Corana Chapter 2 and 3 Taken, Betrayed Again…Naturally

Chapter 2

 

After a few days, I realised that life had to go on.  The boats still needed fuel and fixing and a dead father seemed to be a meagre excuse for most of the people who relied on us for their amusement.  I loved these people normally but their chronic insensitivity to my pain in the face of getting gas for their pleasure boats was pissing me off.

The solution to my dilemma walked through the door of the marine office just as I was thinking I did not want to do this anymore.  She was tall, statuesque and stunning with long flowing dark hair that had a gentle curl.  The man in me fought desperately not to stare at the perfectly perky pair of boobs barely covered by a Canadian maple leaf patterned bikini top or the tiny blue jean shorts.  She caught me looking and just offered a soft gentle laugh that let me know that she wasn’t upset or uptight.  She told me a few days later that she expected to be looked at when she dressed like that.  If she were a knight that outfit would be her armour.  It made her feel powerful and probably hated by every female on the planet.

Her voice was soft and relaxed as she said, “Hi Davis.”  She acted like she knew me but for the life of me I couldn’t place her.  But she seemed awfully familiar.

“Maybe you don’t remember me; I am Jack’s daughter ….”

“Mandy,” I interrupted finally making the connection.  Jack was my Dad’s closest friend.  He lived on an island in the lake with his second wife whose name I could never remember.  He had been at the funeral but there was no way I would have missed Mandy, grieving or not.  The last time I saw her she was 11 and she and her Mom were moving away to Perth.  Seems Jack found a new model who couldn’t have been much older than Mandy who had to be 20ish by now.  ..A classic mid life crisis gone wrong.  Jack used to hang out here all the time but his new wife wouldn’t be caught dead in a grease pit like this.  My Dad missed him no matter how much of a cad he thought he was, Jack was his best friend.

“Wow, I can’t believe you remembered me after all these years,” Mandy said wondering how.

“Well it was difficult because I thought you had moved away …. The last time I saw you was…..”

“Yeah, I remember,” Mandy interrupted not wanting to relive the pain.  “But I spend my summers with Jack and Lois,” The way she pronounced her stepmothers name and referred to her father as Jack pretty much told me that time had not healed every wound.  “Anyway, I just wanted to come by and tell you how sorry I was about Rod’s ……passing,” there was a long pause as she searched for the right word.  It’s funny but this was the first time since the funeral that anyone had used my Dad’s name.  It felt strange.  Not only had my Dad died but a real person called Roderick Davis had died too.  Mandy started again before the awkwardness could continue.  “Anyhow, Jack wanted me to ask if you needed any help.  I don’t know much about marine engines but I can catch a rope or pump the gas…well after you show me… and you don’t have to pay me,” Mandy added clearly hoping I would not agree to that last part.

“I would love to have you working here.  I can’t pay you a lot but I am sure we could work something out.” I said truly hoping to just toss the whole damn Marina in her lap and walk away.  Mandy seemed like fun, a bit wild and so full of life, she would be a welcome change from the environment of death we had going on for the last 12 weeks or so.

I took her to meet Joan even though Joan really didn’t have a say in the matter.  She was family and I felt obligated to include her in things.  Joan took one look at her and said out loud, “Holy crap she’s gorgeous.”  Then she said in my ear, “If you don’t sleep with her, I will.”  I knew she was mostly joking but I thought I better spoil the party before I found out for sure.

“Ah Joan, this is Mandy….”
“Jack’s daughter,” Joan said sounding a bit disappointed.

Mandy was a bit confused but smiled happily anyway.  Mandy, Joan and I sat down at the kitchen table with Joan still salivating despite the fact Mandy was the daughter of our Dad’s best friend.  She was young enough to be Joan’s daughter and I realised that ‘damn it she was young enough to be my daughter too’.  Of course, she was just a year or two younger than Larsen.  I felt like slapping myself silly for even thinking it.   Mandy caught me leering again and again she laughed when I tried to look away.  Admittedly compared to Joan I was respectful.  Finally, I just called Joan’s name,

“Joan!”

