I Tyrmian
by Ken McConnell
forum: I Tyrmian
speculative fiction for the internet generation.

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I Tyrmian


        “She’s a gem, Khas. Breathable oxygen nitrogen skies near one G and she’s generating myriads of advanced life forms. How could our probes have missed this empyrean world?”

        Khas was busy running a sweep of the planet’s Northern Hemisphere, looking for any signs of industrial development. His sensitive instruments detected no fluorocarbon buildup or artificial chemicals. “This system was too far outside the primary theaters of the war. It’s unlikely that anyone ever made it out this way. Put us into an equatorial orbit, please.”

        Szeredy rolled the tiny delta winged scout into an equatorial vector and was soon mesmerized by the colorful blue and white cloud patterns that whipped past her tinted canopy. Occasionally, the opalescent blur would dissipate enough to reveal dense rain forests and cobalt tropical seas.

        “Isn’t it gorgeous?” she breathed. Born and raised in deep space, she had only been planet side once, and she was too little to remember the experience.

        Khas’s black eyes were focused on the glowing magenta view panels before him. The scout’s powerful scanners were piercing the atmosphere and sending back real-time heat imprints of the fauna and animal life forms inhabiting the planet’s surface. Eerie shapes moving through shades of red and pink.

        “It’s a jungle down there, a real classifier’s dream,” he said, switching to a narrow beam for even greater detail.

        Szeredy forced her pale blue eyes away from the show, down to the flight controls before her. The scout’s Core Control, a cybercell sentient, was essentially flying itself. All she really had to do was relax and enjoy the view, but the professional in her demanded to know what was happening. A darkened screen caught her undivided attention.

        “CC, what’s wrong with the stern deflectors? I’m not getting a reading on the short field set,” she said, the urgency clearly detectable in her voice.

        The Core Control registered the concern from its human pilot and executed a diagnostic check on thirty holo-cells before answering in a relaxed, almost indifferent female voice. “Internal diagnostics read normal. It is probably a frozen crystal matrix. I have added it to the post flight checks.”

        Szeredy nodded, and the CC’s photovoltic sensors read the non-verbal move. Tilting her head back, Szeredy caught sight of a meteorite grazing the upper levels of the atmosphere and spraying apart like a hand tossed sparkler. She looked back down at the darkened screen on the control panel. It really bothered her now. “CC, can you switch over to the side-to-side deflectors? I’m seeing rocks outside at twenty Klics.”

        “Confirmed. Do you wish a course adjustment to compensate,” the CC asked her.

        “No. I’m not finished with my sweep,” that from Khas, sitting with his back to Szeredy in the diminutive cockpit.

        “CC, can you widen the side-to-sides enough to cover our six?”

        The ship was silent, presumably executing the request. Not that it had to be silent; it was programmed to mimic human and Votainion mannerisms. People were generally quiet when they were thinking.

        Szeredy’s head was sweeping from side to side. “Wing tip to wing tip,” her old instructor used to drill into her. She could even hear his scratchy voice as she searched for more meteorites. “You never see the one that gets you,” Major Pasquil used to say. As a student, she always had complete faith in her instruments, despite the simulator’s intentional malfunctions. It wasn’t until she got out by herself that she began to second-guess the CC. There was nothing like the fear of dying to make you pay attention.

        “I have widened them out to ninety-eight degrees; that is as far as they go,” the CC finally said.

        Szeredy knew that already; she was hoping the cybercell would pull a miracle out of its proton cell memory. “That’s not good enough. Khas, how much longer?”

        Khas tweaked a virtual slider switch before answering her. “Just give me five more minutes to complete the sweep.”

        “You’ve got two,” she said. Khas grunted as he redoubled his efforts.

        “I have calculated the rate of incoming meteors to our present course and believe there is a 95 percent chance of a fatal hit in the next two minutes,” the CC stated. Szeredy thought she heard a note of concern in its lofty, synthetic tone.

        “Khas, hurry up, I’m getting a bad feeling about this.”

        Suddenly, a bright blur zipped past her canopy, causing her to flinch and let out a startled scream. “That’s it, we’re out of here,” she said, taking manual control of the scout and gently twisting the joystick. The move thrust her forward into the safety harness.

