UF-2 Book 2 Chapter 2

The men on my right were clawing for their phasers when I planted my right foot and two fisted the sword in a horizontal arc, waist high. They disappeared as the edge of the sword touched them. I kept on turning and caught the man behind me who was reaching for me. Like the first two, he disappeared. Len was half way up with his phaser, but I wanted him alive. I did a half step in his direction as I spun to my right and jumped. I planted my boot up against his skull. His shot went wild as his lights went out. He was down and out for the moment.

I still had three men and two Churters who wanted me dead. I stepped to the side as a phaser barked. I sidestepped, tucked, and rolled toward the shooter as two more shots went over the top of me. I was looking up at the man who was desperately trying to get me in front of his weapon. Pushing up off the floor with my left hand, I thrust my sword into his belly. He disappeared. Springing to my feet, I rushed the two men who were stupid enough to still be sitting, while trying to draw their weapons. Though both of them had their weapons out of their holsters, the table held them to a disadvantage. They had to bring their arms back and up to get past it.

The table between us disappeared as my sword touched it. The advantage was mine, as I knew what would happen when the sword touched the table. They were too slow in making good of the opportunity and failed to aim their weapons quickly enough. I swung up at a slant catching the two still seated. They were gone. The Churters had seen enough and decided they wanted reinforcements before they took me on. They were racing for the door and more help. I beat them there. Their momentum carried them within reach. It was over for the moment.

As I walked back over where the leader was lying on the floor I picked up one of those slave collars off the bar. He was coming around. I squatted down and snapped the slave collar on his neck. “I am your Master. Get up.”

“Fuck you.” He wrapped his hand on the collar and, when he couldn’t get it off, he tried to lunge for me. He screamed in pain as the collar shocked him.

“When I tell you something you will answer with yes. You will not talk unless I tell you to. Now get up.”

“Yes.” He got up off the floor, glaring hatred at me.

I picked my dagger up off the floor where it had fallen after the guy who was holding it disappeared. I slipped it back in the sheath on my belt. “We are going to walk out to my ship. You disobey me and that collar will make you wish you hadn’t. If we run into any men along the way, you will tell them it’s okay. At my ship there are two men. You will send them back here. If you don’t act normal and they get jumpy, I’ll take care of them myself. Do you understand all this?”

“Yes.” If looks could have killed, I was a dead woman.

“Good. Let’s walk out to my ship as if we were old friends.” I slipped my sword over my back and it disappeared. Reaching down, I picked up one of those phasers off the floor. If trouble started again I wanted a little more reach than what my sword gave me. I gave myself a mental kick for not being prepared for these kinds of men, for not wearing a phaser when I left home, and for being plain stupid. My years living with the Pash had lulled me into a false sense of complacency. I vowed I would never again underestimate the evil in humanity.

In spite of his problems, Len stared at where the sword should have been. “Wha…”

The collar knocked him to the floor. I shook my head when he finally stopped writhing in pain. “I said you couldn’t talk unless I told you to. Get up.”

“Yes.” Slowly, he got to his feet.

“Collar, don’t let slave touch me. Let’s go to my ship.” I closed in beside him, knowing he couldn’t lay a hand on me. The slave collar would make sure of that.

“Yes.” He walked out the door with me as if we were old friends.

I saw three men headed our way. “And I can get you those parts for the mining bots from the Nebula Brud galaxy. If we can agree on a price and a time that is. You think that would be a fair trade?”

“Yes.” He did good as we passed the three men.

“I thought you might be agreeable. It’s quite a shocking experience isn’t it? It appeals to me more and more after thinking about it.” I almost laughed as we walked out of the settlement.

“Yes.” He and I both knew I was talking about the slave collar he was wearing.

We were within sight of the two men guarding my ship. “Stop and shake hands with me like we had agreed on a contract. Collar let him shake my hand.”

“Yes.” He turned to face me and held out his hand.

“If you try anything, I’ll kill them and tell that slave collar to teach you obedience every three minutes.” I took his hand and shook it as the two guards walked toward us.

