There’s Something in the Sewer

GALACTIC CO-ORDINATES: 35-01-02-01

 

SUGGESTED SOUNDTRACK: See Spotify link at end.

 

(1)

 

Ea1 NewsComm:

 

Work is coming to a close on the latest in a string of terraforming in the 02. The Siren’s Belt stretch, officially know as 01-02 has been undergoing biological and architectural upgrading to provide accessible housing for the 01. This controversial project has recently come under fire from the So-Hal University for projecting human standards of biology and physics on an area that does not allow for it. In a statement made earlier this week, Empress and Senate Leader Tabitha Might, claimed ‘We are working in the 01-02 for all levels of galactic society, to provide a housing and living standards that work for all in our galactic community.’ Work should be finished by the end of the next standard orbit.

 

 

‘Yep about there should do it.’ Jex shifted the bags into place. ‘Look at this place. I hate terraforming its disgusting.’

‘Ah, stop complaining you old git,’ replied his companion Terry, from down the tunnel.

‘You know what I mean though. It’s gross, I mean look at this place, fully built yet the wrong cocktail of chemical and it produces this.’ Jex flung a lump of the fluffy, red substance to the floor.

‘Why do you keep touching it then? Use the neutralizers.’ Terry shouted.

The company the pair belonged to, the rather plainly named 01 Cleaning Solutions, had been contracted to the nearly completed Siren’s Belt, after the main city’s sewer bricks had reacted baldly with native soil resulting in their expansion into what was essentially corrosive red foam. A standard operation in the grand scheme of things but politics, as usual had got in their way. After a long process in of discussion in the Capitol, they had come to the decision that they had best do something about it. By this time Terry and Jex were faced with a whole city’s worth of compacted red mutated bricks.

‘You looking forward to going home Jexy?’ Terry splashed through the water, hauling two bags of compacted foam with him.

‘Aye, yes. Not seen Sarah and the boys for what feels like forever. I came from that job over in the 06.’

‘God. Fringe stuff that. What was going on?’ Terry lifted his visor, revealing a cheerful, bearded face below.

‘You’re telling me. I was induced for about 3 weeks. Something to do with a sudden fall of rock dust over a planet. A new Empire post, but the place was covered in it. Like a storm had hit it. Had to laser sweep the place from orbit.’

‘Grim. Ah well, just a couple of days under the gas before we get back. Can’t wait myself.’

Terry bunged his bags over to the growing pile. They had burnt the foam down into tiny wisps and then collected them up in bags. They would take them back to Ma1 with them to be shot out to some desolate waste planet. It was a satisfying job and you could tell it on both of their faces as they surveyed the tunnels. The building drones had followed them along as they worked carefully replacing the brickwork as the foam peeled off the earth. So now there was just a dark shining tunnel, ready to be filled with the city’s waste. The last job was to get in the Germ Cart, as they called it, and sweep the place.

‘Come one, let’s go and spray weird shit on the walls,’ Jex sighed. Terry smiled as he watched his ever-grumpy companion trudge into darkness.

 

(2)

 

Ea1 NewsComm:

 

Throughout Ma1 and the AC operations are now taking place for the populating of The Siren’s Belt. Following the recent criticisms of the project, the commons have launched a formal inquiry into the processes of construction planning and are set to release a conclusion in ten standard years. The new home units across the six planets have been met with some suspicion by potential home owners due to the historical instability of the area. Professor Garrick of the University of Cold Light described the project as ‘irresponsible’ claiming that the belt had been left alone ‘for good reason’. Empress Tabitha Might has released a statement claiming that ‘the immigration crisis into central galaxy has to be controlled and assessed. The Siren’s Belt project is a way in which fair and affordable housing is available for everyone.’

 

Swipe for full statement video.

 

‘All Aboard!’ Terry smiled and offered his hand out to Jex. The germ cart, or Hyper-Sealer as it was more formally known, was a long platform that hovered slightly above the ground. Fixed to each end was a control panel and a hazard suit. The idea was, after the general cleaning was done, that the germ cart would zip through the offending area firstly identifying and categorising the last remaining microbes and then, if appropriate, destroy them. The cart was not only lighting fast it was fitted with a military-grade selection of cell based genocides. The laser effectiveness of the process hadn’t failed them yet. The process was also galactic law, which was why the inventors had installed a categorisation stage, if the microbe was beneficial or essential to terrestrial life than the injectors would bypass it.

Jex took Terry’s hand and climbed on to the cart.

‘You see this is the bit I find weird,’ Jex said with a heave.

‘Oh god, here we go.’

‘If we’ve cleaned the place, which we have, then why do we need to do this step? If it’s good for terrestrials than its gonna reform or congregate elsewhere isn’t it?’

