Ion Nymphs

Ion nymphs. How did they get all the way out here? We were light years from the closest star of any sort. There weren’t any active nebulae that I was aware of. Nothing charted, anyway. Dark matter cluster, maybe?

“Is there any history of ion nymphs around dark matter, Lieutenant?” I asked. I could have pulled up the computer console, but asking our resident expert-on-everything was usually faster.

“None at all, sir,” Blacklily replied. “Occasional spirits of various sorts in dense formations, but ion nymphs stick to the bright stuff.”

“So what are they doing all the way out here then?” I asked the room at large. There were half a dozen other scientists of various makes and models on duty at the moment. Unfortunately our spiritualist was on leave back on the station.

“They’ve been known to follow ship trails, right?” Ensign Amaya asked. She spun around in her chair. “Maybe they hitched a ride from Saurus?”

“That’s from the early days, pup,” Blacklily replied. “We’d have to be leaking pretty badly to attract their attention now. Engines are much better insulated.”

“What… wh-what if it’s not us?” Ensign Carmine stammered. He was staring intently at the sensor array screen. That got my attention.

“There’s nobody else out here,” I said, my voice trailing some uncertainty. “Right?”

Carmine continued staring at his numbers and lights. This was not reassuring.