Shadow and Ghost
Chapter 9: Conspiracy
Hidden away from prying eyes and sensitive ears, on a docked short range space shuttle an encrypted communication goes out into space. While Set’rath’s return is celebrated, and Bhu’ja is introduced to the clan, a traitor to Thar’n-thwei and the Arbitrators conveys concerns to the leader of the rogue clan.
“Sir, there has been a development.” States a computer altered voice.
“What kind of ‘development’?” The clan leader’s voice echoes through the console speakers, even altered there is no mistaking his gravelly baritone.
“Set’rath has returned and he did not return alone.”
“Who is with him?”
“Kwei-kv’var-de’s offspring…the abomination out of his ooman pet.”
“The rumored hybrid…” He sounded like he had just found the piece to a missing puzzle but offered no explanation to his spy.
“Sir! Set’rath has taken the hybrid as his life mate!” The spy burst out. Set’rath wasn’t suppose to take a mate yet, not until after the next Chiva and then only who they set him up with.
“Do not forget your place.” He growled a warning at his spy. “This may be unexpected but we can use it to our favor.”
“How can we do that?” The spy asked, confused to hear the leader sounding amused more than upset.
“Has the traitor’s brother chosen the next hunters for the Chiva?” The leader asked.
“Not yet. But rumor is going through the ship already that the abomination is being trained and will be sent.”
“That is good news.” The leader chuckled. “Good news indeed. See that she is also chosen to go. Killing the abomination will be less messy than trying to assassinate it on that clan ship.”
“But sir…” The spy fidgeted tapping a claw against a lower tusk.
“Make it happen. We need control over the Arbitrators.”
“I understand sir, but…”
The leader cut the spy off. “Think, before you argue. The young Arbitrator has proven to be a formidable adversary. What better way to destroy him, than by taking away the one thing he believes is his?
“Yes Sir.” The spy sighed.
“Remember, we all make sacrifices for the benefit of our clan.”
Taking a deep breath the spy conceded to the clan leader. “I’ll make sure she is one of the chosen.”
With the communication terminated, the spy slipped unnoticed back out into the halls of the clan ship.
Bhu’ja walked side by side with Set’rath as they followed Thar’n-thwei through the maze of halls. He had just introduced her to the main body of the clan and she was eager to be out of the curious gaze of the ship’s occupants. The whispers that echoed in their wake where curious and more than once she heard the word ‘challenge’ pop up. Please not right now. She thought to herself and suppressed a groan remembering how hard Set’rath hit and the thought did not bode confidence that anyone who challenged would hit any lighter.
Thar’n-thwei abruptly stopped and Bhu’ja’s attention zeroed in on two females approaching them. The older of the two, with pale olive skin and brown speckles came sauntering up with a younger cream skinned and pale green speckled female. Bhu’ja had a suspicion she knew who these two where and as the younger female attempted to stare her down, her eye color confirmed Bhu’ja’s suspicions. D’lex-dekna and the older female must be her mother, Kha’cti-pa.
The two females blocked the hall and Thar’n-thwei had to tilt his head slightly to look up at Kha’cti-pa. His voice held the edge of irritation as he spoke to her. “Stand aside. I have no time for your antics right now.”
“I only wanted to see if the rumors where true.” Kha’cti-pa said eyeing Bhu’ja. “An ooman hybrid is on board. Thar’n-thwei, why would you indulge such a thing?” The distain oozing from her voice made Bhu’ja bristle. Glaring at the female as the tension in her back tightened. Set’rath’s hand softly brushed against the small of her back, letting his fingertips linger against her skin between the mesh of her shift suit. His action did not go unnoticed and Bhu’ja enjoyed the jealousy that flashed through D’lex-dekna. Relaxing into his hand Bhu’ja was content to let the older Yautja’s have their verbal battle.
Thar’n-thwei clicked his mandibles together. “You forget your place Kha’cti-pa, Bhu’ja is my blood and that fact would be in your favor to remember.”
