Aegarian Saga, 2
Copyright © 2008, 2012, 2016 by Alexandra O’Hurley
Millions of years ago, an alien race came to a new world filled with lush vegetation and animal life. The ones that arrived were the best scientific minds of their race, albeit a little on the mad side. They came to experiment with new genetic material, which had been outlawed on their home world. Once they had settled and made a home base and laboratory, the scientists began using this material to mutate the animal life they had found on this distant world.
A new race was created by these madmen, and was nurtured through its infancy. Then a hundred year civil war broke out on the home world, and the Great Empire forgot about the handful of scientists left on the fledgling world. Eventually, the scientists died from the ravages of the barbaric and untamed planet, or succumbed to the ravages of time.
But the new race continued. Flourished, even.
Over a million years later, a historian stumbled on to ancient documents detailing the plan for the distant world and the crazed experiments they had conceived. That historian brought them to the attention of the new Emperor and regime, fearful of what could have happened so long ago. It was decided that a recon group would be sent to the new world, to find out if anything had become of the experiments. Had the scientists been successful? Was there anything left of the experiment now? Was a new race created?
Once there, the group on the mission would be in for a great surprise…
Arid desert spread out before the cruiser as it landed on the hard packed sands of an uninhabited section of the planet. Taroth re-checked the sensors as he piloted the craft below, noting the air seemed rich enough to breathe and that there was life circling the desert. It seemed they would find it easy to scout out the alien race as well as hide their presence within the dunes. Just the thought of getting off the ship and out of the confines after many long months was enough for him to jump for joy.
Taroth felt his stomach clench. He was excited for the opportunity to explore the planet, yet there were too many unknown factors for his liking. Yet he had no choice. He’d been charged with ensuring the safety of the mission and the lives onboard.
He turned to see the ten members that made up the scouting party hovering near, gazing at the screen display as the cruiser landed. All were anxious to explore the new world. Back at home, there had been theories circulating about what they might find for months now. Knowing the truth may be even more interesting than the guesses formulated, which had his crew itching to rush out into the unknown. The planet had once been the subject of an experiment long ago and had been forgotten about until recently, when historical documents had reminded their people of its existence.
Little was known of the end result of the experiment or what had happened to the people left on the surface. A civil war had waged on his home world during the experiment and that alone had prevented the scientists on the surface from being checked on. This was the first trip back after a million years. Anything could have happened in that long a span of time.
They’d already determined there was life on the planet, and from the structures they could witness from space, they knew they were civilized. Could the population on this planet be as intelligent as all those who made up the Empire? And if so, how did they now handle this race? Did they make them a part of the Empire or leave them adrift to potentially be destroyed by their enemies? The trip would determine the planet’s fate.
Once the ship had settled, Taroth confirmed all readings were correct before he opened the hatch in the rear of the ship and nodded to the team they could begin de–boarding. The science team grabbed their data recorders and packs and rushed off the ship. Two of his highly trained soldiers had led the way out and began scouting the close vicinity for immediate dangers without Taroth having to give instruction.
Of the nine in the party, five were research scientists who had approached the Emperor, initiating the trip. That team held science as tightly to their bosom as some held religion, each ready to scan every available parqua and speck in their path. The scientists spread out, checking out the fauna directly around the ship, fingers twitching with glee, their voices high with excitement. Taroth joined his men and gazed over the barren terrain.
The wi’ mia was exploring as well, almost as enthusiastic as the scientists. Taroth had sat with the healer only the night before and listened to stories of potential plant life that could yield new medical discoveries and prospective cures for their people. Most wi’ mia held mythical medicinal abilities, but fortunately for this crew, their doctor was a Boogdasharian as well, a unique race of beings, best explained as half healer and half conjurer; their race wielded an amazing power over any living organism’s energy.
The only ones not as thrilled at their arrival were Taroth’s soldiers. Both men had voiced concerns about keeping the scientists safe during their exploration, and Taroth knew his men were right. He felt something odd in the pit of his stomach, just as he did prior to battle. They all needed to stay on their toes.
