Excerpt, The Chronicles of Han Storm, Taming Encha, Book 3, Chapter One
*** One ***
"She is my best bleeder" the bald man informed me, referring to an anaemic looking girl confined in a cage, staring listlessly into nothing.
"We keep the virgins pure, collecting their moons for the Master" he chatted informatively, leading me deeper into the cavern system, cages and containing gates lining the walls.
"He indulges in their sweet scented blood, sustaining himself and his magics" he told me, stopping, unlocking a gate to a dark corner.
"But when he wants food, he prefers the blood of the breeders, especially those that are made to abort, for within their blood is the gift of eternal youth."
He opened the gate, indicating me to enter.
I walked past him into the cold damp of my cell, turning back to stare at his self-satisfied, sharpened tooth grin.
"What happens if you cannot find a pregnant woman?" I wished to know.
"Then we have to sacrifice a baby or a small child to satisfy his needs."
He locked the gate securely before standing back, watching the disgust on my features.
"It is nothing new. The breeders are not always susceptible to impregnation and the Master only wants to feed off pure humans."
"Pure humans?" I wanted to know.
"Yes, those people that are not eaters of man-flesh."
"Then these breeders are not from your Clan?"
"No, of course not! They are prisoners, as yourself. The Master is going to be overjoyed with your capture. A true Captain of the Newcomers."
Four months previously . . .
I spat the blood from my mouth, pushing myself off the wooden floorboards to face Ty again.
Slick gave encouraging shouts from the sideline. Racewater hung his head in shame.
It was most embarrassing. Someone like me is supposed to be able to work with energy all the time, I just did not grasp this way of protecting one-self.
I was fed up with being thrown all over the exercise room, keeping the Groxes and myself at bay, to not just shove this Master of Hand-to-Hand combat with a psychic blast.
Black stepped between us, turning towards me.
I desperately wanted to learn how to do this, how to use the excess energy within my solar plexus as a weapon, unleashing it on demand.
"You are growing impatient" Black cautioned. "I see your temper starting to flare. This will do no-one any good."
Black turned to the Master in charge, bowing to him.
"I will challenge you to show Han what to do. Engage!" he ordered Ty.
The medium-built, golden-skinned Plains Person did not wait, attacking Black with a full-out fowl-kick.
Standing back next to Slick, we watched as the combatants engaged in a violent dance around the room, blocking, punching and kicking. Their level of skill almost equal. Neither person giving or asking any quarter.
I watched with psychic sight, seeing how the energies flowed, how it was being used to negate or evade damage and to inflict punishment on the opponent.
Both antagonists stopped at the same instant, as if by pre-arranged signal. Neither lost nor gained any ground. There was a deeper understanding regarding each other's natures.
After bowing towards each other, Black faced me.
"Did you see how it worked?" he wanted to know, still breathing hard from the exercise.
I nodded, intrigued about how the human body can be manipulated, apprehensive of what it would mean if I was able to wield this body in that way.
I was not sure if I would have the self-discipline to stop the punches, the severity of the kicks. It felt impossible with the excited Groxes within me to be able to keep myself in check to negate damage.
"You look scared" Black needled.
He had no idea what I was actually feeling right now.
"Are you not?" I queried.
Switching over to Gaoucomian, Black's native language, I continued. "I'm not sure that I would be able to control myself once I start to fight in this way. You know where I work and if I should release my darker side, what then?"
Black laughed out loud.
"Nonsense" he answered in Creatan. "You will be fine. It is better for everyone if you knew how to protect yourself physically, without using psychic skills."
"Then who will spar with me, for I do not wish to get involved in a proper fight?"
Black frowned, some of the memories of what had happened in Gaoucom flashing before him, a glimmer of understanding coming to the fore.
"I suggest that we teach you the preliminary techniques and manoeuvres first. We can try proper combat later. Wait here. I'll go speak to Ty."
Black left the three of us staring at his big bulk as he engaged Ty in a musical language I had not heard before. I did not bother to gain a download of this language, I could see within the auras of the two old friends what they were talking about.
