Someone screamed. They screamed out in pain. Then everything went silent. Everything was dark, the air felt damp and heavy and the floor… the floor was moving. Black, glutinous tendrils covering the ground, slithering around, reaching, feeling, claiming. Another sound. A cry for help. The whole vessel was silent again. Apart from the tendrils. They were everywhere.
Arkay wasn’t sure what had woken him from his sleep, but he had found himself instinctively teleporting to the very top corner of his small bedroom. Had he felt the tentacles? Had those tendrils touched him? Or had he simply sensed them?
More noise. Sounds of struggles. More feminine. Coming from the room next door. They were under attack. And Arkay had only just realised.
Arkay had no weapons though. Only his claws and his teeth and his keen eyesight. A blast of cold, deathly energy did nothing to the black goo threatening to swallow the entire room, slowly crawling up the bed and soaking the blankets in slime. One hideous tendril reached up in Arkay’s direction, threatening him, flicking slime as it did so.
Panic and instinct kicked in. Arkay closed his eyes and thought of safety. Safety was apparently the ceiling of the room next door. A room belonging to someone else. A room with someone in it.
The wispy being known as Seimeni was struggling to keep her head above the inky, slimy substance that had all but engulfed half her room. Desperate yet beautiful at the same time. Arkay opened his eyes, not knowing what to do. He reached for a pole and offered it to Seimeni, trying to push the horrible goo off her, but the tendrils simply snatched the pole away and swallowed it, just like everything else in the room.
As the tendrils began to pull Seimeni under, she spotted Arkay in the corner. She didn’t scream for help. She told him to run.
Arkay couldn’t do that. He couldn’t leave her there. Instinct took over once more, but this time, there was no panic. Only anger. Anger, pain, hunger, desire.
The Decayling’s claws cut deep into the black ooze, causing it to recoil in sheer terror. Arkay mindlessly slashed at the substance until Seimeni was free, then kept on going. Every time the slime and tendrils made contact with Arkay’s body, it would all hiss and bubble away, disintegrating into nothing.
Seimeni was exhausted, partially unable to comprehend what was going on. She struggled to her feet, following Arkay out of the room. The Decayling seemed to have succumbed to a feral rage, his sharp, blade-like claws raking and tearing at the black ooze until what was left of it retreated to the front of the vessel. Arkay followed, growling menacingly, before realising what was going on.
The ship’s cockpit was empty, the tendrils having made a large, corrosive hole through through the glass. More tendrils, purple in colour, had been holding the vessel motionless. Until now, that was. The larger tendrils relaxed, letting go of the vessel, before drifting off on its own.
Suddenly, the ship started drifting away too. The ship was moving away from the tendrils, trapped in a strange free fall. Arkay grabbed on to the first thing he could reach, the co-pilot’s seat, holding on tightly as the vessel lost all control.
But as soon as it started, everything stopped. Seimeni had raced by, slamming her hands on a console, forcing the vessel to remain motionless. Outside, a large collection of tendrils and nastiness floated ominously, as if waiting for the ship to make its next move.
After regaining his balance, Arkay edged towards the broken window, staring out, trying to comprehend what he was seeing. Seimeni briefly checked that Arkay was alright, then disappeared back down the main hallway, checking each room individually. She rushed her way back to the cockpit though, fear dripping from her eyes.
“It took them… They’re… all gone…”
Arkay glanced at Seimeni, then back outside, towards the hideous mass drifting above them.
“Are they dead?”
“I… I don’t know. But it took them…”
“Food, probably. Or slaves. Maybe worse.”
Arkay sighed. His claws retracted, then started to extend and harden. With a painful growl, he snapped off one of his left claws and handed it to Seimeni. He repeated the process, this time growing one of his right claws extremely long and wide, before again snapping it off.
“We have to go and save them.”
“I have an… idea…”