Bliss Bay – the body in the water.

island

Chapter one – the body

The two vessels separated then set off in opposite directions, the larger ship headed towards the mainland while Sly steered his little hoverboat back to Bliss Bay. He had just taken ownership of a considerable supply of tax free alcohol to be sold at a reasonable profit to the hostelries and shebeens that proliferated on the small island, the bustling fishing port of Lang Kysten on the far west would take most of it but some would undoubtedly find its way to the main town of Hemby probably even to the very respectable Bliss Paradise, the Burgher’s own hotel.

Hugo Sly Stone was to meet his buyer at Smart Cove a little bay south of Hemby and looked forward to his payoff, Denzel Galt would no doubt try to rip him off in order to sell the contraband on for maximum profit, then his buyers would try to offer him the lowest price selling their wares to the punters at just below the normal price, ripping them off in turn. Sly didn’t mind as long as he got his cut. Like many independent fishermen he couldn’t compete against the large fishing company that operated out of Lang Kysten and this was how he and many others were earning their pension.

He had just offloaded his illicit cargo getting a better deal than he had expected from Galt and had set off from secluded Smart Cove when he spotted something floating in the water illuminated by the wan light of Osiris’ twin moons Isis and Thoth, curiously bringing his tiny boat to bear he pulled the bundle of clothing towards him with a boat hook then shone a lamp on it only to recoil in horror, it was the body of a well-dressed young woman! Stone had seen people drowned before but something about her didn’t seem right. He briefly toyed with leaving her to be someone else’s problem then decided to do the right thing and take her to Hemby, with his reputation as a smuggler the polis would no doubt give him a hard time but it didn’t seem right to leave her adrift.

“Well?” asked Komisar Laster in the autopsy room sometime later.

“I’d put her at about mid-twenties thirty tops.” Replied Doctor Crumb, she ran the island’s small hospital and also acted as police surgeon. “Her clothing was soiled by immersion and torn, most probably by tidal action against the rocks, which would explain the lacerations on her exposed skin, there was very little predation by marine life and given the condition of her body this would suggest she hadn’t been in the water too long.” she paused briefly. “There is no sign of sexual assault and no obvious injuries that could cause death…”

“Did she drown?” asked Laster.

“Too early to say Sam, I’ll have to open her up. She seems very pale, could be due to immersion?”

“Okay Doc we’re running an ID so we’ll soon find out who she is.” He looked at the sheet covered body on the metal table. Someone’s daughter or wife maybe, she’s bound to have been reported missing.

Sure enough Akaba Polis soon answered the query giving her identity as Krista Farley a manager at a branch of the Sunlight Bank on the mainland and last seen four days ago, she was unmarried and had only recently arrived from Earth.

“That’s a bitch” remarked Constable Meyer “fancy coming all the way from that carbuncle of a planet only to die in paradise.”

Osiris wasn’t quite paradise but compared to the ruin of their home planet it seemed like it, this world was the most earth-like of all planets that had been discovered and only a quarter of it had been explored. No indigenous intelligent life had been found but a few ruins hinted that a primitive civilisation once existed and had either left or died out. The oceans teemed with life and the land had a richly varied flora and fauna mimicking much of what the Earth once had. Settlers arrived at Akaba spaceport on a regular basis in search of a better life and the authorities on the mainland were monitoring the effect of the migrants on the ecology fearful that Osiris might follow their home planets decline. Fuller’s Land the only occupied continent was surrounded by many smaller inhabited islands of which Bliss Bay was the largest.

“She had a partner who reported her missing, I’ll arrange for them to come and positively identify her if they wish.” Laster hated this part. “Then she can be returned to Akaba or Earth perhaps.”

Later on Doctor Crumb brought some disturbing news, the girl had not drowned but been completely exsanguinated. “I would say someone with medical experience had completely drained her blood.” She explained.

“Ye gods” exclaimed Laster, “who would do that and why?”

“Your guess is as good as mine Sam.” replied the doctor.

“Could she have drifted across from the mainland?” asked Constable Sahar.

“It’s possible but if she hadn’t been in the water that long she could have been dumped from anywhere above Hemby and carried down to Smart Cove by the tide.” Meyer suggested.

“The idea that this could have happened on our patch is disturbing to say the least. Gunter, take Toki and start asking around the town.”

As Worth and Sahar left Meyer piped up “there’s those archaeologists camped up at Gale Point, they might have seen something.”

“Good idea Mili I’ll have them check them out too.”

Constable Meyer looked disappointed, she was stuck in the office trying to organise the new filing database and wanted to get out on some real duty. “How long does it take to die from having all your blood drained out?” she asked.

“It’s a variable scale.” the doctor informed them. “Depends on body volume and the type of wound, say a quarter of an hour or even two to four hours to bleed out, if drained really slowly allowing the body to make some new blood it could take days, it’s not a pleasant way to go.”

“That poor girl went missing four days ago, it doesn’t bear thinking about” said Meyer.

Komisar Laster retired to his office sat down and looked his comp-screen more bad news from Akaba. Osiris was located on the Solar Federation’s edge close to a group of systems controlled by the Melian Coshek (Republic), although technically under the sway of Earthgov the planet strove ardently to remain neutral. There was a small population of the aliens living on the mainland but on the islands feeling for the Melians swung between cautious welcome and downright enmity due to the war of ten years ago, it had been fought over several systems to end in stalemate, neither side could be said to have won but both had definitely lost. A delegation from Melia had arrived in Akaba five days ago to discuss the exchange of captured territory and the Melian Ambassador to Osiris had been kidnapped during a fierce firefight between polis and Melian Purity, a group opposed to any contact with Earth. Things had gotten tense the past few days with Melia sending its own investigators to a planet now caught between the former enemies in a diplomatic disaster. The girl had vanished from the capital the same day there couldn’t be a connection surely?

Worth and Sahar turned up nothing in the town so as instructed drove to the northernmost point of the island, the dig site was located in a labyrinth of caves where a Professor Abel Taylor from Earth claimed to have found proof of an ancient civilisation below the ground. A burly man in work clothes scowled at them as they got out of the police car before disappearing into a hole in the ground.

“Friendly guy.” observed Toki.

“That’s the cave entrance.” Gunter informed her. “My family were among the first colonists on Bliss Bay and we used to play in them as children, we never found anything unusual though?”

“Can I help you?” came a voice… a striking woman was emerging from the hole.

Gunter held up his ID. “Leading Constable Worth and Constable Sahar, Bliss Bay Polis.”

“I’m Viat Tak, assistant to Professor Taylor to what do we owe this pleasure?”

“We just need to ask you a few questions ma’am.” said Toki

“Oh we haven’t done anything wrong have we?” she said her green eyes widening. “We do have a licence from the Akaba Government.”

“No ma’am, we just wondered if you know or have seen this woman.” Worth held out his digi-book displaying Krista’s passport photo.

“No never seen her before.” she replied quickly.

“Viat is there a problem?” a studious looking man had climbed out of the cave to join them.

“Oh Professor Taylor, the officers are looking for this woman.” She drew his attention to the image.

“Pretty girl, has she done something wrong?” he asked.

“I’m afraid we can’t tell you any more sir.” said Sahar.

“Ah I see! Confidentiality and all that, no I would certainly remember her.”

“And your fellow workers?” she continued.

Taylor obligingly brought up half a dozen men and women from the cave, Sahar checked their names against the licence while Worth showed Krista’s picture to each one in turn, all denied ever seeing the girl.

“It was a long shot sir, thank you for your time.” Said Worth as they left.

“Not at all Constable it was a pleasure to have met you and your charming companion, if we can help you in any way you know where we are.”

“What a smarmy creep” said Toki as they drove off “charming companion indeed?”

“He’s just a typical old fashioned Earthman his assistant’s quite a beaut though.”

“She dyes her hair.” opined his fellow officer, who had been born on Titan.

“What?”

“Too black, no-one has hair that colour.”

“You bitch Toki.” he laughed. “Some of those helpers looked a bit burly didn’t they?”

