Adrenalin pumped through his veins. His fisted hands were ready to fight. He stared into eyes the same pale blue as his and faced a man identical to himself, his brows narrowed in anger. He wrestled him to the ground. The other man’s strength was a match for his own. When he shoved him down, the man reached for a strange-looking gun and took aim. He awoke the moment the man pulled the trigger.
Adam Davis bolted upright in his bed. His heart pounded from labored breathing. His body, moist with sweat, was still pumped and ready to fight but he was alone. He glanced around his dark cabin.
The sheet and thin bedspread fell away exposing his bare arms and chest. Rubbing the sleep from his eyes didn’t eliminate the lingering dream. It was more like a premonition, like the one he’d had years ago that foretold the death of his parents.
Thunder growled outside. His pulse raced as other images came to mind. The first was a light bright as the sun. The second was a beautiful, dark-skinned young woman with high cheekbones and dressed in a white glowing jumpsuit. She spoke to him, but he didn’t understand the words.
Lightning flashed and a rumbling boom shook the tiny log cabin nestled in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains.
Thunderstorms were rare here but on a stormy night like this, his parents had died sixteen long years ago, when he was ten. The memory still tugged at his heart. Storms made him restless.
Another flash drew his attention to the picture window centered in the room which overlooked the pond.
Crack! The dwelling shook again. Two lights shone over the water, then moved toward the wooded area surrounding his home.
A plane? He threw off his bedding and approached the glass.
The soft glowing orbs sat low in the sky. Aircraft didn’t fly below tree level did they? He ran a hand through his hair as he watched the flight path.
Suddenly, lightning struck one of the objects, brightening the entire sky. The explosion startled him. The cabin shook so hard the bed moved a few inches across the wood floor and the glass panes rattled.
“Oh my God!” Remembering the vision, he watched in horror as the fireball fell from the sky.
He yanked his clothes off the chair and pulled on his jeans. Hopefully someone would survive the crash. He slipped a sweatshirt on then struggled with his wading boots.
His raincoat hung by the door. Grabbing the yellow garment from the hook, he knocked his fishing poles on the floor.
“Damn!” Pulling the slicker on, he fastened the top two snaps. He considered the coiled rope on the chair for stabilizing broken bones then slipped it across his chest. Wood for splints was plentiful outside.
He hesitated at the door and lifted the bow and quiver of arrows off another peg. The black bear he had seen the other day might return for the berries beside the pond. His old Boy Scout motto, “be prepared” crossed his mind so he grabbed a flashlight.
The covered porch protected him from the rain but he left the warmth of his dry cabin to search for survivors.
The approaching daylight accompanied a heavy, cold rain, usual for August in the mountains. His boots stuck in the east Tennessee clay-like mud as he rushed through the woods. Each step got heavier as his waders gathered more muck. Icy droplets stung his face like sharp pellets. Breathing the moldy air, he quickly followed the worn path around the reedy pond. A glimmer of light shone in the distance.
God, he hoped no one had died. Memories of his parents’ death came to mind—’Burned beyond recognition’—a shiver ran down his spine. He quickened his pace, an uneasiness pulling at his gut. He hoped he wasn’t too late. If someone had been there to help his parents, maybe they would be alive today.
Early daylight coupled with lightning, enabled him to find his way through the thickly wooded area. The secluded location of his home allowed him his privacy. He often thought of it as a blessing, since the place had once belonged to his grandparents. Injuries, though, would be a curse. Cell phones didn’t work here in the mountains and the downpour would have washed most of the gravel away again. There was no way to get emergency help out here.
He arrived at the wreckage. The rain had almost put out the fire. The burned-out, smoldering shell that remained vaguely resembled a mangled football. Did anyone survive? Anxiety flowed over him as eerie shadows played around the object in the predawn light.
His gut told him to get out of there. He glanced up. No parachute. Maybe the pilot had bailed before the aircraft hit the ground. He blinked, wiping the drizzle from his face.
There were no signs of life. He walked toward the small plane. Another flash of lightning lit up the mangled mass.
