Author’s Note: Hopefully, this NaNoWriMo exercise will force me to finish this and the readers that do read it enjoy it. Comment please. Constructive criticism and/or lavish praise is always appreciated.
After I post chapter 15, I admit my struggles will begin in order to keep writing this story. I intend to finish it no matter what, but the progression of the chapter postings may slow down a bit. If you are reading this story, I hope you are enjoying it. I’m going to do my best to keep up with this NaNoWriMo challenge. You have been forewarned. I am not feeling very well but the story will not write itself… Then again, what adult feels well in life, right?
Inside the inn Aeryin was finally able to get out of the hover chair. She stretched and exercised her legs and arms, feeling good with her freedom. Afterwards, she took a shower. Lanya laughed.
Samanthra had paid for two rooms, one for her and Sara, and the other for Aeryin and Lanya. Each room held two full-size beds, a kitchen device so they could plug in whatever they wanted and it would appear, and a bathroom. Each room also came equipped with a hologram screen for people to watch shows or plays games, whatever suited their needs. In one corner of the room were sex helmets and chairs.
“I’m so glad to be out of that damn chair!” Aeryin said, as walked out of the bathroom wrapped in a towel.
“That’s a relief,” Lanya said “You’d never do well with a handicap.”
“Technically I am handicapped,” Aeryin admitted. “After all, Samanthra replaced my limbs since they got infected with gangrene.”
Aeryin put her head down and sat on the edge of the bed. Lanya sat down next to her and put an arm around her. She ran her fingers through Aeryin’s wet hair.
“I don’t think you’re handicapped,” Lanya explained. “You’re more enhanced now certainly, but definitely not handicapped.”
Aeryin smiled a brief smile at Lanya and changed into a white robe. She pressed a button on the kitchen device and a banana materialized before her. Picking it up, she peeled it and ate it.
“I’m still not sure how I’m going to steal Samanthra’s ship for her,” Aeryin said between bites of her banana. “Never have I seen a ship like that before. I have no idea how I would begin to work at getting it.”
“You’ll figure it out,” Lanya replied. “Sleep for now, it’s been a long day.”
The next morning Aeryin was strapped into the hover chair once more. They were outside the inn near a park. Trees with multicolored leaves were interspersed throughout the park and there was a trail on either side of them through the trees. Samanthra looked at Aeryin.
“I didn’t ask this yesterday, but why are you in a hover chair?” the Apis asked.
Lanya explained it to Samanthra and she nodded. Sara joined them.
“So there’s a tournament in the next city,” Sara said.
“Not a gladiator one I hope,” Aeryin replied.
“No, this would be more to Lanya’s expertise.”
Lanya looked at Sara. Confusion spread across her face.
“What do you mean Sara?”
“It’s a tournament of wits. It’s a game tournament. Gwendya,” Sara said and paused for effect. “You’re good at that. You used to beat me at it all the time, remember?”
“I haven’t played in years,” Lanya said. “I’m not sure I’d be any good now.”
Aeryin looked back and forth from Sara to Lanya.
“Um, can someone explain what this ‘gwendya’ thing is supposed to be?”
“It’s like your game of chess,” Lanya explained. “Only, much more involved and the board is bigger and there are more pieces. Depending on how the game is set up, if I lose, I can get seriously hurt.”
“I don’t want you playing this game,” Aeryin snapped and clenched her fist.
“There’s ten million zegoas as the prize,” Sara urged “You can use that to buy a starship.”
Samanthra cut in then.
“What about my starship? Aeryin has already promised to get that back.”
“This is true,” Aeryin interjected. “But we do need a starship to go on the run until I can figure out a way to get your ship back for you.”
“I’ll participate in the tournament,” Lanya said suddenly.
Aeryin shook her head. Lanya looked at her.
“Absolutely not, Lanya. You’re not risking your life in a game!”
“Aeryin, I believe none of us has a choice in this.”
“There is always a choice. We just have to find another way.”
“I already decided. I’m playing it and we’re winning those zegoas,” Lanya said adamantly “Besides, we’re still fugitives and we need to get off the planet and far away before either one of us gets caught by Platerra or worse, those reptilians.”
Aeryin shook her head and looked down at the ground. Whenever Lanya made up her mind to do something there was no stopping her. Sara showed Lanya the details of the game tournament on her own small data cube. A hologram appeared showing a game stadium. In the middle of the stadium was a gigantic table, set up like a chess board with ships instead of pawns and various other pieces in strategist alignments.
“Where do we go? How do I sign up for this?” Lanya asked.
“I already took the liberty of doing that,” Sara said. “We just have to head out of this town. It’s in the next city.”
Samanthra looked at Aeryin. The Apis sighed.
“This makes me think you won’t get my starship back for me.”
“Oh I will,” Aeryin replied. “As I told Lanya before, it’s the right thing to do.”
