On the planet of Tetra, the living room of the habitat
Two powerful Velorians faced each other, both ready to fight. Standing dangerously between them, William held his arms up from his sides, each one reaching out to hold a woman at bay. In the back of his mind, though, was a small reminder to himself to jump out of the way as fast as he could if one of them should attack the other! An important safety tip.
"Lillith! Please! She is a guest in our house! T'la'Syn, you too! Stop this!"
T'la'Syn suddenly lowered her fists and stood up from her crouch.
"Fine with me, Will'm. I was only defending myself from a challenge." She walked calmly away as if nothing had happened, but Lillith didn't change her threatening position.
"Lillith! Come on now! What's with you?"
Lillith shouted out; her rage hadn't cooled a bit. "Her name's not T'la'Syn, Will'm, it's A'ya!" The corners of the mouth on a very disinterested visitor curled upward for the briefest of moments. A curtailed grin unseen by William who was busy shrugging at the moment.
"Yeah, okay, so her name is A'ya. What's that got to do with..." Lillith interrupted, no longer ready to fight, but now pointing accusingly at A'ya.
"That....that...." An appropriate word just wasn't coming to the angry young woman. ".....she abandoned her planet and left them all to die, Will'm!"
A'ya spun around, jabbing her own finger straight at Lillith and yelling just as loudly.
"That's a lie! I never did any such thing!"
"Pistu! You are A'ya! I know of your treachery years ago." Lillith was now right in her face, yelling just as loudly as when she was across the room. "The only Protector to ever deny her birthright! The only Protector ever to abandon her protected! You are a shame for all of us! You are a shame to Skietra!"
"LIES! ALL LIES!! I was driven from my planet!" Fists were closing again and William was getting very nervous as Lillith exploded.
"THEN WHY DID YOU NOT COME TO US! ANY OF US! WE ARE ALL TOGETHER!!"
The silence was filled with a bitter tension until A'ya's anger suddenly melted. Her eyes filled with tears; her face became torn with a deep sorrow. She turned away, leaning against the back of a chair.
"I was ASHAMED! That's right! Ashamed! I failed and I couldn't face any of you!" A'ya sobbed the words as she sank to her knees. William went to her immediately, but Lillith wasn't interested in her explanations.
"I will not have that woman in this house, Will'm! She will leave this planet NOW!"
"Dammit, Lillith! This woman is no threat! She needs our help!"
Lillith suddenly looked hurt that William would side against her. As William kneeled beside A'ya to comfort her, Lillith seemed lost as she muttered, "Will'm.....Wi..." before regaining her composure. It was something Lillith had never felt before and she didn't care for it.
A'ya slowly got to her feet, helped
"Please, don't fight over me. I'll leave. I've been running from everywhere to nowhere for so long, I'll just keep going. But getting these Belactians to their new colony is something I have to do and right now their ship is dead in space. I still need some help." She turned to Lillith. "Please? Then I'll go and never return to this sector again. Promise."
Lillith jammed her fists on her hips as she stood defiantly. "Your promise means nothing to me, but if fixing your problem will get you to leave, then the sooner the better. What does your Belactian ship require?"
A'ya nodded gratefully as she wiped away the last of her tears. "I don't know what's wrong with the main drive. Are you familiar with antimatter pulse drives?" Lillith shook her head with a very annoyed look on her face. William stepped in, using a southern Terran country accent to try to lighten up the moment.
"Why, ma'am, I can take a look at your problem and have y'all on your way in no time! Might even be able to tweek that puppy to give y'all a few more parsecs an hour out of her! All part of the service, ma'am." William bowed comically, making A'ya giggle at his antics, but Lillith was not amused. William knew he was in trouble again.
A'ya walked easily around the room as she talked. Picking up a small statuette from a sidetable to examine.
"Will'm, when do you think you can come up?" A'ya set the statuette down, turning it a bit differently than the way it had originally been positioned.
"Oh, I can..." Interrupting William, Lillith stormed past him. As A'ya walked calmly away, Lillith rapidly turned the statuette back to its original heading. Her ears were bright red as she now watched A'ya nonchalantly pick up one of the small tourist pillows from the sofa, the one from Nashville, as William tried again.
"Uh, I was going to say that I can..."
Lillith immediately stomped over to A'ya, snapping the pillow out of her hands and cradling it in her arms as if to say `this is mine, don't touch'. Lillith was glaring bullets at the amused A'ya. A'ya's voice took on a condescending tone, as if she were talking to a child.
"Lillith, dear, I'm sorry if I touched your toys."
Turning from the now red-faced Lillith and walking calmly by William, A'ya purred, "You were saying?"
Before William could respond, he saw an intensely angry blonde rapidly approaching from his left side. In a blink, he caught her around the waist from behind to restrain her as Lillith shouted, "I'll block her knock off!"
