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Chapter 29

      They were headed to their shuttle, Jeremy surrounded by his friends, and the two human officers on each side of the group. They were about a third of the way when everyone, except the officers, tensed.

      Six humans were walking in their direction. Not something unusual, in a busy spaceport like this one, but their demeanor wasn't casual. They kept glancing around them, and their hands kept jerking toward their backs.

      "There's a large delivery transport on our left, for cover," Jeremy said.

      "Nothing on the right," Gral added. "Lets head for it."

      "What are you talking about?" the officer on the right said. "You shuttle is straight ahead." He pointed in that direction.

      Instead of replying, Gral grabbed him and pulled him with them. A moment later the group was firing in their direction. Gral leaned against transport.

      "Anyone hit?"

      Negatives all around.

      Thuruk laid down, looking under the transport. "They are spreading out. We don't have much time until they come at us from each side."

      "I thought these two were suppose to make sure we weren't going to have trouble?" Houlin said, edging to their left. "There's a few crates that can give one of us cover, but we're going to need fire power."

      "We have nothing to do with this," one of the officer said.

      "Right," Jeremy commented dryly. "I told you we should have smuggled in a weapon or two." He was flexing his hand. "I am never leaving the ship without my gloves again."

      "Hand me your firearm," Gral told the officer, who was now cowering behind the transport's wheel.

      "No. You're not allowed to have a weapon. It's against the security protocol."

      "They aren't respecting your Gods cursed protocol," Thuruk growled.

      "Unless you plan on firing on your own people," Gral said, "you are going to give me your firearm." He looked over to the other one. "And you are going to give yours to Jeremy."

      That one handed his firearm without hesitation. Seeing that, the one next to Gral handed him his.

      "Jeremy, you and I provide cover. Toom, you head to the shuttle as fast as you can, and get it ready for take off. Thuruk, Houlin, do your best to avoid contact with them, if you can't, it's disable and subdue only. You aren't to kill anyone."

      "Can I keep their weapons?" Houlin asked.

      "Sure," Gral replied with a shrug.

      "No he can't!" the officer said. "We're already breaking the rules by letting you use ours."

      "We're past caring about your rules," Thuruk commented, crouching.

      Gral took a breath. "We are Hunters," he said.

      "We die so our people live," the four others answered.

      He ran for a large post, firing in the humans' direction, forcing them to find cover of their own. Once there he checked his people's progress. Jeremy was behind the crates, Thuruk crawling on the ground, below the human's field of vision, heading for a vehicle closer to them. Houlin and Toom had made it to a hiding spot ahead of where Gral was. When they looked in his direction, he gave them a nod and started firing again. They ran for it, and Gral headed for the cover they had been using.

      One of the humans popped up to fire in their direction, and Gral took him down. He hit him center of mass, so he was probably dead. Once he reach the cover, he could see another human unmoving, on the other side, taken down by Jeremy. Thuruk  stood next to a human, with his back to him, wrapped an arm around his neck, and grabbed his weapon with the other. A human stood from behind a low vehicle and fired in his direction, hitting the male Thuruk was holding. Thuruk fired back, two shoulder hit, and one to the waist. He'd live, but he was out of combat. He dropped the male he'd been holding and crouched down.

      The area was quiet for a moment, then alarms went off. After a few more seconds without being fired upon Gral looked around. Thuruk and Jeremy had made it a few more hiding place closer to the shuttle. He couldn't see any sign of the humans. He looked back to where the officers were still cowering. He didn't want them to shoot them in the back if they were part of this.

      Still no more fire while he took the time to do his check. "Thuruk, Jeremy, straight line to the shuttle, but remain on your guards. We don't want to be here when their security arrive."

      He followed his own instructions, not running, but walking at a good pace. The other two did the same, keeping distance between them, and remaining vigilant. As they passed the area where they had last seen the human, they found it vacated.

      They made it to the shuttle without taking more fire.

      "We are going to have to discuss your definition of 'avoiding' Thuruk," Gral said as he took a seat.

      "I tried to avoid them," Thuruk replied. "It isn't my fault one of them was standing right before me when I stood." He thew the weapon he was holding to Houlin. "Here, that's for your collection."

      "You don't have authorization to take off," a voice came from the com.

      "I hear you, control," Toom replied, as he continued preparing. "I just don't care. We took fire, so we are leaving. I'm not sitting here waiting for someone's ship to decide to blow us up."

      "You can't take off, you don't have a clear corridor."

      "A clear corridor? What's that?" he checked the scan. "There isn't even twenty shuttles out there, the sky's practically empty. Now, you either release the clamps, or I'm going out with a cutter, and doing it myself."

      After a moment of silence, Houlin and Thuruk went to the back to open the tools locker. As they were taking out the cutters, they heard sound of the clamps releasing.

      "Thank you control." Toom said, and send the ship up in smooth acceleration. He looked over his shoulder for a moment "I've informed the ship of what happened. Unless you have different orders, they will leave orbit the moment we are parked."

      Gral looked to Jeremy, who shook his head. "I'm good with those orders."

      * * * * *

      "Did the station give you any trouble?" Gral asked once he reached the bridge. The ball that was Earth was already barely visible on the main screen

      "They argued, threatened, pleaded, but no, they didn't give use any trouble." Ajanix said.

      "Captain," Klisten, at come called, "you need to hear this."

      "Just moments ago, a group of kelsirian, led by the traitor Jeremy Krommer, killed two spaceport officers, and then, using the firearms they took from their victims fired indiscriminately as they made their way to their shuttle. There is no information on the number of dead at this time.

      "They then took off without authorization, endangering multiple shuttles on their way out. Only those pilot's great skills managed to avoid collisions. Jeremy Krommer had been allowed on the planet under the pretense that his mother was dying. We reached out to Gabriella Krommer for comments."

      "Than man is no son of mine," came Jeremy's mother's voice. "He abandoned his family to go off with those perverted animals. I didn't want to see him, and I kicked him out as soon as he showed up."

      "Her doctors commented that while Miss Krommer was sick, there was no danger to her health, and she should be back on her feet shortly. We will be looking into how it was that someone missed that she wasn't dying, and allowed the traitor here. We will bring you the names of those who were bribed as soon as we discover them. At last report, their ship left orbit unchallenged, due to no military ships being in the vicinity."

      The main screen changed to show a strategic map of earth's orbit, with three bright dots not far from where the ship had been parked while in orbit.

      "I could have sworn those were military ships," someone said.

      Ajanix turned to look at Grall. "Do humans ever tell the tr . . ." His voice trailed off.

      Gral turned to see Jeremy behind him, tears flowing down his eyes. He went to him and held him close.

      "I told her to say that," Jeremy said. "I told her to renounce me, so why does it hurt so much."

      "It'll be okay," Gral said softly. "So doesn't mean it."

      "I know, but it still hurts."

      "Ajanix," Gral said, without turning. "The bridge is yours again. "We are going to our quarters."

      "Yes, captain"

      "If anyone gets in our way, just disable them. For all the good that'll do."

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