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Kiraling – Part 07 (Chapter 19-25)

Written by anonxyzus :: [Saturday, 05 April 2014 19:01] Last updated by :: [Friday, 26 August 2016 10:26]

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Kiraling is set in a variation of Shadar’s Aurora Universe, and borrows characters created by Shadar.

Kiraling is a story of a wounded, and in some ways broken, human being who finds himself involved with three super women, and explores that relationship from his point of view.

Thanks to Shadar for his advice and counsel, and not a little bit of editing.

Chapter 19

The next couple of weeks were uneventful. It was becoming clearer to me every day that the Army didn’t know what to do with me. I was assigned several CQ shifts which were boring, but the kids I was baby sitting were for the most part good soldiers who didn’t give me any trouble and showed respect for my experience and were a little bit in awe of me.

That changed one day in March. I was assigned to a company that was preparing to deploy in a few months and asked to help train a platoon. I wasn’t their platoon sergeant, they had one but he had recently changed his MOS from vehicle repair to infantry and I was asked to help him with a butter bar.

I should explain that. Butter bar is army slang for a newly minted Second Lieutenant. Their insignias look like miniature sticks of butter. In this kid’s case he was recently graduated from West Point and this was his first command. There is a misconception that Academy graduates come factory equipped with an over size ego and prima donna complex. That may be true in some cases, but I’ve never met one. They do come out of the Academy with a first class education and some field training but very little real world experience. They need their NCOs to help them along. A good butter bar knows this. A good NCO knows how to help him.

I don’t know what Lieutenant Roberts was told to expect, but when I met him with a face looking like it had come through a meat grinder and wearing a Bronze star with a V he was a bit overwhelmed. He almost saluted me before I could get my hand up. That, I thought, was a good sign. It meant he would listen to my advice.

My job was to observe the lieutenant and his platoon in training and offer advice to him and report up to his company commander. It meant I would go out in the field with them, but it was okay if I couldn’t always keep up. Which I couldn’t because of my left knee.

That assignment lasted six weeks, and it was, for me, a very good six weeks. I was with soldiers, helping them train, helping their leadership get their footing, and helping them prepare mentally for the challenges they would face. I left them feeling very good about the job I had done and confident that they would do their duty and make their country proud of them when they got to Afghanistan.

But it was also a physical challenge for me. Despite my knee I did try to keep up with them and by the end of the six weeks I was tired. My doctor wrote me a prescription for a week of leave and I headed up to the cabin.

Chapter 20

When I arrived in Bellingham I went grocery shopping. I was going to work on my cooking hobby this week. First up was beef bourguignon. I hadn’t seen Dixon and Johnson in weeks, and I really wanted to catch up with them, but I thought I should stay on my meds as I thought I might be making multiple trips to the store as I failed or succeeded in creating what I really hoped would be culinary delights.

The next morning, Monday, I started on the beef bourguignon. By early afternoon it was simmering and I was pretty sure I was going to eat very well that evening and for the rest of the week.

A couple of hours later I heard a knock at my door, just when I was about to sit down to dinner. I opened the door and saw, in front of me, two gods. Or rather a god and a goddess. They were both blondes, both had blue eyes, and were both taller than me. The man was built like a Greek god and the woman looked like a super model who had just stepped off the runway. They were obviously Velorians.

I’m not sure who was more surprised because they both gasped when they saw me and took a step back. The woman actually brought her hands up to her face. The man asked, “You hurt are?”

I say asked because there was an obvious inflection at the end of his “question”.

I said, “No, I’m not hurt.”

He turned to the woman and said something in a language I didn’t understand. She said something back. He turned to me and asked, “Injuries you have?”

“Yes, I have injuries.”

“Doctor need you?”

I was pretty sure he was asking me if I needed a doctor, not if a doctor needed me. So I answered, “No, I don’t need a doctor. Who are you?”

My answer and question generated more conversation between the two of them. They had the same accent as Kara and Sharon. Listening to them, it occurred to me that from a woman the accent was downright sexy, but coming from a man, it sounded more than a little effeminate.

They were both dressed in white tunics over shorts with sandals on their feet, and I noticed something for the first time. Velorian knees are not ugly. You know, wrinkled up so the skin can move over them smoothly when you bend your legs? Not them. They have the most perfect looking knees you can imagine. Even the men.

After a bit of conversation between themselves the man asked, “Joseph Ricci are you?”

“Yes, I am Joseph Ricci. Who are you?”

He turned to the woman and said something; I was able to pick out my name. Then she poked him in the ribs, pointed to me, while obviously telling him to do something.

“Us be pardon. I Jarrod am. This Katri are.”

I put out my hand and said, “It’s nice to meet you Jarrod.”

He looked at my hand for a moment, and then put his out to take mine, but very carefully. He had no grip at all. He let me shake his hand and said, “Nice too you meet Joseph Ricci.”

Then I put out my hand to Katri and said, “It’s nice to meet you too Katri.”

