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Old 06-19-2017, 03:10 PM   #76
plushkitty
 
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Nooo, a cliffhanger! D:

Seriously though, major kudos for writing a long, suspenseful science fiction weight gain story AND sticking with it.
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Old Today, 08:17 PM   #77
Marlow
 
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Chapter 34

“Did it work?” Hoshi’s voice crackled from the intercom. “Monitor shows the airlock decompressed.”

Estelle gulped. “Negative. It didn’t go in.” Her vision swam with stars and her head pounded with exhaustion. “Into space, I mean. It’s…”

Within the airlock, the squirmer reared up and slammed itself against the door. A tiny crack appeared in the windowpane.

“Thing’s still in the airlock for now, but this door isn’t gonna hold. I have to close the exterior door before he lets all our air out.” She punched the control panel, taking a deep breath. “And we…we lost Starling.”

“No you haven’t, captain,” came the android’s voice. “I was saved by the dorsal antenna array.”

Estelle choked. “Holy nebulas, Starling! Thank the stars. Why didn’t you say anything?”

“It took a moment to upload my voice protocols to the intercom system. There is no air out here, as you may recall.”

“Just get your ass back in here.”

“With pleasure, captain. I shall seek safer ingress, if you don’t mind.”

She nodded. “Okay, team…new plan?”

“Well, apparently decompression’s out,” Hoshi mused. “Next best bet would be separation.”

“I’m listening.”

“We can jettison one of the non-essential modules from the ship. We’ll maintain our course and the jettisoned module will fall back into sub-light speed on a course to nowhere.”

Ayla’s voice chimed in. “If the squirmer’s in the module when it goes, we’re rid of him.”

“I like it,” Estelle murmured, watching the squirmer ram the glass again. “What can we jettison?”

“Erm, not much,” Hoshi admitted. “We can separate the bridge, but we’d lose the guidance systems and…that’s really just for crash landings. We could drop your ship, captain, but…”

“But then we’re without my engines and all the fuel that’s left.”

“Right. And we probably shouldn’t jettison the core, so that just leaves, the, uh…”

Estelle nodded solemnly. “The cargo module.”

“But…all the food!” Hester cried.

“Yeah, my stomach doesn’t like the idea either, but it’s the only realistic option. Survival has to take priority here.” She glared at the cracked glass. “Okay. We’ll do it. I’ll lead him on a merry chase down there; you run the separation protocol.”

“There’s the other hiccup,” said Hoshi.

“What else?”

“His rampage tore up a lot of the automation systems. We’ll have to jettison manually. That takes two people—one at the airlock and one on the outside.”

“I am already outside,” observed Starling.

“Done,” Estelle announced. “Ayla, you get down to the airlock and handle the hatch once blobby and I are through.”

“Aye, captain.”

“Just make sure to let me back out before we jettison.”

“But how will I be able to tell you and the blob-monster apart?”

Estelle grimaced. “I’m the one wearing pants. Anyway, with Starling occupied, I’m gonna need a maneuvering advantage…Hoshi, can you shut down the artificial gravity?”

“Not from here, with this damage. Someone will need to squeeze down to the forward core.”

“Hester, think you can do it?”

“Dammit, captain, I’m a doctor, not a—”

“Get down there. Hoshi’ll never fit.”

“I’ll walk you through it from the intercom,” Hoshi assured her.

“More like waddle me through it…” Hester grumbled.

“Just do it. I need you.” Estelle stepped back from the door. The glass had shattered and a pseudopod was oozing through. “Get to it, everybody…we’ve only got one shot at this.”

“Be careful,” Hester said quietly.

“I’m always careful. Alright, Hoshi, where am I going?”

“Uh, let’s see. You basically need to go straight down.”

Estelle steeled herself, watching the last of the squrimer slide through the port. “I don’t suppose there’s an elevator back here.”

“Stars, you’ve gotten lazy. No elevator, but there’s a maintenance closet in the next room.”

“A closet?” Estelle scoffed. She hurried into the room anyway.

“You’ll find an access panel at the back. Opens up into the anterior bulkheads. It’s like the space between decks…should reach all the way down to the lower deck, right back to the freight bay.”

She ducked into the closet and locked the door. “So, what, I just fall?”

Hoshi paused. “Probably not. It’ll be more like…climbing down. Also, it’s not exactly the widest of spaces.”

