Unnamed Talia Novel 2 First Chapter Exerpt

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This is also a rough draft. Just letting folks see a little bit.

 

“Hey, Methos…” Talia sent as an alarm started to wail.

“Don’t tell me, Little Miss Perfect, you have the device and am running for your life from the guards.”

“Wow, sure you don’t have psychic abilities?”

“No! I just know you!”

“Well, now that you mention it…”

“I’m with the bike, waiting. From the sounds of the sirens coming our way, I’d say half the police force is inbound.”

“Lovely.”

“Hope you have a plan for this!”

“Don’t worry!”

“Every time you say that, something terrible happens!”

“Oi!”

“Don’t ‘oi’ me! You know it’s true!”

Talia approached the end of the hall and the large window that overlooked There’s times when a person needs to do something crazy, an action so out of place that others would find it stunning, to accomplish their goal. This was one of those times, she thought as she leapt.

Glass exploded outwards, the force of her impact sending the shards fling forwards with her, as she burst through and out into the open space beyond. Time seemed to crawl, and then stop for a split second, before gravity won the battle with momentum. The cool wind whipped through Talia’s hair as she fell downwards.

The impact with the sidewalk, while not violent for her, still caused the warrior’s teeth to slam together so hard all the King’s horses and all the King’s men might not have been able to put them back together again. Talia ran her tongue over them and then sighed in relief when they were all there.

Which way to the bike, she thought. Oh, I’m on 12th street, so it’s to my south!

A siren, no multitudes like Methos said, grew closer by the second. If she didn’t make it to the bike, and fast, then there’d be no way to return the device without causing major problems to the time line.

She raced down the sidewalk, the parked cars a blur, as Talia raced towards Methos. While she could easily outrun the police cars, the warrior refused to. What was the point? Every time she’d had to use her body to its fullest potential, it left her shaken and depressed. No one, herself included, wanted to be something other than alive. Just knowing she had the body made Talia sad sometimes. Unlike Methos, Dannae and Crios, she’d never truly bleed if hurt, or be able to lie in the sun and tan.

At this point, she told herself, it didn’t matter. Getting back to the Valiant and returning to their own time did. And if that meant breaking some eggs timeline wise, then so bet it. Not like she couldn’t keep from doing that now anyway.

Methos stood beside the Ducati, her 5’4 frame barely visible behind the motorcycle as Talia raced up. One glace from her shorter sister told Talia all she needed to know. There’d be a major scolding, with a lecture buried in there somewhere, when they got back to the ship.

And it’s not like I don’t deserve it, Talia thought.

“Get on!” Talia snapped before she slammed her foot down on the kick starter.

The twin cylinder motor fired up, it’s silky smooth sound denoting its horsepower output. Talia revved it up three times, allowing the machinery to warm up and get a good flow of oil throughout before throwing it the gas. Rocks sprayed behind them as the rear wheel spun momentarily before grabbing traction, sending the bike forwards.

“Hang on!” She said.

“Talia! I’m going to get you!” Methos said.

Talia took a wide turn, taking care to avoid any large holes in the ground, and before heading west towards the Washington Monument. Dannae hid the ship in the rural areas near Loudon, forcing them to head back towards the museum. Ten, maybe more but Talia didn’t have time to count them all and control the bike, police cars raced along Madison Avenue, keeping pace with them.

“That’s bad,” Talia mumbled as she headed towards 14th street and the interstate beyond.

A swarm of DC police, capital police and FBI vehicles raced northbound on 14th street towards them.

Talia cursed under her breath. “And that’s worse.

Judging from the amount of vehicles in pursuit, Talia’s little cat burglary must’ve been the biggest thing to happen in DC in a long time. Why else, she wondered, would Federal Agents, local and capital police all team up to go after one person? Either that, or things were slow and everyone got bored. And given her experience with capital cities, she doubted that.

Without cracking the throttle, Talia swung the bike hard to the right, letting her foot slide across the yellow rocks in order to keep her balance and then shot across the grass.

The police cars rapidly closed the gap as Talia raced to reach the corner of the mall.

“Are you going to do what I think you are?” Methos yelled into Talia’s ear.

“We’ll be fine!”

“Fine? They’ll have us blocked!”

Methos, of course, had a point but Talia would let hell freeze over before admitting that. One thing twenty thousand years of life with her sisters taught Talia, it was that Methos loved to keep things hanging over your head; particularly if she’d warned you about it earlier. In Methos’ mind, that gave her carte blanche to rub her sisters’ face into it.

The rows of cars closed to within twenty feet of each other.

“Hang on!” Talia said.

“Wait! Are you nuts?”

Many times over the long years they spent fighting the Great War, Talia’s sisters claimed that she was crazy. Each time she’d vocally protest their accusation and the argument would run in circles for hours. In reality, though, she agreed with them. No one but a mad woman would’ve been able to create some of the battle plans that she drew up to stop the Dragus’ advance.

However, Talia thought as the wind raced through her hair, it didn’t matter in the end. Many times, despite the failure of her plans, she brought the four of them home safe and sound. No one, not even Methos, could argue that fact.

“I think we can make it!” Talia snapped as they approached the road.

“There you go thinking again! That’s dangerous!”

“Shut up,” Talia said as they jumped the curb and then reached 14th street.

Traffic was lighter then when they’d scouted the place during the afternoon. Most of the government workers had gone home for the day, leaving the residents, those who came to the town to eat and party, and the politicians being wined and dined by lobbyists all who remained.

Which still was a hell of a lot of cars.

Weaving in and out of traffic, and sometimes running between the cars in either lane, became the norm as they raced northwards. Behind them, the authorities refused to give up on their pursuit, which surprised Talia. They were willing to risk a potentially fatal accident over what, to them, was just a harmless golden egg?

And Methos calls me crazy, Talia thought.

Four, blue Ford Taurus’, their flashing lights gave a circuslike feel to the intersection, entertaining the now no longer moving pedestrians on the sidewalks. They’d lived in DC enough to know that such an action either meant a VIP was coming or something bad happened. And while the first was boring as hell, the second gave them a few moments of freedom from their mundane lives, so they watched with joy.

To Talia, though, it was a poor attempt at blocking their advance. If this had been back on Gahlza, the two of them would’ve already been stopped and in custody. Of course, she thought, the humans would be weak and sloppy at their criminal justice. If just fit with everything else she’d learned about the younger race.

Horns blared and cars skidded to a stop as Talia cut across the flow of traffic and then accelerated again. It didn’t take her long to realize this wasn’t going to work in the long term. All indications said that whoever called the shots decided to mobilize every law enforcement, local and federal, unit in the District in order to capture them. And Ducati, or no Ducati, the dragnet would eventually catch up the them.

She cut to the right, then took a jog left before accelerating again. Behind them, the police piled up for a moment before the turned into the entrance, half of them turned right, and then continued the chase.

“Do you know where we are!” Methos shouted to be heard over the wind.

“Not really!”

“Well, genius, we’re on the Ellipse! They’ll pin us in now!”

“Great!”

“That’s all you can say? I should smack you!”

“I’d wreck the bike!”

“Got a point there, damn it.”

Multicolored lights off to the right caught Talia’s attention. Methos was right of course. The road they were on just looped around the park, leaving the two of them facing the onslaught of police.

Unless I change the rules,” Talia thought.

One thing about living in DC is that one gets used to having streets either closed off or barricades of some sort being placed at certain places to shut off vehicular traffic. While they, for the most part, gave residents a feeling of security, there were times that they became a royal pain. To the police chasing Talia, this was a day where the latter proved to be correct.

A small opening in a concrete jersey wall, just big enough for a person to walk through, lead towards a small concrete security hut and then to an open road behind it. Somewhere in that direction was the White House; the one place in the city she wanted to avoid because the Secret Service and other agencies would have the ability to log her time spent there and not have it disappear over the next eight hundred years.

