He had told the Commander that he would scout ahead because he was too excited. He understood that
Helena needed the rest, but there was no way that he could sit still. The forest was lush and Alan wanted to
see more of it.
They had detected this planet two weeks ago. Two days after that, they discovered the rich vegetation, high
mineral potential and animal life. His senses were sharp and his eyes keen for any of the two-legged
animals Maya had picked up on her sensors right before they landed.
Alpha had confirmed that humanoid creatures existed on the planet but they hadn’t found any evidence of
machinery or electronics. Not knowing what state of evolution these people were in made the scouting a
little more hazardous.
Alan’s comlock beeped and he snatched it off his belt. The Commander’s face appeared on the tiny
screen. “Did you find anything?” He asked, his dark eyes showing concern.
“Just the occasional bird and something that was rodent shaped, but it ran away so fast I didn’t get a good
look at it.” The Australian pilot looked around himself again. “It sure is beautiful here though.”
Commander Koenig smiled at him. “It is that. Turn on the beacon on your comlock and we’ll catch up with
“Right.” Alan nodded. “I’m not that far ahead, see you in a few.” They broke off communications and Alan
turned on the homing beacon before placing it back on his belt. He ran one hand through his blond hair and
looked for a shady spot to wait for the Commander and Doctor Russell.
Alan was about to sit down when he heard rustling noises coming from the forest. He peered through the
trees and bushes trying to see what it might be. The noise got louder and closer and Alan backed up,
pulling his stun gun from its holster.
A strange thudding noise reached his ears, then silence. Alan started to lower his gun when the rustling
Without anymore warning, a humanoid creature crashed through the bushes and plowed straight into Alan
Carter’s arms. They fell backward onto the ground, the stranger on top. The force of the impact knocked
the wind out of them both but the stranger recovered first.
Alan heard a sharp intake of breath and peered into a pair of bright green eyes. The stranger rolled off of
him quickly and he realized that it was a young woman. He got up quickly and tried to help her back up onto
her feet. “Are you alright? I’m so sorry, but you came out of no where!” He grabbed for her elbow as she
pushed a long lock of strawberry blond hair away from her face.
As his fingertips touched her sleeve she swat his hand away. “Ton chu ne!” She yelled, rolling to one side
and jumping nimbly to her feet.
Alan noticed that she favored one leg as she looked around. He took a tentative step toward her. “It’s
okay. I’m not going to hurt you.” He towered over her slightly in height. He noticed that she was about the
same size as Helena Russell except perhaps an inch shorter. She didn’t look much older than 28 years
old. She wore, what used to be, a pretty pale yellow dress that was ripped and worn in several places and
was torn a little way up one leg. Her exposed skin was bruised and scratched. “You’re hurt. I have a friend
that can help. She’s a doctor.” Alan kept his voice gentle and a small smile on his face.
She stepped back gingerly and grabbed a baseball bat sized stick from the ground. “Yat kab!” She swung
it threateningly in front of herself.
Alan put his hands in the air and froze. “Hey, no need to be like that. I’m just trying to help.” He frantically
tried to think of a way to communicate.
“Ton moc rena ne!” She spoke through her teeth. She looked around frantically, like a cornered animal.
Alan couldn’t help but see the fire and fear in her green eyes.
They both heard people approaching and her breathing became faster. She stepped back again.
Alan heard John call his name and he turned to respond. That was all the distraction she needed. The
young woman threw the stick with all of her strength and turned to run. It caught Alan across his shoulder,
just missing his head, and fell onto his foot.
He cried out in pain and turned back to see her take two steps and collapse on the ground. Her bad leg
wouldn’t support her anymore, so she got up on her hands and knees and started to crawl away.
Alan limped quickly around in front of her blocking her path. She turned and tried to go through some
bushes but Alan moved to block her again. She maneuvered around him in yet another direction, but he
was faster and she found her path blocked again.
She let out a heavy sigh and sat up. Her eyes trailed up the length of him slowly until she reached his eyes.
Their eyes locked, and for a moment neither of them could breathe.
Taking his hands from his hips, Alan reached down and again tried to help her up. “I just want to help.”
Her hands came up slowly and she took one of his in both of hers. When the tension was just right she used
all of her weight to pull Alan forward, causing him to do a somersault over the top of her. She fell backward
onto her feet, crying out in pain as her hurt leg twisted mercilessly under her. She clutched at it for a
moment until she noticed Alan picking himself off the ground. She used both hands and her good leg to
drag herself away.
Alan got up and brushed himself off. He looked over at the girl and shook his head. Now it had become
personal; a challenge. He stepped up alongside her, grabbed her around the waist, and picked her up off
She tried pushing his hands away but he held on tight. When punching at his hands didn’t work either she
started swinging. The back of her hand caught his jaw as he fought to steady her on her feet.
“Ow! Now, stop that!” Alan let go of her waist to try and grab her hands.
John Koenig and Helena Russell broke through to the small clearing just as the other pair toppled onto the
ground again. They watched bemused as Alan and the young woman rolled and tussled for supremacy.
“John. Help him.” Helena nudged her companion gently.
He waved one hand at her, unable to take his eyes off the scene in front of him. “Give them a minute. I think
she can take him.” He finished sarcastically.
Helena sighed heavily and started forward but John put a hand on her arm. “Wait!” He whispered and
Alan finally landed on top of the woman with so much force that it clearly knocked the wind out of her. This
gave him enough time to reposition himself on her legs so that she couldn’t kick, and pin her hands down to
the ground. She still bucked and fought as John and Helena stepped up.
“What’ve you caught?” Koenig gestured to the girl underneath Carter.
“John!” Helena hissed. “Let her up, Alan.” She commanded.
“Are you kidding?” Carter looked at her sharply. “I’ve finally got her where she can’t do anymore damage!”
He let go of one of her hands to indicate the bruise forming under his eye.
With one hand free, the woman swung her fist straight into Carter’s ribs. He captured her wrist again and
pinned it down. “See? That’s from her fist too!”
She struggled for a few more seconds and then stopped, breathing heavily. Helena knelt down next to her.
“We’re not going to hurt you.” She pulled a twig out of the woman’s hair that was dangerously close to her
She started thrashing again and Alan tightened his grip. John pulled Helena up onto her feet when he
thought Alan might lose the fight. When she took a rest, Carter looked at the Commander. “She’s hurt but I
can’t make her understand that we want to help.”
Helena put her hands on her knees and spoke slowly. “I’m a doctor. We just want to treat your injuries.”
“Kat rou dna fa ne!” She screamed and began to struggle again. She suddenly cried out in pain and went
Helena sprang forward and gently pushed Alan off. “Let her go, Alan.”
Carter looked at Koenig who nodded his head affirmatively. John held Helena back as Alan let go and
stood up, in case the woman tried anything. To everyone’s surprise, she simply lay there crying softly.
Helena moved slowly forward and knelt down next to her. She removed her med-kit slowly off her shoulder
and set it on the ground. The young woman watched the doctor’s every move and Helena was careful not to
go any faster than she had to so as not to startle the woman.
Out of habit, she talked to her patient and the others as she worked. “Which area is causing the most
pain?” Helena took a small scanner out of her kit.
Carter spoke up for the woman. “She’s been favoring her one leg.”
“Which leg?” Helena asked quietly, running the scanner over both limbs.
“Um.” Carter tilted his head. “The right one.”
The woman glanced quickly at Alan then went back to watching Helena. The doctor placed her hands gently
on her leg, above her right knee and worked her way down to the ankle feeling for possible breaks.
She leaned up onto her elbows and inhaled sharply. Helena glanced at her but kept moving her hands
down the woman’s leg. “Sorry. I need to make sure that there aren’t any breaks.” Helena looked down at
the woman’s swollen ankle.
“She can’t understand you, Doc.” Alan said sympathetically.
“I know that. But if I speak quietly it will hopefully reassure her of…” Helena stopped as the woman sat
straight up and grabbed her hands. The men stepped forward but Helena glanced at them. “Stay back.
She’s frightened enough.” She said quietly and looked back at the woman. “That hurts?” She raised her
The women stared at each other for a moment then Helena lifted her hands out from under the others’.
Helena reached into her med-kit and took out a small hypo-spray, talking the woman through the process,
and gently pushed her hands away from her ankle.
The young woman watched in fascination as Helena checked the dosage. Sudden fear flashed across her
face when the hypo neared her leg. With renewed panic, she pushed Helena; causing her to fall across the
med-kit and dump half the contents; then swiftly jumped to her feet. Alan stood directly behind her but, was
not ready for the sudden attack and was ill prepared for the force of her shouldered tackle which sent him
sprawling. The woman stumbled a bit but was becoming used to being off balance. She righted herself
and managed to hobble three or four steps before falling flat on her face.
John helped Helena up but she waved him away. “Catch her. If she tries to walk on that ankle, she’ll injure it
worse.” John nodded and strode the few steps it took to reach Alan, who was now back on his feet.
The woman had tried to stand back up several times before the men reached her. Each attempt only
gained her a few more inches. When she saw the men approaching she panicked and crawled along
John and Alan looked at each other for a moment. Alan shrugged his shoulders. “You’ve got to admit, she’
s got spirit.”
Koenig nodded his agreement. “You take one side and I’ll take the other.”
They each grabbed a wrist and lifted from under her arms. She kicked wildly as her feet left the ground. “Tu
ne nwo!” She screamed repeatedly.
They brought her back to Helena at the center of the clearing. “What do you want to do with her?” Alan
Helena sighed and looked sympathetically at the woman. “I hate to do this but I need to wrap that ankle.”
She brought a sedative out from behind her back and pressed it quickly against the girl’s neck. Almost
instantly the woman’s eyes rolled back and she went limp in their arms. “Lay her down carefully.” Helena
instructed. They did as they were told and John moved alongside Helena to help her.
Alan crouched down near the woman’s head and let out a heavy sigh. “Talk about giving you a run for your
money!” Alan grabbed his jaw and worked it back and forth. “She can really pack a wallop. Do you think
her people will come looking for her?”
John and Helena looked at each other. Helena turned back to her patient and voiced what they were all
thinking. “We had better figure out a way to communicate with her in case they do.” She suddenly noticed
something odd. The woman had no hair on her legs. She filed it away in her memory as Koenig asked her
opinion. “What do we do with her when she wakes up?”
“She’s gonna try and bolt!” Alan added his two cents.
“She really shouldn’t use that ankle.” Helena contributed.
“But do we really have any right to keep her a prisoner?” Koenig mused. He started to pace the small
“Patient, John...not prisoner.” Helena corrected.
Carter stood and placed his hands on his hips. “We can’t just let her charge off alone. We should try to
keep her with us until someone comes for her.”
“We could try to find her people and deliver her back to them safely.” Helena suggested.
John nodded as he passed her for the second time. He glanced at Alan and stopped. “Carter? Where’s
Alan looked down at his hip and groaned. “I took it out when I heard her crashing through the forest.”
Koenig joined him in his search. “When she plowed into me I must have dropped it. Ah!” Alan picked up
the stun gun and brushed it off before holstering it.
“She ran into you? Literally?” John asked.
“As if she was running away from something?” Helena stood and joined the men. “John, what if she’s
running from her people instead of to them?”
“Or both.” Alan mused.
“We might be getting in the middle of something we don’t want to be a part of.” Koenig said quietly.
Helena turned back to her patient. She knelt down and picked up her right arm to try and find a pulse.
Noticing markings on the woman’s wrist, Helena turned her hand over carefully. “John, come and look at
The men knelt next to Helena as she turned the woman’s hand over again. The tattoo wrapped around her
wrist in an intricate interwoven design. Helena turned her hand palm down again and they saw that the
weave moved up the back of her hand in a smaller pattern ending at the base of her middle finger where it
attached to another weave that wrapped around the finger like a ring.
“What is that?” Alan whispered as he took the woman’s hand.
“Identifying markings?” Koenig stood and paced the clearing again. This time he looked trough the trees
for anyone that may be following the woman.
“We could make a litter and take her with us until we know exactly what’s going on.” Helena stood and
joined Koenig. “That way she won’t be walking on that ankle.”
John shook his head. “How do we know she isn’t an escapee? Those markings could be to identify her.”
He pointed at the woman. “She may be a criminal where she’s from.”
“She doesn’t look like a criminal, John.” Helena said with a slight edge in her voice.
“Helena, we don’t know that!” Koenig tried to make her see a potential threat. “She may have broken some
ancient law or taboo.”
“Or they could be ornamental. Several tribes and ancient civilizations on Earth tattooed themselves.”
Helena knelt next to the woman again and examined her hand.
Alan stood and crossed his arms. “Yea. She seemed more scared than dangerous.”
They fell silent. Helena started to lay the woman’s hand down gently when she gripped the Doctor’s tightly.
She began to mumble and her brow furrowed.
“Helena!” John half whispered and moved to pull her away. Alan stood on the other side of the woman in
case she started trouble.
Helena raised her free hand. “She’s still sedated.” She looked back at the girl. “I think she’s just
dreaming.” They all stared at the woman as Helena leaned closer. After a moment she sat up straight. “I
can’t understand it, but I think she’s speaking in another language.” Koenig simply stared at her. “Different
from the one she’s been using around us.”
“So, she’s bi-lingual. Lots of people are.” Carter shrugged.
Helena looked at him with a slight smile. “What are the chances of someone from a community as small as
Maya detected, knowing more than one language?” She raised her eyebrows and looked over at John.
The mumbling suddenly got louder. “Mater. Pater. Duma firo niat auhte. Sada ni wae sursik auhte?
Mater!” The woman opened her eyes wide and inhaled sharply. The trio stood and John pulled Helena
back. She sat up, looking around wildly. She kept her eyes on all of them as she slowly began to creep
Helena started to step forward but John stopped her. She placed her hand on his and looked into his eyes.
“It’s okay. Let me try something.” The woman had managed to back herself into a tree trunk when Helena
stepped forward and crouched at her feet. “I’m Helena.” The Doctor pointed at herself. “Helena.” She then
pointed to Cater and Koenig. “That’s Alan and John.” She said each of their names again slowly while
pointing to them. Helena ended with herself and then pointed at the woman.
She looked at each of them in turn with confusion. “Tah dou tan oh ne?” She spoke quietly with a sob in her
voice. “Seal te ne og.” She pleaded with her eyes.
Helena looked at her sympathetically. “If we’re going to help, we should at least know each others’ names.”
She took a deep breath and said each of their names again slowly. Then she pointed at the woman.
She stared into Helena’s blue eyes as if she were reaching into the doctor’s soul. Then she looked up at
Koenig in the same way. When she stared at Alan, she seemed to lose herself. He looked back at her just
as intently and the woman suddenly realized that she had been holding her breath. She broke the
connection and stared down at her hands for a second before looking back at Helena. “Helen.” She said
Helena shot a triumphant look at Koenig. She pointed to herself again. “Helen-a.” She emphasized the
last letter then pointed to the woman.
She drew both lips in and bit them. The she took a haggard breath and pointed at the doctor. “Helena.”
The woman then touched her own chest. “Tirzah.”
Helena smiled. “Tirzah. That’s a very lovely name.”
The woman nodded but still looked at them cautiously. “Tah dou tan oh ne?” Tirzah asked again.
Helena tried to communicate using her hands to illustrate as much as possible. “We just want to help. I’ve
wrapped your ankle and given you a mild pain killer, but you shouldn’t walk on it for quite some time.”
Helena stood and brushed off her knees. “If we could find something to make a litter or a crutch so that she
can stay off of it.” Helena looked at the men.
John took her arm and led her a couple of steps away. Carter moved to join them but kept an eye on the
stranger. “I’m not so sure that we should get involved with her, Helena.”
“We can’t just leave her here, John.” Helena countered.
“We don’t know who she is or where she’s from.” Koenig folded his arms across his chest and stared into
the doctor’s eyes. He pursed his lips and sighed. He knew that he couldn’t win any kind of argument when
she felt a moral obligation to help. He also knew it wouldn’t be right to leave a defenseless person in the
forest with a serious injury.
Alan Carter had seen this battle of wills happen too many times to be surprised when Koenig gestured for
him to follow and help him find something to aid the young woman.
When they were out of earshot Koenig turned to Alan. “We should take her back toward the eagle. We can
rendezvous with Maya’s team there so that if we should run into any trouble…” His voice trailed off for a
moment and he looked around a little nervously.
Alan looked around also. “Yea. Safety in numbers and all that.”
They came back to the clearing to find Helena kneeling next to Tirzah examining the tattoo. When she saw
them approaching, Helena stood and met them. “We were both right.” She said, somewhat excited.
“Apparently, the markings are to identify her but, if I understand her correctly, she’s a slave not a criminal.
She’s running away from her captures.”
Alan looked over at Tirzah. “The poor thing. No wonder she’s so scared. She probably thinks we’ll try and
take her back.” He moved toward her carrying a large stick that she could use as a crude crutch.
Tirzah instinctively started to back up, forgetting that the tree was behind her. She looked around frantically
for a weapon.
Carter froze. He set the stick down carefully with the larger end up and demonstrated the idea of a crutch.
