DRAGONJULS' Storybook

 ~ The Promise ~
JM Dragon
Part Three
Section Three
March 2002
Email: jmdragon1@hotmail.com

Disclaimers: See Section One


Prologue

Two souls meant to be together searching through the ages. Once they find each other, do they stay together forever or do they search with each lifetime? If so, what changes with that lifetime? Does fame, fortune, occupation, gender, appearance all change with each lifetime? Is there some telltale trait that always remains constant providing instant recognition? Did you ever wonder what happens to souls as they travel through eternity?  Are souls a circle around all our lives never beginning never ending? The lives of Paula and Tamara were successful but one important element was missing. Will they find their home in each other?
 

The Promise

Through space,
Through time,
Through all the ages,
I will wait for you.

Through laughter and pain,
Through happiness and sorrow,
Through eternities reign,
I will wait for you.

Through all persuasions,
Through all changes,
Through all temptations,
I will wait for you.

I will wait for you,
That is my vow.
I will wait for you,
That is my promise.
..........................................AS


Amazon Seven
Hanger





“What the blazes is that?”

Tia Lopez stared at the object Sasha Meredith had taken her too hidden away in a corner of the temporary hanger they were using to take colonists to a safer area.

“Really Tia and you being a pilot and all!”

“I might be a pilot but I was never THAT kind of pilot.”

“It’s really very simple Tia ,we load the bomb onto the craft and in minutes we can rid ourselves of the threat by taking out the infested area.”

Tia might not be the best pilot around but she wasn’t suicidal either, surely the Counsel hadn’t agreed to this drastic measure.

“Counsellor Meredith, it will take precision to drop a bomb of that magnitude and stop any fall out to the buildings that still have colonists in them. What are we doing going on a suicide mission?”

Sasha glared at the woman; really it was very simple and quite logical to her. When the pilot was in the air she would advise Selina to abandon the area and they could watch from the higher ground. It was so easy she wondered why the others hadn’t come up with this idea before.

“As I said before Tia, if you do this I can ensure that Major Clayton doesn’t figure at all in your life on this planet.”

Yeah like I believe you and I’m not going to end up toast here!

Tia looked down at the bomb encased in a container of aluminium. Laura must have put it here with a few of her other special pilot toys when they first landed. Her ship didn’t have the protection to avoid the blast from a short-range attack; it was a cargo ship with limited abilities. She wasn’t even sure it could drop such an object.

“The ship isn’t equipped to handle a short range blast of the magnitude that bomb will be capable of.”

Another excuse, can’t this pilot just take orders and be done with it!

“I know that, however, this baby here can be programmed to be dropped and explode afterwards. That would allow you time to leave the area to a safe distance.”

Impressed by the woman’s knowledge but not entirely confident that would be the case.

“Can you programme it?”

Sasha drew her gaze away from the woman to the black and silver oblong object that really looked rather innocent, more like a lump of metal used in construction. She had seen a note in the container. The handwriting was a little obscure but readable...just. It gave certain instructions and she was sure she could follow them to achieve the objective.

“Yes.”

The pilot gazed at her trying to decipher the truth, could or couldn’t she?

“I guess we load it on the transport and get it over with.”  The pilot wasn’t totally convinced and her voice shook slightly with trepidation.

Smiling broadly Sasha placed a firm hand on the younger woman’s shoulders. “Excellent, you won’t regret this one, you will be a heroine before you know it.”

“Thanks, I’d rather be alive.” The pilot muttered as she looked around for a transport dolly to load it to the craft.

Unable to quite distinguish what the woman said she ignored it and thought about her plan and how simply clever it was how everything was going to work out. Soon very soon they would be rid of the threat to the colony and she...she...not Shaw, would be the toast of the township. Knowing in her heart that Selina couldn’t ignore her presence any longer. She would prove to be as brave as Shaw, braver in fact, and that was all that mattered.

“Are you still with me Doctor Shaw?”

Paula felt the drooping of the shoulders of the heat suit and wondered if the woman’s original robust attempt to give the impression she was okay had been a front.

“Yes, I’m quite well, thank you…I’m sorry you didn’t tell me your name or did you?”

Paula grinned inside her own visor, which she had donned again as they walked down the corridor, on the way to freedom. Couldn’t be too careful, the aliens might change their mind, she only had the Doctor’s word for it that they were going to co-operate. Okay, so it looked that way too but she had seen similar things happen in her time.

“Major Clayton.”

She was being stuffy, Paula knew it but her mind was still whirling after her encounter with the figure she was helping and it was her own inbuilt defence mechanism.

“Major Clayton? Does the Major have a Christian name by any chance?”

Tamara hadn’t felt this good in…ever she suspected. Not sure if it was the alien influence or the well being she felt at this woman’s appearance in her life. She hadn’t hesitated to kiss her when the opportunity presented itself; the really weird thing was she didn’t have a clue where Major Clayton had turned up from but it had seemed so right to her. One minute she was in a strange half-life, floating around listening to voices...some foreign to her, others clear as day. Then next she felt the warm sensual mouth of the Major on hers and she was lost forever. It was like coming home after a long trip away and finding yourself. Familiarity, they say, breeds contempt. In her case, she relished the experience and wanted more, so much more.

Paula’s mind wanted to say no; it was futile her heart was already speaking for her. “Paula Madison Clayton at your service Doctor Shaw.”

A tender smile crossed the doctor’s lips as she replied. “It suits you. Mine for the record is Tamara Christine Shaw.”

“Pleased to meet you Tamara. Now, I think, we should conserve what energy we have and get out of here. The exit, I do believe, is this way.” Pointing to the way out she had discussed with Tor Anders.

Tamara wanted to see into those beautiful eyes she had drowned in earlier, however, the visor eliminated that possibility. In the near future she knew she would and that would be worth waiting for.

“Lead the way Major.”

