A small craft maneuvered carefully as it entered the atmosphere of a small moon. The blue flames of its engines were drowned out by the red of the atmosphere collecting under his hull. The flames surrounded her till all she could see outside her craft was red. She relied on her sensors for the moment, but as soon as the flames subsided, she adjusted her entry and began to fly by eye again. She flew slowly and deliberately, counting landmarks as she went, making sure she did not miss a thing. Laying across her dashboard was a slip of paper detailing the landmarks she was encountering; one by one, she mentally ticked them off before finally arriving where she wanted to be. Deep in a mountain range of odd formations, she held still in a strange cavern, looking at the structure that lay before her. Looking down at her sensors, they showed nothing but stone.
“Now, that is an interesting trick.” She said, flicking through settings for her radar. “How are you hiding from my sensors?”
Looking down at her instructions, she read the last paragraph.
‘After you have arrived, you can park anywhere that is not designated for parking.’
She scrunched her face, confused; looking up, There were several docking stations designed for parking, one occupied by another craft. Hesitantly she lowered her vehicle in another section of the cavern, parking in the dark. She powered her ship down and found herself blinded by the lights coming from the building in the cavern. Packing her bags, she hopped out of her ship and locked up, making her way across the slippery ground to the building. She eyed the one-parked ship and gave it a wide berth.
“Looks like someone can’t read instructions.” She giggled to herself briefly. “Or didn’t pay enough for all of the instructions.”
Approaching the door, she looked down at her note, turning it over in her hand.
“Did I pay enough for all the instructions?” She looked up at the door, then across to the featureless front of the building, when suddenly the door swung open.
“ComeComeComeComeCome.” Cried a voice of an older woman as she reached out and grabbed the pilot by the hand, dragging her in.
“Hey, what are you doing?” The pilot cried as she tried to break the short woman’s surprisingly strong grip.
The pilot looked up to see the parked ship through a small glass window.
“Strange, I didn’t see any windows on the outside.” The pilot touched the window, and it felt as she expected it to, which somehow made her feel less at ease.
She felt her jaw grabbed by the iron grip of the older woman as she directed her eyes back to the ship.
The pilot looked out of the window intently, a creeping fear coming over her despite the lack of anything unusual.
“What am I looking for, old woman? The rock looks grey and cold, it’s covered in moss. The ship in front of us does not look like anything special. What am I supposed to see. Her voice slowed down as she watched a long tentacle extend from somewhere in the black of the ceiling. A viscous goo dripped from it, dropping with a heavy thud on the ship.
“If there is anyone in here who parked the red and black hawk model, your ship is getting jacked.” The pilot called out, watching, entranced as the tentacle slowly made contact with its prey. The pilot heard a loud clattering as a man shot past her with a pistol drawn. Barrelling through the door, he screamed as he saw the tentacle starting to wrap around his craft. He sprinted full speed to his ship, unlocking it as he ran the cockpit cover raised, and he leaped into his seat. Bringing down the cover before it had fully opened.
The old lady giggled, her false teeth jumping around in her mouth.
“ThatIsWhatItWants.” She giggled even more.
The pilot gave a cursory glance down to the old lady before looking back up to the ship. As soon as the cock pit was secured, the tentacle started to wrap the ship at double pace. Then another Tentacle shot down from out of the black, way at the top of the cave. Then another. Soon the ship was nearly completely covered with a pale green goo and dark green tentacles. The ship’s engines started up, and a bright blue flame scorched the flesh that sat too close to his afterburners. The tentacles did not seem to mind; there were no screams or recoiling, just the continued coiling of the ship.
“I don’t think that ship is going to be strong enough to break free from whatever is up there.” The pilot said as she watched the man try to take off.
The engine burned hotter, cooking some of the arms, turning others to ash. But the ship did not move. Then jerkily, the ship started to lift vertically as the tentacles started to retract. The man and his craft were slowly being lifted into the air as he tried desperately to escape their entanglement. Flares shot out, and the single gun on the craft rattled off as many bullets as it could.
“It is a shame that he waited this long; he is definitely too high now. But if he thought of it earlier, he could have…” The pilot stopped as she watched the male pilot eject himself.
The was a loud hiss as the fire deterrent escaped the ship, and the cockpit rocketed into the black above. Both the pilot and the old lady leaned forward to see where he went. They watched as his ejection sent him higher until, eventually, he, too, was consumed by the black.
“What’s up there?” The pilot asked as she waited for something to happen.
The rest of the ship disappeared out of sight, and there was once again relative silence.
“I know what you are saying, but could you slow down? You are so hard to understand.”
The pilot looked down to the old lady as she shrugged with a grin. “Hmph.”
