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Chapter 33

      Jeremy was lounging in a very comfortable chair, in a luxurious room, on a garans station, on the border of their, and the reoseph territories. This was a working stop, Gral and some of his hunters were following a lead on pirates who had attacked a kelsirian medical ship. For everyone else, they could use the time as leave.

      Most of the crew hadn't bothered taking accommodations on the station, the ship was docked so it was simple for them to come and go. Gral had wanted to treat his family, so he'd gotten them rooms, very nice rooms, if small. The station wasn't setup for visiting families, it was in a mining zone, so got very few tourists, just transport cargo, and the occasional refueling stop - it wasn't on any of the main transit lines.

      Because of that, they had two room, one across from the other. The cubs had the other one. They were currently sleeping after a morning of exploring the station market. Even miners had to buy things, mostly recreationals, from what Jeremy could see of the storefronts. Rudyum had explored, walking around, and looking in all the nooks and crannies they came across. He didn't show joy at being here, but Jeremy had noticed a small smile here and there. He thought they were happening more often now. Jeremy held his sister in his arms, while watching Rudyum look around.

      Gral stopped by to eat with them. Before going back to his hunt. After that, they had gone back to their rooms, and the cubs had gone to sleep. Jeremy relaxed, reading over the report of the latest stress test they ran on the generator.

      His personal com beeped, and he tapped it absentmindedly "yes?"

      There was the sound objects being thrown about. Jeremy lifted his head to look at the com, on the table next to his chair. "P . . . Pa?" came a soft voice. "Help."

      Jeremy bolted out, grabbing his gloves. He'd never heard the voice before, in the six months Rudyum had been with them, he'd never said a word, but he had no doubt it was him. His gloves were on before he was out the door. He quickly entered the access code he'd been given, but the door didn't open.

      He grabbed the side of the panned with the metal claws and ripped it off. He could have been more discreet about it, he had the training, but he wasn't going to waste any kind of time when his cubs were in trouble. With a bundle of wires out of the panel and sparks, the door opened.

      A quick scan of the room showed three beings, in mate black armor, faceless helmet, and holding handguns of a design Jeremy didn't know. They had stopped moving when the door opened, in the process of tossing the room. There were no indications the weapons had been fired, and no sign of his cubs. They wanted them alive, and hadn't found them yet.

      "Rudyum, hold your sister's face against you, and close your eyes. Do not open them until I tell you." He didn't wait for a response. The attackers had made the mistake of not shooting him on sight. It was goign to cost them.

      He was under the reach of the closest one before the weapon was brought up. He grabbed the wrist and dug his claws in the armor, twisting the arm. Before he could make him drop his gun, he heard a weapon cycle to shoot. He spun, bringing the one he was holding in front of him, and he took the blast.

      The impact pushed them against he wall, and the force took his breath away for a moment. He started counting seconds, as he jumped out of the way - the other one with a gun hadn't shot yet.

      Five second and he was shot again, it hit where he had been a moment before. He didn't know why the third one hadn't shot yet, but in a room this small it was the only reason he wasn't dead yet. He had five seconds to take out one of them. The closest one was the one with trying to shoot him. He ran for the third assailant. He jumped as the weapon was brought up and collided with him as the shot fired. He felt the burn on the left side of his face, but they were down. the shot went over his head. He quickly went on his knees, putting one of them on the assailant's throat, and wrestled the gun out of his hand. His five second were up before the last assailant, and he shot him in the chest, before his own weapon was done cycling.

      The room was quiet, except for the rasping of the one he was currently suffocating. He pulled off his helmet, revealing he was human, and hit him across the face, hard, rendering him unconscious. He stood.

      "Rudyum. Don't open your eyes, but give me an indication of where you are."

      An over turned bed moved a little. Jeremy pulled it away and revealed an air vent, too small for anyone but a cub to crawl in, and two feet slowly moving out.

      "It's me," Jeremy said, "I'm doing to pull you out." He took the feet and gently pulled on them. Rudyum was holding Tamirik against his chest, and, somehow, she had slept through everything. He pickup his son, and carried them back to his room. "You can open your eyes," he said once he'd put them on his bed. "It's safe now."

      Rudyum opened his eyes, looked around and then at Jeremy, eyes going wide. He reached for his face, but stopped before touching it. Jeremy could feel the burn there start to sting, he didn't think it was a pretty sight.

