Unnamed Talia Novel 2 First Chapter Exerpt

021714_0146_WordCountTo1.png

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!”

Advertisements

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.

 

022714_2222_Plots1.png

 

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.”

 

Talia Rough Draft Snippet 5-6-2014

225081-anime-and-manga-anime-girl-with-gun

 

 

The woman in white shirt and black pants convulsed several times before dropping to the concrete as if a puppet with its string cut. One of the soldiers ran up and then knelt down to check her for weapons.

Sergeant Mason Williams started to approach, not taking his eyes of the young girl. She was beautiful; her silver hair shined in the sunlight and her high cheekbones and slightly rounded chin combined with her slightly pale skin to give her to appearance of an angel who’d descended from heaven. Incredibly, despite the situation, his manhood started to grow slightly until he looked away.

My God, he thought, I’m getting a hard on for some spy.

“Sergeant!” A soldier snapped. “The prisoner’s isn’t breathing!”

“Medic!” He snapped.

A cold chill ran down Williams’ spine as he watched the medic race over and then kneel beside the pilot. This couldn’t possibly be happening! If that woman died, then he’d be in serious trouble with Command for using a taser on her instead of just taking her into custody.

“Sarge,” another man said. “I think you need to come over here.”

“What is it?”

“Better to show you.”

The medic backed off a bit to give him room to kneel down beside the woman’s prone form. When the woman fell, she hit her head on the concrete and a small piece of skin hung loosely from her temple and it revealed something strange. A normal person’s body, especially their head and face, was full of blood vessels, which meant head wounds tended to bleed a lot, and this one did. However, instead of the normal thick, red flow of blood, a thin red colored liquid ran from the wound and then pooled around her head.

“If that’s blood,” the medic said, “Then she’s got the worst case of hemophilia that I’ve ever seen.”

“If that’s not blood, what is it?”

“My guess is some sort of red fluid meant to simulate blood, but that’s not all.”

“Ok…”

“Here,” the medic used an infrared thermometer to scan the pilot’s forehead. “Look at this.”

“One hundred fifteen degrees?” Williams said. “I thought a normal body temp was ninety-eight something.”

“Within a degree or so, yes,” the medic said as he used a gloved hand to wipe the fluid away. “Notice something?”

Williams wasn’t one to be taken by surprise by much, twenty years in the military and being in several war zones took the ability away, but this discovery made his heart skip a beat. Normal wounds have red flesh underneath once the top layer of skin got peeled away. Except this one gleamed under the light of the sun and he looked at it and then at the medic.

“Metal?”

“Uh huh,” the medic said.

“What the hell do we have here?”

“I don’t know.”

Williams never took his eyes off the girl as he raised his radio up to his mouth and then pressed the transmit button. “Command this is Sergeant Williams. We have the pilot in custody.”

“Bring her in then,” came the crisp reply.

“I don’t know about that. We have something strange here.”

“Like what?”

“She’s got metal under her skin.”

“So?” The woman said. “Plenty of people have steel plates.”

“And a body temp of one hundred fifteen degrees?”

“Are you shitting me?”

“No, Ma’am.”

“Ok, I’m contacting General Thomas at the Defense Research Center for orders. This is now within his purview.”

“Yes, Ma’am.”

“And don’t let anyone near her, Sergeant. And I mean it. If anything happens to her, you’ll wish you’d never joined the military.”

“Yes, Ma’am.”

The communications was cut.

“You heard the woman,” he said. “Let’s keep her secure.”

 

#

 

Alex couldn’t believe his luck when it came to his golf time. Once again he was headed out for the links when the call came in about the strange woman at Andrews Air Force Base. This one, however, intrigued him far more than did the one in the sealed lab because it looked human, while the other one vaguely did.

And the fact that the woman, or whatever she was, could fly a fighter at Mach two created a mystery that even the old soldier found impossible to resist. Throw in the fact that the craft came from the orbiting ship and it made from a match made in heaven-or hell if she proved to be dangerous-for the eggheads. Maybe the being on the table in front of him could shed light on the one below that they hadn’t found a way to activate yet.

