Warrior Princess Chapter Two

WARRIOR PRINCESS
BY BARBIELEE CHAPTER TWO

As I stepped off the ship Kasu walked off behind me. “Captain Ara.” She acknowledged.

Ara gave a slight bow of her head. “Your Majesty. We are in dire need of your foresight at this time. Please join us in the Data Room to discuss battle plans.”

For a long time I had suspected my instructors were more than common people. I wasn’t surprised to learn I was right. Why had they spent so much time and effort in training me? Especially since I was obviously one of those disgusting, lowly humans everyone despised?

As the group headed off toward a dome I started to follow.

Ara held up her hand. “She’s not allowed. This is not for outsiders.” Came off her tongue like spit. She might as well have said 'slave' instead of outsider.

Sala pointed to a man standing at attention several hundred feet away by one of the hangers. “Tell the private you are to be given a tour around the facilities while we discuss battle plans. Inform him that is an order from me.”

Captain Ara stopped. “General Sala, is that wise? She hasn’t been cleared by a mind scan.”

“She has been cleared by me.” Kasu added to the conversation. “Even though we can’t fully trust them, she is harmless.”

There was that implied 'human' thing again. This was beginning to rub on my emotions and nerves. I headed off toward the private to get away from any more insults to my species. “Kiss my ass.” I thought to myself.

Kasu laughed. She had read my emotions and thoughts. Rats, I had forgotten to guard them.

“Behave... human. I’m not the only one who reads thoughts around here. This is a command headquarters. Dozens of telepaths are here. I’ve been guarding your mind. No, no one suspects right now, but close your mind to outside thoughts. You are a lowly human. Play the part they expect.” Came back to me.

Dozens of telepaths? I snapped the curtains shut around my emotions and my mind. Kasu had taught me how to mentally look without showing I was sampling everything and every thought around me. It took effort and I leaked like a seive in the beginning. Now it came as second nature when I learned to engage it.

The Private I had been sent to talk to was human. I had a sneaking suspicion Private was the rank for most humans. I smiled at him as I stopped in front. “I’m Melody, Sala said you were to give me a tour of the base.”

He swallowed. “Sala? General Sala said I was to give you a tour? I’ll have to clear this.” He touched a throat mike. “Security HQ, Private Williams reporting.”

He hesitated. “Yes Sir… Yes Sir… Yes Sir... General Sala's orders Sir? Yes Sir.”

He looked at me kinda funny. “What would you like to see?”

I shrugged my shoulders. “I’m not up on military things. Why don’t you show me the most interesting things? What’s in the hanger you’re guarding?”

He gulped. “Our latest fighters. They are faster than any pirate ships and more maneuverable. They carry enough fire power to...” He gulped. “I’m not supposed to say. I've said too much already.”

“Good. Then let’s go look them over.” I was headed for door.

“You can’t.” He held up his rifle.

I looked crestfallen. “You mean GENERAL Sala’s orders don’t carry any authority here?”

The poor kid had the worst look of confusion I had ever seen.

“Yes, I mean no... uh,I mean.” He turned and opened the door. “They are going to shoot me over this.”

All the technicians turned to stare as I walked into the building. Some were the same species as Sala and looked human. I climbed the ladder and dropped into the seat of one of the fighters. Williams and several of the technicians were protesting. Everything felt like I had been sitting there all my life. Kasu said to have no doubts. I had none. I could start that craft and engage the enemy. It took almost all my willpower to NOT start bringing it to life and fly it out for maneuvers.

Williams looked relieved when we left the hanger. He was leading me toward one of the other huge domes. “You can get a feel for our weapons at the gun range.”

Inside the dome I got another dose of emotional disgust from everyone there. Williams checked out a rifle and led me to a shielded booth. He pointed toward hologram targets. I was guessing they were supposed to be two or three miles away. They weren’t really. They were on a grid only ten feet in front of us. They were an illusion.

Williams pushed some buttons on a console and the figures were less than twenty feet away. “If you hit one then it is considered a hit. They may be kill shots or wound shots. The fire control co-ordinator figures it all out.” He took two shots. The monitor registered kills for both.