“I’m so sorry I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable, it’s just that I can’t get over how much you look like your mother.”  Joan said trying to cover the fact she hadn’t even seen a female in about 14 weeks.

“I think my mother is quite pretty,” Mandy said with a smile but obviously trying to diffuse an awkward moment, “So thanks for the compliment.”

Joan replied, “Oh you’re quite welcome.”

Joan turned to me for rescue but I was thinking of just letting her hang herself.  But finally, I interjected, “So I imagine you’d like to know what we want you to do for the marina?”

“Well actually I was enjoying hearing how pretty I am, but if you want to make this all business….” Mandy said laughing.  Joan laughed too much and I just let my eyes do the laughing for me.

“Well I am not sure how early you can get here but we won’t open the shop until then.  Then if you could take care of the cash, manning the pumps which I will show you in a minute and then just keep an eye on the boats making sure they get moored ok…that kind of thing.”  I rattled off her duties as quickly as I could because I kept getting rattled myself looking into those dark blue eyes.  She was a friend’s daughter and I was still filled with complicated emotions about Larsen not to mention she was now an employee but I could not help finding her attractive.

My thoughts betrayed me as she caught me off guard with her next question, “Shall we get started?”

“What?… um oh yeah.”

“You were going to show me a man with cash that I could pump…. Well at least that is the way I heard it.”  Mandy teased.

All three of us burst out laughing.  It was something Joan and I had not done for a few days.  Mandy’s shock humour was just enough to send us into hysterics and we all laughed too long and too hard.

Finally, Joan said, “There is no doubt about it the Marina is in good hands, this girl is hilarious.”  Despite Joan’s initial attraction, now she just genuinely liked the girl.  Despite my attraction, I felt the same way.

Mandy learned her duties quickly but like a comedian on a roll she continued with the innuendo.

“Can you come inside and I’ll show you how it works?”  I asked as we were going in to see the shop cash register.

“Wow you almost never hear a man say that.”

“Can you hold this for me while I turn it on,” I asked as I handed her an oil can that fell from the shelf as I went over to the cash.

“Now there is something I do hear from guys all the time,” Mandy laughed.

I laughed too but I finally said “Oh god I think we have created a monster.”

“You just keep layin’ em out there and I’ll keep knocking them away,” Mandy said using a sports euphemism

“Now there is something you don’t hear girls say that often.”  And we both laughed again.  It was going to be a fun summer.  Mandy was nice to look at and had a warped sense of humour.  The only way to ruin the fun would be for us to get involved so I resolved at that moment it would never happen.

Mandy arrived promptly the next morning wearing a ‘hot girls are people too’ purple tee shirt and a micro mini that I wasn’t sure was covering anything.  One thing for sure she was great for business.  I had never seen a larger collection of middle aged letches and penis head teenage boys in my life.  One of them bought a can of oil and I don’t think he even had a boat.  She learned quickly…I even heard her exclaim to a couple of boys, “If you’re not buying anything you’ll have to leave.”

I was finally free to work on the engines.  There is some satisfaction in taking a broken engine and making it work again.  Over in the corner there was a 50-year-old Evinrude sitting in a test tank that I worked on whenever I had nothing else to do.  A boy named Tim had brought it in to me after he found it in his grandfather’s garage.  It was on an old wooden boat that had more dry rot than wood left.  The boy was lucky to be alive because he rowed that boat about a mile before it literally sank in my dock.  I got the crane on the motor just in time.

As I was working on the motor and tearing it down I started thinking about progressive compression chambers like a jet or a turbine and I started thinking about using many fuels instead of one.  One to power the initial compression reaction for a further compression of something inert that became volatile when compressed.  I had done it.  I had solved the problem that the scientists in the propulsion lab had failed to.  You could hyper compress the fuel use its decompression to fuel the next reaction and so on down the line until the two most volatile fuels mixed to create a cataclysmic reaction.  I wanted to call Larsen and tell her but she had chosen to use my designs as engines of death.  The only thing I could do was build one myself.  If it worked in water with the chemicals I could easily get like hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen, it could work with more sophisticated chemicals.

