Divisions Of Reality – Chapter Twelve

Fyliza

“Why have we stopped?” Nick asked as he leaned into the cockpit. Brian peered over his shoulder. Nick had left the piloting to Angel while he kept watch on their guest. He knew Angel could look after herself, but he’d rather he be the one to keep an eye on Brian.

Angel was seated at the controls, frowning as she pushed a blonde curl back from her face. “There’s an adrift ship up ahead. It’s been beaten pretty bad, but there’s someone alive over there. They might need help,” she said.

“AC-Free can’t resist a rescue mission?” said Brian.

Nick whirled towards him. His hand reached out and grabbed Brian’s shirt. “How did you know who she was!” he demanded.

Brian’s eyes widened. “S-she basically told me! I’m not stupid! I can work things out!”

“Nick!” Angel snapped. “Let him go!”

Warily Nick stared at Brian’s eyes. It was the eyes that were so familiar, he decided, but he still didn’t like him. Slowly he released his collar. Brian rubbed at his neck and slowly slipped into one of the seats at the back. Nick plopped down beside Angel.

“That’s no way to treat our new friend!” Angel hissed in his ear. “Be nicer! He’s been through a lot.” There was a frown on her lips, a warning.

Nick sighed. “All right, I’m sorry. I’m just frustrated with Howard. I thought I was getting my brother.”

Gently Angel’s hand clasped his shoulder. “We’ll find them both,” she said softly, “you’ll see.”

Nick took another look at Brian. He was watching them both like a hawk. As soon as he saw that Nick was watching him, he dropped his eyes to the floor. Nick felt himself soften slightly. Brian looked sad. He’d have to try and not be so accusing. It wasn’t fair. He was taking everything out on Brian.

“I’m starting the docking procedure,” said Angel, pressing a series of panels.

The ship bumped and shook slightly and there was a grinding noise before they settled. Angel checked a screen. “Everything seems okay,” she said. “Let’s go.”

“Wait. You stay here and watch the ship. Brian and I will go and find the survivor,” said Nick, taking Angels’ hand to stop her from standing. He felt himself blush as her fingers curled about his, but the gesture only lasted a moment as Angel suddenly remembered that she was AC-Free and not supposed to be the one who guards the ship.

“This is my job, Nick! I’m not staying here!” she said.

Nick glanced over at Brian, who was staring at a screen of his own and frowning. “Hey Brian,” said Nick, “there’s a compartment in the back full of torches and other stuff we might need. Go gear up.”

Brian’s eyes flickered between them but he seemed pleased that he had been trusted to do something. “All right.”

Nick’s eyes lingered on Brian’s back. Angel read his gaze. “You don’t trust him,” she said softly.

“I don’t trust any of this. Howard sets us up to find Brian and now we run into some other person in need of being rescued. This could be a trap. Somebody has to guard the ship. I don’t trust Brian enough to leave him here alone. You know this ship better than I do. It’s better if you stay here. I want to spend some time with Brian alone as well. I might be able to make him talk more.”

“Oh Nick, you don’t know what you’re asking,” Angel said. “I can’t stay behind.”

“Somebody has to stay in case we need to make a quick exit.”

“We can trust Brian.”

“How do you know that?”

“I just… feel it. There’s something about him. I know we can trust him.” Her eyes darted to the back area of the ship. Nick felt jealous. He couldn’t help it.

“Do you really think we should leave him here alone?” Nick asked. So far Brian hadn’t caused any trouble, but Nick had learnt to be cautious.

Angel’s eyes closed. Nick knew she was thinking of Tarkansay, the one who had betrayed her. “All right,” she said grudgingly. “You and Brian go on ahead. I suppose it’ll give you the chance to get to know one another more.”

“Thanks.” Nick smiled at her and then, without thinking, he leaned forwards and kissed her on the cheek. Angel stared at him.

“Oh, um…” Nick knew he was blushing. “I better get going.” He turned round and hurried to the back of the ship to find Brian.

*******

Nothing felt right. Brian knew something was wrong the moment they stepped onto the second ship. The walls were black, claustrophobic after the pale walls of Angel’s ship, and the lights weren’t working. The whole ship felt suspicious. It reminded him of something of Zenok’s.