Taroth quickly packed assorted weapons into a lbdall to wear around his back on the trek into the closest populated area. His second in command, Dar, used a pair of glintocks to scan the horizon, looking for life forms or other potential dangers.
“Dar, do you see anything?” Taroth continued to pack his weapons alongside his other warrior, Ta Hall. Taroth and Dar Jin had been best friends since the academy, and had fought side by side for years. He trusted his friend to judge the environment, just as he trusted him with his life.
“Nothing but sand, and more sand, and a little more sand, throw in a few cliffs and some small brush and, oh, did I say sand?”
Taroth smiled at the sarcasm, a side of Dar few people ever got to see. Most saw Dar as a tightly–laced, humorless soldier, and for the most part, that was what Dar was. He’d not had the best life growing up, the shadow of their family always present. Taroth knew there was much more to his friend than the stories he’d heard. Dar’s father, Dak Jin, had many tales told of him that pushed the boundaries of evil, but Dar wasn’t Dak.
“Nothing moving. I don’t think we were spotted,” Dar added a few moments later.
“There are life forms bordering this entire desert. According to the ship’s readings, there is a small grouping of life forms not far from here, maybe ten secas to the north. I think we should head in that general direction and come up behind them. Once we approach, we can do an initial survey and see what we are dealing with.”
“Good plan, but I think we need to leave the children a little farther from the border of the inhabitation. As excited as they are, their screeching may get us sighted.”
Taroth grunted at his friend’s remark, trying to hide his smirk. All three of the warriors had nearly pulled their hair out on the long trip to this galaxy, none accustomed to being around a group of young, frenzied scientists for long. Taroth was glad to be out of the confines of the ship after being cramped with the group for nearly a bi’near waiting to arrive. He was sure his men agreed.
“You had better not let them hear you call them children. My ears are ringing from their overactive mouths as it is. I don’t need one of them to start getting belligerent and start really berating me, especially if it is from your mouth. My poor ears can’t handle the pitch any longer.”
All three men chuckled, and Taroth turned to eye the rest of the group, hoping they had not been overheard. As he looked in their direction, Taroth gazed at Bak’Neel, the science team’s leader of sorts. Her father had been the head of the Science Academy, and she’d recently taken over his position after his untimely death. Bak’Neel was the worst one of the group in his opinion. He hated to admit the scenery was not half bad, though.
The female began to saunter over in his direction, doing everything in her power to entice him. She wore an overly tight jumpsuit that was obviously too small for her and left nothing to the imagination, as it outlined each and every curve of her body. Taroth felt his body stir, even when he willed his mind to ignore her overtures. Once she was within arm’s reach, she pulled him close and rubbed herself on him. He attempted to pull away, but her grip was strong, too strong for a female.
“We can let them all go ahead and can catch up a little later. I need some alone time with you.”
“I told you that I am taken.” Taroth attempted to pull from the female’s grasp and ignore Dar’s raised eyebrow.
“You Aegarians and your silly marriage laws. You haven’t Joined with that female yet. There is still time to play.”
Bak’Neel knew he was going to marry Dar’s sister once they returned home, so her overtures were disrespectful, especially when Dar stood not an aequa away. “Our race has mated this way for thousands of years. It isn’t silly.”
Bak’Neel reached over and gripped his cock through his pants, squeezing him tightly. “You need a fling before you Join. We are both lonely and could use the company. It will take the edge off, allow you to see clearly.”
Taroth pulled away from her clawing hands. “Do you not consider Dar’s feelings? I doubt he would appreciate me fucking you right next door as he considers my disrespect for his sister.”
Bak’Neel chuckled. “I do not care what he thinks, or feels. I care about what we feel.”
“He is my best friend.” Taroth pulled completely from her grasp and drew closer to his men, hoping she would back off.
“His family is a bunch of ruthless traitors. Why do you want to entangle yourself with that lot? Is it not bad enough that you call Dar a friend, but now you will bed his sister?”
Taroth saw Dar’s shoulders tighten, but the warrior stood firm. How he held on to his control if he had heard Bak’Neel’s words, he did not know. “Dar is not like his father. He has always been there, fighting alongside me.”