Silently, he counted…one thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three, one thou— Boom! The storm moved farther away and the rain let up.
“Hey, is anybody here?” he shouted above the rumbling. No response. Closing the distance, he tried again. “Can you hear me?” Apprehension crept up the back of his neck, like someone watched him.
He pulled the bow off his shoulder, nocked an arrow to the bowstring and swung around to check the woods behind him. His bow, fully drawn was ready to release but aimed at nothing.
Lowering his draw, he blinked the rain from his eyes. He couldn’t shake the feeling someone was out there. Facing the small plane, he walked toward it as another bolt lit up the area, brighter than before.
He gasped and his heart thudded. The flattened football-shaped object had no wings or tail. It was unlike anything he had ever seen. His first thought was to run like hell! But somebody might be alive in there. He shoved his arrow back in the quiver, and glanced over the area. He slung his bow on his shoulder and cracked his knuckles as he circled the heap of metal. The search for a way to get into the craft was futile. He needed help. Adam darted down the path, and back to the cabin.
A stand of trees separated an overgrown field from a pond. Genesis sat at the control panel of her ship, The Guardian. She’d landed here after she’d watched lightning strike Dram’s cruiser. His craft had burst into flames. She held her head in her hands and trembled.
“That was close. I could’ve been killed.” The sight unnerved her. She forced herself out of her seat and switched off the controls. She had to find Dram and bring him back to headquarters, alive if possible.
She pulled the scanner from its holder. Her hands shook as she slipped the strap across her chest. Slow, deep breaths helped calm her.
This was the worst storm she had ever seen where bolts of electricity shot out of the sky. That rarely happened in the mountains on her planet, Atria. This field surrounded by woods reminded her of her home, a place she had not seen in ten anos, and she missed it.
She strapped a holster to her thigh and slipped the laser weapon inside. She knew what kind of animals lurked in the woods of Atria, but not here.
Beasts, larger and fiercer than those the men of her tribe hunted, showed in the database. The ancient ones had reported their findings after visiting this place thousands of years ago.
She clipped Interplanetary Space Patrol issued hand restraints on the holster and opened The Guardian’s hatch, stepping onto the ramp. A heavy rain fell. Thick yetik protected the scanner box from the elements, but not her. Within minutes, her unicrin was drenched.
Thank goodness her ship’s earlier analysis of the atmosphere had showed the oxygen quality and content would sustain her, although the air held more contaminates than Atria’s atmosphere. The difference was palpable.
She tapped the screen of the scanner’s database and compared ancient reports with current information and displayed significant changes since the first visit. Blinking rain from her eyes, she aimed the scanner toward the crash site.
The heavier gravity slowed her movement, and the surrounding moisture smelled musty, reminding her of Persus.
She looked forward to the moment she would face Dram. He deserved to die for his crimes. But if he was killed in the accident, the location of her parents and the women of her village died with him. Under strict orders from the Interplanetary Space Patrol, she must bring Dram back alive to face his charges.
Failure of her mission meant the end of her tribe. Only men remained at White Mountain, unless they joined another tribe, or took mates from other villages to procreate. If Dram and his men hadn’t captured the women and children while the men of her village had been hunting, she would be on Atria with her mate, raising a family of her own.
She touched the jeweled translator across her forehead and sighed. It was all she had left of her mother, Herda, besides her medallion. The heartbreaking memories brought a lump to her throat and her eyes watered. She should have run faster.
Herda had communicated with her telepathically until the distance between them had made it impossible.
She wiped the rain and sadness from her face, and rested her hand on the weapon. She wanted to kill Dram for what he had done.
Sharp-thorn vines grew throughout the woods with clusters of dark berries. Her hunger increased at the thought of eating the fruit. Her memory of the last real food she had eaten escaped her. The plants here seemed like those on Atria. She plucked one and inhaled the aroma. A purple stain formed on her fingers. She scanned the berry and read the results: ‘Similar in structure to nelu, containing essential nutrients to sustain higher life forms.’
