Hudd and Timtam watched frozen as the last of the little gray animals dissolved into the thick jungle. Everything was silent except for their beating hearts. Eventually they began to hear birds chipping and the buzzing of insects. It seemed the jungle was telling them everything was safe again.
Timtam made her way over to Hudd and was able to untie his wrists from behind his back. He quickly took the vine from around her neck and untied her wrists as well. They held each other tightly for what seemed like hours until they began to feel it was all really over. She looked up and saw one of the tiny animals sitting on a log that she sat on when she cooked. The animal was cleaning itself and grooming its hair. She didn’t know if the creature had just finished eating its share of one of the pirates or was a late comer and had nothing to do with the attack on them or not. It looked up at them and scurried over playfully and started to nudge Timtam’s hand seeking her attention. She carefully scratched the little animal’s head and cheeks causing it to purr and roll around on its back
“I think it’s over.” She whispered too Hudd.
“What the hell was that?” Hudd replied. He knew exactly what happened but he was still stunned by the savagery of these tiny animals.
“They saved us…they didn’t have to do anything but they did. They protected us Kero!” Timtam said.
It was true.
They had accepted Timtam and Hudd into their group and came to their defense as if they were the same species.
“Do me one favor from now on honey?” Hudd asked.
“What’s that?” she replied curious.
“The next time we come across a cute little animal that wants a little food and I tell you not to feed it, will you promise to ignore me again?” Hudd said staring at the animal rolling around and purring.
Timtam grinned. “I promise.”
They got up and began to survey the damage. After they left the pirates must have followed their friends here and trashed the camp looking for clues to where they had gone. Hudd breathed a sigh of relief when he found the generator Timtam had made was still working fine. The pirates must have made the decision to come back here to the pod and us it as their base since they didn’t break anything of consequence.
“Tomorrow I’ll have to go up to their wrecked ship and make sure there wasn’t anybody else left up there. They probably have supplies we can use too.” Hudd said rubbing his knee.
“You can’t make it up there, at least not until your knee gets better. I’ll go and take a look around. At least I can bring back any food packs and tools and stuff.” Timtam said looking up at Hudd as she rubbed his knee.
Hudd noticed how calm she was and how quickly she had pulled herself together after their ordeal. It was the first time it hit him how tough she actually was. It must be due to her life as a slave. Even if you were beaten and abused you were still expected to get up and perform your duties, no time was given for recovering from such ordeals.
“I know you can do it Timtam but I’d feel better if I went. I wouldn’t know what to do if something happened to you.” Hudd said.
Timtam smiled. “Don’t worry, we have an army now.” She leaned back and rubbed the little animal’s belly causing it to twist and paw at her hand.
“We got lucky. I wouldn’t count on our little friends doing that all the time for us.” Hudd smiled. He looked at Timtam. She had the look of a child wanting to please her elders. She wanted to show what she could do.
“Alright, you can go by yourself. But take one of the fully charged blasters with you, oh, and cover up your hair. If anyone is still alive up there they’ll see you coming from a mile away.” Hudd grinned.
Timtam smiled and tussled her bright pink hair at Hudd causing them to laugh. Her gesture helped to relieve the tension. They both new that tomorrow’s trip up the hill to the wreck of the pirate ship wouldn’t be easy.
Bronski pulled himself into the space between the two doors. The inner door had been blown open part of the way allowing a gap large enough to crawl through. Without hesitation he squeezed through the opening forcing his way into the engine room. He looked around frantically for any Imperial crewmen. Back against the wall was a mechanic on the floor stunned. Bronski grabbed the mechanic’s toolbox and raised it over his head with both hands. The mechanic realized what he was about to do and screamed as Bronski brought it down on his head as hard as he could smashing his skull. Bronski quickly opened the toolbox and grabbed the biggest screwdriver and hammer he could find and set out after the crew.
“Bronski! What’s going on out there?” Matt called into his helmet microphone.
“I’m inside the engine room. We’ve killed five so far, that leaves thirty-five. Get some of those troopers inside here to give me a hand.” Bronski said calmly.
“Okay I’m sending them in but don’t try anything until they get there, you’re way out numbered.” Matt said hoping Buck would take his advice.