Okay, a stationary alien life target, eight feet tall, three feet wide, twenty feet away. How can I possibly miss? Williams handed me the rifle.

“Where’s the safety?” I pulled the trigger after fat fingering the safety. Phaser fire splattered across the ceiling.

“HEY! The safety is by your second finger!” Williams ducked as he backed out of the booth.

I was seriously looking the gun over for a safety. “Where?” I shot the floor of the booth.

“This isn’t a good idea! Give it back.” He was trying to decide if he should reach for the rifle or run for cover.

“I’ve got it now.” Two shots and the high speed targets of the aliens on the next range disappeared. “Oops!”

“Take your finger off the trigger!” He was crowding into the booth beside mine.

“No, that’s okay, I got it now, I can handle this.” I sprayed the ceiling of the target range and took out the hologram generator. My range went dark.

“What happened? They switch on me?” I sprayed the ceiling of the range on my right. His hologram generator went dark. “Are they turning out the lights?”

“Stupid human.” The alien growled.

“STOP BEFORE YOU KILL SOMEONE!” Williams was shouting at me.

“What? They are going to kill someone?” I turned around in the booth and hosed down the opposite wall as the aliens behind the supply locker dove for cover. I was ashamed. “Sorry.”

The alien to my left grabbed the rifle out of my hands. “Humans have no reason to own a weapon. You’re dangerous.”

I was crest fallen as I looked dejectedly at the floor. “I said I was sorry.”

The aliens behind the booth at the supply locker were starting to stand back up and glare at me.

“General Sala gave her clearance.” Williams was urging me for the door.

“Stupid humans. Crazy bitch” Followed us out the door.

“I said I was sorry.” I felt better all over and had a terrible time trying to keep the smirk off my face.

After the fiasco at the target range I wasn’t allowed near anything that could be considered a weapon. At the mess hall I was given a wide berth by all. Even the nine humans there avoided me like the plague. They weren’t sure what I was. I couldn’t blame them. By Earth standards someone dressed like me and as tall as me wasn’t human and they weren’t telepaths nor empaths.

After lunch Williams guided me out to what I would call the motor pool. He motioned to one of the smaller two seater jobs. “We use these for personal transportation.”

“Great! I’m tired of walking.” I climbed into the drivers seat.

“Hey wait you can’t…” He was shaking his head.

The craft started moving forward. “Ooops”

Williams jumped into the passenger seat. “Take your hands off the controls.”

“What?” The craft leapt forward at high velocity.

“STOP! TAKE YOUR HANDS OFF THE CONTROLS!” He was screaming at me.

We were headed toward one of the large battleships.

I could hear the klaxons going off calling everyone to battle stations as we rocketed toward the ship.

“HELP!” I screamed in terror. Just before impact the craft flew up and over the top of the battleship. Luckily the crew on the battleship didn’t have time to get to battle stations and lock in on us.

Once clear of the battleship we pointed straight back down at the ground. “HELP!” I screamed.

The little craft flattened out just before we nosed straight into the ground. It belly smacked the ground as we rocketed forward the hangers. “HELP!”

“TAKE YOUR HANDS OFF THE CONTROLS BEFORE YOU KILL US!” Williams was screaming at the top of his lungs.

We were headed straight for the hanger Williams had been guarding. Just before we flew into the hanger we turned only the craft didn’t turn. We skidded sideways through the hanger doors and into the hanger. “HELP!” I screamed.

By now the inertia drive had regained control and we stopped sliding sideways. We rocketed toward one of those super special fighters. Williams knew we were going to die this time. Just before impact the little craft belly smacked the surface and we flew under the fighter, the top of our craft had less than a millimeter clearance under the ship. On the other side we pulled straight up toward the ceiling of the dome. And... kept going over until we pulled a complete loop headed straight back down toward the floor. We had cheated death too many times. We were going to impact the floor. The little craft groaned in protest as we did a half barrel roll and flattened out just before impact. The ship slammed into the floor. The craft stopped as smoke poured from the drive modules and inertia compensator module. It was finished.