She popped several into her mouth. Mmmm. Not bad, and much sweeter than those from home.
Something crackled to her right, startling her. Her pulse quickened. The scanner indicated a large object running in her direction. Was it a beast or Dram?
Crouched behind a wide bush, her wet unicrin stuck to her skin, Genesis felt chilled as she peered above the foliage. A wooden dwelling stood in the distance to the left, beyond the pond.
She let the scanner fall to her side. Grasping the weapon, she slowed her breathing as she eased the laser from the holster. Then she nudged the lever to stun with her forefinger. The rustling grew closer and her heart beat harder.
Adam ran through the woods. His pulse raced and his body filled with nervous energy. He had to get help. He could take the Jeep to the highway and make the call. Hopefully, the pilot was still alive.
Stories of aliens formed in his mind. He had read UFO sightings happened in fields in other states or along the coast of Florida, but not here in the Smokies. Knoxville had the closest military base.
Depictions in the newspapers had shown them resembling small, child-like creatures with large eyes. One story said they sucked the blood from cows in a field. UFOs fascinated him, but he’d never dreamed he would actually encounter one, let alone have it crash in his backyard.
The briars and vines scraped at his slicker and rubber boots, but tore through his jeans at the knees, causing sharp pain. He couldn’t stop. Someone’s life may depend on him.
Breathless, he considered calling the Sheriff’s Department for help. But would they believe his story? Without them seeing the spaceship, he’d be put in a straitjacket. A report of a plane crash made more sense. Yeah, that’s what he’d do. Then he’d call his boss, Jeremy. He could always count on Jeremy to come.
The sound of a branch breaking halted him in his tracks. His racing heart thudded twice before beating normally. He pulled the bow off his shoulder and fixed an arrow to the string. This was where he had seen the bear.
He glanced around and slowly stepped from the woods and onto the path by the pond. The rain had stopped now. The thick cloud cover obscured dawn’s light. A heavy mist saturated the air, while fog rose over the water. In the soft mud, footprints, much smaller than his size eleven, headed toward his home. They came from the old cornfield he and his father had planted years ago. He had no neighbors, so no one else should be here. He turned toward the cabin. Maybe someone—
Another twig snapped behind him and he swung around, his bow fully drawn. He froze, aiming at the woman from his dream.
Did she come from the crash site? She didn’t look like an alien, so who was she?
Her long, blue-black hair draped forward over one shoulder in a braid that came down to her waist. Her dark, tanned face stood out against the white jumpsuit she wore. White so bright it glowed. Her body gave the suit curves in all the right places, but her flawless skin accentuated furrowed brows and an expression that could kill.
On her forehead, a jeweled band made of a coppery-silver metal shimmered, and the jewels sparkled different colors. Straps across her shoulder attached to a box at her hip. She had a gun in one hand, pointed at his chest. His pulse quickened at the thought of being shot.
“Tannae se ut!” she shouted.
“What?” Adam cocked his head, his draw on the bow straining to release.
She tapped the band across her forehead with two fingers.
“Tannae se ut!” “Hold there, Dram!” she said.
Dram? “Hey, wait a minute,” he lowered his bow slightly. “I’m Adam.”
She shot a red beam of light from the weapon and hit the dead branch he stood on. The wood caught fire. He jumped and released his arrow between her feet.
“What the hell?” She meant to hurt him. Confusion and anxiety grabbed him as he nocked another arrow to the bowstring. She’s got the wrong guy.
“Next one won’t miss,” she said, her eyebrows narrowed.
“Neither will I.” His mouth went dry and he swallowed hard before responding again. “I’m not Dram. There’s been an accident.” He glanced in the direction of the crash. “I’ve got to get help.”
“Drop the weapon,” she ordered.
“Drop yours first!” With bears and aliens in the woods, he’d keep his bow and arrows. She stepped closer and raised her pistol toward his face. He aimed his arrow for her heart, his own heart racing at the thought of killing someone. The branch she hit with the laser beam still burned and he didn’t want the same thing happening to him.
