Tulip's Ghost - Book two of the Torian Warriors series.

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Chapter Twenty-Two

Korom roared as he took down another enemy fighter. He fought with his own instinct to take his mist form and tear all the garamores apart from the inside. He knew that wasn’t possible. Not after what Lorzarian had told them about how their blood burned even their mist form. Not only that, but he had to be very careful not to get any of the gore onto him. His thigh still ached and burned from where a few drops of blood had burned through his leathers and ate away at the skin beneath before he could get it off.

All around him, Torian warriors battled the large, grotesque garamore soldiers. A few of his brothers had already fallen, but they would be mourned later. For now, each and every warrior knew that they were fighting for not just their lives, but the lives of every Torian on the planet below.

Korom spun away from a large male as the Garamore warrior tried to grab him in his long, lumpy arms.

The stench was so much worse now, stealing his breath away, but he pushed on, fighting with everything he had.

They had destroyed the smaller Garamore vessel with the Earth weapons called RPG’s a few minutes ago, and now they had about two dozen borders to deal with. The problem was, these bastards were hard to kill. Not only did their blood burn you if it touched you, but they seemed to heal very quickly. They also had a hard outer shell over their vulnerable parts, making it even harder to take them down. But that wouldn’t stop Korom. He was fighting for something far more important than just his own life now.

He was fighting for his king. His family. His planet. But most importantly, he was fighting for the mate he loved. If the Garamores got past them and into the ship, they would tear it apart from the inside out.

As the large male he faced off with finally fell to the ground in a dead heap, Korom took a second to glance around the vast open landing bay. Most of the boarding party now lay in a sizzling pool of their own blood, with only a few fighters still trying to push past the wall of Torian warriors blocking the main doors to the rest of the ship.

He allowed himself a moment to catch his breath, before charging forward to help eradicate the last few.

With the help of the other warriors, they all watched the last Garamore finally fall. There was a short moment of silence as each warrior tried to catch their breath.

Finally, Korom turned to the males still left standing, “If you are injured, go to medical now. Take those unable to walk with you. Those that are unharmed… help me move the dead.”

It was a grim task, but they had to respect the warriors they had lost in at least this small way. They would be placed in holding crates until they could be cremated and mourned the Torian way. For now, they were at war, and war was never pretty.

As they began the grim task of ejecting the dead Garamore fighters, Korom allowed a small part of his mist to search for Tulip. He found her with Violet in Keel’s quarters of all places. They were sitting on the bed together, talking quietly to each other as they watched something on a data pad.

Allowing his mist to gently stroke her soft cheek, he smiled when she looked up and spotted the faint trail of his mist. She smiled and mouthed, I love you, before he pulled it back. She was safe, that was all he needed to know.

“Korom?” Bor’s voice was harsh as it came through his ear com.

Korom paused in picking up one of his fallen brothers. “Landing bay secure,” he said as an answer.

Bor’s voice calmed. “Good. But we have another problem.”

He stiffened, “What?”

“Breach on Level two. The engineering crew is trapped up there.”

Korom cursed, his heart sinking. He had friends in that crew. Males he often met for drinks and knew their families.

“Can we get them out?”

“Unsure. Tulip is up to something, but I’m not sure what yet. Spot was in here a few minutes ago, tearing at a wall panel and disappearing into the service tunnel next to the bridge. I’m not sure… What in the cursed hell is that!”

Korom frowned, his mist bursting out of him. Before he flew into the bridge to see what was going on, Bor spoke again.

“Spot! What have you done!”

“What? What is it?” Korom asked, unable to stop the panic in his voice.

There was a long, angry and annoyed sigh over the line, then Bor said, “Spot had babies!”

“What!”

“I swear, that female is going to be the death of me,” Bor mumbled, clearly talking about the youngest of the Earth sisters.

A small smile crept onto Korom’s face. He let a small trail of his mist flow to the bridge and barked out a laugh when he saw the sight that greeted him.

In the center of the bridge, the menacing bulk of Spot stood tall and proud, while nearly fifty smaller, all white Spinner babies crawled around his six sharp, long legs.

Bor stood with his arms crossed, a deep scowl on his face as the two of them stared at each other. A moment later, Violet and Tulip ran onto the bridge, but skidded to a stop when they saw Bor’s face.

“Violet? Would you like to explain to me why my command vessel is once again infested with Spinners?”

