So, I didn't know about these characters 4 days before I sat down and started writing... They evolved before my eyes. If you are curious, the little natives look like a cross between an iguana and a frog. THIS IS NOT A STROKE STORY. If you want that, there are those kinds of stories on my page. It was meant to tell a story, not get you off. Just so happens to involve sex.
The miniature hamlet bustled with activity. The sun’s punishing rays were blocked by the horizon, offering the inhabitants a reprieve. They crowded the streets at this time of growing shadows, hurrying to the market before the chill of the night took hold and they would need to retreat back into their homes.
Placing his shaded goggles onto his forehead, Kupper surveyed the scene from the top of a house like a green eyed vulture. He would need to find a new town soon. People were starting to question whether he was the thief during the day. Unlike the people here, he wasn’t fazed by the heat. Or the cold, for that matter. Unlike these poor scaly people, he could sweat and shiver. He was human. These people were not. Not that that really bothered him. They didn’t know much about humans and would rather keep their distance. They were smaller than humans and naive. A weakness those like he exploited.
Taking a deep breath, he easily dropped to the ground from the roof top which really wasn’t too much taller than he was. He was a tall human, after all. Didn’t help that his heritage combined some aggressive and powerful species. But he was still human. His mother had been human. Whoever his father had been didn’t matter. The Q’Ra and Ssala blood only made him a better thief, not less human. Besides, the Ssala were just human ancestors, so he was more human than anything.
He walked among the small people that gave him a wide berth, the young ones craning their necks back to stare at him in innocent, wide-eyed awe. He was a giant among them. With an easy meter difference between the tallest of these people and his chest, Kupper indeed felt superior often.
But he was not interested in anything other than going to his barn to sleep for the evening. He had enough money in his pouches to buy a night at any inn, but their beds were rarely large enough for him, and he already knew none here were. So he had made a temporary home in a barn on the outskirts of the town.
Amid lush crops and trees laden with fruit, he had found himself a lovely little pastel orange barn, the area around it tilled and planted with fragrant flowers. He knew the small people who cared for this land, but they didn’t know him. He knew the care with which they took of their home and their property. Though he did not pay them for his comfortable bed, he repaid them by leaving no trace of his existence.
With a heavy sigh, he laid out in the hay behind some barrels to stay out of sight in case one of the small folk decided to come in. It was moments like these that he missed having someone to share his time with. There were other humans on this world. Many years ago, a cargo ship had crashed on this world of primitive people and by the time they were rescued, the damage had already been done so many humans had stayed with these small folk who had so gently cared for them after the crash. Kupper, however, stayed away from other humans. Unlike these people who looked upon him with awe and curiosity, his own people looked upon him with scorn and often shunned him. He wasn’t human, they said. He was a mongrel.
Letting out another deep breath, Kupper removed most of his clothing, exposing lean, taut muscles. His Q’Ra heritage was obvious in his broad shoulders, long limbs, and dense sinew. His strength was a legend among the many small towns he had already been through. Laying back onto his bed, he pulled his blanket around his body, listening to the sounds that had become familiar to him, gently drifting off to sleep.
When morning came, he was roused by the town folk coming out of their homes for the few hours before it became too hot and bright for them. They tended to the fields, their gardens, sold their wares at the market, and socialized in their friendly manner.
Packing his few belongings, Kupper slung the pack over a massive shoulder and started toward the road that led out of town. Many of the children ran after him and asked him if he was leaving. When he confirmed his departure with his deep bass of a voice in their own native tongue, the children bid him a safe travel as was their way and chased one another back to the town as the brilliant red sun crested the horizon and shimmers of heat danced over the land.
Placing the dark goggles over his eyes, Kupper continued his journey into the alien forest. The trees grew at strange angles, all at once trying to reach for the life giving rays of the sun and escape its brutality. The purple trunks and vibrant red and orange leaves always reminded him of autumn on his homeworld. It was a long way from here, though. He didn’t think of it much.
Sweat beaded on his skin now. Though he had removed his shirt and walked as much in the shade as he could, the heat grew steadily until he decided it was time to stop and cool down. Settling under a tree, he sat on some soft leaf litter and placed his hands behind his head as he laid out, looking up at a pastel sky through the leaves. The sun was dying, but it would still be a couple million years before nothing could live here anymore, and it wasn’t a concern to him.
Blinking lazily, he didn’t realize he had dozed off until a twig snapped. He sat up like a bolt of lightning, a fleet figure already taking off down the dirt road, his bag with his money pouch in the person’s hands. With a deep growl, he leapt to his feet to give chase. The night had started to close in so he tore the dark goggles from his head as he dashed after the quick person.
Even from a distance he could tell it wasn’t one of the little natives. This was a humanoid, tall and slender, dark hair cropped short, and were those… pointed ears?
He was catching up to his prey when his feet were taken right out from under him. With a startled cry, he was forcibly jerked up into the air, a sharp pain in his ankles as his whole weight was now being suspended from them. His head spun as all the blood rushed to his brain, roaring in his ears, almost drowning out the laughter.
The snickering belonged to a pair of multicolored eyes, one ice blue and the other gold as a ring. Elegant eyebrows arched up in merriment, one of which was pierced multiple times.
Kupper growled, baring his teeth as he helplessly swung in the air, his arms a half meter off the ground. “Stupid woman.”
Thin lips split open in a grin, exposing the massive canines known in many species. A silvery ring was pierced through the side of the lower lip. The intricate lavender patterns that swirled around her face and delicate neck and down along one exposed shoulder before vanishing into her shirt marked her as a Ryo, but her heterochromia eyes were most commonly known among the Druaks. Her elegantly arched, pointed, and pierced ears gave away a purer ancestry of elven kind, the ancestors of the Q’Ra.
“I’m not the one hanging upside down.” She giggled, stuck out her pierced tongue teasingly, and turned away as if that ended their encounter.
Kupper used his superior strength to bend up and reach out to grab at the woman’s choppy multi-colored undercut. She quickly spun away and thrust her palm toward him. It was that moment that he realized he was dealing with an elementalist. The stiff gust she shot at him made him spin around dizzyingly, his brain swimming in his head.
“Bitch, when I get down from here…” he roared.
“I will be long gone! Thanks for the money, thief.” She pulled the pouch that jingled with precious metal out of his satchel and tossed the bag under him. With a charming crooked grin and a flirtatious wink, her long hot pink bangs fluttered in the breeze as she casually trotted down the road, her sweet voice loudly singing a little rhyme.
“Silent are we, so soft of foot,
Brash are we, with no chagrin,
Shadows are we, dark as soot,
Thieves are we, to steal from our kin.”
Years seem to mean something to people. At least the more primitive species. They hurry around and feel pressured to accomplish things as quickly as possible because their lives wouldn’t otherwise have meaning. However, for older species, years mean nothing. Years could come and go like the blink of an eye, almost seeming ageless to those who have to count the years like they were important.
Years had come and gone. How many really didn’t matter. Maybe it was fifty. Maybe it was a hundred. Kupper really didn’t care. Nothing had really changed. At least not in his life. Lots had changed on the planet, though. The major human city had expanded beyond its boundaries as humans always seem to do. It had begun engulfing the peaceful towns around it. The natives accepted the fate that would befall their culture when they were absorbed by their human guardians.
