Challenging saber, p.2
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       Challenging Saber, p.2

           S. E. Smith
 
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  “You are not alone any longer, little one,” Saber whispered as he carried her out of the cafeteria. “I will watch over you.”

  Neither one of them spoke as Saber turned left at the end of the hallway. They had been negligent about Taylor’s welfare. He felt another shaft of guilt pierce him. Taylor’s two sisters, Jesse and Jordan, had been critically ill while Taylor had been a fireball of rebellion. She had fought like a warrior trying to protect her sisters. Because of her resistance, it never dawned on Saber that Taylor might need medical attention as well. The medic had checked her over and said she needed food, but otherwise appeared healthy.

  “Where are you taking me?” Taylor asked, not moving her head which was nestled just under his chin.

  “To the medical unit,” he replied in a gruff voice. “I should have insisted that the healer check you over.”

  “Is that where Jesse and Jordan are?” She asked, tilting her head back to look at him. “You have dried mashed potatoes in your hair.”

  A startled chuckle escaped Saber. “I think I have more than that. You hit me more than you missed. You have a very good aim for a female. You are also very….” He stopped as he tried to think of the right word to describe her quickness.

  “I’m very what?” Taylor asked with a puzzled frown.

  Saber glanced down at her as he paused outside of a dark green door. “Fast. You are very fast, but the way you could jump and flip… I’m not sure the correct human word to use,” he said in frustration.

  “I’m very limber,” she replied with a small smile. “I was in gymnastics. I was really, really good at it. Dad…,” her voice choked for a moment and her eyes glittered with tears. “Dad said I needed it because I was born with too much energy for anyone to keep up with.”

  “I’m sorry about your father, Taylor,” Saber murmured, reaching down to open the door.

  Taylor shook her head and snuggled up against him again. “It wasn’t your fault,” she whispered. “He was killed the first day by a human. We’ve been running ever since. I’m tired of running. So are Jesse and Jordan.”

  “You’ll never have to run again if I have anything to do with it,” Saber said grimly, glancing as one of the medics came forward. “I want a healer to check her.”

  The medic looked at the grim expression on Saber’s face and gave him a sharp nod. “Follow me,” he said.

  *.*.*

  Taylor sat on the exam table and looked around the room. The medic had ushered Saber out of the room, telling him that he would have to wait outside in the front office. She glanced at the door, listening carefully. She could hear the quiet murmurs of the medic and another man.

  She bit her lip in uncertainty. Jesse and Jordan had taught her the first year they were on the run to look for anything that they could use. Her eyes flickered to the medicine cabinet attached to the wall. They could always use the medicine once they escaped from here. Drugs were the second hardest thing to find out on the streets; the first was food.

  She wiped her sweaty palms down her faded jeans. She would wait until after the doctor saw her, then find a way to hide a few things away. Her eyes jerked back to the door when it opened and a huge man walked into the room.

  “Hello, human. My name is Carp. You were with the other two females that are resting?” He asked.

  “Are they…,” Taylor said, nodding her head at his question. “Are Jesse and Jordan going to be okay?”

  Carp studied the tablet in his hand for a moment with a frown before he glanced up at her and nodded. “Yes, but it was a good thing the three of you were found when you were. Your sisters were very ill and one of them had several broken ribs,” he said with a grim look. “How long have you been without protection?”

  Taylor pursed her lips. “Jesse, Jordan, and I have been protecting each other. If you mean how long have we been on the run? It’s been four years,” she replied with a shrug, looking on curiously when he held up a small device. “What’s that?”

  “It allows me to scan your vitals,” Carp replied with a slight smile.

  “How does it work?” Taylor asked, glancing at it with a frown.

  “It picks up your temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure,” he explained, pocketing the device in his jacket before reaching for another strange piece of equipment. “Please place your hands on the surface.”

  Taylor cautiously lifted her hands and laid it on the dark glass. “What does this do?” She asked as a red light ran back and forth several times causing her hands to tingle.

