Dragons of Vkani

Dragons of Vkani is the sequel  to The Lady is Blue in the series Atrapako on Eden.

Dragons of Vkani is a science fiction romance with action set on the two planets, Eden and Vkani. Eden is a terraformed planet colonized by humans with a small population of Atrapako from Sa Kamizan's spaceship. Vkani is the home world of the Atrapako.

Buy Links: 

Book 2 Dragons of Vkani: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00LS1EU6K/

Book 1 The Lady is Blue: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00K1N951Q 

Dragons of Vkani
The meeting and adventures of the Blue, Sa Kamizan Veedak, and Dr. Lucy Stannis are described in the first Book “The Lady is Blue.”
The happy family life of Sa Kamizan and Lucy Stannis is interrupted when the Space Traders bring a distress signal from his sister, Veela. They must travel to the hostile Atrapako planet of Vkani to rescue Veela, the Dragon Lady of Ravenak.  In a break from strict tradition, Sa Kamizan befriends two Reds, the Ziggurak brothers, from the unnamed, dispensable class of soldiers/laborers. The rescue mission is combined with a scientific expedition led by Dr. Jun Danzho and Te Tamarkis Varenne to probe the Deadlands for evidence of Lucy’s hypothesis of an ancient nuclear holocaust. The rescue teams encounter new friends and deadly foes in the hostile, barbaric environment where warlords wage battles amid ferocious sandstorms. In their search across the inhabited continent, Sa Kamizan demonstrates his prowess with a sword, while Lucy employs explosives, and, of course, the dragons, as they contend with treachery by power-hungry Blues.

The Atrapako sport scales, vicious claws on fingers and toes, and a spiky crest rises over their heads. The hero, Sa Kamizan Veedak, and the heroine, Dr. Lucy Stannis, met in the first book, becoming romantically entangled despite conflicts between Atrapako and Terran stock humans on Eden.

Chapter 1

The huge white ship popped into real space and wended its slow, sub light-speed course toward the small yellow star near the tip of the Sagittarius spiral arm of the Galaxy. As the ship approached the yellow star, silvery wings unfolded and rotated to catch the faint solar energy. Two messages were beamed to their destination, the blue and white planet of Eden. The first message was the standard “open for trading” signal on the official communication wave. The other, private signal shot through a special, secure channel.

