I. Reunion

Inside the Communications Room on the eleventh floor of the crystal palace on the planet Calamaar, two female alien creatures intently watched one of several large screens over the central monitoring system. Cintilla and her sister, Pinta, were nearly twins except for the plumage of webbed skin, fanned out across the rear of Cintilla’s head. The Calamaari were tall, zombie-like creatures with ashen facial features and crooked rows of sharp, pointed teeth.
Pinta retreated behind Cintilla and glanced at the two guards who stood at attention in the rear of the room. She felt reassured by their presence.
“Saris’ friends will find him for us,” declared Cintilla. “A little insurance just in case he forgets our arrangement.”
“Why do we waste our time on this criminal?”
“If he restores my son’s health, then he has shown his true desire for peace.”
“And if it is a trap? What if Goeth is already dead? He may be buying time for the humans to launch an invasion against us.”
“The humans do not have the resources to mount an attack against us in this sector.”
“Perhaps he has a pact with the Weevil.”
“The Weevil make deals with no one. They are predators by nature.”
“And how long can we afford to wait? As long as he’s out there, he is a threat to our security,” Pinta argued impatiently.
“Not much longer. Time is running out on the truce. His friends on Orpheus-2 will need to find him for a resolution to our agreement if they hope to avoid a war with us.”
“I’ll put our forces on full alert.”
“For what?” Cintilla replied arrogantly. “There is no threat.”
“To put him out of his misery!” exclaimed Pinta. “We are going after him, now.”
Cintilla leaned into Pinta. She snorted angrily as she realized her sister just undermined her authority. She suspected a coup was under way and hoped her disregard for Pinta’s threat would deter the support of the guards.
“We still have a truce! We’ll do no such thing until I know of Goeth’s fate.”
“With Saris dead, there is no truce, dear sister.”
Pinta pressed a button on top of the control cabinet and six more guards entered. All eight guards surrounded Cintilla with pulse rifles aimed at her head. She reluctantly surrendered to the guards.
Cintilla’s eyes glowed red with hot rage. “What is this treachery, Pinta?”
“You are weak, sister. I will rule Calamaar and my first objective is to kill Saris. Then I will exterminate the humans.”
As the guards escorted Cintilla to the door, Pinta laughed hysterically.
Cintilla held the door briefly and glared back at her. “I swear, you’ll pay for this, Pinta!”
“No, it is you who will pay.”
“What shall we do with her?” asked one of the guards.
“Take her to the mines. Find a nice abandoned pit for her to spend the waning hours of her life.”
Cintilla hissed and spit at her before the guards shoved her through the doorway.
Outside the palace, Cintilla was shoved into the back of an armored truck and joined by two guards. A third guard locked the rear door and drove the truck away.
“This is treason!” Cintilla warned the guards.
“We’re sorry but she’s taken control. We have to follow orders.”
Cintilla stared out the barred window on the back door. She watched the white palace disappear from view.
“Saris, I never thought I’d say this, but I’m counting on you.” She thought to herself. “How ironic is that?”
She sat down and lowered her head dejectedly.
**********
The palace on Yord exhibited signs of major repairs from the disrepair that it fell into. The grounds were secured in hopes that Will and Shanna would one day return to rule. Huge wooden gates were installed with a high-tech locking device to prevent a future breech by insurgents. The outer walls were less ornate than before with carvings of patriots who died that fateful day defending Yord during Rourke’s insurrection.
The underground base was sealed off since security concerns became minimal during the period of peace that started when Will’s truce opened the shipping lanes to Orpheus-2. Its numerous bays lay empty in the dark. The inside of the surrounding maintenance shops were dusty and covered in spiders’ webs that created a ghostly atmosphere
On the surface, expeditions left the transportation hub weekly to search for Shanna through the mountainous regions of Yord over the two years since she left but with no success. The key to restoring Yord and the profitable alliance was to find Shanna and then Will. Without Shanna, Will would never return.
Inside the palace, Bastille and Jack spent numerous hours in a side office using the communication equipment to query their contacts from passing ships for information on a possible location where Will might be but to no avail. Only myths of a renegade cruiser marauding Weevil supply ships and depots in the tenth sector lent credence to Will’s ongoing assaults against his sworn enemy, the Weevil.
Bastille sat alone at one of ten tables in a large meeting room, sipping wine from a wooden cup. He wore a black kilt and collared shirt with his head shaved and a pony tail. Each ear had a piercing and a tattoo of a winking woman’s face adorned his left arm.
Jack entered the room, located next to the foyer inside the palace’s main entrance. He wore jeans and a T-shirt, with his thick mane of hair tied back.
“We’ve got problems, Bastille.”
“I see that. Not one of our supposed allies showed for the meeting.”
“Not much of an alliance is it?”
“It’s not a problem so long as the truce is in place.”
“But you know as well as I do, Bastille, alien truces don’t usually last very long. A change of leadership or regime and all bets are off.”
“Financially, Yord is failing,” Bastille pointed out. “We need to find Will before things get any worse.”
They mulled over the situation. One of the servants entered the room with a wooden cup of wine on a tray. She held the tray out and offered him the cup.
Jack accepted it graciously and dismissed the young girl.
“How did we get stuck in the middle of all this, Jack?” groaned Bastille. “We’re not politicians. We’re warriors!”
“No kidding. This is killing Maya. She’s not very good with people skills and she’s fed up with the petty behavior by the few leaders of the alliance that are left.”
“We have to do something soon! I hate what we’ve become.”
Two rough looking men entered the room, much to Jack’s surprise. Each was dressed in a denim jacket and pants with tattoos on each arm, piercings in each ear and shaved heads.
Jack stood up and extended his hand in friendship. “Well, well. It’s been a long time, my friends.”
Each of the visitors shook hands with them.
“We have some information you might be interested in,” said the taller man, Ivan.
“Talk to me,” replied Jack anxiously.
“We stopped in a small shopping district at the southern edge of the Kamonga Mountain Range for supplies. We saw a woman with a child that may have been Shanna. I called to her but she disappeared inside one of the shops. We searched but she vanished.”
“Do you think it was her?”
“I’m reasonably sure. She tried not to be noticed or followed for that matter.”
Jack shook Ivan’s hand enthusiastically. “Thanks so much. I owe you big time for this.”
“I could use your help, come to think of it.”
“Just ask.”
“We have some illegal items on board that we confiscated from an alien ship.”
“Say no more. The less I know, the better.”
Jack glanced at Bastille for support.
“I’ll arrange for your passage without inspection,” replied Bastille.
Ivan shook Bastille’s hand, then Jack’s gratefully. “It’s good to do business like we did in the old days,” he remarked.
“And much simpler,” added Jack.
Bastille immediately made a call via transmitter while Jack escorted the men to the palace entrance.