        “CC, more power, please.”

        The ship’s cybercell was silent, but the engine whine from behind increased. Khas had switched off his scanners and was holding onto the inner wall of the cockpit. His display visor was more opaque, allowing him to see the yellow glow of the engine as it throttled up. Another bright light came out of the darkness of space and rocked the ship with its deadly impact. In seconds, the tiny cockpit was lit up with flashing prompts and warning messages streaming along the inside of his visor. Audible alarms sounded from inside his helmet.

        “Direct hit to dorsal MPU. Flame-out in thirty seconds,” the ship stated. Szeredy had her hands full as the ship tried to feed her all the information she needed. The flight controls winked off and on with power surges as one by one she lost her critical instruments.

        Another rock bored through the starboard wing, sending fragments of the scout everywhere. The tiny craft skidded out of control, high in the upper stratosphere, its thin nose becoming white hot from the friction and enveloping it in a ghostly hallow.

        “We’re going to fry, get control of it,” Khas hollered over the din.

        “I’m trying, damn it.”

        The ship uttered something unintelligible into Szeredy’s earpiece and then went off line with a pop. “The Core’s down,” Khas reminded her in his most irritating, Blueskin manner.

        “I’m bringing us down. Bail if you want to, but I’m riding this out,” she said, her voice shuddering with resolve. That shut him up.

        The tiny scout shimmered wildly as it augured through the thin air at mach speeds. The world traveled up to greet them, spinning around and around in a stomach churning headfirst descent. Szeredy could see the clouds streaking by in the orange glow flickering on her face shield and reflected on the inside of the canopy. The gravity was pushing her body into the crash seat, crushing her lungs, even as her g-suit fought a losing battle to keep her conscious.

        “Rescue buoy away, for what it’s worth,” Khas finally announced. He abhorred how useless he felt as he fell backwards, towards the planet’s embracing surface. It was such an undignified way to die.

        Szeredy didn’t hear him. Her mind was racing through emergency procedures, searching for a way out that did not involve burning up or digging a crater. The soft skin of her cheeks was folding back across her skull, making her look like a mummified corpse.

        She was losing consciousness. Slowly, the world seemed to close in on her, forming a spinning circle before her like water down a drain. She didn’t remember pulling back on the gravimetric inversion lever before she passed out, but she did, and it saved her life.

        A flat, thumping sound awoke Szeredy. Outside was a tiny, black furry face staring at her through the scratched canopy. Szeredy blinked as the creature continued slapping the canopy as if it were trying to get her attention. The scout was resting horizontally, with its nose slightly raised. She had to pull the manual release for the canopy located behind her head. The concerned marsupial darted for the jungle heights as the canopy popped open.

        “Khas, are you there?” she called out.

        Getting no reply, she released the harness that strapped her down and pulled herself up to stand on her seat. The scout teetered a bit as she looked down at the damaged stern of the Gunnel-Khener, SR-77 scout.

        Khas’s helmet was resting against the canopy and she could not detect any motion. The glass was darkened, further hampering her efforts to see her back-seater. She made her way out onto what was left of the port wing and pounded on the glass to get his attention. The marsupials watched her curiously from the vines above, her behavior no different then theirs had been.

        Her gloved hands found the emergency release cord under a recessed panel. She turned away and pulled the cord, blasting the back seat canopy high into the air. The noise sent the marsupials scampering ever higher to safer territory.

        This time when she looked, she saw the ugly truth. The damage from the meteor impact had breached the back seat area, but that alone had not killed him. When the scout fell through the trees and wedged in between two trunks, a thick stump had poked through the gap and skewered Khas’s upper torso, splintering as it drove into the reinforced seat back. The result was a mess of wood, bone and blood. A few more centimeters and it would have gone through her back, too.

        Her legs became rubbery. She turned away and sat down with her back against the fuselage. A sudden wave of nausea swept over her. She quickly reached behind her head and unlocked the seal of her pressurized helmet, pulling it off. Thereby breaking the first rule
of survival: “Always keep your suit sealed." The helmet slipped from her grip and hit the charred top of the wing as it bounced away.

