Back to Earth
Harper did not deal well with blood, especially when it was Becka’s. He heard the shot, and he watched Becka fall. He stood staring at her for a couple of seconds, and saw Trance kneel down to help Becka. He looked up to see the man who had shot Becka running away. The haze lifted from his mind and he was left with a strong feeling of anger. He lifted his gun and shot the man as he was running away. He saw the man fall, and he walked up to him, and shot him three more times to make sure he was dead before walking back to help Trance with Becka.
Harper said, “We have to get out of here fast. The reinforcements should be coming soon. How is she? Can we move her?”
Trance tore off a piece of her shirt to put over the wound and said, “She was shot in the shoulder, but it doesn’t look too bad. We can move her as soon as I tie this on.”
Becka’s eyes came open as Trance tied the piece of shirt over the wound. She looked at Harper, and he said, “We’ll be back to the Maru in just a second boss.”
“Don’t forget the milk.”
Harper rolled his eyes and thought, ‘Leave it to Becka to think about the mission while she’s injured and half conscious.’ But he said, "Okay Becka.”
Trance said, “Becka you have been shot. We need to get you back to the ship. Harper can you help me lift her and carry her to our truck?”
Harper nodded and went to pick up Becka’s legs while Trance got her upper body. They carried her a few feet to the truck and put her in. Harper went to the back and started to load up the four tanks of milk. Then he got in and started driving towards the Maru. He heard some shots go off behind him, and knew the reinforcements had arrived. He drove even faster, and looked over to see Trance getting out her gun so it would be ready if she needed it.
Harper skidded to a stop in front of the Maru. He started to help Trance pick up Becka to carry her to the ship, but Becka pushed his hands away and said, “I can walk. You get the milk.”
Harper hesitated for a second, and Becka yelled, “Go!”
He ran to the back of the truck and pulled out the first tank and carried it into the Maru. As he was coming out for the second tank, he passed Trance and Becka making their way slowly into the ship. Harper was getting the fourth tank out of the truck when he saw another truck coming their way. He got the fourth tank into the Maru as fast as he could and closed the Maru up to the sounds of shots being fired towards him. He ran to the bridge, and yelled over the intercom, “You better be sitting down, ‘cause we’re taking off.”
He got the Maru up in the air, and headed for a slipstream point. Once the Maru was safely on it’s way to Louties; Harper went to check on Becka. He found Becka and Trance in Becka’s bedroom. Trance had brought some of her medical supplies from storage to patch up Becka’s wound. As he walked in he heard Trance say, “With these you should be healed by tonight.”
Becka said, “That’s great Trance.”
Harper said, “What did you give her Trance?”
Trance said, “Nanobots. I just shot some into Becka’s shoulder, and they’ll start to repair the tissue. The wound should be completely healed in about eight hours. This technology is pretty common in the hospital, but I see that out here in the outer systems it isn’t. I didn’t get that much from the hospital before I left, because I thought I’d be able to get more when I needed it. We have enough for about ten more wounds like this. Less if the wound is more significant. I guess, since I’ve only been on board for a week, I need to know how often this happens.”
Becka said, “The last time I got shot was almost three years ago, but you never know when it’s gonna happen.”
Harper said, “When we run out, we can always go back to Newmars for more right?”
Trance said, “Yes, but since I don’t work for the hospital any more, it will be much more expensive. I think I’m going to go look through my medical supplies, and make a list of what I have. Becka, you need to stay in bed for the next four or five hours. It would also help if you ate something. Keep your arm in the sling until tonight when I check on it.”
Becka said, “Okay. You go ahead Trance, I’ll be here.”
Harper said, “Do ya want me to make you something to eat Boss?”
“Sure, how about some soup.”
Harper nodded and headed off to make some. While he was cooking his mind kept replaying Becka getting shot, and his reaction to it. Soon he was done, and headed back to see Becka. He gave her the soup on a tray, and she sat up in bed to eat. He brought her desk chair over to the bed and sat down next to her.
They sat quietly for a few minutes while Becka ate. Then she said, “You’re very quiet, is everything okay?”
Harper said, “I’m fine, you’re the one who got hurt.”
“It’s not that bad. I’ve been shot before, and this time it looks like I’ll be recovering faster than normal.”
“Yeah, that’s good.”
After a few more minutes of silence, Harper said, “I shot our contact Fred.”
Becka reached over and took Harper’s hand in hers and said, “Well he shot me first, so I’m glad you did.”
Becka said, “Did we get all the milk loaded up before Fred’s buddies came to get us?”
Harper nodded again.
Becka continued, “I guess we’ll need to find a new contact on Leeds to sell us the milk for Max. I can understand why he has trouble getting someone to go there for him. The people there don’t bargain well.”
Becka squeezed his hand and said, “Was that your first time?”
Harper looked confused and said, “What?”
Becka said, “Have you ever killed anyone before?”
“Yes, but only in self defense. Never because I was angry.”
“Harper, the parts of the universe we travel in have more violence, fighting, and death than anyone wants to be around. It’s just a part of our life. I wish I could say that it’s always hard to kill someone, but in fact it gets easier. I wouldn’t have hesitated to kill someone who had hurt you. If you had hesitated to kill Fred, he could have come back and killed you, Trance, or me. You did the right thing.”
Becka decided Harper needed something to do. She said, “Harper, I need to rest, so I want you to send a message to Max and let him know when we’ll be there; Then jack into the Maru and make sure there’s no damage. Oh, and see if Trance needs any help checking her medical supplies. Come wake me up when we get to Louties.”
“And tell Trance that we’ll be staying on Louties for two nights instead of one. I think we could all use a little break.”
Becka had almost forgotten how fast nanobots could make her heal. Her shoulder was back to normal in less than two full days. She had a nice time relaxing with Max, while Harper and Trance spent time surfing and playing on the beach.
Three weeks later, they got a message from a man named Belfor. He lived on Tera, and he wanted them to come meet with him about a job he wanted them to do. Becka and Harper went to meet Belfor, while Trance went to the local hospital to pick up some supplies.
Becka and Harper were invited to Belfor’s house for their first meeting. This made Becka a little uneasy, but she knew Tera, and she believed that she could get help if something went wrong. As they walked up to the door, it opened. An older human man had opened the door for them. He had a long gray beard and piercing gray eyes. He said, “Hello, my name is Belfor, and you must be Becka.”
Belfor held out his hand, and Becka shook it and said, “Yes. It’s nice to meet you. This is my engineer Harper.”
Harper shook his hand, and Belfor said, “Please come in, and I’ll tell you about the job I want you to do.”
After they were seated, Belfor said, “This may come as a surprise to you, but I have been keeping track of most of the ships that come in and out of the airport here on Tera. I know you come here quite often, and you are always picking up more supplies than the two of you could use. I also have heard from some of the locals that your business deals are not always of a legal nature on some other planets.”
Becka was getting a little nervous, and defensive, but decided to keep quiet until she heard what else the man had to say.
Harper said, “Rumors are not always true.”
“And sometimes they are.” Belfor said in an amused voice.
Becka put a hand on Harper’s leg to shut him up, and said, “Please continue.”
Belfor said, “I want you to transport a few people for me, but getting to them could be dangerous.”
Becka said, “We have been known to do dangerous, for the right price of course.”
Belfor smiled and said, “That’s what I’ve heard, so I’ll get right to the point. My daughter, Cathy, and my two grandchildren Lilly, and Daisy, have been missing for three years now. They were kidnapped.”
“We were on a family trip to Unio on a large transport ship when some Nietzscheans attacked. I was in our bedroom, but the rest of my family was in the dining area. I heard the shots and I ran to see what was happening. My wife and son-in-law were dead before I got there, and I saw the Nietzscheans taking many women and children away to their ship. There were more Nietzscheans were coming aboard when they suddenly got the order to go back. We later found out that another pride was attacking them as they were attacking us. Otherwise I’m sure I would be dead as well. I didn’t see them taking my daughter or granddaughters, but one of our friends did.”