I saw the fear in his eyes. He knew I could and would leave him to a cruel teacher as the slave collar repeated the pain every three minutes. “Yes.”

“Good, then we can do business together. Tell your men it’s okay and walk me to my ship.” I turned loose of his hand as the other two men stopped in front of us.

“Yes.” He turned to his men. “It’s okay.” He walked past them as they started to ask what.

The fact their leader was wearing a slave collar never registered in the men’s minds. Obviously, they were used to seeing people wearing a slave collar. The fact their leader was wearing one never clicked inside their brain.

As we walked up to the ship, I touched the side. The side flowed out into a ramp. I turned my attention back to the man. “Listen very close to what I’m going to tell you. You and all these others are trespassing on Trag property. They love dissecting animal life forms. Humans are on their number one list to pull apart piece by piece.

The Earth Alliance is letting you settle here, hoping you will cause a war between the Trag and the Earth Alliance. They don’t care about you any more than the Trag do. Your deaths will solve a few pirate and slaver problems for them. They are in a win-win situation. They get rid of you, and your death means they can take the Trag planets they want after a few million soldiers die.”

“Yes.” He knew he had to answer.

Reading his mind, I knew I wasn’t getting through. He didn’t believe it and didn’t care. I shook my head. “That slave collar you are wearing is a joke compared to what the Trag will do to you. I would choose a slave collar over ending up in the Trag’s laboratory. Your friends were lucky, they had a quick death. Go back over to your settlement. You will not be able to remove the collar. Anytime someone puts his or her hands on it to remove it, you will be taken to task. Collar do not respond to anyone but me.”

“I’m going to give you one last piece of advice. I have no idea how many lives you have destroyed. If I was still working for the Earth Alliance, I’m sure my superiors would be diplomatic and feign shock to a report that humans were in the Trag galaxy. They might also make a token gesture of asking you to move on. I don’t have that much diplomacy left in me. I have no respect for slavers and pirates. You deserve the same fate as those whose lives you have destroyed. If we ever meet again, I’ll kill you. Now go.”

“Yes.” He had hate in his eyes as he turned to walk back to the two men waiting for him.

After the altercation with the slavers I had an idea. The Trag were next on my meeting list. I had to be careful though. The Trag had no love for animal life. With the pirates and slavers trespassing in their galaxy they were especially hostile toward humans. I had a lot of human in me. I pointed the little starship toward the Trag home planet, Oblick

The Trag meeting went better than I expected, mainly because of the telepathic abilities my daughters had infused in me. Trag were good at handling mind thought, fair at handling Pash, and poor at speaking English. Years back, Tony explained how Trag communicated. They were plant life, not animal. The Trag were empathic and telepathic long before they managed verbal communications.

Soon after the Trag meeting, I was star jumping again. I was headed back to the Pash dimension, a couple billion light years from the seeds of war germinating between humans and Trag. The Pash had built their main city, which was not their capital, Avar, in space. Actually Avar was four times the size of earth’s moon in area, but it was flat rather than being round like a planet. The city orbited Ecss like an artificial moon. Ecss was a lot like Saturn.

Pash also lived on Ecss with the aid of gravity stabilizers. Otherwise, the gravity of the huge planet would be too much to bear. After parking at the pad, outside the conference building, I found Toni in council, making plans for what seemed to be an unavoidable war. Stepping into the conference room, I walked up beside him.

Toni gave me a hug before returning his attention to the sixteen Pash sitting at the conference table. “We agree? If it comes to a vote, and it means war, we will honor our treaty with the Trag? The Earth Alliance has millions of ships it can commit to the battle. We will be out numbered better than one hundred to one.”

After he stood up, Meliss looked at those around him. “We can not and will not hide behind our dimensional capabilities. We know it’s a matter of time before humans figure out polarity travel for their life forms. Will they figure out dimensional travel? How long will we be safe after that? A million years? Ten million years? No, we must make the humans understand they can not make and break treaties as it suits them.”

Meliss took a long look at me before he continued. “Sherry, has informed me she believes she can get support from among the humans. Even if it’s only a couple hundred thousand ships, it would be a help.”