By this time the whole base had gone to high alert with lights, Klaxons, and sirens going off all over the base as battle stations were manned and security doors slammed shut.

“WE’RE ALIVE!” I screamed as I jumped out of the craft and ran for the doors before any of the other guards decided to disobey General Sala’s orders and shoot me. I barely made it outside as the hanger doors slammed shut behind me.

Williams was left behind inside. He wasn’t the only security guard on this base. I was met by a dozen armed men who looked like they wanted to shoot me.

“SAVE ME!” I screamed as I ran to the one in front and wrapped my arms around his leathery skin.

He looked pissed as he shoved me back. “Come with us... human.”

The others crowded in around me to make sure I didn’t escape. I was escorted to a small silver room inside one of the domes. I had no doubt it was a prisoner’s interrogation room. Four guards stayed inside the room with me. All looking very serious and very pissed. Kasu told me to have no doubt. I had none, as I was positive they would have joyfully shot me if allowed.

An hour or two later the door opened. I was escorted back to our ship by a dozen guards. Kasu and Sala were waiting. Both looked sternly at me as I was marched up to stand in front of them.

Sala shook her head. “We told them you were harmless. Captain Ara my apologies for putting your base in such an uproar. I promise it won’t ever happen again.”

Captain Ara glared at me. I was positive she would have slapped me in chains if it hadn’t been for Sala. “Not that much damage done General. I’m sure we can get everything put back in order in a few days. In time to launch our attack to retake the Lordeen Shipping Port.”

We were headed home when Sala turned her attention in my direction. “You sure know how to disrupt a security meeting. Everything stopped while we tried to figure out what the threat was. You panicked the whole damn base.”

I bowed my head and looked ashamed. “I’m sorry.”

Kasu laughed. “No you’re not. I’ve been watching when you play with Sala’s transporter. There is not another person who can put a transporter in a side skid. The guidance system won’t allow it. What you did was with faith in yourself, knowledge of your surroundings, and no doubt, but you did it to antagonize everyone who thinks humans are lower life forms. I’m still trying to decide if your motivation was for revenge?”

That one stung after all Sala and Kasu had tried to teach me. This time I really was sorry. “I wasn’t thinking along those lines. I’m sorry.”

Sala got serious. “Don’t be. You’re learning. It was an excellent training exercise, although I’m positive Captain Ara wouldn’t agree.”

I turned my attention to Sala. “I want to go with you when you retake the Lordeen Shipping Port.”

Kasu and Sala both looked shocked. Kasu shook her head. “You’re not ready.”

“Yes I am. Sala can whack me with a stick until time ends and I will never be ready in your minds. You think I’m some sort of person who is supposed to help win this war. If you don’t let me try then I’m no better than a hologram. I’m there with no substance.”

Sala looked out across the planets scattered across deep space in front of our ship. “In a battleship…”

“NO! One of the fighters I saw in the hanger. I was born to fly that ship. I know more about it than those who built it.”

Sala laughed nervously. “A fighter? Many moons of training they require. The pilots are the elite of our pilots, hand picked. Very few finish their training.”

“I can do it.” I wanted... I belonged in one of those fighters.

She curled up her fist and looked at it. “Never happen. Even a general can pull only so much weight.”

Kasu closed her eyes and sat silent for a minute. “It is time to turn her loose. We can only teach her what we know. We have done our jobs. The future is fluid. I find it darker if she does not go now.”

“But... how will we get her into a fighter?” Sala opened her fist and stared at her hand.

Two days later I was on the battleship I had almost run the transporter into, albeit I had two armed security guards standing beside me watching me closely. Sala had mortgaged her career to get me on that ship.

As the powerful engines engaged, liftoff was smooth as silk. In deep space two more ships joined up as we headed toward the Lordeen Shipping Port. It was when we were parked a few planets away and forming up a battle line Sala turned to my guards. “Take her to my quarters and lock her up.”

One of the guards pushed me in the back. “You’re not allowed on the bridge any longer... human.”

They were escorting me down the corridor when the guard in front spat. “I don’t know why General Sala allowed her to come along. She’s not even a soldier.”

