Sholans in NYC
Fanfiction By John Van Stry
Disclaimer: I do not own any part of the Sholan universe
and no money is being made from this story.
I put my arm around Sue and escorted her out of the building, following Jurrel who had Karen with him. We got a lot of glares from some of the people as we walked out the doors. Some of the agents I’d had to ‘convince’ to let us in were looking especially angry, but that wasn’t my problem.
We helped the girls into the limo, held the door for the lawyer and then got in ourselves.
“Townhouse,” I told the driver. He was one of ours, unlike the lawyer who was a local. But the lawyer earned his money and it’s always good business to hire local help when it comes to the law, after all, they know the customs. I closed the partition and turned back to the girls, Jurrel was comforting Karen, who did look a little shaken, so did Sue so I took his lead and did the same with her.
“What was that all about?” Sue asked me, “Why did they arrest us?”
“They didn’t actually arrest you,” our lawyer put in. “They just took you in for questioning, a clear violation of not only your rights as American citizens, but a grave insult to the Sholan embassy.”
“But why?” she asked and leaned into me; I curled my tail around her waist and pulled her in close. I felt a little sorry for her. This was how the game was played; she was really not much more than a pawn.
“The idea of male Sholans having human girlfriends probably bothers some of their sensibilities,” Jurrel said with a soft growl. I nodded, as did the lawyer.
“Undoubtedly. And it’s shameful that they took you in and made you answer all those questions and harassed you for it,” the lawyer continued.
“Fortunately the ambassador decided to make an issue of it and they told us where you were.” I smiled, “I’m sorry it took us so long to get there. They didn’t treat you too badly, did they?”
“They,” She looked at the lawyer then back at me, “They asked us both a lot of questions about you two. Told us we weren’t being good citizens, and asking how we could sleep with two,” she blushed, “animals.”
I chuckled, so did Jurrel, “Animals huh? I guess that’s better than ‘alien monsters’, right, Jurrel?”
He nodded. “They’re just jealous of our good looks.”
Both of the girls giggled a little at that, it sounded a little forced, they were still nervous obviously. They’d been held by some sort of police, Federal agents, as I understood it, and questioned for four hours. We’d been expecting this for a while now, Jurrel and I; it was just part of the game. We weren’t going to tell the girls that of course.
They talked a little more about what had happened until we got to the house. The four of use got out and left the lawyer and the driver to go back to the embassy.
We went inside and I turned to Sue and picked her up and planted a nice long deep kiss on her, holding her close. She melted against me, I knew she would, it had been a very frightful and scary time for her, and she was young, both she and Karen were barely out on their own, second year college students. Ripe pickings for a couple of full-grown male Sholans looking for dates. I felt guilty sometimes, I was a lot older than her but she was attractive and pretty damn lively in bed.
Also we needed a good excuse for a townhouse in the city off the embassy grounds. Two males 'catting' around with the locals, bringing their girlfriends back to a nice place worked out. Yeah we had a van sitting surveillance on the end of the block. A few cameras here and there; but nothing that couldn’t be avoided when we wanted to.
I took Sue to my room, and we made love. I was pretty sure Jurrel was doing the same with Karen. They were still pretty fascinated with our Sholan bodies, which was fine with me, human breasts I still found fascinating like most Sholan males did.
“That was nice,” she sighed later, “I’ve missed you, it's been days since you’ve been by.”
“Well they do keep us busy, the ambassador has a very busy schedule and we’re still understaffed.” I purred and nuzzled her. That was a bit of a lie. The embassy wasn’t understaffed, but I had other duties I had to attend to. And some nights Jurrel and I just wanted our own private time. I’d gathered some humans would find that objectionable, but at the embassy no one of course would think twice.
“The FBI guy’s told us you’re some sort of commando’s,” She said softly, “that you’re agents, spies.”
I smiled to myself, interesting. “Really? Sounds kind of vague.”
“They said you belonged to something called the ‘Brotherhood of Vartra’ and that you’re some sort of special fighters. They said you’re dangerous and we were foolish. They wanted us to tell them everything we knew about you; they wanted us to help them.”
“Help them do what?”
“They didn’t say, but I’m sure it wasn’t good whatever it was,” she sighed and snuggled in close.
I didn’t think it was probably either. But more likely they just wanted to spy on us, find out what we were up to. I was a little surprised they’d tagged me and Jurrel as Brotherhood. But then we hadn’t been hiding it either. I wonder how much intell they had on the Brotherhood?
“So are you?”
“Hmmm?” I asked and yawned, “Am I what?”
“A member of some secret brotherhood,” she giggled and ran her fingers through my fur. “You sure are built well enough for it.”
“Actually it’s not a secret. Jurrel and I are both members.”
“What?” She sat up surprised. I stretched on the bed and smiled up at her enjoying the view as the cover fell away, the sun would be setting soon. Dinner would be in order.
“I’m a member of the Brotherhood of Vartra. It’s an elite military organization and we are often sent to support and protect diplomatic missions and embassies. In case there’s trouble.” I left out the little annoying bit about assassinations and spying.
“Trouble? Here? On Earth? In New York city?” She looked surprised.
I smiled some more, “You don’t see me complaining, do you? Soft assignments like this are rare.”
“Lazy cat!” she laughed.
“Very. Let’s go shower and roust those other two and get some dinner.”
Jurrel and Karen were already in the showers; we’d had a nice large communal one put in like back home, so we all cleaned up together. The girls still found it a bit strange, but after two months of us they were starting to get comfortable with it.
So for our part we just encouraged them to talk about their experience and we laughed and joked about it a little. But listening to the girls we did learn that they knew about the Brotherhood and maybe a little of what it was, that they were concerned about why two of its members were living ‘off the reservation’ as apparently one of the agents had put it.
We’d been partying so obviously and hardily the last two months however that I don’t think they suspected we were running an op on them. But they sure did want to run one on us. But that was part of why we were here, to let them know there were hard and fast limits to Sholan patience. A few different human agencies and groups had taken advantage of a couple of Sholans here and there, part of this job was to start staking out some ground and let them get an idea of what we would do if they pushed us too hard. The embassy was going to be here for a very long time. Sholans would want to spend time in the city. The local powers that be needed to understand that we would take care of our own and people had to get used to seeing us around. Jurrel and I had the wonderful duty of breaking the ice.
I looked over at Sue and gave her an open mouthed sholan smile, well it could be worse; the natives could definitely be friendly. But Earth was different than Keiss and some humans here were definitely causing problems.
We took them out to a nice restaurant to make up for their trying day, and then of course afterwards they wanted to go out and see a movie, do a little clubbing, in short have fun and show off their boyfriends. Being seen was part of why we were here, so we went along with it of course, Jurrel and I were already well recognized sights in quite a few places the college crowds tended to go. The girls loved the attention, probably as much as they liked us, they were the only two on the planet openly dating Sholans and a small bit of celebrity did come with it. At least it was mostly local gossip, the major news services having gotten tired of the story early on.
“So tell me again, was this assignment a reward or a punishment?” Jurrel leaned over and whispered in my ear in Sholan.
“I’m still not sure,” I chuckled back.
“What was that?” Karen asked looking up from her and Sue’s group of friends who had joined us at the table. They were all interested in all of the goings on of course, and wanted to get to know us aliens better. Some defined ‘better’ in the same terms that Karen and Sue already had and weren’t afraid to drop hints. But human society was a lot different than Sholan society so care was still in order.
“It’s getting late,” I said, “maybe we should call it a night?”
There were several ‘awwws’ and complaints from the others. But Jurrel and I hadn’t been answering questions for twenty minutes now. It gets tiring after a while after all, giving out the same information all the time.
“Tell you what, tomorrow evening I’ll invite a whole bunch of people from the embassy over and you can all come and,” I almost said ‘pester’, “mingle with them. How’s that sound?”
“They’ll do that?” One of the girls blinked.
“They like to get out too you know,” Jurrel chuckled.
“Ugh, there go more of our girlfriends,” I heard one of the guys in the group mutter to another.
“Oh, we’ll bring females too,” I said watching him choke on his drink. It’s not like I could have kept them away, or even wanted to. Plus our best anthropologist here was female and had been bugging me for an invite for weeks now.
Thus cheered we broke up for the night, us four getting a taxi back to the house and of course the girls spending the night. The plans for tomorrow had actually already been made; I’d just been looking for a good time to announce them.
“So what do you think?” I yawned and asked Jurrel in Sholan while leaning against him. We were both getting a drink in the kitchen, the girls were sound asleep.
“I was surprised they picked the girls up, weren’t you?”
I nodded my head, “A little. I’m thinking it was some kind of test for us, agree?”
Jurrel nodded, “Yeah. That or just someone got bored.”
“Possible. They still bugging the house when we’re out?”
“No, they’ve given up on that apparently. But our friends down the street have apparently settled in for good.”
“Yeah well, we expected that.”
“Not much of a challenge, is it?”
“A bit. We really haven’t been doing much of anything but this whole ‘show your ears’ thing. I don’t know why it’s such a big deal, nor why we got shuffled off here light years from home to deal with it. Anyone could do this.”
I nodded. “Maybe someone thought we needed a reward.”
“Home would be a good reward; we haven’t spent much time there together of late. Hell even Stronghold would be a nice break.”
I grinned, “What and get the instructors all riled up again?”
He laughed, “Sure, why not? Reputations are made to be lived up to after all.”
I gave him a shove, “Go keep your little cutey warm, I think I’ll do the same.”
I puzzled that one a moment, “This isn’t Shola, I don’t think they’d stand for it.”
“Probably not. Oh well. Night.”
He gave me a hug and we went off to our beds. I noticed Sue was only faking sleep, I guess she’d woken up while I was out. She settled back down as I crawled into bed and fell back asleep.
The next morning I made my usual morning rounds when I was at the townhouse. Mainly I went down to the corner store to get a newspaper and some snacks for Sue or Karen. It gave me the opportunity to check on things, like the van that was parked down the street since we’d moved in. Local police keeping an eye on things supposedly, there were a lot of diplomats in this town, and with us being the only non-human ones we were due at least the same level of attention as everyone else.
“Good day Sir,” the lady behind the counter said as I paid her. She’d gotten used to me, but I still drew looks from the customers. Children tended to stare and whisper a lot.
“Yo, Cat!” I heard from the door.
I ignored the comment and looked at the reflection in the counter; two fairly large and well dressed men had entered the shop.
“Herbal tea please,” I said and put a bill on the counter. She nodded and went to make me a cup so I turned and strode over to one of the tables to sit. The two men were still watching me. For my part I was wearing a simple tabard arrangement and sandals. I composed myself to look relaxed. I could sense excitement from the newcomers, the type that usually precedes trouble.
“I said Yo cat!” the same one said again looking at me now that I was facing him.
“Excuse me,” I said glancing up from the paper I had set before me. “Are you addressing me?”
“You see any other cats in here?” he said bruskly.
“I don’t see any cats in here,” I smiled politely; “I think I scared them all away. But for the sake of speeding things along I’ll just concede that you must mean me.”
“What are you, some kind of wise guy?” He walked over to where I was sitting with his buddy moving to stand on the other side of me, flanking me in the chair. The shop was fairly empty this morning, the lady behind the counter came over to set my tea down and then walked away.
“To what do I owe the honor?” I asked and sipped the tea. It was bitter, not like their coffee, but I didn’t want something that would make my head fuzzy this early in the morning.
“Some of us have been wondering what you’re doing here in our neighborhood,” he looked me over, “and some of us aren’t so sure we like it.”
I set the tea down and leaned back a little in the chair and examined him. They were both well built, but far too neatly dressed to be what I felt were members of the local crime syndicates. We’d heard about them of course, but I had yet to deal with any of them and these two seemed more like soldiers than criminals.
“Well as far as I know, it’s a free country here so I guess that is just your call.” And I smiled at him, but not a Sholan smile, a nice toothy one showing my fangs. If he had had fur, he would have bristled.
“You’re not a citizen; you don’t know shit about this country.”
“Obviously,” I nodded and kept my poise. Another test. I wondered what kind.
“Your kind isn’t wanted here. Why don’t you go back where you came from?” He warned.
“I don’t know, I think I kind of like it here.” I purred then, “I sure know your women like having me around.”
He took a swing at me but I had already ducked, my senses alerting me to his going past the tipping point. I sprung up then behind the swing and flipped off the back of the chair kicking his partner in the head as I went over backwards and then rolling to my feet. It was going to be that kind of a test obviously.
I came up slowly and let him rush me, his buddy was a little off from the head shot but it didn’t stop him. I centered and let him have a first year’s beating. He took the punches well but couldn’t connect on his returns. He did manage a few blocks and I had to slip back once, which impressed me. His partner continued to maneuver for an opening but I used a few faints to keep him from crowding me.
“That all you got cat?” He said.
“I must admit you are about as good as one of my first year students.” I mock bowed then kicked his partner hard in the stomach blasting him back into the wall and dazing him. “Let us see how you would hold up to the second year’s agenda?”
I advanced on him then attacking. He tried to press but I wouldn’t give into his rhythm making him move to mine instead. He realized it soon enough.
“Not bad, but not up to the course levels.” I told him and used a head slap to daze him then a sleeper hold to knock him out. I looked up at his buddy who was approaching carefully. “You can either carry your friend out, or join him on the floor. Your choice.”
He held up his hands so I let my burden go and gathered up my things. I tipped the lady behind the counter with another bill, a large one for my troubles, on the way out.
“Hold up there one minute sir!”
I turned and sighed, there were about a half dozen police officers standing there. Guess they just ‘happened’ to be in the area.
“Diplomatic Immunity,” I said holding my hands up in the air.
“We’re not aware of any diplomats in this area sir,” the officer in front said. I could see he was looking nervous but at least he was keeping his hand off of his holstered gun. So were the others. They all felt skittish. Guess I wasn’t supposed to win so fast?
“Do you wish to see my ID?” I asked.
“That would be fine Sir.”
So I slowly withdrew my ID and carefully passed it to him. We spent the next ten minutes on the sidewalk while he called it in, his buddies going into the shop and eventually coming back out. One of them whispered something to him and he handed me back my card.
“Trouble?” I asked.
“We had reports of a disturbance,” he said.
“Undoubtedly,” I looked over his haircut and it clicked. “Did I just beat up your champ?” I whispered.
He started and almost said something, then turned red. “You’d better be on your way.”
I nodded, “Good day officer.” And I started wondering if there were any coordination behind this, or if these people were just really really good at looking bad.
The party was going fairly well. Twenty Sholans had come out from the embassy, I had a lot of volunteers who really wanted to come, but I kept it small and the ratio even. About forty humans from Sue and Karen’s college showed up. Mostly kids, but there were a couple of professors there as well.
“Not a bad showing,” Keashan said to me, she’d cornered me away from the crowd to chat a bit. “I’m happy some of the older humans came along, this will help my research immensely.”
I nodded and tried not to smile, “I’m sure those professors are thinking the exact same thing.”
“Yeah but they don’t have to brief the Sholan council on what they find here. Nor do they have to give the ambassador daily updates.” She looked at the people in the next room. “You are going to do this again next week, right?”
“I was thinking once a month at first, until things settled in.”
She made a snorting noise and flicked an ear, “I’m making a formal request here, Brother Banner. I’ll have it on your desk in the morning in writing with the ambassador’s signature on it.”
I cocked my head, “what’s the rush?”
“There are pressures coming from Shola. What else?”
“Okay, I’ll make them weekly, but have that request on my desk anyway.”
“Sure.” She looked into the room where everyone was hanging out and chatting. “I see that Sue of yours seems to be holding forth rather well.”
I looked and nodded, “Well, I don’t think a reclusive or shy type would have taken up with me. Yeah we do look a lot like an overgrown version of one of their favorite house pets, but it’s still bucking society I’m sure.”
Keashan nodded, “I know, I’m fairly fascinated by that whole aspect of things. I’ve been wanting to spend time studying Sue and Karen.”
I turned and looked at her, stared was more the operative word. She looked up at me and lowered her ears a little.
“What do you mean? You two are just using them for your mission.”
“What do you know of our mission?” I growled softly. “Or any of the duties of the Brotherhood?”
She wilted a little more. I’d found that sometimes it was necessary to remind people just who I was and just where they stood. Otherwise there could be a problem when I could least afford it.
