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“You can’t be serious? You are not going out there!” Maggie stood resolutely in front of the loading bay doors with her arms crossed.
Cora tapped her foot impatiently. “We’ve already discussed this. Unless you want Shauna to try her hand at recycling urine, we don’t have a choice. I can tell you right now that I’m not drinking your pee. We need water.”
“Would you rather be eaten by a giant turtlephant, Cora?”
“They’re herbivores,” Cora responded, unshaken.
“Okay, well, what about those zebra-snake head thingys? They certainly aren’t plant eaters. Do you want to spend an hour stuck in that thing’s craw while it digests you?”
Cora shivered at the image. “That’s why I have this.” She held up what looked like a small gun, a tiny version of the electromagnetic pulse imaging device onboard that they used for mining Marsonium.
In addition to breaking up the larger rocks, the electromagnetic waves also reduced radiation levels in the Marsonium so it could be harvested and transported back to Earth. Just a handful of the priceless pebbles could be used to power entire cities for years, and fortunately for them, they’d already collected at least a quarter ton of it from a moon in the Andromeda Galaxy. The precious rocks were being safely stored in the bay beside them and Cora was damn determined to get them back to Earth. The pursuit of Marsonium was one of their key mission objectives.
Maggie raised her brow skeptically. “That’s an electromagnetic pulse imager, not a blaster. What are you going to do, assume you get molested by a giant radioactive hybrid cyborg?”
“Not hardly. Dee did her magic so that if I flip this switch here…” Cora pointed to a tiny lever at the bottom of the pistol, “…it emits a discharge capable of extreme neurostimulation.”
Dee smirked. “Neurostimulation? You’re going to give it an orgasm?”
“Ha ha. Very funny,” Cora replied. Actually, if that were the case, she’d use it on herself without delay. With no sex for the past year and an all female crew, her nerves were tied up in knots. Not a day went by that she didn’t kicked herself for not getting laid before they left Earth. “We think the discharge will render unconsciousness or acute immobility.”
“Well, which is it? Unconsciousness? Or Immobility?”
Cora shrugged. “I don’t know and I don’t really care. Either one works for me. I also have a small pocketknife stuffed between my boobs. So, as you see, I’m as armed as I can be. Now get out of the way so I can go find us some water.”
With the life support systems practically out of use, the temperature in the ship had been climbing at a slow, uncomfortable rate all day. She’d shed pieces of clothing throughout the afternoon until she was down to just her yoga pants and a sports bra. Doubting that she’d come across anything more intelligent than a turtlephant or a zebrathon this deep in the jungle, she hadn’t bothered putting her long-sleeved, NASA issued spacesuit back on. Besides, the heavy backpack and the six empty canteens draped around her neck covered up most of her bare midsection anyway. Even that was only a minor inconvenience when weighed against all her other discomfort.
Speaking of discomfort, standing there in the cargo bay, the heat was becoming unbearable. If Dee didn’t move soon, Cora was going to test her new laser by giving Maggie either a taste of unconscious immobility or an incapacitating orgasm. At this point, she didn’t care which.
“Fine, but don’t expect me to save you if something comes screeching through the woods, throws you over its shoulder, and hauls ass back out into the wilderness to eat you for supper.”
“I won’t, but thank you for that detailed visual anyway. Now, move.”
Pouting, Maggie stepped aside and slapped her hand against the door release. Almost immediately, a fresh, cool breeze slammed into them both and Cora gasped with pleasure as she stood luxuriating in the doorway.
Eventually composing herself, Cora stepped warily down the ramp to stand on the firm, blue ground beneath her. “Good Lord,” she breathed. “Blue dirt?”
While hard to grasp mentally, it was actually quite pretty. Cora scooped up a handful and let it run through her fingers.
“Well, stop playing in the dirt, and go find us some water, then. And, if something asks you for a cigarette after you shoot it, it’s probably safe to assume that we’re all going to want that gun when you get back.” Maggie smiled as she leaned against the bay door.
Cora gave a slight nod, and looked around the perimeter. “All clear. Now, close those doors,” she shouted behind her.
Just before the doors slid shut, she heard Maggie shout a reply, “Just, please, be careful.”
Cora didn’t fight her smile this time. Maggie could try to be a hard-ass all she wanted. Cora knew that deep down, friends didn’t come any more loyal than Maggie Mitchell. She’d move heaven and earth, or whatever planet they were on, to get to Cora if she was in trouble. Then again, so would the rest of the team.
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