Back to Before
Lillith of Velor, Copyright, 1997, 1998, Infinity Bridge. All rights reserved.
The tiny, upturned face of the infant Tetrite gazed intently upon the giant form of her grandfather. She called him "Boopa", since it was so difficult to say "grandpa" at her age. She tried to discreetly chew her treat without him noticing. His visits were rare and he held a certain fascination for her. Her mother and father had spoken of him many times. Sometimes in hushed tones, but always with respect. He had lived through something terrible. A time long ago that lived not only in his aging memory, but in the soul of every Tetrite that had lived since.
"Would you like to hear a story, little one?" His kindly voice was coarse and gravely, but yet familiar to her. She nodded her tiny head rapidly, her eyes wide open.
"Then come sit beside me and I will tell you of a time long ago. A time of sorrow, of joy, and of heroes. A story that will take you back to before...."
Ansel Peak, The Faldref Mountains, midnight
The winds had been so calm before. The night had been so gentle. Now the gusts were making it difficult to even walk among the craggy bluffs of the Faldref. With the wind came the rain and the worry. Six Tetrites huddled within the shelter of a small cave. Their fuzzy faces illuminated in the bright glow of a warm fire. One Tetrite stood at the cave entrance peering out into the darkness as the wind continued to whip furiously over the rocks. Pelted with stinging raindrops that were propelled on the winds, this sentinel called back to the others, yelling loudly to be heard over the winds.
"WE SHOULD HAVE BEGUN THE DESCENT YESTERDAY! THE CYCLONES HAVE BREACHED THE FALDREF AND THE TIME OF TROUBLES HAS BEGUN! IF WE DO NOT LEAVE SOON, WE WILL BE LOST!"
A large tan Tetrite looked up from the fire. His voice was resolute as he yelled back to the sentinel.
"I WILL NOT LEAVE MY BROTHER! HE WILL RETURN SOON! HE HEARS!"
The sentinel was not convinced.
"HE HEARS OR HE IS DEAD! IF WE DO NOT DESCEND THE FALDREF, WE WILL ALL BE DEAD! PERHAPS HE COULD FOLL...." The sentinel interrupted himself at the sudden sight of an amber glow high on a distant outcrop, just off the cliffs of Ansel Peak. Through the gusting torrents of rain, he could barely make out a figure rising up from the rocks. It could only be the brother.
Few beings in the universe understood the subtleties of the Tetrites. They gathered knowledge but never left the planet. Some species thought the Tetrites bartered for information, others believed they stole it outright. Neither was true. They simply "heard" it.
The talent uniquely Tetritian was that they understood that thought had form and resonance. Thoughts and thus information, had form in that they traveled over great distances. In spite of a common and comfortable belief, a being's thoughts had never truly been their own. Their thoughts would radiate out in all directions. Thoughts that took a form so unusual in the universe that no species had ever before had the good fortune to stumble across them. Yet to the Tetrites, they were as commonplace as stone or air. These migrating thoughts had one other unique characteristic. Each bore a significant resonant content that could invoke a sympathetic resonance in a susceptible receptor. What this all meant was that, if a being thought something in a certain way, a particular Tetrite might be able to receive that thought and allow the natural resonance of the thought to recreate itself in the Tetrite's mind. The Tetrite would simply "hear" it.
It was difficult to accumulate knowledge this way. A Tetrite had to be listening properly at just the appropriate time to intercept a thought that was just the right frequency to reproduce itself in the mind of that particular Tetrite. The chances of any of them picking up any kind of thought was extremely small. Yet, they came to this place to listen in the hope of learning new and interesting things about the vast universe out there. So rare was it to "hear" that when one did, it was considered almost sacred.
The brother clung tenaciously to the rocks as the storm raged furiously around him. An amber glow surrounded him as he resonated to a passing thought. It was the same glow that would manifest in a Gathering, yet he stood alone. Thoughts flooded his mind as the wind and rain buffeted his body. The howling world tore at him, yet he stood firmly, eyes closed, taking in all he could. He could "hear" so clearly! Every word, every concept, every thought flooded in like the rain around him. The amber glow brightened as the information intensified. It was as if the little Tetrite thirsted and was drinking at the fountain of knowledge! The flow had just peaked when suddenly.......
The Tetrite jumped as if struck by lightning! The glow faded immediately. His fuzzy body heaved, barely able to catch his breath! His eyes darted left then right as if he were about to panic! A tiny mouth opened momentarily from a need to speak, but he could not! He had "heard" and the paralyzing fear that swept through him kept him in this place. Held him as if he was a prisoner. A prisoner of fear that frantically spun around and ran into the darkness of the night.
The fire had slowly drawn down as the Tetrites worked to restore the blaze to its former brilliance. More wood was delivered to the smoldering pit as the flames were nursed back to health by the blowing and stoking Tetrites. Just as the fire leapt back to life, a form crashed into the cave in a mad panic.
