[READING] [V & A Shipping] Chapter 42
Huge. That’s all June could think. Huge. Mike created a massive web all in a matter of minutes. She’d known him for a year and he’d never done anything this big. Sure he had that little web back in his engineering room and all the little webbing across the ceilings, but those didn’t come close to comparing to this full blown spider web. She had trouble imagining Mike actually catching and eating something from it. Mike had always eaten with the rest of the crew and done so in relative politeness. He didn’t even have fangs like a normal spider.
Of course Vic’s standard response when Mike did things a little out of the ordinary went something like “You know Mike. He’s a little off kilter.” This fit the bill for off kilter, no doubt about that. The cargo bay stood nearly two hundred feet tall and Mike dangled precariously, or so it looked, in his web. He looked like he was asleep or in some sort of trance.
“What the hell did he do?” Vic asked.
June started. She hadn’t heard Vic approach. “He built a web.”
“I see that.” Vic stared up with the rest and his tone showed his amazement. “How do we get him down?”
Leave it to Vic. “You’re the captain. You figure it out.” She wanted to turn and leave, but she also wanted to see how Vic was going to deal with this situation.
“Alright. I guess I’ll shake him down. If that doesn’t work, we’ll have to shoot the web out from under him.”
“I’m kidding.” Vic shrugged and shook his head innocently at Joey.
“It’s creeping me out,” June said. “Just get him down.”
Vic took several slow steps toward the web. He stamped his foot on the floor and watched for a response from Mike. There was none. When he got closer to one of the web’s strands on the floor, he gave it a quick poke and jumped back. Still no response.
“He’s a big spider and probably waiting for big prey. Give it a good shake.”
Vic turned around and laughed. “Yeah right. What if I get stuck?”
“All the better.” June smiled wickedly at him.
Vic’s jovial laughter changed to stressed. He returned to the task and gripped the web strand with both hands. Taking a deep breath he shook the web violently. Back and forth he shook it. June looked up and Mike still hadn’t moved. Not yet. Then all at once his eyes snapped open and he plunged to the floor with frightening speed. With his mouth wide open it was easy to see the retractable fangs pop down like massive daggers.
Vic still shook the web.
“Get out of there!” June yelled. Why wasn’t he moving? “Oh God!” Vic’s hands stuck fast. He wasn’t going to get out of the way. Mike had flipped out and was going to eat Vic.
“Help! Get me off this thing!”
There wasn’t any time to react. None at all. By the time any of them could react Mike reached Vic and clung to Vic’s back. For the first time since she’d met Vic she heard him scream and for the first time in her life, she felt sorry for him. Being eaten alive. What a horrible way to die.
She did the only thing she could do. Yell. “Mike! Get off him! That’s Vic. Don’t bite him. Mike! Stop!”
Vic’s body slackened and fell to the floor, his hands still stuck to the web. He’s dead. Oh God he’s dead. He’s dead and Mike killed him! There’s a killer on the ship. What are we going to do?
Mike wheeled around, his eyes wide and yellow. Crimson blood and yellowish venom dripped from his fangs. He snorted twice, twitched nervously, then launched himself. June gasped. He was coming at her.
“Eep! Eep! Eep!”
A blur shot from the side and Mike fell to the floor. Dexter stood over Mike’s body. June’s breath came in short gasps. What happened?
Vic was down. Mike was down. What to do next? Vic always made the decisions. He knew what to do. The robot!
“SPX-39, come to the cargo bay. Now!” And what to do with Vic? “Tootsie! Is there any anti-venom on the ship? Vic’s been bitten by Mike.”
A click. A whir. “There is no anti-venom onboard. We’ll have to put Vic into a stasis field. That will keep the venom from spreading.”
“Tootsie. Put Vic in a stasis field and redirect our course for the nearest system with anti-venom. And Put Mike in a stasis field until we can figure out what to do with him.”
“Are you sure Vic wants to redirect the ship?”
“Tootsie! I’m in command now that Vic is down.”
“Isn’t Argmon the second in command?”
“Tootsie! Just do it. Argmon would want to do the same thing.”
Argmon howled agreement from the ship’s bridge.
“Course changed for the Veneno system. We’ll arrive there in one hour.”
Vic’s going to be pissed. He’s got that bet and we don’t have any time to waste.
“Tootsie. Is there a system closer to where we’re going? Or on the way.”
“The Veneno system is along our path.”
“Perfect. Thank you.” June knelt down and hugged Dexter. “And thank you.”
“Eep. Eep. Eep.”
A shimmer appeared over both Vic and Mike. The stasis fields would keep them both contained and safe until they landed. Joop-Nop inspected the fields with branch-like protrusions. Its green body had mostly disappeared and it used a pair of the branches to move itself along. June didn’t know which was creepier, the green, slime version of Joop-Nop or this.
“Joey, why don’t you…” June turned around and saw Joey flat on the ground. She thought she felt his consciousness disappear. “This is a habit you’re going to have to break if you’re going to make it on this crew.”
Several clanks rattled across the floor. SPX-39 came to a stop in front of June. “You called?”
“Take Joey up and put him in a rack. He needs some rest. Then come back down here and keep an eye on Vic and Mike and make sure they don’t go anywhere. If they do, come and let me know straight away.”
June decided not to tell the robot. Its paranoia could be contagious and she didn’t need anything going wrong. Anything more than had already gone wrong. It looked like they weren’t going to be getting paid this time around.
“Tootsie, signal ahead and make sure we can get a doctor and anti-venom as soon as we land.”
Vic only had a little bit of time for this run and if anyone could figure out how to get back on time, it was Vic. He’d gotten them out of several tight spots before. They were all his fault, of course, but he was good. She had to give him that. She just hoped he’d make it out of this one.
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