A breeze tugged at Kupper’s shaggy short hair, black as the shades he wore. He looked down at one of the nearby villages to the human city. If he cared to turn his head, the towering landscape of the city would be easily visible in the distance.
But he didn’t turn around. He wanted to forget that place. What had he been thinking to go back there to visit his mother’s grave? He had been chased out of the city by the people he had grown up with. The ones who had said he was not like them and he never could be. They said his mother deserved what she had gotten, being a whore and all. Whatever his father had been, it didn’t matter. His mother had been human and that’s what he was and none of those old slum rats could tell him otherwise. He had gotten out of there and he had forged his own path in the world.
His path had brought him here. The little scaly people here were wary of humans. Thugs had been here. Humans had caused them much grief and had turned their friendly and welcoming society into one of mistrust and prejudice. They watched him with their large eyes carefully narrowed, whispering behind his back as he strode through their town.
There was a bed that could fit him at the local inn. The sweep of his eyes behind the dark lenses made him rethink his decision to come here. It was just a few days walk to the next little town which was sure to welcome him. He had done honest work for the natives there while taking whatever of particular value they had in their possession. Their kind considered the precious gemstones and metals as nothing more than worthless ornaments. Of course it couldn’t be him. He was much too big and awkward to fit in their little homes while they slept.
He continued his long legged stride past the inn. The sun was starting to go down so everyone crowded the streets and watched as he vanished into the orchards that ringed their town. There was a dark purple barn there that he had slept in the first time he had left that wretched human city.
At the end of the lines of fruit trees he stopped to stare at the faded, overgrown barn. Yes, it had been many years indeed. The doors hung on their hinges. The garden that had once so neatly ringed the barn and small house was wild and unkempt. Still, the vibrant flowers smelled so sweet. There was a sad kind of peace that hung around the scene like a mist.
Letting out a deep sigh he started heading for the barn when his sharp ears picked up a distinct humming. He silently slipped from the tree line to the side of the barn. He crouched below the line of flowers. Slowly he peered over the edge through some of the boards. He had to stalk carefully around to find a spot where he could see the source of the humming which had now been joined with gentle music.
Peering through a gap in the boards, his eye narrowed dangerously. The long, slender neck leaned against a glowing holographic violin that rested on an exposed shoulder. Delicate fingers manipulated the device that produced the instrument expertly, the glorious sound filling the clearing like gloomy dancing memories. Elegant pierced ears stretched out past a shaggy hot pink and black undercut.
It was mostly her back that he saw, but he knew. He never forgot. The curse of the Q’Ra.
When the aching melody had gone silent, he had worked his way to the other side of the barn. There was an opening there that he could sneak in through when she bedded down. He watched as she rolled out a ragged sleeping bag over an intact bale of hay, standing on it as she did some limber stretches. It was as if she had no ligaments. Kupper had to marvel at it.
It took her a while to bed down. Snuggling into her sleeping bag, she stayed awake a while longer as she stared at a softly glowing screen. Elven script floated across the screen as she read something that was obviously humorous since she chuckled to herself a few times.
At last she could keep her eyes open no longer. Her head was cradled by her arms, creating a pillow. The screen soon went dark beside her head.
A grin on his face showed the same kind of enlarged canines as many predatory species had. Q’Ra are voracious eaters, after all. Carefully, as softly as he could manage, he slipped into the barn. Painstaking was his journey from the wall to stand beside her sleeping form. He could lean over and….
That tan skin was so tempting. It looked inviting. Her elven form was so perfectly feminine.
His long agile fingers wasted no time in snatching up the unique devices she had. Lifting her bag carefully, he started toward the way he had come out.
He had reached the wall when a blast of air struck him a physical blow in the back and shoved him so hard against the rotten wood that it shattered, sending him tumbling through the flowerbed.
Growling, Kupper knew he had to have messed up somewhere. Perhaps her hearing was better than his. Maybe her sense of smell was much more acute. Whatever had happened, now he was faced with a dilemma.
He rolled over and drew back a booted foot, planting it squarely in her torso, sending her breathlessly back to her makeshift bed. She coughed, panting as she tried to get her breath back. Stumbling to regain her feet while Kupper easily leapt to his, she made another attempt to blast air at him. This time he knew the motion and only the breeze on the edge of the powerful gust ruffled his hair.
It took him only a few strides to close the distance between them which made the woman stumble backwards over the hay bale. She crouched low as she jumped away, both her hands out before her, palms to him. “Leave me alone. I have nothing you want.”
Kupper gave her a wry grin. “Well, all that stuff in the satchel would fetch a good price since it doesn’t seem you have any money for me to steal.”
Gradually she was backing away as he continued to advance, a step for a step. She circled him, trying to reach her things but he kept himself in the middle. “Those are personal. I will give you the coin in my pocket, but leave my things.”
Kupper laughed. “That hardly seems like a fair trade. You owe me quite a bit of coin.”
The woman stared at him silently for a long moment with the dull green glow of reflective eyes. Then she gulped quite visibly. “I stole coin from you. I left your things. You can show me the same courtesy.”
The deep growl from Kupper’s chest made the woman cringe. She put up her hands again as if she could ward off his anger. “You left me hanging in the middle of the woods! It took me over an hour to get out of that trap. You owe me coin and my pride.”
Her eyes flicked over at the satchel several times. One hand flashed upwards as the other thrust forward. A blast of air struck Kupper in the chest, throwing him against a support beam as another spiraled up under the bag and landed it within her reach.
Snatching her satchel, she turned to flee, getting only a few strides away before Kupper’s long, powerful fingers tangled into the hot pink strands, jerking her head back so that she whimpered in pain. His other hand wrapped completely around her throat, slamming her against the support beam.
In a desperate move, she drew the dagger from her belt and swung it at his face. When he drew back and tightened his grip, her blade turned to his long arm. His quick reaction saved him a painful experience. He gripped her delicate wrist, bending her arm painfully behind her until she could no longer hold onto the dagger.
“Please stop!” she cried loudly, squirming against his solid body. He had pressed himself tightly against her lithe form. He could feel every curve of her. The scent of her was intoxicating.
“Why should I?” he asked gruffly, his own reflective gaze hard and cold.
“Look, just take the stuff. You beat me, and you’ll easily make as much money as I took from you and then some.” There was a lace of panic in her voice, a fear that made his Q’Ra genetics burn hotly in his blood. A fearful and submissive female was what they sought among their own kind. The spike of fear in her was alluring.
Looking down at the woman that only reached his chest, he appeared to be thinking. Then he lowered his head, taking a deep sniff of her. “You know, I’m not sure that’s enough for me.” His voice was a purr. It sent a shudder through the woman. She was using her free arm to try and push him away. Though she was strong for her svelte body, he was unmoved.
“I… I could repay you. I can steal something for you. You-you know, kind of like you getting paid to take a vacation?”
Now his face was at the tantalizing curve of her neck, his hot breath dancing over that teasing bare shoulder. A devious little smile turned up the corners of his lips. “I think that’s a lovely idea, after you repay my pride.”