"That's `knock her block off', honey, and no you won't! A'ya, you better go! We'll be up in a little while." Lillith finally stopped flailing around and only fumed, like a steam engine forced to idle with excessive pressure.
A'ya slinked seductively toward the door after smiling a little too graciously at William. She was acting as if Lillith was no longer there. "I do look forward to having you ....come, Will'm. Don't feel that you need to bring Lillith, but if you do, I'm sure that we have something somewhere on the ship that will keep her amused while she waits."
Lillith's eyes became so large with rage that she lunged toward A'ya, dragging a straining William behind her. A'ya chuckled as she closed the front door behind her.
"Lillith, the floor! The floor!" Unwilling to let her go, the dragging feet of William were leaving terrible scrapes along the floor. Lillith immediately stopped, but she was far from done as she fumed and ranted and paced, all with her usual animated gestures while William knelt down to inspect the damage.
"Just who does that woman think she is coming in here and slinking around like some kind of Scalantran whore!" Lillith momentarily mimicked A'ya's wagging butt as she stormed back and forth. "Don't think you have to bring Lillith. Humph! Just wait `till I go up there with you! She is evil and she has no right to come in here and touch our stuff and talk to you like that! Well, she can just take her motor problem and stick it someplace I dunno but I don't like her touching you, Will'm! Why does she have to do that?"
William, now lying on the floor, simply shrugged. He knew very well that the steam engine was just venting off that excess pressure. Besides, he thought the gouges on the floor could be planed out, maybe he could fill them in and sand it all smooth.....
"Well, she has to cut that out. I don't like that. I mean, you wouldn't like somebody coming around touching me all the time, would you?"
William was just getting to his feet, brushing his hands together.
"See? So she has to stop that! You don't think she's pretty, do you? Skietra! She's so old! Evil and old, that's her, evil and old. Ha!"
William walked to her, seeing that the pressure had finally fallen to a safe level.
"Lillith, I've never seen you like this, honey. You've never refused to help someone who asked us for help before." Lillith had calmed down and was thinking a bit more clearly.
"Will'm, you don't understand. The oath I took, the being that I am, everything about me and the others like me, it is all a pact with Skietra and the Universe itself! It is unbreakable and non-negotiable; it is absolute! To break that pact is to break the trust that binds the Universe together! It would bring shame and dishonor on us all! If one of us does that, then none of us or anything will ever really be trusted again! She was a Protector and she didn't just fail her planet, she turned on it! She destroyed them all! No one is more hated; no being is more despised than A'ya! I was doing her a favor by not killing her when I first saw her!"
"It's true! Any of us would gladly rid the Universe of her! If the rumors I heard about what she's done since are true, then she should be killed! She's using her powers for her own personal gain! She's killed people for money and destroyed..."
"Nonsense, Lillith! Look what she's doing with the Belactians. They're the poorest race in this galaxy. What could she be getting out of helping them like this?"
"I DON'T KNOW!" Lillith was getting frustrated and angry again. "But I know she's up to something! I just know! I'm going with you!"
William put his arms around the angry woman to calm her.
"All right, honey, all right. I promise I'll just fix the engines and get her out of here quickly. I promise that's all. I won't ask her to stick around or anything like that and I certainly won't let her touch me anymore."
Lillith seemed to relax a bit, prompting William to try to fix what he could sense wasn't right between them. He tried speaking softly.
"Darling, I didn't know about any of this. I'm sorry if I said anything to make you angry. I didn't mean to do that. I simply didn't know."
Lillith turned away and took a step.
"Sorry? How sorry?"
William stepped forward, running his hands across her slender waist as he nuzzled her neck.
"Very, very sorry."
Lillith's eyes closed as she melted into his arms.
"Ooo, sorry is good and very sorry is nice, but I love it when you're very, VERY sorry."
William chuckled. "So I've noticed."
Lillith turned to face him, moving his hands up her body to her breasts. She drew his fingers out to open his hands and held them steady as she stroked her breasts across his palms and fingers. She watched his face intently, luxuriating in his reactions. Her whole body undulated seductively before him, taunting him with the sensual sights of her lean, powerful body. Her long blonde hair had fallen across one of her sultry eyes. Her breasts swelled firmly from his touch as her hardening nipples played across his fingers. Her voice was breathy and aroused. Very aroused.
"Will'm, be...very....very.......so very...."
Mara'Lyn chose that moment to wake. Her crying launched a bounding Lillith instantly to the crib as a very frustrated William slumped on the couch to mentally calculated how long it would be before Mara'Lyn would be old enough to play outside for extended periods of time.
He sighed heavily and waited for his body to relax.
