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FORRORROIS: Tears of Many MothersBook Four of the Forrorrois Series
By Suzanne Y. Snow
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2011 Suzanne Y. Snow
All right reserved.
Chapter OneTrager walked through the ever-changing colored mist that made up the Plane of Deception. Exhaustion pulled on his shoulders as he reached out his chestnut-brown hand and waved an entrance into existence once he approached the bluish-black square enclosure that seemed oddly out of place in the mist. After four revolution trapped in this dimension, Trager no longer paused at its peculiar properties that allowed him to convert energy into matter at a thought. Inside, he found Guruma sitting at the table made of the same bluish-black metal as the exterior of the building. The entrance merged back into the wall behind him after he entered. Trager tried to smile, but his frustration won out as he approached the elder Dramudam founder. He studied Guruma's black almond-shaped eyes and wisdom-creased chestnut-brown face and knew that he could not hide his disappointment from his perceptive companion.
"Have a seat, Trager and join me for some mawya," Guruma requested.
Trager nodded and took a seat across from the Eldatek elder with a sigh. He didn't even react as Guruma waved his hand and produced two red stone mugs. Trager stared down at the mug and watched the steam curled up from the brim tempting his nostrils with the cleansing scent of mawya that he had routinely drank in the morning on Elda when he was young and later on the Tollon when he served with the Dramudam. Suddenly, his thoughts shifted back to Earth where Forrorrois had introduced him to a similar ya made with a blend of mint leaves and lemon. His heart grew heavier as he longed for his dear ashwan and young daughter. Guruma had pulled him into the Plane of Deception to save him when the ship he was flying was destroyed by an explosive planted by Collinar. Unfortunately, Guruma's act to save him also trapped him there with him, forever separating him from his family.
Absently, Trager conjured a small plate of lemon slices and squeezed the juice into his mug. Like Guruma, Trager had also become adept at using the energy-matter conversion talent. The Aethereals, who were the native beings of the dimension, could only draw sustenance from the mist but they were incapable of the more sophisticated energy-to-matter conversions that allowed Guruma and Trager to create the room around them—because of this, the creatures had branded them sorcerers.
Guruma shook his head and gave him a gentle smile when he offered him the plate of lemon slices.
"No luck again, this cycle?" Guruma asked, lightly tracing a finger on the handle of his red stone mug.
Trager brushed back a stray lock of silky black hair that had escaped from his traditional Dramudam single braid. "No. It's been nearly two mol since I've been able to contact Forrorrois. She and Celeste must be growing worried."
"I'm certain they are," Guruma agreed. "This lull in the energy level of this plane is becoming a concern."
Trager looked up at Guruma and studied his salt-n-pepper hair, also tied back in a single loose braid. He smiled at the fact that they both had continued to wear the traditional green and black uniforms worn by all master pilots of the Dramudam, clinging to them for some sort of normalcy. The room they sat in was a mirror of the quarters that Trager had once had on the Dramudam Peace ship Tollon where he had been a subcommander. That was, until Trager had become detached from the Tollon and joined with Forrorrois. Like their uniforms, Trager and Guruma's surroundings were an illusion to keep them from dwelling on the fact that they were trapped in the Plane of Deception without any hope of returning back to their own dimension.
"I'm concerned as well, Guruma," Trager replied, lifting the red stone mug to his nose and sniffed the light citrus scent. The scent calmed his nerves ever so slightly, enticing him to take a sip. He closed his eyes briefly as the warm liquid quenched his parched throat.
"I suspect that the energy drain is being caused from the Aethereals increased aggression against us and each other," Guruma stated. "The delicate balance was tipped when I brought you over into this dimension over four revolution ago. But there has also been an increase in their population. I saw this happen once before."
Trager leaned forward, surprised at the revelation. "Really?"
"Yes, shortly after I arrived here over a hundred revolution ago, there was a steep increase in the Aethereal birthrate which seemed to stress the population. A war broke out as several factions fought for power and resources. I suspect that this may be a way to regulate the population."
Trager considered Guruma's words. "If so, then we may need to relocate to another area to find foci with stronger energy levels."
"I agree, but we'll need to be extremely cautious in our search," Guruma replied. "The Aethereal continue to watch our every move. One careless moment ..." Guruma began then shrugged.
Trager shuddered at the constant unspoken threat. The Aethereal were adept hunters and would sooner kill both Guruma and himself with their razor-sharp claws than continue to suffer their presence any longer than they already had. "When you are ready, we can begin our search for a new location," Trager agreed.
"Good," Guruma said as he lifted his mug from the table. "Until then, I suggest that we limit our activities to try and conserve the energy we have remaining in this location."