Estelle opened the access panel. A dark, wet, and concerningly tight vertical crawlspace greeted her. “Holy nebulas. Okay, I’m not gonna fit in there.”

The squirmer crashed into the closet door, snapping the hinges.

“…okay, I’m gonna fit in there.”

She ducked into the bulkhead. Her gut squished up against the opposite wall before she was even through the door. The wall was covered in a cold, oily lubricant and her naked flesh flashed with goosebumps.

“Oh, stars,” she hissed, forcing the rest of her upper body inside. She felt around and grabbed a support beam, then stepped her feet in. She hung there over what looked like a bottomless drop, trying to get her bearings.

The squirmer smashed the closet door aside and reached out a pseudopod. Feeling its slimy membrane slap her lovehandle, Estelle yelped and let go of the support beam.

She promptly dropped into the claustrophobic abyss, belly and backside sliding along the lubricated walls. The space was narrow enough that she couldn’t fall with any real speed, though. After the initial descent she found herself having to walk herself down with her hands. The squirmer flowed through the access panel above and began pouring down like a gelatinous flood.

Estelle stopped suddenly, finding a support beam sandwiched between her softened legs. She sat on it a moment in panic, unable to flex enough to get one leg or the other over the beam.

The squirmer drew closer. Sucking in as much as her paunch allowed, Estelle leaned to her left and spun her whole body around until she hung upside-down. She dropped a few feet before stopping again.

A rusted bolt had caught the waistband of her trousers, the force of her fall yanking them halfway off her butt. She writhed about, trying to reach the bolt, but the effort only served to open a tear in the fabric. She froze, realizing what had happened, but it was too late.

Her trousers ripped open just as the squirmer approached. Estelle fell out of them, sliding and crawling her way down the wall another story. She squeezed around another support beam, twisted sideways, and plummeted to the bottom deck.

There something jutted out from the wall, pinching her belly and bringing her to a sudden stop. She flailed and shouted, pounding on the wall, but was too fat to slide any further.

She felt around for what had caught her: it was a hinged ring, like one of the hatches she’d used earlier. Her paunch was pressed right up against it, sealed in by suction. Above her, the squirmer shrieked.

The hatch opened. Estelle felt fresh air against her belly, which swelled freely into the now open space. A pair of hands grabbed her flesh and pulled. She contorted herself and pushed.

She popped through the ring just as the squirmer caught up. She spilled out onto the floor, her lubricant-drenched flab slipping across the tile. The lights of the aft deck shone down on the doors to the cargo module, sealed shut.

Ayla slammed the hatch closed on the bulkhead. “Look at that,” she panted. “Our fat captain, naked and all oiled up. Hester must be so jealous.”

Estelle sat up with a groan. “Look at that…our much fatter geologist, being smarmy during a life and death situation. I’d like to see you fit through there.”

“And here’s your even fatter still engineer,” Hoshi’s voice chided from the intercom, “reminding you that that hatch isn’t going to hold.”

“Maybe you should get your massive butt down here and plug it.” Ayla wobbled her own hardly diminutive derriere across the atrium to the control panel. “Alright, captain, I’ve got it ready to detach on this end. Starling, everything set out there?”

Estelle backed away from the hatch, watching the metal begin to bend. “Starling? You still with us?”

“Yes, captain,” the android’s voice replied at length. “I apologize. I am having difficulty with the mechanisms. The jettison protocol was not designed to be initiated above lightspeed. Especially by hand.”

The hatch split open. The squirmer’s membrane began to ooze through.

“So, is this gonna work?” Estelle murmured.

“I believe so. But it will take me a little more time.”

“We don’t have time, Starling,” Ayla retorted.

Estelle grimaced. “We’ll have to make some. Open the cargo door, Ayla.” She got to her feet. “That way if this thing catches me, I’ll…at least get to die surrounded by my favorite treats.”

“I can’t do that, captain. You’ll—”

“Open the food bay door, Ayla.”

The squirmer finished reforming itself. It stretched up, looming over Estelle, and shrieked. Ayla punched the control panel and the cargo doors slid open with a hiss.

Estelle turned and rushed for the doorway. She attempted to sprint, but between her being covered in lubricant and too fat to run, it was more of an uncoordinated, half-sliding scramble.