And I’d prefer to not let the humans know I’m playing with their past, she thought.

“Don’t you do it!” Methos said as Talia slowed down.

“Got to. No choice.”

“Talia Genia DeZahna! I swear I’m going to kill you when we get back to the ship!”

“Where are we headed?” Talia said she made the left turn and started to accelerate towards a guard who’d stepped out of the shack.

Wisely, or foolishly to his superiors, he stepped aside and let the two women flash by.

“Where are we?” Talia said as the police stopped at the end of the road.

“Uh, I don’t think you want to know, sis.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

For the first time since the chase started, Talia took a moment to see where she’d driven to. One glance was all it took for her to see why they police had stopped chasing. Spotlights were trained on a white building that humans everywhere, even as flung out as their colonies were in the future, recognized.

The White House.

And to make matters worse, they were racing up the south lawn towards the President’s home. No doubt the Secret Service was on high alert and racing to find a way to intercept her and Methos before they could enter the building. Thankfully, Talia thought, the agents didn’t need to worry about that.

“Uhm,” Talia said, “I see what you mean.”

“You’d better get us out of this if you know what’s good for you!”

“I’m working on it!” Talia snapped as she swung the bike to the right and then shot up the sidewalk the marked the eastern edge of the White House complex.

“Cut across the north lawn!”

“What? Wait! You just said that was bad!”

Kate Novel Finally

This is from the extreme rough draft I’m working on concurrently with the fantasy novel. Fantasy needs a complete rewrite, this one does too but it’s in better shape off the bat. So, just be aware you will find issues since it’s not finished.

 

 

Pale blue light illuminated the dimly lit room, creating the optical illusion of someone looking at blue walls instead of the gunmetal grey. A small walkway allowed the visitor to walk around the room without going down to the lower level. It also gave anyone who wished to, the ability to glance at the soft lit tube on the lower level.

He grasped a handrail, not because he needed to, but due to force of habit. The sound of his boots hitting the metal stairs echoed in the quiet room, easily drowning out the soft hum of the machinery to his right.

The stasis tube proved to be the biggest advancement in medicine that mankind ever achieved. Patients who were near death, or even dead, could be kept in cold, zero gravity conditions, thus preserving the body until medicine could either heal them or find ways to replace the things that were diseased or damaged.

Claudio Reyes approached the tube and then stopped short of it. A part of him couldn’t believe how things turned out in the end. After everything he’d done; all the people he’d manipulated to get his hands on this very special girl and the results of his efforts floated in space before him.

It’d be so easy to walked over to the machinery and, with the push of a button, shut it down and she’d been gone forever. And the temptation to do just that tried hard to overwhelm his intellect, willpower and training. For that reason, he pushed it out of his head and looked down at what was left of the girl.

He rubbed his upper lip with his index finger and let his mind race on possibilities. Never could anyone call him an altruistic person; in fact, most people described him as self-seeking and manipulative. And they’d be right, of course, but he took it all in stride. The job of Intelligence Chief wasn’t for a shrinking violet or anyone faint of heart. Things that happened in the shadows were more violent and extreme than anyone ever knew, and he hoped it stayed that way.

The girl possessed the best instincts, and raw talent, he’d seen during his long career. Once he had her under his control, she’d’ve been the best field agent he ever had and now, due to some jackass who didn’t even think before acting, ruined it.

However, it didn’t have to end like this, but would he be willing to risk what remained of his black book budget on her with no guarantee of success. Trained soldiers, highly decorated men and women, hadn’t acclimated to what happened and ended up killing themselves; each one taking over 200 million credits in gear with them.

If they couldn’t handle it, he thought, could she? She’s not a trained soldier.

Perhaps, just maybe, that was the answer to the puzzle before him. Something about the mental makeup of soldiers didn’t allow them to adapt to the situation they found themselves in and it created a fatal psychosis. The girl, on the other hand, spent her entire life adapting to situations that would’ve caused most people to crack under the pressure.

It was a hunch, something he couldn’t substantiate, so he couldn’t really explain what he sensed until there was more time to think about it. Until then, he’d run with his instincts, which never steered him wrong before so he had no reason to think they’d start now.

What if they are wrong? He asked himself. I will have used almost 250 million credits. The Pentagon and Congress would be hard pressed to hide another amount like that. Failure could end this program.

Had fate left him any choice but to roll the dice and hope not to get snake eyes? Soldiers didn’t work out, so they were off the list. The idea of using civilians was something he and the medical staff had thrown out but that wouldn’t work either because the was no guarantee that they’d find someone with the skills, or potential, that the girl had.

He turned around then them thumbed on the intercom. “Reyes to Doctor Thomson. Please report to medical bay four. And make it fast.”

Lisa Thomson sighed. “I’m on my way.”

Lisa Thomson was one the private little coups he pulled off that no one knew about. A medical doctor by training, the younger woman had been experimenting on cybernetics and testing on animals and with people on a very small scale. There was just one problem: her avenue of research, trying to replace parts, or an entire human body if necessary, was illegal under current law. The punishment, if Thomson had been tried and convicted was 15 to 20 years on a penal colony.

Which explained the young woman’s willingness to cooperate with him and use her talents to help him advance a black book project. Like he did now, she didn’t have any choice at the time, really. It was work for him or be jailed and she was smarter than people thought.

The hatch slid open and Thomson entered the room. A tall, but painfully thin, woman, the doctor stood nearly eye level with him, which meant it took a lot to make her back down-not that he didn’t mind the challenge mind you. Her slightly rounded face and gentle cheekbones drew attention from her thin frame and to her blue eyes. He’d learned very early on that staring into them for long periods caused one to get lost in them and the Doctor loved taking advantage of those periods.

“Damn, what a mess,” Thomson said.

“I know. I want you to fix her.”

“Fix that? Are you out of your ever loving mind?” The Doctor said as she walked around the tube. “There’s no way conventional medicine could repair that damage. Besides, she’s dead!”

Fantasy Novel Excerpt

This is an EXTREME rough draft. I haven’t even spell checked or anything because I will completely rewrite and make stuff I decided to add to the story in Chapter 5 slots into place from the very beginning.

 

“Oh my dearest sister,” Leighton said. “Scream all you want. You’re all alone, the guards are under my control. No one will save you.”

The doors slammed outwards, striking the guards in the back, sending their weapons flying from their hands as they fell and hit the floor.

A woman clothed in tan, with large sprays and patches of blood on her garment, and with black hair, rushed through the opening. She spun to her right, and ran one guard through with her katana before spinning back to her left and killing the second guard as he tried to reach his weapon.

Oh thank God! Rochelle thought.

“Princess!” Simone Silva said.

 

#

 

Simone spun her sword repeatedly as she took in the scene before her. Leighton held his sword in a relaxed but ready position as she eyed the Princess. If he wanted to kill his sister now, he’d have to do it himself and he’d have to go through her first.

If only I’d been able to save the King, she thought bitterly.

Guilt washed over the warrior, threatening to break her concentration on the task at hand. She’d been entrusted with the safety of the monarch and his family and failed miserably. The King was dead; most of the troops were backing Leighton, and the coup wanted to kill Princess Rochelle too.

“Simone!” Princess Rochelle said as she jumped to her feet and ran over to stand behind Simone.

“Sorry I’m late, My Lady, but I had some nuisances to deal with.”

“Simone,” Leighton said as he walked through the blood flowing from the King’s dead body. “I’m surprised you’re here. I wanted you dead. Oh, well, I guess it’s hard to get decent soldiers.”

“You always were arrogant, Leighton,” Simone said, intentionally dropping any respect for him or his title. “And too stupid to realize you can’t always get what you want.”

