Thursday, March 31, 2016

September 1

We have entered Empire space. Despite the damaged state of the poor Pussy ‘Porter, there is a celebratory mood on the ship. We are still about two weeks from Kalquor itself, but we are in friendly space at last. Our escort of a dozen destroyers will remain at our disposal until we enter orbit around our new home.

We’re safe. We are finally safe.

The Nobeks of our ship who have survived the harrowing trip walk the corridors with their chests out and shoulders back. They are proud to claim that despite the crazy months of travel between Earth and Kalquor, all the women made it through. They brag to each other of how they protected their charges. I think they look forward to boasting of the challenges they won when they get to the home world.

I am privy to this knowledge because they talk to me like I’m one of them. These bold warriors shout my name from across the promenade or down the hall when they see me.

Today I heard one Nobek yell, “Shalia! You can’t leave when we get to Kalquor. We’re going to ignore the Galactic Council’s edict and invade Trag next. We need you with us to disembowel every Tragoom unlucky enough to cross your path!”

This was the second day I’d been invited to kick Tragoom ass with the ship’s Nobeks. I’ve lost count of how many said they wanted me to join their ranks and lead their squads.

I gave Oses a piece of my mind. “For crying out loud. I thought the report you made me give would be a matter of record, not a ship-wide news bulletin.”

It turns out the weapons commander is as susceptible to chest thumping as his Nobek brethren. Oses swelled with pride. “Everyone knows I helped train you. They see how I took an Earther woman and made her into a potent warrior. Why would I not share your story? Idow is drinking for free for his part in training you as well.”

Jeez. If barbaric, testosterone-driven Nobeks weren’t so hot – okay, if just Oses wasn’t so hot – I’d hide in my quarters from the whole bunch for these last two weeks.

Sometimes I do look back on what happened. I think, holy shit, was that me who did all that? And I get impressed with myself. But most of the time I have to give credit where it is due. Oses with the combat and blaster training. Larten and Idow with the blade training. A whole hell of a lot of luck too. Without any of those things, I would be dead.

Ugh. I guess I have to give Resan credit too. He kept me from life-threatening injuries when the ceiling came down on us, putting his own life on the line to do so. Plus before that he got me into good enough shape to withstand all I did, to power through the pain and exhaustion. So fine. He helped.

We’re even in that not only did he survive, but he will recover fully from his injuries. His spine was badly bruised, but he’s getting past that. He’s got feeling in his legs and feet again. He will someday be back to full capacity, yelling at whoever he’s training or rehabbing.

Fortunately, he won’t recover in time for me to be among his victims. I take that as my reward for getting him to Medical. I can finish my trip to Kalquor, Resan-free. Ah, sweet liberty from assholery.

Despite days of confinement on the shuttle, Anrel came through the attack fine and dandy. She had her Uncle Betra, Auntie Candy, and Grammy Katrina to take care of her all that time. When her shuttle came back to the transport, I was there to greet her – against Tep’s wishes since he insisted I needed to be in bed. She smiled at me and made happy noises when she saw me. To be recognized by my baby girl made all the bad of the last few days fade away. That she was glad to see me made everything in the universe all right.

Or it would have had Tep not sent Oses to fetch me back to Medical. I had to spend a day and a half in there since they found that the last whack on the head I’d received was slowly killing me. Pressure was building in my skull, compressing my brain in what would have ended up a lethal injury. That’s why I had so much trouble with dizziness. Tep ended up doing a surgical procedure to take that pressure away. Then I had to lay around Medical and rest while they monitored me to make sure everything would be okay.

The bruising on my back, while nasty, was more painful than dangerous. I saw how bad it was: one huge bruise from shoulders to ass. Lovely. I had all the pain meds I needed, however, so that was okay. The lacerations covering my body took Oti and two other medics four hours to heal. I looked like a crazy quilt under all the blood.

I saw Resan once as I was taken out of Medical’s lab area and he was being hovered in. He signaled our attendants to pause so we could talk.

