Chapter Four – Bonds, Wishes, and Promises
After another night spent in the throes of romance, Citlally was more than happy to spend the day exploring Regulus Station II with her beloved. They had just received a card stating that their full security clearance had been confirmed, and that they could now access certain areas of the station’s science centers. When she asked Endan how they knew that they wanted to visit the science centers in the first place, she was impressed to learn that he had put in the request back when he had reserved the room.
She was ecstatic to find the observatory, though they were not open to public visits for very long. Citlally took down a copy of their schedule so that she could come back at the right time the next day, and contentedly followed Endan a few levels down to have dinner. He found another alien cuisine that she’d yet to try before, and was pleasantly surprised by what they had to offer. Some aliens ate foods that humans were either unable to ingest at all, or that did not sit well with their digestive systems, but when they did find compatible food, it was a welcome adventure for them.
“You should open a restaurant here and cook haggis for all the aliens who come through,” Citlally teased him as she hooked her arm with his and left the restaurant with him.
Endan gave her a baffled look and shook has head. “Lassie,” he said, in the tone that he typically used to express that he was playing up his heritage (exaggerated accent and all), “haggis is not Irish food. It is the awful, devilish invention of a group of wicked Scotsmen who wished to bring forth the scourge of all meat products. …As if black pudding and drisheen weren’t bad enough as it was.”
Citlally giggled as they strolled along. “Well, do you think anyone would not from Earth know that?”
“I would not be so cruel as to sell them something so vile. If anyone caught on that an Irishman was selling terrible Scottish food, it could start an interstellar war!”
They went on, past several hallways, Citlally still teasing him the whole way, until Endan was ready to tickle her into submission to make her stop. They were laughing together when both suddenly stopped and turned their heads towards the arching entrance to one of the dance clubs. The spacey, electronic sounds of a late-twentieth century song that they both knew by heart were coming from the place, and they both looked at each-other wide-eyed.
“They have Gary Wright?!” Citlally exclaimed.
Grinning, Endan grabbed her hand and dashed straight into the dance club, turning the corner as though their lives depended upon hearing every second of the song. The club was dimmer that the rest of the station, and the lights had been turned down so that deep shades of blue, green, and violet could swirled together like a miniature nebula around them. Specks of white light glittered here and there around the room, and the ambiance of it all thrilled Citlally and her beloved both. They found an empty table near the back and sat down together to take in the song just as the vocals began.
“I’ve just closed my eyes again, climbed aboard the dream weaver train. Driver take away my worries of today, and leave tomorrow behind.”
Citlally leaned back and smiled at Endan, letting him know that she was absolutely on cloud nine at being able to hear this song on a space station – and not having to play it herself.
“Ooh dream weaver, I believe you can get me through the night. Ooh dream weaver, I believe we can reach the morning light. Fly me high through the starry skies, maybe to an astral plane. Cross the highways of fantasy, help me to forget today’s pain.”
Endan and Citlally both sang along with the next part, despite the looks it earned them from some of the other species in the room. They stopped after “Fly me away to the bright side of the moon, and meet me on the other side,” and joined their hands together, smiling at one another in sheer joy.
“Did you plan this, too?” She asked him as the song faded out and the next one came on.
“Not at all,” he admitted, shaking his head. “Though I really should have thought of it. This is the song that was playing the first time we went out together.”
“At the light-rail station, of all places,” she reminded him. “But it was the best light rail ride we’ve ever had! They played ‘Dream Weaver’ and ‘Send Me an Angel,’ and you said – ”
“I’ve already been sent an angel,” he finished for her.
Citlally blushed and looked away; another moment when hearts should have been floating over her head.
“Isn’t that the moment when ye knew I had to be yours, and yours alone?” Endan asked her, his eyes glittering.
“Oh, one of many, I assure you.” Citlally stood up and glanced over at the bar. “I am going to get us some drinks.”
Chuckling, he nodded to her. “As you like.”