“I’ve spent the past three years searching for my family, and trying to find out what happened to them. Two months ago, I found out they were sold to Earth about four months after they were captured. I would like to hire you to go to Earth, find them, and bring them home to me.”
Becka felt Harper flinch at the word Earth. She looked over at Harper who was breathing hard. She looked back at Belfor and said, “I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this, but if they have been on Earth for two and a half years, they are most likely dead.”
Belfor said, “That was what I thought too, but for the past two months, I have been contacted by a Giloman who has been trading with Nietzscheans. They are one of the few species that the Nietzscheans let trade with them. I have paid this Giloman very well for accurate information, and he tells me that he saw my daughter three weeks ago on Earth. She is a slave for a Nietzschean named Herid.”
Becka looked at Harper who had twitched again at the name. Becka said, “What is it Harper?”
Harper who was still breathing hard said, “Herid is one of the very wealthy Nietzscheans. He owns most of Boston. I’ve seen him on posters and view screens.”
Becka turned to Belfor and said, “Any thing else to tell us?”
“I’ll pay you whatever you ask. I have wealth and power, and I don’t waste my money on slaves or extravagant houses.”
Becka said, “We’ll be back tomorrow morning with an answer.”
The ride back to the Maru was mostly silent. Trance was waiting for them.
Becka filled her in while Harper stared silently into space. Harper’s
silence was enough to let Trance know it was a serious conversation before it
After Becka had recapped the meeting for Trance, she looked at Harper and said, “Well Harper, tell me what you think.”
Harper looked at her and said, “I want to do it. No one deserves to live on Earth. And while we’re there, I want to get my Uncle and cousins the hell out of there.”
Becka was quiet for a while and looked at Trance and said, “What do you think?”
Trance said, “It is important that we do this.”
Becka thought that was a strange way to put it, but she was getting used to Trance saying stuff like that. Becka looked at the serious features of Trance and Harper and found her mind made up. “We’ll need a plan.”
The next morning the three of them went to see Belfor. After introducing Trance,
Becka said, “We’ve decided to take the job.”
Belfor said, “Wonderful.”
Becka said, “We’ll need a ship. The Nietzscheans on Earth may recognize the Maru, and let’s just say that would be bad.”
“No problem. I have five you may choose from, and if none of them meet your needs, I will buy one for you that does.”
Becka continued, “Next we’ll need some credentials that can pass scrutiny at Earth’s port. Harper and I will be going as Nietzscheans. We will be mother and son to be exact. Trance will go as herself, since in all my wanderings I have never seen a species like her, and I’m sure Herid who has spent his life on Earth has never seen anything even close.”
Belfor said, “I can have the papers ready by the end of the day. And speaking of papers, here is a letter you can give to Cathy once you find her. Once she reads this, she will know it’s really me looking for her, and she will trust you.”
Harper said, “The only thing left to tell you is don’t get your hopes up. Even if everything goes well, your daughter and your grandchildren may be dead before we get there. The odds are really against us coming back with all of them.”
Belfor looked Harper in the eye and said, “I know.”
By the end of the day they were all loaded up on the borrowed ship and ready to go. As they were on their way to Earth, Becka went over the plan with Harper and Trance.
“I’m Kalie, a widow with one son left. Our pride has been wiped out by war. I’m looking for a mate, and because our pride was demolished, I’ll have to be looking for a mate who is under my former status. Harper, as my son Karvon you’ll have the most freedom to snoop around. You’re supposed to be twelve, so no one will pay much attention to you. Use your time to find Cathy and her kids. Trance you are who you are, and you’re with us, because you were visiting our planet when the last battle erupted, and you have become our friend. Any questions?”
Harper interjected, “When will we be getting Jim, Amy, and James?”
Becka looked at him for a moment and then said, “You do understand that the same warning that you gave to Belfor stands for you too right. They very well may be dead.”
Harper looked away. “I know, but I have to find out.”
“After we’ve found Cathy and her children, we’ll come up with an escape plan. Then a few hours before we take them, we’ll go find your family.”
Harper said, “What if they’ve moved? We need to contact them before the day we have to leave. We’ll probably never get the chance to go back to Earth, and I won’t be able to forgive myself if we don’t do our best to find them.”
Becka said, “Harper, be reasonable. You told me yourself that your Uncle has lived in the same house for thirty years. I would say it’s a safe bet that he’s still there. It’ll be much easier to explain moving around in the city and in the Nietzschean house holds, than it will be to explain why any Nietzschean would be wondering around the poverty stricken houses with malnourished dirty humans. We’ll go to get them on our last day, and if they’re not there, then we’ll leave them some money and I promise we’ll find a way to come back and get them another time.”
Harper said, “The first day we’re there, I could pretend to be ‘exploring’, and then I could ‘get lost’. Then when I was out of sight I could change into some old clothes, and be human again. I could go back home as myself, and then after I find out they are all right and ready to go, I will get my good clothes and bone spurs back on and ‘find my way’ back to Herid’s house.”
Becka thought for a minute, and said, “I’m sorry Harper, but I don’t think that’s a smart move. There’s too big of a chance you’ll get caught, and then we’ll all be exposed before we’ve even found Cathy. We need to do that first, and then find your family just to be sure we don’t get caught before we get the job done.”
“You are really underestimating me if you think I’ll get caught.”
“Maybe, but I’ve made my decision.”
Harper crossed his arms and looked at the ground.
“Did you hear me Mr. Harper?”
Harper said, “Yes.” But he thought, ‘I heard you, but you’re wrong.’
Trance felt the tension in the room and said, “Well, I’m going to go to bed, so that I’ll be well rested for tomorrow.”
When Trance had left, Becka stood up and gave Harper a hug. She said, “I know you want to find them, and I do too, but we have a job to do, and I’m going to make sure we do it.”
Harper hugged her back and said, “I know Becka. I think I’ll go to bed too.”
Becka said, “One more thing Harper. Remember you’re gonna be twelve. Try to be obedient and respectful in front of people. If you make a scene in public, I’ll treat you like any other Nietzschean child, and backhand you.”
Harper said, “Got it Mom.”
Becka laughed and shoved Harper towards his room.
The next morning they sent a message to Herid. Becka had written to him as
Kalie, and had given him her story. She had gone on to say she would like to
bring her son and her friend to come visit. By the end of the day, they had
As they landed on Earth, Harper started to visibly shake. Trance went to him and said, “Harper, do you want me to give you something to help you relax for today?”
Becka said, “Today will mostly be meeting people. It’s okay with me if you are a bit more relaxed, as long as you’re not out of control.”
“No. I’m fine.”
“You’re not fine Harper, but you’d better pull it together.” Becka said.
Harper looked at her and nodded. It seemed to help, and he stopped shaking.
Soon the three of them were getting off their borrowed ship, and being greeted
by Herid himself. He looked them over and said, “Welcome to Earth. I hope
you will all enjoy your time here, and that we can come up with a mutually beneficial
arrangement for the future.”
Becka smiled and said, “Hello, I am Kalie out of Gamie by Shanfor.”
Herid smiled and said, “I am Herid out of Thaydon by Lanto.”
Becka said, “This is my son Karvon by my late husband Rantov, and this is our friend and medic Trance Gemini.”
Herid said, “Please come with me and we will travel to my main house. There we will have lunch, and get to know each other. Have you ever been to Earth?”
Becka smiled in a seductive way and said, “Why no, you will be my first experience with Earth.”
Herid laughed, and held out his arm for her. Becka took it, and Harper rolled his eyes behind Herid’s back. Trance and Harper followed after them.
Soon they were all seated for lunch. Herid said, “It would please me if you would all be guests at my home for the duration of your stay.”
