Daniel stood in the center of dark and vast room.
The only light came from a large unmoving shape in the distance.
It's the Afterthought! Daniel thought.
A part of Daniel felt a great sense of peace when he realized his ship was safe.
The rest of Daniel cursed that part for thinking about a garbage scow when he knew Jeska could be dying nearby.
He tried to reach her personal link.
Connection unavailable, his eyescreens read.
Looking in all directions, Daniel desperately called Jeska's name over and over.
Suddenly, with a shriek, something tackled him from behind, knocking him to the ground.
The landing was so jarring Daniel felt sick. He tried to push himself up, but the creature was heavy and held him in place.
Then Daniel heard the sound of tearing fabric.
The creature was slashing through his robe!
Daniel kept struggling; the creature continued its attack.
When he was still breathing after a few seconds, he realized the robe's fabric must have been tougher than it looked.
He thanked the gods for their mercy.
Relieved, angry, and scared, Daniel jammed an elbow into the creature as hard as he could.
It let out a short shriek and began to slash faster and harder, still desperate to dig up Daniel's back.
Daniel hit it again.
The creature howled even louder. But it didn’t budge.
Daniel twisted his upper torso, trying to knock the creature off balance.
He heard the creature fall to the ground with a soggy thump.
With the weight off his back, Daniel rolled and, from his prone position, frantically kicked where he thought the creature might be.
One of the kicks connected, and the creature screeched again.
Then it was gone.