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 Twenty

These are the events as we know them.

We recorded them factually and objectively.

And now we report them to you.

Tay remembered relaxing in Courtney's arms and letting the energy of her being draw in. Gradually, the bonds that held her molecules together weakened and she could feel herself drifting off into a dimension without form. The sense of oneness stole over her, of tranquil belonging within a sea of like souls. The current in which she flowed traveled at near light speed and yet relative to her own awareness, time stood still.

She had ached for this tranquil belonging when she had first arrived on Earth. She had found it very difficult to confine her being to a limited form. Her movements had seemed heavy and clumsy and she was revolted by the feeling of touch and the germs and dirt associated with it.

Now, to her surprise, she found her old dimension sadly lacking in stimulation. Here there could never be the heady scent of Courtney's need, nor the shiver of excitement when warm flesh touched warm flesh. The texture of soft hair and warm lips could never be felt nor could one taste the salt of a tear shed at separation. There was only tranquil sameness. Here a sliver could not sting, a bump could never give soreness, and a word said in anger could not hurt. Yet it was that very emotion that gave colour to life, gave it passion and drive. What they had lost in throwing off the shackles of the third dimension was their sense of being.

Slowly, she felt herself crystalize into solid form. She stood on a hilltop surrounded by gentle meadows. The purple Nareenians were in bloom and their sweet-peppery scent filled the air. Forty-three individuals stood as she materialized. They were the hereditary members of the Council. Forty from the great tribes of the plains and three Guardians, keepers of the Way. They had been sitting in a circle on rough cut blocks of stone waiting. Each wore the costume and colours of their tribe with pride. When she had fully arrived, they bowed in respect not in servitude. Tay wondered how they felt when they bowed before her much more powerful brother.

"Welcome home, Tay Appala Punra. You have been gone too long from our lives."

Tay acknowledge the Speaker of the Council with a slight nod of her head. "Necessity has brought me back once again. I request the right to a Malasha."

There were gasps of surprise and murmurs of disbelief but what Tay was totally focused on was the tremble in the atmosphere around her. Taggora was arriving. She turned to face him as he appeared on the other side of the circle. The members of the Council again rose but this time their bow was deeper and fear made them hesitate to straighten again. Tay did not bow. She looked her brother straight in the eye defiantly. Her message was clear. She would no longer honour or follow him.

"So, my younger sister. You are here to request the Malasha. You have never known your place. You were wild as a child and disobedient as a youth. Now I am shocked to be told that you even mate with animals."

The Council looked both fearful and at a loss as to what to do. Some gasped at this revelation, others protested, some still stood, others had sat. Tay walked nonchalantly over to her brother. "I sleep with a human. That might offend you but at least, dear brother, I am capable of sex with someone."

Torgga's face went red with anger. He turned his back on his sister and walked closer to the Council seats. When he spoke his voice was etched with ice. "Honourable Council and most noble of Guardians, you see the rudeness with which my sister addresses me. By right I could have her terminated. But unlike my sister I was raised to rule. I will not insult my lineage by having Tay Appalla Punra executed like a commoner. I too request the right of Malasha. I will defeat and kill my sister in fair battle as befits the rank she now mocks."

Tay laughed as she walked to stand beside her brother. "Pretty words, my brother and as meaningless as the wind echoing through an empty canyon. The Ancient Ones introduced the Malasha into our laws so that if a Tap was found not capable of leadership they could be removed by combat." She looked at her brother with disdain.

The Speaker looked at the anger in Torgga's eyes. He was well aware that Torgga's leadership had been harsh and tight. He was feared not loved by the people of the endless plains. Yet it was his right to lead. One would be mad to cross this man. Slowly, the Speaker walked from councillor to councillor, stopping each time to see how each folded their hands. Then he went to stand again in his own position. "The Council recognizes the sovereign right of Torgga Appala Punra. At his request we grant the Malasha. Torgga Appala Punra, Tay Appala Punra, you will go now to the fields of Ternsal where the battle of Tarmalasha ended the civil wars and brought peace and balance to the forty tribes so very long ago. There you will battle for the right to lead. Go now."

Tay allowed her energy to draw within. She was ready to dematerialize when she felt Torgga grab her by the wrist. "It's a trap, look over there! She and that official are trying to pull me to a new arena!"she heard her brother cry, and then she was gone, her energy redirected at the speed of light.

The angry Councillor turned to where Torgga was pointing and released a bolt of energy that broke the connection that the official had placed on the brother and sister. The Councillor's second bolt hit the unlucky man in the chest and he dropped to the grass. The Council was in an uproar. Never had anything like this happened.

Tay did not fall to the ground, she floated, hitting and bouncing high again in a mist of dust particles. She twisted like a dancer in the thin atmosphere so that she would land this time on her feet. It was incredibly hot. Torgga had chosen well. After her time on Earth, fighting in low gravity in a dry, hot environment would be very difficult for Tay. She was in trouble, big trouble and she very much feared that her people would have lost contact with her.

Courtney got up slowly with Haichen's support. She could feel Haichen trembling with emotion but her face appeared serious and calm. "You are okay, Courtney Tay Punra?"

Courtney nodded. "Believe me, I got out of the way as soon as I saw that gun. I'm fine, Haichen." She saw Haichen's worried eyes move to the door and back again and knew immediately the source of Haichen's tension. "I think you'd better go check on Jean Lamount, while I get some of the others here to find out what is going on and where Tay is."