It was a quiet evening on Eden when Dr. Lucy Stannis, Terran-born human, slipped quietly into the exercise room of their house. She smiled, seeing her Atrapako husband, Sa Kamizan Veedak, at the point of throwing his knife. She leapt energetically at him, intending to deflect his aim. Despite her swift attack, the knife plunged accurately into the center of the target mounted on the wall.
“Do you expect to knock me off balance?” he said, exposing his white fangs in a grin, “I am more than twice your weight.” Indeed, he towered over his petite Terran wife, with blue scales covering his powerful, deep-chested body, almost six and a half foot tall and topped by a spiky blue crest rising another six inches above his head. Lucy presented a strong contrast. She was smaller; the top of her head barely reached his shoulders. She had pale skin, delicate features and long dark hair.
“Your turn to practice, Lucy,” he said, handing her the knife. 
She laughed, hanging on to his muscular arm, “What will you do?  Knock me to the floor so I can shoot on the rebound.”
He hugged her and said, “I don’t want to hurt you.” Suddenly, he flung her vertically above his head.
She gasped in surprise, agilely twisted her slim body in mid-air, and tossed the knife straight into the target, before dropping smoothly back into his arms. Their room was specially designed with a two-story ceiling precisely for such acrobatics.
“Perfect!” he said with sincere admiration of his wife’s skill. He was well aware her small size and delicate beauty disguised a cool determination and a keen mind to match his own. Dr. Stannis was a top scientist at the university. Now, she gazed into his startlingly blue eyes, which were deeply buried between his heavily scaled brows and the prominent nasal ridge rising into the crest on top of his head. His scaled face with the diagonal scar across one cheek and no external ears was, in her opinion, his least human feature.
Lucy was glad he took an interest in perfecting her fitness. She was required to keep in top fighting condition in her role as a secret Terran agent, although it was less secret since she had been permitted to tell Sa Kamizan. He was well able to keep a secret; however, as she knew well from the agonizing months she had spent pondering his true intentions toward humans. Besides her husband, only a few other Terran agents knew of her identity. The Terran Space Authority maintained contact secretly with its agents on Eden, which was an independent planet with colonists derived from Terran stock. Of course, the colony now included two hundred Atrapako saved from Sa Kamizan’s damaged spaceship and their young children born on Eden.
An urgent beeping erupted from the com in a strange staccato rhythm. They stared at each other questioningly. His crest lifted in an involuntary alarm reflex. Lucy stroked his crest spines downward. It was one of her favorite features of his scaled phase. She slipped from his arms to the floor and stepped over to the screen to answer the call. She keyed in her secret code sequence for the covert Terran channels.
“Is it the Terrans?” asked Sa Kamizan, crossing the room to stand behind her chair, and placing his blue clawed hand on her shoulder.
“No,” she said. “It’s coming over the Terran private frequency, but the call pattern is different. Look, it is the Space Traders.” She pointed at the silver symbol on the screen showing a sideways eight with a dot in each half. “The symbol represents their endless voyaging from star to star.” She turned to look at him, “We have not seen their spaceships for about five years, well before you landed on Eden, Veedak.”
“Two wonderful years together,” he said, combing his claws affectionately through her the loose tresses of her hair. He nodded at the display, “Read the message from the Traders.”
She opened the message and read, “Jamie Stannis of the Voyager Pegasus invites Lucy Stannis+ to visit. Take shuttle to Mars orbit Tuesday morning.”
“Your brother?” he asked.
“Yes. Uncle Simon said he would tell my family about us.” Lucy caught hold of his hand, “See the plus sign after my name. It means my family are invited, you and our son, Asher. The Space Traders have great respect for family connections. They live their entire lives on their spaceships where interpersonal relationships are vitally important. My brother, Jamie, is one of very few planet-born humans to travel with the Traders.” 
She asked, “Will you come with me to visit Jamie?”
“I would not miss the chance to see another spaceship, and I have never visited your smaller moon, Mars,” Sa Kamizan said, exposing his pointed teeth in a grin.
“In most cases, the spaceships visiting Eden stay in orbit and we run shuttles from the moons,” Lucy explained. “Your spaceship was an exception. We let you land on the planet, since your ship was badly damaged and we had no compatible docking facilities.”
He shuddered, “I was never so glad to step onto the ground as after the terrible voyage from my home planet of Vkani.”
“Eden is your home now,” Lucy said, hugging him lovingly.
“It has been a long time since we fought together, Lucy.”
“Yes,” she mused. “We’ve had two peaceful years. Even the Atrapako Blues did not provoke trouble as we had feared. But, what do the Traders want? I have a hunch our fighting skills will be needed again soon.” She gave an involuntary shiver of premonition.
“You think your brother’s invitation is not purely social?” he asked thoughtfully.
“Why did the message come on the Terran frequency?” She said with a pensive smile curving her lips. “And, very few people are invited to visit their spaceship. It makes me suspicious.”
Sa Kamizan said with a sober expression on his blue scaled face, “I have learned to appreciate your instincts, Lucy. We will learn more when we visit them tomorrow.”
Lucy and her Atrapako mate had come from very different planets, meeting each other shortly after Sa Kamizan’s spaceship had landed on Eden. Their initial attraction and mutual curiosity led to a strong match of equals, despite their physical differences, both visible and hidden. In the two years they had lived together, she and her husband, with care and a little ingenuity, had accommodated to their different mating cycles. Presumably, the other Atrapako human couples in stable relationships had made similar arrangements.
Their differences were in the Blue’s mind when, abruptly he asked his wife, “Do you have any regrets?”
“What would I regret?” she said, puzzled by his unusual question.
“If you wished you could be married to a soft skinned Terran man without the restrictions of Azarak,” he said, keeping his tone carefully neutral.
Lucy smiled, “Where would I find one who suited me so well? As it happens, I love a blue scaled Atrapako! There are compensations. Azarak with you is wonderful, yet I love you in every phase.” Azarak was the Atrapako mating phase when they could breed with standard humans, as Lucy was the first to discover some two years earlier. “Yes, Azarak is incomparable!” and he kissed her cheek.
“But, Veedak, do you regret relinquishing the status and privileges of a traditional Blue Atrapako?” She said with a mischievous expression on her face.
He grinned, “You mean commanding my minions? No, orders do not sit well with Edeners like you, and I prefer people who feel free to state their opinions. As you said, love, there are compensations.”
Lucy said reflectively, “You are not alone in resigning from traditional Atrapako habits. Most of our Atrapako friends live in Riverside instead of in the Trapie town of Haven.” 
“Strangely, I have not lost status by stepping aside from the political maneuvers of the Blues,” he murmured.
“Oh certainly, you have become the most influential Atrapako on Eden. Sometimes, I think no important decision can be made without consulting you,” Lucy said sarcastically.
“Yet, we spend our leisure time exploring the uninhabited regions of the planet, instead of worrying about the troubles of Atrapako and ex-Terrans.” He smiled smugly, but Lucy still had an uneasy frown on her face.
He wrapped his arms around her slim waist, saying with his typical confidence, “Don’t worry, Lucy. Together we can deal with any challenge from Traders or Terrans.”
“Yes, together we can,” Lucy replied, feeling comforted by his reassurance and the calm strength of his physical presence.

