Beyond The Veil Ch. 04byslyc_willie©
Faster approached closer, reaching out to touch the artificial limb. "It's just . . . amazing."
She ground her teeth, looking Kyle in the eye. "Guess she really does everything for you, huh?"
He met the younger woman's gaze. "In some ways," he responded.
Her faced reddened, but only briefly. "Are you still you, Kyle?"
He frowned. "What do you mean?"
She sighed. "I mean . . . a lot of shit's happened lately, and a lot of things have changed, and . . . I just wanna know that the guy calling the shots here is the same guy who saved my ass a month ago."
Kyle was quiet for a moment, thinking over Faster's words. When he finally spoke, he met her eyes with his own. His words rolled from his lips carefully. "I haven't changed," he affirmed. "But I also know I can't prove that to you. I know you don't like Xyllah. I can't fault you for that--"
"It's not that—"
"--And I can't promise she's everything she says she is," Kyle continued despite her interruption. "But one thing I can promise is that I won't needlessly put either you or Victor in jeopardy."
"What if I don't believe you?"
Kyle pointed, his expression as deadpan and direct as that of Death itself. "Then, there's the door."
* * * *
He was relieved when Faster arrived at the airport that evening, despite the dark and shrewd expression upon her face. She said nothing to him, just nodded when he handed over her boarding pass. Faster was first to pass through the security checkpoint, before Malcolm, before Victor, before Kyle and Xyllah.
As he unlaced his boots before the metal detector, Victor glanced back toward his team leader and their newest addition. The fact that the pale-skinned elfin woman stood so close beside Kyle did not escape his attention. He smiled wanly, then straightened.
"She ain't gonna rabbit, doc," he said in reference to the lanky brunette.
Kyle nodded. "I know."
Victor chuckled. "Yeah, you always do."
As the stocky man stepped through the narrow arch, Xyllah looked up to Kyle. "Is there something I should know?" she asked. "Victor seems to think there might be complications with Faster."
He smiled down upon her. "If there are, we'll work them out," he said. "That's what we do."
* * * *
Three hours into the flight to Paris passed without incident. Faster and Victor enjoyed almost an entire row to themselves. Effectively blocked from view from their team mates, Kyle and Xyllah sat close together, with the Daelvini scrutinizing the details of the aircraft around her with almost childlike fascination. She had grown quickly accustomed to the existence of automobiles, electricity, and buildings "taller than a dracon is long" but the airplane seemed to perplex her.
"This flies without the aid of the Art?" she asked once she had gotten used to the vibrations around her. As was her wont, she was dressed in the bare minimum to remain decent; tiny, tight black shorts, a matching tube top, and boots. Her tattoos and overall appearance had gained her attention in the airport, but no one had said anything untoward.
"It's called physics," Kyle responded. "Aided by little things called aerodynamics and jet propulsion."
She said nothing, but looked contemplative. Finally, she shook her head and sat back. "This world . . . it is so different."
Kyle suppressed a smile. "I'm willing to bet I would say the same thing if our roles were reversed."
Her pale skinned stretched slightly at the corner of her mouth when she smiled. "Perhaps. Although I wonder how perplexed you would truly be. Our existence is . . . baser."
"I wouldn't call that a bad thing."
"Perhaps not," she agreed. "But the devices of your world . . . immense buildings, vehicles that power themselves, television, cell phones . . . To think my world might have traveled the same path is incomprehensible."
He reached with his new and still somewhat awkward right hand to find hers, feeling the movement of slender fingers beneath his own. "Not too long ago, my civilization would not have been too different from yours. Our progress has been unusual, when compared with history."
Xyllah looked thoughtful. "The Andrutha tells us that many ages ago, our people lived upon this world, together, along with many others. There was once a great civilization that spanned the globe, with trade from the furthest corners reaching all others. But then came a great cataclysm. The highest priests believe that cataclysm was a war of magic between your people and mine, and we were driven out, sent to live in a shadow of the world and sealed beyond the Veil. In your world, the Art was forsaken, replaced by the new magic of Science. In our world, the Art has remained, keeping us destructive and barbaric."
Kyle frowned. "I'm having a hard time believing Max would say anything like that."
She sighed heavily. "He never has, directly. But his revelations have been interpreted by the Temple. In public, he is only allowed to speak in neutral terms."
