~ Lost Kingdom ~
J. M. Dragon
e-mail: J. M. Dragon
After the incredible explanation of their journey to earth, the expression on Janice’s face amused Seera. “I can’t believe I’m here with you,” Janice finally said as she came out of her stupor. Any doubt in her mind that she was doing something foolish no longer existed when Seera spirited her into her bedroom and they made love several times. It became a no-brainer…she was going!
“And why not…we haven’t grown two heads have we?” Seera’s voice held faint amusement.
Janice turned to her feeling fear that Seera wouldn’t understand. “It’s because of who you are?”
“Ah, now would that be because we’re from a different planet or that I’m a Princess? I promise we don’t turn into anything horrific once we arrive on Corinthian. Janice really you’ve been watching too many scary alien movies.” All eyes turned to Janice for her answer.
It came quickly and genuinely. “A Princess of course, I always knew you were different from me.”
She picked up Janice’s hand and kissed her palm as a hint of passion, lazily smoldered in the background. “I hope I’m not that different Janice.”
With a wide-eyed expression, Janice exclaimed, “Oh you’re not I know that first hand, but I keep wondering if I’ll wake up back in my apartment and it will all have been a dream.”
Seera laughed at the exclamation and she saw from the corner of her eye Tavia touching her belly tenderly.
Orin stood up. “I’m going to make coffee.” He left them and headed for the kitchen.
Tavia shook her head at the two women opposite her. “I’m afraid you’ve embarrassed Orin. It was a little bit too much information for him.” And me too, her mind supplied irritatingly.
Janice ’s cheeks burnt red at the comment and she intimately buried her face in Seera’s shoulder. ”I’m sorry so sorry,” she repeated.
Seera gave Tavia a serious look. Then she raised Janice’s chin and gazed into her eyes with devilment. “There is nothing to be sorry about Janice. Unless you are embarrassed about sleeping with me that is?”
Janice ’s eyes flared open and caught in a sensual and overwhelming gaze. “Never, ever would I feel that way…I’ve never felt…my body…. You’re way too unique and I’m so very, very grateful you decided you wanted me in your life.”
The smoldering in Seera’s eyes revealed her passion for more sex as she pulled Janice toward her and began a long and deliberate exploration of the lips under hers. Tavia’s face found its way to her mind and she kissed Janice harder.
Tavia had taken enough of the torture. Seera deserved the three T’s she really lived up to the things people called her…temperamental, territorial and tyrannical. She dragged her body out of the sofa then emotional dilemma giving her hell, but neither woman appeared to notice her standing there.
Minutes seemed to disappear as Seera stared into Janice’s eyes. “Do you still want to travel with me to my home?”
The sound of Orin returning gave Janice a few extra moments to consider the proposal not that she needed it.
“I’ve just repeated my invitation for Janice to go home with us…any one object?” Seera stated arrogantly now looking in the others direction.
Tavia gave her friend a hard look. She had known the Princess longer than anyone else in the room and knew their ancient connection would surface stronger once they arrived home. Although Seera’s happiness was paramount for her, the knowledge that she would not be the one joining her on that journey broke her heart. Her stomach turned into knots and she felt her baby react in kind. Seera had had many years to decide how to handle her return home and her mother, it was up to her now. It will be a measure of her feelings for Janice to prove she can take a stand against her mother instead of always being deferential. She heard Orin’s voice simply state he had no objections. It wasn’t until Seera touched her arm and caught her glance that sent a silent question. She then realized she had not spoken. “I have no objections,” she said with a nod of diffidence to Seera’s authority.
“Great,” though Seera’s voice held a touch of uncertainty as her gaze remained pinned to Tavia. She knew her friend was saying what she wants me to hear, not what she feels. There were a few moments of silence before Seera nonchalantly continued. “All I want to know is who has the pleasure of telling Darc, any volunteers?”
“Oh no not me, I’d rather see that man in hell first.” Orin announced crossing his arms defiantly over his broad chest.
Seera laughed at his stance and turned to Janice. “Any takers?”
The shake of her head was Janice’s immediate response before she firmly said, “Not me. I hate that man…he’s a weasel.” Janice’s thoughts traveled to the little scene she’d observed between Seera and Tavia earlier it troubled her but she didn’t understand why. She immediately pushed that thought and all others away. Her thoughts filled with the fantasy of it all–nothing else that mattered. Seera was all she ever wanted.