“I didn’t mean any insult, Brother Banner,” she apologized.
“Those girls are not props, we are not ‘just using’ them. Remember that,” I warned her letting my voice lower slightly.
“Yes, Brother,” she said ears fully lowered now, I could tell she didn’t like submitting on this, or anything. She was a very high ranked scientist. But again, she knew better than most what kinds of things I did.
“Better. Now, see the male in there with the blue shirt on?”
She looked and nodded, “Yes, what about him?”
“He’s very interested in Sholan females. If you want to do some research about it, why not learn first hand?”
She turned and looked at him and then looked back at me sharply. “You’re not joking, are you?”
“He’s a nice kid. You want to know, go get involved in your own field work doctor.”
She looked at him and then me again and flicked an ear. “Well I’m sure it beats studying those damn Toubiens,” and she walked into the room and said hello to Michael. After about thirty seconds she had him fairly well enthralled, she might hold more doctorates than I could count, but she sure knew how to charm. I grinned and went to make the rounds of the house.
“Your friends all have fun?” I asked Sue as we lay in bed much later that night.
“I think a few of them are still having fun,” she giggled and curled up against me.
I nodded, all the Sholans had stayed the night, several had hooked up with humans surprisingly. It was two in the morning when things had finally broken up and the last few standing had left. “I found the discussions fairly interesting.”
“Jurrel really got into it with Professor Davin, I was surprised. I’ve never seen anyone stand up to him like that.”
I yawned widely, “Davin speaks from books, Jurrel speaks from experience.”
“But Professor Davin is famous! He’s written books, been on Television!” She exclaimed and looked up at me.
I sighed and smiled open mouthed down at her. Ah the energy of youth. “How many planets has he been to? How much of his theory has he seen in practice? Jurrel and I have been together for a very long time, his depths are much greater than Davin’s.”
“Well he left here in a bit of a huff, I’m not sure he’ll be coming back.”
“I’m sure Jurrel will be heartbroken,” I laughed.
“You two are close, aren’t you?”
I nodded, “Yes.”
I yawned again and leaned over to lick her neck, “You’re full of questions, aren’t you? It’s late.”
“I’m curious,” she pouted. “We get so little time to talk.”
“Well you and Karen just love to go clubbing, makes talking kind of hard.”
“So why are you two so close?”
I thought about it a moment. It wasn’t a secret, after all. “We’re sword brothers.”
“We fight together, we fight for each other, we carry each other’s honor and commitments. It’s a very old custom among our order.”
“I see, does everyone have a sword brother?”
“No, very few have sword brothers. It’s not very common.”
“So how come you are?”
I pinched her butt and smiled as she squeaked. “Some questions are not answered easily. Ask me again in a couple of years, maybe I’ll tell you.”
“Like you’ll still be around in a couple of years,” she grumbled and snuggled again.
“Go to sleep.”
I relaxed and lay back running through the litanies and thinking about the day’s events. I’d compare notes with Jurrel in the morning as usual and see what came up.
Trouble finally came the next night.
We were sitting in a bar when my com buzzed.
“Banner,” I answered.
“We’ve got a problem, I need you both.” I recognized the voice; it was the head of the embassy’s security.
“We’ll be right there.” I stood up and Jurrel stood as well. Sue, Karen and their friends looked at us. A couple of the Sholans from last night, including Doctor Keashan, were with us too.
“Something’s come up,” I said to Sue and nodded to Jurrel. “We have to leave.” I turned to the male Sholans, “I’d appreciate it if you saw our dates home.”
“Do you have to?” Karen asked Jurrel.
“’friad so. We’re on call this weekend.”
We got to the embassy twenty minutes later; it was late so traffic wasn’t too bad.
“What happened?” I asked as we strode into the security office.
“One of our workers was assaulted. We think she was raped.” He growled.
“Where is she?”
“They have her at the local Hospital; the police are holding her for questioning.”
“Has the ambassador protested?”
“Loudly. He wants her back here ASAP.”
“I’ll need an aircar and directions.”
“It’s on the roof.”
Jurrel and I stopped by our office to change, we put on our robes, grabbed our sidearms and a few other items.
“Think they’re expecting us?” Jurrel asked as we walked out onto the roof.
I flicked my tail beneath the robe, “You said it was getting boring.”
“I’m surprised the police are getting in the middle of it.”
“They’re probably really worried about the media fallout,” I hopped into the pilot’s seat, Jurrel got into the co-pilot’s.
“Damn, they’ve got the guns locked out.” He said.
“Hopefully we won’t need them.”
“Still, they shouldn’t do that to us. I’m ready, let’s go.”
I lifted off the roof and ran us straight to the hospital. Jurrel worked the ECM, we got there in five minutes and no one had a trace on us, but I’m sure there were a lot of phone calls about the low flying aircraft. I put it down by an access door and we sliced open the lock and went down.
“Here it is.”
We popped out the door and I could see the commotion. There were several Sholan’s arguing with some police. There was a door being guarded. The officers looked up at us and the Sholan’s turned. I vaguely recognized a few, I didn’t know everyone at the embassy; there were over two hundred there after all. But they saw two Brothers, in uniform, with death in their eyes and they literally flattened against the walls to get out of our way. The officers put up their hands and said stop.
We clubbed them down with stun rods where they stood without even pausing and then Jurrel attacked the one at the door while I kicked it open.
There were four humans in the room; the female was on the bed. One was in uniform by the door and I struck him down while the one in Doctor’s robes backed up and raised his hands.
“What’s the meaning of this?” One of the plainclothes one said, I assumed they were detectives, I assumed they were only questioning her.
“We protect our own,” I growled and turned to the female on the bed. She was pretty messed up, she’d been beaten well, one eye swollen shut, bandages all over her body. She was the first one since we’d gotten here who was happy to see us. A rare reception for a Brother to be sure.
“Don’t!” I heard Jurrel growl from the door. He had a handgun out and was covering the two officers.
“Easy now, we will take you home,” I said to her in Sholan. I picked her up carefully and carried her out of the room.
“This wasn’t very smart gentlemen,” I heard Jurrel saying as he backed out of the room. “We do not appreciate our people being held prisoner.”
I moved quickly down the hallway, the other Sholan’s had already disappeared, the officers were still unconscious or groggy on the floor. Then I ran up the three flights to the roof and put her in the back as Jurrel took the pilot’s seat and flew us out of there.
“Are you okay?” I asked her.
She was crying, but she nodded.
“Tell me what happened. All of it.”
She had been out with a diplomat from another embassy, from one of the other earth countries. Earth wasn’t a very united place I’d already learned, we were here in this city because this is where all the countries met to work things out. This other diplomat was apparently very powerful. And he did not care for refusal.
She pressed a coin into my hand as she broke down sobbing again; he had been fairly vicious in his attack trying to break her spirit as well as several of her bones.
“Are you sure this is what you want?”
“Yes,” she nodded continuing to cry.
“I accept your commission,” I told her. I’m sure the Ambassador would be pissed, and a single coin was an absurd fee. But it was my call and I made it.
“We got any company up here?” I asked Jurrel looking out the window to see if we were being followed.
“Tell them to get a pilot on the roof, we need a drop off.”
We landed on the roof of the main embassy building a few minutes later, and were met by the med staff. They took her off and bundled her out of there. There was a pilot waiting for us.
“You guys need a drop off someplace?”
“Yeah, get your tail in here.” I growled.
He flinched but did as he was told.
“Where are we going?”
I gave him the name of the embassy as both Jurrel and I stripped off our robes to reveal the gray tunics we were wearing beneath them.
“Umm, why do you want to go there?”
“Brotherhood business,” I said icily.
Jurrel was checking his pistol and I was checking my grenades. He took one look at us in our working grays and shut up.
He was a good pilot; he dropped us off on the roof without touching down or barely pausing even. We got inside without tripping any alarms, the embassy’s security tech level was not up to Brotherhood standards, much less Sholan ones.
The first guard we surprised didn’t know anything, so we knocked him out and trussed him up. The second guard was much more talkative, though Jurrel had to do a little convincing to get him to give us the information.
“Good evening Sir,” I growled softly, the man in the bed sitting up surprised as he woke up.
“What are you doing in my room?” He yelled. “Guards!”
“Rape is a very serious offense.” I continued, still growling.
“You have no proof!” he said, sliding away from me, “And I have immunity! No court will touch me! Now leave before I have you arrested!”
“Don’t worry,” I said, “I’m not here to try you.”
He stopped and looked at me. “Then why are you here?”
“We have different ways of doing things,” I smiled and shot him in the head.
“Are you done mister dramatic?” Jurrel hissed.
“Excuse me for having a sense of style,” I replied. “Now let’s see about getting out of here.”
“So how much did she pay us?” Jurrel grumbled.
“Some earth coin. Quarter I think.”
“You know people back home are going to talk,” Jurrel chuckled.
“They already do.”
Getting out was harder than getting in, but not overly so, the guns were silenced and I guess his shouting hadn’t been loud enough with the two guards tied up and unconscious. Once we got over the wall we streaked down the street on all fours, putting distance between us and the building. Eventually one of the guards would free himself, or they’d find the body. Then it would get interesting indeed.
“That you, Banner?” Sue mumbled as I entered the room.
“Yes,” I purred and crawled into bed, it was late; it had taken us hours to get back here having had to travel on foot. We were unique enough that we couldn’t risk being seen, people would talk. There would still be repercussions of course, but I’d deal with them in the morning.
“A female was attacked.”
“A Sholan woman?”
“We dealt with it.” I yawned and curled up and went to sleep.
Morning came early to the sounds of our doors being pounded on. I ran into Jurrel in the hallway, he had an evil expression and a very large gun in his hands.
“Damn it, don’t these people sleep?” he growled.
“Well at least they’re only knocking,” I chuckled.
“Learning some respect for the Brotherhood?”
“Let’s go see.”
We walked down to the door, wearing just our fur; Jurrel stuck the gun behind his back as I opened it. Outside were two humans with badges. Police I guessed.
“Yes?” I growled.
“We have a few questions we’d like to ask you, if you don’t mind.”
“Talk to the embassy,” I growled again. “We’re busy.”
“Yes the embassy. Seems they’re not entertaining guests or questions right now. Mind if we come in?” He said while pushing in past the door. Jurrel backed away and found a seat. I closed the door behind them.
“And you two are?”
“Detectives Castro and Garrity,” he said waving towards his partner walking around the room looking at things.
“Nice place you have here, must have set you back quite a bit.”
I walked over to the other side of the room, just as Sue put in an appearance. She was wearing a robe and not much else. She didn’t feel very surprised in my mind. The detectives were however.
“What’s going on, Banner?” She asked as I gave her a hug,
“Miss, has your, uh, friend been here all night?”
“Yes, of course. They both have, why do you ask?”
“Well there was apparently an unfortunate incident at the city hospital last night, and your friends here are under suspicion.”
I pulled Sue a little closer, this was curious, her mind was calm and unsurprised and she seemed wide-awake. I began to wonder if she had been tipped off.
“Why are you here?” I asked.
“You’re to come down to the station for questioning, both of you.” He indicated Jurrel as well.
“You people are strange,” Jurrel said and yawned. He looked at me, “Well?”
I thought about it. The folks at the hospital might be able to identify us, not that it mattered, we were on official business and I was sure there were diplomatic missives flying back and forth at a furious rate as we sat here even now. As for our little commission, well the Ambassador would damn well know we did it. But no one else saw us except for the deceased. The guards never saw our faces, or even enough to realize that we weren’t human, we’d been careful after all.
“Sure, might as well if it’ll make them happy. Go get dressed and call the embassy.”
“I don’t think you should go,” Sue said and I could feel real concern from her. “You’re diplomats, you have immunity right?”
“If it’ll make them happy I’ll go,” I said. I turned to the officers, “Don’t get too comfortable; let me go dress.” I gave Sue a kiss, “Keep an eye on our guests please.”
I kept a tab on Sue as I went and got changed. Her emotions were still calm, but conflicted, angry almost. She was definitely playing out of bounds of what I would have expected.
“The ambassador is rather upset this morning,” Jurrel informed me in Sholan with a smile as I met him downstairs.
“What did he say?” Detective Castro asked.
“I’m sure he’ll be further upset tonight too,” I replied in Sholan as well.
“You two are going to have to knock that off!”
I gave Sue another kiss and Jurrel gave Karen one as well, who had joined the show and was showing even more than Sue. The detectives were definitely getting flustered.
“Lead the way, Detectives,” I said in English, then back to Jurrel in Sholan as they led us out the door. “Think we’re being recorded?”
“Well my telltale doesn’t think so. Think they know any Sholan yet anyway?”
“Doubtful. Maybe trade.”
“Karen’s acting funny.”
We compared notes then while the detectives bitched at us for not speaking English.
“So you think they’re agents?” I asked.
“Makes sense, doesn’t it?”
“Yeah it does. And shows there are some people around here who know what they’re doing.”
“Well, we’ll just have to watch and wait.”
The car pulled up in front of the station then. “Well let’s see what games they want to play here today,” I sighed.
Jurrel nodded and we followed them in.
They led us to separate rooms of course. Inside there was a table, a few chairs and a large mirror. Other than that it was just a pale green color and rather plain with a single light in the ceiling.
I walked over to the mirror and checked my reflection, trying not to laugh. We didn’t use mirrors on Shola, with telepaths it’s kind of dumb to put the witnesses so close by. I pushed on my empath skills a bit. There were people on the other side. I could pick up on several emotions, anger was strongest.
“Sit down please,” the detective who had followed me in, said. I guess Jurrel got Castro I had Garrity.
“Sure,” I yawned and sprawled in a chair.
“So where were you last night?”
“Out at some bar.”
“You left early. Several witnesses say so.”
“So why are you asking me if you know already?” I chuckled.
“Where did you go?” He tried to growl it out. I guess with another human it might have worked. I’d heard worse growls out of ex-girl friends over missed birthdays.
I cocked my head at him; I’d noticed that simple act tended to make most humans think I was an animal. “Outside?” I suggested blinking.
“Don’t get smart with me, Mister!” He yelled. “Where did you go?”
I upped my estimation, not as dumb as I thought.
“The embassy, you know, where I work?”
“And how do we know you went there?”
I looked at him, “Where else would I go on a Saturday night when my boss calls me and tells me to get my tail in to work?”
“And then what did you do?”
“Went home and went to bed until I got woken up by a couple of rude detectives,” and this time I growled.
He took a step back and paled slightly, I could sense the surprise in his mind. I also noticed that there were now several rather angry minds on the other side of the mirror that hadn’t been there a minute ago.
“I mean,” he continued recovering well; he definitely wasn’t a coward, “what did you do at the Embassy!”
“Oh,” I said and leaned back and turned to look at the mirror. “That’s classified.”
“What do you mean, classified?” He pressed.
“I mean that I’m a diplomat, I work at the Sholan Embassy, and my duties and actions there are none of your business. If you have an issue with that, you are free to take it up with my superiors.” Of which there was a fat chance as my superiors weren’t even on this little backwater planet.
“Then I guess you’re going to be our guest for quite a while, until your ambassador shows up!” he said and stormed out of the room.
I put my feet up on the desk and closed my eyes. A nap sounded nice right about now. But I didn’t get the chance; the door banged open again and in came Garrity again, with someone else in tow. His boss I guess. Their badge said ‘Captain’ on it.
They went around the whole dance again, a bit slower this time, asked the same questions, I gave the same answers. They tried the ‘be reasonable’ approach, then did a passable ‘good cop/bad cop’ bit. I gave the exact same answers word for word. They didn’t appreciate my recall and stormed out again. I could still feel the same angry minds behind the mirror, though they went and came back once. I stretched my empathic abilities to their limits and was able to pick up the flavor of Jurrel, I knew that pattern, he’d fallen asleep. I almost laughed out loud, it was his favorite tactic for pissing off people and he woke up a lot faster than anyone expected.
I was just getting comfortable again when the door burst open a third time. Now it was detective Castro and the Captain.
“You know your buddy over there is selling you out, Mister!” Castro told me. “He’s telling us everything, putting it all on you. You might want to get your side of the story told before we take this to a judge, Pal!”
“Wow, he’s telling you everything, huh?” I said softly.