Helena had to stifle a giggle as Alan pretended to hobble around.
She turned back to John. “I’ve been trying to find out what direction her people are in so that we can help
her get home.”
John shook his head. “The only problem with that is, Maya only detected one…”
The pair suddenly heard Alan cry out in pain. They turned in time to see Tirzah use the smaller end of the
stick to push Alan off balance.
“No! It’s okay!” Helena ran forward and stepped between them. Koenig came up beside the young woman
and grabbed the stick as she swung it. He wrestled it out of her hands and then went to see if Alan needed
Helena knelt down next to the woman again. “Tirzah! Alan, John and I are going to help you get to your own
people, but you have to trust us.” She spoke slowly and gestured with her hands to make Tirzah understand.
Tirzah set her jaw and let out a heavy sigh. “To mi!” She shook her head at Helena and pointed at Alan.
Feeling that he should defend himself, Alan spoke up. “What did I do? I handed her the crutch and she hits
me with it!”
Helena held her hands out to John for the crutch. Reluctantly he handed it over.
“Commander.” Alan hissed.
Helena held the stick close to her with one hand and gestured with the other. “No swinging. This is to help
you walk.” The men tensed as Helena slowly held it out.
Tirzah looked from Helena to the men and back again. She took the crutch and laid it on the ground next to
her and then tried to stand up.
Helena stood to help her and called John over. When she was on her feet, John picked up the crutch.
Helena felt Tirzah tense as he handed it to her. She took it from him and allowed Helena to show her how to
“I called Maya. We’ll meet them at the eagle. Maybe we can find Tirzah’s people before her captures find
us.” Koenig told Helena while the other woman practiced.
They headed back to the landing site with Alan in the lead. Tirzah hobbled along while Helena tried to teach
her English. Helena was amazed at how adept she was at learning. No matter what she said or did, the
woman picked up on it.
Helena allowed Tirzah to go on without her so that she could talk to John, who was bringing up the rear.
“Tirzah’s very smart, John!” She spoke softly and excitedly. “I wonder if all of her people are like this. She’s
been teaching me her language too! I wonder how young she was when they were separated?” Helena
She started to speak again when she realized that Koenig had stopped. “John?” Helena turned and
retraced the few steps.
“Alan.” Koenig called ahead quietly.
Alan and Tirzah stopped and turned to face the couple.
Koenig put up one hand and then motioned for them to get off the makeshift trail and into deeper cover.
Alan moved quickly, grabbing Tirzah around the waist and almost carrying her into the bushes. He found a
large bush and gently pushed her down to the ground. Tirzah tried to protest but Alan knelt down and put his
hand over her mouth. She started to dig her fingers into his hand to remove it when she heard the noise.
Tirzah froze. Her whole body turned to ice and she began to tremble.
They could hear the group thrashing through the forest. As they came closer, the Alphans heard Tirzah’s
name in the conversations. Helena made out two or three words like trees and slave.
Alan let go of Tirzah and quietly removed his gun. He looked at the young woman and placed one finger to
his lips. He hadn’t needed to tell her. Tirzah was like stone. Her hands were clenched into fists and Alan
saw the raw terror in her eyes. He wondered for a brief moment what would happen to her if she were
caught. He pushed those thoughts aside and concentrated on making sure that they didn’t find her.
One man broke away from the group and headed straight for the large bush Alan and Tirzah hid behind.
Carter moved quickly and quietly. He pulled Tirzah tighter into the bush and tucked himself close in beside
her. They waited; gun on stun and at the ready.
The man stopped on the opposite side of the large bush. Alan’s brow wrinkled as he listened to objects
being dropped on the ground. He then rolled his eyes as the distinct sound of the man urinating reached his
ears. Alan put the back of his hand against his nose and mouth as the pungent smell threatened to
overpower him. He looked down at Tirzah who sat unmoving, and almost eerily quiet.
A short distance away someone from the group yelled. The man at the bush answered, quickly gathered his
belongings and ran to catch up.
When they moved out of earshot, Alan holstered his gun. He wasn’t quite sure what to do with Tirzah. She
still sat like stone along side of him. Carter carefully put his arm around her and placed his hand on her
waist. “They’re gone, Tirzah.” He started to help her up.
To Alan’s surprise, the young woman suddenly melted into his chest. He thought perhaps she had fainted
until he felt her body shaking and heard the soft whimpers coming from the folds of his jacket. He put his
other arm around her and held her a little tighter. “Hey, come on. It’s all over. Everything’s okay now and
you’re safe.” He said soothingly.
Alan reached up and pushed her hair away from her face. The tendrils were so soft that he held them in his
hand for a moment. Then he reached up again and ran his palm across the side of her head and down her
back. He could smell the earth and forest in her hair. It made him a little heady and he realized he was
playing with the tiny curls at the end of her hair.
John and Helena emerged from their hiding place as Alan took a hold of Tirzah’s shoulders and gently
pushed her away. She sat up and looked around. Her eyes were glassy with tears and confusion.
Helena knelt beside her and took the woman’s face in her hands. She looked into her eyes. “It’s okay. It’s
all over.” Helena nodded at Alan to help her get Tirzah on her feet.
When she was standing, Alan picked up the crutch and handed it to the woman. She snatched it roughly
from his hands and, without looking at any of them, headed off through the forest in the direction of the eagle.
Carter looked from the Doctor to the Commander with raised eyebrows. “I can’t win.” He lamented.
Helena flashed him a small smile and moved to catch up with Tirzah. Koenig put his arm around Alan’s
shoulders and led him after the women. “Cheer up. At least this time she didn’t hit you with it.”
When it became too dark to see their way, the small group stopped. They all collapsed against the bushes
and trees and Koenig handed out rations. “We can’t make a fire, I’m afraid. We can’t risk her “friends”
finding us.” John sat next to Helena and put his arm around her.
Tirzah watched the couple curiously. She wondered what tribe these strange people were from. They
weren’t hairy and dirty like her masters and she knew just by looking at them that they weren’t from her
Looking cautiously over at Alan, Tirzah bit into her ration bar as she'd seen the others do. She looked him
over from head to toe. He was strong for his size. The young men in her master’s village that were his size
would never have been able to defeat her. And he was blond. She’d never met people outside of her own
with light colored hair. Perhaps he was related to the woman Helena.
The others dropped off to sleep leaving Tirzah awake and alone. It crossed her mind to sneak away, but
these people had protected her against her masters and she wasn’t eager to leave that protection. She
finally dropped off into a light sleep.
Tirzah was rudely awoken by a hand over her mouth and her body leaving the ground. Her eyes flew open
and she looked around in terror.
They had her...three of them. She knew that there was no escaping it. Tirzah’s emotions ran between
resignation and fear. They had warned her that no matter where she ran, they would find her. She belonged
to the leader after all, until one of them died. Tirzah was beginning to think it was the only way out. This was
her fourth attempt at freedom and each time she’d been caught.
Tirzah knew the routine. First they’d question her, then beat her, and finally lock her away for a short time.
The last one was the worse. The solitude had almost driven her mad the last time. She hated being alone.
All of her people did. Some had even taken their own lives because of it.
They carried Tirzah for quite a long time before depositing her in the middle of the search party. She
wondered for a moment if the strangers had missed her yet.
She hit the ground hard and pushed her long hair out of her face as she stood slowly. They were all taller
than Tirzah by at least half a foot. She looked around the group until her eyes locked with the leader.
He stepped forward and grabbed her tattooed wrist. “This means I own you!” He said in their crude
language. “This means you belong to me and can only be taken by death!” The leader yanked her arm up
painfully until she was standing on tiptoes and close enough to count each hair on his semi-bare chest.
“Why do you continue? If you want to die you only need to seek my help!” He pulled Tirzah off the ground by
her arm and shook her like a rag doll as he continued. “I will not stand for this kind of…” He brought her
close to his face. “Embarrassment!”
He let go of her wrist and she fell to the ground in a heap. Her ankle started throbbing, but she ignored it as
she stood up defiantly. “If death is the only way to escape you then do it!” Tirzah yelled back. “I would rather
die than live as a slave!”
A heavy hand came down across her face, knocking her on the ground.
| | |
Alan raised his gun, but Koenig forced it back down. “Easy.” The Alphans watched from behind a set of
bushes as Tirzah slowly lifted her head and spoke. “Lu rev lic ne. Mii ot labulv.”
John looked at Helena but she shrugged her shoulders. He motioned her forward and mimed for her to get
her stun gun. He made sure that they were all on stun and pointed to where each of them should aim.
The leader grabbed a handful of Tirzah's hair and tilted her head back. He raised his fist up and started to
speak when beams of yellow light appeared out of nowhere and hit every member of the native party.
Tirzah exclaimed sharply as the leader almost fell on top of her. In a matter of seconds she was the only one
She looked around wildly. Her breathing came out fast and heavy. She screamed involuntarily as the
Alphan’s emerged from the bushes.
Helena knelt quickly at Tirzah’s side and tried to reassure her. Alan stood close by protectively, his gun held
ready. Koenig wandered the clearing making sure they were all stunned and examined the leader. He
stopped and looked at the women. “Is she able to travel? I don’t know how long they’ll be unconscious.”
Helena nodded and she and Alan pulled Tirzah to her feet.
Carter put his arm around the young woman’s waist and helped her along. They moved as quickly as
possible to put as much distance as possible between themselves and the natives.
They traveled for a long time without stopping. Alan was amazed at Tirzah’s stamina. She had kept up with
him, matching his stride and, even after all she had been through, she didn’t appear to be tired. Perhaps
the desire to escape helped to motivate her. When Koenig called for them to stop and rest, Alan had to
grab her arm as she continued without them.
Tirzah turned and looked at them. When she saw Helena sit she raced to her and grabbed her hand. She
shook her head and tried to pull Helena to her feet. “E tac pos!” Tirzah let go of Helena’s hand and listened
hard. “Yeh now pos gmoc reta ne! E tac pos!” She walked past Alan grabbing at his jacket sleeve and
waving at them to follow.
Helena stood up wearily with John’s assistance. She shouldered the med-kit. “She’s probably afraid to
stop in case they find us. I can’t say that I blame her!” They all followed the young woman who seemed to
know exactly where she was going.
The first slivers of sunlight grew up around the weary Alphans. They had convinced Tirzah to rest for a while
and had even managed to get her to sit down.
Helena worried that the woman’s ankle would suffer from the forced march but she noticed that she hadn’t
been limping for quite a long time. She crawled the foot and a half and sat down by Tirzah’s feet. She was
still leery of Helena and her med-kit, but she was slowly learning to trust the doctor.
Helena removed the bindings from Tirzah’s ankle to inspect it. She was amazed that there wasn’t any
obvious swelling as she checked the woman’s lower calf and foot. “Let me know if this hurts.” Helena
raised her eyebrows at her when she thought Tirzah might have pain. The young woman simply stared at
Helena through knitted brows.
Tirzah sat more confused than ever. She had trouble comprehending why they did certain things. They
acted a little odd to her but she was pretty sure that they were good people. She had decided, after the
rescue, that she would take them with her to her home. They would all be safe there.
Tirzah got up on her feet. “Helena. E dous og.” She nodded her head in the direction of the eagle and
started walking away from the group.
“I guess the break is over.” Koenig shouldered the med-kit and took Helena’s hand to help her up.
They ate ration bars as they traveled. The sun was high overhead when Tirzah veered off to the left.
“Where’s she going?” Helena questioned as they stopped.
“Alan, stop her. The eagle’s this way.” Koenig pointed ahead of them.
Alan ran ahead and grabbed Tirzah’s arm. “Whoa! You’re headed the wrong way.” He pointed toward the
Tirzah pulled her arm away and shook her head. “Ona. Eh galiv sa eret.” She pointed to a small mountain
range ahead. She turned and walked away from him.
Alan grabbed her elbow again. “No! This way.” He pointed toward their original path.
Tirzah looked slowly from the hand on her arm to its owners’ eyes. Her mouth was a thin line and her eyes
flashed like steel. “Te ne og.” She said slowly.
Alan spoke softly, with a hint of a smile. “This is for your own good.” Without further warning, Carter
tightened his grip on her arm, bent over, and pulled her roughly into his shoulder. He lifted her, fireman style,
kicking and screaming up off the ground.
Helena inhaled sharply at the abruptness of the scene. She began to protest on Tirzah’s behalf but John
took her hand and led her away toward the eagle. Alan trailed behind, exclaiming softly through clenched
teeth each time the woman contacted him with her foot or fist.
It wasn’t long before they broke through the forest onto the edge of a large clearing. Alan set Tirzah down
as gently as her protests would allow. She yelled and swatted at him as he moved away, and then caught
sight of the eagle.
Eagle 19 stood in the center of the clearing, bathed in sunlight. Tirzah’s mouth hung open and she blinked
several times. To her it was like something out of a fairy tale or bedtime story. She wasn’t even sure it was
truly there. She pinched herself several times to see if she was hallucinating.
Helena stepped up to her side smiling and took her elbow to guide her forward. Despite the doctors
prompting and reassuring voice, Tirzah moved slowly forward. Her mind constantly repeated that this
couldn’t possibly be real, but the image never faded.
One of the panels suddenly slid aside to reveal the interior of the craft. The group stopped as a curly-haired
man raced down the steps to greet them. Tirzah took a step back as the man approached quickly.
“Commander. We were starting to get a little worried. Maya was about to call.” Bill Fraser stood his full 6
foot height with his hands on his hips. “What happened?” They all started toward the eagle again.
Koenig indicated Helena’s charge. “We bumped into a sort of ‘damsel in distress’.”
“This is Tirzah.” Helena interjected.
Bill smiled and waved and then turned back to the Commander. They stopped a few feet from the eagle
and were joined by the teams’ security officer. They briefed the Commander on their findings and situation.
No one really paid attention to Tirzah as she wandered away to inspect the eagle. She walked toward the
nose of the craft and smiled to herself. She had thought that these things were supposed to be shiny and
silver and round. This one looked kind of dingy and bug-like.
Tirzah stopped dead in her tracks when a woman came around the eagle. She stared at the woman’s dark
auburn hair that was piled on her head and thinly extended across her forehead and cheeks. As she
approached, Tirzah’s attention was immediately drawn to the slightly discolored bumps that stretched away
from her eyes. The young woman’s lungs refused to take in air and her limbs wouldn’t move. Her lips
formed words that were never heard.
Maya smiled and watched the woman curiously as she approached. The woman acted frightened and
Maya thought it best to slow her pace and speak to reassure her. She stopped a few feet from the woman
and studied her for a second. “Hello. I’m Maya.”
Tirzah’s lips formed one word and her lungs produced just enough air to make it audible. “Psychon.” And
she fainted at Maya’s feet.
Maya yelled to the others and knelt down beside Tirzah. She took her shoulders and rolled her onto her
back. Maya then repositioned herself to rest the woman’s head on her lap.
John and Helena were the first to arrive and they almost spoke in unison. “What happened?” Maya
explained as Helena checked Tirzah’s vitals.
“…and I swear,” Maya finished, “I heard her say ‘psychon’. Then she collapsed.”
Helena looked up at her friend in astonishment then sat back on her feet and put her instruments away. “Let’
s get her inside the eagle.” Carter stepped forward and volunteered to carry her.
Koenig turned to the other two men. “Get the medical gurney out of the locker and set it up.” They nodded
and jogged back to the steps.
Alan picked Tirzah off the ground and cradled her against his chest. He had to fight an urge to bury his face
in her hair. He succeeded by reminding himself of all the times she had kicked, hit, punched or clipped him
for no reason. “Why?” He thought. “Why am I attracted to a woman that obviously can’t stand me?”
Carter walked up into the eagle and lay the woman gently on the gurney. Helena noticed how the pilot
carefully moved the woman’s hair away from her face before turning and walking out the door.
“Helena?” John inquired.
“She’ll be fine. She’s only fainted. It’s to be expected after all she’s been through.” Helena busied herself
around her patient.
John knew better than to really disturb her when she was in that mode. He left the eagle, closing the door
behind him. He took Maya with him to get her opinion of the natives.
Helena took all of Tirzah’s vitals and ran every test that her limited equipment could provide, but no matter
what she did, the results came out oddly. The doctor became even more confused when her inspection
revealed that the woman’s legs, which had been cut and scratched, were almost completely healed.
It hadn’t even been 24 hours since they had encountered this young woman and the deepest cuts that
Helena had noticed the day before, were merely raised red welts now. Curious, Helena moved to inspect
Tirzah’s face. She hadn’t been able to see very well the night before but she had seen a black eye forming.
As she turned the woman’s face to catch the light, Helena shook her head in amazement. There was no red
swollen cheek and her eye was only tinted purple. It should have taken days, not hours, before the coloring
and swelling went down. The doctor stopped and peered closer at her face noticing that she had no
Helena took all of this information and stuffed it into a pocket of her mind as Tirzah started to come around.
She stood close and held her tattooed hand. Helena smiled when Tirzah opened her eyes.