She looked at my hand, then looked up at Jarrod who shrugged his shoulders, and she took mine, again very gently, hardly any grip at all, and said, “yada yada yada Joseph Ricci.” Which her partner translated as, “Nice too you meet Joseph Ricci.”

“Please, call me Joe,” I said. Why are you here?”

“Alla’na talk to you come from Velor. You with us come, Alla’na talk to.”

I had no idea who Alla’na was.

“I have no idea who Alla’na is.”

“Alla’na investigator chief. Important very. Come talk to Joe Ricci her. What smell that?”

“That is my dinner you smell. Would you and Katri like to join me?”

He turned to her to translate; they started talking back and forth. She peered around me into the cabin and said something to Jarrod who said, “We dinner with you eat. Then Alla’na you talk Joe Ricci.”

“Well then, come in and sit down.”

They followed me into the cabin and I pointed to the chairs around my table and told them to sit down. They did. I put bowls and utensils in front of them and then dished the beef bourguignon. I dipped my spoon into it and pantomimed eating. They each took a bite and looked at each other. Then the woman said something and Jarrod said, “This good very Joe Ricci. What it called?”

I told him, and he parroted it back to the woman. She said something back to him and he asked, “You fighting Arions hurt get?”

Hmm, he’d heard about that. “A little from Arions, but most of my injuries came from the Taliban.”

He translated back to the woman, she said something and he turned to me and asked, “What Taliban planet from?”

“The Taliban are from this planet.”

“Terran that to you do?”

“Yes, Terrans did this to me.”

Jarrod translated to Katri, and this started another long and involved conversation between them. After a bit they stopped talking, Jarrod nodded to Katri, then he turned to me and asked, “In pain you?”

“I’m in some pain, but it isn’t bad.”

Jarrod translated, the woman said something and Jarrod said, “Katri sex you with. Gold have you? Gold with Katri be gentle very. You hurt not. Katri good very. Yes should say you. Katri you better feel her happy!”

Did I mention Katri had the face and figure of a goddess? I couldn’t believe this. I was being offered the opportunity to have sex with a goddess and I was on my meds!

“No, I don’t have any gold. And thank Katri for me and tell her I’d be honored to have sex with her, but the medicine I take makes me impotent.” I made a mental note to stop taking my meds at the cabin.

Jarrod translated and another conversation ensued between the two of them. Jarrod then asked me, “Important medicine makes you?”

“Not important, impotent,” I answered.

“What means impotent?” Jarrod asked.

“I can’t get it up.” I answered.

Jarrod said, “Problem no. Katri use pheromones. You it up get.”

I said, “Other Velorians have tried. The pheromones don’t work when I take my medicine.”

Jarrod translated, the woman said something and he said, “Katri try can she?”

I said, “Tell Katri that I apologize, but when I take my medicine pheromones paralyze me.”

He translated, and Katri got up and came to me and kissed me on the forehead and said something. Jarrod said, “Katri sorry say. Can have dinner more?”

I laughed and said they could have more beef bourguignon. They ate it all while I imagined what it would be like to make love to Katri. Damn meds!

We finished eating and they sat at the table talking between themselves while I did the dishes and cleaned up. When I was finished Jarrod said, “We now Alla’na see. Talk Alla’na Joe Ricci.”

“What does Alla’na want to talk to me about?”

“Arions fight you.”

What the hell. Some investigator wanted to debrief me. I figured Sharon or Kara must have sent them to hear what I had to say about the Arions I’d fought. It would have been nice to get a heads up, but I’d learned by now that Velorians are big on just showing up unannounced, especially at dinner time. And they never refuse an invitation to a meal someone else has cooked.

They led me out back, behind the cabin, to the lake. Jarrod took something out of a pocket (a pocket that just seemed to appear when he reached for it) and said something into it. It must have been a Velorian “communicator” or something like that.

Some kind of craft, about the size and shape of a VW Bus, dropped out of the sky, really, really fast and hovered just a few inches above the ground. A door slid open on the right side and Jarrod and Katri ushered me in. It had what I assumed was a pilots console in front and several seats behind that. I sat down and Jarrod reached behind me and pulled out a harness and strapped me in saying, “For safety.”

Then he and Katri sat down and the door slid shut. Neither they nor the pilot bothered with strapping in. Suddenly the ground just dropped away underneath me. I didn’t feel any sense of motion. This entire experience was so extraordinary that I even forgot that I am afraid of flying!

Chapter 21

In only a few moments we left the atmosphere and were in the inky black of space. I couldn’t tell where we were going and was about to ask when suddenly a much, much larger craft appeared in front of us where there had been nothing before. I looked at Jarrod and he said, “Cloak.”

Our craft entered the larger one and then settled down. We waited for a few moments and then the pilot opened the doors. Jarrod unstrapped me and we all exited our small craft. We passed through a large doorway and then headed down a hall and then up an elevator. I think it was an elevator. I didn’t feel any motion but I did see lights pass us by through a small transparent “window”.