Early on Tuesday morning, Sa Kamizan discovered his wife digging in the garden outside their home. “What are you doing, Lucy? Are you ready to visit your brother?”
She loosened a plant with narrow leaves. “It is traditional to bring the Traders special gifts from our planet. I want to take this rare white iris we found in the mountains and some of our roses.”
He nodded, “I shall donate a bottle of the Vkani wine our friends in Haven gave us at the last Dragon Celebration. It is typical of the generosity of your people to hold an annual festival celebrating the Atrapako choice to settle peacefully on Eden.”
Lucy laughed, “Even after you tried to conquer us! Edeners love our celebrations. But, I was embarrassed when Sa Marakur sang the ballad he composed of our adventures. He made it sound so impossibly heroic I could scarcely keep from giggling.”
“I enjoyed his description of how you rescued me bare-handed, my lovely dragon warrior,” Sa Kamizan said in a more serious tone.
“Well, I couldn’t let them kill you, love,” and Lucy hugged his broad chest. “See, I’m wearing the sapphire necklace and blue dress you gave me.”
“Do we dress formally?”
“Yes, but visitors are not permitted to carry weapons onto the Trader ship, Veedak. Not even your belt knife.”
“What of your secret Terran needler?” he said.
She grinned mischievously, “We’ll see if it will pass!” She took his arm. “Let’s get Asher ready. It is nearly time to drive to the landing field.”
They parked the flitter just outside the tall perimeter barrier surrounding the landing field. The battered, black hulk of Sa Kamizan’s crippled spaceship still lay toppled at one side of the burnt, circular area. They walked across the field to the small shuttle. The big Blue strode with one arm around his short wife, and carrying their eighteen month old son in the crook of his other arm.
The shuttle pilot stared curiously at the famous couple, who acted so much like a normal family. They greeted the pilot cordially, showing little of the typical arrogance of the Blues, who were the Atrapako command class. In fact, Sa Kamizan, disgusted by the political power ploys of his fellow Blues, had become a full citizen of Eden, where color discrimination was banned. His wife had earned Atrapako Blue status, although she accepted it only out of courtesy on formal occasions.  Lucy rarely found it necessary to give a direct command.
“Do you expect other passengers?” Sa Kamizan asked the pilot.
“Not for this trip; the Governors will visit the Pegasus in the afternoon.” He replied, starting the engine. 
“Is that not an inefficient use of the shuttle?” said Sa Kamizan in his logical manner.
“Not really,” the pilot replied. “We have a full load of supplies and goods for exchange, and the Traders will take the descending flight to Eden to set up their stalls for the Trading Fair.”
Meanwhile, Lucy was explaining to their little boy seated on her lap, “Asher, we will fly to the red moon, Mars, and visit your Uncle Jamie in a spaceship. He lives on a big ship called the Voyager Pegasus.”
Asher had brown skin with a short crest sprouting on top of his head. “Ship,” he said brightly, with a reflection of Lucy’s smile.
The shuttle rose slowly out of the landing field, until they could see the tree-lined houses of Riverside spread out below. The smaller Atrapako town of Haven nestled on the opposite bank of the river.
Lucy said, “Veedak, please hold Asher so he can see out the window.” The three passengers stared outside as the shuttle lifted above the clouds and headed for the red moon, which was faintly outlined in the daylight. The shuttle ascended rapidly into the blackness above the atmosphere, while the green and blue of Eden receded below. The small child stared out the window in silent fascination. His parents had seen the view before, although it never failed to amaze.
As the shuttle approached the moon, they saw the blurred shape of the great Trader ship Pegasus. It resembled a pearl-white oval, with wing-like extensions to catch the solar rays. The spaceship rotated almost undetectably, maintaining the maximum surface area exposed to the bright yellow sun. The shuttle flew toward the circular opening of the docking bay. Tractor beams took hold and guided the tiny shuttle into the correct slot in the huge cargo bay. The shuttle door linked to the small airlock with a jarring click, and the engines cut off, leaving an eerie silence.