**********
Maya sat in the palace garden with both her young girls. She wore a long casual dress, accenting her shapely figure with her shoulder-length blonde hair tied back in a pony tail. As the girls bounced a ball back and forth to each other, she stared sadly at the flowering shrubs, a constant reminder of seasons past. Things were never the same after Will and Shanna departed.
Since their disappearance two years ago, Jack and Maya organized a democracy to run Yord. It was a weak ruling committee that pretty much kept things as they were. Other races no longer came there to trade. New governments were formed by the former allies and excluded Yord’s people. In the event of an attack they were alone to defend themselves. The people of Yord prayed that one day their heroes would return and bring life and security to the once bustling trading hub of the galaxy.
Jack burst through the doors into the garden and startled Maya. “A friend of mine thinks he saw Shanna!”
Maya sprang to her feet excitedly. “Where?”
“At a small supply center along the southern edge of the Kamonga Mountain Range.”
“Get a crew together! We’re leaving immediately.”
“I’m already on it. I’ll meet you on board the Leviathan?”
Jack rushed back inside the palace.
Maya ushered the girls inside the palace as well.
Sara, Maya’s friend and aid, met her in the hall and sensed her urgency. “Can I help you with something, Maya?”
“Yes, you can,” she said hurriedly. Maya kissed each of the girls on the cheek. “We have an urgent mission that’s come up and we need to go out on the Leviathan. Would you join us and tend to the girls?”
“Of course, I will.”
Sara led the two three-year olds away while Maya rushed up the stairs to the security officer’s desk. The officer, a tall woman of about twenty-five, blond hair and blue eyes, stood at attention.
“Relax, Silva,” said Maya.
The woman took her seat and eyed Maya attentively.
“We’re going out on the Leviathan. Something important has come up.”
“Any special instructions, Ma’am?” the officer asked.
“Just maintain standard procedures for locking down the palace at night. I’m not sure how long we’ll be gone but I’ll be in touch.”
“Yes, ma’am.”
Maya rushed down the stairs and exited the palace. A camera followed her across the courtyard and the gates opened automatically when she approached.
Just outside the west wall of the palace was the transportation hub where numerous ships were docked. At the far end, a specially designed berth was built to house the Leviathan.
Maya nearly fell as she raced up the ramp to the ship’s hatch. Jack caught her and the two staggered backwards into the ship.
“Whoa, young lady!” Jack said giddily.
“Is Sara on board with the girls yet?”
“Sure is.”
“Then let’s get going!”
Maya slapped the red ‘close’ knob for the hatch. It sealed quickly with the whooshing sound of air from its long pistons.
Jack pressed the intercom switch and informed Bastille that they were ready to depart.
On the flight deck, Bastille and Celine piloted the huge ship from the hub. Celine wore her hair tied back in a wide pony tail, dressed in a black vest and a kilt, like her love, Bastille.
Within a few hours, the Leviathan hovered over a large mountain range on the desolate side of Yord.
Jack and Maya sat at the communications console in the Comm/Nav Room on the second level.
Jack studied the infra-red scanners on one of the monitors as they scoured the mountains for signs of life.
“They tell me there aren’t many folks out this way,” remarked Jack. “During the winter season, the mountains are treacherous. Avalanches are prevalent with the heavy snows.”
“I guess Rourke would never have found Marina out here,” surmised Maya.
“Obviously, if Shanna has Marina, then she found Keira out here. Keira took one heck of a risk to get this far.”
“As did Shanna to find her.”
Jack pointed out the small trading depot on the scanner. “That’s where Ivan spotted her.”
Maya leaned over his shoulder and eyed the monitor. “There are only a dozen or so residences out there. It shouldn’t take too long to check them out.”
Jack pressed the intercom button and turned a selector knob to ‘open speaker’.
“Bastille, we’re going down. Hold your position until you hear back from us.”
“Roger.”
Jack and Maya stepped onto the transport platform.
“Go ahead, Bastille. We’re ready,” announced Jack.
A green flash illuminated the steel platform and the two of them vanished.
They arrived at the rear of the small supply center which once was a barn and silo. Maya grabbed Jack’s arm and ushered him inside. She was excited about the possibility of finding Shanna after all this time and this was the best lead they had yet.
Inside the supply center, there were several aisles of crates and one aisle of shelves which held perishables and consumables.
Maya grabbed a box of chocolate bars as she approached the counter.
Jack frowned at her until she replied defensively, “It’s for my nerves. I’m really on edge right now.”
Jack massaged her shoulder with one hand.
They were greeted by a grizzled old man behind a wooden counter.
Maya placed the box on the counter with a silver coin.
“Anything else asked?” asked the man.
“We’re looking for someone,” answered Maya. “A young lady with blonde hair. She probably had a small girl with her.”
The man rubbed the stubble on his chin and sat down on a stool. He seemed to be waiting for something.
Jack became frustrated by his greed. He added two more silver coins on the counter.
The man smiled through broken teeth. “I’m starting to recall someone like that. Is she in trouble?”
“Why? Does that raise the price?” chided Jack.
Maya placed her hand on Jack’s. He sighed and turned away.
Maya placed two more silver coins on the counter. “Please, sir. It’s really important.”
The man reached under the counter and unlocked a small file cabinet. He retrieved a cigar box from inside one drawer, opened it and slid the coins into it.
Maya grabbed the man’s arm firmly. “Alright, Mister, I’m done playing.” She placed her hand on the pulse pistol holstered on her waist.
The man glared at her and pulled his arm away. “The girl lives with a couple up on the west face of Benton Creek Mountain – about a three mile walk. Now get out of my store.”
“Was that so hard?” remarked Maya cynically. She took the chocolates and left the store.
“Yeah, was that so hard?” taunted Jack and followed her out of the building.
The man spit on the floor and locked the file cabinet.
Maya and Jack followed a trail to the mountain and entered the woods.
“You know, Maya, if Will and Shanna return and take charge of Yord, I’d really like to do something different.”
“Like what?”
“I’d like to start a new parts depot someplace away from Yord.”
“And what am I supposed to do?”
“I could use a partner.”
“I’d love to,” she replied cheerfully. “We might actually have time to raise our girls instead of having Sara do it.”
A few hours later, Jack noticed a small house halfway up the slope of the snow-covered mountain. “What do you think?”
Maya gazed at him with hopeful eyes. “Let’s go find out.”
They hiked up to the small weather-worn chalet on the side of a tall, snow-covered mountain.
Jack and Maya glanced at each other as they approached the door. Maya rapped on it gently while Jack surveyed the surrounding terrain nervously.
“Are you alright, Jack?” she asked, amused by his now evident anxiety.
“I’ll let you know in a minute.”
The sound of a latch sliding against the door added to the tension. The door creaked as it slowly opened.
