Farlost, Episode 49
The universe was on mute. Dina couldn't breathe. Pain lanced down her spine. The tentacle crushing her pulsed tighter around her. Another of the Boomer's tentacle curled around the metal frame of The Toad's canopy and ripped it away. Her lungs burned for oxygen that the tentacle wrapped around her wouldn't let her draw in. She saw stars. More stars than were really out there, peeking around the mass of black tentacles and the thick root-like cage of exoskeleton that was sloughing off bark-like skin into the vacuum even as they hammered Dina's ship furiously. She coughed. Tasted blood. The world swam and bent as her brain struggled to hold onto it. The lights on the tram strobed again, and her head throbbed from the brilliance. Despite the pain, her tearing eyes jerked to look at it. The tram. Her reeling brain put it together: she'd brought the thing killing her to the tram. When it was done with her, it would kill every sentient on board. The Toad shuddered around her. Dina watched as another tentacle ripped one of her aft thrusters away and hurled it into space. Then another tentacle came for her, wrapped around her and her chair. The chair ripped free free, and Dina was flying out of the cockpit. She stared into a fang filled mouth, snapping and raging silently. The tentacles pulsed again, eagerly Dina thought, as they drew her closer to that hungry mouth. bn Sorry Doc, she whispered. New tentacles appeared, curling around that mouth and snapping it shut. Dina watched long crystalline fangs and frozen shards of saliva shatter. They smashed into her helmet at the same moment as the tentacles stopped crushing her. A foot-long, glassy tooth smashed into her helmet, sending a spiderweb of cracks across Dina's vision. Her ears started working again, only to hear her agony-fuelled screams and life support warnings roaring at her from speakers. The chair was flung away, Dina along with it. She was spinning around like a yo-yo, trying to make sense of the quickly changing view of monstrous space alien, stars, Toad, monstrous space alien, stars, Toad! Then she smashed back into the cockpit. Her hands clawed out, reaching desperately for anything that could keep her from rebounding out into the vacuum. She grabbed a fistful of tangled cabling ripped free then the canopy had been ripped free, and then she felt the floor hit her and send her flying out again. She wrenched her body around and just grabbed hold of the wires with both gloved hands. She frantically wrapped the cable around one wrist, tangled the fingers of her other hand-and then it snapped taught. She screamed. Something snapped in her wrist, but she held on. Roaring as she gasped in deep shuddering breaths, it was all Dina could do not to black out. She allowed herself three full breaths to force her battered body to behave, and then raised her head to where the tram and the Toad floated. Dark tentacles lashed at each a smaller version of itself. The smaller version wasn't really black, more of a dun gray-brown color, with many more splashes of pink. One of the Tumblers from the tram, Dina pieced together. Posk, she knew, from the size. She laughed hysterically. What do you know, she'd figured out which was Posk before she died after all. Feeling numb to the bone, she felt like a passenger in her own body as somehow, her broken hands began dragging her back to the Toad. The Boomer wrapped tentacles around Posk, and Posk's tentacles tore through them like paper. Dina watched the fight as her body tugged her closer, and guessed Posk's lesser amount of time in vacuum gave her tentacles a greater strength. But even before the fingers of her broken hand clawed the side of the Toad, Dina could see the larger Boomer's tentacles vastly outnumbered Posk's. Dina's body swam in pain. She swore at the Boomer, at herself, at the puke-colored Thorn still looming large in the sky, and made herself hold on to the rippled metal edging her cockpit. She didn't feel the needles in her thighs injecting their life-saving cocktails, but instantly the pain was halved. She could hear her own thin, reedy screams and made herself shut up. She wedged her knees beneath the center console and punched buttons with her knuckles and the side of her palms, until the screens showed her what still worked. She snarled, spitting blood, which wobbled past her eyes as she activated one robot arm and reached up to even the fight. The Boomer didn't see her coming. Its every tentacle tangled with Posk's, fighting to make it through and wrap around the smaller Tumbler and crush it. "¡chinga tu madre!" Dina cried, as she lit up the welder on the arm and nudged her one remaining aft thruster alive. She speared into the Boomer's center mass, boiling the alien's insides and shredding whatever it could grab. All the Boomer's tentacles let go of Posk and reached for the arm. A few lashed at the Toad but it hadn't put two and two together yet. The arm found something solid inside the Boomer's guts and Dina latched on, locking it's grip. She backed into the wall-mount for her suit's thruster pack and snapped the harness into place. One tentacle whipped past her blindly but missed. She screamed at it and shrieked in anticipated pain as she slammed her broken wrist down to release the pack from the wall . Every breath she took was raw as she pushed herself blindly, stupidly over the sparking hole in the ground where her pilot's chair used to be. She wedged her elbow under the console this time, only barely ducking under two more lashing tentacles. She engaged the thrusters just beneath the Toad's canopy-the ones facing the writhing Boomer- and kicked with all her strength up into empty space. She had seconds before the thrusters ignited. Seconds to get away-- A tentacle snared her leg. She screamed in new pain as her leg bent. She poured on the thruster, pure animal fear driving her to get away. Another tentacle joined the first. Then a third tentacle wrapped around her hips. Dina bucked her hips, and shouted, and cried. More blood spattered the spiderwebbed faceplate of her helmet. She bent over and uselessly pried and punched at the tentacles. Then a thin, dun-colored tentacle wove its way between the black ones. And another. Dina looked up. Posk twined more tentacles into the dark black of the Boomer's....and Dina was free! Posk slammed Dina in the chest, sending her spinning free of the Boomer's reach. It took all her willpower to keep from fading out, to steer the chemical thrusters facing in six different directions and kill her tumble. The blood she'd spat had ended up in her hair, sticky and thick, but at least it wasn't in her eyes. She welded her lips shut to avoid adding anything new to the mess and watched the Toad shrink in the distance, the speared Boomer and Posk with it, lashing the flesh from each other until they were only specks, still racing away. Dina's eyes began to close. She couldn't think of what to do but watch...until, instinctively, she punched herself in the thigh with the good hand. She winced, realizing she'd dislocated a couple fingers on that hand, too, and also realizing she might just make it out of this alive! She lost track of time, squirting miserly chemical course corrections and heading for the strobing rectangle so, so far away now. Until her jets were dry. She'd been so close! It hurt too much to think how close she'd come to making it. It hurt too much to do anything at all. Her eyes drooped, still fixed on the strobing lights of the tram, not half a kilometer away. She got lost in the light. It was all that mattered, but her battered brain couldn't remember why. Her eyes drooped more. She almost didn't see the space suit getting larger and closer. Her eyes closed, wondering why the space suit had so many extra arms and legs.