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Authors: Viola Grace

Tags: #Romance, #Science Fiction, #Space Opera

Hunting a Soul (5 page)

BOOK: Hunting a Soul
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She nodded. “I did. It took a lot of effort and quite a bit of work on Krix’s part, but I got through it.”

Canevor opened her file. “Well, we will begin with the baseline scan and then get to the injections.”

“I just came for the shots.”

“It doesn’t work that way. To go on assignment, you need a medical check. When you return, you will be scanned again for damage or viruses. To do that, we compare your before picture to your after image.” He blinked all three eyes at random and then grinned.

“Fine.” She set Krix on the floor, and he went hopping around the centre, ducking out the door. “Coward.”

Canevor helped her into the scanner and ran the imaging unit over her from head to toe. When she had every organ on record, he kept her in the scanner while he injected her immunizations.

She shivered, felt hot and then cold.

Canevor scowled over her injections and patted her hand. “It will be over soon.”

Krix came skidding across the floor, and he jumped into the scanner before the healer could stop him. Just the small contact with him helped Lee relax into the riot in her body as she rode it out.

She asked through gritted teeth. “What did you give me?”

“The shots on the list. Your body is just not used to being hit with wounded types of diseases from a dozen different worlds.”

She rolled her eyes and gasped, “Do you think that putting in one at a time could have worked?”

He shrugged. “We will never know. Ah, you are coming out of it now.”

Krix rubbed against her.

Canevor looked at the scanner. He made a surprised sound. “And it seems that Krix is about to begin transformation. It looks like he will have quite the clutch of little ones.”

Lee looked down, and Krix was looking up with a pleased expression in his eyes. “Are you going to wait until we get back, or do you want to stay here with Veera?”

The peck on her leg was enough for her.

“There. Stable. Now a secondary scan and you are good to go. Come on, Krix. Out you come.”

Krix told him off but hopped out of the scanner. The full imaging was done a second time and Canevor was satisfied.

“You are cleared for assignments. I will put it in your file.” He nodded and went to his terminal.

“Thank you, Canevor. I will see you when I get back.”

“Take care.” He grinned and waved her off, lost in the readouts.

She scooped up Krix and put him back on her shoulder. He wasn’t really built for it, but he hung on like a mad thing, and he always healed the punctures.

She checked her wrist display and she still had an hour before it was time to return to the outfitter.

Her unit chirped and she lifted it to her mouth. “Hello?”

“Hi, Lee. It’s Veera. Are you interested in coming up for tea?”

“Now?”

“Yes. Zeyan is here and she is leaving tomorrow now that you are all settled.”

“On my way up.”

She stroked Krix, and he flapped his wings happily. He loved spending time with Fixit.

The lift was the only way to get to the upper level without exhausting herself, so she entered on the ground floor and pressed the icon for the upper level.

The reception desk was empty, but she could hear talking inside, so she followed the eager flapping of Krix and entered the main office.

In the couch area, Zeyan and Veera were sitting with a three-tier tray in front of them and several cups on a tray with a teapot.

“Lee, come in. Have a seat. Krix, Fixit is in the aerie down the hall. He is waiting to give you a good grooming.”

Lee set Krix down on the ground, and he quickly waddled toward the aerie.

It had taken her four days to go from Leadra to Lee, and she was content with the change. It made her feel part of something again and gave her the sensation that the folks around her knew her. She had friends again.

Lee settled down and Veera smiled as she poured the tea.

“He looks like he is going to evolve soon. That will mean little ones running around. Krix was Fixit’s youngest. It is going to be the end of an era for me. I feel like a grandmother watching the children going to higher education.” Veera sighed.

Lee sipped at her tea. “I was going to ask you to watch over him while I am gone, but he is insisting on coming with us.”

Zeyan shook her head. “I have no idea how you can be slaves to those little creatures.”

Veera snorted. “You wouldn’t have asked that if they had been around when you first left your home. You might have bonded with one of them instead of Orenn.”