“Yeah, he’s spilling his guts. Better hurry up or he’s gonna get a good deal and you’ll be left holding the bag.”
“Ah yes, I see. The bag. Just what would this bag be I’m going to be holding?”
“Don’t get wise with me!” He yelled, “You’re going to get the rap for the whole job.”
“And this ‘job’ would be?” I asked looking up at him.
“Assaulting an officer, several officers in fact!”
“Am I to understand that some Sholans attacked some of your officers?” I asked sitting up and getting serious. “When did this happen?”
“You know damn well when it happened! You were there!”
“Two Sholans attacked several police officers who were guarding a Sholan female at the Hospital last night,” the Captain said, “and took her back to the embassy.”
“Guarding? Or holding her against her will?” I asked.
“There was a crime, she was being questioned.”
“At a hospital? Sounds more like she was a victim, Captain,” I said looking him in the eye. “Holding a female who has been traumatized and not allowing her the comfort of her kin is a very serious affair, Captain. Very serious.” I looked at the mirror I could almost feel the anger; I had a good idea who was behind it now. “Tell me about the two Sholans.”
“You know…” Castro began but was cut off by the Captain.
“They were both dark, not unlike you and your friend. They wore long black cloaks with hoods.” He gave a fairly good description of our brotherhood garb.
“How many did they kill?” I asked him when he stopped.
He blinked, “Kill?”
“Yes, kill. Those were Brotherhood, Captain. They were undoubtedly called in to free your prisoner when your superiors overstepped their bounds by not releasing her. So how many did they kill?”
“They, didn’t kill anyone.”
I stood up and smiled, “Well then, what’s all the fuss about? Just tell your officers the next time they come up against the Brotherhood to do what everyone else in the alliance does.”
“Stay the fuck out of the way,” I growled using a nice local swear word Sue had taught me. “The Brotherhood isn’t anything you want to go up against, trust me.”
“I’ll not have some lawless bunch of brigands running around my city, Mister!”
I laughed, “Lawless? Please, the Brotherhood are the law.” I stood, “Now if you’ll excuse me,” I walked around the table and out the door, deftly circling the detective before he could intercept me.
“Wake up, Jurrel!” I called out, “We’re leaving.”
“Bout time!” he grumbled coming out the door a second later, “let’s go eat.”
“Hold on,” the Captain was coming up behind me, “I’m not done with you yet!”
“Sorry, Captain, but I’m not spending my day off playing your games. We’ve got immunity and I’m exercising it. Send your complaints to the Ambassador.”
I felt the sudden burst of anger and knew one of the ones behind the mirror had just lost it. Time suddenly stretched out and I dropped to the floor like a rock as the door flew open and a tazer went off were my head was only a moment before, the electrodes passing overhead and hitting detective Castro who had been following a little too closely.
Jurrel’s hand moved in a blur and his knife flew by, hitting the officer in the throat, hilt first I noticed, dropping him gagging to the floor as Detective Castro convulsed from the tazer.
“Stop!” The Captain roared out. I looked at the other two officers in the room; they had their hands up and were backing away. Down on all fours now I recovered Jurrel’s knife and flipped it back to him. The officer was holding his throat, unable to talk, barely able to breath. I looked over at Detective Castro who Garrity was now tending to. He had stopped convulsing and was slowly coming around.
“I’m going to have to take that knife,” the Captain said.
I returned to an upright stance. “Not as long as I’m alive you’re not. You have other problems today, Captain.” I motioned to the officer still choking on the floor, “better see to that one.”
Jurrel was already at the end of the hallway, scouting out the exit so I followed.
“Damn cats,” I heard him softly swear.
“Did you see how fast they moved?” I heard Garrity say, “It wasn’t natural.”
I smiled to myself, no, it wasn’t.
“Damn, I forgot to bring any money,” I grumbled to Jurrel as we walked out of the station. “I really don’t want to walk all the way back.”
“Someone is getting lazy in their old age,” Jurrel said mouth open in a smile.
“Quiet, child,” I retorted. “Tell me you have money for a Taxi.”
“I have money for either lunch or a taxi, your choice hon.”
“Walking it is.”
“What happened?” Karen asked running into the room as Jurrel and I finally returned.
“Oh, they had questions, we didn’t have answers.” Jurrel smiled and gave her a hug and a kiss.
“I can’t believe they picked you up like that!” She complained, “I mean you’re diplomats right? You have immunity and all that!”
“Apparently we hurt their feelings,” I said giving Sue a hug and a kiss as she came into the room. I yawned, I still hadn’t gotten any sleep really.
“You said there was a problem last night,” Sue said, “That someone got assaulted. One of the women from the embassy.”
I nodded, “Yes, and the police decided to ignore our treaties and our customs and got their hands spanked for it last night. So now they’re looking to massage their hurt egos.”
“Why do I think they’re still unhappy?” Sue asked.
“Cause Jurrel laid one out for me,” I smiled at her.
“Well he did attack Banner when his back was turned.” Jurrel said.
“Why am I not surprised?”
“Yeah well, I’m for a nice hot shower and then a nice long nap. This is my day off dammit.”
“Well I for one am going shopping with Karen like I promised,” Jurrel said smiling at her. “Later you two.”
It was a lot later and I was lying on the bed pleasantly drowsy. Sue had been brushing my fur out for a while now. Taking her time and just making me rumble with pleasure.
“So what happened to the guy who assaulted that woman?” she asked working on my chest fur.
“Who wants to know?” I purred softly.
She hesitated a moment, but continued on, “I’m just curious, that’s all.”
“But you think something happened to him, don’t you?” I smiled.
“Well yeah. I mean was he arrested or something?”
I thought about it. This was game territory. Sue the girlfriend I would never tell. Sue the agent? Only if I wanted to send a message. Well sending messages was part of why I was here.
“Or something,” I said and sighed pleasantly.
“Well that doesn’t tell me much,” she laughed softly.
“I’m sure it will make somebody’s news somewhere.”
“Now that sounds ominous.”
“Well we Sholans are kind of funny about rape. And well, some people just need to understand that rather than file complaints and charges and sternly worded messages, we just sort of deal with matters in the same way we have for a thousand years.”
She stopped brushing me and looked up shocked.
“You killed him didn’t you?”
“Let’s just say that Monday will bring some very interesting new realizations in the UN’s diplomatic circles.” I smiled at her and pulled her down and gave her a nuzzle, “Thanks for the brushing hon; I’m going to take a little nap now.”
She nodded and left the room; I gave her a nice lead and snuck off behind her, keeping her at the edge of my hearing. I didn’t want to alert her at all. She went down to the kitchen and took out her cell phone.
“Sam? Yeah it’s me. You were right; Banner did kill the Nigerian Ambassador’s son. No he didn’t admit it per se, but he did all but come out and tell me. What? No. No to that as well. Oh I’m sure he was the one that raped her. What? Oh yeah Banner confirmed it, she was raped. Hmm? No, I like my big deadly furball. Well yeah they’re dangerous, isn’t that why I’m here? Okay. Bye.”
I slipped back upstairs and smiled to myself. I’d have to find out how we got set up with agents and by which agency. Maybe things wouldn’t be so boring after all.
Monday was definitely not dull. The Ambassador had guests all morning, official types, mostly UN but not all. I did not see anyone from the Nigerian embassy however.
“I thought we had an understanding,” the Ambassador was sitting behind his desk looking up at me as I stood there at attention staring at the wall behind him. “You are not to go off and go killing people without my agreement.”
“How do you know I killed him?”
“Please, Banner, don’t insult my intelligence. You didn’t leave a calling card but we’re the only ones with a motive and frankly, you’re the only one capable.”
“That wasn’t meant as a compliment. Why didn’t you come to me first?”
“You would have said no.”
“Of course I would have said no! He’s the Ambassador’s son!”
“And I would still have killed him, I took the commission.”
“She gave you a quarter! A quarter! You killed a man, an important man, for less than these people pay for a drink!”
I shrugged, “The Brotherhood sets its prices based on need, Ambassador. The need was met.”
“Don’t give me any of that mystical Brotherhood crap, Brother Banner! I know better!”
I leaned over and brought my nose close to his, “I have my orders, I would have killed him without the commission. I expect to kill quite a few more before I leave here. You are the open hand of friendship; I am the sharp claws of warning. These people have no fear of Shola, or Sholans, and without fear there is no respect.
“So the diplomats are protesting the ‘senseless’ murder of one of their own,” I continued, “but few will ever take a Sholan for granted ever again. They have seen our teeth now, Ambassador,” I growled and returned to the position of attention.
“The Sholan council will have my report on this, Banner,” he warned.
“Really now, Ambassador, who do you think sent the Brotherhood?”
He digested that a moment then nodded. “I suspected as much. But I still do not approve.”
I nodded, “Of course.”
“There will be a lot of protests filed over this; already the Secretary General has summoned me to his office.”
“I’m sure you will turn this to your advantage, Kilrath,” I smiled, “You always do.”
“Just don’t force me to hang you out to dry, Banner; your sister would kill me.”
I laughed. “Dinner tonight still?”
“Yes, but it will be late, I still have that little matter of their not releasing Helliana when we requested. I’ll not let them put that one off. I do approve of your conduct in that affair completely, and I appreciate your not killing anyone.”
“I will see you tonight then, Kilrath.”
“And bring Jurrel, we don’t see enough of him either.”
I nodded, “good day,” and left.
I caught up with Jurrel in our office.
“Dinner tonight as usual?” He asked.
“Your sister is amazing,” Jurrel said studying reports on his terminal.
“Three months of Monday’s in a row and she still invites you over. Most people toss you out after two weeks!” He laughed and ducked without looking as I threw a stylus at him.
“The joys of family. You’re expected as well.”
“Not a problem. Have you been looking at these intercepts?”
“No, I’ve been dealing with those assessments Tahlia over in security has been forwarding to me.”
“Well you might find these interesting,” and he tapped them over to my set.
We spent the entire day looking over intelligence reports, intercepts, news vids, and other mundane and even more boring stuff.
Dinner was an enjoyable affair though it did run late. We stayed in the barracks at the embassy rather than go back to the townhouse.
“I have to admit it’s a rather strange coincidence that your childhood friend is the ambassador,” Jurrel said.
“I suspect he asked for me. Probably figured I’d be easier to deal with.”
“You’d think he’d know better,” Jurrel teased.
“You know there’s a door that needs guarding and I could arrange for you to have that pleasure.” I teased back.
“So do you think the next time they’ll comply or hold the victim?”
“I think the next time we’ll be packing artillery. Some people live for confrontation.”
“What about the girls?”
I shrugged, “We know they like us, they’re not talented enough to fake what we pick up from them with our minor talents.”
“That would be pretty hard. I’d like to see if maybe we can enlist them as allies. Whoever set us up with them shows a lot of intelligence, might be someone we can work with.”
“Assuming they’re not in the ‘kill those invading alien scum!’ camp.”
“There is that. Well we could spring it on them tomorrow night.”
“Let’s wait till Friday,” Jurrel said smiling.
“Suddenly I feel sorry for Karen,” I sighed.
“Oh like you’re not going to game it with Sue either?” he laughed.
“Well, maybe a little,” I smiled.
The rest of the week continued without incident. The death of the Nigerian Ambassador’s son was kept fairly quiet surprisingly. They didn’t want to make the whole incident public apparently and it had taken place in their sovereign territory, so they were able to keep it from the local news. But it still buzzed around the diplomatic community like a jegget on a caffeine bender. The Sholan Ambassador played it off as something he had no control over, regretted the incident, but attacks on his personnel wouldn’t be tolerated and if they wanted to go to war with the Brotherhood over it, well fine. Apparently there weren’t any takers for that offer however.
Friday night, when it finally came, was a nice change of pace. Jurrel and I had been keeping a low profile until then; the police were still somewhat up in arms over the previous weekend’s incident. But they seemed to be mollified now, or a least a lot more cautious, so we hit the clubs as usual and stayed out late, then came back and took the girls to bed.
I was mounting Sue from behind, my chest fur tickling her back, one hand playing with her breasts, eliciting lovely moans from her mouth and nice squeezes along my erection as I took her. She was getting close; we had been making love for some time now. I was getting close as well. I lowered my head and took her neck in my jaws and applied a little pressure, growling deep in my chest as I did so and with a loud wailing moan she was there. Her bucking motions, as well as the flood of scents and her clamping down drove me over and with a full throated growl I erupted inside her and let my essence mingle with hers.
Several minutes later I caught my breath and licked her ear. I was still mounted inside her, her rear nicely propped up in the air. Her head and chest was pressed to the bed, her hair spread out all around as she sighed and gave a little wiggle beneath me.
“Ummm, that was nice. Want to go for three?” she giggled.
I stretched my senses, she was happy and secure. I could still feel the thread of lust that often fueled our sexplay.
“In a bit, my little, djaton, you really do get off on me, don’t you?” I purred in her ear.
She blushed visibly, “I thought that was obvious,” she giggled again.
“I just wonder if it’s the fur, my looking like one of your animals, or the thrill of having sex with a big dangerous alien.” I licked along her neck and nibbled it slightly, the reaction on her was immediate, she moaned softly at the nibbling.
“You’re a wet dream come true,” she panted, “A big strong kitty cat who wants me as his lover.”
“It doesn’t bother you that I’m a deadly assassin, that I beat up those cops?” I nibbled her neck some more, her breathing was getting faster and I could tell she was getting excited mentally as well as physically.
“My big mean Sholan Kitty Cat,” she panted and pushed back against me.
I nibbled her neck and whispered in her ear, “I know you’re a spy you know,” and then grabbed her neck again and held her tight beneath me.
The effect was educational, as well as enjoyable. She orgasmed, rather hard, and cried out loudly. I started in on a nice slow rhythm; I could feel a touch of panic, a touch of fear in her emotions, and one hell of a lot of lust.
“I won’t hurt you, djaton I whispered and licked her ear, “I want to take you into my confidence.” I let my hands loosen their grip, and started to tease and stroke her body. “The Big Sholan Kitty cat likes his cute little earth girl,” I purred and pinched a nipple enjoying her responding groan.
“You, you knew?” she said panting. I was picking up speed and with my empathy fully open her emotions were swamping mine, all of which I was then feeding back to her. Telepaths might frown on this, because for them this was almost a crime, but the Brotherhood has different rules. I was in effect catching her in the moment, enhancing her feelings for me, increasing her attachment and desire.
“For some time,” I panted and pressed down harder, retriggering the second stage of my erection and getting caught up in strong emotions of the moment as well as I kept my shields lowered.
“Why didn’t you say…?” she moaned again.
“Because I want you,” I purred in her ear.
She cried out again and pushed back hard on my shaft, “Take me! Take me, Banner!” She moaned loudly and went over the edge yet again. I roared and grabbing her hips buried my shaft fast and deep inside her, not lasting much longer either and losing myself in the pleasure and lust of her body. When I finally ran down I collapsed on top of her, driving her flat beneath me, both our bodies hot and sweaty now. Her emotions were heavily colored towards me, she was in a warm happy place and I was hers. I wrapped my arms around her and held her close, closing my empathy down and shielding my mind.
I liked her, I liked her a lot. I couldn’t have done that if I didn’t, emotions don’t lie. But I’d let her emotions and desires feed back on themselves. She was hot for me, and now she was especially so. Using sex to subvert or spy on people is a very old trick, I avoided it however; the idea of having to kill a lover was something I found objectionable. For an empath, killing someone you’re attached to is painful, not as bad as it is for telepaths, we have more control, more insulation so it wouldn’t kill us. I was attached to Sue, but now she was definitely attached to me. So while it might be unethical, that road wasn’t available for her now, and I knew Jurrel was doing something similar to Karen.
So while I admired them for being able to set me up with her, I turned it on its head, I didn’t want to have to worry about her trying to kill me, or any other kind of betrayal of trust. Because if I had to kill her, I’d be useless for days, maybe longer, and I just couldn’t afford that. But for now at least, I wouldn’t have to worry about such things.
“So, tell me how it happened.” I whispered softly in her ear.
“I’m not really twenty,” she said turning slowly to face me as I rolled onto my side. “I’m twenty three. I work for the Central Intelligence Agency. I started there about two years ago; I’m an analyst in the new Sholan analysis group. When you guys came to town they noticed you were cruising the bars pretty heavily and dating. So the call went out for young women who wanted to ‘do their duty for the country’. They figured they had a better than average shot of success.”