She blinked several times before she could see the doctor clearly. Tirzah wiped a grubby hand across her
eyes and flinched when it contacted the bruise. She touched it tenderly, and then looked around herself.
Helena was a little surprised at how quiet and calm Tirzah was. Her thoughts formed around an interesting
idea. Perhaps Tirzah wasn’t of this planet at all. Maybe she was part of a reconnaissance team like the
Alphans and was separated from her people and captured. “That would explain the ability to speak two
languages.” She said aloud. Tirzah looked at her and Helena blushed slightly. “Sorry. Occupational
Tirzah sat up and swung her feet over the side of the gurney, despite the doctor's protests. She looked at
Helena for a moment, biting her bottom lip nervously before she took a deep breath and let it out quickly.
The decision was risky, but Tirzah felt that she had to trust someone. Then she spoke slowly, hoping
desperately that she’d be understood. “Aku elim ni Tirzah, filian fid Frelec ci Partyka.” She put her hand to
her chest and stood up. “Aku makua ni fid bact calpae elim Psychon.”
Helena inhaled sharply causing Tirzah to stop. She was a little paler than usual when she spoke. “You did
say Psychon.” She was suddenly excited and dashed for the door. She called back over her shoulder as
the door slid open. “Wait! Let me get Maya, she may be able to understand you!” She hurried away down
Tirzah was surprised to see all the Alphans following Helena back into the eagle. Surprise quickly turned to
shock. It wasn’t a hallucination. Standing right in front of her, and wearing the same uniform as the others,
was a Psychon. Tirzah could hardly breathe and she felt as if she might faint again.
She heard Helena’s voice as if she were a million miles away. She was frozen, disbelief on every inch of
her face. Helena suddenly grabbed Tirzah’s hand and spoke her name, breaking the spell.
“Tell Maya what you were telling me.” Helena spoke excitedly. “Tell her about Tirzah and Frelec and
Psychon.” The entire party looked at Helena then back at Tirzah.
The young woman took a haggard, frightened breath and proceeded to repeat what she had told Helena.
As she finished, Maya’s hand fluttered to her throat and she stepped back, bumping into Koenig.
John grabbed her shoulders to steady her. “Are you all right?”
Maya shook her head back and forth slowly.
“What did she say?” Helena prompted her friend.
Maya’s eyes never left the young woman. “She’s speaking Psychon.” Her voice was barely more than a
whisper. “I didn’t get it all. The dialect is distorted and…as if she were a small child.” Maya took an
unsteady step forward. She knew that she had heard the word ‘Filian’ which meant daughter. She
hesitated. Maya stammered for a moment, forcing her memory to work. “Repeat it.” Maya said.
Tirzah complied and became excited at the prospect of communication. She didn’t know why the Psychon
woman needed her to repeat it but she was more than willing to help. “Neli Makua ni wae fid?” She asked
at the end.
Everyone looked expectantly at Maya
Maya took an excited breath and translated as much as she could. “This is Tirzah.” She indicated the
younger woman. “She’s the daughter of Frelec and Partyka.
“Is that all she said?” Alan prompted.
Maya hesitated a moment. “There was something about her family and Psychon and she wants to know
who I am.”
Tirzah couldn’t wait any longer. “You do understand, don’t you! We have to get back to the settlement. My
parents must be terribly worried by now. There are other slaves! If there are enough of us, we could free
She tried to continue but Maya stopped her. “Wait! Slow down.” She closed her eyes for a moment. This
was all happening so fast. “Where’s home?”
Tirzah grabbed Maya’s hand and pulled her outside. The others followed them. She pointed to the closest
small mountain range. “The settlement is about half way up the mountain.”
Maya turned to the Commander. “She comes from up there.”
“That’s what she must have been trying to tell us earlier when she headed in the other direction.” Alan put
his hands on his hips. “We just happened to be going her way.”
“Come on!” Tirzah started pulling Maya toward the mountain. “The others will want to know that we’re okay.”
Koenig stepped toward them and stopped the young woman but looked at Maya. “How does she know
your language?” He asked suspiciously.
“Her parents were Psychon. They would have taught her.”
“Then why doesn’t she look like one?” John inquired.
“Maybe one of her parents was a native.” Fraser volunteered.
“It’s been a long time, Commander and she’s a little difficult to understand. It’s like the difference between
talking with you and trying to talk to a 5 or 6 year old child.” Maya looked at him pleadingly.
Koenig nodded. “Not long, Maya. I have a feeling the natives will try something as soon as it gets dark.”
He looked around nervously.
Maya nodded and she and Helena led Tirzah back to the eagle. “Food?” She asked the younger Psychon.
| | |
Helena, Tirzah and Maya fell asleep in the back corner of the passenger compartment where they had been
conversing all day.
As soon as it started getting dark, Koenig locked the eagle door and the men took turns monitoring the
Alan shook the Commander to wake him. John followed him into the cockpit and knelt down on one knee
as Carter pointed at the monitor. “Seems you were right.”
“Can they do any real damage?” Koenig asked.
Fraser spoke up from the co-pilot’s seat. “They only have primitive weapons. I doubt they’d do more than
scratch the paint.”
“Never underestimate the natives. Keep your eye on them and let me know if they start any real trouble.”
John turned to leave and almost knocked over Tirzah.
She had crept up behind him to see the monitors and hadn’t moved fast enough when he tried to leave the
“Tirzah!” Koenig grabbed her shoulders to steady them both. “What are you doing up?” He started to turn
“Yah come for ne…me.”
John stopped and stared at her.
Alan had been coming out of the cockpit as she spoke. He grinned at Koenig. “Hey, that came out pretty
John smiled also. “Yea, it is good.” He bent over so they were more eye level. His expression was
serious. “Tirzah, why have they come for you? Why don’t they just let you go?”
Tirzah shook her head. “I slave…” She hunted for the right word.
“They can’t be that interested in one slave.” Carter commented.
Koenig rolled the statement over in his head for a moment. He looked at Tirzah curiously and his eyes fell
on her tattooed hand. “They might…if she wasn’t just any slave.” He said slowly. He was about to say more
when Bill Fraser called to him. “You’d better come see this!”
Carter hopped back into the pilot’s seat and Koenig leaned in from the doorway. Tirzah peaked around the
Commander to see what was going on.
Outside the eagle windows, as well as all the way around the eagle, stood a band of natives. Koenig
guessed that there were at least fifty of them. Several had torches and they all had weapons. They looked
like the next evolutionary step past caveman. They had spears and bow and arrows and clubs with
sharpened stones on the ends. They were massive people and the Alphans noticed that there was both
male and female.
Panic gripped Tirzah and she pointed to the monitor. It showed the man they had seen in the forest that she
had been fighting with. “Redal! Redal! I slave!”
The men looked at her, then at each other. “We’re leaving.” Koenig commanded. “Head for the mountains
where Tirzah’s people live.” He took Tirzah by the hand and led her back to the passenger compartment.
“Helena. Maya.” John turned up the lights on his way. He set Tirzah down and proceeded to strap her in.
“We’re taking off. Strap in.”
The two women woke with a start and did as they were told. “What’s the matter, John? Where are we
going?” Helena pulled the strap tight across her lap.
Koenig stopped briefly on his way back to the cockpit. “We’re taking Tirzah home.”
Tirzah felt the vibration under her feet as the eagle prepared to take off. She grabbed Maya’s hand and
“It’s okay. We’re taking you home.” Maya explained. The young woman eased up a little but never let go of
her hand. Maya couldn’t help smiling as they took off and Tirzah held her breath.
The men had just finished the pre-flight preparations when the natives came back into view. They had run
into the forest when they had first heard the engines start up but they were back now and those with bows
had flaming arrows pointed at the eagle.
“Lift off!” Koenig almost yelled in Alan’s ear.
The engines ignited and the eagle began to leave the ground. Most of the natives ran but some were blown
back from the force of the blast. The torches were extinguished before they hit the ground. The leader
watched from the protection of the trees as the eagle flew to the distant mountain.
When the eagle leveled out Koenig walked back to the passenger compartment. He knelt down in front of
Tirzah. “Do you think that you could point us in the right direction?” She looked at him confused. “Show me
where home is?” John said slowly.
“Home is mou-n-tain.” Tirzah had a little trouble saying the last word.
Koenig unstrapped her, took her hand, and led her back to the cockpit. Maya and Helena followed. He
pointed out the eagle windows. “Where’s home, Tirzah?”
Biting her bottom lip, Tirzah edged forward and sat on her feet between the two pilots. The journey that
should have taken two hard days climbing, took a mear half an hour. Tirzah watched with awe and
fascination as the ground sped away beneath them. She had heard the stories from the elders of flying in
the clouds like birds. She had been away for so long and wondered if her elders were still alive.
“Steady, mate!” Bill called to Carter. “It helps if you watch were you’re flying!” Everyone had been looking
out the windows, except Alan.
Carter mumbled a sorry and blushed. The moment Tirzah had knelt beside him, he couldn’t take his eyes
away from her. He tried not to think about her, concentrating on his instruments, but the image jumped in
front of his eyes anyway. He could see her large green eyes shining with excitement as she nervously bit
one lip. She sat straight and tall, her strawberry blond hair falling down her back almost touching the floor.
The rip in her dress revealed a strong, tan thigh.
“Home!” Tirzah’s cry broke in on Alan’s thoughts. She pointed excitedly at a large clearing with a circle of
small huts inside of it. “Home!” She beamed at Maya and lapsed into Psychon. “Mother and Father will be
so excited to meet you all!”
Koenig noticed that Maya twisted her fingers nervously as she translated. “Find a spot away from the
village to set us down.” Koenig touched Tirzah’s shoulder and waved her back. “We have to strap you in so
we can land.” She didn’t fully understand, but she followed him back to the passenger section.
“You’ve got it bad, mate.” Bill said as soon as the others were out of earshot.
“What?” Carter looked at his friend.
“That’s the same way I looked the first time I ever saw Annette.”
“What are you on about?”
“You!” Fraser laughed softly. “This is bad. You don’t even know you’ve got it!”
“That’s a good place.” Alan pointed to a small clearing and tried to ignore his friend.
Fraser’s mouth dropped open. “Oh! You do know, but you won’t admit it.” He shook his head pityingly. “I’m
patient. You’ll come looking for advice eventually.” Carter simply rolled his eyes and turned back to his
They set down in a clearing that was barely large enough to fit the eagle and several kilometers away from
Tirzah had watched the Commander strap and unstrap her and now she released the clip like a pro. She
skipped to the door and ran her hands across the panels trying to open it.
“Just a moment, Tirzah. Let everyone get ready.” Maya unstrapped herself. The young woman turned and
looked at her anxiously.
“She’s not in a hurry, is she?” Helena smiled broadly. She opened her med-kit and checked its contents.
“She’s home. I can’t say that I blame her.” Maya spoke quietly so that only her friend could hear.
Helena put her hand on Maya’s arm. “This must be so exciting for you!”
“And nerve wracking!”
“Now you know that some made it to this world, there must be more!”
Koenig and the others came in from the cockpit breaking up the women’s conversation. “Maya, you and
Tirzah had better go first. We want them to see friendly faces.” John looked around the compartment. “Let’
s not forget that we represent Moonbase Alpha as well as Earth.”
Everyone nodded their understanding. The Commander gestured to Maya to open the door and when she
complied they all stepped out into a shadowed glen. The air was more humid and tiny insects flew merrily.
They could hear water falling over rocks somewhere close by.
“It’s so magical!” Helena looked around dreamily.
“It’s almost like Psychon, when I was a child.” Maya spoke wistfully and allowed Tirzah to pull her along.
She held on tightly so that the younger woman wouldn’t run too far ahead.
They immerged from the forest in between two huts. Tirzah broke free of Maya’s hand and ran toward the
other end of the village. Maya and the other Alphan’s stopped at the edge of the settlement and looked
The village was a mess. Possessions and furniture were strewn everywhere. Most of the windows were
broken in every home and if a door still stood, it was open.
Maya took a few tentative steps forward and turned to look back at John and Helena. “What do you
suppose happened?” She had tears in her eyes and she didn’t wait for an answer. She headed for the
closest hut and went inside.
Koenig sighed, touched Helena’s arm, and gestured for her to follow her friend. He then turned to the men.
“Spread out and search every house. There may be survivors. If you find anything that will tell us what
happened here, report it immediately.” They fanned out to the nearest huts to search for clues.
Helena was shocked to find Maya wandering around a good-sized kitchen. The outside of the hut was
deceptive to the spacious interior. She walked around a wooden railing that protected a spiral staircase
and into a large living area. The kitchen was only separated by a large archway. The furniture was
overturned here as well and Helena noticed paintings and handcrafted artwork thrown without care. She
watched as Maya picked up a chair and leaned on it for support.
The Psychon woman walked past Helena like a zombie and headed for the spiral staircase. From the living
area it extended in both directions. Maya walked up the stairs with Helena tagging along. The two sleeping
chambers were supposed to be separated by intricately beaded curtains, but they had been ripped down.
Helena was appalled at the violence that she imagined must have happened.
Maya turned to leave and noticed something odd. She knelt down and reached under a shredded mattress
to pull out a child’s toy. One stuffed limb was missing, an ear was half off and stuffing protruded from a cut
in the little creatures’ belly. She started weeping openly. “Oh, Helena! What have they done?”
Helena coaxed her down the stairs, taking the stuffed toy from her and leaving it behind. She steered her
back out the front door. “Let’s go find Tirzah. She’s going to need a friend.” Maya nodded and wiped her
| | |
Tirzah ran the length of the village and into the far left hut. She looked around the wreckage, calling to her
parents. She raced up the staircase taking the steps two at a time. Tirzah picked up pieces of clothing and
furniture and tossed them aside creating even more havoc. She grabbed a hold of a small bed frame and
shoved it aside.
Tirzah growled in frustration and yanked a little chair out of the corner. Half hidden in the corner sat a plain
eight-inch square box. It almost blended into the wall. She snatched up her prize and ran back down the
stairs, once again calling to her parents. When she reached the living area, Tirzah sat the box carefully on
the floor and continued down the steps.
| | |
“Anything?” Koenig stopped the women on their way to find Tirzah.
Helena shook her head sadly. “They’ve been horribly vandalized.”
“Did you find anything, Commander?” Maya swallowed back a sob.
“They’re all the same. I’ve sent Fraser and Jordan to scout the surrounding area.” John walked with the
“Where’s Alan?” Helena inquired.
Koenig started to answer when they heard a blood-curdling scream. There was a moment’s hesitation; then
the three Alphans raced across the settlement as a second one rent the air.
John arrived first with Maya close at his heals, both calling to Tirzah. Another scream directed them down
the stairs. Koenig’s eyes took a moment to adjust to the dim light, and then find the source of the panic.
Maya hit the bottom step and put her hands to her mouth to stifle the scream that threatened to escape her
Koenig grabbed Tirzah by the shoulders, spun her around and shoved her toward Maya. “Get her out of
Maya put her arm around the other woman’s waist and quickly led her back up the stairs just as Helena had
made it to the bottom. She took one look at the site in front of her, inhaled sharply and then became
Two skeletal bodies lay on the floor. Their gender and species was unrecognizable. Dr. Russell knelt down
beside them and examined what was left. Their clothing suggested that they were a man and a woman but
the bodies had been on the hard packed dirt floor for so long, there was no way to tell how they died. “We
can probably assume that these are Tirzah’s parents.” Helena stood and moved closer to John. “This
happened a long time ago, John.”
Koenig began rummaging around the area.
“What are you looking for?”
“Something to cover them with!”
Helena joined him until they finally found a heavy tarplin to lie over the bodies. “We should bury them
properly.” Koenig put his arm around the doctor and drew her close.
“I’ll go see how Tirzah is.”
Koenig looked back over his shoulder as he followed her up the stairs.
Tirzah sat on a bench just outside the front door. The others had gathered nearby. Maya sat next to her with
her arm around the young woman’s shoulders. Neither of them moved. When the Commander and Doctor
walked into the sunshine, each took a breath of fresh air.
Helena knelt next to Tirzah and opened her med-kit. John gathered the men and headed back to the eagle.
“Maya?” Helena spoke softly. The Psychon turned her head to look at her friend, but there was a vacancy
behind her eyes. “We want to help bury them. What do Psychon’s prefer in these instances?”
Maya shook her head and stared back over the village. “It doesn’t really matter. The body’s just a shell for
the soul to reside in.” She paused for a long moment and Helena turned back to her kit. Then Maya took a
beep breath and stood up. “I’m going to find something appropriate for Tirzah to wear.” She stepped into
the hut and up the spiral staircase.
Helena took her place on the bench and tentatively took Tirzah’s hand. “It’ll be okay.” She tried to reassure
the young woman.
Maya returned with a dark piece of material draped over her arm. She took Tirzah’s hand and led her back
into the hut without ever saying a word.
The men returned an hour later. They found Helena wandering amongst the debris. “Where’s Tirzah?” Alan
“And Maya?” Koenig added.
Helena waved toward the hut. “Maya’s helping her change and clean up.” She moved closer to John. “This
is really hard on Maya too, I think.”