From the safety of the observation room the General watched the eggheads work and couldn’t help but start to get excited. Military technology always needed to advance to keep up with the growing threats around the globe, and the woman’s body could potentially be a treasure trove of information. Not only for new weapons but about the people who made her and whether or not they were a threat to mankind.

He activated the com. “Are you sure they can’t feel anything?”

“Her skin is synthetic,” the lead researcher said. “So, I’m sure that she can’t feel it.”

A scientist rolled a cart over to where they secured the woman’s prone form. Even knowing that the thing on the table was unconscious and probably couldn’t feel pain didn’t keep Alex from wincing as the researcher ran a scalpel around the circumference of the woman’s arm. Once done, he peeled the skin off, exposing the metal skeleton underneath.

“Amazing,” he said.

“Look at the details,” the scientist said. “It mimics our body to the minute detail. Ligaments, tendons, joints…”

Alex had to agree that it was indeed an amazing sight to see. The fact that someone, somewhere was able to make a mechanical body that mimicked the human form to such an extent boggled his mind. How many lives could be saved if they could send artificial people to the warzones to fight instead of flesh and blood soldiers?

Those and a thousand other thoughts ran through Alex’s mind as he thought about what to tell the President. A finding like this couldn’t be kept from the Chief Executive, but that didn’t mean he needed to tell the man everything. Yes, it was dishonest as hell but what the current administration didn’t know sure wouldn’t hurt them.

Although, he thought, it could possibly cost me my commission and pension.

“General,” a researcher said. “You need to see this.”

“What is it?”

“It’ll be easier to show you.”

He motioned to a guard to escort him before heading for the door. Just because the woman was unconscious didn’t mean she would stay that way and keeping someone around to defend him sounded like a good idea to Alex.

Although, he thought, could a bullet actually stop something like her?

“What do you have?” He asked as he approached the table.

The woman was borderline beautiful, and young enough to be his daughter, which did make this operation a bit tough on him. Her silver hair, almost the color of an anime character, and athletic frame reminded him more of a college student than someone from another planet. And what made things worse was God only knew how strong she’d been once awake.

“There’s a small port on the back of her head. We missed it earlier because it was covered by her hair.”

“What do you think it’s for?”

“If I had to hazard a guess, it’s for a computer interface.”

“Do we have a way of connecting to it?”

“It’s much like a USB port,” the scientist said. “But I don’t know if it’s wise to link something like this to our computer network.”

“What if we put her onto a closed system, one that doesn’t have any connections to the rest of the base or outside world?”

“That could work.”

“Make it so,” Alex said. “I want to know what that thing thinks.”

“It might take a little bit.”

“Just make it happen. I don’t care how long it takes.”

“Yes, sir.”

Talia Rough Draft Snipper 5-2-2014

103

 

 

 

The smugglers entered the room, shutting the doors behind them, and then sat down across from the Mector. Talia looked the woman over with a wary eye. From the top of the woman’s head down to the tips of her toes, the smuggler screamed ‘soldier,’ which made the warrior sigh softly. While the man definitely was a civilian, she thought because no military in their right mind would allow someone to grow a beer belly.

How a civilian and a soldier managed to team up to trade slaves beat the heck out of her, because the cultures were so different. However, in this case if seemed to work and Talia wondered if the woman provided the muscle for the operation. The pistol, a .45 from the looks of it, definitely wasn’t a Fleet or Marine issue sidearm. If she had to take bets, the man would be the captain and the woman his first mate or security officer.

She’s definitely a competent one for sure.

Kleno looked up from his food. “I understand the transfer is underway?”

The Captain checked his watch. “It should be finished within two hours.”

“Did you achieve the requirements we needed?”

“Seventy percent male,” The Captain said. “Just as you requested.”

The giant crab leaned back. “My superior will be happy to know that. Another contractor’s due in anytime and didn’t get the proper mix.”

The Captain shrugged. “I’m a businessman, and that means catering to the customer.”

Talia pulled the Glock out of a cloak pocket and set it in her lap.

Kleno slid a portable computer across the table. “This amount has been deposited into your anonymous account.”

The Captain looked at it, scowled, and then let the woman see it.

