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Guntis G Goncarovs

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Chapter 5 and 6 - Egnarian Chronicles
By Guntis G Goncarovs
Sunday, July 25, 2004

Rated "PG" by the Author.

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Recent stories by Guntis G Goncarovs
· Chapter Three and Four - Egnarian Chronicles
· Egnarian Chronicles - Chapter One and Two
· The Egnarian Chronicles
           >> View all 4

Sci Fi Mind Candy - Chapter 5

Tidal arms reached out from Sabella IV’s Great Ocean and slapped onto the bleached amber shores of the land mass in the northern hemisphere. Nudged even closer to land by the tides, a scorched conical capsule wobbled in the surf until its primitive heat shield wedged into the sand. Stranded and listing helplessly in the salt spray, the capsule baked, its dulled skin beaten mercilessly by the hot red Sabellan sun. Crusted white salt rings grew on the ship as the arid atmosphere reclaimed the water.
Circling like a flock of vultures over fresh carrion, a Sabellan search party converged wenty meters above the listing capsule and surveyed the strange object. After a brief evaluation, laak-Teor, the leader, cupped and feathered his large leathery wings, suspending him in an eerie hover. Through the sensitive nostirls on his ridged, hard black beak, he tasted the air, but sensed nothing except a faint scorched metal tang.
laak-Teor pondered for a moment, then nodded.
“Take it!” he ordered. Isntantly, one of the birdlike creatures rotated his wings, then swooped toward the capsule. Deftly pulling up as he reached the craft, the creature beared his talons and ripped at the dull silver skin with one vicious thrust. He furiously beat his wings, but unable to hold his grip, released the capsule and flew off, circling for another pass.
“A new zakhor weapon?” laak-Teor uttered at his second in command. They watched as their scout’s second pass was as futile as his first.
“No. Tooadvanced for the zakhor,” he mumbled back, continuing to study the capsule from his safe distance.
“laak-Teor to Command!” the Sabellan leader impatiently activated his communicator.
Static scratched through the radio. Finally, a voice eminated: “pang-Sing . .. what is it?”
“I . . . I do not know . . . you majesty!” laak-Teor startled at the emporer’s presence in the Command Center. “But it appears to be too advanced for the zakhor. What we do know so far is that it is not an explosive device.”
“Retrieve it! We can’t let the zakhor get hold of this if there is something we can learn from it.” The transmission ended abruptly.
laak-Teor immediadtely singled out six hovering Sabellans, then ordered: “Retrieve it! We must bring this back to the emporer!”
laak-Teor held his breath as he watched his charges instantly respond and swoop toward the capsule, still suspicious of a zakhor trap. The Sabellans clenched their talons around the spaghetti of strings hooked to the craft’s flacid parachute. With a unified rhythm, they fervently beat their wings until the capsule grudgingly lifted away from the water. Lead by laak-Teor, the Sabellans flew back toward the blunt edged, gray buildings peeking out from behind parched brown hills.
At the edge of the city, pang-Sing stood alone in the blistering hot daylight, watching his charges gently set the capsule three meters away from him. As they obediently backed off, pang-Sing read the pride of a feline that had just dropped a dead rodent at its master’s feet.
laak-Teor dropped to the ground, soft-landing next to pang-Sing, then started a measured strut toward the craft. Curiosity immediately consumed pang-Sing. Warily he approached, craning his long, stubbly neck, studying every detail of the craft with his wide, brilliant green eyes. His wings, spreadout to his sides, twitched nervously at the tips.
A sudden hissing sound from the capsule startled the Sabellans. Jumping back, they immediaely spread their wings and lowered their heads in athreatening gesture. laak-Teor drew his weapon and aimed at the site of the escaping gas.
pang-Sing hissed back, then quickly sniffed at the escaping air.