“I said, drop the weapon.” Her voice grew deeper and louder.
“Hell, no! Who are you and what are you doing on my property?” His anger gave rise to courage as he held his draw.
“So this is your base of operations?” She glanced around.
“Who are you and why are you here?”
She lowered her weapon toward his chest and pulled the trigger.
He released his draw as a biting electrical shock flowed through him, paralyzing his extremities.
The woman dove away from the errant arrow as he fell to his knees, then onto his face.
“Ugh.” He had heard about tasers but had never seen one. The cold, wet ground smelled moldy. He spat out dead, bitter leaves. She didn’t appear to be a cop.
“Why…did you shoot me?” he moaned. He couldn’t see her, but she tugged at his arms. He managed to turn his face a little.
“Are you there?” he called out. What’s she doing?
“Get up,” she ordered.
“Yeah, that’s easy for you to say. How about giving me the taser and I’ll use it on you.” His arms and legs refused to obey him.
She pulled at his waist, drawing him back, as his face dragged across the wet, rocky ground.
A tingling sensation began at his deltoids and moved down. She squeezed his shoulders, pulling him back, until all his weight rested on his knees. She kicked his boots.
He brought one leg forward and pushed himself up, then the other leg. He wobbled on his feet. Her grip tightened on his arms. Queasiness hit him in the gut. Behind him, his hands still tingled. Helplessness didn’t suit him.
“What did you do to me?” He tried moving his upper body, and found his wrists were bound. Panic seized him.
“Go!” She pushed him forward.
“I’m not going anywhere until I get answers.” He turned to face her, anger welling up. No one ordered him around, least of all someone he didn’t know.
“You get questions answered when we arrive at headquarters.”
She pushed him again.
“Are you an undercover cop or something?” He stumbled forward. Maybe he’d take her down in a wrestling hold he’d learned back in high school. That is, if his limbs returned to normal.
His rope coil hung across her chest. On one shoulder, she had his bow and quiver of arrows. She carried the taser she’d used on him. He clenched his jaw.
She pushed him in the direction of the cornfield.
“Go!” She gave him another shove. The tingling in his legs and arms faded.
“Wait just a minute! I’m not leaving unless you tell me what’s going on.”
She grabbed his wrists from behind and yanked up sharply.
He doubled over in pain. “Ouch! Damn that hurts.”
She stuck the cold metal of the gun against his forehead as he straightened. His breath caught in his throat as he stared at the weapon. His heart beat so loudly, he heard the pulsing in his ears.
“I would love to finish you off now, but the I.S.P. wants to speak to you personally.”
I.S.P.? He swallowed hard, his throat and mouth parched from the effort. He’d never heard of that agency. He took his gaze off the barrel momentarily and glanced into her dark, brown eyes framed in long lashes. Her brows furrowed in anger and her lips frowned.
“Look, I don’t know what you’re talking about, Scout’s honor but I need to get help. There’s been an accident and we’re wasting time.” He turned away, but she caught his restraints, twisted his wrists and immobilized him.
“Ouch. This has gone on long enough. Show me your I.D.”
“What are you talking about? Go!” She waved her weapon at him.
He refused to move.
“Not until you tell me what’s going on. And who are you, anyway?”
“You will go.” She shoved him so hard he lost his balance, stumbling backward. He tripped over a dead tree in the path, falling on his backside.
“Oooof!” He glared up at her. He turned on his side to get up then froze when he saw it.
Another space ship, only this one was whole. He recalled what he had seen earlier. There were two lights in the sky. Two space ships!
Genesis watched as Dram tried to get up from the wet ground. Her patience with him had ended. Now what? He stared at something through the underbrush. Exasperated, she bent down to locate the object of his attention. The Guardian? Before she could straighten, he wrapped his legs around her ankles and yanked her to the ground. She hit the dirt hard and the laser flew from her hand.
“Ugh!” She groped for the weapon. He threw himself on top of her, his body pressed against her breasts. She should kill him for his transgression.
