Sunday, February 19, 2012

Ahab Amor FGC (2012) #2

Tiarna stumbled through the undergrowth, her heart hammering as her breath laboured in the unfamiliar atmosphere. Her body ached as it was weighed down under the dense gravity. Every movement felt as though she fought her limbs through treacle.
There was no need to look behind her. The crashing of saplings behind forced her unwilling body to continue.
Feeling for her side arm, she cursed unashamedly as she realised it had been lost in the struggle moments ago. Her legs screamed as she continued to pound them through the undergrowth.
She fought towards an opening into the jungle as light streamed through the vines. Tiarna clutched at a sapling to push her way into the golden beams, lost her balance as she realised the ground had also disappeared and her body flung helplessly downward. Her fingers tightened their grip around the sturdy trunk of the tree as she dared a peak at what lay below her. Her feet tingled as the expanse below her yawned wide. The crashing in the jungle above her had stopped. She listened hoping the pursuit had turned away from her perilous hiding spot. Hearing heavy footfalls gather speed away from her, Tiarna decided to attempted to push herself up against the crumbling rockface.  She calculated the drop to the rushing water beneath her was probably more than what she was willing to risk falling into.
Tiny rocks crumbled at the lip of the cliff, spilling over and showering her. as one of her pursuers steadied himself as he came to a halt above her. He face, crinkled like orange peel slowly registering his disbelief that he had lost his prey. Tiarna clung to the tree staring up at the stocky legs and brutal blade stained with the blood of her shipmates. 
He scanned the churning water and slowly checked the ledge. He sadistic smile widened as he locked his eyes on hers. His thickened arm brought his machete skyward. Tiarna closed her eyes and pushed herself away from the cliff, kicking her legs at the rockface to give her extra distance. The water below seemed close enough but as she hung in the air, she realised she’d misjudged the distance and prayed that it was deep enough to take her impact.
All too quickly, the icy cold drove the air from her lungs as she slammed into the water. Sharp pain shot through her chest as the raging river carried her buoyant body down stream.  Above the water, she heard the roar of her pursuer as he watched her escape.   In the wispy green froth of a backwashed eddy, she floated toward an edge. Tiarna dimly attempted to scratch her way into the bank, crying out in pain as something pulled at her shoulder and dragged her ashore.
Fading in and out of consciousness, she felt the warmth of a body as she was cradled and carried through a sparse forest. She screamed as she was jolted over the rough ground. Her world mercifully went black.
Snapping of twigs and a crackle of fire awoke Tiarna. She grunted as a dull ache in her chest reminded her of her tumble from the cliff. A large form stood from his crouched position near the fire and ambled hesitatedly across to her.  Its hairy face peered at hers as it extended one of its limbs across to her. 
“Damn it. Sorry, I don’t have my translator on me.” Tiarna brushed her hair from her face and attempted to push herself to a sitting position. She kept her face neutral, unsure what the welcoming protocol might be with this unfamiliar species. “ Uh. Hi. Greetings.”
A chair scraped across the wooden flooring and confident steps approached from behind the couch she way laying on.
“Pixy. No touching our guest.”  A more familiar human shape slid round the couch and knelt beside her. “Oh good. You’re awake. I wasn’t sure of the doseage for pain relief. Are you comfortable at least?”
Tiarna frowned but nodded. A fluffy pale blue face peeked over the mans shoulder. Two long fingers stole their way onto his shoulder.
The man reached up and patted them, smiling at Tiarna. “Water monkey. Only found on this planet. Very rare. Extremely intelligent species.”
Tiarna  swivelled her neck, taking in the simplicity of the cabin she lay in. It appeared to be one room, well sealed against the elements, basic necessities catered for, but no technology. She grasped at the mans shirt, pulling him close. “Where am I?”
Pixy’s top lip curled as a guttural growl reverberated around the cabin.  Xander stroked the monkey’s hand. “Its ok, Pixy. Go and boil the kettle for us, will you?” Pixy’s lips pursed as he frowned at Tiarna. Reluctantly with a sharp squeak, he ambled over to the fireplace.
The mans patient smile disarmed Tiarnas wariness. “You’re in shock and you’ve got a pretty nasty injury from your escape. I’m pretty certain most species across the universe begin with introducing themselves.” Those soft lips turned upwards as he smiled. “I’m Xander and this” as he gestured to the interior. “is my home. Pixy here found you at the side of the river. I’m not sure what you were wearing onboard, but it was pretty tatty by the time I found you. Sorry, but Pixy had torn most of it off you by the time I got there.” A slight flush rose from his throat. He stumbled on, “You were wet and moonfall on this planet drops the temperatures to sub zero temperatures. I. Erm.. ” The slight flush continued to colour his throat. “ had to undress you and get you decent again.”
Tiarna loosened her grip on his shirt; suddenly aware of the proximity between the two and shocked as her body reacted to him. She flattened her hand against his chest, allowing a moment to delight in the firmness underneath his cotton shirt. Her breath shortened as her heart hammered. She could feel the blood rise around her own cheeks. Swallowing hard, she dropped her hand; hoping he’d not sensed the flare of hormones she thought had died within her; killed off by relentless training and self control.
Tiarna  smiled, “Thank you. For saving me and for” she looked down at the well worn settlers smock and trousers, “Well, for making sure I didn’t freeze. Its fine; really.”  