Finally the doors opened and we walked into a room, about 20’ x 20’. It was all white and had a table with four chairs around it. There were gold chains hanging from the ceiling, which I thought was a little strange. But, then again, this was my first time on an alien space craft so what did I know? Jarrod asked me to sit in one of the chairs and Katri left. Jarrod said she was, “Alla’na get.”

Katri came back a few minutes later and said something to Jarrod. Jarrod turned to me and said, “Alla’na way on.”

A minute or so later Alla’na walked into the room. She was, of course, a tall blonde goddess with wonderful blue eyes. You’d think I’d get tired of that. Nope. Never have. Never will. She was wearing what I recognized as a flight suit. It was a different color than Xara’s and didn’t cover up as much.

Alla’na didn’t look happy. She started talking to Katri, then looked at me for the first time and stopped. She looked me up and down and said something to Katri. It was clear Alla’na was the one in charge. Jarrod apprised me of what was going on:

“Alla’na gone so long why ask.”

“Katri dinner tell her. Dinner good. Dinner good very.”

“Alla’na where her dinner ask. Katri say left none. Ate all. Alla’na next time bring some say.”

Alla’na came up to me. I stood up and offered my hand and introduced myself. Jarrod said something to her. Alla’na said something back to him and he said, “Alla’na not hand shake. You sit say.”

I sat down. A moment later there was a buzz and the door to the room opened and in walked Skar’el. He was dressed in some kind of flight suit too. It was very skimpy and highlighted his package. My Lord are these guys hung!

Alla’na said something to him. I recognized my name. Jarrod said, “Alla’na Skar’el ask Joseph Ricci you. Skar’el yes say.”

Then Alla’na came to the table and sat down across from me and said something. Jarrod said, “Alla’na you say tell Arions fight you.”

I looked at Jarrod and asked, “Does she want me to tell her about the day I fought the Arions?”

“Yes. You that say.”

So I told the story. From seeing the Arions carrying the women into the cave, going in there, finding Eric, the women and Skar’el. I told her how the Arion would have killed me if I hadn’t gotten my hands on his Gar. I told her about the Prime, about the Arions entering the cave, and about Sharon killing one of the Betas. I told my story and Jarrod translated. Then Alla’na started questioning me through Jarrod.

“Alla’na why you Arion base near ask.”

“I didn’t know there was an Arion base there. I didn’t know there was any kind of base there.”

“Alla’na Joseph Ricci walking just Arion base find ask.”

“I was on a hike. I saw the Arions carrying the women from a distance and decided to investigate. I didn’t know there was a base there.”

“Alla’na you base find walking coincidence ask.”

“Yes, it was just a coincidence that I came across the Arion base.”

“Alla’na you Arions injure ask. I her tell Taliban you injure.”

“Alla’na how long Kara you know asks.”

“I met her that day in the cave.”

“Alla’na how long Xara you know asks.”

“I met her that same day in the cave. I met Sharon and Skar’el that day too.”

Alla’na was quiet for a moment, and then said something to Jarrod. Jarrod turned to me and said, “Alla’na you tell story again from beginning.”

So I told the story again, from the beginning, with Jarrod translating.

Again, Alla’na was quiet. And again she spoke to Jarrod who turned to me and said, “Alla’na say story tell again.”

This was getting monotonous. But I told the story again, from the top, pretty much the same way I’d told it to her before.

Then Alla’na questioned me some more, through Jarrod.

“Shara’Lynn Arions attack?”

“Are you asking me about Sharon?”

“Yes Joe Ricci. Shara’Lynn Velorian name Sharon.”

“Are you asking me if the Arions attacked Sharon, or if Sharon attacked the Arions?”

“Ask Shara’Lynn Arions attack.”

I really wished they’d sent someone with a better command of the English language than Jarrod. So I answered in a way that was as unambiguous as I could.

“When I entered the cave Sharon was bound with steel and gold and she was gagged. If she had attacked the Arions before I arrived I am unaware of it. After I freed her I was engaging several more Arions. I killed two with the Gar. A third one was about to take a shot at me with his Gar when Sharon interposed herself between me and him, absorbed the Gar shot, and then killed the shooter.”

“Alla’na ask Joe Ricci certain Shara’Lynn prisoner Arions.”

“Yes, Shara’Lynn was a prisoner of the Arions when I found her in the cave.”

Alla’na nodded her head at that and then spoke to Jarrod. Jarrod said, “Alla’na Joe thank Shara’Lynn tell. Shara’Lynn innocent.”

“Innocent of what?”

“Arions Shara’Lynn attack say. Arions Shara’Lynn ship destroy say. Kill many Arions say.”

“Not that I saw. Shara’Lynn was the Arions prisoner. I saw her kill one Arion.”

Jarrod translated that and Alla’na smiled at me again. “Good you truth tell Shara’Lynn about say Alla’na. Now you tell again from beginning.”