Kyle smiled wryly. "I'm guessing he isn't always neutral."
Xyllah laughed softly, her eyes darting to his briefly. "We have spoken in private," she admitted. She touched Kyle's face, then neck, shifting beside him as she slid closer. "In many ways, you remind me of him."
"I take that as a compliment."
The elfin woman's eyes smoldered. "I want to suck you," she whispered, brushing the line of his chin with her lips.
Kyle shifted uncomfortably in his seat, even as he felt his cock stiffening beneath his slacks. "Xyllah--" he began in a cautionary tone.
"No," she responded in a soft but firm whisper. Her right hand was already working to unbuckle his belt. Her breath was warm and moist in his ear. "Now. I want to taste your cock. I want to suck the sweet, warm essence from it."
Not many a man could refuse such a request; Kyle was not among them. He only glanced around as his Daelvini lover's actions bade him part his legs to allow her access between them. He watched the profile of a sleeping middle-aged woman as the cool, recirculated air in the cabin rolled over his manhood, just before Xyllah's graceful fingers wrapped around it. He held back a grunt of pleasure while she pumped her hand up and down, when her silver-haired head slid down along his chest and abdomen, as her soft lips and slick tongue caressed the smooth, firm head of his cock.
He finally sighed in pleasure and trained his attention upon the gently bouncing head in his lap, feeling Xylla's lips pulling wetly along his rigid shaft. On each upstroke, her tongue swirled devilishly about the head of his straining penis, lapping away dribbles of pre-seminal fluid. She moaned now and then, before filling her mouth – and occasionally her gullet – on each deep plunge. Her right hand slid beneath the musky sacks below his cock, pulling them out as well. The gentle ministrations only heightened the pleasure in which Kyle's heady brain swam.
He splayed his hands across the back of her head and along her back – briefly marveling, once again, the fact that he once again possessed two hands – as Xyllah's talented mouth brought him closer to relief. A muffled cough in the cabin pulled his attention away for an anxious moment, while faint laughter only a few rows ahead also reminded him of the danger of being caught. But the circumstances were arousing, making his cock throb in the massaging cavity of Xyllah's mouth.
The sleeping woman stirred across the aisle, making Kyle choke back groans of satisfaction as his release pumped between his lover's lips. Xyllah moaned at the taste of his fluid, sucking greedily to consume it all without making him squirm too much in pleasure. Kyle stabbed upward a few times, spearing into the Daelvini's throat, feeling her swallow. He shuddered in hedonistic euphoria.
The middle-aged woman shifted, mouth hanging open as she slept, clueless to the debauchery just a few feet away.
Kyle glanced around, blinking profusely as he controlled his breathing. He patted Xyllah's shoulder meaningfully. She lifted up, pulling one last time on his cock to get that last seepage of warm, gritty cum. She kept it on her tongue as she sat up, pale face lightly blushed while she rearranged his pants. She smiled around sugary lips, then snuggled comfortably against his shoulder.
Releasing a last deep sigh of satisfaction, Kyle relaxed, holding Xyllah gingerly against him. The thrum of the plane's engines lulled him toward slumber, despite the anxiety he felt about what they might discover in France.
* * * *
Cold winds blew down from the Pyrenees, but Xyllah felt none of it. She sat upon the crisp grass, back straight and legs folded in meditation, hands rest upon bent knees. Long silver hair whipped this way and that, leaving strands across her face and neck, trailing from the tips of her elongated ears. The swirling, stark tattoos running like inky vines along her left arm glowed faintly, as if struck at just the right angle by a soft beam of light.
Kyle stood behind upon the windswept slope, watching over her, his eyes focused upon the pile of moss-covered rubble which had once been a fissure in the rock. Ten years before, he had stepped through that passageway to discover the find of a lifetime. And ten years before, it had taken from him the last man Kyle Perrin had ever trusted.
I never thought I'd have reason to come back, he thought. Yet, here I am.
He glanced over his shoulder and down the hill, seeing Victor and Faster standing beside the rented van which had brought them across France. Their differing expressions – hers was perturbed, while his bore amusement – told of their feelings regarding Xyllah's casual nudity. Kyle himself was indifferent; he had quickly become used to his newest team mate's lack of modesty.
"There is an intersection here," Xyllah informed at last, moving on her head slightly as she broke from her trance. "Lines of power."