Bronski looked around the corner. There were about ten or so technicians trying to put on vacuum suits before the air rushed out. Without hesitation he charged around the corner and started yelling and swinging wildly. The technicians tried to run but between Bronski’s murderous attacks and the lack of air they were all dead in just a matter of minutes.
“What’s going on here?” a storm trooper had come around the corner pointing his blaster at Bronski. Bronski realized then that he was wearing the same type of Imperial vacuum suit as the others since he had gotten it from the same ship.
“Help me.” Bronski coughed and fell to one knee.
The storm trooper put an arm around Bronski to help him up just as Bronski jabbed the long screwdriver up under the storm troopers helmet. He twisted the shaft vigorously inside the man’s skull to finish him quickly and then let him slump down on to the floor dead. Now Bronski had a blaster fully charged and ready for action.
He looked behind him for his backup but no one was there.
“I thought you were sending help damn it!” Bronski barked into his helmet microphone.
“They’re coming, just hold on to whatever ground you’ve taken.” Matt snapped back.
Two storm troopers rounded the corner and started firing at Bronski. Their armor had an oxygen reserve in case of situations like this. Most of the techs didn’t wear vacuum suits or storm trooper armor so unless they were able to get to an emergency suit they were probably dead by now.
Bronski fired back hitting one. He had positioned himself behind an oxygen pump relay. They were made of heavy gauge metal that gave him an advantage over the storm troopers. The relay pump could absorb the blaster bolts because of its thickness but storm trooper armor wouldn’t stop blaster fire at this close range.
The second storm trooper ducked back behind the corner, most likely to wait for back up. They were in a stand off, but not for long. Bronski knew the storm trooper had called for back up by now. Bronski’s back up wouldn’t be there for a bit longer if they showed up at all. There was only on thing to do.
His opponents would only become more numerous the longer he waited. Bronski stepped out around the relay pump and crept along the wall holding his blaster at head height. The storm trooper looked around the corner and down the sights of Bronski’s blaster. Before he could pull the trigger he felt a crushing pain in his chest. He couldn’t catch his breath and fell to his knees cursing. It was his heart again. It had stopped cooperating with him for the last time. The storm trooper was stunned for a moment at Bronski not shooting him. After he realized what was happening he leaned over and looked at Bronski’s face through the visor of his vacuum suit. He saw an angry old grizzled face staring back trying to cuss at him through his pain. The storm trooper placed his blaster against Bronski’s helmet.
“I’ll give you a warrior’s death old timer.” The storm trooper said.
There was the sudden cracking sound of a blaster bolt hitting a helmet.
“Not if I give you one first.” Matt said firing his blaster. The storm trooper fell back onto the floor dead. Matt had arrived just in time.
Matt ran over too Bronski and fired a few shots down the hall from where the storm trooper had come from incase Imperial troops were moving up.
“Bronski! Bronski! Get up!” Matt shouted frantically. Buck lay limp on the floor. Matt looked around frantically. He saw the storm trooper and rifled through his utility belt.
There was a sound from down the hall so Matt fired two more shots around the corner blindly.
He quickly went back to the belt and kept searching.
“Nice time to crap out on me you old bastard.” Matt said half under his breath cursing his friend.
He found it, the emergency med kit on the belt. Matt hurriedly opened the kit and found the injector. A storm trooper burst around the corner firing wildly. Matt had been lucky due to the fact that he had been kneeling down helping Bronski. The storm trooper kicked Matt knocking the injector out of his hand and onto the floor. Immediately the storm trooper and Matt were wrestling in vicious hand-to-hand combat for their lives. Both had knocked each other’s blasters out of each other’s hands and onto the floor. Matt slipped and wound up on his back with the storm trooper on top of him. Matt fought as hard as he could but the storm trooper was better. The storm trooper put his forearm across Matt’s throat and pressed all his weight against it. Everything started to go black. Matt’s last thought was of Pep and how he let her down when she needed him the most.
Destriss, Pep, and Mykala all crowded into the cockpit as they flew slowly over the surface of the gray dead moon. The transmission was getting stronger as they neared the source. Destriss slowed the ship even more as they came to the outer rim of a huge crater.
