Mission Born: Space Twins - Chapter 15
Chapter 5 Twins Divided
Chapter 6 World's Apart
Chapter 7 Escape from Planet Orc
Chapter 8 Twin's Flight
Chapter 9 Docked in Space
Chapter 10 Knowledge Unbound
Chapter 11 Decisions
Chapter 12 Training
|Photo courtesy of Pixabay via Pexels|
As they boarded the Twins’ ship, Winterlocke went over and turned the pilot’s chair toward her so that Kat could sit down easily. Kat had simple trader clothes on, which actually meant extravagantly colorful and richly textured. It was a vibrant rainbow of neon colors. Her hair was put up into one solid braid, and her locks of black hair spilled out the back. She looked like a wild frontier woman - ready for anything. Jess was quite impressed, as could be seen on her awestruck, smiling face.
Winterlocke went to the couch Walter had been on during the last trip. He sat down and then strapped himself in quickly. Walter took the couch seat next to Winter and strapped himself in as well. They looked like a father/son duo going on a rollercoaster ride from Old Earth. Neither of them was smiling, but for different reasons. Winter really wanted to fly himself everywhere, and Walter knew it was just moments away from another passing-out journey into translight.
“Just plug Doo-dad into the translight computer; he has the coordinates for our mission. I know it is still in frontier space, but the communication didn’t say exactly where we were going, just that it was highly dangerous.” Winterlocke shrugged and then sat back.
“Soooo, you want me to plug in some rogue droid and let it catapult us into an unknown dangerous place??” Kat squinted at Winter, holding the look for several minutes, letting him know she disapproved.
“Ummm, yeah, pretty much.” Winterlocke shrugged again and sat there, looking relaxed and not the least bit worried.
“Okay, fine. Old Man just has to do it again…. 'No secrets,' I say, and what does he do…? Secrets…. Ack! Oh well. Time to fly…. guess I was bored anyways!” All of this was said under her breath but loud enough for the twins and Winter to hear.
With a twist of a few knobs, a flick of a couple switches, and a nod of her head, Kat shifted the ship off of the landing platform and out into space. She flew the ship so close to one of the moons that Winter almost ripped the arm of the couch off as he gripped tightly in fear of hitting the moon. Kat was just using the moon’s gravitational pull to slingshot them into open space. Once there, she had the robot click into the computer port and calculate the translight jump. Doo-dad plotted the course and then activated the translight drive without telling his human companions, which gave everyone a sense of vertigo and possible whiplash. Walter passed out quietly, his head resting on Winterlocke’s shoulder. Winter just sighed heavily and sat there, not looking too happy. Jess was up front and engaged Kat in conversation for the duration of the trip, which Kat could be seen happily responding to each of Jess’ questions.
A few hours later, Walter awoke in the translight tunnel. He was dizzy, but able to drink some kind of juice from a container. He was just about to ask a question when they came out of translight with a small, almost audible, 'pop' in the cabin. The sight before them was a giant blue and white orb, much larger than Earth and a bit smaller than Jupiter. “Ah…great…just…great….” Kat sighed and swiveled the pilot’s chair toward everyone. “Um, this is not great news. We are entering the Mermen’s home world. First, they are tribal and have no real patience for outsiders. Second, the world is all ocean, with maybe a few islands that we can land on. Third, they will know the moment we land.”
“Uh, you sound like they are gonna kill us or somethin’….” Jess raised an eyebrow at her.
“Kat’s right; they are tribal. Although they will know we are here, it doesn’t mean they are going to harm us. Many people trade with the Mermen, and that should get us an ‘in’ with them.” Winterlocke sighed heavily, “The other part of Doo-dad’s message was that the fleet will be here soon to decimate the population of the Mermen with a barrage from space, much like the assault on the homeworld of the Orcs.”
This news hit everyone hard. They were definitely in harm’s way, now. “How long ‘til the fleet gets here, Winter?” Jess asked quietly, almost in tears. “Aw, kid, don’t worry. Doo-dad says we have a couple of days. They are trying to approach from a different area of this system so that it is more of an ambush. They don’t know that we know.” He patted her on the shoulder in sympathy. “I know you kids have been through a lot. And, regrettably, we have a lot more to go, because you two are going to help me rescue my brother and the Mermen at the same time. Here’s the plan….”
After a few hours in orbit, Kat found a perfect small island to land on. The sand was pure white and softer than anything Walter or Jess had known. They both sat down in the sand and enjoyed the gentle breeze coming off the water that surrounded them. Soon, drowsiness overcame them and they ended up sleeping right there. Winterlocke stretched a tarp out from attachments at the wing of the ship down into the sand using stakes. It covered the twins so they would not get sunburned.
Kat and Winter looked at each other and just shook their heads and laughed. “Ya know Old Man, this is remindin’ me of another ‘venture we went on. One that ended better than most, but it was a tight victory, no room for any kind of accidents. You get my meanin’?”