“Will his sister be the same? Or will she be more like Dak? And where will your allegiances lie?”
Taroth paused, no words coming to his lips to answer her question. Fear of that very issue had filled him since he had experienced the first sensations of Daya N’goul, the bodily reaction a male of his race had when meeting his mate. When the feeling had come over him, he had wanted anything but. He loved Dar as if he were his own brother, but he did not want to marry into that family. Yet, he was bound by law to do just that. D’Na Jin had appeared to be meek, servile, and sweet, the opposite of Dak Jin. Not that he appreciated a meek woman, he did not. If given the choice, he supposed meek was better than the alternative of her being a sadistic traitor like her father.
Regardless of Bak’Neel’s advances, Dar’s younger sister was his promised mate. He would be Joined with her as soon as they returned from the mission. His upcoming ceremony wouldn’t be cheapened with Bak’Neel’s incredibly vulgar displays in her attempt to bed him. It wasn’t against the rules for him to slake his lust with another prior to Joining, but it was frowned upon.
Although there was something about Dar’s sister which had not set well with him, either. He had sensed the onset of Daya N’goul with D’Na, but it had not felt … right. Regardless, he was a man of honor, and he could not break the laws of his people nor refuse to Join. He respected his friend too much to dishonor his family in such a way, even if Dak had done his best to pull them into the ashes with him.
The first time he had met Dar’s much younger sister he had gotten dizzy and erect, positive signs of Daya N’goul. Yet he had not begun to feel love and devotion to D’Na. In all truth, he could care less if he ever set eyes on her again.
Which was incredibly odd.
Every man he had ever known had gone brainless in love and lust when he met his Daya N’goul. All Taroth could think about was escape. Was there something wrong with her? With him? Shaking his head, he brushed his thoughts away, as he had dwelled on them much too long during the time trying to reach this planet, knowing once he returned, he would have to commit to a woman he did not want.
“You are setting yourself up for trouble if you marry D’Na. Your body reacts to mine, I see it. Submit and all will be as it should.”
Bak’Neel’s words brought him out of his musings. No matter if his body stirred, he would not succumb. “And if I were to submit to you, there would be no trouble? I do not know which choice is worse, you or her.”
As soon as the words were out of his mouth, he cringed. Bak’Neel’s eyes rounded, and she began to smile. “You admit that female is a bad choice for you.”
“I admit nothing.” Taroth pushed past her, kneeling to finish packing his equipment. He kept his eyes focused into the packs he and Ta Hall were completing. After a few moments of silence, he heard her lush voice behind him.
“We should be ready to go soon. Is there a plan?”
Taroth glowered up into her inviting golden eyes, seeing her passion waving back at him. He ignored it as best he could. It amazed him that he could hold this woman in contempt, yet at the same time he could barely think of anything but availing himself to the desires she offered him. If he was truly mated to D’Na, he should not feel the urge.
“We are going to head ni’or to the habitation we scanned just before landing. It is small, only about three hundred life forms, and within walking distance of the ship. We will keep you and your group several hundred aegua back, allowing us to scout for any potential danger. Then we will come back for you to follow us if nothing is found.”
“So you three will be the first people to see the life forms?” Her fake pout was annoying him more so than the lust in her eyes. He hated a woman who used false sentiment to get her way. “Can’t I come along with you three to help scout?”
Taroth turned away, rolling his eyes, before turning back to her full of charm, rising to his full height. He placed one hand on her shoulder and with the other he pressed one finger under her chin, turning her face toward his. Two could play her game. If false sentiment and pouting was her weapon, he could do it as well. “You are far too important to this mission to be put in jeopardy. I could never forgive myself if something happened to you the first day. Let us do our jobs and inspect for dangers. It will not take long, and we will come back for you as soon as we can.”
She bought it, thankfully, and smiled dreamily up into his eyes. He pulled two fingers through a section of her bright red hair, and kissed her forehead, more brotherly than sexual, before releasing her. He pushed her toward the others to get her away from him. “Let the rest of your group know what the plan is and be ready to go soon.”
