“We call them space demons.”
That caught the young sergeant’s attention. She shifted her stance and her fingers danced near her hip, navigating a private hologram. Taking notes.
Yramus continued. “No religious connotation. It just gets the idea across.” He inhaled deeply on a zenleaf cigarette. The smoke was thick and sweet like burnt sugar. Tears streaked from his eyes.
“You need a minute?” asked the sergeant.
Yramus waved her off. “It’s the cigarette. Like chopping an onion.” He looked at it between his fingers, smiled.” Helps me relax. He offered her a drag. She hesitated, considering, and shook her head.
“So what do they look like?”
He shrugged. “Oh, they have many forms. Demon really is the best description. You’d know one if you saw it. Whatever you’re picturing now, that’s how they look.”
Her fingers kept dancing in a flurry, but her expression remained stoic. Hard to read, this one. Maybe she could actually make something happen.
“Any idea where they come from? What they want?”
“I can’t speculate on their intentions any better than you. The merchants down at the spaceport—” Yramus filled his lungs with smoke, holding it in while he spoke. “—they say they’ve seen their ships. Coming out of black holes. Fissures, on the surface.” He exhaled. “Just spacefarers telling stories though. I’m sure you’ve some of your own.”
The sergeant frowned. Didn’t like that last comment.
“Anything else you’d like to add? I have to tell you, there’s not a lot to go off of here.”
Yramus nodded. “It’s like this: the rim worlds are falling. Whole colonies are disappearing without a trace. And when all the rim worlds are empty, the space demons will start on the core worlds. Simple as that. So you can go back to Earth and write reports until it’s too late, or you can stick around here for a little while and see for yourself. What do you say?”
Her fingers finally stilled. She stood quietly for a moment, contemplating, biting on her lip just a little. “I don’t say anything, yet. Take me down to the port. I want to talk to some of these merchants.”