      "Are . . . Are the bad males gone?" Rudyum whispered.

      "I took care of them," Jeremy said softly, "they can't hurt you."

      "Bad males took my mother," Rudyum flatly, but eyes becoming wet. "I couldn't help her. I was so afraid, I just hid." Tears were flowing freely now.

      Jeremy took Tamirik out of his arms and gently placed her on the bed. She stirred a little, but didn't wake up. He took Rudyum in his arms and held him tightly. When his sobbing subsided he looked at him, wiping the tears off his cheeks.

      "I'm sorry I hid again," he said, looking away.

      "You did the right thing. Sometime, hiding is the only thing you can do, but you thought to hid your sister with you, and you called me. You saved her."

      Rudyum's nod was barely noticeable.

      "Sometime, the bravest thing you can do, his hide and wait to be rescued. Now, I want you to stay here and continue looking after your sister. I need to go back and ask them a few questions."

      "You're hurt."

      "I know. I'll take care of that afterward. Are you going to be okay? Can you continue looking after Tamirik for me?" Rudyum nodded. "Good. I won't be long."

      He locked the door behind him. Obviously a locked door hadn't stopped them from getting into his cubs room, but he felt better for it anyway.

      He had to rip the control panel off the wall inside the other room, and play with the wires to be able to close the door. After that he went to the closest body. The armor had stopped the impact, there it was dented and burnt. The chest was moving slightly. He ripped off the helmet to reveal a taournian's scaly head.

      He looked at it in disgust, and then at the human. He'd heard rumors that the humans and taournians had form some sort of alliance, He hadn't really thought about it before now, that he seem to have confirmation of it. Looking back at he taournian, wondering what he was going to do with it, he noticed he had a long knife attached to its hip.

      Jeremy smiled, took the knife, and slit the reptilian's throat. Sickly brown blood flowed. He went to the other body, and riped off that helmet too. Another taournian, another slit throat. He went to the human, and considered him. He was male, with short black hair, and clean shaven.

      He sat him up and shook him until he woke.

      "Now," Jeremy said, "I just slit the throat of your two friends, over there." He showed him the bloody knife. "I'm not going to kill you. You have my word about that, but how much you suffer, depends entirely on how forthcoming you are with the answers to my questions. So, why did you try to kidnap my cubs."

      The man frowned at him, before saying. "Lieutenant Colonel Damien Montgomery St-Croix, Id number eight-five-two-six." His own scream of pain interrupted him, when Jeremy dug a claw in his left shoulder.

      "Not what I asked. Try again." The man started again on his registration again, and Jeremy twisted the claw. The man didn't make it to his ID number before the pain was too much for him. "Want to go for a third try?" Jeremy asked, once he'd stopped screaming.

      "I don't know why," the man rasped. "I'm a soldier. They tell me what to do, and I do it."

      Jeremy looked at him, disgusted. His ship had plenty of soldiers on it, technically, he was one himself, and he knew that none of them would follow such an order blindly. They would demand to know the reasons, especially for going after cubs. But the man wasn't kelsirian.

      "Okay, fair enough. Who gave you those orders?"

      The man started at him, and shook his head. Jeremy shrugged and pressed a claw against the right shoulder. "Why?" the man asked, before the claw dug too deep.

      "Why what?" Jeremy asked. Not pushing in.

      "Why are you doing this to me?"

      Jeremy raised an eyebrow at him. "You tried to kidnap my cubs, I'd think the reason is self evident."

      The man snorted. "They can't be your kids. You're not like them. You're human, like me."

      Jeremy had a hand around the man's throat, claws drawing blood, before he'd closed his mouth. "I am nothing like you," he growled. "I am kelsirian. I would never be human again even if my life depended on it. We don't go and torture teenagers just because they feel differently. We don't pump our people's head full of lies. We don't use medicine to make them think they are sick, and we don't send soldiers to kidnap cubs."

      "So you're going to torture me, 'cause I'm not a teen?"

      "Oh no, this is different. Family Law gives me the right to seek retribution. You're just a soldier, so I need to know who sent you here, so I can make them pay." Jeremy pushed himself away from the man and tried to calm himself.

      "You might as well kill me now, I'm never going to tell you anything."

      Jeremy slowly smiled at the man. "Oh no, I'm not going to kill you, remember, I promised you that." And he didn't kill him, but by the time the man had answered all his questions, the man did wish he was dead.

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