Laughter eased a little tension that had been unconsciously building. “I guess it’s pointless to ask you Tavia. Although you always were better at the sensitive chats than I. Ok, it’s up to me to tell the weasel. Hmm, it’s something I’ve never called him before wonder how he’ll react.”
Tavia intervened. “You can’t call him a weasel Seera for he has been very loyal to you. I think he’d be gravely wounded if you didn’t tell him personally and properly.”
“Oh Tavia, you are a spoil-sport. Ok, don’t worry I know how grateful I should be to him, though I confess weasel is a good description.” Seera smiled and pulled Janice closer to her as they discussed the items they would take from this planet to their own.
Janice had left with Orin who personally escorted her to the lobby and waited with her until the car came. Seera didn’t want her to leave but Janice insisted saying, “We all have lots to do to get ready. I’ll give up my lease tomorrow and then spend all my nights with you.”
This left Seera and Tavia alone with an uncomfortable silence between them. Seera pulled her gaze from her cold coffee to the woman she had once loved, deep inside still did, but knew it was never going to be anything but the love of a good friend. She came to terms with that when Tavia left her seventy years earlier. She even tried to move on with Susan and thought she had put Tavia away until she walked in the door a few days earlier. She blew her away just as she always did. She couldn’t be within three feet of Tavia and not want to make love to her or be frustrated that they never had. Tavia was the love of her life, but they could never be. I think Janice will help. No, I know she will. For how long? Who am I kidding? “You didn’t sound too convincing when you said you agreed with Janice coming with us, why?”
Tavia peered at her friend through tired drooping eyelids and sighed heavily. It had been a long two days and she didn’t think that dissecting what she felt now was a good call. However, the look in Seera’s eyes implored that she put her out of her misery. “I’m happy for you, for her, but I do have reservations.”
“Go on, but they can’t be any worse than what I’ve already traversed in my mind.” Seera announced with a grave expression.
“I guess not. What happens if your mother disapproves?”
“My mother…hmm, now that wasn’t something I expected you to labor over. The planet’s atmosphere and her chances of survival there yes, but my mother…Tavia I can handle my mother.” Knowing Tavia was right and that the Queen was a big factor and one she’d frankly dismissed out of hand.
Tavia replied, “Can you Seera? I know we might have changed but I doubt the Queen will have in the ten years we’ve been gone. The Queen expected you and will still expect you, to have a concubine that she approves. Janice, I’m afraid, may not come under that category.”
Seera stood up stiffly. She didn’t want anything raining on her parade with Janice and the talk of her mother was a storm she’d rather save for the real event. “I’m perfectly capable of choosing the person who will sit by my side when I rule. I don’t recall saying Janice was going to be my concubine. We’re just having fun… Janice knows the score.”
Tavia used all that was left of her inner strength and moved to stand beside Seera before she placed her hand on the woman’s shoulder. “Yes I’m sure she thinks she knows the score since she is clearly infatuated with you. What will happen when she comes down off cloud nine and realizes you’re taking her into a new galaxy on a whim? Even I didn’t think you could stoop that low Seera.”
“Stoop so low…that’s a bit like the pot calling the kettle black isn’t it Tavia. How is having Orin’s child not taking our situations out of context. You can’t actually believe when you go back that my Mother will allow this?” Seera waved her hand at Tavia’s stomach. “No one can keep the secret from her. You know that don’t you or have you forgotten what she’s capable of? That won’t change once we arrive home. We might have been on this rock for a long time Tavia but you surely can’t forget the special Diamond talents when we return…or are you settling for burying your head in the proverbial sand.”
Seera heard the indrawn breath of the woman who had moved to her side. Exasperated but the edge of anger diminished as Seera continued in a quieter tone. “We both made choices Tavia and we’ll live with them. I promise that I will see to it that when we get home Janice is cared for and treated with the utmost respect. When time elapses, my mother will approve of the choices I’ve made on this planet. She ultimately knows I will do my duty by her and our Kingdom.”
“I bet she will…just as she loves her daughter.” The Queen had warned Tavia off when Seera turned twenty-one. Tavia never admitted to Seera how she felt or what her mother had said to her. There really hadn’t been any point Seera had never wanted her that way. “Oh well Seera, it doesn’t matter anyway for it’s now all water under the bridge.”
“What is?” Seera asked.
Tavia hadn’t realized she had spoken her thoughts. “Just,” she said with a shrug. “I guess I meant all that we’ve been through over the time we’ve been away.”