Shanna emerged holding Marina in her arms. Still with the innocent look of a young girl, her hair was now waist-length. She matured significantly from two years ago and looked quite maternal, wearing a plain brown denim gown and long-sleeve sweater. “Maya?” she blurted in surprise.
“Shanna!”
“Maya! Jack! What are you doing here?”
“Looking for you,” answered Maya, looking relieved.
Shanna became teary-eyed and hugged her with one arm.
“Hello, Shanna,” said Jack.
“Jack! I can’t believe you’re both standing here.”
Shanna hugged him, too. “What are you doing here?”
“Looking for you and for quite some time. Why else would we come this far?”
“I missed you all so much. How did you find me?”
“It wasn’t easy,” answered Jack. “We’ve questioned every trader and traveler that came through the palace district.”
“Will you come back with us?” asked Maya. “It would mean a lot to everyone.”
Shanna hesitated and looked back inside. A handsome young man with long blond locks appeared behind her.
Jack and Maya’s hearts sank at the sight of him. They assumed that Shanna had found another to replace Will.
“Ah, these must be your friends,” the man remarked.
“This is Rory,” announced Shanna. “He’s the main reason I was able to find Keira and Marina.”
“Hello, everyone,” Rory replied pleasantly.
Shanna continued, “This is Jack and Maya. I told you about them.”
Jack shook hands uneasily with Rory. “Nice to meet you.”
“Hello,” said Maya disinterestedly.
“Can you give me a few moments?” Shanna asked Rory.
“Sure,” he replied and left the doorway.
Shanna stepped outside and closed the door. She looked at them sheepishly for a moment.
“A lot has changed since I left Will,” she explained uneasily. “I never would have found Marina without Rory’s help.”
Maya and Jack were speechless.
“Marina needs her parents in her life and she was growing up like an orphan.”
“But Will is her father,” Maya answered sadly.
“And she’ll always know that.”
There was an uncomfortable moment of silence.
“How is Will?” Shanna finally asked.
“He was really broken-hearted the last time we saw him,” answered Jack. “He went on a spree with the Weevil and the Calamaari. He and the boys got a couple of Calamaari racers (cruisers) and pissed off the Weevil and the Calamaari at least once a day.”
“Where is he now?”
“We think he’s somewhere out in sector ten near a trading station called Orpheus-2,” answered Jack. “No one has seen him in a few years. The last message we got from him was that no matter what, he would always love you.”
Shanna broke into tears. “Do you think we can find him?”
“We can start with Orpheus-2. I’m sure someone out there knows something about where he’s at.”
“Rory!” Shanna shouted.
Rory and his wife Margot exited the house.
“What is it?”
“I have to go. It’s time.”
Rory and Margot approached them.
“Thank you, Margot, for everything,” said Shanna sadly.
Margot hugged her and kissed her cheek. “Good luck, Shanna.”
“We enjoyed having you with us,” added Rory. “You’ve become like family.”
Rory and Margot hugged Marina and kissed her.
“I can never repay you for what you’ve done for us,” Shanna said humbly and they hugged again.
Shanna turned to Jack and Maya. “Let’s go find my husband. We have a family to reunite.”
Jack pumped his fist in the air. “Yes!”
Maya placed her arm around Shanna’s shoulders and escorted her away from the chalet.
Jack tapped his transmitter. “We’ve got Shanna! Bring us home, Bastille.”
“Well, Hallelujah!” Bastille replied.
A few seconds later, the four of them were transported on board the Leviathan.
Shanna and Marina sat down in the main quarters of the Leviathan with Jack, Maya and Celine.
“Why did you leave without talking to us, Shanna?” asked Celine. “We were all concerned about you.”
“I didn’t want to put any of you, including Will, in a position where you’d have to choose sides in this.”
“I think you underestimated Will,” replied Maya.
Bastille joined them. “Hello, ladies.” He hugged Shanna and gazed at her adoringly. “It’s so good to see you again, Shanna. You have no idea what an impact you’ve had on everyone.”
“It’s good to see you, too, Bastille. Are you taking good care of Celine?”
Bastille glanced at her and smiled.
“He knows his place,” kidded Celine.
“So what’s this I hear about Calamaari racers?” Shanna asked.
“We have one on board. It’s way too fast for me.”
“What? You don’t like it?”
“I enjoyed the ride but it’s not my style,” he explained modestly. “This is my baby,” he said as he patted the Leviathan’s hull.
“Is it easy to fly?”
“It’s not too bad but, unfortunately, my reflexes aren’t up to the challenge. It’s really something special.”
“Maybe I can have a crack at her.”
“Might as well. None of us are comfortable with her. She’s a real speed demon, kind of like you.”
Everyone laughed at his joke.
“How about a quick lesson? I’d love to take her for a spin.”
“Come on. I’ll show you.”
“Be advised, everyone: we’ll be at the portal soon,” the co-pilot, Darien, announced over the intercom.
“Looks like we may have to save that ride for another time,” said Bastille disappointedly. He departed up the stairs to the flight deck.
“Why don’t we get you settled into your cabin?” offered Maya.
“That would be nice. I’d like to put Marina down for a nap.”
Maya escorted Shanna and Marina to an empty cabin. Shanna sat on the bed and held Marina close to her.
Maya gazed at the two of them. “It’s good to see you two reunited again,” she remarked pleasantly. “It must have been hard on you.”
“I couldn’t bear to be without her any longer. It was tearing me up inside.”
“What happened to Keira?”
“When we tried to return, she was…an avalanche nearly killed all of us. Rory and his wife rescued us during the ensuing snowstorm. We couldn’t save her.”
“That’s so tragic. She was a good person.”
Shanna bounced Marina on her knee.
Marina looked at her innocently. “Will we find Daddy?”
“I don’t know, Honey,” replied Shanna. “Her first words were ‘dadda’.”
“That’s so sweet.”
Shanna broke into tears and nestled Marina against her.
“It’s alright, Shanna,” said Maya compassionately.
Jack stood in the doorway of the cabin and watched sympathetically.
“What if we don’t find Will?” Shanna asked.
“We’ll find him. We found you, didn’t we?”
“We believe he flew off toward Andros-3, a small, uninhabited planet,” interrupted Jack. “It’s located somewhere near the edge of the Calamaari territories.”
“He’s been out there alone for all this time?”
“Yes, he has. No one’s been able to track him.”
“I guess if you can’t find him, neither can the Calamaari and the Weevil,” Shanna said with a small sense of relief.
“That’s one way to look at it.”
“Maya or Shanna, please pick up,” Celine’s voice rang from the intercom
“I’ll get it,” volunteered Jack. “You ladies relax.”
Jack went to the intercom. “Go ahead Celine. The girls are here with me.”
