Love and duty
Bronski was startled as his communicator crackled to life.
“Buck its me Tarin…I need your help. The droid…he’s holding me prisoner in the basement of a large building. Lock onto this signal so you can find the location. Hurry please…he’ll be back any second.” The transmission suddenly went dead.
Remha had secured Za’sha’s body and had come forward just in time to hear Tarin’s call for help.
“You know she just sold you out right. You know they want you to come and try to rescue her?” Remha asked.
“It doesn’t matter. I’m going to get her back no matter what.” Buck said looking at the new heading as it appeared on the control screen.
“If it wasn’t for us that droid would have killed you. How are you going to stop that thing? It’s indestructible. We need to jack a ship and get out of here.” Remha said.
“You wouldn’t understand damn it. I’m not going to sit here and explain myself to you. I just need to know one thing…are you in or are you out?” Buck asked as he looked over his shoulder at Remha.
Remha leaned back and stared at Bronski. “I’m out. This whole thing with Tarin has cost me too much. I’m telling you for the last time Bronski she does this all the time. When things get hard she bails. She left Za’sha and me. She’s double-crossed this guy that has her now and she just sold you out to him probably to save her own skin. I don’t want to end up like Za’sha because I put my trust in Tarin.”
“You knew when we came here there was a risk one of us might get killed.” He said.
“Yeah but I was betting it would be you…not Za’sha.” Remha replied.
“Nice.” Buck responded. “Okay I’ll do it alone. Where do you want me to put you down?” Buck said coldly.
“Anywhere is fine. I just want to take care of Za’sha and move on.” She said looking away.
Bronski spotted a large industrial facility about a mile away. Without either one of them saying another word he nosed down the rescue craft and landed in the open area just outside the old factory.
Remha dragged Za’sha’s body out of the ship and placed it on the ground. She turned back to look at Bronski for on last time. He didn’t look back. As soon as she was clear he hit the thrusters and sped off. He would have to do this alone. All he had brought with him was his scatter caster and a few grenades.
Why was he doing this? Remha was right. Tarin had sold him out and was leading him into a trap.
He didn’t care.
All he knew is he had to save her. Remha wouldn’t understand how he felt. He was an ugly man and had been alone his whole life. No one had ever loved him. He was raised in an orphanage until he joined the military. He never had a family or anyone to care about what happened to him. Even if Tarin was a ratfink she did actually love him in her own warped way and that felt good. She made him feel good just to be seen with her. Women like her would never give him the time of day. Tarin saw past his face and mangled body. She saw the man inside and she loved him. If for no other reason he would save her because of that.
Timtam closed the hatch on the ship. It was a small courier used for light hauling and personnel transfers. Hudd started the engines and began the lift off.
“Wait! I want to do it.” She yelled as she made her way up to the cockpit. Hudd smiled at her sometimes-childlike behavior.
“Okay you can do it.” Hudd smiled. Timtam climbed into the co-pilots seat with ease. Her Feloid skeleton gave her a much higher degree of flexibility than a human. Feloids have smaller vertebrae and more of them along with hip joints that can flex farther back. These differences are the reason that Feloids can run on all fours with ease.
“Alright Timtam, the controls are all yours now.”
Timtam grinned and lifted the ship up off the landing pad and slowly swung it around facing the open bay door.
“Sometimes I forget you can fly a ship. It’s kind of a turn on.” Hudd said.
Timtam smiled and hit the accelerator causing the small ship to shoot out of the hangar like a flash. She pulled back on the controls and the craft hurtled skyward.
“Woooo!” Timtam yelled with excitement. She was happy to be away from the base and able to spend time with Hudd alone. He was happy as well to see his beautiful little cat girl so exited. The trip would take two days. Two days with nothing to do but kick back and relax.
“Hey I’m supposed to be the pilot in this family.” Hudd said joking.
Timtam smiled at Hudd. “Family?”
“Well you know…you… me…a family.” He smiled back.