        Taking a big breath of fresh, humid air, she caught a whiff of Khas’s corpse and promptly vomited on the side of her spacecraft. She hadn’t eaten before the launch, so very little came up. Beads of sweat covered her face from the planet’s relentless humidity. The Biogenic flight suit kept her body cool and dry, but could do nothing for her head after she tossed the helmet. She had to retrieve it, if she ever wanted to be able to eat. The suit was designed to be worn in full until you were rescued. Theoretically, a downed Starveyor could survive in any known climate for up to a month. After that, the organically engineered waste and temperature control features required level four diagnostics that could only be performed on a starship. In other words, if you weren’t found after thirty days, forget it.

        Szeredy took the survival rucksack out of the cockpit and carefully stepped out onto what was left of the port wing. There were several vines hanging from the tall trees and she was able to snag one and test it with her weight before descending to the jungle floor.

        As she lowered herself through the mist, there was a pleasant drop in the humidity but not the temperature. The world took on a different look and feel as she neared the tall grass that covered the ground. A low fog hung over the dull gray, primordial vegetation. Very little sunlight reached this far down through the high jungle canopy. She realized that she would never find her helmet unaided.

        Stepping onto the ground, her feet slipped on the moss-covered roots of the massive tree, sending her prone into the tall grass. With her face pressed against the pliant grass, she thought she heard someone laughing. As she pushed her head up, she saw movement a few meters away.

        Two bipedal individuals were walking hand in hand away from her. They were so familiar; she had to think twice before calling out to them. Strict non-interference laws prevented her from making contact with indigenous intelligent life forms. She watched them strolling through the high grass, for all the world looking like a young human couple in love.

        Their lean, chartreuse bodies were completely naked, with grass shaped patterns of darker green extending outward from their spines. She couldn’t tell if the pattern was natural or somehow painted onto their skin. They moved with an elegant stride that made a human’s gait look clumsy in comparison.

        A high pitched laughter blurted out from behind her. She turned around quickly, her blond hair swaying aside. The humidity had already flattened her regulation bob cut. Standing beside her was an alien juvenile, covering her face and giggling at Szeredy. The child’s smile radiated from behind the six-fingered hands that covered her face. Szeredy returned the smile, falling deeply into the child’s large, saffron eyes.

        Szeredy put a finger up to her mouth in a gesture of silence. The child probably wouldn’t interpret the sign language correctly, but it was the only thing she could think of to try and keep her from giving away Szeredy’s position.

        The alien tilted her small round head to one side and then mimicked Szeredy’s gesture with her own frail finger. The move touched a chord deep inside the downed pilot. She wanted to pull the child close into her arms in a maternal hug.

        The two adult aliens called out for the child. Their voices were strikingly familiar to Szeredy as they echoed in wind. The little girl withdrew into the tall grass and reappeared at her parents' side. There was some animated discussion between the three of them, after which the parents looked around suspiciously, as if they were not sure whether to believe the child’s wild claims.

        Szeredy stayed put on the wet ground, hoping the kid didn’t drag her parents over to see the strange white creature with the grass colored clothes. After lying still for several minutes, she ventured to look up. The family had moved on, and was beginning to blend into the swaying grass. She took out her biocorder and locked in a fix on them. Gathering her survival gear and activating the suit’s defensive shields, she headed off in the direction they were walking. It was rapidly getting darker and she didn’t care to be alone in the jungle at night. The helmet she was chasing was left behind in the grass, not a meter from where she had been.

        Walking through the tall grass and ground fog, Szeredy had to rely on her biocorder to track the family of aliens. Concentrating on the tiny glowing screen of the instrument, she stumbled into a snare trap and quickly found herself hanging several meters off the ground by her boots. The biocorder and her weapon, jerked out of her hands by the jolt, lay in the grass below her. She cursed her stupidity as she hung helpless and defenseless from the vines. After several hours of hanging there, she passed out from the blood congealing in her head.

        Something was poking her in the stomach. She brushed it off and fell back into a deep sleep. Warm, comforting sleep. Where nothing bothered her, except that annoying dig in her bladder. The lukewarm gusher building inside finally released into the fluid reclaiming system of the Biogenicsuit. The temperature change forced her to finally open her eyes.

