LaSaDa, Sala, Kasu, Kan and Odyssa had just a very short talk, before they met the Lizard delegation. Odyssa had explained how, after Blade had made her stop Mari killing the Lizard woman and she had spoken to her, she had realised, that perhaps there was a split between those lizards, who, like that Osk, wanted power and the general population. If they could make the pirates terminate the alliance with the Homm and keep out of the conflict with them, after the Homm were eliminated the Alliance would have the upper hand and those among the Lizard race, who wanted peace might outnumber the warring fraction and peace could be achieved.
Odyssa had to realise, though, once the talks had started, that that might be a vain hope, as the Lizards, other than the Alliance, had no such thing like a central command. That explained to Odyssa the randomness of the lizards’ actions in the war so far. They worked like an assembly of tribes, each with their own chief, who somewhat worked together, but not always, when one or the other of the chiefs had a different agenda. Tak nevertheless seemed prepared, on Taka’s insistence, to sign a truce with the Alliance, until the Homm were eliminated and promised to work on other chiefs, trying to get a peace treaty arranged.
That posed several problems for Odyssa and the Alliance. If they had to be weary of the other Lizard tribes while thy concentrated on the Homm, they’d be fighting a war on two fronts. They’d have to stretch their resources too far. So how to dissuade the Lizards from continuing the war? It almost seemed to Odyssa that she would have to continue her strategy of scaring the lizards until they capitulated, before being able to concentrate on the Homm. LaSaDa and the others perfectly understood her reasoning as she started to explain to Tak.
“Tak, I am willing to keep the peace with you and protect your tribe from the Homm. But I cannot concentrate on them, if I constantly have to watch my back. I would like you to negotiate for both of us in this. Taka and I agree that your people should never have allied themselves to the Homm. Going on like this you’d eventually have to invade my world, after having won against the Alliance, which is dubious now, as I have supplied them with information on how to fight the Homm. Even if I left you might be fighting on for anther eternity.”
Taka was nodding her consent. Odyssa continued.
“I can promise you one thing, though, Tak. If it came to that, that I see my world threatened and humans being abducted in large numbers, I will use all my resources to annihilate the threat. And that would then also include your people. Perhaps you should include that knowledge in your arguments. To make my point I will show you my true self. Not many people have survived knowing who I am, because normally I only show myself to those who are going to die.”
With that Odyssa grew to even more than fifty feet height and spread her burning wings, making the fire so bright, that it would have stunned a whole band of Homm. Everybody not only had to close their eyes but also avert them to keep their eyesight. Then she returned to her human size but kept the wings, now only burning in a friendly fire. She turned to Taka and opened her arms. Taka was a very courageous woman. She looked into Odyssa’s eyes and stepped into her embrace without fear. Tak gasped in shock as Odyssa enfolded her in her wings. Odyssa opened the wings again keeping her right wing holding Taka and both women turned to the Lizard delegation.
“Women are stronger than you think, my husband.” Taka said “And Odyssa is stronger than any entity I have ever heard of. Yet she is willing to accept and befriend us. If it came to it, I would rather flee into her embrace than go on being allied with the Homm. And be assured that a lot of women of all tribes will say the same.”
Funny, Odyssa thought, how the myths apply even over the boundaries of dimensions. Taka is just like Lysistrata. She pulled her even closer.
“Your wife, Chief Tak, speaks with wisdom. I will happily accommodate any females of your race, who come and seek my protection. For the moment we are going to make good of my promise to protect you from the Homm. We will leave a force to help you against the Homm, should they arrive, while I go and find more Homm to kill. Any Pirate, though, who will stand in my way on that path is doomed.”
“And you, my husband, will give Odyssa all information we have on these abominations.” Taka added “And I will stay with her until we know where everybody stands.”