Ty smiled understandingly at me and then touched Black's shoulder briefly before coming over to us.
"It has been suggested that I start you all out as novices to our combat techniques" Ty told us in his sing-song voice. "You will be first time students but we will have to put a bit more effort into your training as we are pressed for time.
I have only a month to prepare you to my satisfaction.
Now, is there anyone else that needs training in these techniques?"
The question was directed at Racewater and he took a second before answering.
"It might be better to teach the whole team. It can always come in handy?" he enquired from us.
It did not matter to me who received training, and it was suggested that we re-convene the following morning early at the training facility that had recently been completed in Sunloen.
All the absentees needed to be gathered first.
Quill was still in Altneght, teaching his younger clairvoyant brother, Kraïyett, how to activate the crystals that were to be installed in the Toowins.
It had been decided by the Clans that the information on the activation method be kept within the Kwailuan family and only authorized Portal Masters would have access to this knowledge.
The actual programming and activation of the crystals in the Toowin was to be done strictly in the traditional way, with only a Clan Elder and the Activator (in this instance, Kraïyett) in attendance.
The Kwailuan Clan was to revive the old traditions of energizing the crystals en-masse at a special ceremony, attended by couples where at least one of the partners was psychic in nature.
From here, the crystals were to be shipped by air to Sunloen for placement within the Toowins.
These arrangements were satisfactory to the Government Officials placed in control of the Toowin Department, and with the sheet-metal that would soon be available from Gly-Terrion, the manufacture of more Toowins would be well on their way.
Black was placed in charge of organising Quill's return from Altneght to be trained in the Collected Fighting Skills with us, in order for all of us to be as safe as possible.
Racewater walked me back to my quarters in Sunloen.
With Jade having officially become my wife, she did not qualify to go with me to a place where I might make judgment errors due to our personal involvement.
It was safer for both of us to know that she was safely at home either on Duback or on our home Planet, Creata.
As it was, she had been much more irritable for the last couple of months. She avoided our communal quarters for days at a time, keeping to herself in her personal quarters, refusing to even speak to me telepathically.
This time she had been gone for almost ten days, relinquishing her telepathic duties to Mia, having gone to visit with the family in Altneght, claiming that she was busy with organising our permanent move to Duback.
She did not talk about these uncommon spells, always returning a loving, gentle partner.
I did not ask outright, but was planning on finding out from Panam if she was unwell. I had no pre-sight about her behaviour and took it as normal jitters before our proposed separation and the trip I had to take to Encha.
My ability to see physical instability was also not producing any results, although her hormones seemed out of balance, with a lot more heat in certain female areas.
Madge had assured me that this was normal behaviour for female bodies when being pleased on a regular basis.
I could not help being suspicious of betrayal on some level. I should stop doing this to myself. I really had issues in the trust department.
Mia stepped out of my private quarters, giving Racewater a relieved hug, telling me telepathically that Jade was back and really happy to be home.
Racewater left me in front of my door, following Mia to their shared quarters. As I had been acting a lot more responsible in how I behaved, I was being granted more free time to be by myself and I was no longer under 24hour supervision, being left alone for short spells at a time.
Usually still in the nearby presence of a handler or keeper, but at least not as suffocatingly in my face as previously.
I was not sure how Jade was going to react on seeing the blood on my clothes. At least my injuries had healed already and there was not even bruising evident. One of the perks in having an immortal body.
Gathering my courage, I stepped through my own door.
Jade was not present within the common room and I found her making the bed in my room.
*I do not know why they cannot put clean sheets over every day?* she complained, finishing up before looking up at me, presenting me with a welcome smile.
Her aura still indicated some irritation and I stayed were I was in the doorway.
"Hi. I'm glad you are finally home" I engaged her on a neutral level. "Were you able to sort everything out for the move as you wanted to?"
She came over to me, stopping before reaching me, looking me over from head to toe.
"Yes, most of it. Rabecca is also packing. Moira is quite excited to move to Duback."
"How is the baby doing?" I wanted to know, still keeping to this safe distance from her.
