On the planet of Coriollis-Rho, near the Secru Cluster
It was a near perfect evening as the Council of the Six Races gathered, as they always did around this time. There was little new business to discuss and the old business held little interest too. Perhaps a relaxed night of swapping oft repeated war stories and pleasantly idle chit-chat would happen again. After all, even the leaders of an entire planet needed to have a light schedule once in a while.
The sudden inward shattering of the doors to the Council Chamber eliminated that possibility immediately. Chief Council Micv pounded his fist on the table before bellowing at the female figure stepping lightly over the debris that was once the beautiful matched pair of ancient hand-carved wooden doors to the chamber. Doors that had, only a moment before, been closed.
"What on Rho do you think you're doing, A'ya! Do we have to suffer another of your tantrums tonight? It will cost hundreds to repair that entrance!"
Walking toward him was a tall, powerfully built, blonde woman, wearing the uniform of a Velorian Protector. She had the appearance of an incredibly fit and beautiful woman of about thirty to thirty-five Earth-years. By Velorian aging, she was in her early one-hundreds.
She walked with a cool assurance, her hips rolling gently, indicating with every step how well she knew her powers. Powers to seduce and powers to destroy. Powers she no longer saw any difference to.
Her long blonde hair fell perfectly across wide shoulders, down her chest to flow over her large breasts, large even by Velorian standards, and down her carved, muscular back. A'ya's beauty and power were legendary among Velorian Protectors. She was considered the epitome of Supremi achievement and idolized by many a young Protector.
At the angry outburst of Chief Council Micv, she only shrugged, uninterested in the cost of it or anything like it.
"I came to speak to you and resent doors closed to me. I dealt with them, that is all. Now I will deal with you." Her eyes narrowed, as if challenging anyone to doubt her ability to do so.
Seeing the uselessness of arguing with her, knowledge of which came from constant experience with her demands over the years, Chief Council Micv sighed heavily and slumped into his chair. Around him, the angry Council members did the same. Better to deal with A'ya's demands now in order to get back to the quiet evening that everyone had so hoped for.
"What is it now, A'ya?" he groaned.
"Where is the temple?"
"A'ya, we've been over this a hundred times. There is no....." A'ya slammed her fist down on the table, shattering the spot where her fist impacted.
"I COMMANDED you to build that temple, Micv! There is no discussion to it! I have commanded and you will obey. You will ALL OBEY!"
Micv tried hard to keep himself calm. When A'ya was like this, to be truthful, it scared the hell out of him, so too every one of the other Council members. She had become more irrational over the years, culminating in her recent demands that the people of Rho now worship her as their one true Goddess! The people of the planet were, unfortunately, evidently more sophisticated than the Velorian Protector making the demands. Most of them chose to merely turn their backs on her. Some, unwisely, laughed openly at the idea. Their mocking of her drove her over the edge and the first handful to die silenced the rest. The sight of the victims torched in the street by the angry heat beams from the Protector was a rude wake-up call. Everyone on the planet now suspected that their Protector might be going insane, but none spoke openly about what to do about it.
Staring up into her intense blue eyes, Micv knew he had to calm her down or she might, well, she might just do anything.
"These things take time, A'ya. Architects have to be contracted and supplies allotted. We all want your temple to be the grandest of them all! After all, to be worthy of such a goddess as yourself is..."
"Don't patronize me, Micv! I know what you bastards are up to and your dawdling is beginning to anger me!"
One of the older Council members let his temper get the better of himself as he leaned forward over the table. The contempt in his voice and in his eyes were flung uncaringly at the woman.
"Your arrogance has angered and alienated the people of this planet, woman!"
A'ya exploded at him!
"ARROGANCE? You speak to me of arrogance while your own prevents you from giving an obviously higher being her due?" A'ya raised her hand to point her slender finger at the old man's head. "Your species is not fit to exist!" Now even Micv couldn't restrain himself as his own anger took over his voice, his words spitting out at her like bullets from a gun.
"And what will you do now, A'ya, that you haven't done before? What must we endure this time?"
A'ya did not answer. She merely straightened to walk along the length of the Council's table, the fingers of her slender hand dragging along its smooth, glass surface. The eyes of the furious men followed her as she calmly walked to the nearby open balcony that overlooked the central capital city. Far below the stone balcony, the city lights twinkled under a moonless night sky. After looking out at the peaceful scene, A'ya calmly turned back to the group, the hint of a crooked smile forming on her lips.
"I have decided to leave this sacrilegious pisshole for the more promising prospects of the open universe."
Her statement hit the Council like a bombshell. Now they all freely shouted their epithets at her!