“One of the man-o-wars has requested to join us. They’re a little stir crazy and want some action.”
“Of course. Anything else?”
“Yes, as a matter of fact. The portal isn’t there.”
“What do you mean ‘it’s not there’?”
“You heard me. It isn’t there.”
“Oh, shit!”
Shanna lowered her head dejectedly.
“How long is the trip without the use of the portal?” inquired Jack.
“During the trading days, it was about ten months in Earth time,” answered Celine. “With this ship at full speed, seven.”
“Shall we go for it, Shanna?” Maya suggested enthusiastically.
“I’d be so grateful.”
“I always wanted to see Orpheus-2,” remarked Jack. “I’ve heard it’s one hell of a trading facility.”
“How about the Weevil and the Calamaari?” Shanna asked.
“I think we can handle them. Besides, they’ll never expect to see Leviathan in their neighborhood.”
“Then let’s go,” urged Maya.
“Okay, Celine. Set a course for Orpheus-2.” Jack announced and smiled at Shanna.
“Thank you both. I missed Will so much.”
“Did you ever think about coming back to find him?” asked Maya.
“Yes and no. I didn’t know what to expect from everyone because of the way I left without saying anything.”
“Don’t worry about it. We all know it was a difficult decision.”
**********
Will Saris, now twenty-one in Earth years, did pull-ups from a tree limb then dropped down to the ground. Months of intense training sculptured his physique. His chest was robust; his arms and legs were quite muscular; his hair long and tied in a bun on the back of his head. He wore a goatee and limited his dress to deerskin shorts and sandals. After his fool-hardy escapades on Orpheus-2, living in isolation on a primitive planet was the best thing for him. Here, he could hurt no one.
A drinking binge and the unexpected pregnancy of a friend and subsequent miscarriage filled him with guilt. He couldn’t let that happen again.
Underneath camouflaged netting was the stolen Calamaari cruiser, the Reaper, partially covered on either side by vegetation. Hardly noticeable, it blended in well with the terrain.
The Reaper’s main cabin was decorated with furniture and a stereo, giving all the comforts of a regular residence. At the front of the quarters was the access to the pilots’ cabin.
Will enjoyed his solitude on the uninhabited planet. For almost two years, the Weevil tried unsuccessfully to destroy him while the Calamaari tried to locate him with the intention of capturing him. Will was always ahead of them. His regular raids on Weevil supply ships with a Calamaari vessel left him in an advantageous situation. He hid within Calamaar’s territorial limits and was protected by the truce from the Weevil. His attacks in a Calamaari ship complicated things for the Weevil who were reluctant to wage war against their formidable neighbors thus far.
When he finished his workout, Will entered the ship and turned up the stereo. Rock music filled the air as he folded laundry from a basket and pondered if this was all he had left to live for.
He sat down in a primitive chair, made from tree limbs and sipped from a container of water. A small monkey leaped onto his shoulder.
“Hello, George.”
The monkey patted Will on the head and squealed.
A loud series of beeps rang over the intercom from inside the ship.
“Time to go for a ride,” announced Will. “Duty calls.”
The monkey jumped off his shoulder and raced inside the ship.
Will gazed at the painted images of the fire-breathing skull on the side of the ship, a present from his friends at the space station, and briefly reminisced. As much as he tried not to think of them, it hurt not seeing them for so long. He wondered what became of his wife, Shanna, and their daughter, Marina – how much she would have grown. More so, he feared that he would never see them again. The loss of his family left him bitter and driven to torment his enemies.
The monkey screeched from the hatch at him.
“Alright, I’m coming!” Will closed the hatch and entered the pilot’s cabin.
“What shall we attack today, George?”
The monkey jumped up and down excitedly.
“I agree,” answered Will, pretending to understand. “Let’s try something different.”
They strapped themselves into their respective seats and Will started the ship’s engines. He eased the Reaper out from under the netting and accelerated through a long narrow valley. The ship departed from the opposite side of Andros-3 away from the view of Calamaar. This was one of Will’s tactics to prevent being targeted by his enemies.
Will turned on the short-range sensors. The monitor showed the green dots and registered the signature of the ships as a Weevil supply ship and an escort cruiser. The two unsuspecting ships glided toward the location of a known Weevil portal.
The Reaper streaked through space toward the ships at top speed.
Will contacted the Weevil leader through a transmitter and monitor. “Hey, Polus, you ready to quit yet?” he taunted.
Polus’ angry face appeared on the monitor. “Screw you, Saris,” he shouted with help from the translator module attached to his rubbery neck.
“Oh, not again! When are you gonna’ learn to watch that potty mouth of yours?”
Will toggled several switches and set up the armament control panel for firing. He sat back and directed the monkey, “Go ahead, George. Do your thing.”
The monkey slapped the ‘fire’ button with his little hand and watched the monitor excitedly.
Four red bursts of energy darted from underneath the Reaper toward the supply ship. Soon enough, it exploded into a brief fireball. The monkey jumped up and down, clapping and squealing.
Will high-fived the monkey. “I see I trained you well, my friend.”
The cruiser steered toward them and fired eight torpedoes. The bright red energy bursts darted at the Reaper but Will evaded them easily.
Will circled around and pursued the cruiser toward the portal. “What say we take care of this one, too, George?”
The monkey jumped up and down, clapping all the while.
Will set up the armament control panel again. The display on the panel indicated full charge on the weapons.
“Go ahead, George. Do it again.”
The monkey slapped at the ‘fire’ button and danced on the seat with joy.
The cruiser nearly reached the portal but two of the torpedoes struck its tail section and it burst into a brief fireball then vanished.
“What do you say now, Polus?”
“You’re going to pay one day.”
The transmission ended, much to Will’s amusement.
“Let’s go home, George.”
The Reaper turned around and headed back to Andros-3.
**********
Seven months later, the Leviathan and the man-o-war called the Widow Maker neared the end of their journey and entered the territory of the Confederation. Two man-o-wars from Orpheus-2 appeared and aggressively escorted the Leviathan to a dock on the outer deck of the station because of its size while the Widow Maker docked inside at one of the standard berths. Once docked, a long mobile jet way swung out to the hatch and secured to the side of the ship. The Leviathan immediately went into ‘cloak’ mode, becoming invisible.
Inside the Surveillance Control Center on the second floor of the station, General Arn Adolfo stood behind Severin, his security officer, as she contacted the Leviathan for identification.
The Control Center was a wide room with several monitors along the walls and a pair of super-computers to tally incoming data and control the stations functions.
Arn was short and chubby, dressed in a tan uniform with black boots. His balding head indicated that his age was more than fifty in Earth years.
Severin was tall with long dark hair tucked underneath her black officer’s cap. She wore a tight black uniform with a high collar and stared with sharp piercing eyes. A sense of humor was something she never saw a need for. With her hardened expression, she appeared to be in her late twenties.