“She was excited at the prospect of meeting other Psychons after all this time. This must be devastating.”
He took a deep breath. "Fraser and Jordan found a pile of charred bones just outside the village. It could
be what's left of the villagers. I think it's best not to say anything to Maya or Tirzah about it just yet...
especially since..." John took Helena’s hand and the group headed back to the hut. “We also found a little
cemetery and dug a grave to put them in. From the looks of the other markers, couples were buried
together so we figured that it should be okay.”
Helena nodded. As the group approached, the other two women emmerged from the hut. Alan stopped
short and his mouth dropped open.
Tirzah was freshly bathed and her hair washed and pinned back. She wore a dark blue form fitting dress
that went to her knees and had intricate beadwork throughout. None of the men could take their eyes off of
John tapped Carter’s arm and spoke softly. “Come on, we’ll go bring them up.” The men followed Koenig
inside and came back out a few moments later carrying both bodies neatly wrapped in the tarplin.
The women followed them to the little cemetery. They placed them in the ground and everyone stood
around the grave somberly. John leaned close to Maya. “Should we say a few words?”
As if on cue, Tirzah spoke in a good clear voice. Maya translated for the Alphans. “We celebrate these
lives today by all who gather here. We remember their joy, their love and their commitment to the
community. We rejoice in their ascension from this world to the next. May they go in peace with knowledge
of deeds well done and a life well loved. We help them to stay bonded in the next world as they were in this
one.” Tirzah moved her hand over the grave and dropped in a beaded ribbon so that it fell flat across the
bodies. “We send them with their symbol of unity and love.” She opened her other hand and dropped in
what appeared to be lace doilies. Tirzah and Maya then spoke in unison. "We commit these bodies back
to the ground from wence they came to nurture those who nurtured them.” Maya translated quickly and then
turned to the Commander. “If you would finish burying them, we’ll go prepare the celebration.” He nodded
uncertainly and she took Helena’s and Tirzah’s arms and led them back to the village.
The men were surprised to find a small party prepared on their return. The women had cleaned up around
Tirzah’s hut and the one next to it. They had set up tables and chairs between the two and lay out any food
they could find that was still good.
“Now we celebrate their lives with good food and drink.” Maya announced. She passed out goblets full of
purplish liquid to everyone and nodded at Tirzah.
“To Mater and Pater!” She raised her glass in the air. “Az tis fid auhte opami’d han jisne tut ete lida tory ki
auhte.” Tirzah took a large swig of her drink.
All eyes turned to Maya. “To her Mother and Father. For all of their loving kindness to anyone who came in
contact with them.” She raised her glass and then took a drink. The other Alphans followed suit.
“Better than Tony’s beer!” Carter smacked his lips. The other’s giggled at his comment, even Maya.
They spent the evening talking and laughing. Maya translated as Tirzah told them stories of her childhood.
She told stories of her parents that they had passed on to her.
When the sun began to set, Koenig instructed the men on taking turns at watch. Fraser and Jordan excused
themselves and went into the nearby hut to get some sleep.
Maya couldn’t wait any longer. She finally asked Tirzah the one thing that everyone wanted to know.
“Tirzah, where’s everyone else? What happened to the rest of the Psychons?”
John and Helena glanced at each other quickly.
"Norlou’s come. Take everyone for slave. No fight, just take.”
“No one fought back?” Helena asked.
“Yes.” Tirzah nodded. “Save little ones. We run sataemn.”
“Far away.” Maya interjected.
Tirzah shrugged. “Psychon’s hurt. Norlou’s catch and slave all alive.”
Maya hung her head. “So the only survivors are now slaves.”
“Most little ones.” Tirzah paused and struggled with the language. “We weren’t fast enough and they caught
us anyway.” She stared out over the darkening village. “Come back here. Many Psychons…eeak.”
“But why didn’t they fight back?” Helena shook her head.
“Many Norlou. Little Psychons. Old ones…slow.”
“It didn’t matter that you were only half Psychon?” Koenig asked.
Tirzah looked to Maya for a translation. The young woman scowled at the Commander and shook her
head. “What does he mean by that?”
Before she could answer her, Koenig stood and announced that they should all go to bed. He slapped
Carter gently on the shoulder. “I’ll take first watch and come to get you in a few hours.”
Alan nodded and went to the hut where Fraser and Jordan slept. The three women went into Tirzah’s hut to
Koenig walked around the huts his people slept in and paced back and forth in front of them. As the hours
crawled by he wrapped his coat tighter around himself.
Before he had a chance to wake him, Alan came out to relieve the Commander; startling him slightly. “What
are you doing up? I still have another half an hour yet.”
“I can’t sleep. This place is a little creepy.” Carter zipped up his jacket.
Koenig smiled. “Thinking about Tirzah?”
“Yea.” Alan answered without thinking. “I mean…how old do you think she was when they discovered this
place and raided it?”
John shrugged. “She must have been very young from the look of her parent’s bodies.”
Carter nodded. “Imagine, enslaving one of your own people just because they were half of another culture.”
“A lot like our own history on Earth. I once told Maya about WW III and I remember how upset and disgusted
she was about it because Psychons had no history like that.” Koenig sat down on a bench.
Carter turned to face him. “What, no wars? Ever?”
“Apparently Psychon had never had any civil disputes.”
“No wonder these people didn’t fight back well. They probably never had a chance against the natives.”
Carter shook his head. “Although, Maya helps out real good if any of us are in trouble.”
“Not all Psychons can morph like her. She had to teach Dorzak, remember?” Koenig stood and started
pacing. “I know that when she’s caused any harm to anyone, no matter how accidental, she is very upset by
it. I think that’s natural to her people. They don’t like violence.” John yawned.
“You’d better get some sleep. I can handle it here.” Alan smiled.
| | |
The night passed uneventfully for the Alphans. As the sun started to rise, Security Officer Jordan paced in
front of the huts they slept in. He stopped in front of the women’s hut as Maya came flying out the door.
“Commander! She’s gone!” Maya yelled, running to the other hut and banged on the door. Helena was
close behind her. “Commander!” The door flew open. “Tirzah’s gone!”
“When?” Koenig yanked his jacket on.
“I don’t know. We woke up and she was gone. We searched the hut but she’s not there.” Maya followed
him back inside the women’s hut.
He stepped back outside. “Jordan, go check at the eagle. Everyone else fan out. Check every hut and the
| | |
Kneeling down next to the grave, Tirzah placed a bouquet of flowers against the marker. “They asked me
why you didn’t fight harder against the Norlou. I couldn’t answer what I don’t know.” She took a deep
breath. “I want to know too. When they brought us back to the settlement and you just stood there. All of
you. Why?” She didn’t really expect an answer, but it felt good to ask.
Tirzah sighed and stood up to leave and continued to rise up off the ground. A pair of hands had a vise grip
hold on her shoulders and they spun her around and caught her again before her feet hit the ground.
Tirzah stared into the face of the Norlou leader. Her mouth opened slightly then closed again as her eyes
“I knew you’d come here. Back to this weakness.”
Tirzah’s face grew hot and she pursed her lips. She kicked as hard as she could, connecting her foot with
his groin. He doubled up and fell over faster than she had anticipated but he didn’t let go until she fell on top
Tirzah rolled off and got quickly to her feet. Her ankle was instantly seized and she fell, face first in the
grass. She clawed at her surroundings as the leader dragged her back.
When she was close enough, he grabbed her hips and flipped her onto her back. Tirzah kicked at him
wildly and tried to back away.
With his hands he forced her knees into the grass, positioned himself over her legs and sat on her feet.
Tirzah lay still. The weight of him on her legs and the lack of an attack position caused her to stop.
The leader smiled at her wickedly. “Now don’t you look pretty.” She squirmed nervously as he looked her
up and down. “This must be mother’s dress.” He grabbed a sleeve and viciously ripped it away from her
Tirzah inhaled sharply as the stitches gave way. She tried again to escape. The leader suddenly grabbed
her wrists and pinned them near her head. His face was only inches from hers. Tirzah’s fear grew as his
eyes left hers and traveled slowly down her face and stopped at her heaving breasts.
His eyes snapped back up to hers. “I would take you here, but your new friends might interrupt our playtime.”
Tirzah’s eyes widened and she opened her mouth to cry out for help, but he was faster. Before she could
utter a sound, he backhanded her across the face causing her to lose consciousness. “No fair trying to
attract an audience.” The leader stood and threw Tirzah’s limp body up-over his shoulder.
| | |
She woke up looking down at the back of the leader’s feet. Tirzah realized that she couldn’t see properly
out of one eye so she reached up slowly to touch her face. The eye was swollen but not closed shut and a
quarter inch all around it was sensitive.
Tirzah pushed herself upright as much as possible. “Put me down!” She demanded.
“Sure.” The leader nearly threw her on the ground.
She landed hard and scrambled to her feet. “You filthy piece of slug worm! May a thousand creel ants eat
at your flesh for all eternity!”
“How dare you speak that language to me!” The leader raised his hand to hit her but Tirzah stood proud,
never flinching. His lips curled into a sneer that caused her blood to turn cold and he lowered his hand.
“No. I think you want me to kill you. I think that if you live, it’ll be better punishment.” Tirzah’s mouth dropped
open as he grabbed her upper arm and pulled her further into the forest.
They had only walked a few feet when she wrestled her arm from his grip. “I will not go with you!” Tirzah
turned to run.
The leader was faster and grabbed at her arm again. His fingers caught the material and spun the young
woman around as her other sleeve ripped. She could see the fire in his eyes as he ripped the sleeve
completely away from the dress.
Tirzah turned to run again and this time he caught her hair. He yanked hard, knocking her back into a bunch
of small trees. He tried grabbing her arms but she began beating at him wildly as she tried to maneuver into
He blocked her every move until she finally ended up on her hands and knees on the ground in front of him.
He picked her up roughly and shoved her further into the forest.
She didn’t care what direction she went in anymore. Tirzah only knew that she didn’t want to be his slave
any longer. So she ran further away from the village trying to escape the leader.
“The hunt begins.” He growled menacingly and took off after her. She was quick and agile but he was
bigger and faster.
Tirzah dodged and twisted around bushes and trees. She could hear the leader close behind. She turned
to see how close he was and her foot caught on a tree root. She hit the ground hard and could feel the skin
on her jaw and elbow tear open. Tirzah didn’t wait, she scrambled to her feet and skirted around a tree.
Her fall had caused the small gap between them to close and the leader caught her by hair and dress
collar. She flew backward and slammed into him. He tightened his grip and her hands clawed at her
throat. He turned Tirzah around, still holding the back of her collar, and rested his arm on her shoulder.
She gasped for air as he stared down at her. “You are good prey.” He put his face close to hers. “I took
you for your spirit and you have never disappointed me.”
Tirzah started to get lightheaded and her knees buckled under her own weight. The leader let go of her
dress and knelt down beside her. “This is very pretty.” He stroked the material as she sat, inhaling deeply.
“Did it belong to your mother?”
Tirzah eyed him suspiciously and shook her head, no. She started to inch her way backward away from him.
“Where do you go now, little prey?” He said sweetly and grabbed her knees. She shook her head again
and started to move backward. He let go of her and sat up straight and menacing. “I caught you fair. You’
The leader lunged forward like a panther and pinned her back against the ground. Tirzah struggled and
fought for freedom but he held her easily with his body. He produced a thin vine and bound her hands
together. She thrashed and kicked, but to no avail.
From the bindings, he ran his hands down her arms and past her shoulders to rest on her breasts. He put
his face close to hers and brushed his beard across her cheeks as one hand continued down the length of
her body. “Why do you struggle? This is not much different from any other time.”
Tirzah brought her fists down hard on his back causing him to pull up. It defeated her purpose though,
because now her hands were locked behind his neck. She tried to slip her hands back over his head, but
he smiled and kept the tension even.
He sat all the way up bringing her upper body with him. The leader reached around behind her and started
to unlace the bindings on her dress.
“NO!” Tirzah screamed and started thrashing and twisting. She yanked at the vines holding her wrists,
ignoring the blood that began to trickle down her arms. She managed to pull her arms back over his head
and beat at his chest. Her own blood splattered on them both. “No more!” She twisted and brought her
fists up and across his jaw.
The leader only paused for a moment before slapping her hard across the face. The blow sent her back
and she hit her head on the ground. Tirzah blinked several times before her eyes adjusted properly. Her
vision cleared just in time to see the leader reach down and rip the front of her dress down the center. The
material tore almost to her navel. His eyes glazed with carnal delight and she felt his thighs start to quiver.
Tirzah screamed as he pulled the dress away from her chest. She started swinging her fists again and tried
to twist herself out from underneath him. The leader seized her wrists again and loosened some of the
vine. Then he forced her hands behind her head and tied the vine loosely around her throat, attaching the
remainder back to her wrists. She pulled once in an attempt to free herself and froze. Nearly every move
caused the vine to choke her.
The leader inched back and grabbed the hem of the dress and tore it upward. He slid his hands slowly up
her thighs underneath the material, parting it as he went.
Tirzah struggled to free herself. The vine was strong and he had tied it well. She closed her eyes and
worked more fervently as she felt his hands move across her hips and belly. Her body responded,
unwillingly, causing her to work harder.
Tirzah’s eyes flew open and she cried out involuntarily when she felt both of his hands plunge between her
| | |
As everyone scattered around the village, Carter headed for the cemetery. He crashed through the growth
and bushes, propelled by adrenaline. He could feel the knot in his stomach starting to grow and twist. He
slid to a stop at the grave of her parents.
A small bouquet of flowers had been lay against the marker and Alan could see the spot in the dirt where
she had knelt down. A few inches away the grass was trampled and crushed. He picked up a dark blue
sleeve and knew that his hunch was paying off. He hoped that they hadn’t taken her too long ago.
Without thinking, Alan raced off into the forest after her. His mind raced along with his feet. ‘Why had she
gone off alone? When had she snuck past the watch? What would they do to her? How many of them were
there? What if he found her dead?’ He stopped. Breathing heavily, he shook his head to clear it. “Don’t
start thinking like that, mate!” He reprimanded himself aloud.
He looked around slowly in the semi-darkness of the forest. Their direction was now more obscure and
Alan searched a moment for clues. Finding several broken branches along a 3 ft. stretch, he headed after
what had made them. He felt sure he knew where they were heading.
Half instinct and half tracking, Alan followed their trail for over an hour before the buzzing of his commlock
slowed him down. He looked down at it as if he’d never seen it before, then snatched it off of his belt and
answered gruffly. “Yes.”
“Carter, where are you?” Koenig’s angry voice caused Alan to almost drop the box.
“I’m following Tirzah’s trail.” He turned left around a large tree and saw a piece of her dress.
“Stop right now until we have a chance to catch up to you! I don’t need two missing people to worry about!”
“Sorry, Commander.” Carter shook his head. He switched off the commlock but turned on the homing
beacon so that the others could follow.
He didn’t know how far he had gone or how long he’d been tracking them, but Alan stopped to get his
bearings. The trail had gone cold a little way back and he looked around franticly for clues. He ran his hand
across the back of his head in frustration. “Which way? Which way?” He mumbled to himself.
As if in response to his question, he heard a woman scream. It was faint but Alan ran in the direction it
seemed to be coming from.
Carter felt as if he’d been running forever, yet gaining no ground, when he stopped again. He listened
intently and looked again for any sign of Tirzah. He kept walking in what he now hoped was the right
direction. His reward came when he heard an anguished cry.
Alan Carter was not prepared for what he found a few yards ahead. He froze and his face screwed up in
disgust. The site of the Norlou leader pawing Tirzah’s half naked bound body made him want to vomit. His
stomach twisted and Alan charged ahead, yelling at the top of his lungs, and tackled the man off of Tirzah.
The Norlou leader was stunned for a moment, giving the Alphan pilot time to pound his fist into the other
man’s face a couple of times. It didn’t take long for the leader to retaliate. He soon found an opening and
connected his fist with Carter’s jaw.
Tirzah managed to roll out of the way as the Australian fell where she had just been. She watched the
leader pick him up and punch him in the face a second time. He held on to the pilot and punched him in the
Carter retaliated by locking his fingers together and swinging his fists into the leader’s ribcage. The man
doubled over and, again with his fingers locked, Alan punched the leader in the face. Blood squirted from
the leader’s broken nose and he flew back into a tree trunk.
Alan panted, trying to catch his breath. He sniffed and almost wiped a blood stained hand across his own
bloody nose. Turning, he walked over to where Tirzah half lay, half sat at the base of a tree. He helped her
sit up and started to untie the vine.
He had barely begun when Tirzah yelled. “Alan!” He turned his head in time to see two large fists swing
The leader slammed his fists into Alan’s shoulder blades, sending him to his knees. He picked him up and
threw the pilot into a nearby tree. Alan slid to the ground and shook his head to clear the buzzing.
The leader closed the gap and picked Carter off the ground, leaning him against the tree. He drew back his
fist and froze. At the same exact moment, Alan winced and clutched at his shoulder as searing hot pain
shot through it.
