Monday, December 1, 2014

April 4, later (part 2)



Ten of us went to the common area of the ship, the central part where there are shops and diversions for the Kalquorian crew who had to spend long stretches in space. It’s a big, circular space referred to as a ‘promenade’. In the middle of it is a hologram of the Kalquorian Empire’s space. The sun, bigger than Earth’s, is in the center, around which 15 planets orbit. The tenth one, blue with a strong green tinge, is Kalquor itself. It is the only planet in the system that supports life without requiring terraforming or containment domes.

All around the edge of the promenade are the shops, dining areas, and entertainment clubs. It’s a lot like a military base’s exchange ... except no military base that I’m aware of had a sex club. Kalquorians are not inhibited in the least when it comes to sex. In the pleasure club on board the transport, you can watch, be watched, and participate in wild acts if you wish. I don’t know of any Earther women who have dared step into that place, though Katrina has tried to convince several of us to go at different times. So far, she’s had no takers. She pouts over that.

Today she did not pout. She was too busy being excited that we were going to have a dance club. Standing in the middle of the promenade, she pointed out our choices.

“That one next to the custom-made blade shop is the smallest, I believe. Over there next to the armor repair stall is another space that was once a lounge. It does have a bar area already in place. The last place and the largest is right next to the pleasure club. If the boys watch us dance, they won’t have to go far to work off their frustrations.” Katrina’s eyes twinkled as she said that.

“The ones we don’t take back to our rooms, in any case,” Candy giggled. That got a round of knowing smiles from the rest of us. On the transport, if you’re a woman looking for companionship, you can have your pick of willing males. The dance club would afford us all plenty of opportunities for workouts of the carnal varieties.

Not me, though. I’ve got more than I can handle with Oses and Betra. I don’t need any more companionship than that.

“Let’s have a look,” Katrina said.

We went first to the smallest room available to us. It had once been a shop of some sort and was completely empty now. It was almost immediately obvious this would not work as our dance club. With a few hundred women who have discovered the joys of moving wildly to music and a couple thousand men potentially coming in to watch, we need a lot more room. Of course, we can’t fit everyone in any of the places at once, but there should at least be enough space to accommodate maybe three or four hundred at any one time. That’s how many the pleasure club can handle at once, from what we’ve been told. Katrina was already wondering about rotating a schedule to allow all the women at least two visits per week. The men who wanted to come in would be on a first come, first served basis. This club was for us, not them.

We moved on to the second largest space. This was better, we agreed. There were some small tables, the kind that one would pile floor seating cushions around to sit at. They were stacked in one corner.  The bar, about chest-high to me, ran along one of the shorter walls. It still had the empty beverage dispensers.

“The sound system is intact as well,” Katrina reported. She activated it and the shriek of violent lemanthev music barreled out at us. “Shut down!” our fearless leader shouted over our startled cries. It shut off immediately, thank goodness.

The ten of us exhaled laughter. We’d all crouched down, our hands plastered to our ears in defensive postures at the aural assault.

“May I suggest substantial changes to the playlist?” black-haired Marta said.

“Please!” Candy chuckled.

“This place is great,” was my opinion. “Put the tables and some seating cushions along the walls, fill up the dispensers, change the system’s tune, and we have a club.”

Katrina wasn’t quite so convinced. “It’s a little small still,” she said. “I doubt we could get more than 250 bodies in here at once, and that will be crowding us.”

“We aren’t going to be dancing every single night,” said a blonde whose name I didn’t know.

“Speak for yourself,” Candy giggled, and swayed around to the music in her head. “I live for doing this now.”

“The novelty will fade for most,” Katrina said. “It could be doable. We’ll keep it as a potential option. Let’s go see the other space.”

We approached the final candidate for our fun place. That meant walking close to the black door that opened into the Kalquorians’ pleasure club. A couple of men, Nobeks from the looks of them, were approaching as we neared our destination.

They grinned at us gals as we came within speaking distance. “Please tell us you’re coming in to sample a taste of our fun,” the bearded one invited. He looked like a prize fighter in his prime; scarred with experience but still at the top of his game. A younger version of Oses, even. Yowza.

His friend wasn’t bad either, especially when I contemplated a smile that promised pure evil ... the kind of evil I enjoy. My hormonal soup was instantly at a simmer. Temptation is a brutal bitch. Thank goodness I need some emotional tie to the men I roll around with, or my libido might have swayed me.

We giggled at our flirtatious suitors, sounding like a bunch of teenage girls rather than the grown women we were. Those guys were delicious to contemplate, however.

For once, Katrina was the sensible person in the group. “Thanks, but we’re right in the middle of something.”

“Maybe some other time,” Evil Grin said. “We come over from the destroyer every four days at this hour. If you’re nervous, we’d be glad to be your escorts.”

Candy goggled at him, looking way too much like a moth to a flame. “Every four days? What are your names?”

