The crew are on their own. What are they going to do? Come on Ed, time to take change.
A NuSpace Misfits Adventure
by Ollie Rossman
“Dad? Dad!” yelled Edwina.
Father didn’t turn around, instead he just kept walking until at last he disappeared down a gully and into the valley beyond. Next to her, Jules watched, shocked.
“Did that just happen?” she said.
“Uh… I think so.”
Around them, everyone was still doing what they were doing: Spike still had Doc in a headlock, his face redder now, Victoria was yelling at Daemon who in turn was gasping for breath from laughing so hard, Herb chatted idly on his comms link with Jet back at the ship.
“Guys, GUYS!” said Edwina and they looked up at her.
“Got to go,” whispered Herb, hanging up on Jet.
“So, uh, Dad just left,” Edwina said.
“Where’d he go?” asked Doc.
“Dunno. He said he wanted some ‘me time’.”
“I don’t think he’s coming back,” added Jules.
“Let me get this straight. He shoots a laser, a freaking bad ass laser, out of his hand, and then bails. You think you know a guy,” said Daemon.
“He bugged out,” said Herb giggling. Everyone ignored him. “Get it guys? Bugged out, giant bug monsters. Guys?”
“I guess we’re on our own. We should try find the other colonists,” said Victoria.
“Don’t be silly. I’ll just call him,” said Daemon. A second later: “He’s not answering.” Victoria gave him a look. “I’ll ask Mum.”
Daemon wandered off to have a private conversation with Mother. They were always having long talks. Daemon was Mother’s outlet. She didn’t talk to anyone like she did with him, not even Father. This time it was a quick conversation.
“She said she can’t tell me where he’s gone or when he’ll be back. She said she didn’t know if he was going to come back.”
“So what now?” asked Jules.
Edwina stood up straight. This was her moment and she knew exactly what to do. Orders. “Spike secure the perimeter. Doc, autopsy that bug. Herb, sort out lunch. Daemon, see if you can log into the local net. Dronie, do a lap and see if you can spot anyone. Get to it people!”
She stood there, proud of herself. This is what she had trained for, to lead a team of elite space rangers through any situation. Now if only the others were as confident as she was.
Spike looked around trying to work out where the perimeter was exactly. In the end she settled for climbing onto the roof of the closest dormitory. She sat on the edge, kicking her legs and chewing jerky while she watched the rest of the crew.
Doc took out his scalpel and walked slowly towards the bug’s corpse. Victoria went over with him and he whispered to her, “I have no idea how to do an arthropodic autopsy.”
She told him, “Maybe you would if you went to class.”
“I don’t have any six fingered gloves,” he said, quite amused at the prospect of squeezing his new hands into standard gloves. Victoria sighed.
Herb passed out rations. Daemon’s fingers danced on his touchpad, eyes closed. He shook his head, “No wifi.”
Doc took a DNA sample and some swabs. No poisons or toxins, that was a good start. He started to reluctantly poked the insides of the bug with his scalpel. Not really knowing where to start he tried to pick up structural elements. Pretty soon he found himself on autopilot, the blade moving smoothly through connective tissue as he cut out organs and set them aside. He found what he thought were a basic digestive and circulatory system. Strangely, most of the space in the body was a filled with a light flimsy tissue. He couldn’t work out what its function, it seemed like empty space. Within the legs and claws there were long stringy muscle fibres. The cells were packed tightly but were large and elongated which indicated impressive strength – the bugs could jump, were fast and the claws could cut through a person with ease. There was something special about the tongue but he couldn’t figure it out. The antennae seemed extremely sensitive and intricate, but then weren’t all antennae? Apart from a tiny brain, the only other structure in the head was a tubular structure made of cartilage. He cleaned the two halves and held them in his hand.
“What is that?” asked Victoria, who had been watching Doc work.
“I’m not sure. I think it might be how the bug makes noise. Insects use different physical structures to make noise and I think this bug pushes air through this tube thing and that’s how it communicates. It’s basically a horn.”
“Let me see.” He passed the pieces to her and she put them together. Dad’s laser had only sheared off a few atoms so they fit together perfectly.
“You know, I can’t really say I found out all that much from the autopsy but I did have quite a bit of fun doing it once I got started.”
Victoria wasn’t listening. “Communication horn my ass. You don’t know what you’re talking about Doc.” Victoria lifted the horn to her lips.
“Ah Vic,” Doc raised a cautious hand. “I wouldn’t do that if I was you.”
“Please Doc, I passed Xenobiology with extremely high grades. You didn’t even go to class. Watch.” Victoria blew into the horn. It made a noise that sounded a lot like the bug they had encountered earlier. It startled her and the other crew members looked over. Nothing happened. She released a slow breath.
Then two bugs appeared. One red and green like the first bug, the second yellow and orange. Colour aside, all the bugs looked essentially the same.
Next week on Bugout
What’s the deal with these bugs? Are they going to be cool or what? I’m sure nothing is going to go wrong, right?
Tune in next Wednesday for the next episode.
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