Never, under any circumstances, take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night.
TANOO SYSTEM – 13 JUMPS FROM ALDRAT
I could tell immediately the difference between dealing with a civilian and someone in the military. The fact that Hiva Shesha was flying around in a shuttle was only the first of many giveaways I would discover in our time together.
I hailed her ship, and we opened a private comm, exchanging initial pleasantries for quite some time. I smirked with playful flirtation; I never could resist an attractive woman. She seemed content talking with me, and exuded a quaint shyness. That was something I wasn’t accustomed to, having been on the receiving end of affections from the likes of Mynxee, Shae, Venom, and many others, whom were always direct.
Hiva was gorgeous. Her bald, smooth head was a bold statement, hinting at toughness, a self-assuredness of purpose. It would’ve seemed very masculine were not for the fact that her makeup was expertly done. It wasn’t trashy, or too much; it merely enhanced her beautiful facial features as intended.
Her full lips curled up at the sides naturally, and her eyes shone with what could be perceived as innocence, but I read it for passion.
She wore a loose fitting, sleeveless leather vest with a very tight, bust enhancing shirt, not that it looked like she needed the assistance. Her shoulders and arms were very muscular, but not massive, just well defined.
My manhood embarrassed me with sudden and unexpected growth, and I was thankful this was a comms only introduction.
Do you have any idea how tough this relic is to crack? You’d think something this simple would come with a manual. We’ve used the Khumaak for a long time as a symbol of our defiance. But the presence of one little rock adds a whole new level of meaning.
Oh yeah. Welcome, Roc Wieler! I take it that Nilf sent you over? You’ve earned a lot of trust with the Republic, and I hope we can continue that trend.
I was one of the Republic University scholars to take a look at the Wildfire Khumaak for the Brutors. I was also sent to look over the documents you recovered from the RSS. So, essentially, I’ve been with you from the beginning, lurking in the shadows.
I smiled slightly, watching as she blushed, breaking eye contact with me, revealing her own attraction towards me more than she had wanted to let slip. To her credit, she recovered her composure quickly, and redirected the conversation amiably.
That’s what we historians do: Skulk about in dusty corners looking for information. It’s a dirty job, but somebody has to do it.
She continued onwards, happy to be controlling the direction of the conversation again. I was happy to let her think that.
The Ammatar “sister” that was the source of all the information was based in a nearby cathedral called the Church of the Obsidian. I’ve contacted the church, and she’s no longer there. In fact, I have no clue where she went. She did make reference to some artifact located in the church. They’ve denied me access to the church grounds – those bloody lapdogs – but I think you be able to persuade them.
She had a quick temper and a bit of a foul mouth; I liked that. I also was coming to like her style with how to handle obstacles.
Get inside the church and get something called the “Blood Obsidian Orb.” I don’t know what to do with it after that, but I think that’s our first step.
I had a difficult time taking orders from a civilian, and a woman at that. Still, I was interested in bedding her, and I learned the quickest way to a woman’s pants, outside of booze, was by playing nice.
I quickly accepted her task.
Take this analyzer with you, and use it on the church. It should help you unearth the Blood Obsidian Orb.
Suddenly, I went flacid. Literally.
I was getting sick and tired of this. First, I was delayed from achieving the objectives of an assigned task because I had never hacked a computer firewall. Now, I was being given the tool of an archeologist, and being asked to use it to recover this bloody orb.
Ok, granted, I did fail in keeping the archeologists alive previously, but I was sure Hiva could spare one of her assistants to come with me and perform the necessary operations.
I thought I had been brought on for my combat prowess as a capsuleer.
In a way, I supposed I could be flattered; maybe people thought I was more intellectual than I actually was. On the other hand, maybe all non-capsuleers just assumed we were expertly skilled in all things.
Of course, there was a third option that occurred to me. Maybe she was testing me on a personal level. Maybe she only allowed herself to be attracted to men that demonstrated more than just the typical Brutor quality of physical dominance.
This was her foreplay.
I had her mechanical team fit the analyzer to my ship, then headed out, excited to succeed. I was already fantasizing about what she would be like when we slept together. There was no doubt in my mind it would happen; it was simply a question of whether it was a one night stand type of deal, or did I keep this going for a few nights?
The Onslaught easily crossed the distance to the neighbouring system of Shasta. Upon using the jump gate and entering the system, I received a comm from Hiva. I answered a bit too quickly, betraying my own personal interest in her. I was being too eager, but it had been a while, and my veins were pumping with anticipation.
Oh yeah, I may have forgot to mention that there are some armed guards there. I’m a scholar, not a fighter. Which one are you?
I simply smiled and ended the transmission. I had read her correctly. This was definitely a sexual interest test. She put the question out there as a “one or the other”, but I knew she wouldn’t accept anything less than both. Part of me was disappointed that she was so easy to read, it diminished the thrill of the hunt. The other part of me redoubled in predatory glee, waiting to devour her with my building lusts.