“Reptilian!” he identified the stale, rank odor. He twitched the wild snowy growth of hair shadowing his recessed yellow eyes. The capsule continued a decayed hissing until a small wedge-shaped piece popped out and fell to the ground.
pang-Sing and laak-Teor hissed in unison, but only briefly. Each of the Sabellans dropped their wings and immediately surrounded the metallic object. pang-Sing craned his neck again, trying to peer into the triangular cavern of blackness in the capsule, but hissed in frustration as he glanced back at laak-Teor. He nodded quickly toward the ship.
laak-Teor cautiously hopped forward. Under the watchful green eyes of the other Sabellans, he moved slowly toward the object. e then sprung back, spread his wings and hissed threateningly as a large, thick maroon tongue flickered out from the blackness. The other Sabellans did the same as their leader, raising a discordant chorus of hisses while pang-Sing slipped defensively behind one of the scouts. Out from the hole, a large, dull olive green reptilian head, as big as the opening, emerged from the capsule and glared at them.
“Where?” the Lacerta growled, clenching his rows of pointed teeth. Sheaths of opaque scales slipped off his head and drifted to the ground. His large black eyes bulged from the sides of his head and crept from front to back, inspecting the strange, bird-like creatures surrounding him. His tongue slipped in and out from between his teeth as another layer of scales stripped off from his lips.
“Ancient Sabellan . .. Pre-pterosauric,” pang-Sing recognized the lizard’s word.
“Sabella,” pang-Sing relied, using the old language he had studied so long ago. “Sabella IV. I pang-Sing, Emporer, Sabella IV,” he proudly added. He then pointed at the reptile with his clawed finger and demanded: “You . . . where you from?”
The reptilian’s head moved lethargically toward pang-Sing. His eyes glared widely, glazed over as they rivetted onto pang-Sing with an apparent curiosity. His hissing stopped. The Sabellans also mummed their chatter as the reptile tipped his head as if studying the Sabellan.
“Where you from?” pang-Sing insisted again, this time stepping forward. He lowered his wings to appear kess threatening.
“Lacerta . . . seventh world.” the Lacertian’s face seemed to darken a bit in color.
“Why are you here?” pang-Sing probed, bravely stepping another meter closer.
“Emporer . . . it is not wise . . . “ laak-Teor started but was abruptly cut off by pang-Sing.
“Silence!” he scolded, then turned his attention back to the reptile. “Why you here?” he demanded.
“Escape . . . escape brutal conquerers,” a frightened expression grew on the reptilian’s face. He glanced toward the xanthic colored sky, then finished: “Conqueres come from space . .. destroyed Lacerta. Corin escaped using rocket!”
“Corin? You are the Corin? Are there any others?” pang-Sing continued probing.
Corin’s head bowed. “Corin only Lacerta to survive. Only Lacerta I know survived. Invaders destroy many other rockets . . . on ground . . . in air,” Corin uttered in a pained moan. “I know notif any other Lacerta survived . . . “
“You need not worry,” pang-Sing assuaged, twisting his beak into a tiny smirk. He opened his wings to his side. “Here on Sabella, we are peaceful. You are welcome here. We intend you k no harm.”
Corin maintained his wary stare at pang-Sing and hissed quietly.
“Perhaps . . . we can teach each oher about our worlds,” pang-Sing then offered.
Corin’s hissing stopped. He stared at pang-Sing a moment longer, then protruded his hands out of his capsule’s opening and pulled. When he flopped onto the sparkling white sand, all of the Sabellans jumped back, lifted their wings, and squawked. Corin quickly stood, leaving a pile of shed, scaley skin on the sand. He wobbled on his space degenerated hind legs. Lethargically, he drank in for what was to him an odd looking horizon.
“Perhaps we could offer you something . . . “ pang-Sing started, but was interrupted by a sudden explosion nearby. He glanced toward the city just as a tall building near the shore crumbled into a cloud of rising, voluted smoke.
Frantically, Corin scrambled around and clawed his way back toward the opening of his capsule. Failing, he dropped under the pile of scales and charred heat shield and hunched over. His glassy eyes darted side to side scanning the sky. A low gutteral hiss oozed through his clenched teeth.
“It’s the zakhor! We need to get to safety!” pang-Sing cammanded. The Sabellans immediately scattered from the ground in a frenzied airborne flock.
