A pulsing, grey mass of egg sacs throbbed behind the panel that Abby removed.
"That's not supposed to be there," she said. A drop of purple liquid ran down the glossy surface of the egg sacs and sizzled as it touched the steel floor of the space station.
"What the - oh, god," Sam said, peering over Abby's shoulder. "So we're completely screwed, then. If we can't get through that panel, we can't override the self-destruct system. If we can't override the self-destruct system, then the nuclear core will go critical. We'll be a couple of molecules of human floating in space and mingling with a few molecules of disgusting space worm. I guess all we can do now is wait for the end. And have sex," Sam said, fumbling with the zippers on his space jumpsuit.
"No, I think one of us might be able to - how did you do that so fast?" Abby asked. Sam floated next to his jumpsuit, grinning.
"I've been practicing," Sam said.
"What I was about to say is that I think one of us can get around the egg sac," Abby said, turning back towards the egg sac and the blocked access corridor. She shined her flashlight inside, as the egg sac had attached itself onto the glowing panels that normally lit the access corriders and was using the electrical power to feed the voracious space worm larvae that it contained. "There's a small corner of the corridor that it hasn't blocked."
"Well, I'm already naked," Sam said.
"Perfect, you might need the few extra millimeters of clearance saved by ditching your clothes," Abby said.
"What? No, I mean that it'd be a waste of the last precious seconds of my life to get squished between cold steel and a pulsing egg sac. There's no telling that this is the only egg sac in the way, either."
"Don't you at least want to try?" Abby asked.
"No, I'm cool. I've lived a long, full life," Sam said.
"You're twenty-nine, and you spent most of that in an alley in New Seattle, playing Martian grunge and eating space pizza."
"Like I said, a long, full life."
"The average life expectancy of someone born in New Seattle is over two hundred and seventy-three," Abby said.
"Yes, but everything after thirty-five sucks," Sam said.
"Do you know how old I am?" Abby asked.
"I don't know, thirty-two?"
"Try one hundred and seventeen, you jackass," Abby said. "I've got great-grandkids starting college."
"But...we were going to..."
"No, we weren't. And I have another hundred and fifty years or so left. Get your ass into that access corridor, loverboy," Abby said, grabbing Sam by the shoulder and throwing him towards the small gap next to the egg sac like a javelin. He sailed through the zero-g environment, flailing his limbs and screaming, until he realized that he'd definitely get stuck if he didn't prepare himself. He straightened himself out and went cleanly through the gap.
"Wow!" Sam yelled from the other said.
"Now disable the self-destruct!" Abby said.
"There's one escape pod left."
"The self-destruct!" Abby screamed.
"Nope," Sam said after a pause. "I'm going to take the escape pod."
"If you do that then I will-" she stopped herself when she heard the escape pod door close with a woosh. From a small window nearby, she saw part of the egg sac trailing next to the crippled space station, and beyond that the jets of the escape pod as they pushed the small craft away from the space station. Normally, they were meant to rocket away very quickly in case the self-destruct had been activated, but there was something wrong with the module. It was moving very slowly. Slowly enough that Abby was able to fit herself into a spacesuit, leave the station through an airlock, and use the thrusters on the space suit to catch up to the module.
She grabbed the escape module and was about to clamber around to the access hatch on the side when she peeked in through one of the windows to find Sam opening a bag. Out of the bag rolled a space worm. It shook hands with Sam, then went to snooze on one of the bunkbeds while Sam started flooding the distress frequencies with cries for help. A few minutes after that, he dozed off at the control panel.
He woke up to find the escape pod was inside the steel womb of a ship. Sam started, then ran back to the space worm.
"Hide in an access panel. If you don't, you'll be discovered and you won't be able to take this space ship back to port and spread your larvae!" The space worm squelched at him and hid itself.
Sam opened the hatch of the escape pod and climbed out, only to be nose-to-spigot with a flamethrower. Abby was at the other end, wrapped in a hazardous materials combat suit, along with a squad of soldiers, also holding flamethrowers.
"We saw you making a deal with the larva. You're under arrest," Abby said.
"He made me do it," Sam said.
"I did no such thing," the larva said, climbing off of the ship. From a squelchy hole in its side, it produced a badge and identification card.
"He's on our side," Abby said, "helping track down traitors who would sell out humanity to space worms. This was a sting operation," she said.
The Moral: never trust a space worm.