‘It’s just for a double check, insurance, isn’t it Jex. I bet after this fiasco we’ve just cleaned up, someone’s heads on the block.’

‘It’ll be for the categorisation I’ll tell you that for nothing.’

Jex was having some trouble getting in his haz-mat suit. He pulled it on over his leg and then realised the head hole was in his groin. He swore loudly and tried again. Terry looked on from behind the glass of his fully assembled protection.

‘Oh here we go with the conspiracy theories…’

‘I’m telling you Terry, they only compile information to make sure humans come out on top.’

‘Oh I don’t care. Come on let’s get this done so I can go home.’

Jex eventually clambered into the suit and stood panting at the edge of the cart. In formation they both place their hands at the left edge of their control panels. A light emitted from the panel and then a voice spoke clearly;

‘Terry Swaa and Jex Smith, 01 Cleaning Solutions, Security Level Delta, Cleared.’

The cart hummed with higher and higher intensity. The pair, quickly and efficiently spread their fingers over the buttons tapping and pressing with the confidence of a concert pianist. A green light emerged from underneath, it quickly spread towards the walls lighting them up as if they were underwater. The cart started to vibrate.

‘Ready Jex?’

‘Aye Terry.’

At blink speed, the germ cart set off down the sewer.

 

(3)

 

Ea1 NewsComm:

 

Breaking News. Ships have departed towards the controversial Siren’s Belt region of the 02. Despite claims from the Fal Tap Senate, of the biological favouritism and recklessness of the Human Empire, the plans to rehome millions of citizens from the 01 is going ahead. The ships departed this morning (Ea1 Standard Time), and the project’s leader, Captain Monica Tand, hoped for ‘a smooth and enjoyable transition.’ More to come.

 

‘Anything?’ Terry said.

‘Not yet, picking up a few specks in the cracks, nothing interesting.’ Jex stared intently at the screen as the sewer zipped by in blur past him.

‘They’re shouldn’t be any cracks we’ve just installed the bricks!’ Terry smiled.

‘I was a bit sleepy after my lunch yesterday.’ Jex said and looked backed at Terry. Suddenly an alert appeared on the corner of the screen. ‘Ah now then, a Muxlin Strain has just appeared.’

‘Muxlin? Odd I’m not getting that.’

They were heading now deeper into the city past the huge swirling bypasses that served the new administrative quarters. Apart from the blinking map on the screen they would have had no idea where they were.

‘It’s just one cell, or only a couple at least. Guide it back we’ll go check again.’

Terry leant his hand on the control panel and pressed the palm in deep. Jex did the opposite, pressing his fingertips in instead. The cart slowed down just enough to see a slight outline of brick and then shot down back the way they came.

‘Yes I’ve got it too. Muxlin. There are a few more now though.’ Terry said.

‘It’s an odd strain. The basic structure is there but it’s not like any muxlin I’ve seen before.’

‘A shot of Indritol should do it. If it’s a muxlin structure it’ll stop it dead.’ Terry said. ‘Your end I think, 02 strains.’

Jex found Indritol on the screen and dragged it over to the ‘deposit’ menu.

‘Good, good, right just the northern outskirts and then we’re done. Swing it back will you?’

‘Aye Aye!’

The carriage swung around a long curved tunnel, whizzed across the central canal like a stone skipping on a lake. With a whirr it ground to a halt outside the main exit. They both inhaled deeply as it they leapt down from edge. They both knew this smell, the smell of a finished job and it was their favourite. Even in the sewer the place smelt clean as a whistle. It was fresh and clear, the germ cart even deposited pine-freshness as it went. Terry stroked the cart fondly.

‘Do you two need some time alone?’ Jex laughed.

‘Shut up! It’s a fine bit of kit though this. I’ve always thought that. Imagine the lives it saved. Just in a simple act of categorisation and cleaning.’

‘I don’t know how the germs feel about it though. Ha!’

‘You’ve cheered up.’ Terry said. The exit chamber, a wide platform with two stairways at the back, like an old-fashioned subway, was scattered with equipment. The pair got to work, packing the poles, sponges and laser beams back in their respective holsters.

‘Well we’re going home aren’t we?’ Jex smiled.

‘Aye you’re not wrong.’ Terry strapped the equipment onto his back. Jex always laughed at his colleagues with their backpacks because with all the poles they looked like an antenna.

‘What was that muxlin strain from before?’ Terry said as he got out his clipboard.

‘What do you mean?’

‘I gotta fill in some forms, government job you know. What base was it?’

‘Bloody government. I think it was carbon? Carbon based muxlin.’ Jex heaved his bag onto his back.