I don’t know perhaps they do the digging while Dr Creepy and Miss Hair-dye do all the archaeology stuff.”

“Do you think?”

“Yeah, probably.” answered Toki. “Didn’t like either of them.”

Back at the station Laster looked at the map of the island on his wall, he had only thirty officers to enforce law on a population of over four thousand by and large law abiding citizens, but ever since the Glenrock Company established itself in Lang Kysten he’d had to establish two-thirds of his personnel there to deal with the weekend’s drinking binge and all the trouble it brought. He ought to have given Sly Stone a harder time for his alleged smuggling but Sam’s policy of decent and fair treatment had stirred some public spirit in the man, this time at least.

With his shift ended he drove to his home outside Bliss Bay and was pleased to see a battered old land-cruiser parked outside. “Hi honey I’m home.” he shouted jokingly as he entered the house.

“Think yourself lucky I am!” a voice came from the bathroom. “Hope you don’t mind me using your bath but I’ve only just got back from the mainland.” Mikala was a jet-ferry pilot who transported anything from shoat herds to delivery vans across Fuller Sound often making the trip between Hemby and Akaba several times a day. “Why don’t you join me?”

“I had intended to.” He’d undressed walking to the bathroom and now stood proudly in the doorway.

“My, you are pleased to see me!” she quipped taking note of his muscular body and obvious arousal, Mikala Salusen was pleasantly plump with an impressive bust barely covered by foamy suds. He was middle aged and divorced, she was a young widow, they had hit it off immediately upon meeting and skated around each other for a year until Helen Stok intervened inviting both to dinner grimly determined to fix them up. They had been seeing each other on and off since, neither wishing to give up their singleton lives as yet.

After a lot of splashing and covering the floor with soapy water they dried each other down then retired to bed. “How did your day go then Sam?”

“A dead girl was found at Smart Cove by Sly Stone. The twilight shift questioned him and threw him in a cell for the night.”

“Sly couldn’t kill anyone, he’s a slippery customer but he’s not bad.”

“I know that Miki, I asked him a few more questions then let him go.”

“Was she drowned?”

“No she’d been drained of blood.”

“Ugh how awful.”

He put his arms around her. “Well she’s Akaba’s problem now, they’re sending someone over to collect her tomorrow morning.”

She kissed him “no more work talk” Sam ran his hand down her body slowly caressing her, she smiled. “That’s more like it…”

Next morning Sam woke to find Miki gone and a note. “Double shift sorry M. xx.” he ate breakfast while watching the news, the diplomatic situation had worsened Melian authorities were now pinning the blame on Mankind Alone, a human group as opposed to interstellar relations as Melian Purity and sabres were being rattled across the stars. Laster recalled the excitement when Earth had first come into contact with the alien civilisation a score of years ago and how it was soon tempered by the realisation that the Melians were a harsh militaristic society and the astonishing revelation that they were a hermaphroditic race cycling between male and female on a bi-annual basis. No-one quite knew how the war had started but after a decade of cooling relations between the two civilisations Earth ships had disappeared and Melian vessels were attacked near the Solar Federation’s edge, when the dust settled after years of pointless bloodshed the Melians claimed they were attacked first and seemed as sincere as Earth in claiming they did not start the war leaving both sides wondering if a third party was behind the conflict.

Komisar Laster left Worth to supervise the transfer of the unfortunate girl to Akaba where hopefully her partner would inter her or return to her parents on Earth.

“No-one seems bothered about her that really sucks!” Mili had said, Laster often considered her too nice to be a law enforcer.

He drove across the island to Kysten and dropped in on Helen Stok who was in charge of the station there with twenty officers. They had their work cut out dealing with increasing hostility between the locals and the contract fishing workers from the large factory ships that operated out of there, with that and the red light district Laster had considered relocating the main station here but he preferred the peace and quiet on the western side of the island.

“So there’s nothing new on your dead girl then?” asked Stok, they were sitting drinking coffee in her office on the first floor of the station house, overlooking Glenrock’s dockside premises where a massive ice house and fish processing plant were under construction.

“No! and no-one seems to care about the poor sod either, you have circulated her picture?”

“Of course Sam and it’s up in every shop and bar too.”

“Well then apart from interviewing every shoat herder on the island we’ve covered every angle.”

“Sadly her demise is not the most important thing in the news at the moment, do you think it will kick off again with the He-she’s?” asked Helen.

“I doubt it, it’s all bluster… you know I haven’t heard that term in a while, it’s not what we’d call extraterrestrially correct.” He advised with a smile.

“They call us fixters or have you forgotten?”

“We should be better than that though.”

“So what do we call them then?”

“Melians?” he replied

Her temper flared. “Those cross-dressing sex-changing bastards are still our enemy Sam!”

“Hey Helen, go easy girl, remember which side of the law we’re on.”

“But remember how they treated their captives, you saw it first-hand?”

“I remember it only too well.” Laster had been a prisoner of the Melians for a while until Stok led a commando raid on the base where he was being held. The enemy killed their prisoners as and when it suited them, a Melian officer in vame or female mode had taken a fancy to him and this had probably saved his life. He recollected that Earth had acted little better. “I seem to recall Solar Force notched up a few atrocities itself.” He wondered if Kista had survived the war.

“Sorry Sam, I had a bad night and I didn’t sleep much.” Helen still suffered with PTSD from the war. “Poor old Marten, I kept him awake too.” Her husband worked in the shipping office of the existing freezing plant opposite the dock.

“Go home and get some sleep I’ll handle things till the night shift arrives, it’ll do the men good to have the boss breathing down their necks.” Gunter could run the Hemby station while he was here.

“I’ll be alright Sam really.”

“Go home sergeant, that’s an order!” insisted Laster before making his presence felt in the duty room where her officers were drinking coffee and eating pastries, with few exceptions they were all tough men and women more suited to dealing with drunks and thugs than investigating crime thus making them perfect for Lang Kysten, Helen had picked her team well.

Later he walked the beat with one redoubtable officer, Constable Mik Kodo a giant of a man who generated instant respect in all he spoke to, looked at or just stood near. “I even took her picture to the local brothels and all the shebeens I know Komisar, no-one knows of her or saw her.” He related in his deep voice.

“Anyone new in town?” asked Laster.

“Are you fucking kidding me?” he stalled. “Sorry about the language sir but with all the building work and the factory ships coming and going it’s hard to keep tabs on anyone. Now there’s an unsavoury character.” he indicated Sly Stone exiting the Happy Goat, one of the more salubrious establishments in the dock area. Solomon Medley the proprietor had a couple of slabs of meat called Benny and Bjorn on the books and they kept the worst troublemakers out.

“Not so fast!” Laster called to Stone, who upon spotting the two lawmen had attempted to scurry away unnoticed.

“Good morning Komisar, a pleasure to see you.” he glanced nervously at the man-mountain that was Kodo. “And you too constable.” Kodo merely inclined his head.

“Morning Sly I do hope you weren’t just taking orders for illicit booze?” said Sam.

“Oh no sir, that was just a one off… a mere aberration sir!” he answered nervously.

“Don’t let me catch you at it again.” Laster winked at him. “Don’t forget if you hear anything in connection with the other night you tell me straight away, no matter how unimportant you think it might be.”

“Don’t you worry sir.” he affirmed making off quickly.

Kodo shook his head “he’s bound to have been up to something sir?”

“Constable Kodo, Hugo Stone is more helpful to me out of jail than he is in, he has some small amount of trust in me and often passes on useful information.”

They watched as a large lifter took off from the airdock. “That’ll be going to straight to the spaceport, when they finish building the new place the air traffic will triple at the very least.” remarked the constable.

“And how are the residents taking it? Komisar Laster asked.

“Not well, I see trouble not too far in the future.” Kodo answered.

Sam made a mental note to request more officers for Helen and when the surprised evening shift had clocked on the Komisar returned to Hemby.

“Hello sir.” said Daze Prida leading constable in charge of the Hemby night shift. “The Chief’s been trying to get hold of you.”

“What was it about?”

