To: Inga, Lisa, and Susan, thanks for your help.

The Anne Azel's World web site is now found at


Note To The Reader: All the information used in this story about trends and concerns on our planet is current and accurate data. In the next fifty years, our world will change completely.

Iron Rose Bleeding: Chapter Sixteen

These are the events as we know them.

We recorded them factually and objectively.

And now we report them to you.

Torgga Appala Punra stood perfectly still. Around him he could feel the pure life force of his people. It helped to calm him. Calmness was essential for clear thinking. He should have killed his sister, Tay, long ago. The people loved her but she could have had an unfortunate accident. Instead, he had sent his rebellious sister as far away as possible on a mission that had no real significance until now.

Now everything had changed. He should have known that Tay would use what few resources were at her disposal to achieve her goals. But what was she up to? His spy knew little: only that Tay had taken a human lover. A woman. There was no harm in this. Even if Tay was capable of having children, she couldn't do so by a woman. The thought of his sister with one of those animals turned his stomach. He had read that their cousins the chimpanzees were all hairy, had huge incisors, and swung from trees.

The seeding program started millions of years ago was to help other promising life forms advance to a level where they could be useful neighbours. The idea was built on the erroneous assumption that other life forms were capable of developing culture and values. This had not proven to be so. His people had had to prove their superiority in a number of wars over thousands of years. Now another seeded area was threatening to be a nuisance, but this time Tay Appala Punra was there.

We feel your stress.

Can we help?

We are here to guide.

"Tell me what my sister is up to," Torgga demanded.

This is not our role.

We do not report.

We only offer wisdom.

Torgga's anger shattered the peace he had been labouring to bring to his soul. "I am a Tap! I am wise. What I need is information! Go!"

As you wish.

We are not far,

if we are needed.

"Kaysolna." Torgga felt the brush of another current of life close to him.


"I want to know everything my sister knows about these ape-people of planet Earth. Have your security personnel devise a way to access her station's data banks. Go."

"Yes, my Tap."

For a long while, Torgga stood staring out into space. The Earth solar system was so small, so far away, it could not be seen. It was located on the far edge of the outer spiral of the galaxy. A remote, cold wilderness. What was Tay Appala Punra up to?


Tap turned as Jean Lamount entered the room. "Well?"

"Her blood pressure is low. Shock, I suspect, but it is not dangerously so," Lamount stated cautiously. "The trip back has not done her harm." He would have liked to remind Tap that the first three months are unusually risky in human pregnancies. To have told Courtney at this time that she was expecting a child by a member of another dimension was rash but one did not correct someone of Tap's position.

"Nothing must happen to Courtney Hunter or our child."

"I understand."

Tap looked at her feet, a worried frown on her face. Then she looked up at her medical officer with eyes as piercing as diamond. "I will see her now."

Lamount licked his lips nervously. "She does not wish to see you. To force the issue might lead to unnecessary stress." Lamount jumped as the palmpilot Tap held in her hand was whipped across the room and smashed into pieces that bounced and rolled along the floor. Doors flew open and Ian and several other security personnel charged into the room. "Get out!" Tap hissed and they beat a hasty retreat.

Tap walked over to Lamount. Her movement was like a panther's, fascinatingly beautiful and so terribly deadly. She stopped so close to him that he could feel her warm breath brush his skin "You will talk to her. You will make her understand. Go," she stated barely above a whisper. The power of the words, however, sent a chill down his back. Tap was always polite. When she wasn't it was wise to be afraid.

"Understood," he stated and left as quickly as he could without seeming to run.

Tap paced about the room, barely controlling the frustration and anger that came from the hurt at Courtney's rejection of her and their child. She didn't understand. Courtney had said that she loved her. Had she lied?

"Tap, may I enter?" Tap looked up to see Haichen standing in the doorway. That had never happened before. A Tap is always aware. She could see the uncertainty and concern in Haichen's face. Emotions, Tap was to realize, can cloud reason and dull perception and awareness.

"I have much to think about and do not wish to be disturbed. That should have been obvious," Tap responded coldly, trying to give the impression that she had been aware of Haichen's presence. "You have done so, I am assuming, because the situation warrants it."

Relief then fear showed on Haichen's face. It was not wise to displease a Tap. "I apologize for disturbing your contemplation, Tap. Torgga Appala Punra has attempted to access our data banks."