All officers of the Allied forces were surprised by Taka’s determination and courage. There were only two other women, who so fearlessly had touched Odyssa’s wings, Kassandra and Maureen. Taka was truly special and Odyssa thanked Blade again for saving her. The lizards returned to their ships after Tak had shared all he knew about the Homm and where they possibly came from and then left his city to be protected by the Alliance, while he and his squadron would visit the tribes around them and try to persuade them to join in the peace and let Odyssa and the Alliance fight the Homm. The Deara left the surface again and joined the fleet, where they held a meeting of all commanding officers on the Pa’an.
As Odyssa, Circe, Elaria, Sori and Taka entered the command post of the Pa’an everybody saluted.
“At ease, everyone. You have heard what came out of the meeting with Chief Tak. I have promised to keep the city safe from the Homm, so the Deara and I need to stay here, unless we have a report of ships of the Homm in the vicinity somewhere.”
“We have a report from Ara, Odyssa.” LaSaDa replied. Rai and Mimi have sussed out the gun and are working on a much larger model, that can be fitted on a destroyer.”
“That is good news. Can I speak to Ara, please?”
Communications officer Lurm set up the connection for her.
“Commander Odyssa,” Ara said over the link “how can I help?”
“Ara, can you please get Mimi? I need to ask her some questions.”
“We will get her right now, Odyssa.”
“Have you been briefed on the talk with chief Tak?”
“Yes, I have. We have no reports of movement from the pirates so far and the Homm seem to stay out of sight, but then we have a hard time locating their ships anyway.”
“Ara I’ll send some of our fleet back to be fitted with the larger light gun and stay here with the Pa’an and the Deara and two more destroyers to protect the city we have taken. I want enemy movement reported immediately. Chief Tak is taking his squadron to the other tribes for negotiating a truce, so that we can concentrate on the Homm. Any other movement I want to know about.”
“Will do, Odyssa. Here is Mimi now.”
“Assistant technician Mimi at your command, my Queen.”
“Mimi, good to hear of your success with the light gun. Now, I seem to remember that LaSaDa told me you can understand the light messages of the Homm?”
“I understand most of it, not all, my Queen.”
“In that case, Mimi, I need you here. Ara, is there a rapid transport available to get her here?”
“That should be no problem, Odyssa.”
“Fine, get going. I’ll let you know what we come up with.”
Odyssa closed the connection. Then she asked if Elaria could sense any Homm in the vicinity, which she could not.
“You all heard brigade commander Ara’s report. Kan, I want you and your squadron as well as my other battleship to return to command base to be fitted with new weapons that work against the Homm. There is a ship of theirs, that LaSaDa managed to capture. Familiarise your gunners with its layout, the most efficient in my opinion will be, to fist stun the members of the crew in command through the front screen and then just give it all you got with as many guns you can bring to bear and vaporise the ship. That should take care of any Homm aboard. When you are kitted out, you return and the Pa’an, the Deara and my other two destroyers will go to be fitted out, too.”
Everybody concerned nodded consent.
“What do we do here, Odyssa?” LaSaDa asked.
“Wait, train and try to map where the Homm came from.” Odyssa replied.
“Do you think they are going to come back here?”
“I hope so. After all that is where ten of their ships just vanished.”
“Well, you might be right. Is that why you have Elaria with you?”
“Yes, she sensed the five ships in hyperspace the last time. And Mimi will hopefully be able to teach Blade the communication with the flashes, so that I can read their interactions.”
“So when Kan returns with the squadron you stay here while we go and refurbish the ships?” Sala asked.
“Yes Sala, LaSaDa and I are going to stay here. The Deara, the two destroyers and the Pa’an get kitted out and when you return we go after the Homm. That is if the pirates play ball. If they don’t we go after those who do not first.”
“I hope it doesn’t come to that,” Taka said “You really are a fierce one … my Queen?”
“You want to become an Amazon, Taka?”
“I thought it might pay to have some of us with you. We can be just as fierce … if we must. It might be, that us women have to convince the males of what is right and wrong.”
