The Aregon Files, Volume 2

Operation Stargate #4

by Herbert Grosshans

Aregon, 447 lightyears from the Solar System, a peculiar planet populated by varied races, some of them living under primitive conditions while some have reached a level of technology similar to that of the middle ages on Earth, has aroused the interest of the Solar Union. The Coalition sends a team of highly trained agents to discover the location of the star-portal that is rumored to exist on Aregon. The official reason for the team being on Aregon is to search for a group of archaeologists that has disappeared.

After they are captured by a band of Apovians, shapeshifters from the other side of the portal and then freed by Swrendii soldiers, the agents are back on their way to Skeout where they hope to find the missing scientists. To discover the location of the star-portal may also be within their grasp.

When another band of Apovians captures the team, Salabet, a Spider in a human body, and her Spider soldiers intervene and kill the ambushers.

Salabet joins the team.


Chapter One

They had been fortunate to have that extra Keoy. Salabet didn’t have any problems riding the animal, something Madigan had feared. He didn’t ask how she managed to look like a part of the scaly beast.

The road they traveled was wide enough for riders to comfortably ride side-by-side. Madigan had taken the lead, with their prisoner, Whiteface, riding beside him. Behind him rode Salabet and Criir, the Swrendii soldier. Salabet had requested that spot so she could keep an eye on the alien and study the way he moved and behaved.

Lea and Sana rode behind them, with the two Treegers in tow. Moretti brought up the rear, alert in case they’d run into another ambush.

They arrived at the outskirts of Liiri shortly after noon.

They passed the odd single homestead along the road. The closer they came to the town, the more houses appeared. Some of the residents occupying them looked human, but most of them were humanoids from races Madigan had never seen before. All seemed to be living peacefully side by side.

The group stopped in front of one of the homes when they saw a number of human children playing in the front yard. Sana volunteered to go and talk to them. She walked slowly, her arms to her side in order not to scare them, while the others stayed back on the road.

The children had seen her and stopped playing. Two of the older ones waited and watched Sana approaching them, whereas the three smaller children ran back to the house.

“I mean you no harm,” Sana said in Inglis. “Do you understand me?”

One of the girls nodded. “I do. Who are you?”

She spoke Inglis with the same accent as Daril, but Madigan had no problem understanding her words.

“My name is Sana. My friends and I are on our way to Skeout, but for now we are looking for a place to stay in Liiri. Are your parents in?”

Before the girl could answer, a man stepped out of the house. His hair was cut short, but he sported a straggly beard. A few strides took him to the side of the two girls. He carried a gun in his hand. Pointing it at Sana, he demanded in a loud voice, “What do you want?”

Even though he spoke sharply, Madigan detected the fear in his voice.

Sana lifted her hands. “Take it easy. We have no intention of harming you. As I told your daughter, we are heading for Skeout. We want to stay in Liiri for a few days. We are strangers and not familiar with your customs and towns. All we want is information where we could find a safe place to stay.” She gave him a friendly smile. “I’d feel much more comfortable if you would not point that gun at me.”

The gun didn’t waver. “You are traveling in the company of a Swrendii soldier.”

“Yes, he is our friend.”

“What do you want in Skeout?”

“We are looking for a group of humans that have been abducted by marauders.”

“How do you know they are in Skeout?”

“We are not sure, but we have received some information that they may be there. I cannot tell you more.”

The man looked in the group’s direction. “Who is that white-faced alien with you?”

“He is our prisoner. He is a member of the marauders that abducted the people we are seeking. What is your name?”

The man stared at her. “I am Norb,” he finally answered. “These are my daughters Ulrii and Leera.” He lowered the gun. “We are peaceful people and Liiri is a peaceful town, but we do protect each other. At least we try.” Shoving the gun into his waistband, he said with a crooked smile, “This gun is just for show. I ran out of bullets a long time ago.”

“I wasn’t really worried.” Sana looked back at the team. “Even if your gun would have been loaded, you would have been dead before you could pull the trigger. We have weapons that can bring down a large animal like the Treeger with just one shot. However, you were never in any danger. We don’t kill wantonly.”

He relaxed visibly. “There is a creek not far from here. It is a good place to set up camp. Just stay on the road. You can’t miss it.”

“Thank you.” She held out a hand. “May the gods protect you and your family.”

He took her hand and held it for a moment. “You believe in God?”

“I believe in many gods.”

“At least you believe something. Many races don’t believe in anything.” He let go of her hand. “May your gods protect you also.”

Madigan waited until she was back with them. “I heard. Let’s go and look for that creek.”


