I hugged Jake around the waist as he squeezed me back.
“Great to see you,” I said, as I pulled away.
I turned to Arr and gave him a big hug too until Kay-o pushed is huge head between us to get his share of attention.
“Good to be here,” Jake responded.
I asked the guys to meet me here so we could talk about what I was planning and see if they wanted to join in. Since I most likely had some kind of bad mojo on my tail I decided to offer Jake and Arr some monetary compensation for accompanying me. With them at my back, I knew I would be as safe as anyone could be in space.
Jake was a seasoned mercenary and Arr his relatively new partner. Jake knew everything there was about protecting and fighting. Arr was learning, but made up for his shortcomings in battle with the fact that he could learn any language just by listening. He was nothing short of brilliant with linguistics and already spoke over one hundred languages. As for Kay-o, he was the largest protect Dar-dolf I had ever seen and had saved all our lives Ukhta a while back.
“Hope you remembered some Goo Chews.” Arr smiled, as Kay-o nuzzled my hand.
The Dar-dolf was the size of a small horse and had the uncanny addiction to a sickeningly sweet candy called Red Raspberry Goo Chews. It was the way Jake and Arr kept him under control and the way they introduced him to folks they wanted him to like. They gave you a bag of the candy and had you toss them to the beast until he stopped growling and recognized you were one of his favorites.
“Right here.” I pulled a handful out of my pocket and tossed one to Kay-o. You didn’t want to get too near those teeth. Anyway, he liked catching them mid-air and he could get more out of one of those little chews than anyone else I had ever seen. I tossed him another.
“I laid in a supply and some chow too.” I grinned at the beast, slipped him another chew and hugged him around the neck running my fingers deep into his fur. “You guys hungry?”
“Starving if Moby is cooking,” Jake grinned.
He loved Moby’s cooking and knew mine left a bit to be desired.
“Moby has been prepping for the last two days.” I started to lead the way to the galley.
Jake coupled his ship, the Calpernia, to Ma-rye-a and we were in a nice quiet piece of airspace with lots of room for Ma-rye-a and Sam to see anyone approaching in time to give us a head’s up in order to mount a defensive. I felt pretty relaxed and ready to sit down with friends to eat and catch up.
Jake mopped up his plate with a piece of Moby’s homemade sourdough bread. He had consumed a large steak, baked potato, greens and a special berry sauce Moby knew Jake favored. Meanwhile, I had fed half my huge steak to Kay-o and become his favorite person onboard my ship…at least for the moment.
“That was delicious, Moby,” Jake complimented.
“It really was,” Arr added.
He managed to make a good dent in his food, but I saw him slipping treats to Kay-o too. Moby’s eyes were bigger than all our stomachs. My chef aimed to please.
“I have berry cobbler for dessert,” Moby offered over the speakers in the galley.
“Ugh,” I groaned. “Can we wait a little bit?”
I was so full I felt the need to lie down and unbutton the top button of my pants.
“That okay with you guys,” I asked hopefully.
“Sure,” Arr agreed.
“Later with a game of CU,” Jake suggested.
Jake loved cards and CU was his favorite game.
“Have you gotten any better at winning against Arr?” I asked.
Last time we played Jake complained that Arr cheated. He didn’t really. Arr has exceptional hearing and could actually hear Jake’s heartbeat speed up when he got excited about a winning hand.
“He’s learning to control it.” Arr grinned.
“Really?” I smiled at Jake. “Been practicing deep meditation?”
You have no idea how funny this question is unless you know Jake. With Jake what you see is what you get, and what you get is a handsome, six foot four, fighting machine with an intense desire to do right and protect the folks he loves. Not a deep thinker here.
“Yeah…Right…” Jake grinned. “It turns out breathing settles it. I just have to take the position like I am in a fight.”
“It’s working,” Arr said.
But, I wondered if Arr was just choosing not to listen.
“So what did you call us out for?” Jake asked, changing the subject. He didn’t like being the center of attention unless it involved a lovely woman and a glass of your best whiskey.
“Let’s move to the lounge. I have something to show you.” I stood and led the way.
“Whoa!” Jake said as the camera panned up and over the length of the wing in the vid my father took on Planet 014.666.2460.
The vid came to an end. I had told the guys about what happened to my parents over dinner. I’d caught them up on the incidents in port with the break-in at the UOA and my ship. I told them about the talent that had the ability to deactivate and delete Sam. Now, I turned to the guys.
“I want to show you one more thing.”
I picked up the box that held the artifact my folks left me. I opened it.
“My folks picked this up where that vid was taken. They left it to me.”
I handed the box to Jake.
“What is it?” He asked as he picked it up.
“Ahhh!” Arr screamed. “Put it down!” He yelled.
Jake let it drop back into its velvet cradle.
“What?” He looked at Arr’s pained face.
“Can you hear it?” I asked.
“Hear what?” Jake demanded.
Arr hadn’t been able to get a word in edgewise. He held up his hand for silence.
“Yes, I can hear it,” he directed at me, “and there is a very high pitched, ear splitting sound that emitted from that thing,” he pointed to the artifact, “the minute you touched it.”
“All I felt was a vibration,” Jake said apolitically. “I didn’t hear anything.” He looked at me for confirmation.
“I only knew it gave off the sound cause Mom and Dad told me so in their letter that came with it. I had no idea you would be able to hear it.”
“It’s more like I felt it,” Arr said.
“What is it?” Jake asked.
“I don’t know, but I think we need to find out,” I said, as I took it back from Jake. “I believe that ‘it’ is what the guys who killed my parents are after.”
If you would like to know more about the adventure on Ukhta Check it out here Body Bags and Other Dark Places