It had been three days since Tarin left the base to find Bronski. She landed her ship on the planet once again certain the droid wouldn’t track her. Bronski had removed the tracking chip from her neck the last time they were here. Tarin carefully made her way between the buildings at the landing field. She was wearing her cloak and hood to make her less recognizable. When she rounded the next corner she froze in her tracks. There lying on a flatbed trailer was Bronski’s battle frame. It was twisted and smashed. The left pod was missing and the cockpit cover armor had been pulled off. She quickly jumped up on the trailer and looked for any signs of a struggle. The ejection seat had been fired and there was no blood anywhere.
“Hey get down off that trailer.” Tarin turned and saw a local police officer standing just below her on the ground.
Tarin smiled and jumped down in front of the officer. “I was just looking. What happened to this thing? It looks pretty messed up.” Tarin asked as she pulled her hood back and stepped closer to the officer. She stopped and smiled as she flipped her cloak open to reveal her scant outfit.
The officer swallowed hard as he took in the view. “There was a big fight out here a couple of days ago. Some guy was fighting this really powerful droid, a real big fight.” He said.
“Wow, what did you do?” she asked feigning interest in his story.
“Well I did what I could but we finally had to call the military for back up. After the droid destroyed that old battle frame the pilot ejected. Then from out of nowhere this woman showed up and saved the guy. It was crazy. They got into her speeder and drove into a yacht and flew off.” He said removing his hat and smoothing down his hair.
“A yacht huh? And what did this woman look like?” Tarin asked.
“Well she had a face shield over her head but she was dressed like you…” the officer suddenly had a look of realization on his face. Tarin must be involved in this somehow.
Tarin quickly shot him with a shock dart that caused him to go limp almost immediately. She grabbed him as he fell and lowered him to the ground gently. After looking around to see if she had been seen she dragged his body under the trailer and calmly walked off.
“A yacht huh. They’re all in on this little plot.” Tarin said under her breath. She had to find out what had happened to the droid after the military showed up. She was pretty sure that it had survived whatever the locals had thrown at it. It was tougher than anyone knew.
Tarin suddenly felt a chill run down back. She turned just in time to see a huge metal hand grab her by the neck and squeeze until everything went black.
Everything at the base had gone back to normal. Stella had gone back to the Palace accompanied by Mykala. The rest of the group had several meetings and had begun to formulate their next plan of action.
Matt and Pep had finally settled back into their old routine as they accepted Pep’s powers were just a part of their lives now. She said they only seemed to appear in times of stress so Matt was happy to do his part in relieving her stress as often as possible.
Pep had gone back to work with Ceecee on ship maintenance and repair. Ceecee was proving herself a good friend by showing Pep she had complete confidence in Pep’s ability to control her newfound powers. She had even joked about them with Pep saying, “ Why should I worry about Pep? As far as I’m concerned I just got a mobile trash compacter and incinerator so it’s a win-win for me.”
On the way home Pep noticed two large Royal guardsmen standing just in front of her quarters. They were standing on either side of Lionette Ty. She stopped in her tracks unsure of why she would get such an official visit.
“Pep, Pep may I have a word with you?” Lionette asked as she walked forward motioning for her guards to stay where they were.
“Pep’s hair began to rise on the back of her neck and she sensed this would end badly.
“Pep I am asking you as sign of respect to speak with you in private. If you wish for me to leave then I will. I apologize for showing up with out asking first but I feel the matter I wish to speak to you about is urgent.” Lionette said.
“I don’t want to talk to you Lionette Ty. Please leave me alone.” Pep said.
“As you wish.” Was all Lionette said and she turned to leave.
Pep was surprised at the suddenness of Lionette’s departure and her complete lack of trying to convince Pep to let her stay. Pep watched as Lionette and her guard began to walk away without any protest. Curiosity got the better of her.
“Wait My Lady, we can talk inside. Its not the Palace but it is private.” Pep said.
“Thank you Pep, I promise not to keep you long.” Lionette said as if speaking with an equal. The two women went inside the living quarters. Pep set her toolbox on the floor next to the door as Lionette stood patiently waiting to be directed where to sit. Pep noticed Lionette smiling awkwardly and realized what she wanted.
“Would the sofa be all right?” Pep asked.
“It would be wonderful, thank you.” Lionette replied. Lionette resisted the urge to wipe off the sofa before she sat. Pep sat down in the cushioned chair across from her.
“I’ll make this quick Pep. Since we have known each other I have never given you the respect that you deserve. I was raised as you were in a culture of intolerance and bigotry. We have both suffered from these beliefs greatly.
Pep raised an eyebrow surprised that Lionette thought her suffering was as bad as he own.