“It’s coming from inside this crater.” Mykala confirmed looking at the instruments. They all looked at each other apprehensively and nodded in agreement that they should continue on into the crater.
Almost at once they saw a battered wreck of a ship below them. It looked as if it had been here a long time. Destriss flew closer to the ship for a better look. There were large holes smashed through the hull exposing an endless tangle of piping and wires twisted and broken. Hull plates had been knocked loose and were missing presumably by the impact of the crash. There was no energy signature coming from the ship at all except the beacon.
“Looks like a dead end. Well it was worth a try anyway.” Destriss said looking at Mykala and Pep.
“It’s a trick!” Pep said suddenly.
They looked back at the ship and saw it flicker and disappear. Another ship identical to the wreck but in pristine condition could be seen in its place powering up. There was a vibration that shook their ship as they felt a tractor beam hit them and hold them in place.
“They were using a hologram projector!” Mykala said angrily.
Destriss pushed the throttle forward hoping the ship’s engines were more powerful than the tractor beam.
“Shut down your engines. You can’t escape.” A voice said over the transmitter. “You’re the prisoner of Isseh Startreader. If you don’t shut down your engines I’ll blow you out of the sky.”
They saw the now fully visible ship leveling two large over charged turbo lasers at their ship.
Pep put her hand on Destriss’s hand on the throttle. “There’s nowhere to run, let’s hear her out.” Pep said. Destriss saw a tiny glint in her eye. He remembered what she was capable of and throttled back. He realized now that they weren’t in any real danger as long as Pep was with them.
Destriss throttled back the engines until they were idling.
“What is it you want from us?” Mykala asked.
“You’re the ones that came looking for me. I sent the coded transmission and you showed up in an Imperial ship so if you have any brains in your head at all you’d better start understanding your situation a little better.” The woman’s voice was sounding more irritated now.
“Hold on now…you’re right, we came too you so it’s us that owes you an explanation.” Destriss interjected. “We escaped from the Empire and we need help. We have a Jedi on board and two citizens of the Feloid confederacy. We stole the ship in the escape, that’s why it’s Imperial.” Destriss said.
There was a moment of silence from the other ship then the Captain gave her demands.
“You will dock your ship with ours. Bring your belongings in a bag or something like that. Be wearing only your undergarments when you board and prepare to be searched thoroughly.” Isseh Startreader said.
“Isn’t that being a little paranoid?” Mykala said.
“I’ve been helping people get out of Imperial space for three years now and I’m still alive because of that paranoia sister now stop wasting time and dock your ship.” Isseh replied frustrated.
“I’m docking the ship now Captain…and thanks for the rescue.” Destriss replied.
“Less talking more docking.” Isseh said slightly less irritated.
Destriss maneuvered the ship down to Isseh’s ship and docked. Pep, Mykala and, Destriss grabbed everything they could carry from the Imperial ship and waited by the airlock. The door opened and a rush of air met them.
Every ship had a different smell and Isseh’s had the smell of a working ship. Oil and sweat lingered in air but in a good way. This was a ship that had seen action and survived it. It had the smell of survival.
Two human crewmen stood on either side of the airlock motioning them to come aboard. They wore military style clothing consisting of several different cultures and races. Destriss, Mykala and, Pep walked into the ship holding their bags and trying to remain dignified despite their limited attire. Two more crewmen took their belongings and started to check them. They were ushered through the main hallway and up to the command center of the ship. There were several storm trooper helmets with precision blaster marks on them, presumably trophies from past battles. Several other Imperial trinket’s hung around the various control consuls in the room denoting this ships many victories over the Empire’s best.
A woman with long black hair and dressed in what was obviously a custom tailored Captains uniform in gold silk and lace came up the stairs from the cockpit. She was tall with a dark complexion and full figured in all the right places. She held her head up high as she examined her new guests.
“I am Isseh Startreader, Captain of this ship. You answered the coded Rebel transmission I sent. At this point, until your identities are cleared, you will be presumed to be spies working for the Empire. You will most likely find this insulting; to bad!” she snapped suddenly.
“I only care about my crew and it’s mission so if that means I wind up hurting your feelings while doing that, so be it.”
