After dressing and a quick bite to eat they were on their way. The streets were always filled with people and the air was always thick. Visibility was low and it was easy to get lost if you didn’t know where you were going. Lanie unconsciously marveled at her ability to get around. Climbing the metal staircase to the upper level, they would soon be at Ku’s place. Ku let them in quickly and seemed to be in a huge hurry.
“Lanie, I’m going to give you an address. You must go there and they will add a temporary disguise to your features. It will make you look like a resident from the Red Zone. That will account for your hesitancy to meet with him, just say you are a sympathizer.”
“It’s simple Lanie, just do it!”
“I don’t know anything about the people from the Red Zone, nothing!”
“That’s the beauty of it! No one does. You can tell him anything, just say you defected.”
“So how do we know what they look like?”
“Reports, static filled messages, unclear ramblings, from ships logs who have encountered them. It doesn’t matter.”
Lanie had a bad feeling about this. She wanted to trust Ku, but she thought this was a half-baked idea and he just wanted to save his relationship with DuBont.
“Okay, but I want to be heavily armed, just in case.”
“He will be suspicious if we give you a big gun, but I will have them fix you up with some covert weapons.”
Ku sent her to the weapons specialist first. They hooked her up with some pretty 007-type weapons. Lanie was impressed. She had a taser –like weapon in the buttons of her left sleeve and some kind of a blaster that slide into her palm with a shake of her arm. Just for good measure she stuck a knife in her boot.
From there she was sent to get her disguise. They stained her skin a greenish brown, and then they added a few tentacles to her head. The tentacles her organic and actual living things, so they moved appropriately. It would have to do.
More than once Lanie saw One rolling on his back in laughter. She warned him that he would be getting a good spanking as soon as she could reach him. Sobering up some he sat at her feet.
“I can’t help it! You look ridiculous…wait till you see.”
She rolled her eyes as he rolled over in another fit of laughter.
Finally she was done and she was sent back to Ku for approval. Never intending to spank One, she still tortured him about.
“I don’t have time now, but you are so gonna get it when we get home!”
“Oh Lanie, sense of humor, ever hear of it? Get one!”
“You are such a smart ass!”
One was saved by Ku calling to them. “Lanie, come here let me look at you! Your ship is ready to go and you can leave right away.”
Standing in front of Ku she turned around slowly so he could see everything. When she faced him again Ku had a smirk on his face. One stood next to him and covered his mouth to stifle a laugh.
“I look ridiculous, right?”
“No NO! Just different… it will be fine. Get going right away.”
“Okay okay, but when I get back I want a week off to do some stuff for myself.”
“All right, just get moving!”
One hoped up her leg and scampered to her shoulder as she broke into a run for her ship. Once inside Lanie sealed the hatch, and then sat at the console.
“Wow! I can read what the dials say and what these markings mean now!! This is so cool!!”
“Don’t get cocky, you’re still gonna need my help.”
“Remind me why I keep you around?”
“You think I’m cute.”
Lanie shook her head,
Once they were on their way, One noticed Lanie was very quiet.
“Lanie? You okay? Are you thinking about Azano?”
“Nosey little stinker, aren’t cha?” She asked without looking at him.
He waited another minute and said, “I’ll be going with you, ya know. I’ll do some scouting or whatever you need.”
Lanie softened and smiled at him, “Thanks little buddy. It’s just weird to think about. I always knew I’d be in space, but not like this.”
One ran and picked up a shiny piece of metal to use as a mirror. He held it up to her and said, “You have no idea.”
Lanie was able to look and see the work they did on her. “Oh my universe,” she used Ku lingo, “I look ridiculous…”
“You do but DuBont won’t care, trust me.”
“Well we are going to get in there and get out, so we can head to Krayton right away.”
“We? I’m not going to dinner with you.”
“Really Lanie? Do you have any memory as to how we met?”
“Um yes, are you running from someone there?
“They do horrible experiments there…on the prisoners and species like me, they overpower us.”
“Okay then, stay on the ship I won’t take long.” Some other time she would have to ask him about the experiments.
Author's note: This will be the last installment of Capt. Lanie Romein. I am going to edit what I have and finish the story, then publish it. The main reason for this is a decline in readership. Thanks to those who read consistently every week there are still quite a few of you! I appreciate that! I hope you will enjoy the ending, and the new content when it's published.
