Toxin

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Toxin

by AngusEcrivain 


When you get right down to it, there are some worlds you really, really don't wanna' be stranded on. Crit Atou cursed his luck, or lack thereof, as clicks and whistles echoed around him.

Coulda' took the job on the Braxant Run. Pays well, and providing the Empire get their fair share they leave you well alone. The clicks and whistles were getting closer, and Atou was not looking forward to what came next; not in the slightest.

But no. Crit Atou, small-time smuggler. Tried to make a name for yourself out in Wild Space like a farking idiot. The clicks and whistles, and more worryingly the beings responsible for making such noises, were now so close Crit Atou could feel foreign breath at the back of his neck as he attempted to remove a section of Tabitha's hull with the only tool he'd been able to find; a wrench that was really not designed for the job.

Well you've got two options, Atou. You can try to talk your way out of this fine mess but you're dealing with a species who probably won't understand a farking word that comes out of your mouth, or you can try to fight your way out. But if you do that you're definitely going to end up dead, and probably on the menu. Of course, Crit Atou had no real way of knowing whether those gathered around and behind him were likely to eat him. They were just as likely to enslave him and strip Tabitha for parts, or sell him and his beloved vessel to whoever ran things in this part of Wild Space, the Galaxy's true backwater region.

Your blaster's well within reach. Time to find out whether you're quicker than these guys, and just how good of a shot you really are. But despite the direction his thoughts were heading, Crit Atou never attempted to reach for his blaster. Instead he raised his hands above his head and slowly turned around.

"What the f..?!"

There was no one there, a fact that made Crit Atou shudder. He stood stationary for a moment with his hands still raised as he studied the undergrowth, his eyes scanning the thick, dense rainforest that surrounded the clearing within which he had been able to put Tabitha down, and that as far as he had been able to ascertain before the vessel's systems went off line, covered the entirety of the planet's enormous, northern continent.

"B1," he said, speaking into the open comm link. "I need you to get Tabitha's systems back online as quickly as you can. This farking rainforest is giving me the druks."

"Yes, Captain. Of course." B1-72's came back over the open channel. "Though I would like to point out, I have been attempting to do just that for quite some time. With that in mind, as quickly as I can may not be particularly soon, though it will certainly be sooner than it was the last time you instructed me to reactivate the systems as quickly as possible."

"That's what I like, a droid with sass." Crit Atou lowered his hands, picked up the wrench and got back to work, grinning as he did so. He had won B1-72 a few years earlier, as part of a bet. She was an old service droid reprogrammed as a service droid on one of the Outer Rim moons and whilst she might not have been the most adept, technically, that reprogramming had gifted her a sharp tongue, figuratively speaking, and sarcasm aplenty; a trait of which she definitely made excellent use. "The sooner we have functioning scanners though, the better. I'm damn sure we've got eyes on us."

Both human and droid laboured for hours in silence, working towards the common goal of getting Tabitha's systems back online. Scanning the planet upon which they had crash-landed was of paramount importance, of course, but once the vessel was at least semi-functional, achieving something that resembled full functionality would theoretically come far more easily.

"I've gotta' sit for a few, B1," said Crit Atou. Sweat seeped from his pores, as it had been doing for several hours. The humidity was an awful lot to take, and the rising temperature was not helping much, either. "How long 'til she'll fire up?"

"A few moments, Captain," B1-72 replied, as her mechanical fingers twisted wires and toyed with circuits, unseen behind the bulkhead. "I almost have it..."

But Crit Atou wasn't listening to the droid. He was aware of B1-72 of course, and he knew she was speaking, but the clicks and whistles were back, which meant whoever or whatever was responsible for those noises was back, too.

"Do you hear that, B1?"

"Hear what?" the droid replied. "I hear nothing, Captain. Oh and by the way, Tabitha is ready to fly."

"Nevermind," replied Crit, shuddering. "All systems back online?"

"For the most part. We won't be able to jump to hyperspace and weapons are fifty percent functional at best. We can get off the ground though, and at this point in time it seems that would be a good idea."

There was a tinge of worry to B1's voice, one that Crit Atou was not used to hearing.

"Why do you say that, B1?" Crit asked, though at that point the clicks and whistles, the sensation of breath upon the back of his neck, all got louder and more pronounced, and continued to do so as if some kind of crescendo was being approached.

"Because, Captain," said B1-72, reaching out an arm to catch Atou easily, mid-fall. "Because Tabitha's preliminary readings show the atmosphere of this planet is unsafe for humans to spend more than a few moments on the surface."

"Would've been nice to know that earlier, given the fact we've been down here for what, hours?"

B1-72 did not offer anything by way of response, though Crit had not really expected such a thing. He often thought B1 was considerably more human than a lot of actual humans he encountered in his line of work, though the fact he mostly dealt with individuals who made the scum of the galaxy seem like prim and proper stand-up folk probably played a rather large part in that.

"The effects of the atmospheric toxin will wear off eventually, Captain," said B1 after a few moments' silence. "At this point in time, however, I am unable to determine the exact nature of the toxin, or how long those effects are likely to last."

"So you're telling me I'm likely to be seeing and hearing things for a while?"

"Seeing and hearing things?" asked a confused B1-72. "I'm sorry Captain, but the effects you describe are nothing to do with the toxins in the planet's atmosphere."

"Then what, B1?"

"I'm afraid I don't know, Captain. But even prolonged exposure would not produce such results - if anything, one's mental capacity would diminish over a very short space of time, prior to a quite nasty and painful death. There are, of course, no guarantees."

"You really know how to sweet-talk a guy, you know that B1?!" Crit Atou chuckled, and making use of B1-72's shoulder he forced himself to a standing position. "I'm gonna' take a nap. Get us into farking hyperspace as quickly as you can and make for the nearest friendly port."

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