WHILE WAITING FOR A RIDE
The roar of the ships engines was deafening as it passed over head. The star port was not very crowded this time of night but even without all the other people it was still hot and uncomfortable . The heat was always there no matter who you were or how much money you had. At least during the night time there was a breeze. Matt and Pep had received a message to meet the others at the secret base in Feloid space. They were always safe there. The Emperor’s reach hadn’t grown that long yet. When his forces finally did try to take over the price would be unimaginable. The Feloids were a warrior culture that placed their warriors code above all else. They would all die fighting before submitting to the will of a human.
Matt as usual had all his belongings in his well worn kit bag slung over his shoulder. Pep had let Matt buy her a new wardrobe. She finally excepted her freedom from slavery and her and Matt had spent the last few days celebrating. She hadn’t really wanted anything but she new how happy and proud Matt was to blow his money on her. It was a simple thing to do since it made him feel good.
It was little things that made Pep feel happy like how Matt began to give her her own money to do with whatever she wanted. Matt, to his great credit gave her an equal share of his last pay off. It was literally thousands of credits. They had sold the space craft they had captured and after expenses the shares were quite substantial. At first she wouldn’t take it but Matt threw her share in the trash and walked away. He wasn’t mad but he was making the point that she had earned it just as much as anyone else in the team. If she didn’t want it the money could not be redistributed amongst the team. He explained that it would cause problems if she didn’t take it. After all she was free and so she had to pay her own way now.
She was embarrassed to admit the main reason she didn’t want it was she had never been taught any mathematics and didn’t even know how to count higher then thirty. Matt and her had spent a whole day with him teaching her mathematics. It was very frustrating at first but after a rocky start she was able to grasp the basics. Matt had taken her to a store and then had her buy some simple youngling learning books that had practice sums and equations. He then bought a large book, the kind an accountant uses. He pulled out all the pages and stuffed Pep’s new books inside so no one would know she had youngling books to learn from. “It isn’t any ones business what type of books you have.” knowing people would laugh at her if they saw what kind of books she was learning from. This was the kind of thing that Pep truly loved. Matt always took up for her and never held her to blame for her past. To him it was something that was done to her not something she chose to do.
Pep was pulling a small cart she had bought stuffed with her new wardrobe and gifts she had purchased for the rest of the team. She was almost childlike in some ways. There she was pulling a wagon full of all kinds of odd gifts around like a little kid and this same girl had told stories about the things she had done in her past that made Buck Bronski blush.
Pep stopped and checked the cart one last time to make sure she hadn’t forgotten any of her gifts for anyone. She had a set of lamps she bought for Tarin. They each had a figure of a long lean artistic sculpture of a woman that made Pep think of Tarin sort of. For Bronski she had two boxes of his favorite booze. Vee was getting a pair of platform boots. The rest was a strange assortment of things that Pep thought they would like or use. She had never had money to buy any gifts for anyone before so a few wound up being some what strange.
The two walked up to one of the small buildings on the field. It was very late at night and this part of the landing field was generally considered a lower class area. The over head lighting was making a buzzing sound as if it was about to overload and explode. There was nothing of high quality here. There was only one person working in the building a fat greasy middle aged man with only one arm. The man looked drunk and had a huge cigar in his mouth. He looked at Matt with complete disinterest but stood up straight when he noticed Pep.
“Quite a load yer hauling there.” he smiled a gap toothed smile at Pep.
Pep smiled back “It’s presents for my friends, I just bought them.”
Matt shot the man an angry glance afraid that he might comment on the odd assortment in the wagon and make Pep feel stupid.
“I hope I didn’t say anything wrong friend.” he said noticing Matt’s expression. “You must have some mighty fine friends for them to get such nice presents, I bet they’ll love ’em.”he said looking at Pep.
Pep just looked at the old man and smiled.
“You know I had a friend that had a cat girl years ago.”the man said speaking to Matt.
Matt tensed up waiting for this jerk to say something that would piss him off.
“ He had her for years and they were really happy together. I hope you two have as much happiness as they did.”he said.
“Oh I don’t belong to him I’m a free person now.” Pep said as she moved closer and took Matt’s arm smiling.