"Your oath! What of your oath?"
"You betray your birthright!"
"What of the protection of this planet, you coward!"
A'ya bore it all calmly, finally holding up a hand to quiet them.
"Oh, you won't need a Protector on this planet anymore."
The Council, confused by her last statement, worriedly looked at each other as A'ya turned back to the open-air balcony. Suddenly, she emitted two brilliant bursts of heat vision out into the night sky before turning back to face the Council with a now supremely confident smile. "You won't need anything anymore. I've taken care of everything."
Suddenly, a low rumbling could be heard as the ground began to shake. With looks of horror on their faces, the Council members watched as imposing dark hulls of Arion battlecruisers settled low over the city, the city lights casting an eerie illumination along the bottoms of their massive structures. Throughout the expansive city, sirens instantly began to wail, alerting the citizens of the terrible danger now overhead and meant to call the Protector. The Council was stunned into silence, none of them really believing what he was seeing! Was the Protector truly going to stand idly by as Arions invaded the planet? One very old member feebly muttered "You.....you cannot....."
"Oh, I can," A'ya shot back. "That is what I have always tried to explain to you ignorant nothings." A'ya majestically raised her outstretched arms from her sides, the unimaginable scene of hostile alien warships hovering over a helpless city behind her. "You do not believe that I am omnipotent? That I am all powerful? Then believe me now when I tell you that not only can I give you your life....I have the power to take it away!"
As if on cue, every Arion warship suddenly opened fire on the city! Thousands of red and blue pulses flashed wildly from the guns of each ship, each pulse ending in a massive explosion on the surface. The Council pulled back from the sight of the carnage, the heat from the explosions could be felt across their faces. The terror on the streets below was being carried up to their ears by the frantic screams of the people! Even with the din of the bombardment, the screams of the dying city could still be heard!
A'ya laughed heartily at the gaping, horrified Council. Even as she rose slowly into the air from the balcony, her laughing tore at them! A laugh all the more demented as it mocked the death below and mocked an entire species betrayed. Gaining speed, A'ya rose further from the planet's surface, now engulfed in flame and death. The Six Races of Rho were in the process of being annihilated!
A'ya, the Protector of Coriollis-Rho, never took a moment to look back.
Four years later, somewhere near the Tetra system
She could hear nothing. Sound had no way to come from somewhere. In deep Space, especially out this far, there was also nowhere for it to go.
Lillith flew through the emptiness of Space faster than she had ever dreamed of flying before! The stars ahead of her were a brilliant blue while those behind had their light shifted to a deep red. She approached a free-flight speed that was considered to be impossible for a Velorian Protector to achieve, yet, the color-shift of the stars told her that she was approaching the speed of light and it was exhilarating!
Lillith stretched her one hand out as far as she could while tucking the other hand tightly to her side. Dressed in her blue uniform and cape, she tightened every muscle in her body to accelerate just a little more, to go just that little bit faster! She could feel herself inch closer to the threshold that belonged to light itself! The stars began to stretch as her mass increased! She too began to lengthen as she accelerated faster and faster! Hydrogen molecules impacting her face heated her skin until it glowed! Just as she felt she could go no faster, a blinding flash.....
Lillith stood alone in a barren desert. All around her, the subtle winds moved the sand over rolling dunes. There were no trees, no rocks, nothing to disturb the endless panorama of dunes. Nothing, except a single figure dressed head to foot in dark rags standing motionless on the peak of a dune nearly a mile away. The figure had his back to Lillith and took no notice of her. Just as Lillith opened her mouth to call to him, the figure was instantly only a few feet away, still with his back to her. His rags were dirty, grimy, almost black with filth. Lillith caught herself in time to keep from calling out and now merely spoke in a most casual, yet curious, manner.
"What place is this?"
The figure did not turn, nor answer.
"Please? What place is this?"
Slowly, the head of the figure turned to peer from behind its hood of rags. The skin on the nearly colorless face was wrinkled and distorted like gray tree bark. The eyes were orange pupils in a narrow setting of the most sickening yellow. The look in those eyes was almost of contempt. The figure said nothing, only stared.
"Sir, why am I ..."
"Do you not fear the Fallen?" he interrupted, with a voice as dry and lifeless as the sands around him.
"I'm sorry, the Fallen? Why would..."
Lillith now stood in a rainforest at midday. The sunlight barely pierced the thick overhead canopy of leaves, vines, and an assortment of arboreal growth. Beneath her feet, the soft mud, lichen, and rotting discards from above were revealed in a small clearing of the surrounding undergrowth. Across the clearing, the same ragged figure now faced toward her, yet with his head bowed to be hidden within the tattered hood. Lillith did not try to approach him and merely tried again to call out to him.
