Forerunners of Bosk

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Fourteen 

 

 

Hawk watched as several of the prisoners were escorted to different areas, following their probationary time, and new prisoners were brought in.  One, a hulking, muscle-bound humanoid growled continually at his captors, his golden-flecked eyes pools of righteous indignation.   His bare head was marked with stripes, and that and the way he moved indicated a felinoid background.  

“Fight and you die, beast,” one of the two guards escorting him said.  The human had a larger stun stick than the guards normally carried.  “Why they accept these uncontrollable animals, I’ll never know,” he muttered. 

His companion laughed mirthlessly.   “Comply and it will go easier for you,” he said to the prisoner.   The felinoid prisoner growled again and was stunned on the leg.  The prisoner flinched but made no other sound.  They passed directly in front of Hawk’s cell and that was when he realized that the new prisoner had shackles on.  As the felinoid passed by his cell, the two prisoners locked eyes briefly.  Hawk tried to convey something to give encouragement to the new prisoner but he didn’t know if he succeeded.   He felt so little of it himself.  The felinoid was led past him and to a cell further down the corridor, where a clanking of metal told Hawk that the new prisoner had been introduced to his home.  

A fierce rattling, a cry and then a loud roar told Hawk that the new prisoner didn’t care for his home.  Hawk smiled fleetingly.  The two humans finally walked past him, muttering foul epitaphs that he felt would have made even Buck blush, and his friend had told him that he had heard them all. 

Hawk felt anew the sting of resentment.  Despite being told that the probationary time was approximately two weeks, Hawk had counted the days and knew he had been in the prison for over two months.  Even though he was a fairly solitary person, especially as far as humans were concerned, the weeks of non-interaction with anyone except for commands from guards was taxing even to him.  Hawk felt the need for some kind of expression and the need for companionship.  Even touches of Koori were absent in this cold and dark mine, as though her spirit could not come into this evil place. Not that he could blame her.  The thought of even her spirit here in these caves seemed repugnant to him.  Hawk sighed and lay back down, hoping to catch a glimpse of his beloved in his dreams as he had done a few nights before.  The cold slab made him shiver and he drew the blanket around him tightly, his thoughts going again to the unfairness of his imprisonment.   

Most of the prisoners he had seen appeared to be human or near enough human to pass as fully human.  But even in his antipathy toward most of the human race, Hawk felt an overwhelming sadness at what was being done to his fellow prisoners, human and non-human alike.  To be punished for a crime was one thing, but to be so cruelly dealt with, treated like the lowest of organisms, was a travesty.  He wondered just how many of his fellow prisoners were like him, objects of someone’s vindictiveness.  Anger burned in his heart but it was quickly extinguished in the thoughts that no matter what he felt about the situation, there was nothing he could do about it at the present time.  If it were not for the fact that Buck was also here, possibly still sick, Hawk would eventually force his jailers to kill him.  He would never endure months and years of this dark and evil servitude.  

Hawk remembered his last meeting with Sky Mother, her soothing touch that was almost like a blessing and he remembered her words, which now made at least partial sense.  ‘Star Warrior Hawk, your path to the reunification of our people will lead through the darkest bowels of hell and the coldest heights.  But I see it happening.  Stay close to what you have but open your heart to what you see.’ 

Darkest bowels of hell?’  Yes, that made sense, he thought, looking around.  The rest of her words, he had no idea about, but Hawk certainly hoped that it wasn’t as hard a way as this part of her promise was.  Then he took a bit of consolation that this was what she saw before the other part of her ‘seeing.’  It was a small consolation, though.  Trying to shut out everything but the need for sleep, Hawk pulled the blanket even closer to him.  He flexed his fingers, missing the feel of his own gauntlets, his own clothing, that which was utilitarian as well as a marking of his rank.  His thoughts as they had been before, continued to ask why, if Sky Mother had some idea about this, why hadn’t she more specifically warned him.  Then he reminded himself that her insights were not specific.  They were more colors, emotions, quick sights rather than drawn out and explicit visions of events.  No one could be faulted here just as no one individual could be flamed for the series of events that led to him being the lone survivor of his clan.  

Again his thoughts turned to Koori and he suddenly felt a warmth that had been absent since he had come to this dank and cold place.  It was not just an inner warmth, it was physical.  He felt a presence with him on the hard slab; he felt the touch of softness on his chest, a hand—Koori. 

A thrill ran through him and Hawk almost jerked up in surprise.  

‘No, my love,’ he heard Koori soft musical voice say in his mind and heart.  ‘Lay still.  You will not see me if you open your eyes, or feel me if you try to take me in your arms,’ her spirit whispered.  ‘Feel me in spirit, my love. Let me warm your heart and your soul and that in turn will warm your physical self.’ 

And he did, reveling in her presence and her love.  Oh, Koori, he moaned in his mind. Stay with me.  Please stay with me. 

‘For a while, Hawk.  It is hard to come to this evil place, but I come to give you strength.  I come because I love you.  I will come whenever you need strength the most.’

In this place I always need strength, Koori.  Stay with me always!  

Her laughter electrified his soul, filled his heart.  ‘I will be with you during your most difficult times.’ 

There will be times more difficult than this? he asked, somewhat inanely he thought, even as the thought crossed his mind.  

‘Yes, Hawk.  There will.  You will need strength to leave your friend.’ 

Leave?  We will leave, he thought, not totally catching all she had said. 

‘Strength, my love.’  She said no more, but Hawk felt her warmth, her love and her strength and he fell asleep feeling her touch and the memory of her embrace.

   

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Tigerman grasped the bars of his cell, growling softly under his breath, but when one of the humans turned to him, stun gun ready, he backed away.  The manacles clinked softly as he sat down on the stone slab, but the guard was content and continued on down the corridor. 

