Excerpt from OldEarth Melchior Encounter
Tarragon plodded across the wet sand, enjoying the scent of salt water infiltrating his breather helm. The sun, still white, but dropping low in the sky, lit the cave entrance, turning the black stone into shiny pillars.
His ship was situated far enough back to be out of sight but not too far for his exhausted legs and aching feet. He shuffled forward.
The rhythmic sound of the seashore mellowed his soul, rolling the irritations of the day off his heavily burdened shoulders. Why I thought that there’d be anything of interest here is beyond reason. I must’ve been out of my mind.
With a verbal command, the ship’s bay door opened, spreading a sheet of yellow light at his feet.
He plodded onto the incline and let it lift him inside.
Ah, glorious. Home at last.
After a refreshing swim in the pool, he changed into a clean bio-suit, poured an extra-large Nutrient Green into his breathing helm, and plopped down on the plush sofa arranged before his favorite console.
He draped two tentacles—one right, one left—setting the ship’s system into active mode, and regulating the spy alarms on high alert. He hardly wanted a surprise visit from the Mystery Race.
He wrapped his two most used, thus most stretched and weary, tentacles on the top of his head for a much-needed rest. A snug fit, they probably appeared like a fleshy crown. But appearances never concerned him, so he concentrated on his active tenacles, dexterously tapping the console, scrolling through significant data.
The Ingot race hardly interested him normally, but the female, Nova, had caught his attention. Her bestial attitude—contradicting her betters and challenging authority—dropped her beneath his notice at first. But then, in a sarcastic exchange while on the road, Sterling related her history to Mauve, whereby the ridiculous Luxonian female took the child’s part in everything.
Blowing bubbles at the memory, indignation rose fresh in his mind. Mauve should not exist. She was completely useless! Sterling was only worthwhile as a figurehead. Clearly, Teal stood as the real force behind their Inter-Alien Committee. But as his health waned, so the young Luxonian, Cerulean waxed. That should prove interesting.
He shook his head. He must know more about the mixed-being—the Ingot-Bhuaci. How was her existence even possible?
He scrolled through reports, medical journals, and even a couple of dramatic fiction tales before he found what he was looking for: the marriage certificate. Yes, the two had been allowed to marry on the basis of her being able to maintain her humanoid form nearly indefinitely and his complete rejection of all techno-armor.
Tarragon rubbed two of his tentacles together. He really must speak to someone about all of this. Yet who to trust?
Leaning back on his chair, Tarragon closed his eyes and remembered his mother’s oft repeated dictum: “Trust a fool, if you’re going to trust anyone. That way, you know what you’re getting.”
Slapping his chair into the upright position, he swiped the datapad on his chest.
A holographic image of Mauve appeared before his eyes.
She scowled. “What’re you doing? It’s late, and I’m hot on the heels of the mystery race.” She glanced over her shoulder. “There’s an important meeting, a trial of sorts, planned here, in the main hall. I’m going to use my alluring skills on Mystery Man and Son. Though they’re not really—”
Startled, Tarragon’s disbelief spread as a snarl over his face. He could feel it, and he didn’t care. “You found them?”
“Yes, I did!” The boastful triumph in her voice did nothing to soften the covetous gleam in her eye. “The older one plays a minstrel-fool. I believe he has his son with him—also a fool.” She shrugged. “Hidden in plain sight.”
Instantly, Tarragon felt his brain sizzle with daring thoughts. He put on his most innocuous expression. “I’d hate to upset Sterling since I know how much he values you. Stay safe and return to my ship.” He dangled a temptation that he knew perfectly well would repulse her no end. “We can enjoy some Crestonian cuisine.”
The disgust that rippled over Mauve’s face tickled Tarragon to the core.
“I’m going to become this mysterious alien’s new best friend and find out why he’s here.”
“Can you do that?” He lifted his voice to a perfect balance of challenge and disbelief.