It was one of those impossible situations. I didn’t want Sherry trying to organize the clones. It was a moot point. She was the only one who could. “I know what she’s thinking. There are those who have been bred and designed by the humans and are looked on as meaningless life forms, even if they are human themselves. It will be risky trying to contact and organize them. It would mean death to her if she is captured.”

Meliss nodded. “She understands the consequences if she’s caught. I am neither for, nor against her in this decision. However once she starts I will give her my full support and help her in anyway I possibly can.”

A hint of a smile crossed his face for the briefest of moments. “You, better than anyone, should know Sherry doesn’t change her mind after she decides on a plan.”

Unconsciously, I closed my eyes as I remembered a different life on a space station named UF-2. Sherry gave me advice over the years and she was never wrong. Although she was never commissioned in the military, she was my best friend and my confidant while I was stationed on that frontier port.

I never did understand why she spent ten years of her life there with me. She could have gone anywhere she wanted, any time she wanted. Most any place would have been a thousand times better than UF-2, but stay she did. I would be eternally grateful. I would probably never know why she stuck it out with me.

Toni got dead serious. “It’s agreed. We meet at Vell in two days. Call a war council and bring it to a vote.”

Vell was the Pash capital city. I knew why the meeting was going to be there. To make it official. The meeting would be either a declaration of war, or an adoption of hands off and let the Trag handle the humans on their own. I knew the purpose of this meeting at Avar, at this time, was to make an unofficial decision. In some ways the Pash lived a very black and white life. There was right and then there was wrong, with very little gray area in between. After living with them for the past forty two years, I knew what we were headed for. Deep down inside my heart there was no doubt of the outcome when it came to a vote. Unlike humans the Pash didn’t make and break treaties as it pleased them.

The meeting was over. I wanted to talk to Meliss, but he was quickly gone. Wrapping my arms around Toni’s neck I gave him a kiss. “How do you think they will vote if it comes to war?”

He sighed as he studied my eyes. “They will vote for honoring the treaty.”

“Let’s go talk to Sherry and Meliss. I want to know how she’s planing on contacting the clones without getting herself arrested for sedition against the Earth Alliance.” I was pulling on his hand, urging him to walk out to the ship with me.

We arrived at Sherry and Meliss’s home minutes later, even though it was a galaxy away. It no longer surprised me how quick the Pash starships jumped time and distance.

Sherry met us at the door, as Toni and I deboarded the ship. “I felt you coming, and don’t try and make me change my mind. We need all the help we can get, and then some. The Earth Alliance is going to outnumber us better than a hundred to one.”

Toni had spent years teaching me how to bury my mind thoughts so others couldn’t read me, but I usually didn’t bother. It was a mental gymnastics exercise and normally I didn’t care who was hearing what I was thinking. Sherry had picked up my free thoughts and she was right. I intended to try and stop her. Thinking about it, this wasn’t strictly between Trag and humans. This was a moral issue about right and wrong. Humans should be involved against any wrong, even if it was a treaty with plant life forms. Humans liked the idea of a treaty, when it was learned those plants could possibly wipe out the human race. Now, greed had taken the place of honor. Humans wanted to ignore the treaty as they settled in the mineral and energy rich Trag galaxy.

Sherry backed up from the door. “Come on in. Meliss hasn’t returned yet. I imagine he is working to get the word out about the meeting in two days.”

It didn’t escape my attention that Sherry was wearing a floor length, golden yellow, gown. Because she was a product of the Trag genetic engineering, Sherry was well endowed with an ample bust, tiny waist, and abundant hips. Meliss liked his sexy wife to wear clothes that showed off her figure to the max. Like myself, and a couple thousand others on UF-2, Sherry had been contaminated with the Trag virus which carried a specific DNA code. After the change, she could have walked into any Trader Outpost and been their number one show girl.

There was a blessing in that Trag virus, along with the curse. Sherry and I both agreed that the blessings outweighed the curse. She married Meliss and I married Toni because of what the Trag virus did to us. We each gave birth to two girls which was a first for Trag mates. Again it was because of the Trag virus. Up until Sherry and me, Pash mates only gave birth to males. Sometimes there’s a silver lining in that black cloud.