* * * *
Moments later they were headed toward the inhabitation, about to encounter the first of the alien life forms. Taroth could tell the other battle-hardened warriors were becoming a little eager as he was at the prospect of witnessing an alien life form. Whenever there was danger, their senses were heightened. Taroth knew from experience that their bodies were pumped with endorphins and that each loved every second of it.
He watched the two men before him, pride in their training striking him. Long powerful legs stretched to meet the ground, tight with a predatory grace. They both strode with a posture that showed their years of training, coupled with years of battle each had encountered, most of them at his side.
Taroth stopped his musings when he heard the scientists whistling and giggling a short distance behind them. When he turned, he noted some of them skipped along. Taroth stifled a groan. The antics of this group were most unprincipled as well as unprofessional. Embarrassment and anger roiled through him.
Dar turned to the group, aimed his gun at a chubby little male Teninghian scientist and cocked the weapon. “If you don’t stop with the chirping, we will be having Teninghian stew tonight.”
The whole group skidded to a halt, squealing in utter disbelief. Once they saw Taroth’s smirk, they realized Dar was not serious. Dar’s gaze followed theirs and saw Taroth’s sneer. He whispered over his shoulder so the others could not hear, “Taroth, I needed your help to shut them the hell up.”
“Sorry, I couldn’t help it.” He approached Dar’s shoulder and whispered back into his ear, “Although, you made the little guy piss his pants. That should count for something. I doubt they’ll keep it up now.”
Dar looked over at the round scientist and saw the telltale signs of the loss of bladder control. He began snickering himself and whispered back to Taroth. “I forgive you for that one, but the next time they start with the whistling, I will shoot one of them.”
Taroth gave him the eye.
“Just in the leg. I won’t kill them.”
Taroth looked again.
“Well, I might kill them if they don’t listen after that.”
Taroth laughed at his friend’s lack of patience, even though his wasn’t much better at that point. “Dar, we had better learn to ignore those fools. After this little fact finding mission, we have another bi’near to suffer them on the trip home.”
It was Dar’s turn to roll his eyes and give Taroth the evil eye. “We won’t if I kill them all first.”
Taroth let out a hearty laugh and clasped his friend on the back, pulling him away from the anxious little group huddled together wide eyed on the sand.
* * * *
Taroth and his men had left the rest of their team at an outcrop of rocks a few hundred feet from the border of the inhabitation just as the planet’s sun was beginning to set. Once they left, the three had separated to come up on different sides of the territory. Taroth was to cover the lower, more populated sector, check for dangers, and then meet back at the outcropping to review notes.
As darkness fell, they made it to the edges of the encampment. Taroth felt his irises expand as he took in as much light as possible. He was thankful his men were also Aegarian and could see equally well. Once inside the parameters of the territory, Taroth was surprised to see a small village. Outlines of small structures began to appear, as well as transport vehicles of some sort. The souls who created all this must be as advanced as they’d hoped for. Hopefully they were benign and not volatile.
Long black strips were laid out like wide pathways, which they apparently used for travel. Taroth crept along one of them and found clusters of buildings along the paths. He slipped into the shadows of the failing light as a transport vehicle passed him with a roar, bright lights blazing from the front. He found himself close to the rear of a short building that faced the pathway. Looking inside the opening to the small shelter, he saw a small, four-legged creature that was growling up at him with evil intent. The creature was small, maybe just a meer high and had golden fur all over its tiny body.
But the deep, intense growling had Taroth on alert, as he had learned long ago that small stature did not necessarily mean the creature could not be dangerous. He slowly approached the being with hands up, trying to show he had not unholstered his weapon and was not intent on showing the creature any harm. Yet the closer he got, the more the thing growled at him, finally bearing sharp-looking teeth. Taroth tried to calmly talk to it, in hopes he could communicate in some way, but the creature continued to growl deeply.
As Taroth skirted to the other side of the small building he saw a bowl filled with what looked like small pebbles. Bending down, he lowered to one knee to grasp a handful, hoping to use them as a small weapon against the furry creature. To his dismay, the pebbles were soft. He opened his hand to look down at the strange substance and the creature jumped into his lap and started to eat the pebbles from his hand.
