* * *
“Come on, Skye,” Buyu complained as he stood on the rim of the box looking down at her. “Stop fooling around.”
Skye’s gloves were so stiff she could not bend her fingers. She was covered in wriggling tentacles, her skin suit felt like it was on fire, she couldn’t reach anything solid with either hands or feet, and Buyu was accusing her of fooling around?
“Help me get out of here!” she screamed at him. “Buyu! Or you are a dead man.”
Someone caught the half-curled fingers of her rigid hand. She twisted around and saw that it was Devi. He had a wicked gleam in his eyes as he hauled her across the writhing lydras. “That was a beautiful dive, Skye! Wish I’d caught it on record. Have you ever thought about working with lydras professionally . . . ?”
She glared at him, silently vowing to get even. It didn’t take long. As she reached the rim of the cargo container, she kicked the last of the clinging tentacles away. Then she hooked her stiff fingers around the rim and launched herself headfirst out of the box, driving her shoulder into Devi’s gut as she did it.
Devi was so surprised that he was still holding her hand as they flopped together over the side.
Too late, Skye remembered it was a full three-meter plunge to the floor. She got her forearms in front of her to take the brunt of the fall. At least the gravity was half normal! So she didn’t hit as hard as she would have in Silk, but it was hard enough. The air was knocked out of her lungs, so it took her a few seconds to realize she had landed on a writhing cushion of lydras. After that she was on her feet in an instant, scurrying back up the stack of containers to get away from the beasts while Devi lay on the floor laughing uproariously.