Alan looked up into the glazed eyes of the Norlou leader and watched him fall over slowly and crash onto the
ground. Smoke rose from his semi-charred chest. Carter looked around for the cause and saw Tirzah
sitting frozen on the ground clutching his stun gun.
She didn’t move as he stepped out of the path of the gun to take it from her. He started to reach for it when
he noticed that she had somehow put the setting on laser beam before she fired the weapon.
Carter snatched it away from her and put it back on stun and then placed it back in the holster. Tirzah still
sat frozen as if she were holding the gun so Alan gently pushed her hands down.
Ignoring the burn on his shoulder, Alan knelt down and finished untying Tirzah’s wrists then inspected them.
He pulled off his jacket slowly over the injured shoulder, slipped it onto her arms and zipped it up.
Alan stood and gently took a hold of Tirzah’s elbows, pulling her to her feet. Her eyes were distant and full of
fear. Tirzah stood and looked at Alan without really seeing him and, without warning, fainted in his arms.
Carter caught her easily with his good arm but couldn’t lift her. He shifted her weight until he was able to put
her up on his uninjured shoulder.
He had a difficult time making his way back to the Psychon village. Tirzah wasn’t heavy, but the pain in his
shoulder from the laser was becoming excruciating. He leaned against a tree for a moment but didn’t dare
stop until they were back to the village in case any more Norlou came looking for them.
They hadn’t gone two more kilometers when Tirzah woke up. Finding herself, once again upside down, she
panicked and began thrashing wildly. She beat at Alan with her fists causing him to lose all balance.
They both tumbled onto the ground in a tangled heap. Tirzah continued to hit at him. She clipped his burnt
shoulder and he howled in pain. Clutching at it, he rolled out of reach.
“Tirzah!” He screamed at the young woman. “Calm down! It’s only me!” Alan could see the raw animalistic
terror ebb away from her eyes as she looked around and realized where she was and who she was with.
She had backed herself into a small clump of bushes and continued to look around for adversaries. “Come
on, let’s get back to the village.” Alan stood and held out his hand to help her up.
Tirzah peeked around both sides of the bushes before standing. She did not accept Alan’s hand, but
looked him up and down before stopping to stare at his shoulder. “I did this?” Carter nodded as she
stepped closer to inspect it. She reached out as if to touch it and he flinched away. “Ona.” Tirzah shook
her head and scowled at him. She pushed the burnt pieces of material aside carefully.
Tirzah looked up at Alan and bit her bottom lip. “Maybe you should hold your breath.” She inhaled deeply,
holding her breath, then nodded at him to do the same. Alan copied what he thought she wanted and Tirzah
ripped the material surrounding the burn.
The pilot cried out in pain as his shoulder was jarred and reached up to protect it, but Tirzah was faster.
She ripped his uniform sleeve completely off and wrapped it around the burn tightly. She tied it off as neatly
as possible and started searching around the bushes.
She found a viney plant that reminded Alan of the one that had been tied around her wrists, and she yanked
it from the root. After stripping off its leaves, she tore off two good-sized pieces of her own dress.
Alan was a little uneasy at how short the skirt was now and how exposed her legs were. Tirzah sat him
gently on a nearby log and wrapped one of the pieces around his wrist. She then folded the other and
placed it around his neck. Alan watched in awe as she wrapped the vine around his wrist and neck to make
She was admiring her handiwork when they heard a scuffling in the woods. Tirzah didn’t hesitate. She
grabbed Alan by his good arm, pulling him to his feet, and led him into the forest toward the village.
“Wait. It could be the Commander.” Alan hung back, forcing her to pull harder. “Maybe it’s Fraser or even
Tirzah hesitated for a moment upon hearing Maya’s name. She looked at Alan then back into the forest.
She shook her head and tugged on him again. “Ona. No friend.” She glanced at Alan. “The thoughts are
He followed her instinct and urging for a long time, even though they never heard anyone following. To his
surprise, Tirzah lead him to a good-sized stream. She pointed up stream. “We just follow the water back to
the Psychon village.”
Alan sat on a large rock to rest. “Hey, Tirzah. Come here.” He waved to her. She stepped up beside him
and started to check his arm. “No. No.” He grabbed her elbow and steered her to face him. She watched
him curiously as he inspected her wrists.
Tirzah stiffened slightly as Alan reached for her neck. He stood and brushed her hair back gently off of her
shoulder. He tilted her chin upward and away from himself to get a better view of her neck.
When his fingers touched her chin, Tirzah inhaled softly. Her lungs then became incapable of functioning as
he leaned in closer. Her mind raced trying to figure out why she was reacting this way, yet she felt no fear.
Her abdomen twisted slightly as his fingers slipped gently down her throat and she felt his breath on her
neck as he spoke.
“The skin isn’t broken, but you may have a nasty welt for a little while.” Alan looked up with a smile to a pair
of wide eyes that blinked continuously. They followed him as he straightened up. He noticed that her
breathing was short and shallow and he thought he saw her trembling slightly. Carter tried to hide a
deepening smile. He felt good to think that he had the same effect on her that she had on him. He turned
and headed for the stream, pulling her along.
Tirzah swallowed hard and took a few deep breaths. She followed Alan’s instructions to soak and wash her
wrists in the cool water, then she helped him wash his shoulder.
Tirzah led him up stream at a good pace. Alan’s stomach growled for attention. He looked up at the sun
then reached for his commlock. He stopped when his hand met only his belt. “Tirzah!” The young woman
was quite a few feet ahead.
Tirzah turned to see Alan backtracking. She rushed to catch up to him and grabbed his good arm to stop
“I’ve lost my commlock. Without that John and the others can’t find us.” He continued downstream.
Tirzah scrambled around in front of him and put her hands on his chest. “No! Norlou…find! Slave more!”
She looked at him desperately and tried to push him back upstream.
Alan grabbed her elbow and tried to move her out of the way. “It’s important, Tirzah. I have to find it.”
The young woman stood her ground. “No!” She barely understood a word he was saying, but she knew that
if he went back he would die. She felt protective of him, but she told herself that it was because of his
“This isn’t funny, Tirzah, I have to find it!” Alan played a backward tug-of-war with her and realized that he
was loosing ground. Only able to maneuver her with one arm, he was at a disadvantage.
Alan planted one foot between hers and stepped into her. He let go of her and wrapped his arm around her
waist, pulling her even closer. She inhaled sharply and froze. She steeled herself, not knowing what to
He bent his head close to hers. “I’m sorry, but I have to find it.” Alan picked her up and deposited her to the
side. He then moved on downstream.
Tirzah recovered quickly and looked around for a large stick. She found a good-sized rock instead and
hurried up behind Alan. When she was close enough, she raised the rock over her head intending to hit Alan
They both stopped when they heard a noise from downstream. It grew louder and Alan turned to face
Tirzah. “Do you have any…?” He looked at the rock she held suspended over her head. “Give me that!”
Annoyed, Alan grabbed the rock and threw it into the stream.
The noise grew louder still and they both looked in its’ general direction. He turned back to the woman and
grabbed her shoulder. “Tirzah!” He shook her to make her look at him. “I need to know. Do you have any
dogs here?” She stared at him and her brow knit together. Alan sighed. “Do you have any four legged,
furry creatures that make that noise?”
Tirzah shook her head.
Alan didn’t know if she had understood him or not. He turned her around and started pushing her upstream.
She needed very little prompting; she practically flew in front of him.
They both ran as fast as they could, but Alan knew that sooner or later it would catch up. He grabbed his
stun gun and double-checked that it was set on stun.
Alan was losing steam. He’d been watching Tirzah get further and further away from him. He knew he
shouldn’t stop but his shoulder was throbbing and his lungs had reached their capacity to expand. He called
to Tirzah and she ran back to meet him. She was breathing heavily and the sweat was pouring off of her
too, but she grabbed Alan’s arm and urged him on.
A full-blooded hound dog suddenly ran at them from behind causing Tirzah to scream. She backed up
quickly as Alan raised his weapon. The dog stopped in its tracks and stared at them, barking. It sat down,
raised up one paw and whined at the couple.
“Maya?” Alan lowered his gun as the shimmering, iridescent lights became the lithe red-haired Psychon.
Maya stepped up to Alan and hugged him, mindful of his shoulder. “Are you two all right? When we found
the Norlou dead and your comlock smashed, we feared the worse.” She pointed at his arm in the makeshift
sling. “What happened?”
“Tirzah rescued her rescuer from certain death by using his stun gun.”
Maya looked at the younger woman, stunned. “Tirzah…?”
Alan nodded. “Her hands were tied and when she picked it up she must have hit all the wrong buttons.”
“Oh, you poor dear.” Maya spoke sympathetically and moved toward her. “Did the Norlou harm you? Are
you alright?” She tried to comfort her but Tirzah moved away.
She stared at Maya for a moment. “How did you do that? Only the old ones can change.” She moved
further away and her eyes darted back and forth from Alan to Maya. “Who are you?”
Maya looked at Alan sadly. “I’ve frightened her.”
“How? What’d you do?”
Maya looked like she might cry. “I don’t think she’s seen anyone metamorph for a long time and it
frightened her.” Maya took a step forward, saw Tirzah stiffen, and stopped. “My Elders taught me to
transform. I’ve had the talent for a very long time. Please don’t be afraid.” Maya slowly closed the gap
between them and took the younger woman’s hand.
Tirzah relaxed a little and allowed herself to be led to where Alan now sat on a fallen tree. “Now we just wait
for the others to catch up.” Maya patted her hand.
They passed the time by listening to Maya recount how the Alphans had found the Norlou leader’s body, had
narrowly escaped detection by his troops, and how she had become a bloodhound to track them. She was
prompting Alan for his story when Koenig and Jordan arrived.
Alan stood up slowly. The look on the commander’s face reminded him of their last conversation.
“Captain Carter!” Koenig wasted no time. “Do you have any idea how many ‘planet landing’ rules you’ve
broken?” He came around a small boulder and his steps faltered as he got a good look at Alan and Tirzah.
“Yes, sir, I know…but if I had waited even five more minutes…” Alan looked at Tirzah and she stared back
at him curiously. “I don’t want to think about what would have happened.” He said softly, his eyes never left
“Carter.” Koenig grabbed his attention. “You both need medical attention. Helena’s waiting back at the
| | |
Alan stopped alongside Tirzah as she stopped to pick berries. “Are these edible?”
She paused a moment then continued picking.
“Tirzah?” She turned to look at him, annoyed. “Eat?” Alan started to put one in his mouth. Tirzah nodded
and turned back to the berries.
When the others caught up to them, Alan offered his handful of berries. “They’re like a raspberry/blackberry
combination with a sort of lime aftertaste.”
Everyone took one and tasted it. Maya closed her eyes and savored the flavor. “Oh! They’re cassishua!”
She opened her eyes and smiled broadly at Tirzah. “They must have brought these from Psychon and
replanted them here!”
Tirzah nodded and smiled back. “Cassishua.”
They arrived in the village a few minutes later and Helena rushed to meet them. She went straight to Tirzah
and she and Maya guided the young woman into her families’ house. Helena stopped in the doorway and
turned back to Alan. “Give me a few minutes and I’ll take a look at your arm.”
As soon as she shut the door Koenig turned to Carter. “Sit down.” He pointed to the nearby bench. “What
“Look, I’m sorry that I just charged off like that.” Alan gestured with his good arm. “I went to look out at the
cemetery and all the signs pointed to Tirzah being kidnapped again. I know I broke protocol, John, but when
I found her…she was…” Carter swallowed hard and his voice dropped to a whisper. “He was raping her.”
Helena opened the door to an almost eerie silence. “Alan.” She waved him inside. He looked at John, who
nodded, then followed the doctor.
“Fraser, you and Jordan head back to the eagle.” Koenig spoke quietly. “Start the pre-flight sequence.”
They mumbled their acknowledgment and headed for the clearing. The Commander looked at the sun
starting to dip down behind the trees. He knew the natives wouldn’t take the killing of their leader lightly.
The interior of the house was nearly spotless. The usable furniture had been turned upright, the undamaged
pictures and wall hangings had been replaced, and Doctor Russell had set up what little medical equipment
she had on the nearby table.
Alan glanced up the stairs as Helena guided him to an overstuffed stool near the window. “Where’s Tirzah?”
“Sit down here.” Helena ignored his question. She unwrapped the makeshift sling and bandages from his
“Is she all right?”
“Let’s take off your shirt.”
“Please, Helena, is she all right?”
“Sit still, Alan.” Helena sighed softly. “She’ll be fine.”
“I made her wash her wounds in the stream.”
“That’s good.” The doctor stopped and touched Alan’s wound lightly, causing him to wince in pain. “Alan,
this looks like a laser shot.”
“That’s because it is, Doc.”
Helena picked up a hypo and pressed it against his arm. “Would you care to explain who shot you with a
Carter chuckled. “Tirzah shot me.”
“What?” Helena stopped to stare at him.
“She didn’t mean to. Her hands were tied and she must have fumbled with the gun to pick it up before firing
“Why did she shoot you?” She went back to work on his shoulder.
“She didn’t. She shot the Norlou leader and it went clean through.” Alan spoke softly.
Helena shuddered involuntarily. “Alan?” She rewrapped his arm. “What happened out there?” She asked
“How much has Tirzah told you?” He looked out the window.
“Nothing. She won’t talk to us about it.” Helena sighed heavily. “Every other topic, yes! But when we ask
her what happened, she closes herself off completely.”
Alan shook his head, still staring out the window. “She’s tough, that one. She must have grown up in hell.”
He grew quiet.
“Put your shirt back on.” Helena put his arm in a proper sling.
Maya came down the stairs and Alan jumped to his feet. “How is she?”
“She’s asleep, finally.” Maya wrapped her arms around herself tightly. “She won’t talk, even to me. It must
have been horrible for her.”
“Alan, have something to eat and then lie down on the couch and try to get some rest yourself.” Helena
crossed to where Maya stood. “We’ll be just outside if you need anything.”
The two women left the hut and Alan wandered into the kitchen. He wasn’t really hungry but he looked at
what there was and ate a couple cassishua berries. He meandered back into the sitting room and looked
closely at the wall hangings and pictures. The landscapes and buildings looked too sophisticated to come
from this planet, so Alan assumed that the drawings were of Psychon. His thoughts wandered upstairs and
before he knew it, he was halfway up the spiral staircase, pausing only for a moment before continuing his
Alan peeked up slowly from the stairs so as not to frighten Tirzah. The bed had been fixed properly in its
frame and the young woman lay on it sleeping. He tiptoed across the floor and stood next to the bed.
The red welts on her neck and wrists were now just bright pink rings and the bruise on her cheek was barely
visible. Alan sat down on the edge of the bed frame. Tirzah moaned softly and rolled toward Alan, curling
tightly into his back.
He didn’t dare move for fear of waking her, but Alan became slightly uncomfortable when Tirzah snuggled in
even closer. He was about to stand and leave when he heard her start to cry softly in her sleep. He put his
arm around her and placed his hand on her shoulder.
Tirzah jolted awake, screaming, with tears pouring down her face. Alan jumped to his feet and backed
away from the bed. She kicked and hit the air wildly as she backed herself into the corner of the bed
against the wall.
Maya and Helena raced to the top of the stairs. Alan stood near the railing with his mouth open and eyes
wide. Tirzah continued to scream, trying to become part of the wall.
Helena grabbed Alan’s good arm and gently pushed him down the staircase. “I was just making sure she
was alright!” He looked at the doctor desperately.
“I know.” Helena said sympathetically.
“I didn’t do anything. She just woke up…”
“I know.” She managed to get him half way down the stairs when he turned to face her.
“Please, just wait downstairs.”
Carter met Commander Koenig at the base of the steps. “What happened? Is Tirzah all right?”
Alan nodded and stared at the floor. “I just went to check on her…she was dreaming…” He looked up at
John with despair. “When I touched her, she woke up screaming.”
Helena walked slowly down the staircase. She stopped at the bottom and looked only at John. “She’s
calmed down now. Maya will bring her down in a moment. I think it would be best if you both wait outside.”
They both nodded and headed out the door. Alan paused for only a moment as Maya and Tirzah, who wore
a long brown cloak, came down the stairs and then went outside.
The men lead the way to the eagle with large flashlights. Tirzah walked in between the Alphans like a
guarded treasure until they made it to the eagle.
John locked the door behind the women. “Strap in. We’re going back to Alpha.”
“We can’t, Commander!” Maya protested. “Tirzah said that there are other Psychon slaves. We can’t
leave them to these…animals. We have to try and save them.”
John ran a hand across the back of his neck and looked at Helena.
“Please, Commander.” Maya pleaded softly.
“Strap in!” Koenig headed for the cockpit without another word.
Maya turned to Helena in desperation. “Helena?”
She nodded at her reassuringly and sat her friend down. “John will do what’s best. You know that.” The
eagle took off as they strapped themselves in.
It wasn’t long before the Commander’s face appeared on the monitors in the passenger compartment.