I sighed, then started from the top, again. When I was finished Alla’na and Jarrod conferred for a minute or so and then Jarrod asked, “Joe Ricci Arion ship see?”

“No, I didn’t see an Arion ship.”

“Joe Ricci ship wreckage see?”

“No, I didn’t see any wreckage.”

“Alla’na say tell about Xara and Kara.”

“What does Alla’na want to know about Xara and Kara?”

“Alla’na ask what Kara Xara is plan.”

“I don’t know about any plans Kara and Xara have.”

Alla’na got up from the table and said something to Jarrod and left the room. Jarrod turned to me and said, “Alla’na back will come. Alla’na Joe Ricci think about truth say.”

“The truth about what?” I asked.

“Not know.” Jarrod replied.

While Alla’na was gone Katri and Jarrod talked for a bit, then Jarrod turned to me and said, “Katri boof boof boof very good. Katri you tell how make boof boof boof.”

Boof boof boof? I had to think about that for a bit, then I asked, “Do you mean beef bourguignon, what we had for dinner?”

“Yes, what dinner we had. Katri ask how you make it.”

“I have the recipe at home. When we go back to my cabin I’ll give her a copy.”

“Jarrod copy get too?”

“Yes, I’ll give you a copy too.”

They conferred again and Jarrod said, “Katri thank you. Jarrod you thank too.”

“You are both very welcome.”

About this time Alla’na came back into the room. I started to stand up but she motioned me to stay seated. She turned to Jarrod, pointed to me and said something to him. Jarrod said, “Alla’na say demonstration Joe Ricci watch.”

Then Alla’na picked up the chair she had been sitting in earlier and tore off one of the metal legs. Then she rolled the leg up into a little ball and then looked at it, in her hand, and it started to melt. Then the molten metal flowed out of her hand onto the deck. She blinked, then looked at me and said something which Jarrod passed to me as, “Alla’na say Joe Ricci not as metal strong.” Then she said something else and Jarrod and Katri took the molten ball from her and cleaned up the mess on the deck.

When they were finished Alla’na said, through Jarrod, “Tell story again from beginning.”

I told the story again.

“Alla’na say tell Kara Xara plans.”

I don’t know about any plans Kara and Xara have.

At this Alla’na seemed to become very upset and she yelled at me. “Alla’na say you lie.” Then Jarrod said something to Alla’na and she gave him a withering look and said something back and he looked like he wanted to crawl under the table and hide.

“Alla’na you truth tell say.”

“I am telling the truth.”

Jarrod translated. Alla’na thought for a moment before turning to Katri and telling her something. Katri said something back, forcefully, and they had an argument. Jarrod turned to me and said, “Alla’na ordering you up hung,” and pointed at the gold chains, “Katri no say. Alla’na angry very.”

They stopped arguing and Alla’na turned to Jarrod and said something. He said one word back, very forcefully. Alla’na turned red in the face and left the room. Jarrod said, “Alla’na me you chains. I no said.”

Just then Alla’na came back into the room followed by two more Greek gods. They came around the table, one on each side, and grabbed my arms. I tried to fight them but it was useless, they were just too strong. They wrapped gold chains around each of my wrists and then using a pulley mechanism pulled me up until my toes were just barely touching the deck. Then Alla’na came forward, looked at me, and in just a few very quick and fluid movements ripped my clothing off.

At this pandemonium seemed to break out. Skar’el, Katri and Jarrod all came forward and started arguing with her. They’d look at me, point at her, point at me. Alla’na apparently was the highest ranking person in the room. None of them made any move to actually cut me down, and eventually they all stopped arguing.

Alla’na asked Jarrod and Katri something and they blanched and stepped back, shaking their heads. Alla’na said something else to them and then came to me and said something. Jarrod translated, “Alla’na you truth say.”

And then she mussed her hair and leaned in towards me. I breathed in that scent of honey and wild flowers, it truly does smell wonderful, and suddenly it was like my mind just froze. Alla’na said something. Jarrod said something. I think he was translating but I couldn’t follow him. She said something again and pointed to my dick. Jarrod said something back to her and she turned and yelled at him.

Then she turned back to me and said something, and Jarrod translated, but I really couldn’t follow what was happening. Until she reached for my left knee, squeezed it, and then I was screaming in pain.

She said something else, Jarrod translated, but I couldn’t follow him. I asked her not to hurt me. Jarrod translated that and she smiled and reached for my right knee and my world exploded in pain and I screamed again. Jarrod, Katri and Skar’el all came forward and started arguing with her and then my left ankle exploded into pain. There was more yelling and then my right ankle. More arguing and then it felt like someone put a hot poker on my chest and I screamed. And screamed. And screamed.

I was sobbing, begging her to stop. Pleading for mercy. At one point I saw Skar’el leave the room. I looked at Katri and Jarrod and pleaded with them to help me and was rewarded with another searing pain across my chest.