“That’s really nice, I tried to talk my friend into freeing his but he always said he loved her too much to free her.” he said rubbing his face and drifting off into a past memory. “I never did quite understand what he meant.” He suddenly came to his senses and said “ I’m sorry you two I sometimes get distracted, is there something I can help you with?”,
“Yeah, there’s supposed to be a freighter, a YT-1300 coming in tonight do you know what time it’s scheduled to get here?” said Matt.
“What’s her name, I mean the ship?” asked the man.
“ The Witch of the Rift.”answered Matt.
The old guy took his time looking through his files. Matt looked around the area.. They were in the middle of the field. A long covered walkway stretched to the terminal about three hundred yards back. About two hundred feet to his left was a Feloid armed transport. Matt hoped it didn’t belong to those clowns he shot up a few days ago. Or worse, they might have brought in some friends. Probably not, for them to do that they would have to admit that all they had been bested by one human. The rest of the huge area was dotted by other ships and maintenance vehicles. Every so often a ship would roar over head either gaining speed to leave orbit or slowing down to land.
“Hey, I found it, The Witch of the Rift was stopped by customs and was impounded.
“What! Are you serious!”Matt couldn’t believe it. The captain of The Witch of the Rift was Lyndyn Sgread, Matt had told his contacts he was unreliable. Now they were stuck here with no transport and no place to stay. Pep looked around as Matt had his momentary melt down. She noticed the Feloid ship and began to walk towards it.
Matt asked the old man if he could use his transmitter to see if he could set up some new transportation. The man let him in the building and Matt started to send his transmission.
Pep had reached the Feloid ship. “Hello, is any body here?”she called.
The ship was about seventy feet long, an average size for a smaller freighter. It had two gun turrets, one on each side. It was designed for quick trips carrying small but expensive cargo. Some of these ships were used by pirates because of their speed and ability to carry a fair amount of cargo.
Pep didn’t hear a reply so she looked inside. The cargo ramp was down making it easy to see who was on board. There were about twenty or so crates on each side of the hold. A chill ran down her spine as she realized this was a slave ship. She had been slaved out in a ship much like this one for about two years a few years back. The ship went from world to world and set up business on each one renting the slaves out as labor or prostitutes. Pep stepped away from the ship as quietly as she could with the intent of getting back to Matt. Just then she saw an arm reach out of one of the crates. “Is someone out there?” came a weak voice from the crate. “Can you give us some water please, our master has been gone all day and it has been so hot.” the voice was pleading.
Pep remembered how the owner of the slave ship she was on had been killed and it was three days before the new owner came back to the ship. They had been left for three days with no food or water. Pep stepped inside.
Matt had finally gotten through to his contact after about a half an hour. He was successful in getting new transportation for him and Pep. Matt looked outside the window but he didn’t see Pep anywhere.
“Did you see were my friend went?” Matt asked the old man.
“Last time I saw her she was headed toward that ship.” replied the man.
Matt looked in horror as the Feloid transport lifted off from the field and blasted off into space. Pep was nowhere to be seen. He ran outside in a futile attempt to stop the ship but it was too late. As he slowly turned back toward the building his heart jumped as he saw Pep peeking around the far corner. She had a big grin on her face as she watched the ship getting smaller and smaller.
“You scared me to death Pep, I thought you had got on that ship…”Matt stopped in mid sentence. As he rounded the corner where Pep was standing he saw twenty catgirls crouched down behind the building. Pep looked at Matt with a huge smile on her face.
“Look Matt, now they are all free too.”Pep seemed very proud of herself.
Matt covered his mouth to keep from screaming. What had she done! She just stole that ship’s crew’s entire inventory of slaves. They would be finding this out any second now. They would come back. They would be mad. They would be very very mad.
“Matt, what do we do now, they’ll be back soon and we need to do something when they do.” Pep said. She was smiling at Matt. She new he would help.
“ I told them you would help them but we don’t have much time.” Pep was leaning close to Matt and pointed at the sky so Matt would know she was talking about the imminent return of the Feloid ship.
Matt said nothing. He could hear the ship returning .He didn’t have to look to see if the engines screaming behind him belonged to the Feloid ship.
Matt ran to his kit bag and dumped everything on the ground. He was on his knees rummaging through everything as quickly as he could. He had a maddening flash back of Pep offering to pack his things for him as he just jammed everything in with no worry where everything was. He grabbed what he needed and hid around the corner. The ship had landed as he hoped right next to the building. He looked one last time at Pep, she and the catgirls were all smiling and giving him the thumbs up sign.