“So you volunteered?”
“Hell yeah!” she smiled and stroked the side of my muzzle, “they showed us pictures of you two and I knew I was gonna be the one. You’re incredibly sexy, you all are. So I applied for the job.”
I blinked, “You had to apply for this?”
“Of course, they weren’t going to let just anyone chase you two. They wanted people with special skills; they also wanted people who would be comfortable sleeping with Sholans, people who were honestly attracted to them.”
“Well you definitely don’t have a problem with that,” I grinned.
She blushed, “Yeah well, I have a fetish for big cats; I think all the girls who volunteered did. Or at least the ones that got through the screening. Anyway, that night you first met me? They had the police clear out the bar before you two showed. Every woman in that place was from the CIA and wanted a shot at you.”
“So how did you win out?” I asked curious.
“Well first I found someone who was more interested in Jurrel than in you.”
“So you didn’t know Karen before this?” I was surprised.
“Hell no, that night was the first time we’d ever met. I scoped out the other girls finding one with as much drive and desire as I had. I figured working as a team we’d have a better chance than two of us going solo for the same target. Then I unleashed my secret weapon.”
I swiveled both ears forward. When she and Karen had come up to us at the bar they had drawn both of ours’ attention immediately. We’d flirted, talked and teased. The girls had played hard to get at first, but we took them home that night, and again the night after that. By the week’s end we were seeing only them.
“So what was this ‘secret weapon’?”
She grinned, “I used to date the guy who runs the cat house at the Bronx zoo. I had him get me a sample of a female tiger’s urine, one that was in estrus. We wore it like perfume that night and the next one as well.”
I blinked amazed. “Pheromones?”
She nodded, “That and a kick ass attitude.”
I made a mental note to forward that information up the line even if I found it hard to believe that the pheromones of an alien species could effect us, no matter how similar looking. I thought it was mainly their attitude, but it may have an effect. In any case it was worth investigating, stranger things had happened.
“So how did you become college students?
“That was our cover. They enrolled us the morning after you took us home and we started classes that Monday.”
“The other students then?”
“Oh they’re real, my boss didn’t want any one else in the area once we’d been chosen. Didn’t want to risk you finding out you’d been set up.”
“That would be Sam then?”
Sue’s eyes got wide, “Wow, how’d you know?”
I purred and pulled her closer, “I told you we’ve been wise to you for a while.”
“So what happens now?”
“Up to you and your boss really. I’m pretty happy with this situation; my mission is to get your people used to my people. I’m out here to be seen. Someone has to be first and they decided it would be us.”
“I seem to recall a few run ins with the police and a certain incident?”
“Those things would have been taken care of one way or the other. Your people need to know that Sholans aren’t a pushover and we protect our own. Remember: we’re predators; we take a very aggressive approach to self-defense. So if we can work together, I’m all for it.”
“But if not?”
I smiled again, “Well I guess I’ll be dating an intelligence analyst instead of a student?”
Sue laughed, “You may end up with an unemployed girlfriend.”
“Hey you two,” Jurrel poked his head in through the door, “want something to drink?”
“Definitely,” I said, “what have you got?”
“Some wine, here.” He handed over a bottle and gave me the question sign, I signed an affirmative back.
“So everyone come clean in here?” he grinned.
“Pretty much, where’s Karen?”
“Oh, I tied her to the bed. Enemy spy and all that.”
Sue gasped, “What?”
Jurrel laughed, “Oh she likes it.”
“I do not!” we heard Karen yell from the other bedroom. “Untie me you furry bastard!”
“Not until you confess all!” Jurrel snickered. “She’s such a masochist.”
“And you’re more than happy to oblige her,” I sighed and shook my head. “I wish I knew how you do it.”
“Me too,” he shrugged and walked back out of the room, “Now where did I put that ice?”
We heard a feminine squeal before the door closed and muffed the noise.
“How long have you two been together again?” Sue asked staring at the door.
“A long time,” I chuckled, “a very, very long time.”
The next morning was interesting. Jurrel and I were tired, and the girls were both rather perky and full of affection.
“Vartra's bones! I’m not so sure it was wise to bind their emotions like that,” Jurrel sighed in Sholan.
I shrugged, “I admit the ethics are a little hazy.”
“Ethic’s hell!” he growled, “I slept all of twenty minutes last night! Damn girl wouldn’t leave me alone.”
“I’m surprised you let yourself get attached.” I chuckled.
“So am I,” he grumbled. “Too much time hanging around Brynne. I spent so much time helping him with his problems I guess I find it too easy to like humans now.”
“Oh don’t be so hard on yourself Hon,” I said, “It’s what you’re good at. Vartra knows you sure helped me.”
Jurrel smiled, “So what’s your excuse?”
“I haven’t come up with one yet, too tired!”
“So what are you two talking about?” Karen came over with our breakfasts. Her and Sue had insisted on cooking and we weren’t about to complain.
“Lack of sleep,” Jurrel said and yawned, “And the insatiable females that caused it.”
Karen blushed a very bright pink and retreated back to the kitchen.
“So how long does this effect last?”
“Hard to say, my instructor was hazy on it at best. Too many factors involved he claimed. Just keep your shields all the way up today, maybe tomorrow. The feedback can be vicious; he was very clear on that.”
“So how’s the food?” Sue asked coming back in with Karen. They were carrying their own plates now and joined us.
“Pretty good. Thanks,” I said.
“Anytime,” she smiled and sat down besides me putting her food down. Karen joined Jurrel as well.
“So call your boss yet?” I asked.
Karen looked embarrassed and Sue shook her head, “Not yet. I don’t know what to say to them,” she looked at me, “what should I do?” and I started to wonder just how far she’d gone last night. Or maybe I had taken her?
“Tell the truth,” I said. “Don’t cross your boss or your country. If you can’t do that anymore, or do what they tell you, quit. I don’t want you to get in trouble, okay?”
She smiled and nodded, Karen looked relieved as well.
Sue then pulled out her cell phone and started to dial, “I usually report in while you two are still in bed.”
I nodded and smiled, “We know. And Karen calls in when she uses the bathroom at dinner.”
They both looked surprised then nodded.
“I can’t believe you’re both okay with this,” Karen said looking downcast.
Jurrel smiled and pulled her close, “Hey, we understand. We really like the both of you, if we didn’t we would never have talked to you about it. Just play straight with us now, and we’ll be straight with you.”
“What if we’re not?” She asked quietly.
“Then we won’t be able to see each other anymore.”
She nodded and didn’t even ask how we’d be able to know. “I’ll be good,” she said and smiled brightly.
Jurrel smiled back.
“Hello, Boss?” Sue said just then into the phone.
“Yeah I’m a little late I know.”
“What? Well it’s like this, I have some good news, and I have some bad news.”
“Hmmm? Bad news always goes first,” She grinned at us. I was surprised that I couldn’t hear the other side of the conversation. Those were definitely not typical models.
“The Bad news is they told us last night that they know we’re spies and that we were planted on them and spying on them.”
“Hmm? Yes I’m okay. No they didn’t hurt either one of us. Which leads to the good news: They’re okay with it.”
She paused a moment listening.
“No, they figured it out later on. And yes, I’m surprised by it too, but I’ll be honest with you, Sam, I didn’t like sneaking around on them and now that I don’t have to anymore I’m a lot happier.”
“Well yeah I had thought he was gonna kill me too!” she laughed, “Apparently, Boss they have different values and desires than we thought. They’re here to be seen and they don’t mind your keeping tabs on them. They’re actually impressed you put us on them and would love to talk someday.”
“Hmm? Yes we’ll both be in for normal debriefing tomorrow, there is definitely a lot to discuss.”
Sue hung up and smiled; I leaned over and nuzzled her lightly.
“You know, you passed up an excellent chance to turn them the other day,” Jurrel said. It was Monday and we were sitting in our office.
“I thought about it.” I said leaning back in the chair and curling my tail around. “But I don’t want to play it so cold so soon. I think cooperation will get us deeper into their intelligence agencies than adversity right now. I’ll let the regular intel guys play the hunter, I’ll play the farmer.”
Jurrel nodded, “A good approach, the farmer is always steady, always there. No matter what hunters do, they’ll still respect you.”
“Plus they’re more attuned to farmers than hunters.”
“Yeah, I’ve noticed. Makes you wonder how they ever got this far.” Jurrel chuckled.
“Well I’ve noticed they’re not all farmers.”
“No just a surprising amount.”
“So anything interesting in those reports you’ve been going through?”
“Well your equipment requisition has been filled.”
“Really?” I said ears perking up. “That was fast.”
“I think it has something to do with our little run in with the local authorities. Your friend Kilrath's report made the rounds and quite a few clan leaders where rather unhappy.”
“No surprise there."
"Think we'll need any of it?"
"Probably," I shrugged, "these people are so fragmented. There are so many countries, so many groups; I expect it is going to take several of these 'incidents' before they all learn that they have to respect us."
"Yeah, but a MUTAC?" Jurrel asked with a smile and giving his head a shake.
I laughed, "Well I know how much you love your toys!"
Jurrel laughed as well. "And it's the latest model. Guess I'll have to go check it out and make sure it all works, won't I?"
"Have fun, Hon," I said smiling as he headed out of our little office.
“Where’s Jurrel?” Kilrath asked sitting down across from me in the embassy cafeteria. I had to smile, as always there were a few wide eyes and perked ears that the ambassador showed no fear of a Brother. Few people would join me at the table uninvited, but Kilrath and I went back to when we were just kitlings, so my brotherhood status meant nothing to him.
“Off checking some of the gear on the Sholan support ship that just made orbit this morning.”
“Ah yes, the on station replacement. Apparently the frigate that was sitting up there was upsetting some of the locals.” Kilrath sighed and gave me an open mouthed smile, “I know for a fact that the new support ship just looks harmless. It carries just as much armament as the frigate, but has twice the cargo space.”
“Nicer staterooms I hear as well.”
“Makes for good bribes,” Kilrath said still smiling and flicking an ear. “Most of these people have never been into space. Getting invited up to a real interstellar space ship impresses them.”
“Maybe you should have a party up there then,” I said half-serious.
Kilrath stopped a moment and pondered the idea. “You know, I bet if we cleared out the main hold....”
“I was joking!” I said shaking my head.
“I know,” he said smiling again, “but the idea is still a good one. A subtle reminder of our power, while an enticement that none can match.”
“I’m sure they’ve had parties on one of those space stations of theirs.”
“They don’t have artificial gravity, they have to spin them. But a ship one-tenth the size of those stations? With full gravity? I may even invite you and Jurrel.”
“I’d think we’d be the last two sholans you’d want around,” I growled.
He shook his head, “If I’m stuck with you, I might as well use you to my benefit.”
“Oh really?” I said lowering my ears and scowling at him.
Kilrath looked at me and then just laughed, “You didn’t think I wouldn’t find a way to get back at you, did you, brother Banner? Oh yes, I will make a nice formal request, why I’ll even go through official channels and file it with the council.”
“And people think I’m a vindictive bastard,” I sighed shaking my head and relaxing my posture.
“You’ve said it yourself that you’re here to be seen.”
“As Sholans, which is why we do not normally walk around in our robes.” I sighed, “But some of them have already figured out what we are, so I guess it won’t hurt.”
“I knew you’d see things my way.”
“So when should I expect your invite?”
“Probably in a week, I’ll let my staff figure out the date.”
“So how goes the diplomatic circles these days?”
“Well the local police department apparently got stepped on very hard by their federal government. I wish you had told me that they brought you in for questioning, you have immunity, they’re not allowed to do that.”
I shrugged, “Just all part of the game, you know that.”
Kilrath flicked an ear and started in on his lunch, “That may be, but I am responsible for the diplomatic mission and that was part of my game.”
I nodded, “Conceded. I’ll involve you in the future when it is related to official embassy work.”
“As for your unofficial work,” now it was his turn to sigh, “the Nigerians want you dead and several other groups want you to stand trial.”
“None of which is going to happen of course.”
“Not unless they catch you in the act. They have no proof that you did it, by Vartra they have no proof actually that a sholan did it. They’re basing their assumption that it was a sholan only because of what he did, and because no one found a single trace of evidence.” He looked at me, “Not even a stray piece of fur.”
“Yeah, we’re good at that,” I said giving him a sholan smile. Not leaving behind evidence was something the brotherhood figured out a long time ago.
“Well at least they got your message, the word has gone out among the embassies that if you violate a sholan fem your only chance is to surrender to the guards here.”
“Did you tell them that?”
“No, I had the head of security sort of ‘mention’ it to some of the other security heads at one of their meetings. Intelligence picked it up as it spread.”
“Sometimes violence works.”
“I never said it didn’t, I just like to avoid it.”
“Agreed,” I said and took a drink of my c’shar.
“Really?” He looked up from his lunch surprised.
“What, do you think I like doing those things? Despite the rumors I don’t enjoy killing and terrorizing people, even if I am good at it.”
“Don’t worry; your secret is safe with me!” Kilrath said grinning.
Our conversation devolved into small talk after that as we finished eating and then went our separate ways.
The Saturday night parties continued at the townhouse, we were careful to keep the size down, but there were a surprising amount of people from the embassy who wanted to come. We did limit it to about thirty or forty humans, on the embassy side we didn’t let it get to be too many more than that, we drew the line at fifty. It meant the town house was a little crowded, but most tended to leave as it got late. But it did lead to some interesting and surprisingly insightful comments from Sue and Karen.
“They’re afraid of you, aren’t they?” Sue said one night as she leaned up against me and watched the others interacting.
“A little.” I nodded.
“Superstition,” Jurrel said from where he was sitting with Karen in his lap, “folks believe that people are going to die when there are Brothers around.”
“Really?” Karen asked surprised. "Do they?"
Jurrel grinned evilly, “Well, only if we kill them!”
I sighed and rolled my eyes in my head as Sue looked at me. “He is joking, right?”
“The Brotherhood goes back to the catastrophe; we’re one of Shola’s oldest institutions. We deal with the problems, the ones others can’t or won’t. If we show up, something is wrong. We punish the guilty as necessary, do the needful, and leave.”
“I’d think people would be happy to see you then!” Sue said.
“I’ve noticed a lot of people get nervous whenever your local police walk into a room.”
“Well yeah, you never know when one is going to harass you or maybe bust you for something stupid... Oh.”
“Exactly. We enforce the laws, the customs, and anyone can hire us to deal with a problem. We are separate from the government, they may pay us for some things, but we don’t answer to them.”
“How does that work?”
“Pretty well actually,” Jurrel said.
“I’d think your ruling ‘council’ wouldn’t want to have a group like that running around.” Karen said.
“Yeah, they tend to have issues with it from time to time,” I admitted.
“So why do they allow it then?”
“Because they don’t have a choice,” Jurrel smirked, “not if they want to stay the ruling council.”
Both Karen and Sue looked very surprised at that, their eyes going rather wide.
“Has that happened before?” Sue asked after a minute. I was sure her Boss was going to get a very interesting report in the morning. But then our history wasn’t that much of a secret.
“A few times,” I said.
I shrugged, “Sometimes the people guarding the council just packed up and went home. Other times the council suddenly had a bunch of new openings on it.”
“But what do the people say?”
“That they had it coming usually,” Jurrel said. “We’re their last line of defense and like us or not, they all know it. No one is happier to see a brother than a Sholan in trouble.”
I nodded to that, thinking about the hospital rescue.
“But why do they seem to fear Banner more than you?” Karen asked Jurrel.
“Cause he’s a cranky old bastard without my youth, optimism and good looks!” Jurrel said laughing.
I shook my head smiling at Jurrel, “Later you.” Then I turned to Karen, “Trust me, when we put on our robes, they treat us the same.”
“Because it means we’re representing the Brotherhood of Vartra.”
“Sounds complicated,” Sue groused as Karen took a sip of her drink.
“It’s a culture thing. Our society is different than yours in a lot of ways, and it is very clan and guild based.”
“Also females hold a lot more power in our society than in yours,” Jurrel added.
“Well then it can’t be all bad!” Sue giggled.
“Of course not, that’s why we’re so much more advanced.” Doctor Keashan said walking over.
