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   Chapter 23 No.23

Demonspawn By Christina Engela Characters: 6028

Updated: 2018-06-30 12:02

Harry signed off, and Lofflin went back to managing the search team's efforts. In the meantime, Murphy's team had discovered a spiral stairwell that resembled an old Terran building fire escape of sorts. Looking up and down with their flashlights showed other entrances to every level at the points where the staircase met each deck, above and below. The staircase appeared to start deep in the bowels of the ship, right at the bottom, and wound upwards and around what appeared to have been an elevator shaft, extending perhaps to the very top. Looking at the extreme top for a bridge or command center made common sense to Sgt. Murphy, and so eventually, after considerable effort climbing to the top of the winding metallic stairs, they emerged inside what could only have been a command center. Why look for a command center when what they really needed would be attached to an engine? That was fairly elementary, since a command center would contain schematics and perhaps even directions to the engine room of the ship. If the computers were still working, they might even be able to figure out what sort of engines the thing had, and if they were compatible with their own technology. That is, if they could even translate the alien's language. Murphy looked around while his team members rested, panting, and pulled out his comlink to call Lofflin. He reported their find, and Lofflin told them to wait there.

Lofflin's team arrived at the entrance at the top of the stairs about twenty minutes later, and Lofflin brushed past the two security marines who were standing on the landing and peering through the open doorway. They stood aside for him as he passed through the narrow entrance portal. The sides of the doorway were somewhat damaged – scratches and dents adorned the vaguely ornamental

Lofflin said, giving the sergeant a lopsided smile, "We have no idea what gold braid could mean to these people – they're aliens… could even mean he was their janitor!"

Lofflin rose again to survey the bridge further. The damage done to it was quite considerable. Pieces of framework could be seen where bulkhead panels had been blasted and burned off, chunks of melted, blackened stuff that looked like plastic, lay on the deck near the doorway. Little pieces of debris lay scattered all over the deck grid. Some looked like pieces of the shattered door. Bennett still had his portascan out and seemed to be checking everything.

"Whatever did that to that door must have been pretty damned powerful, " Lofflin said, brilliantly stating the obvious, and bent down to pick up a piece of debris sticking out under a pile of plastic material. When he tried to pick it up, the entire object, for only a part of it had been sticking out, came away in his hands. When he saw its shape and felt the weight of it, he knew it was a weapon – an energy weapon or laser of some kind! He handled the chunky rifle-length object carefully, as he had no idea how it worked. If it still did. It looked quite dead.

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