Seera wasn’t convinced but drew in her own heavy breath and focused on Tavia’s earlier sarcastic rejoinder. “Thank you for your honesty Tavia. It is pointless to waste our time arguing…we learned our lesson once before I believe,” Seera whispered. She placed her arm around her friend’s unresisting shoulders.
Tavia dropped her head on the much taller woman’s shoulder in powerless acceptance of her statement. “Yes we did.” They watched the stars above them in the dark sky, allowing their bond to heal some of the scars of the past.
Orin walked in shortly afterwards and saw the two women gazing through the window. His eyes immediately captured the movement of Seera’s slowly meandering hand touching down Tavia’s arm. He breathed in deeply then breezed into the room, effectively disengaging the closeness.
“Hi Orin, is Janice homeward bound?” Seera’s eyes dared the man to say something about the tender scene he’d interrupted.
“Yes, your Highness. I’ll help her tomorrow close up her apartment and bring her belongings over here. Now, I think Tavia is virtually asleep on her feet so we will bid you good night your Highness.” Orin walked over and startled Tavia by tenaciously taking her hand in his.
“Yeah, you’re right,” Seera said as she briefly gazed at the clasped hands and unconsciously gritted her teeth. “I think we all need an early night for we have many things yet to do. By the way, if I haven’t already said, I’m glad you came back…I’ve missed you…both. It’s good to have the quartet back together again.” She accepted their platitudes and waved them toward their room. As she watched them depart, she felt that old enemy jealousy raise its ugly head. Then her thoughts drifted to Janice and her perplexity disappeared. I’ll be bedding someone tomorrow evening. That has to be enough.
“We are not having this discussion Darc. I’ve made up my mind and to the best of my knowledge you have no authority over what I do or who I ask to accompany me.” Seera barked out, angry at her aide’s deliberations over Janice accompanying them on their journey home.
“Your Highness, I wish not too anger you, but…” Darc Cimmerian was spitting feathers as he turned his back on the Princess in an attempt to disguise his expression of distaste and rage at the news of Janice Clark’s inclusion.
When Seera held up her hand, she effectively silenced his words. His moving out of her eye range annoyed her even more than his irritating sermon about Janice. “There are no buts Darc. If you don’t like what I’ve arranged you know what you can do.”
Several decades of schooling, his features when he was in the Princess’ company had his body language changing from adversarial to simpering. “Do I have options Princess?”
“Look, we’ve been through a great deal together you and I Darc, and now is not the time to fall out over something as trivial as my personal life. I’m going to need you when I get home to do the smooth talking with the Queen. She always had a soft spot for you as I recall.” Seera decided against giving the man further fuel for his rage. She’d found over the years that catering to his sense of pride in his role in the royal household usually worked. She was careful not to let him see she was staring at him as she waited for him to take the bait. Darc’s smarmy smile had Seera giving herself a mental high five. It works every time.
“I’m sure I can be of invaluable help with her Majesty the Queen. She and I did have tolerable conversations in the past.” The last task he did on the planet would be to guarantee that Janice Clark paid the price for her actions. His thoughts remained deviously disturbed as he walked back toward the Princess and sat down opposite her.
“Great, we only have two days left. Tomorrow morning Tavia and Orin are leaving for the shuttle to begin the preparations. I’d send Janice too but I need her help here. Do you have everything under control at your end?” Seera said bringing the conversation back to current business. As far as she was concerned, the issue regarding Janice was complete.
“Yes, the merger has the full approval of the lawyers. All you have to do is sign the documents at the board meeting tomorrow and it’s a done deal. The rest of your holdings will go to your requested charities in a month’s time. Have you decided what you want to do with the apartment block and the penthouse including your collections?” He kept his manner casual so she would not hear or see the malevolence he felt toward her at that moment.
Sera stroked the side of her eye in quiet reflection before she spoke. “I’m taking a few personal items with me. I’ll contact my lawyer for she has the instructions, it’s usual…the doorman, chauffer etc, oh she’ll get my black book and have the delight of calling all my ex’s with a windfall,” Seera said with a chuckle. “That should prevent her from asking questions…she won’t have time, when she sees that tomb.”
Darc scowled as his thoughts hit another depressing notch about Janice Clark. “I’ll leave you to your day. Do you want to share lunch later?” He didn’t know why he asked as he saw the softening of the Princess’ features – that would be a no.