Zeyan laughed. “I doubt it. I had a planet-sized hole in my psyche. A little guy like that couldn’t have filled it.”

Lee chuckled. “No, but he could have helped you seal it yourself so you weren’t draining yourself to death.”

Zeyan shrugged. “We will never know. Do you mind having him around?”

Lee looked at her, “I have no surviving family and my planet can offer me nothing. My community doesn’t want me. I checked.” She sighed. “Krix accepts me unconditionally, and since he knows when I need attention, he has become one of the dependable things in my life.”

“Point taken. He is adorable.” Zeyan lifted her teacup in a salute.

“So, you are definitely going?”

Lee nodded. “Yes, I have been to the outfitter and over to medical already. Whenever N’ran and I get clearance, we are gone. With Krix of course.”

“Did the outfitter put Krix’s food on the list? He is going to need to start on protein strips soon.”

Lee handed the list over. “Here it is.”

Veera nodded and nodded again. “Yup. She got it all. She even accounted for nesting in case you don’t make it home before he goes bald and has the babies. Did Canevor tell you how many?”

“No. He didn’t. Are they in there already?”

“Yaluthu are born pregnant. They have always been in there. He is a big fella so there is no telling how many he will have.”

Zeyan joined in properly. “What happens if he starts to change while he is on a ship?”

Veera shrugged. “He nests where he is. When all the feathers are gone, he will eat and sleep for a few days and then the babies will appear. After that, he won’t leave them, but he will grow the flight feathers over the course of a week or two. He will need a lot of protein. We had to guess with Fixit and watch what food he went after. Once he is a raptor, he will eat like a raptor.”

“Thanks. Can I get a notebook or something with all the instructions?” Lee bit her lip.

Veera and Zeyan laughed and the conversation turned to travelling in space on long-distance missions. Lee learned tricks to manage her hair in zero G.

When an hour was up, Krix came hopping back down the hall and he was a little balder. Apparently, it had been a thorough grooming session.

“Well, ladies, this has been lovely, but I need to collect a whole bunch of stuff I could never imagine needing.” She shifted Krix to her shoulder.

Veera smiled. “You will need them. The new suits and robes are on their way to your quarters.”

“New robes?” She stood up.

“Of course. You are now Soul Master Leadra. This was your official promotion tea.”

Veera and Zeyan toasted her.

Lee laughed. “Thank you. I was getting tired of white.”

“Don’t thank me. You earned it. Zeyan was a master of souls because she was born to be and you had to earn it. You earned it.” Veera grinned. “And you always have a home here.”

Lee nodded. “I know it. I feel it. Thank you, and now, off to get my presents.”

She left the ladies having tea and returned to the outfitter’s office for her loot. She looked forward to going through everything on the list and getting familiar with it.

She was going on a trip. She needed to be prepared.

 

Chapter Seven

 

 

Lee sat next to N’ran with Krix in a padded chair just for him. Lee watched the moves, the calculations and the buttons involved in gaining altitude and setting their route.

“I didn’t bother asking, where are we heading?” Lee cocked her head.

“Well, Soul Master Leadra, we are heading to the Narskuran archives where you are going to consult a seer with your memories to get a tracking point on that soul you were after.”

“They can do that?”

“They can, well, one of them can. Because your experience was felt and only seen through your talent, it will need a specialist.”

“Right. It makes a certain amount of annoying sense.” She smiled. “How long until we get to the archive?”

“Eighteen hours. You can either take a nap or get a flight lesson. It is your choice.”

“Can I choose both? One and then the other? I didn’t think we would be leaving before dawn.”

“It is easier to take off when you are already pointed in the right direction. It doesn’t save much time, but it does gives you the option to leave when no one expects it. You are simply gone with no endless rounds of hugs.”

“I would have liked the hugs.”

“And you would have cried and had to be soothed, and we would have set off with more than just a lost night’s sleep on your mind. Yes, you can rest. I will be here, watching the stars.” N’ran gave her a calm nod. “Have your nap. I will be waiting.”