The two men looked delighted that one of us might be interested, especially pretty little cheerleader-looking Candy.

“I am Nobek Ama,” said the prize-fighter. He bowed deeply.

“And I am Nobek Mihi,” Evil Grin said, bowing as well.

Katrina rolled her eyes and went into the potential dance club. I stayed behind long enough to hear Candy introduce herself to the two Nobeks. Getting the idea she wanted some time alone with the amorous pair, I trooped into our would-be dance spot with the other girls.

The space certainly seemed cavernous compared to the other places we’d been in. It was dark too, and lit only by the illumination coming in through the open door. Apparently, the power had been cut for the room. We could still make out quite a bit from the spill of light that filtered in.

Katrina looked rather pleased despite the emptiness of the room. “Now this is a party space,” she announced.

“But the other one had all that stuff we could have used,” someone pointed out.

“Acquisitions will get us what we need, right? Besides, maybe we can move the goodies from the other space into this one,” I said. “It can’t be that hard to wire it for a sound system, either.”

“I’ll see what I can make happen.” Katrina seemed pleased. “Ladies, I think we have our dance club.”

We gave a little cheer.  All of us except a freckled redhead named Heather. Instead of looking happy, she had a confused look on her face.

“Heather?” I asked as we settled down.

A look of fear began creeping over her face as she looked over my shoulder, towards the door that led out of the room. “What is that?” she whispered to us.

We turned around at once. Someone screamed. I couldn’t breathe.

A figure, moving Kalquorian fast so that it was just a dark blur, ran back and forth on that end of the room. It raced from wall to wall, crossing in front of the door and barring us from getting out.

My lungs gathered air all at once, filling up so I could scream with the others. Then the dark blur abruptly vanished.

I don’t even remember running out of the room with the rest of them. One moment I was staring at the place where the figure had disappeared, and the next I was back on the promenade, huddled in a knot with the rest of the women. Cries surrounded me.

“Did you see it?”

“What was it?”

“Was that some kind of alien? Shalia, was that the thing that kidnapped you before?”

“Where did it go? Did anyone see?”

More questions, coming from pale, terrified faces. A couple of women were crying.

Candy rushed over. “What happened? I was just about to join you, when you all came running out. What’s going on?”

I grabbed her. “The ghost. The ghost was in there, blocking the door so we couldn’t get out. Then it disappeared and we escaped.”

I was jabbering, breathless with dread. The entity was following me, and now it was threatening those around me. It had tried to trap us in that room.

Candy’s eyes were as big as saucers. “It was in the place we might make into a club? Are you sure?”

“Damn straight she’s sure,” Katrina said, looking pissed off as well as frightened. “I don’t believe in that shit, but – but unless one of our guys is playing a hateful trick on us, there was something messed up in there.”

Naturally, the sight of nearly a dozen women running and screaming had attracted plenty of attention. Kalquorian men were all around us, trying to get us to settle down and talk some sense to them.  More than one was showing fangs to see us frightened.

A familiar voice boomed, quieting everyone. “What is this? What is going on?”

“We don’t know, Commander,” a Nobek answered Oses as he strode big and bad into our midst. “The Mataras seem to think they’ve been threatened, but we haven’t been able to get them to tell us what happened.”

Oses’ gaze found me, and his jaw went tight. “Shalia, tell me what you saw.”

I swallowed. “We went into that space over there. That place by the pleasure club.”

He looked where I pointed. “That facility is empty. There is nothing in that room.”

“We know,” Katrina supplied. “We were planning to make it into a dance club.”

“But there was something in it,” I said. “Something – something bad.”

Even with eight other women there who had witnessed what I did, I hesitated to say the word ‘ghost’. I thought Oses would react the way Betra had. It was bad enough that one of the men in my life thought I was still batshit crazy. It would be even worse if Oses thought I was descending into madness again, because he already blamed himself for what had happened to me on the Ofetuchan ship.

Oses turned to a couple of the Nobeks nearby. “Go search that room. See if there is anything amiss in there.”

They quickly obeyed. Meanwhile, Oses looked around at my shuddering group. “Did you all see something?”

They nodded, with the exception of Candy. It gave me a little courage. Oses couldn’t call me nuts if others saw the same thing.

He asked Katrina, “What exactly did you see?”

Our eldest member was standing straighter, marshaling her courage. “I saw what looked like a Kalquorian running at full speed, back and forth across the room. In fact, I’d swear that was exactly what it was, except it disappeared from sight.”

“Disappeared?” Oses’ brows knit together. “It ran out of the room?”

Katrina shook her head. Her expression was almost hard, as if daring him to naysay her. “No, Commander Oses. When I say it disappeared, I mean it vanished right before our eyes. One moment this – this thing was there, and then it was gone.”

“It looked like a man at first,” Heather added. Her voice trembled. She’d been one of the women who’d cried, and she scrubbed at her cheeks with the heels of her hands. “I saw him near the door, silhouetted against the light. I couldn’t make out his features, because it was mostly dark in the room.  Plus he seemed to – to shimmer.”