Then Alla’na floated up and I felt my left index finger break. And then my right one. And then there was another round of questioning and I couldn’t understand what she or Jerrod was saying. Katri was sitting on the deck with her face in her hands crying. Jarrod was trying to interpose himself between Alla’na and me but she’d just push him out of the way.

Alla’na floated back down to the deck and spoke to Jarrod. He nodded, then said to me, “Alla’na kill you say. Pain no you truth tell. Lie you scream for day before die you.”

I understood him. And Dixon and Johnson started blinking in and out. My meds were wearing off and my mind was clearing and I was starting to grasp what was going on. I was going to die. I looked Jarrod in the eye and asked, “Kill me. Please kill me. Kill me now.”

Jarrod recoiled from me and put his hand up in front of his mouth and said, “No. No Joe Ricci. No.”

Alla’na smiled at me and spoke, then turned to Jarrod and said something to him in a very harsh tone of voice. Jarrod said, “Alla’na you truth tell ready ask.”

“I’ve been telling you the truth. Please stop. I haven’t lied to you.”

Alla’na smiled at me, kissed me on the lips, and then ran her fingernails down my chest, ripping off the skin, all the way down to my crotch while I screamed. She put her arms around me, hands on my butt, and pulled me towards her, and kissed me again. Then used her nails to rip the skin off my butt. I screamed and begged her to stop again. She turned to Jarrod and spoke. Jarrod said, “Sorry so Joe Ricci. Sorry so. Alla’na you scream make truth unless tell you.”

I screamed at him, “I am telling the truth you bastard!”

He said, sobbing, “I know Joe Ricci. I know.”

Alla’na said something to him and the two got into an argument. Again. This time Jarrod didn’t back down. He was arguing for me. Katri joined in. Alla’na said something to the two other guys, the ones who chained me up, and they just looked at the deck, shook their heads, and left the room.

Jarrod made a fist at Alla’na. She looked at my thigh and I screamed. She was burning me with her heat vision. Katri interposed herself between me and Alla’na. Alla’na threw her aside so forcefully that the bulkhead dented when she hit it.

Jarrod grabbed Alla’na and threw her against the bulkhead and she dented it. The three of them were facing off against each other in the middle of the room when suddenly the door opened and in walked Skar’el, followed by Kara and Xara.

Xara screamed, “Joe! Mom they’ve been torturing him!” and flew to my side. Jarrod came over to us and started speaking to Xara in Velorian while she lifted me up a few inches to take the pressure from the chains off my wrists. Jarrod then floated up and broke the chains.

Meanwhile Alla’na, Kara, Katri and Zar’el got into a heated argument. Xara lowered me down and held me in her arms while Jarrod was trying to translate what was going on. The words were flying so fast between the arguing Velorians that Jarrod couldn’t keep up, or make sense, so Xara intervened and Jarrod stopped talking. Xara started telling me what was going on.

“Alla’na is ordering mom and I to leave the ship and telling Zar’el to chain you back up. Mom is telling her that you are a member of her protectorate and Alla’na has no authority here. Katri is pointing at Alla’na and using curse words that mom has never translated for me. Alla’na is saying … What! Did that bitch just call me Satan’s evil spawn?!”

Suddenly the room started to get warmer, a lot warmer and Xara pushed me down onto the deck and covered me up with her body. Jarrod got on top of her. In doing so they wrenched just about every joint Alla’na had attacked and made contact on the deck and against their bodies where my skin had been torn off and I screamed. I saw Kara flying by me into the bulkhead and heard a clang, the same sound as when Alla’na had pushed Jarrod and Katri into it.

Then Alla’na few by and hit the bulkhead right next to where Kara had and Zar’el was on her, pummeling her face, which caused the back of her head to hit the bulkhead over and over with a clang clang clang. And then Zar’el went flying back the other way and Alla’na was advancing on us and I started to feel warmer, and then hot.

Jarrod got up off of Xara and stood directly between Alla’na and where I was and then suddenly Xara flew off me, over the top of Jarrod, and grabbed Alla’na by the hair and threw her onto the deck. I craned my neck to see what was happening. Xara was on top of Alla’na with her hands wrapped around her throat. Alla’na was looking up at Xara trying to break her grip and I could see the air shimmering between them; Alla’na was using her heat vision. The room was getting hotter and hotter and it was getting very hard to breathe. Then Kara flew up and yanked the gold chains out of the ceiling and flew down and encircled Alla’na’s torso with them. At that point Alla’na just seemed to give up and the room started to cool. Xara was still squeezing her throat when Kara leaned down and said to her, quietly, “I have a better idea.”

Xara looked at Kara and without loosening her grip on Alla’na said, “Unless it’s a really good idea I’m killing this bitch here and now!”

Kara said, “If it wasn’t I’d be helping you.”

Xara seemed to think about it for a few seconds and then released Alla’na. I thought she’d be choking and gasping for breath, but she wasn’t. Jarrod later explained to me that Velorians don’t need to breathe, that Xara was trying to break her neck.