  “It is taking blood samples and running tests on them. The results will tell me if you have the same virus that your sisters are suffering from, if you are anemic, as well as other tests,” he said, pulling the flat glass toward him and studying it. “When is the last time you ate?”

  “About half an hour or so ago,” Taylor admitted. “It was the first time I’ve had that much in years.”

  Shaking his head, Carp set the scanner down and walked over to the medicine cabinet. Pulling out a key, he unlocked it before dropping the key back into the pocket of his jacket. He scanned the contents. He started when he realized that Taylor had quietly stepped up behind him.

  “What’s that?” She asked, pointing to a purple bottle.

  “A vitamin supplement,” Carp replied with a raised eyebrow. “Are you going to ask me what each vial contains now?”

  Taylor glanced up at him with a mischievous grin. “Yep,” she said. “I’ve always been fascinated with stuff.”

  “A few drops in water will give you strength as it replenishes the nutrients and vitamins you are missing. This one will kill any infections you might have. This one will seal a wound and enhance healing,” Carp explained as he touched each vial.

  “How do you guys know how to do all of this stuff?” Taylor asked in curiosity.

  Carp picked up several vials and turned, motioning for Taylor to return to the examination table. He placed several drops from the purple vial into a glass of water before handing it to her. Taylor studied it suspiciously before sipping it. She was surprised when she felt a charge of energy sweep through her. Quickly drinking the rest of the water down, she handed the glass back to him.

  “Can you tell me if you are feeling pain anywhere?” Carp asked, motioning for her to lay back.

  “Not really,” Taylor said with a shrug as she scooted back and laid down. “I’ve got some bruises from Saber, but that’s all.”

  “Saber?” Carp said with a dark scowl. “He hurt you?”

  Taylor snorted. “Only when I hit his hard hide,” she growled. “The guy is built like a brick wall. You try hitting him and see if you don’t end up with a bruise or two.”

  Carp’s scowl dissolved and he chuckled as he shook his head. “No, thank you,” he replied dryly. “I’ve participated in enough training sessions to know what Saber, Hunter, and Dagger are like. This will take care of your bruising. I suggest that you refrain from striking any more Trivator warriors in the future.”

  “Of course you’d say that, you’re one of them!” Taylor retorted.

  “I’ve requested clean clothing to replace your torn garments,” Carp said, running the last of his scans and motioning for Taylor to sit up. “I’ll inform Hunter that you and your sisters may return to his quarters with instructions to return in a few days for a check up to make sure all of you are well.”

  “Thanks,” Taylor said, smiling as she sat up.

  She watched as the healer walked to the door and opened it after a soft knock sounded. He turned with a stack of clothing in his hands. She slid off the exam table again and reached for them when he held them out.

  “I’ll inform Hunter you are here. Just come back out to the front room when you are ready,” Carp instructed.

  “I will. Thanks, doc,” Taylor grinned brightly.

  Carp gave her an uncertain look before he nodded and stepped out of the room. Taylor breathed a sigh of relief and quickly change
d. She glanced at the door before walking back over to the bed where she pulled out the key and scanner she had slipped from his pocket and hidden under the pillow.

  It didn’t take her long to place all the vials into her old shirt that she had tied up to make a bag. Her fingers hovered over a gun-shaped item. It was the same thing the medic had used on Jordan and Jesse in the transport that had brought them here.

  “It might come in handy,” Taylor whispered under her breath as her fingers wrapped around it. “Always think ahead like Jesse says.”

  Wrapping the items in her jeans, she straightened. Once she, Jesse, and Jordan were together, they could plan on how to escape. She paused by the door and pulled down the paper taped to the wall. It was a map of the compound. It would definitely come in handy.