"Ley lines," Kyle mused, remembering what he had learned of the ancient Celtic belief. Millennia before the Romans conquered what was then Gaul, the druids of the Celts – ancestors to Teutonic and Germanic peoples – had recognized a grid of power across the land wherever they lived. Kyle had always considered the belief in ley lines interesting, but never had he considered they may actually exist.
"Yes," Xyllah confirmed as she rose, absently brushing blades of wet grass from her reddened rump. "Our world is rife with them. Some are so powerful they can be seen with the naked eye. In this world, however, they have become weakened from lack of use."
"Not surprising," Kyle commented, still gazing upon the sealed entrance to what he had, for ten years, considered Max Keller's tomb. "Find out anything else?"
Xyllah turned to face her leader and lover. "The land is scarred here," she said. "While I am no adept at geomancy, I can use the Art to commune, somewhat, with the land. What destroyed the caves here was nothing natural."
Kyle's eyes darkened. "You're sure about that?"
"I trust in the Art."
He ground his teeth silently. In the back of his mind, he had always suspected that the cave-in which had nearly killed him had been caused by an explosion outside. He had always wondered as to the pair of deep, muffled sounds which had preceded the cave-in, but had found ways to explain them away. Now, while Xyllah's evidence was less than empirical, it was enough to push him in a certain direction.
"Get dressed," he ordered at last, gesturing for Xyllah to precede him down the hill. As he followed the naked Daelvini toward the van, he noticed that Victor already had the elfin woman's clothes in hand.
"So what's the next stop, doc?" the stocky man asked, making no attempt to hide his admiration of Xyllah's form. The elfin woman dressed languidly, apparently enjoying the attention she garnered from Victor.
"Back to Foix," Kyle directed, evoking the name of the small town which just a few kilometers away. "There's somebody I need to speak with."
* * * *
Of the grand medieval castle's original four towers, only three remained of the Chateau de Foix. Once the seat of a county capitol, the Chateau was now mainly a museum dedicated to the millennium and more of history in the region. Most recently, during the second world war, Foix had been home to members of the French Resistance, who spirited downed pilots and other Allied soldiers to safety in Spain by means of le Chemin de la Liberte, a twisting, narrow mountain pass.
But more recent history was on Dr, Kyle Perrin's mind as the van rolled into the town of less than ten thousand residents. The tourist season had not yet come to this part of France, not that it generally enjoyed much traffic as it was. The buildings were old, some several decades, others nearly a handful of centuries, with architecture that was both practical yet appealing. The way many of the buildings sat so close to the streets was telling of the fact that they had never been erected with automobiles in mind.
Along storefronts and buildings with walls painted in classic earthen tones of taupe, beige and pale amber the van coasted, all within quiet and somber. The radio was tuned to a local station playing French versions of popular songs from a decade or more past. Had it not been for the palpable tension between Faster and Xyllah, they might have found the music amusing.
"Here," Kyle announced at last, indicating a corner establishment. The nature of the pub was only demarcated by the wooden sign with the image of a wine glass emblazoned upon it hanging beside the door.
Victor nodded with a short grunt, finding a convenient parking space along the street. The sun had set as they were driving in, and darkness was quickly enveloping the town. The neighborhood bar showed only a handful of patrons through its spacious windows, most seated at small tables along the ochre-painted walls.
"Let me go in first," Kyle directed, slipping the revolver from his coat and checking the rounds in the cylinder. "Come in about a minute later, and take a table. All right?"
Victor shrugged. "Sure."
"Why?" asked Faster from the back seat. "You're acting like this is some friggin' film noir shit or something."
He glanced over his shoulder with a wink to the woman. "Intimidation is best achieved in layers," he said cryptically, then pushed open the door and slipped out.
Xyllah watched Kyle approach the bar, her features contorted slightly in a frown. "He is . . . peculiar," she remarked.
Faster and Victor responded at the same time. "No shit."
* * * *
Effecting a small smile, Kyle pulled open the door of the pub, noting the quick but only slightly interested glances cast his way. A few of the patrons, he figured, recognized him instantly as an American, but they did not seem to care. With casual aplomb, the anthropologist approached the bar, giving a friendly nod to the middle-aged man in a burgundy beret and spotted white apron behind the counter.