“Sorry Darc, not today. I have a date that I’m not prepared to forego for anyone or anything. I’ll see you at the end of the day.” Seera dismissed Darc who fled her office hastily.
The stagnant feeling that had embraced the room with Darc’s attitude changed immediately as Janice dropped her head around the door of Seera’s office and gave her a brilliant smile. “Is now a good time to go through the mail and have coffee?”
Seera had to slow her breathing as she returned the engaging smile. “You know just the right words, except you’ve missed something.”
Janice blinked rapidly trying to recall what she’d failed to mention. Then the teasing expression of her lover caught her in its snare. “Ok, what is it please I’m at a loss?”
Seera rapidly vacated her chair and ate the space up between them before planting a soft kiss on Janice’s surprised pliant lips. “A good morning kiss is a first priority.”
Janice felt like a fish out of water as her mouth open and shut without any words. She felt her face redden at the casual way her boss kissed her at work. “I’ll fetch the mail,” she said in a whisper as she retreated to get the mail.
On her return, Janice was delighted to find that Seera locked the door behind her. Then, Seera pulled Janice gently into an embrace as they engaged in a passion that ignited immediately when they touched. The mail and coffee were going to take a back seat for a lengthy period today.
Tavia watched the horizon for any sign that the Princess’ party was arriving. They didn’t have any communication since they dropped out of range four hours earlier. A worried frown appeared as she summed up the situation. The plane should have been here hours ago. Darc clammed up when asked why they hadn’t left at the assigned time. Though she suspected he was peeved and upset because the Princess has a playmate and it has nothing to do with him. However, playmate was hardly the term to use for Janice’s status. When they arrived home, Janice would have a higher standing in the court than even Tavia. That assumed that the Queen would allow a stranger and an alien, to conduct a public affair with her only offspring. The other variable was how long Seera remained interested.
No matter how she played the tune in her head, she still came up with the same answer. The Queen would not be amused or agree to the match. As Tavia tried to point out to Seera earlier, their planet didn’t have the ever changing views that humans adopted. She hoped for Seera’s sake that she was able to use the knowledge she gained on Earth to thwart any problems with the Queen. Janice’s life might depend on it–has Seera considered that.
There was of course, the possibility that the Queen would disown Seera if she didn’t approve. The Queen made it known that she’d see that Seera made the sacrifice if Tavia continued to insinuate her charms on Seera. It would have meant Seera’s expulsion from the line of ascension. Tavia, by taking up a student academic post at the scientific colony, had sacrificed her own happiness to ensure that her best friend became the next ruler of their kingdom. She effectively left Seera for several years and, at the time, it hurt her a great deal.. It was all in the past though the painful memory left a bitter taste in her mouth that lingered.
“They won’t arrive any quicker darling.” Orin said as he saw several expressions flicker over Tavia’s expressive features.
Tavia felt the old demons of the past fade as she looked at the man who had given her life some meaning when she lost Seera’s friendship. Do we have a future together back home? The kicking of the baby gave her the answer. I’m going to try to find a way for us to be together even if I have to sacrifice everything. She had no real choice anymore for the baby eliminated any possibility that she could sweep her liaison with Orin under the carpet when she returned. My mothers aren’t going to be very happy. “I know, but it was worth a try.”
Orin saw the strain the past week had taken on Tavia and hoped soon it would all be over-if miracles happened. He surmised that since they survived on the planet unnoticed for so long that was a miracle in itself. “Yes it was. I have an idea…why don’t you go inside the shuttle and take a nap. You’ve been up doing the calculations and simulations with Astoria for hours. If you’re lucky, when the others arrive I might catch a few winks with you.” He grinned as he saw a weary smile return to Tavia’s features.
She nodded and as she passed him in the shuttle opening, she spontaneously kissed him allowing it to linger for a few moments as she let the sensation etch into her memory. “Wake me if you need me. You know I can sleep through an earthquake these days.”
“No worries on that score darling. I have no wish to have Darc watch over you when we leave the orbit. I don’t trust him not to try something.”
They both knew the man was evil but, if fate was good to them, they only had a limited time left in his company.
Tavia left Orin to take a nap. She was feeling drained and knew sleeping would help restore her energy.