“Corin! Get him out to the safe shelters!” laak-Teor ordered, then grumbled under his breath “Damned slimy invertebrates. If it is the last thing I do, I will destroy you!”
Two Sabellans swooped down and carefully wrapped their talons around Corin’s arms. After lifting his from the ground, they headed into the yellow skied, blue-shrubbed horizon. pang-Sing, yet to be airborne, turned to laak-Teor and secretively muttered: “Get that capsule to the Science Council. I am sure we can learn many things from that ship! If Corin could survive a voyage from as far away as Lacerta, then threre must be something we can learn from this ship!”
laak-Teor understood completely. Quickly circling his charges, he directed them toward the capsule while pangSing took off and headed toward the safe shelters in the hills, following Corin and his escorts.
* * * * *
“Now Corin. These creatures you mentioned . . . do you know where they came from?” pang-Sing probed, more relaxed in the safety of the hardened bunker. He draped his limp wings over his chair, leaned forward and took a sip of green water from the square glass in front of him. He pushed the other full glass to Corin, and cordially perched his eyebrows.
“Radar traced from Slafacenes . . . “ Corin started but stopped when he picked up the glass. He stared at it for a moment, flicking his tongue onto the sides, then finally held the twitching organ anove the water.
“Drink . . . it’s water,” pang-Sing insisted. “Watch me,” he added, then tipped the glass and took another sip.
Corin pulled in his tongue as he studied pang-Sing. Carefully at first, he tipped his head and glared at the glass, then rotated his vertically slit eyes at pang-Sing and stared again. Stiffly, he cracked open his jaw, then tilting his head back, poured the water into his gaping maw, splashing the fluid over his pointed teeth.
“More!” Corin demanded, slamming the glass onto the large wooden table. A stream of water dribbled from the corners of his mouth as pang-Sing, cringing from the Lacertians crudeness, motioned for his personal aide to tend to Corin’s wishes.
“Are you sure the invaders came from the Slafacenes?” pang-Sing pried with doubt. “You do realize that is more than three light years away from you planet? That is if I have Lacerta in the correct . . .”
“Corin knows! Olive skinned barbarians from Slafacenes! Lacerta radar good. Radar traced blips from Slafacenes. Ten large ships, each with hundreds of soldiers . . . incredible speed!”
As Corin rattled on about the invaders, pang-Sing nervously looked up to the closed circuit camera, ensuring the yellow power light was on. He knew Corin had too much information for him to remember.
These invaders have much to offer Sabella, pang-Sing cogitated as he sipped his water. He glared at the reptilian and tried to read deep into his soul. If we can lure them here, we could . . .
“Can you tell me more about this race, Corin. Whatthey looked like, perhaps. What their ships looked like. Their weapons . . . why they chose Lacerta?” pang-Sing prodded.
Corin’s eyes widened with recalled terror. In the grip of his claw, the glass trembled, almost to the point of spilling. He urged words to his thin, scaley lips, but nothing emerged save a quick flicker of his tongue.
“Creatures were barbarians . . . “ Corin finally uttered in a quivering, breathless voice. “They showed no mercy on Lacerta. Weapons . . . burn holes in Lacerta before we even knew we were hit!”
An odd expression etched Corin’s face and he grew agitated. Finally. he hissed menacingly, the uttered: “Corin want revenge!”
“What did they look like? Do you remember what they looked like?” pang-Sing insisted, leaning forward.
Corin again fell silent. His eyes rolled back and glassed over before h replied in a mumble: “Lacerta not see faces. Barbarians covered . . . hard bubble on their head. Skin covered with long robe . . . tough skin . . . “
Corin dropped his head to the table, groaning inpain as he squeezed out a pitiful hiss.
“I need more!” pang-Sing demanded, frustrated with Corin’s fragmented speech. He glared at the reptile, but Corin did not move. His head laid on the table, his eyes half closed.
