Monday, February 19, 2018

March 20, early

Yesterday, my clan’s morning started with an early surprise. We finished off the evening, ending the day with a bang.

Our surprise was when the head of household management—probably the equivalent of an Earther butler—met us as we were heading from the sleeping room to grab breakfast. Dramok Felard, a mature man with impeccable manners and unwavering attention to detail, bowed to us in the middle of the hall.

“Excuse me, Matara Shalia, Dramok Seot. I’ve been informed that a Global Security shuttle has landed in the bay. There are a couple of officers asking to meet with the entire clan.”

Seot gave me a glance. “I guess Dr. Flencik had that talk with his Nobek.”

“I guess so,” I replied, hugging Anrel close. “I didn’t expect him to drop in, however. He must have brought his partner with him. Raxstad, right?”

“Maybe he has news?” Cifa suggested.

Seot nodded to Felard. “We’ll meet them in the greeting room.”

The door announce buzzed through the home. Felard hurried ahead of us to let them in.

Raxstad was as big a bruiser as ever. He bowed and made silly faces at Anrel. On any other man, the sight might have been touching. Raxstad is no one’s version of adorable, nevertheless. I thought as primitive the heavy-browed officer looked, overlarge with muscle, he would have scared the baby. She didn’t find the massive brute to be fearsome in the least, however. She laughed at his gestures of peekaboo, enthralled to watch that heavy-jawed face disappear and then reappear from behind his huge hands.

Breft’s lips twisted in an approximation of a smile at his partner’s antics. He managed to tone down some of that aura of barely-contained savagery. He appeared approachable for a few moments. He spoke softly to Anrel after according us all the customary bow. “Hello, small lovely. You have grown at least two inches since I saw you last.” He sighed and shook his head at Seot. “They do not stay small long enough to properly enjoy.”

“Indeed, they don’t,” my Dramok agreed. “Would you like to sit down?”

None of the Nobeks sat, including Larten. After refusing any refreshments, Breft attended to the business at hand. “An unfortunate matter of miscommunication has occurred for which I must apologize. Global Security had been notified of this issue regarding this Dramok Nang’s potential danger to Matara Shalia several weeks ago. However, it somehow got lost in the system. When the Matara and her daughter arrived on Kalquor, we were to note it and make contact. We were to also put into place a detection grid in the hopes of capturing Dramok Nang should he make it to Kalquor. None of this has happened until today.”

“You were the enforcement agency Weapons Commander Oses spoke to?” I asked.

“Correct.” Breft scowled, his anger directed at the floor. “It is unfortunate this got past us. Rest assured, we are taking steps to correct the lapse and ensure that you will not suffer for it.”

Someone in Global Security was getting their ass kicked. For their sake, I hoped it wasn’t Breft who would do it. He might not leave them any ass at the end of it.

“What will happen at this point?” Seot asked.

“You live in a location that is impossible to reach secretly. We’ll set up a routine sea and air patrol that will keep an eye on your home. You have a security system of your own in place?”

“We do.”

“Excellent. I’m also demanding all surveillance footage of the space ports for the last six weeks. We will scan them for any sign of Nang. It may be a few of days because of the number of ports and people arriving that are involved. However, if he’s gotten on this planet, we’ll know.”

“And if he hasn’t?” I asked.

Raxstad gave me what I suppose was meant to be a reassuring expression. “If nothing comes up in the planetary surveillance, we’ll have those of the rest of the Empire’s incoming passenger records scanned. And an active watch for Dramok Nang has been enacted throughout our entire system.”

“He can’t be here without us discovering it,” Breft promised. “And if he’s not made it here yet, we’ll catch him when he tries to do so.”

“In the meanwhile, you must alert us the moment you receive any further anonymous messages. We’ll put a trace on all your coms.”

“There is already one on Shalia’s,” Larten told them. “But it’s doubtless not as good as what you could give her.”

The rest of the meeting was a rehash of the messages I’d received and my history with Nang. We reviewed all the safety measures for Anrel and me to take, inputted direct frequencies that my clan could use to contact Breft and Raxstad, and set up the traces on our coms. The officers also inspected our home’s security, and received approval from Seot to gain direct access to have his company activate the trackers implanted on Anrel and me. Breft apologized once again for my case falling through the cracks at Global Security.

“Stuff like that happened all the time at Earth law enforcement agencies,” I said, trying to make him feel better.

“It does not happen in Global Security,” he responded. His terrifying ferocity surfaced for an instant.

Eek. If he has anything to do with it, heads will roll at the office.

I felt reassured after talking with the two. I’m grateful Flencik said something to his clanmate.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

March 19

A couple of days have gone by since I was scared half to death by that last com message. All quiet on the home front. No sign of anything bizarre or the least bit weird. Law enforcement hasn’t found out anything.

For the sake of everyone’s safety, at today’s foundation meeting I explained to the board about the whole embarrassing Nang thing. Hina was scandalized that a man would target me in such a manner. “Not a real man at all,” was her opinion, delivered with a sniff. “I’ll cave in his head if he comes anywhere near you or me.”

