tagSci-Fi & FantasyA Timeless Love

A Timeless Love


Prologue ----------------------------------------------

The bright silver station shuttle descended through the billowy white clouds over the city on a direct course for landing bay 145 of Bennar Spaceport. A Cynar 5000i class, it had the smooth lines and surface of a yacht, a chrome finish broken only by a few necessary vents and a multitude of large reflective view ports.

It streaked silently over the city and slowed as it reached the spaceport, taxiing into bay 145 guided by invisible fields projected from below. Touchdown was perfect, not even creating a ripple in the passenger’s drinks.

The captain’s voice came over the address system, letting all know that it was a beautiful day on Marenn IV, and that shuttling them all down from the spaceport had been the singular greatest event of his lifetime. That was good, since it was also the last event of his lifetime.

The automated guidance and control systems of Bennar Spaceport were the finest created, and they worked tirelessly around the clock to make certain no ships arrived off schedule or off course. Unfortunately for the passengers and crew of the newly arrived shuttle, as well as those working or waiting in the surrounding bay and waiting areas, the systems were programmed to ignore small objects, such as local flora and fauna, maintenance bots, and the like, and so they also ignored the indigo missile, only 1.5 meters in length that came streaking in. As the passengers of the shuttle gathered their belongings and began to depart, the missile came down at many times the speed of sound and pierced the chrome plating just above the reactor and detonated.

The initial explosion was small, and would by itself only have severely damaged the reactor and engines of the shuttle. The almost instantaneous secondary explosion as the reactor went critical escalated the explosion, vaporizing the rear third of the shuttle and ripping the remaining portion into flaming debris which then became shrapnel, ripping the landing bay and surrounding building to pieces.

Superheated plasma and flames poured through the rooms and hallways of the spaceport, igniting most of the inorganic materials and vaporizing organic tissue on contact. Gouts of flame burst into the surrounding landing bays, where they dissipated, unable to effect the vehicles that regularly left and re-entered the atmosphere.

Chapter 1 ---------------------------------------------

Detective First Class Kir Balen arrived on the scene of the destruction less than 30 minutes after the explosion, a passenger in a mini police cruiser — a vehicle barely larger than the two men inside. He instructed the driver to circle the area slowly so he could survey the damage and the cleanup efforts.

The layout of the spaceport was standard, and from the air resembled nothing so much as a giant muffin pan. A giant flat surface, the roof of the enormous four-story building that is the spaceport, with evenly spaced ovals and circles cut in to it, which are the landing bays.

And over in the distance, in the spot where there should have been just another perfect circle was a crater. The edges were ragged and went far beyond their symmetrical border to mar the surrounding bays as well.

The flames were gone, and with them much of the smoke, but a cloud of dust and smell debris formed a column that rose far into the sky. Police and rescue vehicles darted and swooped around the cloud, trying it seemed, to look very busy and helpful in a totally helpless situation. There was no one to rescue.

As the cruiser passed near the crater, Balen saw the remaining wreckage of the shuttle, large smoking pieces of twisted metal, scattered around haphazardly. Small specks of orange moving around them were the Hazard Team members checking for radiation or possible biological threats. He glanced at his datapad for the current update and saw that they had found nothing of the sort.

The cruiser descended into bay 271, the site designated for emergency personnel parking. Balen got out and walked over to where they appeared to have set up a command center. A patrolman stepped in front of him and passed an ID wand over his badge, then stepped aside to let him pass. Seeing a captain nearby, he jogged over to her.

“Detective Balen, reporting as ordered, Sir,” he said while gazing into the startlingly blue eyes of the captain. She was 5’8” and thin as a wisp. Her long, flowing blond hair swirled softly in the breeze, and despite the stern look on her face her features were soft and all too pleasant.

“Very good, Detective,” she said, with an accent that spoke of a home world where everything soft and pleasant. Her voice was soft and lovely, and Balen felt desire rush through him. “I am Captain Safferr. I am leading the investigation into what happened here. I was told by my superiors that you have certain talents that will be of great aid to the investigation, so I have appointed you my second.”

