In the Interrogation Chamber of A'ya's ship
Before A'ya could react, William shouted out, "Lillith! Watch out! There's two of them..." A'ya's fist across his face silenced his warning, but also made Lillith lunge fiercely at her lover's attacker. A'ya charged too and the two Velorians clashed savagely in the center of the chamber!
Flashes of heat beams lanced out wildly as the shock waves from impacting fists and kicks rocked the ship! The two women were fighting at such high speed that it was impossible for William to see what was going on. Only the hot pulses of air that lashed his face told him that there were some serious punches landing in that maelstrom! Suddenly, a loud CRACK flung A'ya from the whirlwind. Landing on her back and sliding along the floor, she came to rest just to William's left. He couldn't resist.
"Does your worship enjoy getting knocked on your holy ass?"
A'ya got to her feet while glaring daggers at William.
Lillith crouched low, following the slowly moving A'ya who circled menacingly around to her left. They watched each other's eyes, trying to anticipate each other's moves. Suddenly, A'ya burst right then cut left in a flash, but Lillith had fallen for the fake movement and had left herself open. A'ya's fists thudded so rapidly up and down Lillith's body that they sounded like thunder! Lillith twitched and flailed from the powerful impacts, unable to respond or to protect herself. The assault finally ended with five rapid punches that snapped Lillith's face back and forth violently! The final punch spun the stunned Velorian around and into the waiting vise of Casan's grip! Confused, Lillith blinked open her eyes just in time to see Casan's fist explode into her face. Lillith was a blur as she blasted right through the curved steel wall of the chamber and impacted an outside bulkhead. Casan's fist glowed cherry-red from the massive punch.
William was speechless! Lillith couldn't be defeated like this! Come on, honey, he thought, come on! But Lillith did not reappear. A'ya looked over her shoulder at him as she and Casan walked confidently toward the gaping hole in the wall.
"Easier than I thought, Will'm."
Watching the two warriors step through the torn steel to what he could only imagine was a broken woman lying unconscious on the other side, William stared down at the deck, unable to believe any of this.
Without warning, something exploded so powerfully on the other side of the hole that the steel walls bowed in from the overwhelming force just as Casan flashed through the hole and back into the chamber head-first! She slammed into the opposite wall, almost tearing through it, and fell stunned to the deck! Lillith wasn't down! William began to scream at the top of his lungs!
"THAT'S THE WAY, HONEY! THAT'S THE STYLE!"
Suddenly, the entire ship seemed to shake violently as sounds of another fight could be heard. Outside of the reinforced steel of the Interrogation Chamber, the two battling Velorians were shredding and mangling the insides of the ship! Although he couldn't see them, he could hear and feel the incredible struggle being waged between the Supremis warriors.
Casan shook her head to clear it and got to her feet. Seeing William looking at her, she nodded as if saying "Yeah, that was a good one!" William suddenly realized that this woman wasn't trying to cold-bloodedly kill Lillith. This was a challenge, a contest, some kind of test for Casan. A'ya was indeed using Casan to insure Lillith's defeat!
As Casan moved back toward the hole to join the fight, William called out to her, trying to reason with her, but Casan didn't understand a word he was saying and leapt through the hole without responding to him. Within seconds, the ship shook even more violently and William could only curse silently.
All over the ship, the crew was beginning to panic! No one was in charge and the rumors of what was going on were only limited by the imaginations that spawned them. There was no loyalty to A'ya nor to the ship, only concern for self-preservation and, of course, the salvation of any loot taken along the way. The ship shook so badly that it was easy to convince oneself that it was exploding somewhere internally. If that was the case, why chance it? The lifepods were always an option when A'ya wasn't around.
Suddenly, whole sections of deck plates erupted upward as three Supremis women brutally tore at each other in combat! Each of their immense punches tore whole sections of the ship away as their invulnerable bodies were smashed back from the forces. The crew scattered as best they could, but the furious battle flowed back and forth through the decks with murderous savagery. Many of the crew became trapped in the wreckage, most of those slow or unfortunate victims were dead instantly.