“Girls, I don’t believe you’ve met; this is Doctor Keashan. Doctor, Sue and Karen.”
They all nodded and smiled at each other, “You’re a doctor?” Karen asked getting comfortable in Jurrel’s lap.
“Anthropology,” Keashan said.
“Studying us humans are you?” Sue said looking her over.
“Yup, guilty as charged. I was wondering if you could invite the head of the anthropology department from your college here some time. I’d love to compare notes.”
“Umm, Jurrel sort of ran him off back at the first party,” Sue said blushing suddenly.
“Is that true, Brother Jurrel?” Keashan asked.
Jurrel nodded, “Narrow minded sort. If the facts don’t fit the theory....”
Keashan nodded and sighed, “I know the type. I had been hoping to compare notes and see what I could learn.”
“Ummm, I might know someone who you could talk to,” Sue volunteered.
“Weeeellll not exactly.” She said fidgeting.
“Sue has some friends who work for the government,” I said in a soft voice in sholan.
“Really?” Keashan replied, still in sholan, “What do they do?”
She pondered that a moment while the girls both looked at us curious, wondering what we were talking about.
“Would it be safe for me to meet with them?”
“I would prefer you do it on the embassy grounds, or with myself or Jurrel with you.”
“Fine.” She then went back to English and smiled at Sue. “I would love to meet them. Brother Banner can set it up. Do you think they’d like to come to the Embassy?”
Sue brightened, “Oh I’m sure they’d love to. They’ve been bugging me for an invite to this party for weeks now, but well, they don’t go to my school so....” and she shrugged.
Keashan nodded, “I know how it is. This is supposed to be a party, not a lab experiment,” She flicked an ear in my direction as she said that and smiled. “Well I’m going to mingle some more, thanks!”
“So you have anthropology professors working at the agency?” Jurrel asked Karen.
“Yeah, a rather high powered one on loan from England. When he found out we were outed, he started asking for an invitation. He’s supposed to be one of the world’s leading experts on xenobiology and it’s killing him that he hasn’t been allowed to go to Keiss, Shola or anywhere else. He’s dying to know if his theories are correct or not.”
“Well looks like he’s going to get his chance. Keashan is a very smart fem.” I told her.
“So what’s this we heard about a party on board one of your ships this Friday?” Sue asked.
I blinked at her ears flicking back in surprise. I extended my senses a little bit, “Why?”
Sue blushed, “I’ve never been on a space ship before, and wellll I was hoping....”
I could feel it pretty clearly, this was something she wanted, and not something she was being asked to do.
“We won’t be bringing dates; we’re going to be there in our official capacity.”
“Awww,” Sue sighed, “Please?”
I gave a very soft growl and Sue blanched. “We will be on duty, we would have to ignore you, I would rather you not experience that.”
Jurrel nodded, “Sorry, Hons, but we won’t be there for fun.”
“I know,” Karen said, “but we were kind of hopeful.”
Jurrel gave a little cough and I looked up to see what he wanted.
“Take them there now?” he signed to me.
“Why?” I signed back.
“Why not?” he signed and smiled.
“Keep quiet and go grab your cameras and overnight bags. Meet us by the front door in ten.” I told them.
Sue hugged me and gave me a kiss, I noticed Jurrel got the same treatment and the girls ran off.
“If anyone asks, I’m blaming this one on you,” I told Jurrel who just laughed as I went to find someone to put in charge of things while we were gone.
Ten minutes later we were on our way to the embassy, an hour after that and we were on one of the small private shuttles the embassy kept on the grounds. I flew it while the girls oo’ed and ah’ed at the sights out the windows.
“When we get to the ship you’ll have to put your cameras away, and only take them out when we tell you it’s alright. Understand?” Jurrel told them.
They both nodded.
I landed the ship in the small bay, docked it, and we went aboard. I'd arranged for a crewman to meet us and give us the VIP tour, the excuse being that I needed to know the layout before the party. Instead the Sholan Captain of the ship met us at the dock and he smiled when he saw the girls.
"Greetings, Brother Banner, hello again, Brother Jurrel. May I be introduced to your friends?" He said in rather good English.
I did the introductions and was surprised when the Captain himself gave us the tour. The girls were delighted of course; I'd been on ships like this before so there wasn't anything unexpected and he avoided the aft hold where our gear was stowed without making it obvious.
When the tour was finished he led us to a rather nice stateroom with two adjoining bedrooms.
"Thank you very much for your time, Captain," I said as Jurrel followed the girls in. "You really do have a very nice ship, so how may I repay this kindness?"
The Captain grinned, "That's what I like about you Brothers, you always see right to the point. My crew and I are in need of some shore leave, and while some are happy to stay at the embassy and do the official tours, there are others who would like to actually see this new planet, and maybe meet some of the friendlier natives?" he said while eyeing Karen's rather nice butt.
I flicked an ear and nodded, "Just as long as you understand it isn't always as friendly or as welcoming as Keiss. But there are definitely some nice places we could take you to, ones where the natives are decidedly friendly."
"Why thank you very much for that offer, Brother Banner. I will be in touch."
He left then and I went inside.
"So what's the price for all of this?" Jurrel asked with a grin, Karen was pulling him towards their room and Sue was making eyes at me from the door to the one we were sharing.
"Wants me to set up some of his crew with dates when they get shore leave."
"The guys are going to hate you, you know." Sue said as I went over to join her.
"Oh I'm sure that a fair number of the crew will be fems, so they shouldn’t have anything to complain about," I chuckled.
All in all it was a very enjoyable evening. I still had a bit of a fascination for ships myself and of course Sue was very impressed that I would do this for her. I had to admit I liked making her happy, in time I was sure the novelty of myself and the things I could do for her would wear off, most relationships were fleeting, especially for a Brother. That these things had not changed between Jurrel and I was something that still gave me a sense of wonder after all these years. Just being together made us happy.
I thought about that a moment. After the upcoming party I'd be sure to arrange for a little private time of our own onboard for the evening.
The party was mildly interesting. Jurrel and I were in our finest robes, which wasn't much different than our normal robes, other than perhaps the newness of the fabric. We drifted in unannounced once the affair was underway, Kilrath then bringing several of the diplomats over the course of the cocktail hour to us personally, to introduce them to us.
It was all his idea of course; he wanted to keep us mysterious, and unknown. More than once I heard him profess a lack of knowledge to questions he was asked about us, even though he knew the answers.
"I can't decide if I wanted to throttle him or thank him," I whispered to Jurrel after he led away the ambassador from the United Kingdom.
"Well at least he's not making us out to be terrifying killing machines," Jurrel snickered.
"No, he's telling them that we're the tip of a very long and deadly spear that 'all of Shola deeply respects.'"
"I can see why they made him an ambassador; your friend has a very good way with words!"
"And here I thought AlRel would make an honest male out of him," I sighed dramatically.
"Well fear is a form of respect," Jurrel teased.
"Yeah but deeply?" I grinned, "Tax collectors get more fear than we do these days!"
"Well of course, we're not evil sadists after all...."
Kilrath led another male human over to meet us at that moment. This one was interesting as he was definitely of a different race than the previous three had been.
"Brother Banner, Brother Jurrel, this is Ambassador Takeshi Saito from the country of Japan."
We exchanged greetings, Ambassador Saito giving us each a small bow.
"I must inquire about the knife that I see each of you wearing," the Ambassador said surprising me, "if I may, as to the significance? It is obvious that there is one."
The other people at the party had noticed our knives of course, but none had said anything. Jurrel and I were the only two obviously armed, and several of the looks we had gotten made it clear that some of the humans here did not appreciate it.
I smiled; I could sense honest curiosity from him. "Why I would be happy to explain Ambassador, the knives are a symbol of our office and our duty." I pulled mine out and showed him the hilt. "The marks along the hilt and the pommel tell of the missions we have performed and the rank we have achieved."
"If I may?" Ambassador Saito asked and extended his hand. I could feel the strong pull of interest he had for the blade. This was a man who knew something of the craft.
I passed him my knife and was impressed as he studied the blade rather closely. "This was handmade by a man of considerable skill," he commented examining the lines down the length from the folds, and the marks of the forging.
"You have experience with blades?" I asked surprised.
"I have an uncle and a brother who forge them still. It is a very old family tradition the fashioning of swords and other such blades. I was apprenticed to my uncle for several years in my youth, but alas I did not have the skills to master the craft like my brother."
He passed the knife back to me hilt first, with another bow. "You have honored me, I must thank you."
"To find someone who understands the ways of metal here in this crowd is thanks enough," I said with a smile.
He returned the smile, "You should come to Japan and visit. I have heard of your Brotherhood and I think you would find my land most welcoming. The tradition of the Warrior Priest is an old one in my country; I believe you would find that we understand your ways more than most you will meet here."
"Why I would be honored to visit your country, Ambassador Saito," I said giving a small bow of my own. I had not heard of this before and it would be most interesting to investigate. I had heard of Japan of course, they were an economic powerhouse on Earth and one of the leading technological countries.
He smiled, "I will have my secretary arrange the details, perhaps you might wish to visit the workshop of my brother as well, he is truly a master of the art of metal."
"That would be an honor indeed," I replied.
Kilrath led him off at that point and I could see and feel that he was extremely pleased with the exchange. No doubt there were inroads he had been trying to make there.
"Guess we're going to Japan?" Jurrel asked.
"It would appear to be the case," I answered.
"As you’ve been talking to the ambassadors I’ve been scanning the crowd and have noticed that we are drawing quite a bit of interest from some of the people here."
"And that surprises you?" I said dryly. "I'm sure all of the intelligence and security heads are sizing us up."
Jurrel showed me the tablet he was holding in his hands, "This is a list of all the security heads and known intelligence heads at the party."
"Where did you get that?" I said surprised looking at the line up of pictures.
"I had that cute little analyst, M’ciest, put together a database for me, then correlate the pictures the ship's cameras took of each of the members as they got off their shuttles."
"Impressive. But what does that have to do with tonight?"
Jurrel smirked at me, "I know you were born before the advent of computers, but do try to keep up."
"I come from a simple clan in the highlands," I said smiling back at him, "who could not afford such fripperies. Now hurry up and explain before senility sets in, brat."
"Well let's remove them from the list of people I've noticed are paying way too much attention to us," he said and tapped the screen.
I looked at the tablet, there were three people left on it. "That one is the head of the Nigerian embassy," I motioned at the one on top.
"Yup, so he comes off."
"The other two?"
"Well this one," he pointed to a picture of an older Englishman, "is a major news personality in the United Kingdom. I pinged our intelligence head and was told that he is working on a major story for his viewers about Shola. Since our little dust up last month he's apparently been trying to get an interview with one of us. He's not considered to be friendly towards us either."
I looked at the picture of the woman that was left. It only took me a moment to remember where in the room she was, if she hadn't moved since I'd last looked around a few minutes ago. I extended my senses and I could feel her interest. It was clear and sharp, a very organized mind I would bet, someone highly intelligent and orderly.
"What's her name?"
"It says here 'Samantha Smith."
"Who is she here with?"
"She is supposedly the date of one of the members of the delegation from the United States."
"Curious," I said. "Our intel people have anything on her?"
"Not a single thing."
I could sense Jurrel was feeling rather smug.
"Okay," I sighed, "impress me."
"Me? But I'm just a brat!" He teased.
"Did I mention that I got us a nice stateroom to spend the night?"
"That's a start...."
"I also managed to get a bottle of that rather expensive liquor from the U'churian home world you like so much."
Jurrel smiled at me, but with a much more predatory look in his eye. "On earth, 'Sam' is short for 'Samantha.'"
My ears perked up at that one. "Oh we really should go over and say hello," I said grinning at Jurrel.
"Anything less would be rude, wouldn't it?" He laughed.
We split up and carefully circled around, coming from different angles so it wasn't obvious. We knew she was paying attention to where we were, even if she wasn't watching us directly. But of course we didn't need to actually see her to know where she was, so she didn't even register any surprise until suddenly we were both standing in front of her.
"Why Sam!" I said in English acting surprised, "How very nice to see you! We had no idea that you would be here tonight."
I could feel the surge in her emotions, but to her credit she didn't even bat an eye. Just glancing to the side to see Jurrel standing there smiling at her.
"I think you have made a mistake?" she said smoothly, but her feelings were clear, she knew she was caught.
"Oh you are so busted!" Jurrel said laughing.
"I knew I should have stayed away," she grumbled.
"Care to join us for a drink?" I asked.
"And have everyone wondering why the only two Brothers here are suddenly interested in the date of an assistant?"
"I'll go distract her 'date'," Jurrel said, still laughing as he wandered off.
"Apparently because one of them is trying to seduce you," I said and winked.
"Sue is far more attractive than I am," Sam countered.
"She is also not here." I pointed out.
"No one is going to believe you're attracted to me."
I found that to be hard to believe, oh she was older than Sue, but she was trim and took obvious pride in her grooming and appearance.
"Sholan's have a thing for redheads,” I began, “we're also more of a matriarchal society, so older women are actually just as attractive as the younger ones to males. And you're in rather nice physical condition, so if I didn't already have plans for later tonight I'd be trying to make you a part of them," I took her elbow as I said this and steered her towards a table on the edge of the room and signaled one of the stewards for a couple of drinks.
"And how much of all that is the truth?" She said with a laugh.
"I don't actually have a thing for redheads."
"And the rest?"
"More than you think," I said and gave her a wink as she sat down at the table. I took the chair on the other side.
"So how did you find me out?"
"We are possessed of more skills that you realize obviously."
"Actually no." I smiled as the steward showed up with some wine, empathy wasn’t really telepathy after all. "The telepaths here all work for AlRel and our relationship with you isn't something I'm willing to share with them right now."
"What about your boss?" She said nodding in the direction of Kilrath.
"Kilrath isn't my superior."
She raised an eyebrow; I could feel a little surprise. "I thought he was in charge of the mission here?"
"He is." I nodded.
"Then why not you?"
"Because I'm not part of his mission. Jurrel and I are on contract to AlRel, but our superiors are on Shola."
"Interesting set up." She said taking a sip of her wine.
"Fairly standard actually."
"So then who do you report to?"
"Stronghold, and the head of my order." I took a sip of my own wine.
"But not the government."
"I send reports to the Council, but only on the things I think they need to know. This conversation, you, the girls, that only goes to Stronghold."
"Now that's one of things we're having trouble understanding. You're here because of the government, apparently they're paying you and employing you, but they don't control you. Why would they send you here if they have no control over you?"
"Ah, well you see it's like this: they have no choice."
Sam blinked at that, I could feel her confusion. "They can't get rid of you?"
"No. We are too powerful, too useful. We have been around for a very long time after all, longer than the Council. We are not in competition with the Council; they often hire us, as does the military. They need us and they know it."
"So who do you work for?"
"We work for Shola."
"You can't report a planet! Who tells you what to do?"
I smiled, "Vartra usually."
"Right, Vartra. My sources tell me he's been dead for over a thousand years," Sam said rather wryly and took another drink of her wine. She felt I was misleading her, perhaps lying.
"Did you believe in telepathy when you were a child?" I asked.
"No, of course not...." she stopped and looked up at me, I could feel her confusion.
"I grew up with these things, I have felt them, touched them, I accept them. In time your people will as well. It is not the same for all worlds and all races of course, for us it is stronger than most."
"So then why are you really here?" She asked showing none of the growing concern she was feeling.
"Because there are Sholans here. Where Sholans go, the Brotherhood of Vartra goes."
"Is that why you rescued that woman from the hospital and killed her rapist?"
"No, those tasks were done because I was hired to do them."
"So the Embassy did have you kill him."
I shook my head, "No, we are under contract for certain tasks, recovering the injured female was one of them."
Sam thought about that a moment, "Someone else paid you to kill him?"
"So you are assassins then."
"Some like to think of us as that," I said smiling at her. I could sense it in her, it clicked rather suddenly.
"You killed him because it furthered Shola's interests for you to kill him. Her hiring you was just an excuse."
"Exactly. We do not do it for money, we do it for need."
"Then why even charge?"
"Because if you are not willing to give, then obviously there is no need? People do not value that which is free."
She pondered that a few moments.
"Why are you telling me this?"
