A bubble of air
Timtam saw the massive ship firing at the shuttles. She felt sick. “They’re killing them !” she yelled panic stricken.
Pep looked frantically at the controls of the ship trying to think of someway to help. She looked back and saw Timtam staring at her in horror. Pep did the only thing she could think of.
Timtam saw Pep give her a little smile as tears filled her eyes. Timtam knew what she was going to do and nodded back letting Pep know she agreed.
The ship suddenly flew past the patrol ship and straight for the Imperial Star Destroyer. Pep knew they wouldn’t have their shields up because they would want to use all their power on the guns. They wouldn’t see this ship as a significant threat.
The patrol ship immediately began pursuit and opened fire. Ceecee had made sure there was extra shielding on the rear of the ship so the patrol ships guns weren’t doing much damage.
Timtam had made her way down out of the turret and next to Pep’s side. They saw the bridge of the Imperial ship fill the view port with lightening speed and they held hands.
“What are you doing ?” Matt yelled. “We have to go back !” he was like a crazy man. It took four troopers to hold him down.
“It’s over Matt, their gone !” Mykala said trying to get him under control.
“Maybe they made it to the escape pod !” he said.
“I didn’t put one in.” Ceecee said with tears streaming down her face. “They were supposed to run away !”
“Pep !” Matt cried. He didn’t care, he was devastated.
“What happened ? What hit that ship ?” Bronski and Tarin had ran to the flight deck to ask Granic what had happened.
“It was Pep and Timtam.” he growled.
“ Pep and Timtam ?” Tarin didn’t understand.
“They rammed the bridge of that ship. They saved us all.” Granic thought of the the little pink headed cat girl he had just started to like.
“Oh no, those poor girls.” Tarin said putting her hand to her mouth.
“Did you get a good look ? Was there a chance they survived ?” Bronski said grabbing Granic’s shoulder.
“They’re dead, no one could have lived through that impact !” Granic answered as he pulled Bronski’s hand off of him.
Ragg had come up to find out what had happened. “What’s up?” Is everyone okay?” he asked.
“It was Pep and Timtam, they crashed into the Imperial ship. They saved us.” Tarin said holding back her tears.
“What are we going to do ?” Ragg asked.
“We’re going to finish the mission that’s what we’re going to do ! Now get back to those prisoners and keep an eye on them.” Bronski snapped.
The flight back was a long sad journey. They had captured the Imperial technicians they needed to give them the information about the star map they had. The cost was very high, Pep and Timtam were gone. They would be remembered as heroes and friends. Matt was ruined, he sat and wept openly. His connection with Pep was one of true love.
The two battered ships landed at the secret base late at night. There was no welcome home party for this trip.
Ceecee looked out of the cockpit window and saw the empty space where the ship that Pep and Timtam flew in had sat just before they left. She began to cry. Was there anything that she could have done to have kept this from happening? The cockpit she had used for the ship was from a military ship and heavily armored and re enforced to take a lot of punishment. All they had to do was run away. She wasn’t told they might have to fight but she put the gun turret in anyway. If she hadn’t maybe they wouldn’t have tried to fight. She just wanted them to be able to defend themselves.
Adda had come to the base to meet them. She had been told what had happened. It was her mission, it was her responsibility. She stepped out onto the hangar floor once the shuttles had shut off their engines. She could see Ceecee still sitting in the cockpit through the window. She was crying.
Mykala stepped out of Ceecee’s ship followed by Matt. He looked awful. He looked like he had aged ten years in a matter of hours. Two of the Rebel troopers had to help him off the ship. Adda went to his side and shouldered his one arm. Matt surprised her by throwing his other arm around her and crying.
Adda looked at Mykala. Mykala looked at Matt and then at Adda and shook her head. He was a wreck. It was doubtful if he would ever recover from this.
The beat up old ship had drifted into position two days ago. They had been sitting there the whole time running only on batteries. What they were doing was very dangerous but the risk was well worth it. Like a scavenger bird waiting it’s turn for a meal they waited. The explosion of the Imperial base and the total destruction of the star destroyer had been reported almost immediately. Word about something like this spreads quickly.
Smaller Imperial ships had gone over most of the larger parts for salvage but they couldn’t get everything. A star destroyer is a huge piece of technology and there are always some good parts left over.
The crew of the scavenger ship watched patiently as the last Imperial ship made the jump to hyper space.
“Let’s go boys.” the ship’s captain said. He slapped his helmsman on the shoulder and rubbed his hands together. “Wee Hoo, they missed it. I told you that chunk of the bridge was too far away to be detected on their sensors.”