“Am I now?” Leighton said. “Look at what I have accomplished. I have a kingdom and an army-”

“Fraud,” Simone interrupted as stepped back to keep distance between her and Leighton. Who know what else the sociopath might do next. “The rightful heir is the Princess.”

“Not anymore. The Kingdom is mine.”

Don’t remind me, she thought bitterly.

“You talk too much, Leighton,” Simone said as she reached back and grabbed the Princess’ arm. “That’s your problem.”

Leighton just looked at them.

Simone spun on the ball of her foot and then started to run towards the door. Princess Rochelle gasped at the pain caused by the warrior’s grasp and a part of Simone’s heart broke. Never in a thousand years did the young warrior think there’d be a coup and she and the Princess would be running for their lives.

“Come on, My Lady!” She snapped as the entered the main throne room and then started to run towards the door to the corridor outside.

“Where do you think you’re going, Simone?” Leighton called out. “You will never leave this castle alive. The troops are loyal to me and they will hunt you, they will find you and they will kill you.”

“Not bloody likely,” Simone muttered.

One of the worst things a person can do during a crisis is start to break down, even if somewhat delayed. It did nothing but muddy the waters further, making things harder for the ones trying to put things back together again.

Simone found herself in one of those muddied situations when they emerged into the corridor. The Princess started to sob and then came to a stop outside the throne room. Tears ran down her face and she bent over, placing her hands on her knees, as her body started to shake.

Her reaction was understandable to the warrior; in fact, a part of her wanted to cry over the failure to protect the King. However, neither of them had the time to waste on it. While she couldn’t hear them, Simone knew in her heart that the soldier would’ve found the one’s she killed and would know she still lived.

“Why?” the Princess said. “Why did Leighton kill father?”

We don’t have time for this, Simone thought.

“My Lady, we don’t have time for this! Even as I speak, the soldiers are closing in. We’re going to be lucky if we escape with our lives.”

“Promise me you won’t leave me, Simone,” the Princess said.

“I will give up my own life to protect you if I have to,” she said, “but we need to move!”

Once they got moving again, Rochelle started to move stronger and more confidently, allowing Simone to let go of her arm. Getting out of the castle would be a problem in and of itself, but what to do if they reached the village below? The soldiers would have vehicles and catch them before they could reach the safety of the mountains.

Leighton couldn’t have corrupted every soldier and turned them against her and the Princess. In fact, she estimated as many as fifteen percent still remained loyal to her. If that held true, then they’d be laying low, staying out of sight and hoping for her to give them orders.

If they haven’t killed my men, she thought, then I think I have an idea for getting the Princess out of town safe.

Ever had those times in life where you just think things are going too good to be true? That you’re accomplishing something so easy that there just had to be a catch somewhere? The bad thing is; when things are that easy, you can just about guarantee trouble lay around the nearest corner.

This thought filled Simone’s thoughts as they entered the fog filled courtyard. Around them lay the bodies of the soldiers she’d killed earlier. If Leighton’s supporters found them, they certainly didn’t lift a finger to move to corpses. Of course, the fact that she still lived probably influenced those actions too.

“Stop!”

The familiar voice of her second in command Thaddeus Brindle sounded muffled due to the fog, but close enough Simone stopped running then looked around her. Coalescing out of the fog were ten soldier, with swords drawn. Brindle and Leighton followed a respectful distance behind.

“Simone,” the Princess’ voice shook. “What do we do?”

“You die, my dear sister,” Leighton said before turning his attention to Simone. “I said you wouldn’t get far, Simone.”

“I’m not done yet, Leighton,” Simone said.

“From where I’m standing, it looks quite the opposite.”

“Where your standing is full of shit to be honest.”

“Dear me, is that how you address your King, Simone?”

“You’re no more a King than I am a Princess.”

Leighton’s eyes grew wide and he made a theatrical display of thinking. “Last time I checked, I am the King. Disarm her.”

Two men walked towards Simone with weapons drawn.

“Give it up, my lady,” one said.

“Me? Give up? I don’t know the word!”

“Just kill them,” Leighton said. “This is getting boring.”

“Boring, eh?” Simone said. “Tell me how you really feel.”

Trouble Seems To Follow Chapter 1 Part 2 Revised-Serialized Novel

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The blue glow from a stasis chamber was the first thing he noticed when he entered the room. What floated inside its antigrav field could only charitably be called a human being. Muscles hung in tatters from bones and entire sections of flesh covering the girl’s chest and ribcage were missing and Claudio could see her pale red heart.

“Doctor,” he said. “How long before we can do the procedure?”

The tall, thin woman looked at her portable computer for several moments before wiping a lock of blonde hair out of the way. It was moments like this, when the Doctor seemed to ignore him, that drove the Admiral crazy. Sometimes, he reminded himself, Thompson forgot who recruited her, paid for the medical training and gave her everything she needed.

“I’m not sure if I want to do this,” Lisa Thompson said.

“Doesn’t matter whether you want to or not,” he reminded her. “I call the shots around here.”

“Yes, sir, Admiral sir!”

He chose to ignore her. “When can you rebuild her?”

“I can do the operation at a moment’s notice.”

“Then get cracking.”

Thompson sighed. “Fine, I’ll get the team together.”

One hour later, Claudio was seated in a comfortable chair while observing the operation from the sealed gallery. Thompson and her teamed moved efficiently, he had to give them that, but this procedure would take many hours, in fact it would probably end sometime tomorrow. And since it was his money, Claudio would observe things from start to finish.

Kate Almir, he mused as he picked up his portable computer and opened the file he had on her, was a dangerous woman. The youngest gladiator to make Master Champion in Arino’s history. Coupled with nearly ten thousand kills in the seven years she’d been in the arena, and he couldn’t help but take notice.

The girl proved to be both smart and a capable killer who could end a life without remorse or emotional reaction. This made her a perfect person to be a Special Ops Agent. Part SEAL, part secret agent, each operative were the most dangerous people in both Fleet and Intelligence. In fact, despite all the holovid movies about his people, they proved to be far deadlier than the public believed.

Of course if she ended up on Arino, then the girl didn’t have any family he’d need to worry about. No, she would be a perfect specimen, which proved why he’d traveled to meet with her. Instead, she’d run into a buzz saw of guards employed by her Master and Owner, Ferini.

And look what happened, he thought many hours later as he watched a pair of nurses wheel Almir’s form out of the operating room. She’s going to be better than she was before.

Thompson entered the room and then sat down before laying her head on the headrest before she closed her eyes. “Thank God that’s over.”

“That took longer than usual. Any complications?”

Thompson snorted. “Complications? There was nothing but them!”

“Will be make it?”

“You tell me. You’re the one with the plans.”

And uncomfortable silence settled over the room until Thompson spoke up again.

“Either way, it’d going to be touch and go for a while.”

“I want to be notified if there is any change,” Claudio said as he stood up. “Got it?”

“Got it.”

“Good night.”

 

#

 

The grenade tumbled through the air, a pineapple shaped symbol of death and destruction.

Time slowed to a crawl as she watched it continue to close in on her. Wasn’t any point in running, the blast would kill her just as easily as if she didn’t. Either way, things were going to come to an ending right there on the dirty, burnt orange ground of the landing field for incoming shuttles.

I can’t believe it that I made it this far only to fail, Kate thought bitterly.

A brilliant flash lit up the afternoon and Kate raised an arm to protect her eyes from the light before an invisible hand lifted her off the ground and threw the girl backwards. Pieces of metal, each burning hot, struck her body, tearing muscles, shattering bones, and a wave of agony washed over her.

The world tumbled wildly as Kate flew through the air for several seconds before she slammed into something solid. She tried to scream but no sound would come from her mouth yet the pain continued to grow…

…Kate’s eyes snapped open, and darkness was all she saw for several seconds. Panic threatened to overcome her until the darkness slowly changed to a lit room. Relief replaced the fear and the gladiator slowly worked on getting her self-control back.

