In the cold darkness of after-hours KEL Port, something isn’t right. Hooligans search for off-worlders to torment. A supervisor tries to hide the evidence of his misdeeds. And down at the loading docks, something strange and dark has found its way into the habitat.
A Shadow of a Presence follows Bradley Radco, a not-so-ordinary cargo handler, and shows a less Baron Cargo-centric (and less human-centric) side of KEL Port. It is the third installment of the Shadow sub-series, following A Shadow Among Shadows and A Shadow of a Rumor.
In his dimly lit booth at the back of Mog’s cantina, Radco fidgeted in his seat. The obtrusive thoughts were back, and stranger than ever. He blinked. Black liquid pooled on a gangway floor, slowly expanding. Ripples marred its surface.
He blinked again and the tunnel-like gangway was gone. He was still seated in his booth in the cantina, hands gripping the table on either side of his empty meal tray. Glass shattered as two patrons at the bar started a noisily unproductive wrestling match. Shouts rose as their compatriots cheered them on.
He really should head back to his living unit. It was late, and the cantina crowd would only get rowdier and more dangerous as the night wore on. Yet something seemed to hold him fixed in his seat– something dark and dreadful and unfinished. It whispered to him with a voice like the scales of some great serpent sliding between the insulated walls of the flier port.
It’s just the heating system, Radco told himself. KEL Port seemed colder than usual tonight, and even the usually-warm cantina felt drafty. Perhaps the distant rushing sound was heat transfer fluid pushing additional warmth through the walls of the aging habitat.
Between blinks he saw the dark liquid again; it had found the joints of the gangway. Seeping into the structure, it oozed toward the loading dock. As the dock and its adjoining warehouse were more elevated than the supply pod parking structure, the liquid had to flow uphill. Liquids weren’t supposed to do that in an environment under the affect of gravity.
Radco lifted his hands off the table, mildly surprised by the twin circles of dampness left by his palms. Over by the bar, the Mog and his bouncers were separating the combatants and ejecting everyone involved. The maddening whispering continued, just a few decibels too low to make out the words.
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