Casan was incensed! Two against one had no honor to it. Cursing and pulling A'ya away, Casan just couldn't seem to get her to leave the young Velorian Protector to her! A'ya had promised Casan that Lillith was Casan's to challenge and defeat in honorable combat, but now A'ya only seemed interested in brutally destroying the young woman.
Still, the Velorian Protector continued to fight them both well. Casan felt a new respect growing for the beautiful Protector who only fought here because A'ya had stolen her mate. That was proper, that had honor, and Casan approved.
William strained hard against the energy locks. His body strength was certainly equal to a Prime's, but the Arion engineers had designed this restraint system a little too well. He just could not break free.
The fight continued down the ship somewhere, but the ship itself didn't seem to be shaking so much anymore. Maybe the women were growing tired or....
A massive blast shook the ship so hard that the power grid flickered for an instant. In that instant, William tumbled forward out of the interrupted restraints. Rising to all fours, William flexed his hand repeatedly to get the circulation going again. A second explosion rocked the ship just as hard as the first and William tumbled awkwardly to the deck. That wasn't Lillith, thought William. Somebody else had just shown up!
Sweeping in a wide arc from around the backside of the planetoid, Volun-4, the Arion heavy cruiser, Antwe, suddenly appeared and opened fire on A'ya's stolen cruiser as it "crossed the T" in front of A'ya's ship. Every gun along it's sweeping broadside engaged A'ya's ship leaving only her forward guns to respond. From around the planetoid in the other direction, the Antwe's destroyer escort of two light destroyers capped the trap and opened fire as well. It was plain to see that the Arion military didn't take having one of their capital ships taken over by a Velorian pirate.
Without a bridge crew or leadership of any kind, the return fire from A'ya's ship was uncoordinated and very light. For nearly all of the crew, the appearance of the Arion task force took all the guesswork out of whether to abandon ship or not. The spherical lifepods filled quickly and deployed like a swarm of fireflies from the now burning ship. Flashes of red disruptors from the hostile Arion warships filled the area around the crippled ship, destroying each of the lifepods as they deployed.
The Arions had no use for any survivors.
In one of the lifepods, a single Thort left the rockets burn longer than normally required out of utter desperation as he angled the tiny spherical craft toward a familiar star cluster. He could just make out his home star through the distortion of an intervening nebula. Around that star was the planet he so yearned to see again and home, his beautiful home. His eyes never left the sight of that star until, suddenly, something incredibly hot enveloped him from behind, exploding in his brain and filling his vision with the brightest red light he had ever seen.
Within an instant, he knew peace again and would be with his brothers for eternity.
Lillith appeared to finally be overwhelmed by the uneven onslaught. On her hands and knees, she held her side painfully as she panted to catch her breath. Casan and A'ya stood unsteadily over her, rubbing some damaged part of their own anatomies, and nervously looking up everytime the hull shook. No one noticed William quietly stepping through the hole in the wall behind them.
For a moment, he was stunned by the utter devastation of the ship! Whole bulkheads and decks had been torn apart, shredded, and even blown back by the fight that occurred here! What had once been crowded gangways and compartments was now a vast open wasteland! To his right, he could see the remnants of what had once been a maintenance shop, the huge machines torn and twisted into junk. Shards of steel jutted up from the floor, marking the outline where bulkheads had once stood. Fires burned everywhere as if this were Hell itself. His mind couldn't imagine what it must have been like in here during their battle! In the twisted wreckage, he could see bodies of crew that had been unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. In some places, sparks launched out from damaged panels, erupting into more fires for A'ya's Hell. Smoke cast a dim patina across the darkly gray landscape of steel, fire, death, and destruction, and William felt a bit in awe of the power that could wrought this terrible scene.
Seeing Lillith tore at his heart. No one in the Universe had more uncompromising bravery than that woman, he thought. I've got to do what I can to help! Standing close enough to be heard, he flexed his body to enlarge his enhanced physique and shouted at the back of the rogue Velorian.
"A'YA! Get away from her! You don't want to fight her now. You want to fight me!" Two heavy blasts rocked the ship as A'ya peered back at the Terran challenger through narrow eyes of icy steel. A sneer slowly appeared on her lips.
"Well, look who wants to die."
A'ya turned slowly toward William.