“Are there more like you in your tribe, Taka? You sure are one courageous woman. There are only two others who had the courage to touch me when I am burning: Kassandra and Maureen, both of whom are human.”
“There was no threat in your eyes, when I stepped into your embrace.” Taka said softly “Only kindness and love.”
“Introduce those you think suitable to me, when we visit your city, Taka. For now I have to see my fleet organised. Then I will introduce you to those who are important to your future.”
Odyssa and LaSaDa saw Kasu, Kan and the fleet off. Kasu was Odyssa’s safeguard, as she was one of the few able to shoot enough light at a Homm to kill it like LaSaDa. With LaSada and Sala on the Pa’an and Odyssa on the Deara any Homm trying to land where the slaves had been supposed to come from would have a problem. One destroyer was to watch the city and alert the main body of the small squadron, if the Homm should plan to attack there for “food”. Odyssa embraced Kasu for a long time, before they parted.
“Kasu, be careful, I want you to come home with Circe and me for a while, when this is over.” Odyssa said.
“I am looking forward to it, Odyssa. I’d love to see the part of your world that none of us realised existed.”
“You will, Kasu, I promise. Be safe for now.”
Both, Sala and LaSaDa embraced her as well, then Kasu was transferred to Kan’s flagship and they were off home for the ships to be refitted.
When the fleet had departed Odyssa introduced Taka properly to Elaria, Circe, Helena, Thorgal and her Amazons, who were more than just surprised to hear, that the lizard woman was wanting to join the Amazons, but they soon enough understood when Taka told them her reasons. Mari was the first to come and apologise, but Taka waved it off saying that she perfectly understood, why they and their Queen were fighting like demons. The Amazons were impressed and when Odyssa asked what they thought Mari spoke up.
“My Queen, I know that in our old world there are only humans, but here we should really be open to all females. Taka is a very courageous woman and wants to join us for the sake of peace for her nation. I say we welcome her and her fellow women in our ranks.”
There was a general murmur of agreement. Odyssa smiled at Taka.
“Taka, my dear, I think you have been made the first non human or humanoid Amazon just now.”
A cheer went up among the Amazons.
“As soon as we have the Pa’an sorted to keep station here, we are going on a little recruiting trip to Taka’s city.” Odyssa closed the gathering.
As Odyssa left to join her family Taka was surrounded by the Amazons who welcomed her and shot a barrage of questions at her, that she patiently answered. Back with her family Circe embraced her in a loving hug.
“That Taka is an amazingly courageous woman. Did she really step into your embrace while your wings were burning?”
“Yes, my love she did. She looked into my eyes and let me enfold her in my wings.”
“She is going to play an important role, mum.” Elaria said “She will unite a lot of lizard women to make their husbands stop the war.”
“I thought so, Elaria. And you, my daughter have become a beautiful adult woman. Don’t you regret bypassing your adolescence?”
“I don’t. This world needs peace more than anything. I am determined to help for it to arrive. And to be honest, mum, I think after what I went through as a slave, my adolescence as a boy would have been a nightmare. Now, as an adult woman and Amazon, I can train and learn to defend myself.”
Odyssa and Circe embraced Elaria together, then Helena and Thorgal joined the group.
“Welcome home, Princess Elaria.” Circe said.
After a good while of the kids getting acquainted with Elaria, they all went to the bridge and Sori and Odyssa discussed the information they had got from Tak. They opened a map of their universe and followed the line that seemed to indicate the direction the Homm had come from. It lead to a far away planetary system that, according to Sori, had not really been colonised yet. Odyssa, though, had her doubts about that. Elaria stood there, staring transfixed at the map.
“There is something really dark and evil there.” she whispered “I can feel it. It is killing the planet it lives on.”
“That must be the source of the Homm.” Sori said.
“It will try to spread soon.” Elaria said “There is not much left there to draw life from, other than the planet itself. It will be weak when it travels, as there is nothing to draw life from for itself other than the crew of the ship. That is why it is so desperate for slaves. Without them it cannot travel.”