On the bridge of A'ya's ship, later that day
A'ya paced slowly along the slightly raised metal decking of the aft section of the bridge. She wore a black jumpsuit that bore no insignia. Her pace was very slow and the impacts of her bootheels were deliberate as the sound of each bootstrike filled the chamber. With her arms crossed and her eyes riveted on the view of the transport ship through the forward windows, it became rather obvious that she was becoming impatient with the amount of time it was taking William to make the needed repairs.
Down a step and to her right, Lillith stood before a video display integrated into a wider console. The screen displayed a direct video feed from the bridge of the transport. No one was within the camera's field of view at the moment, although many people passed close by or through it at irregular intervals. There was a great deal of activity going on over there. Lillith continued to wait patiently.
After her earlier meeting with this ship's bridge crew, Lillith wore her uniform. This crew just couldn't seem to handle her naked body very well. Interestingly enough, A'ya did not appear to have that problem. A'ya was definitely in control of these people. The First Mate had been caught leering at Lillith again, but he snapped to work when A'ya barked orders at him. Lillith also noticed that none of the males paid any attention to A'ya's incredible body. In fact, they seemed to turn away rather than chance getting caught at even a mere glance! These people, she decided, were simply intimidated! They were all deeply afraid of her.
Lillith had not mentioned this earlier, but when she was a little girl, just going into Protector training, A'ya had been a bit of a hero to her. Many of the stories told to the young trainees to teach them about the values and behavior expected of them were about A'ya. How brave she was! How magnificently strong! Many a young Velorian Protector would have admitted wanting to grow up to be just like A'ya. An expressed desire that ceased four years ago. A'ya's betrayal tore at the hearts of these young women. Their hero was not only unfit to be a hero, she was the worst kind of villain! Lillith, like so many others, had cried for weeks trying hard to deal with the tragic sense of betrayal. If there was anything good to come of it, Lillith, again like so many of the others, eventually turned those feelings to a recommitment to the ideals they believed so deeply in. They no longer swore to work to be like A'ya, they now swore to never even come close!
Now, Lillith was standing within a few yards of the ex-Protector whom she had once so admired and now so hated. The sound of A'ya's boots only served to remind Lillith that she was there and it annoyed her. A voice crackled through the overhead transducers, getting Lillith's attention back to the video screen. A smiling face looked back at her.
"Hey! Hey, chubby-cheeks, wake up!"
"Hi-eee! Hi, Will'm! I see you! Are you done? Wanna go home?" The sound of the bootheels quickened behind Lillith, but not toward her and the video screen. A'ya moved quickly to another panel at the far right end of the raised deck. William was looking up at the camera slightly. He too stood behind a console, the back of which blocked the lower quarter of the screen.
"In a little bit, Lillith. Listen, tell A'ya that I'm sorry it took so long, okay? There was just so much corrosion back there and we kept finding more problems everytime we'd fix one, but it looks okay now. All the tests went fine and we just put the engines back on line. Would you tell her all that?"
Lillith had been busy playfully tracing William's outline on the screen with her finger. "Sure! I'll tell her."
Lillith turned toward A'ya. During her turn, her face changed from pleasant to hard and cold. Her voice was like ice.
"He's done. We're leaving."
A'ya looked up from her console, pursed her lips, and shook her head. "Oh goodness gracious, Lillith, not before I've properly thanked the man." A'ya manipulated a few controls. The glow from a screen on her console illuminated her face as she spoke to it.
"Will'm! Thank you so much for fixing everything so quickly!"
Lillith waved her hand at her screen, but William didn't respond. Lillith's camera was obviously turned off. She could still see and hear William though.
"A'ya! Hi! Aw, we had quite a bit to do, but I think I can promise you that this ship will make it to wherever you guys have to go. The Belactians are terrific folks too. We don't speak the same language but we sorted everything out. There was this one guy..."
"Yes, yes, they are wonderful people, Will'm. Now that you're done, won't you come back over here for an appropriate thank-you?"
A'ya was becoming too friendly again as a furious Lillith tried frantically to find some control on the vast confusing sea of switches and buttons of her own console that said something on its label about turning on her video camera. She could see William doing his `aw-shucks' routine on her screen.
"Well, A'ya, that would be kinda nice and all but..."
A'ya's voice grew temptingly luscious. "I know many, many ways to say thank you, Will'm. Are you curious about any of them?"
In the brief silence, Lillith stared at the screen, waiting to hear his next words. She never tested William's commitment to her. She had always felt that there was no question of that. Yet, now, faced with this unexpected scenario, she could only watch, wait, and hope. Finally, William looked back up at the camera.
"No, no, thanks a lot, but it's time to go. Lillith and I have to get back."
A'ya forced a smile. "Of course. Can't blame a gal for offering, eh? Next time maybe."
A few tiny chirps could be heard on A'ya's console just before William's smiling face grew even brighter.