"Thomas is fine. He is turning out to be a very quiet baby and Hack and Rabecca are concerned that he does not cry. He is active and attentive, engaging with them, but he is not using his voice much.
It is encouraging to see how he and Moira interact. She just seems to know whenever he needs anything."
"I'm glad that she has a brother to keep her busy" I commented, watching Jade 'zone out' for a few seconds before focussing back on me.
"Mia says that you were beaten up in the training session. Will you please remove your shirt so I can discard it" she encouraged me, holding out her hand for the shirt.
After taking it off, I handed it to her, still keeping hold of it.
"I'm really glad you are home" I told her, pulling her towards me with the shirt.
"I am really glad, too" she allowed me to pull her through the perceived barrier between us to touch my bare torso.
I folded my arms around her.
She allowed me to hug her close.
My heart soared and all my troubles seemed to evaporate with her warm body touching mine.
Sneaking out of bed not to wake Jade, I took up my meditative position in my sound-proof room. From here I left my body to go in Astral form to the Education Halls in Creata's Higher Worlds.
Tonight I wanted to find the information on these Collected Fighting Skills, for why should one struggle to accumulate all the information from a single Master if you could just go and download it from the Higher Worlds?
This was what I was an expert in and I was of the opinion that it would be the easiest way of teaching myself and those people that I could share the knowledge with.
To my surprise, Tucker was waiting for me as I started up the stairs to the Halls.
"Hi" I greeted cheerfully, not having had a visit from him in a very long while.
Tucker smiled back at me, still portraying himself to me in human form as I had learnt to know him on Creata.
"Shall we enter into a private discussion, in the garden perhaps?" he queried.
Frowning, I followed him to 'our' bench that had been a witness to our difficult talks on previous occasions.
"What is wrong?" I enquired, knowing that when Tucker made a specific effort to come and see me, I was surely not doing something correctly.
"I know what you are seeking this evening" he told me after we had settled on the bench. "I need to know specifically what you are planning to do with the information you are seeking. It is not as if you need it for yourself. You have more than enough people and entities protecting you, as well as having all the psychic skills to boost yourself."
"My thoughts exactly" I confirmed with him, allowing him to pull a Tucker eyebrow at me to continue.
"As I see it, I do not really, currently need this specific information. On the other hand, maybe I do. It seems that it might become a way for me in dealing with myself.
These Collected Fighting Skills Masters all have one thing in common. And that is self-discipline. I have never seen people that are more even-tempered and slow to anger than them.
When they do anger, they still have themselves on such tight leashes that they can stop themselves from hurting other people. They possess absolute control over themselves and their bodies. I really wish to learn that. To be able to do what they do. To be able to stop myself from doing what I know I should not."
"Then you wish to learn these skills not for self-defence of your person, but for self-control to safeguard people from yourself?" Tucker queried.
"Yes. Would it not be wonderful if I could learn to have this absolute control over myself?"
"It would most certainly be" Tucker smiled at me. "It will also teach you not to sulk and to act like an adult. Not that you have sulked for quite a while. We are all proud of your progress."
After this discussion, Tucker walked me to a specially prepared section where I could download the specific information that was deemed useful to myself.
It did not take the whole night and I returned to my bed and a comfortably warm Jade in the early morning hours.
The following morning Quill joined me as telepath on duty. Jade and Mia were engaged in other duties. Both women had declined the physical training in the Collected Fighting Skills as they were not authorised to engage in the initial infiltration and subduing of Encha.
We collected Sparr from his allocated quarters on our way over to the Training Facility. Now that the Weather Satellite was monitoring the Asteroids on Duback, he and his wife had some leave. Hannah needed to come and do shopping in Darkhust for their home in Stelārşea, back on Duback.
When Quill informed Sparr about the proposed training in the Collected Fighting Skills, he insisted in participating in this Military training. No matter that he was just doing support work from the sidelines on Duback. He was the only person that had first hand experience as to the extent of what damage I could perform psychically on a physical level.
Both my Portal Masters knew that this was not something you wanted to practice out in the public where the Government could formulate ideas on how to misuse my new-found skills.