“I’ve heard what you went through to get me help,” he said. He glowered as if I’d done something awful.

Feeling I had, I shrugged. “I owed you for shielding me when the room fell apart. I didn’t like that.”

“No.” Resan heaved a breath. “I feel the same way. We are even then?”

“Yes. Let’s never talk of it again. Or to each other.”

That made him smile. “Ancestors, yes. I want to forget it happened. All of it.”

I knew what he referred to. I smiled innocently. “With all the hits to the head I took, I remember very little, for which I am grateful.”

“Good.” Resan looked away, dismissing me. He waved to his attendant to continue to the lab.

The sex I’d had with Resan was the one thing I hadn’t reported to Oses. Dear prophets, I would take that secret to my grave if at all possible.

Speaking of sex...

My back was tender when I wasn’t sucking a lifetime’s worth of pain inhibitor out of the inhaler Tep had given me. He had also warned me, Betra, and Oses that I didn’t need to aggravate the injury with wild, wanton sex for at least a week. The son of a bitch is in my intimate business again, in other words. Some things never change.

At least he still makes himself readily available to babysit Anrel. He and his merry clan along with Megan kept my little sweetheart last night while I got in some desperately needed alone time with Betra and Oses.

I was thoroughly delighted when Betra had us get together in his quarters. Delighted more still to see the swing set up over his bed.

“You wonderful, wonderful man,” I said. “My back thanks you in advance.”

“My cocks thank you too,” Oses grinned as he gazed at the black strap contraption with its butt-friendly sling.

We cracked up. Then we got gloriously naked. I was beyond happy to be surrounded by muscular male bodies. To show my appreciation, I kissed and licked the wide chests so perfectly within reach. My hands roamed sculpted muscle, enjoying everything Betra and Oses had to offer. I worshipped them in turn, taking pleasure in hearing them sigh and moan as I touched everything. I savored them for as long as they would let me. In return, they stroked me, putting their hands all over my body.

By the time Betra lifted me into the swing, I was soaked with want. Oses helped him secure me so that I was safe in the suspended seat. There were soft ties for my wrists as well on the straps over my head.

“Aw, come on,” I pouted at the Nobek. “I want to keep touching.”

“Don’t get pushy with me, pet,” he warned with mock severity. “You’ll be healthy enough for a spanking before this trip ends. Don’t think I won’t give you every swat I feel you’ve earned.”

“Yes, Master,” I sighed, but my brain got busy devising mischief that would earn me a nice butt-roasting spanking later.

Meanwhile, I swayed in the air with Betra standing on his bed in front of me and Oses behind. The sling was built in such a way that the middle section could be taken out, leaving me supported by my upper thighs and lower back. The straps were super cushiony, but Oses voiced concern anyway.

“Some of the bruising rests on these supports.”

Betra checked. “I think she’ll be okay as long as there is no bouncing or anything of too vigorous activity. Just rest as still as you can, Shalia. We’ll take care of all the movement.” He winked with a wicked grin on his face.

“If you insist,” I sighed, pretending it was a burden to selfishly enjoy them doing all the work.

“Time to see how limber you are, old man.” Betra smirked at Oses. “Or you could wait your turn after I’m done from the more easily accessible front.”

“Someone else wants a beating,” Oses observed in a dry tone. “Or another round in the humiliation room at the pleasure club.”

Holy Hell, they’d gone and played together in front of everyone? My jaw damned near fell into my lap in surprise.

Betra hunched a little and dropped his eyes as his face flushed. But his smile didn’t diminish the slightest bit. “Maybe I would like that.”

Oses voice rumbled dangerously. “No maybe about it, Imdiko. Don’t worry. Once things settle down a little around here, I’ll see to it everyone knows how my boy deserves to be punished.”

Whew. I didn’t know what to think about this new revelation. They really were finding a way around the ‘no touchy, no fucky’ policy. I just hoped they wouldn’t start spilling the details. Humiliation was not my thing, to the point where I wasn’t sure I even liked hearing about it.

