Killgrace and the Alien Threat

"Humanoid life signs detected interior to the base. Exterior life forms are microbial in nature," it said without slowing. Susan sighed and shook her head as the alien disappeared round a corner. She had seen more than enough to know that there were things out there that scanners would not detect. With luck her unwanted companion would not find that out the hard way. If something happened to it, it would take her several weeks to remove the fail-safes it had placed in the capsule in order to go home.

Still it could go and look for its ‘useful byproducts’. She was going to investigate the aliens.


"Tay wouldn’t come. It took me five minutes to talk him out of the control room," Megah said, as he returned. Yemec winced as he finished setting up the gurney. It sounded as though the mood on the base was collapsing. Still, he was in command now, and they had more immediate problems to handle.

"Give me a hand," he said. Megah took the corpse’s ankles, keeping as far away from the doctor’s contorted face as he could. Yemec gripped the shoulders, trying to brace the doctor’s limp head against his arm. On the count of three, they lifted it quickly onto the gurney, letting go the moment they could. As Yemec laid a sheet over the body, Megah glanced at the airlock window. He flinched back, pointing.

"Out there! I saw – "

"Don’t be ridiculous," Yemec said, but the strain showed in his voice. He started pulling the gurney towards the sickbay. Megah took the other end, pushing reluctantly, but he ducked his head down out of sight of the window. He stayed like that, awkwardly hunched over, until they were in the safely-lit corridor to the Medical Unit with a closed door between them and the airlock.

"I’m telling you, we’re under siege here," he said, once the body had been safely rolled into the medical bay, and the wheels locked. Yemec looked at him, silently waiting for the security officer to continue, and Megah shifted slightly under the scrutiny. He lowered his voice, but carried on anyway. "Look, I know they say it’s impossible, that nothing living can survive at this pressure, but there are things moving outside. I’ve seen them. Several of the mine controllers have reported the same thing. Do you think – "

"One thing I think – actually I know – is that we can’t leave the bodies here. It’s a health hazard," Yemec said calmly, looking round for a solution. "Do you know where the doctor put them?"

"But the aliens – ?"

"We don’t know if there are any," Yemec said harshly. "We do know two people have died and the mood in the station’s a powder-keg. One wrong word and we’ll be killing each other. We don’t need plague on top of that." Megah stared at him and swallowed.

"Shut the bodies in an escape pod. They can float to the surface," Megah suggested and Yemec’s face fell. "What’s wrong?"

"There aren’t enough escape pods."


"I checked, after the Captain died. There are six doors there, but two of the pods are gone."

"Impossible. Launching one of those things – "

"- makes the console light up like you wouldn’t believe. Which means they sent us down here without them," Yemec said.

"Or something took them."

"The alarms would have gone insane." Yemec shook his head, looking round the medical bay walls. "Is that a freezer?"

"I think so. Tay would know, he’s second in line for medic," Megah said, and paused.

"Where did you leave Tay?"

"In the lounge. I gave him a job to keep him busy."

"We can handle things here then." Yemec decided. If Tay was cracking under the stress the last thing they needed was to put him under more pressure. He tapped at the wall panel and the door slid open. He took a deep breath, instantly regretting it. "I think I’ve found the freezer."


Life signs were indicated in the corridors, and Cet changed course to avoid them. An engagement would be a waste of energy, and a scan confirmed that the priority at this time must be the mining supplies. Their value was significant: rare earth minerals in fully refined forms: silicates, oxides and phosphates, and minerals not obtainable at the current technology level of their own base. Samples of each would be convenient, and enhance the scientific capabilities of their laboratory significantly.

The secure access on the door was easily bypassed and it glided into the storage chamber, assessing the containers on the shelves. The armoured carapace had only limited cargo room so care would need to be taken when storing the minerals for transport. Proper handling would take time. A quick series of commands locked the door behind it, shut down the security cameras and deleted every trace of itself and its companion. Then, satisfied there would be no interruptions, the alien inspected the storage containers for possible compatibility with its own systems and set to work.


"We’ve put the bodies in the frozen storage in the bay," Yemec said as they entered the crew lounge. He stopped dead. The furniture had been pushed back to buttress the walls. Small piles of clothes and uniforms were folded next to bottles of drinking water and ration packs. The other two surviving members of the command staff were setting up sleeping bags. The normally comfortable room looked like an emergency shelter. "What’s going on here?"

"We’re moving all the command staff in here, like I said." Megah glared at Yemec, daring him to say anything. "If they’re picking us off one by one I’m not sleeping alone."

"Were you ever?" Tay said bitterly, and Jayan bridled, glaring at the mining chief.

"Enough," Yemec said, before the technical and mining officers could argue further. "Good idea, Megah. The lounge has no windows, and it’s well-protected. Carry on." He pretended not to hear Tay’s muttered insult as the security officer began to assemble material to barricade the door.

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