It was up to me now to make sure I learnt how to control myself not to allow these skills to become known by all.
It probably was a long overdue lesson, self-control. Something I have been lacking for a very long time.
Always going with the flow, hoping for the best, suddenly was no longer good enough. It was time to put theory, and what I knew, into practice - silently and absolutely with an iron fist.
Strangely enough, Stacey joined us for practice. Being one for sports and physical activities, she insisted that if Sparr could have a chance to learn all this, she was entitled to it as well.
Black, Racewater and Alis were already waiting for us in the Training Facility. Ty started without further introductions, assuming that everyone that needed training was in attendance.
We limbered up with Chi stretching exercises, allowing the muscles to expand and contract to improve suppleness as well as allowing the lungs to be trained in the breathing techniques for maximum efficiency.
Most Creatans that had anything to do with the Security Forces or the Planetary Forces knew how to do this. Some Clans, like the Kwailuans, did this as a daily routine, so all of us warmed up as if in a well rehearsed performance.
Slick was strangely and noticeably absent and I fleetingly wondered where he was at.
Limbered up, we paired off with Black securing the position opposite me.
Ty took Stacey as his sparring partner and he started showing us restraining techniques and how to get out of it, reversing it to work against your opponent.
Keeping the demonstration in mind, we diligently tried it on our partners, swapping positions from offence to defence until we managed to copy the techniques.
From here on we moved up to punching and blocking, with Black and Ty showing us exactly how to do this before we were to repeat the exercise with our partners.
Stacey was familiar with most of these techniques as she came from a household which yielded professional boxers and ring-fighters.
I had the downloads done during the night to compare with the practical skills and found it quite encouraging that what I had experienced within the downloads, and the practical lessons of today, was actually matching up perfectly.
This gave me an instinctive feel for where I should take my body to block or punch or duck.
Ty seemed impressed that we all, basically, had quite a good grip on what he wanted to teach us today and moved swiftly to more difficult things, like kicks.
Not all kicks could be used in the same situations, and some needed more agility than others.
Ty told Black to show Stacey and I what could be done and how to practice by ourselves, before turning his attention to Racewater and Alis to teach them separately how to block, avoid or negate attacks involving kicks to their person.
Racewater managed a fair amount of well-placed kicks, well blocked by Alis, but Alis' more mature body did not allow him the natural ability to do the higher kicks.
Ty showed Alis how to use his body for defence and how to negate certain kicks.
Black found that both Stacey and I were quite capable of the broad variety of techniques he was showing us and we practiced sparring between the two of us while Black and Ty engaged Sparr and Quill in these techniques that were absolutely new to them.
After a few pointers, both Kwailuans started to incorporate the techniques and could hold their own in a light attack from the two Masters in charge.
The session ended when Mia stepped into the Training Room, Racewater holding up a hand for us to stop before quietly conversing with her.
James needed me in a meeting and we adjourned the session, hastening through showers and dressing.
The CMC had assembled in full force today. Even Mr Thornton was in attendance, sitting in the row behind Senator Papinidis. They all wanted to know when we were advancing on Encha and what we could be expecting.
Governor Strong took the word.
"As you all know, this session regarding the next Planet to conquer is long overdue. It had been postponed quite a few times due to the demands placed on Captain Storm's time and abilities.
We have started with the physical Military Training of Captain Storm's team. As everything else he used to be involved in had now been handed over to capable people, it is time to find out where we are going to next.
Before I give the word to Captain Storm, the CMC wishes to remind him of a few things that still needs his attention."
Strong opened a folder to make sure he had the facts straight before looking up, finding and keeping my eyes with his hard, blue ones.
"The finding and opening of a new, sustainable planet is considered priority by the CMC. We need to start evacuating people. Lots of people."
He sighed, as if this task that had become his responsibility was wearing him down. I had another look at him.
He had grown taller.
No, actually thinner.
He had lost weight. The stresses of responsibility negating the soft, secure life he used to have.
There was no security left for anyone on Creata any longer.
We had to move or die. It was as simple as that. Find other worlds we could travel to and populate while doing it in the most efficient way possible.
