Fantastic Mars -9- Warriors of Mars

"You could just have a taste?” I suggested.

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Fantastic Mars
9. Warriors of Mars

by Erin Halfelven

 

The copper-skinned woman I held down with a knee moved suddenly, throwing me off before I could let loose my lightning bolt. Or maybe I chickened out on actually using it, I’m not quite sure.

“Get off me, you trifle,” she grunted, pulling a knife from her belt.

Now, I had noticed the knives she carried, but I hadn’t touched them. I didn’t know why I hadn’t and to be honest, I’m not at all sure what I was searching her for if it wasn’t to remove her weapons. Seejay told me to search her, he didn’t tell me what to do with anything I found.

And there was that jewelry that seemed to be mine. That’s what really interested me. “Oof,” I said as I landed on my ass.

Before the woman could come at me with her knife, Seejay pointed his pistol at her ear from a handsbreadth away. “Drop the knife,” he ordered.

When she had, he spoke to me again in Spanish. “Kitten, what the screw?” He tended to make up his own idioms. “Why didn’t you take her knife when she was sleepy?”

’N-no-uh?” None of the reasons I could think of made sense. I can’t touch weapons unless someone tells me to and you didn’t tell me to? That wasn’t something I wanted to say out loud, even in Spanish and especially not since I couldn’t quite parse how to say it. Fortunately, he hadn’t phrased his question as an order.

The woman smirked at me, and I wondered how much Spanish she knew but she spoke in Martian, “I will not fight because I choose not to, but your little treasure here cannot fight. It is not permitted of bed slaves such as her to touch blades or guns or anything they might hurt their masters with.” Maybe she did understand. She held both hands up to show she was not reaching for any more weapons.

But bed slave? That hurt. “The jewelry she’s wearing,” I said in Spanish, “it’s mine!” I got back up on hands-and-knees and glared at the red woman. She had my stuff, I felt certain of it down to the center of my being.

She didn’t react. I had thought it was important to get that fact out there, but after I said it, I realized it made me sound like a real ditz.

Seejay sighed, his attention being drawn back to the stalled fight around the door. He tapped her skull fairly hard with the barrel of his pistol and told me in English, “Puss, strip her, belt, jewelry, anything else that comes off easily. Put it in a pile behind you and don’t let her touch any weapons.”

He gave her another tap, third time’s the charm, this one on the back of the hand she had put on top of her head. Then he turned back to deal with the fight. “If you give Puss any more problems, Pinkstuff, I’ll have the greenie step on you,” he said in Martian as he turned away.

“I’m the greenie,” Trike mentioned from above us in the same language. He was using his spear to turn over the body of the man who had Hote’s knife in his throat.

Seejay calling the woman Pinkstuff made me giggle. Jeez, maybe I was a ditz. If anything, my skin color was closer to pink than hers. I was more or less the color of a new penny, just not as shiny, while she had the deep ruddy shade of old bronze, probably from a life spent outside adventuring.

While she moaned and rubbed her head and hand with the uninjured one, I took off one of her belts, careful not to touch the two knives she had carried there. A second belt held a small pistol on the other hip. It looked like a peculiar revolver of some kind, and it was the first gun I had seen here that might be sized to my hand. Not that I was going to touch it either.

I took that belt off her, too. I didn’t want the pistol at all, and I treated it the way I might a sleeping rattlesnake. It went with the first belt into the pile I was starting behind me. Both of the belts were suspiciously thick and deserved further exploration, but I didn’t spend time doing that right then.

Her jewelry was what I wanted and wanted desperately, I realized. I had never felt anything similar as when I took the bracelet off her left wrist and admired the green gems twisted up in the gold wire. Lust? Maybe. It kind of felt like it came from the same place. But Seejay had told me to put all of it in a pile, and I did so, though it made me screw up my face in an awful expression that I suspected was a pout.

“Your new owner is a cruel man,” said Pinkstuff in Martian. I tended to agree right at that moment. Not letting me put on my jewelry immediately was cruel and maybe unusual, too.

But owner? The Martian word she used made me pause to squirm a bit. The idea of Seejay owning me had connotations that felt exciting. And the Martian word left no doubt about the exact sexual meaning. Jeez, I thought, I’m turning into a real kink here. How could I like being owned? Well, as long as it was Seejay…. I pulled a bracelet off her other wrist.

