From the doorway emerged a green worm-like creature with tentacle sprouted from what appeared to be its face. “Engage?” ALAN asked.
I stepped forward, my empty hands raised. “Hello. We come in peace.” There was no reaction. “ALAN?”
“This creature does not exist in my library.”
I turned to the Xian. “I have no idea what that is,” it said.
Suddenly, the creature charged and I jumped back. “Shield engaged.” The creature slammed head first into the energy shield ALAN had created, but that was only a temporary setback. The creature began to probe the shield with its tentacles.
“Now what?” Doc asked.
“Maybe it’ll go away?” Jamal offered. Then two more worm creatures appeared in the doorway. “…Or maybe not.”
“We need to run,” I said.
“Good idea. Where?”
Mathilda quietly walked to the wall behind us and pressed her hand against it for half of a second. Suddenly, the wall crumbled. She smiled at our looks of surprise. “You don’t really think Freyja left me unarmed, do you?”
“Congratulate yourself later,” Doc said. “For now, just RUN!”
“ALAN, cover us!” I shouted as I sprinted after her. ALAN’s arms became guns as he let down the shield and began firing.
As we ran down the hall, we saw more worm creatures down the other passageways. They stared at us as we passed. “What are they doing? What are they waiting for?” I should’ve known better than to ask. The ground rumbled and a giant worm creature burst through filling the entire fairly wide hallway. The giant worm opened its mouth and seemed ready to eat us, but ALAN fired up his rockets and flew inside the gaping maw first.
“Did ALAN just sacrifice himself for us?” Jamal asked. “If he did, I don’t think it’ll work. I don’t think he’ll be a big enough meal.”
Jamal was right. The creature was still clearly hungry. It moved forward, slowly getting closer, opening its mouth wide, showing if its rows of very sharp looking teeth. “I’ve been in the future for 4 years and I know what he’s doing,” Mathilda said. “How do you not know?”
“What are you talking about?” I asked.
“ALAN,” she replied. “Wait for it…” Then suddenly the insides of the creature exploded and ALAN flew out of its stomach. Tilly smiled. “See?”
But the smiles didnt last long. The smaller worm creatures who had up until been staying back decided en masse that it was time to strike. Presumably, they had held back for the big worm, but that worm was dead now and they no longer had to differ to it anymore. They could feel free to devour us with impunity.
We did the smart thing. We ran.
ALAN covered us as we climbed up on the large carcass and ran on its back. He did the best he could, but there were too many of those little monsters. The smaller worms kept coming. They didn’t even let the carcass get in their way as they began to eat their way inside. I hoped that this meant they were choosing the larger, non-fleeing meal over the smaller ones trying to get away, but that hope was dashed when they began popping up in front of us.
“Screw this!” Mathilda leapt away toward the nearest wall. Using her newly revealed ability, she created a new escape route. We followed her through it and through another two walls before we finally reached the outside. Sadly that was not the end of our troubles. There were even more outside, all flocking toward us. We didn’t dare stop. Led by Jamal, we ran through the alien city, dodging passed the creatures, ALAN destroying what we couldn’t avoid. But this plan could only last so long, it seemed like our time was coming to an end, that the worms were about to catch us when they suddenly stopped.
“What’s going on?” Jamal asked, turning his head this way and that. We were surrounded. They were everywhere, but none of them were coming for us. They had all stopped. Was it another giant worm? Or was it something else?
“I am detecting a transmission broadcasting at a wavelength inaudible to human ears,” ALAN said. “It is eminating from below us. Evidence seems to suggest that this broadcast is keeping back the hostiles. Should I rebroadcast the signal to provide us a safe route back to the ship?”
“Yes!” Jamal exclaimed. “You absolutely should! Right now!”
“Wait,” I said, as I bent down onto one knee. “Below us, you said ALAN? The broadcast is coming from below us?”
I looked around, running my hand along the ground, but I couldn’t find a hatch or door. “Something’s down there. Something that can keep these creatures at bay. We were brought here for a reason,” I pointed to the Xian, but more importantly at the device that had broadcast the distress signal. “That device was put here to bring us here and these creatures were there waiting for us. These creatures don’t live here. At least not in this city. They did not make this city. These worms were part of the trap, if that is what this was. And if they are, then why is there a signal keeping them back?”
“You think it’s a friend?” Doc asked.
“I don’t know. But there’s something down there and we need to find out what. ALAN? Get us down there.”
to be continued…