On the planet of Tetra, the living room of the habitat
The largest room of the habitat resembled an undiscovered tomb. Opaque draperies joined tightly across every window to prohibit light from the chamber and no lamps provided their cheery glow. Only the solitary fire within the stone fireplace pushed back the absolute darkness that tried to erase every feature of the room. Except for the occasional crackle and snap from the burning wood, silence ruled here. The normal happy voices were gone now. Nothing here was normal. Nothing here was happy any more.
Directly in front of the fireplace, illuminated by the flames, sat Lillith in the center of a plain sofa. Alone except for the baby sleeping peacefully nearby, she stared endlessly into the fire. She had gathered her legs up before her, resting her chin on her knees as she rocked ever so slightly. Staring vacantly into the fire as she watched the flames dance before her, her thoughts were far away, but they did not leave her heart behind.
Lillith's hair was disheveled though she didn't seem to care. She wore a large blue and white flannel shirt that was much too large for her. It had been William's and it smelled of him. A familiar scent that she needed so badly now, even though it could force her to tears any time it wished by merely existing. Her eyes were reddened from long hours of her tears. Her world and her heart had been destroyed leaving behind only the resulting misery to fill the void. She said nothing, did nothing, wanted nothing. She could only hurt. Hurt and miss her great love.
The baby stirred a bit, causing Lillith to blink her eyes back from her painful memories. Lillith didn't move, just turned her eyes toward the crib to see Mara'Lyn return to her sleep. Slowly, the blue, soulful eyes returned to the fire and her mind returned to her thoughts. A new thought drifted in among the others about what to say when she would have to explain to Mara someday about her father and why he wasn't there. A father who couldn't wait to love her and care for her and do all the things fathers and daughters do together. He would have made a great father if only...
Lillith's face fell once again into a look of desolation as the tears returned on the crest of another crushing wave of emotion. Her face distorted into her wrenching cry just before she buried her face in her arms. Arms covered in the damp sleeves of an old shirt. As her body convulsed, her faint, muffled voice called from her torment.
"Oh, Will'm. If only I'd been there to protect you."
The sound of the front door opening woke her from her misery. Looking up for a moment, she saw a familiar Tetrite walk into the room, his fuzzy face dimly illuminated by the firelight.
"Mistress? Are you well?"
Lillith resumed her original position to continue her subtle rocking. She spoke absentmindedly as she stared at the fire, cheeks glistening from the tears that painted each so completely.
Phil had joined her on the sofa, watching her slight rocking movements with concern. "There is much worry for you, Mistress. You have not left this house for three days."
"Has it been that long?" Lillith never took her eyes off the fire. "How's everybody else?"
"He is missed greatly, Mistress. He will always be missed greatly. There is much information to gather."
"Hm? Oh, yes. Information. Of course."
A few minutes of silence passed before Lillith spoke again, her voice strained and filled with pain.
"You know, Phil, I don't feel his presence. Will'm is dead, but he hasn't come to me yet. It's curious. He loved me so. Why hasn't he come to me?"
Phil looked toward the fire now too. "I do not know, Mistress. I am well aware of your belief in such visitations after death, but I have no information to provide to you concerning it. Your species is much more attuned to that sort of thing. We simply do not anticipate any such activity."
A few more silent moments passed before Lillith murmured, "There's something not right. It's just not right. I should feel his presence."
Phil looked down at the floor a moment in thought before scrambling down to it from the sofa. Looking back up at Lillith, he sounded like he had a purpose.
"I require information, Mistress. Is there anything that you require?"
Lillith slowly shook her head while she continued her vacant stare into the fire.
"Then I shall leave you to your mourning. The warmest of good afternoons to you, Mistress."
As the front door gently closed, Lillith looked toward the baby before burying her face in her arms yet again.
Nothing could be seen, but vibrations
could be felt. Slowly, a rattling of metal plate became more distinct
just before a tiny, unfocused spot of light opened to reveal a
loose deck plate just to the left. It danced in the vibrations
while a loose fastener rotated slightly one way then the other.
The sound was a combination of a low frequency rumbling and a
higher pitch whine that seemed to come from everywhere. A smell,
like burnt oil on hot steel with a faint chlorine-like smell of
electrical ozone filled the air. A familiar sound, a familiar
feel, a familiar sight, and familiar smells.
