One more day!
This particular story featuring the characters from Alien Slave doesn't focus as much on the heroine as the rest do. I was more interested in resolving the issues from the other damaged character in that story: Imdiko Krijero. When the Dramok who rejected him suddenly re-appears in his life, it happens at a most inopportune time. Krijero is now forced to cope with losses from the past and present.
Wynhod halted almost a mile down the road, his nostrils flaring as he stared at the ground. A few of the rainbow-hued Joshadans were outside now, watching the goings on with polite curiosity. For once, none of the three Kalquorians paused to offer respectful bows to the indigenous residents. They were too focused on their missing Matara.
“He carried her,” Wynhod growled, staring at the single set of footprints that led away from the road. He began tracking, leaving the dirt street to jog between two residences towards the high grasses of the woods-pocked Joshadan plain. Gelan had his handheld out, simultaneously following the Nobek while muttering urgently to his portable computer.
“What is he doing with that handheld? Shouldn’t he concentrate on tracking?” a rumbling voice said in Krijero’s ear.
The Imdiko was so startled by Pertak’s voice that he stumbled and nearly fell. Pertak’s hand caught him by the arm, steadying him.
“Why are you following us?” Krijero snarled at him. He jerked away as if the Dramok’s touch might burn him.
“I thought I might be able to help.”
Gelan paused speaking into his handheld long enough to show Pertak his fangs. “We don’t need your help. Wynhod and I are expert trackers. Get the hell away from my Imdiko.”
He turned away and resumed following the trail as if that settled it. Krijero hurried to catch up. Heavy footsteps behind him told him of Pertak’s determined pursuit.
After all these years, why had the man turned up now? And who had his sweet, beautiful Dani?
A loud curse from Gelan made his heart speed up. Then the Dramok halted and called, “Wait, Wynhod. You need to see this.”
Wynhod stopped and trotted back to his clan leader, and Krijero joined them too. “What have you found?”
“Big trouble.” Gelan’s gaze looked behind Krijero, and he turned to see Pertak standing a few feet away. “Come here, Dramok, and tell me if this is the man who took Dani.”
Pertak lumbered close, keeping an eye on Wynhod, who was growling low and continuously at him. Gelan pressed a button on his handheld, and a free-floating vid picture of a badly scarred and scowling Nobek floated in the air. Wynhod’s growl cut off, and Krijero was amazed to see his fierce clanmate’s face pale.
When Pertak confirmed, “That’s him. That’s the man I saw grab your Matara,” Wynhod roared, his usually attractive features twisted with fury and fear.
“He’s supposed to be serving a life sentence!”
Gelan’s hand shook only minutely, but enough to make Krijero’s anxiety edge towards panic. “He was. He escaped the Uswat Internment Camp six months ago.”
“And no one warned me?” Wynhod had gone from pale to purple in his rage.
“I guess not.” As hot with anger as the Nobek’s voice was, Gelan’s was brittle with ice.
Krijero wrung his hands with mounting concern. “Will someone tell me what we’re dealing with here?”
“Wynhod’s encounter with this monster happened before we clanned. Before we even met, in fact.” Gelan put his handheld back in its pouch on his belt. Wynhod was already tracking Dani’s kidnapper’s trail again. “Nobek Hetra had always been an outsider, unable to function well with others. He’d failed at one career after another.”
“That happens with far too many Nobeks,” Krijero muttered. A full eighty-five percent of Kalquorian violent felons were Nobeks, most of which were the loner variety. Being a criminal psychologist, he was familiar with the issue.
“He kept getting into trouble. Assaults, battery, that kind of thing. His parents, one of which was an area governor, staged an intervention. He killed them all in a rage.”
Krijero’s stomach turned over. Dani was in the hands of a madman.