Behind Yellow Eyes: Chapter 14

Story by rhenthar on SoFurry

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Chapter 14.

I'm on board The Hahkota, but it's from a different perspective than I've ever seen her. Zach's chair is firm under my butt, his ready-room has equal amounts of his scent and personal belongings both. I headed straight to it after giving my mission briefing, and am presently hiding there because I'm completely unsure about what I can tell Casey and Ash. Who I am, who I've become, who I'm involved with. Ash's reaction, too much change, she said. If she knew any more of the truth, she might just walk out of my life completely. But if I don't tell her the truth now, if I try it later... she'll probably resent it. Say I didn't trust her enough, both of them could say that. Damned if I do, and don't.

Who has advice for a situation like this? I try, but I can't fit my real mom, dad, or brother into this mess. I've tried to picture what anyone I know would do in my shoes, not that I wear them anymore. I'm coming up with a complete blank, my life has turned into something that's beyond exotic. No one has to deal with shit like this!

Maybe that's the key, because if they ever fully understand... I'm still genuine, sincere. I want to be honest. I just don't know what the best choice for a situation like this is, and yet I have to lead, be strong, authoritative. I can't look unsure. The day I out everything... I don't think they can blame me. I'll tell them more, later. That's my decision, and I feel it's appropriate for an Alpha to make.

I push a button on the desk I'm sitting in front of. A basic metal design that's been spruced up with rich brown leather. Its smell is delicious, and Zach's fur is stuck to it in various places. After I let my finger slip off the stud, there's a beep. The ship's sentient AI waits for a command.

"Put me through to Ash and Casey." There's a pause and a double chime, meaning success.

"Hey. Um. I'm kinda hungry..."

"Keman?" Ash. "I'm starving. Meet in the galley?"

"Food!" Casey.

That's enough of an answer for me. I get up and wander through _The Hahkota's_long hallways, towards what passes for a dining hall. It's door opens and when I walk in, a dozen people, most of whom I don't really know, all stare at me. The sudden quiet in conversation is painfully obvious, people pretend to look away and carry on with what they were saying. The resulting surge in conversation makes it worse. I try hard to keep my ears straight, but they end up sideways.

I spot Ash and Casey facing each other at a table, and I home in on them, sitting down next to Ash. I feel a need for intimacy and my scent says I crave more than just food. Even the smallest bit of submission from up high is like dragging my stomach over the floor. I lean against her and give a big sigh. She darts a look of surprise at Casey, and I catch him giving a little shrug.

"All this command stuff. It's not really what it's cracked up to be." I sound miserable.

"You did fine at the mission summary. No one questioned your authority, I know I was impressed." Casey, trying to cheer me up. Ash grins at that and pulls on my whiskers.

"You're like a shadow now, a bundle of smoke. Your fur is so matte... Casey's has that sheen to it," she points at him. "See? Yours absorbs the light, it's so weird on you Keman."

I look down at my black stomach, even my sheath is black. Unlike Sinclair, I don't have any gray in my undercoat. It's all completely black, the fluff, the guard hairs, everything.

"Yeah. I was looking for something different. The need to..." Hide. "It's a long story, I'm not sure where to start, this time. Ran into someone bad. Got abducted... again." I start rolling out details. Leaving out the parts involving Sinclair.

Casey shakes his head. "I was shocked when Zeek told me. Then he had me route some hyperwave to intercept a Mark 6 collar activation. So whoever it was didn't get control of the collar?" It's rhetorical, but he's just trying to make conversation, I think.

I nod. "Yeah. His name is Mist. Same one we're after."

Ash growls. "Fucking slavers. They're all the same. They think they have the right to take whatever it is they want, and make a profit. When we were hunting you for the first time, I got to know a few, incognito. Disgusting people."

"I've got question for you," asks Casey.

I nod, "shoot."

"That ship of yours. What's the deal? I can't find it in any of my catalogs. It's close to a Sanyo, one of the old Rickback hydro splitters. But that would make it three hundred years old. Yet it passed us like we were standing still." He chuckles, but there's a serious edge to his tone. "I can tell from the warp signature, it's warp drive version one. That doesn't add up, is it some new cutting edge design made to look old?" He smiles, like he's on to my secret.

I start shaking my muzzle while he's finishing the last part. "No, it really is that old, it's just not very OEM at this point. I've changed a lot on it. Someone before me installed a fuser. I had to upgrade everything electrical, the insulation on the wires was falling right off. I put quantum mode fiber into it along with an AI core that's... got quite a personality.

"An AI?" Ash quirks an ear sideways. "Like, a sentient core?"

"An AI as in... something even I don't understand. It's a whiz with nanos, though. It rebuilt and upgraded my ship in ways even I'm not aware of."

Casey's eyes go wide. "You mean, it's pre-emptive sentience? Er." He lowers his muzzle, glancing around us to see if anyone is listening. "You know that's illegal. Remember the Frageli conflict?"

"Of '97?" My ears go flat. "How could I forget? That's where I lost my parents." Though not really.

"Oh!" Ash blurts. "I remember pre-emptive now. You mean you've got an AI that doesn't operate with any inherent constraints, it just does... what it wants?"

I chuckle. "Most of the time, yeah."

Casey is still serious, and reeks of fear. "Don't take this the wrong way, but what's it give two shits about you, Keman? You're just a pile of organic matter, to it."