Taroth watched the thing eat everything in his hand and once the tiny alien finished his meal, he turned to lick Taroth in his face. “Well, you are obviously a pet. And here I was quaking in my boots.” Taroth chuckled to himself as he held the beast slightly away, not caring too much for it licking his face.
Upon inspecting the creature further, he ran his hands lightly over its fur, testing its shape and looking for possible dangers. “What is this band around your neck? A medallion, so you must be a favored pet. And they give you your own house. You must be a prince among pets.” Taroth rubbed the furry body of the animal after realizing there was no additional danger and seeing the thing responded warmly to it. He thought to himself that he could understand why any race would want this animal as a pet … it seemed to desire love and attention. He slowly placed the pet down on the ground so he could resume his recon work, only to have the creature roll over, turning on its back, as it spread its legs.
“I am almost afraid to ask what you might be waiting on. Maybe I need to find your master and see what kind of weird things they do to little favorites like you.” Taroth chuckled under his breath as he rose to his full height with an arched brow and quickly passed the beast toward the row of larger buildings.
Taroth peered into the building closest to the creature’s shelter and saw a light emanating from inside. Getting as close as he could without threat of being seen, he noted a large table pilled high with what looked like the ancient books that Eetu had made him read when he visited the library on Dsh’ Attar. He had always hated the smelly old tomes and could not for the life of him understand why Eetu would not allow him to read the screens that were so much easier to handle.
Eetu was the librarian in the Village of Som De Noel on Dsh’ Attar, the home planet of his mother, a planet he had loved as a boy. Each summer Taroth spent in Som De Noel had been more of an education than the previous year in the Academy, thanks to Eetu. Though Taroth loved his mother and father, he was inexplicably drawn to Eetu and was always amazed as to the wealth of information the man seemed to always hold within.
The elder man had taught Taroth about everything, from the art of war to politics to history to art. Eetu had been as much of a father to him as his own had been, if not more, as his father was always busy with work for the Empire. Eetu had been instrumental in Taroth’s growth into a strong, intelligent man. When the Emperor had made him Regent of the East, Taroth had chosen Dsh’ Attar as his base of operation and had built a luxurious home in the center of the village, close to one of his most favorite people in the galaxy. Moving to Dsh’ Attar had been a show of respect to the old man, because the man himself was as much a home to Taroth as the beautiful village he lived in.
Taroth focused back on the room before him, chastising himself for being so melancholy about home. He sounded like a child, weeping about being homesick. What would Eetu say to him now? He could only smile at what responses came to mind.
He walked to the rear of the next building he saw lights radiating from. Once he approached the opening, he saw a light, and a large table covered with what looked to him like steaming bowls of food. Hearing the first sounds of voices from within, he knew there were definitely life forms here.
“Keeeedssss … diinnerrrrrrr!”
What odd language.
Suddenly, Taroth heard footsteps approach. He ducked his head below the opening. He heard the movement of large items and then silence. Taroth waited a moment, then slowly looked back through the gap and saw his first set of aliens, all seated around the large table covered with what appeared to be food. The aliens all held hands and murmured something together, in a strange language. Then they all released hands and began heartily communicating and burrowing into the bowls on the table.
Taroth watched the interaction of these beings and was shocked at how they appeared. If he hadn’t known better, he would think they were Aegarian. And then the full impact of the dawning realization hit him. These creatures look just like us. They have evolved.
He watched the interaction for another few moments, and was struck with how much these people seemed to genuinely enjoy each other. And once he realized that fact, he felt as if he was intruding into their space. Slowly backing away from the window, his thoughts again went to Eetu and how much he missed his old friend.
After spying the rest of the buildings in the row, he cautiously crossed the wide hard ground to the next row of buildings and encountered much of the same. He saw many creatures eating at tables and talking to each other over their meals. Nothing struck him as being outright dangerous. He saw no guards posted anywhere, or any surveillance equipment. So once he had scouted out his assigned area, he went back to the outcropping to share his findings with the others.
* * * *
As they returned to the outcropping, Bak’Neel pulled Taroth to the side before he could discuss what he had witnessed with the group. She was seething with anticipation, her feet bouncing her body slightly.