Sherry walked ahead of us into the living room and motioned for Toni and me to find a seat in one of the chairs or on the divan. She sat down in one of the big cushioned chairs and turned her attention toward me. “I plan on leaving when Meliss returns home. Should be in a couple hours. There is an outpost in the O’Ryan universe where many of the clones pass through. I can make initial contact there.”

“You’ve been there?” Sherry’s past wasn’t something I knew anything about. I knew she was a clone herself. She was also the most intelligent person I had ever met.

She shook her head and her golden earrings tinkled. Reaching up with her right hand, she pushed her long red hair back away from her face. “No, it wasn’t a place I ever considered visiting. I didn’t need anything they could provide and I had nothing to offer anyone as helpful information.”

“I’ll go with you.” I could feel her protest before she said it. “You need someone to guard your back. Who is the least likely person to do that without looking like they were guarding you? Me, of course.”

Sherry looked at Toni and then me. “There is no need. I can...”

“No you can’t. I tried that same trick by myself already today. It’s no good wishing you had brought a friend along when you are up to your armpits in pirates or slavers. Wishing doesn’t make them go away.” I was determined I was going with Sherry, even if I couldn’t stay more than a couple days. I would have to return in two days to be at the meeting when the Pash voted whether to go to war or not.

Sherry was quiet for a long time before she spoke. “If you’re determined, I don’t guess I can stop you.”

Toni turned to look me in the eyes as he reached for my right hand. “I’m coming too. It may be for only half a day, but I’m coming.”

I had never seen Toni angry, but when I was Captain of UF-2 I did see what a man looked like after he had pulled a phaser on Toni. It wasn’t a pretty picture. I was glad he made the offer. “Thanks, but let’s not go together. I would rather the locals didn’t connect you with Sherry and me.”

He nodded in agreement. “I’ll go in first then. Ten or fifteen minutes ahead of you and Sherry.”

I was pulling on Toni’s hand as I rose off the couch. “Sherry, give us thirty minutes. Meet me in space far enough from the outpost they won’t be picking us up on the sensors. You have the co-ordinates, or do we fly around the O’Ryan universe looking over outposts?”

Toni’s ship picked up extra looks as it appeared on the pad outside Durus Nine. Polarity drive was instant travel. It was as if the ship wasn’t there and then it was. There were more looks as two Pash walked into Rims Traders Post.

A typical traveler’s watering hole, it was busy with life forms who looked death in the eye each day as they traveled out into the vastness of uncharted space. When they returned alive from exploring, they wanted to let off built up tensions and have a couple years of fun in one or two days before they set off again to cheat death or find it. The law usually looked the other way, or it didn’t exist in these kind of places.

Meliss motioned toward an empty booth. “Let’s take that one.”

As Toni and Meliss were walking toward it, a huge man stepped up in front of it. “This is my booth. You want to sit here, then you have to pay me.”

Toni gave the man a hint of a smile. “Are you the owner of this place?”

The guy nodded yes. “Sure. You ladies want to sit in my booth for free, then I have a couple men who would like to buy your drinks.”

Toni glanced at Meliss and gave a wink. “That would be nice, but I’m afraid someone is confused. We aren’t ladies.”

“You look like women. I have a couple girls who that like that kind of guy. You buy them drinks and the booth is yours.” His mouth curled up into a false smile.

Meliss took a step toward the man. “I believe you have everything wrong. We aren’t ladies, we aren’t butch, dyke, or gay, and this isn’t your booth. Go back to your friends at the table. This conversation is over.”

“The hell you say!” He was dropping his hand to his phaser on his hip.

Meliss’s hand came across the man’s face. Meliss had his claws out. The guy was spun around to his right as he flew into the empty booth.

Up until that moment the bar had been a low roar of voices and sounds. It was as if there was a master switch in the universe and all sound had been shut off. It was instantly deathly quiet. All eyes focused on the three men.

Chair legs were dragging on the floor as his friends at the table were rising to pull weapons. Before they had found their feet, they were looking into the business end of the huge blaster Toni carried on his hip.