Becka said, “While that is very kind of you, I would feel more secure in my own ship. After watching Rantov shot down, I am a bit reluctant to be vulnerable. That is why I still wear my gun, and why I will sleep better on my ship, knowing my security system will alert me if something goes wrong. By the time the week is up, I may change my mind.”
Herid looked thoughtful for a while and said, “Yes. I can see the logic in that. I like to see a woman who takes her own interests and the interests of her children first. But I hope by the end of the week, I can change your mind.”
After lunch they had a tour of the house. Harper thought it was amazing that
any one person on Earth could have so much wealth, while so many others suffered.
Becka on the other hand thought it was a pitifully little house compared to
others she had been to. Lucky for her Herid had not been off Earth, and didn’t
know any better.
When the tour was over, Herid had one of his men show Trance to the main hospital in Boston. Then he had his own son, Harken, show Harper the areas a child might be interested in. Then he took Becka to his gardens to start a conversation about all he owned on Earth, so he could convince her to be his mate. He thought she was attractive and obviously fertile.
Harper and Harken had been playing “warier” with shock guns for about a half an hour in the yard, when Harper said, “Hey Harken, do you guys have any human slaves?”
Harken who was about nine said, “Of course we do. Didn’t you?”
Harper said, “A few, but they weren’t allowed near me. I would like to see what one looks like close up. Can you show me?”
Harken looked back at the house, and said, “Yeah, we can go to the kitchen and see them, but it’s really boring.”
“Well it wouldn’t be boring to me.” Harper thought ‘Besides, I’m not Nietzschean, and I don’t think I can take another shock from that gun without rolling on the grass in pain.’
Harken took Harper to see the slaves working in the kitchen.
As Harper’s eyes adjusted to the darker kitchen, he had to blink a few times to see if he was really seeing what he thought he was seeing. There in front of him was Cathy working with three other women. Harper thought ‘No way can it be this easy.’ Harken said, “Here are the kludge slaves. Now that you’ve seen them, can we go back out and play?”
“Why don’t you go play. I’m board with the game, and I want to get something to drink.”
Harken said “I’ll be outside when you’re done.”
Harper looked at Cathy and cleared his throat to get her attention. He said, “I would like some water please.”
Cathy stared at him for a minute, and Harper couldn’t figure out what he’d done to make her stop what she was doing so quickly. Then he noticed all the slaves were staring at him like he had two heads. He looked down to see that his bone spurs were still on, and realized what the problem was. He said, “Get me some water stupid kludge, and don’t make me tell you again!”
The women all got back to work and Cathy brought him a glass of water. Harper sat at the table and watched for a while. He noticed that all the slaves were in better condition than most of the free humans he had met on Earth. They looked clean and well fed. He watched while Cathy and the other three women made the evening meal. Various people and Nietzscheans came through the kitchen, and some were children. Harper didn’t recognize any of them as Cathy’s children. After fifteen minutes or so, Harper went to find Becka.
Becka was trying not to fall asleep while listening to Herid talk about himself and what he owned. As they walked through the gardens she looked for Cathy and her children, but with no luck. Just as Becka and Herid were headed in to the house to play a game of cards Harper came running up to them. Harper said, “Mother I need to speak with you.”
Becka started to say something but was cut off by Herid who said, “I’ll be in the study waiting for you Kalie. Would you like me to get a drink of something on the way?”
Becka smiled and said, “That would be just perfect Herid. I will be there shortly.”
Herid walked off, and Harper motioned for Becka to follow him into the garden, so no one would hear them. He said, “I saw Cathy already. She is working in the kitchen right now with three other humans.”
Becka said, “That was fast. Great job. Did you see the kids?”
“I saw some human children, but not the two we’re looking for.”
“Did you make any contact with Cathy?”
“No she was never alone.”
Becka thought for a minute. Then she said, “You snoop through the house today. It’s the best day to say you got lost if someone asks you what you’re doing. If you find them, don’t make contact. Just come and find me. And remember we’re having dinner with Herid.”
Harper nodded and headed towards the house while Becka headed for the study.
Harper was amazed at how easy it was to just walk around through the house.
No one stopped him or gave him a second look. He was used to being stared at
and even yelled at, but not ignored. It knew it was because he looked twelve,
and because he was ‘Nietzschean’, but it was still somewhat unnerving.
It made him jumpy. He felt like he should be sneaking around instead of just
boldly walking into any room he felt like. Still he realized how much freedom
and power this gave him, and he thought about how smart Becka was for coming
up with this set up.
Harper had been wandering for a long time with no luck, but then as he was about to give up and head for dinner he opened a door and found the laundry room. He saw the two young girls he had been looking for folding laundry and talking contentedly to each other. One of the girls looked up and saw Harper, and they both stopped talking and looked down at what they were doing. Harper walked in and scanned the room. He was alone with the girls. He went up to them and said, “What are your names?”
The older girl looked up with a surprised expression and said, “My name is Lilly, and this is my sister Daisy Sir.”
Harper wanted to tell them that he was there to take them home to their grandfather, but he knew Becka was right to wait until they had a plan, so instead he said, “I need a clean towel.”
The girl looked at him in a scrutinizing way and handed him a big towel. He took it and walked out the door. He went to the closest bathroom and put the towel on the rack. It looked out of place, but at least it wasn’t in his hand any more.
Harper went to find Becka. He went to the study only to find it empty. Then he looked at the clock, and realized it was much later than he thought. He thought ‘Crap. I’m late for dinner. Well nothing like showing bad manners your first night in someone’s house.’
Harper headed for the dining room and heard many people talking and laughing the closer he got. He hoped no one would notice him as he came in. He took a peek around the doorway, and saw that there was an empty chair between Becka and Trance. Harid was next to Becka at the head of the table. Harper thought, ‘Why couldn’t they put me at the kid’s table?’ And walked boldly into the room towards the empty chair.
By the time he had reached his chair and sat down most of the adults in the room and some of the older children were looking at him, and the room had grown quiet. Harper looked at Herid and said, “Please accept my apology for being late. I got sidetracked looking at your weapons cabinet.”
Harper looked at Becka who was looking pretty mad, and then at Trance who was looking at her plate. He looked back at Herid, who said, “Apology accepted. After dinner I would be happy to show you some of the pieces I have there if they interest you.”
Harper was truly surprised at this. He thought Herid must be trying really hard to woo Becka, because he had heard stories about Herid’s cruelty from other humans. He stammered, “Th…That would be…..good.”
Most of the people in the room had turned their attention to other things after hearing Herid was not upset. Becka was however still glaring at Harper and said, “That is really kind of you Herid, but I don’t think his behavior should be rewarded. I think after dinner we will be going back to our ship, and I will have a talk with my son about responsibility.”
Harper wasn’t sure if Becka was acting, or if she was really mad, and he couldn’t stop the blush creeping up his neck. He looked back at Herid who was smiling at Becka. Herid said, “I am pleased to hear that you take responsibility so seriously. I would do the same in your place.”
Harper hunched down in his chair as the blush spread to his face and ears. He concentrated on eating the cold food in front of him, and on ignoring Becka and Herid who were now happily discussing child-rearing practices with each other.
Once dinner was over, Becka stood and said, “Thank you for a lovely day, and we will be seeing you for breakfast tomorrow.”
Harper and Trance both stood and said in unison, “Thank you.”
On the drive back to the ship, Harper couldn’t stop wondering if Becka
was really mad or not. He didn’t think she would be, since it turned out
all right, but he wasn’t sure. Once the three of them got aboard and shut
the door, Becka turned to Harper and said, “So, did you find anything?”
Harper smiled, “Both of the girls were working in the laundry room, and they both look healthy.”
Trance said, “That is very good.”
Becka walked to Harper and gave him a hug. “Lets go to the mess hall, and talk about an escape.”