 

Kate novel Chapter 1 part 2

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Now the money for his black book project was running out so all of Claudio’s eggs rested in the girl’s basket. If she didn’t work out, then he’d have nothing to show for the money spent and it’d be difficult at best to request more from Congress. This time it would, no it had to, succeed or else the entire house of cards would crash down.

Late night proved to be the one shift at Intelligence Headquarters that the building didn’t teem with life. Given the nature of both obtaining information and analyzing it, this made perfect sense. This gave Claudio the time to check on the girl before going to bed. With any luck, she wouldn’t awaken for another couple of days, which would give them the time to figure out what to tell her.

That’s going to be the fun part, he thought as he approached the door that lead to medical. But it wasn’t like I could consult her before doing things either.

The blue glow from a stasis chamber was the first thing he noticed when he entered the room. Even though the surgery had been completed three days ago, the resulting tests and monitoring of systems were best handled while the girl was unconscious and in stasis. This way Dr. Thompson and the remainder of the medical team could get baseline readings that weren’t influenced by emotion or other variables that could corrupt the data.

“Doctor,” he said, “how’s she doing today?”

The tall, thin woman looked at her portable computer for several moments before wiping a lock of blonde hair out of the way. It was moments like this, when the Doctor seemed to ignore him, that drove the Admiral crazy. Sometimes, he reminded himself, Thompson forgot who recruited her, paid for the medical training and gave her everything she needed.

“Things look ok,” the woman said finally, “but we won’t know for sure until she wakes up.”

“We need her to work out,” Claudio said, “or this program is shut down.”

“Far as I can tell,” Thompson said, “the systems are working perfectly. But you know how that turned out before.”

Yeah, Claudio thought, I haven’t forgotten. Oh, no, I haven’t.

Trouble Seems to Follow (Kate Almir Serialized Novel) Chapter 1 part 1

 

The sound of his footsteps echoed down the deserted corridor, their lonely tune matching the depression and desperation in his heart. Five years and three hundred million credits and he were reduced to hoping that a nineteen year old girl could succeed where others failed.

It proved to be fantastical, a turn of events that Rear Admiral Claudio Reyes, head of Fleet Intelligence, would never had dreamt of. Several men and women, all soldiers who’d been critically injured, had volunteered for the program, which lead to each failure eating at Claudio until a black hole filled his heart and it’d swallowed all his emotions.

Not that he was without them, mind you, otherwise he wouldn’t wrestled with the decision on whether or not to risk one of his newest bodies on a former gladiator slave. No, the question about what to do with her and her ruined body had become a priority and that’d taken over his life for the past week.

Of course, he chided himself, none of this would’ve happened if you’d not approached her in the first place.

Lord only knew how ridiculous he looked on Arino when he asked for, and received, a private meal with her. It was something almost unheard of, an event reserved for only the greatest of the gladiator Master Champions…and one that she’d earned many times over.

Talia Rough Draft 6-24-2013

This is from a second, completed novel that i need to sit back and rewrite once I get the first one taken care of.

 

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The door slid aside and they stepped into the facility before the entrance closed behind them, cutting off the roar of the wind. Talia stepped into the main room, giving the troops behind her room to advance, and then pulled her soaked face sock off and stuffed it into the pocket of her parka. A wave of warm air washed over the warrior and sensation returned to her face with a vengeance, causing her face to burn as if on fire.

She sucked in a deep breath and then winced. “I hate the snow.”

Methos pulled the hood of her parka down before pulling her face sock off. “I don’t know if I want to snowboard now…”

Crios pulled her mask off. “Oh, you’ll be back to wanting to do it next week, so don’t try to blow smoke.”

Frigid water ran down the back of Talia’s turtleneck as her hair started to thaw and then fall back into it’s normal place. She ran both hands through it, wincing when her gloves got tangled, for several minutes, getting it back into position. Yes, she knew it was vain to do so when preparing to go into battle, but it didn’t mean she had to give up her femininity either though.

She looked at her sisters. “I never wanted to go in the first place.”

Methos snorted. “Old fuddy duddy over there doesn’t want to have fun.”

Talia cocked her head to the side slightly and then raised and eyebrow. “Who says I don’t like to have fun? I just hate the cold and snow.”

“You should after that stunt,” Crios countered. “I swear sometimes…”

“And don’t you start,” Talia snapped. “Because you’re right on my heels most of the time anyway.”

Crios went to open her mouth before Methos’ laughter made her stop.

“She’s got you there, sis!”

Crios pursed her lips to a line before wagging a finger. “You, Methos, stay out of this!”

“Why not?” Methos asked innocently. “Don’t like the fact that I know you too well also?”

“Oh, hush,”

Talia worked over herself while watching the two verbally spar with each over as she got her equipment straight. This was the best part of her life; the time spent with her sisters. If they hadn’t been created, then she would’ve got insane thousands of years ago. The three of them provided support, comic relief, and anything else each of them required.

She unslung the rifle. “You two finished yet?”

Methos ran a hand through her wet hair. “Why? You want to join in?”

Talia snorted. “Actually, I’d like to get the piece we came for.”

Methos looked confused for a moment before blushing. “Oh, yeah, we did come for that didn’t we?”

She rolled her eyes. “Oh how the mighty forget.”

“Sorry, got carried away,”

Their footsteps echoed in the empty corridor as they slowly moved down it. Ahead, a pair of dead bodies laid, a large puddle of blood surrounding them. Talia brought them to a stop and then scanned the walls and the roof. Where was the trap that killed those soldiers? Was it still active?

She motioned for everyone to stay back before dropping to a knee and narrowing her eyes. One of the bodies was decapitated while the other had been split in half, starting at the top of the head and then ending at the pelvis. Interesting. So, whoever designed this building used some of the same tricks that the Sesstra’s hideaway did.

It certainly lacked in originality, she had to give it that, but repetitive or not it caught people in it’s web like the designers planned. Why, however, did they not try to be more original? Did it have something to do with the pursuit being a ‘fixed point’ in time? Did the ancient civilizations want to keep things simple and easy to predict for her?

I hope not because it just tells the Zelcor what to look for.

Did the cutters shut down after the Cabal soldiers made it past them as the ones on Sesstra did? Or were they still active and capable of killing the next person to come along? Talia closed her eyes and let the possibilities run through her head as she contemplated what to do next.

I could step forwards and trip it and then see what happens.

Methos looked at the bodies. “Nice trap,”

Talia never took her eyes off the corridor ahead. “I dealt with the same thing on Sesstra. They shut down after someone made it through, but I’m not sure if these are or not.”

“What happens if they aren’t?”

“Then they are going to run to the entrance of the corridor,” she jerked a thumb. “Back there.”

“Ok…”

“I’d move back to the main room to be on the safe side,”

“You don’t have to tell me twice.”

Talia stood up and the world exploded.

 

#

 

“Commander! I have drive activation!”

Robertson jerked up in the command chair, dropping the cup of coffee he held, and turned his attention towards Terri at tactical. “Talk to me, Terri!”

She looked over her shoulder. “CIC reports the cruiser has kicked her drive online, and are accelerating for orbit.”

“Vector?”

“They’re dropping into orbit on the far side of the planet.”

He balled a hand into a fist and then tapped the chair arm with it. “Damn. That Captain is good! If we move to attack, then it leaves our shuttle and attack team defenseless. If we fire missiles, they’ll burn up in the atmosphere trying to reach the ship.” He turned the chair to the left. “Sherri, get hold of Talia or one of her sisters. They need to know the situation.”

“Yes, sir!”

He crossed his arms and then legs and stared at the white globe of the view screen, with eyes burning.

 

#

 

Captain Tasha Monroe leaned back in the command chair, with one eye on the darkened bridge around her and the other in the view screen. The Zelcor cruiser reminded her of the lost Defiant in its capabilities and armament. One time, not long after it’d been finished, she managed to get a tour of the experimental craft and came away impressed.