She was breathing hard, the exquisite markings glowing a soft pale purple. In her heightened emotional state, she had lost control of her natural bioluminescence. “Uh, well, I, uh, I know some interesting importers! I could get you any manner of rare and exotic drug that could make you forget your pride, y-you know… if, uh, if you’re into… that sort of… thing.”
He knew she was trying to talk her way out of the inevitable. He could feel her pulse under his hand that still held fast to her neck. “I already have an exotic drug right here. Why would I wait for black market scum?” His searing breath was against her pointed ear, his tongue playing with the various piercings.
He could feel the fearful gulp force its way down her throat. His lips followed it down to her collar bone. The scent of her fear was causing an almost painful erection that throbbed against its confines, pressing against her.
“Please don’t hurt me.”
The breathless whisper made his head jerk back. He looked down at her as if he couldn’t believe what he had heard. He blinked a few times before suddenly stepping away, releasing her. “No. I won’t hurt you.”
She stared at him for a heartbeat before a swift movement caused him to sway. The blast of air directly in his face dazed him. She moved to slip around him but his hand snatched her arm, spinning her around. He pulled her close then slid his leg around behind hers and pushed her backwards. Her hands desperately grasped for him before she slammed into the ground.
Placing her hands beside her head, she spun her legs in the air, sending out a spiral of wind that would have lifted any normal person off their feet. She then flipped over, landing on her feet nimbly. She crouched low, a sturdy stance, her hands out as she readied herself to unleash another blast of air.
Kupper realized there was a lull between her ability to use her power. She had obviously never needed to practice her technique. Thinking of something far more effective than fighting with her, he turned and placed his foot on top of her bag, making sure something was under his potentially crushing weight.
“No!” she cried out. “That’s all I’ve got left of my family. Please don’t break it.”
He casually peered at her from the corner of his eye. “And what will you give me for it?”
Though she swallowed hard, she lowered her head in defeat. “I’ll give you all that I have to offer.” There was no mistaking what she meant.
A triumphant little smile tugged at his face. Reaching down, he withdrew the odd contraption that had created the holographic violin, holding it tightly. “I thought violins were a human instrument?”
That multicolored gaze shot death at him. She knew he had been spying on her. “They are, but that doesn’t mean only humans can use them.”
“True.” Kupper reached out slowly, his fingers light on her delicate jaw, lifting her head up. Her skin was truly like silk; warm silk beneath his rough pads. He lightly caressed her jawline, feeling her clench her teeth together. “I’ve spent a lot of time thinking of what I would do to you if I ever caught up to you.” She breathed hard, her heart pounding, He could see the vein in her throat fluttering under her skin. He gently placed his thumb over it. “Now I realize the only thing I want is to know your name.”
Glowering at him, her fear turning to contempt, she growled gruffly, “People call me Zigz.”
He gazed into her fascinating eyes, still not letting her go. “I didn’t ask what people call you.”
Even the insects had gone silent. It was tangible. At last she whispered. “Sinoja.”
“See, now that wasn’t so hard.”
“Are you going to tell me your name?” she snapped at him.
“Good, now that we’re friends, you can just hand me my instrument….”
Kupper held it up high into the air. His grip on it tightening even more. “Strip.” His tone was absolute.
She blinked at him a few times before a shudder rode her spine from tip to tip. With great revulsion, she slipped the baggy shirt over her head. The thin strapped shirt under it was perfectly form fitting. She pulled the thing over her head quickly, perhaps thinking the sooner they started the sooner it would be over. When the tight leggings were around her ankles, Kupper allowed his gaze to sweep over her delicious body. There was a delectable swirl of purple around her belly button. Each pale, furled nipple had its own twirl of the soft glow. Her breasts were small but perfect. He could have stared at her all night and not gotten enough.
He suddenly stepped up close to her. She tensed, taking a step back but his hand wrapped around the back of her neck, pulling her against his punishing lips. He kissed her as if he were trying to steal the air from her so she could no longer create those special gusts. Indeed it left her breathless.
Dropping the instrument, he turned away, walking briskly from her tempting body. He could only imagine the shock on her face at the moment for he certainly heard it in her voice. “Wha-what are you doing?”
“You have no coin and I won’t take your things, so I just made you repay my pride.” As if that ended the encounter, Kupper scooped up his bag and started heading off.
He paused, not bothering to turn. If he gazed upon that irresistible body again, he knew he would lose his control.
It seemed to take her a moment to speak again. He could hear a twinge of loneliness in her tone. “It’s, uh, it’s been a while since I’ve had company. It’s late. You could stay here.”
Kupper turned his head slightly, still not looking back. “You won’t like it if I stay.”
There was another pause. “You could have done whatever you wanted, but you didn’t.” Her voice was soft.
“I’ll change my mind if I stay here much longer.” There was finality in his tone.
“Has it been a long time?” She almost whispered the question.
Kupper dropped his bag. He turned around and stalked up to her. She cringed, startled by his sudden approach. His large hands gripped her arms, pulling her lovely naked body against him. She could feel the bulge in his pants against her. It made her breath catch in her throat. He stared down at her, the intensity of his gaze making her look away, a motion that drove his Q’Ra genetics over the edge.
His strong hand was behind her neck, holding her to his lips again. His other hand slipped between them, a finger finding that moist hole between her legs. Another shudder ran through her. Maybe it had been a long time since anyone had touched her.
He could feel her heart pounding. Her fear was a strong scent. There was no going back at this point. The ache was in his whole body. With a fluid motion, he pulled her bedding from its spot onto the ground. Placing his foot behind her, he sank to the ground with her, laying her down much more gently than when he had tripped her only moments ago.
He could still feel the tension in her when he kicked his pants off, releasing his throbbing member. It needed her. No matter how she reacted, his body needed hers and that’s all this was going to be.
The heat of her tight canal made him shudder this time. He pressed further into her body, eliciting a gasp from her. She was gripping his broad shoulders, though he wasn’t sure if she was trying to push him away or draw him closer. It didn’t really matter. He was already sheathed within her delicious body, taking what he wanted.
His thrusts were precise, strong, drawing his length out before stabbing deeply. She breathed erratically, the occasional soft moan filling his ears. His mouth punished hers, his tongue invading her as easily as his gender. She was helpless to his driving desire, open to him, slick for him.
The cool air shimmered with their body heat, sweat beginning to build on their skin. He pounded her harder as he felt himself draw nearer to his release, the moist smacking of their flesh becoming a loud rhythm. Whether she wanted it or not, his hot seed flooded into her.
They both panted. Kupper withdrew from her quickly, laying on his back, staring up at the dark ceiling of the barn. There was a hole there. The stars twinkled brightly, perfectly content with what he had done. Why couldn’t he be like the stars?
He felt her lithe body press up against him. Sitting up suddenly, he startled her and she drew away, looking at him from under long dark lashes. “Where are you going?” Her voice was low.
“Somewhere else.” He moved to stand but she placed her hand on his, sitting up to press that lovely body he had just used against his arm.
“Please stay. It’s almost dawn. You might as well get some sleep.”
He hesitated. Could he really stay here after what he had done? His mother would have consoled him and told him that he was learning to control that inner demon. But he’d be “learning” for centuries and it still reared its ugly head to do such terrible things. That demon told him to stay. Her body so warm and inviting. He could get lost in those alluring eyes of hers. Perhaps he could even have her again….