They had spotted a piece of the bridge that compared to the other wreckage was tiny, only about one hundred yards long. It would have thousands of tons of metal for scrapping alone. It was a small fortune to this crew.
They moved closer and sent out a boarding party to see if there was anything they should take off the ship immediately. Almost at once they found the cause for the damage to this part of the bridge.
Pep slowly opened her eyes. She was floating in what she perceived as a heavy mist. She could hear herself breathing as if through a tube. She could see lights and things moving in the mist just ahead of her. Her thoughts were foggy and muddled. She felt as if she was in a dream. Pep tried to move her arms and legs but when she did they wouldn’t cooperate. She saw two of the shapes getting closer. They stopped just a few feet away from her. They seemed to be roughly humanoid in shape and size. They were wearing all white clothing of some sort.
Pep suddenly thought about Timtam. She tried to look to her left or to her right but it was as if her head was locked in place looking forward. A third shape came close to the others. It was taller and wider. It wore light green clothing that covered all of it but were the head should be. The head leaned in closer. Pep could see it now. It was horrible. Burned and scared flesh covered the whole of it. There was only a gaping hole were the nose should be. The eyes were black and chrome like a droid would have. She tried to scream and run but she was trapped in the mist with that apparition of terror looming just inches from her face. The figure turned and in a muffled voice seemed to give some instructions too the white clothed figures. Pep began to relax and feel sleepy. Her panic seemed to fade away as she slipped into a deep sleep.
“It’s been five days and I’m very worried about Matt.” Adda said. Kang and Lore had returned from a resupply trip. They hadn’t known about what had happened until three days ago.
“ It’s not surprising, he loved Pep. He was also the one responsible for getting her trained to help us, he pushed to make her a full member of the group.” Kang said.
“I don’t think he’ll ever be the same. I think we lost him too that day.” Adda said.
Kang sat down on the stone bench in the open area. He motioned for Adda to sit next to him.
“We have to give him time and keep him busy. He’ll need something to do to occupy his time until he can adjust to her being gone.” Kang said.
“My Lady, are you sure you want to do this? It may be seen as being… overly fond of their type.” Lionette’s chief of affairs asked.
Lionette had remembered the talk with Verasia about how to phrase things to make them seem as though they meant something else. “ The monument is meant to acknowledge the sacrifices of all Feloids that have died in this cause, it is a Feloid memorial, not a Free born or slave monument. It will be placed in this Palace as a reminder to all who serve this Clan that all sacrifices are recognized.” she said in a matter of fact tone.
“As you wish My Lady.” he said as he bowed and left the room.
Neeka had been listening from the next room. She was stunned by what she was hearing. She stepped into the meeting area where Lionette had just finished speaking with her chief of affairs. Lionette was sitting at her desk writing.
“Mistress? May I have a word with you?” Neeka asked.
Lionette looked up and smiled. “Of course Neeka, what can I do for you?”
“ I think he was right. I think people will see this monument as…an insult to Free borns. To have your cousin Araya’s name next to Pep and Timtam’s on this monument may be seen as less than tasteful.” Neeka said.
“Nonsense, both of those girls were free were they not? They were free people as you are and under our laws equals. There should be no distinction made if they were Royal Free born or slaves granted their freedom.” Lionette was careful to speak in a calm reassuring tone. She wanted to portray her decision as one of common sense and not a leaning towards equality.
Timtam could see light through her closed eyelids. It didn’t make sense she thought. How could she see anything if she were dead. She was drifting in and out of consciousness. She wasn’t sure what was going on or were she was. Occasionally she thought she heard talking and even screams of agony but nothing was right with her thoughts at all. She tried to move her hands and legs but she couldn’t tell if she did or not. She couldn’t open her eyes, she didn’t have control over her body at all. She must be dead, it was like the legends she had been told. She tried to speak. She felt her mouth open and heard herself mumbling. She wanted to know if Pep and her sacrifice had worked. Was her death worth it?
Ceecee sat up suddenly wiping her eyes and gave an astonished laugh. She had to tell somebody. She stumbled still half asleep to the door of her room and opened it. The hallway lights blinded her for a second as she made her way out of the room. The closest persons room was Tarin’s.
“Tarin ! Wake up. Wake up.” she said pounding on the door. She realized she was still in her underwear and there were several Rebel troopers standing staring at her. She didn’t care, she kept pounding on the door.
The door finally flung open. “What? What is it?” she barked angrily.