He slowly raised his head. A head set so deep within the shadows of the hood that only his craggy mouth was revealed in the broken sunlight. Lillith tried again.
"Sir, I may be lost. Who are you and where...."
"Do you not fear?" His question had the sound of a test to it, still the question made no sense to Lillith.
"Fear? Fear what?"
As if the Universe blinked, the figure now spoke just inches behind her left ear. The sound of his voice so close made Lillith momentarily freeze in place!
Lillith spun around instantly to see only an ocean surf fall noisily on the beach where she now stood alone. Confused, Lillith turned back around and found herself face to face with the figure, who silently grinned at her. Lillith jumped a bit with surprise, a move that only made the figure broaden the grin more. He raised a boney finger to point to her. A finger that had a long, greenish fingernail that curved downward for many inches from neglect.
"You. You do not fear, but you will learn soon enough."
Lillith finally caught her breath.
"What is the Fallen? What must I do?"
The figure only wheezed a dusty laugh at her innocent questions.
"Do? You must do as all have tried. You must live to preserve."
Lillith's voice grew stern. She was tiring of this game where every question's answer was a riddle.
"And just what do I have to do to live?"
Both Lillith and the figure were now standing together on the peak of a massive black granite mountain. The valleys so far below were masked by clouds that passed many thousands of feet below. Overhead, more clouds of a darker and more ominous appearance swirled as jagged and intensely brilliant lightening flashes exploded everywhere! Yet, even with the fearsome storm in the heavens around them, the figure's voice now boomed louder than even the thunder!
"TO LIVE YOU MUST FEAR! DO YOU NOT FEAR THE FALLEN?"
The mountain began to shake violently as his voice exploded in her ears! All around her, rocks began to split and crumble!
"DO YOU NOT?" His form suddenly began to grow immense in front of her, rising up into the boiling sky, changing into a nearly featureless black monster with eyes that burned with an intense green flame! Long, undulating tentacle flared outward from the most hideous monster that Lillith had ever seen! Roaring those same words over and over, the monster towered over her menacingly! The ground shook so violently that she could barely stay on her feet! His words tore at her! "DO YOU NOT FEAR THE FALLEN? DO YOU NOT FEAR?" Suddenly the monster flung himself down onto her to destroy her himself!
"Huh!" Lillith sprang upright in her bed. Her eyes were open wide; her sweating body slowly eased its trembling. She looked quickly around the dark room, at William still slumbering peacefully next to her, at the silhouette of Phil on his rock in the moonslight through the window. She was home and it was all a dream. Just a bad dream, that's all.
Lying back down, Lillith stared out into the darkness until she realized that sleep would not return for her tonight. She slipped quietly out of bed and moved silently to an unoccupied window across the room. Looking out across the Tetra desert landscape, the light of three moons illuminated everything in a ghostly blue-green light. For as far as she could see with her normal vision, thousands of Tetrites slept peacefully on a sea of smooth rocks and within their own nests underground. The stillness enveloped her, gathering her into its arms like a child to its mother. There was comfort there and peace and normalcy. Everything she hoped for was in the embrace of the night. Yet the young Protector of the planet sensed something in the vast night sky. Something perhaps that could be driven away with a few softly murmured words and a sigh.
"Fear the Fallen.....pistu, that's nutsy stuff."
The following morning
Lillith's reflection in the bedroom mirror looked back at her eye to eye, except when it peered analytically at her cheeks. Turning her head from side to side, the eyes of the reflection rotated in the opposite direction to maintain their stare at her cheeks. Lillith would puff her cheeks out, reducing her mouth to little more than a puckered island of lips before releasing the air with a shrug. She just could not understand why William would tease her about her `chubby cheeks'. Her cheeks were perfectly....
"Lillith! Honey, are you going to check out that moon impact today?" William's voice startled her as it shot up the stairs. She quickly made a silly face at the reflection as she jumped to her feet. The reflection made the face right back at her.
"Yeah, today's good!"
William's voice returned. "I'll get a sitter then. That alright?"
Lillith was at the window, looking up at the sky to determine the weather. Sunny and clear from what she could see. "S'okay! See if what's-her-name is available again, would you? I'll be right down."
"You know! What's-her-name!"
William had no idea who she was talking about. "Okay!"
