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Home of my tech rants, free programs, and a story or two…

Space 2315, Peace… Chapter 2

Chieftain Mar’qul Doomscreamer rode in an armored fighting vehicle down the main thoroughfare of Sha’tok City, the planetary and imperial capital of the Vonosh Empire. The chieftain looked out the armorplast window at the front of the vehicle to see the planet’s primary rising in the distance. Vie Ossa A was a large blue-white star around which the throne world, Vie Ossa-A V orbited. The other planets closer to the star were barren or irradiated rocks that the Vonosh were busy stripping of all natural resources. The other sun would be rising soon after. Vie Ossa B was a smaller, orange star around which three planets orbited that the Vonosh had colonies or outposts on, including their horribly irradiated and toxic home world.

Ahead in the distance was the Hall of Warriors, home to the Vonosh Empress and the Vonosh Warchief. A thick, high wall of steel-reinforced concrete surrounded the sprawling palace and its grounds. Atop the walls and the palace itself were numerous plasma cannons designed to repel threats from both the air and land. The oddly shaped roofs of the palace were the most distinctive feature of the Hall of Warriors. They were sloped in the pagoda style that was much like what the humans of Earth had built centuries ago in what they called Asia.

Of course, no human had ever set foot on the imperial capital world to make that observation. No human ever would either; for that matter, no other species would as well. That is, if the Imperial Vonosh Deep Space Navy had anything to say about that. The only reason other species were on their planet was because they were enslaved.

Mar’qul growled, low in his throat at that thought. Some of his armed retinue glanced at him but made no move to question his growl. Mar’qul’s clan had the third fewest ships in said navy. The Lightning Fang Clan totaled only two-hundred-fifty ships, with only eighty of those being battleships or larger. A clan fleet that size was almost embarrassing.

Every clan in the Vonosh Empire had ships of their own that were a part of the greater Imperial Fleet. Even so, each ship still owed allegiance to their clan and chieftain. It was an odd way of running a navy, but it was one that worked for centuries. It had subjugated dozens of worlds and star systems and six other species in the galaxy, those other species were then forced into enslavement or slaughtered. It worked and nobody saw any reason to change it.

All of Vonosh society was based on the clans. All Vonosh swore their lives to their individual clans and then to the monarch and warchief second. Across the millennia, the Council of Chieftains, the warchief, and the monarch held the Vonosh Empire together. There were uprisings and insurrections against the empire; however, they were put down in short order.

Only one time did it nearly fall apart, back when a coalition of ten clans led by the still infamous Black Sun Clan usurped the throne and killed the reigning emperor and warchief. They seized command of the Empire and started their own dynasty. Over time, infighting weakened that coalition and the loyalist clans banded together after a century to revolt against the Black Sun Clan and their allies. After a long, bloody, protracted war in space and the colony worlds the rightful emperor’s descendant was back on the throne.

The Second Vonosh Civil War saw the near extinction of the Black Sun Clan and their allies. All but a small handful of those clans existed today; their remnants hunted down and exterminated like traitorous mek’loth. In the process, large tracts of the home world were leveled and rendered uninhabitable for millennia because of the free use of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. Even the capital city was battered so hard that not one stone stood atop another. The victorious clans raised their battle-axes and rifles into the sky and beheld a hollow victory after their empire was nearly torn apart and the home world was blasted into a wasteland. Since then the brightest minds in the Empire had taken to the task of restoring the home world to its once lush state.

Eventually everything settled down and the Vonosh had moved their capital to the throne world they were on now. The faith in the emperor and the clan system was restored. The home world was all but a blasted cinder even after centuries, with only a few military and research outposts and a maximum security prison operating on it. Scientists assured the empire that in a few centuries the Vonosh could begin resettlement of small portions of the home world; however public sentiment for such an endeavor was low.

Mar’qul looked around the imperial capital and beheld the immense city. Pride and strength was evident everywhere. At every corner there was a battle-armored warrior keeping eye over the general populace. Immense war factories, forges, and refineries dotted the skyline while tall skyscrapers reached into the sky to house the civilian population. Banners of the empress’s clan, the Bright Sun Clan, with its yellow field and blue-white sunburst in the center, flew from every flagpole in the city. The imperial capital dwarfed his clan’s capital on the southernmost continent.

