The med suits felt like being inside tin cans, but then the sort of diseases they’d been designed to cope with would give anyone nightmares for weeks.
Jury dinged the side of his helmet with his fist, ‘Svelt? Can you hear me?’
‘Yes, said the woman behind the faceplate and if Jury felt uncomfortable it had to be ten times worse for her floating around in there. It was only DeepHaul out of the three of them who looked comfortable in his gear.
‘Reminds me of the old prospecting suits,’ said the miner absently fingering something that looked suspiciously like a hand print. ‘They’ve seen action too.’ He brought the blood smeared mitten up to his eyes.
Jury read from the HUD scrolling in front of him.
‘They have – everywhere from Angola to Papua New Guinea and Salvador. They had to bomb an entire planet into submission in one of the outer quadrants when the infected spread to local government. These must be surplus from that.’
So what are we going to do? Those things are designed for operating in deep space.’ He gestured at the staples holding the rent open. The sort of explosive we’ve got won’t work.’
‘I’ve a better idea than that,’ and Jury’s eyes shone. ‘He’d spent the time as his companions suited up well. ‘Those things aren’t New Church.’
‘Course they are Jury,’ Svelt’s smile was warm and full of understanding, but she was still losing it.
‘Look you can see,’ she pointed at the nearest and the massive stars and stripes on its side. Jury’s grin grew a little broader.
He allowed the ship’s on board security to zoom in. Underneath the peeling paint was a string of numbers.
Those are decommissioned hospital ships.’
‘Yeah, from the early stages of the outbreak when they still thought it was confined to the solar system. They had those things around every inhabited planet where they thought there was a chance of controlling it.
‘Why has the Church got them then?’ said Svelt.
DeepHaul shrugged, ‘cheap, I expect.’
But Jury was shaking his head and his stolen eyes glittered dully in the light from the rent torn through space.
‘These were for something else.’
They were still staring at it when a noise like glass breaking filled the ships bridge and the rent grew a little wider. The staple ships pinning its lips back bucked and writhed and they saw more than a few of them dragged into the swirling vortex as the wires leading into its depths snapped taught.
‘Something’s coming through.’
As the first appendage appeared through the gap the noise changed until it reminded Jury of someone sticking their hand into the spokes of a wheel. As the thuds grew faster and more of the crawling pallid tentacles snaked through it didn’t take much to imagine screams.
‘That’s the problem, isn’t it?’ breathed Jury, ‘they haven’t made it wide enough.’
He looked around the tear. What he’d taken for the usual junk from any deep space operation was beginning to looks suspiciously like something else.
(to be continued)
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