The message went on, “I heard you have been looking for me. I had no idea when I met you that you would go to such great lengths to find me. I’m sorry, Lanie. I will tell you that you touched my heart, but how we feel isn’t important. I don’t think it would be a good idea for her to know you exist. Please cease your search for me.”
Lanie stood with her hand over her mouth to keep from screaming. Who was this her he spoke of? A girlfriend, wife…their daughter? How dare he tell her to stop looking for him! She paced and mumbled for several minutes before she had an idea, dialing Ku number she waited.
“Ku, listen, I just got a very disturbing message on my vid-phone, no video, just a message, can we tell where it came from?”
He sounded irritated, “I don’t know Lanie. I’m not a technician!”
“Who will know? Who should I call? It’s an emergency!”
“Has someone threatened you? Are you in danger?”
"No, Azano called me somehow and told me to stop looking for him.”
“Then do it.”
“Lanie. If you want someone from a different species, I can hook you up.”
“Then let it go. You have another life now.”
“Ku, he talked about a her . I think he might mean our daughter…”
“Lanie the last thing you need right now is an ankle biter.”
Ku sighed heavily, “Stay by the phone I’ll have the techs call you, see if they can do anything…”
“Ya, you will owe me.”
That remark didn’t bother her and she hung up the phone. One yawned and stretched and looked sleepily at her.
“Is this my bed?”
“Yes, you picked out the color, don’t you remember?”
“Oh ya….” He snuggled down into the softness. Looking up at Lanie he said, “You okay?”
“You don’t look okay, what’s going on?”
Lanie played the message for him.
“That must be Azano…”
“So what are you going to do?”
“I’m going after him.”
“Why, what’s in it for you?”
“Because it will just be you and me on the ship, no Kondelk…”
“I don’t know why you don’t like him, he’s my best friend!”
One put his hands on his hips and was about to say something when the phone rang.
“Hello?” Lanie answered it in one ring.
“Ku asked me to give you a call; you wanted to trace a call?”
“Can’t be done from a message.”
"Ah crap, you can fly all around the universe but you can’t trace a call?”
“Not from a message.”
Lanie sighed, “Okay thanks.”
She hung up the phone and looked at One. “I’m going to Krayton.”
“Lanie, you should let it go.”
“That’s what Ku said, but I can’t.”
The phone rang again, “Hello?”
“Lanie, it’s Ku. I need you to go to Degrato tomorrow.”
“I just came back from there!”
“DuBont wants to have dinner with you. I can’t afford to piss him off!”
“Damn it, Ku! He’ll know I’m human!”
“We can fix that. Come to me first thing in the morning.”
Lanie sighed, “Okay.”
After ending the call with Ku, Lanie lay down on the floor next to One and that’s the last thing she remembered. When she woke, she was stiff from lying on the floor. She wiped the drool, from her face and looked down on the peaceful little body of One, all snuggled in his new bed. She smiled and got up quietly and headed for the shower.
Humming a little tune as the water washed over her, she had her eyes closed. In her mind’s eye came the vision of the little hybrid girl she had seen on Krayton. Musing about whether her daughter would look like that or if she even had a daughter, she felt fur brush against her ankle. Her eyes shot opened and she looked down.
“One! What the heck are you doing?”
“You are always saying I stink, so here I am, sharing your shower.”
“I don’t know…I guess it’s all right.”
“Trust me Lanie, I like you, but you aren’t my type.”
She smiled, “Oh okay, had me worried, little fella.”
“Lanie will you ever stop treating me like an idiot pet or something?”
“I’m sorry, you’re just so cute!” She said, as she petted him with her foot.
Lanie stifled a giggle and stepped out of the shower. “Hurry up One, we have to get to Ku’s.”
Kondelk eyed One suspiciously and nodded, “Okay.”
“He’s cool, just a little nervous.” Lanie could see him wringing his paws out of the corner of her eye. “Hey, I could use some help. I need to buy a bunch of stuff and I’m kinda familiar with smaller amounts of the money here, but Ku gave me some coins I have never seen before.” Lanie said as she pulled some coins from the small pouch she had stowed down her shirt.
Kondelk’s eyes lit up instantly and he shoved Lanie into a corner, “Don’t go flashing those around! That’s a lot of money! Put it away!”
