Challenge #01996-E172: Can't Get Worse/It Got Worse

in #fiction2 years ago


Spiders covered every inch of every surface all the way to the airlock.
The terror and the events that followed have only now been released. -- Anon Guest

The humans did not flinch from battle. Entire civilisations in their history had trained their minds for combat and strategy. They did not quail at injured Galactics. They trained for this all their lives. Providing emergency care at the site to get them stable and movable, and then stuffing them into care pods to survive the rest of the trip to the extraction point. They had no fear of space. They had lived their whole lives in it.

There was only one thing that stopped the rescue team as they thundered their way towards their destination, trailing pods of survivors like toys on a string.

"Oh gross... The exit hall's full of spiders." Which was sort of true. Galactic biologists have debated the classification of Oshits as spiders, but the remainder of Galactic Society ignores them and calls the creatures 'spiders' anyway. That, and it's difficult to argue with humans once something has cemented itself into their mammalian brains.

The record states that the Oshits were attracted to micro-leaks in the improvised shelter that the humans had cobbled together as a staging area for their rescue attempt. The pressure differential was leaking through several 'for now' class welds.

"Flakk," muttered Davies, who looked to Rodruiguez, who looked to Staveson.

"Don't look at me, I'm not going anywhere near those pieces of shit."

"That's a big fat nope from me, too," said Smith.

"We... could coast these across vaccuum to the ship..." offered Rodruiguez. "Or blow a hole in this mess to suck those things out into vacuum."

"Our rescue is logged. They charge us for extra property damage after the objective," said Davies."

"I could make it look like an accident."

"Tomsdottr? No. We all remember the last time you made it look like an accident."

"Duck and cover and then party balloon?" offered Staveson.

"I am not risking any chance of those things landing on us," said Smith. "Absolutely not. I would rather take the damage penalty than have a single one of those things _touch_me."

"Foam 'em?" offered Rodruiguez. "It's fire retardant..."

"We'd need a fire."

"That can be arranged," smirked Tomsdottr.

Three humans shouted, "Tommy, NO!" at the same time, but it was already too late. Tomsdottr had already applied their cutting torch to a flammable spray. And from there, all was chaos.

Some Oshits pounced towards the disturbed air of the improvised flamethrower. Other Oshits pounced towards pouncing Oshits. The living veneer of hairy decapods boiled as they all fought over presumed prey. And some were, indeed, set on fire.

Rodruiguez is on record for throwing the foam grenade, but every human in the group swore blind that they didn't know who threw it. This is typical of humans in trouble, and well known as Wasn't Me, Didn't See A Thing.

Some chemicals in the pre-set fire-retardant foam have a stochastic balance that has proven to be effective in collapsing the fire triangle in the past.

The resultant concussive force destabilised the staging area and significant portions of the wallowing vessel in the middle of the rescue mission. Exposed wires sparked new fires with the in-rush of air. Surviving Oshits hit the humans, who then instinctively reacted in terror.

There was weapons fire. Which made everything worse. And lots of human screaming, which did nothing to reassure the clients in their rescue pods.

Some humans got stuck to the hull. Some Oshits got stuck to the humans. Some pods got stuck to the humans and the Oshits. Some pods got stuck to the hull and the Oshits. Some parts of all three got stuck to each other.

The minor horsemen of Panic, Screaming, Chaos, and Flailing took over the situation, culminating in a rescue crew being sent to rescue the rescue crew.

They were towed as a lump into the UFTP vessel, The Mockingbird. In shame, and without their time bonus.

"This is why we can't go anywhere nice, Tommy."

"This is why we don't take you anywhere, Tommy."

"I swear to the Powers. Every time we EVA. It's the same flakking thing..."

"Powers damn it, Tommy."

"I killed the spiders..."

[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / Jackiejan]

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