Fortunately their attention returned to me. “I can handle her from here when the time comes,” Oses said confidently.

“Too bad the view is so darned bad from back there,” I said, thinking of my bruised back.

The Nobek’s calloused touch carefully rasped over the exposed parts of my spine. “The marks of a warrior. It is an honor for me to be allowed to enjoy you while you carry the evidence of your admirable battle.”

I looked over my shoulder to smile at him. “It is an honor to be praised by the greatest warrior I know.”

His kiss on my cheek was tender, warming my heart. Then his lips moved elsewhere to warm the rest of me.

Just as I had tasted and touched them so thoroughly, Betra and Oses did the same to me. They explored me with minutest detail as I swayed in my seat in the air. Oses’ mouth wandered down my spine and up again, sending champagne fizz thrills all along its length. His hands rubbed over my ass, fingertips teasing my pussy and anus with fleeting brushes and smearing the wet all over my slit.

Betra’s eyes closed as he licked and sucked my nipples. His broad, scratchy tongue abraded the pebbled tips, making me moan as my head lolled back against my raised arms. Even sweeter was the thumb that drew slow circles around my clit, entreating it to emerge from its hood. A fine trembling overtook me at the gentle but poignant teasing.

Oses continued to spread the juices pumping from my center, coating my anus to make it slippery. I couldn’t help but jerk when a slick finger pressed into me.

“Easy pet,” he murmured. “I’d hate to stop because you might make those bruises worse.”

Stop? Oh hell no. I concentrated on keeping still as he fingerfucked my tight hole.

Meanwhile, Betra kissed his way down the light indentation dividing my abdomen in two. I watched him as he went, noting how my three days depending on nutrient rations had erased any hint of bulge. I hadn’t noticed until my usual self-consciousness had kicked in. I no longer had any tummy to be self-conscious about.

Thoughts of physical changes ebbed away as the Imdiko kept going down, passing over my belly button. I gasped as the first wafts of his warm breath fell on my spread pussy.

“You smell delicious,” Betra sighed before taking his first lick.

His tongue sliding through my folds brought a moan from my very core. I was open to him, his shoulders pressing my thighs apart, making my vulnerable sex his for the tasting.

He hummed a happy sound as he slowly lapped my pussy. I watched him do it, his pink tongue working over the trembling petals of me. I struggled not to squirm, Oses’ warning still firmly on my mind.

As Betra laved my sex with that talented tongue, Oses teased my rear entrance open to accept a second finger. His other hand circled around to rub my breasts. He squeezed them, knowing exactly how much pressure it took to deliver pain and how intense to make that pain before he needed to ease off. He breathed into my ear.

“Is Betra eating that sweet pussy the way you like? Is he shoving his tongue in deep? Tickling that hungry little clit? Mmm, I like seeing him eat you, pet. I like how he holds you open so he can taste all that good pussy.”

My tethered fists clenched. Oses’ fingers plunged within me with growing energy, making my insides tighten. He shoved a third in and kept going. His other hand pinched a nipple and twisted it a little to deliver a heady sting. I cried out. He rewarded me by doing the same thing to the other nipple.

Betra leaned back a little, separating his mouth from my trembling nether lips. His eyelids opened heavily and his lips curved in a pleased smile as he looked at my pussy. He lifted a finger to trace the opening. He pushed into me slowly, making me feel every nuance of the invasion.

The Imdiko watched his finger disappear into my clutching flesh. He gave me a quick little lick, ending with a moment of tender sucking on my clit. Bliss rolled through the swollen bit of me, feeling bigger than the organ it inhabited. I cried out.

Betra leaned back again, his finger moving in and out of my pussy. He watched himself fuck me, and he watched Oses fingerfuck my ass too. As the Nobek tormented my breasts with pinches, squeezes, twists, and meaty slaps, Betra granted the occasional kiss or lick to my straining clit. Meanwhile their fingers worked my entrances, Betra adding more fingers to fill me full.