“This is only half of what we agreed upon,” She said.

“The rates have changed due to unforeseen difficulties.”

The Captain tapped the tabletop. “I don’t care what your ‘unforeseen difficulties’ are, you promised me a certain amount of money. This doesn’t even cover my expenses.”

Kleno did the best imitation of a shrug that a massive crab could be expected to pull off. “That is the sale price.”

“And do tell,” the woman said, “Why has the price dropped in half when you’re short manual labor types?”

The Mector chewed on his dinner before swallowing and then grabbing a glass of wine to wash it down. “We’ve got additional concerns that might impact our business.”

“I don’t see how your concerns effect my bottom line,” The Captain said.

“I’m concerned that Talia De’Zahna might be on our trail, so we’re going to law low.”

“That’s fine, but what about the money? You promised three hundred credits a head, but are paying my one hundred fifty.”

Talia sucked in a deep breath and sighed sadly. Three hundred credits was all it took for a human to commit one of the biggest act of cruelty against their own race? While greed had always ruled the galaxy, it seemed the humans took it to a new level. The slavers of old, she thought, had more honor then this bunch did.

“I’m not worried about De’Zahna,” the woman said. “Get her away from her sisters and she’s just another person.”

“Who killed the entire Wraith race,” Kleno reminded her.

“With her sister’s help. If I saw her, the only thing that bitch would be seeing is her heart in my hand after I cut it out.”

Ok, that’s it, time to end this little soiree.

“You know many have tried and failed, kid.”

The woman’s head snapped around as the Captain’s face paled. “Who said that?”

She killed the camouflage and smiled as all three of her enemies gasped. “Well, this is something you don’t see everyday, a civilian, a former soldier, and a Mector at the same table. It’s almost worthy of a picture, if I do say so myself.”

The woman reached for her gun until Talia brought hers up.

The warrior clicked her tongue. “I don’t think you want to do that, kiddo. The last person I warned didn’t listen and ended up dead.”

Kleno closed his eyes and sighed in resignation. “De’Zahna, is there any possibility of us making a deal?”

“It’s all about the money with you guys. I’m surprised, Kleno, that your race made it this long, because you’re really, really dumb.”

The Mector sighed. “Insulting me won’t get you anywhere.”

“I never expected it to,” She looked at the two humans. “And you guys, what a pathetic looking bunch. You think you’re so good, so bad, and in reality are nothing but pitiful and weak children.”

The woman just growled.

Talia smiled. “Oh, nice sound! I’d call it a bear, but I don’t think a Chellios is in the room.”

The Captain shook his head. “You’ve got one big mouth on you.”

Talia shrugged. “Oh, come on guys, I’m just trying to lighten the mood…spread the cheer a bit…”

Kleno looked at her. “What do you want, Talia?”

She made a theatrical display of thinking. “Well let’s see her, first off, I’d like my stocking to be full at Christmas…”

“Quit prattling!” The woman snapped.

“Aw, am I getting on your nerves? I’m sorry, thought you might find it funny.” She shrugged. “Since you want to be all serious and all, kid,” Talia looked away from the woman and turned her attention towards Kleno. “I want to know who’s the next person up, and where are the humans being taken.”

The Mector chuckled. “And just what makes you think I have a superior?”

“Ah, come now, Kleno, and I thought we were becoming such friends.” She snapped her head around to look at the woman. “Don’t bother trying to transmit, because I’ve jammed all the communications.” Except mine, of course.

“I don’t have a superior, it’s all me,”

Talia shook a finger at the Mector. “Now, now, Kleno,” Her tone sounded like a mother scolding a child. “I’m twenty thousand years old. I stopped falling for that line by the time I was two.”

“And just what makes you think, if I have one, that I’ll tell you?”

“You know, if you don’t they’ll be a nice lump of coal in your stocking…”

“You’re not funny.”

“Kleno, you Mector have no sense of humor.” Her voice turned cold as ice. “If you don’t tell me, then I’ll just eliminate the captain and his friend over here.”

The woman reached for her gun but stopped when Talia snapped her hand up and aimed the barrel at the mate’s head.

“You do know they’re expendable to me?”