“You get out here,” the pilot said, unnecessarily, as the sealed opening to the ship gaped blackly before them. Asher gave a cry of alarm and hid his face against his father’s neck.
“It’s all right,” said Lucy. “Someone will meet us at the other end of the airlock.” She stepped to the door, followed by Sa Kamizan toting his reluctant son. The door opened onto a passage with a faint hiss of escaping air. They walked out into the passage. The air pressure was low and an astringent breeze flooded the hallway. “They are decontaminating the area surrounding us,” Lucy explained in a quiet voice. “We will be scanned before the next entrance.”
Sa Kamizan sighed and said gruffly, “Are these precautions necessary?”
“We have little choice,” Lucy explained gently. “This spaceship is their only home and they don’t want to introduce infectious pathogens.”
They walked through arrays of detectors surrounding the wall before the inner door, which opened quietly as they drew near. An armored guard stood at one side of the corridor. On the opposite side was a slight man with dark hair and a pale, solemn face. His hair was longer than the norm for men on Eden, and this, together with his strong facial resemblance to Lucy’s delicate features gave him a deceptively effeminate appearance.
His visitors were not deceived by his soft appearance.
“Jamie!” Lucy called happily.
He took her slender hands in his, saying, “You are very welcome, Lucy, my sister.”
“Here is my husband, Sa Kamizan Veedak,” she said, gesturing to the Atrapako Blue.
Jamie held out his hand. “Reports have not lied about the impressive power of the Blue Captain, Sa Kamizan.” He took Sa Kamizan’s hand in a firm clasp, with only a fleeting glance at the long curved claws.
Sa Kamizan shrugged dismissively at the compliment, “I am happy to meet my dear Lucy’s brother.”
“And you have a small child,” Jamie said, with a smile softening his solemn face. “I shall take you to meet my wife and young children.”
They walked through the round-walled, white passages filled with a mild flowery scent. Lucy felt subtly oppressed by the endless sterile white walls and the subliminal hum of machinery. Only the clicking of Atrapako toe claws disturbed their silent walk. She grasped Sa Kamizan’s arm for comfort. Asher stared around at everything, wide-eyed in amazement.
At length, they entered a door into sparsely furnished living quarters decorated in swirling pastel hues. Jamie introduced them to his Trader wife, Elissa, a willowy woman with pale blond hair flowing loose to her waist. Elissa held the hands of her two children; a four-year old girl and a boy of about two years old.
Lucy laughed, “Our children are close in age.” She knelt to speak with the children, “Look, Asher, here are your cousins, Eloise and Elliot.” The three children stared shyly at each other.
Lucy and Sa Kamizan offered their gifts and accepted fluted glasses of fruit-flavored drinks and delicately spiced foods. After the exchange of family news, there was a short silence.
Then, Jamie spoke, “We must talk of serious matters. Elissa will look after the children, with your permission.” Lucy gave her son a hug and he went away with his aunt and cousins into an inner room.
She and her Blue husband exchanged wary glances and looked expectantly at Jamie.
Jamie took a sip of his drink and replaced the glass on a side table. He said solemnly, “My sister and my brother, I have stood on Vkani.” Evidently, he shared his sister’s flare for the dramatic line.
Lucy’s face blanched and Sa Kamizan’s crest flared in alarm. He whispered, “Ah! You were right, Lucy!”
“Tell us your story,” Lucy said, cringing with an icy shiver of fear and clutching at her husband’s sturdy arm.
Jamie said, “Three months ago, the Space Voyager Pegasus intercepted a faint signal whispering through real space. Its message will reach Eden in some twelve years’ time. Let me play it for you.” He switched on the com and a woman’s voice spoke in Kavkani, the native language of the Atrapako. The undulating crackle of static added a sinister overtone.
A soft, urgent voice said, “Sa Kamizan Veedak, if your fortunes have led you to a safe haven amongst the stars, we beg for your help. We are besieged and desperate. Your sister, Te Kamizan Veela, Lady of Ravenak.”
Sa Kamizan hissed, “It is the voice of my young sister, Veela.” He gazed wide-eyed at Lucy, announcing with a stubbornly resolute expression on his blue scaled face. “I must travel to Vkani and rescue her!”