Becka started off by saying, “Tomorrow Herid is planning on taking us all on a tour of the city, and then shopping. We’ll be out most of the day. I was originally thinking Harper could pretend to be sick and look for Cathy and her daughters while we were gone. I still think we should go with Harper feeling sick, but instead of snooping once we’re gone, he should try to get Cathy in a room alone to talk to her. I don’t think you should talk to the girls, because we don’t know if they can keep quiet.”
Harper said, “That may be hard, because there are always lots of people in the kitchen.”
Becka thought for a minute and said, “Well, you could be sick in bed, and then you could ask for things to be brought up to you from the kitchen. You have already proven yourself to be ill mannered, so it may not come as a surprise to people if you continue to be that way.”
Becka said, “I’m not really mad at you Harper, I just think it plays well into our plan.”
In a quiet voice Harper said, “Okay.”
Becka put her arm around his shoulders to comfort him while she said, “If you pretend to be sick, and then ask for one thing at a time from the kitchen to help you feel better, eventually they may send Cathy up with something for you. I know the real Harper would be appalled at the behavior you’ll be displaying tomorrow, but it’s the best way I can think of to get Cathy alone.”
Harper smiled at Becka and said, “I won’t like it, but I can do it. Then once Cathy brings me something the first time, I can ask for her every time I want something. What should I tell her our plan is?”
Becka said, “Show her the letter from Belfor, and tell her everything you know. Then ask for her advice on how to break out.”
“What about Uncle Jim and my cousins?”
Becka said, “That will be for the next day. The day after tomorrow we will be spending another day at Herid’s house, and then the day after that if we’re still here, we’re all scheduled to go to the market and then see a play.”
Harper said, “If I get done talking to Cathy early, can I please go ‘get lost’ and see my family. I swear I can do it without getting caught. You should have some faith in my ability to get around.”
Trance said, “It’s not a good idea.”
Harper glared at her and said, “I wasn’t asking you.”
Everyone was silent for a couple of seconds. Becka looked quite unhappy, while Trance seemed unfazed and said, “It’s still not a good idea.”
Becka was about to tell Harper to apologize, but Harper beat her to it by saying, “I’m sorry Trance. I didn’t mean to snap at you. Maybe you’re right. What do you think Becka.”
Becka said, “I already told you I thought it was a bad idea the first time you brought it up, and I still do. Once we’ve come up with a firm plan for getting Cathy and her kids aboard, we’ll send Trance to get your family. It will be much easier to explain Trance going to see the humans for medical reasons than to explain you looking around.”
Harper said in a slightly loud voice, “That’s great! How is Trance supposed to know what my family even looks like?”
Becka said in a calm voice, “You will describe them in detail, and more importantly, you’ll give her a detailed map of where they live, so she can go straight to their house and wait for them.”
Harper said, “That’s a really stupid plan.”
Becka said, “Well it IS the plan, so get used to it.”
Harper crossed his arms and pouted.
Trance cleared her throat and said, “Well since we have a plan, I guess I’ll go to bed.”
Becka smiled and said, “Night Trance.”
Harper said nothing. Once Trance was out of the room, Becka said, “Your attitude better improve by tomorrow, or I may have to show Herid my child rearing techniques up close.”
Harper thought, ‘This trip just keeps getting better and better.’ He said in a snippy voice, “Yes Mom.”
Becka said, “Go to bed Harper. Lets see if some sleep improves your mood.”
Harper got up and went to his room. A few minutes later Becka came and tucked him in and kissed his forehead while Harper ignored her.
The next day Harper was in a better mood. He had decided to prove to Becka
and Trance that his plan would work. During breakfast Herid told them all about
the day he had planned. Becka pretended to be very excited about the shopping
and told him all the new things she wanted to buy.
Breakfast was soon over, and they all went to get ready for the day out. Harper went into a bathroom that was off the kitchen, so that people would be close and could hear him. Then he made vomiting noises while dumping cups of water into the toilet. Soon he flushed and went out holding his stomach. He looked at Cathy who happened to be the closest person to him, and said, “Go tell Herid and my mother that I am sick.”
Cathy nodded and went to find them while Harper groaned and went back into the bathroom while holding his stomach. He waited a few minutes until he heard Becka’s voice getting closer, and then he made vomiting noises again. Soon he flushed and walked out holding his stomach. He looked at Becka and said, “I’m sick.”
Becka put her hand on his forehead and said, “Well, you don’t have a fever, so it’s probably something you ate. I’m sorry Herid. Maybe he’s allergic to some local food. I guess we’ll have to take him home and skip today.”
Harper said, “No, don’t do that Mother. I know you and Trance are looking forward to going. I can just stay here for the day.”
Becka looked to Herid and said, “I do still want to go with you. Do you think you could arrange for Karvon to lay down for a while until he feels better?”
Herid said, “Of course. We won’t be getting back until sometime after dinner, and he is welcome to stay here until we get back.”
Becka was about to say something, but Harper butted in and said, “If I start to feel better, I would like to go home to our ship. I have some studying to do.”
Becka wasn’t too happy about this and said, “I don’t know son, I would feel better knowing you’re here where people can help you if you get sick again.”
To Harper’s surprise Herid came to his rescue and said, “A boy his age should have no trouble taking care of himself, and he said he would only be going home to study if he feels better.”
Becka reluctantly said, “Well if you think so, I guess it’s okay with me.”
Soon Becka, Trance, and Herid were all gone, and Harper was lying on a bed
congratulating himself. He couldn’t believe how well things had gone.
Now he just had to whine and be obnoxious enough to get Cathy alone, and then
he would go to see his family after being dropped off at the ship. He was sure
he would get a lecture from Becka for suggesting going back to the ship, but
he could explain that away without too much trouble. He even suspected Becka
would eventually find out about his adventure, but he wasn’t too worried
about it at this point.
Soon he started his plan. First he asked for ice water from the kitchen. When the woman from the kitchen came, he was very nasty to her in the hopes that she would not come back. He then asked for crackers. Soon another woman from the kitchen came. Again Harper was nasty to her, and even tossed the plate of crackers at her for not getting the kind he liked. Soon, Cathy came in with a different kind of cracker. Harper said, “Come over here and put them on my night stand.”
Once she got close, he said, “Belfor sent us. We’re here to get you and your daughters off Earth. I’ll be asking for some different things from the kitchen, and if you bring them each time, we’ll have a chance to talk. Next time close the door behind you.”
Cathy just stared at him in disbelief for a few seconds. She said, “I don’t know anyone named Belfor, and I am quite happy here. I have no desire to leave.”
Harper handed her the letter and said, “You may want to read this.”
Cathy read the letter, nodded and said, “I’ll be back up when you call.” As she started to walk out, Harper yelled at her back, “There’s a draft in here you idiot. If you come again shut the door!”
Cathy said, “I’m sorry, Sir.”
Soon Harper had eaten a few crackers and asked for someone to bring up some applesauce. Cathy came up and closed the door behind her.
Harper showed Cathy his bone spurs, and how they came off, and he said, “The woman posing as my mother is human, and so am I. We have a ship, and we’ll take you to your father. Do you have any idea how we can get the three of you to the ship without someone noticing us?”
Cathy said, “At night they let me and my girls sleep in the same room, but there are also four other slaves with us. There are two guards at our door, and five guards around the house. Night time is our best chance.”
Harper scarffed down the applesauce as she talked. He said, “Don’t tell your girls until the night we break you out. We’ll probably leave tomorrow or the next day. We’ll let you know.”
Cathy nodded and took the bowl from him. She got up to leave, and as she opened the door Harper yelled, “Get me some tea kludge.”
Cathy said, “Yes Sir.”
Soon Cathy brought in a warm cup of tea, and Harper said, “If I give you something to make people sleep, will you be able to put it into a drink or food that the guards and maybe even the slaves will have?”
“Yes that will be easy.”
Harper said, “Good. I’ll be leaving here soon, but I’ll be back tomorrow with a better plan.”