"It took you long enough to escape, Will'm. I just knew you wouldn't forget me." A'ya snapped her fingers. "Casan!"
When A'ya pointed her finger down at Lillith, Casan knew that she wanted her to finish Lillith off.
"Take care of that one, Casan. I have a date with a new lover."
A'ya slinked a few steps away to spread her feet into a combat stance, but instead of raising her fists, she stroked herself between her legs.
"Sex and combat is all the same thing", she purred. "Do you remember, Will'm?"
With lightning speed, William's fist smashed into A'ya's face so hard that she exploded backward through three bulkheads, coming to rest in a heap forty feet toward the stern. William's fist glowed red.
"Well, you're screwed now", he snarled at her. Immediately, he turned toward Lillith, who looked up from the deck at him.
"Lillith! We've got to stop them! They're after the baby!"
Lillith's eyes grew very large, but she didn't say anything when her mouth fell open. William tried again.
"Did you hear me, honey? They're going to kill us and take Mara away...UNGH!"
A blur erupted out of the smashed bulkheads where A'ya had been thrown, ending in a gigantic punch that flung William straight up into an overhead spar. Ricocheting off, a second punch caught him in mid-air, blowing him back through the wall of the Interrogation Chamber. An extremely pissed A'ya snapped an order at Casan in Velorian.
"Kill her! I'll finish the Terran off!"
When Casan turned toward Lillith, she was amazed to see Lillith not only on her feet, but with a menacingly wild look in her eyes. Lillith was saying something in English that Casan didn't understand.
"You'd take my baby? YOU'D DARE?"
Lillith's fist smashed brutally across Casan's face, causing the mighty Geheim warrior to stumble back from the force of it. Casan recovered immediately and swung back only to have Lillith literally catch her fist with two hands! Instantly , Lillith spun around once, painfully twisting Casan's arm, bending her to the side. Lillith didn't seem to be sane any longer as she shouted at the amazed Casan, holding on tightly while kicking both sides of her body repeatedly.
"MY BABY!! YOU ANIMAL! I'LL KILL YOU FIRST BEFORE I'D LET YOU TOUCH HER!"
Flinging Casan's arm away, she slammed punch after punch into the powerful woman's face and body. Lillith was a woman possessed, completely overwhelming Casan, beating her to her knees!
Casan had no idea what she was talking about and was now only desperate to survive Lillith's rage. A survival that was in question when Lillith lifted the stunned redhead from the deck and hoisted her overhead only to smash her into a gigantic steel support column. Casan seemed disoriented as Lillith pulled her from the bent column, turned her around, and began pummeling the barely conscious woman's hard body into the steel. Hundreds of mighty punches rained down on Casan until her arms fell limply to her sides. Her bruised body was encased in the battered steel, pounded into it by Velorian power and a mother's outrage.
Lillith's chest heaved repeatedly as she caught her breath and waited for any sign that Casan could continue before lower her fists. The room seemed to swirl around her a bit and her side hurt terribly. It had been a dull pain at first, but now it was a very sharp, stabbing pain, making it intensely difficult to even breathe. The fight had been excruciatingly painful for her, but to defend her daughter, like a lioness for her cub, something deep down inside of her drove her like a woman possessed. Now the danger to little Mara was lying still, driven into a tomb of solid steel. Now, more than ever, all Lillith wanted was to find William, finish off A'ya, and return to her home.
Lillith turned away from the stirring Casan and limped toward where she had seen William go when A'ya nailed him so viciously a little while ago. Lillith hadn't staggered more than a few paces when Casan suddenly gripped her blonde hair from behind and slammed her foot hard into Lillith's painful side. Lillith screamed in pain just before a second vicious kick made her freeze wild-eyed from the burning agony that shot through her wracked body like a bolt of lightning! Something broke, she could feel it go and the pain nearly made her black out! A third kick was instinctively captured as Lillith wrapped her strong arms around Casan's leg. Yanking back as hard as she could, Lillith launched savagely into flight back toward the beam! When they impacted, the leg gave way and Casan's screams of absolute agony filled the ship!