Paula hitched the woman further into her grasp and virtually dragged the Doctor along. Tamara didn’t care in the slightest she was closer than ever and that made her happy.

“Andrea for god’s sake, can you communicate with Major Clayton at all?” Selina was at her wit’s end! She was worried about Tamara and Major Clayton but also the colonists that would have to wait until tomorrow before they could leave. It would be too risky to try and fly to the new area at night unless it was a dire emergency.

Andrea looked at the concerned woman at her side with compassion, in the last ten minutes she had gradually disintegrated her normal calm profile before them, it wouldn’t take much to see her go over the edge. Who could blame her, they had relied on her totally to make all the decisions since the crisis began and whom did she rely on?

“I’m sorry First Counsellor there is only static. Want me to go out and see if they are coming?”

“No! Absolutely not Andrea, we have lost enough good people already. We shall just wait and continue to hope and pray.”

Andrea desperately wanted to go outside and check on the progress first hand, all she had was static now and she had promised to watch out for the Major. Okay, she knew that Clayton thought it was a foolish suggestion and suspected the pilot had gone along with the suggestion to appease her enthusiasm. It really was rather irritating to sit and wait listening to static and the constant moaning of some of the colonists left behind. She had to hand it to Counsellor Ralph, it couldn’t be easy to placate people at the end of their tether when you felt pretty lousy as well.

“Okay, want me to fetch you a drink?”

Selina smiled at the young woman she was adorable and so…what was the word for someone who wasn’t exactly gullible but something along those lines? Unwary perhaps, yes Andrea Callan was totally unaware at times of the critical nature of things or so it appeared on the surface.

“Thank you, I’d like that. I’ll listen for any communications.”

As the woman left her side Selina wondered not for the first time where Sasha had gotten to, she had been gone at least an hour and that was most unusual. It was a constant source of private amusement, in a nice way of course, that the ecologist had a crush on her and no matter what she did she still maintained that puppy like devotion. At times it irritated her but sometimes it helped her when things were in the depths of despair as she felt now. Where was she?

Andy sauntered over to the coffeepot that now held no more than treacle like substance but it would serve the purpose, wet and warm. Collecting a couple of mugs, she filled them and added for herself a milk substitute, what she wouldn’t give to have real milk in her drinks again. The situation had seemed so promising a few weeks ago, now they were staring at disaster. Not that the animals had been affected by the Aliens because they hadn’t, no it was a question of manpower. The first victims of the attack by the aliens had been engineering staff on the water project at the old monument site. That had led shortly after to the colonists on the land or generally working out in the open. Finally they had entered the township, making for the main administration and communication building, breaching it with ease.

In some ways she had felt guilty at being one of those still alive, especially with her profession. That day she had been tending to a calving on the land Radna farmed. They were inside and for some reason as the creatures came closer to the building they veered away. When they had gone to check on the others all but one of ten people in the vicinity were dead the life literally sucked out of them, leaving only a body shell.

Now all she wanted was to help in anyway she could.

Glancing across to the exit Tor had indicated would be the best point to leave the building she saw something that made her eyes pop out.

Half dragging the Doctor was the Major; Andrea was stuck to the spot as she watched in fascination, how had she managed that?

“First Counsellor! First Counsellor it’s them!”

Selina turned her head quickly at the shout, damn they haven’t waited long before they came to finish the job have they.

The words panicked the rest of the colonists who flew out of the building towards the hanger area leaving in their wake flying chairs and overturned tables.

“How far?”

“No! No Counsellor, you don’t understand! It’s them! Major Clayton and the Doctor.”

Selina ran over to the viewing area and gasped in shock and relief at the sight of one much larger figure, half carrying the smaller figure. They were alive!

“Andrea go out there and help the Major.”

“Sure thing.”

Selina put a hand to her forehead closing her eyes briefly, was the tide turning in their favour at last?

Thank you God for answering our prayers.

Tor Anders surveyed the hanger having sent Mary over to the sleeping quarters of Tia Lopez. There was more chance of her being asleep in bed than waiting around to see what was happening in town, she was one selfish cookie in his opinion.

He’d sent the colonists to collect a minimum of possessions and meet up with him here in fifteen minutes. It would give them time to locate the pilot and set things up for immediate lift off.

As he walked further into the hanger bay he was astonished to see in the cockpit of the aircraft Tia who appeared to be prepping the craft for take-off. Had she been talking with a colonist who heard Selina’s instructions? He’d left directly after those instructions had been given and he didn’t think Rad had beaten him to the hanger.

Glancing around he didn’t see anyone else and moved closer to the craft signalling to Tia who wasn’t looking in his direction at first.

As he got closer he tapped on the side of the plane trying to get her attention. Before he had time to make a sound he was surprised when he heard a voice call his name.

“Tor, what are you doing here?”

Spinning around Tor faced the ecologist. So, this was where she’d gone to, wonder what she was up to, no good knowing her. He had never liked her and nothing had changed in this crisis, she was still out for number one.

“I could ask you the same thing Sasha?”

“I thought I’d be helpful and have taken charge of the hanger duties. Anything to help in our hour of need, Tor.”

“Really. Do you know Selina’s recent instructions concerning the aircraft and the pilot’s duties?”

Tor glanced up puzzled at the pilot and saw Tia strap herself into her seat; they weren’t due to leave for at least another ten minutes. What was going on here?

“Selina gave me a special instruction that wasn’t to be overridden under any circumstances.”

“Really? Care to clarify me on the nature of the instruction.”

Sasha shook her head and wagged her finger at him, “Please Tor what a question to ask. It was a confidential instruction and only her personal appearance can stop me from carrying it out.”

Stroking his untidy beard the giant of a man frowned; he hadn’t been with Selina for every conversation she’d given in the last few hours. He was sure she would have explained that there might be a delay and why, he was a member of the counsel now wasn’t he?

“Well, I guess I’d better go fetch her for you and make it a personal appearance.”