“Thank you, Sir,” Balen said with enthusiasm. This was not only a fantastic career opportunity; it would give him many opportunities to work closely with the lovely elfin beauty. While finding himself distracted by the delightful perfume she wore, he kept his thoughts on the business at hand. “I’d like to start by going over the passenger manifest, as well as the backgrounds of everyone on the shuttle and in the surrounding bays.”

A slight smile crossed her full, pink lips. “The lists have been assembled and are available for review on your datapad. As you know, there were no witnesses but the complete scanner records for the spaceport are being downloaded to us. We expect Starport records to be sent over within the hour.”

Kir fought the impulse to brush an errant hair from her face and instead brought himself to attention. “Thank you, Captain.”

Capt. Safferr brushed aside the errant strand of honey-colored hair and smiled as she looked up into his eyes. “I expect a full report on what you’ve learned. Meet me in my office at, say, ten? And Detective? I run a very tight investigation. I want no funny business. Everything is to be proper and by the book, do I make myself clear?”

Her smile became full as he snapped a crisp, “Yes, sir,” and she continued. “And Detective, while it is important to maintain the roper attitudes of respect and authority, my home world stands on much less formality. There will be no need to stand at attention whenever you are in my presence,” she paused as her eyes darted to his waistline then returned to his eyes, and her smile became a decided smirk, “although as a woman, I do appreciate when a handsome man comes to such full attention when he meets me.”

Now mindful of the aching erection that was apparently obvious, Balen coughed and muttered, “Thank you, Sir.” He turned crisply and headed away, but had no idea where he was going.

After making sure there was nothing he could do on-site, Balen returned to the cruiser and ordered his driver to take them back to headquarters.

Chapter 2 ---------------------------------------------

The police force of Marenn IV was an elite force, turning away more than 70 percent of applicants. Their headquarters stood in the center of Grendle, and at a height of 175 stories, the Ionic column-shaped building was the tallest structure on the planet. The sublevels held the records and computer storage, the first 50 stories were the domain of the patrolmen and their support staff. From 51 to 100 were detention and holding cells, interrogation chambers, and short-term jail facilities. 101 to 150 were home to the upper-ranking officers, the investigations units, laboratories, and administration and staff. The crown of the building however was the top 25 stories, which housed the garage for the multitude of mini cruisers, cruisers, heavy cruisers, assault vehicles, and transports.

His driver was directed to 164H, and Balen involuntarily braced for impact as the mini cruiser rapidly approached the faux marble wall. At the last moment, as always, the wall simply disappeared and the car rode in to a smooth stop. Thanking his driver, Balen took the elevator down to 112 and strode through the chaos to his office.

Closing the door, Balen set his datapad in the cradle on his desk, sat down, and began sifting through the passenger manifest. Farah Dione, the synth-jazz chanteuse was aboard, along with her entourage and band, as was the second cousin of Mayor Bradshaw. Other than that, there were no obvious red flags.

He was still buried in the list of names when his door chimed and Manor, the office secretary poked his head inside. “It is seven o’clock, Sir. Would you like for me to send in a sandwich or coffee?”

“Yes, thank you Manor,” Balen said with a sigh, rubbing his burning eyes. He looked at the Tylian’s smooth green skinned head, devoid of hair and featuring the racial characteristic glowing yellow eyes, and smiled. “Coffee and a ham and cheese sounds great.” Remembering his meeting, he added, “Manor, please set an alarm to remind me when it’s nine, okay?”

The Tylian returned quickly with his sandwich and coffee and left for the day. Balen set back to work and had finished half of his sandwich and the coffee when the reminder chimed. Grabbing his datapad, Balen ran to the elevator and rode it to 125, where he changed quickly and hurried through a 30-minute cardio routine. At 6’4”, Balen was taller than most of his peers, and his thick, powerful build bespoke the descendant of those altered for a high-gravity colony. His muscles rippled under his tanned skin as he worked. He showered and shaved, then put on a fresh uniform and headed for the elevators. He consulted his datapad and rode to 147.

This level bore little resemblance to the accumulation of squad rooms on 112. There, each squad room consisted of a large central area filled with desks and cubicles, surrounded by small private offices. Here, however, was a small outer office with a desk and a receptionist. The walls were wood paneled and the floor sported a thick shag carpet.