I would build my super engine later; right now, I had an internal combustion engine to take care of.  It had a cracked cylinder head which had scored up the cylinder pretty badly but it was fixable.  That kid hadn’t been back since the day he almost drowned.  Yet another parts delivery I would probably never get paid for.  I could see why Dad was always such a stickler for half down when he did a major repair…at least his costs were covered.

I peered out the open garage door to catch Mandy thoroughly bent over pumping gas on a small cabin cruiser with two delighted old men enjoying the show and one angry older woman looking disgusted.

“Hey Mandy,” I yelled out.

“Yeah?” She looked up and smiled one of her you’re-a-man-and-I-own-you smiles.

“Do you know a kid named Tim who sunk a boat here?”  I yelled the question wondering if she would find it as dumb as it sounded.

“I should, he is my boyfriend,” Mandy said, matter of factly.

The words hit me by surprise.  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that someone that pretty had a boyfriend but this Tim kid was well young…probably her age as I thought about it.  Now I was having second thoughts about fronting the kid the parts to fix the engine.  He probably couldn’t get his hands on a boat to go with it anyway.  The little schmuck who gets to touch that face, kiss those lips, run his hands through that hair and …..

“Why?” I heard Mandy ask in the background.

“Oh um…just thinking about something,” I said trying to escape my good deed out of pure jealousy.  Mandy was finished her boat fill-up-sex-tease… “and look they gave me an extra 10 bucks,” she said genuinely surprised.

“Imagine that.  Couldn’t be the outfit, could it?” I said under my breath.

“What? No… well a little skin can make a man feel as guilty as sin.” Mandy laughed at her quote from god knows where.  “Anyway, for some reason I feel like I have to explain about Tim and me.”  She offered but I tried to stop her before she finished.

“No, no not at all.  I guess I assumed you didn’t have a boyfriend but I never asked and it really is none of my business.  I mean god knows you are pretty enough but I guess I thought ..well none of these kids would be good enough for you,” I felt like I had turned three shades of purple and  just kept digging myself in deeper.

“So, you think I am that hot?” She asked very pleased at herself for putting me on the defensive.

I just nodded because anything I said here would just make it worse.

“Tim lost his father a while ago and now his grandfather.  He looks like he is about 14 but actually he is 18 and lives with his sister and her husband in their grandfather’s old house.  I call him my boyfriend ‘cus we hang out a lot and it helps get rid of some of the boys. But I am older than him and he knows that so it’s really platonic, though there are times when I am sure he would like more than that.  Then again there are other times when I am not sure he is in to girls….He has a huge G.I. Joe collection and he notices shoes…what’s that tell ya?”  She laughed to my relief because I was laughing too.

 

Joan could zero in on nervous laughter like no one else I knew.  “What’s going on?” She asked curiously and maybe a little defensively.

“Mandy her has a boyfriend who is in to G.I. Joes and notices women’s shoes,” I said teasing Mandy.

“Oh, poor girl! I was in love with someone who was gay too.  But since she and I were both gay that made it a lot easier.”  Joan was teasing but still flirting rather sadly with the girl who was 25 years her junior.  “What you need to do,” Joan continued “is have an affair with a mature woman.  That will pay the boy back for his preferring the sausage.”

Mandy looked at me before she realised that Joan had just been teasing her which made me laugh even harder.

“It’s not like that,” Mandy protested.  “Tim isn’t really my boyfriend and I don’t know that he is gay.  From the way he looks at me I would say that he isn’t but he does play with dolls and is aware of shoes…”

“Rob, quick without looking, what kind of shoes is Mandy wearing?” Joan asked still teasing.

“Um white ones?”  I really was guessing because I had no idea even though we were talking about shoes.

“See, despite the fact my brother would blow a man to measure the scientific reaction, I know he is not gay.  Only women, gay men and shoe makers actually notice shoes.”  Joan continued until we all were laughing hard.

“Hey I would not blow a guy just to measure his reaction.”

“Yes, you would and then you’d get someone else to blow him to see if the law of diminishing returns holds true in a sexual vane or not.”  Joan’s comment was probably true.  For science, I would probably do almost anything.  Not sure if I would go that far or not but I had done some unusual things to measure a scientific truth.