Lucy squeezed his arm, “Wait, Veedak! How do we know it is not a trap? Do you not have enemies on Vkani?”
He shook his craggy head wildly, setting his crest hairs swinging, and said bitterly, “I have been a fool, a poor self-deluded fool, living in happiness for the past years on Eden! When we left Vkani, we had to abandon the pregnant women, the children and the elderly for whom the voyage was too dangerous. We promised to return and rescue our kin if we found a safe harbor among the stars. I forgot our promise after enduring the terrible journey and discovering such happiness here.” He gripped Lucy’s arm tightly, and she felt his claw tips denting her skin through her sleeve.
She pried his fingers open, while saying in consolation, “How could you go back, Veedak? Your spaceship barely reached Eden and we have no ship to lend you. How many years were you travelling in space?”
He stared at her, resuming his cool rationality, and answered, with a thoughtful expression, “We spent five years awake on the voyage, and about twice that many years in frozen hibernation.”
Lucy remarked, pointing out another aspect, “Yes, my not-so logical Atrapako, it means you could not return in less than thirty years at sub-light speeds. How many of your relatives on Vkani would still be alive?”
He whispered, “You are right, Lucy. Realistically, we could not have done it.” And, then he noticed her hand holding his curled fingers. He pulled up her sleeve to reveal three red spots from the pressure of his claws. “Sorry, Lucy!” he apologized with a rueful sign. She smiled and squeezed his thick fingers.
They gazed at each other in mutual sympathy, looked at Jamie and asked, simultaneously, “Will the Terrans help?” 
Jamie sat staring silently at them, with an expression of amused astonishment on his pale face. He said quietly, “Let me finish my story. It will soon become clear.”
He continued his story, “The Traders are a peaceful people with no desire for fighting. When we found the message, we passed it on to the Terran Space Authority, since interplanetary communication falls under their jurisdiction. They requested our assistance, due to the connection between our families, yours and mine, and the Traders’ talents in communicating with strangers.”
“Why did you not tell us before?” Sa Kamizan asked.
“The Terrans had their suspicions, just as Lucy suggested, so they preferred to investigate first.” Jamie replied. “A Terran patrol ship has been orbiting Vkani for several months in order to monitor the activities on the planet and forestall possible hostile actions. They observed the clash of warring factions around the planet. The origin of the message was traced to the isolated Fortress of Ravenak on the northern continent of Nangu.”
Sa Kamizan nodded, “When my ship left Vkani, my sister went to live with the lord of Ravenak, who had fathered her child. He offered her sanctuary since she could not travel safely in space while pregnant.”
Jamie returned to his tale. “The Terrans had analyzed the atmosphere of Vkani, which was toxic to standard humans. They prepared for secret observations on the ground due to the unique status of Atrapako as extremely non-standard human types. The Terran engineers constructed special body suits for protection against the acid winds, with nose filters to block out the toxic chemicals and sand particles, and supplementary supplies of oxygen. A Terran patrol ship was sent to intercept our ship, the Voyager Pegasus. They invited me to join the scouting team and descend to the planet surface.”
He took a sip of the delicately flavored drink, while his audience sat in silent attention, and continued his story. “The Terrans provided me with hypnolessons in Kavkani, and fitted me with one of their special suits. Meanwhile, I helped prepare a reply to your sister’s message. We decided to move slowly in case of trouble, such as a trap as Lucy suggested. We responded to Lady Veela cautiously, saying we could pass the message on to you, Sa Kamizan, however, we requested more details in an attempt to verify her identify. Later, we asked about the extent of her request. You see, the Terrans were willing to transport your sister and one or two of her family members. But, they refused to transport large numbers, mostly due to lack to space on the patrol ship, and also to ensure we did not bring dissidents and disruptive influences to Eden. So, we needed to know how many Atrapako wanted to be rescued, and we wished to develop criteria to select the ones willing to comply with the rules of Eden and Terra.”