In the distance, atop the Hall of Warriors more banners fluttered in the hazy morning sky. It was to there that Mar’qul had a meeting of the Council of Chieftains. Two other armored fighting vehicles drove beside his, one on each side. A chieftain was allowed an armed retinue into the imperial city and palace grounds, however once inside the Hall of Warriors itself each chieftain was only allowed four armed guards. The handpicked guards were young and fierce, the strongest his clan could produce, and fanatically loyal to Mar’qul.

The massive gates to the palace grounds opened with a groan that was audible even through the vehicle’s armored skin. His vehicle moved into the grounds as the gates closed behind it. Already the driver was piloting the vehicle toward the motor pool where several others were already parked. The grounds surrounding the palace was a maze of earthworks, food stores, armories, forges, stables, parade grounds, defensive batteries, and barracks. Vonosh from all the clans guarded it, some in modern battle armor, and some in older plate mail armor.

The driver set the vehicle down and Mar’qul got out after the four guards. Each guard was in modern battle armor. Each of them carried an axe strapped across their backs and a shield on one arm and a plasma rifle on their hips.

Mar’qul was dressed in more traditional Vonosh garb and wore antique black lacquer full plate armor and helm over that. Across his back was the mighty zortrium sword that bore the same name as his, the Doomscreamer, as well as a plasma rifle on his hip. The sword was heavy, even by Vonosh standards, but he managed to wield it effectively even in one hand while in melee combat. When he dropped his round shield and held the sword two-handed, he was death incarnate.

There were not too many chances anymore to engage in open melee anymore. The last time he’d engaged anyone in hand-to-hand combat had been a squad of Royal Zaltaen Marines that he and a few others ambushed while conquering a Zaltaen world. His sword had cut through their battle armor like it had been so much butter. He ambushed and felled four Zaltaen Marines before his men dropped even one with their plasma rifles. It was a glorious battle!

Now, however, he kept his sword sheathed as he walked up to the mighty adamantium doors that stood in the entrance to the palace. The adamantium that made up the doors was the strongest, most expensive metal ever forged by Vonosh smiths and was neigh impenetrable. Rumor had it that the only things that could breach the armored doors and walls of the Hall of Warriors was the strongest energy weapons or kinetic bombardment rounds launched from orbit. That hardened armor laughed at anything smaller. Six guards stood outside dressed in the ornate royal armor that made his own black lacquer armor look downright drab by comparison. He found their armor to be gaudy, but it was the armor chosen by the empress herself, so he held his tongue. What the empress said was the will of the gods. The empress spoke for the gods, thus making her ruler and chief priestess at the same time.

One of those guards was of his own Lightning Fang Clan. Instinctively the male stiffened to attention and almost saluted his chieftain but held back at the last second when he remembered where he was. By precedent and tradition, on the palace grounds, the empress was the only one he should salute. Mar’qul was second to the empress, as was every other chieftain. Instead, the male gave him a very respectful, yet stiff nod. Mar’qul returned it as he did the nods from the other five males or females.

In moments, the palace doors were open with mechanical swiftness and he and his bodyguards were in the palace. They passed through the security foyer where four more guards stood behind a desk with controls to the auto cannons and various other nasty surprises awaiting unwanted visitors that might make it past everything outside the palace.

Beyond that, the Grand Foyer spread out before the five of them. Gilded floor tiles ran the length of the open room. Fine rugs from many worlds adorned the floor. Vonosh Imperial and Bright Sun Clan banners hung from the ceiling, the walls, and railings of the floors above them. The walls and ceiling were made of marble and intricate carvings of important events in the empire’s history were set into the stone. Statues of emperors and empresses long dead were on display around the entire room.

There were hardly any windows in sight, glass or otherwise, the better to guard against outside assault and almost all light inside the Grand Foyer was artificial. Royal guards were everywhere, as were members of the royal court and slaves (both Vonosh and alien, though mostly alien). Six royal guardsmen and a member of the royal court strode up to them. The courtier bowed to him then spoke up, saying, “Welcome to the Hall of Warriors, great and mighty Mar’qul Doomscreamer of the Lightning Fang Clan. The empress and the Council of Chieftains await your arrival.”

In the back of his mind Mar’qul thought, This had better be worth it! I need to get back to my clan capital and plan our next move against the Zaltaens! If our campaign goes well, my clan and my closest allies will have their own planet! I can move my clan’s capital off the throne world and further away from the prying eyes of the royal court! I just have to make sure that the other clans don’t try and lay a stake on it as well!