That’s my girl.

Emperor Egilka struggled with the news. He said, “We’ve had a woman go missing without explanation in the last week. She told her friends she was meeting a group of suitors, but something else may have occurred.”

Katrina went pale. “There is evidence of foul play with Meli—uh, the young woman’s disappearance?”

“Only that none of the clans on her list admits she was supposed to meet with them. They all have alibis as to their whereabouts. Otherwise, she seems to have vanished into thin air.” Egilka was visibly concerned. “Be careful in any case, Shalia. It may not be this obsessed Dramok you have to worry about, but someone else.”

I found it curious that an emperor would be invested in a missing person’s case. That he would even know about it, though I get us Earther gals are important to Kalquor. Still…I’d almost swear he wasn’t telling us something.

Flencik broke into my ruminations. “My Nobek is with Global Security. He may have resources the locals can’t tap. I’ll mention this Dramok Nang to him.”

“Thanks,” I said. I realized that other than his Matara Amelia, I wasn’t familiar with Flencik’s clan. “What’s your Nobek’s name?”


Hina and I exchanged a startled glance. Crap. Flencik was clanned to the Nobek who had been in charge when Hina took Anrel? Double crap.

Yet Flencik showed no signs of realizing Hina had been charged with kidnapping by his clanmate. It’s wonderful that Nobek Breft can keep his mouth shut. I had to applaud the officer for being as ethical as a cop should be.

On the heels of that, I thought Sweet, gentle Flencik is clanned to that scary-ass Nobek? That was crazy when I compared the two. Then another comparison popped up: the incredible size disparity between the Imdiko and Nobek. Flencik is a friggin’ giant. Breft is the shortest Kalquorian I’ve encountered.

I can’t imagine how that combination works. I’m almost afraid to find out what their Dramok looks like.

Meanwhile, good news…because no news is good news. Larten’s contacts haven’t heard of any reports that Nang has been sighted anywhere on Kalquor. He’s gone as far as inquiring at various spaceports. Without official law enforcement clout, he’s not got the kind of clearance that lets him delve into information. He’s still sending out requests to associates on various space stations and colonies nearby.

Two weird messages, received days ago, and not another peep. No sign of Nang anywhere. No hint he’s on Kalquor at all. Maybe for once, my luck will be decent.

Monday, February 12, 2018

March 17

I was on edge for my therapy appointment today. My abandonment issues, quiet for the most part, were set aside to discuss the possibility that Nang had made it to Kalquor.

“One moment, I’m in denial. There is no real proof that he’s here. Nothing concrete. Then I start thinking I have to be on my guard, just in case. Because it would be stupid not to be, right? I need to be ready in case he comes for me or Anrel. But I catch myself acting all paranoid, like he’s going to jump out from behind a tree, or a rock, or a rack of clothes, or a kitchen cabinet. I’m either fooling myself that all is well, or I’m freaking out.”

“Understandable.” Dr. Cafir offered the perfect percentage of concern, support, and serenity. I need to study her or find out where she took lessons to be able to do that.

“Is it? Or are you being nice?”

“A potential stalker is a terrifying prospect. You don’t know when or if they’ll show up. If they do, what is their initial goal? How far will they go to achieve it? How violent will they turn when you resist?”

“Stop trying to cheer me up.”

“You have to face the possibility of a worst-case scenario. Fortunately, you possess the kind of hard-won strength that can manage it. And you have one major factor in your favor.”

I knew what she meant. “The tracking implants.”

Cafir nodded. “Anrel’s implant gave you the ability to recover her quickly when Hina took her. I shudder to think of that occurring again, but it will save you two, should all else fail.” She made a kind of helpless fluttering motion with her hands. “You’re as prepared as you can be.”

“I have to hope it will be enough if the worst happens.”

“It’s awful to have to sit and wait for something that might not happen, not to mention second-guessing everything you do from now on.” Cafir scowled, her perfect equilibrium showing signs of fracturing. “I hate that you’re a target for this man.”

“Well, as you said, I’m as ready as I’m going to be. Tracker, training, clanmates sticking close by, com rigged for location detection from incoming messages, authorities alerted—though they can’t do much without an actual Nang sighting.”

“Tell your friends to be on the lookout when they’re around you. You can’t have too many eyes checking the surroundings in a case such as this.”

Her suggestion gave me another disquieting idea. “They should watch out in any case. What if Nang went after them to get to me? I couldn’t handle the guilt if he did.”

“Nang’s actions are his own. You can’t be blamed for what a grown man, sane or not, does in his obsession with you.” Cafir was firm about that.

“What do I do otherwise?” I said. “When I’m not preparing for pitched battle against a former lover, I mean.”

“Live life. Enjoy it as much as the circumstances allow you to.” Cafir gave me a sly smile. “That’s the best revenge against an enemy.”