Staggering back away from the shrieking Casan, Lillith watched her flail helplessly on the deck, her twisted, dislocated leg extending up at an awkward angle. Within a few moments, Casan ceased her screams and bore the pain with little more than a grimace as her thigh discolored and darkened. Looking up, the eyes of Casan met Lillith's, her voice strained to keep from screaming out again as she choked out the Velorian words.
"Finish me. You have won honorably and have the right to finish me."
Lillith leaned down on one knee beside her. "I do not wish to kill you, Geheimite, but I will ease your pain if you wish."
Casan nodded and thanked Lillith silently, her lips forming the words as her eyes closed in preparation. A moment later, Lillith hit Casan's jaw hard enough to release her from her conscious pain.
There was no one to help young Lillith as she struggled to her feet. She could barely stand and just to walk now tore at her insides. There was something terribly wrong inside her, she could taste blood, but she had to find William and defeat A'ya and get them both home again. Holding her side, Lillith took three excruciating steps forward before a stabbing pain drove her to her knees. Barely able to breathe now, she could feel herself passing out and felt ashamed.
"Oh, Will'm, I'm so sorry..."
Lillith was unconscious before she fell to the deck.
William got to his feet quickly, but A'ya was quicker. Her punishing fists flung him all around the chamber. She seemed to enjoy overpowering him like this. Try as he might to stay out of her reach, she seemed to be everywhere, moving quickly, striking hard, and rapidly retaliating for any punches or kicks that he might be lucky enough to get through to her. William felt amazed that Lillith faced this woman and survived! A'ya was indeed an incredible warrior!
Getting up slowly, William knew he couldn't keep this up. On his hands and knees midway between the desk and the energy locks, William looked up to see A'ya calmly walk to the desk and pick up the weapon.
"That's how this ends? You plan to use that on me?"
A'ya simply shrugged. "It's time for me to go, Will'm. I know it's the Arions out there attacking. They've been shadowing us for weeks. They're probably arguing right now whether to board this ship or blow it out of Space. Either way, it's time for me to go. Sorry, lover."
Lover? For some reason, William just felt like laughing. Rocking back on his ass, he began to chuckle, then laugh fully. A'ya looked totally confused until he raised his hand and pointed at her. Then her rage flared.
"Don't you DARE laugh at me! Who do you think you ARE! Stop it! STOP IT!!"
Flinging the weapon behind her, A'ya angrily lunged into the air, both fists raised to slam down on William and kill him instantly! Instead, William twisted at the last minute, catching her and using her momentum to fling her over himself. She landed hard, sliding right into the energy locks! The fields enveloped her instantly, analyzing her anatomy to find her shins and wrists. She was spun once to orient her properly and then slammed firmly to the deck to be held in place. It took her a moment to realize that she had just been had.
"YOU TERRAN PIECE OF SHIT! YOU MISERABLE PIECE OF..."
She was interrupted by a smiling male petting her forehead.
"Be nice, cupcake, and I'll give you some kibble later."
A series of terrible explosions rocked the ship, signaling that the Arions had decided to destroy the ship after all. William rushed over to the desk to pick up the lethal weapon A'ya had flung away. Returning quickly and grabbing A'ya by her hair, William roughly jammed the end of the barrel into the soft area behind her chinbone. Releasing the safety, the weapon whined for a moment causing A'ya to close her eyes.
"Don't kill me, Will'm. Please don't kill me. Please."
William placed his face within a few inches of hers as he pressed the weapon upward hard enough to make her strain against the energy locks. Her voice became a whisper as she pleaded for her life until William's cold, menacing voice interrupted her.
"If you ever come anywhere near my daughter, my family, my home, my planet, my system, or my galaxy again, I will personally see to it that you are gutted. Do you read me? Goddess, my ass. I will tear you to pieces!" Stepping back, William removed the weapon only to jam it hard against her forehead. A'ya glanced quickly up at his hardened face and knew for certain that he was about to kill her. Stammering and pleading, A'ya closed her eyes tightly, her bottom lip began to shiver with fear. A sudden loud click made her jump, but it was only William flipping the safety back on.
When she opened her eyes, he was gone.