With a heavy breath he laid back down. She curled up against him, cradled in the curve of his body. It didn’t take her long to find her way into the realm of dreams, but the void continued to elude him. It played tricks with him until at last he heard the world outside begin to wake. With a soft sigh, he gently drew away from Sinoja, gathering his things.
Pausing at the door, Kupper glanced back at the delicate form that had curled up tightly in her sleep. This was his life. Avoiding people. Attachments. Always moving. Belonging nowhere. A mongrel, as alien to his own kind as he was among these simple little people.
The heat of midday found him a good distance from that place. His long legs gave him a particularly brisk stride and his hairless body devoid of fat released the heat easily so he could keep going long into the day. It wasn’t until the angry sun dipped low in the sky that he stopped his determined march.
Dropping his satchel to the ground, he crossed his legs as he sat on the leaf litter. He watched the sun set through his shades. He continued watching as the stars came to life overhead, the milky slash across the darkness of the galaxy.
“There you are!”
Kupper didn’t jump. He didn’t look at her. “I’d really appreciate it if you wouldn’t follow me.” His tone was flat, cold.
She placed a hand on her hip. “You like being alone?”
“I’ve been alone for far longer than you’ve been alive.”
She placed both hands on her shapely hips. “I’m older than I seem. Besides, I didn’t ask that.” He felt her kneel beside him.
With a deep breath, he looked down at his hands that relaxed in his lap. “Not particularly. But that’s life.”
“Does it make you happy?”
He stared at her from the corner of his eye before letting out a slow sigh. “No.”
“That’s good,” she smiled. “Because I don’t like being alone either.”
“Then why don’t you go live with the elves instead of chase me,” he growled. It wasn’t a question, but she still answered.
“Probably for the same reason you don’t go live among the Q’Ra….”
Kupper bared his teeth, glaring at her. “I’m a human.”
Sinoja was taken aback for a moment. She stared at him a few moments. Then she smiled. “I see it now.”
With an angry snort, he turned away. Another moment of silence passed between them. Then he heard her settle down, sitting near to him but far enough to escape should he chose to attack her.
“Can I sit with you, then? I won’t follow you anymore if you don’t want me to, but I just wanted some company.”
Rolling his eyes, Kupper looked over at her with a glare. “Fine.” He stood up abruptly. “I’m going to go get some food.”
“Oh!” Sinoja piped, suddenly reaching out and dragged a couple limp bodies of the local wildlife she had tied together out from behind her. She’d obviously killed them recently. “I don’t mind sharing.”
His green eyes narrowed at her dangerously. “First you stole from me and now you want to share?”
Lowering her arm, she cringed a little, her voice low and sad. “That was a long time ago. I don’t do that anymore.”
Staring at her for a moment, he sighed, sitting back onto the ground. “Fine.” He pulled out a bag of dark leaves, breaking them apart and rolling them into a cigarette, all the while watching her roll out her sleeping bag. It was a habit he had picked up among the other humans. Using a lighter to light it, he tossed it to Sinoja as she gathered up the leaves to start a fire. She looked at the lighter as if it were a strange technology to her. Then she looked at what he smoked.
“Is that roacus leaf?” she asked softly.
He stared at her as he breathed deeply of the flavorful plant. Then he held it out for her as he exhaled the thick smoke through his nostrils. Roacus leaf was enjoyable to humans, but to those with elven-kin blood like her and himself, it was a mild drug. It was most effective when consumed, but he liked to smoke it. Apparently so did she, taking a long drag and holding it for a moment.
“It’s been a really long time since I last had that. Thanks.” She reluctantly returned it, going about her task with a charming wry grin. She wasn’t lying. Long time consumers didn’t giggle like that.
It wasn’t until she had spitted the animals over the fire that Kupper finally allowed his stoic expression to soften into a smile. That apparently was funny because Sinoja burst into uncontrollable laughter. She wiped at her eyes. “I’m so sorry.”
He had to chuckle. “Why?”
“I don’t know!” she choked out between laughs.
Shaking his head, he finished his smoke and tossed it into the fire. The fragrant smoke came and went as it burned away.
Kupper waited patiently for Sinoja to stop laughing. When the initial effect wore off, he looked at her with a scrutinizing gaze. “So why did you follow me?”
She peered back at him. The fire made her eyes reflect green, her pupils having dilated. She took a moment to respond as if thinking carefully about her answer. “You’re like me.”
“Oh?” He raised a brow.
“You know, a hybrid. People look down on us. For all the talk of tolerance, our own kinds can deal with pure bloods, but any of us who are born of a mix are considered somehow second rate, especially out here on the fringes of Alliance territory.” He nodded and turned away, the conversation over, but she drew closer and grinned at him. “And it was good sex.”
He flashed her a glare. For a moment, he thought she was rubbing salt in his wound, but she continued to grin. After a brief stare down, he snorted humorously. “If you say so.” He paused a moment before glancing back at her. “Where did you learn to use air?”
She grinned proudly, puffing out her chest a little. “I taught myself. I’m really out of practice, though.”
The silence that fell between them suddenly became crushing.
“Would you like to hear some music?”
Kupper glanced over at her curiously. She grinned at him as she slipped her nimble fingers into her bag and withdrew the device he had threatened to break. It was an elegant silver chinrest. Along the outside curve were five small rings. Sinoja removed each one tenderly and slipped the now blue glowing rings to just before the first joint of each finger on the hand that would hold the neck. Along the flat edge of the chinrest was the frog of the bow. Plucking it from its spot, it began to also glow as she positioned the chinrest against her always bare shoulder. The thing came to life as she gently curved her supple neck to hold it in place. The hologram appeared, lighting up the darkness of her face. She placed her slender fingers upon the neck as the bow materialized.
The sound that came forth from the contraption was as beautiful as the image of the elven violin. Her fingers danced expertly over the fingerboard. The bittersweet high notes and the forlorn deeper notes stunned him. He couldn’t tear his wide eyes away from the angel that made this marvel of technology sing. Should her head move, her hands followed accordingly, indicating she could feel the instrument in her grasp. The heavenly sound was entirely of her own talent.
The light from the hologram made her lovely face glow, the dancing fire adding shadows to contrast her features. Her eyes opened slightly so that he could see no more than the faint glow of her pupils.
When at last the divine song had ended, she carefully removed her fingers, lifting her chin so that the hologram vanished before his eyes. The bow also went dark. She very gently began to remove the rings when Kupper snapped out of his astounded trance.
“Wait!” She glanced up at his outburst. “Play another one.”
That beautiful smile of hers lit up her face far more than the violin had. Without hesitation she placed the chinrest back to her shoulder, letting out her emotions into the sweet music. He could imagine her moments of joy and anger while sensing the deep sorrow within her. It was an experience he had never had before. She lent her own angelic voice to that of the instrument, creating a harmonious symphony that laid her brilliant soul bare.
As the last notes fell away to the silence of the night, Kupper could scarcely breathe. He could only stare at the pink haired elven goddess that had found her way onto his lonesome path in life.
Kupper moved forward, kneeling before her as he reached out a hand and tenderly caressed her flawless cheek. She opened her mouth to say something but he placed his thumb against her soft lips. He gazed into her unique eyes. How could he possibly have ever wanted her to leave?
