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   Chapter 26 No.26

Demonspawn By Christina Engela Characters: 6065

Updated: 2018-06-30 12:02

'See you back shipside, sir' Bennett had said. Was there a hidden message in that? Was it an invitation? Should he follow? Stupid! He chided himself again. He was tired – as he'd told Bennett, they'd been at this for nearly twelve hours already. It was about time he called it off for the day, and let some reliefs from the next shift take over. He was tired and seeing things that didn't exist between the lines of the man's ordinary respectful conversation with a senior… A young entech crewman broke the silence by arriving, appearing out of the dark, and approached from the direction of the old bridge.

"Commander Billingham sent me to call you, sir." He explained. "He's something to show you on the bridge."

"Which bridge?" He asked. "Ours or this one?"

"This one, sir." The entech clarified.

Lofflin had impressed himself. In keeping up with the younger Specialist on the way back to the bridge, he'd cut his personal best time for the trip down to about twenty-five minutes... Trouble was, his shins ached, and he felt out of breath! He paused a moment at the landing at the top of the stairs, and leaned against the side to pant as quietly as possible before entering.

Some minor improvements had been made to the command center. To begin with, the metal shards that had been sticking out of the door frame earlier had been hammered out of the way so as to clear a wider path. Lofflin wondered if someone had hurt himself and lost his temper to justify the energy spent on the task of clearing it. Still, nothing tore at their clothes as they stepped through.

A couple of portable floodlights had been set up so that the control center was much more brightly lit inside than before. It made such a difference that Lofflin could tell that the walls and much of the equipment had once been ligh

rtascan again, and the going was much faster. The hanging corpse on the wall again loomed ominously on the edge of shadows as he slunk past it, his footsteps echoing eerily and crunching ominously over not gravel as he walked by. Just over half an hour later, he reached the beam-out point. Going down stairs was a lot easier and faster than climbing up them – and anyway, he'd already seen all the local tourist attractions before, more than once.

* * *

I move forward. Down the deserted corridors. I walk silently. I see them.

* * *

It was already well into the night shift and the relief crew was running the ship by the time he stepped off the transmatter platform on his return to the Mordrake. Lofflin checked in at the bridge for a status update – "All systems nominal". Wherever he went, it looked a lot like night time, just darker than usual. It was late, he was tired and he'd already had one hell of a day so far. He put off going to bed, and made his way to Blaine's cabin first. A marine on guard at the corridor junction had made himself comfortable on one of the slender chairs from the mess hall. The man stood quickly to attention on recognizing Lofflin, and allowed him to pass.

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