The receptionist directed him to Capt. Safferr’s office and he arrived at her door at precisely ten o’clock. He straightened his uniform, chimed, and entered. Capt. Safferr’s office was enormous, paneled in a rich mahogany, and carpeted in a verdant green. The desk was also large and mahogany and her chair appeared to match perfectly.

Safferr herself was not at all what he had expected. She sat at her desk, with her bare feet up, and she was nibbling on a salad. Her uniform had been replaced by a simple dark blue mini-tank exercise top and matching sweatpants, cut off at mid- thigh. Her hair was pulled up and back into a flowing ponytail. She looked up from her datapad and motioned him to a seat across the desk from her.

He sat and watched her reading her datapad silently, noting the way her jaw worked slowly, chewing a bit of her salad. She wore the same intense look as before, but for the life of him he couldn’t consider her anything other than cute. His eyes traced down her long, slender neck to her collarbone, then took in the swell and curves of her breasts, which would have been small on another woman her size, but on her were quite perfect. Beneath the blue of her top, he counted her ribs and appreciated the soft curves of light and shadow on her abdomen. He had just started to explore the curves of her gorgeous legs when she cleared her throat, and he realized she had been watching him memorize her body.

“Er-yes, Captain, here’s what I’ve found so far,” he stammered and hit the share button on his datapad, sending the information directly to hers. “You’ll notice that there are pages of facts and figures, but I can sum up my progress with one word — nothing.”

“Yes, Detective,” she sighed. “I have had the same result. I had begun to investigate a possible motive among competing shuttle manufacturers and transport lines, but I too have nothing to show so far.”

That’s what you think, Balen thought, and then cursed himself silently. “Do we have any idea what caused the explosion, other than a small projectile?”

“Yes. Data from the spaceport scanners show that the projectile was a Mark 11 Zenyl “Sting” missile. It approached at high-altitude from over the city. I was hoping we could extrapolate the origin from the course and altitude and I have a team of technicians working on that right now.”

“Never mind,” Balen said, shaking his head. “The Sting missiles, especially the Mark 11, are extremely agile, and regularly make random course changes in order to make just such an inquiry useless.”

Safferr’s eyes sparkled and her entire face beamed with her smile, making Balen melt, just a little. “Fantastic, Detective! I was told you had talents, and it appears I have discovered one!” She punched a few commands into her datapad and sent the instruction to release the techies from their useless task, then hopped to her feet and pranced over to a small recess in the paneling, where her uniform hung. With a swift motion, her shorts fell to the floor, revealing a softly curved but muscular ass covered only by filmy red nylon bikini panties.

Balen adjusted his raging erection in his pants and watched her step into her uniform trousers. He gazed at her, mesmerized, as she slipped her arms into her uniform blouse, fastened it, then put on the uniform jacket. She adjusted her badge above her left breast, and returned to her chair, where she pulled on a pair of white socks.

“I hope you’ve slept, Detective,” she said as she pulled on the first of her tall leather boots. “I want you to accompany me to the Security Section. We should be able to get a bit more information about the Sting there.”

She stood quickly, and as he walked to her door, she said, “And Detective, Kir, I never mix pleasure with business.” And with that she rose up on her toes and brushed her lips across his, and in that brief second he felt the tip of her tongue run across his upper lip. He stood there trembling a moment, then hurried to catch her as she bounced down the hall.

For the next four hours, the two of them poured over sales and shipping records for the Galatrex Arms division of Imperial Foods, Corp. All deliveries were made to valid military addresses on worlds all over the August Empire, and all of the invoices valid. All of the papers were signed, all of the bills paid, and every missile was accounted for.

Even Balen was surprised that he was able to concentrate with his guts (and other bits) churning from his proximity to Safferr. They were completely in sync with each other, and Balen found himself thinking that he had never worked so well with anyone, even Roy Tanno, with whom he had been partnered for 8 years.

He noticed Safferr rubbing her eyes and said, “Listen Captain, we can go over this all night, and I think we might have, but if we don’t get some sleep we’re going to miss something important.”

“You are right, Detective,” Safferr said with a tired smile. “Do you have a car? I don’t like to drive, and I’d appreciate a ride home, if it isn’t an inconvenience.” Balen agreed at once, and together they rode the elevator to the ground floor and took the transport to the parking building. He escorted her to his little blue Rianna and held the door up for her.

