Tramall stood at the edge of
the forest and hid in the thickest undergrowth nearest Genes Trading Center
that stood within sight of the Genes Fortress.
She’s coming. She had just left
her stone shelter and headed down a path to a waterhole in the shade of the
forest. He’d watched her on the path before. With her two small sisters,
she’d seek the cool of the stream to squelch the intensity of The Heat.
Soon, his vengeance would be meted out. Soon he would know that the
Trespasser commander would suffer as he had suffered.
He stepped deeper into
the underbrush. He could arrive at the Chelse Flow that ran into Daick’s
Waterway close to Fortress Genes long before her. He scrunched his body down
and waited for the change. His body pulsated, each muscle changing. Fur
began to grow all over his body, his arms lengthening. Already his claws
were long and deadly. No matter how many times he changed, it fascinated
him. His canines extended, two long saber-like fangs coming out of his
mouth. He could now run with the speed of his full bastis abilities.
The change didn’t hurt.
Natural as his human form, the bastis came easily, although most of the time
human form bound him. He had seen his reflection after the change. The
bastis bore a slight resemblance to his human self. His pointed ears
remained. His golden eyes changed from black round pupils to narrow slits of
a feline. His coppery skin became covered with glossy, black fur, matching
the thick black of his Elfaxen hair. He could change at will, but not all
his people had that power. Some Elfaxens were frightened, even of him. A
lord, a warrior... a Grand Bastis, he claimed superiority over his kind. By
mere chance of birth, he had size, strength and intuitive skill, which made
him deadlier than most of his kind. On Elfax that meant something and this
day he reveled in the power.
When the change ended,
he raced through the woods on his four paws. He had enjoyed watching her,
Elayna of the family Connan, daughter of his most hated enemy. This day she
would be his. His grasp held sweet revenge. He released a loud roar to
signal his fellow warriors. When he peered through the thick trees, he
caught sight of the children. None of them seemed to notice. They chattered
too much to hear the sounds of the forest around them. Such ignorance of
their surroundings could be to his advantage. After all, they were
Trespassers, alien to the planet Elfax.
~ * ~
Elayna heard a strange
roaring sound from the darkened woods and glanced back at her lagging
sister. She couldn’t identify the sound, though animal, but nothing
dangerous inhabited this area... or so said the numerous scouts.
“Teela! Stop trailing behind.” Unable to stop the surge of
motherly protection, she glanced down to the blond head of her youngest
sister in front of her. Meesha turned her head and smiled up at her.
perspiration from her forehead. “It’s really hot.”
Elayna agreed but
didn’t say so, because the lightweight dresses and bare minimum sandals felt
marvelous today, even before midday. The loose weave of the cottalin fabric
made a wonderful humidity-battling component. The Heat, with long steamy
days in all the valleys in the Land Between The Gaps, bombarded them.
Thirty-hour days seemed even longer. She couldn’t wait to get to her
favorite spot. At the end of this path through the forest lay a solitary
pool of blue-tinted water.
Even in the days of The
Heat, the natural reservoir at the bottom of a small, gentle waterfall in
the Chelse stream gave a cool refuge. It offered easy access, especially
with close proximity to their stone shelter. She missed home. Fond memories
of her life on Mallen came often, but the blue waters of Elfax had their own
pleasurable draw. Thanks be to the foresight of the colonist leaders, who
built the fortress near the major waterflow of the Daick’s valley. Couldn’t
be easier. Streams and waterflows and mountains made up the whole area of
The Land Between The Gaps. If Elayna and her family hadn’t come to Fortress
Genes, the latest of four colonies on Elfax, they might not have found a
private pool like it. Her home on Mallen in the Spearica Solar System of the
Euphratoria Galaxy didn’t have the season changes like this area of Elfax’s
valley. How surprising that water that didn’t come from a central dispenser
could be so enjoyable.
The three had to walk
single-file along the steep, winding path because of the crowding
vegetation. Premium flat land rarely existed here in The Land Between The
Gaps. That could be why the Elfaxen people hadn’t settled here. From what
she’d heard, the Elfaxen villages were spread out in wide valleys.
Meesha glanced around
at Elayna again. “Do you like to come here as much as me?”
“I love it almost as
much as story time.”
Meesha’s nose wrinkled
up. “Better than story time?”
“I said almost as
“What else do you
like?” Meesha piped out.
Teela ran in front and
grabbed Meesha’s other hand. “What else do you like, Elayna?”
“Seeing you swim like a
Teela giggled. “Do you
think Mother would have been proud of me?”
Melancholy settled over
Elayna’s good mood. “Of course. She loved to watch us swim and she would
have loved this pool.”
Meesha stopped and
turned. “Don’t be sad. When I look at you, I remember her. My face becomes
A warm satisfaction ran through Elayna. “That’s because
my face is very much like hers.”
Meesha’s eyes grew wide. “Father says it’s because you have her smiling
sister had amazing insight. “Father said that?”
“He said that you got
her kind ways and smiling eyes and her... em... pat...”
Meesha cocked her head.
“You and Teela have the
gift, too.” Elayna tried to assure.
“That’s the same as
when you touch Father and you know if he’s happy or sad.” Teela’s voice
sounded much older than her eight years. “Even when his face doesn’t look
it, which is most of the time. Father is rarely happy since Cherroks killed
“In the family Himartte,
only we three are left. Keep walking or we’ll never get there.”
Meesha and Teela almost
The girls didn’t
realize the importance of having the empathic ability. Mother’s sister
didn’t have it, for some strange reason. Not many people had known of
Mother’s unique ability, because no one knew how Mother came by it. In fact,
no one knew how any of the family Himartte females came by the gift.
Empathic abilities had been related only to the royal family Ominar
throughout the Euphratorian Empire. Mother suspected an ancient connection
to the family Ominar and the family Himartte, both of Mallen, something
generations past didn’t talk about, even with the opening of new worlds and
diverse cultures. The biggest differences lay in touching. Elayna had to
touch someone to know their emotions, wherein the Ominars had only to be in
the same room.
On Mallen, Father and
Mother had kept the ability secret, and even more on this savage planet.
Right now, the empathic gifts were the least of her worries. Elayna needed
quiet thought today. She needed to forget about all her problems… like her
angry father and colonies, fortresses, and dangers. She wanted to forget
Elfaxens, Astrovans and Mallens. Why couldn’t diverse societies live in
peace through the whole universe? Why did anyone have to attack anyone?
Everyone could share this huge plot of land. The Euphratorian Empire
proclaimed itself as a peaceful society and the Earthling princess called it
If only they had
never come here.