The sky lightened from a deep purple-blue to faded lavender as the second sun rose. Later, when both suns sat at their zeniths, the sky would glow a bright yellow-green. A fitful breeze stirred the humid air, bringing the scent of the jungle to Sheen AK Thull’s scent receptors.
She scanned her surroundings with her four eyes. Ahead, she could see the road through the jungle, a twenty meter wide artery upon which flowed the commerce of the Thul. The road was maintained by the Crull, the builders and farmers of the Thull, and she could see two of them about their business on the road. They lumbered along, cutting back the always encroaching vegetation with their sharp mandibles. Sheen noted the way the sun made their thick, black carapaces glint, and she felt glad that her chitinous body was more ornately marked.
Behind her, she could see with her backward -facing eyes, the City of Thun. It flowed in orderly concentric circles of ever-increasing height, rising gloriously until it reached it its tall central pinnacle in the tower of the Mynuk. Around the City of Thun, the jungle crouched like a patient scavenger, biding its time for a moment of weakness. Sheen hated the jungle.
She checked her body to make sure that her weapons were in place: two long spear-swords scabbarded and strapped to her two meter long thorax, two smaller swords, strapped criss-cross on her broad back, and two large projectile weapons slung low on the junction of her upright back and her horizontal thorax. She had a masterful command of her weapons. Indeed, she was one of the three most skilled warriors of the Thull, the other two being her twin sisters. But, she served the Thull in another way. Sheen’s talents lay in the fragile provenance of the emissary.
Sheen served as ambassador to all of the intelligent civilizations on Banth; cajoling, flattering, even threatening when necessary, in order to gain the advantage for the Thull.
Sheen was prized by the Mynuk, and they often released pheromones of approval and love when they saw her. For Sheen, that far outweighed her palatial living quarters, or the rich food that was set aside for her. The simple reward of being cherished, of being indispensable to the Thull was what fueled ambitions. Sheen was proud of her achievements, her abilities, and her status in Thun society. She was the prized domesticate.
Seeing that her weapons were secure and at the ready, Sheen loped forward. She moved with an incredible speed, her four legs propelling her three-hundred-fifty kilo body at speeds of seventy kilometers an hours. This was her cruising speed. In a short sprint, she could reach speeds of one-hundred-twenty plus. She had been bred for speed, endurance, strength, and cunning, as had all the Threen. But, Sheen and her sisters were special. They excelled at everything, and they were widely feared and respected. The Mynuk gave them the best breeding partners from which to mate and then feed upon, and their progeny seemed likely to mirror their excellence.
Sheen glided along the jungle road, and as she passed the Crull road tenders, they released pheromones of respect and clicked their wing casings together. Sheen gave voice to a hissing reply, an acknowledgement of their greeting, and from her own scent glands, she sent out a blast of pheromones showing her respect for the work of the Crull.
Soon Sheen was in the jungle proper. Trees that had grown for centuries lifted their massive trunks and branches one hundred meters into the yellow-green sky, each battling with their neighbor for the right to soak up the harsh light of Banth’s binary suns. Their wide canopies shaded the broad road, creating a perpetual twilight.
Sheen was wary when she traveled in the jungle. There were creatures in the dense walls of foliage that lined the road that would think little of trying to make a meal of her as she passed. And, also, there were the Ur-Threen; those wild cousins from which Seen was descended. They made their homes in the jungle, hunting the other denizens of the wilds, living in loose, matriarchal bands. Sheen had no love of them, having fought them beside her sisters, culling their numbers in retribution for raids upon Thull caravans. Sheen had no fear of them, but they were numerous, and even the best warrior could be deluged with foes and brought down.
Sheen traveled through the morning, her quick pace bringing no fatigue to her mighty body. But, she was beginning to feel the first pangs of hunger. She hoped that the humans would have food that she could stomach. She hoped they would have the good manners to offer her something, because she did not relish the thought of having to hunt in the jungle for a meal.