“Helena. We’re going to make a high elevation pass over the Norlou village. We need details of an
approximate population and distance from the furthest known humanoid. I don’t want any natives being able
to sneak up on this eagle. Patch the information up here as soon as you get it.” She barely had time to
acknowledge before he cut communications.
Helena jumped to her feet and sat at the on-board computer. It took Maya seconds to follow her. “How
detailed can you get?” She said sarcastically.
Helena sighed. “I know. We would need to be a lot closer than this just to determine male or female.”
Helena hit a few more buttons. “There. All information is now patched to the command module.” She
turned in her chair and took Maya’s hands. “If they’re there, we’ll find them.”
Maya sat down next to Tirzah. She smiled at the young woman and then noticed that she appeared to be
hiding something. “Tirzah? What is that under your cloak?” Maya started to reach for it but Tirzah now had
a look of panic on her face.
She tried to bury it deeper in the folds. “Nothing! It’s mine! I couldn’t leave it behind! It belongs to me!"
Her voice rose in volume with each sentence.
“It’s all right!” Maya reassured her and sat back so as not to appear threatening. “No one will try and take
it. You should have something from home to keep with you.” Maya finished wistfully.
“Is there a problem?” Helena piped up.
“No.” Maya smiled at her. “She’s brought something from home and was afraid that I’d take it away.”
The door to the cockpit opened and John Koenig stepped into the passenger compartment. All eyes turned
to him expectantly. “We’ve found a safe place to land far enough away from the village that we won’t be
detected. That means that we have quite a walk ahead of us. We should reach the settlement by dawn.”
He took a deep breath, then continued. “This will be fast.” He looked straight at Maya. “I’ll take Maya and
Tirzah only.” A few protests arose but Koenig waved them off. “The smaller the party, the better. Tirzah
knows the way and Maya will be a convincing face. Everyone else is to remain behind. Bill has strict
instructions that no one comes in, or out, without my permission.”
When no one else protested or commented, John knelt in front of Tirzah and spoke slowly. “We’re going to
find your friends. Will you show us the way to the Norlou village?”
Tirzah nodded and unstrapped herself. She quite expertly managed to take off her cloak and wrap her prize
in it without anyone seeing what it was.
Koenig was surprised and pleased to see her in a decorative pant set. He waved her back into her seat.
“We’ll touch down soon and then head for the village.” Koenig sat down next to her.
While they waited, Tirzah examined her wrists. Carefully she looked back at Alan. When their eyes met,
she quickly turned back around.
“Nervous?” Maya took one of her hands.
Tirzah nodded but sat up straighter. She looked at Maya and the two women stared at each other. “These
are good people, Maya. I’m honored to help them in any way I can.”
Maya squeezed her hand and leaned in to whisper. “I know. When they rescued me from the destruction of
Psychon, I felt the same way.”
| | |
It had been a little rough, but the trio made it to the outskirts of the Norlou village just as the sun started to
rise. They ducked between outbuildings and behind bushes as Tirzah led them toward the slaves’ huts.
They hid behind some small trees as a sentry passed close by. Tirzah motioned for them to follow her
around a large animal coop. She stopped at the inner corner and knelt on the ground. The Alphans copied
Tirzah stood up slowly, her gaze fixed to a certain spot. She had taken three steps into the center of the
village when Maya grabbed her wrist, pulled the young woman back and sat her against the fence.
“What are you doing?” She whispered. “You’ll be caught.” Tirzah’s gaze never left their target. Maya and
Koenig looked across the square and then she turned away quickly. Her looked of disgust mirrored the
“Oh my God.” Koenig whispered involuntarily.
Four bodies hung by their feet from two large poles in the center of the village. There was enough light now
to see their fair skin and light colored hair. They looked as if they’d been beaten and whipped to death.
Maya and Tirzah clung to each other. John leaned closer and placed his hand on the women’s arms. “I’m
sorry.” He only paused a moment. “How many of you were there?” Tirzah didn’t respond so Koenig leaned
even closer. “Tirzah! How many more Psychons?” He whispered forcefully.
She lifted her head from Maya’s shoulder and looked at him through tears. “There were nine of us taken the
day of the raid. Mirren was murdered on the trail because he fell and hurt himself. Geeta died while still
carrying a Norlou child.” Tirzah took a deep breath. “Psychon’s and Norlou are not compatible.”
Koenig looked over at Maya for a translation. She swallowed hard several times before she could speak.
“Counting Tirzah, there are three Psychons still alive.”
Koenig shook his head. He looked around himself. “We can’t just sit here. That sentry will be back any
minute. Tirzah, where would the rest of your people be?”
She looked at Koenig and nodded. Pushing herself away from Maya, Tirzah wiped off her face and looked
around. She got up and waved for the Alphans to follow her.
They skirted around a couple more out buildings before stopping behind a large woodpile. “Slaves
here…there.” Tirzah corrected herself and pointed.
A short distance in front of them stood two huts similar to the ones in the Psychon village. They were
surrounded by a high fence made of wooden poles and interwoven thin vines. A sentry patrolled the
perimeter outside the fence.
“How do we get in undetected?” Maya whispered to John.
The trio ducked down more when the door to one of the huts suddenly opened and a young man stepped
out. He shut the door behind him and stretched slowly. He ran his fingers through his mousy brown hair and
then straightened his tunic. As he approached the gate, the sentry moved around the fence to meet him.
The sentry seemed to size him up as the man waited for the gate to open. He finally opened the gate and
waited for him to pass through. Before he had gone far, the sentry spit on the young man. “Muc!” The
sentry spat on him again but the man kept walking.
Tirzah started to get up, fists clenched, but Maya held her down and whispered quietly in her ear. As the
young man walked past them, Tirzah whispered his name. “Jessa.”
The trio moved around buildings and bushes until they were in front of the young man. When Koenig felt that
they were in a secure spot, he waited for the man to get close enough.
As Jessa stepped past their hiding spot, Koenig lunged forward and snatched him back behind the small
set of bushes. The women helped to hold him as Jessa fought and struggled.
“Jessa! Ti sa ne, Jessa. Ti sa, Tirzah.” Tirzah whispered in the Norlou language.
He stopped and stared at her a moment. He looked at Koenig and then saw Maya. His eyes went wide as
Maya smiled kindly at him.
“What trick is this?” Jessa spoke to Tirzah in Norlou.
“Sh-h-h! No trick, Jessa. We’ve come to rescue everyone.” Tirzah took his face in her hands but he pulled
away from all of them.
“Rescue us? Did you see Kara, Chela, Kylie and Tomas in the center of the village?” He whispered in
Norlou. Tirzah nodded and hung her head. “That’s your fault!” Tirzah looked at him sharply. “For everyday
you didn’t return, they beat one of us for information!”
Tirzah began to cry. “I’m sorry, Jessa. I didn’t know…”
“You never think it through, Tirzah!” Jessa stepped in close and put his face inches from Tirzah’s. “They
took Kara first. They figured that your best friend would know the truth. They made us watch as they slowly
beat her to death.” He sat back and looked toward the square. “They wouldn’t even let us cut them down
and bury them.”
Tirzah collapsed forward into her knees and hid her face in her hands. Jessa tried to back up as Maya
moved in between them. “Why is she crying? What did you say to her? We came to help you.” The more
that Maya said the more Jessa backed away.
He looked around her at Tirzah and spoke to her in Norlou. His voice trembled. “We must not speak the
Tirzah stood up defiantly and wiped the tears from her face. “It isn’t a forbidden language, Jessa. It’s our
language. It’s my language and I won’t let it die because they say to.” She whispered venomously. She
stood in front of John and Maya and held out her hands to Jessa pleadingly. “Come with us. These are
good people. They’re strong and we’ll protect each other against the Norlou. Help us find Sanora and we
can all fly to their home.” She touched Jessa’s arm and he jumped and stood quickly as if shocked.
He shook his head and refused to speak Psychon. “They put Sanora in the box last night. No more
dreams, Tirzah. No more stories of freedom and flying ships.” Jessa backed up further and no longer
bothered to whisper. “No more, Tirzah.” He took a deep breath and began to yell at the top of his voice.
As he and Maya jumped to their feet, Koenig grabbed Tirzah by the arm and pulled her back into the trees.
The young man continued to yell as the trio raced back toward the eagle.
| | |
A little worse for wear; they arrived back on Alpha to the disappointment that they were once again forced to
leave a habitable planet. Through Helena’s insistence, everyone was ordered to the nearest Medical
Center upon their return.
The group filed slowly into the level H center with Maya and Tirzah the last to enter. Helena ushered
everyone to an examination chair or table. As the group spread out, Tirzah took a good look around.
Helena took her arm and led her to one of the tables as Ed Spencer wheeled in the tray of medical
Tirzah’s eyes grew wide with fright and a childish whine escaped her lips as he wheeled the tray closer.
She pulled away from Helena and ran for the door. She banged and pulled on it, willing it to open. John and
Helena moved to retrieve her when the door suddenly opened.
Tirzah took one last look behind her and bolted out the door. She had barely made it two feet when she
slammed into Tony Verdeschi.
“Hold on to her!” John yelled as he made his way into the corridor.
“Whoa!” Tony tightened his grip on the young woman’s shoulders. “Where’s the fire?” He started to make
a joke about Helena’s medicine and hand the woman back to John, when Tirzah brought her hands up fast
and broke his grip on her. She side stepped him and put her doubled fist into his stomach.
“That’s enough of that.” Koenig captured her from behind, wrapping his arms around her and lifting her off
the floor. “You okay, Tony?”
“Yea. Sure.” Tony waved John away and rubbed his stomach. “Let me guess, this is the new…”
“Tony!” Maya rushed out of the Medical Center. “Are you all right? I’m so sorry. Something frightened her
and she panicked.” She stopped and turned toward the sound of chaos at the Center’s door.
Helena was trying to pry the woman’s hands from the door casings. “Tirzah, let go. It’s okay, no one will hurt
you.” Koenig still had a hold of her waist, but Tirzah continued to kick at his shins, trying to knock him off
balance. She cried “No!” repeatedly.
Maya rushed to her side and forced Tirzah to look at her. “What’s wrong? No one will hurt you. I promise.”
“No!” Tirzah screamed. “You tricked me. You brought me here to torture me and cut me again!”
Maya stood horrified and shook her head. “No, Tirzah, Helena would never hurt you.”
Tirzah calmed slightly but never loosened her grip. She looked directly into Maya’s eyes as she spoke.
“Why do they try to get me into the torture room? They want to cut me again and take away more of what is
Psychon.” She started to struggle again.
Unknown fear suddenly welled up inside Maya. “Let her go!” Her anguished cry made everyone freeze.
She looked from John to Helena. “Please. She’s frightened. Let her go and I’ll talk to her.”
They let go of her slowly but stayed close by. Seeing that she was still surrounded, Tirzah hugged the door
casing even tighter.
“Tirzah. No one will cut you here.” Maya stepped a little closer. “Who cut you before? Norlou?”
Tirzah nodded and bit her lip to keep from crying. “They cut our eyepods off and stripped away our face
markings. We were not allowed to look Psychon.” Tears began to form in her eyes, but she held them
back. “When we became adults they experimented…then Geeta died. They stripped away our beautiful
body marking too and…”
“Stop!” Maya cried, putting her hands to her ears as tears streamed down her face. Tony put his hand on
her shoulder and she covered it with her own. “Helena, may I take Tirzah to the guest quarters and get her
settled in?” Maya wiped her eyes.
Helena hesitated a moment and then nodded. “Of course. I’ll come and check on her later.”
“Thank you.” Maya spoke quietly. She took Tirzah’s arm and pulled her gently away from the door. “I’ll
show you where you can get some sleep.”
“Do you want me to come along and….?” Tony volunteered.
“No!” Maya nearly snapped at him as she walked away.
“Maya.” Koenig called to her. “A full report, as soon as you’re able.”
Maya looked back briefly. “Yes, Commander.”
Tony stepped into the Medical Center with the others and let the door close behind him. “What was all that?”
“Maya’s new charge. Her name’s Tirzah. She’s a half Psychon.” John volunteered as he sat down.
“Half Psychon?” Tony leaned on the edge of the counter.
“She ran into us and we took her back to her village, but there wasn’t anything left.” Alan talked while trying
to take his shirt off painlessly. “We found the bodies of what was probably her parents.”
“So what happened to you?” Tony asked him.
“She did!” Fraser chimed in, laughing. “You’ve only seen part of what that girl can do.”
Tony became serious. “Is she dangerous?” Tony was on his feet with thoughts of Maya when everyone
said “no”. He relaxed again and leaned back against the counter.
| | |
The door buzzer sounded causing Tirzah to jump. Maya smiled and led her to the commpost. “It’s probably
Helena. Push this button to see who it is and talk to them.”
Tirzah pressed the button Maya indicated and was surprised. “Alan. What?”
“You forgot your cloak in medical…I brought it here for you.” Alan smiled and shifted his weight.
“This one opens the door.” Maya pushed the button and the door slid back. “Thank you, Alan.” She held
out her hands for the cloak.
Tirzah was faster. She jumped forward and snatched it out of his hands. “Thank, Alan.” She secreted the
cloak, which clearly still had her treasure wrapped inside of it, into a lower cupboard and shut the door
quickly. Then she walked back over to Alan and, putting her palm on his chest, pushed him gently back into
the corridor. “Thank, Alan.” Tirzah pressed the button and the door slid shut.
Maya stifled a giggle. “Poor Alan.”
“Yes!” Maya smiled at her. “He just wants to be friends and you give him the brush off every time.”
Tirzah shrugged. She didn’t understand everything Maya said. “He makes me nervous.”
“Why? He’s a very nice man.”
“Maybe that’s it.” Tirzah shrugged again.
Maya sat on the bed and indicated for Tirzah to sit next to her. The young woman declined. “After Helena
gets finished with the exam, would you like to get something to eat?”
Tirzah began to ring her hands and pace the room. “What will she do, Maya?”
“She’s just going to give you an examination.” Maya stood and took a hold of Tirzah’s shoulders. “No one
here will hurt you. You’re among friends.” She let go and turned all the way around. “They’ve never tried to
harm me…or change me for that matter. Alpha is about different people all working together for the benefit
of the community.”
Tirzah tried to relax. She was about to sit when the buzzer sounded. She froze, staring nervously at the
door. She knew that this had to be the doctor. When she didn’t move, Maya opened the door.
Helena stood in the doorway, smiling. “May I come in?”
Maya looked at Tirzah for a moment and then back at Helena. “Of course you can.” She waved her in and
closed the door behind her.
“Are you feeling better, Tirzah?” Helena set her med-kit down on the nightstand.
Tirzah didn’t move or speak. Maya put her arm around her shoulders and steered the woman toward the
bed. “It’ll be all right.” She whispered as she sat the younger Psychon down.
“Now.” Helena picked up a multi-colored, palm sized box and held it near Tirzah’s head. “I’m just going to
check for any damage to…” She stopped and ran the scan again. Helena looked at Maya. “Has she told
you specifically who her parents are?”
Maya’s brow furrowed. “She told you, Frelic and…”
“Not their names…their heritage.”
“Not specifically, but…”
“She’s not half Psychon, Maya.” Helena held up the scanner. “According to this, she has no other
significant anatomy.” She drew a deep breath and ran her fingers through her bangs. “I’m going to need
her in medical for a full analysis.”
Tirzah looked from one woman to the other. She only caught a word here and there. Maya sat on the bed
next to her and took her hand.
“Tirzah, Helena needs you to go to the Medical Center for a full exam.”
Tirzah pulled her hands away and stood up. “No.” Helena tried to touch her, but she moved out of reach.
“No.” She backed into the commpost. “Doctor’s hurt.” Tirzah pointed to Helena. “All doctors!”
“Not all, Tirzah.” Maya spoke soothingly and stepped toward her.
She skirted around the commpost and started looking for a way out. Helena still stood by the door and
Tirzah had no doubt that she could get past her, but Maya was another matter.
“Tirzah.” Maya used her most authoritative voice. “This is necessary so that you can live amongst us.
Everyone has to do it.” She took a tentative step toward her. “You have to start trusting us.” All three
women looked at one another for a long moment.
Tirzah took a haggard breath. “Your word that she won’t cut me. Your word as a Psychon.”
“Better than that…my word as an Alphan.” Maya smiled and turned to Helena. “You won’t need to cut her
for any reason, right?”
“No.” Helena shook her head. “The worst thing might be to have some blood drawn. I promise not to hurt
Maya extended her hand. Tirzah took it slowly and the three women returned to the Medical Center.
| | |
The door to the Commander’s office shut behind her and Maya stepped toward his desk. She sat down in
the chair across from him.
John placed his elbows on the arms of the chair and steepled his fingers. “What exactly is going on with
He was patient as Maya took a deep breath, swallowed hard and then let the air out slowly. “I suppose that
the best way to begin is to inform you that Tirzah is not a half Psychon.”
“What is she then?” Koenig sat forward and rested his arms on his desk.