Timtam looked awkwardly back at the controls.
“Hey I’m sorry honey. I know we can’t have kids but as long as we have each other that’s enough for me.” Hudd said leaning over and rubbing her back.
“What if I could have children? What would you do then? Would you really want to be with me?” she asked.
“I told you I’m happy with children or without.” He said.
Timtam reached in her pocket and pulled out a small bottle in which she had put the pills that Pep had given her. She held it out to Hudd.
Hudd took the bottle and looked at it. “What’s this for?” he asked.
“Those are the pills that let cat girls get pregnant. Pep said they might work between a Human and a Feloid.” She answered afraid of what his reaction would be.
Hudd looked at the bottle and then at Timtam. He handed the bottle back to her and got up. He began to walk back towards the crew compartment of the ship.
Timtam looked down. Her worst fear was realized. He didn’t want a family with her. Her liked having her around because she took care of him. He liked her well enough but it wasn’t what she thought it was.
She sat in silence thinking she should have waited. It was too sudden. She took him by surprise and he couldn’t handle the reality of it. Timtam looked straight ahead into the inky blackness before her wishing she could take it all back and make things the same again.
“Hey.” Hudd said nudging her on the shoulder. He had come up behind her without her noticing. He handed her a glass of water.
Timtam looked at the glass and then slowly up at Hudd.
“What? You weren’t going to try to take them with out water were you.” Hudd said smiling.
“Let’s go.” Zayer said. She had picked up her cloak and draped it over her left shoulder.
“What about Athgar?” Torbarr asked.
Zayer looked down at Den’s corpse. There was a huge puddle of blood by the stump of his arm. The dark blade had been covered in an anti-coagulant that made Den’s blood flow out of his body even quicker.
“Bring his light saber. We’ll need it as proof that he’s dead.” Zayer said over her shoulder.
Torbarr smiled and picked up Den’s light saber and tossed it to Sy’ah. Sy’ah looked at it and grinned.
“This belongs to you now.” Sy’ah said and handed it to Zayer.
Zayer looked at it and then at Jen Jaya.
“Give it to her. It belongs to her master not me. We work for him remember?” Zayer said.
Sy’ah tossed the light saber too Jen Jaya who caught it effortlessly.
“He would have let you keep it Zayer.” Jen Jaya said as she hooked the weapon to her belt.
“Your master only has one thing I want and after this mission is over he’ll have to give it to me.” Zayer said.
“You may not believe this Zayer but I hope he does. A child needs its mother.” She replied in a sympathetic tone.
“What about the body? Are we leaving it?” Sy’ah asked.
“Let it be proof to his friends that we’re here and looking for them. I want them and the Feloids to know that nowhere is safe for the Jedi anymore.” Zayer said.
“They’ll be sending warriors to hunt us soon. The Clans will see this as a challenge to their authority Zayer.” Torbarr said.
Zayer stopped and looked at Torbarr.
“That is precisely what it is my friend. I have thrown down the gauntlet and they need to respond to that. They will come and they will fail. We will kill everyone that they send. This is a new day Torbarr. Soon the Sith will reign over everything and everybody. There will be order and rewards for those who embrace the new ways. The Feloids will fall just like the rest. You will be given back your lost territories and lands. You will be given all of your enemies’ possessions and slaves. All of these things will be yours because you were wise enough to see how things will be and for choosing the right side.”
“So where do we go now Zayer?” Jen Jaya asked.
“We are going to take the ship and leave…for now. We will watch to see whom they send. Sooner or later they will leave us an opening and when they do we will strike. Our mission now is to kill or capture anyone that is helping the Jedi in Feloid space.” Zayer said.
Matt and Ragg were going through the checklist on the second freighter. Ceecee was tagging along in case they found any problems.
“Who was in charge of stowing this equipment?” Ragg asked.
“I was.” Ceecee answered.
“It’ll have to be done again. I need these crates on the bottom moved to the rear for better access.” Ragg said pointing at the cases.
