CHAPTER 13 Bad penny


Bad penny

Tahlla ran as fast as she could. The alarm had been set off  less than fifteen minutes ago. She was no longer Tahlla at this point. She was now Zype again. One of the five Ghost Children that  had been given the task of punishing the ones that harbor their sworn enemy, the Jedi.
It wasn’t easy to evade the guards that pursued her but she did. She was one of the most highly trained assassins in the galaxy. She was born to be a killer. Ruthless and resourceful in all ways. She had even altered her physical appearance to accomplish her task. She had been planning her escape for months before she shot Maxis Ty. After the assassination she remained in the palace while the others lead the Feloids on a wild chase thinking they were trying to escape. The Feloids were still trying to figure out what had happened and why.
Everything was going fine until she slipped up. That’s how people usually get caught, one tiny mistake just at the wrong time. If that slave hadn’t been in the kitchen everything would be fine. Bad luck is a thing no one can plan against.
She had made it to the safe house with little trouble. Zype had taken all of her clothes and tied them under a utility transport headed across the province. That should keep any tracking beast busy for a while anyway.
The safe house had been bought by a Feloid that worked for the assassins. They killed him and now the records would be confusing as to who owned the property. They had listed a Feloid merchant that was always away as the next of kin so it would take weeks to find him and straighten out any questions about the house if anyone was to ask.
Zype had to keep low so she would only leave the house for food and supplies. The others would come to pick her up in a few days so all she had to do was sit back and wait.
Zype was sitting on an old crate when she was hit. The shot came right threw the wall and just nicked her shoulder. She fell backwards and slid a few feet from the impact. “What the heck was that!”Zype said aloud nearly in shock. A second round came through the wall and hit her hair shattering the concrete floor.
There was only one gun she new that could do that type of damage. “Baltis you son of a Gundark!” Zype yelled as she scrambled across the floor to the closet.
He had worked for them a long time ago and she knew he was working for the Rebellion now. They had put him on her trail, very smart. She hadn’t planned on that. She opened the closet and crawled in. Baltis fired again and again through the wall shattering everything in the room. Zype lifted the trap door she had cut into the closet weeks before and dropped down into the basement. Even Baltis’s gun couldn’t shoot through that much dirt.
She had to make a run for it. She only had seconds. Baltis would know she had slipped into the basement and would be taking up a new position right now. She didn’t hesitate as she ran and dove through the window, he would cover the door first. That move bought her a second or two. Baltis was already firing again. She was running just a few steps in front of his rounds. Her luck changed suddenly as she saw a speeder with a catgirl nanny and the children she was in charge of. She would have kept firing but she knew Baltis wouldn’t. Zype leapt into the moving vehicle feet first knocking the cat girl out of the drivers seat and onto the street in front of oncoming traffic. She heard the scream and the thud of a body being struck but she didn’t look back. The Feloid children were crying as she slid into the drivers seat and mashed down on the excellerator. Zype knew Baltis wouldn’t shoot as long as she had the children in the vehicle. They were screaming and crying as she wove in and out of traffic. She had to gain distance from him and fast. If she could lose him in the traffic she might have a chance.  When the traffic got to heavy she drove on the walkway, to bad for any one not fast enough to get out of her way. She saw her chance now . As she crossed the bridge she turned hard to the right and went through the guard rail. Zype jumped clear of the speeder as it flipped upside down and slammed into the river below. She swam under water until she reached the bank. She only let her nose come up long enough to get some air and then went under again. Zype never even looked back to see if the children survived. She didn’t care. That’s why she took the children in the first place. She had fully intended to do something to harm them so any one following her would have to stop and help them.
She stayed submerged for an hour slowly working her way along the bank only sticking her nose up to get air when she needed it. After about two hours she had made her way under an old dock. She was able to bring her head out of the water now and look around. She new Baltis would figure she had swam down stream so she had to make sure he wasn’t able to see her under the dock. He had tracked her to the safe house so he was able to use the x-ray sight on his gun to shoot at her through the wall. If he didn’t know where she was the x-ray sight along with all the other specialty gear on that damned rifle wouldn’t matter at all. Zype needed to get farther down river. She grabbed a piece of hose that was hanging down from above and cut a strip of material from her pants. She then tied one end of the hose to a piece of drift wood and covered it with some dead plants washed up on the docks supports. She reached down and picked up some rocks from the bottom and put them in her jacket. Now she was ready to move. Zype took one end of the hose and put it in her mouth. Taking a strip of the material she tied it around her head and to the hose so it wouldn’t slip out. With one end tied to the drift wood and the other tied to her head she slipped under water. The rocks in her jacket kept her submerged as she slowly drifted with the current down stream.