Xara started to get up off Alla’na and then said, “Ahh, what the hell, here’s a parting gift from the evil spawn,” and slammed her fist into Alla’na’s face, which made a really big dent in the deck when Alla’na’s head hit it and I think broke her nose.

Kara told Zar’el to watch Alla’na and then the rest of the Velorians in the room came over to me to check me out. Katri and Jarrod were very distressed. Kara said something to them that seemed to calm them down a bit and then Kara told Xara, “We need to get him to Gloria.”

Xara picked me up and we all left the room and headed back through the ship to that VW Bus flying thing. We passed a number of other Velorians on the way and they all came over to say something to me. Jarrod said, “All bad we feel. Say Joe Ricci sorry very. Not Alla’na evil know.”

Kara and Xara got into the bus with me and the same pilot who flew me to the ship flew us back to earth. I’m not sure where we landed, but when we did Gloria came out of a building to meet us and told Xara to carry me inside. Gloria must have given me some kind of shot because the pain went away and I passed out.

I woke up on a bed, and nothing hurt. I was bandaged and had an IV running into my right arm. I’d felt this way before. I was on a morphine drip. I tried to sit up and Gloria gently put her hand on my chest and pushed me down and told me to rest. Xara, Kara, and Sharon were in the room and came over to see me. Xara held my hand and smiled and Kara said I’d be alright. As I started to go back to sleep Gloria was handing Kara a piece of paper and said, “This is what I need.”

 

***

 

The Velorian ship approached the much larger Arion cruiser outside the orbit of Uranus. An airlock opened on each ship. Kara and Xara, holding a third Velorian between them, headed out of the airlock of their ship towards the airlock of the Arion ship. The Velorian they were escorting was bound with gold and gagged.

They entered the Arion airlock and waited for the hatch to close and the pressure to be equalized. Then a door into the ship opened and the Velorians walked into a hallway and were met by two Primes and two Betas. The Betas each held a large chest.

One of the Primes said, “The medical supplies you asked for are all here.” He motioned to the Betas who set the chests down and opened them so the Velorians could inspect their contents.

Kara said, “As we agreed, here is the Scribe who attacked your team.” At this she handed Alla’na over to the two primes who grasped her by the arms. Alla’na fought. She fought hard. But against two primes, bound by gold, she didn’t have a chance.

The other Prime said, “Very well Protector. You have fulfilled your part of the bargain. The next time I see you I will kill you.”

Kara smiled and said, “I look forward to crushing your heart.” As the Primes turned to leave Kara said, “Wait, we agreed that you would give me the uniform.” The Primes stripped the uniform off Alla’na and threw it at Kara.”

“Now get the hell off my ship whore.”

 

***

 

To: Kara Zor’El, Protector of Terra

From: Skar’El Messenger

Subject: Delivery of Package and Report

Kara, per your instructions I have delivered your report to the Senate Subcommittee on Enlightenment Affairs. Prior to this, also per your instructions, I delivered the uniform of Alla’na to Deb’ra with the message that should she ever again interfere with your protectorate you will personally see to it that she meet the same fate as Alla’na.

 

To: Velorian Scribe Corps

From: Velorian Senate Subcommittee on Enlightenment Affairs

Subject: New Chief Administrator Scribe Corps

The Senate Subcommittee on Enlightenment Affairs is pleased to announce that, effective immediately, Mar’ie Trata has assumed the position of Chief Administrator of the Velorian Scribe Corps. Her predecessor, Debr’a Jalla has returned to Velor to pursue other opportunities.

Please join us in congratulating Mar’ie on her appointment to this very important position.

Chapter 22

When I awoke I was lying in bed and felt good. And rested. I looked at my fingers and they were healed. I flexed my legs and my knees felt fine. My left leg felt better, in fact, than it had in a long time. I pulled the covers off me and looked at my chest. I still had all my burn scars, including the new ones Alla’na had given me. I did notice some discomfort below that and discovered a catheter inserted into my bladder. I decided not to try to remove it.

The room didn’t look like a hospital room. Well, it sort of did. But there were no windows, no visitor chairs and no phone. I didn’t see a nurse’s call button, so I called out, “Is there anyone here?”

Immediately Xara ran into the room and said, “You’re awake! How do you feel?”

She was followed by Gloria who tried to shoo her out, but Xara wasn’t leaving. So Gloria smiled at me and began an exam. Using those funky instruments again. After about ten minutes of that she removed my catheter (Xara wouldn’t leave for that, even after I asked her. She said that since she wanted to be a doctor it was almost the same as actually being one.)

I asked how long I had been there. Gloria said for six days. “I have to get back to JBLM.”

“No, mom has made arrangements. You don’t have to go back,” said Xara.

Gloria said, “I operated on your knees, ankles and fingers. I treated your burns and cuts. You need to stay here for another couple of days so we can make sure you have healed properly and get your strength back.”