“Dunno sir she wouldn’t say, says you’re to call him soon as you returned no matter what time it was.”

Why didn’t she call him when he was in Kysten then? Back in his office he opened his left hand and looking at the golden lattice on his palm said. “Chief Constable Danvers.”

A globe of light hovered over his outstretched fingers and a woman’s head appeared in it. “Ah Sam, at last.” she looked concerned. “I have received a request from the Melian authorities they want to send one of their law enforcers to join your enquiry into this girl’s death.”

“What… why?” he was exasperated.

“They believe it may have something to do with the kidnapping of Ambassador Skrik.”

“I don’t see the connection, I suppose it’s because she came from Akaba?” he thought then asked. “You’ve already said yes haven’t you?”

“They were very insistent Sam.”

“There’s no alternative?”

“Afraid so, ve will arrive in the morning.” she informed him.

“Oh crap.”

“Sorry Sam, you had a bad experience in the war didn’t you?”

“I’ve learned to let it go ma’am, but certain people… well we’re still a bit parochial here and it’s not going to go down well in some places.” What’s Helen going to think? “Do we have a name for ver?”

“Ve is a traz, that’s a captain isn’t it?” asked Danvers.

“Major, a captain is a kraz.” He replied.

“Traz Alu Viko of the Tark” she informed him.

“Okay ma’am I’ll be there to greet ver.” He ended the call Viko? It was a name from his past.

Chapter two – The alien

It had been Sam’s turn to spend the night at Mikala’s, which he found convenient as her apartment was only a few streets from the polis station, he woke early and Miki made him a cooked breakfast, a luxury in itself, after kissing her goodbye he walked briskly to the station to see a lifter sat on the small pad at the front of the building. He waved at the human pilot, the alien bastard had got here first!

Going inside the station he saw Chief Komisar Brent from the Osiran Police Headquarters waiting for him with a Melian in a smart dark green uniform, ve had the androgynous look he associated with their race and auburn hair like Mikala’s but cut in a short bob.

Sam guessed ve was in vale which was the masculine phase of a Melian’s cycle, to a human the only perceptible difference in stages was bust size or a bulge in the trousers but as he’d been a guest of theirs some years ago, he could easily tell.

“Ah Komisar, this is Alu Viko, special investigator for the Tark.” The Tark were elite soldiers who also functioned as police, Laster had encountered them as a prisoner of war.

The alien held out a hand which Laster shook  squeezing deliberately hard but the Melian possessed a surprisingly tight grip verself and looking him straight in the eye said. “Pleased to meet you Komisar I hope we will have a good working relationship.”

“I’m sure we will Traz Viko.” The Melian had a familiar cast to ver face it couldn’t be?

“Good, well, I’ll leave you two to sort things out.” said Brent leaving hastily.

“Office?” asked Sam and the alien followed, all eyes were on them.

“Wow!” said Toki. “She is amazing.”

“Was it a man or a woman?” asked Mili.

“I think it was in the man stage” Worth informed them. “Last time I saw one was down a gunsight.”

Laster sat at his desk with the alien facing him. “So Viko, what makes you think this girl’s death is linked with the events in Akaba?”

“During the firefight between your law enforcers and Purity, Skrik was badly wounded.” Ve answered.

“Okay, still not following?”

Viko looked perturbed. “There is a practice, now outlawed, that was once used for the execution of prisoners or in a combat emergency, it involved transfering blood from one person to another to keep them alive,” ve paused. “Melians and humans have compatible blood types.”

The penny dropped. “Fuck me, you people are disgusting!”

“As I said it is now outlawed, it is not something we are particularly proud of Komisar Laster.” Viko paused again, then asked. “may I call you Samos?”

“No!”

“Very well, some of the dead assailants were human and the Tark believe from information received that Purity and Mankind Alone have joined forces to cause instability between our races.”

“That seems a far-fetched idea, Viko, why would these two opposing groups work together?”

“Because both of our governments want to make a lasting peace and these bigots cannot conceive of an alliance between the worlds, Skrik is trusted by Earthgov and without him the talks may well fail.”

“Say I believe you, then what can we do we haven’t done already?”

“Let me look around your island, I would see things differently perhaps?”

“You’ll need to be escorted there are some unforgiving folk here, many of whom still hold a grudge against Melia.”

“I understand Komisar, I was too young to fight but I well remember the fear and hatred that was felt when your soldiers were destroying our colonies.”

Sam realised he had never considered how the Melians suffered they were the enemy after all! “You attacked our colonies too, I was captured by the Tark and if it hadn’t been for…” he looked at the set of the alien’s face and realised his suspicions about Viko were right.

“If it hadn’t been for my dama, how would you humans say it, mother?”

“You’re Kista’s child?”

“Yes, my dama told me how ve fell in love with an earthling prisoner and kept him from harm, a man called Samos Laster, you… When I was assigned to this case I was astonished to find out you were the local Polis Komisar.”

“I suppose you can call me Samos then… no, Sam. How is Kista, she didn’t come to any harm?”

“No it was to ver good fortune that ve had been recalled to Melia when Solar Force rescued you” said the Melian. “Ve still talks about you and my name is Alu”

“Kista was beautiful, Alu, of course, your dama was vame when we met, whew this is difficult!” he confessed.

“Yes perhaps better we talk later… Now Sam I want to visit Lang Kysten.”

Constable Sahar volunteered to drive Viko to the eastern port. Toki had felt overwhelmed by Viko’s striking presence and jumped at the chance to escort the exotic alien around.

What is your first name Constable Sahar?” Viko asked.

“Toki” she answered.

“That’s a nice name, I’m Alu by the way.”

“Alu…” Toki said slowly trying to get the correct pronunciation. “I’ve never met a Melian before.”

“And I’ve never met a human as pretty as you before.” It was a cheap line by any planet’s standards but Alu smiled as Toki’s face flushed red.

They parked outside the polis house in Lang Kysten and Sahar took the Melian straight up to Stok’s office, the sergeant had been alerted to ver visit by Sam and had composed herself accordingly. She stood and held out her hand.

“Greetings vek, it’s a pleasure to meet you”  said Helen, feeling somewhat hypocritical.

“And greetings to you Sergeant Stok, at least you didn’t try to crush my hand like your Komisar did!” related Viko after they had shared a firm handshake. “I hope my being here does not cause you any distress?”

“I guess you know my war record then?”

“Naturally your Chief Constable granted me access to all your files, I wanted to know who I was going to be working with.” Viko replied.

Stok swallowed back a desire to yell at ver about this invasion of her… their privacy. “What can I do for you Traz Viko?”

“I need some backup to visit the area around the docks, the Happy Goat pub in particular. I am led to understand that my people are not too popular here?”

“Your kind are not popular anywhere” said Stok with more feeling than she had intended. “I haven’t anyone spare at the moment.”

“Very well I understand.” Viko stated.” I will go alone.” ve made to leave.

“I’ll come with you ma’am er vek” blurted out Toki quickly.

“Sahar!” cried Stok.

“Sorry ma’am, but the Komisar detailed me to escort ver” answered the policewoman, before following the alien downstairs.

“Oh bugger!” muttered the sergeant, opening her palm to show the gold lattice printed there. “Kodo, wherever you are get your arse down to the Happy Goat and keep a look out for Toki Sahar and a Melian bitch.”

The pair walked along the waterfront attracting glances that were either curious, antagonistic or both. Toki nervously unclipped the flap on her holster and kept her hand near the pistol’s butt, the Melian showed no sign of noticing the angry looks and the triangular black holster ve wore on the left hip remained fastened.

As they entered the Happy Goat an ominous silence fell, Viko ignoring this strode up to the bar “I am looking for Solomon Medley!” ve asked the blousy woman at the pumps.

The woman stared at Viko with ill-concealed malice and ve returned the stare icily until she caved. “He’s checking the barrels out back, I’ll fetch him.”

“What the fuck have we here?” a loud voice came from the corner of the bar.

“It’s one of those He-she’s.” said another.

“It was those weird bastards as killed my brother!” a large man stood menacingly by the door.