The heat of the day was in full bloom, and the jungle was awake on both sides of the road. Huge cries and sharp snaps marked the passage of jungle denizens as they flew, and crawled, and forced their way through the tight grip of the trees. Sheen could smell them, and her own scent glands released threat pheromones in a visceral response to the danger they represented.
Sheen was fully alert, all of her senses cued to the signs of danger. But, even so, she almost missed seeing the trap in the road. It was a net of wire vine, woven in a thin diamond pattern, and had Sheen not seen it, she would have been caught in its nigh unbreakable embrace.
Sheen reacted as she had been trained to. Sweeping her long sword-spears from their scabbards with two of her arms, while drawing her guns with the other two; she turned her gliding lope into a full-out sprint, racing for the net like a tiger-striped bolt of lightning.
She looked with one set of eyes at the jungle around her, and with the other set at the net. As she approached the trap, she whirled the sword-spears in an intricate pattern and raced through the shredded net as it fell. From the right side of the road, she saw movement in the trees, and without truly looking to see what manner of creature it was, Sheen fired one of her guns.
An authoritative crack filled the thick air of the jungle, and an Ur-Threen fell twisting through the air, its head blown off. The creature landed with with a heavy thump, and Sheen came to a skidding halt, her weapons at the ready, and her scent glands releasing a thick cloud of threat scent. She called out in a voice louder and filled with more menace than that of the gun, “Ware, Ur-Threen! I am no easy meat!” And she rattled her vestigial wing casings for added emphasis.
Here and there, in the interlaced branches of the jungle wall, Sheen could see the heads of the Ur-Threen as they regarded her. She kept control of her anger, ignoring the temptation to enter the blood-rage. Killing this tribe of Ur-Threen was not her mission. She knew that her sisters would not have been able to resist the siren song of battle, and she knew that that was her true talent. The ability to always keep a portion of her mind detached from her emotions was what made her a good diplomat. It was what made her valuable to the Thull
Wafting on the gentle breeze, the scent of fear reached Sheen’s receptors, and as she watched, the Ur-Threen ghosted back into the depths of the jungle. A whispered retort reached her sensitive ears, “Go your way then, Domesticate.”
Sheen gave a snort of contempt. It was always thus; the Threen would always be the victors of any conflict between the two races, and the Ur-Threen would deride them for being domesticates. But who was part of an enlightened community? Who lived raised up form the dregs of savagery and complacency, to serve something greater than one’s self? Let them wallow in the filth of the jungle, Sheen thought. Let them suffer the sting of defeat and the aching emptiness of their folly!
Sheen looked at the body of the fallen Ur-Threen, mangled from the gunshot and the fall, and her hunger reasserted itself. She glided forward and hefted her smaller, lighter cousin in her powerful arms. Keeping a watchful eye on the jungle, Sheen ate the choicest parts: the heart, the stomach and its contents, the flight muscles. Her powerful mandibles sliced through the Ur-Threen’s chitinous body with ease, and Sheen found herself relishing the taste of a foe killed in combat. For awhile, she lost herself in the ecstasy of feeding.
But, she remembered her mission before long, and though her hunger was only half sated, she regretfully dropped the partly-eaten body and resumed her journey through the jungle.
Before mid-afternoon, Sheen’s speedy legs had taken her to her destination. She stopped a goodly distance from the human camp. She could see the glinting metal of their landing craft through the thick cover of the undergrowth. Sheen moved forward with absolute silence, her huge body weaving gracefully through the tight tangle of undergrowth. She could feel the photo-reactive glands flexing under her chitinous armor and she knew that her body was displaying a shifting pattern of olive-green and tan. She knew that she was all but invisible, at least to the naked eye. If they had scanners set up, which was all too likely given the dangerous creatures of the jungle; they would be forewarned of her approach.