I lean forward, staring at him. "I saved it from an unknowable timeframe of torture. It's Arcanian, from a weapons platform." I pause. " That old, yes. I gave it something to control again." I smile. "My ship."

He splutters. "That's... that's the craziest thing I've ever heard. I'm telling you." Casey finally smiles, his scent of fear fades away. "That cloak it's got. I've never seen anything like it. Can I study it sometime?"

I shrug. "If it doesn't mind. I look forward to having the opportunity. It'll mean all of this is... over."

Food arrives on a wheeled bot. I'm literally drooling into my lap as we heft sizzling steaks from it onto plates in front of each of us. Wide bowls full of red wine are passed around. Humans think their mouths water, hah. It's nothing compared to what my mouth does.

I gnaw off a hunk and swallow it, lapping at some wine. The vintage is old and French, red Bordeaux. It's got more alcohol than normal wine, around 30%, so it burns... but it's very tasty.

Ash eats daintily, trying not to get anything on her white coat. She licks grease off her fingers for a moment. "So... who's this mate you've got?"

I look at her and hesitate. Knowing full well that with each passing second I take to formulate an answer, it makes whatever I'm about to say that much less credible. Ah hell, go for broke. "Sinclair Diavante." My ears airplane just thinking about him. I look and smell guilty, but it's the kind that's full of happiness.

Ash stops lapping at her wine. She stares at me, then glances at Casey. "You mean... like, as in, Clair Industries?"

I nod, "that's him."

"How... did you find someone like him, Keman?" Casey is nodding too, he smells very surprised.

Another shrug. "He found me, actually." Of course, this is where things get iffy. They know I wouldn't take a mate, if I knew him less than six months. If I push this any further, they'll figure out that the first time, it really wasn't a Chihuahua. My entry into this galaxy cost lives. Russ and Cane, just to name a couple that matter to these two. My scent shifts into deep guilt and there's nothing I can do to stop it.

Along with my shame, I notice some skepticism brewing in the air, and hold up my paws to halt their analysis. "Remember, I spent a decade in virtual, and love knows no physical boundaries." Truth. It's easy to remember Snow, and my heart winces in pain just thinking about her.

Ash laughs. "Wow."

Casey shivers. "Ugh. I hate virtual at anything other than one-to-one."

Ash nods to herself. "I always figured CI was tied into _The Hahkota_in some manner or another. That actually explains more than a few things. Funding sources, our line on the newest technology, and the pressure we've always been able to push, politically." She puts an ear sideways. "I knew it was some big entity backing us." She grows quiet for a moment. "People have been asking... how much of this..." she trails off and stares me in the eyes.

"Look," I say. "It's no secret. But if we don't get that collar off him, he's going to be in deeper shit than I ever was when I wore one." I swallow, feeling my throat tighten up. Snow wasn't real, Sinclair certainly is. "There won't be anything to make secret, if that happens." My half-eaten steak is suddenly very unappetizing. How can I eat at a time like this? There's things to do, I want to move forward. No wonder Zach almost never ate full meals.

"And Marcus?" Casey asks. "Where do you think he ties into this?"

"I have no idea." I shake my muzzle, gaining frustration. "I only know that Mist is involved, so it's something big." I poke at my steak, chomping on a chunk of fat.

Ash changes the subject, it's clear to her that this is headed in the wrong direction. "When we fell out of warp, and couldn't find Mist's ship afterwards... it really hurt, Keman." Her blue eyes avoid mine. "I was worried you'd blame us."

I reach over and grab her paw, squeezing it. "I didn't blame you the first time, I won't the second time, either. We all can only do our best. Things with Mist weren't even that bad..." My ears go sideways as I trail off, some part of my brain is helping me lie to myself. Which is strange, that shouldn't be possible. I tongue the empty sockets at the front of my mouth, then notice Casey and Ash's expression of disbelief. I should fucking hate him, especially with what he's done to Sinclair. Why is that hate so hard to envision?

Casey finishes his steak, licking his muzzle clean. "Well, this feels like a second chance, to me. I for one won't let you down. The Hahkota is in tip-top shape, we've got a spare folder ready to bring online. The same problem can't happen again."

"I appreciate that. And it does mean a lot to me that you're both so devoted. I'll make sure it's worth your while. We'll talk money when this is over."

Ash chuckles. "And there it is, the proof that you're filthy rich. Wanna start with buying us another round of drinks?" She sets her wine bowl upside down, and I glance at the empty bottle. I make a few discreet inquiries with the autodoc and find something better to inebriate with.

It's good to be captain.

Much later, we get carried to our quarters.

Behind Yellow Eyes: Chapter 13

Chapter 13. Mist wound up making Marcus a nylon one-piece coverall from his MC. He'd only recently learned about matter compilers at his university, it's very advanced technology that can fabricate almost anything within the physical dimensions of...

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Behind Yellow Eyes: Chapter 15

Chapter 15. Tatchit seems weird to me from the moment I step off _The Hahkota's_ boarding ramp. Gravity is .89 Earth standard, I'm a little lighter, but that isn't it. I squint at the system's sun and notice that it's surrounded with an actinic...

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Book Three: Behind Yellow Eyes *FULL LENGTH*

Behind yellow eyes ©2015 Sinclair diavante Prologue The black limo cruises around quietly, maglev holding it a half meter above the road....

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