“That was… tantalizing. I could listen to you play all night.” His voice was gentle and earnest.
She blushed, the bioluminescent stripes, dots and swirls all over her body giving off the subtle lavender glow. “That’s nice you think so,” she whispered, looking down at the machine she cradled in her lap. “It, um, it records my music so you can listen to it anytime.” Along the edge that faced her neck were a series of buttons and small screen with a description of each song. It began to play on its own, filling the night around them with delightful music.
“You are like an angel.” His fingertips danced along her jawline, raising her face to him. This time he did not crush her lips. This time his tongue did not invade her. It humbly requested permission. She granted it.
Both of his hands cradled her head, holding her to the passionate exchange. Had she wanted to pull away he would not have stopped her. She must have known that, her whole body relaxing into him. Her arms wrapped around his neck, holding him tightly. She did not resist when he laid her down, his body covering her.
Clothing came off slowly. Lips, teeth and fingers eagerly explored bared flesh. His fingers took particular care at the space between her silken thighs. He drank her moans, adding his own voice when her hands expertly manipulated his turgid gender.
Their bodies joined, finding a rhythm of their own. He delighted in the sounds he could draw forth from her, his lips teasing the sound at its source. He growled when her nails dug into his flesh, leaving stinging lines across his back and shoulders. They didn’t notice when the fire burned away, the only light coming from the stars overhead. Their shared heat was enough to ward away the chill.
He marveled at the body that shivered and undulated under him. Her legs gripped him, holding him firmly. Her eyes rolled back as every muscle in her body shuddered, her toes and fingers curling against him. The spasms around his shaft stole away his mind, thoughts driven off in the wake of sensation.
When they at last parted, they had to fight to catch their breaths. Flashes of light danced across his vision. Her supple presence against his side made him smile. His long arm was able to grasp his blanket, drawing it over them. His fingertips caressed her satin shoulder as she rested her head on his shoulder.
Her instrument continued to play softly beside them. He reached over and lifted it off the ground, holding it above them as he looked it over carefully.
“How did you learn to play like this?” he asked in a low, gruff voice. “It’s like Heaven has fallen from the sky and serenaded my ears.”
She smiled at him. “Well, my husband was human. He heard me play a gallix and told me I might enjoy the violin more. I was interested and so he got this for me. He was right. There’s no other instrument I would rather play.” There was a forlorn hint in her tone as she stared at her device with distant eyes.
“What happened to him?” Kupper asked gently.
She let out a sigh that came all the way from her toes. “I stole from the wrong person many years ago. It took him a while to catch up to me, but when he found me, he brought friends. Joffery tried to fight them. They didn’t like that much.”
“I’m sorry, Sinoja.” It was all he could think to say. Nothing else seemed appropriate.
A moment ticked by, carefully holding her breath. At last, she exhaled. “Call me Zigz.”
There was no more conversation that night. The blissful ignorance of slumber took them quickly, the violin resting on his abdomen.
Kupper was following a small trail up a hill through the thick forests of the northern part of the planet. A stream babbled beside him as it rolled down the hill. He weaved through the stout, bushy trees, the undergrowth mostly nonexistent. After a short distance, his ears perked to the sweetest sound.
Divine music filled the spaces between the trees, a hoppy little tune to help with his pace as he followed the sound like a moth to flame. Coming over the crest of the hill, he smiled at the scene before him. An elven angel danced nimbly through the trees along the shore of the pool of water where it spilled down from some rocks. A ray of light streamed down from the hole in the canopy, slanting enough to shine a spotlight on the heavenly nymph.
She spun around the trunks as she drew closer and closer to him, gracefully pausing before him to tilt her smiling face to him. He leaned down, placing a kiss upon her lips. She then spun away, her song continuing as she led the way down the path. The roguish grin that she occasionally flashed back at him set him on fire. Her lovely voice joined the music.
One week ago he had lived his life in lonely silence. Now he couldn’t remember how he had lived without such a brilliant companion. Together they had traveled through one human town and 3 much smaller indigenous villages in that time.
Among the humans, they had gotten into plenty of trouble. First, Kupper had leapt to Zigz’s defense, though she proved she didn’t need it. Then they had indulged at the tavern, using the precious gemstones that the little natives only considered worthless ornaments as payment. Afterwards, they had been caught enjoying an intimate moment while tucked away in a doorway. They had made it a point to slip into the town’s mayor’s house, stealing his ornate cane and leaving a trail of hand written letters from his mistresses down the street on their way out of town, refilling their pockets in the hamlet they had passed only a day ago.
Now the music stopped as she stood at the top of the other side of the hill. The holographic violin hung from her hand with the rings. He had learned it was relatively solid as long as those rings held the neck. When he strode up beside her, he looked down on yet another human settlement. They had expanded further than he had thought.
He glanced at his companion from the corner of his eye. A devious grin split her face. She placed her violin back to her shoulder and stroking the bow across the strings as they emerged the woods and made their way through the crop fields that ringed the town.
Kupper watched with a smile as people stopped in their tasks to stare with wide eyes at the elf that frolicked into their town. She stopped by the corner of a shop as she finished her song. A delighted applause exploded from the gathered crowd. A few coins found their ways into her hands as people praised her talent. Those who got a little too friendly quickly retreated when Kupper towered over them, standing territorially beside her.
An idea suddenly struck him as several people offered Zigz money, her hand soon full. He leaned down to speak into her ear. “Play another one. We might make enough to have an entertaining evening.”
She did not need further encouragement. She loved to play, could do it all day with hardly any pause. Occasionally her pure voice would add to the music, but never with words. He placed the small cauldron he carried with him on the ground then stepped away from her, heading further into town to find the local tavern and inn. Her music could be heard from a block away, and it made him smile as people flocked to see where it was coming from. He heard a few satisfying tinks as coins bounced in the pot before he turned the corner and lost the sound.
It didn’t take him long to find the inn, checking on prices. It was about time they slept in a bed and had a hot shower. By the time he had returned to find his companion, the circle had grown around her so that he could not get through without forcibly shoving his way through the folks. Zigz danced with an energetic step to the song. The device was able to overlap other songs with the one she was currently playing, giving her an orchestra at her command. She used the cauldron as the center of her dancing space, spinning around it with nimble ease.
When the song at last ended, she put her nose to her knees in a bow to her audience. “Thank you for listening,” she cooed sweetly, fluttering her long dark lashes innocently. “You fill a poor traveling musician’s heart with delight.” The coins continued to bounce into the pot.
Kupper smiled. She was good at her craft. She was amazing at it, really.
She eventually got herself clear of the townsfolk and stepped to Kupper, grinning up at him with the pot mostly full of money. “Do you think it’s enough?” she asked with a sarcastic hint.
He returned her toothy smile. “Most definitely. And quite a bit left over for entertainment.”
As it turned out, they didn’t even have to pay a coin for their entertainment for that night. Why either of them had not thought of this sooner made Kupper roll his eyes at their shortsightedness. The people here offered them drinks (though most went to Zigz), food, and roacus leaf in plenty so long as she continued to play. Play she did, well into the night, everything from a jaunty tune accompanied by a track the device had in its memory that had people up and dancing, to slow and sweet with only the divine sound of the instrument that had the audience captivated on every note.