* * *


It wasn’t a bad location to stay for a few days.

“It’s probably best we set up our camp here.” Madigan looked around. A small forest provided some form of protection from the wind and the burning rays of Antar. The water in the creek looked clean and fresh. “However, I want to take a look around the town. Maybe have a meal in one of the eateries they surely have.”

“If possible, I would like to connect with my people and, perhaps, get some information about their way of life on this planet.” Criir looked expectantly at Madigan.

“We’ll make it possible. We’ll stay here a few days. It will do all of us some good.” He slid off his Keoy and stretched his legs. “I don’t think I’ll ever get used to this primitive way of traveling,” he complained. “My legs are stiff, and my butt is sore. I’ll take a rover any day before this.”

A woman’s laughter made him turn his head. It was Salabet. She jumped from her steed with the agility of a jungle animal. Stretching her lithe body, she stood in front of him, regarding him with her dark eyes. Even though she gave the appearance of a beautiful, sensuous woman, there was something alien and cold in those eyes. “Humans are soft and weak. Even this artificially grown human-like body is more adaptable than any of you, making me superior.”

Madigan gave her a cool, annoyed look. “You don’t know anything about us humans.”

“You may be surprised how much I know about humans. Remember, I spent time with Colonel Stonewall. I learned a lot about your species through observation and personal experience.” Her eyes regarded him with apparent interest. “I’ve never had sexual relations with a human, even though my body is equipped with female genitals. The opportunity never presented itself. I have to admit, I am curious how it would feel to have a human male organ enter my body.”

Her comment came unexpectedly and took him by surprise, leaving him lost for words.

She laughed again. “You are a handsome-looking specimen of your race. Perhaps you can satisfy my thirst for knowledge about human sexual relations.”

“Are you saying you are sexually attracted to me?”

“Sexually attracted? Not really. I am just curious.”

It was his turn to laugh. “In other words, you want to use me like a laboratory animal. There is more to having sex than just mere curiosity. When two people have sex, it isn’t only because their bodies react to each other, like two animals in heat. There is much more to it.”


“It isn’t that simple. And this certainly isn’t the place and time to demonstrate.” He turned abruptly and stalked away. If any of the others had witnessed their conversation, they didn’t let on. Lea and Sana had started to erect the tents, while Moretti was busy securing their prisoner against one of the trees.

Madigan led his Keoy down to the river to let it quench its thirst. He knew it wasn’t really necessary. Keoy were desert animals and could go without water for a long time, but he wanted to spend a little bit of time by himself.

He was thinking about Salabet’s offer to have sex with him. There was no denying it would not be difficult to accept her offer. He didn’t have to imagine the shape of her body. Even though she wore a uniform, she might as well have been naked because of the way the soft material sheathed her form. She was beautiful and it wouldn’t take much to arouse him, as long as he didn’t look into her dark, cold eyes. There was no warmth or passion in them, only the curiosity of a beast observing its prey.

Maybe his impression of her was only in his imagination, but he doubted that.

His thoughts wandered to Tiliria, the Swrendii princess. She was not human, but her tenderness and compassion had been real. He missed her passionate embrace and their lovemaking.

Salabet was not real. On the outside, she may look human, but inside she was a Spider.

He turned when he heard the sound of footsteps behind him.

It was Sana with two of the Keoy in tow. Hers and probably Lea’s. She led the animals to the edge of the water, then she came back to stand in front of Madigan. Her eyes were hidden in the shadow of her wide-brimmed Scouts hat. “I saw you talking to Salabet. I heard. Are you contemplating taking her up on her invitation?”

“No. She isn’t human.”

“Neither was Tiliria. That didn’t seem to bother you.”

“You’re right, it didn’t, but did it bother you?” His question came out harsher than he intended.

She shook her head. “Your sexual escapades are not my problem. As long as they don’t interfere with our mission.” She hesitated. “It’s different with Lea.”

“Did she tell you that?”

“She didn’t, but it is so glaringly obvious that she is attracted to you.”

“She has a strange way of showing it. Besides, I’ve made it a policy never to get involved with a member of my team.”

“Bad memories?”

He didn’t have to tell her, but she seemed genuinely interested. The indiscretion that nearly cost him his career was something he tried hard to forget. He removed his hat and squinted against the bright sky. Without looking at her, he said, “It happened many years ago on Crystal, a cold and unfriendly planet. I was twenty-eight years old. The only female member of the team and I became separated from the rest of our team. We spent a couple of nights inside an abandoned grass-hut. We stripped and huddled under our clothes, using the combined heat of our naked bodies to stay warm, when it happened. We had sex.”