A smile, cold and challenging, slowly raised the corner of Tap's mouth. One eyebrow arched up and she looked at Haichen with eyes sparkling with excitement. "Have you ever been in a war, Haichen?"

"Not direct combat, Tap."

"It is a horrible, draining, demanding lover who always leaves deep scars on your soul. Yet a lover war is because it can draw and hold your heart."

Haichen frowned. She had not ever seen Tap like this. Her commander was known for her clear, logical thought and calm assessments. She was speaking like a Guardian not a Tap. "Your orders, Tap?"

Tap's smile widened into a grin. "Let my brother retrieve all the data he wants...on planet Earth. He has neither the skill or the flexibility to use that information to his real advantage."

Haichen's eyes widened in shock. Tap had just openly criticized her brother. Most had thought her sitting in Torgga Appala Punra's presence had been a signal that Tap meant to claim Earth as her sole right but it had been far more than that. Tap meant to rebel against her brother.

"Are you afraid, Haichen?" Tap asked, with quiet confidence.


Tap nodded. "That is wise."

Lamount entered Courtney Hunter's room quietly and sat down on a chair beside the bed. Courtney did not acknowledge his presence but continued to stare at the ceiling. She had woken to find herself back at Tap's home in the room where she had been originally held prisoner. The only difference was the iron grate welded over the hole she had escaped through before and the fact that the room now had conventional "human" furniture in it. How she had got here from Geneva, how long she had been kept unconscious, or what they had done to her, she had no idea.

"Tap has requested that I talk with you," he started. Haichen had told him that the human greatly admired honesty.

"About what?" The question did not indicate interest in its tone. Courtney had not moved, not even shifted her eyes.

"Tap is not happy that you do not wish to see her." Lamount could feel the sweat running down his back. He must be careful not to undermine Tap's dignity.

"That's too bad."

Lamount tried not to show his fear. "She is most concerned and has ordered me to make sure that you and the child are well."

Courtney's head turned and she looked at Lamount with eyes rimmed in red from crying. "I am just the incubator for Tap's little alien. She cares for no one."

Lamount frowned at his hands trying to think of how to deal with this. "Tap is second only to her brother. They are like a royal house. They have absolute power. With power comes terrible responsibilities and danger. Taps must always think of the well being of their people first. That does not mean that their personal loyalties are not as strong as anyone else."

"I am lying here wondering, why me? Why not one of her own kind?" Courtney asked, a hardness in her voice reflecting her suspicions.

"We can not breed anymore."

"What! None of you?"

Lamount shook his head and sighed. "Few. Our population is dwindling. For a long time, the Taps were still able to... but not now."

Courtney's hand went to her stomach. "Then what is in me?"

"You were fertilized by a synthetically produced sperm carrying Tap's genetic code. I have been working on the process for years." Lamount heard the pride creeping into his voice despite his fear.

Courtney's head shifted again and she went back to looking at the ceiling. "So that is it, then?" Her voice was flat and emotionless. "Tap needed a human incubator and I walked in."

"No! You do not understand. That is not the case. Our research was continuing and we planned to create a similar egg with the genetic coded imbedded in it of one of the women of noble blood. Instead, Tap ordered that it was to be you. She has feelings towards you."

Courtney snorted. "I am aware of her feelings. They tend to run towards my termination. What...I mean, the child...what will it look like. I mean, is it a puddle like that life force ocean?

Lamount almost gasped in surprise. Then the rumours were true. Some of the humans, including Courtney Hunter, were developing an awareness of dimensions beyond the plane on which they existed. "Humans have evolved, due to millions of years of selective seeding, to life forms very similar to ours. We anticipate that the child will look much like Tap but we are hoping that she will inherit some of the qualities that we have lost from you."

"Like the ability to be impregnated by someone without my knowledge or consent?" came the angry response. "I have been treated as if I am no more than a convenient test tube. I do not want this child. It disgusts me." Courtney turned away and buried her face in her pillow. If the truth were known she was very confused about what she believed. On one level, she didn't want to be pregnant. On another, much against her will, she knew she was already feeling protective of the seed inside her. What really revolted her was the violation of her being, not the child. It was almost like rape.

There were other issues here too. Ones far greater than just her. Why were these aliens here studying planet earth? Was there to be an invasion? What part were she and the child to play in that? Again, Courtney found herself divided in her feelings. This was partly her child that she carried and yet this child could be the key to the fall of the human race. Her name and that of her child could be forever associated with betrayal and the enslaving of the Earth's people.

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