“I am wearing brown sandals with a small heal, in case you were wondering,” Mandy pitched in.

“Sorry,” I offered

“Don’t be.  I guess I would be more worried if you did know what shoes I was wearing.  I had you pegged as straight and I would have had serious gay-dar issues if you turned out to be gay,” Mandy said still half teasing.

“Anyway,” Joan interrupted, “I was wondering if you two would like to take the big boat, go out to Perth and get some dinner.  I want to talk to both of you.”

I hadn’t even fired up the engine of the cruiser since before Dad died.  I had come in and turned the blowers on and run the bilge pump for a while but I didn’t start it.  The Sacred Heart as Dad named her was built by an Ontario firm called Grew.  She was a 26-foot mahogany lapstreak wooden boat built in the 70s with a small forward vee cabin and a fold away galley table.  As kids, we went on all kinds of trips on her but after Mom disappeared it was only occasionally.  Dad loved the boat; spending every winter re-conditioning the hull and making her sound for the water.

It was the first engine I ever worked on.  The original engine was a 350 Chevy that I had developing over 500 horsepower with a new inboard-outboard using a variable pitch and through the hub exhaust propeller.   My Dad was very proud of the modifications.  Especially proud when his cabin cruiser was blasting past ski boats half its size.

As we gathered up the stuff we need for the trip, I reflected on how far Joan and I had come.  We hadn’t stayed in touch over the years.  She had resentments and so did I but we overcame them all and here we are today as close as any two siblings can be.  My sister was talented.  She kept my Dad strong right up till the end.  It was her strength that allowed him to keep his dignity and not haemorrhage to death.  She was the one who made most of the arrangements while keeping me going at the same time.  I was proud of my big sister.  I had only just found out she was a lesbian and the story of her life was really quite sad.  But she knew me and knew I was afraid of the love that was developing between me and Larsen more than I was angry at Larsen’s betrayal.

She helped me see that I was changed and quite a bit more receptive to what the future might hold.  The engine fired up right away like the heart of my father living inside of it.  I looked around the small marina with its blue painted wooden floating docs, the boathouse in the back where we kept the speed boat, the white and grey marine office where people signed in for overnight docking and bought their supplies; the two big pumps, one with diesel and the other with pure gas and several gas oil mixtures that hardly anyone ever used anymore; the trees that lined the back so you couldn’t even see the  parking lot behind them and behind the boathouse was my house where Joan and I grew up.

I never realised how much I really loved this place.  Joan was right I was just hiding out but now I really felt like I was home.  With Mandy running the marina and me fixing boats and able to experiment and play, I can’t imagine any other place in the world I would rather be.  Joan could come back on the weekends and spend some time here and I would keep the place running.  Sure, there was no trip to Mars, but there was a life and a strange feeling of contentment came over me.  For the first time since my mom disappeared, I felt like I belonged somewhere, right here at home.

 

I untied the boat from the doc cleats and threw the rope on top of the deck.  I thought the lone turquoise border strake that connected the deck to the hull looked a bit dingy and could use a coat of paint.  Dad would have been pissed that I let this go so much.  While the boat just floated, I took down the musty smelling tarp and opened the back deck to the sky.  I revved the engine once and then popped it in reverse for a second then let it coast back.  The Sacred Heart floated back quietly.  I put the cruiser in drive and steered her toward the refuelling doc.  Mandy and her sexy short dress were waiting for me and I tried to divert my eyes as she fuelled the tank.  In this day and age, it is unthinkable to even admire beauty. But since the boat needed gas it would have to be this way…for now!

Things like regular hours and opening and closing times had never been part of the regimen of the marina.  So, it was no issue for Mandy to join Joan and I to just leave.  As the waves pounded gently on the old wooden hull, the boat planed perfectly past the many rich man islands as we traversed the lake.  We pulled up to an old government dock that had seen better days and moored there and we walked the old road into the town of Perth.  We found a nice-looking restaurant and as we walked in past the nautical décor on the walls and waited until each man had a chance to rape Mandy at least once with their eyes before we sat down at a table for 4.

