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