“Look! There’s the other spaceship. They’re probably searching for the one that crashed. We’ve got to get help before the aliens show up. So quit this game you’re playing and untie me.”
Confusion engulfed her. He talked nonsense. His face, close to hers, breathed warmth against her cool skin. Blue eyes, wide with fear, captivated her and the heat from his body warmed her. Her pulse quickened, as a tingling rippled through her at light speed when their gazes met. They were motionless for an instant. His lips, inches from hers.
Her fingers found the laser. Good! She pulled it up to the side of his face. Anger infused her as she itched to fire the weapon. “Get off me now, or you will die right here.” She tensed her jaw. Her carelessness had almost cost her. This man who had abducted both her parents and all the women from her village had abducted others as well. He deserved to die.
His legs straddled her as he used strong back muscles to pull himself up. He rolled off her and to the side where he rocked forward onto his hands, jamming his heels into the ground. He jumped to his feet in one motion. His gaze fixed on her as she scrambled to stand. She kept the weapon pointed at his head while he tensed his jaw.
How did he do that? “No more tricks!” She shouted as she waved the laser at him. Cautiously, she kept watch on him and gathered his things then pressed the hatch release button on the scanner.
Dram’s gaze darted toward The Guardian and back to her. His eyes widened.
“Oh, my God, you’re the…alien?” He stumbled backward.
She grabbed his shoulder to keep him upright. She couldn’t let him escape now.
“Go.” She turned him around to face The Guardian then pushed him forward. He acted strange. Maybe he’d suffered brain damage after the crash.
She shoved the laser in his back as he moved toward the ship. He walked differently now and seemed dazed going up the ramp. She held his arm, guiding him inside.
The I.S.P. reported him as cocky and arrogant with no regard for authority. His injury must have changed his behavior. Ten long anos of searching for him was finally over.
She studied his yellow tunic, made of strange material she had never seen. It repelled water.
She glanced at her own unicrin, the wet fabric stuck to her skin. Her body was chilled from the rain seeping through to her extremities.
Dram stopped when he reached the cage.
She pulled the yav from her scanner, zapping the lock mechanism and slid the heavy malloid door sideways. She shoved Dram inside.
Suddenly, a biting sting paralyzed her. Dizziness overtook her and she fell.
Numb with fear, Adam heard a body hit the floor. He swung around to find the woman at his feet. A man, wearing a light blue suit, like the woman’s, hovered over her, taking the black box off her shoulder. He had her weapon in one hand, and another one in a thigh holster as he straightened and turned to face him.
His mouth dropped open in shock and his pulse quickened as the man facing him appeared a mirror image. From the white-blond hair, pale blue eyes and medium tan, to the same build and six foot frame. The stranger stared back as he squinted to examine his face more closely. The older man had the beginnings of crows’ feet where he did not. Did he smile or was that a smirk?
“You must be Dram.”
“How did you know?”
“She mistook me for you.” He glanced down at her still body. Did he hurt her? “Is she dead?” The thought bothered him more than he expected.
“No, but she will be when I get through with her.”
Dram grabbed her arm and dragged her into the cell then turned to leave. He stepped over her, following Dram out, but Dram shoved him back.
“Sorry, boy.” He slammed the door shut.
“Hey, wait! I don’t belong here. The whole thing is a big mistake.”
“Actually, everything is working out perfectly.” Dram raised one blond eyebrow and smirked again. He hesitated before picking up his possessions then stowed them in some kind of compartment.
He watched as anger boiled inside. “Be careful with my stuff.” His father had taught him how to hunt and his bow and arrows were all he had left of his dad.
Dram ignored him and headed toward a door. He turned back and pressed a button on the black box. “You won’t need those anymore.” The ramp to the ship closed as Dram entered the other room. Dazed, he watched as the opening hissed shut behind Dram.
He glanced around the interior of the vessel as his gut tightened in fear. “God, help me.”
