on the far side of the dining area was shouting.  Dros tried to see who it was, but the enforcer was blocking his line of sight.

"The end is coming!  Ragnorok!  They're heeeere!"

A sweaty dark skinned man loped off down a hallway, flailing his arms.  The enforcer turned to follow him and froze.  His head slowly turned back to the entrance where the maniac had appeared.
Dros looked over the enforcer's shoulder and saw it too.  

A monstrous black spider blocked the entire arched entry space.  Dros' heart sank.  The young enforcer grasped for the air gun in his holster but it was gone.  Dros had slipped it free and started running.  

Dros looked back and saw the rookie slammed beneath a pouncing spider.  Dros’ finger twitched towards the trigger for an instant before he resumed his flight towards the exit.  As he reached the exit tunnel another spider appeared, forelegs thrusting out in a threatening display.  Dros skidded to a halt and frantically back-pedaled.  He raised the stolen air gun and took aim.

Dros’ foot rolled off something and he went down hard.  He caught a glimpse of the blinking metal canister as it spun away.  He knew an enforcer stunfoam grenade when he saw it, so he pulled himself into a tight fetal position.

The grenade detonated with a crackling thump, spraying high voltage foam in all directions.  Dros crawled beneath scattered tables, careful to avoid the sparking globs of quivering black foam.  He snatched up the air gun and scanned the courtyard.  A terrified mob of people collided into each other as they scrambled away from clouds of stunfoam and the spiders lurking in every tunnel. 

Dros slid along the wall with the air gun extended in front of him.  He reached an exit and saw thick hairy legs slashing the air.  He silently closed the last few inches.  His stomach fluttered and his body felt weightless.  His finger closed around the trigger as a piece of glass floated past his nose.

By the time his mind registered the loss of artificial gravity he had clenched the trigger.  The air gun drilled back into his chest and sent him tumbling.  Storm clouds of floating stunfoam silenced the shrieks of people as they flailed helplessly through the air.

The lights of the food court flickered and died.  The only light was the hellish glow of Sheba’s volcanic sea cast through the viewport window.  Dros bounced off a table and twisted to get his bearings.  Flashing wisps of stunfoam illuminated the spiders.  They had left their posts and were crawling effortlessly along the walls.

Dros waited to hit the ceiling and then shoved off towards an open exit.  His body snapped back, trapped in something viscous.  He realized in a flash of hysteria that he was caught in a spider web that covered the vaulted ceiling.  He squirmed out of his sweaty clothing and began to shimmy free.  His bare skin snagged on the sticky cables and ripped away in sheets.  He whimpered and thrashed, sending tremors through the giant web. 

Dros felt eyes upon him.  He craned his head and saw the spiders slinking onto the web.  He writhed and fought, but his bonds only became tighter.  The spiders began closing in.

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