She did as he asked, “That’s why I came to you. Will you help me?”
“They have places on Earth that you can put your pay until you need it, right?”
“Ya like that, that’s where we are going first. I can’t believe Ku just let you run around with this!”
Kondelk took her to their version of an Earth bank, which was pretty much the same except the clientele was a little different. They gave her a T-Card and a U-card. The T-card could be used on Tentalu and the U-card could be used anywhere else in the Universe, except probably Earth… The U-card required an extra few moments to be approved when used, but the T-card was instant. The card was tied by DNA to the holder. Lanie was happy to find out all she had to do was spit in a vessel to give them a DNA sample. She was also happy to find out that Ku had indeed been generous, and she was ready to go shopping.
Kondelk tagged along to make sure Lanie was not taken advantage of. Many times he side glanced at Lanie’s shoulder to find One staring at him suspiciously. He shrugged his shoulders and with palms up, he mouthed the question “What?” One merely shook his head and looked away. Minutes later Kondelk would find One looking at him again.
“Lanie, One doesn’t like me.” Kondelk whined.
“Don’t be silly, he doesn’t even know you!” And then she said to One. “It’s okay buddy, Kondelk’s a good guy.”
After she spoke to One, he covertly kept watch on Kondelk. Apparently it wasn’t noticed by Kondelk, and the shopping trip continued. The unlikely group of three visited almost every store on the main strip and a few that Kondelk recommended that had better prices that were not in the business district. Lastly, Lanie took out the piece of paper that Ku gave her with the address of the business that would install the universal translator for her eyes allowing her to read any language.
Standing in front of the building, Lanie felt a little nervous. They all walked in and the person at the counter took some information from Lanie, After swiping her T-Card, he led her to the back of the store. He was one of the human lookalikes, except his skin was yellow with large brown spots. Lanie turned around to look back at One and Kondelk, she had tried to get One to sit on Kondelk’s shoulder, but he refused. One sat in a corner with his arms folded and his nose in the air, Kondelk looked worried and was wringing his hands as Lanie waved to him before she was led into a room.
The person who performed the installation was soft spoken and polite and of the same species as the counter person. He helped her into a chair and placed a device over her eyes, it resembled a visor with a sun shield. Lanie felt a tingling in her eye sockets, but no pain.
“Please close your eyes.” Said the one who would install the device.
Lanie felt him remove the visor, and she sat very still. After a moment she was told to open her eyes. He handed her a book, and she was able to read the words easily. She looked up smiling.
“I can read every word!”
Helping her out of the chair, she was led to the outer room of the business. Lanie found One still in the corner, chanting, and Kondelk right where she left him, still looking worried and wringing his hands.
“Lanie? How’d it go, you okay?”
“Yes Kondelk, I’m fine, it was painless.”
One had scampered over to her, climbed her leg and made his way to her shoulder. He leaned over looked at her through slitted eyes. “Looks okay I guess.”
“You guess? How can you tell? I suppose you’re going to tell me you know how to install these devices.”
“Let’s just say I could have saved you some money.”
Lanie laughed and shook her head, “You never cease to amaze me One.”
“What you don’t believe me?”
“Of course I do!” She rolled her eyes and made a face at Kondelk, who nodded knowingly.
“I saw that!” One stomped his foot.
“Okay, okay, I’m sorry,”
They stopped and had some dinner together as Lanie’s treat, and then it was time for her to take One home. She was having a conversation with Kondelk on etiquette when visiting other planets, when she looked over and saw One asleep on his plate. Poor little One, it had been a big day for him with no naps. Kondelk gathered most of the packages, and Lanie gently removed One from the plate he was somewhat stuck to.
Arriving home, she had Kondelk unpack the fluffy little blue colored bed she bought for One, and laid him in it. He never woke once. Thanking Kondelk for all his help, she closed the door as he left. Leaning against the closed door she looked at One asleep in his new bed, she smiled and her eyes scanned the room, reflecting for a moment on how far she had come from the scared little girl who once met an alien.
That was when she saw the message light blinking. It was probably Ku… She walked slowly across the room and pressed the button.
“Lanie, I can’t believe I’m calling you. More than that, I can’t believe I’m calling you at your apartment on Tentalu.”
There was a pause but she recognized the voice and she stood frozen in place.