        Several dark shapes were moving in the tall grass below her. One of them was poking her in the bladder with a long branch of some kind. Or was it a sharpened spear? Szeredy tried to slap the controls for her personal defense system shields but she couldn’t reach her belt. Her hands were tied together with more vines. She had allowed herself to be surprised again by this strange, now dark, world.

        The spear poked her waist this time and her rations fell to the ground. A few moments later she was being lowered to the half dozen mysterious figures below. They were male aliens, as naked and hairless as the others had been. Their bodies were covered with a thick, oily substance that glistened on their olive skin. That was all she had time to notice before they viciously clubbed her on the back of the head.

        Szeredy awoke to the sound of familiar voices. Several people were discussing something in broken Votainion. The accents were high pitched and slurred as if spoken by ignorant seraphs. She opened her eyes and saw only a brilliant verdant blur. Streams of yellow light broke through thin vanes of green, until finally, she focused on the straws of a thatched roof. She looked around and saw that she was lying in a low hut made from cut trees and covered with grass. There were several aliens moving around outside, engaged in cooking a skinned animal over a fire.

        She tried to sit up and was overcome with sudden dizziness. Resting her head back down, she felt a smooth texture against her skin. It was not the tight, constrictive fabric of her flight suit. She was naked under the pelt of a dead animal. There was something crawling under her legs. She looked down and was startled to see a line of small black insects marching in single file through the dirt floor of the hut. She let out a startled shriek and pulled herself away from the parade of insects. They continued on about their way, totally unaware of the commotion they created.

        One of the female aliens entered the opening of the hut and stopped short of coming inside. Szeredy stared at the aquamarine colored alien while she covered herself with the animal covering. The alien noticed the insects and a broad smile opened across her face. Szeredy didn’t find any humor in the situation. The alien motioned for Szeredy’s hand. Szeredy cautiously accepted the outreach and let the alien gently pull her out of the hut.

        Outside there were several other female aliens and a few children of various heights, all of them a distinctly chartreuse color. They turned to look at her with their big yellow eyes and pronounced foreheads. Seeing that they were as naked as she was, Szeredy lowered the fur cover and let it fall to the ground. The aliens seemed to relax, as if seeing someone covered was cause for alarm. The aquamarine colored alien examined Szeredy’s hand in her own cool fingers. Several other adult females moved in for a closer inspection. They seemed particularly fascinated with her blond hair.

        They spoke quietly amongst themselves, discussing the various odd features of their guest. Szeredy could almost make out what they were saying as they caressed her body with their delicate cool fingers. Her body hair, what little she had, amused them to no end. The children approached her next, touching her in places far too familiar. She gently brushed their fingers away from her pubic area. They didn’t seem to have any shame.

        Finally, the females ordered the children to retreat. The one with Szeredy’s hand led her to another fire pit. They sat down on smooth logs that were positioned around the white coals of the dying fire. The smell of burning wood permeated the jungle atmosphere; it was something Szeredy had never experienced before. The alien pointed to the coals and Szeredy noticed the outlines of her flight suit. It was designed for far worse damage then a campfire, but she had no desire to retrieve it. She shook her head as if to convey that she did not want it back. The alien smiled approvingly.

        Szeredy wondered if her other tools were also in the fire. All of her instruments were designed to be virtually indestructible; should she ever desire to dig them out and use them, they would probably work just fine. But she really didn’t care about them anymore. This world was like living in a paradise. She had never realized that a wild and foreign planet could be so seductive and serene. She sensed no danger from these aliens, despite how they had captured her.

        The blue-green female pointed to herself and spoke. “Cyril.”

        Szeredy pointed to herself and mouthed, “Szeredy.”

        The alien smiled and repeated, “Zerdy.” Szeredy was struck by the Votainion pronunciation of her name. The alien looked more human then the others and her skin color was a blend of Votainion blue and native chartreuse. Her eyes were more slanted and dark, almost Voton black. Szeredy realized that her new friend was either a third or fourth generation Votainion half-breed. Cyril spoke again and Szeredy found that she could understand most of what the alien was communicating.

        “You’re mate did not survive in the trees. Where have you come from?”