He glanced at Nick beside him but the blond didn’t seem disturbed by the ship at all. Nick flicked his torch on and strapped it to his arm. The beacon of light looked lost in the dark corridor that ran before them.

“Let’s go,” said Nick. “There’s somebody in here and it’s only a small ship. There’s a chamber ahead and another one below.” He shone the torch behind Brian to illuminate a ladder leading down to the lower deck.

“Nick, thanks for bringing me with you. I didn’t think you trusted me,” said Brian. He’d been kept out of a lot of conversations on Angel’s ship and he’d expected to be kept out of this rescue mission. It made a change. He was actually helping someone instead of watching while Zenok murdered someone. He’d seen it too many times and it frequently gave him nightmares. He could make up for all that at last.

Nick shrugged. “I don’t trust you. I won’t until you tell me what’s going on.”

Brian’s good mood snapped. So he was only coming along because Nick didn’t trust him enough to let him out of sight. He glared at him. “You have secrets so why can’t I?”

“I didn’t say you couldn’t, just don’t expect me to tell you mine until you tell me yours.” Saying nothing more, Nick began to walk along the corridor.

Fine. Nick could be that way. Brian had already worked out who he was and, with Nick’s attitude, he’d feel no guilt at handing him over to Zenok. Angel though… He stopped. No, he couldn’t think this way. It would tear his mind apart if he started regretting what he had to do. Family or friends? Family had to come first, even if it meant Zenok.

‘You’re in trouble, you’re in trouble!’

Brian froze. Nick stopped and frowned at him. “What’s wrong?”

Brian stared at Nick. “Did you say something?”

Nick shook his head. “No.”

The black walls loomed at Brian. The voice he’d heard hadn’t been Nick’s; it had sounded nothing like him. It had been much too high. “I heard a voice.”

Nick raised an eyebrow at him. “Oh.”

“Don’t look at me like that! I swear I heard something!” He wasn’t crazy. He closed his eyes.

‘You’re in trouble. She knows who you are!’ It was a high voice, a voice that was laughing and mocking.

Brian took a deep breath. “We should leave. This isn’t right.”

“Because the voices in your head tell you it’s not right? Since when do sane people listen to voices in their head?” Nick asked. He still frowned. He was staring at Brian as if he was some estrange lunatic.

“Stop taking the piss!” snapped Brian. “Listen to me! Can’t you hear it?”

‘He thinks you’re crazy. He won’t listen to you!’ The voice giggled in his mind.

“Come on,” said Nick. He walked towards the doorway at the end of the corridor.

Brian stared about the corridor and shone his torch into every crevice. There was nothing except a spider in the corner. It was scuttling slowly towards him. He grimaced. He liked animals but he hated spiders. He squashed it with his foot. The second his boot went down on it, he felt something heavy stab into his mind. Great. Now he had a headache.

He hurried to catch up with Nick. The blond was pushing against the door. “If you finished arguing with your own mind, I could do with some help,” Nick muttered.

“I am not crazy!”

“Since when do normal people hear voices!”

“Would you quit it!”

Brian threw his weight against the door. Nick grunted and then finally the door gave way and swung open. Before Nick could move into the chamber, Brian pushed him back. Carefully he shone the torch about the room. Warning voices didn’t come into your head for no reason.

“Hear anything?” Nick asked sarcastically.

“Fine, you go first and get yourself killed!” Brian snapped, standing aside.

Rolling his eyes, Nick stepped into the room first and then stood to make way for Brian. It was a cockpit, much larger than Angel’s. A hologramatic screen flickered in the air in the center. It showed an image of Angel’s ship. Somebody had been watching them. Consoles surrounded the screen.

“There’s nothing here,” said Nick. He gave Brian another one of those looks, another look that was meant to imply Brian was nuts.

Brian didn’t bother replying. He studied the room. It had been damaged. The screen kept flickering and several of the consoles were dim. One had even exploded. Nick was right though, there was nothing here.

“Wait,” said Nick. He placed a hand on Brian’s shoulder.

Brian followed his gaze. At the far end of the cockpit was a broken console. Beside it was a boot. Whatever the boot was connected to lay behind the rest of the console, out of their sight.

“Is anyone there?” Nick asked, shining his torch over the boot. “We’re here to help you.”

