Savage Miraya


A NOVEL OF ADVENTURE

BY JEFFREY BLAIR LATTA


Bottom of page

EPISODE 29: "DO YOU NOT RECOGNIZE ME?"


Back below decks in the narse pens, Seagrave was tied the same as before, seated on the hard boards with his outstretched arms trussed to a plank at his back, his ankles tightly bound with thongs. This time, though, his captors had been careful to secure him to a sturdy plank which no amount of exertion might hope to shatter.

The Earth tal-stone remained clenched in his fist. In a way, he wished the princess had maintained her pretence and never given him the damn thing. Now that he had what he had been seeking, he was no longer sure what his next course of action should be.

Logically, he knew what he should do -- use the stone to bid goodbye to this mad world and return to Earth. But now, with the ability to return literally in the palm of his hand, he was no longer certain.

What about Shyrin Shas? He knew he could never leave her to die in the heat and darkness of that stifling vat. But it was more than that. In spite of her hatred, Seagrave found it harder and harder to imagine returning home without her. He had begun to develop a definite fondness for the tangerine princess.

She was a pretty bauble, to be sure -- a supple trinket any pirate captain would have heartily stretched on his cot. But was that all there was to it?

Details of her played relentlessly in Seagrave's thoughts: the deep dimples when she smiled, the vivid flash of her emerald eyes, her amazed laugh as he taught her to swim. Even her sudden changes of mood, her angry back, rigid shoulders, tossing head, bitter tears...

Seagrave frowned in disgust. She had worked her way into him like a subtle poison, and now there was no turning back. He had to return to Earth -- but, equally, he couldn't conceive of going back without her. Somehow he would have to convince her to come with him. Given that she had been prepared to die rather than leave Miraya, he knew that might take some doing.

First though, he would have to save her -- a miracle in its own right.

Conceivably he might pretend to accede to Jyleesha's demands. But would that secure Shyrin Shas's release? Obviously Jyleesha wanted more than Seagrave's companionship -- she wanted his unflinching devotion. So long as Shyrin Shas lived, Jyleesha could never be sure that his thoughts were of the Trayken captain alone. Jealousy would gnaw at her. If Seagrave recognized that fact, Jyleesha must recognize it also.

No -- simply agreeing to be her lover would not be enough.

Somehow he had to rescue the princess himself -- and soon.

With no means of measuring time, Seagrave had no way of knowing how long he waited in the musty stable. Suddenly, though, he heard booted feet on the boards of the room at the head of the ladder. A moment later, a Trayken clambered down, his wings folded down his back like a closed fan.

He eyed Seagrave with a nervous hesitancy, his beady black eyes glinting under his furrowed brows. Crossing the stable, he entered the pen and, kneeling, held out a pointed cup.

"Jyleesha sent me to bring you water," the sailor explained, speaking in halting Kamir. "The captain thought you might be thirsty after so long without a drink -- the Kamir, we have observed, need water more often than ourselves. You seem closely related to the Kamir."

A dark smile played over Seagrave's lips. "Tell your captain she can go to hell," he growled, momentarily straining at his bonds.

The sailor frowned, puzzled. "I don't understand. You aren't thirsty?"

"Sure I'm thirsty," Seagrave replied heatedly. "But your damn captain doesn't care about that. She just sent you with water to torment me. The water is just to remind me that Shyrin...that the slave girl is still out there dying of thirst. Tell your captain I don't intend to touch one drop until she frees the slave girl."

The Trayken was distressed by Seagrave's obstinance. His bottom jaw worked anxiously from side to side, and he seemed to be pondering a weighty problem. Finally, he cast a furtive glance over his shoulder, then studied the pirate with a searching stare.

"Do you not recognize me?" the Trayken asked.

"Recognize you?" For a moment, Seagrave scowled, perplexed by the question. Then, abruptly, his eyes widened and his breath hissed. "Damn me, but you're the Trayken I saved from the manatyr!"

Fretfully, the sailor glanced at the ladder, urgently gesturing Seagrave to keep his voice down. "Yes," he acknowledged quickly. "My name is Nas Klarak. You saved my life when I was hanging from the beak of the manatyr. You saved me when no one else dared to. I did not understand then why you would risk your life to save mine -- "

"You risked your neck to protect your ship," Seagrave countered. "I saw the way you tried to fight off the manatyr with your leister. It was a stupid thing to do, but you did it anyway."

"But that was this vessel, the Empress of Shek," Nas Klarak explained, still puzzling. "If this ship had been destroyed, instead of simply surfaced, I would have lost my livelihood."