They marched me into Sala’s assigned quarters. They were turning to leave the room when I mind smacked them. It was a simple thought implanted in their minds that they had been drugged. They both dropped to the floor like they had been bludgeoned. I pulled out the pilot’s uniform in Sala’s locker and slipped it on. I settled the helmet over my head and pulled down the radiation shield. My long hair wasn’t going to fit up inside that helmet. The helmet was formed to let my braided hair hang out and over my right shoulder. My helmet would translate my English to Puseje. I was learning but I wasn’t fluid in Puseje yet. I strapped on the phaser and the flight emergency pack on my right hip. I stepped out of the cabin headed toward the flight deck.

The few crew that was still moving through the corridors saluted me. I snapped a salute back. When I walked up to the front fighter the crew was still preflighting it.

“Commander?” One of the crew turned in my direction.

“Change in orders. Lieutenant Muwick is sick. I’m the replacement pilot.” I walked under the fighter, dragging my fingers along her fuselage. This ship and I were brought together for this exact purpose.

“Flight deck, control.” The guy touched his throat mike. “I have a Commander…?” He looked at my name tag. “Commander Huma said she was a replacement for Lieutenant Muwick. I received no orders or conformation. Please advise.”

He waited for almost a minute. “That’s an affirmative. She’s cleared? Input that into the launch status.”

Sala was watching the monitor from her control seat as the switch in pilots was listed. She closed her eyes and said a silent prayer. “Prove us right, LaSaDa.”

Sala touched her control panel. “All ships, engage.”

The pirates at the Lordeen Shipping Port weren’t taken by surprise. They could pick us up sitting out there before we ever started in. The only thing they weren’t able to do was call in reinforcements before the battle started. Any real support was light years away. Even with their ability to jump space it still took one thing they didn’t have, time.

“Launch fighters.” Came in over my helmet. I was sitting inside the fighter. My wingman and I were the first ones launched from the battleship.

I did a wing over leaving my wingman wondering where I went. I flew up over the top of the battleship and right down in front of the control bridge with nothing but a few millimeters between me and the screen in front of those in the control room. Everyone except Sala instinctively ducked as a fighter filled the whole damn screen in front of their faces.

“SHIT! Copy the number of the fighter. I want that pilot’s ass.” Sala watched as the fighter disappeared to a tiny nothing in the distance. Then she smiled.

I was headed straight toward a destroyer with a dozen fighters hovering around it. I hosed it down as I did a left hand roll and slip. Fire control computers were good. They couldn’t calculate what they had never been instructed to follow. The ship was returning fire. It was a nano second too slow and only hosing down space under the belly of my fighter. The slip was throwing them off. The fighters broke off to come out and greet me.

“No wingman. Where’s the rest of them? One is all I see on my scope. Wait, there are more closing in. Take this one out now before he gets help.” Came in over my helmet.

They said this ship was faster and more maneuverable than any of the pirates crafts. It was time to find out. I did a power nose over at full throttle. The little inertia compensator groaned to keep me strapped in my seat. Full back stick and I was looking at the bellies of the fighters that had come out to give me a welcome. I laced three of them with lethal fire before they could react. The others were turning to maneuver into position.

I was now behind them and between them and the destroyer. I poured everything the fighter had into the bridge. They were shielded. Even shields have a power thresh hold where they no longer can accept any more. I closed in too fast for their big guns to compute me into their targeting grids. The fighter shook as I unleashed all the missiles I was carrying. I flew by that control bridge scraping paint as the missiles impacted behind me. A huge explosion erupted behind me. The destroyer was still intact. Their command room was gone. It would take them time to move and set up personnel in their reserve command room located deeper in the belly of the ship. That few seconds was all Sala needed to turn her battleship’s firepower on the destroyer. She fried that ship.

“We lost our ship. You can wait around here to see what happens. I’m leaving. Fighting with a battleship isn’t my thing.” “I’m behind you.” The pirates turned and fled into deep space with our fighters following.

Sala could sit out in space and duke it out with the cannons defending Lordeen Shipping Port. Eventually she would win with her superior firepower. It also meant her ship would take a pounding before it was finished.

