Reptilians

Genster hissed and ducked, Gloed swished her tail and the assailer backed off again. But how long would they be able to keep up with this taunt and retract game? The Naga twins had travelled from their native Zekiran desert to this horrid, humid planet and now they'd even lost the person who was supposed to help them. Well, not that he'd ever intended to help them anyway. Gloed hissed and her sister sent supportive thoughts through their bond. Immediately Gloed released her caustic thoughts and returned to the task at hand. 
Cut off from all that they knew, their last decent meal 4 days ago, and hunted like they were prey. Their situation was far from ideal. Genster sent more supportive thoughts. Though she couldn't here, she did smell the pheromones their hunter gave off and the beast knew his prey was getting tired. The last half day, Genster had picked up the scent of excitement and with it came a scent of malice that gave Genster the realisation that their hunter was smarter than they had originally thought. Indeed, they hardly even knew what they were dealing with. Neither of the sisters had had a clear view of it. Just flashes of dark skin, claws and teeth. 
Genster put her back to the wall and used her camouflage ability to blend in. She figured this was as good a place as any to test if it worked. Gloed, understood her intentions and waited, spreading her scent over the place to obscure her sister's presence even more. 
They didn't have to wait long. Only 15 minutes later, the beast appeared again, launching an attack from below. It went after Gloed as expected, but changed direction halfway and went straight for Genster. Though she'd been at the ready, the beast smashed into her tail and she felt the impact all the way to her neck. Luckily Gloed also lashed at the beast and he let go, but not before releasing a triumphant roar. They were at the end of their strength and the beast relished in the excitement of tormenting them. 

*~*~*

Grash put the spaceship down with the ease of having done this thousands of times. He'd already had 10 years of service on this ship and almost felt like she belonged to him. In truth she belonged to the company they flew for, but Grash had been able to keep the ship in his exclusive use. He lovingly called her "his girl" and almost never referred to her by her true name, "WiRSS5-23". 
"Touch down, anchored and secured." he announced.
Blad, or "Comms" turned toward him in his seat and said: "Well done Captain. I'll start the refuelling and supply exchange." 
"Very good." Grash nodded.
"How long will we be docked here?" Schub, the third member of their crew asked.
The young officer in training was raring to go for a walk. They'd been stuck in outer space for the past week and there was nothing like real surface below his feet... and a nice swim in one of those large bodies of water he'd seen from the air.
"About an hour." Grash said, "And forget about swimming, there are some hostile creatures in the water."
Sighing, Schub nodded, "Just a walk then."
Comms laughed, "I'll be outside if you need me."
"I'll keep watch." Grash volunteered, as he didn't really care for the wet climate. 
Schub sighed happily when he felt the damp air touch his blue scales. The spaceship was kept quite neutral as far as humidity went and Schub needed to moisten his hide by hand. Having the air do it for you was easier. He unfolded the fins on his arms and back and relished in the feeling of freedom that gave him. If he couldn't swim, he could still walk along the water's edge. 
He kept the space ship in his sight as he walked toward a rocky hill that stuck out from the water. The place looked like an amazing diving spot. It was a pity that he wouldn't be able to get a swim. But just maybe, venturing inside the rocky crevices would get him somewhere wet and safe.
As Schub descended into a crevice, he was suddenly met with a screech and hiss. Startled he fell to the ground, which probably save him from a massive headache as a very sturdy and long golden tail swished through the air where his head had been. Scrambling, he tried to get up but wasn't fast enough when the tail returned and caught his leg. Flailing he went down and hit his head. 

*~*~*

Grash was woken up by the soft alarm that signalled that the refuelling had finished. Yawning and stretching, he chased the last of sleepiness from his nap away and went to look for Blad. Grash found the communications officer where he'd left him. Blad was also enjoying the moist atmosphere.
"Everything ready?" Grash asked.
"Almost." Blad reported, "I haven't seen Schub for a while though. I last saw him near that rock. Maybe he also took a nap and forgot to set an alarm?"
"Then it's best we go to kiss him awake." Grash grinned.
"Don't be too hard on him. I can understand the appeal of this place." Blad pleaded.
"He needs to learn that the schedule comes first."
Blad shrugged, "It is his first offence." 
"I'm aware of that. Which is why I'll be gentle."
Blad imagined their sturdy captain would probably give out a good lashing anyway. Grash was a good leader and he got his crew in shape but for young recruits his way of doing things often proved too much. The ones that did put up with it were certain to rise up in the ranks though. Blad had seen quite a few recruits in the 4 years he'd been serving on the ship. He felt he could predict which ones were good by now. And Schub had potential. The boy could be a bit dreamy, but he was fast and efficient. 
Grash took the same road Schub had taken about an hour before. Keeping more distance between him and the water. As captain he had a better idea what was hiding in these waters and he didn't exactly fancy a meeting. Apparently the native water dwellers were quite ferocious and intelligent. Which is why the settlers that ran the refuelling station kept to the high ground. 