"Because if we are going to have a long term professional relationship, it needs to be based on understanding. The Brotherhood has established itself on every planet in the alliance, and several more that are not. If you share intelligence with us, we will share it with you. Of course you will not be the sole agency we do business with here on your planet, but we only plan on doing business with a select few."
I stood up, "So think about it, but do not think too long."
She nodded and looked up at me, "I will have to consult my superiors of course."
"Too bad you have plans for tonight, from what Sue says, it does sound enjoyable."
"Maybe next time," I said and flicked an ear as I smiled, then turned to go rejoin Jurrel. Overall I was happy with our conversation, I stuck to the points I had wanted to cover and got out of there before she could start on the difficult questions. I had no doubt that she was smarter than me and wanted to limit my exposure to her as much as possible.
“They’re about to call everyone into the dinning room,” Jurrel said when I caught up with him.
“I really don’t feel like sitting through that, do you?” I sighed.
He smiled at me, “I already ordered some food for the room. Let’s go kill that bottle and forget about work for a while.”
Japan was interesting; we went for a weekend and almost stayed a month. Saito was right, they did understand. They had a very polite and codified method of interaction in public places, especially amongst strangers. While we were viewed as a bit of a ‘throwback’ to traditions from their past, we were also celebrated for it.
The Japanese were in love with their feudal roots, and those who walked the paths of the warrior, the monk, or the holy man, were revered. I sent Lijou a note that if we were looking to recruit humans, this might just be the place to start.
On the other side of their culture their fascination with technology and things new was almost shocking. Their feet might be in the past, but their heads were definitely in the future. We went from several days at a very beautiful and ascetic temple in the mountains, to a city so packed with people and technology that it could take your breath away, it was a riot of colors, sounds, and activity.
We did find that yes; Saito’s brother was incredibly talented and we ended up with two truly epic swords as gifts. We ended up by giving him a brand new truck for his shop as a gift in return, and I still felt we hadn’t done enough for him. The sword I had received I suspected was worth more than everything I owned, the man truly was a Master and I would be sure to let others back home know of his work.
The news media while extremely fascinated by Sholan’s in general maintained a respectful distance from us because of what we were. Kilrath however used the interest generated by our visit to show up and make a very public tour. At my suggestion he brought along half the crew from the support ship in orbit, which made everyone rather happy and gave the media the field day they had been hoping for. Most of the incidents were pretty funny, a couple were embarrassing for those involved and for the few times people got out of line the Japanese peace officers came down on it like a Sholan Protectorate after a dust head and played no favorites.
Kilrath confided in me that there were several Sholan companies that wanted to set up business in Japan and our little trip had helped him break the ice on negotiations. While there were probably cheaper places to go, they liked the Japanese culture, as well as their business practices – they were fairly cut throat and they guarded intellectual property very jealously.
“It’s about time!” Sue said when I stopped by her apartment. She was rather mad at me for having been gone for so long, I could feel that she had missed me, it was actually kind of hard not to, she seemed to be broadcasting it. I started wondering if she had any empathic abilities of her own.
“If you want to date me, you have to understand that my duties will take me away at times. Be happy it was only a month,” I said and kissed her, “there are times when I am gone for a lot longer.”
“It’s just hard when you go away and there is nothing there to remember you by,” she said snuggling into my arms.
“Well go sleep in my bedroom at the townhouse,” I said walking her backwards towards her bed. Sue and Karen both lived in rather small one room apartments by the college. Neither one of them really had much when they got picked for the job of dating us, and their cover had them continuing the façade of ‘poor college student’, so they both still lived rather simply.
“I didn’t know if you would mind,” She said sighing happily as I started to remove her clothing. I had missed her myself, and was looking forward to showing her just how much.
“I don’t mind,” I purred and undid the tabs of my tunic as I pulled her down to the bed, “now come here show me how much you missed me.”
Apparently she had missed me a lot.
“I think we should have them move into the townhouse,” I said to Jurrel as the four of us ate breakfast the next morning. We were sitting in a booth at a nice local restaurant that catered mainly to the student population. Neither Jurrel nor I had made it out of our respective girlfriend’s bed before the next morning.
I noticed Karen’s eyes got wide when I said that, turning to look at Sue next to me I could see the same expression. “I think they’re in love,” I said to Jurrel in Sholan.
“I’ll be surprised if we don’t take them back with us when we leave at this rate,” he replied back with a sigh in Sholan. Switching to English he smiled at me then and nodded, “I agree.”
Both girls gasped and then I found myself being hugged and kissed by Sue as Jurrel got the same treatment as Karen.
“But what will we do about school?” Karen asked when they finally untangled themselves from us in the booth and we all returned to eating.
Jurrel shrugged, “I don’t know why you two are even still going. It’s not like we don’t know what you really do.”
Karen blushed, “Sam felt it was better if we maintained our cover so no one else realized what we were doing.”
Sue nodded and lowered her voice, “None of the other intelligence agencies know about us. Very few people in our own agency even know.”
“We’ll hire a car to take you to classes,” I said between bites. Sue had definitely left me with an appetite this morning.
“We could just take the subway,” Sue said.
“No. Once you move in with us, I’d rather you avoided mass transit. I don’t want people harassing you.” I thought about that a moment, “Actually you can tell Sam that I expect her to supply a car and a driver, and to keep an eye on the both of you when we’re not around.”
Karen laughed and Sue boggled at that. “Really?”
“Of course really,” Jurrel laughed, “this way we don’t have to pay for it!”
We finished up breakfast and helped them gather up enough stuff to get started on their move. They’d finish up the rest tomorrow while we were working.
“Just do not let any agency people into the house without us there,” Jurrel warned the girls. “Sweeping the house for snoopers is a royal pain in the tail.”
They both nodded.
“Have you noticed something about the girls now that we’re back?” I asked Jurrel the next day while we went through the backlog of reports that had accumulated on our system while we were in Japan.
“They’ve gotten very good at broadcasting?” Jurrel said without looking up.
“I think they’re empaths. Probably weak ones, but is it from us? Or did we just not notice it?”
“I think we might have unlocked it when we used ours on them.”
“I think we need to start exposing them to more sholan practices,” I said thinking about it.
“Want to sleep with Karen that much huh?” He teased.
“I’m thinking I want to turn them, take them home, and give them good jobs in intelligence. They have a better understanding of earth and human society, as it currently is, than anyone we have on Shola, plus they have some experience with the intelligence agencies here, as well as a connection to Sam, who is apparently rather highly ranked in their agency.”
“Like them that much, Hon?”
“Yeah,” I sighed, “yeah I do. I wouldn’t have asked them to move in if I didn’t. But first I want to see how they react to the parts of Sholan society that are so different than theirs.”
“You want to see how they’ll react to us, don’t you?”
I nodded. “You come first in my life, Hon, if Sue and Karen can deal with that, I think I’d like to get more involved with them. What about you?”
“It would be nice to have someone living in our house with us, someone who will be there when we come home, even if the other one of us can’t be there, that place is just too big for only the two of us. That they’re budding empaths and in love with us just makes it easy.
“Besides, I love abusing Karen and I’d miss her if she wasn’t around to tease anymore!” he said grinning.
“Uh-huh” I said shaking my head going back to the reports.
Two days later when the next party came they were fully moved in, Sam had provided a car and driver, apparently she understood my concerns as well and didn’t want to lose her two direct pipelines to Sholan intelligence.
Two months later we had our first real incident. A group of Sholans with the head of Cultural Affairs, one of Kilrath’s deputies, had been invited to visit some of Earth’s older cultural icons someplace on the Asian continent. They were attacked by a group with automatic weapons and explosives. Several of the Sholans were wounded severely; one of the members of the security detail was killed.
We were in the air at the first report of the attack; I was on the way to the scene in the special ops shuttle we had at the embassy in a sub orbital track moving so fast that it had to have triggered half the coastal defenses of the United States when we left their airspace. At hypersonic speeds I was there within an hour, while Jurrel was up on the support ship getting the MUTAC ready for a halo drop.
I had the pilot land the shuttle in the street in front of the building our people were holed up in, and then I led a dozen of the embassy’s security officers down the ramp and had them set up a perimeter.
Once I was sure we were secure I escorted the two medics I had brought inside the building, and while they attended to the wounded I went and found the head of the security detail. He was among the more seriously wounded.
“What happened here?”
“Some local religious group I gather.” He said while the medic started to redo the bandages on his wounds. “The press officer over there,” he pointed to a female Sholan who had a telecorder and a tablet that she was looking at rather intently, “got it all recorded. She was filming the monuments when the attack started.”
I nodded and went over to her.
“Brother,” she said without even looking up. “I’m almost done editing it. I have clear shots of all the attackers, and I even got a good look at the vehicle they were driving when they retreated.”
I didn’t say anything, just waited. It took her about a minute then she handed me the tablet, I downloaded the data to my own viewer, noting she had done a nice job, she had separate shots of each of the assailants, a few panning shots of the crowd and their reactions, and a good shot of them as they were driving off in a large truck after their attack had been repulsed.
“I was in the forces before this. Dhanas was a good trooper; make sure they pay for him.
I then went and found the Deputy Ambassador; she was talking with an officious looking human, probably the man who had invited them here. He didn’t look happy.
“What can you tell me about the attackers?” I asked interrupting their conversation.
“Excuse me, who are you?” He said, obviously not appreciating my interruption.
“This is Brother Banner,” Deputy Chel’ia told him, “he is in charge of dealing with the situation for us. Cooperating with him will be viewed as a positive action by the Ambassador and our government.”
He digested that a moment, then spoke. “They’re radical members of one of our religions. They believe your people to be great devils sent to defile the planet. Of course before you came they killed others for the same reason. They’re a very violent and radical sect.”
“Where can I find them?”
“Why would you want to find them?” he asked looking surprised.
“I have pictures of the ones involved. I plan to go get them. So where did they flee to?”
“There are hundreds of them! Thousands! They will hide in their city and no one will tell you where they have gone!”
“You let me worry about that. Now where have they gone?”
“Meheza, it’s about forty eight kilometers to the southwest of here.”
“Thank you,” I turned to Chel’ia. “Get everyone loaded on the shuttle I came here with and take them back to the embassy.”
“Yes, Brother,” she said nodding and got to her feet as I turned to head outside.
“What is he going to do?” I heard the man ask her.
“Probably kill them all.”
“But there are thousands there!”
“I’m sorry, Asad, but I don’t really care what he does to them, they shouldn’t have killed and hurt my people. Now I have my orders, I must go.”
I didn’t hear his reply to that as I stepped outside and linked my com unit to Jurrel via the shuttle.
“You ready to drop yet?”
“Yeah, got a target?”
“Sending it now. Place is called Meheza. I’ve also uploaded pictures of the men we’re looking for. Expect a hostile response when you show up.”
“Got it, will be launching in five. Should be on the ground in thirty.”
“Good. Call me when you get there.”
I looked around, and saw the air car our people had come in on. Lightly armored, no weapons, looked like a local job. It would do.
“Lieutenant,” I said walking up to the head of the small unit I’d brought with me, “I need to borrow a few of your men. Load everyone else up and go home.”
“Okay,” he turned and detailed three troops to go with me.
I led them over to the car and shared my data with their systems.
“Real simple, we’re going to go to their town and see if we can catch them. If not, we'll go house to house and look for these people. If you see them, shoot on sight.”
They all nodded and I flew us off.
I estimated we were fifty minutes behind the attackers. At any reasonable speed they should have made it back to their base before I caught up with them. But there were two things in my favor: the first was the terrain between here and there was rocky and they had to take a poorly made winding road; the second was they had to cross a border.
"Lock and load," I told the security forces in the back and they quickly turned the windows into gun ports using the butt stocks of their weapons.
Sure enough as we came over the ridgeline there was a small checkpoint for the border crossing. The guards at the checkpoint on this side appeared dead or wounded. Those on the other side started to point weapons at us and I suspect were trying to raise us on the com.
"Light 'em up." I told the guys in the back and pushed the throttles forward, scanning ahead for signs of my quarry.
The battle was brief; I think the border guards all dove for cover when we opened fire on them. I hadn't wanted to take the chance they might hit us, which was why I had my guys open fire; in any case we were out of range within seconds. Just as I saw the edges of the town come into view, I saw the truck we were chasing. It had just made the edge of town, but we were gaining on it quickly.
One of the security troops had moved into the front seat beside me and got the window on his side down. I slewed the aircar sideways and he opened up on the truck. It swerved and hit a building, dumping one of the passengers who had been shooting at us, out of the back. I saw the body jerk once as it got shot, then the truck backed over it as it pulled away from the building and sped off.
I had to straighten the car out to keep following them, but they didn't go much farther. They pulled into a heavily fortified building, a door slamming closed behind them. So comming our position to Jurrel I turned and started to circle the building and figure out my options, at least I now knew where they were. My security troops immediately started targeting the people on and in the building who were of course now shooting at us.
Just at that moment there was a loud noise followed by a bright flash and a large metallic sholan shaped machine on all fours suddenly appeared on top of the building.
“Vartra’s Bones!” one of the troops in the back exclaimed, “A MUTAC!!”
“Deploying anti-personal mines,” Jurrel broadcast over our com units, and as I watched a series of cylinders popped out of the sides, and then burst, ringing the building with a series of small metallic objects as he went back to neutralizing the remaining people on the roof. Anyone trying to get past those mines wouldn’t live long enough to regret it.
“Take the controls,” I said to the trooper sitting next to me, “I need to get on the roof.”
“Yes, Sir!” he said and turned to take control using the other set.
“I’m coming in,” I sent to Jurrel. I turned back to the troop now flying the air car, “After you drop me off, take up station on that building over there,” I said pointing. “Keep an eye out for any snipers or flanking actions.”
“Yes, Sir!” he said again and nodded.
I pulled the visor on my helmet down, checked my rifle and went over to the door just as we came up against the side of the building by the roof. Jurrel had been busy disabling the defenses up there, as well as peeling off sections of the roof and firing down inside with the rather large cannon the MUTAC was armed with. I jumped off and landed on the roof, stepping over a corpse and making for what looked like a stairwell.
“They have that stairwell covered,” Jurrel commed me, “take the hole I made over on the west corner, it goes down to the ground level. I got a good scan of the building; let me down load a map to your command unit.”
“Thanks, Jurrel,” I said moving over to the indicated hole as he started to climb down the side of the building, drawing fire away from my position. “Any word from the embassy?”
“The shuttle got off fine and they’re heading up to the support ship; closer and better medical facilities. Kildrath is going to be doing a press conference in thirty minutes. He’d like some object lessons by then.”
I attached a line to the roof and tossed it into the hole, then clipped onto it and dropped inside. It was a four-story building and the top floor had already been wiped clean by Jurrel in the MUTAC. I got a few nice pictures of the destruction and bodies on my head cam then dropped down to the third floor; I couldn’t see much here, the interior walls were still mostly intact. I went down one more to the second floor and unlatched from the line and started to look around.
I ran into ten opposing forces while covering the floor. None of them were the ones I was looking for, but I killed them all the same. They were all so busy shooting out at Jurrel or the air car that it was ridiculously easy; they were really nothing more than overgrown bandits. I started looking for a way down to the first floor when the building shook.
“What was that?”
“We’re being shelled,” Jurrel said.
I tried to remember the name of the security guy I’d left in charge. “Terza, can you see where the shelling is coming from?”
“Looks like the edge of town, Brother Banner. Looks like a column of some kind of armor.”
I swore, “Load up and get in the air. I don’t want you guys getting hit.”
“Want me to deal with it?” Jurrel asked.
“Yes. See if you can’t get someone in charge on the com while you’re at it. And keep an eye out for any air cover. If they’re sending in tanks, they may be sending in air strikes as well.”
“You watch your own tail; I’ll take care of things out here.”
“Uh-huh,” I said and rolled a grenade down the stairs then counted to five and started down as it went off.
The ground floor was definitely where I wanted to be. I tagged four of the ones I was looking for in the first five minutes; three of them were already wounded, so they didn’t put up much resistance. At that point whoever was leading them realized that I was in there with them and they started to get themselves sorted out and tried to put up some sort of defense.
But it was still rather pathetic. Obviously even their ‘fighters’ were only good against unarmed civilians and maybe the average constable. I started to go through the litanies in my head, reciting several dealing with patience and calm in the midst of a fight to stop myself from trying to rush through them. They only had to get lucky once after all.
