“Where are you taking me,” asked Mairi with a slight quiver in her voice. Shen’s escape pod had room for only two and the quarters were tight. She had never felt so completely out of control, so vulnerable, so prostrated. Shen towered above her. He could do whatever he wanted. No one could hear. No one could help. No one would know. She did not know the word to describe the feeling. Abject fear, sheer paralyzing terror; neither did justice to her emotional state.

“Out of harm’s way,” said Shen. “I understand your fear of the unknown and the terror in your heart over what your mind imagines will be your fate. The fact of the matter is, I’ve saved your life.”

Mairi starred straight ahead trying to digest words and actions that appeared contradictory. “You know they will come for me; and they will find me,” said Mairi, trying her best to sound confident as her trembling vocal cords betrayed her.

“I have no doubt concerning the loyalty and dedication of your former crew. I imagine under other circumstances they would make the attempt. I was particularly impressed with Kyra and would have liked the opportunity to examine her further. I sensed she was somehow different from the rest. A shame really. I suppose now we will never know just how those Vollmonds picked up our trail.”

As if speaking louder would make it so Mairi shouted. “They will come. I promise you, they will not leave me behind.”

“My dear child, your crew is dead, as is mine. Our vessel came under direct attack from two Kulmyk long-range interceptors. Our only defense against them was stealth. How we lost that, I don’t know, but they would have required no more than two, perhaps three attack runs to destroy our ship, which I’m afraid to say, would have occurred just minutes ago. As I said, I’ve saved your life.”

Mairi’s face drew pale and the muscles in her jaw locked tight against the words thrown her way. She could detect no falsehood in Shen’s tone. Numbness flooded outward from the base of her skull, radiating in a tingling sensation from her fingers to her toes. Her whole body felt stiff and unresponsive. Her mind cascaded into a surreal dreamlike state.

“I suggest you brace yourself Mairi. We’re coming in for landing and these small pods lack, how should I say it, finesse.”

Categories: Story, Shen, Mairi

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