For several weeks after the tour, she’d bucked to try to get command of the craft, but after the events at Maxus, she was thankful those requests were ignored. How the single cruiser in orbit could beat such a powerful vessel amazed her. The winged starship didn’t even qualify as a destroyer in size compared to normal Fleet warships, yet it packed a worse bite equaling at least ten battleships.

The minute that craft appeared in system, she’d dropped the Ajax behind Teladan’s moon and rigged for silent running. While the Zelcor craft outclassed anything mankind could create on their own, that Gahl ship put hers to shame. There wasn’t a chance in hell she wanted to go into combat against that thing!

Two hours ago that craft sent a shuttle down towards the surface and there’d been no communications with the ground team since then. That worried her more then the starship in orbit. As long as her team was alive, the other commander wouldn’t have cause to look for her ship, because De’Zahna would want prisoners to interrogate. However, if they were dead, then all bets were off.

You morons, get the damn piece and let’s get out of here!

She started to tap a finger impatiently on the armrest and resisted the urge to sigh. What would it do to get publicly frustrated over the lack of communications from the planet? It’d just get her crew tighter then they already were anyway. Most of them had friends on Maxus, or were connected enough to know what happened, and didn’t want to quarrel with De’Zahna’s starship anymore then she did.

“Captain!” The communications officer looked at her. “I have the retrieval signal from the team!”

“Tell them to head for the far side and be ready to be caught by tractor beam on the pass by and hauled in. We’re not stopping.”

“They understand, Ma’am, and will in position in five minutes.”

She looked at the helmsman. “Power up! Flank speed! Make for the dark side of the planet!”

“Aye, Captain!”

Now let’s see how fast De’Zahna can get her people back and start pursuit.

She just hoped they’d have a large enough head start.

 

#

 

 

A light lit up the room, temporarily blinding everyone, before the thunderous sound of an explosion, threatening to rupture their eardrums, shook their chests. The shockwave, lifting up dirt, blood and debris as it raced down the corridor, struck Talia, knocking her flat onto the smooth floor and then sending both warrior and rifle sliding backwards in different directions. She slammed into Methos and then Crios, taking their legs out from under them and sending her sisters crashing down on top of her.

She slammed into the far wall; shoulder first, and then slammed her head against the concrete before the world went dark momentarily. Methos spun like a top, slammed into the wall, and then came to rest on her stomach, face inches from the floor, with Talia’s face between her legs. Crios struck the barrier hard and ended up on her side in a tangle of limbs as the marines around them struggled to get back to their feet.

Talia groaned and tried to reach her head and felt an armored leg instead. “Ugh…what happened?”

Methos lay there, breathing hard, staring at the ceiling. “Can someone please tell me the number of that truck?? I’d like to have a few words with the driver…”

“Someone left a nice surprise,” Crios moaned. “Synthetic explosives…” she tried to sit up. “Ow!!”

Talia opened her eyes to darkness. “Where am I??”

Methos lifted her head up slowly. “Talia! What are you doing??”

“Trying to see if I’m alive…”

“With your head between my legs??”

She reached up, felt one armored leg, then another, and then touched an armored rear. “Okay…”

“Thank Cheikra for armor!” Methos said. “Or you’d be getting a free shot.”

“Not like I haven’t seen if before,” Talia muttered. “So quit being such a prude.”

“Don’t you think you should move?”

Talia closed her eyes and then sighed. “I would if I could. I think I’m going to lay here a while.”

“I’d demand you move but it takes too much energy.”

Crios climbed onto her hands and knees before coughing. “I haven’t hurt this bad since that drinking binge I had on Paston while on leave…”

Methos rubbed her head with both hands. “Damn…take away the headache and the ringing in my ears, and this would be just like the time I spent with the communications officer on Marine One.”

Talia lifted her head for a second. “You always…were the…wild one.”

“Hush…you’re just jealous both sides don’t like you…”

“I’ve never tried to be with both sides. Steven, ow!”

Crios looked at the floor, her long, silver pony tail hanging down, and then leaned forwards to set her forehead on the floor. “Robertson?”

“Yeah, I forgot I wasn’t on the link,” She activated the link. Uh, yeah…?

We’ve got engine activity from the enemy ship. They’ve raced onto the far side of the planet.

They’re…picking up their shuttle.

What’s wrong with you? You don’t sound good at all.

Someone left us a nice gift of explosives, the three of us are down for the three count.

Do I need to direct the shuttle to land beside the building?

I…ow that hurt…think you do. Someone’s body slammed me and kicked me in the balls…if I had balls…

What about your sisters?

We’re all down. I think Crios might be hurt worse, but then Methos is down too. Hell…I don’t know…which one of us is worse…

I’ll alert Dannae.

Thank you…we need her.

Shuttle’s on the way.

Cool beans.

Talia leaned forwards, placing the top of her head against Methos pelvis. “Shuttle’s coming…”

Methos looked at the ceiling before closing her eyes. “If I weren’t hurting so bad, I think I’d feel violated.”

She sighed. “Trust me, I can think of a hundred places I’d rather be.”

“You trying to besmirch me?”

“Sis, I don’t find it fun to have my face buried in your nether regions any more then I would if it were either Crios or Dannae.”

“Whew! I though for a minute you were insulting me.”

“I was, but feel too bad to put anything into it.”

“I’m so going to get you…”

Talia slumped against her sister’s body. “I think…” the world went black.

Talia Rough Draft Snippet 6-9-2014

May 26th, 2010 @ 19:54:44

 

The barely lit corridors proved difficult to maneuver and Methos stumbled several times before reaching the emergency ladder. If their sensors, and that was a big if, were correct, then the Dragus were out there somewhere and the ship was in no condition to fight. In fact, in her estimation, they’d be lucky to be able to get out of orbit…much less home.

Dannae was right of course, which ratcheted up the pressure on Methos. While the humans showed potential for greatness they loved to take apart anything they didn’t know and that bothered her to no end. If they learned, and once again Dannae was right that it wouldn’t take much effort for them to discover the fact, that Talia’s body was cybernetic, then they’d take her apart and that’d disconnect Talia’s brain case from the main power supply, which meant it’d be on battery power which had no more than 6 hours of charge to them.

And then it’s game over, Methos thought grimly.

Her wrist computer chirped to signal an incoming message and Methos sighed before activating the com unit. As much as she liked commanding a vessel, Talia needed to be there handling the hundreds of details necessary to get them home.

“Methos here.”

“Lieutenant Bryson from sensors is on the line for you,” Mara said.

“Patch him through.”

“Lieutenant Bryson on discrete.”

“Methos,” Bryson sounded like a man who was exhausted and barely standing up. “We might have an eta on getting sensors back on line.”

“And?”

“I’m reasonably confident we can have it back up in another sixteen hours.”

“That long? Two hours ago you said less!”

“We could do better if we had the right equipment to replace what’s been destroyed.”

Methos stopped short of the ladder and then rubbed her forehead to stave off the headache that was brewing. “Great, just great. I’ll get back with you.”

If it wasn’t one thing, it was another and that fact made Methos want to bang her head against the wall. As if there weren’t enough things for her to worry about now the sensors would be repaired six hours behind original schedule. And given how things were going she didn’t expect them to be ready then, leaving them blind with a Dragus ship out there somewhere.

“Methos to Mara.”

“Mara here.”

“Can you reach Crios?”

“Working on it,” there was a short pause, “Crios on discrete.”

“What’s up, sis?” Crios asked.

“How long before we can get to the shuttles?” Methos said.

“You can get to them now if you don’t mind having to EVA.”

“I detect a hidden ‘but’ in there.”

“We still don’t have power to the fueling systems.”

“So we can’t get them prepped launch?”

