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   Chapter 4 No.4

Demonspawn By Christina Engela Characters: 5403

Updated: 2018-06-30 12:01


In a blinding instant, it was as though the room had never been dark at all. Little green spots clouded his vision for a long moment before his eyes became accustomed to the bright light. His eyes swept the room – he was in the lounge. On the other side of the room, a low archway led into an open plan kitchen-cum-dining area. It allowed the Captain of the ship a little more freedom, some privacy – and even the opportunity to host guests for dinner and so on. It was, Lofflin knew, one of the few privileges of the position. Against one wall stood an opulent sofa, possibly old leather, and in front of it, a glass coffee table cluttered with books and ornaments. It looked as though Blaine had been scratching through his mementoes. A few small empty boxes lay in a pile on the opposite side of the room. On the bulkhead behind the sofa was a large mirror with a picture of the ship etched on it in the center. The ship's name and number were visible along the bottom edge: "I.S.S. Mordrake AT-995". His view panned across to the other side of the room, where he spotted the Captain. Blaine was on a chair, slumped forward over the round glass-topped dining room table, a glass still in his hand. Lofflin shook his head, having half-expected to find Blaine skulking inside a blanket-fort on his bed, perhaps sucking his thumb! He stalked over to him, every nerve twanging with disgust at the childishness of the man under the circumstances! He reached past an open bottle of alcohol on the table and shut off the portable player, causing some of the detritus piled beside it to move. Blaine's eyes jumped open in an instant – bloodshot and bleary. He reeked of booze – his mouth was still open and he'd drooled over some old newspaper clippings his head was lying on.

"Joe!" Blaine groaned, attempting to speak clearly. "Joe! Good ol' Joe!"

"Captain, you're drunk!" Lofflin said, stating the obvious while trying to keep his voice level. Blaine grinned at him lopsidedly and giggled, almost choking. He slapped the table, knocking his empty glass over. It began to roll towards the edge of the table, until Lofflin caught it and replaced it right way up.

"Ye-ss, of course I am! Don't ssup-pose you – think I co-uld ssit here an' calmly wait t'die – dyou? Weee-ll, not ssob-er anyway. Ha ha ha."

Disgust and hopelessness swelled inside Lofflin – he felt like punching that drunken face till it was either sober or unconscious, or …gone. Right at that moment, the latter seemed the most attractive option.

"Damn it, Captain! We need you – the crew needs you!" Lofflin scowled. "You're turning your back on them – in our most desperate time!"

Blaine grappled for a bottle on the tab

le, knocking over a silly little model of the Tower of Freedom on Ba Jel on the way, and proceeded to fill his glass with poor co-ordination – and whisky.

"The cr-ew?" He said, becoming serious momentarily. "Damn th-e damned crew. They're all…dam-ned! Cass-ualties of war. Tha's wha' they'll say back at the Fl-heet… Core Com-mand! All of us! Wastin' your breath, silly fellow." He slurred again. "Took me days t'git this'loshed an' arm not…" he paused to half-drain his glass. "Goin t'go back, see – sso sst-op wastin yer time!"

Lofflin felt the anger rising inside him. It was an uncharacteristic anger, and before he could stop himself, he felt one of his hands grab the man's tunic at the shoulder, while the other slapped the glass flying! His knuckles stung from the blow, but he was past caring! To hell with the consequences, he thought – what the hell could they do to him that was worse than the fate awaiting them? Then he grabbed the Captain by the other shoulder as well, and shook him.

"Damn it, sir – we have to expect the worst, but this is no time to turn your back on us – your crew – the crew you took an oath to protect and lead!" He grabbed the half empty bottle from the table and brandished it under Blaine's nose, his bloodshot eyes swimming in shock. Lofflin was shouting now, but was beyond caring. "Does this help you to forget that oath, Captain? Does it make it any easier to ignore the pool of shit you dropped us in? Will this make your guilt go away?"

Lofflin ran out of steam. What was the use anyway? The man was beyond reach, and there was nothing that really could be done further in any case – except for each of them to make peace with their fate and with whatever set of gods they favored. As if that would make any damned difference! He let the limp, bedraggled man go, bumping the table. A sheaf of old papers slipped from the table top and sighed to the floor. Blaine slumped silently back into his chair, totally deflated. This was not the Captain Blaine who would give clear concise instructions on the bridge, the commander who always had a series of options in his plan, or the man who would stick to protocol and etiquette as if they were etched in stone by one of the Old Gods. This was not the same man Lofflin had known as Captain. Sure, Captains weren't perfect – they were only Human, and everybody had faults. The man had been hard and demanding of both ship and crew, but never truly harsh or really unfair, and the crew had respected him, even loved him… maybe – some of the time at least. More than that, they depended on him, as did he. But this pathetic drunken… shadow – wasn't him! This wasn't Blaine, not the Blaine he knew.

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