“Perhaps I ahve been a bit hasty in trying to get you to talk so soon after your arrival,” pang-Sing relented, standing up. “We can provide some nourishment and a place to rest. We can continue this at the next sun?”
Corin stirred slowly. He lifted his huge head and glanced up at pang-Sing. A smallish but perceptible grin blossomed on his face.
“My aide will provide for you . . . “ pang-Sing noted, pointing to the Sabellan standing near Corin. “You canstay here for the night. It will be safe here.”
pang-Sing hurried out of the room and into his private chamber. As soon as the door slammed shut, he snapped his trans-ceiver on and hailed his Sciewnce Council back in the city.
“beel-Raam . . . this is pang-Sing.”
“How may I be of service, your excellency,” a tittering, high-pitched voice responded.
“What is the status of the zakhor attack? What was damaged?”
“Another discharge station, your excellency. That is the third station in . . . “
“Yes, I know!” pang-Sing cut him off, agitated. “The information I have received from our guesat indicates that there is a race of beings in the Slafacenes which may be a threat to us. Do you have any information on a race . . . “
“Our latest improvements have indicated that life does exist in that region of space, however . . . “
“We have no way of getting there, sir.”
“I am not interested in getting there, Raam!” pang-Sing snapped.
“Then, may I ask, your excellency, why would you be interested . . .”
“Corin, the Lacerta, indicates they have great military strength. We need to contact them. We need to coerse them somehow into helping us erradicate the zakhor.”
“A noble gesture for our race, your excell . . . “
“You rmission is to arrange this contact . . . any way you can think of!” pang-Sing blurted, interrupting beel-Raam. “I want to talkto those beings before they terminate us like they didi the Lacerta!”
“But we are a powerful race, your . . .”
“Just do it!” pang-Sing ordered. Under his breath he mumbled: “Damn scientists. ALways questioning authority.”
“I understand, sir,” the voice faded into the static.

* * * Six * * *

“The pilot says we’ve got six sub-cycles before we reach the station,” T’Graupok noted as he floated into the briefing room. He snapped his tetherclip onto the open table hold where T’Kiarlok and Y’Graalok sat in deep thought.
“Hmm,” T’Kiarlok moaned, staring out into the stars falling away from the ship.
“Seems odd not returning to the planet anymore.” T’Graupok added, hoping to stimulate converstation from his dour comrades.
Cephalarian Y’Graalok, not one to usually fraternize with the troops, perched at the table, glassy-eyes. In her sagittal, she clenched her water tube so tightly that escaping droplets grew repeatedly, replacing the one which had just left for the expanse of the room.
“I almost lament heading home in these times,” T’Graupok rambled with an exasperated complaint. He slipped his water tube into the hold on the table and loosened the zipper on his moisture barrier. “I mean, think about it. We’re relegated to a space station instead of a port landing. No smiling cephali to greet us back. No pomp, no celebration of victory. You know, I’m beginning to wonder if anyone on Egnaro even appreciates our contribution to society anymore!”
“Mmm. I know how you feel, T’gra,” T’Kiarlok droned, then added with a tifled chuckle: “Sometimes I even yearn for a firey, contested Deposition again.”
Y’Graalok perched her eyecovers and grimaced at T’Kiarlok.
“Oh, I wouldn’t go that far!” T’Graupok chimed in, chuckling himself. “That’s about the only thing that I don’t miss.”
“One brief session at the computer, one button for download, and it’s done! Gheng! Sometimes I wonder if all this change is really for the better!” T’Kiarlok gazed back out into the stars and waxed. “Once, a long time ago, I was so ecstatic to return after battle, knowing that once Deposition was dne, eight of the most sensual tentacles would be wrapped around me ina grip that First Orders only fantacize about. Now, I guess I can only share in their fantasy with friends and a tube of aged morpholine.”
Cephalarian Y’Graalok blankly looked down at her water tube and grimaced. She mechanically sucked a mouthful from the tube, then glanced up at T’Kiarlok and T’Graupok.
“Commander?” T’Kiarlok noticed the distant look. “You haven’t said much.”
