Tulip paced the bridge, trying to stay out of the way of the dozens of warriors that ran from one station to another, all shouting commands and relaying information in a blinding form of controlled chaos. By looking around, one would think the Torians were in a panic, yet every word she caught was a simple, to-the-point information burst.
Bor stood in the center, his thick arms crossed over his wide chest as his glowing green eyes took in everything around him. For a moment, Tulip wondered if he could keep up with what was going on. Even she, a certified genius with a photographic memory, was finding it hard to keep all the information in line. But Bor just stood there, taking it all in. He barked out commands every few minutes, but other than that, he showed no sign of worry. Well, other than the fact that his eyes were so bright, he could have been a lighthouse, and the way his huge body was tensed and almost vibrating with anger.
Lilly, thankfully, was locked away in the medical suite with Oris. Rose had run off with Tark and was now safe inside his quarters. Violet was also safely tucked away in Keel’s quarters with Spot on guard beside her.
The two brothers were back on the bridge with the rest of the command crew, but every now and then, Tulip caught sight of both males checking in on the sisters on a small view screen to the side.
“My Lord,” A booming shout called over the cacophony of voices from the far right of the bridge, “Breach in level two. The Garamores have cut through the hull and are onboard!”
Bor growled louder, a vicious sound that sent a chill down Tulip’s spine.
She didn’t fear Bor as much as she had at first, but that was because he was always so sweet, and nice and calm around her. But now she was seeing the Warrior king in full command of his army. Not the gentle, loving brother in law she had come to care for.
Bor turned his glowing eyes to the male that spoke, “Are there any warriors in that section?”
The male tapped a few buttons on his control panel, then sighed and turned back to Bor, “Yes, my Lord. The engineering crew were in that section fitting the new pulse cannon energy storage to the top of the ship. They are hiding in an equipment storage room at the end of the corridor on level two.”
“Is there any way to get them out of there?” Bor growled in that deep, menacing voice of his. Tulip had only ever heard it once before, and that was on the bridge of the ship when Lorzarian had brought her back.
“Not without going past the Garamores, my Lord. We cannot vent the section either. Not without killing our own warriors.” The male sounded desolate, as though he knew that the ones stuck at the top of the ship were a lost cause.
She couldn’t just let this happen. This was her family, damn it!
Bor spoke again, making her fears come to life. “We have no choice,” The growl in his voice was gone now, replaced by a heartbreaking resignation that tore at Tulip.
“It’s either those males or the whole ship. Korom and Lorzarian are holding back the main boarding party in the landing bay, but that won’t do us any good if they find another way in.”
“Wait!” Tulip called before she even knew what she was doing.
All eyes turned to her, and she felt herself shrink into her own body as a deep red blush filled her face. Pushing it back and telling herself she can be shy and embarrassed later, she spoke loud and clear.
“You can’t just kill them.” Her voice held a slight quiver in it, but she raised her chin and looked Bor straight in the eyes.
“Tulip, I understand it’s not easy to-”
“No!” She cut him off, not caring that she was being rude to a king in front of all his men. Bor simply raised one brow at her and waited.
“You don’t need to kill them. Not like that. Just… Just give me a second to think. Please.”
“Think about what? There is nothing else we can do. If the Garamores get past level two, they will have full access to the rest of the ship. Levels one and two are the only ones that can be cut off from the rest of the ship and vented independently in the event of an emergency. If we don’t act now, they will breach the rest of the ship.”
“I know that. I know… I just… I need to-” her words died off when her eyes landed on a view screen at the other end of the wide bridge. It was showing a dark, barely visible image of a narrow passage. But it wasn’t the dark metal walls, or the thick, steaming pipes that caught her eyes. Just as quickly as the image appeared on the screen, it flicked off to another image of a different place on the vast vessel.
Tulip stood stunned at what she saw. “Holy shit.” She mumbled.
“Tulip?” Bor asked, concern lacing his voice.
Not answering the large male, she ran over to the screen and grabbed the tall warrior by the arm, dragging him down.
“Can you go back? Back to the image before this?”
The warrior frowned, giving Bor a questioning glance. Bor must have nodded, because the warrior turned back to the screen and began scrolling through the camera feeds. When it landed on the dark, narrow hallway, Tulip cried, “Stop!”
She stared at the screen with wide eyes, before a small, hopeful smile began to spread over her lips.
“Do you see that?” She whispered to the warrior beside her.
He leaned in closer, his eyes narrowed at the screen. “What is that?”
“Plan B,” Tulip said, and sprinted out of the bridge without another word. She heard Bor calling her name but there was no time. Reaching for her com in her ear, she connected to Bor and panted, “Don’t kill them. Not yet. Let me try something first.”
“Tulip, what are you doing?”
“Please… Just trust me… If this works… it will all… be over soon.”
Bor was quiet for a moment, then said, “I can only give you thirty minutes. That is how long it will take the Garamores to cut through the blast doors into the rest of the ship.”
She disconnected and ran faster towards the crew quarters at the back of the ship.
Once she reached her destination, she paused to catch her breath before pounding her fist on the door.
A moment later, a frightened and angry looking Violet opened the door, Spot close behind.