“Surely that’s unnecessary? My project will be over and complete very shortly. Then, by all means, you can carry on with your instructions.”

“Don’t give me that bull Sasha I know Ralph, she’s methodical in her thought processes and she would have informed me if there would be a delay because of another task she’d given you.”

As they were discussing the situation the engines on the aircraft powered up, allowing them seconds to move out of range behind the shield in the hanger.

“Stop her now Sasha! We need her to take more colonists to the new area. We’ve lost contact with the Major.”

“I will not stop her! It is even more imperative that she carries out her mission with that snippet of news. You will see Tor I’m right and all will be well, trust me.”

Tor was livid showing up in the redness that traversed his face, “what are you going to do? What harebrained scheme have you got that kid involved in? I wouldn’t trust you if you were the last person alive Meredith.”

Screaming at her as the aircraft began to taxi the short distance out of the building, there was nothing he could do.

Mary Campbell rushed in at that moment shouting for Tor.

“She’s back, Tammy’s back Tor. The Major got her out!”

The smile that lit the man’s face could have kept a whole street in lighting for a week as he whisked the woman up in his arms as she came closer. “That’s wonderful news Mary.”

“Oh how very touching.” Sasha retorted scathingly.

Two pairs of eyes turned to the ecologist at her words. Then to the aircraft that was now taking flight, “You better have a good reason for Tia to be leaving Sasha because sure as hell, Selina’s going to have your hide if you haven’t.”

With her own eyes staring at the aircraft that in a little over ten minutes would deliver her own brand of retaliation to the aliens, she replied. “A good reason? Oh yes, I have a good reason. I’m going to exterminate them from this planet for good.”

Neither of the people in the hanger could believe what she had said. Did she mean what they thought she meant. “What do you mean Sasha?”

“Why Mary, it’s simple really, I’m going to blow up the buildings with the creatures inside and we will be rid of them for good.”

“Hell's fire woman, was that Selina’s idea?”

“Does it matter? When have you or Shaw ever consulted Selina with your projects? When it’s a success she won’t mind it will be for the best.”

“I don’t believe what I’m hearing. Come on Mary, let's get back to Selina. We need to warn her and the rest of the colonists what’s going on. If we don’t get out of here fast we could all be dead with the after blast.”

Sasha watched them leave hastily smiling demurely as she looked out of the window and saw Tia making the first of her three turns before she dropped the bomb. With Tor going to do the honours and advise the colonists, she would watch the spectacle from the hillside and wait for Tia to do her task...her final task. Then she would return to the colonists in victory, nothing else would suffice.

Removing the helmet from the Doctor, Selina gazed into the green bright eyes of her friend. Tears were shamelessly falling down her cheeks. It was such a relief to see her alive.

“Tamara are you okay?” whispering the words brokenly as she smoothed back the hair that was soaking wet, looking like she’d just been swimming.

“Selina am I glad to see you. I have news, good news.”

Tamara tried to struggle up but her friend held her down gently, “wait a while Tamara you need to rest you’ve been through an ordeal from what we heard on the communication link.”

“It can’t wait Selina, it can’t! I know what the aliens want!”

Paula had already removed her helmet and was running her hands through her short hair making it look spiky but not unattractive. She watched the meeting of friends with interest; the First Counsellor appeared to be very close judging by the tears.

Andy looked at the Doctor and grinned at the Major as she listened to what the Doctor was trying to say. Radna chose that moment to step up close to her partner and place a casual loving arm around Andy’s shoulders.

“You haven’t met my partner Rad, have you Major?”

Paula glanced at the two women curiously wondering what type of person the kid would be interested in, suppressing a chuckle as she saw the woman at her side. Well, they say love is blind and certainly Rad wasn’t the most beautiful chocolate in the box but you couldn’t go by appearances. Except in her case and physically attractive partners were the only things she considered when she decided to give into her primal urges.

Except maybe here…

“Selina they don’t want to hurt us!”

All eyes went to the Doctor, who they thought must now have gone crazy. Hadn’t they already hurt them...killed them in fact?

“Tamara I know you’re ill and this was a difficult mission perhaps if you had some sleep.”

Shrugging off the First Counsellor’s attempt to keep her down she stood up and looked around the room. There were’t many there as some had come back when the message got around that she was alive. Otherwise, they had left for who knows where.

“I’m not ill! That’s just the point, I was and they cured me. They talked to me Selina, you have to believe me I’m telling you the truth. They only want us to do one thing and they will leave us alone. They never intended to hurt us, they didn’t realise what they were doing.”

Selina heard the impassioned plea, in other circumstances she might have been…no, would have been convinced. However, this wasn’t a normal circumstance and the doctor had been through a rough trauma, which was now manifesting itself into a fanciful notion.

“You need to rest Tamara, perhaps when you have, we can talk about this rationally.”

“Rationally? What do you mean Selina? This is rational! We have to do something and something now! Not when I’ve had time to reconsider the situation and you persuade me it was a figment of my imagination.”

All eyes followed the conversation and Paula moved slightly closer to the doctor’s side. It was an unconscious movement and she hadn’t realised she had done it until she was at her side.

“You believe me don’t you Major?” This time the green eyes caught hers and willed her to agree with the statement. Someone had to believe her, and this someone at her side was the only one she wanted to understand.”

Paula disengaged the green gaze and glanced down at her booted feet that were smeared with deep red dirt from the land outside the building. What do I really think?

“Yes Major, what do you think? You did see the creatures and both you and the doctor have come out unscathed it would appear.”

The veiled sarcasm wasn’t lost on Paula as she quickly caught the scepticism in the First Counsellor’s eyes.

“I think you need to consider what the doctor has to say.” Paula then turned to the doctor, gave her a long look and saw the grateful thanks in the green orbs. She felt that pressure of emotions building up inside again.

“Go for it Doctor, we’re all waiting.”