The next city was a metropolis. Aeryin was highly impressed. She had gladly given the hover chair back to the former village and as far as she was concerned never wanted to be bound to one ever again! The buildings towered above them, some black, some silver, and some translucent. Hover cars passed around them and hyper-expressways loomed above their heads in which more hover cars were present.
Lanya shivered. This looked almost exactly like the space port they left but only with slight differences. Hoping against hope they weren’t walking into a trap, they followed Sara’s lead. After quite a few miles of walking, they came up to the stadium. It was huge and fit nicely in with the metropolis. Instead of a sports stadium it was a game stadium and brands of different virtual reality games and things of that nature were plastered to the walls.
The party walked to the front gate. The people there allowed them in after Sara identified them. Lanya took a breath. She couldn’t shake the feeling something was entirely wrong. Nevertheless, she kept these feelings and thoughts to herself, lest Aeryin get in a mood and break away from here last minute. She also sealed her thoughts from Sara.
As they entered the stadium, they passed the gray walls. Samanthra headed to the spectator area reasoning that she would be better off watching from afar. Aeryin stayed beside Lanya. She wasn’t losing her again. Sara was beside them and stayed with the couple.
They saw the other participants and Lanya gulped. She wasn’t ready for this. Around her were aliens from other planets of different shapes, sizes, and obviously different levels of intelligence. Aeryin placed her hand on Lanya’s shoulder.
“You can do this,” she whispered. “I believe in you.”
Lanya placed her own hand on Aeryin’s. She smiled briefly but then let it go.
“I wish I could believe you right now,” Lanya replied. She took her hand away from Aeryin’s. Aeryin brought her own hand back to her side.
Lanya looked up at the score boards. From the scores she judged quietly how much luck she was going to need. It was a game she hadn’t played since her teenage years. There was no telling what would happen.
She walked to the table. Her turn was next. Starting to have second thoughts, she looked back at Aeryin who only nodded. Seating herself at the round table, she looked at the board, freshly prepared after the last battle. Rooks, queens, knights, bishops, boats all were in place. There were also new pieces she didn’t recognize. They looked like gryphons.
‘It has been way too long,’ she thought to herself.
She waited for her opponent to walk in. On the far side of the stadium a door opened. A blue skinned and shirtless man walked in. He was six feet and six inches tall and he was wearing brown trousers and leather boots. Sweat glistened off him, and he had pronounced abs and bulging arms. He sat at the opposite end of the table from Lanya.
‘At least he’s good eye candy,’ she thought hoping that his looks were better than his intelligence for the game.
The signal for the round begun. The man moved his pieces accordingly. Lanya watched carefully to see what he did with the new pieces. They moved their pieces according to their turns. Lanya made a mistaken move and a shock got sent through her system via the chair she was in.
‘Ugh,’ she thought.
She was more careful the next time and learned quickly. She made sure to stay ahead of her opponent. After three hours, she won the game and the man received a shock through his own chair. He managed to fall out of it. Lanya got up quickly.
“Are you alright?” she asked and proffered her hand.
He rejected her help and stood up. He towered over her own five feet and eight inches.
“I don’t mind losing to someone as pretty as you are,” he said and winked.
“She’s taken,” Aeryin walked in between them.
“Oh, ha, ha, sorry,” he said and walked away.
“Eye candy?” Aeryin asked.
“You have to admit he’s good-looking,” Lanya said and shrugged.
“Just be careful in the next round Lanya,” Aeryin said.
The next round surprised both of them. They had not realized Sara disappeared until Lanya had to face her next. The couple looked at each other in shock.
“I don’t like this at all,” Aeryin said.
Lanya sat back down at the table to face Sara. Staring quietly at Lanya, Sara waited for the board pieces to realign themselves. Lanya couldn’t take it anymore.
“What’s the meaning of this Sara?”
Sara didn’t reply. She just stared at Lanya blankly. It was like she didn’t know where she was, or even who Lanya was.
Aeryin stood in the crowd wondering what Sara was up to, when she saw a circular mark on the woman’s neck. Lifting an eyebrow, she wondered how she could let Lanya know.
“Damn, not being good at Psi-optics,” she muttered.
Staring helpless, she watched the game take place. The two women weren’t pulling any punches. The chairs they were in shocked them at each wrong move. Each time Lanya moved a pawn to a mistaken area, Sara would strike. These tactics would send shocks through Lanya’s body via the chair she was in. Lanya was losing a lot of her game pieces to Sara, followed by more shocks from the chair. Eventually she lost and fell to the floor, convulsing.
Before Aeryin could run to her lover, Bravra was behind her. She grabbed the human with her large scaly hand and inserted a syringe into Aeryin’s neck. Beginning to convulse herself, Aeryin’s eyes turned red, even the whites of her eyes went red. Bravra let go of her and Aeryin stood on her own, her human skin starting to glow.
“Now, Platerran, you will kill her,” Bravra said and pointed to Lanya.
Aeryin looked at Lanya, who was now just starting to get up. Fear shot through Lanya’s features. Doing the only thing she could do, Lanya ran.