“That’s it, pussy,” Betra whispered to my spasming flesh. “Get ready to come for me, pretty pussy.”

He leaned forward again, seizing my clit with his lips. As his fingers pounded harder and harder into me, as Oses did the same with my ass, Betra’s tongue swirled and licked while he sucked on my clit.

My head shook from side to side as passion filled the pit of my stomach. The pain Oses delivered to my defenseless breasts, the hard thrusting into my sleeves, the relentless movement of Betra’s tongue on my nubbin – I couldn’t deny their demands on me.  I plunged into a sweeping current of ecstasy, carried along on its power. It swept through me, taking me higher and higher, filling me to the brim.

“Does it feel good, pet?” Oses whisper-growled in my ear. “Do you like how we do as we please with your body? Show us. Give us your climax. Surrender it to us.”

“Yes,” I moaned as pressure built. The need to orgasm was there, moving in fast to claim me. They pushed me towards it, offering me as a sacrifice to its devouring pleasure. Betra’s tongue whipped over my clit, shattering me against climax’s force. Bright rapture heaved through me. I soared, a bolt of dazzling brightness, the tip of the exploding star.

Raw pulses of jagged elation gradually gentled in the warm embrace of the two men who crowded close to hold me. I sighed to find myself safe between them.

“Do you need a hit of pain inhibitor?” Betra asked as he tipped a water bottle against my lips.

“Not yet,” I said after taking a swallow. “I’m still good.”

I had about half the bottle before I signaled I was ready for more fun. I really wanted to return the lovely favor they’d done me.

“Let me touch?” I wheedled, wiggling my fingers.

“After,” Oses said, his fingers playing over my ribs to make me giggle. He knows I’m ticklish, the wretch.

“Oses!” I protested.

“I need you just like this to show that insolent Imdiko of ours that this old man has plenty of bend left in him.”

Betra laughed. “I know you do, Oses. I was just trying to get into trouble for later.”

“Kids.” Oses shook his head as he grinned at Betra over my shoulder. “When will you learn a simple ‘please’ will do?”

Please isn’t as much fun.”

It was weird to see Betra flirting with Oses. Weird but sweet. I’m so glad they found a way to be together.

“Just don’t tease him until he punches you,” I warned Betra. “I thought he’d cave Ebnad’s face in the other day.”

“Enough talking,” Oses growled. “My cock wants your ass. Now.”

Just like that, familiar aching warmth filled my belly. When it comes to my two lovers, it only takes a demand to flip my switch.

My pelvis tilted forward in the swing. I was kind of in a gentle curve, particularly my lower back. I really didn’t see how Oses could enter me from behind, not unless he was a limbo dance champion or something. I was pretty sure Kalquorians didn’t try to dance their way under poles as a party game.

But man oh man, if they ever took it up, Oses would do pretty well at it. He proved that to me. Not only did he get in position, but he sustained it the entire time we fucked.

I watched in surprise as Oses’ hips cradled mine and his primary cock slid against the crack of my ass. He reached up to grab the strap the swing depended from, steadying himself while he positioned his prick with the other hand. He slipped into me with a pleasured sigh.

Betra nodded, his raised brows indicating how impressed he was. “Not bad, my friend. A man of many talents.”

“It’s all in the hamstrings and quads,” Oses told him, letting go of the swing to play with my tits again. “Your humiliation in the club will be doubled now that you know how wrong you were to doubt my strength.”

Betra stepped up between my legs, his avid cocks leading the way. “You are too good to me, my Nobek. As are you, beautiful Shalia.” His smile for me was a mix of tender love and smoldering desire.

He pressed into me, making the three of us one. I absorbed the dual thicknesses of the two men, feeling the astounding fullness. With both men inside me, all the sensitive parts pressed profoundly. I shuddered. I’d been with Oses and Betra plenty of times before. Yet it seemed in that instant that I would not survive the pleasure they would give me this time.