        “I come from a land very far away, in the night sky.”

        Cyril blinked her dark eyes as if that made perfect sense. She looked up into the dark canopy of tree leaves high above them. “My people come from above the trees in the night sky. They fell to the earth many generations ago and have never returned.” She looked at Szeredy again.

        “Do you come from where my people do?”

        Szeredy nodded slowly. She just couldn’t lie to her newfound friend. Space faring civilizations were simply not within Cyril’s grasp, so Szeredy made it sound as if there were lands above the sky, higher then the trees. Cyril seemed to understand. But it was clear to her that the white foreigner was not telling the whole truth.

        They sat on the log and spoke for hours, pausing briefly to eat the animal the tribe was cooking. Szeredy had never tasted food cooked over an open flame before. A life aboard starships and space stations, where fire was a deadly threat to existence, never afforded her the opportunity. She found that she liked animal food, immensely.

        As dusk approached, the men of the tribe awoke and emerged from their huts. They were hunters and made their living at night, when the largest of predators were awake and hunting themselves. The males were slightly bigger then the females and carried themselves less elegantly. Their lean, muscular frames reminded Szeredy of zero gravity acrobats. They paid her little attention and only spoke in curt sentences to the females. After eating, they gathered around the fires and engaged in a form of verbal story telling that Szeredy found most enjoyable. Seemingly stoic male leaders gestured wildly and made comical expressions in reciting various tribal myths. To Szeredy’s surprise, she was encouraged to join in the tale of her capture the night before. The children of the tribe laughed in their high pitched giddy voices and the adults watched her with a mixture of curiosity and good cheer.

        When story time was over, the children were put to bed and the males began to dress for the night’s hunt. They were taking a young kid out for what Szeredy gathered was his first hunt. He was nervous and excited at the same time. His bright yellow eyes took in all the details of the preparation, studying intently everything his elders did.

        They had fashioned a hollowed tree into a bathing tub and filled it with a jet-black liquid that resembled oil. One by one the men stepped into the tub and submerged themselves into the dull black mud. When they came out, they were covered in it and stood around the fire to let it bake onto their olive skin. Cyril explained that the mud acted as cover for the darkness of night. Their weapons were primitive, but deadly nevertheless. Sharpened spears with flint heads and thin arrows made from wood and bird feathers. The oldest males boiled a special concoction of poison that the arrowheads were dipped into. Szeredy watched the males prepare for hunting and had an urge to join them. She asked Cyril if she could tag along for the hunt. Cyril looked at her in astonishment, her black eyes blinking with soft eyelashes. Szeredy took that for no and quickly dismissed the idea. Secretly she still wanted to go with the men on their hunt, perhaps another time.

        Cyril sat with Szeredy until the males had formed their hunting parties and left into the flickering darkness that surrounded the jungle camp. Then she led Szeredy into her hut and saw to it that she was comfortable enough to sleep for the night. Szeredy was not surprised that several other single females shared the hut with her and Cyril. There was safety in numbers when the males were away for the hunt. The night was dark and noisy with the sounds of nightlife. It took Szeredy a long while to finally drift off to sleep as her first night on the alien world came to a close.

* * *

        Zerdy waited until the others had fallen asleep, before she rose quietly and left the tiny hut. Kwin was waiting for her in the designated spot behind the large fallen tree at the edge of the camp. He greeted her with a kiss, his long tongue tickling the back of her throat. She pressed her self against his dried and painted body. After a moment, he pushed her away and began painting her body with the black oil used for concealment during the nightly hunts. The oil was warm and slick and it aroused her when he wiped it over her skin with a feather.

        She had come to enjoy every aspect the hunt, from the painting on of the darkness to the sprints through unbeaten grasses as the prey was cornered and killed. With the help of her mate, Kwin, she had taken to the ways of the hunt and excelled like no female had ever done before. There were those in the tribe who took great offense at her hunting prowess, and she had plenty of opposition in the high council, but she would not give in to their demands. She could not honor their old traditions that females did not hunt.