For a second Matt thought he might wake up now and this would all be over.
Matt was still looking at Pep,”How many?” he asked.
Pep held up three fingers, then with a look on her face like she wasn’t sure she held up one more.
Matt was screaming as he went to his death.
His life now hung on just how good a math teacher he was. He charged the door of the ship guns blazing. The first two Feloids never stood a chance. They had come out of the ship angry and not expecting a fight. The third ducked back inside but not before Matt had grabbed his gun hand and pulled him out onto the ground knocking him out cold. Matt was outside the ships door pistol ready. He held his hand up to Pep and signaled three fingers or four fingers. He wanted to be sure there was someone still on board. Pep thought a second and held up four fingers. To his horror the other catgirls were also leaning around the corner all holding up different amounts of fingers. They weren’t sure what the finger gestures meant but they wanted to help just the same .Matt jumped inside only to be punched square in the face and knocked back out of the ship onto the ground. He hit hard getting the wind knocked out of him. He was gasping for air as he searched for his gun. A huge Feloid had jumped out and was standing over him. He kicked the gun away and walked over to Pep who had come to Matt’s aid. Matt still couldn’t breathe as he watched the Feloid grab and begin to strangle Pep. Suddenly a shot from his own blaster struck the Feloid between the eyes. Matt and Pep both looked to see the old man holding the blaster that the Feloid had kicked away. The catgirls all ran to the unconscious Feloid that Matt had yanked out of the ship and began to kick and beat him. The old man walked over to Matt and handed him the blaster back.
“That was some quick thinking son I must say.” the old man said.”I don’t suppose I could get one of them catgirls could I?” he said half joking.
Matt looked at Pep who was know hugging him as tightly as she could.”I don’t think so friend, you see, their all free people now.”
“Oh well, doesn’t hurt to ask.” he said as he walked back into the building.
“Pep what the heck were you thinking.” Matt said looking at the bodies and the catgirls still kicking the downed Feloid.“We gotta go soon, what are we going to do with these girls?” Matt was getting frustrated now.
“I was on one of those ships, I wasn’t going to leave them.” Pep said looking coldly at the ship.
Matt understood now, she did what she had to do. He would have done the same thing.
“You’re right Pep, I’m sorry, you did the right thing. We’ll come up with something I guess. Don’t worry I’ll back you up on this.” he said forcing a smile.
Matt took the bodies and put them back in the ship. He then set the auto pilot on a coarse out into deep space. He would have liked to have sold the ship but he was sure these guys had friends or family somewhere and they would want revenge. Better just to have them disappear. Now all he had to do was take care of twenty catgirls the rest of his life and everything would be fine.
He wasn’t sure who was picking him and Pep up but he was hoping it wasn’t Lionette. He had just about enough Feloid superiority at this point. They would have to wait about four hours for their pick up so he walked back to the terminal and bought some groceries for his new family. He made sure Pep and everyone else stayed in the small building out of sight till he got back. He had taken Pep’s wagon to carry all the food and water back in and couldn’t help think what a heroic figure he must look like as he dragged the stupid thing back and forth on his mission.
Once back he felt different. He was able to finally get a good look at the girls Pep had saved. They had all been beaten and half starved. They were dirty and barely clothed. Most Feloids would have found the state of these girls revolting and under Feloid law they would have been taken away from their owners and sold to “decent” people that could give proof of their ability to care for them. They were headed for feloid space and their secret base there. As long as they stayed on the base the Feloid authorities would not bother with them, maybe. He sat and watched as they ate their food in silence. Their training would not allow them to celebrate. He was certain none of them believed they would remain free for long. Pep went around the room checking each one for injuries or any special needs each might have. This they took in stride. It wasn’t unusual that one senior girl would be tasked with the “up keep” of a stable. Pep looked sad as she made her way back to Matt’s side with some food and a drink. No matter what she always made sure he was taken care of.
“He buddy your transport is here.”said the old man. Matt and Pep walked to the door to see a transport landing nearby. Matt looked at Pep and said “Stay with them while I get this straightened out.” and walked over to the ship.
The loading bay door swung down with a thud and out walked Tarin. Matt sighed because right behind her was Buck Bronski, the worst man alive.
“We have a situation Tarin.” Matt said trying to ease into an explanation.
“Are all those yours!?” Buck said as Pep and the catgirls filed out of the building.