Tamara wanted to drown in those blue eyes instead of plead the case for the aliens but she could do that once this was over. It was so simple really, so very simple. Now she had someone to believe in her too and that made all the difference as she felt the glow of the Major’s words.

“When we diverted the water from the monument site we took away the aliens natural resource and they want it back!”

A gasp came from Radna who immediately saw the plausibility of the situation. “They were trying to contact us and stop the water from being taken. They didn’t realise that their life form was so deadly to ours. All they were doing when they killed the other colonists was try to make contact and communicate the problem.”

“Are you serious?” Selina’s eyes were wide as she considered the viability of the claim. Had they really been so shortsighted in this that they hadn’t considered one of the most obvious criteria that the creatures were trying to communicate with them?

“Yes Selina I’m serious. All they want is for us to stop diverting water from that area. Anywhere that doesn’t have this type of monument is okay with them. It is where they live, how they live. In essence it is their civilisation.”

“Are you telling me there are more of these creatures?”

“Yes, it is their planet after all Selina! We are the interlopers here, we have done what we humans always do.”

“That would be?”

“Our arrogance that we are superior has cost us dearly.” Tamara dropped her head ashamed for her species even though they hadn’t intentionally gone ahead and hurt the inhabitants of the planet.

“If we divert the water back to them will that be the end of the conflict?”

“Yes, there was no intention to cause conflict in the first place. They are a peaceful race and want nothing more than to go back to how they lived.”

“We lost many lives, how can we forgive them?” Selina looked about her at the few people in the room...they had lost friends and loved ones. Humanity had a way of asking for payment in the most barbaric ways. They might have been forced to go out into space but they hadn’t totally lost their aggressive nature.

“They lost lives too Selina.”

“How do you know that for sure?”

Tamara blinked back a tear, how had she known? She didn’t have the words that would convey how the aliens had implanted the pain and sorrow of their loss into her sub-consciousness.

“They did! A colony of young died at our hands...their next generation. Only a handful are still alive and that will not be for long if we don’t stop the damming.”

“If we do, it’s the end of the matter and they will allow us to colonise the planet?”

“I believe so, if we respect their habitat.”

“Okay…”

The door to the building was thrown open and Tor rushed in like a demented man, his face red and hardly able to catch a breath.

“Sasha has gone mad! She’s sent Tia on a mission to bomb the aliens.”

Gasping for air as he stopped in front of the First Counsellor. Who was aghast at the news, Sasha had given that instruction, why?

“Tor, Please what are you saying?”

The giant of a man pulled in a sharp breath and said the words again. As he did so, Mary who had followed close behind him engulfed a surprised but pleased Tamara in a bear hug.

“Am I glad to see you!”

Paula galvanised herself into action at the man’s statement.

“Okay what’s the frequency of the pilot? Let’s bring her home without another incident.”

Radna followed the special pilot quickly to the communication area detailing the code as they waited for a connection.

Sasha wandered around the hanger, watching the craft that would bring about the destruction of the aliens...who should never have been here in the first place.

Her original findings had been quite conclusive! No life forms had been detected, that should have been enough. But, oh no, the stinking murdering creatures had come out of nowhere and destroyed her credibility and no one did that no one!

Selina understood, she had said so; it wasn’t her fault, how could she have known. They hadn’t taught her about these creatures, so it wasn’t her fault! Now she would rectify the problem and this time the aliens would stay dead and buried and they could colonise...the planet as Selina had dreamed.

She wouldn’t be tolerated anymore. She would be a saviour and then Selina would want her in her life...she was sure of it. How could she turn her away? She would be the heroine of the hour.

All it needed was for Tai Lopez to hold her nerve together and drop the bomb. It really was simple and so neat a plan.

Flashing eyes tracked the first circuit the pilot made going around again for the second pass. Yes, her plan would work and she would keep her promise to Lopez, Major Clayton would have nothing to do with the young woman.

Smiling she picked up her haversack and made for the exit of the building, it was a good time to make for the hills. Selina would surely be there with her shortly; it would be foolish to stay.

Looking up in the air, she saw the craft pass her and she flipped her hand in salute…Major Clayton would have nothing to do with the pilot because the pilot would be dead as soon as the bomb impacted.

She always kept her promises.

“Major Clayton of Earth Gamma Command to pilot Lopez please respond.”

Andrea watched anxiously, they wouldn’t have much time to stop Tia; it was a one off chance at best. If it didn’t work, would they have a chance to leave the building and make for the hills in time? Looked doubtful to her.

Major Clayton looked just like a warrior ready to go into battle, her stance intense and efficient, catching Radna off guard when she spoke directly to her.

“I suggest you and the rest of the colonists leave the building and leave the abortion of the pilot’s mission to me. I’m better equipped for the worse.”

Rad wasn’t going to argue as the blue eyes bored into hers and the message was clear… no argument, no delay.

Rushing over to the others, Radna repeated the message from the Major.

“She can’t stay on her own!”

Tor looked at the doctor who had spoken in such a broken way. He wondered what else had happened in the short time the two of them had been together.

“Yes she can Doc. if anyone can, it’s the Major. Come on, we need to go.”

“I’m not going.”

Selina intervened, “You are Tamara, it’s an order from your First Counsellor.”

“I can’t! You don’t understand. She came back to me, I can’t let her go now!”

Mary looked at her friend, was she deranged? Had the whole situation taken such a heavy toll on her friend that she no longer talked sensibly?

“Tammy, don’t argue! Let’s go, the Major will follow. I suspect she doesn’t take death lightly and will do her damnedest to stay with us.”

“Tor take Selina to safety and Mary too, I’m staying.”

The seconds ticked by and there was nothing from the pilot, Andy rushed forward, “she’s completed her first pass she could be going to drop on the next one.”

Selina watched Tamara as her eyes beseeched the doctor to change her mind. “I’ll….” She wasn’t given the chance to comment further as the Major shouted a direct order to get everyone away to safety.