“One’s got fuel in it but it’s not enough to get you to the surface and back.”

“Just fucking great,” Methos said before sighing. “So it’s a one way trip if we go to the surface?”

“The techs say you can run the turbines on jet fuel if necessary.”

“Won’t that damage them?”

“Not really. No more than any other time.”

“Then why didn’t you tell me about this?”

“Hey! I’ve been busy down here!”

“We’re going to have to make a trip down there.”

“Ok, I don’t like that tone of voice. Who’s ‘we?’”

“At least Dannae and I…maybe all three of us.”

“With a Dragus shop nearby?” Crios paused for a moment. “Are you sure that’s a good idea?”

“Dannae needs to find parts to help us repair the ship and Cheikra only knows what kind of trouble Talia’s gotten herself into.”

“I know that was coming sooner or later,” Crios said.

“Well Little Miss Perfect has a tendency to not use her head.”

“That’s nothing new there.”

“Hey! Don’t you try to act like you’re so innocent! You chase after her and end up in trouble too.”

“When are you going to stop holding that over my head?”

“Stop doing it and I wouldn’t!”

“Now listen here, Tiny!”

“Puppy dog!”

“One of these days…”

“Hey if the shoe fits then wear it!”

“Fine, I’ll settle this another time. How long before you want to leave?”

“Give me a little bit to get things ready. I’d say a couple hours or more.”

“That’s good; because I have to make sure the electronic warfare suite is programmed to block radar too.”

“How long will that take?”

“With any luck I’ll have it ready by the time you’re ready to go.”

“I’m counting on it.”

“You’ll get me best.”

“All I can ask for.”

“You got it.”

“See you when we’re ready to leave,” Methos said before killing the line.

Ok, Talia, she thought, hang on. Help is coming.

 

#

 

Getting up to go to work had to be the worst part of the day, Tiffany Scott thought as she got out of bed.

Last night had been a night of drinking with friends and she was paying for it today. God her head hurt! Sitting at work and talking to people on the phone all day would be agony! Of course, she reminded herself, it would’ve helped if she hadn’t go out and gone on a bender instead of acting like a mature adult.

Of course, being only twenty five, that wouldn’t have been any fun and she knew that. After four years of partying hard and being in a sorority, Tiffany found it difficult to give up on the booze and clubs. In fact, in her opinion, the term ‘it’s better to burn out than fade away’ fit her to a tee.

She cut the water on and then adjusted it to be as hot as she could stand and then entered the shower. The heat felt good against her skin and help to moderate the pounding in her head momentarily. Unfortunately for her the relief would end soon as she killed the water and then started to dry off.

Of course one of the reasons why she’d gotten hung over was the refusal to drink any water between shots of Jack Daniels. The prudent thing would’ve been to do that but it would’ve made her look weak in front of her friends so she didn’t. Unfortunately, she wasn’t twenty-one anymore so doing such foolish things inevitably caught up with her but it was certainly worth the fun though.

As soon as she killed the shower the feeling of her head trying to implode came roaring back. While it was bad, the worst was still to come when she needed to run the hair dryer. The combination of noise and the hot air blowing on her scalp always made the hangovers worse and now that time had come.

The loud roar of the blower motor made her wince as she started to dry her wet hair. At least the boss chose this week for vacation so she wouldn’t have to deal with him while hung over. But his assistant, she reminded herself, proved to be a bigger ass than the big man did, making things even worse in all reality.

A sharp pain, similar to a bee sting, from the hand holding the hair dryer made Tiffany stop for a second. While she wasn’t allergic to a bee, if one had just stung her than that meant one got into the apartment, making a call to the landlord a necessity. And that was the last thing she wanted to do since the man picture would be beside the word ‘asshole’ in the dictionary.

This day just gets better and better, she thought.

The hairdryer shut down and Tiffany just groaned. Of all things that could happen, that was the worst of the bunch. Now her hair would be half wet, meaning it’d dry and work and that it’d turn into a stringy, natty mess.

A black spot appeared on her forearm, which confused her because she could’ve sworn it wasn’t there before. But then, she reminded herself, at some point she’d stumbled into the bar when coming back from the bathroom. It’d certainly been hard enough to make her yelp, so it was probably a bruise.

There are times when events take place that a person is speechless and doesn’t know how to react and this was one of them. The segment started to move and Tiffany stared at it, transfixed, at how the bruise started to spread. Never in her life had she ever seen, or read about, a bruise growing that fast.

Pain exploded up her arm, the sensation as if she’d dipped her hand and forearm into a vat of burning grease. It then raced up her spine to reach Tiffany’s brain and quickly overloaded her ability to cope and she opened her mouth to scream.

Except nothing happened.

The hair dryer start to shift as it started to mold itself around her hand, pulling her hand within herself, as impossible as it seemed, the pain continued to grow. A part of the black mass lifted upwards and then separated itself from the main body of what used to be the appliance. For a moment the pain stopped and Tiffany involuntarily relaxed as the small lump started to move and shape itself into something different.

Sometimes things are so terrible, so frightening to cope with, that a person thinks they’re having a nightmare and that they’d wake up and things would be ok. This was the thought running through Tiffany’s mind as the lump elongated itself until it matched the length of her forearm. The black mass started to solidify and a pair of eyes that glowed yellow appeared before a mouth followed suit.

This can’t be happening, she thought as the worm started to spread out to cover her face, Daddy! Daddy!

The pain returned and it was the only thing she knew before the darkness claimed her.

Talia Novel Rough Draft Snippet 6-9-2014

Sometimes there are moments in a person’s life where they realize that resistance is futile and it’s best to go along with what took place. Much to Talia’s surprise, the human soldier listened to her words and didn’t make a move to resist her. Maybe it had something to do with what she’d accomplished against the Dragus and its minions, or perhaps this young man possessed enough brains to know he was outmatched.

Thank Chiekra, she thought, I killed enough already today.

“Sorry about this,” she whispered into his ear. “You’re going to wake up with a headache.”

Before the man could speak, she slapped her palm down onto the back of the soldier’s head. The young man stiffened for a second before he went limp in her arms and then Talia lowered him to the ground. What she’d done bordered on dishonorable but the humans left her without a choice. Stay and she’d be captured and the other Dragus could run wild and take over the planet. Escape and try to find the second soldier and take her chances with the authorities chasing her.

She took a second to look around and try to get her bearings. One thing that didn’t change over the centuries was the amount of sprawl around the Washington DC area. Housing, shopping and restaurants sprouted up around the capital, making the area confusing as hell to navigate if not from there. And to make things worse, this city didn’t match the one she’d visited before and without access to the Valiant there was no way for her to find her exact location.

Somewhere along their travels, she’d heard the humans say something about finding a needle in a haystack. At first the saying confused her because why would someone waste time trying to find a needle in all that vegetation? Then it made sense, that it meant trying to find something small in a large area.

I feel like I’m the needle, she thought.

Night had fallen while she’d been incarcerated, which left Talia even more confused as to where to go. Overhead, the cloudy sky was a uniform yellowish green color as it reflected some of the city’s lights back down. No matter which direction she looked, things stayed the same, keeping her from being able to determine her location, which elicited a long, slow sigh of resignation.

As far as Talia was concerned, staying put wasn’t an alternative, so she might as well try to find her way to Richmond. If the foolish humans were going to try to monkey around with a Dragus, then that left her no choice but to step in otherwise there’d be no future for her to return to. And being in time line where her mortal enemies were killing everything in sight didn’t appeal to the warrior at all.

Talia sprinted across a large field and then knelt down in the shadows behind the landing gear of a large plane. If she knew the humans, it wouldn’t be long before someone sounded an alarm and would start hunting her and then the game would be on.

