Damion walked Targus and me to the pod bay. Targus was examining a small button shaped device he held between his huge fingers.
“An RAS?” he asked Damion.
“A Remote Assessment Sensor,” Damion explained. “The techs at Headquarters gave me the specs when we were in dock last time. I was supposed to field test it. Luckily the specs were in my PDA I had on me when we left the ship. Ma-rye-a ran it out on her fabricator. This is a golden opportunity. If you find Daniel in any type of medical crisis just plant it on any free area of his skin and it will transmit a medical readout to me. Then I can keep you informed while you negotiate with the Valarians.”
Targus slipped it in his breast pocket. He clinched his jaw teeth together and said, "Mike Test, Coal." All Galactic personnel are implanted with a jaw mike and wear an ear-bud when on a mission. They activate the mike by clinching their teeth together. At least that was one piece of equipment they didn’t lose with their ship.
“We both got you loud and clear,” Damion confirmed. “Keep us posted.”
The Valarian shuttle arrived.
Sam called out, “Good luck, 3su.” I waved a confident goodbye. If I had only known.
Targus walked in with me at his heels. It wasn’t the first time I wished I had the funds to have my own mike implant. They were handy little gadgets. If I got separated from Targus I would be on my own. The Valarians were very insistent that we not bring any weapons or communication devices with us.
We were met, when we landed, by two Valarians who issued us a version of their eGO bracelet and ear-bud. These are the same as the ones they use for the Galactic Treaty Days celebration. The eGO is pre-programmed with your species language, translation software, and basic Valarian laws and protocol. We were immediately escorted to a TRANS – the Valarian equivalent of a solar powered self-navigating vehicle. One Valarian stayed behind while the other climbed into the front taking up the entire area. Targus and I climbed in the back as indicated by the second Valarian we were leaving behind. These TRANS were built to accommodate any species for the GTD event, but this was the largest I had ever seen with room enough for a full grown Valarian and a Walhmite.
We drifted along in silence for what seemed like a long time. I got to see a ring of the Valarian world I had never seen before. It was very utilitarian - all metal and glass, nothing appealing or inviting. This had to be a ring that functioned as a working area rather than the lovely recreational ring I was used to seeing on my trips during the GTD.
The TRANS finally came to a halt outside a large sliding door. Of course, all the doors would need to be large for the Valarians to maneuver easily. The door slid open and our escort indicated we were to enter. He stayed with the TRANS.
Targus led the way. I followed. There were two Valarians in the room. Neither one was the one we spoke with while on the ship. Daniel was lying on a table behind them. He looked asleep, but he was also strapped to the table. I started to hurry past Targus to Daniel, but he threw out his hand and stopped me.
“Let’s go slow,” he cautioned. “I am Captain Targus from the Galactic Forces MT2424. We were told we could visit with the prisoner,” he addressed the Valarians.
The smaller of the two Valarians made a series of pops, clicks and smacks with its two mouths which translated in my ear-bud to be, “As you can see, he is resting peacefully.”
“We’ll just have a look for ourselves,” Targus said in his best military commander’s voice. He stepped forward and I followed in his wake.
The smaller of the two Valarians shuffled to one side on four of its eight legs to let us in closer.
I immediately went to the head of the table and leaned over Daniel, brushing the hair back from his forehead. He screamed and flung his head to one side away from my touch. He was burning up - his skin hot and sweaty.
I turned on the larger Valarian at the end of the table. “What have you done to him?” I demanded, with clinched fists at my side.
“Warsy, A-Factor will arrive soon. You are to wait,” the Valarian replied.
“The hell we are,” I said and started to unbuckle the straps on Daniel’s arm. I saw Targus slip the RAS on the lower side of Daniel’s wrist.
Neither of the Valarians had tried to stop us at that point. Maybe they had their own ear-buds and were waiting for instructions from their superiors, but as I loosened the strap across Daniel’s chest Targus, who had circled around the table to the far side to release his other arm looked up at me. His eyes were turning a very dark amber – as if there were a fire burning behind them.
“They have injected him with anhydrates,” Targus whispered across Daniel’s prone form. “Damion says we need to get him out of here. He’s close to heart failure.”
I looked at the two Valarians and wondered how we would get past them in one piece if they chose to try and stop us.
“Can you carry him?” Targus whispered.
“I think so. If I can get him up on my shoulder,” Daniel and I are about the same height, but he’s got a really light frame and I eat my fair share of chocolate, so I have a good amount of bulk to me. I figured I could get him as far as the door, which hopefully Targus had some idea of how to close and lock behind us.
Targus moved to Daniel’s leg and started to unbuckle the strap there. I moved right along and worked on my side. “As soon as I get this last strap off, I am going to hoist him up on your shoulder. You run as fast as you can through the door and to your right.”
“3su, can you hear me?” Coal said in my ear-bud.
“Yes,” I answered in surprise. “How?”
“Later, Starshine,” Coal cut me off. “We have to get you two out of there first. Follow my instructions. I’m going to direct you out.”
“Ready?” Targus asked as he moved to the head of the table again.
I glanced over my shoulder at the Valarian attendants. They were both massaging what would have been their temples if they were humanoid and both were turning a pale pink in color. I was sure Ma-rye-a and Coal’s techie craftiness had hacked into their ear-buds and eGO equipment so Coal could talk to us without being overheard.
“Now,” Targus said and pretty much flung Daniel’s body over my shoulder. Daniel screamed in agony. Targus vaulted over the table to break trail for me.
The Valarians came alive. They both grabbed at me as we passed and one caught me about the waist with one tentacle. Targus leaped up and came down on one of its other eight tentacles on the floor. I could hear the skin make a smacking sound under Targus’ heavy steel reinforced spacer boot and then something that sounded like a pop. The appendage started to whip around spraying blue goo all over the room. The Valarian released me.
I sprinted toward the door. “Right at the exit,” I heard Coal say in my ear. I could hear a fight ensuing behind me accompanied by thuds, slaps, grunts and a full regalia of Walhmite curses. “Don’t look back,” Coal cautioned.
Obviously, Coal could hear Targus. He was getting more of an earful then my hacked ear-bud was giving me. I, like a typical female did not follow orders, I looked back when I got to the door. Targus was being pulled in opposing directions by the two Valarians and they were mad, very mad, blood red mad. I momentarily thought about putting Daniel down and heading back to kick some Valarian butt for myself, but that was when Targus looked my direction and growled. I figured that was the equivalent of him saying, get your ass out of here or you’re next after I finish off these 8 leggers.
I hoisted Daniel to a better position on my shoulder and started down the spacious hall to my right.
“Turn left,” Coal said, “then left again at the next junction.”
I hustled me and my cargo on down the hall until I came up short against a large sliding door that did not appear to have an entry pad.
“Coal?” I asked, in hopes he could hear me as well as I could hear him.
“Wait a minute, Starshine. Working as fast as we can.”
The door slid open revealing an open shuttle bay in front of me with my pod sitting there, thrusters activated, with Damion smiling encouragement at the controls.
I hefted Daniel up one more time. He didn’t scream this time, just moaned as though he didn’t have the life left in him to scream anymore.
“It’s going to be alright,” I soothed. “Hang in there bud.”
I was almost to the pod door when I heard the doors behind me swoosh shut. I turned and saw Targus limping toward me. The whole right side of his uniform was bloody from his shoulder to his knees and his right arm was hanging at a really odd angle. He swept up beside me and grabbed me with his left arm.
“Let’s hurry up a bit,” he said, “I don’t think I can go another round.”