“Damn boy how many dicks do you have, you greedy bastard!” Bronski said looking at the catgirls.
Tarin could see the look on Pep’s face, it was a look of desperation. Tarin was good at sizing up a situation quickly, it had kept her alive. “Shut up Bronski.”Tarin said calmly. These girls had been abused for quite some time and she could see finally how Pep must have lived for years.
“I’ll be having the tall one in the back for starters I believe.” Bronski laughed. He didn’t have a clue to what was going on here.
“Bronski shut the fuck up for once will you.” Tarin snapped.
She was the only person alive that could have said that and he would actually listen.
‘What? I’m just joking.” Bronski said as he back peddled.
“Look, it’s a long story but we have to help these girls. They can’t be left behind.” Matt said to Tarin.
“It’s all my fault, I freed them, don’t blame Matt.” Pep interrupted.
Tarin put her hand on Pep’s shoulder. “Don’t worry, we will do whatever needs to be done to help them.”
Pep looked at Tarin and Bronski.”Thank you.” she said looking down.
Bronski scratched his armpit as he walked around checking the girls out. They snapped into their slave training instinctively and stood up straight as to display themselves.
“What a fucking waste.” was all he said as he went back on board the ship with his head down.
“Okay, everybody on board.” Matt said as he motioned Pep and the girls to get on the ship. Pep had run back to the building and retrieved her wagon full of presents. Tarin and Bronski looked at each other not sure of what she was doing as she pulled the wagon onto the ship.
“I bought everyone presents.”Pep said as she handed Buck his booze.
“It’s just my size.”Bronski joked. Pep didn’t get it but she new he liked the gift.
“And I got these for you Tarin.” Pep said handing the matching lamps to her. Tarin took a lamp in each hand and looked at Pep. “They’re beautiful Pep.”Tarin said. She glanced at Matt looking for some reason she would get lamps.
“They look just like you.”he said smiling.
Tarin noticed the long graceful looking nude figures on each lamp. They were beautiful. Tarin smiled at Pep “I love them.”
Pep was grinning ear to ear.
I’m a free person now, look at the knife Matt gave me, I’m aloud to carry one now.”Pep looked at Matt and smiled. Tarin wiped a tear from her eye. Every once in a while you get to see real happiness she thought.
Bronski just farted loudly and laughed.”You better leave the hatch open till we hit space.”he was the only person that understood just how funny he was.
Matt leaned out the hatch and waved at the old man that saved their lives.
The old man just waved once and went back to his duties.
Tarin climbed behind the controls in the cockpit and set the flight co-ordinates for the journey. Pep made sure all the girls were seated and Bronski was opening one of the bottles Pep had given him. Matt stood in the door way between the cockpit and the crew area watching everyone. He was glad Tarin and Bronski were helping them. He was glad Pep was able to help those girls.
He was glad he was able to balance the books and do some good for all the bad things he’d done in the past. At times he envied Pep. She was able to tell people what she had done in the past. Reasonable people would forgive her because she didn’t have a choice. He new it was different with him. He did those things because it made him feel good to have that kind of power. Back then he was different. Now he had to make up for those things. He had taken the place of the man he had killed and had to become that man for the real Matt Mason. Matt mason was the finest man he had known and he murdered him. He had to give the galaxy back Matt Mason.
Matt noticed Bronski had some new cuts and bruises on him. “What happened to you?”
he said as he watched Buck take a swig from his freshly opened bottle.
“Oh nothin’ special, got blown up.” Bronski said in a very matter of fact tone.
Matt heard the unmistakable thud of Kang’s gigantic clawed feet from behind him. He turned to see the huge reptile emerge from one of the crew’s quarters. Kang must have just woke up because he was licking the sleep from his eyes with that gigantic tongue of his.
“Matt my friend, no one told me we were stopping to pick you up.” he shot a glance at Bronski.
“Hey Kang, we’re stopping to pick up Matt and Pep.” Bronski said over his shoulder.
Matt and Kang just looked at each other, Buck was the worst man alive but both would still want him by their side in any fight.
“ Thank you Buck Bronski, your information although not timely is accurate.”Kang replied.
Buck just gave a salute with his bottle still not turning around.
Kang gave Matt one of his huge toothy grins that still, unbeknownst to Kang ,sent shivers down Matt’s spine. Matt smiled back making sure to bare his teeth as not to offend Kang.