"Bonjour," Kyle said. "Vin rouge, si vous plait."
The man nodded. "Cabernet ou Merlot?"
"Cabernet," responded Kyle, setting a few Euros on the counter. The bartender reached for a bottle, poured the glass, and set it before Kyle before wordlessly snatching up the money.
"Je recherche quelqu'un," Kyle said after taking a sip.
The bartender regarded the American warily as he set the change upon the bartop between them. "Qui?"
The bartender's eyes narrowed. He leaned closer across the bar and lowered his voice. "Why?"
Kyle smile thinly. "You speak English."
The man shrugged. "As well as you speak Francais," he said. "Eugene is a friend of mine. I would hate to hear of any harm coming to him."
"I do not wish him any. I only want to ask some questions."
The man pondered a moment, working his jaw. The chime above the door sounded upon its opening. He watched as two women and a stocky, intimidating man entered and sought out an empty booth. Distastefully, the bartender licked yellowed teeth and returned his attention to Kyle. "I assume they are with you."
Kyle did not turn around. He kept his eyes on the bartender's. "Yes."
The Frenchman sighed, trying to read the anthropologist's stoic face. "Tell me you are not a spy."
Kyle chuckled with mild amusement. "If I was, I'm sure you wouldn't be able to tell I'm not French."
The bartender's lips twisted slightly in a crooked smile. "You make a good point," he said. "All right. Eugene works tours at Labouiche. He's there every day from eight o'clock in the morning."
"The underground river," the Frenchman clarified. "I have to admit, as far as tourist attractions go, it is quite something."
"Labouiche," Kyle repeated. "I'll find it. Merci du vin."
"Vous ete bienvenu," the man responded dryly.
* * * *
The Hotel Pyrene was a nice location, a smaller venue than most tourist-friendly hotels in France, yet equipped with standard amenities. After checking in and getting situated in their rooms – Kyle and Xyllah in one, Victor and Faster in the other – Kyle headed down to the hotel's store for some basic snacks. Xyllah, he knew, would be preoccupied with her relatively recent fascination for television. He could be gone for hours, he figured, before she began to wonder about his whereabouts.
How the hell did I end up in a relationship? he asked himself as he left the small store cradling a heavy paper bag in his artificial arm. And is that really what Xyllah and I have? Or is it just a convenience for both of us . . . .
His thoughts trailed off as he spied Faster beside the pool of the small hotel. A heavy blue tarp covered the water, but there were no gates to prevent anyone from venturing close. Faster paced back and forth on the far side slowly, turned away from Kyle and facing the commanding view of Foix's quaint village and surrounding foothills. She held her cell phone to her ear; her lips moved slightly now and then.
On impulse, Kyle pushed open the door to the large patio and approached the youngest member of his team. He just caught the last bits of conversation from Faster's end as he came around the pool. She did not seem to be aware of his presence.
". . . not sure," she was saying, with forlorn tone in her voice. "Might just be a few days, might be longer."
She listened for several seconds. Kyle set his bag down on one of several iron-worked bistro tables, then took out his cigarette case. He felt a rueful smile tugging his lips as he cupped one hand over another before flicking the lighter. He was still getting used to having two hands, after a decade of possessing only one.
". . . you're sweet, Dwight, you know that? . . . why? 'Cause no guy's ever treated me like you do before, that's why . . . yeah, you say that, but you'd be surprised . . . okay . . . I will . . . okay . . . 'night, baby. I'll let you know when I'm coming back."
Kyle blew smoke as he watched Faster snap her phone closed. He felt almost guilty for having eavesdropped on that last little bit of intimate conversation, and also, in a strange way, regretful.
Faster sniffed the air, then spun around, glaring at Kyle. "Listening in?" she asked angrily.
Kyle held up his hands. "I just came out for a smoke," he said. "I only just got here."
She ground her teeth a moment, but the features on her face were softening. "Those things'll kill you, you know."
Kyle nodded. "They might."
"But you don't really care."
He shrugged. "Sometimes," he admitted. "Not enough to make me quit."
She laughed softly, but it was still a harsh sound. "No, you don't quit anything."
He cocked his head with a frown. "When did we develop this adversarial relationship?"
For a long moment, Faster didn't speak. She simply studied his face, looking for clues. Finally, she emitted a self-admonishing laugh. "I can be a bitch sometimes."