Pausing, Citlally began to unwrap her scarf from her neck. “It’s warmer in here than it was in the hallway,” she said as she set it on the table. “Will you look after this for me?”
“But of course, my love.”
After leaning down to kiss his cheek, Citlally was off to the bar. She took one of the seats and waited for the bartender to notice her. Then she noticed a small menu just down the way.
“Umm… excuse me,” she said to the red-haired woman beside her, hoping that she would be willing to pass her the small book that listed all the drinks that the barkeep was prepared to make.
The woman turned at looked directly at her with eyes as bright as emeralds, and Citlally was immediately unable to speak clearly. Not because of her eyes, but because of another feature of her body.
“Oh – wow! A-are you an…”
“What is it?” the woman asked, her tone showing that she was a busy person, even if she did try to be somewhat cordial.
“Umm…. I’m sorry,” Citlally stuttered. “I – I just… I noticed your ears and, well…”
“Go ahead,” the woman urged her, her tone not quite as impatient as before. A man stepped up to her side, the same long ears jutting out from his head.
“Are you,” Citlally tried again, calling up her courage and telling herself to remain calm, “an elf of any kind?”
The woman’s lips formed the slightest of smiles, and she gave the man a knowing look. “You are human, are you not?” she asked, not at all unkindly.
Citlally nodded, beginning to forget all about the drink menu.
“Your kind seems to be fascinated with my people,” the woman said calmly. “In all my travels, it is always the humans who get excited just by looking at me. How we ended up in your age-old mythology, I still cannot understand.”
“So…” Citlally began, thinking carefully over her words, “you are an elf?”
“What we have come to the conclusion of,” the man beside her, who was dressed in a uniform of pale blue and gray, explained, “is that there must be other pairs of races where one happens to be in the stories of the other. The galaxy is a big place, and whether this is coincidence or something far more mysterious, I am sure that you and I cannot be the only case.”
“Elves are real!” Citlally cried out, ready to leap off of her chair and jump around with joy. When the woman cleared her throat, she calmed herself down and asked, “Can you tell me where you’re from?”
The woman replied as though she’d gotten used to that kind of questioning due to past meetings with humans. “My planet is called Lorata. It travels around a star a few dozen parsecs from here, and while some of us have learned the skill of space travel – and even enjoy it – most of my people prefer to live in the old ways, so we have yet to have any outside visitors to our world.”
“Besides that,” the man added, “the æther is a dangerous place, and our magic doesn’t work for long once we are away from home.”
Citlally was about to ask about their magic, amazed that they did, in fact, have such an ability, when the bartender got around to her.
“What will it be, young traveler?” he asked, his voice deeply nasal due to his long nose, which faded from a murky yellow down to a deep shade of green.
“Oh, well… I actually hadn’t decided that yet,” she admitted.
“Get her what you gave me,” the woman cut in with a voice of authority. Then she asked Citlally, “Are you with someone? Coming all this way alone would have been a foolish idea.”
She ignored the comment, not in the mood to take offense at anything, and nodded, “My husband is just over there.” Then to the bartender, “Two of them, please.”
“As you like,” the bartender said, and walked off to prepare the drinks.
“You will enjoy it,” the woman informed her. “It’s a mixed drink, but it tastes just like the faewine they have back home.”
“F- Faewine?!” Citlally repeated, but before she could go on to ask whether there were also faeries on her world, a second man came up to her and interrupted their conversation.
“My liege, we should be going.”
The woman sighed, then got down from her stool. “Very well.”
She turned to Citlally and told her, “Fare thee well, human, and keep yourself safe. The galaxy can be a dangerous place, and this station has been restless lately. I will see you around, I suppose.”
“Oh… you have to go already?” Citlally could hardly hide the disappointment in her voice. “Farewell then…”
The woman didn’t stop to leave Citlally with her name, much to her disappointment. Instead, she walked away, one uniformed man at each side, and was soon out of the dance club. Citlally only hoped that she really would see her around again; it would be amazing to hear about what life was like for the elves of Lorata.