Maya, Jack and Shanna huddled behind Bastille and Celine in the pilots’ cabin of the ship waiting for their first contact with the General of the Confederation. This was the first time that they heard of the group and were anxious to learn more.
“This is the Leviathan from the Yordic Empire,” announced Bastille. “We’re searching for a man named Will Saris.”
Arn laughed hysterically.
“What’s so funny?” asked Bastille, confused by the General’s reaction.
“You came all the way out here to ask me that! Hell, we’re all looking for Will,” he replied. “He’s been gone for quite a while.”
“Any idea where?”
“He might be holed up on one of the small planets in the Calamaari territories in the next sector for all we know.”
“No one’s gone out to look for him?” queried Shanna disappointedly.
“Nope. We felt it was safer that way. He’s got a chip on his shoulder and a broken heart. We thought it best to leave him be.”
“I guess everyone hates me for this?” remarked Shanna gloomily.
“Everyone cares about you and Will,” replied Maya sympathetically. “I doubt they would feel any other way.” She put her arm around Shanna and hugged her.
“Mind if we stop in for supplies?” requested Bastille.
“That’s what we’re here for. Besides, I’ve always wanted to see the elusive Leviathan.”
“Thank you, sir,” replied Bastille.
The monitor went blank.
“Let’s go out and see what else we can find out about Will,” suggested Jack. “Maybe, if we can figure out what he was thinking, we might be able to plot where he’s at.”
“I’ll stay here and monitor the communications channels,” offered Celine. “Maybe Will can recognize our signature from where he’s at.”
“Thanks, Honey.” Bastille kissed her cheek and left the pilots’ cabin.
Everyone met at the hatch in the main quarters.
Twelve soldiers, dressed in tan uniforms like Arn, waited curiously in the mobile corridor as the invisible hatch opened, revealing the inside of the ship and the crew. The soldiers were amazed at the cloaking technology that the ship employed.
Bastille, Shanna, Jack and Maya were escorted from the ship to the Surveillance Control Center.
Arn and Severin stood up and greeted them with handshakes.
“Welcome to Orpheus-2,” said Arn as he puffed on his cigar. “This is Severin, my security officer. She’s the best in the business.”
Severin nodded stoically at them.
“It’s a pleasure to be here,” replied Jack excitedly. “I can’t tell you how much I’ve heard about the station and the Confederation from traders and travelers.”
“Yes, well fortunately for us, we had some defectors from the Fleet or we’d be just a myth.”
“You had defectors from the Fleet?” inquired Maya, surprised by the comment.
“I’m one of them,” remarked Severin arrogantly.
“I see.”
Severin noted the cynical tone in Maya’s voice.
“Maya was once a commanding officer in the Fleet,” Jack announced.
Severin studied her with a cold expression. “I can’t say I respect the Fleet or any of its officers. They were a grave disappointment as was demonstrated by the results of the war.”
“What do you mean by that?” demanded Shanna in defense of her friend.
“They had no intention of winning the war against the alien alliance. It was a game where innocent people were killed while they played like gods. They’ll never succeed against anyone.”
“Now, now, ladies,” interrupted Arn, amused at their competitiveness.
“Obviously, you don’t keep up on the latest reports of the war,” Maya replied smartly.
“And why would I?”
“Because the Fleet has been disbanded for some time now. The alien alliance was defeated and the Weevil were left to fight alone against us.”
“So I suppose you’re a refugee from the Fleet,” sniped Severin as she glared at Maya.
Maya kept her composure but fixed her gaze back at Severyn. “I’m no refugee, Severyn. I disbanded the Fleet.”
Arn pushed Severin playfully as she was trumped by Maya’s revelation.
“Perhaps we should carry on with this discussion at a later time. I’d like to hear more,” Severin replied professionally.
Arn pointed to one of the large monitors. Severin, Bastille, Maya, Jack and Shanna huddled around it and watched.
“His ship appears randomly on our long-range sensors and our patrols claim he makes regular attacks on Weevil supply shipments,” explained Arn. “We have tried many times to contact him but with no success.”
“The range of our sensors only reaches to Sach-15, a large worthless rock of a planet,” added Severin. “He’s somewhere beyond it.”
Arn pointed to a green spot on the monitor. “There he is. He’s out hunting again.”
Severin’s transmitter beeped. “It’s Severin. Go ahead” She listened for several seconds. “Thanks.”
“Well?” asked Arn.
“It’s him. He just took out a Weevil supply ship and a cruiser.”
“So how often does he do this?” inquired Maya.
“At least once a week, maybe more – often outside the range of our sensors.”
Maya activated her transmitter. “Celine, are you there?”
“Go ahead, Maya.”
“Follow vector 7. See that ship?”
“Yeah.”
“Track it. It could be Will.”
“I’m on him,” she replied.
Laneia, Shanna’s long-time friend and Attradean Queen, entered the room, brimming with delight. “Shanna!” she shouted excitedly.
The sight of Laneia stunned Shanna. “Laneia!” She ran to her and threw her arms around her. “Laneia, how are you?”
“I’m fine. And you?”
“Under the circumstances, I’m doing well.”
“Did you recover your daughter?”
“Yes I did. Now I have to find my husband.”
“Oh, he’s gonna be so happy to see you.”
Severin looked surprised by Shanna’s remark. “So this is the infamous Shanna who broke Will’s heart,” she remarked sarcastically.
“Yes, she is,” answered Laneia. “She’s also known as the Queen of Yord.”
“I hope she’s worth it. That man’s gone through hell because of her.”
Shanna looked shamefully down at the floor.
“It doesn’t matter now,” Laneia replied. “All we have to do is find Will and everything will be fine.”
Shanna smiled and placed her hand briefly on Laneia’s arm in appreciation of the support. “Thank you, Laneia. I feel really bad about how this had to play out.”
“I understand. It’s gonna’ be okay, now.”
They followed Arn from the room and down the stairs. A short ways down the wide corridor was the entrance to Arn’s saloon.
Arn paused at the door and looked back at his guests. “While we’re waiting, can I interest you all in a drink and a fight?”
“What do you mean ‘a fight’?” asked Bastille curiously.
“Oh, you’ll like this.”
They entered the saloon and took seats at one of the round tables.
“We have the footage from Will’s fight with the Calamaari prince. It was a dandy.”
“Why the hell was he fighting a Calamaari prince?” Shanna demanded.
“It seemed they had a difference of opinion. Will’s not one to let things go.”
“You don’t have to tell me.”
“Hey Jeanie,” shouted Arn. “Can you put Saris’ fight on the screen and bring us a few drinks?”
