Petrolea 9a

Chapter 9

The Leviathan munched greedily on the dome of Xanadu Base, a grub the size of a sperm whale. The hose at the front snuffled up another wad of irreplaceable equipment, and flocks of smaller creatures wheeled like crows around the wreckage of human settlement on Petrolea.

“Maybe it didn’t kill everyone,” Victor said. “Maybe they escaped. Evacuated. They could be waiting on the Orbital Station. We can…” Victor swallowed. “We can still go home. We can find a radio down there. Contact them. We can…”

“It sees us,” said Feroza. “We have to get out of here,” Feroza reached out to stroke the Dragon’s back.

She was right. The habitat was a hulk, a relic, as dead as a sunken ship. Torn open by monsters of the abyss, self-assemblers spreading windmill branches out of portholes and airlocks. Victor didn’t want to see that, hear the clicking of the scavengers down the dark corridors of his workplace. But… “if we want to contact the Orbital Station, we have to access the communication equipment down there, before something eats it.”

The hose of the Leviathan swung below them, red light stabbing up at them from between its gaping jaws.

“It’s eaten everything already,” said Feroza. “And now it’s targeting us.”

“Why would it target us? Nothing that big can get airborne in time to…”

Sparks flashed along its flank. Victor was reminded of fireworks, muzzle flash, a cannonade.

Feroza was beating on the Dragon now. “Faster! Turn us around, Victor. Get us out of here get us–“

The Dragon dove out from under them.

Victor commanded the factors of the animal’s hide to grip him and Feroza more tightly. Wind and acceleration clawed at them as it banked and swerved, the devastated ground wheeling. The Dragon had gone insane. It was going to kill them all.

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