Within minutes, Lillith appeared in the frontier kitchen of their habitat. Without electricity, they used a little ingenuity to make it all work pleasantly enough, although William planned to get one of those spiffy new fusion energy units from the Scalantran traders one of these days. Without saying a word, Lillith looked down at a tiny baby wrapped head to foot in white blankets and resting peacefully in a comfortable crib . The puckered face of Mara'Lyn changed little as her little body expanded and contracted with the normal respiratory rhythm of a newborn. Her mother's fingers caressing her with a light, loving touch.
"Hmm, still sleeping. All she does is sleep." Lillith found yet another thing to worry about.
"Must have gotten that from you, dear." William's joke only got a menacing sideways glance from her.
William was sitting at the table with Phil, the usual papers spread out before him as he worked on his latest idea for a flying machine. He didn't look up when he heard Lillith's bare feet pad along the kitchen floor because he was busy making some critical measurement. At least, the way he was hunched over the paper, it appeared to be a very critical measurement. He did manage to continue to speak to her though.
"You hungry, babe?"
"Not really. Coffee?"
Lillith looked on the shelf for her cup but it was still sitting by the wash tub where she had placed it yesterday. Thinking for a moment about washing it out, she decided instead that all she really wanted was just a little bit of coffee to start her day. Cupping her hand, she poured a little of the steaming hot liquid into it and slurped it up in one gulp. It felt so good going down that a little more would be nice too! Just as she was about to pour more scalding coffee into her hand, she noticed that William and Phil were staring at her. William did not look pleased. Phil was just observing.
"Lillith, I thought we talked about this."
Lillith nodded rapidly as she put the gray steel pot back on the hot stones that kept it warm. "I know, I know, `if you're going to drink that much, use a cup'." The way she mimicked William scolding her made him smile. "I'll wash my cup." Daily household chores can just wear a Protector down sometimes. William shook his head to stop her.
"No, honey, I'll wash the dishes when we're done. Here, have some of mine." He pushed his full coffee cup toward her across the table. Lillith gladly abandoned the wash tub for it. Raising the cup to her lips with one hand, she draped her other on his shoulder and leaned her thigh against his arm as she peered down at the lines and numbers that filled the papers on the table.
"Is that the latest, Will'm?"
"Yep! I thought we'd give it a shot today."
"Hmm..." The coffee cup had possession of Lillith's mouth at the moment, but it soon cleared out of the way enough to allow her to speak. "What's different?"
William pointed to some obviously fresh lines and numbers. "This wing attachment point just wasn't sufficient to handle the loads."
Lillith's nodded. "That's no good."
"Nope. The spar's alright, it's beefy enough, but I'm concerned about lateral loading during initial climbout."
"Hmm." The coffee cup had control again for a moment. "That lateral stuff is bad."
"I mean, she'll climb like a homesick angel, but that's the problem."
Lillith set the empty coffee cup down, sighed, and nodded approvingly as she looked vacantly at the papers, her eyes not knowing where to look as they traveled everywhere across them. William cleared his throat.
"No idea what I'm talking about, eh?"
"Alright, then Phil and I will take care of this and you go...oh, I dunno....check a moon!"
"Okay!" Lillith kissed William quickly. "Bye! Love you! Bye, Phil!"
"The warmest of good mornings to you, Mistress!"
Another quick check of the baby and Lillith bounded out the door. She flashed quickly by the window as she flew up into the morning sky.
William raised his coffee cup to his lips only to find that it was empty. Mumbling something obscure, he got up to refill the cup and to take another look at the sky.
"Weather's still good, Phil. Wind's light too. Good day for a test. When the sitter gets here, we'll go."
"How do you wish to proceed today, sir?"
"Standard method, Phil. Same as all the other times."
"Most wise, sir."
At the edge of the Sanvelt Plain, 1100 hours, local time.
Through the silence of the desert, a solitary Tetrite traveler made his way around the rocks on his way to the Sanvelt Plain. He always looked forward to the easier travel in the Sanvelt during his pilgrimage to the Faldref Mountains. As comfortable as most of them were to lie upon, the rocks had to be constantly gone over or around, slowing his progress immensely. The Sanvelt meant easy going and he was nearly there!
The Sanvelt was the largest open area on the planet. One hundred and fifty miles wide and over five hundred miles long, it was similar in appearance to the Bonneville Salt Flats on Earth - only much larger. No one live out there and it had its own set of hazards for the unprepared traveler. To cross it, one needed water, food, the ability to navigate, and patience. A great deal of patience. The traveler was no stranger to the Sanvelt, the pack on his back filled with the necessities attested to that.