Harper handed her the tea mug and got up. He walked to the door and went out with her. Cathy headed for the kitchen while Harper headed off to find a driver so he could be taken back to the ship.
The drive back to the ship was uneventful, and he soon found himself alone. He waited for about half an hour, to make sure no one from Herid’s house would still be there, and then he packed a backpack and left. He walked boldly out of the airport and headed towards the outskirts of town. He headed there like he had a purpose, and no one stopped him or questioned him. Soon he got to an area where there weren’t many humans or Nietzscheans. He found a run down building that was vacant. It was too close to the Nietzscheans for free humans to live in, and too dilapidated for Nietzscheans or their slaves to live in. He checked it out to make sure he was alone, and then carefully took off his disguise. He had brought some of his old clothes that he hadn’t worn in months. He put them on, and stashed his Nietzschean disguise under some floorboards. He left the house and started to walk towards his Uncle’s house.
Harper was surprised to find his hand shaking as he brought it up to knock on his Uncle’s door. No one answered, so he knocked again, and said, “It’s Harper.”
He heard the board his Uncle used to lock the door being moved. Then he saw his cousin Amy. Amy ran to him and jumped while saying, “I missed you so much.”
Harper caught Amy and held her tight while walking into the house, and locking the door behind them. Harper said, “I missed you too sweetie.”
Amy said, “Where have you been?”
“I have been off Earth.”
Amy’s eyes got round, but she said nothing. Harper said, “I have a job on a space ship. My boss runs a cargo ship, and I’m the engineer. It’s so much better than here on Earth, I can’t even explain it to you.”
Amy said, “Wow.”
Harper said, “Where are James and Uncle Jim?”
“They are out looking for work.”
“They left you here alone?”
Amy laughed and said, “Well I am eight ya know.”
Harper thought for a minute and nodded his head. He said, “Are you here alone most days?”
Amy looked at him with concern and said, “Of course. Are you okay Harper? If you’ve got such a great job, why are you here?”
Harper put Amy down and took off his backpack. He opened it and said, “I brought you all some food, and a little money. I’m here because I want to get all of you off Earth, and we’ll be leaving in a couple of days. I need the three of you to all be here and ready to go. That way if we need to leave fast we don’t have to go looking for you.”
Harper got out enough rations to last for about 4 days for Jim and the kids. Amy watched, but said nothing. He put the food on the table, and then got out five dollars. He put that on the table too. He asked, “When do they usually come home?”
Amy was still staring at the food while she said, “In a couple of hours. James usually comes home first.”
Harper said, “Here Amy, have some of this jerky. It’s really good. I brought enough food for all of you to eat for four days, but I don’t think we’ll be here that long, so there is plenty to eat.”
Amy shook her head, but then Harper said, “Uncle Jim won’t know you ate it, and I won’t tell him.”
Amy looked at him with a serious expression and said, “Okay then, I’ll have a little.”
Harper gave her a few pieces, and then looked around. Everything looked the same. He said, “Has anything changed since I left?”
Amy shook her head no while chewing.
Harper knew he had quite a bit of time before he had to be back to the ship, so he decided to wait for James, and maybe for his Uncle too. He sat down, and talked with Amy and the next few hours just flew by.
Harper was telling Amy a story about her mother when there was a knock at the door. Then they heard someone say, “It’s James.”
Harper put a finger on his lips and said, “Shh.”
Amy nodded her head, and Harper went to open the front door. James was looking at Harper’s stomach when the door opened.
Harper said, “Expecting someone shorter?”
James stepped back and looked up at Harper. His mouth opened and closed a couple of times, and then he flung his arms around Harper, and Harper hugged him back. James said, “You’ve been gone so long.”
Harper said, “I know. I’m sorry. I brought some food and money.”
James let go of Harper and walked towards the table while Harper barred the door. James said, “Where did you get all this?”
“I have a job, and I am going to get all three of you out of this place.”
James shook his head disbelieving. He said, “Where have you been? We thought maybe you were a slave or dead.”
Harper told James the basics of what had happened to him since being kicked out of the house. James was silent through the explanation. Harper said, “Why don’t you eat, and tell me about what you have been doing.”
James sat down and ate while telling Harper his experiences with the outskirts, and what it had been like for him learning about the city from his father.
Soon Harper had to ask James about Jim. Harper said, “Since I’ve been gone, has Uncle Jim been better?”
James and Amy knew what Harper was asking and James said, “He hasn’t hit Amy, and he hasn’t hit me much.”
Harper said, “What do you mean ‘much’?”
James looked down and said, “After you left things were good for a while. Then he started to take me out with him, and he started to slap me a little bit more, because I couldn’t do things the right way. He hasn’t taken his belt to me.”
Harper thought ‘yet.’
Harper said, “So it’s even more important than ever that we get you all out of here.”
Harper told James the plan, and explained what Trance looked like. Harper suddenly became aware of the time. He said, “Crap. I have to go. I wish Uncle Jim was back, but I don’t have time to wait. You will both have to convince him how important it is to stay here and wait for Trance. It will only be a few days, and you have the food to last you that long.”
Harper and the kids hugged and said their good byes.
Once he was out of the house, Harper noticed the sun and knew it was even
later than he had suspected. He knew Becka and Trance were planning on being
gone all day, but it was still better to give himself lots of room just to be
safe. He got back to the vacant house where he had left his Nietzschean outfit,
and put it back on. He made it back to the ship without incident.
Harper had just put his backpack under his bunk when he heard the front door open. He thought, ‘How lucky can I get!? I knew I could do it without getting caught. Becka doesn’t even know how good I am.’
Harper was feeling very smug and went to go see them. He went towards the front of the ship and said, “Hey guys, I’m glad your finally back. Did you have a good time shopping?”
Becka looked at him in a funny way and paused for a few seconds before she said, “Yes we did, but I’m hungry. Let’s get something to eat in the mess hall.”
Harper, and Becka, started heading towards the mess hall while Trance stood where she was looking uncomfortable. She started to follow them when she heard Becka say, “So what have you been up to since you got back to the ship?”
Harper said, “Not much. I just sat around and read part of a book waiting for….”
Harper had just pushed the door to the mess hall open, and he could see lots of shopping bags sitting on the table that had not been there before they all left. He realized Becka and Trance had already been aboard before him. He felt his face getting red, and his stomach started to do acrobatics as he realized he had just lied to Becka, and she knew it.
Trance was very uncomfortable, and she didn’t know what to say or do. She cleared her throat and stood there looking to Becka for direction. Becka looked at Trance and said, “Harper and I need to talk. I would appreciate it if you could stay here and make dinner. We shouldn’t be more than half an hour.”
Trance nodded and went to start putting some of the groceries away.
Becka turned to Harper who was still starring at the shopping bags. She bent down a little so she could talk in Harper’s ear, and said in an ice-cold tone, “My room now.”
Harper broke out of his haze and looked at Becka. She looked extremely angry. He backed up towards the door until he bumped into it. He went into the hall as quickly as possible. Once they were both in the hall, and out of Trance’s sight, Becka grabbed Harper’s ear, and pulled him to her room. Harper decided he should keep his mouth shut until they got there. He was really glad they were on the borrowed ship, because it was much bigger than the Maru, and it was less likely that Trance would hear anything that might happen in the bedroom Becka had chosen. Once they were in Becka’s room, she let go of his ear, and closed the door behind them. Harper gently rubbed his ear while glaring at the floor.
Becka’s room was much larger than her room on the Maru, and she had a couch as well as a bed, a desk, and her own bathroom. Becka sat on the couch and said, “Come here, and tell me exactly where you were, and what you did today.”
Harper walked slowly over, and sat at the far end of the couch. He said, “I talked to Cathy, and told her about our plan. She said night time….”
Becka interrupted him with, “No Harper, we can talk about that with Trance during dinner. I want to know where you’ve been since being brought back here to the ship this morning.”
“Um….Why are you back early anyway?”