Jeanie nodded and walked behind the bar. She operated the equipment under the bar until the large screen on the side wall illuminated and the arena appeared.
The crowd chanted Will’s name. He entered the cage and scanned the crowd.
“I don’t believe it,” Shanna uttered in disbelief.
Maya’s transmitter beeped. “Go ahead,” she replied.
“I think I have his location,” replied Celine. “There’s a small planet called Andros-3. He did a few evasive maneuvers before disappearing in the planet’s atmosphere. I’ll try to contact him.”
“No, don’t do that!” exclaimed Arn.
Everyone was startled.
“Why not?” asked Maya.
“It’ll give away his position to the Weevil and the Calamaari.”
“Negative, Celine. We need to discuss how we’ll pursue this.”
“Roger.”
Jeanie brought the drinks over and set them on the table.
Arn raised his glass for a toast.
“What is this?” asked Shanna.
“Rum – Orpheus style. Will enjoyed it very much.”
“I can only imagine.”
They raised their glasses in a toast.
“Here’s to Will, the opening of the trade lanes and the truce with the Calamaari,” announced Arn proudly.
Maya was surprised by his comment. “Will opened the trade lanes?” she asked.
“Yes he did. Will forged a truce with the Calamaari for at least seven striads. Come to think of it, we’re approaching the end of that truce soon.”
Shanna was riveted to the movie screen. She was appalled at the beating Will took from Goeth.
Arn noticed and was amused. “Don’t worry, young lady. It gets better.”
Shanna watched Goeth clothes-line Will and turned away. “I’ve seen enough,” she said sadly.
They each sipped from their glass. All three women nearly gagged on the rum.
“What is this stuff?” Maya asked nauseously.
“I told you, it’s rum,” Arn answered innocently.
“It’s way too strong.”
“Yeah, Will found that out after about four glasses.”
Maya and Shanna glanced at each other.
“I can’t see Will drinking four glasses of this stuff,” remarked Shanna disbelievingly.
“Yeah, he did,” said Laneia.
“He’d never walk away.”
Laneia shook her head sideways. “Nope, he didn’t.”
“He passed out?”
“Oh, yeah. He was out for nearly a week. Then he had to fight.”
“Why would he do something as dumb as that?”
“Because you left him,” replied Arn. “He was devastated.”
“Leaving him was the hardest decision I’ll ever have to make in my life. It wasn’t his fault.”
“Well, make sure you let him know when we find him. He thinks you’re gone for good.”
Shanna’s face reddened.
“Are you alright?” Laneia asked.
“Yeah, but I feel really woozy.”
“That’s enough for you gals,” said Arn. “Maybe it is a little too strong.”
Maya’s transmitter beeped again. “Go ahead, Celine.”
“We’ve narrowed his location down significantly based on the trajectory of his ship and infra-red heat trails. He definitely hid his tracks well.”
“Excellent! We’re on the way.”
“You’re leaving so soon?” asked Arn disappointedly.
“I promise we’ll be back,” said Maya. “I want to check out this shopping mecca of yours.”
“I’ve heard you have one hell of an arcade, too,” added Jack.
“Sixth floor. It’s state of the art. Nothing like it in the universe.”
“I’ll give it a good test. Thanks, General.”
“My pleasure.”
They left the saloon and returned to their ship.
Arn looked at the glasses with most of their contents. “Ah, what a waste,” he muttered and chugged each one before coughing a few times. “Damn, that’s good stuff.”
**********
On board the Leviathan, six of them sat together in the main quarters.
Shanna stood up and leaned on the table with her hands. “I’d like to take your Calamaari ship down to Andros-3 and search the terrain.”
“You’ve never flown it,” replied Maya in a concerned tone. “I know you’re anxious to find Will but that’s just crazy.”
“I learn fast. Besides, this is really important to me.”
“Perhaps I can provide you with a few lessons,” offered Bastille.
“Oh, Bastille, thank you so much!”
“I’ll lead the ground patrol,” volunteered Jack.
Sara entered with Marina at her side.
“Mommy,” she shouted and ran to Shanna. Shanna knelt down and took her in her arms. “Hello, Sweetie.”
“She can stay with my girls,” offered Maya.
“I don’t mind watching her if you like,” volunteered Sara.
“She needs to see her father if he’s down there.”
Shanna left the quarters with Marina and Bastille. They descended the metal stairs to the cargo bay and entered the Calamaari ship. It was sleek and streamlined for speed with a shiny dark surface. Across the tail section were several Calamaari symbols identifying the ship.
Once inside the pilots’ cabin, Shanna strapped Marina into the co-pilot’s seat and studied the controls.
Bastille knelt down by her and explained each of the controls. Once Shanna felt comfortable, he wished her well and left.
“Marina, it’s time to find your father.”
“We’ll find Daddy, mommy?” Marina asked excitedly.
Shanna fought to hold back the tears. “Yes, Sweetie, we’re gonna’ find Daddy.”
The cargo bay door of the Leviathan opened. Shanna activated the smaller ship’s systems and piloted the cruiser out of the bay.
Jack and Maya transported down to the surface and landed in a densely forested valley. The air was humid and the temperature quite warm.
“Do you think he’s here?” asked Jack nervously. He already felt uncomfortable with the climate.
“We studied the flight path and surmise that this is the most likely area he would have landed,” replied Maya.
They spread out and searched for him.
After walking for an hour, Jack paused to wipe the sweat off his brow.
Maya sat down on a tree stump and sighed. “No wonder the Weevil never found Will. We can’t either.”
A long, gray snake hovered above Maya from the tree limb above. It stretched toward her from behind.
Jack scanned the area around them and listened for any sounds that might give them a hint.
Maya worried that, after all the excitement of finding Shanna, they would come up empty in their search for Will.
Jack turned toward Maya and quickly drew his pulse pistol when he saw the snake.
Maya, still unaware of the snake looked horrified. “Jack!”
Jack fired one shot and the snake’s head exploded. The body quivered for several seconds and then hung motionless.
Maya leaped into Jack’s arms, trembling.
“The old man’s still got it,” quipped Jack.
Maya regained her composure. “I knew there’s a reason I keep you around. Thank you.”
**********
Shanna navigated the cruiser slowly across the terrain at low altitude. The cruiser had the ability to glide at slow speeds and even hover for short periods of time.
She scanned the area over and over but saw nothing. “Come on, Will. Where are you?” she uttered frustratedly. She circled around and descended into the valley.
“Any luck, Shanna?” Jack asked over the transmitter.
“Not yet.”
“He’s got to be here. There’s no place else he …”
Shanna hovered over a small clearing and noticed traces of color on a tree. She dropped down to treetop level and recognized several articles of clothing hanging from branches.
“Hold on, Jack. I think I see something. I’m changing the cameras to ‘zoom’.”