“Sit down please people, this is polis business.” Toki had her hand around her pistol grip.

“We’ve nothing against you blondie, but why are you protecting this alien scumbag?” a second thug had joined his fellow by the door. Toki looked to Solomon’s two heavies who sat there ignoring the whole thing, Viko turned slowly round to stare at the doorstops.

“This is going to get nasty” hissed Toki to Alu, she had never fired her gun in anger and didn’t want to have to now, a large meaty hand fell on a shoulder of each of the duo by the door, they belonged to a massive figure standing behind them.

“Now gentlemen.” said a deep growl of a voice. “You’re not showing our visitor the proper respect.” The giant that was Kodo looked about the room and few met his eye. “Listen up morons, the war ended ten years ago, this Melian is a polis officer just like me and Constable Sahar and is also too young to have been involved in the sodding war, you got that?” Kodo released the belligerent pair. “Now shut up or get out!” they left quickly followed by several others. The man-mountain glared at Medley’s bouncers and tutted asking. “Just what is it that you two do?”

“Hey Constable Kodo stop scaring my customers away.” Solomon had skulked in from the back room, Kodo merely shrugged.

“Mr Medley.” The Traz fixed him with ver icy stare then spread a fanfold display on the bar and seven faces appeared across its width, three of which were were human. “Recognise anyone?”

Solomon glanced quickly at it. “Nope don’t know any of them.”

“Interesting, how about this one?” ve pointed to a powerful looking individual with a military buzz-cut.

“Never seen him before.” replied the bar owner.

“Mr Medley that man was Jared Largo, ex-Solar Forces and member of Mankind Alone, I say was because he was shot dead in a gun battle with the Akaba polis six days ago and his bank records show he bought two rounds of drinks in here the night before.” Viko paused to let that sink in. “So do you recognise him?”

“I don’t know him but he was here with two other men, none of that lot though.” he indicated the picture strip.

“Can you remember what they looked like?” Toki asked.

“I guess so.” Solomon said resignedly.

“Right you’re coming to the polis house to do a photo-fit.” said Kodo.

As they turned to leave a man ran at Viko brandishing a bottle. “Dirty alien scum!” he shouted.

Viko sidestepped twisted his arm behind his back and disarmed him, the man struggled free of ver grip and ran out of the pub.

“I’ll get him.” said Toki sprinting for the door.

“No leave him be, the maggot isn’t worth the effort.” said the Melian, Kodo looked perplexed. “If you arrest everyone who threatens me your jail will be overflowing pretty soon.” Viko explained.

They returned to the polis house with Medley and the Melian officer went to the toilet to open the tightly folded note ver attacker had passed over during the scuffle, it was written in Melian battle code. “Haven’t found out too much yet, one of the men from the dig was seen with Largo the same night. Will try to find out more, meet tomorrow back of here.” Their human agent had infiltrated Mankind Alone but was not very high up the tree yet, Viko appreciated the risk he was taking and hoped he was being careful.

After waiting for the photo-fit Viko asked to be driven to the dig but Stok suggested they clear it with Laster first since the Professor had powerful friends in Akaba.

Chapter Three – Suspicions

Komisar Laster insisted on joining Viko on ver visit to the dig and decided that Constable Meyer should accompany them instead of Sahar. “You can do a bit of desk-work. it’s about time poor Mili had a bit of fresh air.” He explained.

Viko shrugged ver shoulders upon seeing Toki’s disappointed look. “See you later Toki.” ve called as they left the station.

“See you later Toki.” parroted Worth when they had gone. “I would say that alien is after a close encounter.”

“Shut up Gunter.” snapped Toki, visibly reddening.

Taking the small lifter they arrived very shortly at the dig, a tall bearded man greeted the polis as they disembarked. “Good afternoon officers I am Larz, can I help you?”

Viko was regarding a large container. “What is that?”

“It’s where we store the relics we find, it also serves as our meeting room and office would you like to have a look inside?” Larz showed them sets of lockable drawers which contained various pot shards, encrusted metal objects and stone tablets with remarkably earth-like hieroglyphs, a couple of desks and several rows of chairs bizarrely screwed to the floor completed the contents. “Professor Taylor and Miss Tak are the experts, they rely on me to organise the diggers and basically run things. Are you interested in this planets history vek?” he was all charm.

“Not really I was just curious about this container.”

“They’re cheap and weathertight, we hired it from the company that supplies Glenrock, they offered to sell us one of theirs but we didn’t want one smelling of fish.” he explained.

“Understandable.” said Laster. “We’d like to see Professor Taylor.”

“Of course I’ll call him.” he picked up an old style phone and noticing their curiosity explained. “We have to use a landline to talk to the dig since microwaves don’t penetrate the rock.” he spoke to the Professor who invited them to join him at the site.

As Larz led them through the labyrinth of tunnels Viko noticed Laster putting his finger behind his right ear as if feeling for something. “Got it!” he announced, a red glow showed from his right pupil. “Targeting implant, I can see in the dark with it.”

“Left over from the war?” asked Larz.

“Yes, it would have been more trouble to remove than it was to put in.” Laster explained.

“Neat.” Larz seemed impressed.

As they made their way down Sam scanned down several offshoots of the main tunnel, one had a lot of scuffed footprints in it. “What’s down there?” he asked.

“Storage we keep unused stuff in that passage, tools, crates that sort of thing.” Larz answered leading them to a larger chamber where the Professor and his assistant were working.

“Good afternoon Komisar, ladies…” began Taylor.

“Ladies?” said Viko.

“Oh I do apologise vek, you Melians look so… oh dear.” He replied.

“This is Traz Viko, ve is working with us at the moment and this is Constable Meyer.”

“Pleased to meet you Traz Viko, it’s such a terrible business about your ambassador. Have you any news?”

“Traz Viko believes it may tie in with that girl we asked about.” Sam commented before Viko could say anything.

“Oh that is quite a shock… you haven’t met my assistant Viat Tak.” Taylor waved a hand towards a dark haired woman crouched over something protruding from the ground.

“Hello, sorry I’m a bit busy at the moment.” she glanced up briefly then bent her head back to the task, Viko furrowed ver brow.

“The Traz is interested to see what’s going on here.” Laster informed the professor.

He beamed widely. “Then we’ll give you the guided tour.”

As they left to see the other areas of the dig, Viko looked briefly at Tak and frowned again before following the others.

Tour completed, Taylor offered them coffee which they politely refused. “They didn’t show us everything.” said Sam as they flew off. “I’d love to know what was down that tunnel they claimed was a tool store.”

“Probably some of Sly Stone’s illicit booze!” suggested Mili from the pilot’s seat.

“There are a lot of tents down there how many people did you see?” asked Alu.

“Half a dozen, perhaps they’re in Hemby or Kysten?”

“Hmm, that Viat had dyed hair.” ve remarked.

“Yeah, Toki mentioned that.” said Mili. “She didn’t like her either.”

Taylor and Tak watched the airship as it diminished into a tiny speck. “The Melian cop was far too nosey for my liking.” He said.

“Ve suspects what I am.”

“Hopefully we’ll be done soon then it can suspect what it likes.”

“It?” asked Viat sharply.

“Apologies, ve can suspect what ve likes.”

The afternoon dragged for Sahar and when the evening shift started to arrive she packed up her things and as she went to walk ou,t Viko stopped her. “Toki I imagine I won’t be staying in Hemby too much longer, would you like to go out for a drink perhaps?”

Toki gasped, she could hear Mili splutter over her coffee. “Alright!” she said loudly, stuff you Meyer!

“Good I’m staying at the Bliss Paradise, meet me in the bar at eight.”

Toki lived in Hemby where everything was in easy walking distance, it had been the principal town on the island but Lang Kysten was expanding at such an alarming rate. The Ecology Committee would surely be on Waller’s case soon, Harvey Waller had been the burgher of Bliss Bay for only two years but during that time the Glenrock Company moved in and the population had doubled. Komisar Laster was certain the burgher was in the company’s pocket, perhaps it was the price of progress?

