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The Crimson Heart part 4 by Cameron Olson
SUMMARY: Part 4 of a novella detailing one mission undertaken by Marsden Security.
::Private Thoughts of a Character::
Teska watched the viewscreen showing the hole in the nebula as the FireDrake Redeemed's sensors scanned the wreckage and displayed their findings. Glancing at the monitors displaying the outside she saw a few wisps of nebula gasses clinging to the shields. She looked back to the sensor displays and wondered at the harmless picture they painted. Before their arrival the probe had relayed the undeniable telltales of a pack of HE's circling some of the wreckage, but now there was no sign of them.
"They know we're here," Teska said out loud and her executive officer looked at her.
"You sure, Skipper?" Commander Robert Tammerlane asked her and she nodded.
"Check the probe data to see if it's our sensors, but I know I'm right," Teska said.
Commander Tammerlane pursed his lips and shook his head. "I'm sure you're right. After all, these are HE's we're dealing with. Uncanny things."
::Demons,:: Teska thought to herself, giving the hyperspace entities their proper title. A cold shiver ran down her spine as she glanced at the monitors displaying the murky wreckage field again and she shifted uncomfortably in her vacuum armor. It was worse than being in a horror movie. Whatever was out there couldn't be seen and it knew she and her crew were there. They knew she and her crew were there. She remembered the computers had identified seven of the things from the probe data.
::Who comesss here?:: a harsh voice whispered on the edges of Teska's mind. ::Who daresss approach?::
Right behind the words Teska felt a horrifying touch probing her awareness. "Jesus, guard my heart!" she cried out and it was gone. She looked around the bridge sheepishly but no one was looking at her strangely. She saw one of her ensigns clutching a cross hanging around his neck and whispering a prayer under his breath. She bowed her own head and said a longer prayer. "Father, please protect us from this evil and see us safely through our task," she whispered. Her body stopped shivering as peace spread over her and she turned to her helmsman. "Ensign Cantrell, set course for the coordinates Captain Marsden gave us and go to full. We'll pick the probe up on the way out."
The ensign nodded and Teska saw the heading of her ship shift a moment later. The Firedrake's acceleration went to maximum and Teska ordered another sensor sweep, looking for the object the demon's had been circling when first detected. A minute later they had the location of the chunk of station debris that the probe had picked up earlier. A surface scan identified it as a modular station component like those used in thousands of stations around the galaxy. The lack of any torn edges showed that it had been jettisoned before the final explosion. Sensors also picked up a minimal power signature still coming from the structure, along with a faint artificial gravity field, but no hyperspace stabilizer field.