Lucy said, “There is a precedent. All the adult Atrapako on Eden swore to obey our laws and respect our citizens. It was a requirement for them to stay, especially after they had conquered the city.”
Jamie nodded and said, “A similar oath would be suitable. Well, Lady Veela expressed surprise at our reply, yet I believe she interpreted our request correctly.”
“What questions did you ask to verify her identity,” Sa Kamizan said inquisitively. 
James replied with a list of their questions. “It was difficult without talking directly to you. First, we asked her to describe you, although your appearance was likely well known to others. Second, we asked if she knew of any special mementoes you had taken on the spaceship. We thought this information would be private, and your sister might have privileged knowledge. Third, we asked for the names of the scientists on your spaceship. Again, it is probable other people would remember these scientists, although few would be familiar with details of your crew.”
“I assume she was able to give the correct answers,” Lucy murmured.
Jamie gave a detailed explanation, saying, “She did, and we had evidence for the correct answers. The Terrans have pictures of Sa Kamizan and the names of the Green scientists who survived the voyage from Vkani. Also, according to information sent by Lucy, you possess a sword with an ornate sheath. Furthermore, Lady Veela told us of the heirloom you inherited from your mother, a necklace of blue stones. The Terrans have pictures of Lucy wearing this necklace, which you gave her.” 
“Very true,” Sa Kamizan remarked. “Only my sister knew of the necklace from our mother. I had requested one of her ornaments as a memento, and Veela challenged me to find a woman worthy to wear the blue necklace. Veela kept our mother’s other jewelry and personal possessions. My father left me maps of Vkani, which will prove valuable for an expedition to the planet. The message does not appear to be a deception. I must go there and rescue my sister.” 
“I believe you are correct. Your presence will be essential for a successful rescue mission. But, I have not finished my story.” Jamie agreed, with a slight frown of disapproval at the interruptions. His audience gestured for him to continue. “When we were satisfied of your sister’s identity, she surprised us by insisting on verifying our good intentions. She asked us to meet her in person at a secret location accessible from the Fortress of Ravenak.”
“Ravenak is rumored to have a concealed tunnel for escape under the mountains,” Sa Kamizan muttered, with a calculating frown as if he were already planning his strategy. 
Jamie grinned suddenly, “Truly, I was happy to test the Terran suit and venture onto the surface of an unknown planet. The Terran shuttle dropped me near the rendezvous, and I wore a monitor and com. I stepped over a barren, desert land toward the destination, a tall carved stone near the foothills of the mountains. We exchanged light signals, as agreed. The Lady Veela stood alone beside the stone marker, although I suspected someone else was waiting inside the hidden tunnel. To my eyes, she appeared like a much slimmer version of you, Sa Kamizan, and she wore a blue dress like the one Lucy is wearing now. She did not seem afraid of me or my strange costume. Of course, my appearance is not impressive, especially to an Atrapako. I told her that you, Sa Kamizan, were mated to my sister. Also, I explained about the necklace. She found it remarkable you had given the necklace to an alien woman. She asked if you were happy on Eden. I admitted little knowledge of your life, but told her of your child. She said her own child was her greatest source of joy.”
He sipped from his glass again, while his audience sat enthralled. “After this exchange of family minutia, we settled down to business. I asked about the kin of other Atrapako. She has kept contact with several families, so it was apparent we would need a larger spacecraft for transporting everyone. At the end, I gave her a com and the key coded for the Terran FLT channels. The com will self-destruct if the wrong code is attempted three times. Finally, I promised to give her message to you, and assured her of our help.”  