“That doesn’t sound so terrible.” She smiled. “It can easily happen when a male and a female cling to each other in the naked state.”

“Normally, it would have ended there, but she was a member of the Circle of Glory, a religious organization that doesn’t allow sex before marriage. Neither do they believe in birth-control in any form. Anyone not adhering to their doctrine will be punished—by execution. I didn’t know anything about them before that incident. As luck would have it, she became pregnant. To save herself from being punished by her order, she accused me of having raped her. Our military does not look kindly upon things like that. What saved me from being court-marshalled and sent to a prison planet was the fact that my record until then was clean and without a blemish. It also helped that my father was a colonel with the SUSN.”

“What happened to the woman?”

“She was given the choice to have her child and resign from the military or abort the child. She didn’t want to do neither. Since she couldn’t move back to her home planet, where she would have faced punishment for her indiscretion, the military settled her on Rainbow, the third planet in the Alpha Centauri system, the seat of the Military Academy. She was allowed to give birth to the child and was given a desk job with the Academy.”

Sana gave him a thoughtful look. “So, you’re a father. Is it a boy or a girl?”

“A boy.”

“Have you seen him?”


“Aren’t you curious?”

He swallowed and stared at the moving water. “Of course, I am. Knowing you have a son and wondering what he looks like, wondering if he is alright, wondering what kind of future he is facing, is a difficult thing to carry inside you. I don’t even know his name.”

“The military prevents you from finding out?”

“Yes, but only because she requested it.”

“I don’t understand that. Why would she do such a thing?”

He shook his head. “I can only guess. Her religious upbringing, probably. She was a true believer and most likely felt guilty for what she had done. She spoke little at the trial, but her attorney painted a picture of me that was not flattering. According to him, I was a demon in human form and I should not be allowed to walk around free. I forced myself on an innocent young woman without any regard for her future. The child I created inside her virginal womb should never be allowed to know how he was created, never know the monster that was his father.” He paused and took a deep breath. “There was more, much more.”

Sana stood silent. Then she came up to him and laid a hand on his arm. “She was wrong to do that to you. My religion has strict rules, also. We don’t condone sexual relation before marriage and we believe a married couple should be faithful to each other, but if it happens…” She made a gesture with her hands. “We humans are weak, and temptation lurks everywhere on the road we travel on our journey through life. We don’t punish the ones that fall, instead we pick them up and give them comfort. We show them love instead of hate. Perhaps now I understand why you seek out non-human females. Because deep-down that’s what you long for—the love of a woman, but because of your bad experience, you are afraid to get involved with a human one. The fact that you are refusing the quite clear offer of Salabet proves that it is not only sexual satisfaction you are craving.”

He chuckled. “Thank you for your kind and well-meaning words, but I’m afraid I’m not that noble guy you make me out to be. I’ve had my share of sexual escapades with human women, also. However, none were connected to the military, and they meant nothing to me. There was no love involved, just pure lust.”

She let go of his arm and stepped away. “Maybe you are trying too hard to convince yourself of that. Maybe you should give love a chance.”

“There is no room for love in the life I lead.” He smiled sadly. “I move from one assignment to another. The military is my mistress, and she will never let me find love or peace. You talked about the journey of life. I take what life throws my way. I have no other choice.”

“You are a bitter man, Colonel Madigan.” She walked back to the water’s edge and grabbed the reins of the Keoy. “I think Lea’s got some food ready. You should come and join us.”

Madigan followed her slowly, thinking about what she’d said.

Lea and Moretti had finished setting up the tents. Lea sat cross-legged in front of one of the tents. “I took the liberty to lay out a few food packages. I hope you are okay with my selection.” She threw a look at Salabet who sat by herself, leaning against one of the trees. “I hope that bitch brought her own food. I don’t think we should share with her.”

Salabet turned her head to look at them, evidence she had heard Lea. “You don’t have to worry,” she said with a smile. “You won’t have to share with me. I brought my own provisions.”

“Well, that sure is a relief.” Lea made no attempt to hide her dislike for Salabet.

“Why do you hate me so much? I haven’t done anything to any of you, in fact, you should be grateful to me for saving you from death or capture and facing an unknown fate.”

“I don’t hate you. I despise you.”


“Because you come along like some kind of queen, strut around with that artificially created perfect human-like body, pretending you are human, when in reality you are neither human nor Spider. You’re an abomination, a cold alien creature, and I don’t trust you.” She fairly spit out those last words.


"The Aregon Files, Volume 2" - Herbert Grosshans


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