It was her last song of the night that moved the crowd. The violin sang the tone Kupper had first heard at that barn where they had met. At that time, it hadn’t meant a thing to him. It had been a sound to cover his approach and nothing more. This time, though, he could see the melancholy that tore at her soul. His heart thumped in his chest and a lump in his throat made it hard to breathe. He had to tear his eyes away as they began to feel watery. Glancing around at the audience, he noticed few had dry faces. The folks around him sniffled quietly.
The last strumming note hung on for an agonizing moment before it faded to silence. No one wanted it to be over. When the realization that there would be no more heavenly song, the applause roared loudly, their room paid for with some extra for the road.
Stumbling up the stairs, Kupper had a bit of difficulty with getting the key in the door. Zigz giggled behind him, poking him in the ribs and making it very challenging to concentrate. With a playful growl, he wrapped his strong arm around her head and leaned forward, still trying to unlock their door. She laughed uncontrollably, making a feeble attempt to escape his head hold. They tumbled together into the small room, the bed taking up most of the floor space.
It was the bed that they went to first, Kupper dragging his madly giggling captive. He then tossed her onto her back, his body pushing her down as he stripped her. She was eager to return the favor, nearly tearing the clothing from him. He used her ankles to spread her legs wide for him, taking a heartbeat to admire the delectable body that invited him, squirming in anticipation. In the next breath he plunged into the heat of her body, her wild moans encouraging him.
It didn’t take him long to feel that familiar pulse in his groin, his mind blissfully dark for several moments. He then realized he was staring at the ceiling, laying on his back beside Zigz. They took their time getting into the shower, where he put her on her knees to make her use her pierced tongue on him. She was not shy with the task, eagerly showing him why she had it.
When they were done with that, neither had much left in them to stay upright. The bed was welcoming and warm. They didn’t even need the blankets, snuggled up together. Just as he was floating into the void of slumber, he roused when Zigz turned to face him suddenly. He peeked down at her with one eye when she stroked his chest. She seemed forlorn, but he was much too drunk and high to think about it rationally. Instead, he just allowed himself the bliss of sleep to take him until the angry sun found a way through the curtains to stab his eyelids.
It didn’t take him more than a minute to realize Zigz was no longer there. And neither was the hefty amount of money they had made….
The trek across the punishing landscape was long. Three agonizingly quiet days he had to contemplate the reason for her sudden disappearance. Three cold and lonesome nights to realize just what a fool he had been for not having a companion sooner. Though this circumstance was likely why.
Knowing humans, such an act was commonplace, and had she been a human, he would be going the opposite way her trail suggested. But he knew elves. She may be a rogue, an outcast, and yes, a thief, but they did not lay their souls bare for a roomful of people in the manner that she did and then go and do something so forbidding. They did not willingly offer themselves unless they felt a connection with their partner. They tended to mate for life, a powerful hormone making it painful for them to be separated from their significant others. He couldn’t help the sensation in himself, being of elven blood. It had been why he had distanced himself from people.
There had to be a reason she had done what she did. Humans did this kind of blatant heartbreaking. Certainly not elves.
She traveled in a hurry, a straight line directly southwest, skipping all towns and hardly making any kind of camp. She even created her own path in many spots, often seeming to avoid roads. They covered a huge amount of distance in a short time, but he finally caught up to her on the morning of the fourth day.
She had just woken up, gathering her things without any kind of hesitation and continuing her journey.
“Play me another song.”
Zigz nearly screamed in surprised, jumping around with her hand on her mouth. Her eyes were wide, her face turning to porcelain as the blood drained out. There was an eternity of quiet that passed between them as she tried to think of something to say.
Kupper already knew what he wanted to say. It was only a single word that had staved off the cold bitterness that had clutched at his heart since he had realized she was gone.
Tears sprang to her eyes. “I’m so sorry,” she whispered with a tremulous voice.
He shook his head, never taking his eyes off her. “That doesn’t answer my question.”
She was obviously uncomfortable and off balanced with this encounter. She turned her eyes away, the tears rolling down her pale cheeks. He wanted so much to reach out and wipe them away.
“You wouldn’t understand, Kupper,” she said softly. “I wish you hadn’t followed me. This has nothing to do with you.”
“I understand plenty,” he responded venomously. It made her visibly shudder. “You’re a bandit and a Casanova.”
She glanced up at him and he knew he had ripped out her heart. Instead of defending herself like he had hoped she would, however, she wiped her eyes quickly and straightened herself. “You can believe as you like, so long as you don’t follow me.”
“Only if you give me back my money….”
“It’s my money!” she snapped at him. “I made it.”
“It was my idea. I get half of it,” he growled in response. He knew this wasn’t about the money. He honestly couldn’t have cared less about the worthless coin in her bag.
She gave him an icy stare for a breath before turning her back to him. “You should leave. It’s just better that way.” Her voice cracked.
“Dammit, woman, what is going on?” Kupper snarled, taking a step towards her. He was already tired of this guessing game.
The next startling moment he found himself pressed up against a rough tree trunk by a gust of air. She took off through the trees, vanishing into the foliage. He wasn’t giving up so easily. The most telling difference between elves and their taller kin was that the Q’Ra shared in human stubbornness. Elves were like the nature they so worshipped, flexible and pure. He took off after her, knowing he would get his answer soon.
Sure enough, their chase was brief and she stopped, turning to face him again. “Please leave me alone,” she pleaded with him. “This does not concern you. There was nothing you did wrong, if that’s what you want to know.”
He shook his head. “That’s not what I want to know. I want to know exactly why we’re standing here like this, ready to use force on one another.”
The tension in the space between them was tangible. He could almost see it, a vibration that passed back and forth between them, looking for a crack to break the energy. It found its crack in her.
Shoulders limp in defeat, she put her hand to her throat as if that gave her voice the strength to speak. “When the humans came and killed my husband, they told me I had to pay them back. I didn’t have the money to, so they took my son.” Tears wetted her face and a painful sob made her voice crackle as she tried to finish her story. “They… they told me I have to pay them back threefold. And they would keep my son until I came up with the money.”
Kupper swallowed the lump in his throat, taking a step closer to her. He stopped when she backed away. “Why didn’t you just tell me?” he asked softly.
She shook her head. “I couldn’t. They threatened to kill him if they found out that I told anyone, or if I showed up with anyone.” Another violent sob stole her strength, her bag falling to the ground as she put both hands over her face.
Now Kupper closed the distance between them, placing his arms around her. She shook in his embrace. “I wish you had trusted me more rather than running away.”
“I trust you with my life,” she replied. “But not with the life of my son.” She looked down at the ground, a broken song bird. Even her sweet voice left her so that she could only whisper to him. “They cut off his finger in front of me…. How can humans be so cruel to a child?”
Burning rage pulsed through his veins. It was these moments that he questioned his decision to want to be human. Though the Q’Ra were well known for being easily swayed by their desires and often taking what was not willingly given, it was a rare case indeed for them to be abusive about it. Humans, though, they were unique in their cruelty. Innocence had little meaning.
He kissed the top of her head. “Is this the last that you owe them?”