"The next issue is with the Tunnel that is being created for this mysterious planet you call Gly-Terrion" he continued. "The Portal Masters on Duback had reported that it is extremely far away and they are still busy enhancing the wormhole. Is this true?"
"It is correct" I replied, looking over the people facing me. "Gly-Terrion is not in our Star System. It is very far away and the tunnel will take some time to complete. We will have to have patience before we would be able to have access to the Toowins' original building material. "
"We have three more satellites ready for launching around Duback" Strong informed all of us, looking quite smug that he was the one who had instigated this arrangement. "Two will be dedicated to the Asteroid watch and the third is for communications from the other side of the Planet. That should give you enough resources to allow for more efficient monitoring of the Planet.
We are amazed that you were able to make do with only three satellites launched around Duback to date."
He looked over the members of the CMC before turning back to me.
"Is there anything more you can give us regarding this Planet called Encha, other than that it is not a very friendly place?" he asked on behalf of all the members of the Creata Migration Committee.
I swallowed hard. What to tell these people before I have all the facts? I only had visions and speculations. Visions of events not wanting to change, always ending in full blown WAR.
"What preparations for an invasion into Encha you have done so far, you need to step up a few notches" I informed them. "What I know of the Planet and what I had seen in the brief visit I had made there in spirit form has convinced me that we are really going to be in for a tough time with them."
"You have also mentioned that it is a very wet Planet" James remarked, spurring me on to elaborate.
"Yes. The area I had visited is very wet. It is also infested with Cannibals, but there are rebels opposing their rule. It is with these rebels that we need to make first contact.
Unfortunately, the Portal is smack in the middle of Cannibal territory. We might have to fight our way in and out of the Planet."
This new information brought murmurs from the CMC members.
"What exactly do we stand to gain from Encha? What makes it worth our effort to engage in trying to make her a sustainable planet?" Senator Papinidis wanted to know.
"Encha has a readily available stock of pre-manufactured Transceivers. This can allow us to effortlessly engage in communication with other Planets. The Planet is also rich in Black Organic Fuel and modern technology that is currently unobtainable from any source I have access to.
In short. It is a technology haven."
"That is good news" Mr Schoon commented. "Do you know where to find this technology? Are there lost cities as we have here on Creata and on Duback?"
"I have not engaged on a trip to Encha's Higher Worlds" I replied. "It is on my to-do list. I will have a clearer picture of what is happening on Encha after I have visited her again."
Governor Strong stood up, facing the CMC. "Then my suggestion is that we adjourn this meeting until Captain Storm can give us a debriefing of his reconnaissance mission."
He turned back towards me. "Do you wish anyone to travel in Astral form with you to Encha?"
"No" I declined. "It will be safer to go there by myself as it is a long journey. It takes time and specialized training to be able to survive such an expedition."
Strong looked sternly at Racewater. "See that he gets everything he needs. We will give you a week to sort yourselves out. We will see you then."
We were released from the CMC Council and they continued to discuss issues while they had everyone together for a change.
Racewater allowed us to reach the central elevator system of Sunloen before halting me with a hand on my arm.
"How do you propose in going about departing to Encha?" he wanted to know. "You make it sound as if it is a most normal thing to do."
"While we are still on Creata, the journey for me to travel to Encha will be longer. Duback is much closer to Encha than Creata. If I use the Grox Preservation Pod to sustain my body, the trip should not be too draining.
I still foresee a three day trip to be able to find all the information I need, so please prepare everyone.
I will retire now into meditation to prepare myself mentally for the ordeal that lies ahead."
Racewater sighed, nodding at my insistent behaviour. He knew that the time had come for unconventional missions. All the other physical labour had been handed over to competently trained people that could take my work forward.
Sparr and Slick had been successfully and thoroughly trained in the art of Astral Travelling using the Pod, although I knew that Slick travelled whenever he had a chance without using the Pod.
Slick was determined to make the most of his new-found spiritual freedom. Although he could not physically experience where he went in Astral form, he could at least see and hear as if in physical form. He seemed content with that.
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