Lionette caught Peps expression and continued. “I didn’t mean our suffering was equal in measure. You have been through far worse than I can even imagine. What I meant was both slaves and masters have lost countless opportunities to advance our race.”
Lionette leaned closer toward Pep. “ I have come into possession of information that if released could destroy our entire race.”
“What has that got to do with me? Is it because I am a threat to you now that I’m worthy of this meeting?” Pep asked.
Lionette put her head down for a moment. She lifted it up and looked at Pep. “ I am here because I have watched your actions over the last year. You have had several trials and torments that would have destroyed the best of my class. You have shamed them all and proven what I now know to be the truth Pep. We are all the same. All Feloids are family. There is none that is better than the other. The slave race should be elevated up to the same status as the free borns.”
Pep couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Lionette Ty was speaking high treason. The idea that the slaves were equal in any way was a blasphemy in Feloid culture. If heard by another Clan representative it could mean the loss of all their holdings and rank.
“Why are you saying these things? Have you lost your mind?” Pep said standing up.
“Please just a moment more. I know you have the breeding drugs and I know you wish to give them to the girls you rescued. I want to help you to do that but in a legal way. Let me get a sanction for you to do it. Let me help you and your sisters.” Lionette asked.
“Why would you do that? Why do you want to help?” Pep asked.
“Because I want to end the slave trade and culture. I want all Feloid children born to be born free.” She said. “By telling you this I have put my life in your hands Pep Pudin. The lives of every Ty clan member are in your hands. You are the leader of your kind and you don’t even realize it.” Lionette said.
“But how can you help us?” Pep asked.
“My title gives me the power to cover up any mistakes that happen. I can even say the breeding program on Geirgor is my idea and it will not be questioned. We just need to do this the right way and everything will work out how you want it to.”
“What is it you’re not telling me? You’re leaving something out.” Pep said.
Lionette looked at Pep. She had to tell her everything. She had to trust her.
“The Feloid race was genetically engineered thousands of years ago. We are part human. This is why the drug is monitored so closely. If a cat girl took the breeding drug and mated with a human it is possible that she could become pregnant with a hybrid child. That is also why we are taught that we are better than humans so that we don’t mate with them. A half Feloid half Human child cannot be allowed to exist…at least not yet. I hope with your help Pep we can lead our people to accepting this reality one day but it must be done slowly. We need to convince our people that there is no shame in being part human first.” Lionette said in her humblest tone possible.
“Why are you telling me all of this? I still don’t understand this change of heart. Why is a Royal willing to give up their birth right and lower yourself to my level?” Pep asked still not convinced.
“Its very simple Pep. I’m not lowering myself I’m raising you and your kind up. Up where they deserve to be.
It could also cause a civil war between Feloids if one side agreed and one side didn’t. There is no way we could survive as a unified race if one side freed their slaves and one side did not. A slave that was free on one side could never travel to a Clan world that still had slaves. They would be put back into bondage as if they had escaped. At least give me a chance Pep. This agreement will be between us and held confidential. As Clan leader I can enter into any agreement I see fit and I don’t have to explain my plans to anyone. In this way I can protect what you want to do but please work with me.” Lionette was making sense and seemed truly sincere.
“Alright Lionette Ty. I’ll let you help my sisters and me. But make no mistake if this is a trick it won’t go well for you.” Pep said.
“Will you take my hand on this pledge of friendship Pep?” Lionette asked taking off her glove and extending her hand.
Pep looked at the royal hand of Lionette Ty, a royal hand that wouldn’t even lower itself to beat her in any other Clan. She saw something in Lionette’s gesture she never thought she would ever see, hope for a new beginning.
Pep took Lionette’s hand and shook it.
Adda couldn’t sleep. She tossed and turned for and hour before she decided to try and eat something to help her sleep. As she entered the dining area she noticed little
Elith sitting in the corner. She had a cup of tea in front of her and a piece of toasted bread.
“I didn’t know any one else was awake. I couldn’t sleep. It seemed that something was bothering me but I couldn’t figure out what it was.” Adda said. Elith was always polite and friendly to Adda so if anyone was going to be sitting here at this hour Adda was glad it was Elith.
“I’m sorry Adda. I wasn’t thinking.” Elith said. “I was restless so I guess I projected those feelings onto you.”
“What do you mean?” Adda asked.
“Zeltron, I’m a Zeltron. We project our feelings onto others. The rest of the crew knows how to tune me out. I forgot you were so close.” Elith said.
“How did you wind up with Kllair? I always thought Zeltrons were peace loving people.” Adda asked sitting down.
“We are…well most of us are. We feel the emotions of others as if they were our own. That makes it necessary for us to be friendly so we don’t make people nervous or angry. We’ve learned how to project our feelings onto others so we can control their emotions and this way we only experience good ones. We live lives of pleasure and happiness because if someone is sad or angry we all feel it. We’re driven to please others because we feel their joy and ecstasy.” Elith said taking a sip of her tea.
