Two Hundred Years Ago
Bhuaci Planet Helm
Save Us If You Can
Faye loved to appear in various aesthetically pleasing forms, but once she learned about human fairy tales in her Spectrum of Cultures class, she adopted a fairy figure and insisted on the name Faye, meaning loyalty. Her mother, in her more mundane form of a gnomish, blue-green woman appeared almost human, though she literally did have eyes in the back of her head and an extra set of arms.
As far as either of them—or any Bhuaci for that matter—was concerned, Helm was the perfect planet and they, as harmless shape-shifters, were the perfect race. Unfortunately, they were not alone in thinking so.
The morning of the Telathot incursion began much like any other. Faye was heading out to class, but her mother called her back for an extra hug.
“Don’t know what’s gotten into me today. Your father thought I was coming down with something.”
“Well, you’re not exactly known for your impetuous nature, Mother.” Faye’s eyes twinkled at the understatement.
Her mother’s gaze delved into her daughter’s eyes and, with a clouded expression, she placed a small chip into her hand. “You know I’ve always had the gift of foresight. I can see things—just a bit. I’ve seen something.”
Faye’s crystal eyes grew wide. “What?”
Faye shook her head.
Her mother squeezed her slim fingers over the chip. “I may be wrong. I hope—but just in case, take this and if there is trouble, head to docking bay one-one-four. They’re—”
Sirens ripped through the early morning. Faye trembled, her eyes grew even wider.
Her mother shoved her toward the door. “One-one-four. Remember. Go, now!”
“But, Mother! Father and…everyone!”
“Come back when you can. Save us if you can. But at least one Bhuac must survive. And it must be you!”
Faye slipped out of the black cloak that covered her from head to toe, her body shifting from a large, monstrous being into her preferred, petite form, and stepped away from its smothering embrace. Her dance-like steps propelled her to the circular living room couch, which lay against a large window overlooking the bustling city.
Stretching her body full length, she lay sprawled across the comfortable cushions until she heard the soft padding of feet and a polite, “Ahem.”
She sat up and leaned back against the glass wall that revealed a half-mile drop to the pavement below.
A Bhuac male in a light green sweater and black slacks with a handsome, elven face, padded forward. “All well?”
Faye shook her head. “It’s never really well, Gabriel.” She peered at the holiday throng below. “You know that as well as I do.”
“And the governor?”
“She’s scared witless. That’s something.” She looked up at the figure in front of her. “I wish I didn’t have to be evil.”
Gabriel snapped to her side. “You’re not evil. You’re just doing as your mother asked. You’re surviving. You’re helping us all survive.” He stroked her platinum blond hair and rubbed her cheek with his hand. “Remember what they did. Remember what Crestas and Ingoti really are.”
Faye snorted her disdain. “My current allies.”
“Best place for your enemies is at your side—where you can keep your eye on them.”
Falling back onto her couch, Faye sighed. “Remind me, what am I getting out of all this?”
Gabriel stiffened, his handsome body rigid, in perfect control. “As long as they fight among themselves, they grow weak, while we grow strong.”
Wrapping her fingers around invisible bars, Faye stared into the air. “Ah, yes. Glorious, isn’t it? Caged by unnatural ambition.”
Gabriel scowled. “What’s gotten into you?”
Her hands dropped from the dramatic pantomime. “I’m not sure. Self-pity, maybe.” Faye scooted off the couch and wandered over to a table covered with ornamental figures in battle formation—not soldiers but fairy-tale dolls and animals of various descriptions—lined up against each other. She shoved a small, dark figure with large ears and round eyes closer to the front. “I like Bala. He’s an interesting human. The most interesting I’ve ever come across, in fact.”
“Bala? He has only a small part to play. All you must do is keep Governor Right dancing to your tune, which keeps Taug nicely in check and—”
Faye blew air in exasperation, like a child hundreds of years younger than herself. “There’s always an and. The Ingoti drug-runners are not toys. They kill. Often.”
Gabriel took the figure that Faye had moved forward and sent him in retreat to the back row. “All the more reason to keep them looking over their shoulder.”
Faye flicked the figure flat on his back and spoke without looking up. “They think I am one of the Creators.”
“Better and better.” Gabriel sauntered to the doorway. “As long as they remain frightened, they won’t attack anyone important without your permission.” He turned and stared at the petite face. “Our people have been safe since you grew into power. Not one Bhuac has died under mysterious circumstances on Newearth, and Helm has remained untouched for years. You’re doing your job.”
A feeble smile arched Faye’s lips. “You want my job?”
“Not on your life.” Gabriel padded out the door.
Faye scooped up the toy figure and dropped him on the front line. “Pity.”
Security is no replacement for liberty. ~Martin Firrell
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