He was on a ship.
William raised his head, but could move nothing else. His legs were locked firmly to the deck from the knees to the ankles by some sort of energy lock. There was no color to the field, but a slight distortion of light was noticeable around his legs, like a shimmering heat wave off a highway in summer. Slightly behind his knees, his hands and wrists were similarly locked close to the deck. Even though they were the only captive parts of himself, he did notice that he had been held upright by the same fields. In fact, it suddenly occurred to him that he had been asleep or unconscious in this very same, semi-reclined position.
He was in a large circular room made of steel. A pair of doors, side by side, were directly across from him, about fifty feet away. He was chained directly in front of the wall opposite the doors. The room was bathed in a smoky, glaring light that illuminated everything from about ten feet up the walls down to the deck. Above that, there was only darkness. Along the circular wall on the right, at about the mid point, sat a gray metal desk. There was something sitting behind the desk, but William couldn't quite make it out. Whatever it was, it wasn't moving.
William pulled his arms upward, but could only move them a few inches before the fields grew stronger and restrained him. He tried again, this time much harder. The fields buzzed and crackled a bit, but still held him in place. Suddenly, William noticed motion at the desk!
A creature stood and peered at William. In the gray light, William could now see clearly that it was a large Thort. Grayish in color, tall, with an abbreviated elephant-like trunk, the Thort had short arms that ended in three fingers each and three long legs, two placed like a humanoid and the third placed like a tail, but used as a leg. It reminded William of an odd, oversized anteater.
The Thort craned it's neck to see William better before deciding to approach him. The three legs moved very rapidly, in circular, fluid motion, yet the creature glided slowly across the floor without a sound. It was silent enough that William could hear it breathing through that fat trunk that flailed side to side as it approached. Standing just a few feet away, it snorted like someone farting through a toilet tissue tube as it examined William.
William wasn't exactly relaxed at the moment, but he did sense that the Thort wouldn't harm him. An intuition based on the idea that it certainly would have done all the harm it would have wanted to do by now! William had never interacted with a Thort; he had only seen one once at a distance. Still, they never seemed to be threatening in any way. He tried to speak to it.
"Man! You don't have much of a singing voice, but I bet all the girls want to dance with you."
The creature snorted once loudly with a shake of its head before turning around to glide back to the desk. A feeling of relief swept over William as he mumbled, "Nice talkin' with you!"
The Thort immediately stopped and turned to look back at its captive as if it had taken exception to the comment. William instantly knew he should have kept his damn mouth shut! The grateful relief when the creature simply resumed its voyage to the desk washed over William like a cold shower. He silently told himself to shut the hell up.
The creature pressed a switch on an obvious communication terminal and spoke English with a low buzzing sound lacing through its voice.
"He is awake."
Releasing the switch, the creature turned and flowed gracefully toward the doors. Reaching them, it turned back to face William and spoke.
"Have a nice day."
The Thort then opened the left door and was gone. The door slammed hard behind it.
William blinked a few times, then shook his head.
"Well, that was weird."
For what seemed like an eternity, William remained alone in the large, round room listening to the odd creak and random bang that came and went inside all ships. The sounds reverberated off the hard steel walls. The strains of gravitational pulls of passing planets and thermal stresses of nearby suns cause the hulls of every ship to constantly expand, contract, and twist. This ship was no different and the sounds told him they were moving at a rapid velocity.
His eyes burned a bit from the smoky haze and he closed them a moment to let them rest. Hard, slow, and deliberate footsteps from his left forced a shot of adrenaline through his system, but he tried to remain calm outwardly. Slowly he opened his eyes and peered to his left. Walking toward him from an unnoticed portal was A'ya. She had no expression on her face other than a cold, disinterested stare. William's eyes passed down along her tall, muscular body now dressed in the most abbreviated black leather costume he could ever imagine. There couldn't have been more than three or four straps to the whole outfit and William wondered why she even bothered. Around her right leg, a massive black holster was buckled, concealing most of a large weapon. William guessed that it was probably an Arion Gar, but it looked even larger. Large enough, in fact, for him to not want to find out how powerful it really was.