Lillith couldn't see who it was at first, but someone was calling to her. Her eyes didn't seem to want to work. She called out to William to come and help her open her eyes. Slowly, they gave way and the blurred image of William appeared before her.
"Oh, Will'm, you're alright! You're alive!" Her voice was very weak, but her relief could still be heard clearly as her hand reached up to touch his cheek. William smiled, speaking softly to her.
"I'd never leave you, you know that. I could never die without your permission."
Lillith's voice grew weaker. "I ...may have to ask...for yours."
"No! No, Lillith! Don't you leave me! Don't you dare die on me! Do you hear me?"
Lillith's crystal blue eyes were barely open as she tried with the last of her strength to try to be heard.
"Will'm, I'm sorry, so sorry. Please, Will'm, I should have been there. I should have...."
William tenderly shushed her to silence. His fingers lightly traced along her cheek. "You were right, Lillith, and I should have listened to you. You're always right, honey, always."
Lillith closed her eyes as a grin came to her tired lips. Her words were little more than a murmur.
Smiling for a moment, William's concern took it away.
"How bad is it, honey?"
"Will'm, I can't fly. I hurt. I hurt so bad." Lillith grimaced as another pain tore at her. "I may not be able to..."
Suddenly, two Arion troopers stormed through a shattered bulkhead, their weapons ready to fire. Without hesitation, William snapped A'ya's weapon up and fired repeatedly at them as he screamed his hatred out! His blasts obliterated both of the troopers as well as most of the ship directly behind them.
"I am TIRED of this SHIT! We are going home! Just hang in there, Lillith. I'll find a way."
Cradling his barely conscious lover in his arms, William moved quickly toward what he suspected were the hangars toward the aft end of the dead ship.
The fires grew larger as the ship began to fall to pieces around her. A'ya focused all her strength and she rotated her closed fists to pull upward with her massive arms. Her biceps and forearms strained and grew incredibly large as she curled against the energy locks. She stared straight ahead, her thin lips unevenly showing her bright, clenched teeth. Beams and steel plates continued to fall around her as the ship tore itself apart. The heat from the fires spawned small twisting tornadoes of flame that danced around vents and cracks. She could hear Arion voices in the upper decks. They had evidently decided to board the ship after all! The air heated to unbearable levels, yet A'ya remained focused, her incredible body growing to gigantic proportions! It was a new challenge of her strength against the ability of the energy locks to channel that much energy against her. As A'ya reached her limit and she cried out against the thunderous hell around her, the locks barely held firm.
William's knowledge of the location of the hangar decks on an Arion cruiser never included finding one from the inside of the ship. The best he could do was guess. As it turned out, he did very well.
Kicking the undogged hatch open with his boot, William rushed through with Lillith cradled in his arms and the weapon ready to meet any threat. To his surprise, there was no one there.
Lined up along the dozen or so launch rails that faced the outer doors were fighter craft of every imaginable type! There was a large, black Arion Shadowfighter next to another one that was mostly disassembled. Next to that was a Hauntlek Devil Ship, a flaky piece of crap if there ever was one. Many of the others were not familiar to him, but the last one at the far end of the hangar sure was. There, fitted to the launch rail, was a Terran Mk. IV Super Sabre. In spite of its peeling paint and neglected appearance, it was beautiful to William.
Lillith weakly opened her eyes to see who William was talking to. All she saw was a bunch of junky spacecraft as William carried her along. She smiled, thinking he must have been talking to her, and let her eyes close again.
Inside the Sabre, there was a musty smell and assorted junk lying around the flight deck. An ancient bird cage had to be removed from the pilot's seat and he wiped down the co-pilot's seat before tenderly setting Lillith into it. The five-point harness, shoulders, lap, and crotch, secured her limp body into the seat. William was having serious doubts about whether the Sabre was spaceworthy. Pulling away most of the Arion-language labels that had been placed over the original English placards, William flipped up the main breakers and peered at a small gauge just above them. The indicator rose higher before settling right in the center of the scale. He nodded his approval.
"Batteries look good."
His eyes moved directly to the familiar location of the fuel gauges.
"Fuel cell's topped off too. Hm! Guess these folks were just slobs. They kept `em ready to fly."