The door opened up onto a grated platform overlooking the overpacked cargo module, providing a vista of the edible landscape. Estelle promptly slipped and found herself sprawling. She seized a railing and tried to stand.

The squirmer exploded into the bay behind her. It rolled across the platform and tackled Estelle; the railing snapped and they fell together into the spread of food below.

Estelle rolled down off a mound of French fries. She heaved herself onto her knees, glancing around for anything that could serve as a weapon. There was nothing in reach that wasn’t soft. She tried to get to her feet, but the squirmer rose up from the river and wrapped a membrane around her ankle.

She kicked at it. “Get your pseudopod off me, you damned dirty—”

It lifted her off the ground and hurled her clear to the far side of the gravy river. She landed in a pile of mashed potatoes.

“Captain, are you alright?” came Hoshi’s voice.

“I think he’s trying to soften me up,” she grunted, getting up. “Joke’s on him…I’m already pretty soft.”

The squirmer was undulating toward her.

Estelle cracked her knuckles. “Hester, I don’t suppose you’ve made any progress on the gravity?”

“Almost there, captain,” the doctor’s voice replied. “I’m just having a little trouble with the controls.”

“What? What kind of trouble?”

“The console is seated kind of low, eh? It’s hard to see around, you know, my tits.”

“Nebulas,” Estelle hissed. “Well, he hasn’t managed to kill me so far…”

The squirmer stretched upright, tall enough to ford the river and march up the bank on the other side.

Estelle backed her way toward the wall behind her. “Look, hey, maybe we got off on the wrong pseudopod. We don’t have to be enemies, do we? I mean, we have so much in common…you have a pliable, wobbling membrane, I have a pliable, wobbling midriff…” She backed into the cold metal wall. “Just look at me: I’m well on my way to becoming a giant gelatinous mass like yourself.”

It continued to advance. Estelle instinctively reached a hand to steady herself on the wall; she was still partially covered in the oily lubricant from her climb through the hull, though, and found her hand almost to slippery to grab anything.

She stared at her hand and frowned. “No…no, Estelle, that’s a terrible idea.”

“Almost there, captain!” Hester cried over the intercom. “Just hold him off a little longer!”

“Terrible idea it is,” Estelle decided. She looked over at a mound of mashed potatoes about halfway between her and the squirmer. At its peak she spied a pool of melted butter.

She launched herself forward and lunged up the side of the mound. She mounted it like a snowbank, each step sinking deeper into the potatoes. At her sudden motion the squirmer rushed forward as well, collapsing back into a wide ball as it charged.

Estelle sprawled up the last few feet and splashed into the butter. The pool was just deep enough to submerge her and she disappeared as the squirmer fell upon the mound.

It spread out as it struck, completely covering and flattening the hill. A pseudopod reached into the mound, soon followed by another.

But the plump little human was now too squishy and too slippery to get a solid hold of. Without any effective grasping digits, the pseudopods clutched in vain as Estelle squeezed her way through the pile and suddenly fell free from beneath the squirmer’s membrane with an audible pop.

She rolled to the ground and stumbled to her feet, wiping butter from her eyes. “Worst hug ever.”

“Couldn’t have been any worse than that pancake party we had,” Ayla mused, turning from her panel at the airlock. “You ended up covered in butter that time, too.”

Estelle shuffled behind a giant broccoli tree and watched the squirmer collect itself. It was still between her and the airlock. “And some of you were just as grabby,” she recalled. “Tell me you have that door ready to seal.”

Ayla grunted and tossed her wrench aside. “I hope so.”

“I talked her through removing the safety mechanisms,” Hoshi buzzed from the bridge. “It’ll slam shut in an instant now. Once you’re through, we’re clear.”

“You gonna be able to get back up here with the ladder gone?”

Estelle cocked her head. “Maybe. As long as Hester—”

“Got it!” cried the doctor.

The hull shuddered and a deep buzz reverberated through the ship. Estelle suddenly felt very light, a word she had not been able to apply to herself in some time.

The squirmer leapt up from the mashed potatoes, but, to its confusion, didn’t land on the floor. It floated off into the air, shifting and stretching in frantic confusion.

“Get ready to jettison,” Estelle commanded.

