Barbary Station by R. E. Stearns

Barbary Station by R. E. Stearns

Author:R. E. Stearns
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Saga Press


Charges Accrued: Interference with Approved Microbiological Research

Iridian strapped on a respirator mask printed so recently that its gummy surface stuck to her fingertips. Barbary Station used to decommission ships full of particulates and chemicals that flayed lungs. Patterns for heavy-duty masks were easy to find in the station’s database. Now everybody in Sloane’s crew had one.

Dye was scarce, apparently. Between the black-and-gray masks and the blue-dusted black hoods, the pirates could pass as cultists or a large necrobass band. Or habitat-based resistance fighters.

Iridian cracked her knuckles and crouched next to Sloane, Tritheist, and Sturm. Despite the dye shortage, Captain Sloane wore a dark red mask. Adda was down in her tank again, plugged into her workspace generator to search the sensor data and station systems for relevant information. Iridian could be of more use here, with the physical device.

They’d wrapped the dispenser in a transparent bag from the mess hall secured with a zip tie. Maybe it’d keep the atmo clean, but it was probably too late for that. Besides, small enough particles would power through the bag’s pores. Sturm’s comp lit it bright enough for a detailed examination. “Figure it’s got a fluidized bed feeder?” she asked him.

“Most likely,” said Sturm. “Good steady distribution flow, from those.”

“What does that have to do with anything?” Tritheist snapped.

“Damage control and safety of moving the thing,” said Iridian. “If the contents are under pressure, we can’t just yank it off of there and throw it out an airlock. Might blow up in somebody’s face. And that’s assuming it’s not booby-trapped with more conventional explosives, which we haven’t proven yet.”

Tritheist backed away from the device. Iridian grimly held her ground. “Are there more?” Captain Sloane asked.

“Adda’s looking for more now, sir. Captain.” Not sir, damn you, get it right. Iridian tapped out a message. If Adda were in a workspace, she’d have turned off her comp’s alerts. She’d update Iridian when she had something useful, or when Iridian went down to feed and water her. “Bleach might kill it,” Iridian said. It was the “cut off its head” move in microbe combat, if Iridian remembered her college biology class correctly. “Do we have any?”

Tritheist stood up fast. “Chef has some.” Sturm snorted as the lieutenant walked quickly to the mess hall, about two steps short of a run.

“Maybe Adda can set up a comp to search for more by shape, or output, or something.” Iridian caught the captain’s eye and waited for a nod of approval before she headed for the empty water tank.

She lived in the tank too, but the place was really Adda’s. The accoutrements of the workspace generator—pillows, blankets hung from hooks stuck to the ceiling to muffle sound, pans sprouting mushrooms, and mugs of brown, metallic-smelling sludge Adda swore was necessary—covered half the floor space now. Adda’s generator had been near the tank’s center, but she’d moved it against the wall farthest from the ladder.

“Hey,” Iridian whispered, so as not to startle her. “I need you to do me a favor, babe.


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