Finally, the Sanvelt was within reach. Pausing to look out across the brilliant white expanse of flat nothing, he felt the familiar awe that he always felt when seeing it all again. That feeling of awe and another of complete isolation, for there were no signs of any other living creature as far as his black eyes could see. With a slow deliberate move, he placed one leg on the sandy threshold of the Sanvelt to begin the journey.
The traveler jumped from the shock of a sudden loud screeching pip-whistle! Startled, he looked up to see a another Tetrite running toward him holding a small red flag on a stick. The Tetrite also had a chrome whistle in his mouth, looking in every way like a frantic coach for a Tetrite Soccer League.
It was Phil.
"Oh, my goodness! You must not walk upon the Sanvelt today! I must forbid it!" Phil was frantically waving the small red-plastic flag in front of an obviously annoyed Tetrite.
"I would find it most accommodating if you would cease that motion! I must be on my way." The Tetrite shifted slightly to the right to avoid Phil, but Phil moved once more to block him.
"You must not! I have authority to stop you!"
"I have a red flag!"
"That bestows authority upon you?"
"Oh, my, yes! The red flag commands authority! And my whistle!" Phil let out with another shrill bleat. The traveler winced at the sound.
"I was not aware that such objects conferred such power upon the bearer. Most interesting. Excuse me." This time, the Tetrite tried to go to the left. Phil let another loud bleat out of his whistle and waved the flag with a vengeance.
"You must cease immediately!"
"Must I? Due to the presence of the flag?"
"To be precise, the flag and the whistle as well." One should be precise.
The Tetrite traveler finally seemed to give in a bit.
"If I may inquire, what is the nature of your purpose? Does it transcend the simple possession of authority?"
"Oh, most certainly! I am in the service of the William! He is testing a new flying machine today!"
The Tetrite suddenly looked a bit panicked as his eyes immediately widened.
"The William? Flying yet again? Where?"
"In the name of Lillith!! When?" He was looking frantically around the area when a large metallic object rose from the surface in the far distance. It climbed steadily and very, very rapidly. Phil noticed it as well and immediately dropped his flag.
Both Tetrites scampered for the safety of the rocks as the metallic craft approached from the southwest. Just as it looked as if it were trying to maneuver, the left wing suddenly detached. This caused the craft to immediately snap-roll left and yaw right. The minute the craft yawed, the loading tore the right wing away. Already plummeting to the surface, the loss of the right wing made the craft tumble wildly! It struck the surface of the desert nose-first to cartwheel. Flipping end over end violently, the craft shredded itself as it continued to disintegrate! Huge billowing clouds of sand and dust were thrown high into the clear sky by the impacts! Although no signs of flame or explosions were seen, the devastation from the crash was incredible! The two Tetrites watched spellbound, huddled safely behind the biggest boulder in the area.
As quickly as it had begun, the crash was over. Just a few hundred yards out into the Sanvelt, Phil could just make out the bulk of the wreckage through the settling cloud of dust. He ran for it as quickly as he could, accompanied by the traveler.
They reached the wreck quickly and scampered over the battered metal sheeting, their hard feet sounding like drumsticks on garbage can lids. Phil was looking under everything as quickly as he could.
"My goodness, sir! That was most exciting!"
A voice came from deep within the largest pile of crumpled wreckage in response.
"Glad you liked it, Phil." Immediately following the voice was a long groan as the wreckage moved a bit.
"Do you need assistance, sir?"
"No.....no. I'm fine. Just a bit scrambled I guess. That one went pretty well, I thought."
Phil tapped his foot in thought for a moment, unsure how to respond. The traveler leaned closer to him and spoke in a low voice.
"Did this flying mechanism function according to the William's intended plan?"
"Not entirely, but basically, yes."
The Tetrite shook his head, resolving never to try to fly in a machine. He also noticed a lapse in the local authority.
"I see that your flag is no longer in your possession. With your token of command removed, I feel free to continue on my way. The warmest of good mornings to you." With that, the Tetrite turned and trundled away into the bright, warm Sanvelt Plain in the direction of the Faldref. Phil, momentarily stunned, was now spinning in frantic circles looking everywhere!
"My goodness, sir! My flag! I seem to have lost my flag!"
Phil immediately scampered off back toward the rocks where he had watched from to find his lost prestige.
Silence now descended over the crash site. The wreckage shifted a bit, then stopped. The lone voice coughed once, then returned from underneath the shattered hull.
"Nope, don't help. I'm okay. Just give me a minute......Phil? .......Phil?"
A pair of armored boots, form-fitted to the calves of a pair of long, muscular, humanoid legs crunched the sand beneath them as they slowly walked up to the wreckage. A female voice, deep and warmly sonorous, spoke with a heavily accented English.
