Prisoner of Avrox: Alien Romance (The Avroxee Mates Series)

CHAPTER 8: DISASTER

KRULT

 

Jocelyn and I have been working closer than ever these days. After she’d been poring over her notes and her work for some time, we were pleased to discover that the samples we took from the polyfrogs had incorporated well with the sample Jocelyn had taken from me. We watched in awe as the tiny Avroxee specimen, no larger than the tip of my finger, floated around in the specially modified container I had put together for it. We kept our secret project hidden in one of my cabinets, keeping the conditions suitable with warming lights and scheduled feedings of nutrients. It was incredible that we were able to accomplish this, and as I looked at Jocelyn stabilizing our creation’s vitals, I felt an immense swell of pride, as well as a twinge of sadness. Now that our experiment was complete, we planned to take it to the chief to show him; and then Jocelyn will go back to her planet.

 

“I guess this is the closest I’d ever come to being a parent,” Jocelyn joked while we ate in my home. I smiled at her, amused by the idea of us being parents. I tried to imagine what that would be like, but I had to stop myself from thinking too much about it. After all, I was only setting myself up for disappointment. Jocelyn noticed my somber expression.

“What’s wrong?” she asked.

I pushed my food around my bowl with my finger. I couldn’t tell her that I didn’t want her to go home. I didn’t want to make anything more complicated for her than it already was. If she knew how I felt, she might have felt guilty and wanted to stay. Of course, this all depended on how she felt about me, which I was still not sure about.

“Just nervous about today,” I told her, and it was true. We were trying to change the course of my planet’s history, and I has no clue if we’d be successful or not.

Surprisingly, she reached across the table and took my hand. It reminded me of when we had first met - me stretched out on the table in that horrible room, while she watched over me, tenderness in her eyes, her warm hand melting into mine.

“It’s going to be okay,” she said softly, and I admired her courage. I knew she was probably worried as much as I was, but she was certainly better at not showing it.

After we ate, I prepared myself to go into town. I needed to get supplies for Jocelyn’s departure. Jocelyn had decided she wanted to collect some samples to take back to Earth with her, and I agreed with her, but under the condition that she stayed disguised, of course. I almost wanted her to stay here, until I get back, but the disguise hadn’t given us any trouble so far, and I felt horrible making her stay in my home all the time.

We went our separate ways, agreeing to come back during the evening so we could prepare everything for Jocelyn’s departure, as well as for taking the sample to the chief. The streets were busy today, since the market was open around this time. I browsed through the stalls, buying the various fruits and seeds that Jocelyn had enjoyed during her time here. I bought some medical supplies and a slightly used navigational tool, so she wouldn’t have any trouble guiding the ship to Earth. Our ships could usually find planets quite easily, but I didn’t want to risk Jocelyn’s potentially floating in space for eternity, if she didn’t know the way home.

As I ambled through the streets, I noticed several females, their stomachs full and round with child. Some looked like they were due any moment. I could sense they know this too, by the worry in their eyes. I silently wished we would be able to capture the chief’s attention with our experiment. I would hate for us to get there too late, immediately confirming the tragic fate for some of these women.

I had some spare coins left over, and decided that maybe I would get just one more thing for Jocelyn: something to remember me by. Fashion wasn’t typically of interest on Avrox, and since women weren’t around long enough to appreciate it, most of the garments worn on Avroxee were adornments for battle. I approached one of the stalls hoping to find some kind of jewelry for her, but all they had were decorated spearheads, pins for battle cloaks, and metal chains. I poked around the table some more and just under some antique knives, I found a small pendant on a chain. The pendant was orange and green, with white swirls, a replica of Avrox. It was perfect.

“For you to always remember home,” the stall keeper said.

I thanked him as he wrapped the pendant in a nice cloth for me. I knew Jocelyn wouldn’t consider this place home, but I hoped that I had been able to make it homey enough for her while she had been in hiding. I hoped that by giving this to her, she would always remember me. I’d been collecting supplies for a while now, and I started to notice the sky was growing dark. I wondered if Jocelyn had made it back yet, or if I’d have to start trekking through the jungle to find her. I decided to check my house first, just to be sure.

As soon as I stepped inside, and set down the things I’d purchased, I noticed that something felt off about the room. I felt a sort of strangeness that I hadn’t felt before. I moved towards my cabinet to check on the embryo. Jocelyn had warned me that I shouldn’t tamper with the cabinet too much, as it could disturb the stable conditions. I felt the outside of the door first. It was warm to the touch, as normal, but there was a small drip of liquid leaking out from one of the cracks. I decided that it couldn’t hurt to open it just for a moment to see if it was okay. As soon as I pulled the door open, I was horrified.

The glass container, once placed neatly on a small shelf, was now shattered to pieces. Nutrient fluid had leaked all over the cabinet. The remains of our creation lay at the bottom, still and lifeless. My heart sank, not only because of the lost specimen, but also for Jocelyn, who had probably been delighted all day at the idea of being reunited with her mother at last. I cleaned everything up: the broken glass, the fluids, and what remained of our days of hard work. I wondered where Jocelyn was, and I also wondered how something like this could have happened. Then, I remembered something that was said to me the other day.