Another five or so minutes, which is an eternity in a firefight, and I was down to picking off the last bits of their resistance. Three more and I’d have the ones I wanted. The rest would just be on general principle.
“Got someone who wants to talk to you, Banner,” Jurrel suddenly commed.
“Was starting to wonder where you had gotten to,” I said leaning out from behind a pillar to take a shot then ducking back behind cover and moving to a new position. I heard the sound of a rifle hitting the ground, one more dead.
“Playing tag with the lead tanks, they don’t do very well without treads.”
“Just don’t get shot, that MUTAC is only a loaner. I don’t want to have to buy it.”
“Oh ye of little faith. I cut their barrels off; they won’t be shooting at anybody. I’m putting him through.”
“Who am I speaking to?” I asked as I found my next spot. The remaining enemy combatants were still shooting at my previous position. I threw my last grenade and moved again. They were jabbering away in a language I couldn’t understand, but their fear was evident at this point.
“This is Farsa al Ahib, I am the supreme commander of the western provinces, you will cease your attack and surrender at once!”
“So you are saying you are in charge of this area?” I asked then leaned around a corner and took two shots in quick succession. Both targets dropped. I was down to one now. He turned and saw me and screamed something and ran for the door.
“Yes, all of this is under my control! You will cease your attacks on my people at once! Or we will attack in force!”
I watched as he ran out the door. He got about ten feet then one of the mines took him out.
I checked my rifle, and gave a slow sweep of the area to be sure it was clear as I answered him.
“So what you are saying is that these people are all under your control, and their unprovoked attack on my people and a member of my government was an act of war by your government against the entire planet of Shola?”
I let him stew on that as I went and checked each of the bodies making sure to get pictures of the ones I was after. The new facial recognition software on the command unit was smart enough to lead me to each of the dead terrorists. I was impressed.
“No! I said nothing of the sort!” He finally replied. I suspected someone had just yanked his chain, which was why it had taken him a full minute to reply to me.
“Well then, I was just doing you a favor by getting rid of a violent band of terrorists.” I replied, and then keyed a sub-channel to Jurrel. “Kill the mine field and call for pick up. I’m done here.”
“Kilrath just messaged me, wants to know if you have pictures for him.”
“Yeah, I’ll send them through now.” I told him.
“This is an unprovoked attack on our sovereign territory!” The commander yelled over the com.
“Commander,” I replied, “either these people are under your protection, in which case we are at war, or they are criminals. I mean to me it looks like you’ve been harboring violent vicious criminals and allowing them to prey on poor innocent people, turning a blind eye to it because they were furthering your country’s goals. But I’m a very suspicious person with trust issues, so maybe I’m wrong.
“We are done here, we are leaving. If you try to stop us we will be more than happy to level a few of your military bases to keep you off our tails. I would advise you to stop harboring terrorists, or next time we will destroy the entire city, not just a building or two.”
Jurrel showed up at that point and I climbed up on the back of his mech and secured myself to it as he headed off to rendezvous with our pickup. The others were already there and had secured a landing zone.
“They following at all?” I asked Jurrel.
“They’re moving into the town slowly on foot. Looks like they’re leaving the armor behind.”
“Fine, let’s get out of here.”
Twenty-four earth hours later I was lying naked on a couch with Sue astride my butt giving me a wonderful backrub. Jurrel was getting the same treatment from Karen on the other couch in the room, we had already made love to them earlier; they had been a little self-conscious then that we were in the same room, but not that much.
“Sam told us that you really did some damage,” Sue said. “She showed us the pictures the ambassador released, as well as ones they intercepted from the locals afterwards.”
“Sorry you had to see that,” I rumbled a little drowsily, she definitely had talented hands.
“Sam was impressed,” I could feel a sense of pride from Sue, as well as her usual combination of attraction and lust for her ‘big deadly furball’. “She said you killed quite a lot of them.”
“I had help,” I sighed contentedly.
“Obviously. Up until now no one really believed the rumors about the Brotherhood. But after seeing this, she thinks it’s finally starting to sink in.”
“Thank Vartra,” Jurrel said from the other side of the room. “The sooner we can get back to partying with the two of you, the better!”
Karen and Sue both giggled at that.
“Let’s clean up and go get some dinner,” I said rolling over onto my back.
Sue smirked down at me, “I have a better idea...”
She did too.
Much later we were showering and without even thinking about it I switched with Jurrel and started washing Karen as Jurrel did the same with Sue.
I heard Sue make a questioning noise.
“Sholan households are a little more open minded than Human ones,” Jurrel told her softly, “I’d like to get to know you better, you’re important to Banner so you’re important to me.”
Karen looked up at me and I nodded. She looked at Sue, then back at me, “I feel the same way as Jurrel,” I told her and kissed her as Jurrel did the same with Sue. I could feel the girls both were feeling rather shy and timid instead of their usual intense desires. But there was some desire there as well, so I just sent out confidence and security and felt Jurrel do the same.
Karen was a much different lover than Sue, and it really didn’t take me long to see what Jurrel liked about her.
We were cuddling much later, still enjoying the afterglow when she looked up at me, “I didn’t expect this.”
“We didn’t think you would.”
“You planned this, didn’t you?”
“We discussed it; it was something that had to happen eventually.”
I could feel that Jurrel was having a similar conversation with Sue.
“Why do you think?” I said and bent my head down to kiss the top of her head and broadcast my feelings for her.
“You like me?”
“Obviously, and you like Jurrel.”
She smiled at that and I could feel a surge of affection. “Oh yeah, I like Jurrel, at least as much as Sue likes you...” She stopped and turned to face me and looked up into my eyes. “Jurrel has feelings for me, so you wanted to check me out?” She said the last bit uncertainly.
“This is private, so please do not share it; Jurrel and I are both empaths. Rather powerful ones. Jurrel cares about you, so I care about you. What we are doing, it is common in many households. If you really do want to be with us, you need to learn our ways and cultural mores.”
“Yes, I can feel your emotions, I can tell what you’re feeling and sometimes I can share my feelings with you as well.”
“Ummm,” she thought for a moment.
“You share feelings with Jurrel?”
“We’re sword brothers, we are very close.”
“You’re lovers, aren’t you?”
“Yes, that is part of what being a sword brother is. We’re like two parts of one whole. We make each other more than we were before.”
“Then why are we here? Hell, why am I here?” She said sounding upset.
“Because we like you? Because you love us?”
“But you don’t really care about me, do you? We’re just a couple of cute young women with a thing for cats!”
“You know that’s not true,” I said soothingly and tightened my hold on her.
“And just how would I know that?” Karen said angrily.
“Because you’re an empath too.”
That stopped her dead in her tracks.
“You’re an empath. So is Sue. We didn’t realize it at first, but it’s probably why the two of you hooked up, and it definitely was what drew Jurrel and me in. We’ve been touching your minds so much with ours when we’ve been making love that your abilities have started to grow.”
“What... what does that mean?”
“It means that we want you to come with us when we leave.”
Karen looked at me with her eyes wide, her mouth forming an ‘o’ of surprise.
“You... you’re serious!”
I nodded, “I’ve grown rather attached to Sue, and Jurrel to you. I don’t know if we will ever form the kind of bond with the two of you that we have with each other, but we can still give you more than anyone else will ever be able to.”
I gave her a kiss.
“I... I need to talk to Sue.”
“She’s not going anywhere; you can talk in the morning.”
Karen nodded and we kissed a while longer and cuddled some more. But I could feel she really wanted to be with Jurrel and in the next room I could feel Sue’s now strong desire to be with me.
“You love him, don’t you?” I asked.
I laughed and kissed her again. “Yes, and that is why I care about you now too.”
She snuggled up then and fell asleep in my arms.
The next morning Sue and Karen went into the kitchen to cook breakfast and shooed us out of the room so they could talk. Jurrel and I just curled up on the couch and dozed enjoying each other’s company. When they finally called us to eat a couple of hours had gone by. Karen was all over Jurrel, but Sue was being a little stand-offish, so I grabbed her and pulled her in to a tight hug and just let her feel how I felt about her.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” she grumbled.
“Because for an empath, sometimes telling another who you have feelings for is hard to do. Especially when they’re an untrained empath. Plus I suck at it, just ask Jurrel.”
“We’re going to have to quit our jobs, aren’t we?”
I nodded, “We want you to become citizens of Shola and come back with us. We’ll have you trained of course.”
“But what will we do?”
“What you do now, you’ll just be doing it for us. We don’t really have any analysts from Earth with your skills who know as much about Earth as you do. We need people to help us avoid problems like the one we ran into the other day. We had no idea things were so volatile there. You probably could have told us to avoid that whole area in the first place.”
Sue nodded, “Yeah, we coulda’. I was surprised that Sam hadn’t.”
“You said it yourself: they wanted to see what we could actually do. They’d only heard rumors up to now.”
“I think there will be problems when we quit.”
“We’ll take you to the embassy and get the citizen thing sorted out. That should make Sam and her bosses think twice about doing anything stupid.”
Sue laughed and looked at Karen who was looking back at her and grinning. “Well I guess we finally got our wish.”
“Oo! I feel special now!” Jurrel said and grinned. “I was somebody’s wish!”
Suddenly I felt rather special too.
“You want what?” Kilrath asked me looking surprised, it was several hours later.
“I want Sue and Karen made citizens and given passports. We’re taking them with us when we return home.”
“I heard that part, but I’m still rather surprised. I mean they’re just a couple of girls you two picked up, or at least I thought that was all they are?” He said looking at me.
“They actually work for the Central Intelligence Agency,” I said smiling as Kilrath’s eyes got just little bit wider. “Jurrel and I have convinced them to come work for our intelligence agency as analysts.”
“We already have a ship load of analysts, Banner.”
“Yes, none of whom knew that we shouldn’t have gone to that part of the Asian continent. The girls however did know. We don’t have the background for this place yet. They grew up here, they can help us.”
Kilrath nodded, “Okay, I can actually buy that and make it the official reason. So what’s the real reason?”
I frowned at him and he laughed. “Please, I know you.”
I shrugged, “We’ve grown rather attached to them, and they definitely have to us. Highly unexpected, but there you have it. Also they’re empaths.”
Kilrath’s ears perked up at that, “Like, you and Jurrel?”
“Take them down to the security office and get their pictures and other vitals recorded. I’ll have the paperwork signed within the hour. The Telepath guild will definitely want to have a look at them.”
“The Telepath guild can train them, but I don’t know if I’m going to let them have any control over them. The Brotherhood might decide it wants them instead.”
“Well, that’s your fight, not mine.”
I nodded. “Well that was easier than I thought it would be.”
He shrugged, “After what you did Tuesday I figure you earned it. Even if they were just a couple of bed warmers you wanted to bring home I’d have approved it. That they’re going to be a benefit to AlRel means I won’t have to twist any tails when I get asked about it.
“But,” he said in a warning tone, “be careful. I am sure their former employer will not be very understanding about this.”
I nodded, “I’m going to have them start working here, they can help out the analysts. That will let us keep an eye on them during the day, and they'll be with us during the night.”
“You may just want to ask to be rotated out. The news media is finally starting to link you and Jurrel to what happened. As the only two Brothers on the planet you do sort of stand out you know.”
“I’ll put in the request for a few more to be assigned here; it is a bit more complicated than we thought it would be. Then again who’s ever seen a place as fragmented as this? Humans are strange.”
“But not too strange, right?”
I grinned, “Some of them really do have redeeming qualities.”
“So I have noticed, bring the girls to dinner tonight so I can meet them?”
“Of course,” I said and left.
“So?” Jurrel asked me as I exited Kilrath’s office; he was waiting outside with Sue and Karen.
“Off to security for pictures and all that other information. The paperwork should be done in a few hours. And you can start your new jobs tomorrow.”
“New jobs?” Sue and Karen both looked surprised.
“Well as you’re quitting your old ones I got you both new ones here at the embassy, seeing as you’re citizens of Shola and this is your embassy now.”
“Wow, he moves fast, doesn’t he?” Karen said to Jurrel.
“Only when he wants something,” Jurrel said with a laugh.
“Hush, you. I got you jobs helping the analysts here so hopefully we can avoid any more incidents like this last one. You can put all of your native knowledge to use helping us keep our people safe. You won’t be involved in any espionage or spying, just helping the diplomats to understand who is doing what to whom and why. And what places it is best to avoid.”
Sue nodded and pulled out her phone, “Time to quit.”
“Mind if I look at that first?” Jurrel said and held out his hand.
“Yeah sure,” Sue said and handed it over. “Yours too,” he said and motioned to Karen who handed it over.
We had just reached security and Jurrel handed them over to the officer behind the counter, “Kara, could you scan these for explosives please?”
“Sure thing, Brother Jurrel,” she said and winked.
I sighed and I think Karen kicked him.
“You get used to it,” I whispered to her, loud enough for Jurrel to hear of course.
“Whaaaat?” He said grinning.
“Does he flirt with every female?” She asked me.
“Females, males, anything with the ability to form a coherent sentence,” I said.
“Oh I’m not that bad!” he said still grinning.
Kara came back with the phones in a small red bag.
“How bad?” Jurrel asked.
“Enough to take your hand off, worse if you had it to your head at the time.” She answered. Both Sue and Karen suddenly looked rather faint.
“Pull the call in number off of Sue’s and I’ll make the call using one of the phones here,” I told Jurrel.
“Sure thing, give me a minute.”
“Why, why would they do that?” Karen asked Jurrel.
He shrugged, “I figured they’d have something just to scramble the phones in an emergency and I was afraid it could hurt you. I had no idea they’d go with something that big. Probably it was just something standard issue. But why take chances, right?”
I put an arm around Sue and she leaned into me, I could feel a bit of panic. Karen was pressing up against Jurrel who had his tail around her as he manipulated Sue’s phone to get the info he wanted. Then he put it back in the bag and gave them to Kara to dispose of.
I looked at the number he gave me and went and borrowed a phone in one of the small cubbies in the back of the office where I wouldn’t be overheard while Jurrel helped the girls get their pictures and other biometric data recorded.
“Hello, Sam, it’s Brother Banner.”
“Where is Sue?” She said rather quickly, “This is her line.”
“Well when she discovered there was a rather large explosive charge in her phone, she didn’t want to touch it anymore. So I offered to call in on a different line.”
“You know I’m still waiting for an answer to my question.”
“Those things take time, Brother Banner, my superiors are still discussing it.”
“Well tell them not to take too long. We’ve already gotten several other takers and this offer won’t be available much longer. Now hold on one moment while I get Sue.”
I waved to Sue and she came over. I handed her the handset, it was a little different than what she was used to, being more for a sholan head than a human one.
“Yeah, things are good. I’m giving notice, effective immediately.” She paused, “Sorry, but when Banner leaves to go home I’m going with him. What? I wouldn’t really suggest you do that. Look I’m sorry you feel that way, but well, I love him and I’m staying with him. Yes, Karen too, we’re both going. We’ll send in our written resignations immediately. Umm, no. Here talk to Banner.”
She handed me the phone and shook her head and then rather pointedly got quickly out of earshot.
“What did you do to them?” I would have sworn she was upset.
“We asked them if they wanted to spend the rest of their lives with us. What did you think we did?”
“And just why would you do that? Killers don’t settle down and do family life.”
That stopped me a moment, “Excuse me?”
“I saw the carnage you left in Meheza, that was the work of a professional sociopath, you slaughtered them.”
“No, I killed them cleanly and quickly.”
“A sane person doesn’t do that kind of thing. Several of those people were shot in the back of the head, almost point blank.”
“Well yes. They may have been scum but I didn’t want any of them to suffer, I don’t understand your point.”
“That wasn’t human.”
“Well no, of course not. I’m a Sholan, we’re hunters. We don’t kill for sport, we kill only when we have to, and when we do, we do it cleanly and quickly.”
“I’m not letting them go.”
“You don’t have a choice, they’re Sholan citizens now.”
“They’re traitors then,” Sam said sounding angry.
I laughed, “No, you are the victim of your own success.”
“You went and found two young women who had a thing for Sholans, and who would do everything they could to win our affections. Well, guess what? It worked.”
“I will not have my agents turned against me!”
