Wil VanLipsig and his wife, Matilda Dulac, dove into the depths of barely remembered space, pursuing the villainous John Riley. With the help of a creature of legend, a Kahlea Master, John escapes capture. Capitulated into the unknown, he travels to Shakazhan. Like Avalon, in Old Earth lore, Shakazhan is a thought to be a myth, but it is very real. Unless Wil and Matilda can stop him, John Riley will release the Kahlea, bringing destruction to the universe.
Gazing out the window of her sumptuously decorated office, Telorvech Asandal reflected that the weather on her home planet was much more interesting than that here on climate controlled Committee Home Base. Granted, it was wicked weather, but there was only so much sunshine, balmy breezes and fresh air she could tolerate. A good old fashioned thunderstorm with gale force winds, that was something she could sink her teeth into.
Pacing the luxurious hand loomed, dark red, deep pile carpet, she realized she felt trapped here. She wanted to go home, but that was impossible. As Aisulov’s Vice-Chairman, she was provisional head of the Committee until his return or his death. His death was something she had dwelt on for the last two and a half years.
Though Aisulov had been gone three years, the first months had demanded her full attention. A freak accident set the galaxy in a tail spin from which it was only now recovering. Planets, moons, asteroids both populated and barren exploded, victims of an unknown force. Aisulov’s home planet was one of those lost, his wife and children with it.
After all the Committee members went on their fact finding missions, Aisulov prepared for his own trip. He was determined to find the cause of this disturbance. If he had come up with any answers, he certainly hadn’t shared them with her or anyone else. He was supposed to report to the Committee when he came out of cryo-sleep. He hadn’t. In fact, no data was transmitted from his ship to Committee Headquarters at all. This left her hopeful he was dead.
Unfortunately, the Committee needed proof. The body in an hermetically sealed box would do nicely. Even identifiable body parts—an ear, a hoof! But there continued to be no word, no sign, no whisper in the dark that he was alive.
Telorvech was a credit to her race, holding an office of power and authority. Positions of trust were not generally awarded to her people. Wil wasn’t the only person who distrusted the Leonatae, with good reason. They were greedy, arrogant, stubborn, bigoted, fairly intelligent, superstitious, and money grubbing. The creature they most resembled were Old Earth weasels. Standing nearly eight feet tall, they were ferocious, merciless and had disagreements with nearly every sentient race in the galaxy. They were represented here on the Committee because everyone wanted to keep an eye on them, not because their presence was welcome. Telorvech and her nine staff members were the only Leonatae on Committee Home base. That was ten too many for most Committee members.
Long fingers smoothed her indigo gown as she sat at her desk and made a few decisions concerning Aisulov. Perhaps she could fabricate an authentic sounding transmission? No, it would take a long time to set up. It also required too many intermediaries to forge a location. However, a bot ship coming across remains of his vessel in space, his poor body burned beyond recognition, now that had distinct possibilities. She could obtain a Vandaran corpse easily enough, having it’s records altered to match Aisulov’s. That was simplicity itself, neat and easy. Yes, the simple plans often were best.
She decided to consult her head of security. Izzatai Mabatsuou was even more blood thirsty than she and a trusted aid. Not so much trusted, she amended honestly, but each knew so many secrets about the other, it was a shared extortion. She contacted him, calling for a private conference.
Stroking her soft, mahogany fur, Telorvech looked out upon the landscape again. The clouds shifted, turning darker as the wind picked up.
Izzatai Mabatsuou bowed when he came in the room. Handsome, by Leonatae standards, his fur was darkest ebony. It had often been said that his heart was blacker than his coat. Admittedly, it was an exaggeration, but it was true that he was probably the most evil Leonatae that Telorvech knew. Because of his reputation as a conniving, villain, the job of Security Chief was perfect for him.
Waving him to a seat across the desk from her, Telorvech leered at her cohort. “Mabu, you and I are about to embark on a project to secure our positions here at Home Base. Would you like that?”
Mabatsuou chuckled. “There’s nothing I’d like better.” He plucked at the gold braid on his burgundy jacket, with long, sharp talons. His chuckle became a hideous caricature of a laugh.
She outlined her basic plans. Mabatsuou’s horrid smile widened.
“Indeed, Madame, that is excellent.”
Dellani Oakes doesn’t claim to be an expert on anything, but she has a lot of experience making something out of nothing. Thrown into the world of publishing five years ago, she found that trying to promote her work was the hardest part of being an author.
Dellani once told her publisher that she had enough books, finished & unfinished, to keep him busy for the next 10 years. She’s not sure he believed her, but he should. Three novels, Indian Summer, Lone Wolf and Shakazan – book two in the Lone Wolf series are published by Second Wind Publishing, but she has 43 finished romance novels and at least that many (she won’t count them) that are still in the works.
Dellani Oakes is a former A.P. English teacher, photo-journalist. She’s a published author who avidly reads & reviews the work of others.
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