Tor didn’t waste any more time and virtually picked up the First Counsellor, dragging her out of the exit, with Mary following behind.

Tamara walked over to the communications console and sat down quietly beside the Major who was calmly calling for the pilot to acknowledge the signal.

“Why are you still here?” Paula hissed out not sure if she was annoyed or concerned that the doctor was sitting alongside her.

“We made a promise I’m keeping my end of the bargain.”

Paula wasn’t sure how to answer the comment and decided to concentrate on the matter at hand.

As she turned to give the woman a wry glance, closed her eyes briefly...Radna and Andy also stood behind them, Jesus didn’t anyone teach these colonists anything about survival?

“This is Major Clayton, pilot Lopez you are under my command open the Comm immediately!”

Lopez came around to the last leg of the first pass and looked at the township that had been built over the months they had been here. Hadn’t even celebrated two years and in minutes it was going to be a pile of rubble.

Meredith was crazy! Bottom line crazy but if she could be the buffer between her and Clayton that was good enough in her book. Not that she agreed with the stance the ecologist had taken oh no, she might be lazy but she wasn’t a murderer. This was an order from a superior and on occasion when it suited her obeyed them!

Looking at the grid and drumming her fingers on the small panel that showed the route she had taken. Surmising the job would be over and done in seven minutes. That was enough time for whomever was left in the buildings to get to the hills and for her after the drop to get away.  Meredith had said she had timed the bomb to explode forty-five seconds after impact, enough time for her to make the hills and the relative safety they might allow.

She was going to be a modern day heroine, now that was something she hadn’t planned on in this life. Her folks would be real proud of her they had to be, instead of their constant bickering about how useless she was. They had no room to talk though, what had they ever achieved? They were only class three scientists at best on Mars Colony Omega. At least here she was turning out to be someone!

Major Clayton of Earth Gamma Command to pilot Lopez please respond.

Oh shit this is all I need.

Meredith should have done something about this? Surely the special pilot staying in that building would be at risk. They didn’t have anything powerful enough on the portable communication side, so she must be still in the community building. Well, you take your chances Major Clayton!

Disregarding the communication she finished the first pass. Hell, it was good to do that! Who would have thought she could claim to be the person who ignored the she-devil herself. One for her buddies back on Mars, not that she would ever get back for the applause. It was personally satisfying and that would do nicely. Poor Sheryl, she was such a fool to obey all the rules and to be left under the control of Clayton assuming Clayton, made it out of the fallout!

Lopez your orders are defective open the channel

What a fool the woman was to think she would fall for that line. How did she know it was even Clayton, she had never heard her voice or met her? It would take two minutes for the computer to verify the identity of the sender.

Take a hike ‘Clayton’ I have my orders.

Tia had never liked the assignment she had agreed to take on here on this planet. However there were few options available to her, having screwed up some of the ripest jobs handed to her when she left the academy. Truth being told, she didn’t know where she belonged. She didn’t have a love interest, her work was boring and generally her life was a means to making ends meet. Here she had at least a little respect not much granted, a little was better than none at all.

Pilot Lopez, your orders are not valid, please respond.

What a load of crap she knows nothing, nothing at all. My orders are as valid as hers are.

This is Major Clayton, Lopez you are under my command open the Comm immediately!

The words hit Tia hard as a reminder from her academy days!

Her fingers poised over the console, the question was should she respond or ignore?

Paula watched the time ticking by and wondered if she should abandon the aliens to their fate and get the colonists out of the building to whatever safety they could find. It was her role to protect as necessary the people who had inhabited this world.

Her title was special pilot, when in fact they were glorified military machines, coached in battle strategy, weapons and training expertise. Along with that came the pilot training and any other form of vehicle that was put in their way. Entering Gamma Command Academy as a trainee pilot, within six weeks you were assessed and moved into the respective training groups signifying how they thought you might end up. She had excelled at all but one of the training strategies that had been put in her way in that time, and was accordingly moved into the group for special pilot training.

Her dad had been delighted at the move. Only three percent of the trainees made it that far, and only one percent finished the gruelling challenges that the three-year course instilled into them. Her mother, on the other hand hadn’t been so sure, knowing that it would mean the end of seeing her home for possibly years. She had been right on that score, in the first five years she went home once. After that, for the next nine years, she could count the number of times on one hand. Her Mom never said anything about the short visits but her eyes reflected the pain she felt every time she looked in her direction when her mom thought she wasn’t looking.

“Do you think she’ll respond Major?”

The quiet words from the woman at her side brought her quickly out of her revere.

“If she doesn’t Doctor, I will personally see to it that she never has a day’s rest for the next two years.”

Andy laughed at the thought of Tia being worked hard, for what might be the first time in her life.

“Why only two years?”

Tamara knew the answer. The Major’s contract was only for that period and unless something wonderful happened to change the pilot’s mind, it was highly doubtful that she would stay. She looked the epitome of a true military type who moved on to new challenges as they came around.

Glancing in the direction of the two women who stood behind her she answered Andy’s question. As she did, so she moved her glance to the Doctor who was watching with interest.

“I have a contract for two years, it started from the day I entered the spacecraft to get here and will end the day I set foot in the craft to power up and go home.”

“You might find you like it here and want to stay.”

This is Lopez please send identification code for verification.

Tamara heaved a sigh for two reasons. One, she wanted to know the answer to Radna’s last comment and two, she was thanking God that Tia had contacted them, they still had time to make this work.

“Identification code processed, now turn around pilot Lopez and return home.”

Unable to comply until the verification is complete

Under the circumstances she understood the pilot’s caution is was commendable and the correct protocol but that might prove too late.

“Pilot, do not! I repeat, do not carry out your instructions until you have verified the identity code, then if it does not match you are at liberty to do so.”

A gasp was heard from the three people in the room with her and Tamara whispered. “Is that instruction wise?”

Switching to mute Paula looked at her and grinned slightly. “Never had my ID rejected before, therefore the instruction I gave is valid and should give us a breathing space.”

