|Photo by Tim Mossholder|
Anomi was called upon to visit Ogra V, a backwater agricultural planetoid. A woman named Joella Mald and her son Micah were expected for a visit with Joella's sister Selenia, but they never arrived at Selenia's home. Anomi's first task was to locate the homestead of Sperlington Mald, Joella's husband and Micah's father. Anomi's initial face-to-face with Captain Varrigan, the constabulary administrator of Ogra V, did not go particularly well; it was clear that Varrigan was trying to dissuade Anomi from investigating further. He posited that perhaps Joella or Micah had fallen ill and forgotten to notify Selenia.
Anomi returned to orbit to delve into the records on her data slate to get a little additional information. Her first suspicion was that Sperlington Mald had run afoul of some enemies and his family had been abducted, but she uncovered no obvious enmity. However, she did discover that Sperlington and Joella had been taking their son to a variety of blood specialists. Delving deeper into the medical records, she found out that Micah seemed to be suffering from an unknown blood ailment that had so far resisted all treatment. In fact, there was something in his blood that seemed...inhuman.
The time had come to investigate the Mald homestead directly. The homestead consisted of a two-story house and a large barn surrounded by soybean fields. Mald's hauler was docked at a nearby landing port. As Anomi made her way up to the porch of the house, she heard a beeping sound that became more and more rapid; she realized, too late, that she was about to fired upon by a laser beam trap! Fortunately, she was tackled out of the way just in the nick of time by a handsome, clean-cut man raised on Wonder Bread. After extricating themselves from each other, he introduced himself as Deputy Durango. Captain Varrigan had assigned him to watch the house for "intruders," but he had found someone by the back door who had similarly fallen prey to the house's traps.
Anomi and her new lackey Deputy Durango resumed exploring the house. The house was in good order, with nothing notable missing, save for the occupants of the house. However, Anomi did discover Micah's data slate, which he mostly used as drawing pad; the first few images were normal, but then it began to seem like Micah was obsessed with drawing a strange alien creature with elongated limbs, dead black eyes, and a mouth full of fangs. Anomi's attempts to search the databases of known alien beings turned up nothing, but she did find strikingly similar creatures depicted in the woodcuts of one culture's historical treatises on witchcraft--these creatures were regarded as "demons" in the historical record.
However, one item in the house caught Anomi's attention: the door to the basement was not just locked with a conventional keypad; it was also being held shut with a necromantic ward made of black magic and bits of ribcage. What secret was it hiding in the depths of the house of Mald? Tune in next time to find out.