Trager nodded. His thoughts wander briefly to Forrorrois and his daughter, Celeste, and wished that he could get them a message—but for now any contact would have to wait a bit longer.
* * *
Forrorrois sat in an overstuffed chair set in the living room of her base, reading the worn old Eldanese book that had belonged to Trager—her joined one. She missed him terribly, wishing he were there with her and their three-and-a half year old daughter Celeste. Her eyes closed tightly when the flash of the explosion which had taken him from her played in her mind for the millionth time—the explosion from the bomb planted by Collinar that had been meant for her—sending Trager forever into the Plane of Deception. Sometimes it's worse for two beings to be separated by centimeters than by kilometers, she thought as she fingered the delicate pages. Forrorrois cherished the fact that Trager had survived and visited them when he could focus enough energy to cross back into her world, except they could never touch without him vanishing from the effort. But for the past month, even his visits had stopped. A tear slid down her cheek, against her wishes, as she tried not to think about what could be preventing him from seeing her.
She returned her attention to the beautifully scripted book of the ancient legends of Elda. The Eldanese text had taken her several months to learn to read—even with the help of her zendra link with the computer. Each word was filled with nuance and intrigue, each sentence an onion to peel back in the tome's multiple layers of wisdom. Trager's culture was rich with subtle lessons, with no single word wasted. But all of the volume's insight was little comfort when she ached to be held by him once more—to feel his warm chestnut-brown hand against her face—to gaze into his deep black eyes and touch his long raven hair—to smile at the tickle of his mustache as they kissed. A book was little comfort when all she wanted was him. Forrorrois looked up from her thoughts as the base computer's chime in her mind through her zendra link.
'Incoming transmission from the air force base,' the computer stated in her mind in Intergaltic.
She closed the book with a sigh. 'Put it on audio,' she subvocalized in Intergaltic, without uttering a sound.
"This is Tracker five, calling Forrorrois, please respond..." an airman's voice repeated in English.
'Open a channel, computer,' she subvocalized.
"Tracker five, this is Forrorrois, what is the nature of this transmission?" she asked aloud in English.
She was surprised to hear the voice replaced by General Caldwell's on the other end.
"Forrorrois, we have a situation here. I need your help."
She heard the controlled panic in the general's voice, but still she hesitated—she could never fully trust the older man after his multiple deceptions in the past. "General, what seems to be the problem?" she said.
"It's Colonel Stern. He's in trouble."
Her heart began to pound at the sound of her friend's name. She jumped to her feet and straightened her black uniform tunic. "Is the colonel all right?!"
"I think so, for the moment. A tornado came through the base. It hit the hangar he was in. He's been pinned down in the rumble. I've got crews working on trying to reach him, but the building is a twisted mass of metal. I've got no equipment that can handle the sheer weight involved. As best as we can determine, Colonel Stern is trapped between two support beams."
Forrorrois' heart thundered in her chest. "I'll be there in thirty minutes, Forrorrois out."
The computer severed the transmission before the general could respond. The sound of small footsteps made her look over to the hall that led from the living room of her base. Her three-and-a-half-yearold daughter, Celeste, stood there.
"Momma," she called out. "Momma, is Unca Jack hurt?"
Forrorrois crossed over to her and smoothed her long black hair. "I don't know yet, honey, but I have to go and find out."
The little girl encircled her mother's leg with her arms and hugged her tightly. "You'll make him better?"
"I'll try. But first I have to take you to Grandma and Grandpa. They've been asking to see you."
"All right," Celeste said with a stubborn sniff. "But you'd better hurry up and fix Unca Jack's boo boo."
Forrorrois crouched down and hugged her daughter tightly. "OK ... now go get your things. We've got to leave in two minutes."
Her daughter hugged her back then ran down the hallway to her bedroom. Forrorrois knew she couldn't hide anything from her daughter. They shared the same empathic ability of sensing other people's emotions. It was a gift with a terrible burden. Her little girl was being forced to grow up faster than most. Forrorrois tried to shelter her child from the world's ugly emotions, but her position in the Dramudam made doing so difficult at best. She watched proudly as Celeste ran back with her overnight bag that Forrorrois always kept ready for her, stuffed with clothes and toys. Together, they hurried hand-in-hand to the hangar bay.
Forrorrois' long-distance scout stood waiting for them, already alerted by Forrorrois' subvocalized command. Celeste squealed with excitement when she saw the ramp extend and the side hatch open on sleek bluish-black scout. Her daughter loved to fly with her. Celeste ran up the ramp, dropped her bag next to a crate in the cargo hold, and bounded into the front compartment. By the time Forrorrois reached the cockpit, her daughter had already strapped herself into the jump seat beside her command chair.