Y’Graalok’s eyes sank back into her eyestalks and seemed to peer deep into the dark expanse outsode the portal.
“It seems odd . . . five nestars ago, even though I felt that this change was inevitable . . . I did not realize how much of an impact the Neords could have on all of us,” she droned, mournfully.
“I really don’t think any of us realized the Neords could gather this much power in such a short time.” T’Graupok added.
“Perhaps, T’Gra. But knowing what I know now, I would have been more adament about supporting our core values . . . duty, honor, loyalty . . . values which we’ve always hels as sacred. You know, I think as a culture we’ve lost something.”
“Change,” T’Kiarlok mumbled, then suckled a mouthful of water.
“I really question whether the younger generation understands what those words mean anymore,” Y’Graalok finished.
“I must debate that, Y’gra.” T’Graupok injected. “The unrest is not limited to the younger generation! There are several in our own generation that have been just as much instigators to this revolution as the younger ones.”
T’Kiarlok could not fight being haunted by the image of Y’Fjorrik again, taunting him with her wry, devilish grin. Like you’re still laughing at me, you bastard! T’Kiarlok cursed at the image.
“Yes . . .look into our own and the leadership of this unrest can be seen,” T’Kiarlok lamented.
Y’Graalok’s personal communicator whined intrusively.
“Y’Graalok!” she responded.
“Commander . . . I have contact with the Wennevah station. We are one-half sub-cycle from docking,: a youthful voice sang.
Y’Graalok peered up to T’Graupok and T’Kiarlok. A week half-smile eeked out from her meloncholy.
Time to put on the cephalus of the victorious warrior!” she dutifully said, unclipping her tether. “It’s our responsibility . . . as warriors, even in these times to at least put on the show we are glad to be home again. Evenb if it is just a tenged space dock.”
Her duty fulfilled, Y’Graalok weakly waved her tetratarsals and drifted out of the briefing room, headed for the bridge.
* * * * *
Mantiera X’Singlok paged through her personal computer files, ensuring each of them had been uploaded in their entirety to the new space station’s memory banks. She toggled through her battery of verification passes, checking each code’s integrity. Satisfied that each of the files had not been corrupted, she logged out, snapped the computer off, then loosened her tether and relaxed. The station’s weightlessness lifted her away from her work station, physically and mentally, and into the anticeptic tainted maoisture stream spitting out from the chamber’s moisture jets.
The door shushed open, startling X’Singlok back to reality. She twisted and saw Sub-Mantiera A,treal X’Olovik, a young female fresh out of the Science Mantiera Curriculum, drift in. X’Olovik’s tight, smooth, brown skin eminated a youthfulness which X’Singlok could only covet.
“Oh, to be young again,” X’Singlok mused, looking down at her own pasty amber colored skin covering. “Even the green birth markings are faded,” she lamented.
“The communications centerindicates the “Physeres” will be here in less than a cycle,” X’Olovik announced. Youthful excitement laced her tone. She drifted closer to X’Singlok and giddily whispered: “You know, I’ve never seena crew return from battle before! It must be exciting!”
X’Singlok glanced at X’Olovik’s expression and let her ganglia drift back to when she was a young sub-mantiera welcoming her first mission back home from battle. Rekindled by her partner’s excitement, X’Singlok’s adrenalin started flowing.
A voice she noted as her father’s echoed in her cephalus: “Be firm. You’re a mantiera now. Exude leadership even though you may be frightened out of your wits. Others are looking up to you!”
“You’ll get used to it,” X’Singlok mumbled confidently, even though the excitement of being the first team on a space station to welcome a crew back pumped her up as well. “In fact, by the time you reach my age, you’ll be so calloused that you’ll be able to remove vertebral implants in your sleep!”
“How can you say that?” X’Olovik’s voice cracked. “This is so stimulating!”
“Bring the log up on the computer,” X’Singlok calmly directed.
As X’Olovik free-floated toward her computer station, she snapped her tether into place. X’Singlok cinched hers up as well, and snapped her computer back on. Her sagittals danced over the keyboard with lightning speed, retrieving the data file on the “Physeres” crew.