Baltis walked over to Tarin. “She’s alive, I know it. She’ll want to gain distance so she’s going to use the river I’m sure of it.”
“ I think your right. Any idea how she’ll do it. It will be a lot harder if we lose her now. She could get out anywhere along that river and disappear.” Tarin said as she looked at the rescue boats pulling the bodies from the water.
“ Really don’t know how she’ll do it but she will you can bet on that. Zype’s not only smart she’s lucky too.” Baltis said as he fiddled with the sites on his rifle. “ I should have hit her with that first round, nothing to explain it but luck on her part.”

Zype floated down stream the rest of the day and all that night. Her strict training had given her the self control to remain calm and stay submerged for such a long time. She opened her eyes and saw it was just about morning. For the first time in hours she began to move her body by swimming slowly to the river bank. The river was very wide at this part and it took her about a half hour to reach the edge. Still submerged she made her way up to the shore line and carefully lifted her head out of the water. Her luck was holding out. She was outside of the city limits and far out in the country side. There were wooded areas on both sides and it was quiet. That meant no one was living in this area.
She crawled on her belly out of the river and into the forest. She was beginning to feel the effects of hypothermia from being in the cold water for so long. She needed dry clothes and a warm place to hide until she could plan her escape. She was sure the Clan’s forces and Baltis were still searching for her everywhere. At best she had gained some time to rest but they would never give up unless they had a body and were sure it was her. There would be no fooling Baltis, of that she was certain. Zype walked up into the woods just far enough so that she could hear the river but not see it. She had to keep moving to stay warm. It would be harder for her now that she was moving even farther away from the city. There would be less and less of a chance to find the things she would need the farther away she got. Zype had little choice in the matter. She had to buy time and distance from the city and her pursuers.
She walked all day  with no luck. She was beginning to get hungry now and began to feel tired. The adrenaline rush had worn off and now her body needed food and water.
She saw some movement on the bank of the river. A lone Feloid male was climbing back into a boat. He looked like a hunter and was packing his belongings to head home.
Zype quickly started to run back down stream. She began tearing off her clothes and throwing them into the woods as far back as she could. She only had minutes to pull this plan off. After getting about a hundred yards down stream she took two of the strips she had cut from her pants earlier and run down to the bank of the river. She sat down and tied her ankles together and then her wrists. It was tricky but she was able to use her teeth to help hold the strip of cloth. She rocked back on her back and put her feet between her tied wrists and with a little struggling she was able to get her arms behind her. It now looked like someone had tied her up and took her clothes. She quickly hopped down to the river and lay down half in and half out. Almost right after she was done the hunter came around the river bend. She had her back to him as she lay motionless. She heard the boats engine throttle down, he saw her. It grew louder as he brought the boat in for a closer look. She didn’t move. Zype heard the boat crunch gently into the sandy shore and the engine cut off. She heard the hunter get out and walk towards her. He hesitated and then rolled her over. She pretended to be unconscious. He lightly patted her cheeks.
“Are you alright, what happened to you?” he asked.
Zype moaned slightly and fluttered her eye lids as if she was just waking up.
“ Help me please! That woman, she took my clothes and my speeder! She tied me up and threw me in the river! I think she’s that killer they were all talking about.” she was acting frantic now.
“Relax miss, you’re safe now. I’ll take you back to my home and we can call the authorities.” he said.
“Yes, let’s go quickly. I’m so cold and exhausted. I thought I was going to drown but I was able to somehow make it to shore.” Zype began to pretend to cry.
“Let me just cut those bindings and we can get into my boat and head back to my home.” he cut the straps and put his coat around her. They made it back and climbed into his boat.
“Do you live alone? Won’t any body wonder were you are?” she asked.
“I’m all alone, my wife died two years ago.” he said sadly.
