The short passageway created by the docking collars flickered with a hazy light showing the far door, that leading into the other ship, open.
Liishi started forward and stopped, the buzzing in her head increasing. “You’re supposed to come with us,” she said to Tariq over one shoulder.
He gave her the hairy eyeball and replied, “How’d you figure that?”
“Dunno,” she muttered. “Crazy buzzing in my head that triggers certain words and feelings. Says you’re supposed to come with us.”
“She do this very often?” Tariq stood hesitantly back from Liishi, thumbs tucked into his belt. He glanced at W.B. then at Hobbs who stood to one side. The area around the docking collar was cramped in more ways than one, Liishi thought.
W.B. smiled as he always did. “Peculiar things always follow her around—”
“Look who’s talking,” Liishi quipped as she passed through the far collar. “You guys with me, or not?”
“Point taken,” Tariq said and gestured W.B. into the passage. “Get ready to bail the moment you see trouble,” he told Hobbs. The bov’s grunted reply was subdued by the ratcheting of a round into the chamber of whatever big weapon he had in hand.
Once Tariq passed the edge of the outer door, it slid shut as quietly as it had opened. The lights in the airlock dimmed. A faint whir kicked in. Liishi felt the overwhelming desire to scream and tear through the walls. W.B.’s hand came down gently on her right shoulder and, after a moment, Tariq’s dropped on the other. The captain was rather cheeky, touching her like that, but she silently thanked him.
The lights brightened and the airlock opened onto a nearly featureless corridor. Deckplating was grey, highly polished, the walls white like the outer hull. Sensor pads located in mid-wall every few feet indicated (possibly) doorways of which there was no other sign.
No sound invaded that space other than the ragged breathing of Liishi and her companions.
“Knock, knock,” W.B. said, while Tariq added, “Wonder which way?”
To which the passageway lighting to the left dimmed.
“Right, I guess,” Liishi responded and followed the play of lights, down one corridor, then left again down another which ended in a room. One of the pads on the wall outside confirmed Liishi’s suspicion.
The room held a table, black and oblong, around which were bolted half a dozen chairs large enough to hold someone of roughly two meters’ height and appropriate weight. The chairs were cushioned in a faux leather material. Aside from the table and chairs, no other adornments were present.
But what did attract their attention was the large, tracked robot positioned at the head of the table. An accordion-like body sat on a platform between the tracks, and affixed to either side of the body were two set of arms with servo-clamps for hands. A box-shaped appendage with two cylinders atop it presumably was the robot’s head. This turned to Liishi and her companions as they entered the room.