“Veela is a brave woman to meet with a strange alien like you,” Sa Kamizan commented with family pride.
Jamie agreed whole heartedly.
“Jamie, how much time do we have to prepare for our trip?” Lucy asked.
“The Terran ship will arrive in a month to transport you to Vkani,” her brother replied.
Sa Kamizan glared at her and stated emphatically, “Lucy, you cannot go to Vkani. You would suffer under the high gravity and could not breathe the toxic atmosphere.”
Lucy countered his argument quickly, “Jamie was there in the Terran protective suit. I can do the same. And, even you might find it uncomfortable. It is many years since you experienced the high gravity and poisoned air of your birth planet.”
“I insist you stay on Eden with our son.” Her husband commanded gruffly, and took her hand, adding in a sorrowful voice, “I could not bear to see you killed or maimed, my dearest.” 
She gazed at him, with tears glistening in her blue eyes, “Veedak, do you imagine I would feel your death any less acutely?” She rubbed his scaled hand against her face. “Besides, Eden is safe and we have friends who can care for Asher. You expect to go into danger. You will need someone you can trust.”
“Our Red friends, the Ziggurak brothers are good fighters” he said. “You could not withstand an attack by one of them.”
“Yes, you can trust in their physical strength. It is true. I would have difficulty winning an unarmed combat against a powerful Red, or a strong athletic Blue like you. Yet, with suitable weapons it would be a different story. You know I am an excellent fighter.” Lucy argued her case persuasively. 
“Two Reds would still be better guards,” Sa Kamizan said with a frown.
Lucy continued, with a fierce light in her eyes, “You will need to guard against other types of attack. We know about the devious schemes of the Blues. You will need a trustworthy partner who can recognize and guard against such deceptions. The Reds do not share our crafty minds.”
“True,” Sa Kamizan murmured thoughtfully. He looked at Lucy, saying with a shrewd guess, “You are not worried about my ex-lover, Te Seekara Lallaine?  She may be dead by now.” 
Lucy grinned, “She would certainly be older by the ten years you spent in cryo hibernation on the space voyage. I suspect your plans did not suit her ambitions. But, you may contend against others like her, or perhaps enemies more cunning and treacherous.” She added with an increasing urgency, “You will need me by your side.”
He laughed at her, “I am sure you could spot a devious female.”
Lucy pushed her advantage, “You are the one, Veedak, who always say we fight best together.”
He smiled reminiscently, kissing her small hand, before abruptly capitulating. He said with sincere admiration, “You are right as usual, Lucy. I agree. We go together!”
Lucy shot a triumphant glance at Jamie, who was looking stunned by the swift conclusion of their logical and passionate argument.
“Do you always argue like this?” Jamie said out of curiosity at their lively conversation.
“It was a discussion. Lucy and I never argue,” Sa Kamizan stated, returning to his normal tone of cool neutrality.
Lucy grinned, “Atrapako like to believe their minds are completely rational outside of Azarak. I use my objective scientific skills to match their logic.”
“You use every trick you know,” her husband said with a rueful grin.
“Of course, my dear, scheming, seductive Blue,” Lucy said, squeezing his hand. She looked at Jamie and explained, “This is the story of our courtship. Initially, Veedak schemed for me to fall in love with him, and to his great surprise, he became quite desperately in love with me.”
Sa Kamizan gave a wry grin, “Lucy saved my life. How could I resist her many charms! Luckily, we joined together for Azarak.”
Lucy sniffed dismissively, “Luck indeed! I would never have missed out on Azarak with you.” They gazed fondly at each other.
Abruptly, Lucy switched gears, reminding him, “Now, we must make plans for a dangerous venture to Vkani.”
“We have very little time,” her mate said thoughtfully. “What do the Terrans say? Will they restrict what we can do?”
Jamie said, “They ask you to send them a proposal for consideration. Also, our Voyager Pegasus will remain in orbit for a few more days of trading. You can contact me with any questions during that time.”
Shortly after, they collected Asher and returned to their house on Eden to begin preparations for the rescue mission.