“I’ve never seen someone who wants to play the role of ‘The Grinch’ so much in my life. If you tell me who your superior is, and then accompany me, Kleno, this’ll all end.”

Kleno was silent.

She looked at the humans. “You do know how mister sourpuss over there works, don’t you? Oh, his race is very good at smuggling, I’ll give them that, but when the chips are down, they’ll kill you and your crew to cover their tracks and then disappear. So, if I were you, I’d start wondering if he’s really worth the trouble.”

The two humans looked at Kleno.

The Mector sighed before eating another fork full of food. “You know, Talia, exaggeration seems to be your style.”

She laughed. “I know, but I do it so well.”

The woman looked at her. “Is that true? What you said?”

Talia looked at her, raised and eyebrow and then shrugged. “Pretty much. Your friendly ‘associate’ over there,” She waved the gun at Kleno. “His race are like cockroaches. Once the light comes on, they scamper. Now, if he had his way, you would be dead right now. In fact…” She narrowed her eyes. “Drop that weapon on the floor, Kleno and keep your claws where I can see them.”

The Mector sighed and then complied.

Time for them to start spilling their guts.

“Ok, time to start talking. Kleno, who’s your contact, and I’m not going to keep waiting. If you don’t answer,” She leveled the pistol with his head. “I’ll put a round in your head and figure it out on my own.”

“I don’t think so,” Kleno said. “Shoot me and you lose your link to the chain.”

“Frankly, at this point, I don’t care whether any of the three of you leave this room alive. However, Scrooge, I doubt security could do anything with me if I did shoot you.” She looked at the nails on one hand. “What you have to ask your is, ‘will she really do it?’ And I suggest your look at my distant-and recent-past for the answer.”

Kleno sighed. “You’re not bluffing are you.”

Talia rolled her eyes. “Do I look like I am? Now, here’s how this is going to go down, Kleno, you’re going to contact the next person up and tell them you need to meet them here.”

“He’s likely to refuse. What if I take you to him?”

“I’m not the Easter Bunny. He’s coming here where it’s public.”

“You certainly have a way with words,”

“Well, I am a genius.”

She opened one channel for Kleno to call out on and let the processor monitor it for any code words or hidden messages. If the Mercon tried something funny, she thought, it wouldn’t take much to go back into hiding and take down whoever came within seconds of their arriving. While they weren’t known for being super bright at times, the professional smugglers wouldn’t risk their lives for no reason.

The com call flowed through her mind as Kleno worked to contact his superior. It took several seconds for the connection to be made and another being to answer. Interesting, she thought, another Wickham. They weren’t known, at least during her previous life, as being a race that got their paws dirty with the slave trade. If a dealer needed drugs, weapons or computer parts, then they were the carrier of choice.

I’d like to know when they decided to scrape the bottom of the barrel.

“Traner,” Kleno said. “We have an issue with the next shipment that needs to be discussed.”

The canine growled slightly. “Are you sure it can’t wait for tomorrow? I’m busy.”

“No, it can’t. The issue is up the up most importance.”

Way the throw it on heavy, crab.

“Fine, I’ll be there in twenty.”

“Thank you.”

Kleno killed the connection. “Done. What do you want now?”

She smiled. “We’re going to sit here and get acquainted. I want to know how you two,” She waved the gun at the humans. “Got yourselves into something this seedy. Especially a former Alliance solder. And don’t hold anything back either.”

 

 

Talia Rough Draft Snippet 4-20-2014

22728_anime_girls_anime_girls_with_guns

 

Talia whirled around to look at the General and then narrowed her eyes. “Where did you find that?”

“You don’t need to know that.”

She crossed the distance between them in two steps. “Where did you find it!” She slammed both hands on the table, breaking it into two pieces. “Where? Tell me!”

The guards were over there in record time and they trained their electrical weapons on her without saying a word. Leave it to the humans, the warrior thought, to do something so outrageously stupid and then get mad at her for wanting to know where they found the soldier. And what made things worse is that younger race didn’t have a clue what they had in their hands and how dangerous it truly would be.

“Sit down,” the General said.