"You look like you could use a hand."
At first, William's shock wouldn't let him move! That wasn't Lillith! He finally pushed upward with his arms, heaving hundreds of pounds of Vendorian alloy from his back. His face and hair were covered with sand as he peered curiously and a little worriedly, up at the figure who had somehow come to the surface of Tetra without Lillith nor himself knowing about it!
His eyes discovered the face of what had to be one of the most impressive women he'd ever seen! She was obviously Velorian - the blonde hair and striking blue eyes told him that, not to mention the lean, hard physique she had. She wore a black leather-like uniform, similar to an Arion Prime's battlegear, but with a great deal of it cut away, revealing much of her formidable body, most noticeably her breasts that overflowed above and below what little material existed to restrain them.
She possessed a certain raw sexuality with her angular, Nordic facial features and high cheekbones, her lips curled into a slightly crooked smile that William found irresistible or would have if he hadn't mated with Lillith. At the moment, he was merely charmed....completely charmed.
He jumped to his feet, wishing to greet her and forgetting that she shouldn't be here.
"Hi! Where did you come from?"
The woman merely nodded once skyward. William understood quickly, feeling a bit silly for asking the question. After all, the number of places where she could have come from was, after all, rather limited to off-world. She didn't appear to mind the question as she continued.
"I'm having a little trouble with one of my transports and wondered if you might be able to help." She looked down at the wreckage. "Know anything about fixing pulse drives?"
William cleared his throat, clearly embarrassed about the current situation.
"That, uh, that was just an experiment. I'm, uh,..."
"Isn't there a Protector on this planet?", she interrupted.
"Yeah! Yeah, there is. Lillith."
The woman shrugged. "Don't know her. Must be one of the new ones."
"She's been out here quite a few years now."
"I'm sure. Um, do you live around here?" The woman squinted in the bright sun, the reflection off the light-colored sand being as harsh as sunlight off snow. William pointed back to the southwest, where he had launched from.
"Yeah, just over there. You can just make out the house from here.
The woman stared in the direction of the house for a brief moment, a glint of blue light flashed once in her eyes.
"I see you live alone." William wasn't surprised that she used her Tackyon vision.
"Yeah, uh, no! No, I live there with Lillith." That statement got him quite a look.
"You...service a Protector?"
Yeah, I mean, we don't call it that, but yeah! I'm her mate and we've lived here for, I dunno, seems like we've always lived here."
The woman looked William up and down, nodding her approval.
"Well, enhanced enough to keep a young Velorian happy, eh? Aren't you the creature!" William blushed for a moment before suddenly remembering.
"Oh, shit! I gotta get back! The sitter is ...."
"Babysitter. A couple of females from the ...."
"BABY? You impregnated a Protector? That's impossible!" Her mouth hung open as she gaped wide-eyed at him. William shrugged his best `ah, shucks, ma'am' look and could only manage the word "Yep". The woman took him by the arm and cooed inches from his face.
"You I have to get to know much, much better."
William felt a warm rush throughout his body.
"Sir! I found it!" Phil hustled toward them, waving his red flag victoriously! The glare from the Sanvelt kept him from seeing that the woman standing with the William was not Lillith. Phil slowed noticeably, suddenly stopping completely when he could see the woman clearly. He would no longer speak, nor approach as William called him over.
"Phil! Come on, buddy! Let me introduce you to..." He looked at her with a big grin, waiting to hear her say it.
"T'la'Syn. And yours?" Her voice purred.
"William. Lillith calls me Will'm." T'la'Syn had his arm in hers now.
"And you like the way she says your name." She was not asking.
"You like many of the ways of her, do you not?"
T'la'Syn's smooth lips curled into a wry smile as she held William spellbound. "Then you have an appreciation of the ways of a Velorian woman. There is much pleasure in that, is there not, Will'm of Tetra?"
For a long moment, William gazed into her eyes, losing himself in the allure of this beauty. Then, as if waking from a dream, his eyes blinked. His voice cracked a bit as he called out yet again.
Laughing, T'la'Syn playfully slapped his arm.
"Do not worry, Will'm, it is only a game I play. I like to see if I can still work a little magic with very attractive men." Her head lowered as her eyes looked up coyly. "Do I?"
The relief on William's face was plain enough. "Oh, you don't have to sweat that one, T'la'Syn, you do! Just don't do that anymore, alright? I'm not made of steel, you know."