Violet scoweld. “It’s not infested,” She said with a petulant tone in her voice, “Don’t speak about Spot like that. And besides, these Spinner babies are going to save the lives of your warriors so be nice!”

Bor just raised a brow at her and waited. Tulip went to the king and spoke quietly.

“Spot is going to instruct his spawns to go up to level two and fight the Garamore fighters while the Torians get out of there. It’s too tight of a space to have warriors face off with them. Not when their blood burns through just about everything. It would be a slaughter. So… Spot is going to send out his babies to do as much damage as they can and give the engineers a chance to get out.”

Korom had to pause at this. Were they serious? Spot, a vicious Spinner was going to let his own spawns go into a deadly fight with the Garamores where they would certainly die to help Torian worriors? Why?

He had no time to question this, because on the bridge, his mist showed him Spot and the smaller, white spinners moving towards the main doors of the bridge, ready to do what needed to be done.

“Spot!” Bor called before they could leave. Spot paused, looking back at the king. Bor went to the beast and placed a large hand on one of its legs.

“Thank you,” He said, his voice thick with sincerity and gratitude. Spot must have picked up on it, because he glanced down at the tiny spinners around its legs then back up at Bor. It hummed for a moment, then ran off towards the access stairs that led to the top two levels of the ship.

Korom wasn’t sure if this plan would work, but Tulip was right about one thing. If his warriors engaged the Garamore fighters in the tight confines of the halls in level two, it would be a bloodbath. There was no space to dodge the spray of acid like blood, nor was there enough room to properly fight a boarding party. If this didn’t work; if the Spinners were not able to save the males up there, then Bor would have no choice but to vent the ship and suck every living thing out into the vast cold darkness of space. It was a terrible thing to think about, but a command his brother would have to give if the rest of the ship was at risk. He sent a silent prayer to anyone who was listening that this plan with the Spinners worked.

Never in his life did he think he would be fighting side by side with a race he always considered an enemy.

With a heave, Korom lifted the dead warrior over his shoulder and moved him to the corpse crates lined at the far end of the landing bay. As he laid the male gently down, he spoke the words of the Torian people, wishing his brother peace in the next life.

With a small wisp of mist, he kept one eye on the situation unfolding on the bridge with the engineers and the Spinners, while staying close to Tulip.

He knew she could feel him with her because every few minutes, she ran her fingers through the mist, sending a shiver down his big body.

“Commander,” A voice beside him broke his train of thought, and he turned to see a young warrior with a deep, ugly looking burn on the side of his face. He had healing balm coated over it, but the skin still looked raw and painful.

“Eros, what are you doing here? Go back to medical.”

The young male raised his chin and said, “I am fit to fight, Commander. I came to tell you that we will do what needs to be done here if you wish to return to the bridge.”

Korom raised a brow at the male. He’d never had a young warrior come to him and blatantly order him to leave.

Eros must have seen the surprise on Koroms face, because he shifted and spoke in a quieter voice. “Forgive me, Commander, I mean no disrespect, but… My brothers, Lans and Kros are part of the engineering crew trapped on level two. I would rather have you doing everything you can to save them, while I take over this sad task for you. Please, commander, they need you.”

Korom softened at his words. Placing a hand on the males shoulder he said, “Make sure all our dead are respectfully placed in the stasis crates and toss those Garamore scum out into the cold. I will do everything I can to get your brothers out.”

Eros nodded, “Thank you, Commander.”

With one last look around the landing bay, he made his way out of the vast space and towards the bridge.

Tulip smelled him before he even entered the room. Everyone turned to find the source of the stench, only to see Korom enter the bridge, bloody and pale, with his shoulders drooped and a miserable look on his face.

Without caring how he smelled, she ran into his arms and held him tight. They stood there for a moment, just holding each other.

Finally, she pulled away and ran her eyes over him, trying to see if he was hurt. “Are you okay?” she asked, unable to calm the pounding of her heart. She had seen some of the battle in the landing bay and had to admit that her man was one hell of a bad ass. She’d never seen anything like it before.

He stood still, allowing her to inspect him. When her eyes landed on the burn on his thigh, she gasped and dropped to her knees to inspect it. It was a deep, ugly looking burn about the size of a coin, with black, charred skin on the edges. It oozed dark red blood that ran down his leg and soaked his leathers.