Seera had a smile on her face that wiped away any of the emotion that welled up inside as they traveled further away from the familiarity of the city she had called home for the past ten years. They had spent many years in their new world and there were things that she would miss. I’m going to miss all this expanse of blue sky and the cloud formations, the unstructured architecture of their buildings, even the funny way the humans lived out their lives. Janice is going to be amazed when she reaches Corinthian. Her short life span won’t even touch the surface of our culture. She touched the hand of her lover briefly, before returning to her concentration to her piloting their aircraft. “It won’t be long now.”
Janice grinned and nodded her head. When she returned her gaze in fascination out the window the vastness of the desert that surrounded them as she cogitated over what was happening to her. Excitement and bravado were her main emotions. God what would Scully say? The reflection of her favorite show brought her ironically back to the present. “You know I’ve never been in the desert before.”
Seera arched an eyebrow at the admission. “It isn’t the most welcoming environment I have to admit. Don’t worry I promise not to abandon you to the elements. We will probably leave shortly after our gear is stowed on the shuttle.”
“How far away are we? I almost said are we there yet,” she said with a slight chuckle unsure if Seera knew the reference. “You know like in the movie Shrek?” Janice grinned at Seera’s perplexed glance. “Don’t worry I’ll explain when we have the time.”
“Ok. Well, in answer to the question I’m picking up the beacon so we should land in approximately two minutes.” Seera answer was automatic as she gave her full attention to bringing the plane down safely. A sand landing wasn’t the easiest of tasks but over the decades, she had loads of practice. “Darc can you see the shuttle landing spot?”
Darc thought that for most of the flight the other two ignored him and that piqued him immensely. “Yes, a thousand meters to your left.”
“Excellent. Janice, now is the time to buckle in…I’m good but it’s never wise to tempt fate.” Seera winked as her good humor increased in tempo. She felt the thrill of testing her skills in the primitive aircraft and her heart raced. It wasn’t a match to the heart rate it had endured the previous evening when she and Janice made love several times. As she concentrated on the task, she realized landing ran a close second.
Janice felt the euphoria of beginning a journey that held of all the prospects that movies held – mostly it was still unreal to her. She clutched the arms of her seat and marveled at the ability of the woman at her side. Until recently, she didn’t know that Seera had a pilot’s license and she found that intriguing. What she now knew about them, it probably fell into the mundane for someone who had experienced at least two life spans on earth.
What amazed her most was that Seera didn’t look jaded by life. In fact, none of them did. Only the always jaded Darc Cimmerian seemed effected. Then, as she stared out of the window, she saw shadows on the horizon. She blinked at the sight and frowned but surmised it was probably a fragmentation of light on the dunes. When she looked again, the shadows moved. She knew she saw movement but wasn’t in a position clearly to make out whatever it was.
Janice looked around and neither of her companions appeared to have noticed or if they did, it wasn’t of concern. Cimmerian had an ideal view from his position so Janice turned and looked at him as he glanced up with his usual smarmy expression.
“Did you want something Janice? Perhaps you need something for motion sickness.”
He didn’t even try to veil his sarcasm as she saw the expression of hate in his eyes. He said, “Thank you but no. I was just wondered if everything was ok from your position that was all.”
Seera half heard the conversation and applauded Janice for making an effort with Darc. He wasn’t the easiest of men to work alongside but soon it wouldn’t make a difference. It really didn’t matter whether he approved or not for when they returned home, his voice would remain silent. His hold over her would be outdated. Her mother certainly wouldn’t approve that kind of fall from protocol. As the wheels of the aircraft hit the sandy ground, she braked and pulled the throttle back as they glided to a stop.
Once she ensured that all was well and all switches were off, Seera turned to her passengers. “We have arrived. Let’s go or Tavia will be having a fit. We’re already way over our original ETA.” Janice blushed as Seera’s eye caught hers and winked. Their early morning lovemaking session was the delaying factor, but she did concede that it was very satisfying. I’d gladly trade any appointment to enjoy Seera’s hands over my body caressing my breasts, tugging at erect nipples…oh no I can’t go there.
“You ok Janice?” Seera asked as she saw the color flood her lover’s cheeks.
“Oh yes, couldn’t be better and you?” Janice said breathlessly.
Seera laughed. “Hey, my flying wasn’t that bad was it? I‘m a great manipulator of the engine you can ask anyone.”
“Oh yeah, I know how good you are at manipulation,” she whispered.
“Darc check on the others. Janice and I will be along shortly- don’t send out a search party,” she commanded.