“Shimmer?” Oses’ eyes narrowed.

Heather hesitated, clearly groping for a better description. Finally, she shrugged. “It’s the best way I can describe it. It’s kind of like how heat on a road makes things kind of blurry and shaky in the distance? That kind of look. I’m sorry I can’t give you more.”

Oses smiled at her. “You have no reason to apologize, Matara. I appreciate what you’ve told me.”

The men he’d sent into the would-be dance club returned. “We found nothing, Commander,” one reported. “It’s empty. We found no evidence of anyone hiding.”

“You won’t,” I muttered. Ghosts can come and go as they please.

Oses glanced at me. “All right. Ladies, I’d like you to come to my office with me so I can get a full report from each of you. If we have some sort of intruder, I need to have all the details.”

I thought of Finiuld and his ability to disappear at will with the aid of his phase tool. However, the entity had not looked anything like an Ofetuchan. It was too damned big. Plus Finiuld had never shimmered, as Heather had said this thing did.

Plus Oses had taken custody of Finiuld and Glidas' phase gadgets before we got off the ship. He'd given them to Captain Zemos. The ones used by the imprisoned crew had been limited versions, not useful off the Ofetuchan ship according to the weapons commander. Only Finiuld and Glidas could have phased at a distance from their vessel. With Oses being so meticulous, I couldn't see him missing a phase converter ... and surely the destroyer crew had gone over their prize with a fine-tooth comb once it was in their bay.

As we trooped through the ship at Oses’ heels, I noticed Candy was staying with us. “You didn’t see anything,” I said to her.

“No, but I want to hear all about it,” she whispered. “When we investigate this ourselves and try to get the ghost to talk to us, I want to know all I can.”

Unfortunately for Candy, Oses took the reports separately. We went into his office one at a time to be interviewed. When Candy discovered she wouldn’t be able to listen in, she quizzed me about the encounter. Once I and a few of the other women waiting to talk to Oses gave her the lowdown, she left us. I assume she went to get ready for us to hunt the entity down.

I wasn’t so sure I wanted to hunt it anymore. I hadn’t felt any animosity from the thing, but what good can be intended by something that keeps a bunch of women prisoners, even if for only a couple of seconds?

What was high on my priorities at this point was, how could I protect myself from this thing? Were there any answers to that?

9 comments:

  1. This is getting weird. Blocking the door to prevent them from getting out or something else getting in?

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  2. Hope this wraps up soon, recalling that tracie took that time off and had originally planned this post to be coming out around Halloween! Can't wait to see what he is!

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  3. I think maybe its someone trapped in a "phase"... maybe others can only see him in half light or when he moves really quickly or feels strong emotion. We'll see!

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  4. finally! More then Candy and Shalia saw it! I still think its someone "stuck" out of phase with the others. Now that more people have seen it Betra and the doctor can see that Shalia isn't losing her marbles and Oses knows its not his fault, for not protecting her more or better, or how ever you want to say it. I don't think its emotions that bring it to sight I think its trying to hey free. The guys even Oses as a Camander isn't going to notice it but our girls would because everything is still so new to them. I don't want to think he/it is trying to scare them just make contact with them and Candy is all for it and Shalia has proven herself to be willing to find out what's or who is trapped. Now he/ it has made him/its self known to more people, knowing that if more saw him more effort will be made to find out what they are seeing. I still don't think its a ghost. Maybe its the nobek that was trapped on creepy's ship before Shalia and Oses. Creepy said he killed himself but did he? Could he be trapped out of phase? Creepy never said what he did with the body.
    Thursday is so far away. Aaarg! Now I have to think about this all week

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  5. I am not buying the whole trapped out of phase concept. If so he would strutting his stuff in front of everyone on the promenade, hoping to get noticed and therefore some help.

    I think the Empire is working on the phase device...adapting it for use by their military. I think the nobek was trying to test out how long it would phase, how fast he could move while phased, and stuff like that. That would be top secret information. It is also interesting how Oses always seems to be so close by the last couple of times the entity was seen. He was also keen on debriefing the mantras. Was he perhaps gathering information on how visible the training operative was during the test?

    I also think Bedra is in on this whole thing. He seems like a misclassified Dramok or at least a half and half. He will have no problems convincing Oses that he can dominate him, by the way.

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    1. I like the Empire testing the phase theory but not that Oses and Betra in on it. That would mean that they know it was being tested on Shalia. Given her recent adventure I doubt that she would have been chosen. Her mental stability was still in question.

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    2. Not to mention that Shalia is also pregnant in addition to the mental stability question and Kalq's have very firm view points on pregnant matara's not being stressed.

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  6. I swore I would have nothing to do with blogs...ever. Shows how great you are that I had to break my vow to read yours.

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    1. I'm such a terrible influence. ;) Thank you very much!

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