Ceecee grabbed Tarin’s wrist. “We have to go! We have to tell him!” she said dragging her out of the room.
“Stop Ceecee! What’s going on?” Tarin resisted.
“We have to tell Matt she’s alive, Pep and Timtam, they’re alive!” she said rubbing her eyes.
Tarin somehow knew that Ceecee’s sister had visited her in her dreams again, she had seen it before.
“Let’s go.”Tarin said. The two women ran down the hallway to the elevator. They went inside and pushed the button to go to the next level up.
“Where are they?” Tarin asked frantically.
“I don’t know.” Ceecee answered.
“How do you know they’re alive?” Tarin asked.
“A dream, Jaycee told me…they need help.” Ceecee acted like she just remembered the last part.
The elevator door opened and they ran out shoving a Rebel trooper out of the way. They continued down the hall until they reached Matt’s room. Tarin tried the door, it was open. They went in and found Matt laying on the bed.
“Matt, Pep’s alive! I had a dream, Jaycee told me!” Ceecee said. She had fallen at Matt’s feet and was crying.
Matt sat up. He looked at Tarin wondering what was going on.
“Jaycee came to her in a dream, she told her!”
Matt wasn’t sure what was going on. “What are you trying to tell me?”
Ceecee was a little calmer now. “I had a visit from my sister in a dream again. She told me Pep and Timtam are alive but they are not safe. That’s all she told me. I know you want to know more but the important thing is they are alive.” Ceecee said.
“Shes alive?” Matt said as tears streamed down his face. “Where is she Ceecee? Where?” Matt grabbed Ceecee roughly and shook her. He seemed like a different person.
“Matt calm down, let her go!” Tarin said as she pried Matt off of Ceecee.
Matt got a hold of himself. “I’m…I’m sorry.” Matt said as he realized what he was doing.
“It’s okay Matt. We need to tell the others right now. We’ll need there help to find them.” Ceecee said getting up.
Pep slowly began to wake up. She was in a dark room in a space craft or space station somewhere. There was a single light hanging from the ceiling that flickered as if it was ready to burn out at any moment. She realized she was nude and fastened to a metal table. Her arms were pulled tightly above her head with her wrists clamped together and bolted to the table. Her ankles were pulled down and fastened the same way. She looked around wildly to see if any one was in the room. Pep heard someone sobbing in the corner. It was too dark to see any more than a shape that looked like someone sitting in a chair.
She pulled and tugged at the clamps on her wrists in an effort to see if she could slip out of them but with no luck. She began to feel panicked and could feel her heart racing as her breathing increased in speed.
“You in the corner, can you help me?” Pep whispered.
The person sniffed and choked back her tears. “Pep, it’s me Timtam. We’re in big trouble. He said he was going to torture us until we told him about the attack.” she said between sobs.
“Who said it? Who was it Timtam?” Pep asked.
“He had something wrong with him. His face was gone and his body was big and twisted.” she answered.
“Who is he working for?” Pep asked.
“He didn’t say but I think it was the Empire.” she replied.
Pep’s heart sank. They would be made to talk now. Nobody could stand up to their interrogators.
The door opened up with an ominous groan. The doorway was filled with the silhouette of a huge misshapen man. He wore a light green colored lab coat that was covered in stains. As he stepped in the room he closed the door behind him. As he walked up to the table Pep was fastened to . She could see his horrible face. It had been burned and scared beyond recognition. She wasn’t even able to tell what race he was. She tried to turn away from his ugliness but he leaned over and put his face close to hers.
“Don’t you like my pretty face?” he laughed. The creature ran his equally twisted hands up and down her naked body as he spoke.
“My name is Professor Gangler and I am here to make you talk. I am no stranger to pain as you
can see. I know what real pain is. It is not the tearing or burning of delicate flesh like on your beautiful body. No indeed. It is having a fine young body and pretty face like yours and then loosing them. You have not had to live that way but in your mind you agree. You probably have young men looking at you all the time. Sometimes it even makes you angry but you know it would be worse if they turned away from your face. If they couldn’t stand the sight of you. That is pain my dear. To be beautiful and then to loose it without hope of regaining it. You see I was once a handsome young man at one time. A lab experiment caused my body to be horribly disfigured. I was sent away and given this job. A job I have come to enjoy over the years. I have learned to enjoy making others into monsters like myself but then I realized the real pain was in the mind of my victims. It was the fear of loosing their precious beauty that caused them to tell me what I want to know.” he said. He turned and walked over to Timtam. He drug the chair she was strapped to into the light were Pep could see her. He took his contorted hand and grabbed her by the hair and pulled her head back.