“ Really? Well tell her I said thanks for the boat.” Zype grabbed the Feloids knife and stabbed him until he collapsed. She quickly looked around to see if any one had seen. It was all clear. Zype took his hunting hat and tucked her hair up under it. She then stuffed his body under his hunting gear. She took a bucket and quickly washed the blood out of the boat. Zype made a fast check of the boat, plenty of fuel, and all his hunting and camping supplies. She was still lucky at this point. She found a map of the area and noticed a small river branch that lead far into the wilderness. That’s where she would go. She would be able to survive off the land for quite some time with this gear. Zype was very proud of herself by now. Even with no plan she had evaded everyone. She headed the boat towards the river on the map and pushed the throttle forward.
It took her until evening to reach the head of the river. From then on she saw no signs of civilization anywhere. She drove the boat all night as far up the river as she could. The moons were full so as long as she didn’t rush she could see just fine. That morning Zype beached the boat in a small cove littered with fallen trees. They must have been washed down stream during some flash flood. It took her till noon to cover the boat with leaves and branches but she wanted to be sure it could not be seen from the air. She took everything she could carry and made sure she took the most important thing, the hunters rifle. She marked the spot on the map and set off towards the highest point she saw. She kept up her pace easily now that she had food and water from the provisions. It was just about dusk when she noticed something in the valley below. It was not a natural formation but something manufactured by intelligent hands. She worked her way down closer and was surprised to see it was some sort of space craft. It had defiantly crashed here and not so long ago by the looks of it. She found the hatch and opened it. Inside was a woman wearing a black cloak and not much more. She was unconscious and looked almost dead. As she checked the body she saw the woman had two light sabers, she wasn’t a Jedi she was sure of that.
Looking closer she saw an Imperial emblem on the cloak. She was some sort of special officer. The ship was an escape pod from a much larger ship. Zype quickly checked and saw the transmitter was still working. Now what should she do with the woman? If she was injured too badly she would just slow her down. She would try to wake her and at least find out if she could be of any use before she killed her.
Zype went out side and covered the craft with branches as best she could. She then went back inside and took the light sabers from the woman and proceeded to tie her up. Once she was sure the woman was secure she began to give her some water in hopes of reviving her. The woman suddenly opened her eyes. Zype jumped back when she saw the yellow and red glow they had.
“You are definitely not a Jedi.” Zype said.
The woman looked down and saw she was tied up. “ Release my bonds before we talk.” she said with a wave of her hand.
Zype smiled.” Don’t try your mind games on me witch, they won’t work.”
“Who are you and where am I?” the woman asked as she struggled to sit up.
Zype pushed her back with her foot. “Not so fast, I’m the one that asks the questions today. I know you are an Imperial officer. I know you are alone and most likely you didn’t mean to land here. That means you’re in trouble and could use some help am I right so far?”
The woman nodded to Zype with suspicion.
“ In that case I might be able to help you. It so happens that I don’t want to be here either, at least not any more. I am friendly in my disposition towards the Empire at this point so if you think we might be able to work together with out any double cross I’ll cut you loose. Just remember, I’m not easy to kill witch.”
“ The name is Lyda Starkiller, not witch.” said the woman as she extended her wrists so Zype could cut the bonds.
Zype started to cut the bonds but then hesitated.
Lyda raised an eye brow as if to say  “ Make up your mind.”
Zype cut the bonds and waited for Lyda to attack.
Lyda stood up and looked at her reflection in the window. She turned her head back and forth looking for wounds and to see if she looked alright in general. She turned very matter of fact to Zype and held out her hand and looked at the two light sabers in Zype’s belt.
“Not yet, we’re not friends yet.” said Zype.
Lyda motioned with her hand and both light sabers flew into her hands. She switched them on and twirled them a few times then switched them off  and put them on her belt.
“ I wouldn’t know what to do with a friend if I had one.” she said calmly.
Zype folded her arms and leaned against the bulkhead by the door. “Impressive.” she said.
“What should I call you Feloid?” asked Lyda.
“Tahlla, you can call me Tahlla.” Zype said.
“Well Tahlla, did you have a plan for getting off this planet?”
“Yes I do but this is the part  where we need each other. You see I have friends in this area that can pick us up and take us out of Feloid space but I don’t have a transmitter. You however have a transmitter and the locking code to operate it. If you use your code to call my friends we can both leave together and go our own ways.” Zype explained.
“That seems reasonable, it seems we can work together after all.” Lyda smiled.

