5 stories of heroic humans saving people! #3 is our favorite!#1: Old human still has its groove! You WILL cry!
"I can't believe we feed you," grumbled Wsspst. The Quelian crossed her scaly arms, glaring down at the old human. White whiskers grew out sporadically around the human's mouth and cheeks, and her skin was the color of suntanned leather. Cathy let out a wild cackle in the air, and smiled.
"'at's cause I saved yer pappy's life from pirates! And he's always promised to see that I was taken care of!" The woman grinned, leaning back in her chair, tilting the broad-rimmed hat lower over her eyes. "And 'sides, humans are good luck! They ward off disaster!"
Wsspst hissed with annoyance, shaking her head as the human took a swig from the jug of impure ethanol-water mixture it kept at its side, the old service rifle sitting on its lap. The weapon was laughably imprecise, relying on ballistic trajectories, with a simple glass scope to add some attempt to pinpoint a target. Its maximum range was perhaps four hundred Galactic Length Units, and it'd be a miracle if it struck a target past a hundred. Even then, the large, clumsy projectile was vulnerable to wind shears, and gravity; Not to mention the bulk of its propellant. A magnetic line-driver would make a better weapon, but the human insisted on her old antique. Appropriate, as she was an old antique.
Not that it mattered. They weren't ever going to need to use it. Wheppo was an unimportant planet, with little in the way of natural resources, and no interesting ancient artifacts. It was a boring world, where she had wound up with her parents, working on the Terraforming Rig. The massive city-sized block of engineering was one of the wonders of modern galactic civilization, and practically ran itself. Wsspst and her family were, functionally, a redundant emergency beacon; A way to make absolutely sure that if something broke down, and the failsafes didn't catch it, and the failsafes' redundant emergency back-up systems didn't catch it, that the investment wouldn't be lost.
So she spent her lonely, lazy days on this forsaken rock, mostly doing maintenance on parts for practice that would supposedly aid her later in life, learning from her parents, and wishing, wishing with everything she had, that there was a little adventure in her life, and envying the lazy human. She looked over at the human, who lay in a sunbeam, stretched out on the decking, arms crossed over her chest. She slept peacefully, her tongue hanging slightly out of her mouth, arms crossed.
Wsspst personally thought her dad just found the human funny.
The terraforming station's purpose was to alter Wheppo- a minimalist planet approximately equivalent in size, atmosphere, and warmth to the Sol system world of Mars, Cathy had told her- into a planet more habitable for Quelians. This meant a thicker atmosphere, while retaining the dryness of the local environment, which always made for a fun trick. The specifics were up to the Rig; it could balance those things a thousand times better than the Quelian girl ever could.
A jingle filled the air, pulling her attention from the meaningless maintenance she'd been performing. She held up the wrist communicator. Her mother's scaly face appeared, the thick, heavy crusts of scales giving her a squint. The older Quelian smiled. "Hello, my crunchy little invertebrate. The maintenance going alright?"
"Fine," she muttered, turning her head back to the series of pipes. The Terraformer's onboard self-repair system would fix any maintenance problems in a tenth the time she could, but it was supposed to be good practice. "Talked with Cathy."
"Now, you be nice to Cathy, she saved-"
"My father's life, I know, I know." She sighed softly. "What's up, mom?"
"There's a ship on scanners. Thought you might like to come up and see if there are any cute sapients onboard?"
"Gross, mom." She shook her head. "Fine, I'll be there in a couple of minutes."
She finished putting the valves back into place, and wiped the lubricants off of her scales with a rag, sighing as she made her way towards the conveyor system. The high-speed monorail was the only way for people to cover the ship in a reasonable amount of time. It was nearly ten thousand GLUs long, and she would occasionally go for runs across the ship when she felt in particularly high spirits, and her parents hadn't given her enough work to keep her busy.
She sat back in the small monorail pod as it moved at breakneck speeds, the internal inertial integration installation keeping her from being smeared across a wall as it took corners. There was a sudden low clunk, as the pod came to a sudden stop. At the same time, the communicator came on.
"-can't expect to get away with this," said her father. He was glaring at someone not visible to the limited camera aperture of her mother's communicator. "This station is a multi-trillion credit installation, and it is thoroughly marked, you're not going to get away with-"
"The point isn't to get away with it. We're taking it, and if there's a war, so there's a war. What's the crew?"
"Myself, and my mate," said Wsspst's father. "That is all."