That was fine. I wanted the glorious devastation. I wanted them to obliterate me.

Betra gripped the straps of the swing. He pushed, easing me back, making the astounding girths rub me in a hair raising fashion as they withdrew. Oh dear prophets. My groan was echoed by the men’s.

Betra drew me forward again, forcing me to take them again. Electric bolts flashed through me and I kicked, but weakly since the strength had drained from my legs. My head lolled back as swirling heat overcame me.

Betra rocked me back and forth, back and forth. Passion built higher with each sway of the swing. Every breath I exhaled ended in a little high-pitched cry. My channels flexed rhythmically, making the men gasp. Betra swung me faster.

I had a small blast of brilliance, a kind of mini-climax, an opening jolt of what waited in the wings. I yipped. Oh glory, I could feel the rest of it gathering in a tight knot. The intensity grew, like a piece of coal being compressed into a sharp-edge diamond. It dazzled the senses, that coalescing that came just before the shattering.

Betra grabbed my hips. He whipped me back and forth shoving me onto his and Oses’ cocks. I could feel the Nobek beneath me moving slightly. A fine tremor had seized him. I didn’t know if it was from the strain of his arched-back position or the increasing passion. His breath came in deep grunts, punctuating every thrust.

As for me, I closed in on that wondrous end. Another stab of delight. A second stronger one.

It triggered the final avalanche. Ecstasy tumbled through me, burying me in elation. I was blinded, deafened, lost. Oh, sweet obliteration.

It was hard to return to the everyday world from such beautiful rapture. Yet the everyday was certainly worth coming back to. This was the place where I had Oses and Betra. Anrel. My friends. And the promise of a new life to come.

I had made it through the worst our enemies could throw at us. I had made it to the Kalquorian Empire where my little girl could grow up free and unafraid.

I had made it. 

End of Storyline

Monday, March 28, 2016

August 28 (part 5)

Ebnad’s men had dragged the Tragooms out of the way as we spoke. It was a heck of a lot easier getting back to the rehab section.

Ebnad motioned for me and Oti to stay back as we neared the main rehab room. He picked his way to the hole the Tragooms had cut to get through. I watched him slip through the door and then I followed, peering around the opening. Oti left the stretcher behind to dart to the opposite side of the hole in the wall. He too peered in after Ebnad. We held our blasters at the ready.

Ebnad silently approached the hole in the side of the ship where the Tragoom vessel remained attached. He moved to one side of it and paused. I was reminded of how superior Kalquorian senses were to mine as I watched him inhale and listen.

Ebnad turned his head to look at us. He jerked his head at the passageway to the Tragoom shuttle and nodded, his eyes dark. With the hand that wasn’t holding his blaster, he put up two fingers, closed his fist, and then showed us four fingers.

Oti whispered, “He thinks there are two to four Tragooms still on board.”

Ebnad snapped a nod at us and then tilted his head to one side, looking at the opposite end of the room. Then he shook his fist twice and pointed to me and Oti.

Oti murmured, “I’m going to the other door and hide behind it. Once I’m in position, Ebnad will try to draw the Tragooms out. Shoot to kill once he gives you the signal.”

“Got it.”

With Ebnad covering the opening to the enemy shuttle, Oti slipped into the room. The medic put on a burst of speed, turning into a blur for an instant before reappearing at the door that opened into the rest of Rehab. He went through it.

Ebnad looked at me and I nodded. I pointed my blaster at the hole in the hull, keeping as much of my body behind the wall as I could.

Ebnad took a deep breath and chuff-squealed some garbled noises. Holy crap, he sounded just like a Tragoom. Even as I blinked in surprised admiration, he dashed behind one large scanning machine to hide.

I heard return grunts waft from the umbilical. Ebnad was a badass, all right. The thud of heavy footsteps sounded, at least three pairs of them by my reckoning.