He drove her through the heart of Grendle as she directed him to her building, located in one of the better areas of town. He pulled to a stop in a small but well appointed parking area and turned off the engine.

“Captain, I-” Balen began, but Safferr interrupted.

“Kir, my darling detective, I am your captain and superior officer on this most important case. In all things relating to our police relationship please feel free to refer to me as Captain Safferr. For our personal relationship, which I imagine will be long and fruitful for us both, I want you to know me by a private name, a personal name that is not to be shared. Do you understand?”

Kir nodded, knowing that there were many traditions on world of the Empire that had become an important part of the lives of those who believed. Smiling weakly, Safferr continued, “Good, Szalya. Please know me as Szalya.”

“You are my Szalya, and I promise I will never share this secret.”

“No, not a secret,” she said sharply. “A secret is a thing that you cannot tell. This is a trust, a bond that must not be broken. Can you understand this?”

“I do understand, my Szalya,” Kir said softly. “Please forgive my unfortunate choice of words.”

He watched her get out of the car and walk into the building without looking back. With a heavy sigh Balen drove home to his decidedly less affluent neighborhood.

Kir undressed and fell into his bed, which was still unmade from the previous morning. He told his blinds to open and the early morning sunlight streamed in. He tossed and turned for a few minutes, unable to get the images of Capt. Safferr to stop running through his head. Finally, he grabbed the phone from its cradle and called.

“Hello?” came the sweet voice on the other end, sounding tired yet anxious. “Hello, Captain,” he said, stumbling for something to say, “This is Detective Balen, and I-”

“Szalya! I’m so glad you called!” Safferr said excitedly, “Is it about the case?”

“No, Sir, I just, well,” he paused, then closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “I just wanted to hear your voice.”

“I love you too, Kir.”

“I didn’t mean to disturb you but — what?” He sat upright, eyes open and totally awake.

“I said, I love you too. Sleep well,” she purred, and hung up.

Kir fell back onto the bed and dropped the phone to the floor. He closed his eyes and smiled, and fell into a deep, restful sleep.

Chapter 3 ---------------------------------------------

Kir sat at his kitchen counter, drinking coffee and reading the day’s news. There were memorials planned for the victims of the terrorist attack, and several stories filled with speculation on just who was responsible, but nothing they hadn’t already ruled out in their investigation.

The door chimed, and Kir wrapped his robe a little more tightly around him and opened the door. Standing outside was Safferr, dressed in a brightly patterned tunic of a light gauzy material, her long, shapely legs bare. She was wearing sandals and held a basket made of reeds with a metallic thermal bottle sticking out of the top.

I’ve made us breakfast, despite the lateness of the day,” she said as he stepped aside and she entered. She walked into the living room, looking around at the decidedly masculine and definitely bachelor-decorated area. She set the basket on the low coffee table and reclined on the floor, stretching her legs out on the soft carpet. Safferr looked up at Kir and brushed a wisp of hair from her eyes. “I’m not disturbing you, am I?”

Kir smiled and simply stared at the beauty on his floor, trying to burn the image into his brain for all eternity. “No, you aren’t disturbing me at all.”

Safferr poured a dark purple liquid from the thermal bottle into cups and handed one to Kir as he sat across from her on the floor. He sipped at the hot drink, and raised his eyebrows at the strong bitter flavor, with a distinctive aftertaste of some unknown fruit. She handed him some aromatic bread, and from the touch and smell, he had the impression she had made it herself.

“I know you served in the Marines before joining the force, and also that you have had a distinguished career, though you haven’t always made the best decisions to benefit your career,” she said softly, and took a bite of bread.

“Well,” he began, slightly uncomfortably, “that’s true, but I don’t regret anything I’ve done.” He didn’t try to hide his interest as he let his eyes roam up her body from her toes, lingering on her curves, her hair, and finally reaching her smiling eyes. “Tell me about yourself. I’ve never met anyone like you.”

“I am Selovian, and I was born and raised on Fahneer VI. I was a dancer in school, and even spent a year touring with the planetary dance troupe. Of course, our best performances were at home or in space, where we could adjust the gravity to match home.”

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