Becka said, “If you want, we can have the rest of this conversation with you across my lap.”
Harper shook his head quickly.
Becka said, “Then you better start talking.”
Harper looked down and said, “I went to see my cousins.”
Becka said, “I see. Continue.”
Harper looked at her and said, “I got here, and waited for about half an hour. Then I walked to the outskirts of town, and found an abandoned house. I changed into my human clothes, and walked to my Uncle’s house. I visited with my cousins Amy and James until I headed back here.”
“Did you tell them the plan?”
Harper nodded and said, “I also gave them some food and five dollars. I told them what Trance looked like and to expect her to come for them in a few days. My Uncle Jim was still out when I decided to leave. No one saw me, and I didn’t get caught.”
Becka raised an eyebrow and said, “Oh really?”
Harper looked down and said, “Well, you caught me, but I knew you would find out anyway. I just hoped it would be after we were done with this job.”
Becka said, “Now let me tell you about my day. I had a very depressing tour of the city with all it’s filth and slaves, and then I did some shopping at a few pathetic stores when we got a call about you.”
Harper looked up with surprise.
Becka nodded and continued, “That’s right, about YOU. I guess Herid had one of his men come by to check on you, only to find out you were gone. So, we all headed back here to drop off our stuff, and come up with a plan to find you. Then I had a wonderful time convincing Herid to let Trance and I look for you in one direction while he looked in the other. Of course Trance and I had a pretty good idea of what you were doing, so we looked around for a while, but soon came back to the ship to wait for you, and that’s when we found you. Herid should be here in about an hour to meet up with us. If neither one of us had found you, the plan was to gather a large amount of his people to help us look for you.”
Harper put his head in his hands and moaned.
Becka said, “You disobeyed my direct order Harper. I specifically told you not to do this two times, but you chose to do it anyway. Because of this you endangered the mission. I understand that you want to do everything possible to help your family, and I do to, but this was not the way. Then to top things off you lied to my face when you know how I feel about lying. Do you have anything else to say for yourself?”
Harper looked at Becka and tried to think of something to say, but nothing came to mind.
Becka continued, “I’m still really angry. You need to go stand in the corner while I call Herid and explain why my son is prone to wandering, and cancel the rest of the day with him.”
Harper got up and walked to the corner. He stood there thinking, ‘I’m sooo stupid. I lied to Becka. She’ll never forgive me. She can’t forgive me. I know how she feels about lying. Why did I lie to her? I’m so dumb!’
Becka called Herid, made her excuses, and arranged to meet him in the morning. She took off her bone spurs so she could be more comfortable, and then she sat on the couch trying to calm down. She thought, ‘He’s only seventeen. I made lots of mistakes at seventeen. He wanted to see his family very much, but I can’t believe he lied to me. He needs to learn not to do that again.’
Soon Becka had calmed down enough to say, “All right Harper, go get my hairbrush and bring it to me.”
Harper was startled out of his thoughts and turned to see Becka on the couch. He shook his head no, but found himself walking to the dresser. He stopped and stared at the brush for a couple of seconds until Becka said in a calm voice, “Right now Harper.”
Harper grabbed it and closed his eyes thinking ‘I’m so stupid.’ He walked to Becka and handed her the brush.
Becka took the brush with one hand, and pulled Harper over her lap with the other. Harper’s feet were on the floor, and his upper body was on the couch.
Becka started the spanking and Harper tried not to make noise or squirm. Becka continued spanking him until he started to kick his legs and yelp. Then Becka stopped and said, "Tell me why you’re getting spanked Harper.”
Harper took in a shaky breath and said, “Because I went to see my family after you told me not to.”
Becka gave him four hard smacks and said, “Why else?”
“Be….Because I lied to you about it.”
“Why did you do it?” she shot back quickly.
“I….I had to make sure they were there, and that they knew we were coming.”
Becka pulled Harper up and sat him next to her. He winced as his sore butt hit the couch, but it wasn’t too sore to sit on yet. He was surprised she let him off so easy. Sounding a bit sad Becka said, “Harper do you trust me?”
Harper said, “Of course.”
“How can I believe that? If you trusted me, then you would have tried things my way. If you trusted me you wouldn’t have gone to see your family.”
“Honestly Becka, I trust you with my life.”
Becka said, “Well then maybe you don’t think I keep my promises. I did promise you that if we couldn’t find them this trip that we would come back and find them soon.”
Harper felt guilt crashing down on him. He hadn’t thought about how his seeing his family would make Becka feel. He knew it would make her angry, but he hadn’t thought about her feeling betrayed. He said, “I know you keep your promises.”
“If you trust me, and if you know I keep my promises, then why did you go see your family?”
“I don’t know. I just had to.”
Becka put her hands on Harper’s cheeks and brought his face close to hers and said, “I’m sorry Harper, but that’s not a good reason. When we’re doing a job, you have to do what I tell you whether you like it or not. If you disobey my orders, then I will spank you every time, and if it happens enough, then I won’t be able to trust you. If I can’t trust you to do what I tell you to do, then I won’t take you with me on missions.”
Harper felt like he couldn’t breath. He whispered “I’m sorry.”
Becka said, “I know you are Harper. Back over my knee.”
Harper started to cry as she pulled him back across her lap, and soon started to kick his legs again as Becka continued the spanking.
As Becka spanked him she said, “You will not disobey my direct orders. You will not put one of our jobs at risk because you think your ideas are better than mine.”
Harper yelled, “I’m s…sorry. Oww. Becka, I..I’m s…sorry.”
To Harper it seemed to go on forever, and then she suddenly stopped. Harper lay there crying while she rubbed his back. After a moment she stood him up, and stood up with him. She gave him a big hug and said, “Harper, if you hadn’t lied to me we would be done now.”
She felt his arms getting tighter around her. She kissed the top of his head, and then pushed him away from her so he was standing at arms length from her. Harper said, “Please no more Becka.”
Becka gave him a stern look and said, “Why did you lie to me Harper?”
“Because…..I….I didn’t want you to know what I had done.”
“But you knew I would find out, so why didn’t you just confess?”
“Trance was right there, and…..and I didn’t want you to….punish me.”
“Harper, you need to listen to me now. I can not have you lying to me. I have to be able to trust you to do the right thing and be honest with me. If I can’t trust you, then how can we work together and be a family? I know you don’t like it when I spank you, but that’s what makes it a deterrent for your behavior. When you have done something wrong, I expect you to do the right thing and tell me about it whether that means you’ll be punished or not. That is the adult to do. That’s what will earn you respect.”
Harper had started crying again, and nodded his head in response to Becka. Becka sighed and said, “I really don’t want to do this Harper, but I need you to understand that lying to me is the worst thing you can do. I want you to take down your pants.”
Harper was scared out of his crying long enough to wail “Nooooo!”
Becka said, “Little boy, you lied to me. I can’t just let that go. Drop you pants NOW.”
Harper shook his head, so Becka reached down and undid the button and zipper of his pants. They were pretty baggy, so they fell to his ankles. She pulled him back down across her lap with her as she sat down. Once she was in position she pulled his underwear down to his thighs. Harper reached back with his hand to try and pull them back up. Becka grabbed his hand and held it at the small of his back. She picked up the hairbrush from the couch and started to spank Harper’s already very red butt.
Harper couldn’t believe the difference in pain. It was much more painful without the protection of clothes, and he thought it was pretty painful before. He screamed and thrashed around to try and avoid the hairbrush, and all thoughts of being quiet were completely gone. Becka only gave him twenty swats, but since he had already been spanked she thought it would make an impression on him. She put the hairbrush back on the couch and let go of Harper’s hand. He lay there and cried out his pain and humiliation while Becka pulled his underwear back into place. She stood them up again and held Harper while he continued to cry. Becka said, “I forgive you Harper, and I love you.”