A'ya approached him without a word. Gripping his hair firmly, she pulled his head back hard and analyzed him as if she were thinking of purchasing a dozen like him. She quietly mumbled, "You did fine" before petting his forehead with her thumb. "You just relax, Will'm, and everything will be fine." She then turned and walked confidently toward the desk. William rocked his head a bit to remove the uncomfortable kink in his neck that she had introduced.
"A'ya! What the hell is this?"
Stopping, A'ya turned slightly. She peered back at her new aquisition through steel-blue slits, her voice like ice.
"You should have listened to your girlfriend, Will'm. She's a mere child, but she knew better."
For a moment, William was speechless as he watched A'ya resume her slow walk to the desk. Finally, he found his voice.
"You...this was all a trick?"
A'ya unbuckled her weapon and dropped it on the desk with a heavy thud. She responded to William's question matter-of-factly.
"Just tactical business, Will'm. Nothing personal."
"What the hell does that mean?" William's angry words were met with bored unconcern as A'ya turned around and crossed her arms.
"Oh, the original plan was a straight assault on you two, but then we came across the Belactian ship, quite by accident. The idea came to me to use it as a ruse. After all, their engines really were disabled and we didn't actually have to help them like we told them we would. A few simple lies got them to Tetra. A little charm got you up there. I do so like to use my mind and not just my body. It all worked flawlessly, as it should have."
"It all...." William blinked, partly out of anger and partly out of disbelief. He seemed to be lost in a sudden realization. "The Belactians?"
A'ya shrugged, lowering her eyebrows to indicate her dislike at being bothered by such a trivial question. "What about them?"
William felt a rage building inside. "What happened to them?"
A'ya flicked her hand. "Gone."
William instantly recalled the seconds before his world went black. The failing dimatter shielding, the explosions, the deaths. A'ya watched his face and slowly smiled. The sight of her amused grin pissed William off even more.
"How much of that disaster was yours, A'ya?"
Uncrossing her arms, A'ya leaned back against the desk, the picture of self-satisfaction. "We worked on those engines before you did, Will'm. Rigging the dimatter shielding was easy enough. Doing it under their noses was the hard part, but like I said, I like to use my mind as well as my body."
In William's mind, he could see the grateful, tired Belactians thanking him for his help just before everything went wrong. His voice became distant as he stared at nothing. "How many people were on that transport?"
A'ya shrugged. "I have no idea. 1500 maybe, probably closer to a couple thousand."
William's eyes closed at the thought. He started to feel a rage build inside.
"You....killed.... all those people."
"Hm, probably. It was a stroke of luck to find them too! Saved me a lot of trouble, although we'll be picking them off the hull for weeks after this is over and..."
The energy locks buzzed loudly as William lunged angrily upward, but they held him firmly in place. A'ya never moved as she continued her grin. William strained against the energy locks, but finally stopped trying when A'ya resumed speaking.
"Don't bother, Will'm, you'll never break those fields. Do you know what this place is? It's a detention and interrogation room. Yeah. This ship is an old Arion cruiser that I sort of `commandeered'. There are always power struggles on board an Arion ship and usually from the Primes. That restraint you're on is designed to hold a Prime, Will'm, and then some. You can't pull the deck plates apart because the fields don't act against the decking. They act against your own pull. Isn't that amazing? I don't know how it all works, but it does work and that's good enough. But, please, don't stop struggling just because it's useless. I like watching...."
Suddenly, a metallic voice boomed over a nearby speaker.
"Cap'n?" A'ya's shoulders fell with disgust.
"You got trouble, Cap'n. Hok is on his way down. He's unhappy again."
A'ya's eyes closed a moment as she mumbled a few Velorian expletives. "What's his problem?"
"I dunno, Cap'n. He's just pissed. You want a detail?"
A'ya thought a moment. "Yes. Two only. Unarmed."
"You heard me."
"They're on their way, Cap'n."
A final click signaled the end of the conversation as A'ya checked her weapon. A few clicks and a chirp told of its readiness. Setting the large weapon down again, A'ya glanced at William and spoke as if she had a simple chore to take care of.
"You'll have to excuse me, Will'm. I have a small attitude problem to deal with."
No sooner had A'ya said that than both doors at the far end of the room flung open and the largest Arion male that William had ever seen stormed into the chamber. Completely hairless and wearing little more than military-style pants and boots, the bald monster looked extremely pissed off about something! He spotted A'ya immediately and yelled something in Arion at her while he shook his massive fist at her threateningly. This, thought William, was no idle threat. This guy wants a piece of her for some reason.