His hand caressed her tight grip. “What do you remember?”
She flickered her eyes away from his steady gaze and forced herself to take  a deep breath. “My shipmates. All dead. It was an ambush. We had no chance. The blood.” Tiarna  raised her eyes up, tears forming. “All I can hear, are my shipmates screaming. I feel like such a coward. I ran. I just kept running. I should have stayed. Should have tried to help.”
His arms slithered around her and gently held her as she shook. She allowed her form to meld into his. Alarmed at her lack of self control she attempted to push him away. 
”I’m not normally like this. I’m sorry.” She attempted to straighten and sit up. His arms loosened, but continued to press against hers as his hand rubbed her back gently. Tiarna shook her head and took a deep breath. She could feel her heart racing as his hand continued to stoke her shoulder. “Where exactly are we?” looking towards the door fearfully.  “Its just that - those men, those things. I’ve seen them before. Normally bounty hunters. They’ll find us. Find me. They never stop until; ” She clasped a hand over her throat.
Xander smoothed the blanket she had on her lap across her legs slowly. Tiarna could feel every nerve ending tingle. His hands remained on the edge of the blanket, his fingers brushing her thigh. “That remains to be seen. Its dark out and will be for another 20 hours. Moonrise is only short this spin. Bounty hunter or not. They’d have to be good trackers to find us with no moon or trail tonight.” Xander smiled again. It made Tiarna relax.   “Lets try again. You are?”
“Tiarna. From The Ullu sector.” She flickered her eyes up to see if he picked her lie. She couldn't afford for this stranger, no matter how attractive or caring he seemed, to suspect who, or what she was.  “Our supply ship was on a routine drop to Settlers Cove.” Tiarna ’s fingers gripped the blanket. “We had nothing special on board. Nothing you’d kill anyone over. Instead of landing at the main dock, we were instructed to put down in a clearing a short way from it. Nothing unusual about that either. We do those sorts of things for new colony’s all the time. Most of you settlers don’t have any transport, so we just try and help out where we can. One moment we are lugging boxes and the next I hear screams. They way they looked at me. I knew I was next. I ran into the jungle.”  Tiarna’s breath became ragged.”So cowardly. I should have stayed.” She clawed at her throat making red marks across it. “Blood gushing out like theirs, screaming like they were.” Tiarna  began to gasp.  “So senseless. We had nothing of any value. Not really.”
She wheezed as the words caught in her throat, suddenly wondering if her identity had been discovered. She’d been so careful. Not even her shipmates suspected that she was anything other than space flotsam, interested only in the next cargo run. Xander’s hand ran up her arm and brushed across her cheek. His smile calmed her as the air between them sparked with intention.
“If you don’t mind me saying, apart from all your shipmates being murdered, your ship destroyed and a bunch of bounty hunters on your trail trying to tie up some lose ends, you seem to be pretty stressed.”
Tiarna  looked at Xanders solemn face incredulously. He burst out laughing and was quickly joined by her infectious giggle.  She howled with laughter and wiped away her tears.  “I don’t think I’ve laughed like that in years.”
He shrugged. “Laughter always helps to lighten the mood. Now, you’ll need some rest so the wound on your leg can heal. I’ve patched it up as best as I can, but you’ll need a medic.”
Tiarna flushed, realising that she had to trust him a little. “I can’t go to a human medic, I;” 
Xanders hand brushed against her cheek as he stood. “I’ve met Stelio before. Despite what you think, you aren’t that different. At least, from what I have seen.”
Her flush deepened as she realised that none of her ships uniform had remained on her body.  Xander brought her a steaming cup of tea. “Monkey made. The best you’ll have planetside.”
Pixy watched her intensely as she took her first sip, clapped as she smiled and snuggled into a bed of rags beside the fireplace. 
“Goodnight Miss Tiarna. Don’t worry about those three hunters. With the discharge from your burning ship, there is no way they’ll find a trail on you. We can look at options to get you onto a ship back to Nissar in the morning.”
Tiarna dozed as the painkillers dulled her senses. She woke suddenly as the events of the evening began to process. She moved her head round as the flickering of the fire played shadows on the walls.  Pixy’s mound moved rhythmically to what she suspected as its sleep pattern.  She relaxed as she heard deep breathing from a darkened corner. Tiarna slipped the blanket off her legs and attempted to put weight onto one leg. Pain shot through her body and she was forced to accept she would be unable to escape on foot. Tiarna’s fingers tingled as her suspicions began to rise about her rescuer. She’d not mentioned her ships demise, nor told him how many attackers there were. She’d initially found it strange that he hadn’t reacted when he looked at her. Tiarna flushed. He had to have seen her undressed and hadn’t been repulsed with her soft scaly chest.  Her species were not known to travel outside their solar system and although she was humanoid enough to pass casual scrutiny, her peoples lizard features were not generally considered attractive. They did, however, make up this feature with other skills. 
Her heart hammered as she thought of Xander laying in bed only a few feet away from her.   It had been years since she’d yearned for the press of another body against hers. Tiarna quickly quashed her wandering thoughts and looked around for a weapon. In the morning, she was determined to find out who he was and how he knew so much about her and the name of her home planet. 