Toni shrugged his shoulders as he held his aim. “If your weapon clears the holster you’re dead. One or all three, makes me no difference.”

From across the room a woman’s voice was heard. “Boys, if you ain’t ever seen a Pash, you’ve met one now. They move quicker than greased lightening and have the strength of four men. If you ever heard any of the old tales about them, figure most of it was the truth rather than exaggeration.”

The men looked into Toni’s yellow eyes and vertical pupils. Their own eyes growing wider in response as it registered on their brains. The one closest to Toni was slowly moving his hand away from his weapon. “Oh shit...”

The three men hesitated, knowing the situation was out of their control. Spacers didn’t survive the grim reaper by being stupid. Drawing a weapon when one was already pointed in your direction was stupid. Drawing a weapon on a legend was beyond stupid. They had heard the stories told about Pash, even if they had never met one. One of them slowly motioned with his left hand toward the body in the booth. “Can we have Greg? If he’s not dead then he needs medical.”

“Sure.” Toni slid his blaster back into the holster as he backed up from the booth. Meliss stepped off to the other side.

As the men rose from the table and walked over to pick up their friend, Meliss pointed toward the booth in the corner of the room, where a man was extending his arm across the table. “If you plan on using that needle gun you have up your sleeve, I suggest you take your best shot right now. If I sit down and you are still pointing that thing in my direction, I’ll kill you.”

The arm stopped moving as the guy was swallowing. Looking around, he pulled his arm back across the table.

Meliss nodded in his direction. “Smart move.”

“Holy father!” The men had pulled the big man out and rolled him over to pick him up. Attached to the guy’s face by a strip of skin, his ear was lying on the table. The skin on the left side of his face was peeled back to his nose. A pool of blood was on the table where his face had been. One of the men pushed the man’s skin back as best he could.

Meliss glanced at the guy as they picked him up. “He’s lucky I didn’t want to hurt him.”

As the spacers carried their comrade out of the bar the babble picked back up. There was a difference though, as most everyone, humans and aliens, kept glancing over toward Toni and Meliss. Everyone was trying to tell some of the old stories they had heard about Pash.

A multi armed bot rolled over to the table, cleaned the blood off, and then rolled away to clean another table, as it dutifully carried out its single minded functions.

Meliss and Toni slid into the booth as they pulled their blasters and laid them on their lap. Some of those spacers in that bar were either drunk enough, or ignorant enough, to want to kill a Pash because they were a legend.

A reptilian female walked over to the Pash. “What will it be boys? You here for a little fun and games, or to see how the lower life forms live?

Meliss recognized the voice as the female who had announced to the spacers that they were Pash. He glanced over at Toni and then back to the female. “Two frozen drey will be it, unless you can point us toward a repro lab experiment.”

She gave Meliss a sharp look as she shook her head. “I’ll get the two frozen drey.”

After walking over to the bar and talking to the reptilian bartender, she picked up a tray and placed three flasks on it. She walked back over to the Pash and set the tray down as she slid in beside Tony. “I’m Vin. We don’t advertise clones in here. Is it business or pleasure you are seeking?”

Toni held out his hand over hers. “Strictly business. We are looking for help.”

“Help?” Vin looked dubious as she rolled the palm of her left hand up under Toni’s fist.

He dropped ten gems and two gold coins into her palm. “Humans are trespassing in the Trag Galaxy. It could lead to war.”

The gems and coins disappeared into a pocket on her skirt. “You looking for mercenaries, or what?”

“No, just honest people. The Earth Alliance made a treaty with the Trag and now are ignoring it.” Toni watched the cold spill out of his flask as he pulled it over in front of him.

“And you think the clones will fight for nothing because you ask them to?” Vin looked at Toni and then over at Meliss with suspicion.

Meliss studied the woman sitting beside Toni. She was a Monta, her heritage was of the reptilian family. She had long lashes over red oval eyes. She was either a product of genetic engineering, or serious plastic surgery. Montas didn’t have eyelashes and their faces were longer. Vin had a lot of human looks in her features. Obviously she was designed, or shaped, to please the human traffic that passed through the outpost.