Darc didn’t like Seera dismissing him like that especially in front of that simpering excuse of a human. He was certain the woman wouldn’t last an hour in their environment for it would crush every organ in her body. Why can’t the Princess see that? Maybe she does and it’s an experiment…I wouldn’t put it past her. His own devious mind silently applauded the thought. He grumbled, “It won’t be long now you bitch,” he said under his breath as he disembarked and headed toward the spacecraft.
Seera watched him leave the plane and once she was certain he would not return she turned to Janice and placed a finger to the fluttering of the pulse on her neck. “You think I’m a good manipulator do you?”
Janice went weak kneed. “Oh god yes,” She couldn’t resist the temptation as her lips captured Seera’s in an intensely primal kiss. Her own hands wandering over Seera’s body feverishly. Buttons flew open as heaving breasts appeared to the delight of both women who reveled in the searing heat of each other’s flesh.
“You know that they might ignore me and someone might come back to help out,” Seera said. Although, from her point of view, she didn’t give a damn, but she didn’t want Janice embarrassed in front of the others.
There was no way Janice was going to stop. She breathlessly mouthed against the nipple that she was about to suck, “Right now I really don’t care.”
That was all Seera needed as she slipped a free hand down Janice’s stomach and with experienced dexterity unzipped Janice’s trousers and gently tugged until she was standing with them pooled around her legs. The panties weren’t a barrier to her wandering fingers as she flicked them down to join the other discarded garment. She heard Janice whimper as her fingers tangled in the hair covered with the sweet wetness that was waiting impatiently for consumption. A finger teased the clit that appeared to cry for attention and the slick moisture that greeted her told her better than any words what Janice wanted. As she placed two fingers in her lover, she could feel the tightening immediately. Pulse after pulse of emotion and passion washed over them as Janice flung her head back at the crescendo of her ardor. Janice waited a few moments until she had the energy to reciprocate. Seera screamed out her orgasm as her body reacted to Janice’s talented digits. When it was over, they clung to each other sweat slicked and panting. Then they gathered enough vigor to become presentable for the others.
“I’m never ever going to be able to fly in a plane again and not remember this,” Janice said as she pulled up her underwear and trousers. She discarded her bra and buttoned up her shirt acutely aware of Seera’s eyes gazing at her.
“No worries there. We can try all kinds of transport modes when we get home. Come on before you blush again and I have to do something drastic to stop you doing that.”
“Yeah and what would that be?” Janice teased.
“Why practice my dear Janice, practice. Let’s go…I have a new planet to show you.” Seera grinned and blew her a kiss as they left the plane and opened up the storage locker to begin removing their belongings.
“ Now that’s what I call a pilot’s attention to customer care.” Janice whispered with a smirk. She looked around at the endless desert and gasped as she saw two men standing on top of a sand dune barely a hundred yards away fully armed. “Seera we have a problem?” she whispered.
Puzzled, Seera turned to look in the direction of Janice’s gaze. She saw the armed men coming at them and knew they were in trouble. “Don’t worry I’ll take care of this.”
Janice , glued like a statue to the spot in fear, gazed at Seera’s retreating body. “Are you mad? Where are the others? Don’t tell me you’re bulletproof!”
Seera closed the gap between her and the men the next scene unfolded like slow motion. One of the men raised a powerful looking rifle and aimed. She gritted her teeth and ground out quietly. “I’m almost within sight of going home and it is going to end like this-no chance.” The shot seemed to ring out forever in the silence that surrounded her. She swiveled around trying to take a measure of bravado from her lover.
Her eyes bulged in surprise as she saw Janice falling in slow motion before lying motionless next to their belongings. Her senses tuned into the intense feelings that death causes as she screamed like a wounded animal before running toward the prone figure of her lover. When she arrived by Janice’s body she looked down and saw a bullet hole between Janice’s eyes. Her mind scanned through names of anyone who knew they were leaving who could do this– there was none. Did Janice tell someone? She shook her head at the thought, and then turned her mind to the others. Neither Tavia nor Orin would give the game away if it meant she’d be in danger. That only left Darc-would he dare?. Seera felt her hands ball into fists. She knelt down next to Janice and pulled the limp body up into an embrace. “You didn’t deserve this,” she whispered. “ Janice wasn’t a threat to Darc. Was it jealousy…does he want me to himself?” The last conclusion had her arching an eyebrow in contemplation but the idea was immediately forgotten when she looked at Janice. Where passion once flared, she now experienced yet another intense emotion - sorrow.
