“Ghosts,” Leroy stammered.
“You believe in that?” Jillian cocked an eyebrow as she pulled blonde hair off her shoulders and into a bun under her Colonial Security Force cap.
“Saw one back on Earth. I’m surprised you never ran into one on that farm you grew up on.” Leroy gave his partner a grin and pulled a small scanner from his pack. “Morin and Keller said this will tell us what they really are, but if you ask me we’ll just learn what ghosts are made of.”
“I never took you for the superstitious type Leroy,” voiced Ileeta, copilot of the macrobot. She and her mate Ren operated a child sized silver robot, their faces appeared as glowing displays, one in each eye. She raised a slim silver hand and patted his shoulder. “The idea of conscious existence after a physical death and dis-corporation is amusing, but I’d hardly expect a seasoned explorer like you to entertain the notion.”
“You little Rhootvi must not have ghosts because you are too small for them,” Leroy chuckled. He had never been one to pick on the little guy, but the Rhootvi were microscopic, not undergrown. Besides, he felt embarrassed in front of Jillian.
“I guess I’m a bit creeped out too,” Jillian said in Leroy’s ear, too silently for the others to hear.
“Your sensory organs must be better attuned to the differences of these beings” Bloom said and stroked the air near her root cavity, then opened her dart toothed mouth slightly. A black silhouette flashed at her contact, the humanoid figure blurred into electric purple motion, and disappeared. “They seem to have a similar apprehension to our form of life.”
“You read its mind?” Jillian asked, all too familiar with the carnivorous plant’s telepathic touch.
Leroy groaned, he sprawled on the ground, limbs still by his sides. Jillian knelt and helped the man to a seated position.
“I think that thing just ran right through me.”
“Did that scanner take any readings?” Jillian leaned over her partner, and put a hand over Leroy’s examining the display. “What does this indicate?” She asked; her face only inches from Leroy’s.
“I…uhh…” he stammered, lost in her eyes.
The cool silver hand of the macrobot closed around the device and pulled it closed to the visages of Ren and Ileeta. “Incredible!” They exclaimed in unison.
“You’ve seen that before?” Jillian asked.
“Dark matter and dark energy were only theoretical concepts for our people. I never thought to see evidence of their existence,” Ren said.
“The small amount of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen the scanner detected must be the part of that being we are able to observe,” Ileeta said.
Bloom had maneuvered around Leroy, Jillian, and the macrobot during their discussion. Its viney arms wrapped around what looked like dense shadow, its leaves rolled into straws. The others could feel her telepathic message of comfort and assurance directed at the figure in its embrace. “This one is a scared youth.”
Suddenly, Jillian and the macrobot crashed to the ground, massive black figures loomed over them. Leroy jumped to their defense tackling the larger figure around the waist. His momentum pulling the shadow back a few paces before Leroy landed in a tumble, having passed through the creature. Purple bolts leaped from both looming silhouettes and Leroy writhed in pain as they connected.
The small shadow leapt from Bloom’s embrace, encircling the larger pair. The assault ceased, Leroy moaned and slumped onto the ground. Bloom, Jillian, and the macrobot surrounded their colleague. In the confusion, the shadowy child and its parents disappeared into the surrounding brush.
Leroy roused; his head cradled in Jillian’s arms. “I guess I’m the first person to see a ghost on two worlds” he smirked, and then he noticed Jillian and color flushed his complexion.