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Pain radiated through Chen’s shoulder and torso as he hit the metal floor.
His first and only concern was to shield Shanti and Hsing from it. He didn’t want Shanti to be frightened, and he didn’t want Hsing to feel any more burden or stress than what he was already under.
Chen looked up into the distorted face that he’d known since he was a youngling.
Niao and Nse’s father Ngai towered over him. The male had survived the debris field, but his body had not come out unscathed. An ugly gash tore across his chest. There was a limp to his walk. He wasn’t healing for some reason. But he looked as though he’d been sick for many revolutions.
“Ngai, you’re wounded. Let me heal you.” Chen came to his knees.
“You will only try to kill me.”
Chen shook his head. “You know that is not my nature.”
“Outside of the binding of Eloh law, you have no idea what your true nature is.” Ngai paced, scratching at his heart. “If I can just sever the link between us, then I will be whole.”
Chen couldn’t understand who he meant. His mate and brother were dead.
“It is unnatural to bound your life to another living thing. We are born into this world alone. My life should not be dependent on another.”
“I can feel your pain, Ngai.” Chen didn’t reach out to far. Whatever substance ran through Ngai’s veins was toxic. Chen remembered the plant in his robes. If the algae could heal the Mothership perhaps it or some other substance could heal Ngai. “Come home. Let us tend to you.”
Ngai rounded on Chen, his hollow eyes loomed large in his sunken face. “Give them to me and I’ll release you.”
“Once the children are dead, I will be at peace.”
Everything inside Chen went cold. Ngai meant Niao and Nse. Chen hadn’t realized that there was a still a link between the three. It was that link that Ngai wanted severed. Chen could just make it out. It was faint and fragile. It appeared like an irritation at the forefront of the disturbed male’s mind.
“You are bonded now,” Ngai said. “Your first thought is not of yourself. It is of her. You are a slave to them. Mates, children, brothers.”
Chen shook his head. “No, Ngai. They provide the balance that we need. They are a gift.”
“They are a shackle. I see you looking into my mind. But it goes both ways. That link you to your brother that you think you cherish, it can lead me straight to that meddlesome Mothership.”
Chen felt bile rise in his throat at the threat.
An evil curl tilted Ngai’s lips. “Or perhaps I can trace the other thread of the bond, hmmm? Return to the womb rock, to the home of your mate.”
Chen’s fingers clenched, his jaw tightened. The very thought of harm coming to Shanti set his very essence aflame.
Ngai laughed. The sound grated against Chen’s bones.
“Which road do you want me to take, Chen-Na? Shall I blast the Mothership out of the sky? Or shall I take your female?”
Chen lunged. Pain ripped through his shoulder, but he ignored it as he crashed into Ngai. Chen landed a fist across the other male’s face. A terrible sound came from his lips. Chen froze at the sound of pain. He’d never hurt another living creature in his life. But the thought of harm befalling Shanti was too much.
From behind, Chen felt hands on him. Manu held Chen fast.
He realized that Ngai’s cries were not of pain. They were of maniacal glee.
“What did I tell you.” Ngai’s laugh halted abruptly and his face changed to a dark sneer. “The bond rules you, not your nature. You will kill to protect it. Wonder what you will do if those ties ever snap?”
Ngai straightened and headed for the doorway.
“No worries little Yin,” Ngai said. “I have no interest in your mate. But I will find the Mothership. And when I do, I’ll blast every last one of them out of the sky.”
Ngai left the room.
Chen felt something cold and hard on his wrists. Manu had shackled him to the wall. Chen pulled against the restraints to no avail. He looked up at Manu. The Yin male’s face was without any trace of emotion, but Chen could feel something within the male when he reached out.
“Manu, Let me take you back to the ship. She can heal you. You can come home.”
“I have my own ship.” Manu indicated the metal around him. “This is my home.”
“But this is not your family.”
“I tried to replace them; my family. I tried but it didn’t work.”
“What are you saying?” Manu’s words made even less sense to Chen Ngai’s.
“There’s no going home,” said Manu. “Not after what we’ve done.”
“There’s always redemption.”
Manu’s eyes connected with Chen. “I watched your mother die.”
Chen reared back to the wall, as though the chains had pulled him into the wall for Manu’s protection.
“It was not by my hand,” Manu continued. “But I did nothing to stop it. There is nothing left of me to heal. This ship is so cold. Its turned me cold.”
The ship was cold, but Chen felt a warmth rise through his chest. He heard someone calling his name. Not some one. He heard two voices calling out to him.
Shanti and Hsing. They were tapping into the bond link. They were trying to pinpoint his location.
Unlike Ngai who was too shriveled inside to pinpoint the exact location of his sons, Shanti and Hsing, the two of them together, would be able to find Chen.
They would find him and then they’d be able to take these two into the ship. Once inside the Mothership She could heal them. After She healed herself. Chen’s hand went to the plant inside his robes.
Manu stared at him as though he could see the hope in Chen’s eyes.
“He’s coming for you isn’t he?” Manu sneered. “I remember your brother. He was unbalanced, arrogant like your father.”
Chen had never thought of his Yang father as arrogant or unbalanced. True he was a mighty warrior, a force to be reckoned with. But he’d only known his father under the gentle hand of his mother. Hsing was bound to Shanti, but they weren’t connected like he was to Shanti. Shanti was connected to Hsing like Hsing was to Chen. Chen was their link. If they lost Chen they might not be able to find balance.
“When you go to the next life your brother will tear apart this universe.” Manu’s eyes were nearly as large as his head. “He will likely snap your mate’s neck and then tear the crew apart by hand.”
“Hsing would never do such a thing.”
“You were ready to do such a thing to Ngai with the mere verbal threat of harm to your mate.”
Stay tuned next week for the next installment!