The bay doors shut with a resounding thud behind the exiting ensign. Newly taken on board the Can-i-Klagh, he obviously had much to learn. He would be dealt with later. The moment demanded full concentration, if care could gain them a new source of human souls.
With a deft movement, the commanding officer kicked open a soul containment vessel porthole as he installed himself in his chair, assuming immediate and unmistakable control of the command station. Leaning back and narrowing his eyes, he peered into the portal screen, tapping the fingertips of each hand together. The click of metallic gloves tapping, along with his guttural breath, were the only sounds to be heard in the space, suddenly silent as all other movement ceased. All present stood like monoliths at their stations, hardly daring to breathe until the commander’s mind relaxed its hold on the room.
As suddenly as he had assumed his position at the porthole viewer, he snapped out of his reverie and cast a dark gaze at his motionless crew. The weight of his attention bore obvious discomfort as it rested momentarily on each. Their acquiescence to his command was not rooted in loyalty, he knew, but in a fear he could summon to overtake them as he had need or pleasure. His distaste for their weakness of will was evidenced in his mouth’s snarling lines and twisted, trembling muscles. His need for their unquestioning obedience left no room for mercy, and they knew it. The ensign who had disappointed him moments before would soon be quite sure of it, as well.
“Go out for more,” he growled. “Back to Lyra.”
He watched as their eyes lowered, heads bowed, and necessary activity commenced. None dared whisper what many were thinking — that the return for soul re-supply was quicker than usual, that all their return to human-based outposts were becoming more frequent, and souls more elusive to find in abundance. He thought the same, but had little choice without more power and supplies. He closed his eyes and let his breath out slowly, audibly. His face wore the visage of steely power while inwardly, he sensed how tired he was, tired to the bones.
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