And the story continues, enjoy! To start at part 1 click here.
Two hours later a deep rumbling shook the thin walls of the hotel. Shrim stood up and turned off the holoscreen, silencing the space opera they’d been watching.
“That’ll be her,” he said, grabbing his case and straightening his coat. “Let’s get going.”
Outside, the hulking hunk of metal was just touching down in the street, blocking all four lanes and barely avoiding smashing through the buildings on either side. It was just as ugly as in the picture.
“She can’t park in the street!” shouted Jack, “Only I can get away with that!” several cars had stopped on either side and blared their horns.
Gusts of air disturbed by the gravity displacers in the engines sent Shrim’s coat flapping as they ran into the street. A metal slab lifted up and a ramp unrolled to the ground. They hurried up it and inside.
Jack straightened his jacket and hair as the door sealed behind them. “So when do I meet the captain of this…” He trailed off as he looked up. “…ship?”
The walls of the room they stood in were a dripping, pink color and pulsated with blue veins. They curved up overhead, making the room into a tunnel that continued around a bend out of sight. A dim, blue glow of an unknown source lit the room.
“What the hell is this!” shouted Jack. He looked down to notice that he stood on a floor just as fleshy as the walls and did a little dance before realizing there was nowhere else to put his feet. “Where have you taken me you weirdo,” he said, looking pointedly at Shrim.
“Landa is a Slatec,” said Shrim, “Or, as the kids call them, a Space Whale.”
Jack stared blankly.
“Seriously?” Shrim threw up his hands. “Did you not go to school?”
“Well, sure, but that was years ago. How am I expected to remember everything?”
“You don’t remember learning about the Slatec? The first alien species humanity ever met? I’m pretty sure there would have been a large section labeled ‘First Contact’ in your history book.”
Jack looked like he was trying to think. “Uhh, well, maybe there was something about that. Look, is this important? Can’t you just tell me? Why do I need to try and remember?”
Shrim took his turn to stare blankly for a moment. “The Slatec are a space faring species, they’ve evolved their own sort of ‘engines’, a natural way of displacing gravity and entering hyperspace.”
“And… um… have we been eaten?” Jack looked at the bottom of his boot. A bit of slime dripped off.
“Thought that ramp was technically a sort of tongue, no we are not being digested, this is a holding chamber, sort of like a pocket, a way for the Slatec to carry things.”
“Well why didn’t you just tell me?” said Jack, straightening his jacket. “And why is it all covered in metal, a disguise?”
“You don’t seem like the kind of guy to ride voluntarily in a Slatec,” said Shim. He started walking down the tunnel, waving Jack after him. “And she is covered in metal because entering and exiting atmospheres is sort of an intense ordeal.”
They rounded the bend and came to a fleshy room that contained several simple cots, a viewscreen, and a row of trunks. As they entered the room, the viewscreen turned on, displaying a round female human face with straight blond hair curving under her chin.
“Hello Shrim and Jack,” she said.
“Hi Landa,” said Shrim, plopping himself down on one of the cots and lifting open a trunk.
“I am glad to be carrying you,” Landa continued. “I am currently on route to the planet Taris at ninety percent maximum speeds. Please make yourselves comfortable.”
“Does she always talk like that?” asked Jack, sitting down hesitantly. “Sounds kind of callous. You sure she’s a friend?”
“Nah, she’s just busy flying.” Shrim pulled something from the open trunk in front of him, unwrapped it, and took a bite. “She was probably only using a very small portion of her awareness to talk with us just then,” he said around a mouth full. He grabbed another item from the trunk, wrapped in what looked like tin foil. “Hungry?”
Jack grimaced. “I’m of a strict diet of non-alien food.”
Shrim held up the package and looked at it, turning it as if to read a label. “Turkey sandwich,” he said.
“Well, in that case,” said Jack, and caught the sandwich as Shrim threw it to him.
They ate their sandwiches and lay on the cots, and thirty minutes later Landa appeared on the screen again.
“Hello boys,” she said. “We’re coasting on course to that junkyard, should be there in about sixteen hours.”
Jack jumped up to his feet. “Sixteen! My ship could make it there in twelve!”
“Maybe if you were the best pilot in the galaxy,” Landa said, rolling her eyes.
“And he’s already got hours ahead of us!”
“Hey I’m doing what I can, you prick.” The section of the fleshy floor Jack stood on bulged upward and sent him falling backward onto the cot he’d been sitting on. “I’ll get there when I get there.”
Shrim leaped up in surprise and pulled out his tablet. There was a blinking red light on it. He tapped at swiped at the screen for a moment. “Uh, Landa we may need to change course here.”
“What?” Landa and Jack said at once.
“I just got a message from one of my informants telling me they spotted The Real Fast One on the other side of the sector, no where near Taris.”
“So he’s not gunna junk it!” Jack said, a grin sprouting on his face.
“Looks like Mr. Information got led on a wild goose chase,” said Landa with a smirk. “Alright then, where am I heading now?”
Shrim looked up from his tablet. “All the information I have here says he’s heading right for Dartham.”