The flight to her parents was a quiet one. She could feel her daughter's apprehension for her 'unca' mingled with exhilaration from flying. Unable to shield her own mixed emotions, Forrorrois found she could offer her daughter only modest comfort. At an early age, Celeste was able to tell the difference between words and emotions. Forrorrois' world could be a harsh one and there was very little she could do to soften it for her daughter at times like these. All she could do was to make certain the people around her loved her and protected her until she was old enough to emotionally protect herself.
Her parents smiled with delight when Forrorrois dropped their granddaughter off. Their smiles became strained when they realized she was wearing her modified black Dramudam uniform for a reason. Jack was a friend of the entire family. Forrorrois gave her daughter one more hug, then left.
'Computer, drop the EM warping field,' she subvocalized as she neared the air force base near Rome, New York. The base was crawling with rescue crews using heavy equipment to clear the path of destruction that meandered through the base. Her heart began to beat faster as she followed the carnage to the outer buildings near the air field.
"Forrorrois! This is General Caldwell, you are cleared for landing near the helicopter hangar," the general's voice sounded, breaking the silence of her cockpit. If the matter wasn't so grave, she would have chided him for not following his own strict radio protocol, but for all their differences Forrorrois knew that the general begrudgingly admired Jack. "Captain Perkins had been in the hangar with the colonel. But just before the tornado hit, the captain had gone to another hangar to retrieve something. Fortunately, Captain Perkins was able to pinpoint Colonel Stern's last known location, but we're still unable to reach him."
"Understood, General, Forrorrois out."
As she approached the twisted girders of the once vaulted building, fearful tears welled against her eyelids. 'Computer, scan the debris for life forms,' she subvocalized.
'One human male ... identity Colonel Jack Stern ... elevated life signs.'
Thank God! she thought as she pushed back the tears and guided her elegant scout beside the rubble. The cargo hatch and ramp had already responded to her silent command by the time she left the cockpit. Footfalls on the ramp's metal plates told her that urgency had overridden polite social graces. She raised the visor of her helmet and stared at the blue uniform of the gray-haired ruddy-faced man. "My sensors have confirmed your assessment, General," she said. "Colonel Stern's vital signs are all exhibiting extreme stress. He's in pain." Her steady voice didn't betray her inner turmoil. Neither did his, only a slight relieved twitch at the corner of his mouth gave him away.
"At least he's alive," the general replied. He straightened and signaled for Captain Perkins to approach. Perkins' disheveled, sage-green flight suit was dirt-smudged. Forrorrois studied his frantic blue eyes. Jack and Perkins had been friends long before she had come into the picture. But she had to be careful, the general wasn't aware that she had been training Perkins over the past four years. As far as the general was concerned Perkins and she only knew each other from the last time Collinar had assaulted the air base.
She dismissed the general with a glance and turned to the Apache pilot. "Please report, Captain," she said.
"Yes, ma'am, I approached Colonel Stern's position as best as I could. He was able to speak. He told me his left leg is pinned, but that he could still wiggle his toes. Unfortunately, there was no room to reach him unless you're possibly a mouse. I tried."
Forrorrois nodded at Perkin's subtle meaning. She reached up and placed her hand on Perkins' shoulder. "I know you did, Captain," she replied. Her mind raced with ideas. "General, I'm afraid that if I start hoisting beams with my craft that I will shift debris onto the colonel." She crossed over to her weapons locker and pulled two palm-sized oval objects out. "I have a suggestion...but I will need help."
The general recognized the weapons and leaned forward. "Go on."
Forrorrois slid opened two other long floor level lockers. Two hovercycles rolled out on skids. "I could go in, with a second person, and extract Jack using a reduction weapon. This assumes that his leg isn't holding something up."
Perkins stepped forward before the general could speak. "I want to be that second person."
Forrorrois eyed the general.
The general gave her a quick nod. "Do it, Captain."
"Thank you, sir," Perkins replied with a curt nod.
"General, I'm going to have to ask you to leave, while I brief Captain Perkins."
The computer broke into her concentration via her zendra link. She raised her hand to her helmet to focus on the message.
"What is it?" the general said.
"There isn't much time, General. The colonel's vital signs have shifted. He's going into shock. If we wait much longer his body won't be strong enough to endure the stress of the reduction weapon," Forrorrois stated as she placed one of the reduction weapon weapons on the seat of the closest hovercycles, along with an emergency bio kit. Before the general could reply, she aimed and fired at the two personal transports.
Excerpted from FORRORROIS: Tears of Many Mothers by Suzanne Y. Snow Copyright © 2011 by Suzanne Y. Snow. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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