“So, what was it like? What did you see?”
“I found several clans. They are nearly identical to an Aegarian.”
“What? That’s impossible.”
“Several scientists theorized that this could happen, so I do not know why you seem shocked.”
“That was an extreme theory. No one thought it possible.”
“It is more than possible. I saw it with my own eyes.”
Bak’Neel gazed skeptically at him, but Taroth had more important things to do than worry about her incredulity. He began to move back to the rest of the group, and she grabbed his arm, pulling him closer to her warm body.
“I was worried for you,” she cooed. “I am glad you are back safely.” Lust was written all over her face and laced her husky voice. “I was worried you would get hurt and not come back. And the thought of not getting a chance to ever show you how much I desire you upset me thoroughly.” She placed her palm into the heat of his groin, and his traitorous body answered her touch. He inwardly groaned, hating that his body had given her what she had hoped for. He would never be able to push her away now.
“Bak’Neel, you are an attractive woman, and I am aware how you feel for me. But you know I have found my Daya N’goul. I won’t bed you out of respect for her and Dar. I don’t think it is a good idea for me to follow my baser instincts.”
Her lust-addled eyes suddenly filled with rage. “A baser instinct? Is that all I would be to you? You rutting like a wild beast with any piece of ass you can get your hands on? I am so much better than that. How dare you?” She pushed him away and firmly planted her hands on her hips. “But if you had a soul mate you wouldn’t want me at all, and I have seen the looks you have returned on occasion. So make up a better lie than that. You want me as much as I want you, so I don’t know what the problem is.”
Taroth had had enough of her. “Woman, you have been throwing yourself all over me since we left for this forsaken world. What did you think I would assume of you?”
“You stand there and call me a whore?”
“Don’t put words in my mouth, Bak’Neel.”
“It is what you think, though, is it not?”
He wasn’t going to let her corner him. “It is a moot point. You know full well that I can only mate with an Aegarian woman, so what were you expecting? To be my wife? The best you could have ever asked for was to be my temporary bed mate being that you aren’t Aegarian. And the only looks I have returned have been piteous.” He inwardly cringed at himself for being such an ass. Yet he knew he needed to shut her down before it escalated any further.
“I thought we could enjoy a mutual pleasure, but I see you don’t deserve any of my pleasure.” With that she whipped her head around and stalked back to the rest of the group. Once there she stopped and turned, boring holes into him with her venomous gaze, arms crossed firmly over her ample bosom.
Females. Taroth wondered if he would ever figure them out, but at least he would not have to continue playing the seduction games on the return trip home. Although, scorned female was not a fun thing to deal with either. He may deserve her anger and her glare for the dreadful things he had just said to her. Her constant unwanted attention had finally pushed him past the brink of sanity. With an exasperated sigh, he walked back to the rest of the group.
Dar and Ta Hall appeared on the horizon as Taroth made his way over. The scientists wanted answers, but he refused to speak until his comrades joined them.
“Dar, what did you find?” Taroth asked as soon as they were in earshot.
“Sir, they look almost Aegarian.” Whispers ran through the group assembled before them. “They even have set up a village with familial habitats. I found six groups, and they all look and even sound like us, even though they speak an alien tongue.”
Bak’Neel spoke up, the hurt and anger still apparent in her voice. “When will we get an opportunity to investigate for ourselves instead of taking the word of a couple of soldiers?”
Dar stared at Taroth with a searching look, somehow understanding that something had happened to cool the lust in Bak’Neel. He said nothing, just raised an eyebrow toward Taroth.
Taroth quickly bit back, “How about we hear what Ta Hall has to say before we assume all is safe. I would not want you to get hurt out there. I could not have that on my conscience, now could I?”
Bak’Neel looked like she was ready to shoot venom straight at Taroth, refusing to answer him. An uncomfortable silence surrounded the group as they all apparently felt the uneasiness between the two. After several seconds and much squirming around him, he decided to ignore her angry looks, and turned to his second warrior, Ta Hall. “What did you find?”