All the while the Arion menaced, A'ya stood calmly listening to him with a look of complete disdain on her face. Two smaller males suddenly entered the chamber, but remained passively by the doors as onlookers. The Prime only glanced at them once before resuming his tirade, this time with more intensity. Evidently he had found new courage when A'ya did not respond immediately.
Finally, A'ya began saying something to him in Arion that William couldn't understand, that is, he couldn't understand the words, but the way she walked toward the giant with her hands defiantly on her hips, the menacing sound of her voice, and the hard look in her eyes, he guessed that she was probably telling him to go screw himself - or whatever the Arion equivalent was. His guess was confirmed when A'ya, now just a few inches from the Arion, spat on the seething male and sneered!
Instantly, the Arion smashed his fist into A'ya's face so hard that she impacted the far wall face-first and inverted! As she crumpled to the floor, the Arion flung both arms upward in a victorious display for his successful coup de etat. The two smaller males didn't join in the celebration and only took a nervous step back toward the doors as their eyes darted back and forth from the Arion to A'ya. Noticing this caused the grinning Prime to look back at where he had supposedly left A'ya in a pile on the floor. His eyes widened when he saw his victim standing defiantly with her fists closed, grinning with a look of anticipated combat lust.
She was on him so quickly that the incredulous male couldn't even seem to respond! She seemed to be everywhere at once, punishing the Arion with kicks and punches that rocked him repeatedly, weakening him from the onslaught. Finally, as he staggered before her, A'ya stood with her feet apart in a stable combat stance and drew her right fist back.
The wicked right cross that drove the Arion to the floor was not only powerfully delivered, but was the most violent punch that William had ever seen! As William muttered "Holy shit!" at the sight of A'ya's power, he wondered how the Arion could still be alive after taking a punch like that.
Groaning, the Arion male slowly rose to his hands and knees as A'ya waited patiently. When he looked up at her with unfocused eyes, he snarled another string of epithets filled with contempt at her, but A'ya never said a word and never changed her cruel expression. It was clear that anything this Arion said or did no longer made any difference to her. To William's complete amazement, she turned her back on the injured Arion, picked the weapon up from the desk, turned back to him, and coldly fired repeatedly directly into the Arion's amazed face! William could feel the heat from the discharges all the way across the chamber and they were as bright as welding arcs! The Arion's face was gone and the head of the quivering body smoldered over the rattling deck.
Pointing down at the body of the huge Arion, A'ya spoke her orders sharply. The two security males jumped at the sound of her voice.
"You two! Pick him up and have him ejected from the ship on the port side." Looking upward, she raised her voice to be heard. "Bridge!"
The metallic voice returned. "Bridge."
"This is A'ya. I want port guns to stations for static target practice."
"No targets have been deployed, Cap'n."
"There will be."
A delay in the response as the two males carried what remained of Hok out of the chamber made A'ya a bit annoyed. "BRIDGE!"
Finally, a tentative reply. "T'aye, Cap'n."
As quickly as the interruption occurred, it was over and William was once again alone in the chamber with A'ya. Her skin glistened from a thin coating of sweat as she removed her leather straps. She glared at William, her breathing still rapid and deep from her fight. When she spoke, she sounded lascivious.
"Physical combat is little different from sex, Will'm. Pitting your body against another, overwhelming them with your power, it's stimulating. I find fighting males to be very arousing."
"You call that fighting? I call that murder."
"He challenged me, Will'm. One does not challenge me without consequence", said A'ya with a matter-of-fact tone. "And you certainly don't strike me without permission."
"Oh, that's right. You're suppose to be a damn goddess or something like that."
A'ya checked her weapon casually and put it back on the desk. "Something like that."
"Well, if you like fighting males, I'd be more than happy to accommodate you on that one, your worship. Just release me and I'll do plenty to get you all hot and bothered." After what he had just seen, he wasn't sure he really meant that, but his anger was speaking for him now.
A'ya let out a quick laugh as she began to approach Will'm. His words only seemed to stimulate her more. Her walk became sultry, with a sexuality of motion unlike any humanoid female in the Universe. She was pure pleasure in motion. "Oh, you wouldn't want to fight me, Will'm. I would be too much for you to handle. Much..... too....... much."