“You never know who could be following you home.”

I could feel the rage swelling in my chest, and spreading through my body. My face grew hot. Pelos had done this. He must have found out somehow, and destroyed it while we were gone. I searched through my things, finding my hunting knife. I decided that if Pelos wanted another fight, then I was going to give it to him.

I surveyed the streets as I pushed my way through the Avroxee crowd. Everyone was at their most active around this time, that is, after just finishing military training and weapon development. This would be the best time to find Pelos, and I didn’t have to wander long until I had caught up to him in the crowd. He was just leaving a training room. I screamed out to him, filled with anger and hatred. He turned and looked at me with a smug smile. His friends surrounded him, as usual; a tough group who were like him, though not as intelligent or as crafty.

“Krult,” he said snidely, “you look distressed. Have you lost something?” I knew he was playing a game with me, and I didn’t have time for games.

“Why did you destroy it?” I asked him. I could feel a foreign hostility in my throat, which I hadn’t felt in a long time.

“Destroy what? The abomination that you’ve been keeping from all of us?” He asked. “I didn’t destroy it, I simply helped you to get rid of it.” He knew everything, although I was not sure how. Perhaps he had been following us all this time, sneaking in whenever we were sleeping or away from the house. Whatever it was, I didn’t care. He had destroyed something Jocelyn and I had worked hard to create, and I wasn’t going to let him get away with it.

“That abomination was going to save this planet,” I said between gritted teeth.

“I don’t understand why you can’t just do things the way they’re supposed to be done, Krult. Then again, you’ve always been one to never listen,” Pelos laughed, and his friends laughed with him. “I was just about to tell the chief what you’ve been up to,” he said, “I know you’ve been hiding your mate, and once he finds out, the two of you will be executed. What happened? Did she find you so undesirable that she wouldn’t even let you touch her? Is that why you constructed a child outside of the womb? So she wouldn’t have to let you take her?”

He was only going to stand here and insult me, so I took the opportunity to lunge for his throat. His friends stepped back as we collapses onto the ground, fighting as fiercely as we had back in the arena. I realized I was still fighting for Jocelyn, and I wanted every swing of my fist to bring justice somehow to our lost experiment, and all her hard work. Pelos had the advantage, being larger than me. We grunted and gasped for air as we tumbled in the street. Several Avroxee had approached us, now, cheering us on, and they immediately placed bets on who they thought would win.

As the fight continued, I felt I was close to winning, until Pelos stepped back and pulled out a dagger. He noticed my eyes growing wide with panic, as I found myself totally unprepared and unarmed.

“We’re not in the arena now,” Pelos chided, “Anything goes.” He took a swing at me. The dagger made gentle sounds but deadly swishes near my face. I tried to pull out my own, but he knocked it away almost immediately. I dodged his swings, but I miscalculated one of them and I took a large cut across my chest. I caught my breath, hoping it wasn’t deep, as the blood trickled down my sternum towards my stomach. I wiped it with my hand, which of course was no use. It was a mistake I instantly regretted, as Pelos took another swipe at me with his dagger, knocking me down. I cried out, and saw another cut on my arm, the blood slowly seeping out. Pelos stood over me, holding the knife towards my throat. The crowd was chanting for him to kill me, typical behavior from an Avroxee. They’d rather see bloodshed than life.

“After I’ve dealt with you, I’ll be going after that Earth mate of yours,” Pelos threatened, twisting the knife further into my neck. I clenched my teeth, feeling the tip of the blade just piercing my flesh. If I struggled, he would kill me in an instant, and judging by the wild look in his eyes, I believed he was serious.

Suddenly, from the shadows, I heard an ear-piercing screech. It was the cry of the Quetsie, the ferocious carnivorous birds that preyed upon Avroxee. I was almost relieved, but also terrified. They must have smelled the blood on me somehow. Pelos and his friends looked towards the sound, and for once I noticed a hint of fear on his face. The crowd muttered their worries as the shrieking continued.

“Where is it?” someone asked, frightened. Avroxee are fierce and fearless, but nobody can withstand the shredding jaws of a Quetsie, and that alone was enough to scare us. The crowd dispersed, not wanting to be eaten. Pelos looked at me, then at the sky. He took the knife away from my throat and l, along with his friends.

“We’ll finish this another time,” he said gruffly, trying to mask the shaking in his voice.

He left me in the middle of the street; now clear because of the growing fear of the birds. I tried to sit up, but it hurt. I examined my wounds; not too bad, but still painful and covered in blood. It wouldn’t be long before the Quetsie attacked me here. I tried to stand, when someone approached me, and wrapped an arm around my shoulder to support me.

“I’ve got you,” Jocelyn said through her disguise, and I almost melted with relief.

“We have to hurry,” I warned her, “the Quetsies will come at any time.” I saw her mouth curl into a smirk.

“No they won’t. I was the Quetsie,” she said coyly. I was fascinated by her cleverness; it almost sent a wave of pleasure through my body. “I learned from the best,” she told me, and I remembered showing her the birds in the jungle, and teaching her how to mimic their call.

“You amaze me,” I found myself telling her. She turned to look at me, a hint of her beautiful eyes flashing from under her hood.

“Let’s go home,” she said.