Harper cried for a long time while Becka held him. Once he had his crying under control, he let his arms drop, and Becka let go of him. She said, “Come and eat dinner, and tell me and Trance about what you found out from Cathy as soon as you’re ready.”
Harper nodded, and watched Becka leave. He didn’t know how he was going to face Trance. She had to know what had happened. It was a big ship, but he had been very loud, and there was no way he could sit down to eat. He picked up his pants and put them on. He went to the bathroom and cleaned up, and tried to get up the courage to go and face Becka and Trance. He really just wanted to go to bed and forget about the whole thing, but then he thought about what Becka had said about being an adult, and decided even a little of her respect was worth going to the mess hall for.
He found Trance and Becka talking and eating while standing at the counter. The table looked like it had been set, but they weren’t using it. He wasn’t sure if he should be grateful, or more embarrassed. He saw that they had a plate ready for him so he went to stand by Becka and started to eat. He avoided all eye contact and concentrated on his food. Becka and Trance continued their discussion of the city and it’s sad state of ruin. Once Harper was half done with his food Becka turned to him and said, “Harper, why don’t you tell us what you found out from Cathy.”
He looked up at Becka and then back down at his plate when he said, “She said night time would be the best time for an escape. She said there are two guards at the door, and five around the house. She sleeps in the same room with the girls, but there are other slaves there too. She’s willing to slip something into some water or food for the guards that will make them fall asleep to make for an easier escape.”
Trance said, “That’s a good idea. I have a powder that will do the trick. It doesn’t have much of a smell or taste, and it’s harmless for Nietzscheans and humans, except for putting them to sleep.”
Becka said, “Good. I’ve just about had it with this planet, so I think we should plan on it for tomorrow night. Trance, you should give the powder to Harper tonight and tell him how to use it. Harper, you tell Trance how to get to your family, so she can go there in the morning. Trance, you can spend the day there and help them pack whatever they need to take. Because of the airport security and such, I think night time will be the best bet for getting them aboard the ship, so plan to bring them back here around midnight and have the ship ready to take off.”
“Harper, you and I will go to Herid’s house where I’ll talk him into a picnic for lunch. I’ll tell you to arrange the food for us, so you can go talk to Cathy. Then you can tell her to carry the basket to us so you’ll have a chance to talk alone. You tell her about the plans, and give her the powder. We will plan on a 1:00 AM break out time.”
“Once everyone is back here we high tail it out of here and get the hell off this planet.”
After dinner, Becka said she was tired and went to her room. Trance and Harper
stood there not talking for a while. Then Trance said, “If you want to
come with me Harper, I’ll get the powder for you and tell you how to use
Harper still couldn’t look at her, but he did say ‘Okay’ to the floor.
Once they were in the room Trance had chosen, she went to the cabinet and looked through some supplies until she found the right one. She handed it to Harper and said, “Okay, you tell Cathy to use about one teaspoon for each human and two teaspoons for each Nietzschean. It can be used in any liquid, and it should take effect about two hours after the person drinks it.”
Trance looked at Harper expectantly while he looked at the carpet. She said, “Are you going to tell me about your family?”
Harper said, “Oh, yeah. Do you have some paper so I can draw you a map?”
Trance found the paper and stood quietly while Harper made a map. Then Harper handed her the map and said, “I told them to expect you, so you shouldn’t have any trouble with having to explain who you are. My Uncle is in his mid forties with light brown hair, and brown eyes. My cousin James is 13 with dark brown hair, and brown eyes. My cousin Amy is 8 with light brown hair and green eyes. Like every other human in the city, they’re thin and malnourished. They try to stay clean, but the clothes will be old and well used. Keep yourself armed just in case.”
Trance noticed that Harper hadn’t looked at her once since Becka had ‘talked’ with him. She said, “Harper look at me.”
Harper cringed and looked at Trance. He expected to see revulsion or pity, but to his surprise he didn’t see either of those things. He saw that she was nervous and just as uncomfortable with the situation as he was. She said, “I don’t really want to talk about it, but I guess you should know that Becka told me what happened. I kind of heard you yelling, and asked if you were okay.”
Trance put her hand on Harper’s shoulder and said, “Are you okay?”
Harper smiled a sad smile and said, “I’m not so great right now, but I’ll be good in a couple of days.”
“I know we don’t know each other all that well, but if you need a friend to talk to, you can always come and talk to me.”
“Thanks Trance, that’s nice of you, but I really don’t want to talk about it. If we’re done here, I’d like to go to bed. I’m pretty tired.”
“I’m tired too, so I’ll see you in the morning.”
As Harper walked back to his room he couldn’t help but have mixed emotions. He was really embarrassed that Trance knew about Becka spanking him, but he was glad that she seemed to accept the situation. When he got to his room he, was very happy to take off his pants, which felt like a torture device, and lay down on his stomach to fall asleep.
The plan worked perfectly for Harper and Becka. Harper had an excruciatingly
humiliating morning. Herid couldn’t help but see Harper wince and squirm
during breakfast. So Herid pointed it out to Becka and told her he thought she
was a wonderful parent. Then they spent the rest of breakfast again talking
about child rearing practices, but with an emphasis on spanking. Harper just
wanted to hide under the table, but he noticed that Harid’s son Harken
was just as embarrassed, so he didn’t feel so alone.
At noon, Harper was able to slip the powder to Cathy and tell her how it worked as they were walking to the picnic spot. He told her they would be in her room at 1am, and that she should have herself and her children ready to go.
By the end of the day, Becka was ready never to see Herid again. He was so full of himself she wanted to puke. She made excuses immediately after dinner, so she and Harper could go back to the ship and get ready.
At 12:30 am, they headed back to Herid’s house. They were both happy to see some of the guards asleep on the ground outside of the main doors. They went into the house and to Cathy’s room. She was lying down in the bed with her girls, and she waited to see who was coming in the room before she moved. Once she saw Harper and Becka she nodded to the girls. They all were fully dressed under the covers, and they pulled small bags out from under the bed. They all walked out of the house without anyone noticing at all.
Trance didn’t have any trouble finding Jim’s house, and she arrived about 5:00pm. They were expecting her, so when she knocked on the door and said, “It’s Trance.” They let her in. She explained the plan, and told them to start packing. Jim who had been quiet during the explanation said, “I don’t trust you, and we’re not going anywhere with you. For all I know, you’re setting us up to be slaves. It is much safer to stay here.”
Harper had told Trance that his Uncle may be difficult, so Trance touched her gun and said, “I’m taking the kids with or without you, and if you don’t think I can, you’re wrong.”
Jim looked uncomfortable but started to pack without further comment. It didn’t take them long to pack, and soon they all ate some of the food Harper had left for them, and sat around waiting for midnight. Trance told the kids some stories about the hospital she had worked at before traveling with Becka and Harper. When it was time to go, they all left and got to the ship without any problems.
About 1:20 AM Becka, Harper, Cathy, Lilly, and Daisy arrived at the ship.
Trance had the ship ready to go, and they took off. As she watched the planet
get smaller Cathy hugged her girls and said, “I can’t believe it’s
Becka said, “Let me show you which room you can use. I know I need some sleep.”
As Becka and the girls walked away, Harper turned to Trance and said, “Where are they?”
“Asleep in the last two bedrooms in the hallway.”
“Did you have any trouble?”
“Nothing I couldn’t handle.”
“Thanks Trance, I can’t tell you how much it means to me to have them out of there and here where I know they’re safe.”
“I was happy to do it Harper. Really.”
Becka came back and said, “Why don’t you two get some sleep too. I’m going to take us to slip stream to Tera, and then get some rest myself.
The next morning Harper woke up early, and went to go find some breakfast.
He found his Uncle Jim sitting at the table eating some toast. Jim looked up
and said, “I forgot how good toast was. I’ve only had it a couple
of times before.”
Harper didn’t know what to say, so he went to the refrigerator and got out an apple for himself. He stood at the counter to eat it. He didn’t want to be wincing in front of his Uncle, and he also didn’t want to sit very close to him.