A tiny blade, most likely from his megre food preparation area, lay on the table beside the couch. Tiarna picked it up to study it, quickly pushing it under the blankets as she heard Xander shift in his bed.  She turned to look at his form, shocked to discover he was standing behind her.
“I’m sorry Tiarna.” She padded over to the couch in bare feet and stood in front of her.  “You were just a job. Your shipmates. Regrettable but necessary.”
Tiarnas eyes flickered into slits, her camouflage disintegrating as her emotions began to discharge. “Just a job?”
“To find a Stelio this far from her home planet? Alone? Collectors from all round are desperate to secure your services.”
 “Services. You humans don’t even have enough words in your vocabulary to describe what I can do.”
“I’m sorry Tiarna. I didn’t mean to sound so cold. I only meant.”
She spat venomously “So all this was just a ploy. You knew who I was straight away.”

Xander brought out a communicator. “I knew. I was back up. They told me you’d fallen into the water and I was meant to intercept you and bring you in.”
“So why am I still here and not in some cage?”
Xander  flushed. “You looked so .. helpless. I didn’t expect you to be so beautiful. I’ve never - ” He shook his head. “Not cross species before.”
He set the communicator down. “They’re still looking for you. I told them you’d never made it down as far as me. The gators in that river get pretty big.”
Tiarnas eyes widened.
“Between you and me though - they don’t live in the fast running water sections - but don’t tell anyone - it keeps people away from these parts.”
Tiarna’s fingers felt for the hidden blade and inched it toward her palm.  “So what happens now?”
He sat beside her and brushed a hand across her hair. “You’ve no idea how hard it is to be in the same room as you. I’d always heard about the Stelio; about their effect on others. But never believed.”  One hand slid down to her arm which hid the blade. He moved in closer, his hot breath tickled her throat. “Its hard for me to work out what is natural attraction and what you are controlling.” His hand fondled the fingers which covered the blade.  “I say we take our chances.”  
Tiarnas breath shortened. She’d never felt the rush of emotions which now coursed though her body.  “Run? Hide?” She’d been running all of her life. Running from who and what she was. She rubbed her face against his and nibbled at his ear, whispering, “We are hardly inconspicuous with a Water Monkey in tow.”
Xander’s lips met hers;  lingering as they breathed in one another’s desire.  Tiarna dismissed the blade and brought her hand up around the back of his neck. 
He breathed, “We are hardly inconspicuous with a Stelio.”
As Xanders hands clutched around her body, his stunray clattered to the floor.
Tiarnas fingernails ripped the back of his shirt as he pushed her onto the couch. Her eyes glittered in the firelight “I say we take our chances together.”

Word Count : 2 654

Ahab Amor - loose translation ( mixed languages)  - for the passion of love.

This story was written in response to Write Anything's Form and Genre Challenge ( Romance) and currently still in draft format - awaiting final polish from feedback.

This story was submitted for #2 of FGC.

This  was also submitted to Friday Flash.


Becky Fyfe said...

Love it, Annie! I definitely want to know if they make it out of danger :)

Storm Dweller said...

I'm with moonduster on that one.

Adam B said...

Yep, if in doubt, sci fi it. Loved your take, Annie and it has depth behind it which works well. Quick world building which fitted wonderfully.
Cool story.
Adam B @revhappiness