Category: Shen


Calfuray

“Shen, it appears we have visitors,” said The Voice. Your little project continues to irritate the hellocks out of my dry skin. Do you know what it is like to have an itch but no means to scratch it?”

“No my lord,” replied Shen.

“Fail me on this mission and I will personally make sure you have the opportunity. Is that clear?”

“Yes my lord.”

“Give the assignment to Calfuray. She has my confidence. And Shen? I expect to hear no more of this. Is that understood?”

“Yes my lord.”

Categories: Story, The Voice, Shen, Calfuray

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The Voice

Come in. Sit,” said the voice. “Raise your eyes, both of you and look at me. Tell me what you see.”

Shen and Taren sat in cold silence. Nostrils involuntarily flared with each in breath as if preparing to absorb a blow.

“Give me one good reason I should not have you both summarily executed.”

Shen started to speak.

“Shut the frail up Shen. There are no words to succor your failings. Do you have any idea? Any? Shen?

“All is not lost. We have the girl,” offered Shen.

The voice hovered as if chewing Shen’s words like cud, digesting each syllable in preparation to shat the refuse back forth from whence it came.

“Yes, you have the elusive null. Quite a coup for your research wouldn’t you say?” said the voice in slow even tones making nuance impossible to read.

“Once in a life—“

“Shen,” interrupted the voice, “speak again and I’ll have your head on the floor before the echo of your vapid vision soils one more precious moment of my time. I want you to look close. Look at me Shen. Come closer.”

Shen stood slowly and walked toward the voice. Taren watched as men on death row watch others take the walk. A small drop of perspiration ran down his face. Shen’s footsteps echoed in the small room, sounding louder than usual.

“I want you see Kulmyk handiwork up close. Please, hold out your hand. The eyes alone do not do justice to their craftsmanship with a blade.”

Shen ran his hand over the lump of flesh that spoke. As an experienced interrogator Shen had seen the worst of physical torture; yet, still, it took all of his estimable mental abilities to quell the disturbance in his stomach.

Are you married Shen?”

“Yes.”

“Does your wife love you Shen? Does she make love to you?”

“Yes.”

“What do you think she would think if you looked like this?”

The voice allowed silence to suck the living air from the room. Shen struggled to take a breath. Falling to the floor his hands instinctively moved to his collar. The room seemed to get smaller. The floor felt cold and had a distinctive antiseptic smell. Shen’s eyes narrowed and all he could think was just how clean the floor was.

“Your foolishness has put our entire mission in jeopardy. Within days, the Kulmyks will launch a taskforce toward our small sanctuary. And when they get here, when they get here Shen,” said the voice, hovering just over Shen’s ear, “they will make what they did to me look like child’s play. And all for a null.”

The voice pulled away. Shen gasped for air as if breaking the surface.

“Taren?”

“Yes sir?”

“Get him out of my sight before I change my mind.”

“Yes sir.”

“Oh, and Taren.”

“Yes?”

“You’ve got twenty-four hours with the null. Don’t disappoint me.”

Categories: Story, Shen, Taren, The Voice

Quiver Me This

“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

Cold Hearts


Shen closed his eyes and looked deep. They were getting close. No time to investigate what went wrong but one thing was clear; guilty and innocent alike would taste the cold fire of space. Such a horrible way to die, thought Shen, lacking even a scintilla of compunction.

“Lieutenant, where is the girl?” queried Shen, his voice penetrating through the smoky corridors and cold hearts with equal measure.

“We’ve had a minor annoyance. She should be arriving within the minute,” responded a less than confident voice.

“Thank you lieutenant.” Shen turned slowly from the port window in his quarters to his loyal aide. Cerus had served him for more than a decade. Trusted aides were hard to come by. Shame I can’t take him with me, thought Shen.

+Cerus, prepare my personal pod for immediate launch.+

Categories: Story, Shen

On You I Depend

I have seen peace. I have seen pain.

“Yul, tell us what you know,” said Kyra.