“According to Helena’s exam, and Tirzah’s confirmation, she was the only child to Frelic and Partyka…both
“She doesn’t look like one.” Maya finished for him. “I know. When the Norlou took them as children,
they…” She closed her eyes and swallowed again. When she spoke again, her voice trembled. “They
were not allowed to look Psychon. They were surgically altered, experimented on and, those who survived,
became slaves.” The look of disgust on Koenig’s face made Maya look away. “She’s afraid of doctors
and…” Maya looked as if she might cry openly. “They were awake through it all, Commander!”
Koenig stood up quickly and moved to put his hand on her shoulder. “So what can we do to help her to trust
Helena and the medical staff?”
Maya smiled and pat his hand. “It’s already done. We convinced her to trust us. The only problem Helena
had, was taking some blood for analysis.”
“What happened?” Koenig sat on the edge of his desk.
Maya looked up at him sheepishly. “Dr. Spencer and I distracted her and Helena knocked her out. They
took the blood and by the time she woke up, she was as good as new.” She looked at him seriously.
“Psychon’s heal superficial wounds very quickly. That’s why her ankle and scratches healed so fast.”
John nodded and smiled. “Well, I think that you’re the best person to help her adjust to life here on Alpha.”
“Of course, Commander.” Maya stood and Koenig walked her to the door.
“I’ll get a full report from Helena.” The door opened and she started to leave. “Maya. If there’s anything you
need us to do, or help in any way, please don’t hesitate to ask.”
Maya smiled and grasped his hands. She shook them and resisted an urge to kiss his cheek. “Thank you,
Commander.” She almost skipped out of Command Center, waving at Tony as he entered.
“Hey, Maya, I…” But she was already gone, leaving Tony standing in the doorway. He met John at his
desk. “Well how do you like that?” Tony gestured out the door.
“She’s just excited. I’ve asked her to look after Tirzah and help acclimate her to Alpha.”
“I was going to explain that I can’t have dinner with her tonight.”
John clasped Tony’s shoulder. “Somehow, tonight, I don’t think she’ll be too upset.” Both men smiled.
| | |
Maya spent the rest of the evening showing Tirzah around Alpha. The first place she took her was the Bio
Sphere. “This is my favorite place.” Maya led her down different paths. She finally stopped in front of a
large tree. She put her arm around Tirzah’s shoulder and drew her up the small hill to the base of the tree. “I
love this spot.” Maya sat down and indicated for Tirzah to join her.
The young woman did so, happily. “Very pretty, Maya. Like home.” The two women sat quietly for a while
enjoying the scenery. Tirzah suddenly jumped to her feet and grabbed Maya’s hands. “Food now, please?”
Maya smiled and allowed herself to be pulled to her feet. She looked at her new friend slyly. “Race you!”
Tirzah suddenly bolted off with Maya close behind her.
| | |
Tony met Maya coming out of Tirzah’s new quarters. “All tucked in?” He pointed to the door.
“Yes.” She grabbed his hand and turned him back around. “Thank you for being so understanding about
dinner tonight, Tony.”
“That’s all right.” Tony shrugged. “I had to work, so I would have had to call you anyway.” They were silent
until they reached the lift. “How about tomorrow night?”
“Would it bother you if Tirzah joined us?”
“No.” The doors opened and they stepped into the lift. “Just as long as she doesn’t attack me again.” Tony
Maya moved close to Tony and put her hands on his chest. “It’s not Tirzah you’ll have to worry about.” The
lift doors closed.
| | |
She couldn’t help feeling that everyone was staring as she made her way through the Recreation Center.
Barefoot, Tirzah padded down the hallway toward the exercise rooms. Maya had helped her sign up for a
time slot when the room would be free. She had also let Tirzah borrow a shorts and tank outfit until they
could requisition one of her own.
Tirzah froze as two men came out of the steam room. One man was tall, lanky and average looking. The
other was about the same height but stocky and broad shouldered. Both men had full beards, a liberal
amount of hair on their chests and apparently wore nothing more than a towel. Tirzah hit the button on a
nearby door, jumped inside as it slid open and hit the button again to make it close. She held onto the door
casing and waited for her heart to slow down.
“You look like you’ve seen a ghost!”
Tirzah inhaled sharply, spun around and slammed her back into the door.
When Alan Carter saw who the young woman by the door was, he put down his towel on a small bench and
moved toward her. “I didn’t mean to scare you. Are you all right?”
Tirzah put her hand up in front of her. “Stay!” Alan stopped and she put her hands on her hips, her green
eyes flashing. “You!” She swallowed hard, trying to catch her breath. “Every time I turn around, you’re
Alan shrugged. “I didn’t understand any of that.”
Tirzah watched Alan walk back to where he dropped his towel. He wore the same type of shorts set that
she had on and she could see now how he had been able to overpower her on the planet. She took those
few moments to admire his muscular arms and legs, his strong back and firm torso. She took a step away
from the door, a small smile on her face. “Alan?”
He turned to face her, somewhat surprised. “Yea?”
“You and me? Tieg?” Tirzah held her hands out, palms up. Her brow crinkled questioningly.
Alan looked at her curiously. “Tieg? What does that mean?”
Tirzah bit a corner of her bottom lip and looked around the empty padded room. “Tieg!” Slightly frustrated,
Tirzah stepped forward quickly and shoved him back. “Tieg!”
“Hey!” Alan sat down hard on the bench. He stared at her for moment. He liked how her tanned skin shone
against the slightly large, white shorts set and how her hair was pulled back into a braid. He noticed that
she had tiny beads of sweat across her forehead. She stood defiantly with her hands on her hips and a
slight smile on her face.
It suddenly clicked in Alan’s head. “Tieg. Fight? You want to fight me?” He stood up and took a step to
close the gap between them.
Tirzah’s smile broadened and she nodded slowly. “Yes. Fight. You and me.”
Alan’s pulse skipped a beat at the defiance in her eyes. He shook his head slowly and threw his towel over
his shoulder. “Not a chance.” He couldn’t help smiling. “If anything happened to you, I know at least three
people who'd take my head off for me.”
Tirzah didn’t understand everything he said but when he started to step around her, she moved to block him.
“Tirzah.” Alan tried to step around her again but she moved to block his path. He sighed heavily and took a
step back. With raised eyebrows and hands on hips, Carter shook his head. “No, Tirzah. I’m not fighting
He didn’t see her narrow her eyes as he stepped around her again. Just as he was about to pass by, Tirzah’
s bare foot shot out in front of him. Alan fell forward on his hands and knees. He stood up quickly and
turned sharply to face her. “What’d you do that for?”
She stood at the ready, eyes narrowed, and a sinister smile on her lips. “Fight.”
“No!” Alan snatched up his towel. “Do you have any idea what Maya would do to me if you got hurt?” He
threw his towel over his shoulder again and turned to walk away.
“You will hurt. Not me.”
Alan stopped and turned to face her. “Yeah, Maya’ll……me…you mean you’ll hurt me?”
Tirzah nodded and he snorted and folded his arms across his chest. She was pleased to see his ego
bruised slightly by the implication. “No hurt leg. No stick. You and me. We’ll see then who beats who and
who comes out on top!”
Alan couldn’t resist the fire and challenge in her eyes. He threw the towel off to the side and prepared
himself. “I know that I’m going to regret this…one way or another.”
Tirzah had her knees bent slightly and her hands out, ready for anything. Alan did almost the same thing
and the pair began to circle the room, waiting for an opening in their opponent.
Each one sized up the other. It didn’t take Tirzah long before she barreled at him. She ran at him quickly,
without making a sound.
Alan moved to step out of the way but Tirzah had already anticipated that and she shifted quickly. They
landed hard into the padded wall with Tirzah’s shoulder in Alan’s stomach. She used him to steady herself
and then quickly wrapped her ankle around his knee and pulled.
Alan sat down hard on the floor holding his stomach. He stood slowly, using the wall for leverage. “That was
good.” He wagged his finger at her. “You’re quick! Alan took a deep breath and stepped away from the
wall. “Is that how it’s gonna be then?”
Tirzah looked at him curiously. She wondered if the talking was some kind of Earth strategy. She took up a
fighting stance again as he took another step forward.
Tirzah lunged at him again but this time he was truly ready. Alan grabbed her upper arms and stepped
forward into the attack. Placing his other foot behind her ankle, he twisted slightly to pull her off balance.
Tirzah grabbed Alan’s shirt front dragging him along with her as she started to fall. She brought her knee up
between them and as she hit the floor, she kicked upward sending Alan flying over the top of her.
They both landed on their backs with their heads nearly touching. Tirzah scrambled up on her feet. She
stood waiting for a while and when Alan didn’t move, she stepped cautiously up beside him. “Alan?”
When she was close enough, Alan grabbed her ankles and caused Tirzah to fall onto her back. He jumped
up and threw himself at her but Tirzah was faster and rolled out of the way.
They both stood up quickly and began to circle the room again. They got closer and closer until they were
able to touch. They both reached out at the same time and locked arms, hanging on above each other’s
Tirzah twisted and tried to lock her foot behind Alan’s knee. He moved quickly and stepped forward and
pulled her into himself. She inhaled sharply as Alan let go and wrapped his arm around her neck and spun
her around so that she faced away from him. With one arm still around her neck, he pulled Tirzah in close
and grabbed her tattooed wrist with his free hand.
She reached up with her free hand and tried to pull Alan’s arm from her throat. As soon as she realized that
she wasn’t gaining anything, Tirzah took a deep breath and planted her feet firmly. With her free arm Tirzah
brought her elbow down fast and slammed it back into Alan’s ribcage.
He bent over slightly and loosened his grip on the woman. She brought her fist up backward and punched
him in the shoulder.
Alan let go completely and, stepping backward, gripped his shoulder. He let out a small yelp and kneaded
and rubbed the still discolored patch of burnt skin.
Tirzah stopped and stared at his shoulder in shock. “Oh, Alan! I’m sorry!” She stepped forward tentatively
as he moved to the bench. “I’m so very sorry. What should I do?”
“Tirzah.” Alan grabbed his towel and turned to face her. “I can’t understand Psychon.” He held the towel on
his arm for a moment. “It’s okay. I’m fine…see?” He threw the towel back on the bench and stepped up
Tirzah inspected his arm. Her feelings of guilt for reinjuring a wound that she had caused, was all over her
face. “It hurts?” She turned soft sympathetic eyes up at Alan.
For a moment he was lost in her gaze. “No. I’m fine.”
“Good.” Tirzah stepped back. “Tieg.”
Alan pointed at her. “You have a one track mind!” He clapped his hands and rubbed them together. “Okay,
my girl! Let’s go!” He readied himself for attack and, with his hands, gestured for her to come at him.
Tirzah was more than willing and charged at him again. She had intended to ram her shoulder into his
stomach again but Alan waited until the last possible moment before moving. He stepped to the side and
pushed on her back as she tripped past him.
The force of the extra shove sent Tirzah into the wall. She righted herself and ran at him again.
Again he moved at the last second and gave her the extra shove.
Again she ran into the wall full force.
Tirzah stood upright with a soft growl escaping her lips. She wiped the sweat off of her forehead with the
back of her hand. She ran at Alan a little slower this time and as he stepped to the side, she maneuvered
He hadn’t expected the blow and they both fell down hard on the matte. Neither of them hesitated. Tirzah
had landed on top and was about to pin Alan down when he grabbed her wrists and rolled.
They rolled around on the floor for several minutes, each one vying for supremacy. Alan would manage to
pin Tirzah down for a moment until she freed an arm and punched him in the stomach or face.
He thought at one point that he had finally beaten her and was about to ask for her submission, when she
suddenly bucked upward and slammed her forehead into his. Dazed, Alan clutched at his forehead and
Tirzah rolled him onto his back and sat on his chest. She used every bit of her weight to make sure he
couldn’t get up.
Both were breathing heavily as Tirzah pinned Alan’s arms with her hands and knees. She stared down at
him triumphantly. “Piveg?” She smiled.
Alan blinked several times and stared back up at her. “What?”
Tirzah bent closer and her braid slid across her shoulder and lightly slapped his face. “Piveg?” She bent
even closer. “You say, I……..fight you.” Tirzah shook her head slightly. “No. I…”
“You want me to say that you beat me? That you win?” Alan raised one eyebrow.
Tirzah smiled again and nodded.
Alan spent a few seconds trying to get out from under her until he finally relaxed.
Tirzah leaned closer until their noses nearly touched. “Say it. Say I beat you.” She stared into his blue eyes.
Alan watched her face go from triumph to curiosity. He didn’t move a muscle.
She turned her head slightly and studied each of his features. She looked at each of his ears, his nose and
chin, and even his mouth. Then she looked back into his eyes and Alan felt as if she could see inside his
Slowly her eyes traveled down his face again and she got closer and closer. Her lips brushed his ever so
“A-hem!” A voice across the room cleared its throat.
In unison, Tirzah and Alan looked in the direction of the door.
Maya and Tony stood just inside the open doorway. “Are we interrupting anything?”
The pair on the floor stared at them for a second and then looked at each other. As if a bolt of lightening
had shot between them, Tirzah and Alan scrambled to their feet. “No!” They spoke in unison and each went
to an opposite side of the room.
“Uh…no!” Alan grabbed his towel and started to wipe off the sweat. “Tirzah got scared and then she
thought since we both…” He wiped the towel across his face. “And she had this crazy idea and I didn’t see
the harm…” Alan strode across the room toward Tony, Maya and the door. “So the room’s all yours,
mate!” He slapped Tony on the back and strode out into the hallway.
Two sets of curious eyes then turned toward Tirzah.
Tirzah’s eyes were wide and she was biting both lips. “U-u-m…” She looked around herself. “I will go
now!” She jogged past the couple quickly. “Bye!”
She walked quickly back down the hallway and out of the Rec Center. Now, more than ever, she felt as if a
thousand eyes watched her go. Her breathing was heavy but only half of that was from physical exertion.
Tirzah hit the button for the travel tube and jumped when the doors opened immediately. She glanced
inside the empty tube before stepping in. This was only her first week on Alpha and the transportation
vehicles made her nervous.
Tirzah punched in her destination, sat down and waited for the doors to close. A second before they shut
Alan Carter jumped inside.
“Whew! Just made it!” Smiling, he turned and sat across from the young woman. When he saw Tirzah’s
astonished face, his jaw nearly hit the floor. Alan jumped back on his feet and headed for the door. “Oh,
sorry! I didn’t realize that this car was occupied.” He looked the door up and down and mentally kicked
himself for allowing Phillips to detain him in the Center.
Tirzah had grabbed the edge of the seat as the car shot through the tube and was now twisting her hands
back and forth. She stared at the floor in front of her but watched Alan out of the corner of her eye.
He paced the opposite side of the car for what felt like an eternity. “It should stop soon.” He commented
The car finally came to a halt and they both jumped toward the opening door. Alan motioned for Tirzah to go
first as he made an effort to lag behind. He was almost sad to see her jog toward the lift, peek backward to
make sure he wasn’t following, and forced the lift doors to close before anyone could get on.
| | |
Maya stepped out of her quarters and walked to the next door. She pushed the button and waited for Tirzah
to answer. They had moved her quarters closer to Maya’s so that she would feel more comfortable.
Maya pushed the button again and this time called her name. She waited another minute before opening
the door. “Tirzah?” Maya looked around the empty room in amazement. A tiny tapestry hung on one wall
and a small jeweled interwoven diamond shaped design hung over the bed. A folded child’s drawing had
been smoothed out and lay in the chair. Her eyes stopped on the open box sitting on the bed.
Maya touched the few trinkets and jewelry that lay out on the blanket. She couldn’t stop herself from
stepping forward and looking inside the plain wooden box.
Maya smiled as she picked up the tiny, handmade doll that rested in the bottom. Every feature resembled a
little Psychon girl, right down to the modestly jeweled jumper. She held it in her hands for quite some time
before placing it back in the box. Maya lay it down carefully but instead of her fingers contacting wood, they
touched a cool smooth surface.
She removed the doll again and peered further inside. Maya reached in carefully and removed a clear
plastic encased photo. She brought it up into the light and then nearly dropped it. Staring back at her were
two very familiar faces.
The door to the bathroom suddenly opened and Maya almost dropped the photo again as Tirzah entered
“Maya? Why you here?” Tirzah closed the gap between them and started putting the items on the bed back
into the box. She carefully removed the photo from Maya’s hand.
“Wait!” Maya grabbed her wrist as she started to put the photo away. Her hands were shaking slightly and
she was trying to remain calm. “Why do you have this?”
“What?” Tirzah tried to pull her hand away gently.
Maya held on tight and her eyes never left the photo. “This picture!” She shook Tirzah’s hand slightly.
“Where did you get it?”
“It’s mine!” Tirzah tried a little harder to free her wrist. She was confused and a little scared by Maya’s
actions. “Brought back from the planet? Why?”
“Do you know who those people are?”
“Yes.” Tirzah started to understand. “Do you know?”
Maya’s answer barely escaped her lips. “Yes.”
Tirzah handed the photo back to her and Maya held it in trembling fingers. She moved the box to the floor
and both women sat down next to each other.