The guards and the courtier led Mar’qul and his own guards up one of the grand staircases that went up to the second level. A velvet red and gold rug ran down the staircase and wooden handrails were on the sides. The small party came onto the second floor where even more royal statues and a few plants from all over the empire were held. The place was needlessly opulent so in his mind. The palace was the only place in the empire where such opulence and decadence was held. Everywhere else in the empire things were functional, with no beauty or aesthetics. Warriors didn’t need aesthetics. Aesthetics were for weaker races that allowed for other things to distract them from other, more important things; like honor and strength.

They were led to a room where several other Vonosh just like his own bodyguards were sitting or standing. Each of them had a hand on a weapon of some sort, a true telling of how little some of them trusted each other. Even here the clan rivalries were strong. The courtier turned and to Mar’qul and his guards, “By tradition, you’re only allowed two bodyguards in the Hall of Chieftains. Choose and you may proceed.”

Mar’qul chose two of the strongest and fiercest of the four and took them with him into the inner chamber. A slave, a Vonosh himself, announced him. All eyes in the room turned toward Mar’qul as he walked in to find a chair around the huge rectangular granite table.

He took his place beside Mir’shor Firedancer of the Fire Claw Clan. On her back was a mid-sized armor defeating flanged mace. The weapon was made of hardened neutronium. The hardened weapon could crush even the toughest Vonosh armor, let alone any armor made by Zaltaens. The Fire Claw Clan was the closest ally of the Lightning Fang Clan and Mar’qul looked at Mir’shor with a friendly look that betrayed none of his intentions to marry his fellow chieftain. She returned the look with a toothy smile.

Mar’qul looked around at the rest of the gathered chieftains and found allies, rivals and chieftains who were neutral towards his clan. One chieftain, Al’qul Deathcaller of the Dire Fang Clan glared right at him and Mir’shor both. Mar’qul glared right back at him. Tensions between the two clans had come to a head in the last few months and outright war between them was resolved only by the intervention of the empress and the warchief. The entire incident still left their clans bitter toward one another, but at least a semi-peaceful solution had been found before a very bloody miniature war could break out between them and their allies.

He gauged the feeling of the room and found that he could sense a feeling of apprehension. Most of the assembled chieftains knew something was up, but didn’t know what. Mar’qul thought he knew what it was. Humans were recently discovered. That must be it. His clan was one of the few to know about them this soon because his clan was actively fighting the Zaltaens. The few Zaltaen prisoners that were taken all spoke of some new race in the galaxy.

More chieftains came in and the entire table was filled, all except for one chair. Mar’qul looked toward that chair just before a brass gong was hit that drew the assembled chieftains’ attention. A member of the royal court appeared in the only other doorway which led into the room and called out, “Presenting the Empress of the Vonosh, Chief Priestess of the Vonosh, Defender of the Realm, and Chieftain of the Bright Sun Clan, Her Majesty Nal’ah’Shan Bonebreaker!”

By tradition, all of the chieftains rose from their chairs and removed their helmets to greet their sovereign. Empress Nal’ah’Shan strode in with four bodyguards (she was the only chieftain that was allowed four), and wore armor even more ornate than the palace guards. It was gaudy as hell but was supposed to be the strongest armor forged by Vonosh smiths. It was made of layers of adamantium plates and had short spikes at the knees, elbows, and shoulder plates. Heavy gauntlets, greaves and a gunmetal colored helmet with horns on the top completed the armor, thus giving the empress the look of a demon out of folklore. On the empress’s back was the jeweled scepter that had been passed on down through the centuries, from one emperor to another since the beginning of the empire.

The empress took her place at the head of the table and remained standing. Following tradition everyone bowed to her. She in turn bowed to them. She may be the empress, but she was still a chieftain among chieftains. After the pomp and circumstance was over the chieftains seated themselves, however the empress remained standing. She too removed her helmet and looked around the table. Flashing her teeth at them, she spoke, her voice loud and commanding, “I greet you all, chieftains of the Vonosh Empire. I have called the Council of Chieftains to order to discuss something that has arisen recently.

“Some of you may have already heard about this or may have seen leaked reports, but we have a new enemy to face! A new species that can be subjugated and added to the greater glory of the Vonosh Empire! A new chance for glorious combat, bloodshed, mighty deeds, songs to be written, and more planets to call our own!” She looked around the table and so did Mar’qul. The chieftains were looking at their sovereign with anticipation. The thought of a new enemy out there thrilled many of them. The empress reached into a pocket on her belt and slid a datacard into a slot in the desk in front of her. A holographic projection appeared above the center of the table. In that projection was a ship, a blue-green planet surrounded by orbital installations and a figure of a pink-skinned male and female.

