We were not alone.

I’d the sense not to speak my thoughts aloud this time. One more word and I would be disciplined at best, demoted at worst. Spencer had no patience with my hunches.

When the screaming started, I was the only one to drop to the ground, pulling Spencer with me.

“What the f–?” He began. I clamped a hand over his mouth.

All around us our fellow scientists, my friends, were being snatched.

Only a few feet away, someone was hauled past us, yanked along by an unseen force. Odd socks identified her as Georgie, our xenobiologist. The bags of cuttings we’d collected still swung from her belt. I moved to grab her as she flashed past.

Spencer pulled me back. He gripped my wrist, glaring into my eyes, silently ordering me to stay put. He knew I’d gladly lay down my life for her. She was my best friend on this expedition. My lover.

The screams faded into the distance. I couldn’t leave the little rat to follow her – he’d die by himself. I had to get him back first. Spencer’s face had turned a sickly yellow.

Not for the first time, I wondered why a man like this had been put in charge of an exploratory expedition. ‘No sentient beings on this planet,’ my arse.

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