She stroked the red hair and allowed herself the luxury of solitary tears rolling down each cheek. “ Janice, hey Janice this isn’t one of your movies you can speak to me now.” Her dumb words echoed around her unanswered – Janice was dead.
Orin saw Darc as he appeared from around the many dunes that obscured the shuttle from view. He was alone, and Orin thought it odd. With a cursory glance at Tavia, he smiled when she saw was sleeping peacefully in the back of the shuttle. “I’ll wake you when I get back darling,” he whispered before placing a gentle kiss on her forehead.
Darc saw him and frowned slightly for he didn’t want the beefcake meddling in the plans that he had set in motion. Muttering, “His time is coming and I won’t have to be the instigator.” With a wave of his hand, he motioned to the rear of the shuttle. “We thought we saw an energy spike from the back when we were overhead. The Princess demanded you should know.”
Diverted from his task, Orin looked toward the back of the shuttle. Energy spikes were dangerous in full flight and there was no way he was going to jeopardize anyone if there were a problem. “Ok, where exactly? Astoria made no mention of a malfunction.”
Ten minutes later Orin was stroking his chin in contemplation of what to do next. “Are you sure Darc? Neither I nor Astoria in diagnostic mode can find anything wrong?”
Darc hadn’t heard a sound from the direction he had traveled. “Hey, it wasn’t just me the Princess saw it too. Why not go and check with her? You should know she said no one should come looking for her but go ahead if you don’t believe me.” Then for good measure he added, “You know what she’s like if she’s peeved about something.”
Orin shook his head and ran another diagnostic that would take five minutes. “Why don’t you go back anyway and help them with the gear. The window for departure is growing smaller. I set Astoria on the automatic take off countdown when I saw the plane overhead. Currently, the countdown is paused and I’ll resume it when you return.”
Darc ignored the suggestion, and remained where he was watching as Orin rechecked the system, irked at the instruction from one lower in rank than he. He looked at his watch then over his shoulder toward the plane he was just in and wondered why he hadn’t heard anything.
Five minutes later Orin glared at Cimmerian. “The Princess and you were wrong there isn’t anything wrong. I’m going to see what’s keeping her.” Orin marched away before Darc could prevent him.
Darc decided it was wiser to follow than watch as the Captain ate up the yards between where the plane landed. He made a mad dash through unforgiving sand. “Hey, I’ll come too…that way we can all help with the baggage.”
Orin mumbled something unintelligible as he attempted to shake the man by extending his stride. A few moments later he saw the plane enter his vision. What he hadn’t bargained on was seeing two men atop a dune pointing a weapon at the Princess. He picked up his pace and ran as fast as he could, forgetting everything but the training he had undertaken as the personal bodyguard of the Princess. If anything happened to her he knew he could never return to Corinthian. He knew death was his fate and that would leave his child with the stigma of a coward as a parent. “Darc do you have a weapon?” Orin shouted over his shoulder to the man who was unable to keep up with him.
“Go back to the shuttle and protect Tavia. Do you know where the weapons are stored?”
He waved acknowledgement, and sped behind a dune until Orin was out of sight and waited for the conclusion of the merry tale he’d engineered.
Orin ran, as fast as the sand would allow and as a shot peeled out he felt dread clutch his heart. He wanted desperately not to look, but did. He was amazed when the Princess appeared unharmed as she dashed back toward the plane with the men ignoring her completely. He was yards away and he could almost smell the men on the dune who now turned their sights to him. What puzzled him was that they didn’t take up arms again as they gazed at him silently for a few seconds. The shrill noise of a creature in dreadful pain appeared to be their clue to leave as they dropped behind the dune.
Seconds later, Orin was at the Princess’ side. He didn’t need words to see that Janice was dead. He’d seen that far too often in the war zones he and Tavia had frequented over the years. “Are you ok Princess?” he didn’t receive a reply as he pushed her and the lifeless body she held under the fuselage affording her less exposure. “I’ll be right back.” He headed without a second thought over the dune where he’d last sighted the soldiers.
His breath was heavy but remarkably he was not as fatigued as it looked the soldiers he was gaining on were. When he saw one soldier tug on the arm of the other, Orin knew that in a matter of seconds they were going to turn and fire on him. He had no protection except for the primitive revolver from this world.
