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Anathema IV - Alone and Silent

By S.L. Koss
Page 2 of 8

"Now Commander." Kai growled, daring him to respond. Meanwhile, Giareth had dropped to a crouch to avoid the knife, thus losing his tactical position. Touching a button on his bracelet, he disappeared.

Kai retrieved his knife from the wall, shaking his head at the broken tip. "I've ruined a perfectly good knife for nothing." He slid the knife back into the top of his boot, muttering. "He's getting all together too old for his position, yet still I underestimate him."

"How old is he?" Avon asked, wondering as he certainly did not look very old, but unsure of how Felinians manifested age.

"You didn't know?" Kai asked turning to him once more. "He and mother are what the Felinians call 'disparate twins', born at the same instant. It happens frequently among the same sex, but rarely between those of different sex. Ordinarily, he would have been banned from being able to bond to her. It creates and usually strong bonding and quite often an obsession on the male's part which can be dangerous. Little did the First One know that years ago on a trip with his father, Giareth saw her in the gardens, he has been obsessed ever since. Having killed all his brothers and his father, he was the only one left of his clan and the Counsel wanted a pairing between them enough to ignore their own precepts. She should have been safe as long as she stayed out of his reach. Returning to Felinian space put her back within his reach. Luckily, I have always been ten steps a head of him."

"Have you?" Avon replied darkly, making a mental effort to remember the man-child pacing the flight deck was only 10 and heir to more power than Avon could dream of, even for an Elite. The ship standing along side their own and dwarfing its rusting mass made that more than evident. Avon noticed several more plasma cannons had been added to the ship since he saw it last, a total of four on each pod section and five ringing the main section, a most formidable ship.

Noticing the same thing, Tarrant spoke up as Kai examined Slave's circuitry curiously. "You've enough armament on the that ship to destroy a planet. Do the Felinians have any plans to challenge the Federation? With such a fleet particularly at this time it should be a simple thing."

Kai closed and inspection panel and turned to Tarrant. "Ah, now the problem is, the Felinians are as much interested in their isolation as they are in any bids for conquest. As long as they are left alone, they don't see the Federation as a threat. I have no doubt that will change, especially when the Federation find out what comprises our fleet."

"It is unrealistic for them to believe that isolation will stay intact." Avon commented, looking intently at Kai for a moment. "There's something else, what is it? The Star Commander is entirely too over-protective of you, what does he want?" A question that Avon did not know the answer to, but he could feel an almost distinct wave of concern in the boy's manner. He had clearly sent the Star Commander away because he felt uneasy in his presence.

Kai turned from his examination of Slave's circuitry, brushing Soolin's eyes as if he could not bear to look at her again. There was a hint of sadness and clear frustration in his voice as he spoke. "I am not nearly as Felinian as they want me to be. Oh, it's not hard to act the part." He stopped just beside where Soolin sat, still watching him suspiciously, with effort, he did not look at her. "I trust I did not hurt you? One is to despise a female that does not know her place, if Giareth had gotten to you first, he would have killed you without a thought. They keep telling me I will learn to react on instinct and not on ration, but I really don't think I capable of that."

"That can hardly be considered a detriment." Avon commented dryly.

Soolin smiled slyly and reached for her gun once more. Before her hand was halfway, Kai had brought the muzzle of his rifle to bear on her head. *I do not need to make an example, do I woman? I trust you understand I am completely capable.*

Soolin shrugged nonchalantly. "You're instincts do not appear to need any improving."

Kai stared back at her harshly for a moment and then broke into a smile. "You're not afraid of me in the least. I am supposed to be turned on by a woman who is terrified of me. So far, I cannot seem to bring myself to be impressed by the fact they think I am a demon to them, an offense which desecrates their breeding protocol. Most often they faint at the sight of me."

"Why would they think you're a demon?" Dayna asked.

Ignoring the breach of protocol it was to speak without leave, Kai shrugged. "All Felinian literature depicts evil with dark features. It does not occur naturally in their people. Regardless of what they think of me, I shall have to find a way to accept a mate before I reach majority."

Majority for a Felinian was 12 years, but Avon was not aware that they were mandated to have selected a mate by then, the Star Commander for instance was quite a bit older than that and still without a mate. "Why the hurry, Kai?" He asked, intrigued.

"The minor branches of Clan Ranyanetha do not believe I am capable of producing an heir. Kai said, running a nervous hand through his hair. "If I don't, there will be clan war. Grandfather is not willing to give in to them and name another heir among his more distant relatives. Giarnetha will not get involved because they are still hoping for their Warrior Prince even if they have to wait until Alarayeth has a child."

"That would seem a rather long time to wait." Avon commented. "Giareth already had his chance, does he think he will get another?"

Kai glared back at him openly. "You did make it easier for him to entertain the possibility. Surely you're not foolish enough to think he would not for that prize encourage the Federation in their attempts to destroy you just to get a chance at mother again. I know, I watch him constantly and if I didn't, he would have been successful by now. He won't make the same mistake twice, she will give him a son. He has the capability to completely subvert her will and he will use it when he has to." Anger was palpable in Kai's every movement as he walked over to the wall, placing his back against the bulkhead and waited while Giareth reappeared before him.

Glancing about the deck sharply, the Star Commander said haughtily. "What we can spare is in their hold." He turned to Kai belligerently, saluting dutifully. "It is all we can spare, our fighters use those crystals and I am not about to put the ship at risk just because your sire finds it amusing to dodge asteroids with a junkheap."

"It should be enough to get us to base and then some." Tarrant said.

"Good." Avon said turning to Tarrant. "Go down and get it installed. Slave, prepare to place the operating systems at maximum." He ignored totally the perfunctory 'yes, master' turning back to Giareth with obvious disdain. "The next time I am in need of fuel crystals, I shall endeavor to remember your eminent wisdom, Commander, though I'm sure you appreciate my natural tendency toward suicide."

"Far better than you do, human." Giareth smiled ferally. "Come, my young Prince, though we are safe for now, Beta Farl is known to patrol this part of the sector and I don't want to draw their attention unless necessary."

They vanished without further comment and after a short time, Tarsia appeared bearing a piece of equipment. He placed it on the console before Avon dutifully, saying quietly. "It is called a Stardrive and should give you far better speed than you are currently capable of. Where the Altas got the technology, we do not ask, but we use them in our freighters and they are basically the same design." He stepped back, watching Avon keenly.

Avon glanced at it appreciatively, noting its connections would fit the Scorpio's main drive systems. He turned to Tarsia suspiciously. "Does Giareth think I need charity now?"

"He does not know." Tarsia replied softly. "Were the Federation to know of its' existence it would compromise our relationship with the Alta. Kai does not believe you would draw attention to yourself with it. Speed is one thing, but you lack the weaponry to do more than run from possible attackers, you had might as well run fast, the little ones will worry less." Without further comment, he left.

As the Starfire vanished, Avon watched the viewer skeptically, calmly devising a program which would allow Orac to notify him of any unusual interest in his activities by the Star Commander.

******


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