Sheen pulled her portable scanner from her equipment belt as she moved, and scanned the camp. Ten life forms were represented on the screen, their shimmering forms glowed orange. They were all clustered around a table set before their lander. The scanner warned her of a sensor screen set up to cover the perimeter of the clearing which contained them. She noted the powerful array of weapons the humans had with them. Sheen was impressed.
These beings, the humans, possessed technology far beyond anything the Thull had developed. A wonder, Sheen thought, given that their language betrayed such limited intelligence.
Sheen had studied the information drone sent by the humans, and absorbed and mastered their simple language in only a few hours. Their society, at least the way they presented it, baffled her. They had little sense of community, each acting against the other, trying to gain advantages in wealth and material. This group of humans that she was meeting on behalf of the Thull was part of a large `corporation’, a concept that Sheen likened to a society within a society that acted against the interests of the host society for its own gain. Very strange.
After she had perused the data in their info drone, she had advised the Mynuk against meeting these chaotic, stratified beings. But, the Mynuk had assured her that if any use could be found for these beings, Sheen would be the one to extract it. So, she watched them now, from the edge of the clearing, standing just shy of the sensor frontier.
They huddled around the table, talking loudly, eating, completely oblivious to her presence.
Sheen felt a slight contempt for them because they had set the range of their sensor screen far too close to their position. She knew that she could destroy them all with a few well placed shots from her pistols before they even had an idea that they were in danger. But, she put such thoughts from her mind, focusing instead on they manners and customs she had taken from the data these beings had sent the Thull.
“I am Sheen Ak Thull,” she called out in her loudest voice. “Legate of the High Mynuk of the Thull!” Sheen suppressed laughter as the humans jumped from their seats, groping for weapons that were not in easy reach, as her incredibly loud voice echoed off amongst the trees. The humans had recovered some of their composure by the time the last echoes died, but they still had not seen her, even though she stood now in plain sight.
Sheen waved her arms, and one of the humans spotted and alerted the rest. “Greetings, humans,” she called. “And welcome to Banth.”
The humans watched her, still having difficulty separating her from the jungle behind her. In the interest of manners, Sheen changed her shell pattern to a greeting display of flashing white and black stripes.
The humans gasped in wonder as the rippling pattern flashed over her body. Sheen did not bother with the appropriate pheromones because she knew that the human’s sense of smell was not sensitive enough, and she did not wish them to misconstrue any strange smell as a chemical attack.
“I have come to discuss your entreaty to the Thull,” she said gently, trying to prod the humans out of their shock at her appearance. One of the humans stepped forward, a tall male with a growth of straggly fur about his face.
“Welcome to our camp, Ms. Ak Thull,” he said in a shaky voice. “Please approach, so that we don’t have to shout.”
Sheen glided across the clearing, she watched the humans watching her. Their info drone had made mention that the humans had met alien civilizations in the past. But for some reason, Sheen’s presence seemed to affect them strongly.
She could see that they made hard fought efforts to remain still as she approached, all the while swallowing noisily in their suddenly dry throats. She could read, even in a creature as alien as man, the body language of fear.
Captain Brian Davis watched the huge alien glide effortlessly across the clearing. It trotted on four thick, chitinous legs, looking like an insectoid centaur. Davis could see Sheen’s weapons glinting in the feral sunshine, and he took special note of the huge guns strapped in low criss-crossed, gunslinger fashion, over what could only be called the creature’s front hips.
This was a fearsome creature; more imposing than any predator he had seen in his many travels. She was designed, at every level, for dealing out death. Her massive frame was covered with in a thick armor of chitin, which shifted color as she moved, making it hard to keep an eye on her. Her heart shaped head had two banks of compound eyes forward and back, so that she could clearly see a full panoramic view; her four arms, each ending in four fingered hands, looked strong enough to rip plate steel apart. She was perfect for what he had in mind. Still, when the huge alien trotted to a stop directly in front of him, he could feel the twisting of his guts as his body reacted in sheer visceral terror despite his logical admiration of her.