The hog-faced bastards trooped into the room, their ears swiveling, nostrils twitching. My first instinct was to fire at the first ugly creature that disembarked, but I didn’t. Oti had said to wait, and it soon became clear the wisdom of that. Getting the Tragooms out in the open made it easier to finish them. I held as still as I could, waiting for Ebnad to move.

Four of them came into the room, looked around, and squinted their tiny eyes at the hole where I waited. Thank the prophets their eyesight was so damned bad. As little of a target as I’d made myself, any human or Kalquorian would have seen me within a second. The Tragooms did not.

As they stalked away from their ship, moving towards me, Ebnad jumped out from behind the scanner. He started blasting, so I did too. It looked like a pretty obvious signal to me. Oti fired from his position as well.

The Tragooms never had a chance. I think Ebnad hit three of them in his first volley. I’m not sure which of us took out the fourth. Ebnad probably could have taken all of them out by himself. Oti and I just added insult to the ambush.

Ebnad’s grin was all Nobek as he looked at us. “All right, let me look at this corridor you’re heading down just in case they sent a squad that way. Then you two are off.”

His bloodthirsty look faded when he saw the mess in the corridor. Oti was similarly taken aback. “You got through this?”

“Looks fun, huh?” I sighed, thinking about how it felt like I was re-entering a bad dream. “Get the stretcher, Oti. Let’s see if Resan pulled the ultimate stunt on me by dying when I went through so much to save his bastard ass.”

Oti crooked a brow at me as he turned to claim the emergency conveyance. “I heard you two hated each other before this.”

“We still do. Having to spend time in close quarters upped the animosity.”

Ebnad shook his head as he accompanied Oti through the wrecked and now bloodied rehab room on his way back to Medical. Since we’d heard no fighting coming from that quarter, it was a safe bet the section remained secure.

Oti jogged back to me with the hover stretcher keeping up with him. We set off.

Our journey was painfully slow what with the many piles of debris blocking our way. When we got to the wall of wreckage with the jagged hole through which I’d crawled, Oti shook his head. “Neither I nor this stretcher will fit through that.”

I holstered my blaster and swung the egg launcher from my shoulder. “I’ve got this to clear the way.”

Oti’s eyes went big. “Or finish off demolishing the area.”

“Have you got a better idea?”

He slowly shook his head. “Unfortunately, no. Let me get behind some of this other debris. Once you fire it, run like hell.”

“Seems like my modus operandi lately.”

Oti disappeared behind the heaps of junk. I backed up as far as I could and fired an explosive. The trigger made an unimportant clicking sound. There was a soft puff of wind as the egg left the chamber. Then I was off and running.

When the first tremor went off, I dove for cover. I landed facedown in rubble. Then there was a big boom that made my ears pop. When my hearing recovered, I heard particles sprinkling down like rain in the trees.

Oti peered around at me from behind the heap of wreckage he’d hid behind. “Are you all right, Shalia?”

I gave him a thumbs up. “Let’s see if we can get through now.”

Ha! I wish I’d had the egg shooter earlier. The blockage was cleared, all right. From the looks of things, a good portion of it had vaporized, the rest rendered into smaller chunks. We even had a little bit of level floor to walk on. We enjoyed the couple of yards we didn’t have to pick our way through.

There was one other spot in the corridor that I had to repeat the performance. Then we were miraculously at the crumpled door to Resan’s training room.

I handed Oti the egg launcher. “Let me make sure he’s even alive. If he is, I’ll get him as covered as possible before you blast a hole through.”

“That’s a tight fit for even you,” he observed, looking at the tiny opening I would wriggle through.

“Yeah. I know you’ve seen just about everything of me from my stints in Medical already, but be a good boy and avert your eyes when my shorts get peeled off,” I said. “All my dignity is borrowed at this point, and I’m heavily in debt.”

He laughed as I began to squeeze through. And yes, I did get stuck again. And yes, my shorts and underwear got left behind again. Oti passed them to me without comment, but I’m pretty sure I heard some muffled chuckles.