“You’re disgusting,” Pinkstuff sneered as if reading my mind.

“Yeah, well, Mom always liked you best,” I said, smothering her accusation and removing an anklet.

“I am not your sister!” she protested.

The guys all chuckled at my dig, and I had to giggle. Okay, I kind of liked giggling but I was doing so much of it I began to suspect I was on the edge of hysteria.

I gestured with the piece in my hand at the two of us, both lying naked on the dungeon floor, tits, hair, ass, and tail everywhere. “We’re not going to be mistaken for brothers,” I said. I gave her a cross-eyed smile at the same time. She already had a low opinion of my smarts, and I decided that letting her continue to underestimate me was a good choice.

Most all of her jewelry was made of gold wire wrapped around green gemstones with some plates and fasteners made of bronze. The few pieces of silver were precisely the ones that did not seem to belong to me. I took another anklet and a leg band that went around her thigh, right up next to where her bush grew. Cute but not as exciting as the gold-wrapped gem on the leg band.

Crossing my eyes had reminded me of something else, I was still maintaining the lightning bolt spell on the end of my tail. While continuing to remove jewelry from Pinkstuff, I waved my tail near Seejay’s line of sight. “What do you want me to do with this?” I asked.

For some reason, Hote and Trike laughed at that, and I giggled in reaction to their laughing. I couldn’t help it.

Seejay looked amused. “Can you actually shoot a lightning bolt at someone?” he asked. “With your tail?” He and Hote were taking turns recharging their shotguns while watching the doorway.

“I can if you tell me to,” I said. “Apparently, I can’t hurt anyone or even touch a weapon unless someone orders me to.” I squirmed again, oddly excited by my own admission of helplessness. I hadn’t even been able to hold Pinkstuff down with a knee in her stomach.

Trike had drawn the dead body out of the firing angle and was searching it for loot, gingerly with an expression of distaste. Someone who has been shot with two sets of double-barrels and then stabbed in the throat is a total mess. He used a pair of swords to turn the body over and cut away the ruined clothing, then spoke up. “This guy has some papers or something in his backpack.”

“Are we going to be able to read them?” Hote asked.

“Not me,” said Trike who like myself, being an avatar from a barbarian race, could not read. “I can just tell that this is writing on the papers and not printing or drawing.”

Tell writing from printing? I wasn’t sure I would be able to do that. All the letters I had seen, the ones on the coins, had just been meaningless squiggles.

“Save it for later,” said Seejay. “Puss, get over here.”

I scrambled over Pinkstuff without even thinking about us being two naked girls until I heard the guys catch their breaths. I crouched beside Seejay, trying not to giggle. Back when I was a guy, I would have liked to have seen that, I knew.

Seejay patted me on the head with his free hand, and I pretended to purr. He laughed, and my purr turned into more giggles. Death and dismemberment all around me and I felt happy. Jeez! But things turned serious quickly.

He whispered to me. “I’m going to take my pistol and lay down some covering fire for you. On my second shot, I want you to peek around the corner of the door and shoot your lightning bolt at the first person you see in there. Tell me if you can do that.”

“I can do that,” I said. As long as he told me to, I could, but I knew that shooting anyone with my lightning bolt couldn’t be done without orders.

“Okay, get ready,” he said. He stood up and edged closer to the doorway. I stayed low on hands-and-knees directly below his gun hand. “Second shot,” he said quietly. “Give them hell.”

He leaned around the door and started firing. Pinkstuff screamed, perhaps trying to distract us. On Seejay’s second shot, I stuck my head and tail around, too, and looked for a target. In the billows of gunsmoke, one bearded guy caught my eye as he brought up a long gun to return Seejay’s fire. I pointed at him with my tail and let him have the bolt I had been saving.

The boom was louder than the shotgun blasts had been, but not as deep. The flash almost blinded me, and Seejay’s hand on my shoulder had to pull me back. He’d forgotten to tell me to do that, and in the excitement of shooting someone, I had frozen in position. Smoke billowed out around us, caustic and choking. It must have been much worse in the room.

“Mother of God,” someone in the room said between hacking up another lung. “They’ve got a wizard.”