“You’re a clone.” Meliss said it without feeling in his voice. He didn’t want to make their first contact angry.

Vin stared at Meliss for many seconds before she answered. “Yes, I am. Was that a guess, or have you met natural born Monta?”

Toni gave Meliss a slight nod. “We have visited Agus-Sse, your home planet. Your facial features and figure are different from those we visited.”

She reached up with her left hand and touched her face. “Humans have a desire to make everything they meet into an image of themselves. The closer aliens resemble humans, the easier it is to accept us as useful, or at least a step above ignorant beasts. Yes, I’m a genetic product of the human labs. I worked here for several years before I found out Montas don’t have breasts or a small waist. I thought I was normal until then. What’s your point?”

“The point is, you hear a lot about what is going on among the clones. Do they still talk about a rebellion? If they are, how do we contact them?” Toni turned in the booth so he could give Vin his full attention.

She shook her head. “How do I know this isn’t part of an Earth Alliance trick to find and destroy any potential threat against them?”

Meliss gave her a nod of his head. “I think you forget where we are. All you have to do is stand up and yell we are part of the Earth Alliance. Everyone in here would be trying to kill us. There is a second problem, when did you ever hear of Pash teaming up with the Earth Alliance? We tolerate the species. Some of us have taken humans as mates. Not all humans are bad, and not all clones think ill of the Earth Alliance. If you are happy with what the genetic labs did to you, then most likely my friend and I will not walk out of here alive.”

Vin held rolled her hands over and looked at them. “Happy with what I am? I’ve accepted it. I’m a genetic mess, but I’ve accepted my life. I can never get pregnant, lay eggs, nor live like a Monta or human. The traders that stop by tell me how beautiful I am. I know they are starved for any kind of female relationship. I give them what they desire and they leave, promising me they will be back to marry me when they get rich. They won’t ever get rich. I know that.”

Vin’s eyes showed great sadness as she looked at Meliss. “I’m a freak, designed for pleasing men. I’m very good at it. I guess I’m not anything more than a pet. The person you want to talk to is a woman who goes by the name of Dora. She comes in here from time to time. You’ll be more likely to catch her in a little café on the other side of this settlement. If she has anyone with her, give them time to leave. A lot of the ones she deals with sell information to both sides.

It had been a long time since Sherry and I had walked into a trader’s post. Sherry was one step ahead of me. She was wearing a metalic gold bustier, black jacket, black skin tight pants and high heeled black boots. Her long red hair was caught in a ponytail and cascaded down to her diree. She was wearing a pistol on her right hip and a sword on her left. As she walked into the barroom, she received more than her fair share of catcalls and instant offers to visit the backroom or someone’s spaceship.

I was right behind Sherry. My outfit was a white satin blouse with sheer, billowing, gossamer sleeves. My pants were black and I also had on high heeled black boots. I had a big wide black belt around my tiny waist. Fastened to the belt where the big silver belt buckle was, and in the middle of the back of the waist belt, was another belt dropping down on my right hip to a holster slung low on my hip. The bottom of the holster was strapped to my leg, just above the knee so it wouldn’t bounce or move when I walked. The jeweled dagger was on my left side, riding high on my hip in the sheath. The sheath fastened so the dagger handle tilted forward so it could be quickly and easily drawn. I had pulled my hair into a ponytail too. In case Sherry and I got into a fight in the bar, I didn’t want to have my hair in my eyes. My shoulder purse was small. I carried it on a gold chain over my left shoulder. As I was right handed, I wanted my right arm free without excess baggage.

Vin turned her head to see what was causing all the excitement in the bar. “New blood. They don’t look worn out. If they came here looking for adventure, they are going to be severely tested, staying alive and away from the slavers. Slavers will kill to get their hands on anyone who looks like them.”

Toni leaned over and whispered. “They can take care of themselves. The blonde killed six men and two Churters this morning.”

Vin’s head snapped around to look Toni in the eyes. “You’re kidding? She looks like a slaver’s dream machine…., You know her?”

“She is my mate.” Toni’s eyes were gleaming.

Vin’s face showed disbelief. “And Red?”