I yanked my clothes on quickly and hurried to Resan. I found him as I’d left him. His eyes were closed. He lay absolutely still. I was too late.

I crouched down, deflating with defeat. I hated the man, but I’d tried to help him. He’d saved my life. I had not been able to do the same for him.

“Damn you, Resan,” I sighed.

The son of a bitch’s eyes fluttered. They opened and focused on me. “Fuck. You again?” he muttered.

I laughed. “You asshole. I brought help, but he can’t get through the door.” To Oti, unseen beyond the wreckage I yelled, “He’s still alive!”

“Okay,” came the muffled response. “Let me know when you’re ready and I’ll blow the door.”

Resan already had a blanket covering him. I worked fast to get the most dangerous pieces of debris moved from between him and the door. Then I moved heavier, less dangerous pieces to help buffer the blast.

I pulled the blanket off the Dramok and crouched over him. The time had come. “Okay, Oti!” I yelled. I stretched out over Resan and covered us both with the blanket.

“You are hurting me, woman,” Resan wheezed in my ear. “Your carcass is a lot heavier than it looks.”

“Grenade blast and flying shrapnel will hurt more,” I returned. “At least being in pain will keep you from thinking any amorous thoughts of me being on top of you.”

He gagged. “Have no fear of that. The one time was temporary insanity. I’d rather fuck a dead Tragoom than you.”

“I can arrange that. Several times over.”

We didn’t have any time for further insults. A monstrous blast shook the room. I gritted my teeth, doing my best to shield Resan’s bigger body with my own as I felt shrapnel bite through the blanket.

Nothing big smashed against us. Oti’s voice sounded a few seconds later. “Shalia? Where are you?”

I rose up on my knees, and a layer of debris slid off. Oti stood barely a foot away. I got out of the way and he went to work.

I stepped back, relieved to have this part over. Now we had to run through the gauntlet one last time to get Resan to Medical. Once we did that, I planned to find a nice corner, curl into it, and go to sleep. After more pain meds. Inhalable pain inhibitor mist acted a lot faster than tabs, thank the prophets. I’d need it since my back was finding its voice again. When Tep and the rest were finished putting Resan back together, they could fix my complaints.

I still had plenty of explosives. I checked the charge on my percussion blaster. Only a quarter of it was left. I needed to get more power just in case Medical came under attack again. I sighed. Damn, I was tired.

“Shalia, could you help me get him on the stretcher?” Oti asked. “I’ve got him stabilized for the moment.”

“Sure.” I blinked to see the slight shimmer of a stasis field around Resan. He was unconscious as far as I could tell.

“I’ve got him set for static movement,” Oti said. “I’m going to tilt him on his side. I need you to hold him there until I get the stretcher under him.”

“Okay,” I said. I came over to kneel next to Resan.

The trainer’s hands were crossed over his chest. Oti had put on a kind of metal brace that enfolded Resan from the waist down to his feet. I supposed it was to keep him from shifting at all. I wondered if the Dramok would ever walk again.

Oti rolled the senseless Resan onto his side, and I held him still for the two seconds it took the medic to put the stretcher in place. I helped him settle the injured man on its surface and watched him secure everything. Oti stood and activated the stretcher, floating it about two feet above the floor. He closed up the trauma kit and stood, picking that up. “Okay, let’s get him back to Medical.”

I led the way, blaster at the ready in case we ran into trouble. “Is he going to live?” I asked.

“I can’t say for sure. Besides the probable spinal injury, he’s lost a lot of blood and who knows how bad the head trauma is.” Oti shook his head when I looked back at him. “He’s a tough bastard.”

“Yeah. He is that.”

With the worst of the barricades taken out, our trip through the Training Section went a lot faster than before. I ran ahead to the armory after explaining to Oti that my blaster needed more power.

“A good idea, but I’m hoping you don’t need it,” the Imdiko said. “The alarms are off now.”