“Notify the technicians to prepare for . . . three hundred. I’ll continue scanning for anomolies and injured we should be prep . . . in T’Urilok’s name!” X’Singlok’s drone was captured by a gasp.
X’Olovik immediately stopped when she heard X’Singlok’s exclamamtion. X’Singlok’s face had already flushed as blue as the water tubes in the cabinets.
T’Kiarlok. The name on the screen consumed X’Singlok.
“Mantiera! Mantiera X’Singlok, are you all right?”
Like the waterfalls of Yrbed, old forgotten memories cascaded through X’Singlok’s ganglia. Instantly, five nestars peeled away. A vague, spectral image of T’Kiarlok snapping away into the deep aqua waters of the Great Sea faded in and out of focus. She never expected she would ever get another chance to see him. But it was his name that was flashing right there in friont of her - as bright as the moons that glowed overhead on that fateful night.
“Yes . . . yes, I’m fine,” she quickly collected herself, sucking in a lungful of moist air, then dreamily thought: B,theel.
Catatonic and oblivious to everything around her, X’Singlok drifted into a slow, euphoric rotation. SO much had changed. She had changed. Not just in rank, but in beliefs. She was not as enthralled by the Neords since their revolution had turned Egnaro into another of the bloody battlefields she wished never existed. She left the surface for the service, hoping to escape everything of her past - and now it all came rushing back like the violent tides of T’nek.
“Casualties are light . . . “ X’Olovik’s voice penetrated X’Singlok’s thoughts.
Her responsibilities were greater now. She had a full staff of technicians and sub-mantiera working for her. Protocol rested on her sagittals. She coold no longer simply slip out when she felt the urge - even if that fuve nestar decayed urge seemed to have sparked back to life. But with every moment she gazed at those flashing eight letters, the urge grew more to life.
Is the flame still there, B’theel? Is there even a spark? Is there anything left I can rekindle? X’Singlok could not help but fantasize.
“Prepare the staff for a returning mission,” X’Singlok spit out commands with cold business-like efficiency. She subdued her emotions and gripped reality. “This return must be perfect. We have a reputation to establish!”
“Yes, sir!” X’Olovik smiled as she glanced up from her terminal.
“Full conatamination barriers required. I have no information of the diseases they may have encountered,” X’Singlok noted.
* * * * *
Once the “Physeres” was docked, T’Kiarlok and T’Graupok waited in the briefing area, sucking down tubes of amines as their entire brigade disembarked. Breaking the rules of official protocol, they stumbled off the ship like a pair of senile war buddies, sagittals entangled around each other’s mantle. Consumed with their induced euphoria, they slipped through the narrow, tubular airlock, humming old battle sagas under their breath. Finally,, when the cold station air slapped their exposed cephali, the warriors stiffened.
T’Kiarlok scanned the entire area, awed at the vastness. He studied every beam and support which laced the top of the room like a web. Mimicking his comrade’s gawk, T’Graupok’s eyes glassed over with amazement.
“Welcome to Wennevah station!” a gentle female voice announced.
T’Kiarlok snapped back toward the voice.
“X’Sin!” His heart jumped as he froze. His eyes fixed on hers, then wandered. From the top of her cephalic cap to the tips of her sterile filed covered tetratarsals, T’Kiarlok drank in every deatil, from skin tone to the enticing bulges in her moisture barrier.
“T’Kia! Are you all right?” T’Graupok clamped his sagittal suction cups on his mantle and jostled his comrade vigorously.
“You’ll have to excuse my partner, here . . . battle fatigue,” T’Graupok joked, looking over his mantle at X’Singlok. “It was an arduous campaign.”
“I see,” X’Singlok mumbled robotically, but then coyly added: “Perhaps this warrior stuff should be reserved for younger Egnarians who can handle the stress!”
“Or the amines,” T’Graupok joked, cupping his sagittal tip over his mouth.