“I …uh…I’m Captain Brian Davis,” he stammered, looking into her grey-green eyes. The eyes held no expression, but the alien tilted her head to show her attentiveness.
Sheen held out one her right hands, offering to shake hands. She had seen the humans do this in the info contained in their drone. “I am pleased to make your acquaintance,” she said smoothly.
Davis got the better of his terror and surrendered his hand. He felt Sheen’s hard, cool hand enclose his. She exerted a gentle pressure, but Davis could feel his bones shift just the same. When he grimaced in a presage of true pain, Sheen seemed to pick up on it, and she released his hand.
Whew, he thought. That was freaky. Motioning to his crew, Captain Davis introduced them in turns. He watched Sheen turn her head to regard each of his crew as he announced them, but he could see the edge of one of her rear-facing eyes, and he knew that she was looking at him as well.
The alien had picked up on the custom of shaking hands, but she didn’t seem to understand that shaking hands with the left hand was a faux pas. She shook hands with all the members of the crew switching to her left hand to reach crew members of that side. No one but Davis seemed to notice. He watched how the crew reached up in rapt fascination mixed with terror, unable to resist touching this fearsome creature.
Sheen felt the slight pressure of their feeble grips, and she held them carefully, gently cradling their hot little hands in her own. She had seen the look of pain in the Captain’s face when she had used the barest bit of force. So fragile, she thought. How could they evolve thus? How did their species survive?
“Did you receive our info drone?” Sheen asked the Captain.
Davis was enthralled by her voice. It was mellifluous, definitely feminine, but there seemed to be several voices speaking the same words. Davis was so concentrated on Sheen’s hypnotic voice that he didn’t think before he answered. “We did. But we couldn’t make heads or tales of your language; I doubt our throats could produce the sounds needed to speak it in any case.
“But we were amazed that you wrote it in our own computer language. You had what…ten days to master it?” He asked.
Sheen absorbed this admission. It was telling that the humans were incapable of mastering the tongue of the Thull. Not only did it mean that her native language was an unbreakable code, (assuming that the human was telling the truth) it meant that the humans were not as intelligent as their technology had led the Thull to believe.
Bored with the humans already, a wave of irritation fell over her. These aliens had had ample time to offer her something to eat and they had not. She looked at the table, a steel fold-out affair, laden with food and decanters of drink. Sheen smelled the air and found that the food would not react well with her chemistry, but that the drink, particularly the contents of the third pitcher from the left, would do nicely.
“Perhaps given time, you will find the means to speak our tongue,” she said blandly. “Yours was, and I mean no disrespect by saying this, a simple language to understand. Your throats are only capable of producing so many sounds and your language is based largely on repetitive rules that govern conditions and meaning. Whereas the language of the Thull has few such rules and is supplemented by various pheromones. Our tongue also has the benefit of several emotional declensions to aid in understanding.” While she spoke, she moved quickly past Davis and reached for the pitcher.
Davis watched her, and when he saw that Sheen was reaching for a drink, he silently cursed himself. Blushing with embarrassment at being such a poor host, he gestured feebly in the direction of the pitcher. “I should have offered,” he said hastily. “Please, help yourself.”
Sheen nodded and gently brought the pitcher to her mouth parts. She drank deeply, relishing the sweet flavor of this alien drink. When she had drained the contents of the pitcher, she looked to Davis. “What is this drink called?”
Davis was smiling at Sheen’s obvious pleasure. “It is a soft drink, Ambassador; a sugar-carbonated water beverage with caffeine in it.”
Sheen set the pitcher down. “Thank you,” she said, meaning it. The ‘soft drink’ was quite possibly the best drink she had ever had.
Maybe we can get what we want from these creatures by giving them an unlimited supply of soda, Davis thought archly. “Would you like something to eat?” he asked solicitously.
Sheen took a few steps to the right; her body was now positioned perfectly. “No, thank you,” she answered pleasantly. “Your food would not agree with my chemistry.”