“ The only clue we have at all is a report of a missing hunter. It seems he was supposed to be back yesterday and never showed up.” the Feloid officer said to Baltis.
“Get me that location for where he was, I’m sure he’s dead and she’ll be using his equipment to flee into the wilderness and lay low.” Baltis said to Tarin. They were sitting inside a patrol shuttle. It was raining there now and they had climbed inside to keep dry. The Clan security officers had done an excellent job following leads and eliminating them. Baltis knew she was running so that’s how he thought. What did she have with her? What would she need to find and how would she get it? All these questions would put them on the right track.

Lyda entered her code into the escape pod’s transmitter. “I’ve done my part now it’s up to you.”
Zype took the microphone from Lyda. “ Tela meita das ceryutti jenjoanna. Fey baska tah. Fey baska gemma.” She said using a long dead language of her people. The natives that spoke the language were long dead and only a few understood it. It was passed done from one person to the next orally. It had never been written down.
Lyda looked at Tahlla. “ Is that it? I was expecting a little more.”
“It is all the information they will need. We should get ready, they will be here within the hour.” Zype said.
“Just one minute.” Lyda said putting her hand on her light saber. “How do I know you won’t kill me when your friends arrive?”
“It’s simple.” Zype leaned close to Lyda. “No one has paid me to do it. I only kill for money. That’s what I do. Besides I think you’re valuable. You came here in an Imperial escape pod. That means you were an officer on an Imperial ship if that emblem on your cloak means anything. I guess they want you back so I’ll make sure you get back. You see there’s little effort in rescuing you and great rewards to be had so you will be my guest until we can give you back to your Imperial friends.” Zype said as she put her pack on and handed Lyda a second pack.
“We need to get to the top of that hill within the next hour. That’s were the pick up will be.”
Lyda looked at Tahlla holding the pack out to her. She took it and slung it on her back. The two women began to climb the hill.