“This is a friend of yours isn’t it?” he asked.
“They told me you were found in the wreckage of an Imperial ship that had been destroyed by Rebels. It was a miracle you survived. The cockpit of your ship had been crushed so badly in the impact that it became a tiny bubble of air. It became your life pod and kept your broken bodies alive until you were found by a wrecking ship. Once they realized who you were the turned you over to the Empire for a fat reward. It was me who put you in the Bacta tanks and nursed you back to perfect health. I wanted you in shape for what I had planned.” he said.
He reached up and pulled down some wires from a panel in the ceiling. Each one had a long needle at the end.
“I am in no great hurry so I will spend today showing you that I know my business.”
He took one of the wires and carefully slid it into Timtam’s shoulder. She cried out in pain but he just held her tight until it was in deep enough. He then took a second one and stuck it in her leg on the opposite side.
“Leave her alone! “Pep screamed. “she doesn’t know anything!”
He just looked at Pep for a moment. She had no idea what he was thinking because he had no facial features to give away his thoughts.
He repeated the same procedure on Pep just as carefully as on Timtam.
“Today is just an exercise to show you that there is no hope. You will not be disfigured in any way but your desire not to cooperate with me will be destroyed.
I am going to give both of you a slight charge of electricity. I will do this over and over increasing the time of the charge until one of you screams. I will then give the one who kept quiet a charge twice as strong as the one that made the the other one scream. You see, I want you to turn on each other.” he said calmly. The first charge made both women tense up and grit their teeth together at the same time. He increased the charge three times without either one screaming.
The fourth charge was too much for Timtam and she screamed. The current was turned off and Timtam hung her head crying.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” she wept.
Pep looked at Gangler wide eyed as he threw the switch again. Pep bucked wildly in her restraints as the Professor gave out an evil laugh.
“We need to find out where they are!” Ceecee shouted. Everybody had been told about the dream and had assembled in the main meeting area.
“We know that. We all want them back but we need a plan to figure out where they are.” Bronski added.
Lore stood up and asked for a moment of silence.
“ We need to do this with a sense of calm my friends. We must use our minds and first come up with a way they could have survived the crash. Once we have determined that we should be able to figure out what happened next. Everybody turned to Ceecee.
“Is there anyway that the ship could have survived the impact?” Lore asked Ceecee.
“No…they hit to hard…maybe? If they hit a part of the bridge, like a window, and smashed through several bulkheads the cockpit may have survived. I added extra inertia dampeners to compensate for the speed. They may have stabilized the interior enough to save them.” Ceecee said.
“Okay now there is a chance. After the ship was destroyed by the explosion from the base then what would the Empire do?” Lore asked.
“Salvage. They would pick up anything that could be salvaged and take it to a reconstruction yard.” Matt said beginning to believe there was a real chance all this was true.
“Good, now we have something to start with. Where is the closest repair yard in that area?” Lore asked.
“Hold on a minute, how do we know they got picked up at all? Maybe they are stuck in a piece of wreckage floating around out there someplace.” Kllair said.
“That’s a good point. We should split up and track down every possible lead we can think of. We can’t leave anyone behind if there is the slightest chance of saving them.” Tarin said.
“If we think that a salvage team picked them up then they would be taken to a salvage yard, probably the closest one.” Lore said.
“Alright, we should break up into groups. Some will check out the closest Imperial repair yard. Some will check out any salvage yards nearby. Remember, they will be selling Imperial military parts so the salvage yards will be criminal ones for sure.” Adda said taking charge.
“I’d still think there’s a chance they never got picked up at all. I’d like to take my crew and check the area to see if they’re still out there somewhere.” Kllair said.
“That sounds like a good idea. When can you start?” Adda asked.
“We can be ready in a half an hour.” Kllair said.
“Okay Kllair, good luck and keep in contact with us.” Adda said.
Kllair, Elith, Novuh and the twins all got up and left. They had their own ship and also their own way of doing things. Adda was relieved to let Kllair and her crew work on their own.
Pep lay on the cold metal floor naked. She was sore all over. She had been taken to a holding cell by the Professor’s droids. The cell was all metal and dark. The only light came in through the door window.
Pep had curled up into a fetal position to try and keep warm. The door opened and the droids threw Timtam in the cell with her. Timtam scrambled to the corner and crouched there weeping. She felt awful that she had been the one that broke first. Everything that happened to Pep after that was her fault. She had been weak and Pep had paid the price for that weakness.