“Rog and I were enjoying the evening and we heard odd sounds from down the corridor. Rog grabbed his stuff to investigate. Twenty minutes later, he hadn’t returned so I went to check on him. The door to his quarters was open but no sign of him. I noticed the door to Mairi’s quarters was open too and no sign of her either,” said Yul.

Resting on the shoulders of your name.

“What sort of odd sounds?”

“Loud voices, metal banging on metal, more hurried urgent voices and then silence. I told Rog to leave it alone. The bed was warm, we had nowhere to go, and besides, well, we had unfinished business,” said Yul as Von fought back a smile.

Do you see the truth through all their lies?

“Von, any ideas on why they aren’t answering their responders?” asked Kyra.

Before Von could answer distant las fire echoed through the room. “Oooh, that’s not good is it,” quipped Yul.

Do you see the world through troubled eyes?

“No, that’s not good,” responded Von. “My guess, they came for Mairi and Rog caught them in the act or followed them. Either way, he is facing impossible odds.”

“Taren, this is Kyra. Can you tell me what is going on?”

And if you want to talk about it anymore,

Silence. “He’s not responding.”

Intensity of las fire picked up. “Kyra—static—outnumbered—static—can’t—oh shiott–“

Lie here on the floor and cry on my shoulder,

“Rog! Rog, copy. Rog?” Nothing. “We got to move but all I’ve got is a las pistol,” said Kyra, a sense of relaxed intensity in her voice, her crystal blue eyes looking more steely than blue.

Von stood up. “I think I might be able to assist. Follow me.”

I’m a friend.

Von wasn’t kidding. His Ji Shield was the tip of the iceberg. “What the frail Von,” said Yul, “afraid the Javalinas were going to come back for ya?”

“Hope for the best my friend, but prepare for the worst,” said Von, picking up a pulse rifle. “Try this on for size Yul, that is if you think you can handle such a large tool.”

I have seen birth. I have seen death.

“If I can handle Rog I think I can hand this,” said Yul, taking the instrument in her hands. Her delicate facial features belied her core strength honed in the countless hours she had spent training with Kyra. Von couldn’t help but admire the definition in her arms.

“Yes, I think you can,” smiled Von.

Lived to see a lover’s final breath.

“What have you got in there for me,” asked Kyra.

“I want you to take the shield. Zeke would have wanted it that way. Strap it to your left forearm. Feel the energy flow,” said Von, watching as the center of the shield came to life with a brilliance he hadn’t seen since her Papa had last worn the ancient relic.

Do you see my guilt? Should I feel fright?

Rog wiped the sweat from his brow. Las fire singed the bulkhead just inched above his head. His two las pistols hummed in recharge. The corridor was lit with green and red and the occasion blue ray of energy. He couldn’t see his attackers but then again, he thought, they can’t see me either.

“Lieutenant, what seems to be the problem?” asked Taren, with just a tinge of frustration in his voice. With Mairi in their hands, he could not communicate with his squad other than by normal means, which meant less than secure.

Is the fire of hesitation burning bright?

“Red leader, do you read?” queried Kulmyk command.

“Loud and clear,” responded red leader, his Vollmond approaching target lock.

And if you want to talk about it once again,

“Taren, I need that girl here now,” commanded Shen.

“We’re working on it,” said Taren.

On you I depend. I’ll cry on your shoulder.

Kyra held the shield in her arm. Her whole body flooded with the strangest sensation as the shield responded to her wishes. It moved, like her arm, without thought, without effort as if the very instrument had become a part of her body. “Rog, not sure if you can hear me. Hang tight. We’re on our way,” said Kyra.

You’re a friend.

[ed note: Lyrics from James Blunt’s Cry. Imagine the song playing in the background as this chapter plays itself out.]