I flew past the horizon, dropped down to ground level and reversed course. Sala was already trading blasts from the ground cannons. The buildings and transporters shook as I flashed past them hurling toward the power grid network. The defense cannons were shielded, the power generator stations were shielded. The grid network was so spread out they never thought it would be necessary to shield it. I was lacing the distribution lines with my phasers as I raced across the planet. One by one lights started going out as the rerouting circuits no longer kept up with the failing grid. I flashed by so close under a public transporter, the shockwave caused it to roll over and over. “Sorry.”

The grid closed down as the broken system collapsed and then fed off it self. The defenses on the planet were defenseless. “Alliance we surrender. Cease fire. Cease fire.” Came in on my helmet.

I pulled up and headed back to the battleship and the docking bay.

“Commander cut your speed. I repeat cut your speed.” The Flight Officer was telling me to slow down. Klaxons started ringing on the battleship. “BRACE FOR IMPACT!”

I flew inside that docking bay at full throttle, hit full stop just before the safety shields inside caught the fighter in their grip, and was out of that fighter, sliding over the side without a ladder in less than a heart beat. When the Kaxons started sounding everyone ran for cover. Before they could collect their thoughts and return I was gone from the hanger bay.

I was in General Sala’s cabin when the two guards woke up. The flight suit was gone. I was wearing what I had on when they escorted me in.

“Mmmmm.” One of them rubbed his head as he stared at his partner.

“Don’t try to get by us.” The second one offered.

Sitting in the chair I gave them my most innocent look. “I could never get by you. I sure wish we could see the battle from the bridge.”

They looked at one another trying to figure out if they should say anything about passing out. I almost laughed, but managed to choke it back down.

“Report to the bridge.” One of them motioned to me as he touched his ear.

“Oh goody. We get to go watch the battle?” I jumped up from the chair.

“Stupid human.” The other one smirked.

When we walked onto the bridge Sala was staring at me. She shook her head and rolled her eyes.

“When do we fight the pirates?” I was looking at a big screen filled with our fighters returning.

Sala choked and coughed. “Soon. You have permission to stay on the bridge and watch.”

“The General is too kind.” I gave a bow in her direction.

“Send down a team to give them terms of surrender.” Sala spoke to the man on her left.

“Aye Sir. Lordeen Shipping Port, this is Battleship Pa'an, we are sending down a team to accept your surrender. Any further hostilities we will wipe you off the face of the planet. Acknowledge.”

“Pa'an we acknowledge. Your team may approach.” Came back over the speakers.

I looked shocked. “That’s the battle? I kinda thought there would more to it than that. Oh well, I like it. Do we get to party and all that afterwards?”

“General we found a flight suit in one of the cabins.” One of the guards came on the bridge carrying clothes and a helmet.

Sala turned to look. “Commander Huma?”

The guard shook his head and held up the flight suit so everyone could read the name tag.

A collective gasp came from those who were looking. Those who weren’t, turned to see what had happened. Most of them sucked in their breath also.

“Corporal, is this a joke?” Sala demanded.

“No Sir. This is what we found.” He was holding it out as if it might turn into something he didn’t want.

“Where’s Commander Huma? I want an explanation for this.” Sala was glaring at the guard.

“We didn’t find her or anyone else in the cabin. Just this suit.” The guard looked like he wanted to disappear.

“Search the ship. No one leaves until Commander Huma is found or whoever she is.” Sala gave her orders to the Captain of the Guard on the bridge.

“Aye aye Sir.” The Captain saluted and was giving orders to the ship’s guards.

The Communications Officer, Lurm, walked over to the uniform and touched the name LaSaDa on the nametag. “LaSaDa flew that fighter. She was with us.”

“Don’t be foolish. LaSaDa is a myth. No one has ever seen her. This is someone’s idea of a joke.” The orderly was positive it was a prank.

Lurm shook her head. “No joke. You ever hear of anyone flying a fighter like she did? You ever hear of a fighter disabling a destroyer? LaSaDa has come.”