She strolled into the hotel at eight and at first didn’t see Viko until an auburn haired woman in a blue and white striped mini-dress waved at her. “I didn’t expect you to be dressed like that!” confessed Toki, a little shocked.

“Why? This is how I would dress on Melia did you expect me to be wearing trousers?”

“No but your uniform…”

“My work clothes, you wear trousers on duty yet now you have that nice skirt on.”

“But I’m a woman.”

“And I am a Melian so what? Look I’m in vale so I am just like one of your men.”

“Not exactly!” retorted Toki.

“Do you still want to go out for a drink or not?” asked Alu.

Toki had come thus far and the alien did fascinate her. “Okay, we’ll have a drink here then I’ll show you what Hemby has to offer. Don’t get too excited though, there’s not a lot.”

Viko smiled. “Oh I’m sure Hemby has an awful got a lot to offer…”

Sam and Mika were enjoying a late meal at the island’s only Indian restaurant when she spotted Toki and her date walking by the window. “There’s Constable Sahar with a girl on her arm, I didn’t know she was inclined the same way as Mili.”

“That’s not a girl that’s the Melian” said Sam, somewhat surprised.

“You didn’t tell me the alien was an attractive woman.” She sounded a little piqued.

“Ve’s not a female at the moment.”

“Oh?” she watched them going towards the Cove Bar, it was Hemby’s liveliest, noisiest and only nightclub.

At the same moment in Lang Kysten, a man called Zane was talking furtively to an airdock porter in the shadow of a warehouse. “You’re sure?”

“Yes, the plan is to use a lifter, I don’t know when or where though” he glanced about uneasily “I’ll try to find out but it’s going to cost more.”

Zane agreed to theman’s price then leaving his contact, walked briskly from the airdock. Damn it, Viko is coming back tomorrow night what do I tell ver?

A furtive figure moved out of the shadows and approached the worker. “What did he want?”

“Nothing, just trying to sell me drugs” answered the man nervously.

“You’re not telling the truth.”

He turned as if to run but came face to face with a second figure.

“Guilty conscience?” asked the first and he was dragged struggling into the shadows.

Viko insisted on seeing Toki back to her door. “Thank you, Alu, it’s been an interesting evening” she had found the Melian to be delightful company, despite the unexpected attire.

“Aren’t you going to invite me in for coffee?” asked the alien.

“Err?”

“That is the traditional end to a human date isn’t it?”

“Well it can be… Alu, I’m not so sure about this.” Viko embraced Toki and gave her a long lingering kiss, ver lips were soft, ver body hard and muscular despite the feminine appearance and ver skin had an exotic almost spicy scent. Toki broke from the smooch to look into Viko’s green eyes and ask. “Do you take your coffee black or white?”

Chapter Four – Confrontation

Constable Sahar arrived at the station early next morning and sat quickly at her desk, hoping that no-one noticed.

“How did it go with the alien?” asked Milinda Meyer straight away.

“Alu was good fun, we had a few drinks then I turned in” she stared fixedly at her computer’s display hoping, that would suffice as an answer.

Meyer was having none of it. “Come on Toki out with it?”

“What?” she could feel her face colouring up.

“Did you screw the alien or did it screw you?” asked Prida who was going off duty.

“Alu is a ve not an, it!” snapped Toki.

“Ooh touchy!” remarked Mili.

“Shut up the pair of you!” she retorted.

The alien in question walked in, stopping all conjecture of Sahar’s nocturnal adventures and bidding them all a good morning went straight into Laster’s office.

“Nice trick, arriving at different times to make it look like you hadn’t spent the night together” remarked Prida as he locked his drawer.

“Alu’s uniform was at the hotel so …” said Toki  before realising she’d let it slip shit! Prida went off laughing while Mili grinned widely.

Once in the Komisar’s office Viko had a request. “Sam I require you to set a watch on the airdock, I have information that something may happen there soon.”

“What information, what are you hiding Traz?”

“That is between my superior and me, Komisar Laster.”

“If you insist on keeping things secret how can we work together?”

Ve didn’t respond.

“Oddly enough Sergeant Stok has reported that the night shift found a dead man in an alleyway near the airdock during the early hours of this morning, he’d been stabbed.”

“Who was it?” Viko’s voice showed concern.

“An air-porter on the loading bay, do you know him?” Laster displayed the man’s ID photo.

Ve relaxed. “No, never seen him before.”

“Well I’m flying down there shortly to have a look.”

“I’ll come with you.”

“No you won’t, you caused enough trouble in Kysten yesterday and if you’re not going be open with me I’m going to make it very difficult for you!” asserted Laster.

“Then lend me a car, Toki can escort me?” suggested Viko.

“No, you are to stay in Hemby.”

“You cannot restrict my movements, you are supposed to assist me.”

No again, Viko, you are here to assist us in the investigation into Miss Farley’s death and this man’s demise has nothing to do with it.”

“You think?”

“I think!”

“I will report this to Chief Komisar Brent!”

“You do that, I’m off to Lang Kysten” he replied.

Laster took Sahar as co-pilot, leading Viko to speculate if he had done out of spite, doubt it somehow, he doesn’t seem the type. Alu returned to the hotel, went to ver room then sat at the small desk and opened ver left hand to expose the gold web of a communicator. “Ektraz Pulmer.” requested Viko and a Melian’s face appeared in the glowing ball hovering over ver palm.

“What progress have you made Traz?” asked the colonel.

“Some, but the Komisar of the polis has become reluctant to help after an incident in Lang Kysten yesterday.”

“I will try to exert pressure on him through his superior, I will have to tread carefully though, both the Purity group and its human equivalent have far more highly placed supporters than we assumed. Tell me what you have found out?”

“They are somewhere on this island and my contact believes they will use a lifter from the docks to facilitate extraction of the ambassador.” Ve replied.

“Do you know where ve is being held?”

“I have my suspicions, I hope to meet Zane for confirmation tonight, do we have our resources in place?”

“They are on their way but will not arrive until tomorrow.”

After ending the call to the Ektraz, Viko decided to find something appropriate for concealment in Kysten and went to visit a large department store ve had noticed while out with Toki the previous night, it was called Silvers and boasted of having outlets across the inhabited planets, only the human ones thought Alu. Coming out of the store carrying a large bag was a figure whom Viko recognised immediately. “Greetings, Vek Tak.”

“Sorry… Vek?” asked the startled woman.

“Do you think I cannot spot one of my own people if they dye their hair?” replied Viko, Melians without exception all had auburn hair.

“What?”

“Do not act the innocent with me Tak, you’re in vame pretending to be a human woman.”

“Yes” admitted Tak. “You are correct.”

“Why?”

“So I can be with Professor Taylor without being subject to taunts and threats, how many insults have you had since you have been here?” ve replied sullenly.

“You and Taylor?” it made sense, a Melian could not easily pass for a human male but as a woman it would not be too difficult.

“Yes, I don’t suppose you military types can imagine it’s possible to have feelings for an earthling.”

You might be surprised, aloud ve said “I believe it is not unknown.”

“Can I go now Traz, I have an important errand to run?”

“I am not deliberately keeping you, please be on your way, good luck for the future with the Professor.”

“Thank you, Traz.”

Viko watched the vame walk away curiously before entering Silvers.

Laster returned in the afternoon and Viko hungry for information cornered him. “So tell me about this man.”

“He had been thoroughly worked over then stabbed through the heart and dumped in a dark alleyway. He was only found so quickly because a tart and her punter almost fell over him” he looked at the Melian. “I think somebody wanted to know something and tried to beat it out of him, Alu, what are you not telling me?”

“I’m sorry Sam I can’t tell you anything.”

“Something else Traz Viko, Doctor Crumb says someone broke into the blood bank at the hospital and took the lot and her computer’s was hacked, patient records were accessed.”

“They must need more blood for Ambassador Skrik, Sam your men must be vigilant or another human may be taken!”

“Thanks for telling me my job Viko, did it not occur to you I might have thought of that myself?” Sam was getting annoyed at Viko’s recalcitrance.