Korom reached down to lift her back up to her feet, ignoring her protests. When she met his eyes however, she realised that dropping to her knees in front of him the way she did must have looked really strange to the rest of the bridge crew. A deep, fiery blush burned her cheeks and she mumbled, “Right. Not the time or place.”

“I’m alright,” He said, brushing a lock of her hair from her face.

“Are you sure? Do you want me to get Lilly? Or Oris? You need to get that looked at.”

“I will, I swear. But right now I need to see what’s happening with the Spinners.”

She nodded and led him back to the main control consoles in the center of the ship. All the while she gripped his hand tightly, never wanting to let him go again.

Just the thought of losing him, or his big, beautiful body being eaten away by the slime the Garamores used, the way she saw the other warrior die… No, she couldn’t think of that. It brought bile to her throat and she had to take a few long, deep breaths to push the ugly images out of her mind. Her heart ached for all those lost today, but they had so much more to worry about now.

On the screen hanging from the ceiling of the bridge, they saw the camera feed of the long, tight hallway on level two. A small party of about seven Garamore fighters were moving slowly down the passage. They would soon find the engineers. Those males were unarmed, and had no way of defending themselves.

On another screen, they could see Spot leading the small, white spinners along a dark service tunnel.

“How far until they get there?” Violet asked, her hands twisting in her lap as she watched with wide eyes.

“They are about to enter the access vent that leads to level two. They should come out just behind the Garamores in about a minute.” Keel said gently from beside her.

There was a tense silence on the bridge as everyone watched the small, pure white spinners move silently, but quickly along the tight tunnel. Finally, Spot paused and turned to his spawns. He stared at them for a moment, then stepped aside and watched as all his little babies scurried up the wall and out of the vent above them.

On the other screen, Tulip saw them pouring out of the vent behind the Garamore fighters in a silent, deadly wave. Once the last one was out, they crept closer and closer. Everyone on the bridge seemed to be holding their breaths as they watched the Spinners move in.

Finally, with a united move, all the Spinners pounced at the same time. Their sharp little legs tore into the lumpy, grotesque flesh on their faces and necks. The high pitched screams of the baby spinners brought tears to Tulip’s eyes and she reached out a hand and grabbed Violets, squeezing tightly as her baby sister sobbed silently.

But the surprise attack was working. One after another, the Garamore fighters fell to the ground, screaming in pain and smacking at the small creatures crawling all over them. But it didn’t help. There were too many of the tiny creatures and their razor sharp claws ripped and tore the rancid flesh from the bones of the Garamore fighters, leaving them writhing in agony in puddles of their own blood.

On another screen, Tulip saw the engineers move out of a doorway at the end of the hall and make their way past the gruesome mess carefully and run towards the emergency access stairwell at the other end of the hall.

A collective sigh of relief filled the bridge as they watched all the warriors escape without a scratch. The plan had worked. Not just that, but by the looks of things, a few of the small spinners survived.

Once they were sure the Garamore soldiers were dead, Tulip saw at least four small white creatures scurry back into the vent and run over to Spot, who stood motionless as he waited for the scene above him to be over. When the huge creature saw the four small spawns come running back to him, Tulip noticed his eyes widen as his large body shook with joy.

Smiling to herself, she turned back to Korom. He smiled back at her, giving her a small nod.

Murmurs grew around the bridge, all the warriors speaking of how incredible it was that their enemy had fought, killed and died to save the lives of their brothers. She could hear in their tone and the words they said that Spot and his four new babies had the respect of all the crew members on this ship now.

Turning her body around on the chair, Tulip wrapped her arms around Korom to give him a hug, but pulled back when the stench hit her nose.

“Ugh! Baby, I love you, but you stink!”

This brought a roar of laughter from all the males around them. Korom grinned, his cheeks turning a soft rosy color. Even Bor laughed.

He bent to place a soft kiss to her lips and mumbled, “Would you like to come help me wash my back?”

It was her turn to blush as she knew that everyone around her had heard his words.

“I can give you ten minutes, Korom,” Bor said, standing from his seat, “But as glad as I am that this plan worked, we still have a much larger threat to deal with.”

Tulip followed his gaze and saw the massive Garamore vessel hanging in the sky above the blue and green planet below.