Shanna lowered the ship into the clearing and watched the monitors anxiously. She recognized a ship just like hers underneath the camouflaged netting, partially hidden by vegetation.
“I think I found him, Jack! I’m activating the homing signal so you’ll find us.”
Shanna toggled a switch on the panel above her.
“I have it,” answered Jack. “We’re not far. Shut down your signal for now. We don’t want to attract any of our friends.”
“Understood.” Shanna shut down the ship’s engines and unstrapped Marina.
“Come on, Honey! We’re going to see Daddy.”
“Daddy!” Marina exclaimed.
Shanna exited her ship with Marina and approached the camouflaged ship.
**********
Inside the Control Center at the Calamaari palace were a dozen technicians with Pinta and two of her personal guards, all with ashen leathery skin and gruesome, jagged teeth. Pinta studied the various screens on the central monitoring system and was elated when Shanna’s cruiser landed on Andros-3.
“Notify our ships to stand by for attack. If Saris’ ship tries to leave that planet, I want him destroyed!”
One of the guards bowed and departed the Control Center.
Pinta eyed the monitor and grew more confident that Will would soon reveal himself.
“What if he’s not there?” asked one of the guards.
“Then we’ll force him to come out from wherever he’s hiding. Orpheus-2 could be the perfect bait.”
“But our scouts say that there is some kind of super ship there. It could be the mythical Leviathan.”
Pinta became annoyed with the guard. “Check the last scan, you fool! There is nothing bigger than a man-o-war on that station. Besides, if there was such a ship, it wouldn’t be in our sector.”
“But we know a ship arrived but there’s no evidence that it ever left.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“Our scouts report that the ship appeared to, uh, vanish.”
Pinta glared at the guard and curled her claws into a fist. “Are you questioning my orders?”
“I’m sorry. I just… never mind.”
“Then keep watch over the station until it does appear!”
The guard looked down fearfully at the ground.
Pinta shook her head in disgust and snarled. She left the Control Center.
**********
Shanna and Marina hid behind bushes near the hatch. Her heart raced as she prayed it was Will inside.
Rock music blared from inside the ship. Shanna took Marina by the hand and crept cautiously toward the hatch. She paused at the entrance. “Will, are you in here?”
The camouflaged netting hung down over the entrance, making it difficult to see inside.
Jack and Maya crept up next to her. Shanna glanced at them and returned her attention to the ship’s hatch.
“It sounds like Will’s kind of music,” Jack remarked optimistically.
“Keep Marina for me, please, Maya. I’ll go in first and make sure it’s him.”
“Of course.”
“Be careful,” warned Jack, “just in case it’s a trap.”
“One of us should go with you,” Maya suggested.
“No, I need to do this alone.”
She pushed the netting aside and stepped nervously through the hatch.
Inside the ship, Will hung upside down from a bar, bending repeatedly as part of his workout. He wore deerskin shorts and no shirt.
Shanna couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw him. She gazed for several seconds and wondered if it was really him.
Will had developed into an incredibly muscular man. His finely sculptured body made her lust for him at once. She approached him from the side.
His eyes were closed and he sang the words to the song while bending upward.
Shanna admired the flexing muscles of his body and was overcome with incredible passion for him.
“This is my Will!” she thought excitedly. “My, has he grown.”
Will suddenly sensed her thoughts and turned in her direction. He was startled to see her standing there. “Shanna?”
“Will!”
Shanna hugged him awkwardly and kissed him while he hung upside down.
Will tried to get down off the bar but Shanna clung so tightly that he couldn’t move. Finally he pushed her away. “Please, let me down before I pass out.”
Shanna waited anxiously as Will grabbed the bar with his hands and unhooked his legs. When she couldn’t wait any longer, she put her hands on his waist and helped him down. It felt so good to touch him again. She sensed the magic again that they shared whenever they were close together. It all came back to her so vividly.
“Oh, Will!” Shanna kissed him like a starved animal.
Will was overcome with joy as he feasted his eyes upon her.
Her blond hair had grown to nearly hip length and her face reflected her maturity. She dressed much like Will once did, wearing a simple white blouse and loose fitting black pants with black boots.
Will eagerly embraced her. “Marina – did you find her?” he asked.
“Oh, yes. And now I’ve found you.”
They hugged and kissed.
Shanna called out to the others, “He’s here! He’s here!”
Jack, Maya and Marina hurried inside the ship. They were thrilled at the sight of him.
“Daddy! Daddy!” shouted Marina excitedly.
Will saw Marina and instinctively took her in his arms. “Look at how she’s grown.”
Will cried as he hugged her. He pulled Shanna close to him and hugged her as well.
“To lose one’s family is a burden that no man should bear.”
“To choose between her husband and her child is a burden that no woman should bear,” replied Shanna.
Marina touched Will’s cheeks with her hands. “I missed you, Daddy.”
“I missed you, too, Marina. I’m so glad you’re here.”
Will hugged Jack and Maya next.
Jack placed his arm around Maya and whispered, “Finally, everything is right.”
“Yes, it is,” replied Maya.
“So how did you find me?” Will asked. “I worked very hard to stay hidden all this time.”
“It wasn’t easy,” answered Jack.
Will gazed at Marina again. “Oh, my little girl. How you’ve grown.”
He ogled Shanna, still stunned by her appearance and squeezed her tightly against him. “I’ll never let you go again.”
“You’d better not,” she replied.
“We all were so worried about the both of you,” said Maya. “You’re family to us.”
“And it’s good to be with you all again.”
Will stepped outside and immediately noticed the second Calamaari ship. “How did she handle?”
“I liked the Phantom better,” said Maya.
“It’s got too much speed for me,” added Jack.
Will awaited Shanna’s response. She smiled coyly at him.
“I take it Shanna’s already got dibs on it,” Will quipped.
“Of course,” she answered. I’ll race you back to the station.”
“You’re on!”
Jack blocked the hatch before Shanna could leave. “Why don’t we go back and let you spend some time together?” he suggested. “We’ll wait for you on board Leviathan.”
Shanna looked anxiously at Will. “What do you think?”
“I think it’s a marvelous idea.”
Jack pushed Maya toward the hatch. “Give us a holler when you’re coming back.”
“I sure will. Thanks, everyone.”
As their friends departed, Will closed the hatch and eyed Shanna with a seductive grin.
Shanna folded her arms and gazed at him adoringly. “I can’t believe we’re standing here together.”
“Look at you both,” remarked Will. “How much you have changed.”
Marina touched Will’s cheek. “Daddy, I love you.”
Will hugged Marina tightly and kissed her. “I love you too, Sweetie.”
Shanna followed him to the couch and sat next with him. As Will played with Marina, Shanna suddenly grew somber.
Will noticed and became concerned. “What’s wrong, Shanna?”