“She didn’t disable it. She only took out the bridge for a few seconds. We took out the destroyer and finished what she couldn’t do.” He was positive there was no LaSaDa.

“Lurm looked over at the orderly. “And the power grid? That was a fluke also?”

“ENOUGH! We will find who is making this up when we find Commander Huma.” Sala was looking at me.

It was a day later after the battleship had been torn apart by search parties before we were allowed off. It was reported Commander Huma had somehow made it off the ship in the confusion. It was the only explanation. Unless… one wanted to believe the rumor circulating around the ship. LaSaDa had come.

Sala, several of her guards, and officers flew down to inspect Lordeen Shipping Port. I was allowed to ride along. It was on almost everyone’s mind why Sala allowed me to tag along. Respectfully they didn’t question her.

“I have official business to take care of. Try and stay out of trouble. And don’t attract any more attention than you already do.” Sala waited as I stepped off the transport.

I motioned down in the front of myself. “What more than this?” The outfit was the same Sala had loaned me that second day. A golden coil spiral bra, golden mini skirt, and golden thigh boots with a stiletto heel were my attire. Funny what I was wearing seemed normal for me, although I was the only one dressed as such.

Sala traded her mini skirt for a uniform before the battle. She had to present the image of a general in command. She curled up the corner of her mouth before she nodded at one of the guards beside me. “Trest.”

He swallowed and looked doubtful. He had heard the stories about me at the firing range. He handed me a phaser, sword, and a dagger. “I don’t like it. You just remember I’m going along to guard you. You might be carrying one. Keep your damn human hands off the gun... or the sword.”

I buckled the belt around my waist. “Whatever you say. Let’s go. I’ve never been to a shipping port. I wanna look around.”

He was walking along with me. “You might be the general’s pet for whatever reason. I think you are a total fuck up.”

“I’m glad we cleared the air on that one. I love you too.” I turned my head and gave him a wink. It didn’t register. He had no idea what a wink was or that I was being condescending.

Trest guided me to one of the traders shops. The power grid was down. Everyone seemed to be lost and wondering aimlessly. There were a few transporters moving. The big public transporters were stopped because they fed off the power grid. Everyone gave us a wide birth as we walked down the travel ways. I figured it was because of Trest’s Alliance uniform.

“I thought this port was part of the Alliance before the pirates took it? It hasn’t been that long ago. Two moons maybe? Why are they avoiding you?” I watched as a few more stepped back into the shops when they saw us coming.

He was looking as others turned their backs on us. “You’re not very smart. We ran off the pirates who had ships and could flee. That doesn’t mean pirates aren’t still here. The others will probably be back to retake the port. These people aren’t going to take sides until they find out who is in control. Pick the wrong side the pirates will take your business and your life.”

One of those aliens didn’t retreat as we walked past her shop. She looked human. She wasn’t. When I turned to look at her she bowed her head. “Princess would you grace my shop with your presence? Your bodyguard is also welcome.”

Trest hissed in protest. “I’m not her bodyguard.”

“As you wish.” She pointed toward the inside of her shop.

I hesitated. I didn’t want to put a death mark on her head because I walked into her shop. “What if the Alliance doesn’t manage to hold onto the port. It would put you in danger.”

“I am not concerned about the pirates. Please come in.”

Trest grabbed my arm. “If she’s not afraid of the pirates she’s one of them. It’s a trap.”

I pulled the curtains around my mind before I searched the shop with my mind. Then I tried to search her mind and emotions while hidden. She was a telepath and felt me looking at her thoughts.

She closed her eyes and opened her mind hiding nothing. Like Kasu she wasn’t only a telepath, but a seer as well. I looked to see if she had markings on her body like Kasu. She had faint interlocked circles on both arms. I admonished myself for not noticing earlier. I pulled back. It felt wrong to be looking in the closet of another person’s mind. “You are a seer. I’m sorry for invading your life. I didn’t know a seer could hide her markings.”

She studied me as she looked into my eyes. “You can see my markings? I’m not surprised. It’s best to not be known as a seer when the pirates are in control. I feel it was a gift to meet you, even though I did not foresee this part of my vision. You will suffer greatly in the many moons ahead. I saw many paths for you. In all of them you pay a great price, no matter which one you choose. With so many paths for your choices, it clouded the future past that beyond understanding. Be strong Princess. For you we have waited many millennia.”

