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Authors: Viola Grace

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

Hunting a Soul (6 page)

BOOK: Hunting a Soul
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“Alone. I will wait out here and Krix will no doubt fling himself at you the moment you return.” N’ran smiled at her and nodded to the door. “Go on through.”

“Are you sure?”

“I am. If you want to seek out the chaos shadow, this is your best opportunity. If you want to leave and seek another assignment, we can do that too.” He put his hand on her shoulder.

She put her gloved hand on his. “I need to do this. I will be back as soon as I can.”

Lee stepped up to the door, and she looked back at N’ran before pressing her hand against the doorplate. It swung open, and she stepped into shadows. Her senses rioted as she saw dozens of souls in the darkness. Tendrils of light curled around her and lifted her before she could run. A mind pressed on hers, and she tried to scream but everything went black.

 

The ship was in motion and Krix was nestled against her side.

She smiled and looked down at him. “Hey, you.”

He opened his tiny wings, flapped frantically and screeched. N’ran was at her side in seconds.

“How are you?”

She wrinkled her nose. “Fine. Are we heading to the archivist?”

He blinked. “We have already been and gone. We were sent the pathway that the killer took. Don’t you remember?”

She scowled. “No. The last thing I remember was you telling me that we didn’t have to go to the archivist if I didn’t want to.”

N’ran sat back on his heels. “And you don’t remember anything else.”

“No. What happened?”

“You were gone for six hours, and your body floated out of the archivist doors and into my arms. Krix didn’t seem too worried, but I told him to sound an alarm when you woke up. He did an excellent job.” He scratched Krix under his chin.”

“Aren’t you concerned by my missing time?”

He gave her a long look. “Do you feel ill, unwell, uneasy or abused?”

Lee ran a personal diagnostic. “Nope. I feel fine and well rested.”

“Good. Then, the archivist did what it felt it necessary to do.”

Lee sat up and swung her legs over the edge of the bed. “Where did my suit go?”

N’ran’s expression got a little embarrassed. “I panicked and thought you might have been injured, so I had to remove the exo suit for the onboard scanner. You were fine by the way.”

“Oh good. Out. I need to get dressed. You said we got a path?”

“We have a trail and we are on the hunt.” He got to his feet and took Krix with him. “We will get you some food. You have been asleep for twelve hours and two jumps.”

Lee sighed when the door closed. She was only wearing the pendant that Resicor had given her and the light sheet. With as much speed as she could, she pulled on her normal bodysuit and she sealed the closures.

She hauled a brush through her hair and left her quarters, following the scent of food. Krix was on the table and supervising the tray that N’ran had gotten ready for her. She fed Krix his food, and when he pecked at her sliced meat, she gave him a few pieces of that as well. He was getting close to his full transformation, and she hoped that she finished her mission before that happened. She wanted to greet the little ones without the darkness hovering over her.

 

Chapter Eight

 

 

Lee checked the route that the archivist had given them, and she had to admit that it made sense.

Two months after she had been arrested and placed in the dome, there had been a few episodes of falling stars. A month after that, the stars had risen from the surface to the sky. The map she had showed a path from Resicor to a Raider station, from the Raider station to a trade platform and seven planets after that. It had not moved from the most recent planet yet.

“Well, I think I know why I have all the blades.” Lee grinned over at N’ran.

“Why?”

“Males are rare on Trimlorith. A woman who can’t defend her man isn’t allowed to keep him. This could be why he hasn’t moved on yet. His previous bodies are all masculine, and on this world, men are kept close.”

His smile was wicked, “So, you have to keep me close?”

She gave him a bland look. “If I don’t, another woman will. I happen to have a partner that coordinates with my Yaluthu, so I will be keeping an eye on you. I am guessing it will be hard to find a comparable match.”

N’ran laughed out loud. “We enter their territory in four minutes. You might want to gear up. My honour is at stake.”