"Seems to me you're made of much stronger stuff, Will'm." She gave his arm a quick hug. "Now, can you help me out? I've got a bunch of Belactian refugees in a transport that I'm escorting and they're dead in space. I was lucky to get them this far on tow, but that drive is shot!"
William nodded. "Sure, no problem. Let's go back to the house so I can check on the baby, then we'll collect up my tools and go. Sound good?"
Another quick hug on his arm showed her approval. "Sounds great!"
As they started to walk toward the habitat, William noticed that Phil didn't follow. Standing silently and keeping his distance, Phil would still not respond when William called to him. He merely stared as William and T'la'Syn walked casually into the distance.
At the habitat, the Tetrite females took turns watching Mara'Lyn sleep. William and Lillith never had a problem finding someone to sit with the baby because, per the cultural customs on Tetra, the community raised all young, not just the biological parents. Children were under constant observation and care of the nearest adult, whether the parents were present or not. So, asking for someone to babysit required little more than inviting someone into the habitat. They would naturally watch and tend to your child when you were not there.
When William walked noisily in through the door, both females immediately hissed at him and waved an arm rapidly in an effort to shush him into silence. The baby was, not surprisingly, still asleep. Silently apologizing, William held the door open for T'la'Syn to enter. When she did, the two female Tetrites froze at the sight of her before quickly trundling silently out the front door. William's eyebrows lowered with concern.
"That's strange. It's not like them not to fill me in on every little thing that Mara did. Excuse me a moment." William walked out the front door to catch up with the females while T'la'Syn looked down at the sleeping Mara'Lyn.
Near the largest Tetra moon, Thebe
Lillith held a stationary orbit around the giant moon as she looked down on the huge impact crater. It appeared to be a normal meteor strike, without any excessive damage done to Thebe - a very real relief to Lillith. The impact had been observable from Tetra as a rather large, orange/white plume. If she could see it from Tetra, then it must have been awesome up here! All around the crater was ejecta from the impact, but Thebe simply absorbed the meteor without a thought. This big ol' moon is pretty tough, she thought with a smile.
Passing over the northern pole of the moon, she continued to look for new fissures by suspending herself head down toward the moon's surface. The entire moon filled her field of view with its brown and tan features, especially illuminated so nicely by the ....
Lillith had suddenly backed roughly into something! Looking behind her she was stunned to see that the "something" was the dark hull of an Arion light cruiser! An ice-cold chill shot through her body as she twisted around and accelerated away rapidly. Stopping a few hundred yards directly ahead of the dangerous ship to catch her breath and calm down a little, she suddenly realized that they hadn't fired upon her - a very curious thing since they would have surely sensed her presence and fired long before this! Lillith also noticed that there was another ship behind the light cruiser. It was very fat looking, maybe a troop ship or transport of some kind. Well, whatever they're up to, she thought, they can't stay here.
Assuming that they must be observing her, Lillith moved a little closer to the light cruiser and flicked her hand at it as if trying to shoo it away, which is exactly what she trying to do! It was very annoying that they did not go away!
Finally, having given up on the shoo plan, Lillith flew right up to the forward windows of the bridge and put her nose on the transparent steel plates to peer into the bridge. There were about four or five beings milling leisurely around, none of them paying any attention to the wide-eyed naked woman with her nose flattened against the window. Three quick raps on the plates fixed that problem as everyone inside nearly jumped out of their skin at the sound! Lillith motioned to go away, but one of the beings, possibly an Arion Beta, motioned for her to go to a nearby air lock. With a very annoyed look on her face, Lillith nodded and moved around to the side of the bridge structure where she saw the outer hatch of an airlock slowly open.
Entering the bridge, Lillith immediately saw that this was no military ship. The air was thick with smoke from a number of pipes in use by many of the bridge crew. None of them wore uniforms, each dressed according to his or her own desires. There was only one group, other than the Arion military, who had access to an Arion ship-of-war. Privateers, working as mercenaries when someone would pay and pirates when someone would not. They preyed mainly on the lucrative Scalantran trade ships that seemed to be everywhere. This was the first time Lillith had seen them in the Tetra sector and wasn't really worried by them. The Privateers never caused a problem on the surface of the planets - too many risks. The easier pickings were out in the shipping lanes to and from wealthy planets and Tetra was hardly one of those. Still, this was an armed ship in orbit around Thebe and the Velorian Protector of Tetra did not like having it so close. They would have to leave.
Ignoring the way they leered at her naked body, Lillith stood with her fists on her hips and spoke in a commanding voice.
"Which of you is the Captain?"
A large male, dressed in a white tunic and dark blue trousers, stepped forward. His beard had been ineffective in hiding the scaring of his face.