"You don't expect me to believe you tried to ward off that beast just because it might have put you out of a job?" Seagrave scoffed, with a harsh laugh. "I don't believe it."

"No," the sailor agreed. "There were the lives of my crewmates to consider as well. But they are all Trayken -- except the Lan'lans." Nas Klarak pointed at the pirate. "You are obviously an enemy of the Trayken, else why would there be a price on your head? This is what puzzles me: why would you save an enemy?"

"I don't consider all Traykens to be my enemies," replied Seagrave; "just the Traykens who threaten to torture me. I saved you because you needed saving. Where I come from, that should be reason enough."

Again, Nas Klarak's fang-rimmed jaw worked distractedly as he grappled with his imponderable dilemma. Finally, in a brooding tone, he explained: "You have placed me in a difficult situation. You saved my life, and so I owe you a life."

It was a moment before Seagrave realized what the sailor was telling him. When he did, his teeth shone in his spreading grin. "You mean to say, you have to save my life because I saved yours?"

Bleakly, Nas Klarak nodded. "It is the way of our people. I am honour-bound to save your life, if I can."

Seagrave swore amazedly under his breath, unable to believe his luck. "Well, then, what are you waiting for," he demanded, twisting at his cords. "Untie these damn ropes --"

"Now is not the time." The sailor held up a hand, gesturing for patience.

"What do you mean, now isn't the time?" Seagrave's eyes narrowed, half-wondering if this wasn't some torment engineered by Jyleesha.

"There is no point in untying you unless you can escape this ship," Nas Klarak explained imploringly. "Otherwise you would simply be recaptured."

"I'm willing to take that chance." Angered now, Seagrave jerked at his bonds.

"But I cannot." The Trayken eyed Seagrave's struggles nervously. "To repay my debt, I must save your life -- not merely free you."

"Damn ye --"

"Please, you must listen." The Trayken waited for Seagrave's anger to subside, then, in a quiet voice, he continued: "There is only one way for you to escape the Empress of Shek." His black eyes swept the many scarlet narse-heads swaying like wind-teased flowers in the gloomy shadows. "Tonight I will sneak a narse up onto the deck. On narseback you can reach the island of Ayskar, one of the seven belonging to Jimnyr."

Of course! It hadn't even occurred to Seagrave that he might use the narses to fly off the ship.

"Why wait until tonight?"

Nas Klarak frowned as if Seagrave's question should not have needed to be asked.

"With a man on its back, a narse would tire long before you could reach Ayskar, if you were to leave now. Tonight Ayskar will be close enough for you to just reach it on narseback."

Seagrave's irritation boiled over again. "I can't wait until tonight," he gritted. "There's a girl locked in one of your vats who will die if I don't get to her soon. Just free me and we can call your debt paid. I'll take my chances on a narse. Maybe with a little encouragement, those things can fly farther than you think."

But the sailor refused to be swayed. Shaking his head, he straightened and backed toward the ladder. "I will return tonight," he promised.

"Damn ye!" growled Seagrave, twisting and tugging at his cords. "The girl can't wait until tonight!"

The Trayken frowned in perplexity. "I don't understand what the slave girl has to do with any of this," he said. "My debt is to you and you alone. I must save your life, not hers." The sailor cast a quick glance up the ladder, then repeated: "Tonight."

Seagrave cursed again and his voice dropped menacingly. "Look, ye dog -- either you free me now or I'll call for Jyleesha and tell her about your plan to save me."

The sailor's eyes dilated, revealing fearful rims of white. "You cannot do that," he gasped in horror. "She would have me killed. And, if I were dead, I would have no way of saving your life."

Seagrave could only gape in stupefied amazement. The Trayken seemed obsessed with saving the pirate -- even if that meant saving him from himself. This was honour carried to a ludicrous extreme. Still, if that was what it took to get through to this Trayken...

"Aye, that's right," nodded Seagrave. "So you untie me, or I'll spoil your plans to rescue me. You'll go to your grave knowing you still owed me for saving your damn --"

Before Seagrave could complete his sentence, Nas Klarak rushed back into the pen. In a single motion, he struck the pirate across the head with the water-filled cup. For a moment, Seagrave blinked dazedly, shaking his head so that silver drops rained from his bangs.

"Why you crazy..."

But the thought whirled away on the crest of a black tide...

***
Jakar Jet stumbled tottering into the chrysalis chamber, deep in the stone heart of the air-borne island, Eukara.

He blinked dazedly as his eyes adjusted to the dazzling gemstone glow after the stifling darkness of the catacombs. His skirt fluttered in ragged tatters from his hips, his purple skin smeared with green and brown laced with countless orange scratches.