*~*~*

Genster hummed softly and out of tune as she stroked the face of the blue-scaled youth. He was cool to the touch but his breathing was regularly and his pulse was steady. She just hoped he'd wake up and be able to tell them a bit about what they were facing.
"Well I'm sorry. I thought it was the beast." Gloed muttered.
Genster sent her more soothing thoughts. She knew her sister hadn't intended on harming the unsuspecting salamander-man. Through their shared bond she felt the fatigue that clung to both of them. Gloed's nerves were strung to the max and Genster suspected even a bug could set her off.
Below her nimble hands, the salamander-man stirred and he groaned. Genster alerted her sister that he was waking up. As she was deaf, she needed her sister's ears to work for her and since she couldn't speak very well, it was her sister that communicated with the world. 
"Wake up." Gloed yelled, getting her an angry look from Genster.
"What? Are you sweet on him?" 
Annoyed, Genster sent the universal idiom that honey catches more flies than vinegar.
"Fine." Gloed said and waited for Genster to coax the youth back to consciousness.
Clutching his head, Schub woke up in the company of the two identical naga faces. Their beauty was somehow a bit frightening and the look in Gloed's eyes told him quite plainly that he needed to watch himself.
Genster stroked the side of his head again and nodded to make him feel at ease.
"My sister wants you to know our names." Gloed said. It took a look from Genster for her to add: "My name is Gloed and she is Genster."
"I'm Schub." Schub said, "What happened?"
Gloed sighed, "We're being hunted by some crazy beast and you wandered in at the wrong time."
Genster decided to not push her sister any harder. After all it didn't matter who had injured the young man. He was in this with them now. Could he tell them anything?
"Do you know anything about this? Have you a way to alert someone?" Gloed asked.
"I'm sorry. I'm not from around here. We stopped to refuel and I went for a walk." Schub said and then he sat up, causing a dizzy spell.
"What?" Gloed urged.
"My captain will come looking. I was only supposed to stay out for half an hour."
"Is he a good fighter?"
"He's tough as nails and crazy as hell." Schub said without hesitation.
Gloed smiled, "I like him already."

*~*~*

Grash wiggled through the opening that proved snug for his frame. The footprints in the dust told him Schub had come this way. Other recent markings told him the young recruit might not be in there alone. That was a worrying thought. 
"Blad, I'll need you for backup." Grash called help through the communications bracelet he'd taken from the ship. A useful apparatus Schub had failed to equip. 
"Any specifics?" Blad asked.
"Heavy artillery? No, just bring the large animal tranquilisers." 
"I'll be right there."
Blad grabbed the bag with the dart gun, armed it and locked up the space ship. Having Grash leave his little baby unattended meant the situation was dire. Just in case, Blad made contact with the local space travel agency and left a report that he was headed out to go look for his fellow crewmen.
Blad joined Grash only 5 minutes later and handed over the dart gun. With the understanding that came from living in close quarters for several years, the two descended in silence. Each taking a side of the tunnel when it opened up. As they waited to let their eyes adjust to the darkness, a soft tremor shook the cave.
"We have company." Grash whispered and gestured to spread out.
Grash flicked his tongue out. The air tasted stale, but that was to be expected in a cave like this.
"Damsel is in the back of the cave, "he took another sniff, "and there's one... no two others with him."
"There are tremors all around us." Blad added, his sensitive hearing picking up a whole lot of activity.
"This is starting to look like a nice trap."
"I'm sure it is."