        Cyril had distanced herself from Zerdy when the hunting lessons had begun. She preferred to remain on her father’s good side out of respect for him. He held court on the high council and she would have never made him look bad in the eyes of the other tribesmen. Cyril missed being with her white skinned friend, the kinship they had developed over time had surpassed tribal customs and let them remain faithful to each other. Zerdy had taken quickly to their language and customs and was now considered a valued if not fully respected member of the tribe.

        During the last coming of age ceremony, Zerdy’s back was tattooed with the striped pattern that marked her as a member of the tribe. The initiation ceremony branded the individual for life and aided in protecting them from jungle predators. The primitive branding technique was often painful and unpleasant. Surviving the ritual was a testament to one’s intestinal fortitude. It also marked a vivid transformation, passing from childhood into adulthood, especially for the males who lacked a natural passage.

        Zerdy’s markings made her tanned white skin contrast sharply with the tar black stripes. She had even cut her blond hair back from her forehead and braided it in the Tyrmian fashion. Nothing it seemed could make her completely blend into the permanent green of their world. She would always be marked as an outsider, no matter how well she assimilated into their culture. It was something she hated with a passion, but was resigned to living with. It had been several months since that fateful day she had fallen onto this world, a fact of which she was blissfully unaware.

        On this night, Kwin and his party were venturing into undiscovered country. The hunting had become sparse in their traditional territory and the high council decided that someone should explore new, more fertile ground. Zerdy tagged along with Kwin as they joined the others at the boundary of their known land. There were four of them in the party. Vinch, their leader, was slightly larger then the other two males. He wore a bandanna around his head and carried the strongest bow. Kwin was his second, and usually walked to the side and ahead of the main group. Zerdy had taken the number three positions, walking behind Vinch. Trailing them, and covering their rear flank, was Gweet. Gweet was small and lithe and he often traveled in the vines above like a marsupial.

        The night was alive with the sounds of nocturnal life. Giant beetles rubbed their thoraxes, grating in sync with hundreds of other insects forming a background symphony of cacophony. They walked over the wet jungle floor, their feet barely making a sound as they moved upwind to avoid detection from possible prey.

        Zerdy carried a spear that was twice as long as she stood tall. She gripped it hard with oily wet hands. The fresh grass blades brushed by her thigh, flecking off some of the dried black oil. She tried to step where Vinch had stepped, to avoid disturbing the ground. There were two full moons shinning high above the jungle canopy, but down on the moist ground, it was pitch dark.

        Vinch stopped in his tracks and knelt down, motioning for Zerdy to come to his side. She stepped forward and put her knee down beside her mate. Her blue eyes shined from behind a blackened face.

        Vinch pointed to a glowing reddish light in the trees ahead of them. Nothing that she was aware of in the jungle ever glowed like this at night. Vinch’s saffron eyes were wide and she could tell by his tense posture, that he was alarmed by what he saw. She peered through the low lying fog and thought she could see moving figures in the red hallow of light.

        Zerdy spotted Kwin a few meters ahead of them. He was looking back at them, as confused and alarmed as Vinch. Kwin motioned for them to advance to his position. Zerdy followed Vinch, step for step until he went prone and crawled the remaining distance to Kwin. When she reached them, she could clearly see the ghostly shapes moving in the red light. They were a Starveyor search and rescue team, and they were looking for her.

        Zerdy froze her entire body tense. She had hoped that they had written her and Khas off as missing in action. After a month had passed, she started to believe they would never return for her. Her mind was racing again, like the day she fell from the sky. The same hurried, frantic feeling that she was only just learning to let go of. She tried to relax, to calm herself down, but she found it impossible.

        “These are your people,” Vinch told her. He recognized their flight suits as being similar to what Zerdy wore when they found her in their trap. “Do you want to go back to them?”

        Zerdy heard him, but she didn’t realize what he was asking. She slowly shook her head. “We have to leave here, or they will find us and take me away with them,” she whispered. Vinch motioned for the others to back off. Then he told Kwin to head back in the direction they had come.

        Zerdy’s attention was focused on the search team. They had found the scout ship and were attempting to lift it out of the tree. It was covered with jungle growth that impeded their efforts. “Zerdy, are you staying?” Vinch asked her.

        “Yes, for a little while. You go back with the others. I will follow shortly.”