Ceecee looked at Ragg. “You always have them stowed this way. Why change them now?”
“I just want them moved. I’m in charge of this mission and I want this done again. Why do I have to explain my reasons all of the sudden?” He shot back at Ceecee obviously with more emotion than the situation warranted.
Matt looked at Ragg surprised by his intensity.
“Fine, whatever. I’ll get them moved right away.” Ceecee said angrily. “Anything else?”
“I’ll let you know when I find it.” Ragg said.
They continued with the inspection in awkward silence. Matt sensed there was something else making Ragg angry.
“Why don’t you take a break Ragg? I can finish this up.” Matt said.
“I’m fine, I know how to do my job Matt.” Ragg said.
Matt had now become the target of Ragg’s frustration.
“Major! I said for you to take a break.” Matt said very official.
Ragg realized he had gone too far. Matt held the rank of a Colonel in the rebel forces but he never pulled rank on him before. They had become good friends over time and Matt was right about his behavior. Ragg handed him his data pad and left. He had made a fool of himself again in front of Ceecee. He was jealous and it showed. Something about this girl was different from all the others. It actually bothered him that she had been with someone else.
Ragg exited the ship and headed back to his quarters.
“What’s his problem?” Ceecee asked Matt.
“You really don’t know?” Matt said.
Ceecee just shrugged her shoulders.
“It’s you. He likes you Ceecee.” Matt said.
“Big deal. I like him to but you don’t see me yelling about stuff.”
“No dummy. He likes you.” Matt said.
“Oh crap…Ragg? No way.” Ceecee said grinning.
“Yeah it doesn’t make any sense to me either.” Matt said smiling.
“Shut up. I could be irresistible and you’re just to dumb to know it.” She said punching him in the arm.
“Either way you need to take this seriously. I’ve seen these situations before and you need to take the lead and straighten this out Ceecee.” Matt said seriously. He was once again in officer mode. Even though Matt had abused his power over civilians and prisoners in the past he had always been a highly efficient officer.
“Why me?” Ceecee asked.
“I need you to do it because you’re in command of your emotions in this instance. Now be a good soldier and fix this.” Matt said still using an official tone.
“Now?” Ceecee said.
“No, take care of the things he asked you to and when we’re done here go and find him and end this.” Matt said.
“Okay Matt I’ll take care of it.” Ceecee said.
“Thanks Ceecee, you’re a good soldier.” He said smiling.
Stella had been sitting in the dark room for several hours. She knew she had not been down in the hangar bay before she had gone down with Mykala. She knew the Sith enforcer was here in the palace planning to do something and when it happened once again no one would believe her and she would get the blame.
Stella had decided to leave the palace and Feloid space again. It was the only way to make sure the Enforcer would leave. Since the Enforcer was mimicking her appearance it would be impossible to stay if everyone knew Stella had left.
Once again she would have to leave her friends and live her life on the run. She wouldn’t leave a note explaining why she had left. She knew they thought she was crazy so any explanation would just make it sound worse. She got up and gathered her meager belongings and turned to leave.
There, across the room in the dark she could just make out the enforcer standing looking right at her. Stella froze unsure just what to do. She slowly slid her shaking hand down and took he light saber off her belt. The exact second she turned it on the Enforcer switched hers on as well. It was now or never. Stella leapt at the figure across the room at the same time she leapt at her. There was a loud crashing sound as Stella smashed into the mirrored door of the wardrobe cabinet. She fell backwards onto the floor surprised and humiliated. Stella shut off her light saber and sat up. She could feel the dozens of cuts bleeding from the broken glass from the mirror. There had been no Enforcer at all in the room just her own reflection in the dark. Stella hung her head and sobbed. She was loosing her mind. She couldn’t tell what was real and what wasn’t anymore. Stella felt the blood running down her arms and legs. She could feel the shards from the mirror still in her. Making her way into the bathroom and turning on the light she saw she was covered in blood. She took off her clothes and climbed into the shower. Stella pulled out each piece of glass and dropped them in a soap bowl on the wall.