"The Cap'n's not here. Went to surface. I'm the First Mate"
"Surface? Where? Tetra?"
"That's right. We got bad drive on transport. Cap'n went to fetch help."
Lillith thought that maybe William could help them out. She'd ask him when she got home.
"I'll go find your Captain, sir. What is your cargo and weapon status."
"We got a shitload of Belactians on tow back there an' our weps are on standby. You'll have no problem wi' us, baby."
Lillith's head snapped straight at the toothlessly grinning male and narrowed her eyes.
"I'd have no problem with you, sir, even if you were shooting at me right now with everything you have. If you doubt that, I would be happy to demonstrate." Her eyes burned into his until he looked away and shook his head no. Lillith turned back toward the airlock, giving final instructions as she walked to it.
"You will stay in this orbit until I return with your Captain. Then you will leave this area as soon as your repairs are made. This is a warship and a threat to the peace of Tetra. I will not allow that. Do you understand?"
She looked back at the First Mate in time to see him nod. Turning back to the airlock hatch, she waited as nothing happened. Finally, she turned slightly, peering back at the grinning First Mate.
"Would you open this hatch please or would you prefer that I did it my way?"
The eyes of the First Mate widened just before his hand plopped down on a nearby console. The airlock hatch slid noisily to the side. Lillith smiled.
"Thank you. Enjoy you stay in the Tetra system."
When Lillith had left the outer hatch of the airlock, she could be seen accelerating straight toward Tetra in the distance. The First Mate slumped into the Command Chair and snarled to himself.
"I shoulda kicked her ass."
He didn't appreciate the laughter.
At the habitat
William set a slightly corroded aluminum tool case, the only item recovered from his old ship, by the front door. Standing in the living room, T'la'Syn looked over the house.
"It really is a nice habitat, Will'm. You must be very comfortable here."
William walked over to her. "Yeah, we are. It was all built by the local Tetrites for us. It's turned out to be a true home for us."
T'la'Syn took a step closer to him.
"Where are the sleeping quarters? Do you and your Protector indulge in sleep?"
"Oh, sure! I know we can go for long periods without it, but we sort of pamper ourselves." His joke got a warm smile in return. "The bedroom is upstairs."
"Well, no, that wouldn't be a good idea, I think. Besides, shouldn't we get going? Where's your shuttle?"
T'la'Syn moved closer. "No shuttle, Will'm. I'll take you in my arms and take you there. How does that sound?"
William was starting to feel very warm again. "Jeez, I wish you would have brought a shuttle. I mean, um, it sounds nice and all, but...I....jeez, can we just go?"
T'la'Syn smiled at his nervousness. "I'm sorry, Will'm. It's just that you're the first being that I've met that I feel I can really open up to. You seem so nice and understanding that...I...." Her eyes began to suddenly moisten. There was more to this woman, something's troubling her, thought William as he put his arm around her to comfort her.
"Yes, I was a Protector."
"You wouldn't know the place. It's completely across the galaxy. Besides, it doesn't exist anymore."
"Doesn't exist how?"
"I mean its gone! The entire planet was destroyed! There was this war between the two major powers and they not only succeeded in annihilating each other, they also shattered the planet's core with some incredibly powerful weapon that only turned the planet into a volcanic wasteland! They destroyed themselves while all I could do was watch! I couldn't interfere! Now I have no species to protect and an unlivable planet. I didn't know what to do, Will'm! I didn't know! I just started wandering the Universe, looking for something to do. I couldn't return to Velor. I just.....I....." Her tears flowed freely now as Will'm took her to himself, wrapping his powerful arms around her. Nestling her face under his chin, he tried to calm her, soothing her hair with his hand as he let her cry. He could feel her face slowly slide up his own until her lips met his. The feel of her lips and the way she used them drew William deep into the experience of her kiss. His arms tightened around her long waist as her...
The shock of hearing Lillith's shrill voice made William nearly levitate off the floor! She sounded angry. Very angry! William pulled away from T'la'Syn as if she were white hot, actually flinging his arms outward! T'la'Syn instantly turned away from William and Lillith as if she were ashamed, hiding her face behind her long golden hair. Even though William tried to explain, the angry young Protector wasn't done yet.
"Will'm, I do NOT give my permission for this! Who is this.....this....being?"
The way Lillith spoke those words made T'la'Syn turn back toward her, the hard look of indignation on her face. When Lillith saw that face, her own changed to one of complete shock then to intense hatred as she immediately locked her body into a combat stance of muscle and threatening fists.
"YOU DARE COME HERE?!!"
The Fallen continues....
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