“But why are you with these…people?” Adda asked.
“When I was very young I was in a speeder crash causing massive brain damage. My parents died leaving me an orphan. It took years for me to recover but after I was better they realized I couldn’t feel what others felt, I had no empathy for others. In Zeltron culture it was as though I had been blinded or paralyzed. I could still project whatever feelings I wanted to onto other people but I couldn’t feel what they felt. Only in extreme circumstances did the feelings come through. I began to be isolated from others, I didn’t fit in with other Zeltrons. I had their powers but no limitations because I didn’t feel what my, targets, felt.” Elith said buttering her toast.
“How do you mean?” Adda asked.
Elith smiled. She looked at Adda and then at her toast.
Adda suddenly began to feel aroused by Elith. Her heart began beating harder and she was feeling warmer. She had never felt this way about another woman but Elith was different. Adda couldn’t resist moving closer. She leaned closer to kiss Elith.
Elith looked at Adda again and took a bite of her toast. Adda then began to feel sad. She pulled away from Elith who was smiling at her and chewing her toast. Adda was now crying heavily. Tears ran down her face uncontrollably. She found herself in near hysterics from grief as if she felt the pain of the world. And just as suddenly as it began it ended.
Adda pushed herself away from Elith shocked by what she had just done to her.
“It works like that, I can make most anyone feel what I want them to feel. The only problem is the more I do it to someone the more likely they become immune. When it happens they realize it’s me so they can turn it off most of the time. Since I can’t feel their reactions I have a hard time convincing them it’s not me doing it.” Elith said swallowing her toast.
“Don’t ever do that to me again.” Adda said being very serious.
“Why? Didn’t it feel good? I can make you feel good whenever you want to. I don’t mind Adda, its just fun.” Elith said explaining her view. Adda saw now that without empathy Elith didn’t understand how it felt when she made people feel uncomfortable. Those feelings were alien to her. Things like remorse, guilt, and regret just didn’t register with Elith. She was as bad as the rest.
She was poison. She was a very pretty little bottle of poison that could make you do what ever she wished no matter how you usually felt about it.
“I don’t care how you made me feel don’t ever do it again Elith.” Adda said sternly.
“I probably won’t do anything you don’t want me to do Adda. But just don’t get mad at me because I don’t like when people do that.” Elith said looking up from her tea.
Timtam was busy cleaning up Hudd’s breakfast dishes. She had been pampering him ever since his return. Hudd was helping the best he could with his one good arm and broken ankle. He placed the remaining dishes in the sink and kissed Timtam on the neck. She giggled and pushed him back with her rear.
“Not now, I have to go to work. Granic gets angry if I’m late.” She said over her shoulder.
“I’ve been thinking about you working for Granic. Why don’t you see if Ceecee needs help on her repair crew? You’d be able to see Pep more and Ceecee’s a lot easier to work for.” Hudd said.
“I couldn’t do that. Mr. Granic is the one that trained me. I wouldn’t feel right leaving him. Besides I think working for Mr. Granic shows people he’s not so mean to other races.” She said.
“I’d still feel better if you worked for Ceecee. I think Granic would understand.” Hudd didn’t want to tell her that it was Granic that almost got him and Mykala killed. He was a bigot. He only cared about what happened to the Reptus people. He new the Empire was created by humans and in Imperial doctrine other races would be enslaved or killed off. He hated the Empire and distrusted all Humans because of it.
“Its okay Hudd, don’t worry about it. I’m used to being yelled at, it doesn’t bother me.” Timtam said smiling.
Hudd began to get angry at the thought of Granic yelling at Timtam. He took a deep breath and calmed himself down.
“Okay honey, you go to work. We can talk about this a little more later.” He said forcing a smile.
“Are you mad at me?” Timtam asked sensing Hudd’s frustration.
“No, I could never be mad with you. I love you Timtam.” He said giving her a hug. Timtam hugged him back hard.
“Okay now go to work. One of us has to bring in some money.” He said smiling.
Timtam went out the front door. She turned and blew Hudd a kiss and went on her way. Hudd watched as the door closed. He was frustrated. He was the new guy and felt he hadn’t earned enough of a reputation to bring his accusations to the group about Granic’s sloppy security protocols. It was just a matter of time before Granic got someone killed.
Zayer landed her ship in the courtyard of the old fortress. They had made their way into Feloid space with out incident. Torbarr’s hollow asteroid was left in orbit around the planet where it could be picked up later and used for their return trip back into Imperial controlled space.
The landing ramp opened and an old Feloid carrying a data pad in his ancient hands greeted them. His face was long and drawn. He had dark deep-set eyes that hinted at being nearly blind from their milky white glaze. He wore only the simplest of clothing and an old dirty robe that was tied at the waist with a piece of rope.