Short excerpts from Dragons of Vkani, the upcoming sequel to The Lady is Blue

Excerpt 1 - at the beginning: Lucy and Sa Kamizan meet her brother Jamie Stannis on the Space Trader ship the Voyager Pegasus.

Jamie said solemnly, “My sister and my brother, I have stood on Vkani.” Evidently, he shared his sister’s flare for the dramatic line.
Lucy’s face blanched and Sa Kamizan’s crest flared in alarm. He whispered, “Ah! You were right, Lucy!”
“Tell us your story,” Lucy said, cringing with an icy shiver of fear and clutching at her husband’s sturdy arm.
Jamie said, “Three months ago, the Space Voyager Pegasus intercepted a faint signal whispering through real space. Its message will reach Eden in some twelve years’ time. Let me play it for you.” He switched on the com and a woman’s voice spoke in Kavkani, the native language of the Atrapako. The undulating crackle of static added a sinister overtone.
A soft, urgent voice said, “Sa Kamizan Veedak, if your fortunes have led you to a safe haven amongst the stars, we beg for your help. We are besieged and desperate. Your sister, Te Kamizan Veela, Lady of Ravenak.”
Sa Kamizan hissed, “It is the voice of my young sister, Veela.” He gazed wide-eyed at Lucy, announcing with a stubbornly resolute expression on his blue scaled face. “I must travel to Vkani and rescue her!”

Excerpt 2 - under Starry Skies
The hero and heroine are not ardently romantic at this time, despite the moon Venus. Read Book I: The Lady is Blue to discover why. 

Sa Kamizan and Lucy lingered outside, savoring the clear night sky. They stared up, enthralled, at the spectacle of the clustered stars of the galactic spirals.
“Which direction is Vkani?” Lucy asked the big Blue standing at her side. 
He pointed to the west, “There, beyond the bright red star. The solar system is surrounded by dense cosmic clouds. Few stars were visible from my planet.” 
As they stared up, the yellow moon, Venus, rose over the black shoulder of the Alta Mountain and the stars dimmed in its bright light. The moonlight brightened the pale skin of Lucy’s face and hands. She looked up at her mate. The craggy contours of his head were a study in contrasts. The moonlight reflected on the scales on his forehead and picked out individual spines of his crest. His eyes glinted within deep shadows cast by his thickly scaled brow.
Lucy broke the silence with another question. “How many moons orbit Vkani?”
He inclined his head toward her, and replied in his precise way, “There is only one moon. We called it the Red Child. Why did you not ask me these questions before?”
“You did not want to talk about your forsaken planet. Now, we’ll travel in the Terran ship and I am eager to see the place you were born.”
“My birth place was destroyed years ago,” he remarked coolly.
“Don’t be pedantic, love! Surely, some places you enjoyed are preserved. Doesn’t your sister live in the Vagurnakoram Mountains?” 
“Yes, we both enjoy the mountains,” he murmured, slipping his arm around her.
She raised her eyes and searched the skies again. A cold wind swept down from the mountain tops. Ominous dark clouds drifted across the moon, blocking its light.
Lucy shivered. “Let’s go inside, Veedak. Space is cold and empty. I want to sleep in your arms tonight.”
He gripped her arm, whispering, “I missed you last night when my ribs were healed in the hospital.” She leaned against his warm chest as he kissed her, his claw tips tickling her skin through her shirt. Fierce joy flooded her mind in anticipation of their dangerous expedition. 

No comments:

Post a Comment