Disappointed that it had been so short, but also thrilled that she’d met an elf at all, she sat there waiting for her drinks. She turned to blow kisses at Endan, who smiled and pretended to catch them in the air. A new song was beginning to play, something with a deep kind of bass and a steady beat. As the song grew and developed, Citlally started to think that the DJ were going a little too overboard on the bass; it sounded as though the walls were going to come down around them.
The drinks were taking forever, and it did not seem like the bartender was terribly focused on getting them done so that she and Endan could relax. Red lights were starting to flash along with the beat, and a high-pitched wailing joined in the song as the other species in the room started to look at one another with worried glances. Citlally did not blame them; that kind of trance music from the early twenty-first century had never been her cup of tea, either.
Above the ruckus of the music, which was starting to sound more like a series of explosions, she could hear Endan calling her name. She turned around again to see if her drinks were ready, and then gave a sigh of impatience. The bartender was gone. She hopped down from the chair and decided to cross the floor and see what he needed from her, since it looked like they would not be having drinks any time soon.
Before she could get very far, the sound of hundreds of footsteps pounding on the metallic floor brought with it countless uniformed bodies. They were bipedal, she noticed, but the way their legs carried their weight, the way they bent at the knee, seemed more animalistic than human; she did not have the focus to say what kind of animal.
Each one was entirely black, complete with a helmet and loud voices that blared out orders. Wide-eyed, Citlally began to dash madly towards Endan, but was caught nearly instantly by a pair of black-clothed arms. Strong arms, which did not let go not matter how much she resisted.
“Let me go!” she screamed. “Let me go to my husband!”
Endan was calling out her name, clutching her scarf and shoving his chair out of the way as soon as he saw that she was caught.
“You may not resist,” a deep voice above her informed her in a tone of absolute authority. “This station is no longer under the authority of the Galactic Peace Treaty. All privileges once afforded to you are now null and void.”
“What – what are you?!” she demanded, beginning to kick her legs. “I have done nothing wrong. Just let me go to my husband!”
“Request denied,” the voice intoned, even deeper than before.
Citlally watched in horror as another uniformed man ran up from behind Endan, even while he was trying to rush over to rescue her, and clutched him the same way that she was being held: the captor’s elbow’s locking under Endan’s armpits, and clutching him close to his chest. No matter how her beloved resisted, he could not break free.
“Citlally!” he screamed, his voice full of terror.
She could see the tears welling up in his eyes, glistening like the first rainfall of spring. “Endan!” she called back, feeling her body quivering with the terrible feeling she got at the thought of being separated from him.
A taller figure, dressed in some dark shade of blue, entered the dance club, and pointed towards the DJ and the stage of instruments. “Silence!” he ordered, and immediately three men ran over and toppled the music equipment, kicking at the various pieces until it shut off.
The ensuing quiet was disrupted by several dozen murmuring voices, and the occasional shouts for them to quit talking or else. Citlally could feel her heart pound in her chest as she continued to struggle against the hard-muscled arms that held her, hoping desperately that she would be able to slip free and run to Endan’s arms.
Had her vision not been so terribly blurred, her mind not so perfectly fixed on Endan alone, she might have noticed that everyone else in the room had also been grabbed from behind, and was being held against their will. Had she not been screaming so loudly for her Celtic warrior, she might have realized that one other voice in the room was speaking her language, demanding in a thick Jamaican accent to be let go.
“It is unfortunate for all of you,” the figure in the blue uniform said to the room, looking around slowly, “that you were on Space Station Regulus II when we arrived. Still, we did not have time to evacuate this place. There are simply too many of you here. My people have suffered far more casualties than you can imagine… far more than this station would experience even if we were to kill every single one of you.”
Citlally let out an even louder scream, and doubled the force of her kicking. The seven-foot-tall figure glanced at her, removed its helmet, and gave her an expression of boredom mixed with irritation. Her breaths came ragged and labored as she screamed at him, despite how much his dark gray skin, scaly and smooth, and slitted red eyes disturbed her; she refused to be intimidated by his reptilian features, his size, or even his demeanor.