"Good." There was a soft thwip, and darts appeared in the tough, scaly hide of her father. He dropped to the ground. Wsspst didn't scream, but covered her mouth as her mother was hit with the same. "Check the ship. Secure that escape vessel, make sure there aren't any other life-forms aboard." An alien stepped into view. A huge, black, chitinous Lik, he chuckled in a clicking tone. "The ship's marking two other life-forms aboard. One Quelian, one… domestic. Damn Quelians shut off the ship's rail system. Gonna make getting to them a pain. Bring the electronic warfare gear. Get these two onto the ship. We'll follow once the rest get here."
She couldn't watch as her parents were dragged onto the Lik ship. She began undoing the monorail pod's security latches, and dropped lightly onto the ground, bringing the pod's emergency carbine with her. Her heart broke a little as the communications cut off. Her parents, disappearing on a slaver ship, to some unknown fate. It would not, however, be unknown if she didn't make it off the ship. As for Cathy… Well, humans were popular pets. Cathy would have to make do as best as she could. The useless old human hadn't been much help to Wsspst's father this time.
The ship's bowels were only occasionally lit, and she had disabled the automatic lighting systems as she moved through. The normally friendly, sizable ship became a disturbing network of hard black lines and angles in the darkness. She held the small laser carbine under her arm as she sprinted along the ship, towards the escape ship. It wasn't fast, but it didn't have to be. With the Lik ship gone, she'd be able to escape easily. If she could just reach it in time.
The Lik surged out of the darkness at her, all flashing blades, a strange iridescence flashing on the hard edges of its chitinous body. Wsspst drew her carbine, and fired at the creature. The laser splashed and diffracted off in a rainbow, the personal force field rendering the laser entirely useless. She cursed, and spotted the set of goggles across the Lik's eyes. They were designed to pick up electromagnetic fields, translating the dark confines of the ship into a perfectly mapped area. The high-density battery in the laser pistol would make Wsspst stand out like a supernova in a nebula.
She'd always been quick-witted. She flicked open the panel, setting up a feedback loop into the capacitors as she'd been taught, and threw it into the arms of the Lik. The high-speed kinetic impact overloaded the shield, tearing a hole in the Lik, leaving it writhing and falling as two more surged out of the dark. Wsspst turned and ran while two others chased after her. She was outnumbered, and the soft thwip-thwip of the dartguns filled the air, missing her more by blind luck than by anything else.
She'd heard Cathy fire the rifle before. It had always seemed unreasonably loud, booming, as she'd shot nutrient containers off machinery on the top of the terraforming engine. Here, in the ship proper, the sound was strangely soft. A small but very significant hole appeared in the leading Lik's force field, and the creature stuttered, and fell to the ground. The second one swung its dartgun wildly, searching for the human, only for the rifle to bark again. That Lik, too, fell to the ground.
The human melted out of the darkness, unscrewing a long tube from the end. "Come on," said the old human, frowning. "I've got a few clips, but there are at least twenty of those bastards onboard the ship, and more of them are going to be here within the hour. If we're going to rescue your parents, first thing we need to do is get off this ship." She sank low to the ground, and moved in a low crouch, her feet landing on the metal grates with no sound.
Wsspst realized that the human had removed her shoes. Without them, she moved almost silently across the metal. It must have been painful for the soft skin of the human's feet, but she didn't seem distracted by it. Wsspst removed her communicator, feeling a little stab of remorse as she set it down on the ground. It hadn't been much of a hatching-day present, but it had been hers, damn it.
She thought of her parents, and her nictitating membranes shut tightly for a moment, turning the world hazy for half a second before she followed Cathy.
They made their way through the ship, taking a roundabout path. When they'd arrived at the ship, Cathy brightened. "Only two or three guards. Lucky." She settled the gun down, and frowned. "Can't use this. Even with the suppressor, it'd be too noisy, give them a chance to react. Here." She handed the gun to Wsspst. "You shoot the one on the far left, when you see the signal."
"What's the signal?" Wsspst asked, unable to keep the nervous tension out of her voice.
"The one on the right suddenly spraying blood everywhere." Then Cathy vanished into the shadows. Wsspst raised the rifle, and swallowed hard, trying to remember the lessons she'd been given. Exhale, pull the trigger slowly, focus-
A spray of Lik blood filled the air, and she fired. The Lik slumped to the ground, as the third Lik spun towards its stricken companions. Cathy hit it in its midsection, plunging the large combat knife through its chest-plates, and it fell silently. Cathy nodded. "Alright, how-"
"Found them-" clicked the one Wsspst had shot, grabbing at its communicator. It was still alive, until Cathy spun into motion, jamming the knife into its skull, and withdrawing it, frowning. "Well," said the human. "That's not ideal. How long to get this up and running?"
