I awoke to the sound of shouting. My quarters were off the rec-room, up a small flight of stairs near the back of the station. It sounded like the voices were directly below. I shrugged into yesterday’s clothes, and quickly, but quietly, descended the stairs, pausing about three steps up to listen.

One of the voices was clearly Spegg’s, the other I couldn’t recognize. The only obvious one would have been the grouper’s, given his penchant for hair-brained questions in yesterday’s round-up, and it wasn’t his.

If you’re not going to do it, I will! I didn’t dive into a goddamn wormhole just to be dissected by a bunch of apes! The human set us up!

There were a couple shouts of agreement.

No one touches Robertson! I’ll tear out the throat of anyone who goes near him! Especially you, Larst.

A few more shouts of agreement followed, different voices, from a different part of the room. I knew Larst. He was the Salmon. The beefy, shifty-eyed motherfucker from the hot-rod ship. He growled furiously.

There was a lull in the argument—muffled voices, someone spitting in disgust, and the sound of footsteps shifting on the floorboards. And it was during this brief pause that I heard a dull roar somewhere outside of the station. A mechanical noise. The distinct, distant chop of… helicopters. Oh fuck.

I flew down the steps and into the rec-room to find Spegg and Larst surrounded by the rest of the LMOs.

“Chikushou!” Larst snarled. “Traitor!”

He lunged at me. Fast. Before I even had a chance to think, he was on top of me.

“Kill him!” I heard one of them shout between the sound of fists on my skull. And then just as quickly he was off, wrenched away by two or three LMOs, one of them Spegg.

“Hold him!” Spegg ordered, and he grabbed my arm. “Come on Robertson! No time for this!”

Spegg yanked me out of the room, but not before I caught a glimpse of the choppers descending on the station through the window. All military. Fuck fuck fuck.

Spegg tugged me down the stairs and ushered me into the science lab where we had first met.

“Spegg, what the—”

“Get in the cage!”


“No time!” He shoved me down and inside, and slammed the door.

“I don’t understand,” I pleaded.

“This is the only way,” he replied sparking the welder.

I watched as he drew the fiery blade along seam of the door, his face grim and determined. What the hell was the point of locking me up? I was useless in here. I went crazy wracking my brain and was about to start arguing again, when suddenly it dawned on me: Look like a victim. Look like a hapless bystander. They’d ask a few questions and let me go and I’d be free to find Spegg and the others. Maybe expose the story. Start a conspiracy. Anything was better than being locked away and tortured for information for the rest of my life. I nodded solemnly and Spegg made what looked like a tiny grimace of understanding.

“But how will I find you?”

He cut off the flame, the fresh weld glowing orange. “Don’t worry. I will send you a message.” Then grabbed my arm through the cage bars and squeezed. “Goodbye for now, Brother.”

And he was gone.

A few minutes later there was a crash and the sound of heavy boots on the floor. Then human voices shouting commands, a scuffle… and gunfire.