“Yes, Kat, I told you the WHOLE plan, there’s nothing else. Also, I remember that mission, you were the one that pulled it back together when the plan went sideways. I think we are in good hands.” He smiled a warm heartfelt smile. She responded in kind with a smirk and a slap on his back that made him fall forward a little, catching himself with his hands on his knees.”
“Kat, I’ve missed you….” Winter looked at her, his eyes softening. She remembered those eyes, the eyes of a young Templar Captain who had been foolhardy, and ready to take the fight to those who would threaten the citizenry. “Winter, you shouldn’t have left… We needed you, and you left. Holed up with the Gnomes for... who knows why?… I needed you….”
Winterlocke hung his head and put his hand out against the hull of the ship, as if he were weary and needed it’s help to keep him up. “I didn’t want to leave, Kat. I was young, I had lost all of my men…. I needed some time to straighten things out.” He pushed his hand off of the hull with his arm, swiveled toward her, and looked her in the eyes. “I am focused now. I will never let you or anyone else, dear to me, down again!” He smiled at her, took her hand in his, and kissed it lightly. “I will fight for you to the death.” He smiled and did a soldier’s bow.
Kat just took her hand and wiped it on her shirtfront. “Ew, you got slobber all over my hand Old Man!” She chuckled and fell down on the sand, sitting there laughing. Winterlocke sat down next to her. That’s when they noticed the tall humanoids standing near the front of the shuttle.
The Mermen were never mentioned in any specific histories, other than the fact they existed. The traders had myths about them: that they lived on a stormy planet, where they came out of the water, looking like vicious toothy piranha-faced humanoids. What now stood before them was exactly the opposite. The three strangers stood solemnly, waiting to be noticed. If they had walked out of the ocean, then they had done it with so much grace and stealth Winterlocke and Kat had not heard them. The merman in front was amazing to look at. He had silver and white pearlescent scales covering the parts of his body you could see. Armor of the most intricate detail lined his torso and legs, also that same pearlescent white. Kat could see that the armor looked ceremonial, but there was an underlying strength in what she assumed were mostly shells of crustaceans. Overall, the word for the leader was 'regal.' Winter was observing the merman’s companions, which were also Mermen, but their scales were gray with a pearlescent effect of blue and purple. They all carried long, slender spears. The leader carrying one with a green and gold ribbon of seaweed.
The head merman turned to them and talked slowly, “You have been summoned by Her Highness Urlana. You will come with us.”
It was spoken so matter-of-factly that they just stood there, stunned. Kat was the first to shrug it off. “Uh, we don’t really have a way of breathing under water….”
The merman smirked and held up his hand, touching the spear where the ribbon was attached. Suddenly, a submersible appeared crashing through the waves as it came up from under the water. Winterlocke turned to the leader, “We need to get our stuff and wake the kids. If that’s okay….” The gleaming merman looked at him, narrowing his opal-like eyes and smiled, “I do not think that will be necessary,” and pointed behind Winter toward the twins, whom were very much awake and heading toward them, supplies in hand.
“It seems you are ready. You may call me Wathu. The Queen is awaiting your arrival. She was alerted by the Gnomes - we have a very good relationship with them. Now, if you could board the ship; we must be away. The armada will be here in a day or two, and we need to plan.” With that, Wathu turned swiftly and walked toward the submersible.
“Don’t worry guys, I built in a security system, remember, Wally?” As she said this she pulled a small remote from her pocket and pressed a button. Their starship closed all portals and slid bulkheads down over all windows. A loud robotic voice shouted, “BACK OFF BUCKAROO!”
Jess was smiling from ear to ear. “I added that last part, perty good eh?”
“Yeah, if you like technology that sounds like it came from Earth’s Old West era….” Walter chimed in. “But yeah, Jess, I like what you’ve done, it’s definitely turning into a home we can trust.” He smiled, shaking his head. “This life just keeps getting more and more interesting.”
The group of them followed the Mermen onto the submersible. As they entered, the door came down slowly. The last glimpse of the ship was one of blue and white surrounding their gleaming vessel, sun glinting off its elegant sides.
“Well, brother, we’re helpin’ people we don’ even know. I hope you’re happy, ‘cause we got a big coupla days ahead of us.” She winked at him. She always did love an adventure, even if it was highly dangerous and life-threatening.
“If we can help, Sis, then we should…” He smiled at her and settled into a chair for the trip to the Queen. Winterlocke put a hand on Walter’s shoulder, smiling at him in pride. Kat smirked and pushed Winter into a chair. “Come on, Old Man, we can’t let ya get hurt before we even get there!” Jess laughed and Walter smirked over at them all. This was turning into a family he could love, something more than just the two of them had ever had before. His eyes watered a little, and he sat back. Walter didn’t notice, but his sister looked over at him and just nodded in satisfaction. She sensed what he was feeling, and the feeling was a good one.