“There seems to be a group of men that patrol the area in a vehicle of some sort. They wear uniforms and journey around guarding the village. The transport they were in was black and white. And I followed them for some distance back to a building where two more of the same vehicles were parked. There were two uniformed men in each vehicle I saw moving. They seem to keep the peace, so I doubt they would be too aggressive, but still, we will need to keep a distance from them. Other than that, I saw no other defenses to avoid.”
“Good work, Ta Hall. Avoid the uniformed men in the black and white transports. Actually, the fact they look like us may be a good thing. We could potentially meld into their group without standing out. If we broke into three groups, one warrior to a group, we could spread out through the village and investigate easily.”
Dar began grouping the party into smaller factions. “Delas, you and your group, please head out with Ta Hall. Bris and company, come with me, and Bak’Neel, why don’t you and your group follow our Regent.”
“No, I refuse to go anywhere with that frigulan man.”
Taroth just eyed Dar with a look of disgust. Dar gazed back at him with a look of pure delight, a twinkle in his eyes. Dar seemed to weigh the situation as he looked at his friend. Taroth knew he was about to have fun at his expense, but he was surprised when Dar said, “Okay then, Bak’Neel, you come with me and Bris can go with our Regent.”
Bak’Neel, seeming to realize she had shown too much emotion, was blushing slightly, upset at her outburst. She nodded her head and grabbed her gear, joining Dar’s group. Taroth turned to leave, but Dar stopped him, “Sir,” he said with a light of amusement showing in his eyes, “Should I take my group back to the area I previously scouted?”
Taroth’s patience was at an end, even for his best friend. He walked over to the man and placed both hands on either of his massive shoulders. “Yes, take them back. And if you want to go ahead with the shooting of the legs plan, start with the obstinate redhead in your group.”
* * * *
A week after arriving, Taroth and Ta Hall walked into a shop marked as the dealer of money and trade. He walked up to the counter and dropped ten Tarkarian gems, huge white gems almost as big as Taroth’s hand. The man behind the counter looked over the gems and back at Taroth, his eyes wide.
“So, son, what do you want to do with those? Pawn or sell?”
Taroth was still adjusting to the language of the beings, but he was quickly learning it more each day. Fortunately for him, linguistics had always come easy to him. “Sellll dem.”
The rotund man in the big, wide hat gazed at the stones and back to Taroth before he picked the first one up and brought some type of quizzing glass to his eye. “I’ve never seen diamond this big. What are they?”
“Di-monds. Rare. Worrth much.”
“You guys are those out–of–towners, aren’t you?”
Taroth nodded his head. Many of the villagers in the nearby town they’d been investigating had called them “the tourists” and seemed to assume they were from a place called your-ip.
“I can’t rightly say what these are, for all I know they could be bright-colored glass. The only diamonds this big are in the Smithsonian.” The man pulled out a small black item and held it in his palm to show them. “Son, this here checker will show me if these are real. The light will turn green.”
Taroth watched as the man pressed the tip to the gem. Green light exploded from the machine and then a loud pop sounded, smoke pouring from the black box. The man’s eyes grew large for a moment, and he dropped the smoking thing to the floor and pulled a black string from the wall. “That’s never happened before. Lemme get my good one from out back. Stay here.”
Taroth and Ta Hall looked at one another and then quietly began to look over the man’s goods. Taroth saw stones that looked much like the Tarkarian gems, but just much smaller in size. It appeared everything about these people was smaller in size.
The man came back out with a larger black device and put the string connected to it into the wall. A few seconds later, he pressed the tip to one of the gems and bright green light poured around them. And then all the lights went out.
As they stood there in darkness, the man behind the counter began to speak. “I’ll take them. How much you want for it?”
* * * *
Taroth exited the shop, followed by Ta Hall. Dar and the rest of the group stood off to the side awaiting their information.
“Regent, was it successful?” Dar asked.
“He bought them all, but it was for much more than we had hoped to get. We should be able to purchase Earth clothing now and fit in better.”
“And then what is the plan?”
“The fat man inside told me I should go to a place called Los Veegass, not far from here. He said we would have fun gamb–lin there. Not sure what that is, but we can investigate.”