The Bartender paid Laurie’s shouts no heed as he bolted for the ladder. Another of the Dead Corps, some hulking alien- or, it had been- dripping with rotted flesh slid down it. The gas spraying into the middeck hit Laurie, and her head started to swim. Through a haze, rocking as if she was on a boat in a turbulent sea, she saw the Bartender pull a knife from his belt, slashing at the creature’s throat. The head flopped and a gurgling sound emerged, as if it was trying to laugh through its severed throat.
The Bartender grabbed the ladder with one hand and swung himself up so his feet were braced perpendicular to it. He kicked between the runs with his clawed foot, severing the creature’s spine in a shower of gore. The head rolled away from the body, but he ignored it as he aimed up into the cockpit with his rifle, unleashing rounds into the Dead Corps which crowded above.
The blasts echoed through Laurie’s head, where everything seemed dull and slow, thunderclaps that went on for too long. The smell was pronounced, the fatty smell of rotting flesh being burned by laserfire. In the back of her mind was the vague notion that she should stand, that she should help, but everything seemed so far away, like she was just watching it all happen.
The Bartender dropped to the floor, crouching next to the prone alien body, still firing through the hatch to prevent more of the half-living beings from descending. He grabbed a grenade from the body, armed it and tossed it straight up. In a swift motion, he was up the ladder and slammed the hatch shut.
Laurie watched it all through a detached lens, fighting to find the motivation the poison spewing through the middeck was sapping. She struggled to her feet, steadying herself as best she could before slumping forward, unconscious, over their makeshift barricade.
She drifted in and out of consciousness for what felt like an eternity. She caught glimpses of the Bartender’s face as he moved her around. She got the vague impression that he did something with her limbs- changed her clothes, maybe?- but she couldn’t be sure. She couldn’t fathom why, either, from he place in the clouds of her mind, so she deliriously decided to just go along with it.
Her head hit something. It was the first real sensation that broke through the cloud of numbness, a dull ache in the back of her head. Another sensation rocked her, a smell, like raw meat left out in the sun.
She lurched forward, emptying the contents of her stomach onto the deck, meager though it was. She fell next to the puddle, the rust-colored metal cold against the side of her face.
My ship has grey decking.
“Where…” she retched again.
“Oh, good, you’re awake.” The Bartender stood over her. He threaded a scaly arm under her, and helped her to her feet. “You know, Captain, I’m starting to think you need someone to look after you.”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“You keep getting knocked around. This is the second time today I’ve saved your life.”
“At least one of us is keeping track. Didn’t I save yours once?”
“Third if you count keeping the Death Corps from breaking through from the cockpit.”
She leaned against the nearest wall, hands on her knees. She managed to raise her head enough to shoot him a quizzical glance. “How did you do that, by the way?”
He closed his mouth tight, the thin, lipless smile disappearing, and the thin slits of his nostrils did the same. He held that face, featureless for a moment, before they reappeared. “Fuesillia has a lot of toxic geysers. We’ve evolved to survive around them.”
“Well, I’m glad your adaptable. Where are we?”
“You won’t like this-”
“Don’t tell me.”
“We’re on the Dead Corps ship.”
She swore. “Where is my ship?”
“Derelict would be the kind term.”
She took a deep, staggering breath. “Well, we need to find that package, and see what shape Scorch is in.”
“And get you medical attention.”
“You know what, Bartender, I think this time I agree with you. I’m pretty sure Nuvaria doesn’t have any decent medical facilities, and that’s where Scorch is.”
“Perhaps we should split up. You can recover, and I will go after Scorch.”