“Tulip? What’s wrong?” Her sister asked with wide eyes.
Tulip shook her head, still trying to catch her breath, “You’re never going to believe this.”
Violet frowned and waited for her sister to speak.
Once Tulip had caught her breath enough to talk, she straightened up and smiled over Violet’s shoulder at the massive, hulking form of Spot.
“You’ve been a busy boy, haven’t you, big guy?”
“Tulip, what the hell is going on? What are you talking about?”
Tulip smiled at her sister and said, “Spot’s gonna be a daddy... Or mommy… Or both, I guess. I’m not sure how that all works with Spinners yet. I guess it’s a kind of parthenogenesis-”
“What!” Violet screeched, grabbing Tulips arm and pulling her into Keel’s quarters.
Tulip took a second to look around the males room. He had a clean, neat room, with very little in terms of personal things. None that Tulip could see anyway. What did catch her eye was a small Earth style photo frame standing on a small table beside the warriors bed. Looking closer, Tulip was surprised to see it was a framed picture of Violet and Keel together, smiling at the camera. From the way they looked in the picture, Violet must have been sitting on Keels lap, her arms around his neck, while she beamed at the camera. Keel had a smile on his face, his eyes turned up to look at her sister, but what made Tulip pause was the look in the males eyes. She knew that look. Korom looked at her like that so often. It was the look of a male completely in love with a woman. It made her smile. Behind them, Tulip saw the grey metal walls of the ship. It must have been taken on the command vessel, and Violet’s striking red and blue eyes stood out against the bright white light that surrounded them.
Opening her mouth to ask Violet about it, Tulip was cut off by her sister asking, “What the hell do you mean Spot is going to be a daddy?”
Tulip tore her eyes away from the picture, making a mental note to ask her sister about it later.
“I was on the bridge and saw the eggs, Vi. It looks like Spot laid them in some kind of service tunnel or something.”
Violet’s unusual eyes went wide and they both turned to look at Spot.
If at all possible, Tulip would have sworn the huge beast blushed, his oily black face taking on a pearlescent shade while his large white eyes looked everywhere but at them.
“Spot?” Violet asked, putting her hands on her hips, “Is that true?”
Spot shifted on his long legs, his head lowering to stare at the floor.
“Spot?” Violet’s voice held more of a command in it. It took a moment, but finally, Spot raised his eyes to Violet and stared at her with such intensity, that it made Tulip feel a little uncomfortable.
They were all silent for about a minute, before Violet gasped and whispered, “Oh Spot. Really?”
“What? What is it?” Tulip asked.
Violet turned back to her with wide eyes that looked suspiciously wet.
“He’s lonely. He never meant to cause problems for anyone, but while he was locked up on the ship alone, he felt so sad and abandoned that his natural reproductive function kicked in and he couldn’t help it. He’s so scared we will destroy the eggs.”
Tulip shook her head. “Ask him when they will hatch.”
Violet frowned and was about to question the request, but Tulip motioned with her hands for her to do it.
Violet shrugged and turned back to Spot. Again, the beast stared at her baby sister intently, then Violet spoke, not turning back.
“He says they are ready to hatch as soon as he lets them. Spinner eggs mature very quickly and are kept in a state of suspension until a chemical is released by the one who laid the eggs signaling it’s safe to hatch.”
Tulip hated to do this. She had grown so fond of the large Spinner over the weeks she had spent with it. It really was nothing like the ones that had attacked Earth. It even looked different, with the large white spot on its chest, and the white eyes. But they had to do something.
Taking in a deep breath, Tulip stepped up to Spot and placed a gentle hand on his head. In a soft voice, she quickly told him what was going on, and her plan to save the warriors.
“So you see, my big, loveable friend, they need your help. I know it’s hard to think about what might happen to your babies, but-”
Before she could finish, Violet placed a hand on her arm. Tulip turned to see her sister had long, thick streaks of blood red tears running down her face, but a small, sad smile on her face.
“He’ll do it,” She said in a soft, pained voice.
Violet nodded. “He said he knew there was no chance of his spawns ever being allowed to live. Now they will have an honorable purpose in their short lives.”
“Oh, Spot,” Tulip felt her own eyes fill with tears. She stepped forward and wrapped her arms around the huge beast. Spot let out a soft whimpering hum as he rubbed his head over Tulips shoulder.
When she stepped back, there was a look of acceptance in the creature’s eyes.
“I’m so sorry, big guy. I wish there was a way you could have… eh, spawns. Maybe Bor will be able to think of something once this is all over.”
She knew there was very little chance of that. Bor had only let Spot live because he knew how much the creature meant to all the sisters. Not only that, but Korom had also spoken up for him. But to allow more and more Spinners to be born all over the planet could have devastating consequences.
Spot hummed for a moment, then stepped back. His eyes narrowed as he looked at the door behind them.
“He’s ready,” Violet said, stepping back to open the door for him. Like a bullet, Spot bolted out of the open door and vanished down the long hallway.
Tulip felt terrible inside for asking this of Spot, but she couldn’t let a dozen warriors die like that. It was a hard choice, but in the end, she felt like it was the right one.