I didn’t like the way this sounded. I felt good, but I was worried about how much function I’d have in my joints. “How much function will I have in the joints you operated on?”

Gloria answered, “I expect you to have full function.”

“How can that be? The army surgeons said I’d never have full use of my left leg again.”

“I used Arion medical technology to repair your joints. They are fully repaired and as good as new.”

This was mind boggling. There are thousands of soldiers who could benefit from this technology and I told her so. Sadly, Gloria said, Kara was only able to obtain enough equipment and medication to treat me. I pressed for more information and Xara explained to me how Alla’na was traded to the Arions for medical supplies to treat me. She said either Sharon or Kara could explain all the political implications to me, but apparently my ‘alien abduction’ resulted in quite a scandal on Velor and heads were rolling.

Chapter 23

The next morning Gloria came into my room with a light breakfast. She wasn’t sure how I would react to the Arion medications she used (now she tells me!) and wanted to make sure I could hold down my food. I could, so she got me out of bed and had me walk around a bit.

I was a little weak, but that was to be expected after spending most of a week in bed. What was strange was that my legs and knees, especially my left knee, felt normal. Good in fact. Gloria walked me around the room partially supporting me and then let go and I made two circuits on my own. Then she had me sit down and squeeze her hands to test the strength, which she was satisfied with. After that it was back to bed.

At lunch time Xara and Sharon came in to see me while I ate a sandwich Gloria had prepared. Gloria may be a fine doctor and an excellent surgeon but I would never recommend she open a deli. But I didn’t complain. The army has fed me much worse.

Sharon was very apologetic, telling me she had no idea Velor was sending an investigator. No one told her and she felt that was a breach of protocol and trust and wanted to assure me that Alla’na was not representative of the people of Velor or the Scribe Corps. I kept telling her it was alright and that I understood. Christ Almighty, I was just grateful to be alive.

Xara was quite amused by how solicitous Sharon was being with me. As I had noticed when she and Deb visited me in Bellingham, and had reinforced later, Sharon is all about loving life and having fun. She does have a serious side when it comes to running her company, but outside of working hours she is something of a party girl. Xara says she has left a trail of broken hearts all over the western United States, and joked afterwards that this was the first time she’d ever heard of Sharon being with a man who was in bed without being in bed with him.

After I ate Gloria wanted me up and out of bed walking around again. Xara and Sharon helped me up and then took turns walking me around the room. Gloria had to tell them three times to let me walk by myself before they would let me go, and even then Xara hovered next to me like I was a toddler taking his first steps. Oh, when I use the word “hovered” in the same sentence as “Xara”, I am using it quite literally. Her feet never touched the floor.

Gloria had been making sure I took my psych meds, so all this time Dixon and Johnson weren’t around. Just as well. Gloria had been giving me sponge baths and I really didn’t want to embarrass myself around her or have to put up with them giving me a hard time about it.

At the end of the week Kara came to visit me and she brought clothes and toiletries from my cabin and orders from JBLM. I was to recuperate at the cabin until the end of May under the care of my “civilian health care provider” and then report to JBLM for new orders on 15 June. When I asked Kara how those orders came about and why she had them she just smiled at me, gave me a light kiss, and said, “I have my ways,” and walked out of the room.

I tried to go after her but Xara stopped me and said I should just go with it. Kara will tell me what she wants me to know when she wants me to know it. So I put on my clothes and Xara and Gloria walked me outside and there was my car! I got in and started it up and checked the odometer. I reset the trip meter every time I fill the tank and it said it had been driven three miles. I looked at Xara and she said the captain of the Velorian ship I was on delivered the car as a favor to Kara.

Xara said, “Okay Joe, time to go back to your place!”

“Are you coming with me?”

“No, I have school. Mom put a pre-paid credit card in the glove compartment. Use it for all your expenses on the drive home.”

I turned on the GPS system and pushed the button to calculate the trip home and found out that I was in New Mexico, near Alamogordo.

Chapter 24

I made the trip in three easy days, stopping to eat at diners and to sleep at motels. The first day I was by myself and would have been bored if it hadn’t been for the scenery. I wished I’d had something better than my cell phone camera with me. The second and third days were better as I’d gone off my meds and had Dixon and Johnson with me.

We had a lot to talk about. I wanted to avoid the subject of my torture, and they were both okay with that. I did want to talk about Velorian and Arion technology, especially what could be done for soldiers and veterans if we ever got our hands on more of it, but they were more interested in talking about Katri and whether or not I’d ever get another shot with her. Can’t say I blame them. If I could go back and do it all over again I would have stayed off my meds for a day or two before she arrived. Which prompted Dixon to bring up another subject.