“Before you get too drunk, I just wanted to tell you that it’s time for me to go back to Ottawa.”  Joan said without a hint of smile.  “Now that you have Mandy to run the shop and we’ve had time to grieve.  I think its time to get back to reality.”

“Are you sure?”  I said hoping that she would say no.  “I mean I knew that sooner or later you would want to leave….”

“No, it’s not that I want to leave.  In fact, I’ve really enjoyed this time with my baby brother… getting a chance to re-connect with you has been one of the best times of my life…in spite of why it happened.  But I need to be a nurse, to save lives, to feel useful.  I need to be me again.”  Joan said it like she was asking for permission.

“I understand,” I lied. “I guess I just hate to lose my big sister now that I have found her again.”

“Well that’s just it.  We have reconnected and I will not stay away this time.  I will be back as often as time permits and who knows I might even learn to pump gas or something.  We are not going to lose what it took losing our father to get.  I will be part of your life and nothing you can do will stop me.”  Joan reassured.

The hours sailed by and after a fill of Lobster flown from Moncton to Ottawa and picked up by the restaurant in Perth that very day….I made mine dance and used the claws for castanets…yeah I was hammered…it was awesome.  The three of us had a blast and we somehow staggered our way back to the boat.  I passed out on the transom bed and the girls went down below deck and if I am not mistaken, spent the night getting off with each other.  They must have been in better shape than I was because all I could think of was how the boat was going side to side and I was spinning.  At one point, I covered myself with the musty smelling tarp as I had donated enough blood to the save-the-mosquito foundation.

In the morning, I untied the boat and headed back home.  It felt odd like this might be the last time.  I didn’t know how or why but I had a sense of impending doom and I could not really explain it other than an odd turn in the grieving process.

Just as I pulled up to our dock, Mandy and Joan opened the cabin door, albeit sheepishly, and Mandy handed me a coffee which I was so grateful for, I think. I almost forgot about what sounded like multiple trysts the night before.

I wanted to but I didn’t bring it up and all Joan would say or do is “Thanks for your discretion little brother”. And we left it at that.

Despite Mandy’s pleas for Joan to stay just a bit longer.  Joan left later that afternoon.  I wasn’t sure if it was just that the kid had never had anyone love her and leave her but she seemed insistent until Joan was finally really short with her.

Mandy said, “If you leave now you will never see me or your brother again!”  Joan just smiled and grabbed Mandy into a hug and said, “Trust me you’ll get over it.”  And at that she packed her last suitcase into her car.

I should have asked what Mandy meant but I just chocked it up to youth and forgot about it until much later that night.

 

 

Chapter 3 Taken

Joan and I packed up the rest of her stuff into the car so she could get on her way.  Mandy was nowhere to be found.  It was later summer now so the daylight was leaving early like it had an appointment somewhere else in the world.  It was still hot and humid and I could feel the sweat making my clothes cling like I was using bad dryer sheets.  Or, it might have been the fact that for the first time I would be alone in a place where my Dad had always been an island of peace in a world of tribulation.  Now that my sister was leaving I would have no choice but to miss him and feel truly alone.

I knew I’d keep busy with the boats in the summer and snowmobiles in the winter—there was always gas to pour, engines to fix and gadgets to sell.  It was a simple life that I had opted for and I was going to share with my father for at least another 10 years or so.  Now that he was gone I had no choice but to keep his dream going.

Joan was wearing shorts and a tee-shirt and did not look overheated at all as she gave me a brief hug and said, “I’ll see you soon little brother …. oh, and tell Mandy I’m sorry, I thought she understood it was just a night of fun.”

“I’ll take care of it.” I said knowing I would never say anything to the kid.

“I’ll be back in a few weeks.”  Joan said to the open window as she drove away.

A few months ago, and that would have seemed like a threat and now I was really looking forward to it.  As Joan drove away up through the trees on the long driveway, I went back to the cabin cruiser to putter around and wait for customers. For a while I just looked down into the crystal-clear waters of the Big Rideau Lake and allowed myself a chance to feel sad.  I had been so focused on doing things that this was my first real opportunity to grieve.  I was alone.

