Author: Morrow Brady
A silver float-stone fell silently, colliding with Birb the hover lamp. Birb flickered as his failing battery redirected power to his stabilisers. Shadow and sulphurous light warred over the silvery rock tunnel.
“Nice Birb, nice” I mumbled sarcastically.
Light-beams speared the glittering yellow haze and fell upon the newly exploded rock face while shadowy vent-snakes slithered overhead, clearing the humid air then spasmed reluctantly back into their dirty hide. Wrenched air wafted across my sweaty brow and I tongued the acidic taste of pure Cry, a powerful drug buried deep within a captured asteroid poised halfway to the moon. I down-dosed too late and the euphoria flooded through me. I tasted silver and licked my dust crusted lips in rapture.
Mesmerised before a jaundiced ore face, I snapped to when a water-spider ticked past my grubby moon-boot, dousing everything. I watched transfixed as the sulphurous dust formed into a mustardy mousse and danced in the low gravity like a salted slug.
Every detonator had fired and silver Crystone lay shattered across the tunnel floor like a broken mirror. I leaned into the ore face, examining the zig-zag line of precious commodity bound in stone. Truly the richest seam ever mined.
Robo-loco, the excavator, lurched down the tunnel, urging me onward with each heavy tread. Upon arrival, he’d fill his hopper with precious fragments of valuable ore and return to the processor. Pay would be good this week. The Cry was rich and pure.
At the ore face, I examined an unusual pattern of spiderweb cracks. Maybe a natural fault or pocket of low-grade Cry. Birb sensed my focus and piloted forward, miscalculated his deceleration and careened into the rock face. A deep crack sounded and I braced for depressurisation, my fingers hovering over the emergency crank. Stone shattered and collapsed into a dark cavity beyond followed immediately by Birb with an electronic shriek.
“Sake Birb! What’ve ya done?” I dismayed.
Clearing away loose rubble revealed a dark hole until Birb blinked on and ascended like a bad yoyo trick, glancing stupidly off my hat-shroud and bobbling into darkness. Slowly, I dragged myself through the hole and into an intricately carved stone chamber, hosting a strange mound of black orbs.
Birb haphazardly circled the odd mound, highlighting thick spears of silver that extended out from each orb like a sea urchin’s spines. Spears of pure Cry. Each spear planted against the carved chamber wall like steel placentae.
After a few adrenaline-filled moments, mirrored specks appeared on the face of the nearest orb, drawing together to form a new silvery spearhead. A deep shiver sounded and the spear shot towards me. An audible splat and the mirrored finger planted against Birb’s sensor array like a chameleon’s tongue and hauled him into the orb. I froze in shock as specks formed once again.
I awoke later beside the mound. The aeon-long story of the orbs embedded inside me and the new silver blood surging through my veins. Submitting fully, I would now bring Cry to my home-world and let my people taste its rapture until the threshold is met and the silent transformation begins. It was already too late for them. Out-number, then overcome, and in the end they will all become black orbs and launch into the void evermore.
In a dark corner lay Birb. Ruptured like a crushed can with a final message for Robo-loco.
I found a nest Brother.
In dark space, an asteroid illuminated from within and immediately vaporised.