Tarin came out of the cockpit and into the crew area. “Auto pilot is all set, so did the asshole tell you how I blew him up?” Tarin said looking at Bronski.
Pep had just walked in the room.”Mr Bronski got blown up?” she asked.
Kang rolled his eyes, he had just spent the last two days listening to Buck and Tarin argue about the whole incident.
“She almost killed me, I survived. She’s an assassin, it’s in her nature to kill.” Buck said trying to start the whole thing up again.
Matt, Kang, and Pep all turned their heads in unison to see Tarin’s reaction.
“I misread the situation, I didn’t think they’d have grenades.”Tarin said angrily and walked off toward her cabin.
Pep moved close to Matt,”Do we have enough food for every one Matt, it will take several days to get to the base.”she asked knowing the original supply inventory did not include twenty extra mouths.
“Kang, we have some extra guests on board, do we have enough emergency stores to take care of twenty extra people?”Matt addressed Kang knowing he would have been the one taking care of provisions.
“What guests?” Kang wasn’t awake when the cat girls boarded.
Matt thumbed in the direction of the crew’s mess hall. Kang craned his massive neck to see twenty cat girls all sitting silently around the room.
“Who do they belong to?” Kang asked disapprovingly. He had always been apposed to slavery anywhere with anybody. He could barely tolerate Lionette owning Timtam.
Pep stepped up to Kang “They belong to no one now, I freed them.”
“Who did you get them from?” Kang asked.
Pep looked at Matt, he had his arms crossed and was looking down at the floor. Pep looked at back at Kang. “They were very bad men, they shouldn’t have treated them so badly.”she said trying to explain in advance the coming details of what had transpired.
Kang had sensed where this story was going and simply put up his hand gesturing that there was no more need to explain. He didn’t want to know the details. He knew no slaver would give up twenty slaves without a fight. He also new Matt is a master tactician and a few slavers would not have been too much of an obstacle.
“What is to become of them ,it will not be safe for them once we have entered feloid space.”Kang asked Matt.
“We really didn’t have a plan when all this went down. I’m open to suggestions Kang.” Matt replied .
“Why not let them be like me?”Pep said quietly. “I help the best I can and they can too.”she said looking at the girls. None of the catgirls had said anything since the boarded the ship.
Matt grinned at Pep and then at Kang. “Kang old buddy let me introduce you to our new auxiliary force. There is always some small job that needs taking care of. Washing and cleaning things, you know, general maintenance.”Matt had taken Pep’s idea and expanded on it.
“I would have to agree with you that this is a good idea and I will back you on it if it keeps the girls from slavery.”Kang said.
The rest of the journey was uneventful. They made planet fall at night so as not to be noticed. Matt, Kang, and Tarin had all agreed to support Pep’s idea of having the cat girls do support jobs for the rebel forces in exchange for their room and board. Bronski just didn’t care one way or the other. The only worry they had would be Lionette. She was a full blooded princess of a clan leader and was sworn to uphold Feloid law.
In all actuality she was only a glorified mercenary. She was only helping the rebellion to gain combat experience that was required before she was eligible to become clan leader one day. It was even possible that the clans may switch sides under the right circumstances.
Under Feloid law the catgirls remained the property of the feloid clans if their master died with out a declaration as to their new ownership. Once they entered Feloid space Lionette could make a claim on them as property of the clan and they would have to be turned over for resale to any eligible buyer. Pep was a different story. She had been sold to humans and that meant all Feloid claims no longer were valid. Luckily for Pep the main reason for this statute in the law was Feloid prejudice. Since Pep had belonged to a different race she was considered contaminated and no longer of any use.
They decided they would have to risk it. They were sure Lionette would see reason and not state a claim on the girls. If she did Lionette had to know it would cause serious issues in the group. Tensions were high enough normally about the issue of slavery within their group.
The next day Lionette and Timtam arrived. Kang was chosen to present Lionette with the issue. She would have to decide where her loyalties were. Was she loyal to her clan or the rebellion. The meeting was short and Lionette made her decision. It was very clear that she had royal blood in her.
“I have reserved the right to claim ownership of these girls. However no one shall dictate to me, Lionette Ty, when I shall officially do so. I have decided not to lay claim today and will make my decision at a later date.”was all she said. In a simple stroke of brilliant statesmanship she had decided not to decide.
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 01:44)