Each one of the four fingers on his left hand lifted a toggle switch that started one of the four Auxiliary Power Units, or APUs. Holding the toggles up until each APU spooled up to 20% power, he released them and let the APUs continue to gather speed. The distinctive whine filled the cabin and made Lillith call out.
"It's okay, honey, it's alright. I'm flying us out of here. You just sit tight, I'll be right back!"
As William frantically ran out of the Sabre, Lillith's unfocused eyes tried to see what was happening. Her voice was little more than a groan.
William quickly ran back to the hatch of the hangar to slam it shut. He couldn't believe how loud those APUs were in this closed hangar! Every Arion on the ship must be on his way down here now! Twisting every dog, the hatch was locked securely. He placed an oily rag over the small porthole at the center of the hatch to blind any curious folks and ran back toward what appeared to be a central console for the hangar area.
There was still power to the console, but the controls made no sense! He didn't want to just open the hangar doors, he wanted to delay them a bit so he could get back into the Sabre without being sucked out! His eyes scanned all over the panel, but nothing told him what he needed to know.
Suddenly, someone began pounding on the hatch. He was out of time! He ran back to the Sabre, the sound of breaking glass behind him! Tracers of a pulse weapon narrowly missed him as he dove into the Sabre's rear hatch. More rounds banged loudly against the reinforced hull as he hurried forward.
William jumped quickly into the pilot's seat and snapped the harness on in one swift movement. The APU's were at 85% power - good enough. William silently hoped that the engines were good enough to handle the sudden stresses of a battle-start. Normally it would take five to ten minutes to get the turbines spooled up and warm, but they didn't have that long! William jammed the throttles to full combat position, increased the APU's to 110%, and manually engaged the transfer couplings to the Pratt & Whitney engines with one quick movement.
The Sabre nearly leapt off the launch rail as the entire fuselage shuddered violently in protest of such a hard start! Turbines screamed in torment as one after another, the engines lit off and built up to power. She was a good one after all! Now, he thought, all I gotta do is get those damn doors open!
His thoughts were immediately broken by loud, rapid pounding on the Sabre's hatch. "Holy shit, they're on the hull!" Glancing out the side window, William could see about a dozen Arion troopers in the hangar bay. He didn't have a clue as to how many were on the Sabre, trying to get at him and Lillith.
"Aw, shit, the hell with this!"
Flipping up the safety shroud on the flight controller stick, William expected to see one Traynor particle rail gun deploy from a concealed fairing just to his left. Instead, he saw two of them pop up, one on each side. A weapons indicator showed two more deployed underneath the fuselage. He couldn't believe it! "Oh, maaaaaannnn!"
His finger pulled the trigger.
Four Traynors fired simultaneously, filling the hangar with a white backflash that vaporized every living soul exposed in the hangar. The plasma whirlwind blew through the open hatch and into the gangway, incinerating twenty-seven Arion troopers waiting to support their assault team. Lillith screamed as the Sabre rocked viciously in the blinding flash and William held on and prayed!
On the bridge of the Antwe, the Arion Commander was getting an explanation of the huge fireball that just erupted on the rogue ship.
"Multiple particle weapons discharge, sir."
"No, sir....it appears to be internal to their flightdeck."
The Commander thought out loud. "Could be the fires cooking off some weapons down there. What kind of damage?"
"All hangar doors and surrounding structures were destroyed completely. There doesn't appear to be any secondary explosions of any kind, sir."
The Commander nodded. His curiosity had always been a problem. "Bring us around. I'd like to see the damage."
The giant ship lumbered obediently around toward the blackened scar that had once been the hangars. Just as the Commander had a clear view through the bridge windows of the damaged area, a single craft launched out of the center of the worst damage at an amazing rate of speed! It turned tightly toward the Arion cruiser, rolled inverted, and, just as the alarm klaxons sounded, began firing four weapons directly at the bridge! The Commander flung himself on the deck as he continued to shout orders.
"All crew to their weapons! Shields! Shields up!"
The craft flashed overhead so close that the bridge crew was momentarily blinded from the gun flashes. Three rumbling explosions shook the ship and it was all over. The Commander's hand shook noticeably as he demanded a damage report.