I warped to the outer limites of the Church of the Obisidian, wanting to assess the situation from afar, in a non-threatening way, unless no other alternative presented itself.
We know what you are here for. You are not allowed on the church grounds. Leave now or face the consequences.
My mood soured. I had been soaring high, endorphins coarsing through my system, and these clowns had to go and ruin it.
I hated being told what not to do.
All my life, it had been one of the most difficult things for me to overcome; following orders. But as with anything I put my mind to, I could persevere and excel. As a slave, the consequences were quite severe for disobedience. As a military cadet, disciplinary action was almost as harsh.
I wasn’t a creature driven by reactive emotion, but rather a strong-willed man in full control of his every faculty. It had taken a great deal of personal effort to create this mold for myself, this man of duty and obedience, but it was something I valued highly, and the mold would not bend nor break in my lifetime.
I left the church grounds, as instructed. There wasn’t any point in me being there anyway; as I couldn’t use the analyzer on my ship.
I reviewed the telemetry data Aura had recorded while there, and quickly ascertained the most probable location of the orb.
I then did something I rarely ever did back then; I asked for help, specifically, for a military pilot with skill enough to use an analyzer.
“Mark Yaqb reporting for duty, Colonel. What do you need?” the young Brutor said with vigor.
He looked to be of the newer generation of pilots, angry, overconfident, aggressive in his demeanour. Eventually, those things were driven out of you after numerous clone chamber visits.
He had a strong chin, rugged jaw line, and high cheek bones. His neck strained with muscle, and you could see his impressive mass through his trapezius and shoulders.
He bore an elaborate tattoo across his forehead of a design I didn’t recognize, but that didn’t surprise me. Many of the younger Brutor didn’t respect the ancient traditions, marking themselves for style rather than honour.
Yet the single most striking feature of Mark Yaqb was none of these things; it was his eyes.
He was blind.
It wasn’t as uncommon a characteristic amongst Brutors as one might think, but there were simple procedures employed at birth to correct this genetic defect. Either he had never been cloned, or he specifically chose to remain blind.
“How close are you to Tanoo?” I asked, cutting short my own philosophical wanderings.
“7 jumps out. On my way, sir.” he replied.
“You equipped with an analyzer, pilot?” I asked.
“Sir, yessir.” Mark responded, his ship fitting momentarily appearing on my HUD.
He was flying an exploration fit Republic Fleet Firetail, Sisters Expanded Probe Launcher, Codebreaker, Analyzer. The boy definitely was skilled enough to assist me.
“I look forward to flying with you, son.” I said, and laid out the attack plan.
Ten minutes later, I warped fifty kilometers away from the Church of the Obisidian. The Ammatar Guardians of the Church immediately locked me, and the battle was begun, just as I had planned.
The Onslaught’s shields easily held, and I focused on my attention on the fast moving frigates, the only real threat to my ship in this battle.
I turned my ship away from the Church, pulling from the attacking vessels. They fell into pursuit, as anticipated.
Mark’s Firetail warped in at ten kilometers, and the nimble ship made short work of the Chapel, the structure that Aura had calculated contained the orb.
Thirteen seconds later, Mark warped away. I followed his lead shortly thereafter.
We met up at a nearby station, and I had my crew transfer the cargo from his ship.
I offered Mark some isk for his troubles, but he declined.
“It’s an honour to fly with you, sir.” he said, much to my surprise, given my recent military record.
Even blind, Mark picked up on my confused hesitancy.
“If I may speak freely, Colonel?” he asked.
“Of course.” I replied.
“You’re somewhat of a hero to my squad, Colonel, a role model. I know it might seem out of place to say, but you’re what we want to be.” Mark stammered.
“And what is exactly is that?” I asked sarcastically, my eyebrow raising, waiting for the hammer to drop.
“A man of integrity, a man of conviction. A man that will do whatever it takes for the cause of the just. You inspire us, Colonel, to be more than we are. I wanted to thank you for that.” Mark said, with the most precise and crisp salute I had ever seen.
I returned his salute out of rote, and was thankful for his blindness. I was completely and utterly stunned to hear such high words of praise from a pilot I had never met or heard of before that day.
I didn’t know what else to say, so stood there, like a dumb idiot, saying nothing.
Mark took his leave, and soon I did the same, returning to Hiva with the precious orb intact. I performed a query against Hiva’s database enroute, which she had given me access to earlier.
The church of the Obsidian has kept this relic for nearly four hundred years, though its original meaning was never truly discovered. The orb is carved from blood obsidian, the same material found in the head of the Wildfire Khumaak. The orb’s surface is completely smooth, though it is lighter than it appears.
Hiva was beside herself with enthusiasm and genuine happiness.
You found it? Really? Well, I guess it’s kind of orb-like. I have no idea what its significance is, but I’m going to find out. Hang on real quick. I must look into this further.
I was so getting laid.