It was exactly what Mar’qul expected. He looked back to his empress when she spoke again, “This species is called human. As you can all see, they are a young race; pitiful, weak, and should offer hardly any resistance to our forces. Nevertheless, what the humans lack in physical strength they make up for in technology and bioengineering. A truly adaptable species, yet one that we can overcome and conquer! One we will overcome! One that we must overcome by the will of the gods!

“From what we can tell from captured Zaltaen prisoners, their home world is a planet they call Earth in a star system they call Sol. We have no idea where this star system is, but we know of others out there. They are locked in a civil war that we can use to our own advantage. The biggest power is called the Human Federation and the next largest is the Allied Colonies for Freedom. They are fighting amongst themselves and are making each other weaker in the process! We will descend upon their entire race and rout their forces like a hot wind!

“We have no evidence that the humans have made any contact with our most hated enemy, the Zaltaens!”  Low growls erupted from all of their throats at the mere mention of the Zaltaens. They were the only race so far to truly challenge them, to hinder their charge across the galaxy as commanded by their gods. “As far as we can tell, the humans have no idea that we or the Zaltaens exist.” The empress let them simmer for a few moments before she turned her full attention to Mar’qul. He didn’t like how she was looking at him. “Chieftain Mar’qul Doomscreamer of the Lightning Fang Clan, please rise.”

“Yes, your grace!” he responded, suiting words to action. He came to stiff attention at her command. “I have intelligence from my clan and several other clans letting me know that your clan has almost finished the complete conquest of the Sie Caleb Star System,” she stated, rather matter-of-factly, as if everyone in the room knew what his clan was doing. “Tell me, how were the Zaltaens there?”

Mar’qul bristled at the thought that his clan’s security was breached thus so. However, she was the empress and had her sources. Surely, nobody from his own clan would betray his or her own clan to the empress’s clan! Clan loyalty went too deep for that. It had to come from outside his clan. If he ever found out who betrayed his clan in such a way, he would make sure that that Vonosh paid dearly! Was it…?

He glanced at Al’qul Deathcaller and saw the briefest of a toothy grin on his face. Mar’qul had to forcibly restrain himself from vaulting over the table, unsheathing the Doomscreamer, and running the other chieftain through. The empress must’ve seen the murder in his eyes for she spoke up saying, “Mar’qul, I will remind you that the Council of Chieftains is a gathering place for the clans to try and work together for the good of the empire. Restrain yourself now!”

“Yes, your grace,” he replied, visibly calming himself down.

“Now, answer my question. You have been given an order by your empress, now obey it!”

“Yes, your grace. I report that we have the planet almost completely pacified. My clan’s ships have secured the high orbitals of the main planet and we are finishing mopping up the few remaining pockets of active resistance.”

“Why haven’t you used orbital bombardments as a demonstration of why they shouldn’t resist us?” Nal’ah’Shan asked him.

“Because, your majesty, and may I point this out to all of the chieftains, that an orbital bombardment is effective as a deterrent and for taking out heavily fortified targets; a general bombardment horribly ruins the real estate.” He flashed a grin and all of the chieftains chuckled. “We chose to surgically bombard hardened targets and to go through with a ground invasion in order to give my warriors all of the bloodshed they could want.”

“So, the planet is nearly taken?” the empress asked.

“Yes, your majesty. Within the next two weeks or less the planet should offer no more resistance to the Lightning Fang Clan and her allies.”

“Ah, very good,” the empress said, sitting back in her chair and lacing her fingers together. “Since the planet and the entire star system will fall under the empire’s control, I will ask you to allow my Bright Sun Clan to have… two-oh percent of the main planet.”

Mar’qul hesitated before answering, “Yes, your grace. It shall be done.”

“Yes,” she said, knowing full well the traditions of the empire. She knew that the other chieftain wasn’t happy about giving up land, but her clan was the royal clan. When it asked, you gave. It was that simple and it was how things worked for centuries. “Now, if there is nothing else of pressing concern, I will adjourn this meeting of the Council of Chieftains.” She stood up to leave, and when she did all the chieftains rose with her. Everyone bowed to her and she to them. The empress picked up her helmet and put it back on before leaving the room.

Mar’qul put his helmet back on and quickly left with his guards. He moved so swiftly that the other two guards outside reacted with shock as how fast he was going. They fell into step beside him as he stormed out of the room and down the stairs. Mir’shor Firedancer followed quickly behind him with her own guards. She tried calling out to him but he ignored her.