How could she have slipped this far down? Attacking her own reflection in the dark like a frightened youngling. Had she become as useless as this? She had to leave tonight before anyone saw her like this.
She turned on the shower and washed the blood from her body. She was able to make some bandages from a linen sheet in the cupboard in the bedroom and get dressed once again. She grabbed her gear and left the room. She had become a complete liability to the group and realized that returning had been a mistake. She made her way down to the hangar bay and started over to her ship.
“Just one minute Ma’am.” Came the challenge from one of the Feloid guards. She could see he was looking at her warily.
“What seems to be the problem?” Stella asked as if everything was fine.
“Why are you covered in bandages? What happened to you?” he asked as he put his hand on his pistol.
She knew her actions earlier in the day would cause extra scrutiny on her but she had been so focused on leaving she didn’t think about how she looked covered in bloody home made bandages.
“I know this looks suspicious but it was just an accident. I really have to leave so if you could just stand aside I’ll be on my way.
From out of the darkness sprung a figure that struck down the security camera from behind. The guard talking to Stella wheeled around just in time to see the figure strike down the other Feloid guard with a light saber. Before he could react the attacker had pulled a blaster pistol and shot him in the head.
Stella froze unable to move. She was looking at herself attacking these men. The figure was dressed exactly as she was and had a patch covering a scared eye. It was the Sith enforcer in front of her looking exactly the way she had described her to the others. Stella could only stand and watch helplessly as the woman walked up to her and stared her in the face.
“Well if you’re going to leave now would be a good time.” The woman said.
“What have you done? They’ll never believe me now. They’ll think I did this.” Stella said horrified.
“That’s the idea Stella. You’ve been a bad girl. You’ve been too good at recruiting Rebels. Did you know that your friends have destroyed a space station and a Star Destroyer? They’ve destroyed quiet a lot and it’s all because you couldn’t just leave it alone. You had a good life as a smuggler but that wasn’t good enough for you. You had to go against the entire Empire. You even brought the Feloids into this. They were happy just to sit back and watch but you had to revive that old agreement with them. The agreement that said they would aid the Jedi. Well look how many people have died because of that. Thousands on both sides are dead because you had to interfere.” She said.
“The Emperor…it was the Emperor who started this not me.” Stella protested in a quivering voice.
“All he has done is to set things right. The natural order of things is being put back into place. The strong shall bring order once again. This is the way of life all over the Galaxy. Your way is the abomination not his.” Said the woman.
“Who are you? Where have you come from?” Stella asked finally.
“Haven’t you guessed? They cloned me. I was just one of the many things they did to you while you were a guest of Lyda Starkiller’s. I was just a small drop of your blood left over from one of your…sessions with her interrogators. I am an exact copy of you. They even cut out my eye to complete the deception.” She said lifting her light saber.
“So I guess you kill me now is that it?” Stella asked shaking.
“Not at all. Now I let you go. You’ll run away. The way I see it you have no other choice. If you stay they’ll arrest you and have you executed. You’ll be labeled a maniac and be put down like a rabid massif. If you run you still have a small chance of capturing me and bringing me back to prove your innocence. Of course you’ll have to find your courage again since it’s obvious that you have lost it somewhere in the last year.
Either way I’ll leave and continue tracking down Jedi. Everyone will believe it’s you in the end. If you stay and get yourself executed here in Feloid space no one will know that I’m not you. If you leave you’ll be hunted by the remaining Jedi as a traitor.” She said confidently.
One thing above all was true about what Stella’s clone had said. Stella had lost her nerve. She would run and try to hide. Lyda Starkiller’s torturers had knocked the fight out of her. They had done unspeakable things to her for months that tore into her confidence and ripped it out. She was a shell of her former self.
