The thrice-accursed cables were busted, the whole insulated bundle, by a remotely-detonated micro bomb. Sabotage on a professional level, Autumn had to nod. She hummed as she played Cinderella, picking out the right cable from between the cinders, patching it with a salvaged one.
Occasionally, she heard scratching and the tip-tap of clawed feet from the ducts. Some smaller alien apparently called the ventilation system its home. At least the Capt'n didn't fit inside.
Finally, with a satisfying hum, gravity went online as a minimal graviton sheath was erected above and below the ship. A cacophony of noises filled the vessel as all the loose items clattered to the ground. The landlubbers amongst the crew rejoiced as gravity's familiar embrace welcomed them back to the feet.
Whistling, Autumn strolled over to the other damaged power line. The connection to the bridge was redundant - except for this one node.
Over her shoulder, she noticed a dark shadow creeping along the walkway just at the edge of darkness, she heard the skitter and the clicking of the impacting claws, saw the flicker of a cluster of yellow eyes.
As long as it kept its distance, everything was excellent.
The same charge had blown the cable, and with tried motions, she proceeded to re-connect the wiring.
A screen flickered on, with the recording of a young woman in a knitted viking helmet with knitted rusty beard appearing, and playfully mocking: "Did the evil Red Viking blow your precious cable? Well, he has something in store for you too!"
Autumn had a brief moment to recoil before a blast sent her flying, her suit on fire, breath knocked out.
Stop. Drop. Roll. Do not die.
It worked, but the wiring was a disaster. That would take some time... but hopefully, no more booby traps would join the fun. Diligently, she examined the entire wiring for other surprises before proceeding. Work, work. "Guys, this will take some time, but I'll manage."
The shadow lurked just around the corner, peeking whenever it thought she wasn't looking, its sibilant breaths in tune with the sizzling of Autumn's welder. Occasional flashes of light from behind it cast a long, predatory, spiked contour across the opposite wall.
Sunny half-dragged, half-carried the first mate to the infirmary; she was no weakling, but the girl was heavy. Good bone structure, some serious muscle. Thanks for turning on the gravity, Autumn!
A slipping could be heard between her steps and laboured breath, as if plastic was being dragged across the carpet. She shuddered when she felt the presence, waiting, looking. It was close. Out of the corner of her vision, she could make out a sleek serpentine shape, and four-eyed reptilian heads; the mantis-like razor blades slowly closed and opened, as if reminiscing about decapitating, mutilating and a hundred ways to inflict injury.
It stayed close, a few yards, yet left Helia to pass.
Then, the creature hovered in the infirmary's door, eying whatever she did. A shape passed the camera on the other side. Great, there were two.
Slowly, Helia placed Irina in the scanner, and let the metal ring run along the body. The threat emanating from the many-headed creature was almost palpable.
As she took a blood sample, she could feel it drawing closer, hovering over her.
Do not look, show no fear, do not quiver, don't get near.
Ever so slowly, she withdrew the needle, and placed one of the samples under the microscope, the other in the sequencer.
Slick sounds made her aware of the beast's activity. It was licking the first mate clean. Excellent.
Shrugging, she turned back to the results. Fascinating.
First of all, the blood - the woman's red blood cells were normal enough; her white blood cells showed amorphous organelle-rich macrophage-like types in addition to the usual crew. Helia saw them moving through the sample, briefly touching the other cells, ever restless. Whatever their purpose was?
The sequencer confirmed her assumptions - there were genetic sequences from at least four individuals present in the sample; strange that the chimeric body hasn't eaten itself apart yet. Most importantly, also abundant unknown sequences were detectable, bearing only low homology to Earth's organisms. Quite much DNA, actually. Her professional interest was piqued as she studied the tense creature behind her. Perhaps she should get a sample from one of the three dead critters?
Finally, the tomographic scan revealed the high bone density she had previously felt, along with discreet marks along the bones where they had, according to her estimate, been separated and re-joined. The rest was human - except for a long organ reaching from the head down the neck, through the mediastinum to the retroperitoneum, its borders ill-defined, telling of its thorough interconnection with the surrounding tissue.
Irina dreamed, her sleep distorted by the drugs in her system into a befuddled swirl of colors and sounds.
Sunny's suit computer beeped. Oxygen reserves at 33%? How fast has she been spending it?
Jerome fiddled with the wrist computer from the first mate's suit. Made in Arkona, solid piece of technology and rather robust - and the interface was in Russian. When he tried to plug it into his own computer, it immediately responded with hostile software and promptly replaced his screen saver with a seemingly never-ending stream of adorable kittens that were highly deficient in grammar, spelling and sentence structure. Huh. Luckily, he pulled the plug before anything worse could happen.
At least the suit repair kit was not booby-trapped, and soon, space-tight duct tape covered the rips and tears, melding with the suit's material to become one. A suit integrity test revealed he was good to go. A smiling kitten in a vacc suit was accompanied by the slogan: "Where does the astronaut hang out? A space bar."