This was an experiment a couple of years ago into writing a pervy ebook for Amazon. Nobody bought it but I was quite proud of how it turned out. So here it is for glorious free, just because. Contains tentacles and non-consent.
The first sight she had of the wreck was darkness. The squad’s tactical lights penetrated only a few metres into the spacecraft’s interior. It looked more like the inside of an enormous spacefaring creature than anything mechanical, the corridor ahead braced with slender ribs and the floor carpeted with strange glittering scales.
Captain Shields led the way, training the barrel of her autorifle across the shadows. The rest of the six-man squad moved from their breaching craft to follow her, keeping in formation to cover every angle.
‘The readout says the air’s safe to breathe,’ said Chavez, the squad’s sensor man.
‘Keep your masks on anyway,’ said Shields. ‘Nobody’s bringing infectious crap back to Earth on my watch.’
‘Nobody said anything about infectious crap,’ said Shaw.
Shields rounded on Shaw. He was a new addition to the squad, coming with the highest marks from the Global Interdiction academy and every accolade except the ones you got in combat. He had a blandly handsome face, now creased with worry.
‘Where do you think you are?’ snapped Shields. ‘We know next to nothing about the Lurkers. There could be anything on this damned ship, up to and including a disease that would wipe out everyone on Earth if we let it. You got a problem with that, Shaw, you should have listened harder at the academy, because this is what we do. Understand?’
‘Geez, boss,’ said Corporal Deressi. ‘You are one hard bitch.’
‘The only bitches around here are you guys,’ replied Shields.
They called her boss. Not ‘ma’am’, or ‘sir’, or ‘captain’. Boss.
‘We’re in,’ radioed Shields to the oversight unit on the Global Interdiction assault ship nearby.
‘Acknowledged,’ came the reply from control, the calm voice of logic that was to keep the squad tethered to reality in this strange place. ‘We have you on scan. Proceed.’
The squad moved into the alien ship. The walls were knotted like muscle and the chambers looked like the ventricles of enormous hearts.
‘There are lifesigns,’ reported Chavez. ‘No older than forty-eight hours. Something’s alive here.’
Shields stepped carefully over the threshold of a huge chamber, the squad’s lights flickering against something enormous and wet overhead. As they got closer the shapes resolved into a cluster of great shattered spheres, the segments of pale chitin encrusted with greyish ooze plastering them to the ceiling. The floor was covered in the ooze and fallen fragments of shell, as clots of something clear and viscous dripped from stalactites of congealed slime.
‘Birthing chamber,’ said Deressi. ‘Seen one once before.’
‘And?’ said Shaw, unable to keep the nerves out of his voice.
‘It means there’s a whole lot of Lurkers on this tub.’
‘Stay tight,’ said Shields. ‘Cut the talk.’
She knew Deressi was right. The corporal had experience most of the troops lacked. He had been on missions like this before, clearing the Lurker wrecks that hung in orbit halfway between the Earth and the moon. Sometimes they found nothing, just empty chambers and a dead ship. Sometimes they didn’t come back.
Something twanged and shifted below the deck, the sound transmitted through Shields’ feet and up through the walls in a metallic boom.
‘Control, what the hell was that?’ demanded Shields through the radio.
‘We’re registering movement about five hundred metres from you,’ came the reply. The radio was crackling with static. ‘Could be…’
The birthing chamber tilted suddenly. Metal screamed. Shields was thrown off her feet and shards of the broken spheres rained down. She felt herself skidding on the ooze-covered floor as the deck beneath her tipped up wildly. The alien ship was shaking as if it was in the grip of an earthquake – Shields saw Deressi flung against a wall and Chavez clattering through a doorway that had suddenly become a pit in the floor.
Shields grabbed at the shards of torn metal opening up around her. The sound was deafening – she was sure she was yelling but she couldn’t hear herself. She sought a handhold, anything to arrest her fall, but her hands closed on nothing.
Then she was tumbling, banging her knees and elbows off the metal as she fell. Darkness swallowed her, and she plummeted into a pit of shadows and noise.
So few people had actually seen them that the name ‘Lurker’, coined by the scientists who first theorised their existence, had stuck. They had arrived from below the orbital plane of the solar system, and every attempt to contact them had failed. Their fleet of ships, hundreds strong, had anchored in orbit over the Earth. Observers on the surface were baffled with the newcomers’ radio silence and with the dark grey organic material that made up the hulls of their ships.
Then, they had attacked. Two cities were wiped out by shards of crystal accelerated from rail cannons on the Lurker ships, and Earth realised these were not visitors. They were invaders, willing to wipe out all resistance on the surface before they landed.
Earth threw everything she had at the Lurker fleet. The nations of the world banded together and emptied their nuclear stockpiles, everything aimed straight up at the strangers in orbit. For six days the night sky was full of shooting stars as the Lurker ships were engulfed in a mass of radioactive debris.
It worked. The Lurker fleet was shattered. No more attacks fell on the cities of Earth. But no one was so naïve to think the Lurkers were gone.
The nations who had forged an alliance to defeat the Lurkers did so again. They founded the Global Interdiction Force, a standing military whose purpose was to clear out any surviving Lurkers from the remains of their fleet. It was ugly work, some of the toughest there was, with high casualty rates and low chances of success. The Lurkers had turned their ships into deathtraps and seemed to have lost none of their malice after their failed invasion. Global Interdiction learned quickly and produced a hardened core of troopers who had entered the maddeningly alien world of the Lurkers and survived. Those who returned did so with chestfuls of medals and a new determination to wipe out the enemies of Earth.
And yet even so, after dozens of missions, very few among Global Interdiction had actually seen a Lurker. Those who had seen a Lurker and lived assured the rest they were better off not knowing what the enemy looked like up close.
The first instinct Shields had when she came round was to reach for her gun, and she cursed herself to find it was gone. It lay somewhere in the depths of the ship, under tonnes of torn metal wreckage. She suddenly felt appallingly vulnerable, and forced the feeling down again. She was never vulnerable. She was Global Interdiction, a soldier, a survivor. She was the Boss.
Shields found the emergency light she wore on the collar of her fatigues and switched it on, blinking in the sudden glare. She took stock of her surroundings as she checked herself for injuries. She was a little bruised, but unhurt. She had been through a lot worse.
Shields had come to rest in a gallery of connected chambers, each roughly circular, with veins bulging below the dark grey of the skin-like walls. She checked her air – she had an hour or more left before she would have to trust the ship’s atmosphere.
‘Control!’ she radioed. ‘Control, can you acknowledge? This is Captain Shields, I got separated. Where am I?’
There was nothing but white noise over the radio. Shields grimaced as she flicked through the channels. ‘Chavez?’ she called over her squad’s emergency channel. ‘Chavez, are you getting me? This is Shields. Anyone?’
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