“Commencing,” Hoshi replied. “Now, there may be a little shift as I drop us out of—”

The ship lurched violently. Everything in the cargo module was thrown into the air, creating a swirling nebula of food. Estelle found herself floating in the opposite direction of the door.

“Was that the ‘little shift’ you mentioned?”

“Um, yes. It became a little bigger than I expected.”

Estelle watched as the squirmer twisted around in the air. It floated directly between her and the airlock, drifting toward the exit. “I think we all did, Hoshi.”

With a grunt, Estelle pushed off a giant cupcake—making sure to grab a lick of frosting in the process—and kicked her way up a ten-foot breadstick to the cargo hold’s back wall. She braced her back against it, seizing a support beam.

The squirmer flattened its membrane and spread into a broad circle, presumably hoping to catch her like a net.

“On my mark!” Estelle called. She took a deep breath, let go of the beam, and launched herself belly-first toward the airlock.

She sailed over the decadent foodscape like a meteor, splashing through a blob of cranberry sauce and knocking aside bits of stuffing as she flew.

The squirmer roared, its flattened membrane rippling. It was spread so thin Estelle could make out, blurrily, the shape of the airlock behind it.

She rocketed into the center of the creature, bowing it inward. She curled herself into a tight ball of flab, arms wrapped around her belly, eyes squeezed shut.

Her weight punched through the squirmer’s membrane, collapsing it in on itself. She exploded out from its opposite side, through the hatch, and into the cargo atrium, flying past an amazed Ayla and crashing into the far wall.

Ayla slammed her hand down on the control lever. The airlock doors slammed shut. Rotors churned as the seals rotated into place. “That’s some effective mass you’ve got there.”

Estelle wiped interstitial fluid from her eyes. “Just think…if I’d been any lighter, that might not have worked.”

A dent appeared in the door as the squirmer crashed against it. Sparks flew from the panel.

“How is something with no muscles that strong?” Estelle cried.

“I could ask the same thing about you.”

“Nebulas…just jettison the damned thing!” Estelle floated off the wall and flailed about, drifting out of reach of the handholds.

Another dent appeared in the door. Punching a hole through the squirmer only seemed to have enraged the creature further.

“Unsealing cargo module,” Hoshi reported through the intercom. “Link terminated. All yours, Starling!”

“Releasing cables,” announced the android. “Fail-safes disengaged. Ready to terminate.”

Estelle shuddered as a muffled, desperate shriek sounded from behind the door. She turned to glare at it. “Yeah, fuck you, too.” She nodded to Ayla.

Ayla flipped a trio of switches, then slammed her hand onto a large button. An alarm rang out from the door, followed by a deafening hiss, and finally a sudden silence.

They stared at the door. The pounding had stopped.

“We have separation,” Hoshi declared.

“I make visual confirmation,” added Starling. “The cargo module is away and emergency retro-thrusters have activated to decelerate.”

“Hurled into the infinite void!” Hester cheered. “Good luck chasing us now!”

Estelle blew out a long breath. “That’s for Selena, you slimeball.”

Ayla closed the control panel. The motion pushed her away from the wall and she spun slowly across the atrium with a relieved giggle.

“Great work, everyone. That was…that was a tight one.”

“Everything’s tight on you, captain.”

“Thanks, Ayla. Hoshi, reengage interstellar drive and reopen the slipstream. Starling, get your shiny metal ass back in here. And Hester, we can turn the gravity back on.”

Ayla moaned. “Do we have to? It’s kind of fun for all this weight to be all…weightless.” She bounced her thighs together as she drifted past.

Estelle pondered it for a moment, glancing down. Her stomach, rather than sagging over her lap as it usually did when empty, instead ballooned out from her midsection, flowing and rippling as she moved. “Okay, it is kinda neat. But we need to get back to work.” She flapped her flabby arms. “Also, I can’t reach anything and Ayla’s too busy being snarky to help me down.”

“Alright, alright,” Hester sighed. “I’ll turn it back on. But I’ll warn you it might take a bit…it was hard enough to see around these boobs before they could float up into my face all on their own.”

“Take your time.” Estelle slumped with fatigue, absently caressing the sphere of her weightless belly.

She orbited her way across the atrium like a fleshy moon. Her eyelids slid shut, her chest heaved with exhausted breaths, and her stomach whined a gurgling lament for the abandoned feast.
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