Shiny metal, like new stainless steel, covered everything including the floor, the ceiling, and the walls. Inside, the place seemed round. Outside, it had appeared football shaped. Three doors, evenly spaced apart, stood across from the main entrance. The one Dram walked through was on the far right of the cell. On the far left was a pedestal table, encircled by two benches. Compartments of various sizes lined the walls on either side of his prison.
Between the left lockers and his cage was a large circle flush with the floor. It took up space with a man-hole cover of sorts. No hinges or handle adorned it. Above that spot, in the ceiling, another similar shape existed.
He leaned against the bars and closed his eyes. He should have stayed in bed this morning. Two of his visions had come true. The first time he’d had premonitions, his life had changed drastically, making him an orphan. And now this had happened.
He shook his head. Loneliness he could deal with. Only God knew what would happen now. He felt nauseous and wanted to puke.
Lord, don’t let me end up a science experiment for aliens.
His twenty-six-year life flashed before his eyes. Memories of his family, days at the orphanage, right up to his current construction job, working for his friend, Jeremy. He liked his job, too.
Suddenly, a quiet hum started, causing a light vibration under his feet. We’re moving. His life had just changed. He lowered his head.
He noticed the young woman sprawled out across the metal floor. He let his tired, hungry body slide slowly to the ground. He understood how she had mistaken him for Dram. To share the face of a total stranger seemed uncanny, especially an alien. How ironic, though, that the man she thought she’d captured had turned around and abducted her. Now they both suffered the same fate.
Her dirty, drenched white suit clung to her unconscious body, showing off luscious curves and bare skin underneath.
“Hmmm.” How interesting. He leaned closer to get a better view. Why hadn’t he noticed before?
His flesh was chilled because he wore jeans soaked at the knees and a sweatshirt wet around the neck. He turned sideways, pried off his muddy boots, and wriggled his toes. Then, sitting cross-legged, he leaned against the bars and realized he had no other shoes when the air cooled his feet.
Thoughts of things he’d left behind on Earth like his fishing poles, cabin, and Jeep, crossed his mind. He banged his head against the bars. Would he ever return home again? He thought he had problems with a clingy girlfriend and a stray cat. When Jeremy comes over later this morning to go fishing, he won’t be there. Would Jeremy search for him?
In the Navigation room, Dram straightened in his chair. Thank goodness the storm had dissipated. Flying in bad weather had been difficult. He lifted a lever then tapped ‘location’ on the keypad of the Nav-U-Com.
The monitor flashed astronomical charts across the screen until stopping on one with ten planets. He punched in ‘system?’ The display showed: ‘SSO, or star system one. Two questionable, might be moons.’
“Great,” he mumbled, as he typed in ‘location within system?’ Twenty-seven years had passed since his last visit. He smiled and his heart lightened at the memories while the monitor displayed: ‘third planet from un-named star.’
“Now you’re talking,” he said. He identified ‘Earth’ for the database. His fingers flew across the keys, spelling ‘escape trajectory?’ The display showed Earth and changing graphics of a window outside the planet. It aimed at the star with coordinates listed above the drawings.
He typed ‘enhancement’ to get a closer view.
Hmmm, what had Emma called it? He entered ‘sun’ for the database then hit the keys and spelled ‘Plexus?’ His mind briefly reflected on the only woman he had ever loved.
The coordinates appeared along with the wormholes and trajectory through hyperspace from the sun.
He punched in ‘window’ and the graphics displayed once more, aiming at the sun. He set the destination for its gravity well, entering the parameters, and then pulled back on the controls. The ship lifted off the ground 300 centikiks. He pointed the ovoidal shape toward the giant star.
Relieved, he settled in his seat, his clothes sodden from his recent ordeal. He would have to find something to change into once he left the Earth’s gravity. He glanced around the Nav-room. State of the art technology, compliments of the Interplanetary Space Patrol. How nice. Their seal was stamped on the center of the console. No doubts as to ownership. How did the woman get a ship like this? Unless she worked for them. She seemed a little young to recruit into service.