Haichen eyes widened in surprise and then softened into gratitude. Courtney gave the arm that supported her a squeeze of understanding.

Haichen shook her head. "Sapana, go see if Jean Lamount, is alright. If he is alive, we need to know if any files were accessed by the spy. Have him report here."

Sapana, a young man couched beside Ian's body, rose and made his way to the door. Haichen stooped to make sure Ian was dead on her way to the computer terminals. Courtney steadfastly refused to look. Ian might have been a traitor who had tried to kill her, but she could not imagine him as anything else but a friend. She kept moving, letting Haichen catch up to her. "I can't believe that Ian...well I just can't," Courtney muttered through tight lips as she watched as chairs were righted and screens brought back on line.

"I am surprised. I am not sure if Tay Appalla Punra will be also." For a minute, she watched the screen as data flowed rapidly across it. "The Malasha was granted and Tap and Torrga were on their way to the fields of Ternsal to battle. A spy appeared and tried to force the two of them into another realm. Torgga cried out and pulled Tap at the last minute somewhere else. The Council has the man, who is a low official of Torgga's court. He is refusing to talk. But just before Torgga and Tap disappeared, Torgga yelled out a warning that it was a trap, pointed to the official and then grabbed Tap and pulled her with him."

"Convenient, that it was him who saw this official. It's a sting operation and they have MY Tay!

Where is she?" Courtney snapped, barely controlling her anger at the events.

"Courtney, I am sorry, we don't know. It could take us hours to shift through data to try and find a trail of ionized particles that might lead us to them. I only sensed their destination for a split second. It was very, very hot there."

"Then start looking. I am going to try another method," Courtney commanded, turning on her heel and heading for the door.

"Courtney Tay commanded that I stay with you," Haichen argued, quickly following.

"Haichen, I am in command now. Our first priority is to save Tay Appala Punra. Emergencies call for drastic and creative action. Besides," her voice filled with sadness. "The spy is dead. Stay at your station. This is a job I must do alone."

Haichen took a step back in respect. "Yes, Courtney Appala Punra."

Courtney walked purposely down the hall, only stopping for a second to question Jean as he came walking down the hall supported by a worried looking Sapana. "Did Ian find what he was looking for?" she asked cautiously.

Jean nodded sadly. "Yes, that file was open."

"Then he would have transmitted the information before he came looking for me. Meet Haichen in the communications room. Wait there for further instructions," Courtney ordered, and saw the shocked look on Lamount's face as she opened the door that led to Tay's private quarters.

She stood in the room with the white sand and tried to calm and focus her mind. Guardians. I need to speak with you. Guardians, Tay is in trouble. I need your help. Guardians, please.

Help is not ours to give.

We offer only wisdom.

And our opinion.

"Fuck neutrality!" Courtney roared in anger to the empty room, turning around as she spoke. "What did objectivity give you? You are a dying people! And I am not about to let Tay die. You know where she is and you are going to tell me. Today - Today, your people start on a new path. It is not an easy path, being involved and having emotion. The third dimension is dirty, raw, and in your face, but let me tell you Guardians, here you are really alive. Don't you want a future for your people under Tay? Come on! Fuck tradition just this once and tell me where she is!"

This is not who we are.

Dare we do so?

Can we not?

"Tell me! For God's sakes, he'll kill Tay!"

You are only human.

So weak and frail.

You would have no chance.

"Believe me, I have a weapon that will bring him to his knees," Courtney sneered, with more confidence than she felt.

You can not travel.

You are confined to this dimension.

It is not possible.

"I have felt your world, sensed the ocean of currents, the tranquil life force. I know its beauty. I also know that with your help I can do this. Guardians, there is no time to waste." A shocked silence hung in the room for a few minutes. Courtney was just about to argue again when their response came.

Change we must.

It is the only way.

Yes, we will take you there.

"Good. Give me a minute to get organized and then you can zap me wherever I need to be," Courtney stated, as she headed for the bedroom that she and Tay shared.

Haichen felt relief flow through her body as she saw Jean Lamount come through the door. He was pale and shaky but otherwise seemed okay. In past days, she would have smiled softly, then waited for an opportunity to talk to him. But she had now seen the human and Tay Tap together and she wanted that passion so instead she walked over to Lamount and wrapped her arms around him, reaching up to kiss his lips softly.

The room went totally still. Lamount looked down at Haichen in wonder and then wrapped her closely in his arms. Slowly, Haichen heard the others recover from their shock and return to work. The soft click of keyboards did not drown out the beating of her heart.

Haichen Tay Punra.

We will speak with you.

There is news.

Haichen jumped back as if she had been given a jolt of electricity. Experimenting with physical contact was one thing, doing so in front of the Guardians was quite another. "Yes, Honourable Ones."

We have sent Courtney.

Times must change.

She has gone to protect Tay Tap.

"What?!" Haichen gasped in fear imagining what Tay Tap was going to do to her for not protecting her partner. Then she remember to who she talked. "I mean, Honourable Guardians, she is only human and Torgga is so powerful.

Her humanity is strange to us.

It is her weakness and her strength.

She is our only hope.

"But you don't understand Guardians. Courtney she...ahhh they...." Haichen struggled to explain why Courtney had to be protected without revealing what she knew.

Do you think we do not know!

We are the Guardians.

We say again, there was no other way.

part 21

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