Chapter 28 "A Meeting at Hetra 3"

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"Well, I was walking down the street

Just having a think

When a snake of a guy

Gave me an evil wink.

Well it shook me up

It took me by surprise

He had a pick-up truck

And the devil's eye

He stared at me

And I felt a change

Time meant nothing

Never would again."

- Time Warp Lyrics, The Rocky Horror Picture Show

1

Hetran Stronghold

Hetra 3

"Walter, what are you doing?!" Hasani demanded, her eyes darting between the clearly shocked face of the Hetran and the flat black barrel of her man's weapon.

"This thing is a Thorn!" Walter snarled.

The Hetran said something in a click-laced language that Walter couldn't understand. Stepping between the Hetran and the Lord of the Black Needles, Hasani replied in the same alien language. The Hetran responded with what was clearly a question which Hasani answered in rapid fire, confusing clusters of sounds and clicks.

"You speak its language?!" Walter asked in shock, the tip of his weapon remaining steadily aimed at the creature's head.

"No," Hasani said, not breaking eye contact with the Hetran. "At least I didn't. One of my gifts is the ability to decipher any spoken or written language once I see or hear it."

"What is it saying?" Walter demanded.

Before Hasani could answer, the Hetran spoke in the same broken Dragonese. "We no Thorns. Thorns traitors. Thorns serve the enemy. Thorns do this," he said, spreading his still armored limbs to indicate the blasted and ruined planet.

Against his will, Walter turned his eyes once more to the ruins surrounding them. He took in the ruins (which were hauntingly reminiscent of his hometown), and the cracked towers and vast ruins surrounding it. He knew this could just as easily be the ruins of a city from any of the races he knew, lived with, and trusted. Walter lowered his arm and retracted the barrel of his weapon.

"Thank you," the Hetran said, looking and sounding relieved.

"Don't thank me," Walter snapped. "A friend said we had to save your people; so I'll help save you... but I don't trust you."

The Hetran nodded and said nothing else.

"Take my hand, Walter," Hasani said, stripping a black leather glove from her delicate hand.

It wasn't quite an order, but the tone of command was unmistakable. Silently, Water slipped off a glove and wrapped his one organic hand in hers. Warmth filled him and there was a feeling of being light and loose, despite the higher gravity of the world.

"What did you do?" Walter asked, not sure if he should be upset or not.

"She shared her amazing gift with you," the Hetran said in clear English.

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