This will be going live in a few days on all platforms for the princely sum of 99c. It is a longish short story about what happens when a colony fails and rogue invaders turn up to pillage and murder the survivors, only something unexpected happens.
Due to busting my ribs at the weekend and ending up in ER on Monday, I wasn’t much in the frame of mind to continue. The pain is more or less under control now and my muse has returned. Woo Hoo.
Azrael had imagined she’d be presented with the sentence of the person to be culled, detailing why they must die, but when she faced the banker assigned to her, a bald, fat, sweating man sitting behind a priceless off-world wooden desk, she learned otherwise.
Armed with a mental image of a middle-aged man, details of his usual security and precisely where he would be when she made the hit, Azrael wanted to vomit. She was no better than the gun she now collected on her way to the rooftop transport; one weapon carrying another. The Banker had also given her instructions as to where she must position her lethal shots on the body of her victim. One for the head and one for the heart so there was no possibility of saving the man. Of course, had she been equipped with a higher velocity projectile weapon, this would be a consideration as the man’s head would have exploded on impact. The choice to use what she must was necessitated by the proximity of other people to the man. Although the banker didn’t enlighten her, Azrael wondered if the extra care came because the person who ordered the hit would be standing close by to give a façade of innocence? She couldn’t think why else she needed to make shots into a crowd, for the second shot was going to confirm the identity of the victim as no accident.
Once on the roof she checked over the grav lifter left out for her, going over all the fuel lines and the ignition system. Aside from getting her in position on top of a highrise roof to make the kill, she depended on it to get her away clean afterward. A random thought crossed her mind, leaving her to wonder what happened when the banker’s angels got caught in the act?
With a sibilant hiss, the door slid aside to admit her into a communal area. Padded chairs and low tables were arranged in groups. Some had game boards set out on them. The game pieces looked as if the players had left in a hurry with pieces scattered and on their sides.
At a table against a far wall, by one of the small port windows, sat the centurion and Nyka. Both of them seemed relaxed and were sipping from tall glasses containing a clear green liquid. They watched her approach.
“I guess I win the bet.” Nyka smiled, a faint stretching of his lips. “I told you she was getting bored.”
“I concede.” The centurion didn’t look amused. “You get your planet leave when we find a refueling stop. I really thought she would wait until she had regained full strength before she made a move.”
Azriel froze. Did he know her intentions? Where was this leading? Neither of them had weapons pointed at her.
“Come here, my bad Angel.” The centurion gestured to a chair next to him. “I would offer you a beverage, but I think, judging from your expression, I would end up wearing it.”
He was right, damn him. She wasn’t in the mood to ‘do nice’. She accepted his invitation.
The black void of space shone with a myriad of tiny stars from the port hole. Azriel had expected to see the surface of Altair IV. “Where is my homeworld?”
Nyka turned to study the view. “I think your twin suns are the brightest light on the tip of the constellation shaped like a hexagon.”
“When he isn’t tending to your needs, Nyka’s duties include astrometry.” The centurion raised his glass to the young Urak. “He is very good at it.”
Azriel barely heard his words. She focused on a tiny point of light, one among millions. Altair IV didn’t have interstellar travel technology. A world poor in metal lacked the resources. She hadn’t imagined a starship could travel so far, so fast. Now she understood why she couldn’t connect with the other Angels. The vast void of space isolated her.
“Nyka, you have a task now Azriel has joined us.”
Nyka glanced once in her direction and then marched to the door. Azriel doubted it would open for her as it did for him. She was trapped with the Sidhe.
He continued to sip at his drink, regarding her. A faint pressure in her temples warned of his intrusion in her mind. Azriel concentrated on the sights, sounds and sensations from a trek through a parched gulley under the blazing suns.
“Interesting, if too late. I have most of the information I wanted.” His eyes narrowed. “Why do you want to die? Here you are free. Your controllers cannot order your movements.”
She held in a laugh. “Free? I am kept in a locked room away from the other women. You had me herded here when I found a way out. It is another form of control.”
He sighed. “I can’t return you to your sisters. They now know that you are still dangerous, and I would prefer not to send them into hysterics. I can’t let you roam my ship hoping to goad my crew into firing at you, and yes, you will obey me. I was hoping I wouldn’t have to force this issue, but it appears you leave me no choice.”
Azriel smiled, daring him. “Do you really think you could cause more pain than the controllers?”
“Oh, I wasn’t thinking of pain. Far too unsubtle. Come now, Nyka will have fixed the security issues in your room.” He stood, holding out his hand to her.
She let him take hers. Obey him, or he would send a message back to Altair. The next instant her body dissolved to reform beside him in her room. Shocked, she missed the start of his move. He threw her down on her bed, pinning her arms above her head, using his weight to keep her still.
“This is going to hurt a little. I am sorry,” he said, although he didn’t look sorry. His eyes took on a faint gleam. He transferred both her wrists to one hand.
Azriel waited for him to start tearing off her light clothing. She jumped when he turned her head to one side and lowered his mouth to her neck. The next instant he bit. She tried to struggle, desperate, fearing what he had started. He didn’t disengage, and a slow tingling started to spread from the penetration. The tingling spread, enveloping her body. A strange lassitude wrapped her in soft coverings that distanced reality. One small part of her mind screamed ‘venom’ but now she looked into the Sidhe’s incredible green eyes. There was blood on his lips, on his bared fangs; her blood, but this didn’t seem important. The eyes drew her.
“You are going to do whatever I say, aren’t you Azriel?”
“Yes, Centurion.” Whatever he wanted, she would do for him. Joy flooded through her that he would ask.