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-One

These are the events as we know them.

We recorded them factually and objectively.

And now we report them to you.

Landing on her feet although she was still off balance as a result of her momentum, Tay was able to block the blast of energy that instantly came her way. Even so it was much more powerful than anything she had experienced before. Allowing her body to use the energy rather than resist it she spun back, twisting sideways as she reached out and sent a charge directly into her brother's chest. She might not be as powerful as Torgga but years of combat had made her reflexes sharp and her aim deadly.

Torgga in his over confidence was not prepared and staggered under the blow. This gave Tay the time to bounce closer and send an attack from the side. Again she caught Torgga in the chest but not before he had sent a glancing blow of ionized particles off her shoulder. Her exposed neck and face burned with the impact. Yet, she now believed she could win this battle. Her confidence was shattered a split second later by an incredible energy blow to the back. Tay crumpled, unable to straighten for the pain, absorbing the realization: this was a trap.

Gritting her teeth against the pain, she rolled over and aimed at the shadowy figure that was making its way towards her through the dust clouds. She knew she was now totally vulnerable to Torgga's attack but she could not fight on two fronts. Gathering her strength, she focused everything she had into a single deadly shot. The shadowy figure glowed bright at the impact turning the grey dust particles around him to bright yellow. Then the light faded and the assassin folded to the ground with a thud. A second later, Tay was hit full on with a blow that sent her spinning across the ground and another that left her protective armour smoldering and hot. The pain was almost blinding now and Tay struggled to breathe through her own blood. She lay still. Her only hope would be if she could raise enough energy for one more shot before her brother killed her.

Her thoughts drifted to the warm arms of her lover. The gentle fragrance of her perfume, the soft sound of her laugh and the sparkle of merriment in Courtney's eyes that was a warning of the devilment that would follow. She could hear her brother's heavy boots as he walked over to her. She reached inside herself but there was no energy left. There would be no last chance.

A heavy boot caught her in her raw and bleeding side and sent her rolling over and over. Her own scream echoed painfully in her ears. Tay bit down on her lip. She would die with honour. Through blood caked lashes and eyes that stung with sweat, Tay could see the black form of her brother looming over her.

"This is the end, Tay. You first and later your pregnant human. But have no fear for your child, Tay, I will raise her as my own," he laughed.

Anger and fear helped Tay find the energy from somewhere within. Her hand shot out and delivered a blow to Torgga's chest. He blocked it easily, laughing still, and kicked once again, sending her body sledding painfully across the rocky surface. When the dust settled, Tay's body lay lifeless in the sand. Her wounds were barely visible through the thick layer of dust that had matted into her blood.

Courtney wondered if something had gone wrong or whether the Guardians had tricked her. They had told her that she would be traveling great distances, light years away through strings of microwave energy present in the dark matter of space. Yet she felt like she was floating quietly in a warm ocean, gentle currents nudging her around. There was no sensation of form or of speed, only of a timeless band of energy flowing through an endless sea. Nevertheless, she had to force herself not to panic. The lack of physical sensation was terrifying. Then her world rushed in on her and she suddenly felt heavy and confined. Sensations hit her like arrows: incredible heat, a bruised shoulder from her dive behind the computer console when she saw Ian raise his gun, and the dust that filled her mouth and gagged at the back of her throat.

She materialized beside Tay's body and looked down in stunned shock, not realizing at first that the lifeless, dust covered, bloody mass was her lover. Slowly she sank to her knees as realization struck. She rolled the dead weight into her arms and held her close. "Tay, I'm here darling, please don't give up on us. Please Tay, I need your love and our daughter needs to know you. You need to teach her all the things that she must know to lead. I want her to know your smile and see the two of you play together. Tay, fight darling, hold on."

Eyes opened with difficultly, blinking dust and blood clear. "Court!? No...leave! you. Get out. D...Don't want hurt."

A shadow fell across them. Courtney looked up into a face very similar to Tay's, only lacking the warmth and kindness. "He knows. He w..wants," Tay warned, trying without success to protect Courtney with her own body.

Courtney lowered Tay's body to the ground, trying not to show her own pain at hearing Tay moan in agony. She got up slowly, a smile on her face, ignoring the woman who now lay at her feet helpless. "So, we are to be allies then."

Torgga's shrewd face showed surprise for a split second. "I need no allies, especially not a human animal."

Courtney resisted the urge to kick him in the balls. With that protective suit on, it probably would do no good. "Sure you do. It is going to take nine Earth months for me to have this child and then there is the whole raising process. You have know idea how fragile and breakable the little sucker is going to be. You just can't zap this kid into your celestial genetic pool you know. She's half human. Her better half I might add. I mean, look at Tay. Not much to write home about." Torgga blinked in surprise as Courtney stepped over Tay, wobbling because she was having trouble keeping her balance in the low gravity. It seemed to him that Tay was no more important to her than an annoying bump in a path. The human looked around at the flat, dusty plain "Please tell me this isn't home. Hell, even an alien couldn't love this dust bowl. I've seen kitty litter pans with more relief."

Torgga looked down at the small creature beside him. He did not understand all she was referring to. What was a kitty litter pan? Still, he had to admit, he found her interesting. Humans were not as revolting as he had imagined. "How did you get here?" he demanded.

"The Guardians sent me," Courtney responded honestly as she measured distance and calculated her chances.

Torgga's face distorted into anger. He grabbed Courtney by the shirt and lifted her off the ground. "I don't believe you. They will help no one. Not even me."

It was now or never. Courtney steeled her courage, knowing that whether this worked or not she could get hurt badly. "Wrong again,"she stated quietly, lifting her hand and pulling the trigger.