For a time, he hadn't thought he would make it back alive.

The Rayvers had been thick as bizama in the forests atop the islands. Whether they were searching for the princess or for Jakar Jet himself, the Kamir could not say; but it had required all his cunning to avoid the search parties, oftentimes forcing him to abandon the air and seek concealment on the ground where the tangled verdure scoured his hide and tore his skirt. His heart still raced after so many narrow escapes.

Damn them, he thought.

Then, more darkly: Damn her.

He paused and slumped heavily against the gem-crusted wall, the varicoloured glints mottling his skin. His eyes stared blankly as his mind lovingly recalled how Shyrin Shas had sobbed under his ravishing caresses in the glade. His fingers constricted unconsciously, claw-like, the shuddering feel of her anguished strainings still fresh in the nerves and sinews of his hands...

He closed his eyes, inhaling, imagining he could smell her subtle scent wafting from those hands, as if he had taken part of her with him. She was so beautiful. So achingly beautiful, with her wide emerald eyes and liquid tangerine skin, her lush lips and soft ripe earlobes.

There were times when his unbearable hunger for her threatened to drive him mad with longing, crowding out all reason, all rationality.

At such times, he desired her with an appalling mania that too easily transformed into black vengeful jealousy. The princess did not love him, he knew that well enough. Neither, though, did she hate him. Her arousingly vulnerable mind was infertile soil for true hatred to take root. Pout she might, but never hate. So, if Jakar Jet could provoke neither love nor hate in her gorgeous breast, he was content to settle for something else.

Fear.

It was a poor substitute, to be sure. Where he would have preferred her sweet cries of exquisite pleasure, instead he relished her choking sobs of despair. Where he would have embraced her with a lover's gentle hands, instead he ravished her.

Certainly this was not the first time he had made Shyrin Shas cry with the shame of his lustful caress. Try as she might to avoid him, their relationship rendered her necessarily vulnerable to his advances, woefully impotent to do other than accept his cruel attacks with fatalistic endurance, to submit. As the proud princess of Eukara, she told no one, and so no one sought to intervene.

Until now.

Jakar Jet's eyes snapped open and his thin lips curled in silent rage. That wingless, brown-skinned stranger! That alien savage with his ludicrous clothing and weird flashing stick! How dare he come between them!

For a moment, the memory of his humiliating retreat in the glade made Jakar Jet's blood boil, his opalescent wings flaring as if again carrying him beyond the reach of Seagrave's deadly cutlass. With effort, he mastered his fury, his wings refolding down his spine.

He drew in a long slow breath.

As if only just recognizing where he was, Jakar Jet's gaze glided over the jewelled chamber with its frosty-pink chrysalises. Orienting himself, he straightened and crossed the room. His fingers groped amongst the lush, burning gemstones caking the wall, searching intently, his brows furrowed.

"Ah!" He snatched back his hand and avidly studied the faceted jewel shimmering magically in his palm.

It was the Lin tal-stone, left where he had hidden it after switching stones with Shyrin Shas. The gem was a rich lavender laced with sharp flecks of glittering gold; a very distinctive tal-stone. He had been fortunate to find another gem so much like it. The Earth tal-stone had been virtually identical.

An ironic sneer twisted his sharp features as he reflected on the unfairness of his fate. He had offered the Lin tal-stone to the Traykens, only to have them threaten him with torture to make him reveal where it was hidden. They would kill him if they caught him now. But, after what he had done to the princess, he was a fugitive from his own people, too. He had banked everything on the success of his venture -- and he had lost. In his cruel mind, there remained only one purpose left, one goal.

Revenge.

To avenge himself on the Trayken, he would deny them the Lin tal-stone, the only means by which they might have invaded the distant moon, Lin. They should have paid his price; now they would have nothing.

But to avenge himself on his own people required something more substantial, more hurtful. It required robbing them of something they cared about deeply, something they loved with all their hearts.

Something infinitely precious.

Again Jakar Jet closed his eyes. He inhaled a deep, savouring breath, a lean smile curling his crafty lips.

Yes -- he could smell her on his hands...



Next episode...A Desperate Deceit!


Top of page

Previous episode Next episode

Table of ContentsPulp and Dagger Webzine


Savage Miraya is copyright 1998, by Jeffrey Blair Latta. It may not be copied or used for any commercial purpose except for short excerpts used for reviews. (Obviously, you can copy it or print it out if you want to read it!)