Davis began to feel uncomfortable, and he could see the same feelings mirrored in the eyes of his crew. The alien seemed ready to wait until time itself came to an end before getting to the business at hand. Davis supposed that etiquette made it his responsibility to broach the subject, seeing as it was his company that had initiated the contact in the first place. “I suppose your leaders, these Mynuk, are wondering why we have made an entreaty.” He prodded.
Sheen smiled inwardly, and if the humans had had more than just rudimentary olfactory capabilities, they would have smelt her amused release of pheromones. “That is why we ware here, is it not?” She countered. “After all, it was you who contacted us. And, if there is some purpose to your contact, other than the simple exchange of cultural information, now would be the time to come to the point.”
Davis nodded. He liked Sheen’s directness. “Well,” he began. “My employer, Hakima Universal Concerns, is interested in the greatest natural resource that the Thull have to offer.”
Sheen thought his choice of words: a resource was not a technology; it was not something that was produced. It was something natural, something that simply was. She had sudden feeling that she knew what his corporation was after, and the knowledge made her uneasy. “What is this resource you speak of?” She asked tightly.
At the tone of Sheen’s voice, the other crew members unconsciously stepped a pace away from Captain Davis. They stood looking around at the surrounding jungle, at the sky, anything but Sheen, it seemed. She picked up on the crew’s uneasiness, and her body tightened, ready for anything.
“Well, we’re aware that your Thull have basically conquered the whole of Banth, and those you haven’t conquered directly, pay you tribute,” Davis explained lamely, feeling the undercurrent of tension in the atmosphere. “In short, we know that you Threen are some of the best warriors in the universe.”
Sheen watched Davis as he paused here, hoping that she would finish his thought for him. Could it be, she wondered. Could these people really have come here seeking to become part of Thull? Did they want protection? Did they want to become a client state? Sheen cocked her head to the side. She eyed the human, trying to guess at his motives. She remained silent, though. It would not do to speak until she had fully realized his meaning.
Davis cleared his throat. Best just to say it, he thought. Though he could see how being asked to provide mercenary soldiers could be construed as offensive, he hadn’t found any evidence of these beings being religious or burdened by obtuse principles. “We would be more than willing to provide the Thull with technology that you do not yourselves posses, in exchange for the Thull providing us with Threen warriors to ensure the advancement of Hakima Universal’s goals abroad,” Davis said evenly, though inside, his heart was thumping in his chest. He had a very strong feeling that offending Sheen would produce far more tangible consequences than he hoped.
Sheen said nothing. Her mind pondered what the human had just requested of the Thull. They sought the protection of Threen warriors for nothing in return but a paltry gift of technological trinkets? Sheen felt fill rage fill her. She looked at the faces of the humans, noticed how they leaked fluids from inside, how soft they were. She knew that she could literally kill them with the barest flick of her wrist, and yet they had the temerity to think that the Thull would provide their valued Threen to them. In any sane series of events, it should be these creatures coming as supplicants, bearing gifts of tribute to the mighty Thull!
But, Sheen gave sign of her rage, gave the humans no reason to think that their lives were, now, most likely over. “I must contact the High Mynuk,” she said evenly. “I will relay your request to him, and give you his answer.”
Davis watched as Sheen walked a few paces away from them. He noticed, but thought nothing of the fact, that Sheen now stood directly in front of the airlock of his landing ship. He listened as she spoke her unfathomable language into a small electronic device that was quite obviously a radio. He felt that the tight stress that had so recently fouled the meeting had fallen away. He felt that everything was just fine; in fact he could almost count the credits that brokering this deal would flood his bank account with. He felt that, at long last, he, Captain Brian Davis would finally land the big fish-hit the home run-sink the battle ship.
Sheen spoke into her comm. Device. “High Mynuk, this is legate Sheen.”
The voice of the High Mynuk hissed out of the comm.’s speaker. “How has your meeting with the humans progressed?” The High One’s speech was couched in the tones of the hopeful declension.
