Possible First Contact

"It was there the entire time."  Carl repeated, his voice devoid of emotion.  "And we didn't see it."

"Oh, Jesus."  Natalie said.  "What the hell was it?  Do you think it can get under the wall?"

Carl frowned at Natalie.  "You should probably drop the accent."

Natalie's eyes widened and she stood perfectly still--as if she were just waiting for an excuse to pounce or flee.  "What do you mean?"  She asked, but it wasn't really a question.

"I'm trained to pick things up like that.  Your accent changes when you're worried."  Carl felt the compulsion to explain it all, but he fought it down.   Hopefully, he'd drank enough rocket-fuel to dilute the sodium thiopental.  His bio-scrubbers were good, but the TSA "truth serum" was old-school, dangerous.  That gave him a little more of an idea of just how long they'd been out there.  Less than the 20-hours it'd take to flush the compulsions from his system  "The only thing I'm worried about is getting us both out of here.  I don't care who you are outside, or what you did.  I don't care about your politics.  Just play it straight with me, okay."

Natalie seemed to relax slightly.  "Okay."  she said.  "I...  I've done the accent for so long.  Is part of the act, you understand?  We say we are Russian ex-patriots from before the Civil War.  Is part of the charm.  That we are Slovakian..."  She shrugged.  "It doesn't sell as well."

Carl nodded and turned away, pressed his hands against the blue wall and scanned across the sands for any sign of movement.  A sharp gasp from Natalie made him quiver.  "What?"

"I see it."  Natalie said in a hushed whisper.  She stepped forward, placing a cool hand on Carl's shoulder--the first physical contact they'd actually had since she'd roused him. 

"No.  Stop."  Carl said, matching her whisper, his eyes still scanning the sands.  There didn't seem to be anything out there.  "Move slowly.  Show me.  Make the movement as natural as possible."

Natalie arched her back slightly and lifted her other arm, pressing down on Carl's shoulder until she balanced the majority of her weight on him.  He knew she was extending her leg to counter-balance herself in a classic ballet pose.  When he glanced up, she pointed to a space slightly ahead of them.

Carl peered closer, certain Natalie was playing tricks on him.  Then, as if he'd been staring at a stereogram, a thick form separated from the sands.  Immediately, he felt ice run through his veins and his breath caught in his throat.  Carl drew back instinctively in shock, sending them both tumbling. 

Carl landed flat on his back, his feet scrabbling furrows in the sand as he tried to back away from the wall.  Natalie twisted in the air to land in a crouch.  The crab was less than three feet away from them, buried in the sand, it's large carapace settled on the surface.  But the designs on its' carapace were perfectly set off to camouflage it.  Even it's eyes were the same ruddy red.  "Damn."  Carl said.  Natural camouflage like that meant some pretty hefty bio-engineering...

"It's beautiful."  Natalie said softly, inching closer to the wall, her whole demeanor had softened, sa if she were going to carress a lover or soothe a child.

Beautiful?  Carl though.  It was a damned crab.  Crabs weren't beautiful.  They were... big.  They had big claws.  Man-sized claws, if the size of its' carapace was any indication...  And she was walking to within range...  If there wasn't a wall there, Natalie would be easy prey.

At once, Carl's was reminded of his bio-engieering briefs.  The Red Duncanites had seceeded from the European Union and taken over the the LaGrange-Points around Jupiter, among the Trojans asteroids.  They were called the Trojan Mafia by Trans-Socialist Alliance, who spread the meme that the Red Duncanites trafficked in illicit software and illegal biotech, that they experimented on themselves and had strayed farther from the notion of humanity than any other sect in the solar system.

"So elegant."  Natalie cooed, pressing her face up against the wall.

The creature shifted slightly, sending a cascade of real sand off its' flank.  It waddled up closer, and extended something--Carl thought it was an antenna--closer...

The End

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