When they were outside the palace he rounded on the other chieftain and growled, “I cannot believe that! We and our allies won that planet! Our clans!” he exclaimed, pounding a fist against his chest. “The empress has the gall to order me to surrender twenty percent of the primary planet to her clan despite the fact that her clan didn’t fight on those worlds! Damn it!”

“Mar’qul,” Mir’shor pleaded, “Calm down. It’s not something that every clan hasn’t had to go through.”

“I know, but her clan didn’t fight for that system! Didn’t bleed for it! My clan did and so did yours!”

“I know; you don’t have to tell me about it. I was there with you in several of the battles on the ground. But she is the empress.”

“Yes, she is the empress, and thus her and her clan is entitled to a share in the spoils. That doesn’t mean I have to like it!”

“I don’t either,” Mir’shor said. “But it’s the way it is.”

“I know,” he replied, finally calming down. “Now, I must get back to my clan’s capital. I have much to do.”

The total silence in the armored vehicle was palpable and set the four guards with Mar’qul on edge. Only the engine’s hum could be heard as the guards watched their chieftain warily on the way back to their clan’s capital. Mar’qul sat in a rigid posture that hid the rage that was coursing through his body at the moment. His clan, as well as Mir’shor’s, fought long and hard for the new system they were conquering, and now he had to simply turn around and offer a portion of it to the Bright Sun Clan?

It was something that happened all the time. By tradition, the sovereign’s clan was to have a part in the spoils of war; an insurance policy which made sure that no clan could ever escape the eyes of the royal clan.

Mar’qul had half a mind to call ahead to his clan’s capital and order them to war against the Dire Fang Clan. If he acted soon enough maybe his clan could overpower the other clan by surprise. Only the knowledge that his clan could never withstand the beating it would receive in that war held him back.

Once the shock faded, the Dire Fang Clan would regroup and destroy his clan. With much of his clan off world and their fleets away, he had only the defenses on the throne world. He had four-hundred-fifty-five-thousand soldiers to attack a clan that was fully entrenched behind their lines, that held the advantage of knowing the land intimately and had almost three quarters of a million soldiers on the throne world alone, not counting civilians.

Maybe after his marriage to Mir’shor their combined clan would have the numbers to assault the Dire Fang Clan’s lands and space force directly and reduce the clan to a memory. It would be a long and hard fight, but he knew in his heart that the battle would be in his favor.

For now, Mar’qul shoved the bloodlust down and forced himself to focus. It was a fight that every Vonosh had to battle; the battle against the rage in their veins. From what he could tell it came from the Vonosh’s genetic ancestry, when the Vonosh were feral beasts upon the plains of their home world. The early Vonosh had been predators, driven purely by instinct with no thought or reason behind what they did besides survival. At some point or another the Vonosh awakened to the greater capacities that sentience brought them. They began to fashion tools to help tame the land and out of their packs had emerged the first clans.

It was then that–and this was only legend–that their race was visited by demons. The demons settled on their home world and helped to guide the Vonosh in their development. The legends spoke of whole clans disappearing and returning more powerful and violent than before. This continued until all of the clans were changed or wiped out. It was from there that the legends spoke of the origins of the bloodlust.

Some of the demons’ ruins still stood today, a testament to their abilities. Vonosh scientists were still analyzing the ruins, finding ever more secrets in those walls. It was understood today that indeed something had visited their home world many centuries ago, but they weren’t demons at all. It had been an interstellar race of beings that surely saw something in the Vonosh. Already scientists unlocked enough of the alien’s technology to not only show them the face of the legendary demons, but also to show that the aliens tampered with the genetic makeup of the Vonosh, heightening their senses, reflexes, strength, and intelligence, all in an attempt to make a race of super soldiers.

Those first clans turned their eyes to their neighbors on the planet, a tall, strong, and grotesque species that called itself Qu’ron. The Qu’ron were almost extinct, with only a handful of slaves left alive. Mar’qul was a direct descendant of one of those chieftains that led the final charge during the battle that broke the Qu’ron.

Decades after the Qu’ron were all but hunted to extinction the Vonosh turned to the demons. Realizing what was done to them, the Vonosh rose up against the demons. A bloody war erupted as the Vonosh assaulted the demons’ many strongholds. Eventually the demons left in their skyships, leaving the Vonosh race behind. In their absence the Vonosh attacked each other, almost driving their race to extinction. Leaders arose within the clans that stopped the violence and focused on rebuilding their ruined world.