  Drawing in a deep breath, Taylor grinned. This was actually fun. They were healthy, had clean clothes, food, and medicine. Now, all they needed to do was escape. Taylor thought of everything she had seen as they were walking to the building. There had been a line of garbage trucks leaving. They were checked coming in, but not going out. It wasn’t an ideal escape plan, but knowing how well these aliens could smell, it just might work.

  Doing a little jig, Taylor opened the door and stepped out. She smiled at Carp when he walked by her. She took the opportunity to drop the key back into his pocket. He was just going to have to get a new scanner.

  “Thanks again for everything, doc,” she said.

  Carp bowed his head in acknowledgement. “I have instructed Hunter to take better care of you and your sisters. Now that he has claimed one of them for his Amate, you are under his protection.”

  “Sure thing,” Taylor agreed, not understanding what an Amate was and deciding it didn’t matter as they wouldn’t be here long enough to find out. “Bye!”

  She bit her lip when she heard Carp’s muttered words as he turned. If he thought they were strange, he needed to spend a few weeks in the outside world. With a sigh, Taylor saw Saber rise as she entered the room. The adorable alien moron still had dried food in his hair.

  Chapter 3

  “Hunter, wake up,” Saber growled, bending down over Hunter’s inert body and shaking him early the next morning. He patted Hunter’s face before glancing over his shoulder at Dagger. “Anything?” He asked.

  “They went out the back window,” Dagger replied, nodding to where Hunter was covered by a thin blanket. “How is he?”

  “Out cold,” Saber muttered, glancing at the discarded injector. “You’d better get Carp. Hunter is going to be furious enough as it is. I don’t think waiting for him to wake up would be a good idea. It will just give those females more time to run.”

  Twenty minutes later, a very pissed off Hunter sat at the same table where he had been hours ago. Saber couldn’t help the grin that curved his lips. It would appear his little human had struck once again. The smile quickly turned to a scowl when he realized where his thoughts had taken him.

  She’s not mine, he thought in aggravation. Well, she is not mine yet, but she will be.

  “Saber!” Hunter growled again, pulling him back to the present.

  “What?” Saber frowned as he glared across the table at Hunter.

  “I asked how Taylor was able to get her hands on a sedative injector.” Hunter asked with an accusing tone, glaring at him.

  Saber shrugged and waved his hand at Carp. “How should I know? The medic and Carp would not allow me back into the examination room. Ask Carp, he is the healer, not me,” he snapped defensively. “I told you she was a little hellion. I was covered in food by the time I left her with you.”

  Carp raised his hands in the air and shook his head. “I just checked her over like I was asked to do,” he retorted when Hunter turned his irritated gaze on him. “Saber insisted that the young human be examined. It was just as well that he did. Her body was showing an increase in white blood cells, indicating that she was fighting an infection. I suspect she would have been as sick as her siblings within a matter of days. Her body was also depleted of essential nutrients due to her extended period of malnourishment.”

  Saber rose out of his chair and glared at Carp. “You didn’t tell me any of that! You said that she was fine,” he growled.

  “I said she would be fine,” Carp corrected. “After you notified me of what had happened to Hunter, I checked the medicine cabinet in the room where I examined Taylor. She cleaned it out. I need to return to the medical unit. All I can say is good luck. I have a feeling all three of you are going to need it!” Carp bowed his head in farewell before he walked out of the door.

  Saber winced when Hunter ignored Carp’s departure and turned back to stare at him. He knew what Hunter was going to say. The problem was Saber didn’t have an answer.

  “Which leads me back to how the shewta did she get all of that past you?” Hunter asked bluntly.

  Saber raised an eyebrow. “How did she knock you out?” He retorted, deciding being on the offensive was the better of the two options since he couldn’t very well say he had been too busy trying not to make a bigger fool of himself in front of Taylor than he already had in the cafeteria.

  “I don’t think the how or why matters now,” Dagger finally said, turning from where he was standing by the window looking out at the compound. “What matters is that we find them.”