Torgga cried in pain and dropped her as he covered his eyes. Courtney tried to maintain her balance as she bounced. She kept firing at Torrga's exposed flesh, avoiding Torgga's blind swipes at her. She was getting tired. The intense heat and lack of gravity were taking their toll. Her plan now seemed stupid and it clearly had not worked. A big mitt of a hand, covered in a steel-like material, caught her chin and sent her at last reeling away. She hit the ground on her back and skidded painfully. Looking back she could see Torgga loom, hand raised in her direction. Then his knees buckled and he dropped to the ground.

Courtney leapt to her feet and bounded awkwardly over to wrap Tay in her arms. "Get us out of here, Guardians. Please!" Courtney ordered.

Haichen arrived at the Council feeling the weight of responsibility heavy on her shoulders. Tay Appla Punra had carried such a weight since she was a young child with great wisdom and dignity. It was only now, as Haichen stood in the circle of forty- three, that she realized just how great a burden that must have been.

"Honourable Councillors, I am Haichen Tay Tap and I have been instructed by the Guardians to present myself to you." A murmur of disbelief rippled around the ring of distinguished Councillors.

The Speaker stood with indignation. "Quiet please." His eyes fastened on Haichen. "You are Tay Appala Punra's second in command?"

"Third, I also serve Courtney Tay Tap." Now the ripple became a rising tide of voices.

"Silence please," the Speaker commanded yet again. "Tay Tap has given such a noble rank to a human?"


The Speaker seemed lost for words. He held up a hand to her to signal wait and hurried to join the buzz of conversation that had again broken out around the circle. Councillors got up and formed groups, talking and arguing. Haichen waited, not knowing herself what to do.

The Speaker returned to stand by his chair and with a wave of his hand signaled the other Councillors to do likewise.

"Haichen Tay Tap, we need to know more. You will explain the events that have led to this day when sister turns against her brother who rules us all." He sat solemnly, folded his hands and waited. So did the other Councillors. This was to be a sort of trial and the fate of Haichen's leader depended on Haichen convincing the Council that Tay Tap had done no wrong. She took a few minutes to settle her thoughts. Only a few weeks ago, the idea of her standing here supporting Courtney Hunter and Tay's decisions would have seemed impossible - ludicrous. Now everything had changed with Tay Tap's bold actions and only time would tell if those decisions had been wise.

Eventually, she began, "Torgga Tap and Tay Tap have never seen eye to eye. That is well known. Tay Tap objected to the conquests that his leadership has lead the People of the Plain into. She objected to the oppression of ideas and the control of lives. As a result, she and her Houshold were sent virtually into exile to a remote and unimportant planet in the far reaches of our universe."

Haichen stopped and slowly turned around, making eye contact with each of the individuals who sat there before going on. "Tay commanded that we observe everything about this planet and understand it completely. She also ordered that research be done to produce a synthetically produced sperm that would carry her genetic code. She did this because there was no one suitable for her to mate with who was capable of producing off-spring."

A murmur passed around the circle. The Speaker glared. "Tay Tap's actions are startling. Go on."

Haichen steeled herself, unconsciously straightening her shoulders and standing tall. Here was where it was going to get interesting. She hoped Tay was alive because if not she and all Tay's Household would probably be dead or in hiding from Torgga's anger by tomorrow. "We discovered that the humans who are the dominant animal on planet Earth were genetically almost identical to us. At first, we thought that it was a remarkably successful result from the earlier seeding attempts. Then Tap started to study the human Courtney Hunter and she started to question this hypothesis. She also started to realize that she had...feelings for Courtney."

The Councillors broke out into loud protests and arguments at this. It was Haichen, however, who ordered them quiet. "Listen to me please! You need to be objective and hear all of it! I too was shocked but I have since realized that I was wrong. Tap called a meeting and honestly told us she was in love with a human. She asked us to speak honestly about our own feelings. What Tap found was that over half of us had been attracted to the humans that we had been observing over the years. Some even admitted to having relationships with them. I was sickened by that revelation at first because I had not experienced such feelings even though I had felt friendship towards some of them."

Haichen stopped, checking eyes to see what reaction her words were having. Mostly disbelief and shock she felt. She went on. "It was then that Tay Tap and Jean Lamount presented their research on genetics. We and the humans are very closely related, far more so than seeding could account for. It was then that Tay observed that our planet, our plains, have no evidence of dwellings on them. We know nothing of our distant past. Don't you see, we didn't evolve here."

For a minute there was stunned silence, then chaos. "You don't dare? You are mad! You insult us. We are not animals."

Haichen waited, maintaining her ground against the onslaught of abuse. The Speaker rose. "Silence! We will hear her out. It is our way."

Haichen felt her guts relax in relief. There was a small chance that she just might pull this off. "Our research indicates that we might have originated from Earth, perhaps not in the same dimension or even in the same universe, but from Earth. Tay Tap believes that we are at the very least a parallel people."

There was no stopping now, she plunged on with her revelations. "We are both species in crisis for different reasons. We need to help each other. We have perfected the process of coding genes into a synthetically produced sperm. Tay realized that this was not enough, that we had to deal with the problem that has caused us to lose our ability to reproduce. She believes it is our neutrality, our lack of contact with the emotions and feelings that exist only in the third dimension. Tay Appala Punra and Courtney Tay Tap are expecting a female child."

This time there was no outburst. The Councillors sat in stunned silence. The wind rustled through the endless plains of grass and flowers, moaning down valleys and around the figures that sat in a circle. A sleeve flapped, a dry leaf bounced across the circle. All else was still.

Again Courtney found herself drifting in a dimension of energy without form or boundaries. She was aware of Tay's presence but there was no response, only a feeling of closeness. Then again she felt her awareness funnel and her being condensed within as she lost consciousness.

She woke to darkness her body sore and exhausted, weighed down even by the sheets that covered her. "Tay?" she called. There was no response.

part 22

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