Categories: Story, Kyra, Von, Yul, Rog, Taren, Shen

Meditation


Mairi overheard Taren on the bridge. “I wouldn’t want to be her,” he said. Wasn’t the first time she had heard that. Really didn’t bother her anymore, at least that’s what she kept telling herself. Still, what choice did she have. Who else could she be? Where could she go to escape herself? She knew the answer. She knew the answer because she had asked herself the question a thousand times and the answer was always the same.

“Shen, you look troubled. Do you sense the Vollmonds? Have they picked up our trail?” asked Taren.

“No, something else. Something much closer to home. I can’t put my mind on it, but all is not as it should be,” replied Shen.

“Danger?”

“Not sure. But something is moving. Could be the female. I sense activity near her quarters, but the energy signature does not match,” said Shen.

Mairi turned toward her holographic wall. “Springtime, mid-morning please,” said Mairi. As the colors of the wall came to life, Mairi stepped out of her normal bodysuit. Reaching beside her bed she picked up her prized Jasperian cloak. The garment’s lush softness against her smooth bare skin eased the stresses of the body, which in turn calmed her mind.

“What do you mean the energy signature does not match?” asked Taren.

“I mean, the energy pattern does not match any of the Hynerians,” responded Shen, half paying attention to his young pupil and half floating on the aura of this unknown visitor.

“Kulmyk?”

“No. That is clear.”

Mairi reached out with her hands as they appeared to melt into the holograph. The warm light, morning springtime sun, made her a bit sleepy but perfect for sliding into a deeper meditation. She closed her eyes and allowed the sound of the breeze to lift her mind on its gentle currents. She could feel her heartrate start to slow. So too the flood of thoughts begin to abate or so it seemed.

“If its not Kulmyk and not the Hynerians–“

“Taren, I’ve never felt a force like this before. Focus. Do you feel it?” said Shen, trying hard to conceal the excitement in his voice. Mairi was the find, but this, whatever this was, was an order higher. Intoxicating in the possibilities.

“Too far away for my abilities,” said Taren.

“One thing concerns me,” said Shen, ignoring Taren’s disappointment. “Whatever it is, its moving toward Mairi. Get a detail to her quarters now!”

Categories: Story, Mairi, Taren, Shen, Paintings

No Doubt

As the crew entered the Grand Conference, Taren turned to his mentor and seventh-level Cog, the highest ranking attainable. “Shen, what do you sense?” asked Taren as they surveyed the crew of Bravo-Four-Zero.

“No doubt she is here,” whispered Shen from behind his hood, purple eyes glowing with anticipation and excitement. “I could not be more pleased with her abilities. I have heard rumor of such facility but never did I dream this opportunity would present itself. Fate does work in mysterious ways does it not?”

“You’ve always taught fate speaks to those who open to possibility, to those who embrace the flow rather than resist it, to those who believe like children. I’m not sure I would have intuited the gift this vessel imparts to us and our cause without your mentorship Shen.”

“Don’t be modest Taren. I did not give you your gifts nor did I sharpen them. I pointed the way. You did the rest.”

“Does she know the gift she has?” asked Taren.

“Impossible to know without private inquiry. May I suggest we arrange a personal interview.”

“Absolutely. Kyra?”

“Yes, Taren?”

“The girl on the end, with the red hair, what is her name?”

“Mairi.”

“She is the one. May we have a private audience with her?”

“Mairi? Are you sure?”

“No doubt in our minds.”

“Can you tell me what special gift you believe she has?” asked Kyra, completely puzzled at what they saw in Mairi. Deep inside she watched as her own sense of vanity rose and whispered softly in her mind’s ear. Papa always said humility was the doorway to truth. She wondered if Taren was inside her head, watching with amusement and seeing her innermost feelings. Pride was a funny thing. She must spend more time looking at this pride when time allowed for weeding the garden of her mind.

“I’d rather not say in the open. Besides, the less you know the better.”

Kyra looked at Taren, trying to judge intent and purpose. So hard to read an alien species.

“You can use my quarters if you like.”

Categories: Story, Kyra, Taren, Mairi, Shen