I lean back against a crate. My voice echoes through the cargo dock. “—And there I was… face-to-face with the biggest, ugliest, queen crab of all time. I don’t know how many of the little freaks I had to kill to get to her… but there she was. Hunched over our power converter and ready to strand us all forever in the dark of space…”
“Uh, Sir, wasn’t someone else with you?”
“Well—yeah…” I roll my neck and knock back the last of a Spoors Dark Ale. Frell, was that the best we had around?
“I heard Felix killed it.” One of the crew says, a blond kid who was really too young to be walloping star=to=star.
I crush the can in my hand and throw in the general direction of the disposal chute. I look around. Felix is no where in earshot. “That damn robot did not kill it.”
“Sir,” one of the older crew says. “He doesn’t like it if you call him ‘robot’.”
I sniff. I glance around again. “I’m not afraid of him.” I rummage around in the ice cooler and pull out another Spoors. I crack it and take another bitter sip. Damn, it was nice to kick back for a change. Let the techies try to figure out how we get out of this mess. Main buses, secondary buses, loads, field dynamics… all that drek was for brains… me I know what I’m good at. Head bustin… that’s my gig.
“So, ummm, Sir,” one of the crew asked. “What happened?”
“What happened to what?”
“The queen bug.”
I frown. “Oh that.” They’re all staring at me. “What?”
“Well, what happened?” Another crewman presses.
“Ain’t it obvious?” I ask.
They all look confused.
I roll my eyes. “Guys, who’s here telling the story? Did you think I died?” I sigh. “We lit the thing up with every gun on the ship just about. Frikkin thing kept reflecting the shots. That guy that offered to help… he cranked that blaster rifle of Hilda’s up to full and blasted the drek out of the thing.”
“But what was it?”
I stare at the blond crewman. “Frell if I know. It acted smart—it made all the other little bugs we been squishing on the ship. It told them what to do. Boltz said he thought maybe it was a confederated weapon that may have escaped quarantine.”
“What about the other victs? What happened to them?” Another man asks.
“They’re staying in the sickbay under guard.” I shake my head. “They’ve all been pretty screwed up between Felix and Bengal.”
“I don’t understand though,” a crewman asks from behind me. “How did everyone know to come kill it?”
“Well,” I says. “It gets kinda complicated. Felix and I, we go an confront this guy that has both fingers and Hilda tree’d in the secondary bridge. There’s dead bugs everywhere and all three of them is ripped up. Those bugs are no joke I tell ya. This vict guy, he’s real cool, a pro, I can tell. He’s got that gun and his hands are rock steady. His eyes are flat dead. He knows he’s got nothing to lose. I know if we screw with him, he’s gonna put a hole in someone before he goes down. So, we just played along with him. We pulled those other freaks in out of the cold and went deck to deck bug hunting. Boltz found the momma bug. It didn’t take rocket science to figure killing it would solve our problem. So, here we are.”
“And where is that exactly?” A man on my right asks.
“Son, do I look like the captain to you? We are in the ass end of nowhere. We don’t have jump, we got secondary power and the we can’t even run the Bernard Drive past sixty percent. Boltz says we have to fabricate a main bus and we need a source of materials for that. For that, we need a dock or a planet or something. That’s what the captain and his brains are workin on. In the meantime,” I take a swig of Spours. “We drink, we clean, and if you’re into that sort of thing. Ya pray…”