Stella watched as her clone walked into the shadows and disappeared. Stella heard the alarms begin to go off. The hangar bay door began to close. Without thinking she ran to her ship and jumped in. she fired the emergency thrusters and flew her long sleek black ship out through the opening at the last second.
Stella had to use every trick in her inventory to evade the planetary patrols. She was running for her life now. There was nowhere safe for her in the Galaxy as long as her clone was alive.
The next day Mykala was asked to meet with Lionette in her quarters. Mykala had made sure to be on time even though she had spent part of the morning trying to find Stella without any luck. Stella had seemed upset and not herself the day before so Mykala was still worried about her.
Neeka met Mykala in the grand hallway.
“Good morning Mykala, I hope you are well this day.” Neeka said bowing politely.
“Good morning Neeka. That’s a beautiful dress you have on, did Lionette buy it for you?” Mykala asked making light conversation.
“I bought this dress myself.” Neeka said with a slight tone of indignation. Mykala had forgotten that in Feloid culture only slaves need things bought for them. Neeka was free now and she could pay for her own clothes.
“Forgive me Neeka. I thought it might have been a gift to you. Of course you bought it. I meant no disrespect.” Mykala said awkwardly.
“No, forgive me. I forget sometimes the differences in our two cultures.” Neeka said apologetically.
“Anyway it is a nice dress.” Mykala said smiling.
“Thank you.” Neeka said as she bumped Mykala playfully with her hip.
The two walked up the huge stairway towards Lionette’s quarters. Mykala always was amazed at the wealth that the Ty clan had at their disposal. The palace was not just the Ty family home it was also the local seat of government. It was meant to impress foreign dignitaries and members of other clans.
“What’s this meeting about? Am I in trouble?” Mykala asked Neeka in a hushed tone.
“Not at all. All I know is she has some very important information for you.” Neeka answered in an equally hushed voice.
They stood in front of the massive doors that lead into the entrance of Lionette’s living quarters. Neeka had to push the huge door open by putting her back against it and walking backwards. Mykala helped by pushing with her one hand until it was open wide enough for them to walk through.
Once in the room they saw Lionette hurriedly getting ready for battle. She was wearing her hunting outfit. It was the brief outfit that she would wear when she may have to be in actual combat. She was just fastening her belt that held her light saber when she noticed them entering the room.
“I’m glad you’re here Mykala. I’m leaving with my best guardsmen for Tarsis station. A group of bounty hunters lead by a Sith enforcer has just killed a Jedi right in the middle of the town. They also killed several security force troopers that were stationed there. This can’t go unavenged. The attack was meant to be a message to all Feloids. The Sith is throwing down the gauntlet. They are challenging our decision to uphold our promise to protect the Jedi.” Lionette said.
“Do you want me to come?” Mykala asked.
“No, we have another problem. It seems Stella has killed two guards in the hangar and then took her ship to parts unknown. We’re not sure what happened because the security camera was destroyed before it could record what transpired. I want you to find out what happened. Stella was one of your people Mykala; I’d rather not interfere with your group. I trust you to get to the bottom of this for your sake. She was my friend too so please find the truth and do what needs to be done.” Lionette said in an official tone.
“I’ll do whatever needs to be done Lionette, you can count on me.” Mykala answered.
“Good, my security team will give you all the information we have.” Lionette said.
“Are you certain Stella killed those men?” Mykala asked. She wasn’t sure she wanted to know the truth.
“It certainly seems that way.” Lionette said. “One more thing Mykala. If Stella has gone mad she could be dangerous. What I mean is she has information about us all that shouldn’t fall into the wrong hands.” Lionette said looking at Mykala.
“What are you saying?” Mykala asked.
Lionette hesitated. “You know what I mean Mykala. We’re in a war for survival here. You know what you may have to do. Can we count on you if it needs to be done?” Lionette asked.
Mykala stiffened up. “I’ll do it if I have to but I’ll make that decision, no one else.” She said firmly.
“As you wish Mykala, the matter is in your hands now.” Lionette said satisfied.
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 02:30)