“I cain’t see anything but smoke and a purple haze,” said someone else. “Did they get anyone?”

They were shouting without realizing it, deafened by the noise from the bolt.

“Hedrick is down,” said a third voice.

“He daid?” asked the second voice.

“He ain’t got a breastbone,” said the third.

I think I fainted for a moment. I had just killed someone. Seejay stroking my cheek brought me around. In my mind’s eye, I could see my victim just before my lightning bolt hit him. He’d had a powder horn hanging by a cord around his neck! It’s a wonder I hadn’t blown his head off.

“Good shooting,” Seejay said just loud enough for me to hear over the ringing in my ears.

I didn’t gag, but it was a near thing with the smoke in my face and thinking about the probable origin of some of that smoke.

About that time, Hote charged into the room. The men inside were still blinded and deafened and may not have known what was going on until he opened up. He fired his reloaded double barrel, dropped it, drew his revolvers and started shooting. Seejay went in behind him, and Trike with his spear loomed in the back, but neither had to shoot or stab anyone.

The last of the men inside begged for mercy. “Don’t shoot, don’t shoot! Mother of God, I’m wounded! I surrender!” It was the first voice, the one that thought I was a wizard.

Two more shots from Hote’s pistols silenced him. “Never again,” I heard our healer say between clenched teeth. His voice sounded far away amid the ringing in my own ears, but it sounded very, very sad, too.

Pinkstuff tried to make a break for it just then. She snatched at the pile I had made, trying to pick up the belts with her weapons. That pause was her undoing. I got in her way and tripped her with my tail. She punched me in the jaw as she went down then Trike, turning away from the room, scooped her up in two of his big hands.

“Don’t let him eat me!” she screeched in Martian and repeated it in English.

“Eat you?” Trike looked puzzled. He poked her with a third hand. “You’re not even properly cooked. I’m a barbarian, not a savage.”

“Eat her,” I said, rubbing my jaw.

“Hote! Hote!” Seejay was shouting back in the room. “They’re dead, stop firing!”

“I’m out of bullets,” said Hote, reasonably. Seejay led him out of the room and back into the hallway.

Trike juggled Pinkstuff from one hand to another. “She’s trying to bite me,” he explained.

“Hote, go tie the prisoner up, so she can’t bite our tank,” Seejay ordered. “And don’t shoot her.”

“I’m out of bullets,” Hote repeated. He holstered his revolvers. “The rope is in your backpack, Trike,” he said. “Kneel down where I can reach it.”

“Hee, hee, hee,” said Trike as Pinkstuff got him in the webbing of his lower left thumb. “That tickles.”

I wanted to giggle, but my jaw hurt, so I pouted instead.

Seejay knelt beside me where I still crouched like I had been when I tripped Pinkstuff. “You did good, Puss,” he said. “But from now on, warn me if I give you an order you can’t actually do.”

I trembled some, but it was so nice to have him close. “I’m sorry, I didn’t think about not being able to touch weapons.”

He stroked my cheek again, and I turned my face up to kiss him. Life had turned very weird and scary, and I needed some reassurance. He gave me a peck on the lips and stood up. His kiss tasted of bitter gunsmoke and sour adrenaline.

“It’s okay, Puss. Now stay out of the way while we clean up but keep an eye out both ways in the corridor to warn us if anything is coming.

I sighed. “Can I put on some of this jewelry?” I asked indicating the pile that had gotten kicked around in the scuffle.

“Put it all on, Puss,” he said. “Wear as much jewelry as you want from now on.”

He grinned at me, and I wriggled in anticipation of getting all of the jewelry that had probably once belonged to me back. For some value of “me.”

Hote was very efficiently hogtying Pinkstuff with knees, ankles, wrists, and elbows all behind her, while Trike kept her from biting anyone. She didn’t have as much hair as I did to get in the way. “What the hell do I do with her tail?” Hote asked when he had finished with her other limbs.

“I could bite it off,” Trike offered with a gleam of mischief in his eyes.

Pinkstuff screamed again. “Don’t let him eat me! He’s going to eat me! Greenies raise us to be eaten, they do!”

“We do?” Trike looked astonished. “Damn! Maybe we are savages.”

“You could just have a taste?” I suggested which set Pinkstuff to screaming again.



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