Wsspst looked up at the sound of clicking claws, and swallowed. "Too long."
Cathy nodded, and drew the knife, taking the gun from Wsspst, and crouching down behind a set of crates. The brilliant red sunlight fell upon the iron oxide-stained docking port, as she licked her lips. "Get it working. I'll buy you as much time as I can."
Wsspst wasn't proud of running. Of leaving Cathy there, standing, facing the oncoming horde. But she did. She ran into the ship, and began the boot-up sequence, speeding it where she could with what she'd learned. First, the sound of gunfire rang through the air, the silencer off, the boom loud even from within the confines of the escape ship. She flinched each time the gun fired, and each time, the next shot seemed to come a bit quicker.
Eventually, the gun went quiet, and Wsspst's shoulders tensed as she worked as fast as she safely could. The long clicking screams of the Lik filled the air, and the soft meaty sound of the knife sinking through chitin and meat.
Eventually, that too stopped.
Wsspst's shoulders shook. The boot-up sequence flashed in front of her. She could escape. She could run.
There was no sound from outside, now.
She should run. It was the smart thing to do. There was no sense staying behind for Cathy. For the human who'd saved her at least twice. No sense risking herself.
She grabbed the large gripping manipulator from the fuel intake valves, and ran towards the door, holding it high as the door swept open.
Two dozen Lik lay dead on the ground, scattered in three lines, converging on a mound of at least eight of them. Cathy's hand was visible, the combat knife still held tightly, even as the rest of the arm dangled limply across the pile.
Wsspst approached it, slowly, her clawed hands over her mouth. The hand seemed so slender, almost skeletal. The human really was terribly old, tendons standing out against the mottled skin like brittle branches. She slowly bent forward, and shifted one of the corpses aside.
Cathy leapt up to a fighting stance, the blade weaving drunkenly. Her eyes were glazed, unfocusing. The Lik must have gone in with their dagger-like digits and stingers, stinging and slashing. Dozens of massive puncture wounds covered her. She should've been dead, from poison, blood loss, and massive trauma. But she flicked the knife, and nearly knicked Wsspst. "Cathy!"
The human let the knife drop from her hands, and slumped against Wsspst. It struck her for the first time how light the human was, barely weighing anything, as though death was stealing away the weight. "Shit," murmured Cathy. "I'm not as young as I used to be." She laughed, smiling, even as her blood spilled down across Wsspst's scales.
She'd always asked her father why he'd bothered springing for the expensive multi-species medical packs. As she strapped the ship's pack onto Cathy, she wished he'd bought more of them. The medical pack wasn't going to be able to save her. She needed a full hospital to stand a chance, and they were days away from the closest one. All this could do was give her a couple of minutes, and make sure that when she went, it was painless. Wsspst felt her nictitating membranes flick back and forth, covering her eyes again and again, trying to wipe away a grit that wasn't there. "I'm sorry, Cathy. If I was faster-"
"Pfah, I'm an old fucking woman, Wsspst." Cathy reached up, and softly stroked her shoulder, the warm, soft skin like a Quelian infant's. That made the nictitating membranes flash across her eyes faster. "Always been happy to live with your family. If I had to go, this is a pretty great way. But you're not done yet. You need to find your parents. They'll still be alive. I want you to find my grandson. He'll help you. He's a good boy, if a little brooding. Kind of reminds me of you. Tell him that his mee-maw will haunt him from beyond the grave if he doesn't help you." She chuckled. "He was such a fine boy." She reached down, and took out a card, with a small hypernet-link to the owner. Then, without any fuss, Cathy's heart stopped, and the old human died with a smile on her face.
Wsspst sat down on the bench, wiping at her eyes until the reflexive nictitating stopped, her whole body shaking. It took her the better part of an hour. She made herself a fried-slices-of-nutrient-mash, washed it down with a tall flask of deionized water, and finally, as the ship reached its jump point, took out the card, to examine it.
She stared in shock at the card, then back at Cathy, who lay, dead, at peace, on the floor of the vessel.
The card read simply 'John Jack: The Deadliest Sapient In The Galaxy.'