With a snort, Lee got to her feet and went to the bag of accessories she had been given. The straps that hadn’t made any sense now settled around her hips, thighs, calves, crisscrossed her chest and strapped to her arms. The knives went in next, the placement of the different sizes rotated until she could move fairly easily. Wearing enough metal and leather to make her consider less savoury occupations, she returned to the flight deck a moment before the Trimlorith forces hailed them.

Lee leaned forward and answered the hail. “This is the Citadel shuttle Tangyu out of Balen.”

A woman’s voice asked, “State your intent.”

“We wish to land and spend two days on the surface of your lovely world.”

N’ran typed a message, and she waited for the next question.

“What are you going to be doing?”

“We are here for a passive evaluation of your citizens to determine if any talents are surfacing.”

“And if that is the case?”

She read from the message. “We will ask your local governors to convene a tribunal to craft a policy that will allow the lady in question to stay or leave, as she chooses.”

“Fifty-two-hour pass is extended. If you require an extension, please contact the nearest peacekeeper offices. Have a pleasant stay.”

Lee swallowed when the ship that she had been speaking to cruised overhead. She made sure that the coms were off and she tried to remember how to breathe. “That is one big ship.”

“It is a Nuskan warship. Some of their warriors thought that the women of Trimlorith would be easy prey. Now, the ladies have possession and command of the warship.”

Lee nodded. “So, don’t leave the keys where they can get them. Gotcha.”

“They aren’t talented, so you will have an advantage. Now, do you have any idea where you want to land?”

“Land at the spaceport and we will take the skimmer out of the back. I can do a better scan of the area from the ground. From the sky, all I can do is see the bright spots.”

He nodded. “Right. So, how are we going to play it?”

“Well, the shadow would have had to have ridden someone down and either ditched it via suicide or been killed. From there, it would have had to have taken on another host within hours. It has to be around here.”

“I meant, did you want me to walk behind you?”

“Please. Krix will have to sit on my shoulder, but be prepared to grab him if I have any trouble.”

“Right.” He nodded.

Lee had to negotiate for a landing slip, but once she had completed that chore, she was scanning the horizon and working her way back toward the city.

By the time they had landed, she spotted two recently deceased beings and another means of attack came to her. “What if I simply ask the peacekeepers if there have been any recent deaths?”

He settled them in place and powered the ship down. “Do you think that will work?”

“I think that I can actually ask the dead who killed them.”

N’ran’s eyes widened in surprised amazement. “I suppose you can.”

“Let’s try that. If the dead are near the morgue, it will make things easier.”

She got to her feet, settled Krix on her shoulder pad designed just for him and she looked at N’ran. “You are okay with this?”

“I get to watch you walk without it being weird. I am definitely okay with this.” He wagged his eyebrows.

Lee headed out onto her first true alien world. Balen didn’t count; it was home.

She had all of Krix’s paperwork with her and customs was easy for a woman covered in knives. Most of the women she saw who had a man in tow wore no less than six knives. With ten blades on her body, Lee was confident that she was fitting in.

Directions to the peacekeeper headquarters were simple, and their little trio headed into Gorada, the capitol of Trimlorith.

N’ran murmured. “Are you sure we should speak with the peacekeepers?”

“I need to speak with the bodies. If one of them was killed by the shadow, we will have a name immediately, and if not, we can still identify their murderer.”

“Fair enough. What if they won’t listen to you?”

“I will make them listen.” She might put them at risk, but she was willing to do whatever was necessary to stop the rampage of the killer.

 

The peacekeepers laughed at her. They hooted and pointed at the crazy Citadel Master right up until the moment when Lee pulled the captain’s soul out and held it in her hands. The body dropped to the ground, and Lee put enough energy in it to make sure that the women around her could make out the features.

“Your drop probably bruised you but back you go.” Lee eased the captain back into her body.

Lee straightened again and addressed the room. “Now, again, my name is Soul Master Leadra of Resicor, and I am seeking murder victims from the last four weeks. I need a list of the locations of the bodies and someone to write down the names I am going to get from the souls.”

The captain shook her head and got to her feet. “I apologize for the laughter, Soul Master, but you can understand how it sounded. We don’t have talents here, though we acknowledge that they exist. You just need the bodies?”