"WE MUST GO! WE MUST GO IMMEDIATELY!" The brother was screaming at the top of his lungs as if something horrible was after him.
"We may not be able to leave, brother. The Time of Troubles is upon us. We have decided...."
"NO! NO!! WE MUST GO! WE MUST TELL HER!"
"Calm yourself. Tell who."
"I HAVE INFORMATION! WE MUST WARN THE PROTECTOR!"
The habitat, 6:00 AM
Lillith was in a playful mood this morning. As William continued to sleep, she leaned over him and tried to coax his early morning dream. She talked as softly as she could so as not to wake him, but just loud enough for him to hear and maybe dream along to her prodding.
"I have looked for you all my life, Will'm."
"Mmmph." William shrugged and changed position. Lillith moved with him.
"I have looked for you, you handsome man. Do you know me?"
When the sleeping William murmured "No.", Lillith knew she made a connection.
"My name is Antra'L. Do you find me attractive?"
There was a pause before William murmured something unintelligible and turned away.
"Let me take my clothes off for you so you may see me better. Do you like that?"
"Yes. Antra'L is me. Do you like me?"
"...like you.....mmph, Lillith...."
"Lillith is not here. It is just you and me, Will'm. Do you want to make love to me?"
William tried to hide his smile but it was too late. Lillith saw that she had been caught as William's voice became much more focused.
"Lillith will never know. Come on, Antra'L! Let's get it on!" Lillith slapped him playfully as she moaned defeat.
"Ohhhhh, how long have you been awake?" She looked a bit disappointed that she couldn't catch her lover in the act with the fictitious Antra'L.
"For most of it, honey. I told you not to do that stuff with me. What are you trying to do? Get me in trouble? Leave my fantasy women alone!" William was scolding her without a sign of seriousness.
Lillith sat up as she lowered her head to give William her most effective sexy look. Arching her back, she pushed her chest out to lure her lover to her. Shrugging her shoulders forward made her breasts press together wonderfully, showing William the cleavage that he couldn't resist.
"I thought I was your fantasy, darling." Her smile only added to her playful sexiness.
"You are, kitten, you are. And sometimes you're a bit of a nightmare too." William sat up to nuzzle her neck lightly. A slow kiss of her neck made her tingle. Lillith couldn't help but draw a deep breath as she momentarily closed her eyes out of the pleasure of his kiss. When her eyes opened, her voice had a deep desire in it and an edge burned by the flames that were building within her.
"Aw, my poor baby. Do I abuse you?"
"I'd do anything to make it up to you, my love. Let me try?"
"Uh-huh!" William pulled her down on top of him as their lips met passionately. Her slender body moved alluringly over him as she adored the touch of his body to hers.
This scene was all too familiar to an extremely large blue dog sitting up expectantly nearby. Flare stopped wagging her tail, groaned miserably, and laid back down. "Play" with William would be delayed yet again and the injustice of the universe hung heavily over Flare this morning.
Flare had grown so large over the last year that she was extremely close to being banned from the habitat. When she stood, she was just a bit larger than a Clydesdale horse. To enter or exit the habitat, she had to crouch slightly. This made the passage awkward, yet she insisted on sleeping with William and Lillith overnight. Yet she did seem to know that the time was rapidly approaching when she would no longer be welcomed into the small habitat structure. An approaching time she tried desperately to ignore.
Phil had already climbed down from his rocky bed and was scuttling toward the door. Stopping briefly behind Flare, Phil tapped the dog's rump twice. Flare's massive head was up immediately. Her nose pointed directly at the large Tetrite peering over her backside.
"Flare, do you wish to accompany me outside. The Mistress and the William may be delayed."
All Flare heard was "blah-blah-blah-outside-blah-William-blah-blah.". She scampered to her feet and lunged toward the door, only to stop at the doorway to let Phil scuttle by. As the enthusiastic blue giant watched him pass, she barked once to urge him to go faster. He didn't.
"You really must try to enunciate. It is quite difficult for me to discern one word from another. For example, yesterday I distinctly recall you said......."
Flare groaned once more and tried to remember where the ball was.
The Arion Hypertransport, Cantreel, approaching the Tetra system, four days later, 3 AM.
The small ship felt like it was going to shake itself to pieces. So many sources of vibration interfered with each other to such a degree that rattles came and went, much to the annoyance of the passengers. Each new sound disturbed their concentration. A concentration that was essential on missions such as this.
There were four in the team. Three Primes and a lone Beta sat two-a-side and facing each other in the narrow assault craft. Dressed in specialized, black, disruptor-proof, Tachyon-deflecting body armor, each was a specialist in some form of warfare. Expertise that got them on the team. But only one thing kept them on the team - a common desire to kill Velorian Protectors.