He thought it would be more polite if the Velorians would give me at least twenty-four notice of their arrival. So I could be prepared, have refreshments ready, and be able to get my hard on, so to speak. It made sense. Johnson said we might have to be careful about how we brought that up, as we didn’t want to insult the ladies. Dixon agreed, but said that even the ladies would understand that if they were going to offer themselves to me they should do it at a time when I was capable of accepting. I told them I’d think about it.

Chapter 25

I got back to the cabin, took a shower, fixed myself a meal and then went outside to look at the property. The lawn needed to be mowed and the roof needed to be cleaned. So I got up early the next morning, got out the mower and took care of the lawn and then got out my extension ladder and climbed up to get a closer look at the roof. It looked like I could just sweep it off so that’s what I decided to do.

When my grandfather built the cabin it was at the end of a dirt road. When the county paved the roads in the area my dad paid to have the pavement extended to our property. The nearest neighbor was out of sight and out of earshot and if I fell off the roof and was injured I might not be able to call for help. And my fear of flying also extended to a fear of heights. So I invested in a safety harness system for working on my roof. And it was good thing because I was so startled when Kara landed on the roof that I would have fallen off if I hadn’t had the harness and rope. In her defense Kara said she would have caught me.

“To what do I owe the honor of this visit?” I asked her.

“We have some things to discuss. How long will it take you to finish up here?”

“I should be done in about half an hour.”

“Have you eaten?”

“Not since breakfast.”

“I’ll go down and make lunch.”

I should add that the conversation wasn’t quite as smooth as I depicted. Kara arrived in her flight suit. Kara in her flight suit is a sight to behold. It covers up less than Xara’s and seems designed to emphasize her many, uh, attributes. So, much to her amusement, I was a bit tongue tied.

When I was finished on the roof and had put the broom and the ladder away I walked into the cabin to see Kara making sandwiches. I asked if she had time for me to take a shower before eating. She said yes, so I did.

When I came out the table was set and she had sandwiches, a couple of glasses of soda, and some chips set out. We sat down to eat and she started a conversation.

“Where do you see your military career going Joe?”

“That’s hard to say Kara. Before Gloria operated on me I think the army would have kept me at JBLM until my contract was up and then discharged me. Or maybe give me a medical discharge.

But now that my leg is better if I can pass a PT test they might let me stay in and I might re-up.”

“What about your mental issues Joe? Your records say you are suffering from PTSD and traumatic brain injury.”

This is a very difficult subject for me to discuss with anyone except my doctors. But the Velorians had been so good to me that I thought it was safe to discuss this with Kara. Dixon and Johnson nodded in agreement when I looked to them for confirmation.

“That would be up to the doctors Kara, but I think I’m doing well enough that they would allow me to go back to unrestricted duty.”

“Are you doing that well Joe?”

“Yes, I think I am.” Where is this going?

“Aren’t you still taking medications Joe?”

“Yes, but I think I can wean myself off of them. Kara, there are a lot of soldiers serving with PTSD. I’d just be one more.”

“What about your fear of flying Joe? Wouldn’t that get in the way?”

“It would, but I am very confident that I can work through that.”

“How do you feel about going back into combat?”

Combat. I hadn’t thought about that. With my bad knee it was out of the question. But now, I suppose I could deploy again.

“The last thing I want to do is go back to Afghanistan. But I have a lot of knowledge and experience. If the army needs me there then I will go.”

Johnson said he didn’t think going back to Afghanistan was a good idea.

“I have an alternative Joe, which would allow you to stay in the army and serve your country without having to go back into combat.”

Dixon said, “We have to hear about this!”

“I’d like to hear about that,” I said.

Kara said, “Fighting the Arions is never easy. It is more difficult on an undisclosed planet, like this one, where I can’t count on the support and help of the general population. So I have revealed myself and my mission, selectively, to certain highly placed officials.

“The Pentagon has been asking to imbed a liaison in my organization. They say to facilitate communication, but I think they really want a spy.”

“You have an organization?” I asked.

“Yes,” Kara said, “And I’d like you to join it, as the liaison your government has been asking for.”

Well, I certainly wasn’t expecting this. “What exactly would I do? I’ve never been a liaison.”

“You would be the conduit through which your government and my organization shared intelligence on suspected Arions and their activities.”

The Arions. Well, this made sense. Of course the government would keep this secret, they didn’t want a panic. And it made sense to work with someone like Kara. So I said yes.

“Yes. I’ll do it. How do we convince the government that I’m your guy?”

“We don’t Joe. I do. I will make it known that I will not tolerate very many questions about our relationship. You are not to volunteer information unless I have authorized it. I have already set up a meeting in Washington D.C. You’ll get your orders when you return to JBLM.”

“You assumed I’d say yes, didn’t you?”

“I did.”

“Okay, so do I need to do anything to prepare?”

“No, just show up at JBLM on the 15th. Oh, there may be some resistance from someone who wants the job I am giving you. I expect you to be a gentleman about it. Maybe grow a thick skin too.”

“What? What’s that mean?”

“You’ll see. Oh look at the time, I have to fly.” They always mean that literally.

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