She shrugged, trying to gather her composure. “I paid them back months ago, but every time I go they demand more.”
“How long has it been?”
“They’ve had Rocqalin for a whole year now.” She wiped at her face, taking a deep, shuddering breath. “I can only hope they’re done with their sick game.”
“Well, this will be the last payment. Of that, I will assure.” There was a violent anger in his tone.
Zigz glanced up at him in a flash of panic. “No! If they know I’ve told you or if they see you….”
Kupper placed his finger to her lips, followed by his own. She didn’t fight his kiss. He then held her tightly. She fit so perfectly against him, like she was the other half to him. “They won’t find out until it’s too late. We’ll find a way.”
The long trek had ended them up at a moderately sized trading post. The town was large enough to have a landing site for aliens who came and went from the planet. This world was on the very edge of Alliance territory, however, so the majority of trade that came through here was contraband. The thugs far outnumbered the police, stuffing their pockets with coin to keep their eyes turned.
A book stand kept Kupper’s attention for a casual minute before his green eyes glanced at the building Zigz had disappeared into. Two men stood at the door. They appeared nonchalant, leaning against the wall, one of them having a smoke.
Despite how much larger he was than the human population that bustled around him, he was well practiced in being unnoticed. He found a side of the building that was clear of prying eyes. Above his head where he crouched was a window. It was open and the male voice he heard piqued his ears.
“Well, lookie here, our musical doll has returned to us again. Come, love, regale us with your godly talent.”
Kupper wanted to imagine Zigz was as infuriated as he was, trembling, barely able to contain herself. That was the human in him, though. She was an elf. They were flexible. They easily bent to a will stronger than their own. In outlying settlements like this, it was common to find elves enslaved by humans.
“I want to see my son.” Her voice was quiet, broken, begging.
There was an awful grin in the man’s voice. “My sweet, you have no rights here.” The floorboards creaked as he walked around her. Kupper knew the man was intimately close to Zigz, his tone low and manipulative. “You can’t just show up whenever you feel like and make demands in my house. I thought we had… discussed that some time ago. And here I thought your kind had eidetic memories. Do we need a refresher on your manners, love?”
Just wait, you son of a bitch, Kupper told that man silently, almost wishing he had telepathy. I’m going to gut you.
“No.” Her response was just barely above a terrified whisper.
There were several snickers, indicating they were not alone in the room. Foot falls meant the man was walking away to a chair, probably behind a desk. The chair squeaked as he leaned back, placing his feet up. “Now, my doll, how about that song? Make it something… chipper. None of that depressing garbage like last time.”
A minute ticked by spitefully before a song came forth that Kupper had never heard. At first it started slowly, bitterly ominous, building to a dark and angry crescendo. It was accompanied by a deep electronic sound to match the mood. For the first time Kupper heard her sing. Her words were elven, words of poetic rebellion. It made him smile. She was fighting back in the only way she could.
While she had the men mesmerized, Kupper snuck to the other end of the house where there was a low window. He peered in upon a sorry sight. A small boy, maybe 6 years of age, was playing with broken toys, his ankle chained to a pole in the middle of the dirt room. Against one side of the wall was a nest of straw. Near the door was a bucket. There was no one else in the room.
Kupper growled. He needed to know if there was anyone outside the boy’s room. Then he realized, why would they guard the boy? They knew they had Zigz in their claws. For a year she had been their obedient slave, their broken song bird who always willingly returned to the cage. Of course they didn’t guard him. And by how thin the boy was, they probably tended to forget about him and skip his meals.
There was no way he could fit through the window. It was too small for even the child to squeeze through. On the other side of the building had been a steep staircase down to a basement level door. All he had to do was get down the stairwell without being seen, then unlock the door and pray no one was on the other side.
His stalking was meticulous. He wanted to appear as a traveler interested in local wears. He watched the men who guarded the front and back doors. The ones on the back porch had started a game of cards while those at the front door where intently listening to the fervent music that spilled from the inside.
There was a croaking sound near him. Kupper turned to see that the next stand belonged to one of the little native people. Her eye ridges were painted purple. She was trying to attract a mate. But most importantly the purple was a common color only among two groups of the species, and he happened to know where she was from. He glanced over at the house, noting that her stand, a hand cart with a leafy covering that hid the wheels, was just out of sight of the front or back door.
“Excuse me,” Kupper said softly in the difficult language of her region. She immediately turned to stare up at him with enormous brown eyes. “I wish to request a favor from you if you spare me a moment.” She blinked at him slowly, indication for him to go on. “I am in need of a safe space for a sad young one. May I hide him here?” There was no word for “abuse” in their language, but they had come to understand the concept.
“Sad young one?” she croaked. “There is trouble here, yes?”
“Soon,” Kupper admitted.
She narrowed her eyes at him. Then she made a “come here” motion with her hand, agreeing to the favor. “I do not like this town anyways. I think I will go home after today.”
Kupper patted her shoulder, a thanking gesture among them. He placed his bag beside her stand, knowing it would be handy.
When he glanced back at the house, he noticed a lull in people. No one happened to be looking in the exact direction of the stairwell. He didn’t let a heartbeat pass before he took his opportunity. He strode to the stairs and descended them in a leap. He crouched at the bottom, waiting to see if anyone had seen him or heard him. When only the normal sounds met him for a full minute, he pulled out his lock pick kit. He slid a transparent card through the paper thin space between the door and the frame. When he found no sensors that would go off should he open the door, he got busy unlocking it. It was a simple lock. They were a gang, after all, and probably owned this whole neighborhood, knowing that people feared them too much to come near their headquarters unless they had business.
Kupper opened the door slowly, staying low to the ground. He peeked in down a dark hallway lined with barrels. He didn’t wait. He stepped in and closed the door quietly. He could still hear music upstairs. It was particularly faint down here but he knew she was playing a different song now.
The door to the boy’s cell was small and only had a broom handle shoved through the loop holes meant for a lock. Glancing around again, he opened the door to the cell. Just as he thought, the boy greeted him with frightened whimpers. Kupper approached slowly, a finger to his lips.
“Hello, Rocqalin. My name is Kupper. I’m a friend of your mother’s. I’m not going to hurt you.” The boy blinked at him in surprise, his whines fading away.
“Mommy’s here?” he asked desperately.
Kupper nodded, getting even closer. “You can see her in a little bit, if you’re really quiet.” He continued speaking in a gentle tone as he knelt down, unlocking the cuff that had worn the poor boy’s skin raw many times, leaving a nasty scar. “I’m going to take you away from here and you can be with your mom again, far away from here.”
Once he had freed the boy, he peeked out the door to make certain there was no one out there. He turned back to Rocqalin, giving him a reassuring smile. The boy looked so much like his mother, even down to the heterochromic eyes, piercing yellow and brown, and the pointed ears. His hair was filthy but it was brown and wavy like human hair.
“Do you promise to be completely silent and do exactly as I say?” Rocqalin nodded eagerly. “Good, now come here.” He picked the tiny boy up, hardly noticing his weight.
With child in tow, Kupper returned to the door, heading directly toward the scaly merchant with deliberate steps, holding Rocqalin in an obvious way. He spoke into the boy’s ear, making certain he understood perfectly. “I’m going to drop you in front of a stand. You roll under it instantly, and stay silent there until we come get you.”