The narrow black eyes of the team leader, Kolb, passed down the faces of his elite team. They were the best and they knew it. Look at them, he thought. They'd kill each other without so much as a fart to mark the time if I told them to. He was proud of that. It was one of the few things in life that Kolb gave even the smallest shit about. There was only one true desire, one deep need, one burning want in him. He loved to kill those damn Protector bitches. They were the challenge; the reason to live. They could kill him just as fast and just as well, yet he now lived and six of them were dead. His reputation grew, but only within the secured circles of the Arion military. Any military genius, that just couldn't figure out how to get rid of a Velorian Protector who was destroying his command, could request Section 5 help. `Section 5 Assist'. That request would reap Kolb and his team. At least this latest team. Kolb had gone through six full teams so far. He would lose people on each mission. Sooner or later they would all be dead. But not Kolb - he was the best!
Kolb lived alone in the deep underground keep of Section 5. His days filled with constant drill; constant training; constant planning - until a mission was accepted. Then he came up from his cold home gladly. His strength kept at its peak by liberal application of the artificial yellow suns that bathed every corner in their bright, powerful light. Strength that Kolb used so effectively in battle. Strength that he used just as effectively against his team to insure absolute obedience.
Kolb's eyes continued down the line of his team to Casan, the close-quarter combat specialist. Now there was a woman! She had a body like steel! Geheimite by birth, she grew up as an Arion. Hard, lean, unbelievably powerful, Kolb had once witnessed her take on a Velorian Protector by herself - an incredibly stupid thing to do. But what impressed him so much was that Casan had savagely beat the Velorian to death. That was so rare that it was thought impossible! She was solidly on the team after that.
Her red hair acted like a cape in front of Arion Prime bulls. No woman this powerful escaped the desire of those men. Yet no man had his way with her. Many died trying. Casan would have who Casan wanted and that was all anyone would have. Everyone now understood that. Except Tantrick. Kolb's stare moved to his weapons specialist.
If the Arion military had it in the arsenal, Tantrick could fire it, reload it, empty it again, strip it, clean it, reassemble it, and have it back on the line before anyone else got a shot off. He was that good. His job on these missions was special weapons and he loved his work. Almost as much as he loved trying to mate Casan.
Kolb could see Tantrick's eyes locked on the cleavage that showed through Casan's body armor. She finally noticed his gaze too. Kolb didn't have to hear to know the words when she leaned toward him and spoke. The momentary look of surprise on Tantrick's ugly face was quickly replaced with his usual look of lust for the mighty red-haired warrior. Even her cold expression didn't dampen his desire for her. Maybe it did just the opposite. She'll have to kill him someday, thought Kolb. Kill him or fuck him. One of the two. Maybe both. He smiled at that thought.
Finally, Kolb turned his head slightly to look at the Beta next to him. His smile faded. What was his name? It doesn't really matter. Betas never survive these missions. This one will be dead soon enough. As long as he saves that radio so they can get the pickup message out. That was the hierarchy of importance- the radio, then the Beta.
Kolb stared at the opposite wall of the craft just a few meters in front of his face. Good team. Good mission. We'll get in, kill this Lillith piece of shit, and get out before the locals know what's happening. Number 7.
The co-pilot turned his head slightly to be heard over the engine noise.
Kolb nodded and immediately barked the first order.
"Weapons and slings! Get `em tight!"
The team was just completing their final checks when the co-pilot flashed three fingers. Kolb barked again.
"Three minutes! Standby!"
The ship was running just below Mach-1 as it approached the surface on the planet. It's dark, stiletto shape cut through the night air without a whisper, The acoustics engineering that went into that ship worked perfectly as every sound produced by the ship was deflected back into itself. Deflected back into its occupants.
The din inside was horrendous as wind noise, engine noise, every whine, every click was focused into the hull of the ship to prevent detection. But none of the team complained. Their focus was entirely on the rear clamshell doors. Waiting. Waiting....
A loud buzzer sounded and each team member raised slightly from their seats. Almost immediately, the clamshell doors slammed open with a bang as four Arions flung themselves out of the speeding ship. Just as the last boot passed through the opening, the clamshell doors slammed shut, the ship nosed upward, and was gone in an instant.
Three invulnerable Arion Primes and one nearly invulnerable but tough as hell Beta impacted the water just off the white sand beach. At 500 miles an hour, a normal human would have been shattered against the hard surface of the ocean. But the Arions were expert at this form of assault. Their bodies knifed into the water cleanly as they used the momentum to push themselves closer to the shore.
Within minutes all four figures were moving quietly to the rocks just off the beach, dragging a pack behind them to cover their tracks.
Section 5 had safely arrived on Tetra.
Back to Before continues........