“Don’t placate me! Where did you find it?”

“You can sit down or we’ll talk about this a few hours from now.”

From the tone of his voice, Talia could tell he wasn’t bluffing, which put her in a bad spot. To do nothing would be tantamount to allowing the humans to be destroyed by the Dragus. Yet, refuse to follow his commands and she’d be helpless to protect herself when it awoke.

Talk about a no-win scenario, she thought bitterly.

“Fine,” she said, “Where did you find it?”

“And what makes you think I’ll tell you? I don’t even know if you were the innocent party in the war you speak of.”

“Cheikra you guys are stupid! You’ve seen my memories and can’t figure out that my people were murdered? What is up with you guys? Does the human military make people stupid?”

“You just stated it started before you were born-created or whatever you call it-so how do you know the truth?”

Good question, Talia thought. Especially after what the politicians did to make us fight.

“If you reactivate that thing, I can promise you everyone in this facility will be dead in less than an hour.”

“We’re not going to activate it, just check it’s memories.”

“You don’t get it do you? It’ll kill you! It’s what it does! It’s all it does!”

“Calm down.”

“There’s no reasoning with it, no negotiating…it doesn’t care! Its programming is simple: destroy all biological life!”

“Don’t you think you’re being melodramatic?”

“Melodramatic? Are you fucking kidding me? Those things killed trillions of my people! They killed my sisters and me eleven times! Am I being dramatic? You’re Cheikra damn right I am!”

“If you don’t believe me that we know what we’re doing, then look at that TV screen.”

Talia looked at the monstrosity of the gurney and it took every bit of her self-control to keep from screaming. It proved impossible to tell where the machinery ended and the biological began. Cybernetics covered half the soldier’s face; replacing an eye, her nose and part of her mouth. The ugly dull gray contrasted against the blonde hair that framed the other side of her face. Parts of her body were covered in what remained of the red and black uniform of the Gahl Defense forces, and Talia forced herself to keep from looking away.

I can’t deny who she was, she thought as a tear started to slide down her cheek. My soldier deserves that.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered.

“About what?” The General asked.

“She was one of my soldiers,” Talia said. “That uniform…it was what the Gahl Defense Forces wore.”

“You had blue and silver though.”

“That was to separate us from the others. To allow the soldiers to find us.”

“So she was assimilated. Interesting…”

“No! It’s not fucking interesting!” Talia snapped. “One on fucking bit! That was one of my troops! Someone who trusted me to get her home safely and look at her! Look at her!”

She wanted to grab the General and shake him violently until some common sense sank it. What they were trying was insanity! Pure insanity! If that Dragus awakened, then even Talia would be hard pressed to escape the facility herself.

“Don’t do that,” Talia said as a technician plugged the computer into the drone. “It’ll take over your systems.”

“That’s an isolated system, just like we used on you.”

“It won’t make any difference.”

“General,” a technician said. “We’re ready to begin.”

“Go ahead.”

“Yes, Sir.”

Talia Rough Draft Snippet 4-6-2014

female_ninja_names

 

 

Talia paced the bridge as the view screen cleared from their transition. The bad thing about h-space travel is that while you transition into it was fairly invisible, your return to n-space wasn’t. A large flash of multicolored light, followed by a surge in radiation alerted anyone within a star system that a ship had arrived. As it that wasn’t bad enough, re-entry also left a starship blind for five to ten seconds because the energy released temporarily overloaded sensor systems.

Which meant they were blind.

The ten seconds ran down inside her head and right on cue the view screen cleared. Nothing showed on it but empty space, and that lead her to let out a sigh of relief. One consequence of deciding to let Kleno and crew live was that the organization had been forewarned about her. However, they point blank didn’t have the room to carry the sheer numbers of humans that were on the slaver ship.

While the stop to earth only cost them a total of twelve hours, it gave the bad guys a chance to either pull ships out, use sensor screens to hide their facilities from orbit, or even space the humans. Nothing was beneath any being that would involve itself in the sleazy world of slavery. The only thing those people thought of was money, and everything else, literally, was disposable.