Meliss gave a hint of a smile. “Sherry is my mate.”

“They look human.” Vin glanced at the two women before turning her attention back to the Pash.

“They are.” Meliss responded.

Vin turned to study the two women as they walked across the room to an empty table. She was trying to figure out how anyone who looked like those two women could be so deadly. She decided it proved the old adage, looks can be deceiving.

Sherry and I knew Toni and Meliss were in the bar before we ever walked in. We didn’t want to acknowledge we knew them, as we were hoping to double our chances of making contact with the clone underground organization.

Before we had walked halfway across the room a couple men were already following us to an empty table. Sherry and I never sat down as the men split up and walked over to opposite sides of the table we had stopped at.

“You need something?” Sherry looked at the man to her right.

I glanced in his direction. He was medium built and had a few scars on his left check he'd never taken the time to have removed. His clothes were well worn, as was the phaser he carried on his hip. I turned my attention back to his companion. He was a good match, except for the scars. In my mind I classified them as traders or movers of merchandise. They didn’t quite have the look of slavers or pirates, but they were only a small step above. I guess it was a very important step.

The man to Sherry’s right pulled the chair back. “What you ladies looking for? Tom and I can help you find it. You want to explore the edge of space? We know spacers who are outbound. They would be glad to have company such as yourselves. Or if you are looking for...”

“I don’t think you have what we are looking for. Why don’t you use your retro jets and park your ass back where you just left.” Sherry gave him a disgusted look, as her left hand dropped down to the handle of her sword.

The guy was too infatuated with Sherry’s body to take the hint or notice where her left hand was resting. “Why don’t you tell me what it is you are looking for. Tom and I might have it.”

Shaking her head Sherry sighed. “What is it I’m saying that you don’t understand? You need it in clearer language? Drop dead. Get lost. You annoy the hell out of me and remind me of Wubbe vomit.”

In spite of my best efforts not to, I chuckled. “Wubbe vomit? I guess they do, don’t they?”

“Glad to see you find us amusing.” The man pulled back the chair and was starting to sit down.

I knew what was coming. I reached up over my back pulling my sword the same time Sherry drew hers. Sherry was too close to the table and had to take a step back as she brought her sword out of the scabbard. She made a sweep with it under the chair seat. She cut the back legs out of the chair. Caught off balance, as he was more down then up, the man went over backwards with the chair as the chair legs fell outward. He sprawled out on the floor with what was left of his chair.

Because the Queen’s Sword didn’t have to be powered into what it touched to collapse molecular structure, I didn’t have to position for the swing as I brought it up over my head and down to cut the chair on my right. The man named Tom wasn’t as far down into the chair when it disappeared under him. He didn’t go down. He stumbled into the space vacated by the chair as he caught his balance.

I took a stance with the sword ready to swing if he made any threatening moves or went for his weapon. Tom’s eyes turned to two white balls of fear. He understood how close to dying he had come. He was also smart enough to not challenge me.

There was a solid thunk when Sherry stabbed the point of her sword between the guy’s legs who was lying on the floor. “Only two chairs at this table. I guess that means you need to find someplace else to sit.”

The man turned white as he looked down. It was with a cough when he managed to speak. “I think you’re right. Sorry, my mistake. We meant no harm.”

Pulling her sword out of the floor, Sherry gave a slight nod of her head as she took a stance, ready to attack if the man wanted to press the fight. It was unnecessary as the man found his feet. Both men scurried away as quickly as they had arrived.

Vin had been watching, along with everyone else in the bar. “Those girls are deadly. They handle those swords as good or better than any bounty hunters I’ve seen.” She looked over at Toni. “The chair by the Blonde disappeared when her sword touched it. It’s been a long time since I heard stories about the Sword of the Queen. I’m guessing I just saw the sword in action?”

A hint of a smile crossed Toni’s face. “It’s possible.”

FROM THE EDITOR: Barbie and I thank all of you for your comments and kudos, and want to remind you that comments and kudos are the only payment authors receive here at Top Shelf. We are very pleased that you are enjoying this story and we thank you for all your interest.



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