Lights started to activate across the field and soldiers raced out to the various vehicles parked around the main building. While it spelt bad news for Talia, it also impressed her too because it meant the commander was on his toes, which always pleased her. Of course it shouldn’t when the person they were after was her, but old habits die hard and the warrior found it almost impossible to not feel good about the performance of a soldier who didn’t qualify as an enemy.

Several of the jeeps approached and she moved deeper into the shadows and then leaned back against the landing gear. While it proved the facility commander knew his stuff, it made things difficult to say the least. Trying to escape the base, find a way to get to Richmond, and keep people from knowing she wasn’t human would keep her scrambling like mad.

Of course nothing’s ever easy for me, she thought. If only I could reach the ship.

In the distance several soldiers exited a building and each had a dog on a leash, which lead Talia to grit her teeth. While her body wasn’t human, that didn’t mean she didn’t give off a scent and it wouldn’t take but a brief exposure to her artificial skin or a part of her clothing and the animals would have the trail.

“Great,” she muttered, “just what I needed.”

The first of the vehicles race past and Talia rolled to her left and then came up into a runner’s crouch. Being hunted didn’t faze the warrior, but not knowing where to run to did bother her. Without knowing where she was, it would be difficult to avoid capture and reach the other facility.

A jet flew past overhead, the sight of it hidden by the clouds, catching her attention. The sound of the engines was different than what the military craft’s made when she landed earlier. Talia switched her vision to infrared and spotted the passenger plane as it started to descend in the distance and then she smiled slightly.

If there were passenger planes landing, then logically it went to say that the city was in that direction, which buoyed Talia’s spirits. A minute ago she’d been despondent, frustrated and fearful of how to escape but now the warrior had a sliver of hope. While it would take a lot of work to escape the base, at least now she had an idea of where to go.

Talia sprinted from where she was and then back into the safety of the shadows under another jet. A fence stood a couple hundred yards from where she was but the trick would be how to get there without being caught. Yes, she could outrun the dog and clear the fence in one bound, but that would exhibit far too many of her capabilities and it’d pollute the time line even more. However, if push came to shove she’d do it if that’s what it took to be able to prevent the Dragus from destroying mankind.

The sounds of dogs barking draw her mind away from the fence and back to the problem at hand. If she didn’t get away from the animals, then nothing else mattered because the canines could hunt her down anywhere she went on the base. No, she’d have to risk showing what she was capable of if she wanted to be able to stop the Dragus.

What the hell, she thought, things are screwed up as it is, can’t make it any worse.

Over the years Talia came to realize that sometimes it was better to ask for forgiveness then permission and this quickly started to turn into one of those situations. Yes it would cause repercussions on the timeline, that couldn’t be helped because just by arriving in this time, she’d caused it to diverge so everything from here on out was a new stream. Perhaps, with some luck, it’ll stay clean and unpolluted from here on but she didn’t plan on holding her breath for it.

Wind whipped through her hair as she sprinted across the open space towards the fence. Behind her the dogs started to howl before handlers released the leash’s and let the animals run free. Talia spared a quick glance over her shoulder before she sucked in a deep breath and then leapt over the fence.

Talia hit the ground and then forwards rolled before jumping back to her feet and sprinting away into the darkness. Behind her, the dogs stopped short of the fence and continued to bark and howl in frustration as they realized the warrior thwarted their pursuit.

Sirens continued to wait as Talia sprinted in the direction the landing used. Now that they were in the open areas, the chances that the humans could catch her with their archaic vehicles were slim to remote. Not that it didn’t mean she could afford to take it easy either, because it wouldn’t take but a slight mistake and the soldiers would be hot on her heels again.

What I wouldn’t give to’ve gotten Dannae to listen to me earlier, she thought. But, no! String bean decided to be too smart for her own good and look what happened!

During her long life, it’d been Talia’s experience that major cities, especially capital ones, never truly went dead. Activity continued all day and night long between the clubs and various government and military installations, which made the lack of traffic on the road outside the base unnerving. The humans either changed a lot over the centuries or the base was further away from the city than she thought; both of which were alternatives that didn’t appeal to her at all.

But that didn’t matter to her because there were more pressing issues to deal with. Reaching Richmond would entail travelling, which meant be around the humans and in no way could they be allowed to see the section of her arm that the soldier’s uncovered. The only question remaining was what to use to cover them up with and then how to travel when wanted.

Talia sprinted across the street and then entered a woods on the far side. The small strip of forest separated two neighborhoods, allowing her a chance to use the residential area to her advantage. If the human military worked anything like the one she commanded on Gahlza, then the last thing they’d want would be for the public to know an alien run wild amongst the women and children. The resulting panic would cause so many problems that chasing her would then become the least of their worries.

Too many innocent people would get hurt if I did that, she thought bitterly.

However, the warrior knew the younger race didn’t operate with the same amount of common sense and pragmatism that her people had. No doubt they’d be circling around the neighborhoods either in vehicle or aircraft in the effort to find her, which made getting into cover somewhere her upmost priority. Yes, the human commander would no doubt expect that but nothing could be done about that now.

Talia emerged from the woods and a shopping center of some sort stood a couple hundred yards away. The large cathedral of steel and concrete held court around parking lots capable of handling thousands of cars. Devoid of all sign of human life due to the time, except for a handful of cars by an entrance, the mall looked more like a morgue than a place families went to pass the time or purchase things they needed.

A gentle tug on the main entrance told Talia all she needed to know: it was locked and a security alarm would sound if she opened the door. Just then an idea popped into her head. The humans did function like her people to an extent in that they needed night security and work crews to keep the facility maintained. That meant there’d have to a service entrance open somewhere; she just had to find it.

After several tries, Talia found an unlocked door and then slipped into the labyrinth of passages that ran behind the shops. Pipes ran along the ceiling and the beige colored sheetrock walls screamed of utilitarian design as the warrior wandered them. No tell where they were going to take her; however, with any luck it’d throw the human commander off the track and allow her to find a way to get out of town.

Talia stopped short of a door and peeked through the window before opening the door slowly. Shopping malls at night, when most of the lights were out, look both strange and frightening when devoid of life. The mannequins, normally innocent appearing during the day, took on almost a demonic feel due to the murky lighting.

None of that mattered to Talia because the demons that existed in the universe weren’t made of plastic. They were created out of the shells of what used to be living beings whose bodies were coopted and then used for a purpose against their will. In twenty thousand years of living, Talia never saw anything like the Dragus and hoped to Chiekra she never would again.

Talia Rough Draft 5-22-2014

103

 

 

Talia knelt down on the roof of the elevator car and took a second to catch her breath. Sweat poured down her face despite the cold temperatures inside the facility, soaking her shirt, causing it to cling to her pert breasts like a second skin.

Getting through the air ducts didn’t take her as far as she thought it would. There’d been a crossroads and she’d turned left and ended up sliding downwards to burst through a vent into a small room built into the elevator shaft wall for technicians. Once there it’d taken several minutes to figure out where she was and then end up on top of an elevator car that rested one floor below.

Maybe landing in the shaft would turn out to be a fortuitous break in all honesty. No doubt the humans had people guarding every external vent exit throughout the facility, which would’ve meant either knocking out or killing someone to escape-and that didn’t rank highly in her book. With any luck they won’t think to check to exits from the shaft to the surface and she could get out without being detected.

Yes, it was a long-shot and the warrior held no self-delusions that the odds were in her favor. Twenty thousand years in combat taught Talia long ago that wishing did nothing but get her in spots that she could’ve kept herself out of had she not let herself forget the reality of the situation.

The only wild card and the one that really kept her from being able to consider the odds in her favor, was the humans and how they’d behave. Never in her long life did Talia encounter a race that was as unpredictable as mankind, which left her wondering just how they would arrange security in the effort to keep her from escaping.