Sheen’s tone darkened, she spoke in the tight staccato of the declension of rage. “The humans have offered us technology in exchange for using Threen warriors as mercenary.”
Sheen waited for several long seconds for the High Mynuk to reply. When he finally did, his words were elevated to the clipped tones of the imperative declension. “Kill all of them, but two! We will use the two as hostages, as a shield to prevent retaliation from their ship in orbit. Our Crull engineering teams will unravel the technology of the lander. Bring the two hostages back to us, Sheen!”
“Yes, High One,” Sheen said with satisfaction. “All will be as you command.” She clipped her comm. device on her weapons harness and turned to regard the humans.
The Captain regarded her with a stupid half-smile on his hair clad face. Sheen would take him and the taller of the two women as her hostages, the rest would die. She performed a mental run-through of her attack, and when she was ready, she drew the two swords sheathed on her back and launched herself at the unready humans.
Captain Davis watched Sheen clip her radio onto her harness. He felt a curious sensation of foreboding as the Threen regarded him, as if he were being sized up for butchering. Even so, when the huge alien moved with blurring speed, ripping two huge swords of some grey-blue alloy from their sheaths, Davis was surprised. He could do nothing as Sheen pushed him off his feet, sending him flying through the air with a strength he simply could not fathom. While he flew as if shot from a gun, he watched Sheen run at the stunned band of his crew. They stood rooted in place, their Gauss rifles and plasma guns hanging useless in their holsters, neglected by their slow hands.
Sheen crashed into them, her blades whirling with a speed that surpassed Davis’s eyes. The blades whistled through the air, striking the helpless humans with sickening thuds and ringing peals. He heard one scream before it was all over-one scream, before he hit the ground forty feet away and passed out.
Sheen stood over the prostrate form of the tall woman, “You are my prisoner,” she informed the stunned woman, “Do as I say and no harm will come to you.” The woman sat up, glanced at the mutilated forms of her slaughtered comrades, and broke into hysterical weeping.
Sheen watched her, letting her get it out of her system. But, when she judged that enough time had passed, Sheen reached down and seized the woman’s wrist, dragging her to her feet. “Enough!” Sheen commanded. “Grieve when we reach Thun. For now, we must travel. For if darkness finds in the jungle, I doubt that I could protect both of you from the predators.”
The woman looked at Sheen incredulously. “Why did you do this?” she asked in a forlorn voice.
Sheen looked thoughtfully at the woman. Was it possible that the human didn’t know? Sheen decided it was. “Mainly your companions died, and you are being taken prisoner, because suggesting that the Threen be used as mercenaries is insulting to the Thull,” Sheen explained. “Had you come to us with the simple intention of intra-species contact, a sharing of cultures, you would have been far better off. But, you sought to exploit us, and that was a mistake. For we are a proud empire, and we will never be ruled by outsiders.”
The woman accepted this with a nod. It seemed to Sheen that the quality of the reason behind the violence was of little importance, so long as there was a reason. “What will happen to the Captain and me?” she asked in a small voice.
Sheen marveled that the woman didn’t even try to reach for one of the discarded weapons lying around the blood-spattered clearing. “You will be brought to Thun.” Sheen answered simply.
“For what purpose?” the woman countered, this time with an insistent note in her voice.
Sheen sighed. “You will be held as hostages while the Crull reverse engineer your lander. When they figure it out, which shouldn’t take long, they will build a fleet of ships to rival your own starships,” Sheen explained while dragging the woman towards the still unconscious Captain. “Then we will launch a furious assault on the defensive forces of your human empire. All the while, you will answer all the questions put to you, or you will be tortured beyond your wildest imaginings.”
Again the woman nodded; seemingly mollified as long as there was an answer. “And then what?” she asked tightly. “After we outlive our usefulness to the Thull?”