Maya traced first one face in the photo and then the other as Tirzah spoke. “This is Matermakua.” Tirzah
pointed to the woman. “She is the daughter of Wilec and Patrees and mother to Partyka. This is
Patermakua.” She pointed to the man. “He is the son of Mentor and Geya and father to Partyka!” She
finished enthusiastically. “Who is, of course, my mother!”
Maya couldn’t breath. She held the photo tighter so that the room might stop spinning. The man and
woman in the photo stood smiling on the deck of a spaceship. They had obviously just been bonded as
husband and wife. She traced their faces again as tears rolled down her cheeks.
“This is Tona. She was my closest friend when I was a girl.” Maya finally looked at Tirzah. “Your mother’s
mother and…your Matermakua and I would play terrible little tricks on our teachers.” The two women smiled
at each other, then Maya turned back to the photo. “This is…” Maya faltered.
“Odysseus.” Tirzah tried to help.
Maya closed her eyes. “Odysseus. Son of Mentor and brother of…” She stopped and turned to look at
Tirzah. “And brother of Maya.”
Tirzah’s eyes grew wide and she looked from the photo to her friend. “You, Maya!?” Tirzah stood and
walked to the opposite side of the room. “You and Patermakua? You are the daughter of…”
“Mentor and Geya of Psychon.” Maya finished. “I was supposed to be on that ship.” She looked down at
the photo. “But I snuck away and stayed behind with my father. The ship left without me and I ended up here
Tirzah shook her head. “No possible. You are not Makua. You are young! Makua are old. Have little ones
who grow…and have little ones!” She sat down next to her again. “No, Maya. You are not right.”
Maya turned slowly to face the younger woman. “Tirzah, time passes differently in space than it does on a
planet. Moonbase Alpha has been through black holes and space warps and other strange phenomenon.”
Tirzah looked at her confused. “No! You are young! No Makua!” She stood and walked to the empty easy
chair and grabbed a hold of the back.
Maya stood and spoke to the younger woman calmly. “It’s true, Tirzah.” She placed her hands on her
chest. “I am Maya, daughter of Mentor, son of Morrilo, who is the son of Corrine.”
Tirzah walked unsteadily around the chair and sat down. She stared at Maya and shook her head.
“How…how could you know the lineage? This isn’t possible.” Tirzah put her face in her hands.
Maya moved to her side and knelt down. “Tirzah.” She pulled her hands down gently, “I know that it’s hard
for you to understand but it is true. I am your Ziamakua.” Maya pointed to the photo, a slight smile on her
face. “My brother and my closest friend were bonded on the ship that brought our people to the planet you
grew up on.”
“I don’t understand.”
Maya stood and set the picture carefully on the bed. “Did your mother’s father ever morph for you?” Tirzah
nodded. “Did he ever show you what his mother and father looked like?”
Tirzah nodded again. “Mother’s father was very good at changing. He taught any children who showed a
talent. He would show us many different creatures from Psychon as well as other planets.” Tirzah began to
get excited. “Sometimes he would even be other people! That was the most interesting. He taught me for
awhile until…” Her voice trailed off and she gazed over wistfully at the photo.
Maya smiled broadly and took a step toward Tirzah. “So did he show you his mother or his father?”
“Both.” Tirzah looked up at Maya. “Why?”
“If I change into one of them…then will you believe that I am the sister to Odysseus?”
Tirzah smiled. “You can’t possibly know what his parents looked like.” She folded her arms and sat back in
Maya narrowed her eyes mischievously. She looked over Tirzah’s head and concentrated. Her body
shimmered and changed. Two seconds later an elegant, slender, nutmeg haired woman in an elaborate,
beaded gown, stood before Tirzah. “Is this what she looked like?” Maya/Geya asked.
Tirzah’s mouth dropped open and her hands fell into her lap.
“This is my mother, Tirzah.” Maya took a moment to change back into her self. She picked up the picture
and knelt down next to the chair. “I am the daughter of Mentor, the sister of Odysseus and I assure you that I
am your Ziamakua.”
Tirzah’s eyes never left Maya’s face. “I don’t understand how it happened, but I believe you, Maya. You are
Maya put her hand on Tirzah’s arm. “Our days and nights are not the same as on the planet.” She pat
Tirzah’s arm and smiled. “You’ll understand soon. You’ll start learning soon!”
“For starters, you’ll learn to speak better English so that you can speak to and understand everyone better.”
Maya reluctantly handed the photo back to Tirzah. Maya stood and paced the room.
“Why?” Tirzah turned to face her. “Is it forbidden to speak Psychon here too?”
“No. You can speak it all you want, but no one will understand you except me.” Maya leaned over to look at
the drawing in the chair. “Eventually, you might want to make a friend, and it would be nice if you could
understand one another.”
Most of the words had made no sense to Tirzah and she began to understand Maya’s idea to learn the
Alphan language. She nodded and smiled. She stood and propped the photo against the wall on her
nightstand. She took a step back to admire it.
Maya joined her, placing an arm around her shoulder. “That’s a lovely place for it.”
| | |
“So let me get this straight.” Tony pointed across the dinner table at Tirzah. “Her grandfather is your brother
and her grandmother was your best friend?”
“That’s incredible.” Helena smiled and sipped at her coffee.
“It’s weird, that’s what it is.” Tony popped a forkful of fruit salad into his mouth.
“Can I see that?” John asked as he held out his hand.
At Maya’s insistence, Tirzah had brought the photo of her mother’s parents. She passed it carefully to
Helena who passed it to John.
After a moment he smiled up at Maya. “So this is your brother? He looks a lot like Mentor.”
Alan leaned over to look at the photo. “So you look like your mum?” He looked up at Maya.
“Mostly. But I was always a handful. Odysseus was the good one, always doing what he was told.” Maya’s
eyes became distant and Tony placed his hand on her arm.
“So what now, Aunt Maya?” Alan joked.
Everyone laughed, including Maya.
“What I think is amazing is that you two found each other.” John handed the photo back to Tirzah. “Thank
“Thank you.” Tirzah said.
“Your welcome.” Maya corrected.
“Oh! It begins already!” Tony raised his glass of beer.
Everyone laughed again.
“Be careful of this one.” Tony warned Tirzah as he pointed in Maya’s direction.
“Me?!” Maya said indignantly.
“She’s a taskmaster! She sets her mind on a project and that’s all she can think about until it’s over!”
Maya opened her mouth to speak but Tony cut her off. “You’re her relative now. It could turn into a life long
project! Ow!” Tony reached for a suddenly sore ankle. Maya smiled at him sweetly and bat her eyes.
“Or it could earn you a swift kick!” Alan laughed at his friend.
Tirzah didn’t understand half of what Tony said but she smiled at him since everyone else was laughing.
She tried to stifle a yawn just as Helena asked her a question. “Sorry. What?”
“I asked how you liked your quarters.” Helena smiled.
“Good. Bigger than old one!” She yawned again.
Maya put down her cup and took Tirzah’s hand. “Maybe you should go back to your room and get some
sleep. Tomorrow’s going to be a long day.”
Tirzah nodded and pushed her plate away.
Alan put down his fork and leaned forward. “I’d be happy to walk you back if you want.”
“NO!” Tirzah stood up quickly. She suddenly realized that the room had gone quiet. “Thank you, Alan.”
She took a couple of steps back and looked around the table. “Night.”
Maya stood as Tirzah turned to leave. “Wait. I’ll walk you back. Do you want to come, Tony?”
“Yea, I’ll tag along. Good night, John. Helena.” Tony clapped his friend’s shoulder. “Good night, Alan.” He
The trio left and Alan suddenly felt uncomfortable. “Well, I guess I’d better get going too.” He pushed his
chair back and stood up. “Thanks for dinner, Helena. It was delicious.”
“You are most welcome.” Helena nodded her head slightly.
As soon as the door closed behind him, John turned to Helena. “Did you get the feeling that we missed
Helena picked up her coffee cup and nodded. “Absolutely.”
| | |
Tirzah sat up straight in her bed. Beads of perspiration stood out on her forehead and she was breathing
heavily. She looked around the room for a moment, trying to remember where she was.
As memories flooded back to her, she slowly relaxed. She pulled back the covers and got out of the bed.
She headed for the bathroom, turning on every light on her way. She splashed cold water on her face and
then dried it.
Tirzah wandered around her room rubbing her arms. She wasn’t cold, but the dream had shaken her. She
hated that these dreams could upset her so badly.
She sat down in a chair and tucked up her feet. She had been living on Alpha for over two weeks and still
the dreams persisted. They were almost always the same, only sometimes, like tonight, no one came to
She stood up quickly and headed for the door. She pushed the button that opened it and started down the
hall. Tirzah paused in front of Maya’s quarters, her finger poised near the buzzer. She drew her hand back
slowly and hugged herself.
She didn’t really want to disturb Maya but she didn’t know who else to talk to. She stood wrestling with the
idea of simply going back to bed for quite a while. She finally turned and wandered off down the hall.
When she reached the lift Tirzah stepped inside and pushed a button. She was tired of the dreams and of
constantly being left out of conversations because she didn’t understand the Alphan’s sense of humor. She
was tired of the lessons that Annette would give her every day.
Maya had promised that she would begin helping out around the base as soon as they found the right
position. In the meantime she was told to simply enjoy her “vacation”. That was another Alphan word that
she had trouble grasping.
The doors to the lift opened and Tirzah stepped out into an unfamiliar hallway. Grasping her elbows, she
jumped as the lift doors closed behind her. She turned slowly and looked down the dimly lit hall. She was a
little uncomfortable being in a strange section of Alpha but curiosity moved her forward.
She walked quietly, her bare feet making no noise on the cool tile floor. The only sound was the hum of the
air as it moved through the vents. She walked past several closed doors. Their names were written
overhead but Tirzah hadn’t learned to read the Alphan words yet.
She froze as one of the nearby doors suddenly opened. Fearing punishment for being in an area where she
didn’t belong, Tirzah turned quickly and ran. She heard someone call her name and then the sound of
running feet. She skidded to a stop in front of the lift and punched the button several times with her thumb.
Just as the lift doors started to open, a hand grabbed her shoulder and spun her around. Her mind reeled
back to her dreams of being hunted and captured by the Norlou leader and Tirzah didn’t stop to think. She
kicked the ball of her foot into a knee and punched her fist into an unsuspecting stomach.
She turned back around quickly and promptly ran straight into Alan Carter, who seized her by the shoulders.
She screamed and struggled to free herself.
“Tirzah!” Alan yelled and shook her shoulders.
A pair of frightened green eyes looked up at him.
“What are you doing down here at this hour? You should be in bed.” He loosened his grip when she started
to visibly calm down. Her shoulders were still tense and Alan could tell that there was more than this
encounter that was frightening her.
“I could not sleep. I took a walk, but I’m lost.” Her eyes started to fill with tears but she held them back. “Will
I be punished by Commander?” She stood up straight, ready for whatever punishment her offence
“No.” Alan shook his head. “You do have to apologize to Bill, however, for trying to take him out.” He turned
her around to face a confused Bill Fraser.
Tirzah bit her bottom lip and took a second to glance back at Alan. “Sorry, Bill. You scared me and I didn’t
think right. Sorry.”
Fraser flexed his knee and, placing his hands on his hip, pretended to size her up. “Well…I suppose that
since this is your first offence…we’ll let you go with a warning.” He smiled at her.
Tirzah gave him a weary smile before Alan steered her back into the lift. “Thanks, mate.” He winked at his
friend and the doors closed. “I’ll take you back to your room.” Alan leaned against the far wall. “Care to tell
me what spooked you?”
“Yea. What really scared you?” Carter waited while she twisted her fingers nervously.
She wondered how much to say. She looked up at the lights ticking off each floor. She didn’t want to even
think about the last 24 hours spent on her home planet, much less talk about the dreams. But somehow
Alan was different. He had been there to save her and had seen part of the horror. She shook her head. “I
had a dream. I need…I just took a walk and was lost.”
Suspecting that there was more to the story, Alan turned to face her. “What was the dream about?”
Tirzah turned large eyes and surprised expression toward him. “Just dreams.” She said indignantly. “My
dreams.” She faced the door and folded her arms across her chest.
Alan decided to press the issue. “Bad dreams?”
She pursed her lips and tightened her arms. She started wondering how long they had been waiting for the
doors to open.
“That’s okay. You don’t have to talk to me, but you should talk to someone. Maya or Helena…someone.”
The doors finally opened and Tirzah stepped quickly out into the hallway. Alan matched her quick pace until
they reached her door. She opened it and started to step inside and then stopped. She turned slowly to
face him. “Thank you for…the walk back. Night, Alan.” Tirzah stepped inside and shut the door.
His words swirled inside her head as she sat down on the edge of the bed.
The door buzzer startled her and Tirzah looked at the little clock that Helena had given her. She wondered
how long she had been sitting on the edge of the bed. She had no idea what time Alan had dropped her off.
The buzzer sounded again and she stood and moved to the door slowly. The door opened to Maya and
Tony, each in a white tank and shorts set.
“You’re not dressed!” Maya said cheerfully. “Did we wake you?”
Tirzah shook her head and stepped aside so the couple could enter. She looked around her quarters a
moment before absentmindedly excusing herself to the bathroom.
When the door closed, Tony looked at Maya. “What’s up with her?”
“She’s probably still half asleep.” Maya answered cheerfully, but she moved closer to the door and listened.
The door opened suddenly and Tirzah came out and walked slowly around her quarters.
“What?” She jumped slightly and looked at Maya guiltily.
“Are you all right?”
“Yes.” She answered too quickly.
“Do you still want to go with us to the Recreation Center?” Maya put her hand on the woman’s shoulder.
“Uh…” Tirzah stared at each of them in turn. She suddenly pulled herself up straight and looked Maya in the
eye. “Of course. Yes. Let me get ready.” She grabbed her own shorts set out of a drawer and quickly
disappeared into the bathroom again.
Maya looked at Tony curiously. He simply shrugged his shoulders.
It didn’t take Tirzah long before she emerged once again and pronounced that she was ready. The trio
headed for the Center.
The ride to the Rec Center seemed to Tirzah to take forever. Maya and Tony kept up a steady string of
conversation that she smiled and nodded politely to.
They spent the morning teaching Tirzah how to play racquetball. The night before was forgotten as she
concentrated on Tony’s instructions of the game.
Tirzah enjoyed the action of the game. Since she was new to it, Tony teamed her with Maya.
As they played, the two women laughed and teased Tony. “Are you sure you don’t want one of us on your
team, Tony?” Maya quipped. “Just until you catch up!”
“Ha. Ha.” Tony spoke sarcastically and waved his racket at them. “I’m catching my stride now! You start
worrying about your own game!” He nodded his head at them.
Both women giggled at him. Tirzah raised her hand. “I’ll be on your side. Then we will be even!” The
women giggled again.
Tony shook his head and narrowed his eyes. “Just play.”
They played the entire game, the women winning 21 to 12. They cheered and hugged while Tony stood
panting and dejected against the opposite wall.
“When can we play again?” Tirzah called across to Tony.
He smiled and waved at her, then rolled his eyes.
Maya wrapped her arm around Tirzah and led her toward the door. “Come on. We’ll go and have some
Tony chuckled and followed them out. As they waited for the lift, Tirzah watched curiously as Tony draped
an arm over Maya’s shoulders and kissed her cheek.
They were still teasing him when they sat down to eat. Tony sat down heavily and held his hands up.
“Enough. Enough. It was two against one!” He let his hands fall into his lap and sighed heavily. “That’s the
last time I try and teach a couple of Psychon’s to play sports!”
Maya leaned close to Tirzah. “This is what they call a poor sport.” She pointed in his direction. “Notice how
he shifts his position and the scowl on his face.”
Tony looked at them sarcastically as they giggled at him throughout the meal.
Tirzah rose and picked up her dishes. “I need to go and get clean. I’ll eat with you tonight?”
“Yes.” Maya swallowed her food. “1800 hours. I’ll meet you at your quarters.”
Tirzah nodded and left to give her dishes back to the cafeteria staff. As she stepped out the door, she
glanced back at Maya and Tony who were now snuggled in close together at the table.
She strolled down the corridor and turned the corner that led to her quarters. She shyly greeted a couple
that said hello and when Tirzah looked up she saw Alan standing near her door.
Last nights encounter flooded back into her head and she slowed her pace. “Alan? Why are you here?”
“I thought that if you didn’t have any plans tonight…they’re playing a good comedy at the cinema…” His
voice trailed off.
Tirzah looked at him confused. “I’ll be eating with Maya and Tony.” They stood quiet for a long moment.
“Oh! Sure!” Alan suddenly blurted out. “Well, then. Maybe I’ll see you there.” He smiled at her cheerfully
and headed off down the hall.
Tirzah entered her room looking back over her shoulder several times. She was still confused. She knew
that he wanted her to go somewhere….but where?
She took her time showering and put on the pant set that she had brought with her from the planet. She sat
on the bed with one foot under her and brushed out her hair. She thought about what Alan had said. It still
made no sense.
Tirzah started feeling tired so she put her brush on the table and lay down on the bed to rest.
| | | End of Part I