“I just…”

“Go, now!”

“I apologise Sam, I will leave.” Viko walked out of his office, tonight’s meeting with Zane could be dangerous, should I have told Laster?

A woman with hair the same colour as ver’s was in the main office. “You must be Traz Viko?”

“Yes and you are?”

“Alu Viko this is Mikala Salusen, I should have introduced you earlier.” Sam had rushed out to join them.

“Pleased to meet you Alu” Miki said as pleasantly as she could manage.

“Charmed to meet you Mikala, you are Sam’s partner?”

“Yes.”

“I can see why he likes you, he is very lucky” Viko smiled at her then him before leaving quickly.

Miki glared at ver receding back then at Sam. “I was going to tell you I’m free this evening.”

“Okay, are you coming over mine?”

“I can, ve bothers me.”

“What?”

“It’ll keep.”

Toki was outside when Viko left the building “are you waiting for me?”

“Come back to my house and I’ll make you a meal.”

“You are very forthright today Toki, I like that.”

“One request, don’t change out of your uniform this time.”

Laster arrived at his house to find Miki on the sofa waiting for him “Sam, why didn’t you tell me how attractive Viko was?”

“Attractive? Ve’s an alien.”

“She… ve is attractive, don’t try to tell me otherwise.”

“They’re all quite attractive Miki” he answered. “It’s a good job ve’s not in vame, that’s when they become more feminine.”

“That’s not helping Sam, there is nothing between you and that alien is there?”

“No my love, honestly, in fact I think ve’s quite struck on Toki Sahar, when we saw them together last night they were on a date.”

“I’m still surprised at Toki” Mika related “after all it’s an alien.”

“Yet you wouldn’t be surprised at me?” Sam asked.

“Sorry Sam, but you do seem to like them even though you were their prisoner?”

“I’ve never told you much about that have I?”

“You told me your life was spared because you befriended the commander of the prison asteroid.”

“Mika, please don’t judge me on this, it was more than just friendship.”

“I was afraid of that and now you’ve admitted it I don’t know what to think, was it female?”

“Yes Kista was in vame.”

“Are they like human women then?”

“Yes, very much like women, Miki, they tortured me and I was desperate to stay alive! Melian  troops fight to the death and they were disgusted when we surrendered, our prisoners were not treated well, they would kill us on a whim.”

“Sam, why on earth didn’t you tell me this before?” asked Miki.

“I was going to my love, just never seemed to find the right moment.”

Miki snuggled up to him. “I’ll try and understand…” she sat up suddenly. “Did you have feelings for ver?”

“Kista was a good person despite being in the military and I won’t lie, we became very close.”

“Did she survive the war?”

“Yes Alu told me ver mother often talks about me.”

“Alu is the creature’s child?” Mika asked suspiciously.

“Don’t worry ve’s not my mine.”

“So you had a Melian lover during the war and now it’s daughter… son… whatever, is here on the island?” she moved away. “Is there anything else you haven’t told me?”

“No Miki that’s all. I swear it!”

“I have the same colour hair don’t I and pale skin like them, is that why you like me, do I remind you of this Kista?”

“No, no there are some similarities but no…” now he thought about it she did resemble Kista a little. “I love you for being you!”

Her lip was trembling. “I feel I don’t know you anymore, Sam.”

“Miki, please don’t be like this.”

“I’m going home, I don’t want you near me right now!” A tear ran down her cheek.

“I’ll call you tomorrow?”

“We’ll see!”

Viko waited till Toki was soundly asleep then slipped quietly out of bed to leave her a note “Had to go back to the hotel for something, back soon A” then looked fondly at the sleeping girl, I had not planned on this! Taking her car keys, Alu drove to the hotel then quickly changed into the things ve had bought this afternoon before walking out through reception, the night manager didn’t bat an eye at Viko’s appearance discretion was part of his job.

I should be able to get there and back in a couple of hours, thought Alu, hopefully Toki won’t even notice I’m gone.  Once outside Hemby ve gunned the engine and headed towards Lang Kysten.

Zane was waiting nervously for the Traz in the alley behind the Happy Goat, it was 2am but the dockside was still busy as drunks stumbled about and ladies of the night plied their trade.

“Hi handsome looking for some fun?” he turned to see a woman with long black hair wearing a red sequin dress, black fishnets and a lot of makeup.

“Not tonight love.”

“Oh go on Zane?” she husked, he froze as he realised it was…

“Viko?” he asked in a whisper.

“Who else would it be?” Ve replied

“You’re dressed up like a tart?”

“I couldn’t turn up dressed as an earth man could I? I was propositioned a couple of times on the way down here, it was quite flattering.”

“Viko, this is not a game.”

“But this is a viable disguise.”

Zane grabbed the Melian and pushed ver into the shadows. “People are coming, pretend we’re in a clinch.”

“Now who’s playing games?” Viko smiled, putting ver arms around him.

As the men walked by one passed a lewd comment. “That was uncomfortable.” Zane remarked as they broke apart.

“Try wearing heels, I don’t know how your females manage. So what do you know?”

“My contact told me the plan is to sneak the ambassador to the spaceport by lifter. I haven’t seen him today, he was going to find out when.”

“I think you’re contact’s dead, the polis discovered a body this morning it sounded like he’d been interrogated.”

The men who walked past earlier were now hovering at the far end of the alley. “I think we’ve been rumbled, Viko, this place is full of MA sympathisers, you need to get out quick.”

Ve bent forward as if to kiss him. We walk in the other direction then split up, they can’t chase both of us, have you got a way out?”

“I’ve a hoverboat in the old dock.”

“Get to Hemby, the Tark are on their way, I’ll protect you until they arrive” they walked off arm in arm and once they rounded the corner ran in separate directions.

The men moved quickly to the junction. “He’s heading to the dock.”

“Then he’ll run into trouble won’t he, what about the whore she might be carrying a message?” asked the other.

“We’ll soon catch her up, she can’t run far in those heels.”

Viko leant against a wall and pulled off ver shoes, why do humans torture themselves with these things?

“Hello darling looking for business?” the pair had caught ver up.

“Not tonight gentlemen!” Viko stepped forward and flat-palmed the first man squashing his nose, the second caught ver with a glancing swing before ve drove a fist into his face, as he staggerd backwards he clutched at ver hair, pulling off the long black wig.

“Alien bitch!” he shouted in surprise as Viko dropped him with another blow. Several customers at a nearby shebeen had emerged into the narrow street and Viko looked at them with green eyes, ver auburn hair pinned back.

“A fucking He-she’s just beaten up two of our lads!” shouted one and several of them came forward menacingly.

“Why you got a dress on alien? Trying to trap earthmen or something?”

Viko kicked a man who came at ver then sidestepped as another swung a glass down, as his arm went past ve grabbed it and threw him heavily over.

A sizeable crowd had gathered so Viko pulled the pistol from its holster, concealed on ver inner thigh. “I don’t wish to hurt anyone, so get out of my way, please.”

“Fuck off He-she, you’re gonna get what’s coming to you.”

“Ain’t they just like women? We could have some fun with it first!”

Viko fired a shot into the air. “Get back or the next one’s got your name on it!” ve assured the man who had made the suggestion.

“Polis, Put the gun down!” Lang Kysten’s finest had arrived.

Zane made it to his hoverboat and was going at full speed for the harbour entrance when there was a sharp crack and he slumped lifeless on to the wheel, the dark figure on the boardwalk shouldered the rifle to watch as Zane’s craft crashed against the harbour wall before turning over…

Chapter 5 – Aftermath

Viko was languishing in a cell in the Lang Kysten polis house when a face appeared at the tiny window in the door. “Bloody hell!” it said and the door opened to reveal Kodo standing there. “Shift change Traz, I’m letting you out.” he eyed Viko’s attire. “I could fancy you myself dressed like that.”

“Thank you Constable, your colleagues refused to believe I was an officer of the Tark, they thought I might be a spy.” explained Viko.