‘Carbon? Weird, should be okay though,’ Terry stuck out his tongue.

 

(4)

 

Ea1 NewsComm:

 

Breaking News: The Siren’s Belt is warming up for the arrival of, what critics call ‘The Homeless Hoards,’ a term not endorsed by this newscast. The power bots took flight late last week from their sapping point the 06 Sun, Caster M and have docked. Lights are now appearing across the planet’s surface. We spoke to a passenger who claimed that xe and xyr family were ‘thrilled to be getting away from Ea1 and to forget everything we saw there’. Arrival is expected in the next 24 standard hours.

 

‘Right let’s be offskies, I’ve sent the all clear to the fat cats in orbit,’ said Terry. The tunnel was dark and quiet apart from the slight clinking of equipment. ‘I won’t miss it here down here.’

‘I feel that,’ Jex laughed.

Suddenly, with a whirring flash, all along the tunnel the lights came on. The pair covered their eyes for a moment to adjust. From somewhere beyond the walls came the sound of machinery. The whole place was waking up.

‘Well look at that,’ Terry sighed. The bright white lights had revealed the tunnel’s true magnificence. The black tiles shone like squares of space each with their own little star.

‘This place is going to be a beautiful place to live.’

‘I know – if the sewers are this good then the rest of it…’

At the end of the tunnel a green glow appeared. It just fringed the edges but appeared to be coming towards them.

‘What’s that?’

‘Power surges. It happens all the time on powering up planets. Let’s go before it catches up to us.’ Terry nodded to the stairs.

Jex ran forward and placed his hand on the railing. His hand stuck to it. He flicked it away and stared down. His hand was covered in a green jelly. The railing had dissolved in front of him. The jelly in his hand swirled and congealed until it formed into a rough cube. Jex found he was fixed to the spot.

‘Terry, you better come and look at this,’ Jex said, his voice cracked like he had just hit puberty.

‘Don’t worry Jex I’ve got it too.’

Jex turned to see Terry knee-deep in the green jelly. Down the tunnel he could see flashes of light and cracks of energy.

‘Stay there Terry. I’m gonna have a look.’ Jex flicked the goo off his hand and ran to the tunnel. Slowly one by one the lights down the long strip went out, each one with a shuttering hiss. He turned around. At the corner where the tunnel turned off to the right the green glow was brightest.

‘Jex get the acid wash, I’m going down here.’ Terry was half way down into the floor. From his waist tiny blobs of green goo were jumping out and hopping away. Jex ran for his bag and pulled out a pole with a yellow end. It fizzed into life.

‘I can’t use it without hurting you mate.’

‘I’ve got my protection suit on you idiot just zap them.’

‘Right right yeah.’

Jex plunged the acid wash against Terry’s middle and pulled him out of the ground. In the hole was just a mass of morphing green goo.

‘What is it?’

‘It must have been the muxlin strain. I told you didn’t I? They don’t check these things – they just assume one thing works for all. It’s my fault I said the Indritol would’ve neutralised but it seems to be reacting with the light.’ Terry clutched his head.

‘What do you mean we got rid didn’t we?’

‘Clearly! What happened before – it exploded into red foam – whatever is on this planet is not reacting well with Ea1’s protocols. We knew that and its only gone and happened again.’

‘So we’re back to square one. Bloody hell!’ Jex stamped his foot and made a green goo footprint in the floor.

‘Looks that way. Well it looks potent but not live. The Muxlin strain mustn’t have been capable. Unpack the equipment then…’

They both turned to the tunnel wall. The whole thing was a dripping mass of green. Jex and Terry reached for their poles. On the wall a thousand eyes morphed into life and blinked with uniform precision. Further down, growing from the bottom were scuttling claws that scraped along the floor. In the middle like a black hole a mouth plunged open and from each side a set of long, sharp teeth.

Just before they could reach the panic button they fell into the green mouth opening up beneath them.

 

(5)

 

Ea1 NewsComm.

 

Breaking News: Ships are arriving at the Siren’s Belt and are set to disembark new citizens within the next hour. Latest reports from the project’s orbital hub state that they have received the all clear from the team performing the last-minute checks. The brand new, empty cities are set to be a dazzling sight for their new inhabitants providing comfort and facilities unheard of beyond the central hub. The rife criticism and fiery debates of the last months seem to have proved fruitless as millions of citizens look forward to their new future in the 02. All here at NewsComm wish them well.

 

(6)

 

GMesssage. Sarah xo.

 

Wishing you a safe journey home sweetie. Seeing the news of all the people excited for their new homes is making me so proud. That was you you know. Boys can’t wait to see you. Love you xx.

 

 

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