Mar’qul looked up and beheld the familiar sight of his clan’s capital. It was surrounded by a huge city wall made of concrete, iron, and zortrium. He took in the shapes of the skyscrapers, the factories and the massive food stores. It was smaller than the imperial capital, but no less imposing or fortified and it was a city of warriors. His vehicle passed through the streets, heading for his residence and the command center for his clan’s armed forces. Satellite and radar dishes poked up from the roof along with communications arrays that allowed him to communicate with members of his clan light-years away.

He all but threw himself out of the fighting vehicle as his guards fell into step behind him. He went to an armored lift toward the back of the garage and rode it up to the highest level it would take him. Exiting the lift he went down the hall, past numerous guards who all saluted him and past bureaucrats who ran the clan’s day-to-day activities, toward another lift that was guarded. This one lift led to two places: his personal quarters and the command center.

Leaving the lift he looked around at the massive displays positioned around the huge circular room that was the command center. Down in a shallow pit was a large holographic table on which readouts of all of his clan’s military actions were displayed. Many of his warlords were busy studying the various maps and status reports surrounding the table. He went for that table and immediately took control of one of his clan’s spy satellites. One or two of his warlords looked over at him; their expressions were of mild interest as Mar’qul targeted the satellite on the Dire Fang Clan’s territory.

Mar’qul studied the image intently before he typed in another command. This one sent the confirmation codes to the missile silos ordering half of his clan’s nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles to be armed. Those warlords now looked horrified at what he was considering. Even if the initial attack on the Dire Fang Clan was successful, the wrath of the other clans would come down on him and his clan would be annihilated in short order. With a sigh he closed that window and backed away from the nuclear holocaust he might’ve started.

His warlords quite visibly relaxed at seeing him back away from the holographic table to study the whole thing. He could understand their sudden apprehension at seeing him do what he’d done. They didn’t want to die in a hopeless battle any more than he did. It would have been so easy though. To wipe a whole clan out at the cost of his clan and quite possibly the entire throne world? No, it wouldn’t make any sense.

Feeling weary from the day’s events he bid his warlords farewell and made his way to his personal quarters. Exiting the lift he found two of his bodyguards standing at the ready. He hadn’t noticed the other two follow him to the command center and to his quarters. It was something so routine that he didn’t acknowledge it anymore. Ahead was a large wooden door that led into his private quarters. He opened the door and two more of his bodyguards were on the inside, flanking either side of the doorway. The first four remained in the hallway while the two inside remained.

The chieftain went right for his private chambers and found two Zaltaen slave women waiting for him. Neither of them could’ve been more than eighteen years old (in Vonosh years. In Zaltaen years, they would be something like twenty-and-a-half. In human years, they would be almost twenty-one). One was about one-point-nine-eight meters tall, with pale blue skin and dark purple hair that fell to her waist. The other was one-point-seven-five, with deep purple skin and longer green hair. Both were extremely beautiful by Zaltaen (and possibly human) standards, but for Vonosh, who prided strength above all else, beauty was measured by other standards.

Both only wore a collar around their necks with a short chain that fell to their feet. The collar and their nudity were designed to break their spirits, forcing them to accept their role as slaves. Zaltaens were strong-willed yet both were broken a long time ago. Even as he gazed upon their nude bodies he felt nothing. Zaltaens smelled wrong, they produced the wrong pheromones and didn’t excite a Vonosh. Only a Vonosh female in heat could get a male’s blood up that way. Without a Vonosh female around producing the right pheromones Vonosh males were so many eunuchs. A Vonosh male and female could stand next to each other, but if she wasn’t in heat then there were no pheromones produced that told that the female was sexually receptive.

He sat on his bed with a sigh as both looked to him. When Mar’qul took off his armor they moved to assist him and put it away neatly on a specially designed rack. He kept his sword and rifle next to him. Once out of the armor he laid on his back, pulling his tail into a more comfortable position. The women looked back at him, their eyes expectant as they no doubt waited for him to give them another task to do. Glancing at them he said, “Go away, leave me be. Relax or something. I wish to be alone.”

The two looked at each other in mild surprise then swiftly left his chambers. It wasn’t often that he dismissed them so soon, and when he did, he was sure they were glad. He would call one or both of them if and when he needed them. For now, he was content to rest.

Continue to Chapter 3…