*~*~*

"It's coming back." Gloed alerted as the rock around them started to pulse and tremor. 
"How can it appear like that?" Schub asked.
Genster knocked on the wall and Gloed translated: "It can somehow move through these walls."
"That shouldn't be poss..." Schub started, but stopped saying as a dark shadow seemed to crawl down the walls. Like water running down from some previously unseen waterfall.
"Water." he said.
"What?" Gloed asked.
"It's using the water. Don't you see it?"
"Don't just stand there!" 
Suddenly a roar sounded through the cave and a large, clawed leg slashed through the air where Schub had been. Schub focused and saw the creatures skulking right beside the wall, a dark mass of wet skin, claws and teeth. Small tentacles writhed and several mouths opened and closed, shifting on the surface. 
Schub screamed and instantly the creature turned it's attention toward him. Slithering toward him, preceded by a small ripple of water, the creature roared again. A sound of hunger, longing and excitement that reverberated in the cave. But suddenly the roar was cut short and a whimper sounded.
"Schub!" Grash called, "Run toward me, I don't know how long the sedative will hold."
Spurred into moving by his captain's voice, a voice he'd learned to obey blindly, Schub darted toward him. Somehow he knew that the two naga women were in close pursuit, taking the help that had been offered even if it hadn't come for them. 
"Save the two others too." he hollered, trying to make certain Grash knew that they were friendlies.
Schub ran past Grash, relieved that the older officer had his back and hurried to where Blad was guarding the entrance. But just when he thought he'd gotten to safety, Schub saw the darkening of running water on the wall closest to the way out. 
"It's coming." he called, taking a turn away from the wall.
Blad heared the tremors right after Schub saw them and turned. He thrust the cattle stick he carried forward and released the charge, happy he'd thought to bring the damned thing. Hissing, the creature returned to the walls and Blad took no time to try and figure out where he'd gone. He turned to the exit and ran up, followed by Grash who'd reloaded the dart gun.
Up top Schub and two brightly coloured reptilians were waiting. 
"To the ship." Grash called and kept running. 
So far the colonists on this planet thought the native predators were confined to the waters. if they could move through the rocks the entire settlement was in danger and Grash'd be crazy if he'd wait to see what would happen next. 
Blad unlocked the ship and had everyone inside in record time while he was simultaneously starting up the engines. Surely the captain wouldn't be too angry now that he'd found out the illegal extras the communications officer had equipped on his baby. After all, Blad had also come to love the little spaceship over the years he'd served on her. And he wanted to make sure she could get through literally anything.
"Taking off in 3... 2... 1".
"So that quick start." Grash said ominously.
"What now?" Blad grinned, "I'll be making a report to the colony officials. They need to know."
Grash relented and let his communications officer do his job. The ship leapt up from the refuelling station in a way that shouldn't be possible and the G-forces pressed the space captain in his seat. And then a shudder went through the ship.
"What happened?" Grash called for a report.
"We were hit." Blad answered.
"The creature?"
"No, the space port..." Blad said puzzled, "Why...?"
"They're in cahoots. Get us out of here before they feed us to those fishies."

*~*~*

"I've got us out of orbit." Blad reported, "But we took some damage."
"How bad is it?" the captain asked, meanwhile already pulling up the damage reports that were coming in on the ship's communication system.
"We can travel, but we won't be fast. Hyperdrive is shot. We have maybe a week before the atmosphere turns toxic with the two extra passengers."
Gloed who'd walked in when that last comment was made, snarled and got ready to fight.
"Down." Grash said with absolute command in his voice, "We're just stating a fact. Not saying we'll throw you out of the airlock."
Genster took her sister's hand and pulled her back. She shook her head and looked back at captain with a question in her eyes.
"We'll look for a nearby planet where we can make repairs. You can decide then and there whether you want to hire us to take you somewhere or whether you want to look for transport on another ship."
"Fair enough." Gloed grumbled.
"Already looking at possible planets." Blad reported, "Without hyperdrive, we only have two or three options. And I believe only one of those is a viable option. The planet is called Erizon. Medium level of development, No international space port, no rush delivery options, so we'll be stuck there for a while but the reviews are decent."
"They were decent on the last one too." Schub remarked dryly.
"Not the one I left." Blad grimaced. 

*~*~*

Erizon proved just the backwater planet it had seemed in the description. They'd landed on an ancient spaceport that probably saw no more use than the half-yearly supply run. 
"From what I can see, " Schub said, crawling in the ship's maintenance ducts, "we can probably fix this ourselves but it will take some time and parts. Do you think they might have the DX-521 tubes and RASTER plates in stock?"
"I somehow doubt it." Blad retorted.
"We'll ask." Grash said.
"And now?" Gloed asked, her tail twitching.
"We wait to fix the ship. You're free to find other transportation." Grash said.
At which point Genster nodded. She concentrated, emptied her head and sent out a calling. She'd tried to use her dragon summon ability on the previous planet, but no dragon had been present in the 10 mile radius that she had power in. Probably dragons had known better than to stay on that planet. This time however, she got lucky.
Gloed smiled, "Genster just found us transport. So we'll be taking our leave.", which earned her another nudge from Genster. Gloed sighed, "Genster says she'll ask them to help you out as well." 
"That's very nice of her." Blad said.
"What kind of transportation can you call without comms?" Grash asked.
"The dragon kind." Gloed said triumphantly as a dark shadow appeared out of thin air above them. 

Continuations on their individual stats pages:
Gloed
- Genster - Grash - Blad - Schub

Credits: all background images and reptilian pictures found with google.