        Vinch was hesitant to leave her. He was afraid she would decide to return and there was nothing he could do to win her back. Her people were wizards, capable of calling up light from the darkness and moving heavy objects with unknown magic. He knew he could not
compete with them. He took her hand and squeezed it gently. She looked at him as if just noticing his presence.

        “Come back with us, Zerdy. We need you.”

        She looked into his large eyes and kissed him hard. “Go now my mate, I will not be long.” He turned and crawled away, looking back once, before disappearing into the shadows of the night.

        Zerdy moved in closer to the removal operation. She crawled up beside a gray tree and peered through its twin, sinewy trunks, her black covered face hidden in the shadow save for the shine of the white of her eyes. She wondered if they had found her helmet in the grass under the scout. She had taken great pains to retrieve all of her gear and scatter it around the crash site, in an effort to make it look like she was attacked and devoured by a local predator.

        She even went as far as having Vinch remove the neuro implant at the base of her neck. It was a painful operation, despite her use of the Med-kit’s laser scalpel and analgesics. She later hid the implant in some meat and fed it to a Tracalor, the most vicious predator on
the planet. She knew that the implant would lead rescuers to her no matter where she tried to hide.

        Something was moving in the grass behind her. She spun around to find one of the Starveyor troops standing with a biocorder pointed at her. She could see the man’s wide-open eyes behind his helmet visor. She must have been quite a sight to behold, naked and coated with a dry and crumbling mud. She saw him reacting confused to what his biocorder was reading. He even slapped the instrument a couple of times to be sure something wasn’t ajar inside of it.

        Zerdy stood perfectly still, trying to decide what to do next. Either the man had a faulty biocorder or the mud she was wearing somehow obfuscated its readings. Either way, she had to act quickly, before he reported in to the others what he had discovered.

        The man turned suddenly and pointed the biocorder to the right, just as Cyril appeared at her side. Cyril clung to Zerdy’s side in a traditional show of support common to the Tyrmian people. The Starveyor reacted even more surprised to the readings he got from the second, blue green colored female. Zerdy knew that her friend scanned as a Votainion, not a Tyrmian.

        She decided to make a break for it, and hoped the human didn’t press after them. Zerdy gently pushed Cyril aside and told her to run into the tall grass. Cyril nodded and then bolted for the open grass. The move startled the Starveyor, who followed Cyril with his biocorder.

        Zerdy lunged for his side arm and quickly seared off the man’s communications link. He froze, realizing that she had effectively cut him off from the others. Zerdy took the biocorder and flushed its memory. She moved around behind the Starveyor, putting him between her and the other members of his team. She afforded a quick look in the direction of the cleanup operation and saw that they were unaware of the drama being played out just a few hundred meters away from them.

        The Starveyor was looking at her differently now. She was no longer a harmless, biocorder anomaly. She was now a serious threat. Cyril came back out of the grass and stood beside her friend. “Are you coming back with us?” she asked.

        Zerdy kept her eyes on the Starveyor. “Yes,” she said.

        Cyril motioned behind them and the entire tribe appeared from out of the tall grass. The Starveyor’s eyes went big as he realized he was in over his head. The male Tyrmians surrounded the Starveyor, spears pointed at his torso. Vinch came to his mate’s side. “Do you want us to kill it?”

        “No,” she said firmly. She instructed them to rig a sling trap and snare him in it. Vinch led the operation, rigging the ancient trap in short order. When the poor man was hanging from his heels, she removed his helmet and tossed it aside. He watched her carefully set the biocorder on the ground and place the side arm beside it.

        “Who are you people?” he asked, sweat dripping from his face from the oppressive humidity.

        Zerdy said nothing. She backed away from him and motioned for the others to retreat into the jungle. The man called out to her again. “Wait, who are you?” he pleaded.

        Zerdy smiled. “I Tyrmian,” she said as she ducked into the tall grass and joined her people in the darkness.



copyright 2007 Ken McConnell.

Ken McConnell:

I was born in Iowa and now live with my family of four in Boise, Idaho. I work at HP as a Test Analyst. I write fiction as a hobby and have only now started to try and get published. I'm into astronomy, amateur radio and movies.

link to silverthought.com