“I am looking for one killer who has travelled from star to star, jumping from body to body. He must kill a body to free himself, but he can enter any that he chooses.”

The captain rubbed her arm. “That is very interesting, but how do you know that such a creature exists?”

Lee swallowed and said calmly. “Because I was there when he killed my parents, my sister and then, he freed himself by throwing my brother’s body off a bridge. He jumped into a local law enforcement officer and sneered at my grief. I was not able to stop him then, but I can do it now.”

The room was silent and only breathing could be heard.

“So, the victims?” She stood with her hands relaxed at her sides. No threat to anyone physically.

The captain jerked her head. “We keep the victims in storage until we solve the crime. You will be taken to all unsolved victims.”

“I only have two days here, so the sooner the better. Thank you.”

A woman with sergeant markings smiled nervously. “This way, please.”

Lee moved and N’ran followed her.

“He can’t come. A man isn’t allowed to be involved in an investigation.” The sergeant scowled.

“He is my partner; he also takes care of my creature. If you want to take care of Krix, you are welcome to try.”

Krix obligingly spread his stubby wings and screamed.

The sergeant watched as N’ran soothed the fluffy beast back into a calm doze.

“Right. Well, he can’t touch the bodies.”

“I don’t want to touch them either; I just want to pull the souls out and ask them some questions. Some folks may have moved on, but murder victims tend to linger.”

The sergeant didn’t answer; she led them down into the depths of the building.

Lee kept her senses open; she had checked every woman and the few men in the peacekeeper bullpen, but she hadn’t seen anything. All the souls were bright and unobscured.

“We don’t actually believe in souls, Soul Master.”

Lee smiled. “Some call it souls, others consciousness, others living energy, others the inner being. Whatever you call it, I can speak to it.”

The sergeant opened the storage room doors and let Lee and N’ran follow her inside.

The moment that they passed the heavy outer doors, Lee felt the aura that she had been searching for. “It can’t be that easy.”

N’ran spoke quietly, “What?”

“He’s in here. I can feel him.” Lee looked at the sergeant. “What happens to the bodies after they die?”

“Most citizens wear a flash unit that cools the body immediately and records time of death. We investigate and then store the victim.”

Lee looked at the walls marked with case numbers. “This one.”

The sergeant scowled. “That one isn’t a victim. He is a suicide at the scene of a crime. Three women were sliced to pieces in his immediate vicinity, but all of his family members said that he wasn’t violent and his last mental scans confirmed it. Our guess is that he saw the death of his loved ones and killed himself.”

There was a soul wrapped in darkness, and it was struggling. Lee looked around and frowned. “Is there any way you can lock me in here with the bodies? Alone, I mean. Not with N’ran.”

“No. I can’t leave you here with him. What are you going to do?”

She looked at N’ran. “I am trying to separate the shadow from his victim.”

“His victim is already dead.”

“Dead and trapped. The shadow seems to be trying to ride the soul that belongs to the body, out of the body.”

“Can’t you just do it now?”

Lee shivered. “I can try.”

She reached into the body and pulled on the souls, separating them as she removed them from their prison.

The victim was fighting her, screaming and trying to get away. It took all her effort to control him, which meant that the shadow didn’t have any difficulty in escaping her grip and going in pursuit of its next host.

With a quick gesture, she released the soul and she turned to N’ran. He was smiling, and there was a grey shadow across his eyes. “This body is amazing. Thank you.”

Lee reached for the shadow again and gripped it tightly.

“What do you think you are doing, little girl? You can’t fight the man who loves you.”

Lee was thrown back as N’ran struck her. She curled to land on one side, keeping Krix safe.

The sergeant stared from one of them to the other, but N’ran headed up the steps and was out of their sight in seconds.

“What just happened?”

“I just gave a mass murderer the best weapon he could have. I am only hoping that N’ran is still in there. This is not going to be easy.”

 

Chapter Nine

 

 

BOOK: Hunting a Soul
9.43Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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