Sheen stopped and looked into the woman’s eyes. “If you show that you can be trusted, If you serve the Thull well during this conflict, it is quite possible that you could be declared a valued citizen,” she replied. “You will not be reviled as a traitor against your own kind, because you are being coerced. The Thull will reward your cooperation, because we see it as a failing of your civilization that you are the way you are.”
The woman nodded, and Sheen could see that she was weighing the reality of her new situation. “No more questions,” Sheen commanded. “We must make haste.”
When Sheen revived the Captain and told him the way of things, he, to his credit, did try to reach a weapon. But, Sheen simply slapped him into unconsciousness and tied him to her thorax.
It was a long trip through the jungle. Twice Sheen had to shoot huge predators that leapt from the walls of vegetation, drawn by the strange smell of the humans. The captain woke and began to scream, hoping to draw predators with the disturbance. Sheen had to break two of his fingers to get him to cease his noise. But, the woman was compliant; she immediately followed Sheen’s orders. The Threen knew that it was no ruse the woman simply knew what the facts of life were, and she was following the wisest course.
Finally, they arrived at Thun and Sheen brought her prisoners before the High Mynuk. She untied Captain Davis’s hands and pushed him through the doors of the High One’s chamber. “Walk,” she commanded tersely, pushing him roughly. “And watch your tongue with the High One. If you show any disrespect, I’ll personally oversee your torture.”
The humans seemed cowed, and so Sheen walked them into the dark, damp chamber. She could smell the pheromones of the High One, and she breathed deeply of them. They released endorphins in her sizeable mind and gave her a feeling akin to the glow she felt after feeding or mating. Ahead, she could see the seat of the High One, the only illuminated point in the deep shadows of the oval chamber.
“Welcome, Sheen AK Thull,” the High One rasped. “Most revered Domesticate.”
Sheen vibrated her wing casings in an almost sexual feeling of joy. “Hail High Mynuk!” she called. “I have carried out your orders and brought you the humans.”
The High One, a long tubular insectoid with a soft, white body topped by a small, heart shaped head, looked at the humans. They shuddered under his gaze, terrified by the unreadable regard of the High One. “Give them to the Crull,” he commanded. “They will oversee the questioning of these beings that would use you for cheap cannon fodder.”
Two Threen shot forward from the shadows and seized the humans. The woman shrieked.
“Do as you are commanded, woman,” Sheen advised. “You will not be harmed if you comply.”
The humans were led out, and the High One turned his regard to Sheen. “Most revered Domesticate,” he said, lavish praise dripping from his voice and filling the air in the form of pheromones. “You have once again proved yourself to be the greatest of the Threen. Go now, take your rest, and feed well, for in the coming months, there will much for you to do. But, take with you the knowledge that it is through your skill that the Thull will reach out and conquer the stars!”
Sheen bowed, rattling her wing casings. “Yes, High One,” she said. She backed out of the chamber, breathing in the pheromones of the High One’s approval.
In the months that followed, the Thull did just what the High One had promised. They buffaloed the remaining crew in the orbital ship, showing them the hostages, who played their roles expertly, having decided that life among the Thull was better than no life at all. And, before the crew of the orbiting starship knew it, a huge starship blasted out of the gravity well of Banth, and vaporized them with weapons modeled after their own.
Soon a fleet of Thull ships was streaking towards Earth, destroying human ships whenever they encountered them. When the Thull reached Earth, it was Sheen herself who presided over the surrender of the human race. It was Sheen who was placed in charge as military governor of Earth. She ruled justly, but firmly, for the remaining two-hundred years of her life.
Upon her death, her immediate subordinates, both Thull and human, feasted upon her remains in the ancient Thull ceremony of Absorption, in the hopes that some of her greatness would be infused in them.
Her monument, a huge gold, platinum, and diamond statue of her, bore the inscription: The Domesticate.
All rights belong to its author. It was published on e-Stories.org by demand of Robert Fortini.
Published on e-Stories.org on 16.01.2008.