Fools! he thought, his anger bubbling like the lava pits of his home, Rrilling.  He could have used these chains and quickly killed those two puny men before they could begin to subdue him.  But as before, there would have been more and more and when there were enough, he would have been beaten into submission.  

Just like before.  That was what the Draconian guards and androids had done when he had first been taken.  Tigerman snorted in pleasure when he remembered how he had destroyed three androids and broken two guards’ arms and another’s head before they had used the net and stun guns on him.  And Kane!  How he hated Kane!  Tigerman knew that was the reason he was here.  His princess didn’t order his imprisonment, like she had before, that time when he had let Buck Rogers go.  No, this was Kane.  Again, Tigerman growled softly and held up his hands, examining the chains and manacles.   He felt he could easily break these chains.  He felt a weakness in the metal.  However, he wouldn’t do that now.  Somehow he had to get out of this dark den of Ssess and if he broke his chains now, they would only put on stronger ones.   It was hard, but he would wait.  His people knew how to wait.   It was enough right now that they knew that he was a Tigerman and not some child’s velirian fluff pet.  

He remembered the watcher in the other cell.  He appeared to have something of the bird people in him. Maybe he was not full-blooded as were the Watchers in the heights that he once saw when he was a child, but of the same parentage.  

Tigerman considered his mistress and his choosing to be her protector.  He remembered the honor when, after the trials on his home world, he was sent to Draconia to train to be the Princess Ardala’s personal bodyguard, to give his life for her if need be.  He knew he had disappointed her a few times, he had sensed her intense displeasure, even her anger.  He also knew he was less than the dust under the toes of Draconian royalty, but of late he had felt something different from his mistress.  She had brought him back from the gaming pits where he had been sent after he had failed to stop Buck Rogers from destroying the orbital war machine.   She didn’t have to bring him back.  For laying hands on a royal daughter, he had deserved death.  For failing in his duties he had also deserved death.  Kane had said so.  Kane!   Tigerman growled softly again.  He wished he had Kane here, then they would see how powerful he was.  

Tigerman considered Captain Rogers’ offer, seemingly so long ago.   He could have gone with the Earthman, been free.  Why had he refused?  He knew the penalties for what he had done.  So why had he stayed?   Despite what he had suffered at Captain Rogers’ hands, Tigerman knew he would be fairly treated.  Other than that, though, he didn’t know what else to expect, and in that he was afraid.  Tigerman would be cut off from all he knew, from the people and from the only life he knew.   And the thought of abandoning his Princess into the hands of others was the biggest reason for his fear.  Whether she had put him to death as was her right or not, he could not leave her.  Especially in the hands of Kane.   So he had stayed.  And his Princess had not put him to death.  She had eventually brought him back into her service.   Both times.  It had been in time to save her from several assassins.  

Tigerman thought again of Buck Rogers.  He had been part of the cause of his downfall.  While the terran had beaten him several times in combat, sometimes by not so honorable means, Tigerman did not scent evil in him.  But deep inside, the former royal bodyguard wanted a chance to fight and beat the terran, fairly and without tricks.   Someday.

Tigerman lay down on the stone slab, annoyed that his feet stuck out over the edge.  The blanket was threadbare and too small as well, but his body heat would be enough.  Soon he was sound asleep, but his senses were alert as was the habit of all of his race.  

 

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“What’s an OEI?” Brisella asked, gazing up in open admiration at Dr. Goodfellow.   Wilma noticed and had to bite her lip to keep from smiling.   She hoped the doctor would be up to dealing with the outspoken and independent Neckarese woman.  Brisella Brock was filled with more surprises than one of Buck’s birthday parties.  She sobered.  Remembering that first party brought Wilma back to what was most important.  Finding Buck and Hawk.   

Dr. Goodfellow blushed slightly, considerably flustered by her open admiration.  “Well, dear lady, I could bore you with the specifics, but, uh….   Oh, dear!”  The old scientist coughed and cleared his throat.  Brisella continued to gaze at him and he coughed again, trying to keep his mind on what he needed to do. “Basically, madam, it helps to focus memories and displays them for us to see.” 

“Oh, any memories?” she asked dubiously, all the while still gazing at the old doctor.  

“Any that we ask for,” Goodfellow answered.  

Brisella smiled mischievously and this time Wilma smiled along with her.   “You wouldn’t want to see some of my memories,” Brisella replied tartly, folding her arms over her chest.  “There are some things a lady doesn’t reveal.”  

Wilma decided it was time to jump in and save the scientist.  Twiki and Dr. Theopolis were standing nearby awaiting the results of the OEI.  “Mrs. Brock, the OEI pretty much only focuses on the specific memory asked about,” she said. 

“So if you don’t ask me about my Edward, I won’t show you anything about my dearly departed husband.” 

“Correct, Mrs. Brock,” Dr. Goodfellow said hastily.  

“Oh, please call me Brisella,” she said with a smile, looking directly into Dr. Goodfellow’s eyes. 

“Uh, of course, Mrs., er, Brisella.” 

“Then I suppose that it would be all right,” Brisella said. 

“Thank you,” Wilma said.  “We are hoping that some visual detail of what you have told us might be the clue that we need to find Buck and Hawk.”  

“I didn’t see much, but I do want to help you.  That beau of your was nice and so was his friend.” 

Dr. Goodfellow carefully and gently fitted the OEI on the older woman’s head.  “It won’t hurt a bit, but let me know if it’s too tight.” 

“I will,” Brisella assured him.

 

 

 

Chapter Fifteen
Forerunners of Bosk Prologue
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