As he was getting the boy to confirm he understood, Kupper heard a yell from the back porch. Just as he figured, it was answered by the front door and both sets of lookouts took after him without pausing to alert anyone inside. He had already turned the soft corner, slipping Rocqalin under the leafy hand wagon, while in the same motion he lifted his bag, holding it against his chest as he took off again, letting the men see him turn another corner further into town. His long legs left the guards well behind as he doubled back.
Now the trick was getting back into the house since the music was over. The place had gotten busy. With a little bit of patience, he managed to make his presence at the stairs seem innocent, pretending to be tucking away to urinate. It wasn’t hard from there to reenter the house. He headed toward the source of voices, his back uncomfortably hunched because of the low ceiling. He found the shallow staircase that led up. Above his head, he could hear the goings on easily. There were small spaces where he could see frames of the room above.
“You told me last time you would give him back to me.” Zigz was pleading.
The man suddenly strode up to her, his boots loud against the floorboards. Zigz’s retreating step was quiet, stopping when the man grabbed her throat. “I will give him back when I damn well feel like it.”
“I think she’s been forgetting her place here, boss.” The voice belonged to another man in the room. There was no subtlety in his intentions.
Whatever expression crossed their leader’s face made Zigz squirm fearfully in his grasp. “Please, Kevin, please just let me see my child. I’ll do anything.” Her hand slipped down between them, fondling his genitals. “I learned a few things since last time,” she whispered, her eyes peering up at him from under those glorious lashes.
Their leader suddenly laughed. “Manipulative little slut.” He turned away, sitting on the edge of his desk. “Fine. Since you’ve been such an angel, I will give you a reward. You can see Rocqalin now and again when you conclude your… business here.” He then barked at one of the men to go downstairs and get the servant boy.
Kupper’s heart pounded. He had to remember to breathe. He pressed himself tightly into a space between barrels. The man opened the trap door in the floor and tromped down the stairs. He had taken but a dozen steps before the shadows came to life, probably never hearing the snap of his spine. Kupper lifted the dead man effortlessly, taking him to lean him against the door of the cell, making sure the basement door was clear. He took the man’s glock from his belt.
He quietly returned to his spot in time to hear the leader mutter angrily. “What’s taking that bastard so long? You, go down there and make sure he’s not fondling the kid again.”
Another man started down the stairs. His fate mirrored the first man. Just as Kupper got him out of the way, he heard the boss curse. “You two, check it out.”
It was that moment that Zigz decided she was done playing nice. With a deep breath, she spun in place with arms out, a powerful spiral of air knocking all things in its way onto the floor. The leader fell onto the boards above Kupper’s head. He grinned, pulling the long knife from his belt.
“You bitch!” the man yelled, placing his hand on the ground to get up. The next instant, he was staring at a bloody blade through the middle of his hand. He was too shocked to know what to do with the situation until the blade was forcibly torn from his flesh. Then the ground under him groaned and crackled as it broke apart, enormous shoulders forcing their way through the wood.
As the last two thugs tried to gain their feet, Zigz motioned for a particularly powerful gust to slam both men against the wall while Kupper turned, using the gun he had stolen to anchor two well-placed bullets into the foreheads of the gangsters.
They weren’t safe. They heard the thugs sleeping upstairs come awake.
The leader started screaming as the shock of his hand faded and he could feel the pain. Kupper turned the gun to him, almost touching his face. “Too bad, I really wanted to gut you.”
Not even pausing to watch the man’s body crumple backwards by the force of the shot, Kupper ducked down into the hole he had made, hurrying to the end of the hallway. He glanced back, making certain Zigz was following him. She was immediately behind him, moving silently. Above them, the men were wondering out loud what had occurred, expecting someone to answer the question. The two were already at the door by the time one of the gangsters told another to go downstairs to check.
Together, they dashed away, pausing for no more than a moment as Kupper reached down to lift Rocqalin into his powerful arms, in the same motion tossing a bag of coins into the merchant’s cart. She sat there a moment longer, waiting stoically before turning around fiddle with something in her cart, a couple of pairs of running human feet tripping over the thick tail she held at ankle height.
“Rude humans!” she croaked in their language, picking up the handles of her cart and pulling it away on its creaky wheels.
Adrenaline kept Kupper moving well into the woods. Even when his lungs burned and his legs felt like lead, he continued, Rocqalin in his arms. At last, their stamina, far greater than that of any human, gave out.
They stopped, Kupper placing Rocqalin on the ground as Zigz fell to her knees. The boy took no time to run to his mother, holding her tightly. Tears flowed from her eyes as she clung to her son. He cried as well, sobs of relief.
Kupper smiled. In his mind, he could almost hear Zigz’s music, the sad tune she had played days ago at the tavern. It was now that he understood the occasional bittersweet melodies she had played interspersed in the song. Hopefully, her music would be happy from now on.
“We have to keep going. The sooner we can get back to the main city, the less likely they will be able to catch up to us.” He hated to break up the moment. He wanted to take her to a safe place. He would kill anyone for her safety.
She wasn’t about to let her son go now that she had him in her arms. With Kupper’s help, she stood up and they forced their tired legs to keep walking. Kupper slung both bags over his shoulders as they walked until it was well into the night and taking even one more step would make their legs fall off.
Zigz rolled out her sleeping bag, tucking Rocqalin into it as she snuggled up next to him. He stared up at his mother, telling her he was afraid she wouldn’t be there when he woke up.
“I’ll be here, my darling. I will not leave your side all night. I promise.” She took his small hand, the one with the missing finger, and kissed it lovingly. When that still did not convince him, she drew forth her violin, playing a joyful tune that filled Kupper’s chest with elation.
It took him surprisingly little time to fall asleep. Zigz let the song gently fade away, stroking his hair and staring at his face.
“I know someone in the capitol who can take you both off the planet,” Kupper started softly, not wanting to wake the child. “He can get you to Planet Lawless and then you can go anywhere you like from there and no one can track you.”
Zigz peered up at him in surprise. “You’re not coming with us?”
Kupper swallowed hard. He then glanced down at Rocqalin before turning away. “I don’t think I would make a good father.”
Zigz leaned forward, placing her hand on his arm. “You don’t have to be his father. Just be his friend and the rest will follow. You are his hero. You’re my hero. Please come with us.”
Kupper took a deep breath that filled his toes. Then he released it, looking into her stunning eyes. What a fool he was to say he wouldn’t go with them. It would be the worst mistake of his life. He smiled, leaning to her to kiss her. “I think I can do that.” After another intimate kiss, he ran his fingers through her hair. “You get some sleep. We’ll leave this wretched place together and go somewhere civilized.”
He waited quietly until Zigz had also fallen asleep. He spent the night staring up at the stars, imagining the day he would be looking at this sad world from another part of the galaxy.
All of that was memory now. He knew which glittering star to point out when he told people of where his travels had taken him and where he had met his angelic mate, her music packing the tavern in the town they lived in, well within the reaches of the Alliance. Kupper never again heard that sorrowful song from her. Slow, sweet melodies accompanied the bulge of her belly, Rocqalin soon joined by a sister to whom he played his own songs, obvious that his talent would one day match his mother’s.