"I'd like to see just how much damage I could do, bitch", he growled at her. "After what you did to those Belactians, I'd love to..." William was immediately silenced when A'ya pressed her body against his and slowly stroked him with it. Her long slender torso, so lean and chiseled with angular muscle, was amazingly hard as it slid along his own. Yet her skin was smooth, with a velvet feel to it. Her already arousing voice now found an even more sensual tone that William couldn't help but listen to as she pressed her breasts against his chest and spoke only inches from his face.
"A test? Hm? Your fists against my body? Who do you think would win that contest, Will'm? Hm? You can't imagine the power of this body, Will'm. You can't imagine the strength I possess. I've taken on Primes twice your size and ....torn....them....to pieces." Her voice was little more than a whisper now. "Hm, there's a thought. How about a contest of my fists against your body? That doesn't sound very good for you, does it, but it sounds good to me." A'ya ran her fingers through his hair, the bicep of her arm bulging powerfully. "You don't want a fistfight with me, Wil'm. I'd ....pummel you....into.....nothing." William felt her tongue run lightly upward along his jaw to his ear. "Besides," she looked down and easily pulled away the remnants of William's burnt shirt. "It's a nice body. I wouldn't want to punish it." She ran her fingernails lightly down William's abdomen, making him close his eyes to fight the urges within himself. "Unless you were bad, of course. If you're good, there are rewards." A'ya deftly unbuckled William's belt and opened his pants.
"A'ya.....don't do this." he pleaded as he continued to struggle against the energy locks. Yet, his struggling only seemed to arouse A'ya further. The aroma of wildflowers and honey filled the room as A'ya released her pheromones, their effect on William immediate! Reaching into his pants, she quickly captured his growing shaft and within the sensuous prison of her firm grip, his hardness became total!
A'ya wasted no time. Immediately she straddled the captive male and took him into herself. As William continued to curse and struggle, A'ya tightened her grip on his hair. Her eyes closed tightly and her mouth fell open as she began to slowly undulate her pelvis. Within seconds, her vaginal muscles began to ripple like a flag in a breeze and William immediately stopped struggling.
"Oh, shit! Not that! Ungh!"
William was almost disgusted by the pleasure that A'ya was giving him. She was raping him and he was so close to enjoying it! But his enjoyment was short lived when she bucked faster and started to force his head back at an awkward angle. He now understood that this had nothing to do with giving him pleasure, it was only for hers!
A'ya continued to force William's head and shoulders painfully around as she pulled and twisted at him. The pain that William felt as she tore his head back and forth was almost equal to the pain from her violent humping. He could hear her cursing as she strained through gritting teeth for the elusive moment of pleasure. The air was so thick with her pheromones that William could barely control his own desires! The energy locks buzzed and flashed as she strained their ability to hold them both. Suddenly, A'ya released her torturous grip on him and slowed her humping to an erotic dance on him. He raised his head to see the intimidating sight of every muscle in her Velorian body expanded fully into combat size. He barely had time to cry out!
Her fist smashed across his chin with a loud crack as she sped up her humping. He heard her breathlessly whisper the Velorian word for "Yes" just before a second punch smashed his head the other way. She was breathing heavily now, the act of beating him turning her passions up another notch. The sparkling glitter no sooner cleared from his eyes than another punch impacted, then another, and another. Faster they came as his head was snapped back and to the sides repeatedly by her slender, rock-hard fists. As her punches sped up, so did her body, rocking his restrained figure wildly! Soon, her fists were a blur as each sound of knuckle against bone ran into another until they were all just a single crackling sound.
Instantly, A'ya flung her head back and her arms upward as the loud moan of her orgasm filled the room. Her body locked rigidly as the pleasure cascaded through her powerful body. Gripping her own breasts, A'ya extended the moment as long as she could, but it soon subsided and she slumped for a moment in silence. Catching her breath, she dismounted William and walked calmly back to the desk. William hadn't heard nor seen any of the final moments of A'ya's pleasure. He had lost consciousness just before she came.
Slowly, William began to become aware again of the world around him. His ears rang loudly and one of his eyes was swollen shut. He raised his head to see A'ya quietly toweling herself off by the desk and a deep sense of hatred for her rushed through him.