Brian heard a faint moan and then a beautiful, female voice reached them. The words were tentative but the voice was rich, brilliantly balancing sweetness with something much more erotic. Brian felt himself shivering as the words came. “W-who are you?”

Nick didn’t seem to be able to speak. Brian cleared his throat. “We noticed your ship was damaged,” he said, moving towards the console. Nick followed him closely.

Behind the console, they received their first glimpse of the woman. Brian heard Nick take a sharp breath. Brian could only stare. He’d forgotten how to breathe completely.

The woman was older than them, but she had a face as youthful as Angel’s. Dark, wavy hair spiraled over her shoulders to contrast with porcelain skin that looked smoother than ice. Wide, dark eyes stared at them fearfully and her dark red lips were parted slightly to give the boys a glimpse of her red mouth.

She pressed a manicured hand to her face. A gash soiled her forehead and she winced as she felt the mark. Brian wanted to kneel down and kiss her hand, telling her she would be all right, but he still couldn’t remember how to breathe, let alone move. His eyes stared over her clothes. They were black and tight enough to hug her body to reveal all of the curves that a woman should have.

“W-what’s your name?” Nick stammered. Brian wasn’t the only one staring.

She pressed a finger to her lips nervously. “Fyliza,” she whispered. Her eyes darted from Brian to Nick and back again.

Fyliza. The name had a beautiful sound to it, but something about it jolted a handle in Brian’s skull. He knew it. He was certain he knew it, but he didn’t know this woman at all. Surely he would have remembered her? He shook his head. It didn’t matter. She couldn’t be the only woman in the galaxy with the name Fyliza.

“Are you here to save me?” she whispered, sitting up and peering at them in admiration.

“Yes,” Brian and Nick said at exactly the same time.

She leaned her head in her hands and smiled. Brian felt dizzy and embarrassed. He hadn’t changed after the incident on the desert. He must look a mess.

Nervously Nick ran a hand through his hair. “I’m Nick,” he said. “This is Brian.” He muttered the last part of his words. Brian shot him a glare. Nick already had Angel!

“Nick. Brian.” Fyliza tasted the names on her lips. “Thank you.”

She extended a hand and both of them grabbed her arm to help her up. Dizzily she leaned on Nick’s shoulder, Brian’s hand on her other arm. “What happened?” she asked. “I don’t remember anything. I remember cruising along and then I was on the floor.”

“I’m sure we’ll find out,” said Nick gently. “We should get you back to our ship. This one is beat up bad. I don’t know if we can repair it.”

“It would take too long,” added Brian. He wasn’t eager for Fyliza to fly back off into space. It would be quite nice to have somebody with him other than Nick and Angel. Angel was nice, but Nick was more hostile. Besides, Nick wanted to go to Yaresia to meet with that Howard person he had mentioned.

“Well, I’ll come back to your ship then,” said Fyliza. She took Brian’s arm in one hand and Nick’s in the other. She paused, suddenly becoming shy. “That is, if you don’t mind?”

“Of course not,” both boys said.

*********

Fyliza kept her face innocent as the boys led her from the cockpit. She’d heard them squabbling before they’d found her. The brothers didn’t appear to be getting on. That would work to her advantage. She could play them against one another.

She took another look at Brian. Gods, he’d grown up like a weed and looked just as weak and pathetic. Still, he didn’t seem to recognize her – and there was no reason he would, seeing as he’d only seen her when he was about six. She’d found it hilarious when Zenok had told her what he’d done.

“Getting broody, Zenok?” she’d teased. She’d been answered by a growl.

What had the emperor been thinking? She’d never have children. It would ruin her figure. And they only caused trouble. Look at Brian. If he’d been hers, she would have slapped him into shape a long time ago.

Nick looked a little more impressive. Yes, he looked more like somebody out of a legend. Shame about Brian. She wondered if the third one would be just as weedy. It would make Zenok’s task a lot easier. Either way, she was certain she could deal with Brian and Nick. Boys were easy to handle. Tight clothes, smile, bend over and make them think the universe revolves around them and they were yours.

AC-Free though would be different. Her fingers tingled with anticipation. A challenge. She’d waited a long time for this moment. The boys would be nothing. The girl was the one she wanted to face.

As they approached their ship, she smiled at Brian and Nick. Both of them rushed to open the door for her. Sometimes it was just too easy.

Gods, she loved being a woman.

 

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