He clasped his hands behind his head and remembered sadly the times he and his partner, Timna, had close calls with the I.S.P. But Timna no longer had to worry about them. One minute he’d controlled the ship, the next, Timna was dead. Luckily, he’d survived.
He gazed out the view port at the sun. Until he got within this system, he hadn’t realized someone pursued him. Emma called this the solar system.
He and Timna had tried to shake off their pursuer, but nothing had worked. Why would a lone, young woman chase them, anyway?
How ironic that she’d found the very person he had come to find, thinking the man from Earth was him. Perfect. She seemed convinced of the boy’s identity. Perhaps others could be, too. The boy resembled him more than he had anticipated. Now hopeful, he had to create a flawless plan.
Already behind schedule, he had to return to his base on Meta to get the last shipment out to Z. If Z didn’t approve the merchandise, his business was kunnarled. Hmmm. An idea formed in his brain. He just might succeed with the boy’s help.
Back in the cell, Adam yanked and wriggled his wrists in frustration. Whatever the woman had used to bind them, held fast. He couldn’t reach his Swiss Army knife in his jeans pocket. If she woke, maybe she’d help him.
He thought of Dram again and how disturbing it was to share features with a man not related. He was an only child, something he and his parents had in common. No chance Dram could be related. He shook his head. He had to get those thoughts out of his mind. Both of them were aliens, yet they appeared human. When he was on top of her, though, she’d had all the right equipment.
Did they have red blood? Maybe a star out there had a twin to everyone on Earth? Was it possible two planets shared the same history or God?
He was taught that God had created the universe and everything in it. Perhaps God didn’t stop with Earth. What if He made men on other planets as well? It would be a waste to set people in just one place when He initially had so many stars and galaxies.
God meant for him to meet this woman. Otherwise, why have that premonition?
Stories of aliens looking less than human must be true, too. Somebody had witnessed them, hadn’t they?
Confused, he leaned his head against the bars of the cell. He had too much to think about now.
He heard the woman stir. Her lids fluttered open, and her lips moved. “Malek?” Her eyes widened at the sight of him.
“What?” He leaned closer to hear her.
She lunged for his throat.
“Whoa!” He fell back as her hands squeezed tight around his neck, his airway closing off. He twisted and turned, trying to shake her loose, but she held firm. Her weight, pressing against him, knocked him off balance and he rolled to his side. He flipped to his back. He didn’t want to die. Not now. Not this way. He had to survive.
Something struck him in the face while she pressed harder on his throat. A couple of medallions dangled in front of him. Both identical and shaped like trees encircled in metal. They hung around her neck with long leather straps.
He remembered a wrestling maneuver and drew his knees tight to his chest. He wedged his feet between him and her soft body, beneath her breasts. Then he forced his legs out straight, shooting her across the small cell. She slammed into the bars opposite him.
She sat there, dazed. Her eyes were wide in surprise. Two large footprints were imprinted on her outfit, just under each breast.
He rolled onto his side, coughing and gagging. He coughed so hard, he heaved, almost puking. He managed to roll into a kneeling position, his head against the floor.
“I am not Dram!” His voice was hoarse.
He pulled himself up and sat back on his heels, wiping his mouth on the shoulder of his rain slicker.
“Dram is flying this space ship.” The awful taste would not go away. “Dram…” He coughed again, anger infused him. “Dram put you in here!”
“You tricked me,” she said, glaring at him.
“Yeah, well if I was Dram, how did I knock you out? My hands are tied behind my back.” He twisted his body around to show her his bound wrists, aching from the restraints.
“And,” he continued. “I certainly wouldn’t be in this cage with you!” he snapped. “I had a life on Earth before you came along. You’ve changed everything!”
Her eyes narrowed as she glared at him. She pulled her knees up to her chest and lowered her head.
“Your fate could be worse, Earth man,” she replied, tensing her jaw. Her brows deeply furrowed.
“Oh, yeah? What could be worse than being abducted from my home?” He tightened his fists, irritating the raw areas under the restraints.
“I could have killed you,” she whispered harshly.
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