The verification will be complete half way through my final target run a decision can be made then.

“Lopez, I understand your caution but innocent colonists will die if you carry out the mission. Where is Meredith?”

In the mountains where you should be

“If I was in the mountains, Lopez, you and I wouldn’t be having this fascinating chat now would we and guess where I’d rather be?”

Tamara watched the Major as she spoke to the other pilot, she was bantering with her and although the situation was dire it was as if they were passing the time of day with not a care in the world. Her dad would have been fascinated by this particular psychological game the Major was playing.

The Mountains, Meredith should be there now

Radna looked at her partner Andy and squeezed her hand not sure if that was reassurance or she was just plain scared to death and needed to have the contact.

“Maybe we should play cards while we wait?”

All eyes turned to Andy as she spoke, and Paula gave her a wry nod of the head. The kid had some really serious problems with her understanding of situations. Then again perhaps she didn’t it had made Radna smile and that relieved the tension a little.

Looking at the clock again there was one minute to go before the computer verified the code. One minute that might seem like a million.

“Tor what’s going to happen to them if Tia doesn’t obey the Major?”

Selina looked down on her township and wondered once more what else could possibly go wrong.

“Serious arse kicking from the Major I wouldn’t wonder. I think she’s that type and one lazy pilot will not stand in her way.”

“Except Tor, that lazy pilot, as you call Lopez has a very powerful bomb and is about to use it. Will they survive the blast?”

Shrugging his shoulders slightly he saw the fear appear in Mary’s eyes as she listened to the conversation. Her friend was there too and she didn’t want to lose her again!

“I don’t know the magnitude of the bomb First Counsellor. If I did, I could calculate the impact on the other buildings. As it is, I suspect that Sasha would use the most powerful in the arsenal that she obviously found. Probably only the Major will know those details.”

The man gave her a serious glance he didn’t want to lie to her. In all probability the buildings would go, however, what difference would it make to know at this stage? He was gambling on the Major and the Doc to produce a miracle.

“I know what arsenal we have Tor.”

Turning his head he looked at her in surprise. Of course she would know she was the leader of the colony. Perhaps if she kept it to herself he wouldn’t have to upset anyone with his answer.

“They range from personal warfare bombs to one that could take out half the planet.”

Mary choked on a sob as she heard the simple statement, the words dull no feeling attached to them at all. If she hadn’t heard them from Selina Ralph she would have thought it a computer message.

“I guess you know the answer to the question yourself First Counsellor.”

“I do, thank you Tor.” Walking away Selina looked out over the darkening sky it would be dark soon and cold. The planet’s temperature dropped significantly in the evening these days.

Why, why Sasha? You should have talked to me and I would have told you how foolish an idea it was, or would I? If it hadn’t been for the Doctor coming back with her tall story would she have considered the possibility? Yes, she probably would have had it been suggested. Sasha was wrong, but not guilty of any crime other than the need to survive against dangerous odds.

Watching over the township, like a god looks over its children, Sasha smiled at her brilliant plan. Very soon now it would all be over Lopez would drop the bomb and they would be rid of the aliens and she would be rid of Lopez too. The woman was nothing but a whiner anyway. How she had ever managed to complete pilot training had to make you wonder if she had bribed the examiners.

“Selina will be safe, she and that dumb engineer are half a mile away on the other hillock. Wonder where the other colonists are?”

The words floated around the silent area. There wasn’t any sign of colonists in this area, not that there were many left here. Most had been evacuated to the temporary base. Talking to herself had that calming effect on her nerves, although she would have welcomed the company of the First Counsellor. She would know that I did the right thing, what other options were there?

Lifting her eyes to the darkening skies she saw the small craft going around for it’s final pass, soon now it would all be over.

Settling down on the ground behind a large outcropping of boulders she looked at her watch, yes in ninety seconds it would all be over.

Tia brought the craft around for the final run, the rivulets of sweat brought on by the heat inside the aircraft and her own body temperature rising in panic. Sure as hell she was panicked. What would she do when she received verification? Would she say it never came and bomb anyway? Or should she do as the Major said turn around and go home. What about the primed bomb? Would it go off when she landed? The terrain wasn’t exactly smooth, as it was only a temporary landing surface.

Questions and decisions ran around in her head making it ache! She hated making decisions, which was why she was a dumb cargo pilot and that’s how she liked it. Leave the hard stuff to the likes of Clayton and people like her they got the rank and the hard currency to do so.

Verification complete

Tia looked at the screen and saw the affirmation of the code; Clayton was who she said she was. Closing her eyes briefly it was now a question of obeying the Major and going home, or ignore the screen and do as Meredith wanted and drop the bomb.

We haven’t much time Lopez have you received verification?

Tia heard the Major’s voice and knew that for once in her life no one was going to come to her aid and make a decision for her she was on her own.

Time to do what she thought was right!

“We haven’t much time Lopez have you received verification?”

Paula stated calmly as she pressed the communication console and asked her question of the pilot, who was now less than thirty seconds from her target.

“I suggest you three find some cover in here or if you can run real fast try to get as far away as possible.”

“I’m going nowhere if you stay I stay!”

Paula chuckled she couldn’t help herself. This doctor also had serious problems with her scrambled brains. What was it about this planet? Although, she had to concede, for a woman, she was a great kisser. Wonder where she learned that?

“Neither are we!” Radna and Andy piped up, as they stood solid as rocks behind the chairs.

“Okay, have it your way. Rad, Andy go behind that column it might give you more protection.” Donning her helmet for some protection to her head, she refrained from pulling down the visor until the last possible second as the two women left as instructed to the other end of the room.

Unexpectedly she felt a small hand touch hers and turning she looked at the green eyes that reflected a peace that shouldn’t have been there. The woman should have been terrified but she wasn’t; now how did you figure that. Turning her palm upwards she grasped the small fingers and threaded them through hers. She wasn’t the sentimental type, but something deep inside her told her that if this was her dying day, she was going to die in good company.