“Do you have the information?” Torbarr asked as he clanked down the ramp in his full body armor.
“Yes master, it was delivered only an hour ago. The messenger is inside.” Said the old Feloid.
“Did you take care of him?” asked Torbarr as he took the data pad from him. “He should have never come here in person. I did warn him as you recall.”
“Yes sir I do remember you saying that. However I didn’t kill him this time.” The old man said.
“You didn’t?” Torbarr asked surprised.
“No sir, I let Mir’tha do it. She needed more experience.” He said.
“How did she do?” Torbarr asked about the assassination of the messenger as if it were a simple day-to-day task.
“She was much better this time, it was done with a knife.” The old man said.
“I hope it was quicker than the last time and with less screaming.” He said looking at the old one and grinning.
“Oh yes sir, very quick this time. I think the beating you gave her last time made an impact on her.” The old one said daring to return the grin.
“Impact! Ha! That was a good one Sertera!” Torbarr laughed at the pun.”
Zayer, Sy’ah, and Jen Jaya followed Torbarr down the ramp and into the old fortress’s great hall. The fortress was very old and had fallen into disrepair. It was still quite livable but there were definite signs of neglect. Walls needed a new coat of paint, window pains were broken in some places, and the furniture needed a good dusting.
“How long have you been away?” Zayer asked Torbarr.
“Not too long, only about six months. I just finished two jobs that will help me to pay for the improvements on my family home.” He said looking around.
“Maybe you could get a job as a gargoyle Jen.” Sy’ah said too Jen Jaya.
Jen Jaya leapt at Sy’ah with her wings fully extended lifting herself into the air knocking Sy’ah back against the wall. She pushed off and landed crouched in the middle of the room smiling. Sy’ah drew her weapons and pointed them at Jen Jaya. She was shocked at the speed of Jen’s attack.
“I don’t know Sy’ah…do you think I would be scary enough?” Jen Jaya responded staring straight into Sy’ah’s twin blasters and smiling at her with her sharp-toothed grin.
“Knock it off you two. “Sy’ah apologize to Jen Jaya right now. We’re going to be working together as a team from this point on and we need to be watching each others backs, not stabbing them.” Zayer said sternly.
Sy’ah holstered her guns and stood up from against the wall. “You’re pretty damned quick for an abomination.” Sy’ah said.
“I was just thinking the same thing about you Sy’ah.” Jen Jaya said.
Sy’ah laughed at Jen Jaya’s retort. “I think I like you freak. We’ll do just fine together.”
Torbarr had turned on the holo-screen projector on the large table in the center of the room. He motioned for every one to come closer. As they approached he saw his cat girl Mir’tha dragging a corpse wrapped in a blanket down the hall.
“Is that the messenger?” Torbarr asked Mir’tha the cat girl.
Mir’tha hesitated and crouched slightly as if she were going to be hit.
“Yes lord.” She said quietly.
Torbarr looked at her and the body she was dragging.
“Did you do something new with your hair?” he asked.
“Yes lord, I comb it to the side now.” She said sheepishly.
Torbarr looked her up and down. “I like it. It suits your face.”
“Thank you lord.” She said.
“You may continue with your work.” He said.
Mir’tha nodded and began to drag away the body again.
Torbarr turned back to the other bounty hunters and smiled. “Sorry about that but one must keep track of ones help.” He said referring to the gruesome task Mir’tha was taking care of as if she was washing windows.
“If you’ll look at the holo-projector you’ll see a representation of Tarsis station. It’s the main trading port inside Feloid space where Humans come to trade with the different Feloid Clans. Besides Humans there are also several other races that trade here. In short we will be able to move freely amongst the inhabitants there fairly easily. This is where we will catch our Jedi. Once we have the Jedi captured we can capture or kill any accomplices that come to the rescue. This way we’ll maximize our payoff.” Torbarr said.
“What resources do we have there?” Sy’ah asked.
“There is a gang that I’ve had dealings with. They are totally ruthless but loyal. There isn’t much they wouldn’t do if enough money crossed their palms.” Torbarr said.
“Do we have vehicles and a safe house?” asked Jen Jaya.
“Yes, everything is ready and in place. All we have to do now is lure the Jedi there and into our trap.” Torbarr said.
“You’ve done a wonderful job Torbarr as usual.” Zayer said. Torbarr had a reputation for being well prepared. He was the first on Zayer’s list for this team.
“This Jedi has eluded my master for quiet some time now. For a long time the Jedi was thought dead after falling down a ventilation shaft. But our informants have tracked the Jedi here just recently and now is the time to finally capture Den Athgar.” Zayer 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 02:23)