Lillith was in the middle of sticking her little pink tongue out at A'ya when she heard him. Instantly realizing that he could see her again, she jumped, quickly straightening her hair. The tongue was rapidly retracted. He spoke again, thinking she may not have heard him.
"Hey, honey, you want to pull the car around? I'm ready to go."
Lillith giggled warmly. She leaned toward the screen a bit.
"I would love to take you home, Will'm. When we get home, I'm gonna..."
Suddenly, an orange flaming plume fired up from the aft end of the Belactian ship. Lillith, seeing this through the windows, turned her head slightly, her voice was very unsure.
On the screen, William's head snapped to his right. Lillith could hear a loud noise come over the transducers mixed with shouting voices. William yelled, "What the hell was that?" before quickly leaving the view of the camera. Outside, Lillith saw a second eruption of flame explode on the huge ship, just a little more forward than the first. Her voice was now filled with concern.
William reappeared on the screen. His face showed her that something very serious was happening.
"Lillith! Lillith, listen to me! Something is very wrong here! This should not be happening, but the dimatter shielding is breaking down! Did you hear? The dimatter shielding is failing! There's no reason...."
Four more brilliant fiery plumes blew out through the top of the ship's stern. The video picture shook and started to break up.
"Shit!", he yelled. William was gripping the console in front of himself to keep the wildly shaking ship from tossing him across the deck. Lillith was holding on to the console in front of her as well as she screamed at the screen!
As Lillith watched horrified, dozens of explosions instantly laced across the top of the massive transport's stern as matter and anti-matter came into contact to release incredible amounts of energy! The aft half of the ship disintegrated in a yellow fireball! William's voice could be heard above the din coming out of the transducers.
Just as her eyes riveted on the screen, the rest of the ship erupted. She was looking right at his image on the screen when his body disintegrated! The video screen went blank.
A'ya shouted commands rapidly as Lillith stared at the empty screen. Her mouth hung open, her eyes wild with terror. A shock wave from the aft explosion rocked the ship a bit. Lillith's hands began to tremble.
"We got debris comin' at us, Cap'n. Lot's of it." The First Mate was searching a forward looking scanner. A'ya responded.
"Close all outer doors and nacelles. I don't want to take any of it with us."
"T'Aye, Cap'n." The First Mate had just begun checking the status panels when the first of the debris began thudding against the hull. Bodies and parts of bodies mixed with torn steel alloy and other materials, all thrown into space from the massive force of the explosions. Where the Belactian ship had once been, there was nothing more now than an expanding debris field. The sounds of the material clanging and thudding all around her made Lillith jump. She looked up at the ceiling as if the place were haunted. Letting go of the console, she left deep indentations where her hands had squeezed so hard. The woman staggered back a few steps before looking up at the forward windows. A large Belactian male approached through space, rotating slowly. A large portion of the left side of his body had been severed, the rest badly charred. He rebounded off the windows with a loud bang to continue his lifeless journey over the top of the ship.
Lillith seemed stunned, lost, as if the scene were playing over and over again in her mind. Slowly, she started to shake her head, first a little, then quicker until she screamed as if she wanted to be heard across the galaxy!
Lillith lunged straight for the forward windows, smashing straight through the console she had used! Just as she was about to breach the hull, A'ya grabbed her, wrestling her to the deck.
"Lillith! You can't do that! You'll kill my crew!"
Lillith collapsed, sobbing. "Will'm! Will'm...." As suddenly as she had started her breakdown, it stopped. Her eyes darted wildly, as if a thousand voices were calling for her attention all at once!
"I have to go out there. There may be....he may be....." She seems a bit confused.
"I'll go with you, Lillith, maybe we can find..."
"NO! NO! You leave NOW! I'll find him! YOU LEAVE!"
"Lillith, let me..."
"NO!" Lillith pointed an unsteady finger at A'ya as her threat burned through all the other emotions within her that were trying to overwhelm her. "You open this airlock now or I will go through your hull."
A'ya nodded to one of her bridge officers who stood near a console. He touched the appropriate control and the inner door slid open. Lillith quickly stepped into the airlock and glared back at A'ya as the door slid shut. The outer door was opened and Lillith shot out of the airlock directly into the debris field.
A'ya watched Lillith frantically search throughout the thousands of fragments of ship and people, looking for anything alive, hoping against hope to find.....to find what A'ya knew was no longer there.
"Helm, take us back away from the debris, dead slow. When clear, take up the heading to Volun-4, combat speed. Get us out of this place."
The dark cruiser slipped silently back and away from the nearly hysterical Velorian Protector who was only now coming to the realization that her mate was gone. As the ship turned to take up its new course, Lillith covered her face with her hands as she sobbed uncontrollably. Soon, she was alone amid the wreckage of a ship and a lover that no longer existed.
The Fallen continues....
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