Sweat dripped from her hair and then landed on the dirty roof as she listened to a small group of soldiers enter the car below. Judging from the sound of the footsteps, there were at least two, maybe three of them, and without a doubt they’d be armed. After what happened to the General and the people who tried to stop the Dragus, it would in her opinion be foolhardy to walk around unarmed. The only problem was that they’d consider a threat and potentially shoot her without even thinking about it.

“Colonel,” one of the soldiers said. “It’s the base in Richmond.”

“Marshall here.”

A moment went by before the man spoke again. “In no way are you to go near it or try to download anything from it. Understand? Good, we’ll discuss this later. Right now I have to brief the President on what’s happened here. Let’s get moving.”

There were times in Talia’s life when she was tempted to kill someone out of spite-and this was one of them. The utter stupidity of the human race amazed the warrior on one hand and disgusted her on the other. How could one group of people be willing to risk their lives on something they didn’t even know what it was? It’d already cost several lives and if that drone in Richmond-where ever that was-activated, then millions, no billions, of lives were at risk.

If it wouldn’t lead to the humans recapturing her, Talia would’ve jumped down and given the humans a piece of her mind. However, if they had another specimen in Richmond, then that made it even more important for her to escape. While she might’ve been able to beat the unfortunate souls who were assimilated, it wouldn’t be easy if they managed to finish the job of turning a person into a soldier.

The breeze running through her hair lifted it up as if it were a silver mane and sent strands flying everywhere. With any luck central command would be near the surface and the humans would be too busy guarding the vents to notice her using the shaft to escape. Hopefully, if they were guarding the shaft, the soldiers would have some brains and realize that unless they were armed with shock devices, they couldn’t hurt her.

“Colonel,” one of the humans said as the car slowed to a stop. “What’s going to happen now?”

“I’ll tell the President what we’ve done to try to capture the girl and then fall on my sword,” a man said.

“If you guys just listened to me,” Talia whispered. “Then none of this would’ve happened!”

In a large stroke of luck, central command appeared to be on the top floor of the facility, which made little sense to Talia. Top secret bases, especially those underground, normally placed their headquarters in the most secure location, which was on a middle floor-not by the surface. To place it there was tantamount, in her opinion, to putting a flashing neon sign overhead saying “please take me.”

A quick peek over the edge of the car gave Talia an idea about how truly big the facility was. The room where she’d entered the shaft was ten floors below and there were another 5 between her and freedom. And to make things worse, there were two different cars but the second remained stubbornly in place at the bottom of the shaft, leaving climbing the maintenance ladder the only option open.

Once again Talia found herself wishing that Dannae had listened when she’d told the warrior-healer that the situation felt wrong. Beanpole needed to learn to trust her when she tried to say something was going sour. Yes, a lot of plans Talia made went south, she wouldn’t deny that, but of all four of them, she always had the best instincts, and it seemed that whenever the four of them ignored that fact bad things surely followed.

Either way the seeds of destruction were sown on Earth and needed only the right kind of fertilizer and then they’d explode in an orgy of destruction that would wipe away man and any other sentient species within range. Now she stood as the only one who could prevent it from happening, which meant allowing the humans to recapture her would be out of the question.

Maybe in a way, she thought, it was a good thing that we ended up back here. If we hadn’t, and they found that ship…then it’d’ve been the end of mankind.

For several seconds Talia looked things over before her mind started to work over the problem. The second car was stopped at the ground floor, which was a ten floor drop and if she landed on it there’d be enough noise to alert the entire base where she was. It appeared to her that the only means of escape would be by the small maintenance ladder that ran from the base of the shaft to the top where a platform was.

It would be another long, hard climb and there was nothing she could hide behind if the humans had surveillance equipment. Things just kept getting better and better. At this rate she’d be lucky if she managed to keep from causing the biggest paradox in the history of the universe.

All from one star going boom, she thought.

A streak of fatalism started to take over and Talia reflected on the events of her long life. Boom. There was always a boom. If it didn’t happen today, then there’d be one tomorrow. It was the only constant in life: something bad would happen in some shape, form or fashion.

Time to get moving, the warrior reminded herself, and quit thinking about the could be’s. Out there somewhere was another Dragus solider, and nothing prevented it from activating again and starting to kill humans and then infect the computer systems with the program necessary to use them to help create cyber controllers and eventually overwhelm the planet.

But they wouldn’t be satisfied with just the Earth and that was the thing that bothered the warrior. While the death of the Gahl at the hands of the Dragus had been arranged by the Wraith, there was nothing to prevent them from assimilating the humans just to do it. And if she wanted to live, then the humans needed to be saved. Otherwise, who’d be there to make reverse engineer the Gahl tech to make her cybernetic body and the Valiant.

If none of this happens, she thought, then I never reawaken and the Wraith continues to kill other races. That’d be a fail.

If there was one thing the warrior learned early in life, it was the fact that no good deed went unpunished. She’d saved mankind from genocide at the hands of the Wraith two years ago and now Talia found herself staring down the barrel of the Dragus. Dealing with the Lizards had been bad enough, but that’d been child’s play compared to this and all she wanted to do now was run and hide under the bed.

She sucked in a deep breath and then leapt across the open space and then caught a handhold on the ladder. Once again Talia would face her worst nightmare and it’d be on their terms, which lead to her losing almost every time and that was with all the might of the Gahl Defense Forces. Now all she had was one ship, two hundred humans and her sisters to try to stop the gearheads from conquering the planet. If there ever was a time she needed to pull a rabbit from her hat, this would be the time.

And I never was worth a damn as a magician, she thought.

Once again the sweat started to our down her face as she climbed. The last time this happened she’d been in her battle armor, which seemed to be the likely cause. Unfortunately, it appeared the exertion of hauling her cybernetic body upwards caused the liquid to flow, which sucked because that was one thing she couldn’t change about herself.

A couple minutes later she reached the platform and then took a couple minutes to catch her breath. No doubt the humans would be frantically searching for her and blocking every exit now since she’d not exited the air ducts yet. If her guess was right, they’d be smarter than expected and have someone covering the external exit to the elevator shaft, which was what she’d do in their position.

Time to slow down and regroup for a moment and make a plan for what to do when outside. If Chief Brooks worked her magic, then coms would be open with the ship and she could inform the others of the current situation; however, given the massive damage to she and her sisters’ home, it seemed doubtful that the resourceful engineer managed to solve the problem yet. That meant she was on her own to figure out where Richmond was and then locate the hidden base to prevent the Dragus from infiltrating the computer systems and making more soldiers.

Ok, the first problem would be what to do with any soldier guarding the shaft’s exit. To be honest, Talia didn’t feel like killing an human out of spite or hand unless absolutely necessary. While she stopped being surprised by the younger race’s stupidity, this was one of those times that the warrior hoped they’d use the brains that Cheikra gave them.

Once that was done, could she even make it to the fighter and then back to the ship? Finding the Dragus would be much simpler if the sensors were back online because she knew what to look for. However, if they were still down, then it wouldn’t make much difference; she’d still have to track them down on her own and Cheikra only knew how long that’d take.

Well, she thought, let’s take this one thing at a time.

Talia sucked in a deep breath and then started to climb a set of stairs that ended at a door. No doubt there’d be an alarm that would be tripped when she opened it, which would tell the humans where she was. Nothing could be done about it now, because staying put didn’t help anything and it didn’t matter what the human’s knew or didn’t know by now.

Surprisingly, no audible alarm went off when she opened the door but Talia didn’t doubt that one screamed for attention in command central. That left her seconds to be able to get free and start to run from the facility before someone started to track her heat signature. Not much time to think of something, which meant she’d have to wing it-as usual.

One human guard stood with his back to her and the warrior both cursed her bad luck and was happy that the man didn’t see it. That meant she could do something about him without having to kill the kid, which would be a plus in her book.

She wrapped her arm around his throat, placing him in a choke hold. “If you want to live, do exactly what I say.”