The patrol craft flew at tree top level as fast as it could. Up one hill and down the next. The two pilots were loving this opportunity to show there skills.
“I hope you’re right Tarin. I’m trusting you on this beyond my better judgment.” Baltis said.
“I would have thought you knew by now that I’m always right about these things.” Tarin smiled. The side doors were open and Tarin’s long hair was blowing in the wind. She had taken the door gunners station for a better view.
“There!” Tarin shouted as she pointed into the valley as they came over the ridge. Baltis could barely make out the wreckage of an escape pod on the valley floor. It had been covered by branches and debris. It was a miracle that Tarin had seen it at all. They circled the wreck to see if there was any sign of life. It looked as if no one had been here for quite some time. Baltis looked at Tarin with an air of disappointment.
“She’s here! I know it she’s down there some place!”Tarin was hanging out of the door position as far as she could looking down. As the patrol ship crested the hill the windshield went black.
“Hang on!” the pilot yelled as he pulled back on the controls as hard as he could. Tarin screamed as she tumbled from the craft and fell towards the ground.
A huge black ship had come up from behind the other side of the hill almost at the same time. Tarin coughed as the safety harness  jerked tight leaving her swinging several feet below the patrol ship. The ship spun around trying to get stabilized as Baltis grabbed for Tarin’s harness.
“Pull her in!” he yelled to the gunner. He was just able to get up himself.
The black ship seemed just as surprised as the Feloid ship as it pivoted momentarily around the crest of the hill the two ships were just thirty yards apart as they tried desperately not to collide.
Zype and Lyda ducked for cover as the two ships nearly hit each other. Zype was waving her hand in the air trying to signal the black ship as it spun slowly searching for her.
Tarin had climbed back up the strap by herself and had positioned herself behind the door gun.
“Stop that ship!” she yelled to the other gunner as she squeezed the trigger of her gun. The gun erupted with the tell tale pop pop pop sound of a Feloid gun. The energy bolts were deflected by some sort of energy shielding.
“Damn it!” she yelled as she shot a quick glance at Baltis.
“Hold it steady ! He called to the pilot as he grabbed his custom sniper rifle.
The black ship had thrown down a chain ladder to the two women below. The ground exploded all around them as Tarin began shooting at them. She may not be able to stop the ship but she could still hit them. The two women ran for cover as the fire from above kept them away from the ladder. The black ship swung around hard as it tried to hit the patrol ship with it’s tail.
“ I said hold it steady! “ Baltis yelled as he took aim at the black ship.
Just then a second black ship came from behind the hill with it’s guns blazing away. The first volley from the ship hit the patrol cruiser killing the co pilot and setting the engine on fire.
“Hang on we’re going down!” yelled the pilot. Baltis looked at Tarin. She was yelling and still firing at the two women on the ground.
Lyda had had enough of the patrol ship shooting at her. She drew her light sabers and began to deflect the energy bolts back at the ship.
“You think you can kill me? You think you can kill me?” she screamed with each swing of her light sabers.
Baltis grabbed Tarin and shoved her onto the floor of the ship and lay on top of her. The pilot had gained some distance from the two black ships and set the ship down hard in a thick field of grass.
The first black ship began to move slowly down the hill and into the valley towards the burning patrol ship. It began charging it’s weapons for the final show down. The second ship moved close to the two women and dropped lower so they could climb the chain ladder it had hung down earlier.
Baltis and the survivors climbed out of the wreck of the patrol ship. Tarin drug one of the gunners clear  of the ship and laid him down behind a rock. It was Baltis’s turn now. He took his rifle and dashed across the field drawing attention too himself. He ran too a huge dead tree and dove under it. The black ship took it’s time lining up it’s shot for the final kill. That was it’s mistake.  Baltis had a secret. His rifle was one of a kind made to kill Jedi. The rounds were electrically charged and made of Phrit. There was nothing, not even a light saber, that could stop them. He calmly took aim bracing the big gun between the dead tree roots and fired. The round past right through the shielding of the ship and punctured the hull with a loud clang. He quickly ducked down as the ship exploded throwing debris and fire everywhere.
Lyda had made it too the ladder first and easily climbed up. Zype was still hanging from it when the second ship blew up. One of the fragments had hit her and she fell but grabbed on just in time. The ship turned to leave fearing being hit by whatever hit the other ship. Zype saw Lyda kneeling down to help but just before she reached down she stopped and looked into the valley. They both saw the Reptus assassin running to the top of the hill with his rifle. Lyda looked down at Zype who had her hand reaching up for her to grab.
Lyda saw Baltis taking aim.
“It’s you they’re after.” she said as she rested her hand on her knee and smiled.
“ You witch!” Zype said just before the bullet ripped through her chest. She looked up at Lyda and let go of the ladder falling to her death.
Lyda closed the hatch of the ship just before it sped off across the tree tops and vaulted into space.
Baltis was kneeling over the body of the assassin Zype as Tarin reached the spot.
“Is that the one? Is that our assassin, the one that shot Maxis?” Tarin asked.
“Yeah, that’s her.” Baltis said as he closed her eyes.
“How can you be so sure, I mean with the alterations and everything?” Tarin wanted to be sure.
“I trained her how to shoot.” Baltis said as he walked down the hill towards the patrol ship and the crew.
Tarin looked down at the body on the ground. She was like her, a killer. Now she was dead and alone laying in the dirt. Tarin wondered if anyone cared about this woman laying here in front of her. One day it would be herself laying dead in a field or a alley on some distant world. There was no one that would care that she was dead.
Tarin turned and walked down the hill behind Baltis.

If you have enjoyed these stories please check out my first all original book series at The title is Beyond the Crystal Heaven.

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Last Updated (Tuesday, 10 September 2013 01:47)