She passed by every station, looking at her bridge personnel in passing. It accomplished nothing but raise the level of stress in the room but Talia was too anxious to sit. Before her people had been exterminated, a large battle fleet would’ve accompanied them, but now, reduced to a single ship, she felt naked and defenseless.

It wasn’t true, of course, because despite the dated technology, the Valiant was neither toothless or a newborn babe in the woods either. While she wouldn’t have the overwhelming advantage in firepower enjoyed in the past, smart decisions would allow them to hang in, and win, most battles they might encounter.

Now, time to find out what they have in system.

She crossed her arms. “Terri, what have they got?”

The tactical officer worked in concert with CIC to analyze the information the active sensors were receiving. It would take a couple of seconds for the information to be sifted through and the relevant parts forwarded to the bridge. Talia, impatient despite knowing what the delay way, set her chin on her chest and sighed.

Come on. Come on.

“No ships in the inner system,” Terri said.

She shook her head. “I don’t like it. Jones, bring us in on half power, nice and slow.”

Robertson joined her. “Quiet environment.”

Talia rubbed the bridge of her nose. “Too quiet. Either they’ve got ships powered down waiting to ambush us, or they closed shop and left.”

“They might’ve had time to close shop. Do we know if there are any engine trails?”

“Damn, Steven, I never thought of that. Terri, run a scan for engine trails.”

“Scanning…”

“Steven, you might be onto something. They might’ve closed shop, but I’m wondering if they perhaps forgot to clean the house.”

Terri turned to look at them. “We’ve got six engine trails, and they go in one heading. Three-five-two mark twelve.”

Talia sighed. “Those numbers sound familiar, but I can’t remember where they go.”

“Crushdon is a dead system with no resources. Why would you be here?”

“It makes a good place to hide when you want to distribute slaves. Jones, bring us up to full speed, but keep weapons hot. Sheryl,” She looked at the weapons officer. “I want you to keep the finger near the button, Guns.”

“Yes, Talia.”

“Terri, are there any orbital facilities?”

“Negative.”

Talia pursed her lips and then shook her head. “Damn! There’s something about this system and I can’t figure out what.”

Robertson shrugged. “A battle fought here?”

“No…something different. How long until we make orbit?”

“Twenty minutes at this speed.”

She walked over to the command chair and sat down. Frustration continued to grow as the answer tickled her mind but stayed agonizingly out of reach. The problem with being twenty thousand years old, Talia thought, was someone picked up so much information that it became easy to forget important items.

And there’s something important about this planet.

“What’d they do with all the slaves? I doubt they got them all out in six hours.”

She leaned back in the chair and crossed her arms. “That’s a good question. I doubt they were doing ship-to-ship transfers either because Zelcor’s don’t work that way. They don’t like aliens on their ships.”

“What are they like?”

“Very Xenophobic. They don’t like other races, and specialize in the slave trade. To them, everyone else is a piece of property without a right to life.”

“Nice guys,”

“Yeah, the like to kill their slaves,”

“Really nice,”

She thumbed in the intercom, and set it to both the security and medical sections. “Hey you three bums, care to come up to bridge? Got something to ask you-if it doesn’t strain your brain cells.” She thumbed it off and grinned at Robertson. “That’ll get them started.”

He smiled slightly. “Well, you did say the galaxy was a different place.”

“It’s changed a lot while I was asleep. Not for the better I’m afraid.”

The door to the bridge slid open and Methos lead the charge. Her curly hair bounced as she flew across the room and came to a stop beside the command chair.

“Strain my brain cells, eh? Who came up with the crazy idea to pretend she was a slave??”

Talia shot her a sideways glance and then smiled. “It did help us out did it not?”

“Only because I bailed you out of the fire again. You’re so smart sometimes you’re dumb.”

“She’s got a point there,” Crios said. “Your plans do have a tendency to blow up on your face.”

Methos glared at Crios. “And if I recall, you decide to follow right on her heels and get yourself in trouble. I expect this one,” she jerked a thumb at Talia, “to be stupid, but you?? You were supposed to be the smarter one!”

“You did nearly get yourself raped, Talia,” Dannae said. “I don’t consider that a good plan.”