"You filthy bitch! Is this why you kidnapped me?"
"Don't be such an egotistical bore, Will'm." A'ya continued nonchalantly drying herself. "There's more to the Universe than a cock that won't break."
William's rage flared. "THEN WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING HERE?"
A'ya simply shrugged. "I needed you to complete an agreement, Will'm. My client needed you. As I told you, tactical business."
"Shit, you grabbed me for someone else?"
A'ya flung the towel behind the desk just as she shook her head with disgust. "You really do think you're a Supremis stud, don't you. Well, listen to me, you insect. I can get any number of Primes to service me and they hold up better than you did! Oh, there are things that are nice about you, but I wouldn't bet on any of those working to make your life better any time soon! Let me just make this so plain that even you can understand it all. We don't want you for sex, Will'm!"
"Then what the hell was all that about?"
As before, A'ya shrugged nonchalantly. "I was in the mood."
William's eyes narrowed. A'ya inspected her nails as she continued.
"There are about 73 different species in my crew. Don't you think I'm going to make use of any humanoids that come on board?"
"Yeah, I met one of your crew earlier. What the hell are you doing with a Thort on board? Aren't they a bit peaceful for a bloodsucker like you?"
"Thort? Oh, him! Yes, I keep him. He does what he's told; I need nothing more from a member of this crew. Besides, he's very trainable. There were three of them when we came across their ship. I killed the first one outright as an example and had the second one tortured in front of the third. By the time he died, the third one broke down and became quite malleable. He serves me well now. Very trainable, these Thorts. A nice little species. But don't think I'm going to let something like that touch me. I wouldn't even allow YOU to touch me if I wasn't in the mood. All of your various species really aren't acceptable to mine."
"Well, shit, your worship! I'd like to touch you by shoving that weapon up your ass and pulling the trigger a few hundred times! You in the mood for that?"
"Hm", she purred, "that does sound interesting. But the fact is, Will'm, you're just a worm on a hook."
"Bait? What the...." A sudden cold thought shivvered through him. "Where's Lillith?"
A'ya walked slowly toward William as she spoke. "Oh, probably home crying her little eyes out over your death."
"You faked my death?"
"Uh-huh. As I was saying before, we were just going to assault and take you both by force, but that wouldn't have allowed us the luxury of delaying Lillith's response. This way, she sits home and cries her little eyes out for a week or so. Oh, she'll eventually figure it out and come looking for you. But, by then, we'll be waiting. My client has a nice little ceremony planned for her."
William smiled knowingly. "Lillith doesn't trap very easily, A'ya, and it's very dangerous to try. Besides, why would you do that?"
"Oh, it's not my idea", A'ya shrugged. "I would just kill her outright. My client insisted that everything be just so. Some sort of old score to settle. But, anyway, we have plenty of time to get to the planetoid. Lillith will pine and whine, crying her little eyes out until her mind begins to deny. Then she will think about what she saw with her own eyes until she wonders more and more whether she actually saw what she saw. Finally, she will come looking just to find the truth. I know the Velorian mind, Terran. She will react just that way. We have plenty of time."
William smiled broadly at the miscalculation that A'ya was making.
"You're forgetting something, A'ya."
The powerful Velorian raised one eyebrow to prompt William to tell her what possible little detail could be lacking in her perfect plan. William chuckled just before he told her.
"You forget where we live."
On the planet of Tetra, the living room of the habitat
"Mistress, I truly require your attention."
Lillith's entire field of vision was filled with the fuzzy head and beady eyes of Phil. Standing right in front of her, he tried to focus her attention. Attention that had drifted away for the third time during the briefing.
Nearby, three other Tetrites stood one upon the other in descending size to form a live stand. The small Tetrite at the top of the pile, no larger than a baseball, held the top of a large, wrinkled piece of paper on which was a crudely sketched outline of a Belactian transport ship. Along the back third of the sketched ship were two rows of eighteen parallel lines. Toward the front third of the ship was an X. The tiny eyes of the creature blinked occasionally as she peered over the top of the paper enthusiastically. Everytime the large Tetrite on the bottom shifted slightly, the entire pile swayed precariously.
Lillith sat up, wiping the tears from her reddened eyes. "I'm sorry, Phil. You were saying something about secondary explosions?"