“I…I’m sorry Pep…I’m so sorry I got you hurt.” Timtam wept.
Pep put out her hand to Timtam.
Timtam hesitated at first but then reached out and put her hand in Pep’s.
Pep grabbed hard and pulled her close.
“It was him, all of it was him…It’s not your fault Timtam. It’s all his fault. Never forget that.”
Timtam curled up behind Pep and held her close to help keep her warm.
“Is he going to kill us?” Timtam asked.
“Yes, but it will take a long time for him to do it.” Pep replied.
“That’s what I was afraid of.” Timtam said.
“It’s our only chance Timtam. Everyday we’re alive is one more day we have a chance to escape.” Pep said.
“How do we do that?” Timtam asked.
“I’ve been with his kind before. If he wants you to scream, then you scream as loud as you can. If he wants you to beg then you beg harder than you have ever begged before. The more he enjoys watching you suffer the longer he will keep you alive. The greater the chance he will drop his guard. We must give him whatever he wants.” Pep said.
“What if he wants to know about our friends?” Timtam whispered.
“He won’t. You’re just a stupid pink head slave. He won’t think you know anything or that you have friends.” Pep whispered back.
“Now go back to the corner, I want him to think I’m mad at you.” Pep said letting go of her hand.
Timtam crawled back to the corner. She was lucky to have Pep with her. She started to think they might have a chance of surviving this ordeal.
Kllair sat in her cabin alone. She had an idea about who had Timtam and Pep. She knew a guy that worked as a wrecker in this quadrant. His name was Gaemer Trillion. Kllair had killed his wife years earlier on a contract that he put out on her. He said his wife had been running around on him but Kllair had her doubts. In the long run the law blamed him and they were coming to arrest Gaemer but he was able to escape and start a new life millions of miles away as a wrecker. After that job Kllair started her own crew and left also. It had been years since she had seen him but she had kept track of him just in case she needed a favor.
It wouldn’t be hard to find him. She knew him too well. Kllair took her ship and crew to the center of the quadrant he worked in and put out a fake distress signal. She knew the first ship there wouldn’t be a rescue ship it would be a wrecker. Gaemer would most likely force the survivors into an escape pod and claim the whole ship as salvage.
If he had been the one to find Pep and Timtam and they were alive he would have gotten rid of them by claiming a reward from the Empire or selling them to slavers, whichever would make him the most money.
It wasn’t long before they picked up a ship dropping out of hyper space. It was bigger than Kllair’s ship, covered in rust and dirt. It was definitely a wrecker by the wear and tear it showed.
“This is the Wayward Fortune hailing the disabled ship, can we be of service?” Kllair knew the voice to be Gaemer’s.
Kllair needed to have Gaemer dock his ship to hers in order for her plan to work.
She nodded to Elith to respond to the transmission.
Elith was young, about eighteen and very beautiful. She was a Zeltron, a race dedicated to physical pleasure and happiness. They gave off strong pheromones that made most humanoids mad with desire for them. When Elith wanted to she could be quiet persuasive.
“Hello…I need help. The engines won’t start for some reason and we don’t have an astrodroid on board. It’s just me and my two sisters here alone, can you help us?” Elith said. She could have melted the armor off of a battle dreadnaught with her sensuality. She topped off the effect by wearing only a wispy silken nighty that hung loosely from one shoulder.
There was a moment of silence from the Wayward Fortune. “ We will be happy to help you. I couldn’t help noticing the color of your face…are you a Zeltron by chance?” the male voice asked.
“I think you should come over and check to see if I’m the same color all over, then you can see for yourself.” Elith giggled playfully.
“We’re extending the docking tube now.” the male voice said eagerly.
Elith turned off the comm-link. “Works every time.” she said smiling at Kllair.
Kllair looked at the twins, Nya and Vyra. “Bring them to me…alive. I need to talk to the one called Gaemer. I don’t care if you hurt him but don’t kill him. Just make he understands that we aren’t playing games. He has information we need and we’re on the clock.”
The twins ran down the hall to take care of their new guests.
“Why are you being so hard on these guys?” Novuh asked.
“They came here to steal this ship and sell or kill everyone aboard. These guys are killers Novuh. If we make one mistake with them we’ll all have a slave collar on before dinner time.” Kllair said.
If you have enjoyed these stories please check out my first all original book series at Amazon.com. The title is Beyond the Crystal Heaven.
Once again thank you for your support.
Last Updated (Tuesday, 10 September 2013 02:01)