“Can you not tell me more?” I was hoping for a little guidance into the future. That speech about the pain part wasn’t exactly giving me a thrill.

She shook her head. “You shift the future with your presence. It is no longer clear.”

Trest was holding onto my arm. “Let’s go. She’s one of the crazies.”

I pulled away from Trest and gave a nod to the lady. “Huluo, I wish you well. I pray you find your path easy and your enemies few.”

She bowed. “Thank you Princess. I am afraid you will not be so fortunate. May the Creator give you the strength to match the task which you have been assigned.”

Trest was pulling on my arm again. “Let’s go. She’s diseased.”

We headed back to the docking port. With no power the city had little to show any visitors unless one wanted to count the people scurrying away from us when they saw us.

“Assassins” I screamed as I shoved Trest into a shop door. The phaser blast scorched the building.

I had my phaser in my hand as one of them across the street took aim on Trest. He was a micro second too slow. The two that had been behind us closed in thinking they could step around the door and surprise us. It was their final mistake. I slid the sword back into the scabbard.

Trest was bringing his gun up. The three that had been ahead of us decided they had seen enough. They started retreating as they hosed down the area with phasers. I wanted answers. I didn’t dare show Trest any more than I already had. I reached around the opening and fired a bunch of shots up in the air as the men fled into one of the side streets.

I fell back into Trest hanging on for dear life. “THEY WANT TO KILL US. SAVE ME! SAVE ME!”

He shoved me away. “I can take care of them.” He still had no idea what happened besides hearing a lot of phaser fire. He waited for someone to poke their nose inside the shop. And waited, and waited, until he could wait no more. He eased up to the door. There were two bodies on the walkway just to the side of the door. Trest slowly stuck his head out to look up and down the street. Of course by now it was empty of all life.

I knew Trest was ship personnel and not a real soldier. But slowly sticking one’s head out is the surest way of not having a head to bring back if danger is still lurking. Can we say pop up target? Of course we can.

There was a dead body across the street. As Trest eased out onto the walkway I was praying no one would be foolish enough to step out into the open now. No doubt Trest would shoot first and ask questions later.

I stepped up and grabbed his arm to make sure that didn’t happen. “Are they gone? Are we safe? Let’s get back to the ship before more show up.”

“Sure.” Trest had no idea what happened. He wasn’t going to stick around to figure it out.

As we started back toward the ship something was tickling my mind. Make that several some things. I only knew we were in danger. I urged Trest for a doorway when I was hit in the back. My lights went out.

“Forget the soldier. He has little resale value. We have the woman.” The man with the metal helmet pointed to the body in front of him.

One of the others was firing randomly into the shop to make sure the soldier didn’t come out while a third drove a transporter up beside the woman. They tossed her up into the transporter, climbed in, and fled.

Trest was behind another doorway at the back of the shop firing toward the front every now and then. It was long minutes before he realized no one was firing back. He stuck his head out and waited before he stepped out. The woman was no where to be seen. “Human? Human are you there?”

Slowly, hesitantly he headed for the front of the shop softly calling for the human. He looked outside. The walkways were empty. Turning his attention back inside the store he started calling again. “Human, it’s safe now. You can come out. Human?”

“WHAT! YOU LEFT HER BEHIND!” The words came harder than a whip.

Trest winched. He almost believed he saw storm clouds in General Sala’s eyes. He didn’t think it was such a big deal. After all she was a human. Why was General Sala so upset?

Sala turned to her aid. “Commander, get me a full regiment right now! I want this port taken apart piece by piece. Shut down until Melody is found.”

“Yes Sir!” As Commander Muk was turning to carry out his orders he heard General Sala whisper. “LaSaDa, I shouldn’t have let you go.”

