Episode 137: The Tharsha Seed

Vince Flashman pounded on the door to the tiny bridge of the fighter craft.

“Let us in!”

“For the last time, no!” said the sonorous voice of The Soul Survivor over the loudspeaker.

“How is it possible for this hallway to be lamer than that break room they called a galley?” moaned Carmen, leaning against the opposite wall and staring out the window into the cold, empty void of space beyond. “I mean, seriously, these ships aren’t expected to have many passengers, why’s the door even locked?”

“Nearly three centuries ago is when such seemingly unnecessary locks became customary,” said The Soul Survivor. “After the Mind-Rays of the Rucivarian Star proved capable of turning reasonable passengers into deadly enemies, the-”

“Shut up,” said Carmen, half-heartedly pounding the window. “No one cares!”

“You can stop looking out the window for any passing rocks, Miss Shift,” said The Soul Survivor. “I have a rough estimate for your radius of effect, adjusted for the significant increase gained if the three of you work together with frankly unrealistic coordination. Know that I’m piloting the craft to keep any dangerously sized rocks a minimum of three times that distance away.”

“When we get in there, I call dibs on his voice box.” Said Carmen.

“Even if you could find a way into my demesne-”

“Stop calling it that!”

“-you would need to destroy not a single voice box, but a minimum of twelve interrelated-”

Carmen jumped from the window and pushed her way passed Xorn’Tal, making enough noise and moving far enough that she couldn’t hear the end of The Soul Survivor’s speech. The last hour of hammering on the door to be let into the bridge had done little more than expose them to an endless tirade of speeches and condescending explanations from The Soul Survivor, who apparently couldn’t tell when it was time to shut up.

“If the idiots in the Stone Station Riders can figure out the rules of yelling at someone, why can’t he?”

“Vent: Air?”

Carmen looked over her shoulder. Xorn’Tal had followed her, his vines and fronds taking up most of the cramped corridor when he used them to move. Carmen shook her head.

“Xorn’Tal, look, I keep telling you: air vents are too small for us to use. Movies only make them big enough to crawl through to make it more convenient to the plot. You might be able to get a couple of vines through one, but I don’t think they’d stretch for enough, unless you’ve got a crazy alien growth spurt coming in the next few minutes.”

Xorn’Tal shook.

“Knowledge: known. Vent: Air? Find?”

Carmen tilted her head.

“Why?”

Xorn’Tal lifted a small… hand? Leaf? Flower?… and it opened/bloomed to reveal a tiny seed, much like an acorn.

“What’s that?”

“Seed: Tharsha-Vine. Growth: Explosive.”

Carmen’s eyes flickered from the seed to the door at the end of the corridor and back.

“Is that one of the seeds that took out a space-port last year?”

“Negative. Thirsha-Vine: disastrous. Thirsha-Vine: kill us all. Tharsha-Vine: tiny. Duct: dented. Mechanics: jammed.”

“You think it can make a gap in a doorway if we can find a way to drop it in just right?”

“No. Duct: search. Other plan: absent. Vent: Air?”

Carmen looked at the seed.

“All right. Let’s see if we can find that vent for you.”

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