“They knew fucking full well who you were vek, they were just giving you a hard time because of what you are. Don’t worry I’ve kicked their arses and put them on report.”

“Then I can go?”

“Not yet, Sergeant Stok wants to see you and she’s not very happy. We found Constable Sahar’s car where you left it so you may as well return it to Hemby” he handed over the keys.”

“Thank you again Kodo.”

“Toki’s going to be in the shit for letting you take her polis car.”

“I’ll handle it.”

Helen Stok sat at her desk regarding the Melian, she had hardly slept last night, the nightmares were particularly bad at the moment, probably due to all this Melian stuff on the news. “What the fuck have you got on?” she growled.

“It’s a disguise.” Viko replied, ver knuckles hurt and ve had a black eye.

“It didn’t work too well did it?”

“I was attacked by the two men who were following me but of course your stupid constables were only interested in arresting the alien.” Viko observed sarcastically.

“They probably saved you from that mob or were you going to shoot them all?” seethed Stok.

Viko shrugged. “Their choice.”

“We don’t do that here, this is not Melia!”

“No, on Melia we would not tolerate those people” ve replied coldly.

“Why were you here and why are you dressed like that?”

“My business, Melian business, not yours”

“Get out of Lang Kysten alien and don’t come back unless I fucking ask you to.”

Viko returned to the hotel, showered, tidied ver hair put on the dark green uniform then steeled verself to face Komisar Laster, Toki would no doubt have been torn off a strip already.

“So last night you beat up four people while dressed as a tart, why?” he asked. “And don’t tell me you can’t say.”

“I met a contact in Kysten last night, the disguise was necessary as he believed he was being watched… turns out he was correct.”

“A man called Zane Towers was found under a capsized boat this morning shot by a high powered rifle.” He displayed his face on the computer. “Is this your contact?”

Ver face fell. “I hoped when they followed me he might have got away.”

“Did he find anything useful out?”

“They plan to smuggle the ambassador out in a transport lifter but he didn’t know when. They probably won’t dare do that now?” Viko replied.

“I’ll get Helen to put a watch on the pad, if you had trusted us earlier your man might still be alive, is your ambassador on the island?”

“I believe so.”

“Where?” asked Laster.

“I’m not sure but I have my suspicions.”

“And?”

“I can’t say until I’m sure.”

“Alu, for goodness sake trust us!”

“If there are MA sympathisers in the Government House in Akaba, how can I trust you?”

“Says who?”

“My superiors who I do trust, that’s who!”

“I am finding working with you very difficult.”

“That’s how it is I’m afraid, one more thing, don’t punish Toki for this I stole the polis car while she was asleep.”

“I had already worked that one out but she is temporarily suspended regardless.” He’d already had a very nervous Toki in his office, he liked the girl and was disappointed with her, Sam had no children himself and would have been proud to have had a daughter like her. “Alu I know, well everyone in the station knows that you two have started a relationship, you Melians can make an impression on humans so please be careful.”

“I like her and you humans can make an impression on us Melians too as you should well remember, your partner looks a bit like my dama is that why you’re with her?”

“No!” Miki had been ignoring his calls since last night.

“You’re a bad liar you know?”

“Please go away Viko.”

Viko still had the key to Toki’s car so drove it round to her flat. “Hello.” Alu said when the girl answered the door.

“I’m suspended because of you! Did you sleep with me just so you could steal my car?”

“No Toki I like you I didn’t mean to get you into trouble.”

The girl responded by throwing her arms around Alu and kissing ver passionately “I was hoping you’d turn up, you’re forgiven. …”

As dusk fell Viko took Toki’s vehicle again but this time with her consent and drove to the dig site. After parking a good distance away ve approached cautiously on foot to find a good vantage point then settled down to watch for suspicious activity. Everything was quiet for a while then a van drove into the camp and stopped at the cave entrance, two figures emerged opened the rear doors and lifted something out. Viko focused ver night binoculars and horrified to see what had been in the back of the vehicle realised it was no longer possible to keep Laster out of the equation. Viko was about to call for backup when everything went black.

Ve came to in the back of a moving vehicle, Toki’s car! Larz glanced in the mirror at ver. “So nice to see you back with us” he said sarcastically.

“Where are you taking me?”

“For a little swim He-she.” he replied.

The car pulled up on the edge of a cliff followed by the van, Larz grabbed Viko and pulled ver out to the edge. “Professor’s idea, you went for a walk and fell off.”

“Well away from the dig I suppose?” asked Viko.

“Quite right, if you’re lucky your body will drift down to Kysten, if you’re not they’ll never find you.”

Viko looked over the cliff and it was a long way down. “If you push me over with my hands tied it’s going to look rather suspicious.”

“You’re playing for time alien.”

“Wouldn’t you fixter?”

Larz laughed. “You have balls He-she, Bowen, get out here now.”

A man got out of the van with a recently taped-up nose, Viko recognised him. “Sorry I’m not showing my legs tonight Bowen.”

“Just throw the fucking thing over the cliff and let’s be done.” the man snarled.

“Keep an eye on it while I release its hands.” Larz began to untie Viko. “you know He-she I kind of respect you, you’re a good fighter.”

“My pleasure” feeling ver bindings give Viko pulled then apart simultaneously butting Larz’ nose with the back of ver head to hear a satisfying crunch. Then launching verself forward Alu grabbed Bowen’s gun hand, as they began to struggle for control Larz produced a pistol, spotting this Viko spun ver assailant round as he fired. Bullets tore into Bowen’s body and he fell forward pitching them both over the cliff, Larz peered over for a while holding his bleeding nose but could see nothing in the dark tide below.

“You idiots!” shouted Viat Tak when ve returned. “Viko was a better source of blood than a human and you threw ver over a cliff and what is worse we have lost a man.”

“Vek, the Traz tricked us I never thought it could fight like that.” said Larz now bearing tape across his nose.

“Viko was a highly trained Tark soldier, I hope for your sake ve did not survive the fall.”

“I’m sure ve didn’t.” assured Taylor.

“You are the fool who told Larz to do it!” Ve snarled.

“Tomorrow we get the ambassador to the space-dock then you can be away and hopefully all this talk of peace will vanish.

“It can’t come soon enough!” snapped Tak, ve hated humans a lot and hated pretending to be one even more.

Chapter 6 – Conclusion

Sly Stone was heading back to Lang Kysten and for a change with a legal cargo, he had been fishing for Silverblue, it was a fish rather like herring and very popular in restaurants on the mainland. The factory ships didn’t bother with it preferring to travel further out to sea for the Osirian cod which was transported around the systems and now even to the Melian worlds.

He spotted the figure laying on the beach Oh no not another one! Sly piloted his hoverboat onto the sand and walked to the prone woman, Viko had used Bowen’s body to break ver fall into the water and had managed to remove ver uniform and boots before attempting to swim for the shore clad in only shirt and pants. “I’d better get the polis down here, I hope they don’t stick me in a cell for doing my duty again.”

Viko spluttered and coughed water.

“Damn me if you ain’t alive.” He turned Viko over and green eyes flickered open briefly. “And damn me if you ain’t a bloody alien.”

Laster regarded the Melian in the hospital bed “has Viko come round yet?”

“Ve has stirred a couple of times, that’s all.” said Sally Rudd, she was Milinda Meyer’s partner and head nurse at Bliss Bay’s small hospital.

“Let me know if there’s any change.” His communicator chirruped, it was Stok.

“They’re prepping a lifter to take a load of fish to the spaceport.” She informed him.

“Is it a scheduled flight?”

“Yes I checked with Marten it’s a regular flight, but one of the pilots checks with Medley’s photo-fit, Anders Jones ex-military and has been associated with anti-Melian dissidents.”

“What? Close the flight down, take everyone there fully armed, search everywhere and wake the night shift too.”

“Sam…” Alu had woken. “The dig that’s where he is I’m sure… Your partner Miki, they’ve got her too.”

“Shit, Helen I’ve got to get her back!”

“Sam I heard that, I’m setting out right now, Kodo can handle the dock raid.”

“No Helen, stay in Kysten” said Laster.