“The charges are set Captain.” A voice said over the intercom.
“Okay, let’s get out of here.” Isseh said over her shoulder and down the stairs too the crewmen in the cockpit. The ship lifted off gently and flew low across the crater. Isseh turned on a monitor that gave them a good view of the Imperial ship they had just left. She pushed a button on the consul setting off the charges around the ship in the crater blowing huge clouds of dust up and over the ship.
“Those explosions covered the ship so no one will find it. Plus, if we need one like that we can always come back and get it.” Isseh smiled.
“You certainly seem to know your business.” Mykala commented.
“So what’s your story? A Jedi, and two Feloids on the run from the law. How did you all wind up here?” the Captain asked suspiciously.
“I am part of Rebel group that has been operating out of Feloid space for the past year now. The girl and myself were captured and our friend Destriss here rescued us. There wasn’t time too plan a thorough escape so the get away was kind of sloppy. We were just fortunate that we found you.” Mykala said as pleasantly as she could.
“We’ll check all this out of course but for now you’ll be restricted to the quarters you will be assigned to. Afterwards you’ll be given duties on this ship until we can get you to a safe location.” Isseh said as she checked the instruments in front of her.
“We were hoping to get back to Feloid space as soon as possible. We need to let our friends know we’re okay. They might send others to look for us.” Destriss said.
“I understand all of that Feloid but until we can get to a communications center we can’t risk sending a message that might get intercepted by the Empire.” Isseh said.
“How do you do it? How do you manage to stay alive helping Rebels right here in Imperial space?” Pep asked suspiciously.
“I’ll tell you how, I make a plan and stick to it. If anyone tries to change it or second-guess it they take a walk out of the airlock. I know that sounds harsh but it keeps us alive. I don’t change the plan and I don’t debate it.” Isseh said as she looked each one of them in the eye.
Pep, Destriss, and Mykala all took her meaning. She was in charge and that was the end of the debate. Their best bet was to go along with whatever Isseh told them to do and not make trouble.
“Take these three to the med-bay and have Doc check them for tracking devices inside and out then take them to the cargo deck and set them up some bunks, I’ll give them their new work assignments in the morning.” Isseh said to one of her crew.
They were all escorted down the hall. Pep looked back over her shoulder at Isseh. There was something more to her than they could tell by this brief encounter. Pep sensed she had a secret agenda and although she was very smart and brave she never said why she risked her life over and over just to save strangers.
Within two days Light of the sky had a functioning lab assembled for Lennut Nonrut. He was adamant that she begin at once manufacturing his own supply of Mothers Milk. Lennut was able to convince Light of the sky that Lionette should assist her. After all, Lionette could read and write whereas none of the cat girls could making them unable to handle chemicals and record notes. Also Sister had been given the task of overseeing the lab and the manufacture of the Mothers Milk. She was the only person that Light of the sky trusted enough to do the job.
Unknown to Light of the sky, Sister had agreed to help Lennut and Lionette escape.
Sister had overheard that Dahnor Swagg had volunteered to negotiate with the Ty Clan for Lionette’s return. Lionette was livid that it was their intent to try and haggle over her like a wagonload of grain in the market place. If she ever returned home she had to do it on her own. Her addiction to the drug and wanton behavior under its influence had destroyed her chances at ruling ever again. She new she had no choice in the matter but others wouldn’t believe her story especially with a brother like Mundis. Her enemies would say she was a thrill seeking pleasure monger that just got in over her head.
There was also the fact since she was a Royal and was no longer a virgin she was unable to marry another Royal since there would always be doubt about any offspring’s parentage due to her past.
Of course none of these traditions was fair to her in anyway but it was just how the culture worked.
The first batch of Mothers Milk would be finished by weeks end. Lennut explained that she would have no choice but to make the vile drug as long as they were all still prisoners in the fortress. Light of the sky would have to be sure that they had decided to do his biding and not try to escape.
As it was now the next step would be to make the antidote for Lionette. Everything would hinge on the fact that she would have to pilot whatever ship they could get hold of. In addition they might have to fight their way to freedom and once again any situation like that would hinge on Lionette’s fighting prowess.
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 02:57)