  Saber watched as Hunter bowed his head and drew in a deep breath before he rose out of the chair. He returned Hunter’s stare when he glanced back and forth between him and Dagger with a slightly confused expression on his face. Saber knew Hunter could hear the slightly possessive sound in his and Dagger’s voices when they talked about the other females.

  Saber was reminded of when they were boys. They often knew what the other was thinking or feeling without having to be told, as they had taken a blood oath that they would always be there for each other. Finding the women wasn’t just for Hunter, who had to find Jesse now that he had claimed her, it was for Dagger and Saber as well.

  “Dagger’s right,” Saber agreed. “We need to find them. Hunter,” he paused, glancing at Dagger before drawing in a deep breath and returning his steady gaze to Hunter. “I believe these females are different. I… As of today, I pledge my honor as a warrior to protect them as if they were my own. The little one, Taylor, she is far too spirited for her own good. I believe you will need all the help you can get in keeping her safe.”

  Dagger nodded his head. “I agree, though for a different reason,” he admitted, looking at Hunter. “I stake my claim here and now, my friend. The one called Jordan will one day be my Amate. I swear on my life that I will protect her… as soon as I find her again,” he added grimly.

  “Shewta!” Hunter said, staring in shock at Dagger. “You are sure?”

  Dagger flushed, but didn’t look away. “Yes,” he replied in a quiet voice.

  Saber couldn’t quite meet Hunter’s gaze when Hunter turned back to stare at him. His eyes focused on the window where the girls had escaped. He moved from one foot to the other as the silence grew. Finally, in exasperation, he looked back at Hunter with a slightly tormented expression.

  “She is young,” Hunter replied in a soft voice.

  Saber could feel his own face heat. “I know,” he replied.

  “It won’t be easy. Something tells me that she will push you to your limits,” Hunter continued.

  “I said I know,” Saber growled before turning his gaze to Dagger’s amused face. “Her sister is young, too. You will have to wait as well,” he pointed out.

  “Yes, but not quite as young as the other, and she doesn’t bite,” Dagger chuckled before he sobered and a frown creased his brow. “At least, I don’t think she does.”

  “I think it will take all three of us to keep them safe,” Hunter replied with a grimace as he ran his hand over his neck, touching the spot where Taylor had injected him with the sedative.

  “Then, I suggest we go find them,” Saber said, rubbing his ha
nds together. “I have a little demon to strangle.”

  *.*.*

  Two weeks later, Saber stood outside the transport Hunter had obtained for them to search for the females. They were near the former downtown area of Seattle. Abandoned buildings in various levels of destruction stood as a testament to the ravages done to the city since the Trivators’ arrival four years before.

  The destruction was not what Saber was currently thinking about though. No, at the moment he was thinking of all the ways he could throttle the three females. He released a tired sigh and stared down at the scanner in his hand.

  Every time he closed his eyes, all he could see was Taylor’s body lying somewhere out in the crumbled ruins. His eyes lit up with hope, then fear, before a dark, primitive rage swept through him when a new reading showed up on the scanner. Fifteen dots surrounded three.

  “Hunter,” Saber growled in fury. “Over here!”

  Saber held the scanner out to Hunter before turning it to Dagger. Without another word, he attached it back to his belt and turned toward the alley leading in the direction where the figures were located. He broke into a run when he heard the sound of a scream. It was Taylor.

  Saber, Hunter, and Dagger immediately assessed the situation when they reached the target area. Fifteen men circled the women. Rage unlike anything he had ever felt surged through him when he saw one of the human males strike Taylor across the face. As if in slow motion, he saw her collapse in the rubble-strewn street. The man bent over her and began ripping at her clothing.

  “Kill them,” he roared as he barreled through the men standing between him and Taylor.

  Saber pulled his laser sword. He cut a path through three men before they were even aware that they weren’t alone any longer. He sliced through a fourth man as he tried to scramble away, severing the main artery in the man’s throat with a clean stroke.

 
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