“Really? You are claiming it as kin?” Kha’cti-pa narrowed her eyes at Bhu’ja as she eyed her from head to toe. Bhu’ja did not miss when the female’s eyes reached the mating wound on her neck and flickered to Set’rath and back again. Kha’cti-pa sniffed in contempt and turned her attention back to the Elder. “It can’t be your creation…”
“Enough!” Thar’n-thwei’s voice echoed through the hall. “I have indulged this interruption long enough.” Gesturing for them to move, he proceeded forward.
Kha’cti-pa and her daughter nodded and stepped aside. As they passed she asked Thar’n-thwei. “One more question if you please, Elder.”
Thar’n-thwei rolled his shoulders and growled impatiently. “I grow weary of you. Ask or be on your way.”
“Have you chosen the unblooded for the upcoming Chiva yet?”
“I will make that announcement shortly.” He waved a dismissive hand. “Be on your way.” With his final statement, he continued down the hall towards Set’rath’s ship. The docked vessel was not far and Bhu’ja was overwhelmed with relief when finally on board the private hunting ship.
When the doors sealed behind them, Set’rath asked Thar’n-thwei. “Sir, why do you put up with her insolence?”
The elder growled and tossed his dreads indignantly. “She may not hold a seat on the council, but she holds the ears of more than one member.”
Bhu’ja choked on a laugh. “Uncle, I don’t believe it is their ears she truly holds.” Both males shot her a surprised look and she rolled her eyes at them. “Please tell me you didn’t think yours is the only race out there where the female uses her, uhm, assets to get what she wants?” Crossing her arms over her chest. “The real question gentlemen, is what is she gaining by controlling a seat and the ears of the council?”
The males looked at each other and back at Bhu’ja. Thar’n-thwei had to admit she had a point and that same question had entered his mind more than once recently. “That is truly the question of concern.” He gave a rumbling sigh. “Push such thoughts from your minds. For now, explore your new home. I will make the announcement within the week for the Chiva.” Turning his head to address Set’rath. “Make sure she is ready, this is faster than I would like to send her to trial, but I sense a war looming and truth being unknown as it is, we need her Blooded.”
“She will be ready.” Set’rath stated simply.
Nodding Thar’n-thwei left them without much ceremony, and walked with purpose to the bridge of his large ship. Many who normally would have stopped him in the halls gave him a wide birth upon seeing the look on his face. Stepping into a lift he pressed a command and let the doors slide shut as the lift took him to the bridge level of his clan ship. As he waited, he opened his wrist computer and flipped it open. Tapping with his claws, he pulled up the latest training stats and concern began to bubble seeing who was in the top five names. D’lex-dekna. He did not want her and his niece on the same Chiva, but her scores would choose for her and even he could not deny a hunter their right to earn their mark as Blooded hunters.
As the lift slowed and the doors hissed open, Thar’n-thwei slapped his computer shut and set a brisk walk to the Command Center of the clan ship’s bridge. Upon entering, he saw only his two security officers. After nodding to each, he then turned and punched in a security code, locking the doors so no one could enter the room during their security report.
“Report!” He barked and one, an olive and brown striped hunter, answered.
“Sir there was an outgoing communication shortly after your arrival, during your announcements to the clan.”
“And what was it?”
The security officer cleared his throat. “The levels of encryption is not something I am familiar with, I will need more time to break it.”
“Keep on it and inform me as soon as it is broken.” Thar’n-thwei ordered.
“Yes sir.”The hunter nodded.
“Do we know or suspect who sent the message? Who received it?” He knew they would be working on finding out, but the thought of a traitor amongst his clan was making him agitated.
His other officer spoke up. “It came from one of the docked ships on level six, and so far we have only been able to determine it was sent in the direction of the S’ringa Galaxy.”
Thar’n-thwei stood in silence staring out the monitors around the room taking in the view of the space surrounding them. The fact that the next Chiva was on one of the planets in the S’ringa Galaxy had not escaped his attention. With the abductions still continuing on their home world and now a pending threat against the Arbitrators, he stood knowing the war had already begun and his troops where one step behind the enemy.