The sprite was barely luminous now, fizzling and sputtering on the hearth stone, one wing mauled by the cat’s fangs.
The iron grill over the fireplace was holding against the swarm, but the scout had got through somehow, despite the disruption to its paramagnetic fields.
One wasn’t a threat, but if enough got through to build a portal, the hab would be overrun before dawn. Experience had shown that.
Papa, hefted his iron tipped walking stick: ‘No truck with Satan,’ he hissed, defiant yet fearful to speak more loudly. Mama and the children – like their father dressed in the ragged black and white costumes of the puritan minimalists, nodded their agreement. No one laughed at his slip of the tongue. On the single wooden table, a cracked china plate held the food they would consume tomorrow: four slices of cold white spun-protein, some tubers from their own veg-stack, a handful of reconstituted peas.
A harsh cracking sound from the hab next-door (home to a family of ‘Maronists – fellow refuseniks from a different tradition of austerity) indicated a breach in the commune’s defences. The dense, loud, ‘hooo’ of a portal being assembled echoed through the thin wall.
Little Timos shuddered. He knew the children next door. Pale, interesting Marcian, the older, sneering Poull. Neither of them deserved the influx.
Packages, foodstuffs, consumables, novelties, candy, chocolate, biscuits, sugars, alcohol, presents, pouring through the elsewhere door in the swarm’s heart.
In minutes the narrow confines of the small living space of the poor would be filled with the odious costless largesse of the affluent of the galaxy. Many would suffocate. Injuries from treading on bits of toys, and hyperglycaemic reactions would abound. For months they would be shovelling debris from their hovels.
‘No truck with Santa, ‘ Papa shouted, louder now, and set his back against the inward bulging door.