 

My melancholy had driven me to a deep sleep under the canopy on the back of the boat.  If there had been any customers, I am sure they were not happy but I had slept so deeply that I actually felt better.  It was very dark now but there were very bright lights coming from the other side of the house.  They looked like police lights and I quickly turned on the radio.  There had been accident, someone had driven off the bridge near the Lake and the lone occupant had not been found.  If it had been Joan, there was a chance she was still alive.  I jumped off the boat and ran to the house but these men and women were not police.  They were wearing uniforms of what looked like thick but pliable plastic and helmets with lights built in.  Just up the driveway was a long jet-fighter sized flattened tube with small glass windows and more of the uniformed people inside.  I think I am just about to be kidnapped by aliens but these were not aliens at all, they were speaking English and looked like soldiers.  I wonder if the damned Americans couldn’t get their missiles to fly properly and were here to take my brain apart…but they didn’t look like Americans either.

As I got closer I still had not been seen.  There was one standing with his back to me with a gun in his hand.  I am not a soldier or even trained in any way but instinct took over and I had knocked the guy over before I knew what the hell I was doing.  He fell with a thud…head first.  I don’t know if I killed him but he did not look well.  I took his gun and as I looked up, coming out of the door of the house was Mandy and behind her was another soldier.  I fired and hit him square in the face.  He went down quickly.  I screamed for Mandy to get down but as I did she lifted her odd-looking small sceptre-like weapon and shot me. The she shouted, “He’s out here,” as I felt myself melt like I had been turned into soup

Unconscious I was apparently taken aboard the ship and thrown into a cage like I was a wild animal.  I had been betrayed, there was a chance that my sister was dead, I was still grieving my father, I had left the radio on in the boat and the person behind it all was being paid minimum wage…. by me!

I was really feeling like things could not get worse as I was still half-dazed but when I opened my eyes I saw a petite lovely young woman in the adjoining cage with her white blouse too far open to be considered professional with weepy eyes that when you looked close at them, sparkled between blue and sometimes green…God how I hated her.

“Hey Davis,” she said without a hint of emotion or a hint of regret or even acknowledging the year that had gone by since we last spoke.  Or even the fact that we were captives on some sort of sky ship headed away from the comfort of the lake and soil that I am guessing now is so far beneath us.

“Ms. Larson,” is all I could say without opening a bag of hatred that I had hoped to use the next time I saw her.

This was now two women who had betrayed me.  Mandy had just shot me with some sort of heat ray gun which although not fatal, wasn’t the most pleasant experience I ever had.  It felt like I was being boiled alive for a second and then I felt nothing.  I think it felt worse that an old family friend could do this but I had to remember that it was her youth and beautiful face and body that made up for the fact that I was a gullible man and I really didn’t know her that well.

As I looked around there really wasn’t anything other-worldly about the ship.  In front of me was a narrow hallway with metal locker-like doors and the cages on the other.  I felt cheated that there wasn’t some sort of force field…just metal cages like the ones they had at the SPCA for large dogs.  There looked to be about 10 cages but only 5 of them had people in them.  Two of the captives were moaning and crying, another was sort of catatonic and just two were curious.

Our captors looked more like cops in green than they did military.  Most looked like they were fit humans in their mid to late 40s.   They wore jumper style flight suits with a shiny black x belt that attached in the middle of their chests.  From that hung the sceptre weapon, a communicator {I assumed} and some sort of scanning device.

My cage was somewhere in the middle of the ship with about 15 feet to the front and to the back.  At the back, I could see Mandy in a mini dress whoring it up with a few older soldiers, laughing and giggling like she was deciding to sleep with all of them at once or just one at a time.  She saw my stare, stopped smiling for a second and went back to being an unconscionable whore.

As looked to the front of the ship I saw someone that made me think I was dreaming and I would wake up with a hang-over and a laugh.  Ten feet in front of me was…. but it couldn’t be…my mother.  First, she hadn’t aged since I was a kid.  Secondly, she had been gone for more than 20 years!  She looked and saw me but it obviously didn’t register who I was and she resumed talking to the men and women around her.  All I could say was, “Mom?” over and over again until the slut who betrayed me was standing in front of me.

