Fairy Dust Picture

For the weekly challenge on DAZaholic

***

Databank entry no. 24567-A341
Register of dangerous and noxious creatures – sector Alpha-x-74

formica equabilis hominidem volucris
Size:
juvenile larvae: 0.3 to 0.8 sm depending on maturity.
Adult: 1 – 1.5 sm. The queen may be up to 3sm.
Humanoid. Adult scouts and mature queens are winged.
Origin: Zeugsis system.

The formica equabilis hominidem volucris, or Pygmy Ant is neither ant nor humanoid, despite its outer form. It has been ventured forth that it is a descendent of the local insectoid population. The pygmy ants live in a similar system like ants, hence the name. Its members are largely sexless workers living around a queen. The species originated on Zeugsis, but has proven so adaptable that it has successfully evolved to live in space environments. Young queens have evolved the ability to mimicry other species for a short duration and have in that way gotten onto freighters. In that way the species has spread across the quadrant. It is considered a pest, and almost impossible to get rid off, once it has established a stable population. Before the bottomless hunger of a hive whole space stations have given in and been deserted. Killing the queen as proven unsuccessful if only a few juveniles survive. They will grow up sexed and mate to create a new queen for the hive.

The Volucris is a carnivorous species whose scouts are equipped with dust pouches which contain a mind drug. Inhaled it will cause short term disorientation, hallucinations and loss of control over the limbs. The effect is of short duration but any victim will immediately be overwhelmed and torn apart. In times of dearth the Volucris will turn against their own to assure the continuation of the hive. This is the only way a space station can, given time, be reclaimed. On planet the species cannot be contained but will fight any other hive in its vicinity viciously, thus keeping numbers of the hives down. Luckily so far the species has not evolved the intelligence to understand technique and has to rely on external transportation to spread. Any ships travelling the Alpha sector are required to undergo decontamination before being allowed to proceed.


***

Jem looked out on his side of the cockpit window.

“Something is wrong here, don't you think?” He indicated the glittering construct hanging in orbit over the planet.

Shadée scanned the space station and then gave something that could be interpreted as a 'hm'.

“The energy readings are very low. No internal communication I can monitor. The station seems deserted,” she confirmed.

“There is a lot of debris hanging around it too. But I cannot detect any signs of an attack.”

Shadée and Jem exchanged a look. Jem grinned. Shadée rolled her eyes.

“You know we can't let an opportunity like that pass. The last overhaul of your body has rather depleted our reserves. If that space station has been deserted then any valuables are ours for the pickings.”

Shadée raised an eyebrow. “It's not my fault alone that we are low. The repairs to the Anaïs after you bumped into that asteroid were considerable. I don't think I will let you pilot me again!”

“Don't be like that! It was only a little bump and it got us through that asteroid field and out of the mess.”

Shadée inclined her head. Some of Jem's stunts were just beyond her more rational mind but she had to admit that they got results – although not always as Jem had intended.

She piloted the Anaïs to the docking area. The airlock was still functional and closed around the hatch of the ship. Shadée cut her connection with the ship and got out of the pilot seat. Jem vaulted out of his seat and rubbed his hands. There was a rather boyish anticipation on his face which Shaée found endearing. Not that she would ever tell him so.

***

“The air is breathable if a little thin.” Shadée strode along the deserted hall. Small emergency lights still glowed along the corridor, lending sufficient light to see their environments. Stuff lay scattered along the hall.

Jem removed the small air tank from his mouth and nose and stowed it back into his belt.

“Looks like people left in some hurry.” He kicked a bag. A tin fell out and clattered across the ground. Shadée turned around and frowned. Jem raised an eyebrow. “What?” He blinked. “What was that?”

Shadée turned. “Getting spooked?”

Jem narrowed his eyes at her. “No. I saw something flitting away down that corridor.” He hurried after it, pulling a small ray gun from its holster.

Shadée ran after him, scanning the darkness ahead. Closing up to him she muttered, “You're right. There is something up ahead. Something child sized. It's flying.”

The corridor emerged into a large hall. It must have been a mess once, overturned chairs and tables still cluttering up the space. Through the large plastisteel windows light streamed from the distant sun. Then the thing they had been chasing emerged into a beam of light. Jem stopped in his tracks.

“What the heck...?”

“What is it?” Shadée eyed the winged creature in front of them.

“It's a fairy.”

“A what?”

“A fairy. Some kind of mythological creature. I read about them.”

The fairy hovered in the light beam, its iridescent wings whirring. It giggled, executed a small pirouette and then beckoned to them.

Jem narrowed his eyes and slowly walked closer. Shadée eyed the small creature. It looked wrong to her – too cute, too innocent and all together unbelievable.

The fairy flitted towards them and made a circle around them. Giggling, it threw some glittery stuff into the air. Jem sneezed and sagged to his knees, a silly expression on his face. Shadée reacted immediately. Her artificial body was unaffected by the dust, but her sensors detected that it contained a mind altering substance.

The fairy looked confused. Shadée smiled grimly and held her gun to the critter's face. It pouted, but when its charm attempt did not work it screamed, revealing a row of very sharp, pointed teeth. It zipped away into the dark space above them. The darkness of the hall was suddenly filled by the sound of many creatures trying to make no noise.

“Jem!” Shadée looked down at her companion. He leaned against her thigh, a far away expression in his eyes.

“Jem! Wake up!” Shadée gave a hard squeeze on his shoulder. The pain seemed to penetrate his stupor. Shadée hoped that his modified metabolism would take care of the drug quickly – his body was designed to respond to danger fast. Jem blinked in surprise at finding himself on the floor.

He shook his head and wiped his hand over his eyes as if trying to get rid of some cobwebs. He fumbled for his dropped ray gun, and, a little unsteadily, pushed himself to his feet.

“What happened?” He slurred the words.

“The thing tried to trick us – take us out. There are other critters in the hall – and they don't sound nice.”

Almost in answer to her words a shrill scream echoed through hall, immediately joined by others. The fairy dived at them both, mouth open, its needle sharp teeth ready to bite.

“Run!” Shadée gave Jem a push. The critters in the hall couldn't hurt her but they might still damage her body severely.

Jem gave one look at the mass of dark, misshapen bodies, gaping mouths and gleaming eyes and ran. He turned and shot at the critters, the ray of his gun dancing across the floor in front of them. They hesitated for a moment but then jumped across the red glowing line on the ground and continued in their pursuit.

Shadée knew that Jem could have picked them one by one – but he wasn't the man to kill unnecessarily so he preferred to run.

***

They made it back to the Anaïs just ahead of the thronging mass of critters. As the hatch hissed close behind them they sagged against the wall. Jem looked at Shadée and then started to laugh. His shouts of laughter echoed through the Anaïs while he slowly slid down the wall. Shadée shook her head and went back to the cockpit. She felt the need to get away as quickly as possible.

As Jem's laughter slowly died away Shadée began a thorough scan of the Anaïs.
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