“I love you.”

Paula heard the softly spoken words and wondered if the doctor was saying them like a mantra to someone else.

“I’m sure they know.”

Tamara gazed into the blue orbs that melted her soul and blended into her as if they were one and the same. “I hope you do.”

Paula gasped and then was thrown into even more confusion as the doctor placed her warm mouth on hers in what could be a final kiss in both their lives.

Tor had a comforting arm around Mary as they watched the aircraft head towards it’s target. A sinking feeling was overpowering him as he watched it get closer to its target.

The Major had failed and maybe they were all doomed.

“Mary, when all this is over, how would it be, if you let me cook you dinner?”

Astonished that Tor would be thinking of a date at such a time she gave a strangled cry as she looked up into his face, and a sense of relief overcame her as she saw the glimmer of hopelessness in his eyes. There was a glistening too in the depths as the giant of a man held back his own tears.

“Can you cook?”

He was a womaniser of the first order, he knew it, and she knew it and most of the colony also. Now at this time he wished he’d been different. Instead of making a tentative date with this woman at possibly the last minute of their lives. Depending on what type of bomb was going to be exploded, he might have been holding her tight. Kissing her senseless so that she only knew of passion rather than pain at the end. “Yeah a bachelor can always cook.”

“Tor, thank you.” Mary pressed closer into his shoulder as she watched his lined face crease into a wry smile.

“For what?”

“For this,” arms came around the man as far as she could get them and reaching up she kissed him tenderly.

For a split second he was shocked at the action and then let his feelings for her take over as they abandoned themselves into an exchange of gentle passion at this critical moment.

His wishes had been granted!

Lopez to Major Clayton

Dragging herself out of the sensual kiss she had been unable to stop from happening, Paula punched the communication link.

“Clayton here, are you ready to come home pilot?”

Tamara was gasping for breath, she had never felt so in-tune and intensely connected to someone in her life. The feeling was even better than the kiss they shared in the Engineering building. Then she wasn’t sure of what was happening but this time she had been in complete control...if you can call the chaos of her emotions control.

I’m ready to come home Major, if that is possible

Paula picked up on the panic in the pilot’s voice and dragged her chair closer to the console concentrating on the communication.

The landing place is very bumpy. I’m not sure if it will set the bomb off as I land. Meredith said there was a forty-five second delay but that wouldn’t help, I can’t get out of the craft in time.

“Andy contact Anders for me and get his opinion on the best possible landing place, it must be as smooth as silk tell him.”

“Right away Major.”

“How much fuel do you have Lopez?”

Tia consulted her gauges and blew the hair that had been irritating her for sometime from her forehead.

Enough for ten minutes flight

“Not a problem Lopez, just like the academy days.”

Maybe your academy days Major, not mine

Laughing at the comment, it was true she had gone through several simulations of flight when fuel had been low and the burning question had been...would she lose her nerve and panic or get the job done. Easy answer was the job was always completed, Lopez hadn’t had that type of training and her record wasn’t good anyway regarding difficult calls.

“Incentive time Lopez, you buy me a drink when you get your feet on the ground...how does that sound?”

You call that an incentive?

“Yep, because then I get to buy the drinks for the rest of the evening.”

Tia was unexpectedly warming to the Major. She might have a glorious and demonic reputation but she had a sense of humour too and that was something that all the reports had concealed. Although all her reports had been from people who hated the woman so how would they know?

Okay sounds good to me

Andy rushed back over to the console clutching her personal communicator.

“Tor wants to know if we are all okay?”

Paula took the communicator from a startled Andy and barked into the machine, “I haven’t the time for niceties Counsellor Anders, I have a pilot in trouble and I want the best odds for her.”

A minute later she had her reply and passed the machine back to Andy. Radna and Tamara gave each other a strained smile as they watched efficiency and years of training take over in the form of Major Paula Clayton.

“Do you know where Master’s lawn is Lopez?”

Yes, ten miles from here, it’s Jenny Masters’s pride and joy. She doesn’t let anyone walk on it, not even her family

“Excellent choice, fly there and wait for me to arrive and guide you down.”

Okay

Turning to the others in the room, she glanced at each in turn as she stood up, “Where do I get the fastest land transport from?”

Tamara looked to Radna, she rarely needed transport so didn’t have a clue.

“Sasha had the fastest four wheel vehicle and she probably has taken it with her, that leaves…Sheryl has a two wheel monster goes like a flash.”

“A flash is what I need, can you find it for me?”

“Sure, we’ll be back in a minute.”

Andy and Radna left the building in search of the bike.

Paula picked up her pulse rifle and a few other things.

“I’m coming with you.”

Staring at the doctor in disbelief, she probably couldn’t even ride a bike let alone ride pillion at great speed.

“Not this time doctor, this ride is for one only.”

“You can’t stop me Major.”

Paula saw the determined stance and grinned, what did she have here, a leech?

“I don’t know what they told you about special pilots Doctor Shaw but trust me, occasionally we can take care of ourselves.”

Feeling annoyed and angry with her own complete disintegration from her normal self, Tamara was also embarrassed, of course the pilot could take care of herself. The woman probably thought she was mad with her constant attention, and to cap it all, saying she loved her.

Gulping a deep breath, she nodded her head. “Yes, Major, of course you do. Good luck.”

Hearing the words but not quite sure the doctor meant them, she could follow and put her life in jeopardy and that unexpectedly hit her gut hard.

“Thanks, why don’t you get the others together and work on un-damming the water from the aliens habitat, the sooner the better, don’t you think?”

She was right, that had to be a priority now, Tor would know what to do and it probably wouldn’t take that long if they rounded up some of the colonists from the new camp.

“I will, perhaps when you return we might get together over dinner and get…acquainted?”