Suddenly Elaria started to shiver and a dark shadow started to from around her. Immediately Odyssa’s wings were out burning white as she folded them around Elaria. The darkness retreated and suddenly it was encased in a skin made out of light, as Circe furiously chanted and wove her hands in an elliptical pattern. The skin began shrinking and finally vanished into nothing with an unearthly scream of pain.
“That was human magic.” Circe stated “Our suspicions were right, my love. The creator of the Homm must have followed the trace of Elaria’s thoughts. We better seal you up, Elaria, when we do not need your insight.”
“So,” Odyssa concluded “Not only do we now know where the Homm come from, but we also know we are dealing with earthly magic. And best of all, we know what to do to weaken who or whatever it is, that has created the Homm.”
Sori and the crew of the command of the Deara were looking on completely shocked. Something had entered the ship through all the protection they had built. Circe was already working on building magical defences.
“Sori, please relate this experience to all our ships, especially the Pa’an. They need to come alongside, so that Circe can walk over and repeat her work there. Also I want any available ship to concentrate on intercepting anything going in the direction of that system. Any ship that doesn’t turn round when confronted I want completely annihilated. We need to contain whatever it is on that system.”
Sori was already busy communicating with Oda and Sala. After a moment she started speaking with Ara and was relating everything that they had learned and what had happened. Then the Pa’an was alongside and the connecting tube was installed. LaSaDa was on the bridge in an instant.
“Shit, sister, that thing got in here on Elaria’s thoughts?”
“Seems like it, LaSaDa, but you better ask Circe the details and how to prevent it. It is earthly magic, as we suspected.”
Sala, who had heard the last bit cursed under her breath.
While LaSada and Circe exchanged views on how to keep out the black magic, Odyssa quietly interrogated Elaria on her experience and tried to explain to her, how she locked her mind off to any but a select few or completely. Given the experience Elaria had had as a boy and a slave she had enough pain and anger to follow Odyssa’s example. As a test Odyssa asked LaSaDa to try and penetrate Elaria’s mind and LaSaDa looked at Odyssa in wonder.
“Her mind is as impenetrable as yours, sister.”
“Good!” Odyssa replied “I taught her how to do it to keep her safe from that black magic.”
“What do you use to do it, Odyssa?”
“Pain and anger, sister, but you need a lot of it.”
“Oh, I see. Her experiences as a slave.”
“Yes, LaSaDa, that and her anger at the entity that is consuming life.” Odyssa replied “That thing is eating its own planet. Now it needs to travel and for that it needs the slaves as food in the spaceship. For itself and the Homm.”
“She must be stronger than I thought.”
“Well, to decide to move from boy to an adult Amazon takes a lot of courage and strength, especially if you want to heal and not kill. To control the anger to that extent, yes, that needs a lot of strength.”
LaSaDa nodded agreement, looking at Elaria with new respect. She went over to the young woman and embraced her.
“You are one courageous young woman, Princess Elaria. A worthy daughter of Odyssa.”
Elaria blushed. She was not yet fully used to being addressed as a woman, even though it had been her ardent wish to be like Odyssa. Only when she wished it, she had had no idea what it would feel like.
“Aunt LaSaDa,” she asked “how long did it take for you to become comfortable with your new body?”
“It happened in a ritual with Kasu. Suddenly all felt right and I felt finally free. Maybe we should ask Kasu, when we see her next?”
“Would you, LaSaDa?”
“Sure, Elaria, but I am also certain she would happily agree if you asked her yourself.”
Circe meanwhile had gone over to the Pa’an and Oda to seal her ship, too. When she returned she was quite exhausted.
“That spell takes quite a bit of energy, my love.” she explained to Odyssa “I could use a bit of your strength.”
“Whatever it is is quite strong, isn’t it?”
“Yes, its spells are reasonably simple and archaic, but there is a lot of energy in them.”
