Isup stared at the unconscious Seneecian lying on the floor. Kyber’s face was scratched and bloody, his hands and feet securely bound. His waist was wrapped in a blood-stained cloth and he was barefoot. Perspiration soaked the former Por D’har’s fur to the point where moisture puddled beneath his body.

            Giving a snort, Isup walked back over to the fire, taking a seat beside it. Plat dropped another rock into the blaze.

            “Something has made him sick,” Isup noted, speaking in Seneecian.

            “Screw you both! Speak where I can understand!” Dayall angrily demanded.

            “He said Kyber is ill,” Plat repeated in Terranese.

            “Well, hell, anyone can see that just by looking at him.” The ex-commander sniffed. “And he stinks.”

            “It happens when we are sick,” Isup noted.

            “His smell tells us his blood is tainted,” Plat continued.

            “Is he dangerous to us?” Dayall asked.

            “We will have to wait until he awakens,” Plat answered. “If he poses a threat, we will kill him.”

            “Why not kill him now?”

            “He could prove more valuable to us alive. But if he dies…” Isup left the comment hanging.

            “What good is he to us?” Dayall insisted.

            “His life,” Plat told him. “Those who follow him will try to rescue him. We will use him to lure them away.”

            “We will gain information about them,” Isup added.

            A breathy groan came from their prisoner. Plat got to his feet and walked over, taking a stance at Kyber’s head. He watched the Seneecian open his eyes, blinking several times, but it didn’t appear that his former Por D’har was grasping his current situation.

            Kyber turned a dazed expression at him. “What…” An instant later, fury filled the man’s face. Kyber snarled and struggled against his bonds.

            Plat grinned down at him. “Your struggles are in vain.”

            Kyber paused. There was a moment of confusion on his face, then it disappeared as he struggled harder to be free. Droplets of sweat flew from his head as he whipped it from side to side.

            “Vile creatures!”

            Plat stepped back in surprise.

            “Hey, Plat?”

            Kyber snarled, showing his fangs. “I will kill you all!”


            Plat turned to Isup.

            “The fever has turned him,” Isup stated.

            Dayall made a rude sound.

            “Vile, despicable creatures!” Kyber roared and continued to fight against his binds. “You will not get the best of me!”

            Plat pointed at their prisoner. “That is not the Kyber Nau I know. I have served with this man too long not to recognize when a man is not in his right mind.”

            “I will kill you all!” Kyber screamed again. His voice broke. He tried to growl, but his throat refused to utter the sound. He coughed but he continued to snarl, his breathing becoming fast and raspy.

            “Is he going to die?” Dayall asked.

            Plat took another step back. “I do not know.”

            Isup got to his feet. “Will he infect us?”

            “I do not know.”

            “Then explain to me again why we don’t just go ahead and kill him?” Dayall demanded, also getting to his feet. “Why are we risking our own health by keeping him alive?”

            He turned and tried to wrest their only weapon from Isup, but the Seneecian managed to keep the gun from the man’s grasp. The two men glared at each other. Isup lifted a lip and growled softly.

            “Enough,” Plat stated.

            Isup dropped the snarl, but his eyes remained on the Terran. “We are still enemies,” he softly reminded Dayall. “As soon as we no longer need you to help us survive, we will kill you.”

            Dayall replied with an oily grin. “You’re assuming you’ll live long enough to do that.”

            “I said enough!

            Isup walked over to stand beside Plat. “I do not think we can get any information from Kyber when he is in this condition. What if his delirium worsens?”

            “Let us hope it worsens.”

            Isup gave him a surprised look. “Why?”

            “Then he will no longer be just our enemy. He will be theirs as well.”

            “How are you going to accomplish that?” Dayall tried to put as much sarcasm into his voice as possible. “The moment you untie him, he’s going to attack us.”

            “He will not attack us if we are not around when he awakens.” Plat smirked. “When he sleeps again, we will take him where the others will find him. And when he comes to…” The Seneecian smiled.

            Isup finished the sentence for him. “When he comes to, he will be deeper into his fever and attack them. He will be our weapon against them.”

            “But what if he dies before all that happens?” Dayall persisted. “So much for your grand scheme of things.”

            Plat straightened. “If he dies, be it from the fever or because of the dangerous creatures that track us, then their tiny society will crumble. He has taken over as D’har. Without him, they will be leaderless. Weak. Vulnerable.” He looked down at the struggling man. “Isup, find out where the others are located. See if they are searching for him. Once Kyber goes to sleep, we will carry him to a location and untie him. Sooner or later, either they will find him, or he will find them. And they will have no option but to kill him if they are to survive.”

            Dayall made another disparaging sound. “I’m willing to bet they’ll truss him up and try to save him.”

            Plat shook his head. “How? There are no medicants available. Besides, Kyber is already too weak to resist. Had he not fought me, he might have been strong enough to vanquish whatever disease is eating at his brain. But it is too late for him. Look at him. He grows weaker by the minute. His mind has lost all sense of reality. His time is limited.”

            Isup showed obeisance and started to leave the tiny cave where they were gathered, when Plat held out a hand to stop him.

            “If you go by the gardens, bring us back more provisions.” Unhooking his water bag from his belt, he handed it the subordinate. “And more fresh water.”

            Dayall eyed Kyber. “Shouldn’t we at least give him some water?”

            “No.” Plat’s answer was flat and brooked no argument. “The fever is dehydrating him and will hasten the illness.”

            Isup bowed again and slipped out of the room.

            “Now what?” Dayall asked as Plat resumed his seat by the fire.

            “Now we wait for Kyber to go to sleep, and for Isup to return with news about where the others are searching.” Motioning at the Terran, he added, “Sit down and keep the fire alive. I am going to meditate and pray to our four gods that our plan is successful.” He glared at Dayall. “I strongly suggest you do the same to whatever deity you follow.”

            Saying no more, the former D’har turned his back on the Terran, faced the wall, and began to chant in a soft voice. After one more glance at the suffering Seneecian lying a few meters away, Dayall shrugged and laid down on his side, facing away from the two Seneecians.

            He quickly fell asleep.