“There’s some thing I have to tell you.”
“What is it, Honey?”
“When I was away, I had some help finding Marina from a man. He was married but our searches took many days.”
Shanna paused and studied the expression on his face. She dropped her head in shame. “I was lonely and I needed a companion,” she continued dejectedly. Tears streamed down her cheek. “I… I made a mistake.”
Will was stunned but calm.
“The worst part,” she continued, “is that I thought about staying with his family and not coming back.” Tears streamed down her cheeks. “I feel so terrible.”
“Why would you even think that, Shanna?”
“Marina needs a father figure in her life and I didn’t think you wanted to be that figure.”
“I’m sorry if I led you to feel that way. I do want to be part of her life.”
“Can you forgive me, Will?”
Will stared earnestly into her eyes. “Did you ever stop loving me, Shanna?”
“No. Even if I stayed there, I could never stop loving you.”
She nestled her hear against his shoulder.
Now, Will looked down at the floor sadly. “I have something to confess as well.”
Shanna became attentive and looked up at him.
“I was unfaithful to you as well. I was so upset and so afraid of being alone.” Will wiped the tears from his eyes and nestled Marina against his other shoulder. “Can you forgive me?” he pleaded.
“We both screwed up big time. Can we start over and make things right?”
“Nothing would make me happier. I swear that, no matter what, I’ll never betray you again.”
“And I swear to you that I’ll never leave you nor betray you again, either.”
Shanna leaned forward and kissed Will.
Will’s monkey, George, raced inside the ship and jumped on top of the couch. He clapped his hands excitedly as he watched them. Marina saw the monkey and clapped as well.
“Who’s your friend?” inquired Shanna.
“This is my trainer, George. He convinced me that if I worked out everyday and looked sexy, you would come back to me.”
Shanna stroked Will’s chest with her hands. “If I knew you looked like this, I would have come back much sooner.”
They laughed together.
“I think Marina needs a nap,” she suggested.
“George will keep an eye on her for us.”
Will went to the closet and brought out a blanket.
“It seems you went all out for your new residence,” Shanna remarked as she admired the ship’s decor.
“Not really. Tara, Vera and my friend, General Adolfo did it for me.”
“Is there a story to Tara and Vera?”
“Not anymore.”
“Good. Then you’re all mine.”
Will set Marina down on the blanket and kissed her. Shanna watched admiringly as Will tucked Marina under the blanket.
“George, keep an eye on her for me,” Will ordered.
The monkey gazed at Marina adoringly and nestled down on the blanket. The two soon slept.
Will led Shanna into his cabin and closed the door.
**********
Jack paced back and forth on the Leviathan.
Bastille leaned against the wall next to Maya with an amused expression on his face.
Three the men sat nearby at the bar. They noticed Jack’s anxiety as well.
“It’s been three days,” complained Jack. “We can’t plan anything until they return.”
“Relax, Jack,” Maya said sternly. “They’ve been apart for a long time.”
“Maybe we should return to Arn’s station. Will and Shanna have their own transportation.”
“No, we’ll wait for them.”
“What about Will’s friend, Arn?” one of the men called out. “I heard he’s got some wicked rum.”
“He’s also got a video of a certain fight,” mentioned Bastille.
“I’d love to see a good fight,” the man replied.
“It’s Will getting his ass whooped by a Calamaari prince,” kidded Maya.
“No way! Will isn’t that dumb.”
The three men stared curiously at Jack.
“You don’t know Will like I do,” Jack reminded them. “He still hasn’t learned street smarts yet?”
Jack’s transmitter beeped. “I wonder who this could be,” he said in mock surprise.
“This is Jack,” he responded into the transmitter.
“Jack, it’s Will. We’re coming back.”
“Two ships?”
“No, I’m leaving one here in case I need to return later.”
“Alright, we’ll see you soon.”
Jack looked relieved. “They’re on the way back.”
Maya placed her arm around his waist. “Feel better now?”
“Yes, I do.”
**********
Pinta watched the green object on the monitor depart Andros-3. “Now we’ll put an end to the nuisance’s reign”
She pressed another switch and the monitor zoomed in on the ship. It had only Calamaari markings on it.
“That’s not him!” Pinta watched impatiently as only one ship left the planet. She shrieked angrily at a blood-curdling pitch. “Where the hell is he?”
“Maybe he’s on board the ship,” suggested the guard.
“No, he’s too brazen to leave like that. Saris needs an audience whenever he does something.”
“We should track the ship and see if it docks on board their mystery ship,” suggested the second guard. “If it doesn’t, then it will likely return to their station.”
Pinta glared at the guard and then at the monitor. “Perhaps this time you have a point.”
“Pinta, I think you should see this,” said one technician urgently.
Pinta reluctantly approached him, annoyed by his interruption. “What is it?”
The technician slid his seat away from the monitor for her to see. The monitor showed twelve green shapes in the lower right quadrant.
The technician reached for the controls and pressed two buttons. Cameras from probes revealed Weevil battle cruisers in formation.
“Contact Polus now!” bellowed Pinta. “I want to know what his ships are doing in my territory.”
The technician promptly hailed the Weevil leader via transmitter.
Both guards had concerned expressions as they waited for orders from Pinta.
“Keep staring and I’ll rip those eyes out of your heads,” she warned, “unless either of you have something of value to say.”
“Do you really think we can trust the Weevil?” inquired one of them.
Pinta removed her pulse pistol from under her robe and pointed it at the guard. “Do you think I really trust you?” She pulled the trigger and fired an energy pulse into the guard’s head. Brown matter sprayed across the monitor and the headless corpse fell to the ground.
The second guard was stunned by her actions. He kept his eyes focused on the ground.
The Communications Room grew quiet as the guard and technician were careful to avoid eye contact with her.
“Clean this up, now!” she ordered.
The guard removed the corpse from the room. Two more guards appeared with rags and wiped the blood and brain matter off the floor, wall and console.
Pinta returned to the first monitor and glared at the technician. Again he slid away from the monitor.
Polus’ face appeared on the screen. “What is it, Pinta? I’m very busy.”
“What are your ships doing in my sector?”
“Merely reconnaissance,” he said slyly. “We tracked one of your cruisers from the human’s space station to Andros-3 and wondered if this has anything to do with Saris.”
“It appears to be a dead end. We hoped that his friends had found him for us.”
“And you’re sure he’s not there?”
“Of course, I’m sure! We’re making plans to draw him out and deal with him. Now get your ships out of my sector before I change my mind about this alliance.”
Polus chuckled at her through his insect-like mouth. The transmission ended and the monitor went blank.
Pinta punched the monitor in a rage and shattered it. Drops of blood streamed from her clawed hand. She gnashed her teeth in a rage and stormed out of the Communications Room.