Once the toast was gone Jim stood up and went over to the counter beside Harper. Harper swallowed hard and tried not to be nervous. Jim looked serious and said, “Where are we going?”
“We’re going to a planet called Tera. There aren’t any Nietzscheans there, and we have a contact there who will help you get a place to live and hopefully a job too. The kids can even go to school.”
“Tell me Harper, is this how you have been living since the day I kicked you out?”
Harper nodded and said, “Well this isn’t the normal ship. We just used this ship for our mission to get Cathy and her kids back to Tera. Our normal ship is much smaller.”
Jim looked angry and said, “That’s not what I mean and you know it. Since I kicked you out, have you had all the food you wanted? Have you had a place to stay.”
Harper looked nervous and said, “Yes sir.”
“So you screw up enough that I have to kick your ass out, and then the gods decide to reward you by giving you everything you could ever want while the kids and I have to suffer. Is that what you’re telling me?”
Jim’s voice had gotten louder with each word, and he was yelling by the end. Harper took a step back and said, “I came back for you as soon as I could. I swear I’ve been trying to get Becka to come back for months.”
Jim glared and said, “Looks like you had the time to get a Neural Port, and time enough to look healthy and well fed.”
Harper said, “I thought about you and the kids all the time.”
Jim backhanded Harper so fast Harper was stunned. He looked dazed as Jim yelled, “You little liar! How dare you have all you want while we were suffering.”
Jim backhanded Harper again, and this time Harper’s reflexes were fast enough to get half of the blow on his arm instead of full in the face. Harper tried to back away, but Jim started to walk towards him with pure hatred in his eyes. Harper put his arms up to protect his head, but the blow he anticipated never came. He heard his Uncle grunt. He looked up to see his Uncle on the floor. He continued his gaze and saw Becka raising her hand to him, and he flinched and ducked his head down again. Then he felt her hand rubbing his back as she said, “It’s okay Harper honey. Your uncle is never going to touch you again. You can go to your room if you want, or you can stay, but don’t interfere.”
Becka walked toward Jim. Becka said with a deadly calm, “Hello Jim, I’m Captain Valentine. Harper has been with me since you kicked him out. He’s told me all about his life with you, and I’m telling you now, that if you ever touch him again I will kill you. Now get up. I have been waiting to kick your ass for months.”
To Harper’s amazement his Uncle actually looked scared. Becka said, “I’m gonna hit you whether you fight back or not, but it’ll be more fun if you at least try to fight back.”
Jim slowly stood up and Becka punched him in the side of the face. He stumbled back and tried to block the next punch to his stomach. Becka punched him in the face two more times and he fell down again. Becka kicked him in the stomach, and heard a rib break. She said, “Stand up. We’re not done yet.”
Jim groaned in pain and tried to kick Becka’s feet out from under her. She avoided it easily, and said, “You’ll have to do better than that. Get up.”
Jim said with a weak voice, “I give up, you win.”
Becka said, “If you don’t get up, I’ll come down there.”
Jim just lay on the floor and said, “Please…”
Becka began to turn away, and then remembered the way Harper flinched every time she used to reach for him when she first met him. She got down and pulled off Jim’s belt. She said, “Punishment for children is to help them learn. It should never, never be done just because you’re angry.”
Harper couldn’t bring himself to turn away as Becka brought the belt down on Jim’s back about twelve times. Harper could hear Jim’s screams, but it sounded very alien to him. Becka dropped the belt on Jim and left him on the floor.
In a calm voice Becka called over the intercom, “Trance, please come to the mess hall.”
Trance came in to see Becka holding Harper who looked dazed, and Jim writhing in pain on the floor. Becka said, “Jim needs to be taken to his room, and have his injuries attended to. I broke his rib, so I guess he’ll need some nanobots.”
Trance just stared at Becka. “What do you mean you broke his rib?”
Becka said, “I don’t have time to explain it right now. Let’s get him to a room before the kids see him like this.”
Trance hesitated but soon was lifting Jim’s legs and carrying him to his room. As soon as Jim hit the bed, Becka turned to leave and said, “Do you need any help Trance?”
“No. It looks like you’ve helped out enough for one day.”
Becka sighed, and left Trance to her patient. She found Harper still in the mess hall staring off into space. He looked at her and said, “Why?”
Becka said, “Because I love you, and he hurt you.”
Harper suddenly thought back to when he had killed Fred for shooting Becka. Then he understood, and nodded his head. He said, “I don’t think you should have, but I understand why you did. Maybe it will be good. James told me that Jim had started to slap him more often. That needs to stop, or he can’t be with the kids.”
Just then James and Amy walked into the mess hall, and James said, “Morning Harper, where’s dad?”
Becka said, “He isn’t feeling well, and he’ll probably stay in bed all day. I’m Becka Valentine, the Captain of this ship. You must be Harper’s cousin’s James and Amy.”
James nodded and said, “Nice to meet you.”
Harper said, “Are you guy’s hungry?”
Amy nodded and said, “I am.”
Soon Harper, James, Amy and Becka were all eating toast and talking about Tera where they would be living, when Cathy and her kids came in to join them. There were introductions all around and everyone spent time getting to know who everyone else was, and what the plan for the day was. When everyone was done eating, Harper took the four kids on a tour of the ship.
Cathy asked Becka, “How long until we arrive at Tera?”
“About three hours.”
“I still can’t believe it’s over after all these years.”
Becka said, “Your father hasn’t stopped looking for you since the day you were taken.”
Cathy said, “Dad never gives up. I’m very grateful to you for coming to save us, and I know Dad will be too.”
“I hope so, because I am going to ask him a big favor.”
Cathy didn’t look too surprised, and said, “I’m sure he will do whatever you ask.”
Before Becka could reply, Trance came in and glared in Becka’s direction while she said, “I am getting something soothing for Jim to drink.”
Cathy said, “Jim is Harper’s uncle right? Is he having some air sickness because of the travel?”
Becka said, “Not exactly, but he’ll be sick in bed for the day.”
Cathy said, “Well if no one minds, maybe I’ll go keep him company for a while. It will be interesting to talk to one of the free humans. I would like to know what life was like for them compared to us.”
Becka thought for a minute, but before she could reply Trance said, “Yes, that would be an excellent idea Cathy.”
Later that afternoon they arrived at Tera. Belfor was there at the airport
to greet them. It was a tearful and joyous occasion for the reunited family.
Belfor looked to Becka and said, “Thank you so much. I can’t tell
you what it means to me to have my family back. Is there anything I can do for
Becka said, “If it’s okay with you, we can talk about it tomorrow. Why don’t you just spend the day with your family.”
“That will be wonderful. Why don’t you, Harper, and Trance come to my house for lunch tomorrow.”
“Great. Can we bring Harper’s uncle and two cousins?”
Harper spent the rest of the day with James and Amy showing them around town. He bought both of them and his uncle some clothes.
Becka and Trance spent some time talking, and by the end of the day, Trance had a better understanding of why Becka had beat up Jim.
Jim healed up, and was back to normal by the next morning.
The following day at lunch, Becka introduced Jim and his kids to Belfor. Becka
explained that Jim had lived his whole life on earth. Belfor and Cathy were
very sympathetic, and Cathy insisted Jim and the kids move in with them until
Jim got a job, and they could find a place to live. Belfor said he would help
Jim get a job and that he would get the kids signed up for school immediately.
He even said he would get them a private tutor to get them up to speed.
Before they left Becka had a private talk with Belfor, and told him about the abuse. She said if he saw any signs of it to contact her immediately. She said she was only letting the kids stay with Jim on a trial basis. She would see if better circumstances made Jim a better person or not.
After lunch Harper, Becka, and Trance all said their good-byes, and headed for the Maru. Becka said, “It’s good to be home.”
Harper and Trance agreed.