The giant spider seemed to be ignoring the company. It was in some sort of distress, clearly, trying to worry at itself, rolling over, scraping itself against trees, and generally acting as if it was panicked. But it kept moving more and more slowly, eventually collapsing in a quivering heap.
Morgan had ordered the company to move back a few feet and give the spider a bit more distance; now he and Brown both had their binoculars out to look at the visibly ailing monster. And it looked awful. Diseased, with multiple tumors along its back and thorax.
“What is that, Sergeant?” asked Morgan. “Some kind of disease?”
“Beats me, Ell-Tee. We don’t get giant spiders hitting the Sand Dune. Shit, is it even still alive?”
“It has to be,” Morgan said. The tumors are still moving.”
“What?” snapped Mary. “Let me see!” Morgan handed her his binoculars before she could grab Brown’s out of his hands. She look, swore, then yelled to her auxiliaries. “Get your tick-stickers out!” She looked at Morgan. “Tell your people to ready swords and shields. Crossbows won’t help against these unless you’re a sharpshooter; They move too fast.”
“Right. Company! Stow crossbows and ready shields! Draw blades!” Morgan looked back at Mary. “So, what, exactly, moves too fast?”
Rose had been given what looked all the world like a collapsible metal tube — only one with a wicked-looking spear tip attached to the top. Her voice was grim as she replied. “Ticks, Lieutenant. Jersey Ticks. Don’t let them get their fangs into you.”