“I see,” X’Singlok noted, winking at T’Kiarlok, then fluidly slipped into an automatically recited, repettion numbed greeting: “The implant removal station is down corridor six. The medical staff here hopes you will find space implant removal quick and painless . . . an improvement from the days of surface removal.”
“Gheng, T’kia! Face a hoard of barbarians and you’re as vicious as they come,” T’Graupok whispered to his comrade, hoping to shock him back to reality. “But place a female in front of you and pre-pubescent hormones stiffen you like a corpse!”
“Oh . . . yeah . . . why don’t you go on ahead,” T’Kiarlok tried to shake the enthralled sensation he felt captured by. “There are a few details I would like to discuss with the mantiera. Privately . . . if you don’t mind.”
“Take it from experience, it’s more stimulating without the stick!” T’Graupok whispered, cracking an impish grin.
T”Kiarlok’s glare instantly iced over.
“I get the picture,” T’Graupok backed off and started toward corridor six. “I’ll catch up with you latrer,” he added with a wink, then continued on with a presumtuous smile pasted on his cephalus.
When they were finally alone, T’Kiarlok turned back to X’Singlok and resumed his catatonic stare.
“Your friend is correct, B,theel,” X’Singlok said coyly.
“How . . . why . . . “
“Whatever you are thinking, I’m sure you would be much more comfortable once your implant is removed.”
“But I never thought we would ever . . . “ T’Kiarlok struggled to coherently put his thoughts together, fighting through the amine influence.
“We’ll have plenty of time to talk after. Corridor six? My staff is awaiting you.” X’Singlok her sagittal toawrad the tubular corridor and bowed.
T’Kiarlok smiled and drifted down the corridor with his old flame.
* * * * *
“So, what do you think of the Techno-mantiera’s latest engineering feat, T’Kia?” X’Singlok asked, tearing off a piece of gheligane. As she slipped it into her mouth, she added: “Oh you must try this gheligane . . . the station’s hydroponic garden produces a quality comparable to the T,nek valley’s leaf!”
T’Kiarlok slipped his amine tube into his mouth and suckled, still stunned with X’Singlok’s presence. He gazed around the huge launge area, taken by the odd use of space set aside for soley recreation. Half of the tables were occupied with various combinations of soldiers and station personnel, all enjoying their respite from battle as well as Egnaro.
“So, what brings you into the wilds of space? I thought you were adamant about your work with the science council?” T’Kiarlok finally probed, curiously.
“Well, I did some thinking after our last . . . rendezvous. What you said . . . what I said . . .you know. And when things got a little unsettled on the surface, I grew concerned that the Science council would be dragged into the fray . . . as a bargaining chip.”
“If I remember correctly, the Neords were quite active in the Science Council. At least that’s what T’Garmlok implied.”
“Well, a nestar later, when a military recruiter visited the council looking for staff for this station, I grew curious. After a few questions, it started to sound good. They even offered me mantieraship, which was nestars away on the surface, if I would join and head up the medical staff here. At the time, I thought it would be exciting.”
“At the time? Do you feel differently now?”
“Not at all. Although research out here is more limited, I find this is a much more rewarding experience. I guess for me, constant research lost its sparkle.”
“Mantieras, especially medical mantieras, are trained to help Egnarians. And out here, the beings I meet are so interesting.” X’Singlok’s eyes widened as T’Kiarlok feltthem penetrate into his soul.
“Have you met anyone . . . ?” T’Kiarlok bluntly asked, then blushed, realizing his question was presumptuous. “I mean anyone interesting,” he vainly tried to recover.
“To be perfectly honest, B’theel, no one could ever compate to you,” X’Singlok replied without hesitation.
T’Kiarlok felt his embarrassment washed away by a tidal surge of hormones. “So, there is still a spark left?” he asked as his cephalus cracked a wide grin.
“Why don’t we take a short walk to the tidal pool and I’ll show you . . . fire!” X’Singlok coyly hissed.

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Reviewed by Guntis Goncarovs 8/18/2004
Actually, not bad - even if I say so for myself. Actually just checkin to see of this works since there have been SO FEW comments.


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