“It wasn’t one. She just thought of an idea and proceeded to wing it.” Methos said. “And just where would you’ve been if not for me??”

Talia threw her hands up. “I know…but you all agreed on it.”

“Doesn’t mean we liked it.”

Talia shook her head and looked at Robertson before winking. “Told you that’d get them started.”

Methos looked at her and then proceeded to smack her. “You jerk! I’m going to get your for that!” She reached up and started to tousle Talia’s hair.

“Oh, you’re so going to pay for that one,” Crios said. “I don’t know where or when, but you’ve got one coming.”

Dannae sniffed and tried to look prim and proper. “Well, I’ve never done something so uncouth.”

Talia swatted her hands to try to get Methos to stop and failed. “Dannae, don’t get me started on your with the Doctors during the war…”

“Just remember, sis, I know about your big story…I wonder how much it’d tickle the bridge crew…”

Robertson shook his head. “You four are like little kids. I swear!”

Methos stopped messing with Talia’s hair and then looked at Robertson. “That’s because we are little kids!”

“Who are very deadly,” Robertson said dryly.

“There is that,” Talia said. “But I need to ask do any of you know anything about Crushdon?”

“Can’t help you,” Crios said.

“It sounds familiar,” Methos said, “But can’t place it.”

“According to myth, Crushdon held a buried piece of the Eye of Zanzas.” Dannae said. “Which is nothing but an old wife’s tale.”

“Interesting that a Zelcor would be picking up slaves here.” Talia shrugged. “Probably just a coincidence.”

Dannae raised an eyebrow.

“Coming up on orbit, Talia,” Jones said.

She turned her attention back to commanding the ship again. “Terri, anything hiding in orbit?”

“Nothing,” Terri said. “Other then ion trails, the systems dead. Wait…CIC reports a facility on the surface.”

Talia looked at her sisters and raised an eyebrow. “What kind of facility?”

“They’re saying it possibly could be a mining center,” Terri said.

“Any life signs?”

“None,”

She stood up and looked at her sisters again. “Anyone up to a shuttle ride?”

“Are you actually planning on going where is Zelcor could be?” Dannae shook her head. “I’m starting to agree with Methos…”

“The slavers could be down there,” Methos added.

“They’ve been there and left. I want to know what they were up to before going after them.”

“The trail could go cold,” Robertson said.

“A single hour to investigate won’t make any difference when we can jump to the next system if need be.”

“Sure,” Crios shrugged. “Might as well, it’ll keep your out of trouble.”

“Ye of little faith,” Talia muttered.

“No, I’ve lived twenty thousand years with you,” Crios countered. “I know better.”

You do, don’t you?

She smiled. “Well, let’s get this over with.”

Talia Rough Draft Snippet 4-5-2014

645266-bigthumbnail

 

 

Talia stood in place as the door shut behind her before sucking in a deep breath and letting it back out in a sad sigh. The entire upcoming experience shook the experienced warrior to the core, and she found herself shaking in fear for one of the few times in her life. What would it be like to be sexually assaulted, to have someone forcibly take what was rightfully hers?

The quarters was half light, shadows covering most of the area, which lead the processor to kick her visual acuity up a couple notches. Everything came into focus and she raised an eyebrow while trying to get the shaking under control. Classical far eastern paintings, copies no doubt, hung on the walls, giving the bamboo furniture an extra pop that it would’ve lacked otherwise.

Two items caught her attention as she scanned the room, and both caused her to smile slightly. A control panel, skillfully hidden within a table, was one and a small pistol sitting within another drawer in a second table was the other. Interesting that the Captain would keep both the controls to kill the slaves and a personal weapon in his quarters. Most slavers, she thought, kept the controls on the bridge where they could eliminate cargo if boarded.

I guess this guy’s different.

While knowing both the control and gun were within reach soothed her mind a bit, it still didn’t prevent what was going to happen. Was finding the conduit for the slaves worth being raped? The question raged in her mind as she started to move deeper into the captain’s quarters.