“Can LaSaDa do your spell as well?”
“Yes, as she is partially human, she should be able to. Kasu could not, for reasons I do not quite understand. Her magical ability is too different.”
“She managed the camouflage spell, though?”
“Yes, but that uses a completely different technique.”
“I see. Do you think I will be impervious to that magic?”
“I think together with Blade you should be able to ward off any magical attack from it. Blades magic is very strong.”
Just then the transport with Mimi arrived. Sala returned to the Pa’an to free the Deara’s entry port for the transport, but LaSaDa remained on the Deara. Both Odyssa and LaSaDa greeted Mimi as she entered the Deara and Mimi was awed. She still was a bit unsure about LaSaDa and LaSaDa noticed, feeling guilt for her harsh reaction, but then the situation had been quite stressful and the urgency of her actions had made her overreact. She simply pulled Mimi into a hug. Then she held her at arms length, looking into her eyes.
“I am sorry, Mimi, for the way I treated you initially, I have only my inexperience and stress as an excuse.”
“Princess LaSaDa, I do not know what to say. My former self wanted you as a slave for his pleasure. You had every right to be furious.”
“You don’t bear me any grudge?” LaSaDa asked incredulously.
Mimi smiled sweetly and said:
“I like being a girl, LaSaDa.”
“So do I, Mimi, so do I.”
“You were a man before?” Mimi asked, not being able to believe her ears.
“Yes, Mimi. For some unfathomable reason I reincarnated on earth as a man. All that changed when I walked through the portal into this world.”
Mimi could not help a giggle and Odyssa pulled the two of them into an embrace, happy for them to have found an understanding and possibly friendship. Her ‘treatment’ had worked.
“Now, Mimi, since you can understand the communication of the Homm, I need you to touch Blade, my war axe, for her to learn it from you.”
“Your axe can learn from me?”
“Yes, I can” Blade said and both Mimi and LaSaDa were quite shocked.
“It speaks!” Mimi squeaked.
“Yes, Mimi. Blade is heavily magical, being forged to protect women. She also translates for me, when I need to speak Puseje or any of the other universal languages.”
Odyssa took Blade form her sheath on her right shoulder and asked Mimi to touch it. Blade glowed for quite a while in a strangely blue hue. Then she spoke just in Odyssa’s mind.
‘ You will have to let me use your eyesight to understand them, but if we fight this dark force, we need to become one anyway, otherwise I cannot protect you from its magic. While you can kill its creations on your own, that dark entity we can only overcome together.’
‘You will have to burn it, while I fight its magic. It is going to be a hard fight.’
‘If I manage to deprive it of life to feed on, will it weaken?’
‘Yes, I think so.’
‘Good! I am hoping to be able to cut off any slave transports there.’
‘Don’t forget, that it also feeds on the life of the planet.’
‘Yes, but that seems to be rather depleted already.’
They left it at that. Odyssa debated with herself if Mimi was better employed here or back at command and could not make up her mind, but Mimi, when asked, said she would be needed to help Rai to install the new weapons on the squadron’s ships and fighters. And she admitted that she was missing Rai already. Odyssa laughed.
“So, Mimi, was I right about your feelings towards what my sister did to you?”
Mimi would have blushed a deep crimson had she been able to. Odyssa did not need another response to know what had happened.
“Are you happy, sweetie?”
“Yes, very!” Mimi sighed.
“Then back with you to command. Give my regards to Ara and Rai, please. I am very happy with all three of you.”
With Mimi on her way back Odyssa finally felt free to spend some time with Circe to help her recharge her energy. Taka, she was told, was happy to be with her fellow Amazons, who had all taken an instant liking to the rebellious lizard woman. Mari, especially was happy that Odyssa had blocked her killing strike. LaSaDa returned to her Sala on the Pa’an and Odyssa ordered everyone to take a break to recover. The recruiting trip to Taka’s city would be next.
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