The old lady waddled off, mumbling under her breath as the Pilot stood facing her. The old lady turned and sat down, facing the pilot. She swung her feet and patted her knees as she smiled sweetly at the pilot. The pilot stared back, although she was not sure why. Eventually, a sudden crashing sound sent the pilot leaping into the air. She dropped to the floor and instinctively reached for her hip pistol. But she stopped short as she watched the old lady laugh uncontrollably. The pilot scrunched up her face in frustration; turning back to the window, she looked out to see the flaming wreck that was the parked ship. The pilot leaned close to the window and looked at the remains of the wreckage.
“Nothing left, well, nothing useful, at least.”
The pilot groaned and pinched between her eyes as she took a moment to decipher what the old lady had said.
“Why shouldn’t I salvage something from a dead man? Those tentacles did not move that fast.”
The pilot took one last look out the window before looking inwards for a good look. She browsed the ramshackle shelves that housed a variety of goods. Her eyes glossed over the mechanical devices and shiny trinkets. Her eyes stopped briefly on each book that she passed but quickly moved on. The old lady watched her and snickered before running off deep into the store.
“IKnowWhatYouAreLookingFor.” The old lady yelled, her voice getting quieter as she ran deeper in.
The pilot looked over, curious, and followed the old lady deeper into the store. The sound of clambering and snickers lead the pilot like breadcrumbs. As she went on, she found herself squeezing through the gaps between the shelves.
“How did that pudgy lady get past these narrow damned shelves?” The pilot asked herself as she peered through the shelves to catch a glimpse of movement, but her eyes strained as the further she looked, the fewer lights there seemed to be.
“How big does this store go? It did not look this big from the outside.”
“…Did I ever tell you what I was looking for?” asked the pilot.
There was a long pause, and the giggling started up again. It got louder, and the pilot became uneased. She quickly realized that she was surrounded by darkness. The lights behind her had faded, and all she could hear was the echoing giggles of the old lady.
“Do you have any lights?” The pilot asked as she gripped her pistol.
The giggling stopped, and the next voice that came through was low and growled like an animal.
“You think a pistol can stop me?”
The pilot drew her weapon and started to head in the direction she thought she came from. Squeezing between shelves and kicking over the objects that littered the floor. In the distance, she noticed lights and ran towards them. The low-sounding growls getting closer, she panicked desperately as the pilot started toppling shelves and clambering towards the light. Pushing her way into an opening, she came across a single lantern held by a skeleton with a crushed ribcage. In its hand was a piece of paper that seemed familiar. She reached down and picked it up; upon the note was the same instructions that she had been given. As her eyes went lower than possible on hers, she sighed.
“Looks like this might be my last adventure.” She said as she turned to face the darkness of the shop.
The growling became varied and loud, and the pilot took a moment to steal herself. Opening her eyes, she calmed her breath and began to fire her pistol. Using the flash of her barrel, she lights up the interior of the store, illuminating the beast that was once the old woman. Re-aiming her pistol, she unloaded it into the creature. It leaped towards the pilot with jaws wide open and claws trained on the pilot’s throat.
A bell rang, and a stranger wandered into the store, shaking off a light dusting of snow that had started to fall. As they closed the door, they felt the silence in the store. No other patrons, no store owner, or even a counter to pay at. They looked around and called out.
“Hello, I have come in search of a book.”
There was a long drawn, out moment of nothing, then an old woman fell out between some shelves; hastily pattering herself down, she looked up and stood.
“Plenty of books here; what is it you are after?” The old woman said as she looked at the newcomer.
“I am after the black book of the Bellude Elite. I was told it was here.”
The old woman snickered and dove back into the shelves, re-emerging a few seconds later with a book that had a pale cover that was nearly pink.
“This one here will have what you are looking for, all the information that will let you have influence in the way you want. Fresh cover.”
The book changed hands, and the newcomer looked over the book, tugging at the dust cover. He felt the heat from his hand be drawn into the cover. The rugged stitching on the spine was stained with a red pattern. Thumbing the strange cover, they noticed small hairs sticking out. Looking up, they noticed the eyes of the old lady change. Turning a dark yellow, and their pupil turning into a slit. Before they had time to react, there was the sound of grunting and falling objects. Both the newcomer and the old lady turned around to see the pilot limp her way to them, dropping the corpse of a monster to the feet of the old lady.
“Sorry about your sister, but we had a disagreement.”
The pilot flexed out her back and straightened herself. Looking at the newcomer, she grabbed the book and made her way out of the store. Clothes tattered and bleeding heavily, she took her book and made her way to her ship. The newcomer watched her go without words, simply a slack jaw and a slight moan. Behind them, the old lady bent and cracked.
The pilot entered her ship as she heard screams coming from the store. Staring blankly at her console, she waited for her heart to slow before initiating the launch sequence and leaving the cave.