It wouldn’t take much for her to capture, or even kill, the man, but then their chance at following the slave trail would die. Yet, in twenty thousand years of living, no one had attempted to do what he wanted and the prospect terrified her. Yeah, there’d been times when a drunk tried to go too far in the effort to get into her pants, but none of that had been carried out with malice. This, this however, would be carried out with forethought and a desire by a man to get his kicks off a defenseless woman.

She watched the Captain emerge from the kitchen and a large shiver racked her body. The very sight of the man, and what he wanted, made Talia want to throw up, and she swallowed bile. Decision time. Would they go on, or stop right there?

I can get control of his ability to kill the slaves. That could give Steven enough time to cripple the ship to keep it from moving. But…it would also would end my chance to reach anyone higher then whoever’s awaiting this delivery.

Finding the truth, she thought, just wasn’t worth being raped-even if she could completely block everything out. The psychological scarring of what would happen wouldn’t go away anytime soon, and Talia didn’t want to carry its weight around with the rest of the guilt and pain twenty thousand years of living created. No, there had to be a different way available to use to accomplish the goal.

The man approached and motioned to a chair and offered her a glass. “Sit down, champagne?”

She shook her head. “Drinking never was my thing.”

He sipped at it. “Surprising. Most artists are party hounds.”

“I never saw the point in it.”

“What a shame.”

She folded her arms and then crossed her legs. “Nice uniform. Alliance Fleet, right?”

He raised both eyebrows. “You’re a very knowledgeable young woman.”

“I try.”

“How does a young artist know anything about Fleet?”

“I’ve had a few one nighters with sailors and marines.”

“Interesting woman.”

“You can say that.”

“Do you know why you’re here?”

“Do you?”

“You’re rather aggressive for someone in your position.”

Talia snorted. “Rape comes easy for you doesn’t it? What’s wrong? Too many people turn you down? Tell me, Captain, what does it take to make a Fleet officer resort to raping young women for his kicks?”

The Captain sighed and then rubbed his forehead. “You’re going to make this difficult, aren’t you? Keep it up and I’ll just drug you and you’ll be able see and feel everything but not be able to move a muscle.”

She chuckled, a cold humorless sound that made the Captain look her in the eyes. Was that supposed to scare her? A weak threat? “Captain, I’m twenty thousand years old, and never been raped-even in Creoth or Sladen hands-and I’ll be damned if you’re going to be the one who does.”

He shook his head. “You’re one crazy girl, no wonder you went into art.”

“You still haven’t put two plus two together, or…” She leaned forwards in the chair. “You don’t know who I am, do you?” She chuckled. “My name is Talia,” Talia looked at the table where the gun was hidden. “De’Zahna, and if I were you, I wouldn’t try to reach that weapon. It won’t be pleasant if you do.”

His eyes grew wide and on instinct the Captain leapt up, his hand going for the drawer. Talia leapt to her feet, the move lightning fast, and caught his right arm in her grasp.

She clicked her tongue. Moron. “What is it about you humans? Hard of hearing??”

The Captain’s eyes grew wide as she started to squeeze his wrist in her hand. He cried out and tried to pull his arm free with his open hand, but she continued to increase the pressure. His cries became borderline screams as the bones snapped under Talia’s inhuman strength.

She grabbed his tunic, lifted him off the deck and then threw him onto the couch. “This sort of…unpleasantness…can easily be avoided if people learned to listen when I’m speaking.”

He held his wrist, eyes burning like coals, and stared at her. “What do you want?”

Talia walked over and flipped the switch to open the hidden control panel. “I want to know who you’re selling these slaves to. Ah, here we go.” She pulled the wires out of the controls that allowed the Captain to kill the slaves. “And why.”

“I only know who takes them off my hand and pays me.”

She crossed the room, opened the drawer and pulled the Sig out. “And…”

“He’s some crablike species. Calls himself Kleno Trube.”

Talia shook her head as she sat down, crossed her legs, and kept the pistol pointed at him. “Captain…you’ve gotten yourself in bed with a Mector, eh? Filthy species. They specialize in smuggling slaves, drugs, anything that a civilized society wants to keep out.”

“They pay well.”

“Oh they do that, at least while you’re useful to them. Once a person’s no longer of use, they either have them killed or let the authorities catch up with them.”