"Quite, Mistress. I have discussed this situation in great detail with many Tetrites in possession of substantial information on applicable subjects. They all agree. The William could not have died in the Belactian ship."
"But I saw him just ....into pieces!" Lillith wailed.
"No, Mistress. You saw him disintegrate. Your initial report made no mention of large pieces."
Lillith nodded, a tissue held to her nose. "Okay, so what are you saying."
Phil raised a leg to point at the two rows of lines. The pile swayed a bit. "Mistress, it is standard procedure on ships that make use of matter/anti-matter drives to segregate the matter and anti-matter into smaller repositories in order to limit the extent of any catastrophic interactions should the two come into contact."
"That makes sense. Smaller amounts of stuff makes smaller explosions."
"Exactly, Mistress. Each is contained within vessels lined with dimatter shielding. It is the only energy that does not have a matter equivalence. It is therefore neutral to both matter and anti-matter."
"`kay." Lillith blew her nose. "They wouldn't want to put anti-matter into something that's made of matter."
"No, Mistress. The interesting property of dimatter is that it occurs naturally. The fields are self-contained and extremely reliable. For one dimatter shield to fail is statistically unlikely. To have all thirty-six fail is...."
"Impossible!" Lillith's eyes widened a bit as she put the tissue down.
"Nearly so, Mistress. Yet, even if we assume that the impossible occurred, the location of the William on the ship precludes his demise."
Lillith's eyes seemed to plead as her voice dropped to a whisper.
"Phil, please. Tell me what you believe."
Phil stepped close, touching her shoulder with his leg, as he looked directly into her eyes. He was serious. "Mistress, the matter/anti-matter reactions were progressive along the rear third of the ship. The William was located on the bridge, forward of amidships. There was no possibility of him incurring damage from one of those reactions. Therefore, what you saw on the screen were only secondary explosions of volatile APU fuel and various flammable contents. There were no munitions on board." Lillith sat up absolutely straight as the realization took hold.
"Will'm was invulnerable enough for that!"
"Precisely, Mistress. His body certainly would not have been disintegrated. The consensus is that the nearby Arion warship utilized the rare but known Arion technology of molecular transportation to retrieve the William at the precise moment the explosions occurred. The lone dissenter had the opinion that it was a special video effect performed to deceive you and that the William was never actually on the Belactian ship. We have been worried about Oliver for some time, perhaps his diet requires....."
Lillith jumped to her feet. "He lives!"
"Yes, Mistress, it would appear so."
Lillith walked quickly to the window and drew back the curtains. Bright sunlight streamed into the room as she looked up toward the sky. All traces of sorrow were gone, replaced with a slowly rising anger.
"That woman has him!"
"That would also appear so, Mistress."
Quickly turning, Lillith's voice was cold as it forced it's way out through gritting teeth.
"I'll need a sitter!"
Phil followed Lillith toward the door. "I'll see to it, Mistress."
Quickly, they both left the habitat, closing the door behind them with a loud slam.
In the living room, a stack of Tetrites silently wondered what to do. The little one on top held the paper dutifully as she sneezed a tiny sneeze. Suddenly, Phil scampered breathlessly in through the front door and called out to them.
"That will be all! We are done with the presentation!"
The Tetrites gratefully unstacked and went to lunch.
Rising from the surface of Tetra, a raging Velorian, dressed for battle in her uniform, rocketed into space, following a faint trail of ionized particles left behind by the reactive engines of a large ship.
In the chamber on A'ya's ship
A'ya had just dressed and strapped her weapon back onto her leg when she sensed movement from the portal to William's left. A lone hooded figure approached silently. The brown garment reached the floor and was tied closed with a single rope around the waist, much like a friar's cassock. William couldn't see the face of the quiet figure, but he sensed something familiar, an odd uneasy feeling. A'ya brightened immediately.
"Ah! You've decided to join us!" Walking quickly toward William, she stood smiling next to the mysterious visitor. Looking at William, her smile broadened. "I think you two know each other."
At that instant, the visitor reached up to slide the large hood back to reveal a head of red hair and a pair of riveting green eyes. William's mouth fell open as if he was seeing a ghost! He had seen her die just before the last war!
It was Casan.
The Fallen continues....
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