I sighed, “Sam, the only thing they’re going to be doing is helping us to understand where we shouldn’t be going so we don’t have repeats of Tuesday.”
“This isn’t over.”
“Let’s not do this. I’d rather be friends.”
“Then send Karen and Sue back.”
“Vartra’s bones! What part of ‘I offered to spend the rest of my life with her and she accepted’ didn’t you understand?” I said and hung up.
I had to run through the litany of Vartra three times before I got my temper in check. I didn’t form attachments to people easily, before Jurrel and I had met, it was almost impossible for me to really care that much about someone else. Jurrel was an unexpected treasure that had changed my life, and his too, although for different reasons.
This attachment I had formed to Sue was rather enjoyable, it was actually nice to have another person to care about, another person to open up to, even Karen was going to be a wonderful experience. Jurrel was nudging me in this direction; he liked them both and wanted to bring them into our house. Things for us back on Shola had for once become stable, even our roles in the Brotherhood were changing, moving us away from fieldwork and the dangerous jobs. So it was only natural when two empaths who were a good meld came along that we grew attached, I grew attached! Their being human never even mattered.
Life is full of surprises.
“So how did it go?” Sue asked when I came over and hugged her.
“Sam isn’t pleased with the both of you quitting. She believes we brainwashed you or something and that you’re going to sell out the entire human race.”
“She can be a bit intense sometimes. Rumor was she was a field agent, but got into a lot of trouble. I think she forgets that we were just junior analysts with no training at all. We didn’t even have secret clearances until after we started sleeping with you.”
“Well, I’ll let Kilrath deal with it,” I sighed, “diplomacy is not my best ability.”
“Yeah, if he can’t threaten it or shoot it, he’s pretty much lost!” Jurrel agreed making me shake my head and sigh again.
“You forgot beatings; I’m particular fond of beatings.”
“Oh right!” He laughed and both of the girls giggled with him.
“Well let’s show them around, we have dinner invites for tonight, so no reason to leave the embassy.”
“Kilrath and your sister?” Jurrel asked and I nodded.
“Your sister is here?” Sue asked surprised.
“Yes, she’s married to Kilrath, the Ambassador from Shola.” I said.
“What! We’re having dinner with the Ambassador?” Sue said panicking just a little.
“Don’t worry, its family, not official.”
“That doesn’t make it better, Banner,” Karen warned and Sue nodded.
“Okay fine, we’ll run back to the town house so you can change. First however let us show you around a bit. We’ll probably spend the night here as well, rather than drive back late at night.
“Someone bugged us again,” Jurrel said when we got home and the girls went to change. I nodded and we spent a few minutes going over the place while waiting. I switched over to the highland’s dialect. Jurrel knew it, but I doubt a single non-sholan anywhere did.
“Kilrath thinks we should consider rotating out, people are beginning to link us to some of the things we’ve been doing.”
“Well we have just given ourselves two glaring weaknesses,” He said motioning upstairs.
I nodded, “I know. I’m going to file a report and ask for some more Brothers to be sent out. There’s too much going on here anyway, and it is about time to up our presence.”
“I agree, but tell them to come in undercover.”
“Because it will be more fun that way,” Jurrel smirked and told me his idea.
I thought about that a moment. “Oh that is evil and I love it!”
The girls came down and they did look rather nice, we went back to the embassy then where they got to meet my Sister and Kilrath while spending a pleasant evening talking over dinner.
The room Jurrel and I shared at the embassy was rather small, but that just made it that much more fun with Sue and Karen there. The next morning Jurrel got them started on their new jobs as I sent out the request to Stronghold and the basic idea of Jurrel’s little plan.
Kilrath ran interference on the issue with the girls for us thankfully; he made a big deal about it going with the ‘people from two different races falling in love’ meme and really pushed ‘the big nasty sholan warriors tamed by the innocent young earth girls’ idea. I thought it was corny, Jurrel wanted to strangle him, but the girls thought it was cute and apparently it went over really well with the press and people in general.
We were starting to get a little bit of a dangerous reputation in the press, people knew what had happened in that city, and rumors were pointing at the two mysterious sholans who liked to party so much.
As for the parties, they were still going well, but we had started to allow a few of the more connected people in the city to start getting invites, not too many, we still wanted more of the college crowd, but things were progressing slowly. Sue and Karen’s friends were a little surprised to hear that they were emigrating when we left, but over all they were fairly happy for them.
Over the next several weeks six more Brothers filtered in. Rhanz was the senior one, and who would be taking over when Jurrel and I left. No one other than Kilrath, a few senior diplomats, and the head of security knew that they were Brothers; we kept it secret and were careful not to tip our hands.
Six weeks after the Girls had quit their jobs was when they were grabbed. I had honestly thought that the whole issue had blown over, a number of messages had gone back and forth, and everyone had supposedly agreed that it was no big deal. It wasn't like the girls had access to any real intelligence, and it wasn't as if they were doing anything vital at this point.
To say Jurrel and I were mad would have been a massive understatement.
It didn’t take us long to figure out when and where they had been taken; they were out with a few friends, doing some shopping. The security guard from the embassy that had been with them was momentarily incapacitated, but not harmed. We had some images of the people involved and one of our new allies, namely the Japanese consulate, was more than happy to peg one of those people as a probable CIA asset.
I got all of the Brothers together, and set them to working. Some of the new Brothers had some impressive computer skills that I took immediate advantage of. I figured Sam was the most likely culprit, so we’d start with her first. While the others ran down the intel on where she was and where the girls probably were I dug out that phone number from before and placed a call while one of the brothers did some sort of a trace to find out where she was.
“Why hello, Banner,” Sam answered the phone.
“You really have no idea how much trouble you are in, do you?” I said softly.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Doesn’t matter. I’m holding you responsible. If I’m wrong, that only means someone else will pay an even greater price.”
“Well, if I were the responsible party, I would think it might behoove you to be nice to me and not do anything that might upset me. After all, I could do something really bad then, couldn’t I?”
"You still do not understand at all, do you, Sam?"
"I understand that I have power over you now, Banner," I got the impression that she was smiling as she said that.
"You are making some very dangerous assumptions, Sam." I warned, still speaking softly.
"I don't think so."
"You are assuming that I will behave like a human. You forget that I am not a human. You really have no idea what will happen next, just like those terrorists didn't know, or the Nigerian, or the police."
"Threats now? Really, Banner I'm surprised at you."
"You have twenty four hours to accept the offer of co-operation that I was authorized to extend to your agency. I would strongly advise that you return the two Sholan citizens that you kidnapped, unharmed, before then."
"I will miss the opportunity of your friendship, Sam."
"We could never be friends, you Sholans are too savage, too uncivilized."
"Twenty four hours, Sam." I said and hung up the phone. I turned to Brother M'hanz, "So where is she?"
"One of their office buildings, in a place called Langley Virginia."
"The people in orbit are imaging it now, but looks to be a three level building set off a ways from the main headquarters, an annex perhaps? Thermal signatures seem to indicate that it goes down below the ground a few levels as well."
"None really." M'Hanz looked at the tablet he was holding, "Some guards, some static objects against ground attack. Nearest airbase is on the other side of their capitol and nothing there seems to be ready for immediate launch."
I got up and stuck my head in the next room, "Everyone gear up, non lethal loads. We don't want to kill anyone, but we do want to leave everyone we meet feeling sorry for the experience, got it?"
They all nodded.
"Good, meet me at the garage as soon as you're ready."
"Think she'll fall for the twenty four hour line?" Jurrel asked.
I shrugged, "The AlRel people seem to think so," I had spent a little time going over what I wanted to say with a couple of telepaths, because I really didn't understand humans well, they did however. "But in any case they're bound to be surprised. There are no real defenses at their headquarters; they obviously feel that no one would ever attempt it."
Twenty minutes later we were in our special ops shuttle, it would take about two hours to get where we were going, we had to keep the speed and the altitude down for the stealth gear to be effective, and we didn’t want them to know we were coming. We took advantage of the time to plan our attack, it would be early evening, the sun would have just set and people would be leaving for the day. That meant there were would be some confusion as people left the buildings to go out to their cars. Also it was cold out so people would be wearing heavy coats and hats and other obscuring clothing.
We would all take advantage of this to camouflage ourselves. Up close of course we wouldn’t fool anybody, but in the dark at any distance most people probably wouldn’t look twice.
The plan was fairly simple; we’d drop one Brother off outside the compound. He would set up a few diversions to cover our departure as well as launch a diversionary attack on the front gates. Two more would play the role of Jurrel and me, and were to make it look like they were trying to kidnap the head of the agency. This would be done by making an attempt at his office, which would fail of course. They would then be driven off, but not after a giving us enough time to take care of what we needed to do. This would hopefully group their forces elsewhere.
While that was going on however the remaining five of use would be working our way down into the building Sam was in, and we suspected the girls were being held in. M’Hanz would stay on the roof once he had tapped into their systems; I would take Rhanz and deal with Sam and those on the top floor, while Jurrrel took M’har and freed the girls. Once M’Hanz managed to find out where they were of course.
We landed on the roof without incident, and waited until M’Hanz was hacked into their systems. He had brought some rather high-powered computing gear of his own of course and he not only got us floor plans, but the location of the girls as well.
“They’re in the basement, second level down. Light security, just holding cells from the looks of it.” He told us.
I nodded and signaled the shuttle, which had moved off a ways to avoid detection until we were ready to launch our attacks. We then watched as the other two were dropped on the roof of the main headquarters and waited while they spent a few minutes getting set up. When they were ready they signaled us and we watched as they started to blow holes in the roof, drop gas bombs into the building and then jump inside to stage their assault.
The local security forces actually responded quickly and rather well, alarms sounding all over the complex. After the first wave was dropped by the gas the second wave actually had on gas masks. When a couple of helicopters came into support them, we started down into the building.
There weren’t many people inside, but those that were, were obviously scared, as they were mostly office workers they didn’t expect this kind of thing to happen, and they were all looking out the window and watching cautiously what was going on across the plaza. We didn’t even have to sneak; we just walked down the center of the main room, until we came to the offices along the far wall. There was a small explosion outside then and the main lights went out as M’hanz cut power to the complex and the emergency lights came on. I found a dark corner to duck into and Rhanz ducked into a cube as one of the managers came out and told everyone to ‘shelter in place’ and not to worry as all of the action was confined to the main building. When he went back into his office I looked around reading name plates until I found Sam’s office and then quietly walked over and slipped inside while Rhanz kept an eye on things in the main room.
“Close the door Bill,” she said not looking up from the laptop she was reading. I did so and then went to stand by her desk.
“Stupid idiots. The director isn’t even in his office today!”
“Yeah, that is pretty stupid of them, isn’t it?” I said softly.
I’ll give her this; she had a gun out and was aiming it towards me by the time I was close enough to smack her arm hard enough that she lost her grip on it, sending it to bounce against the wall. I slapped her on the head then to stun her and grabbed her arm and dragged her across the desk until I could get my hand around her throat. Then I dragged her to a wall and pinned her to it, one hand on her arm, and the other still around her neck, with both her feet off the ground.
“I am very disappointed in you, Sam. But I guess I should have known better, after all you’re just a bunch of savages who have only recently discovered space flight, right?"
She was trying to pull my hand off her throat with her free hand, and starting to struggle. I let my fear for Sue and Karen build in my mind, working it up nice and strong and then I leaned in and brought my face close to hers and whispered the word 'fear' as I sent her all of mine.
I pumped it up as I had been trained to and the effect was rather substantial, her mental controls collapsed under the onslaught as she gave into the fear and amplified it, submitting to it and losing control. I slammed my shields closed and let go of my own fear as she started to scream, which I quickly cut short by my grip on her neck.
Yes, I am a very vindictive bastard sometimes.
I pulled out my pistol and shot her with one of the tranq shots we had loaded and when she succumbed I let her drop to the floor, then put her in restraints and searched her quickly, removing any questionable items. After that I searched the office for anything of importance and grabbed her laptop.
Picking her up and tossed her over my shoulder I rejoined Rhanz. Everyone was still watching the show outside amazingly enough so we left the way we had come without having to resort to the gas bombs we had brought.
"How are you doing Jurrel?" I commed once we were in the main stairwell.
"Almost done, on the way back up now."
"How are they?"
"Unconscious, they got gassed when we gassed everyone else down here."
They came into sight then, coming up the stairwell, carrying the girls. I followed and Rhanz brought up the rear. Once on the roof our ship picked us up, the brother we had dropped off first was already inside and he set off a rather nice diversion then, which gave us enough space to make a hot pickup of the remaining two who were now bunkered on the roof of the main building.
“What happened to the two helicopters?”
“Tail rotor problems,” Orliss said giving a very toothy grin.
We checked each other over quickly as we raced off into orbit. With the ship's stealth systems running we quickly lost all pursuit. Sitting down I pulled Sue onto my lap as the gas started to wear off, Jurrel doing the same with Karen.
"You're safe, djaton," I whispered in her ear and hugged her close. She gave a gasp of surprised and then wrapped her arms around me in a death grip as she cried. I spent the time glaring at Sam, who had also regained consciousness, until Sue went from crying to laughing and hugging and kissing me. When Sue and Karen had both settled down they turned around and Jurrel and I held them as we looked over their shoulders at Sam. I could feel the each of the girl's anger at her; Jurrel was a mixture of amused and annoyed.
"Why am I here?" Sam finally asked.
"So the Ambassador can make a big scene over what you did, why else?" I growled.
"So you're not going to question me?"
Jurrel laughed, "Why would we waste the time?"
"To get intelligence!" Sam replied snarkily.
"Like you have any of that!" Jurrel growled and lowered his muzzle to rest on Karen's shoulder and bared his fangs, his mane flaring in what I could feel was a genuine display of anger. Sam paled for a moment at the display and I could feel that my own mane was up and I realized I was now growling softly, echoing Jurrel’s anger.
Sue reached up and patted my head and I settled down and leaned into her a little, as well as Jurrel and Karen who were beside us and they both leaned back.
"I told you that they care," Sue said softly. "They love us."
"They're not human!" Sam replied.
"I know," Sue said in a rather husky voice, "they're better than that."
"They'll just use you and leave you!"
"All relationships have their risks, Sam, but I'm pretty confident that my big furball here is in this for the long haul."
"Big furball?" Jurrel snickered.
"Better than 'furry bastard'," I replied, and then couldn't help but smile as Karen blushed.
"You should hear what she calls him in the bedroom," Sue snickered and Karen turned a very bright red.
"Not in public, djaton," I purred and nibbled on Sue's ear making her squirm a little.
"I think someone is jealous." Jurrel said softly.
I looked over at Jurrel "Hmm?"
He nodded at Sam who was still glaring at us.
I opened up a little, and sure enough, mixed in with the anger and the outrage; there was a nice bit of jealously.
Both of the girls picked up on it instantly, I could even feel them opening up as well using their still untrained talents. They looked at each other and snickered rather loudly.
"I am not jealous!"
"Yeah, and bears don't shit in the woods!" Karen said still snickering.
We docked with the ship shortly after that, and Jurrel and I took the girls off to get them situated. I gave a last look at Sam before I followed them, “My experts compromised your systems. By this time tomorrow the names, addresses, identification photos, absolutely every last piece of information on everyone involved in this affair is going to be published. You might want to warn those involved.”
“Bastard! Exposing those people could get them killed!”
“If I were you right now, I’d be a lot more worried about explaining to the press why you thought pissing off an alien race with superior technology was a good idea.”
I left Rhanz in charge and went to join the others; I didn’t want to deal with Sam anymore.
The four of us returned to the surface a few days later and spent the time gathering our things, we did not let the girls out of our sight however, unless inside the embassy’s grounds. I officially turned my duties over to Rhanz two days later, and then we had a final dinner with Kilrath and my sister. After that we got transport space on a ship that had been making some deliveries to the embassy and went home.
Home. The idea that from now on there would always be someone there was something I think both Jurrel and I found exciting. We had never been able to spend much time there since we had bought it, and it always felt so empty and alone whenever we came back to it, until we’d been there for a while. Now there would always be someone there. Now it would finally be a home.
None of us were exactly sure what the future held, but it would be interesting and exciting, and definitely enjoyable. Jurrel was sure I'd be giving the people at the telepath guild headaches if not nightmares; I was already looking forward to it.