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Official website of Science Fiction and Fantasy Author Carol Hightshoe

Song's End


“If I ever get my hands on Mallory,” Selaynia said, ducking behind a support pylon and glancing at her partner. The wolf only bobbed his head as several sudden explosions interrupted the rest of her statement.

:Only if I don’t beat you to him, Shadowmist said.

Selaynia grinned at the bloodlust she felt from the wolf. Not that she blamed him. Only a month ago, the Confederation agreed to meet with former Alliance Commander Mallory to discuss his terms to convince his group to end their attacks against the Confederation.

It had been almost five years since the Alliance’s defeat and surrender. For the majority of the planets claimed by the Confederation, life had gone on as if nothing had changed. And for those planets—nothing had.

The only planets still fighting against the Confederation were the planets that made up the government of the Centauri Alliance. They had all been offered positions within the planetary assembly, but they had refused. So unlike the other planets, they didn’t have a voice within the Confederation’s government.

It was a change from the previous set-up. Under the policy of the Centauri Alliance government, each of the member planets were able to have a representative in the congress, but they could only offer opinions they were not allowed an equal vote.

Most of the member planets hadn’t cared. As long as the Alliance was providing them with protection and a forum to voice grievances against other planets, they pretty much carried on as they would have without the Alliance government. Now, with the Confederation, they had been given a voice and most felt that was something worth keeping.

Mallory and his rebels had started out hitting Confederation bases along what had been the border between the Confederation and Centauri Alliance territory, but within the last year as support for his group dropped, they turned to hitting targets on planets that had previously been members of the Centauri Alliance. Now, with the Confederation’s agreement to meet and discuss a cessation of hostilities, Mallory seized the opportunity to attack the Confederation delegates.

Selaynia, her partner Bobby McKeon, and their wolf partners had been asked to come to the meeting by Shyreth. The Wyvern told her he respected her opinion and knew she would probably be the closest thing to an unbiased observer who could be found and accepted by both groups. She doubted Commander Mallory would agree; the man hadn’t trusted her when she showed up on Melpomene station. He could never get past the idea she had defected from the Alliance to the Confederation. With Nolan’s death, she really had no way to prove it had been part of an Omega mission. Even with the testing he and another telepath had done that showed it was just a well orchestrated deception to infiltrate the Confederation—he had never really believed her. Nothing had happened since she left Melpomene station to make her believe he changed his mind.

Another explosion caught her attention; they needed to get out of this part of the station and to the security office. McKeon still had access to the security overrides and wanted to try and get the containment fields up so they could isolate the two groups and at least get a temporary stop to the shooting. Time enough to get anyone not involved off the station and to safety.

“This one,” McKeon pointed to a small access panel. “This one leads to the central catwalk. From there, I can get us into the security corridor and to the secondary security office.”

Selaynia paused. “Can you activate the overrides from there?”

McKeon nodded. “That’s the only place they can be activated. Idea being only the security chief or someone they designated would have access to that area.”

~ * ~

McKeon stopped and motioned for his wolf partner to lead the way. Smokeshadow nodded, dropped her head a bit to get through the small opening and carefully went in. McKeon followed the wolf and waited for Selaynia to follow him. Shadowmist would follow her.

“There they are,” McKeon struggled to turn around in the tight crawlspace. He heard Shadowmist’s growl and Selaynia’s command to the wolf to stop.

Another explosion rocked the area, the noise deafening in the confined area. McKeon covered his head as debris fell around him, trapping him in the crawlspace. Smokeshadow’s howls filled his ears and mind as he heard her scratching and clawing to get to him.

“Selaynia!” There was no answer in the darkness.

McKeon choked on the dust and smoke and he heard Smokeshadow’s continued howls. He tried to reach the wolf through their link, but all he could sense was grief and pain. He took another deep breath.

“Selaynia! Shadowmist!” He projected his desperation as he called their names. Slowly, he felt Smokeshadow’s mind reach out to his.

:Shadowmist is dead. I can’t sense Selaynia, she whispered in his mind.

Shadowmist dead? McKeon shivered. He had to get to Selaynia quickly. He might not be Canthralian, but he was bonded to a Canthralian Wolf. He understood the danger to the human partner if the bond was broken like this.

:We can’t go back that way, Smokeshadow said. :We need to get to the security office. If Mallory and his people have her, we can locate her after you have them isolated.

McKeon nodded. He hated the idea of leaving her behind, especially with what she would be suffering, but Smokeshadow was correct, the best way for him to help her was to finish what they started.

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