Paula caught the green eyes with hers, what was it about this woman that called to her and made every nerve-ending tingle? She had never taken a woman as a lover, why would she feel such overpowering emotion to do so now? Maybe she would find out when everything settled down and she could take some time out to rest and think about things. It was probably all the adrenaline that was rushing around her body with each crisis that beset her on this planet. This would be a hell of a report to Ray when she finally sent it.

“Yeah I’m sure when things settle down we can do that. Doctor, take care out there.”

Tamara felt the lump grow in her throat as she watched the powerful woman leave the building; she promised she wouldn’t leave me alone again!

Sasha stomped around the area she had taken for cover as she watched her chance for recognition die at the hands of that sorry excuse for a pilot Lopez.

What was she doing turning back? They agreed to drop the bomb after the third pass, what was happening?

Gazing disconsolately at the retreating craft unable to comprehend who could possibly have changed her mind, Selina had left the area and the others…or had all the others left?

Pulling at her field glasses, she tracked them over the buildings, her answer evident as she saw the small figures moving fast out of the community building. Shortly afterwards another figure came out of the building and mounted a turbo bike roaring away with the appearance of the devil at their feet.

Sasha focused the glasses to enlarge the image as she saw Radna and Andrea watching the figure leave. Just as they moved towards the building another figure came out, of course it had to be…Doctor Shaw!

Damn that woman she is there too, she survived and looks good as well. It must have been the Doctor’s influence that convinced Lopez to abandon her instructions; this isn’t fair!

Picking up her belongings she threw them unceremoniously onto the seat in her vehicle intending to have a long talk with Doctor Tamara Shaw.

“She’ll be fine Doctor.” Radna had watched the pensive expression travel over the doctor’s face as she watched the dust clouds brought up as the Major left the township.

“Yeah of course she will, they train them to outwit anything the universe has to offer them don’t they?”

Chuckling at the comment Andy wrapped a loving arm around her partner as she answered. “I don’t know about everything but she sure is a good ambassador for Earth Gamma Command. Has she even stopped and taken a deep breath since she landed on the planet? I’ve been with her for most of the time and I don’t think so!”

Tamara watched the couple as they smiled at each other; it brought a feeling of despair and at the same time hope, into her heart. She didn’t know why and she didn’t want to really. All her life she had been looking for someone and that someone had finally arrived, capturing her heart and they didn’t even realise it.

How can you fall in love with one look and know it's what your soul has been missing for years. She had, and taken every opportunity to make her feelings known, her normal control in personal situations blown out of the window. Major Paula Madison Clayton was her soulmate. She knew it with every fibre of her being, and something that was even more profound; she thought the Major felt it too. All she needed to do was convince the woman to let her in and show her how good life could be if they were together. The only question left was how?

“I’m sure she’s used to crisis situations and this will be all part of her normal routine.”

“Well, I don’t know about you two but I think we had better get the others back and start rebuilding our lives.”

“Yeah, we need to get Tor and what’s left of his team onto the re-direction of the dam, that has to be our first priority. Andy can you call him and advise him of our current status, I’ll brief First Counsellor Ralph when she returns.”

Andy grinned and promised she would as she and Radna left Tamara gazing at the stillness of the township, all evidence of the Major leaving now settled back down to dust on the ground.

As Tamara continued to watch the horizon at the end of town she saw lights from a vehicle approaching, “great the others are coming back.”

Tamara continued to watch the rapidly approaching vehicle with a smile on her face. Things were turning out better than they ever could have expected when the day started.

“Time to get back Tor. Our services may be needed especially yours if we have to divert the dam to appease our resident aliens.” Selina smiled at the man who was looking somewhat bewildered.

She had discreetly seen him and Mary share a rather more than friendly kiss; mind you it had been a rather stressful situation. However, they had continued the embrace long after the threat had been distinguished. She was pleased for them, in the past weeks good things had become so scarce you could have named your price on the odds of anything good happening.

Strange thing was things had gotten better as soon as a certain Major had arrived into the planetary orbit. Funny how one person can turn the tide. It had been happening for centuries in human culture and here on this planet, it was one part of their civilisation that had made all the difference. Admittedly they had a long way to go but whoever said Rome was built in a day and their Rome just needed to take a long look at itself and do things a little differently.

“I have that covered First Counsellor, just need to collect my field gear and a few willing hands and we will have the work completed within forty-eight hours.”

A frown appeared on the First Counsellors brow, wondering if that would be okay with the aliens. How could they find out?

She wasn’t keen on sending Tamara back into the lion’s den but did she have a choice? They needed a person to communicate with the aliens and they had chosen the doctor. Knowing the good Doctor, she would consider it a wonderful challenge and they had cured her of her ailment, which had been considered fatal.

“Tor what would you need to do the project in under twenty-four hours?”

Pulling at the beard on his chin he considered the question posed, was it even possible?

“I hate to say it, blow the dam away.”

Selina smiled wryly at the irony of the request, they had prevented one explosion and now Tor was considering that as a feasible option.

“I see. We have a bomb in the air at the moment and if it were diverted to the dam we could have this situation corrected now!”

“We still don’t know the magnitude of the bomb Counsellor. It could take the aliens with it. Do you want to risk that?”

The strain was telling if the counsellor was thinking along those lines, what they had prevented might still happen if she continued in this vein.

“Let’s get back to the town and contact the Major it may solve the problem of the bomb in the air at the moment.”

“As you wish Counsellor.”

Tor watched Selina pick up her belongings and with a few of the other colonists begin the descent back to the township.

“Are you okay Tor?”

Beaming at the woman who had become an integral part of his life in such a short space of time, he placed an arm around her shoulders and hugged her close.

“Never better Mary, never better. Now all we need is to right all the wrongs and get back to normal.”

“Will it ever be normal here after all that’s happened?”

“You’re a cynic Mary but I don’t mind at all.” Chuckling he pulled her along as they made for the transport that would take them back to the township.



Concluded in Section Four
 
 

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