He was right. The sirens, so distant from Resan’s training room as to be almost mute, had switched off while Oti had been treating him. I prayed it was a good sign. Maybe the fight was over. Maybe we had won.

I still hurried to the armory and got a fresh power pack. I came out to the corridor just as Oti floated Resan into the area. He looked grim.

“What?” I asked though I didn’t really want to know.

“Life signs are fluctuating,” Oti said, nodding to the indicators on the stretcher. “He doesn’t have much time left.”

That wasn’t the only problem. I heard approaching sounds, a bunch of running feet in the debris-choked hallway before me. Nobeks don’t make noise when they move. I braced myself for trouble, bringing my blaster up to bear on whoever came through those small mountains of wreckage. I cursed myself for not getting a fresh power pack for Oti’s blaster too, but it was too late to worry over sloppy planning. Man, I sucked at this.

My knees went weak when Oses, Ebnad, and a bunch of other uniformed Kalquorians came around the last pile of carnage. They jerked to a halt when they saw me standing there, ready to fire. I laughed and lowered my weapon. “Jeez, yell a warning next time,” I said.

The Nobeks in the detail moved aside to allow Tep and several other medics come through to claim Resan. It had been the medical staff making all the noise.

Oses regarded me with a real smile as he stepped forward. “You are a mess, pet. Yet you look better than anything else I’ve seen all day.”

I grinned and holstered the blaster. “I could say the same thing for you. Tell me you killed the bad guys.”

“Most of them. We’re hunting down the last of the attack party, both in and outside of the ship.”

“Are a lot dead on our side?” I asked another question before he could answer that one. “Anrel?”

Oses smiled tightly. “She’s fine. When we were boarded, the shuttles were evacuated with all the fighters we had protecting them. We lost no Mataras.”

I heaved a sigh of relief. That meant Betra was safe too.

Oses continued. “As soon as it’s verified we’ve eradicated all the boarders, we’ll bring the shuttles back. As for your first question, we’ve got a lot of casualties. Our two remaining destroyers are badly damaged, but they continue to fight.”

Tep and the rest hurried by with Resan’s stretcher between them. Tep looked grim and focused on his patient, but that didn’t keep him from calling to me. “Get to Medical now. I want you examined as soon as possible.”

Oses fell into step with me as I slowly obeyed. Ebnad and the other Nobeks, all part of the transport’s security, followed us. Boy, I really felt my back again. Even breathing started to hurt.

To take my mind off of it, I asked, “What about the battlecruiser?”

“Manned by Tragooms,” Oses said. “None of your people were involved. Same with the Bi’isil hunter-killers.”

I felt a little lighter hearing that Earthers had nothing to do with the attack. I breathed a sigh of relief.

Oses said, “Ebnad told me how you saved his squad and probably Medical from complete destruction. I am impressed, pet. Very impressed.”

I snorted. “I caught them by surprise is all. I swear I should have been dead several times over, Oses. I screwed up too many times.”

“Yet you made it through. You may have saved Resan’s life, something he’s not going to like hearing about.” Oses snickered. “You even went back with Oti as his protector. Oh, that reminds me.”

The weapons commander pivoted, his fist flashing out too fast to follow with the eye. Ebnad suddenly flew backwards into another man, his nose and lip spouting blood. He staggered, his eyes big as he looked at Oses.

Oses’ look could have froze Hell. “You had your duty to remain at Medical and protect it no matter what. Yet I owed you that and more for allowing Shalia to play security to retrieve Resan. If she had been killed, your life would have been mine.”

I half-expected Ebnad to start throwing punches or something. Instead, he straightened to his full height and bowed to Oses. “I have no excuse, Weapons Commander. I will not beg for your pardon as I do not deserve it.”

Oses bared his fangs at Ebnad for an instant. Then his fangs folded away, and he turned to me as if nothing had happened. “Let’s get you to Medical, pet.”