When he spoke, his lips gave way to reveal row after row of long, narrow teeth that ended in needle-sharp points. “Give the loud one a dose of k’zshyrk.” he ordered one of his men. “I want her conscious but silent.”
The figure beside him, with a white pin on the collar of his black uniform, walked over and grabbed her arm. She resisted, pushing him away and trying to knock his helmet off of his head, only to have another one grab her with two leather-gloved hands. The first one pulled a syringe from the side of his belt, then thrust it into the fleshy part of her upper right arm, without so much as a care for what germs might be on the surface of her skin. He pressed the plunger down without a moment’s hesitation, and Citlally could feel the cold fluid entering her veins. Her scream melted into a slurred groan, her eyes rolling back as he pulled the needle out of her skin and he threw the syringe back behind the bar.
With the way her heart was pounding, it was not long before her blood carried the stuff she’d been injected with throughout her body, including up to her brain. She was just starting to wonder whether it was a natural poison or something crafted in lab when she felt her mind go numb. With what little she was able to cling to, she let go of everything else and focused solely on Endan.
He had been pulled further away from her, and all of his shouting, the cursing, the demands that they leave her alone, earned him a shot of his own. He got his in his leg, and it took three extra men, the first one being kicked away, to hold him still so that the one with the white pin could inject him with the cold fluid. When he stopped cursing at them, his eyes looked downward, and Citlally could see the tears streaming from his eyes, faint sobs still racking his chest.
“By the decree of Prime Lord K’verrtig of the planet Vaharrish the Glorious, I hereby claim this station for the glory of our cause. We will be slaves to the Dark Apostates no more –” At that point, Citlally was thinking how little of it made any sense at all – “and as a show of the power of our new weapons technology, we will be tearing Space Station Regulus II to pieces.”
His tone was final, the sound of ultimate doom. All around the room, voices rose up in protest. Meanwhile, all that Citlally could think of was having Endan’s arms around her. Whatever happened, it would be okay as long as she was with him. A low, weeping sob came from her throat, weak though it was, as hot tears poured down her face. She could not stand the thought of dying without giving him one last kiss.
“Since the life-forms of the station have committed no specific offense against us, save perhaps that of refusing to come to our aid the last time we asked for help in overthrowing the powers that enslaved us, we have decided not to leave you to die as this station is torn apart. Unless you continue to resist us, you will be taken to our ships, and we will drop you off at locations of our own choosing, under any circumstances that best suit us.”
Murmurs crossed the room as the man paused in his speech. “Where you are going,” he went on, “you will not need any personal belongings. If you are too weak or ill to deal with the places you go, you will not survive. It is that simple.”
The man turned around and put on his helmet. Without so much as another word, he walked out of the dance club, followed by a group of black-dressed soldiers. Citlally was one of the first ones escorted out after him. In her mind, she imagined herself kicking wildly, forcing herself free. Sadly, all her body could do was keep her eyes on Endan for as long as she could.
“Our promise,” Endan croaked out as he watched her being carried away. “Remember what we promised.”
“Shut up or you die,” the man holding him warned. “If that was not enough k’zshyrk to keep you quiet, wait till you see what the second dose does to your body.”
Endan did not say anything else. He watched his beloved, his Aztec princess, the most perfect woman he’d ever known, let alone loved, being dragged away. He was certain that, at the last moment, she’d managed to mouth the words, “I promise,” before disappearing behind a wall.
With her gone, he felt a deep sense of loss fill him. He groaned from the sheer pain of knowing that they had been separated, and his tears flowed harder. He would cry, he told himself, until Citlally has back in his arms, or until he had no tears left to cry. As the soldiers dragged him away, his body limp from the injection, he knew that all he had left was the promise that they’d made with one another, and her scarf, still wrapped around his arm.