Page 5 of Alien's Temptation

“Bring her home.”

“Oh, so she ran away?”

By the Three Heads, she was asking so many questions! But she was right. Talking did make time pass faster. We were deep in the forest now, and the terrain was becoming treacherous. Even I had to slow down and make sure I stepped where it was safe.

“She didn’t run away. When our mother, the queen, died, our father fell into a deep grief. Ta’sha’s relationship with the king suffered. He was harder on her than on me, and Ta’sha has always been a free, wild soul. He was probably afraid he would lose her, too, but unfortunately, he showed his love for his daughter in all the wrong ways. Ta’sha decided to leave Zorran and travel for a while, discover other planets, species, and cultures. She’s always been passionate about off-world art. She’s a collector.”

“Oh. Your sister sounds amazing. I’d love to meet her.”

I cocked an eyebrow. Why would Angie ever want to meet my sister? I let it go.

“But now our father, the king, has passed away. He followed our mother into the realm of the Three Heads, and the Kingdom of Zo’kun needs a leader. A queen.”

“Why not a king? You must be next in line, right?”

“I am. But I have long decided to become a priest. I cannot be both, so now I need to find my sister and bring her back, so she can become queen.”

“Hm. That sounds awfully complicated but thank you for telling me your story. Now, you said this is a dangerous planet. Why would your sister come here?”

Why, indeed?

A merchant at the Hub had whispered in my ear that Ta’sha had followed a pirate to Sorahan Island. She had made a deal with him, and he’d agreed to show her something on this dark, humid slice of land in the ocean. But I wasn’t going to tell Angie that. She’d been through a lot already, and the last thing she needed to hear was talk about pirates.

“We’ll find out,” I said dismissively.

“Well, your mission doesn’t sound too difficult.” She gave me a smile. “I’m sure we’ll be done with it in no time, and then you can take me to the Hub, and...”

She didn’t get to finish her sentence. With a surprised yelp, she slipped and fell face-first in a puddle of mud. More like a pool than a puddle...

My first reaction was to laugh. She was flopping like a sea creature on land, trying to push herself up, only to slip again and sink deeper into the sticky, foul-smelling mud. I laughed so hard that I had to hold a hand over my stomach. She started cursing, and the universal translator couldn’t quite keep up with it. Most of the words went untranslated.

“Oh, you’re awful! Just help me up! I hate you! How can you laugh at me?! I hate you so much!” She flopped some more, until she managed to turn on her back. “Thev! Theeeeev!”

“Okay, okay...”

She had mud on her face and in her hair. Now that I’d calmed down and could take a good look at her, I had to admit she looked quite pathetic, and I felt bad for her.

“I’m sorry, Angie. I shouldn’t have laughed.”

I offered her my hand and helped her up. She almost pulled me down with her, that was how slippery the mud was.

“Oh, God...” She sighed. She started wiping her face, but since her hands were covered in mud too, she only made it worse. “This is a nightmare!” She opened her bag and started rummaging through it. Then, she suddenly stopped, stared at me, and dropped the bag. “Oh, God...”

“What’s wrong?”

I grabbed the bag off the ground, but she didn’t want it. Instead, she started scratching at her arms, then her neck and her face.

“Oh, God... It itches!”

My eyes widened. Underneath the mud that was starting to dry on her skin, I could see her pale face turn red. Her neck and chest, too... She was turning an angry shade of red all over, and water spilled out of her eyes again as she scratched harder and harder.

“Stop it.”

“I will cry if I want to cry,” she yelled at me.

“No, not that... Stop scratching! You’re making it worse.”

“Worse? My skin is on fire! What can be worse than this?” And she scratched more violently. “This isn’t just mud.” She stomped her foot in the pool. “What is it?”

Tags: Cara Wylde Science Fiction
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