Killgrace and the Alien Threat

"Then what opened that airlock, Yemec? What killed the people in that escape pod?" Susan listened intently, as she walked closer as quietly as she could on the padded floor.

"We don’t know," a man, presumably Yemec, replied.

"Look, we’ve all seen them, seen things moving outside."

"Megah, of course we have. It’s liquid gases out there. The storm will agitate them." Yemec tried to sound reasonable, but his voice was strained. Susan inched forward again, trying to hear, and suddenly realised that one of the crew was walking towards the door. She started to step back, too late. The woman caught sight of her and stopped short, staring. The others looked round, following their colleague’s gaze.

"Who are you?" She demanded. Susan didn’t have a chance to answer as another of them looked up.

"Must be one of the admin workers from downstairs," he said, reasonably.

"Then why isn’t she locked in?" The first chimed in. Susan recognised her voice as the person called ‘Jayan’, and glanced round quickly to try to match Yemec’s name to a face.

"A stowaway," the larger man said, and confirmed he was not Yemec. His hand had dropped to a belt pouch, and from the way he was standing Susan guessed that he was armed.

"Don’t be daft," Jayan said, looking Susan up and down slowly, with dawning distrust. "We’ve been down here for eight weeks. No one can get in or out until the storm passes. Look at her clothes. She’s not a worker."

"She’s been down here infiltrating – "

"Not a chance," Yemec said, putting his head in his hands. He looked ill. "There’s nowhere to hide."

"I’m Susan," Susan said, hoping the introduction would defuse the situation. "I just came up from the workers area, but the door’s locked behind me."

"See, I told you she’s a worker," Yemec said, almost too triumphantly. Susan looked round the three, all wearing a similar uniform as the workers below, aside from the name patch and what appeared to be a colour strip on the shoulders. Rank or speciality probably.

"Then why haven’t I seen her before?"

"In three weeks you think you’ve seen everyone on the base, Megah? Even the ones working opposite shifts?" Yemec asked, and the security officer glared at him, tapping his name badge.

"If she’s on the staff, where’s her keycard? Or her ID badge?"

"She has to be on staff. Can you think of another way for her to get on board?"

"Actually I only just arrived," Susan said, projecting confidence. "So what’s been going on?"

"And how exactly did you just arrive?"

"Transport shell," she lied. He blinked.

"But the doctor’s only just…"

"He wasn’t the first, was he?" she said, keeping her voice level and sympathetic. There was every chance the crew had known the victims, and they were definitely on edge. For a moment Yemec looked suspicious, and then visibly relaxed.

"Of course, you’re with the response team. We didn’t think the messages had got through, with the storm in full swing." He sounded relieved. "Is there a full response team coming? Is base trying to retrieve us?"

"Not that I know of. The storm makes transport difficult and the message we got was very garbled. At the moment it’s just me," she said, carefully hedging her bets. He looked a little taken aback, and she rushed on before he could ask more. "So, Yemec, I need a briefing. What’s happened?"

"You can’t just tell her!" Jayan cut in.

"Do you have a better idea? We don’t have any options." Yemec actually yelled, as his patience finally snapped. There was a sullen silence following his outburst.

"Well I don’t trust her," Megah said finally, and Jayan nodded agreement.

"We’re staying right here."

"Good," Yemec said. "Reinforce the shell’s defences and see if you can get security back online. I’ll take Susan and investigate what’s going on. Come on."


"Now we are out of there and they won’t panic, who are you?" Yemec asked as they walked, and Susan’s heart sank. She knew it had been too easy.

"I came up from the worker’s quarters," she repeated.

"I know the work rota. You’re not on it. Who are you?" Susan looked at him as she considered her words, carefully keeping out of range in case he decided to grab her. He was obviously on edge, even if he hid it better than the others in the lounge, and she could use that. As the silence stretched, he filled it awkwardly. "There are enough strange things going on I can’t allow a threat – I mean I can’t allow something like an unknown person on base to go unexplained."

"I’m a research scientist," she said, offering a version of the truth. "I specialise in unusual environments. I was working on a study of this one, but I’ve only just arrived."

"So why didn’t the alarms -" He stopped dead. "Did you disable our security?"

"No. I wouldn’t know how," she said, in perfect honesty.

"What about your pod’s beacon?"

"Could you pick it up through this storm?" she risked, remembering the workers’ conversation. After a moment he paused, nodding acceptance, and she ventured a question. "So what has happened here? I ran into a couple of your workers, but I’d rather get the facts."

"Two crew members have died, the Captain two days ago, and the doctor about an hour ago. Crew members have been saying they can see things moving outside the airlock. Just now the security went down."

"And what actions have you taken?" He rubbed his forehead, trying to focus, and she gave him a moment. As long as she looked like an authority figure, it was easier for him to go along with what she was saying.

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