"Three hits, sir. The Target Tracking array, the Fighter Support Communication array, and the steerable nozzles on the main engines are jammed. No casualties, sir."
The Commander snorted as he watched the intruder disappear off the aft port quarter and away into Space. "No casualties. Hm. He just left us blind, mute, and unable to steer this cow. Magnificent piece of flying! Magnificent! I wish I had a dozen like him!" The Commander turned to face his confused crew. "I'd also like to rip his guts out! Get those nozzles repaired, NOW!"
William logged into the navigation computer and was surprised to find Tetra available to be programmed into it. Setting the course, he let "George", pilot slang used for hundreds of years to refer to the autopilot, do the flying. Releasing his harness, he moved to check on Lillith.
"Honey? You alright?" He stroked her hair lightly as her eyes slowly opened.
"Will'm?" Her voice was terribly weak.
"Yes, honey, I'm here."
"Will'm, you fly too fast."
William smiled. "I know, darling, I'm sorry. I'll slow down."
Lillith nodded her appproval and gulped a breath to speak.
"Will'm, do remember when I told you about how the spirits of the dead will visit their loved ones ...before...before they join with Skietra in the Beyond?"
William thought a moment, then just nodded. "Sure, honey, I remember."
"Well, I knew you weren't dead because you didn't come to me. I knew you'd come. I knew you loved me."
"You bet I do, darling, but don't talk about this right now. Just rest, honey. I'll get you home and..."
"No...No, I want you to know. Wait for me, Will'm, wait for me. I will come to you, I promise, I will....I..."
Lillith's breathing stopped.
Casan remained calm as she regained consciousness and waited for the final end. Her broken body failed her and she lost her final challenge. Perhaps that was how it was all supposed to end. Perhaps her fate was now fulfilled.
Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed someone walking toward her. Whoever it was, hidden in that smoke, they did not seem to be in a hurry. As the figure moved closer, Casan was amazed to see that it was A'ya. The sight of her lover filled her with the warmest joy! Perhaps her fate was not to die here after all! She called out, "A'ya! Over here! Please, please help me."
A'ya looked down at the pleading face of Casan without any sign of compassion or even simple interest. She appeared to be bored with the situation.
"You were to kill the Tetra one," A'ya calmly said, "but I see no corpse, no broken blonde body at my feet! You're flawed, weak, not worthy to exist in my world. I see no reason to bother with you. This has not gone well at all. I think it best to simply continue on and right these wrongs another time."
As A'ya turned away, Casan tried to reason with her. "A'ya, wait! We can....we can pursue her again. I simply did not understand your plan. Perhaps you could explain it all to me so I could help? Perhaps ....."
A'ya looked back at Casan and shook her head slowly. "No. No, I don't think so. I created you so perfectly, but you simply couldn't do as I told you. You should learn the consequences of that."
To Casan's horror, A'ya leapt straight up into the overhead ruins of the ship!
"No!" Casan screamed. "NO! DON'T LEAVE ME HERE!" But, A'ya was already smashing directly through the outer hull and was soon disappearing into the vast darkness of deep space. She left behind a smoldering hulk of a ship, 476 dead crew, and a bitter, abandoned lover who swore an oath as she dragged herself from the place of her shame.
On the bridge of the Arion heavy cruiser, Antwe, an angry Arion Commander slammed his fist loudly on a console in frustration as he watched A'ya speed away. He had her. He HAD HER! Now he and his ship sat lamely by while she easily escaped. He'd do anything to see her dead. Anything!
"Sir? Perhaps we could release one of the Destroyers to pursue her." The young Ensign always tried to be the one with the answers.
"To do what, Ensign? To be fodder for that bitch and split my forces? Idiot!" The Commander's rebuke stung and helped insure that the Commander had a place on the Ensign's list of those he would someday destroy.
Turning quickly to the Comms Console Officer, the Commander barked his orders crisply.
"Is the low-power link to the boarding team still open?"
"Then send out the recall. Prepare for immediate pursuit as soon as we can get underway."
The Comms Console Officer suddenly listened intently to an incoming message and called out to the Commander.
"Sir? They found something, sir!"
The Fallen continues....
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