As she bent down all I could think of was wrapping my hands around her perfect little neck.  I grabbed but the cage was in the way.  She just smiled and turned around and pulled up her mini skirt and said, “What’s wrong Mr. Davis don’t you still want to DO me?”  Then she started to laugh as she slowly put her thonged butt away and turned back around.

“Jesus Davis, were you robbing kindergartens up there in the north?” Larson said with a sarcastic snicker.

Mandy kicked her cage hard enough that Larson decided that was all she was going to say for now.

“You’re probably wondering why you’re here and where you are for that matter,” Mandy started.

“No, I always begin my vacations with a couple of shootings just before being kidnapped by aliens,” Davis said without a hint of humour.

“First, I would be careful not to remind them if I were you.  You shot a couple of their men and they are not happy with you at all. Secondly, most of us are not aliens…. we’re kind of like mercenaries from Earth representing the planet Usalus….

“The planet useless?” Larson interrupted just before Mandy kicked her cage again.

“Usalus, and this will go quicker if you just let me finish.” Mandy said getting angrier now.  “Most of us are volunteers who were given the option of leaving our troubled lives on Earth and becoming peace and security workers.  It’s a pretty simple job since we don’t have wars to fight.  Usalus has very few enemies except for a border dispute with a nearby planet in an adjacent solar system.  So, we spend our days training for a fight that hopefully will never happen. 

“Why mercenaries from Earth?” Davis asked in spite of himself

“Well that is a funny thing, they found a portal…sort of a black hole… that leads to this galaxy and saw the Earth was the only planet where people fight each other and they decided to take advantage of our war like tendencies.”

“Yay us!” Larson said without getting a boot this time.

Mandy continued, “At first they took homeless people, people from plane crashes….

“The Bermuda Triangle?” Larson interjected again

“Not as many as you might think, Mandy said trying to be patient.

‘Larson, for god’s sake…lets just get through this,” Davis injected not sure whom he was mad at.

“Oh, Sure now he speaks to me.  If you think he is difficult now, try working with him….” Larson started until she realized they were both just staring at her.  “Oh, right sorry…Can’t interrupt or Davis wont get his rocks off with the child,” She muttered under her breath. 

Mandy was getting angrier now.  “First, I would have been more into you than him but even if I did do Davis, which I didn’t…” She was getting flustered now. “Secondly, if I had, it would have been for this mission and nothing else!”  Mandy paused and waited for Larson to say something and then went on.  “Over the years there have been a few …what the Usalans call ‘Reluctants’ but for the most part every one of us is a volunteer.  We left because we just could not stand our lives back on Earth.  You two with the other 3 are our first real Reluctants in a long time.  The Usalan Science Command came across a design for propulsion which involved the mixing of 2 different fuels…

“I am familiar with it…I designed it and she,” Davis said, pointing at Larson, “Stole it.”

“Anyway, they are hoping that you will adapt it to their technology so they can defend their interests better….’, Mandy recited.

“And take more and more people from Earth who may or may not want to go.”  Davis stated the obvious.  “Well I’m excited.  I can’t wait to be part of more kidnappings.” Davis said sarcastically

“Look Mr. Davis you were nice to me…”

“Oh, I’ll bet he was…” Larson muttered and they both ignored it with an eye roll “So I will tell you the truth,” Mandy continued whispering, “They use creatures…that …well… don’t control you but give you that moment of near euphoria and you’ll do anything to feel it.  I’ve seen it happen.   Believe me you don’t want that.  But that is exactly what they will do to you if you don’t cooperate.”  Mandy was back to full volume again.  “But none of that is ever going to happen because you’ll realise you can pretty much have whatever you want whenever you want it.  Except to go home.” As the woman Davis thought might be his mother… except younger… started to walk by, Mandy introduced them.

“And I know you know this lady,” Mandy said still feigning excitement

The woman looked down at Davis and then back to herself and back down again.  “Roger? She asked curiously

“Mom?” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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