“Are you joking? Apart from Gunter I’m the only war veteran you’ve got, you’ll need me.”

As Laster dashed from the room Viko waved feebly and gasped. “Get me a communicator.”

“You’re too ill at the moment.” said Sally.

“Don’t argue human, get me a communicator!”

Laster gathered up the entire force from Hemby and they set off to the northern tip of the island, Gunter knew of a back way into the caves and took two officers in the flyer. The others drove at high speed and upon arriving ploughed straight through the camp gate to halt at the cave entrance as a large number of armed men appeared from the container-office.

“Of course!” exclaimed Sam in realisation. “They were going to swap containers here and fly straight to the spaceport.” The men were now firing on the polis officers. “Meyer, Sahar, Akbar into the cave with me, Prida I’m relying on you and the others to cover our arses.

“Will do sir good luck.” Although too young for the war Daze Prida had served in the Space Marines.

Stok arrived stopping her car on the higher ground before the camp entrance to fire down on their assailants. “I’d say our luck has just changed for the better.” Laster ventured and they descended into the caves with the sound of automatic fire behind them.

“Where are we going sir?” asked Mili.

Laster turned to look at her, his right pupil lit with a red glow “Remember that tunnel they wouldn’t let us down? My money is on that being the right place to start.”

Gunter Worth meanwhile had found the concealed entrance on the headland. “I haven’t been here since I was a kid, are you ready guys?” there was no reply so he turned to find the muzzle of a gun in his face, his men were also being held at gunpoint, there were a lot of guns…

“We haven’t encountered anyone yet.” said Toki nervously they were advancing as stealthily as possible.

“I’m quite glad of that” whispered Akbar from the rear..

They arrived at the tunnel entrance, it was pitch black beyond. “If any of you don’t want to follow me I’ll understand.”

“I’m with you sir” said Mili and they all agreed to follow their Komisar.

“Only use your gun lights not your helmet torches, they’ll fire at them first.” He informed them.

“That’s comforting.” muttered Toki.

Pushing on further they could see a faint glow in the distance and the cave widened out to become a veritable grotto of stalagmites and stalactites.

This is where I’d set an ambush thought Sam just before all hell broke loose.

Akbar was taken down immediately but Laster could see clearly in the gloom and shot the two attackers who were wearing night vision goggles. Quickly running across to the bodies he snatched the visors and dived back to his officers “Here Toki put these on, you too Mili, Mili?” then he saw her dead body, poor Mili who hated being stuck in the office.

“Put your guns down Komisar Laster. We outnumber you ten to one, you can see that with your fancy eye, if you want to see her again surrender now!” it was Larz.

Bright light filled the cave to reveal they were surrounded by Larz men. Laster put down his assault rifle making Sahar follow suit then they were divested of their pistols and led into a chamber hidden behind a large group of stalagmites that resembled organ pipes.

“No!” shouted Sam as he saw Mikala unconscious and strapped to a table, tubes came out of her wrists into a machine then out into a comatose Melian in a bed next to her, he struggled to reach her but was restrained.

Tak stood before them “It was very convenient for us that she matched his blood type, I would say she’ll last about half a day Komisar Laster. She might live if she gets a transfusion fairly soon, so you need to tell your men at the entrance to stand down, they’re being rather efficient at holding us off above ground and that bitch on the road is very good indeed, your men didn’t cut the landline quickly enough so we know all about them.”

He looked at Miki pale almost lifeless, he couldn’t let her die but he couldn’t let them get away with this!

“Well Laster, your answer?” demanded the Melian. “If we go and leave her now she may live, if not…”

He looked at Taylor. “So you’re not running this operation Professor, you’re letting an alien tell you what to do?”

“Nice try Komisar, you won’t split loyalties we all want the same thing.” he replied. “Oh by the way I’m not Professor Taylor he met with an accident when he arrived here and is buried in one of the tunnels.”

“I suppose this dig is fake too?”

“Oh no this is genuine enough there were three other archaeologists here” two of them met with accidents as well.” Taylor informed him.

“And the third?” asked Sam

“Is me!” snapped Tak. “He’s stalling take all the blood she’s got and bottle it up we’ll need it on the journey until we can get Skrik fixed.”

“Why do you need ver alive?” asked Laster.

“Skrik is useless to us dead we need ver to publically denounce Earth as a den of traitorous vermin.”

“I thought Skrik wanted peace between the worlds?” he had to keep them talking.

“Ve won’t when we’ve altered ver.” Viat smiled maliciously.

He appealed to Taylor. “Is that what you want, do you want to turn the clock back ten years, all that bloodshed, all that hatred?”

“He is stalling, speed the tranfuser up.” ordered Tak.

As Taylor attached some glass jars to the machine Laster saw movement in a dark tunnel at the other end of the chamber, Gunter?

“No don’t, I’ll call my men off.” He had to buy him some time.

“Sir?” queried Toki.

“How would you feel if it was Alu laid there?” asked Laster.

“A wise decision Komisar, you may yet have time to save her…”

The lights went out pitching the room into total darkness lit by muzzle flashes as automatic fire reverberating around the chamber. Laster dragged Toki to the floor, his targeting eye showing him quite clearly that this was not Gunter and his reinforcements. The light returned suddenly and through the flashes in her eyes Toki saw bodies lying everywhere and armoured soldiers stood around, Melian Tark!

Sam stood and rushed to Miki, military medics were working on both her and the ambassador. “She will recover Komisar Laster, I give you my word on that.” said their officer.

“Who are you?” asked Laster

“I am Kraz Vettifer of the Tark, we have been moored off your island’s coast waiting for Traz Viko to give us the signal, I hoped we would not be too late.”

The Melian medical team were giving Mikala a transfusion from a large silver case they had brought and some colour had already returned to her cheeks.

“This lot were already at the other entrance when we got there.” remarked Gunter who had arrived with his men. “Your alien friend had called them from the hospital.”

“Stok, Prida what of them?” Laster asked the Kraz.

“My troops assaulted the camp too… ah here is one of them.” A Melian soldier had appeared to converse with the officer. “They are all safe, some have been injured and a very angry female is refusing to be treated.”

“That’s got to be Helen, Gunter go and find her and tell I order her to let the Melians tend to her and tell her to stop fighting the war, it’s been over ten years.”

Viat Tak was being led past in handcuffs. “The struggle’s not over Laster.” ve snarled, Sam noticed that Larz and a few others had survived the firefight.

“What will happen to ver?” he asked.

“A very public trial then if ve’s lucky ve’ll be sent to a prison asteroid.”

“Tak’s crimes were committed on Osiris ve should be tried here.”

“Komisar you must know that cannot happen? The MA scum are yours to do with as you please, you could have had Taylor but…” the officer pointed to the ersatz professor’s bullet riddled body…

Mikala Salusen woke up in hospital to see Sam slumped in a chair next to her bed. “Hey wake up you!” she said prodding him.

He stirred “Miki I…”

“Sam, I shouldn’t have left when I did.” she interrupted. “You only did what you did to survive, I realise that now and you couldn’t help how you felt for the alien.”

“I know how I feel Miki now, I love you.”

“That’s good enough Sam, I love you too and when I’m out of here I want to meet Viko properly…”

Toki Sahar was cleaning her teeth thinking about her alien lover, Viko was now considered a hero and the whole of the Bliss Bay Polis had been awarded an honour by both Earthgov and the Melian stratocracy, Laster himself had been presented with the Shining Sirix medal.

Alu had promised to return as soon as possible but had warned that ve might be in the female phase by then. “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it” Toki had said.

She had gone with Sam and Miki to the spaceport to wish Alu a teary farewell and had watched the massive spacecraft roar into the sky, once beyond the orbit of Thoth it went into hyperspace to travel to the Sirix system, home to the planet Melia.

Alu had returned to the Melian home world just over a month now, Toki rinsed the toothbrush and turning side on to the bathroom mirror pulled in her stomach looking for the bump, not showing yet, too soon I suppose?

The End?

© Kyt Wright 2019