She unbuckled her harness and made her way to the back the moment that they left Balen orbit. It was juvenile but she wanted some time alone, and getting her nap in now increased the chances later. In her quarters, she snuggled under the sheets and let her fatigue rock her to sleep. She was on the edge when her door opened and irritated chirps came through her dozy state as Krix wanted to cuddle. She reached down and bundled him up and onto her bed. He curled against her chest, and she was back in dozing mode in seconds.

The ship rocked and swayed a bit as they passed the moons, but then, she felt their engines engage and they were on their way.

 

A few hours later, she scooped Krix in her arm and returned to the flight deck. She settled in next to N’ran and smiled. “Did you need anything? Tea, water, caf?”

“Tea would be nice.”

She patted him on the shoulder and headed to the galley, working through the stages of crafting tea on a spacecraft with only a little awkwardness. She had two cups with lids by the time she returned to N’ran.

“Did you have to grow the leaves?”

“No, I had to reconstitute the water.” She kept her voice dry and handed him his cup.

He chuckled and took a sip. “Thank you.”

“You are welcome. How long was I out?”

“Krix kept you out for ten hours. It gets a little boring sitting up here, so I was reading the Resicoran news.”

She perked up and he expanded the display to take up all space in front of them. She read about elections, the regulations for division of represented bodies, including talents, the untalented and the psychics who had to stand for ethics exams any time they spoke in public. An identifier was always there to keep them from taking control of the crowd.

Steps were being made to turn Resicor into a fair world and aliens were now being welcomed via the gates that had been created by Resicor herself.

“So much has changed.” Lee whispered it.

“But for the better.”

“Yes, but I know when I go back, I won’t be able to recognize anything.”

“So they are moving on without you.”

“Yup.”

“How do you feel about that?”

“It proves I am still alive. I am moving on without them. We are not a symbiotic creature; I can live my life without them and they without me.”

“Where would you like to make your home?”

She laughed. “I like Balen, but it is the only other world I have ever been to. I look forward to seeing more of the universe.”

“Would you consider a tour on Repsak? We have had two chaos shadows fairly recently and more about a decade ago.”

“Why is that so unusual?”

“Like Resicor, there is nowhere for them to travel. We didn’t have any visitors from other worlds. We did all of our business on a space station. They had to have taken a body there and ridden one of our own to the surface. Worse, they did it twice.”

“Did your people have enough power to destroy them?”

“No, all we could do was have them placed in a coma patient and launched into space.”

She winced. “Were the patients aware?”

“No, they were both dying. Their bodies would not have lasted another two weeks.”

Lee sighed. “I hope I can offer a better alternative. I really hope my training pays off.”

He laughed. “It will.”

“Thank you for your faith in me. This is all new to me, including meeting an archivist on an alien world.”

“It is more of a set of space stations linked together. The archivist we are seeing is in a gaseous area, so you will need full containment. The suit with the silver striping.”

“When will we be there?”

“Well, it is on the far side of this nebula, so just look around and enjoy the sights.”

She stared out and watched the stellar gas clouds in pink, yellow and vibrant blue mingle and twist into every colour imaginable. “It’s beautiful.”

“Yes, it is. I thought you were going to sleep through it.”

She ignored him and stared out at the first true look at the stars she had ever had. The trip from home to Balen had been rough, and she had spent it in back with Fixit. This was her first honest look at her new job site. She was going to take it in.

Krix came over and sat in her lap, climbing up her using beak and claw. He settled against her and wiggled his toes, chirping happily at the view from the navigator station.

She didn’t blame him; it was a great view.

 

Her exo suit was more rigid than her normal clothing, but she looked at the gas-filled archive with wide eyes that ignored the small field that parted her from the smothering atmosphere. Krix didn’t like staying with the ship, but there was no comfortable place for him in the archive, and, hopefully, the archivist would be able to help with the location.

“From here on, you must go alone. The archivist needs a clean reading, and since you were the only one of us there, you are the one who must communicate with it, to pass along the details.”

She swallowed nervously. “Alone?”

BOOK: Hunting a Soul
3.91Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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