Her smile fell and a shiver ran over her body once more. She couldn’t help but think about all the people on the ground. The friends she had made, the families that had nowhere to run to. The lives of so many rested in the hands of the warriors in the fleet of ships above the planet. Most males had families below. Wives, children, brothers and sisters. Each one of them counting on their king to keep them safe. In that moment, Tulip didn’t envy the weight of responsibility that stood on Bor’s shoulders. She had more respect for the man now. It couldn’t be easy knowing that every choice he made had the possibility to affect millions of lives.

“Let me take a quick shower and change. Then Lorzarian and I will go place the explosives we made on their ship and blow those bastards out of the sky once and for all.” Korom gave her one last kiss and jogged out of the room.

Tulip went over to Violet, pulling her into a hug. Her sister still had bloody tears in her eyes, but there was a small smile on her face.

Just then, Spot came back into the room, the four small white spinners perched on his back. Violet jumped off her seat and ran over to the large creature, wrapping her arms around his solid body.

The little spawns crawled off Spot and climbed all over Violet, making her giggle and sob at the same time.

After a moment, she came back, holding one of the small Spinners in her arms like a baby. She came over to Tulip and handed her the little thing. It was no bigger than a medium sized dog, with its pearly white body glinting in the bright lights of the bridge. She handed it to Tulip with a smile.

“What’s this?” Tulip asked.

“Spot says he wants each of us to have one,” She looked over at Bor, “He swears that they won’t lay any eggs unless you say it’s okay to do so. He just doesn’t want them to be killed. Not for no reason.”

“No,” Bor said, coming over to look at the little creature, “These little beasts are heroes to my warriors. They are welcome in my kingdom. But no more eggs, Spot,” He said, shooting Spot a look.

Violet laughed, “He swears. No more.”

Tulip looked down at the bundle in her arms, shocked at the deep, pale blue eyes that looked back at her.

Hello,” She heard a soft, faint voice say in her head.

“What?”

“Is she talking to you?” Violet asked, running a hand over its head.

Tulips eyes went wide as she nodded at her sister.

“Don’t be scared. She’s yours. She picked you. Now she will be able to communicate with you, like Spot does with me. It’s hard for them at first, but as she gets older, it will get clearer.”

Tulip stood stunned. She never would have thought this possible, but here it was. She was holding a Spinner in her arms, cradling it to her chest like a baby, and hearing it talk in her head. It was just the one word, but she heard it loud and clear.

“Hello… Pearl.” Tulip smiled, waiting to see how the Spinner would react to its name. To her surprise, the Spinner crawled out of her arms and moved over her body with surprising ease, until it finally crawled down her back and to the floor.

Pearl…. My name… Pearl….” A burst of affection filled Tulip at the sound of the little hissing voice in her mind, and she knew the little thing loved her new name. She watched as Pearl ran back to the other little ones and wrestled with her brothers or sisters at Spot’s feet.

“What about the other three?” Tulip asked her sister.

“See that little one at the back, the one with the greenish eyes?” Violet asked, pointing to one of the little Spinners standing a little back from the wrestling match going on under Spot’s big body.

Tulip nodded.

“Well that one chose Lilly. He will be hers. He’s the smartest of them all. Spot taught them all about us while they were still in their eggs. The one fighting with Pearl chose Rose, and the last one chose Freyna.”

“Freyna?” Bor asked, coming to stand by them.

Violet nodded. “Yup. He’s going to be the biggest of them all. Spot says he will be very protective of her and her baby.”

“I see,” Bor didn’t sound too sure about this new development, but just then Korom came back onto the bridge, followed by Lorzarian. The other male was limping quite badly, his left leg wrapped in a thick dark grey healing cast.

“What happened?” Tulip asked, looking at Lorzarian.

“I was hit with that slime stuff the Garamores use as a weapon. Almost burned half my damn leg to the bone.”

“Will you be okay?” Violet asked, joining the conversation.

Lorzarian gave a small smile. “Yes, little female. I will be fine. It will heal. It won’t look pretty, but it will heal.”

“My Lord!” It was Keel who called out from the front of the ship.

They all turned to look at him. He stood by a bank of monitors that showed the vast open space outside. In the distance hung the enemy ship.

“What the hell?” Tulip asked as she frowned at the large screens.

On the view screens the large Garamore ship looked like it was glowing. Not just a faint flicker of light, but an intense, bright white glow was coming from the huge vessel.

“What is it doing?” Bor asked as he and Korom went over to Keel.

Keel straightened from the control panel, his face pale and his eyes wide.

“They are charging up the planet killer, my lord. They are getting ready to fire.”

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