“I will, most certainly. But, if you happen to get into trouble, offer up the mixed-breed. I’m sure even the Mystery Race has never seen the like. You might be able to make a deal, and we’ll all profit from the exchange.” He smiled, showing his ruddy gums, but that couldn’t be helped.
Mauve laughed. “I like the way you think!”
Voices rose behind her, and bright patches of clothing swirled in the background.
“I must go. But don’t think for a moment that I’d risk that girl’s life. She’s as dear to me as—”
The screen went blank.
Tarragon blinked. Had she exited? Or did someone— He shrugged. He checked his monitor. It faithfully reported Mauve’s exact location up until the moment the screen blanked. He knew where to look—the kitchen in the Widow’s castle on the hill.
He sighed. “Though, I’ll definitely have to get new boots.”
Abbas didn’t like to do it, but there was no way he could allow her to continue her transmission.
Mauve fell to the floor in a heap in the dim corner of the main hall.
Omega ran ahead and nudged her still form with his foot. “Is she dead?”
Abbas shook his head. “I never extinguish a life unless there is no other alternative.”
His brow furrowed; Omega stared at his father. “Why not?”
A shiver ran through Abbas. Did he really have to explain? He didn’t remember anyone explaining the precept of the sacredness of life to him, but then, maybe he had learned it from his parents’ example. “Life is sacred. We live by that understanding. Or we die by its absence.”
Straightening, Omega nodded slowly and glanced around.
Exasperated by this new complication, Abbas waved at the prone figure.
A kitchen maid sauntered through, spied their presence and stopped. A hesitant smile quivered on her lips.
Meeting her gaze, Abbas clapped Omega on the shoulder. “We’re lost. Can you tell us where to settle for the night? With all the awful commotion, we don’t want to get in the way.”
The child skittered forward, her shoulders hunched, her eyes searching the empty room. “Oh, be that the truth. Awful it’s been. The poor widda. Never imagined such goings on, her being so good and faithful. And her best servant too!” Tears filled the girl’s eyes. “Wicked men. I hate ‘em all.”
Omega grinned, his face flowering with the thrill of excitement. “Are all men wicked?”
The child gasped. “Oh, not so! There’s a woman around about that’s wickeder than the devil himself, I’d say. Drawing men like bees to honey. Only so she—”
A voice called from the kitchen doorway. “Edda!”
Flushing, the child curtsied and ran off without another word.
Omega nudged his father. “So, where is she?”
“I put here where she could do the least amount of harm.”
“On the Cresta ship.”
“But they’ll wonder how she got there.”
Abbas pressed his son’s shoulder. “No matter. Everyone has questions. It’s finding the answers to the ones that interest us that really matter.”
“I’d like to have seen her face, though. That would’ve been fun.”
Laughing and chattering, men stomped into the room, followed by servants carrying platters of bread and meat.
Abbas jumped onto the low dais and shoved the remark from his mind as he faced the incoming assembly. It was time to play the fool. He only hoped that his son would play his part as well.
Books by A. K. Frailey
Historical Fiction & Science Fiction Blend Novels
OldEarth ARAM Encounter https://amzn.to/2KLhlsN
OldEarth Ishtar Encounter https://amzn.to/2OAkDQF
OldEarth Neb Encounter https://amzn.to/3iGqGlQ
OldEarth Georgios Encounter https://amzn.to/3v7w8oI
OldEarth Melchior Encounter (In Production)
Science Fiction Novels
Last of Her Kind http://amzn.to/2y1HJvg
Newearth: Justine Awakens http://amzn.to/2pq0vWN
It Might Have Been—And Other Short Stories https://amzn.to/2XXdDDz
Encounter Science Fiction Short Stories & Novella https://amzn.to/3dq6q5l
My Road Goes Ever On—Spiritual Being, Human Journey https://amzn.to/2KvF3Ll
The Road Goes Ever On—A Christian Journey Through The Lord of the Rings https://amzn.to/3rtAy6S
The Adventures of Tally-Ho http://amzn.to/2sLfcI5
Hope’s Embrace & Other Poems https://amzn.to/3cn22X8