My head was throbbing, I hurt all over, my tongue felt like it was swollen. Other than that and the shackles and chains I was bound with, I was good to go. I pulled the curtains around my mind and started checking my surroundings. I was in a ship in deep space. I was real careful to make sure I didn’t touch any telepaths before deciding there weren’t any on board. I sensed several dark areas. It was the same before my lights went out. I focused on one making, sure I didn’t alert it to my search. I wanted to know what they were.

Slowly I spread my mind into the room. One of the dark areas wasn’t too far from me. It wasn’t a dark void as I had at first thought. It had a physical presence. I didn’t dare touch it with my mind, as I didn’t want to alert it. I studied it wondering if it could be dealt with the same way Kasu had taught me to deal with other life forms? I didn’t want to break my bonds and find out I was facing an adversary I couldn’t deal with. I needed to know how many I was dealing with.

I searched the rest of the ship. There were two more dark voids on the ship along with four reptilian pirates. The pirates wouldn’t be a problem. It was those dark voids that stopped me from shifting the matter around me to free myself. I concentrated on listening to the pirates in the cockpit flying this ship.

“We were the last out. Lordeen was taken over by the Alliance.” He was talking into his mike.

“We picked up a slave before we jumped space. The Homm were there too. We will have to share whatever price she brings with them. No, she’s not marked. She was with an Alliance soldier. We killed him. You know they are trying to stop the slave trade. Hard to imagine though, someone who looks as fine as her wasn’t taken.”

I pulled back to study one of those dark void creatures. I wonder why Kasu never explained them to me? With millions of life forms maybe it was just a matter of time. Or it was possible she had never run into any of them? Even a seer can’t foresee what doesn’t appear to be there. I reached out to the one furthest from me. It had a physical presence, sort of. It was more of a blob than any single shape. It shifted and started acting agitated.

I withdrew my mind. Although not telepathic they were sensitive. It could feel something wasn’t right when I was studying it. I still needed to know what they were. I closed in on the second one. If they had a physical presence, why couldn’t I read their minds? Thought is a universal common thing, no matter the species or the intelligence. Were they guarding their minds the same way I was? It too started becoming agitated. I pulled back.

I could take out the pirates without any effort. It was these Homm that stopped me from dropping my bonds and walking into the cockpit. I had no idea how to fight them. If physical or mental didn’t work on them I was positive I would be dead in seconds. Kasu warned me, no matter how good or how strong one thinks they are, there is always someone better. I didn’t want to find out that lesson when it was too late.

One of the dark void creatures moved up to the cockpit. There were bursts of light coming from it. One of the pirates turned around. He held up something in his right hand and bursts of light came from it.

It dawned on me they were talking to one another. I couldn’t touch the Homm but reading the lizard’s mind was fair game. I tuned in.

“There is a presence on this ship.”

“Where?”

“We don’t know. We can feel someone or something watching us.”

“You have space psychosis. There isn’t anyone on this ship besides us.”

“There is the human you brought on board.”

“That stupid bitch? Is she a telepath? Did you check her out?”

“No we found no extra mind thought for her species.”

“If it isn’t us, or you, and the bitch ain’t anything special, then what is it?

“Be warned. It could possibly kill us all.”

“IT? I’m getting tired of you describing an it to me that isn’t.” The lizard turned and sat down in his seat. “Stupid Homm.”

I pulled back. The creature was searching for me in the cockpit. They communicated by light. A different kind of mind thought, but still mind energy which had to be generated to create thought. I pulled my mind back into the deepest recesses while I studied what I had learned about the dark void creatures. If a phaser could kill them, they wouldn’t be a problem. I could get my hands on a phaser before they could react. Possibly. I had no idea how fast they could move. Then I had no idea if a phaser would hurt them. If they controlled energy the way Kasu could, it would be a short suicidal escape. I wasn’t capable of controlling enough energy to hurt Kasu or anyone else who did.

Was it doubt that stopped me? Or was I being smart by not breaking my bonds and escaping? I decided to wait when no dark voids were around. Something had knocked me out without me sensing it coming. I didn’t want a repeat performance. Going against an unknown was an act of desperation. I wasn’t desperate. Yet.

Chapter Three will be posted Saturday. Stay tuned. More exciting adventures of our Princess are yet to come.



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