The initial shot was his as he aimed at the closest solider. His finger freed the trigger and he saw the man fall rather than heard the explosion of gunfire. There was only one chance to keep alive - kill the other soldier first. He aimed for the leg and his bullet reached the target but not before the solider fired a round. The bullets passed either side of Orin as he weaved in and out. One nicked the other soldier’s shoulder and he fell onto the sand. He was feet from his prey and he was certain that the soldier knew it.
Orin surmised they were mercenaries not from any government or one he’d had intelligence of in his surveillance of the Princess’ friends and enemies. He raised his gun to take another shot at the man lying on the ground who was defeated in his task. The solider used his dead comrade as a shield. For Orin, the next bullet felt like someone had ripped his heart open as he lunged forward with blood seeping through his shirt. It was surreal, as he felt his body gradually weaken and he was unable to do anything but watch as a hail of bullets punctured other parts of his body. His eyes stared ahead as he used the last of his energy to squeeze the trigger and saw the bullet miss the soldier by inches. He opened his mouth to speak but the words died on his lips as his body finally shutdown and the lights of life extinguished one final time
Seera was in shock as she looked down at Janice’s lifeless body. The blood trailed over the pristine sand staining everything it touched. She tentatively reached down and touched the head wound in morbid fascination. Then she heard more shots and the noise brought her out of her trance-like condition. Her mind slowly galvanized into action as she realized that Orin had gone to track the men down. She automatically wiped away the blood from her hand down her blouse, effectively eradicating the death scene from her mind as she ran to the top of the dune
“No your Highness, I’ll go.” Darc ran forward to meet her on the dune as they both peered at the two men on the ground. In the distance, a figure seemed to be dragging an injured leg, as the man reached what he assumed was a vehicle.
Seera pushed away Darc’s restraining arm and glared at him with her red, sore eyes that held a wild and exposed expression. “We’ll both go. Give me your gun.”
Under normal circumstances, Darc would have done as requested but she wasn’t herself and he shook his head. “I’m sorry your Highness, I haven’t a weapon with me.”
She pummeled his chest as she shouted, “You can’t deny me Darc. You can’t…I want to kill that bastard.”
“He’ll be gone before you can reach him Princess. Please, why don’t you go back to the shuttle and find Tavia. I’ll do what is necessary here,” he pleaded.
The words made sense to a part of her brain. She thought for sure she was in hell and had taken all her friends with her. Was this retribution for leaving? Although her thoughts were chaotic and distressed, she finally heard Darc’s plea again and this time it registered.
“Tavia needs me? Yes. Orin’s dead isn’t he?” She didn’t want to say that word twice, in the space of minutes, the first had caused havoc enough.
They both looked over to the still scene of the two bodies and Darc inclined his head. “I don’t know for sure but I suspect so. He would never have allowed the shooter to leave. We both know that don’t we your Highness?” He hide a grin this was turning out to be a perfect departure
Seera turned away reluctantly as tears coursed down her cheeks again. Then her eyes settled on Janice, her beautiful, trusting, innocent yet passionate lover. With her head held high and ignoring all around her as her breeding taught her at an early age she stumbled through the sand toward the shuttle. She would shed further emotions when she told Tavia about Orin’s death.
Darc approached the motionless men in the sand as his smile curled his lip cynically. “Two out of three isn’t bad and I have the Queen to help me with the third. I call that a good days work.” He kicked the dead soldier, his body had several bullet holes and his expression was that of abject surprise. Then he moved over to the man he had once called friend many years earlier. Darc peered at Orin’s contorted features, his mouth open about to speak possibly. Washed out brown eyes stared up at him blankly with a question that Darc felt sure was etched in their depths. “Even if you found out it was I old friend you can’t tell anyone now can you. I’m home and dry, and believe me that bitch Tavia will be joining you soon. Along with that abomination, you call a child.” He kicked sand in Orin’s face and laughed softly for he had no wish to alert the Princess if she was still within hearing distance.
He pulled at his long chin as he considered what to do next. He finally decided to leave the soldier for the buzzards. He’d paid the mercenaries a heavy sum to carry out this particular hit and he was certain no one was likely to return to the spot. He knelt down next to Orin’s body and began to drag the man toward the aircraft.
Ten minutes later, he placed the body next to Janice Clark and smirked that his mercenaries had done a good job in eliminating her. He tipped his head and looked at the body of Janice. As he calmly said, “You my dear are the icing on my cake. At least you won’t be alone going to whatever place you believe in for my good friend Orin will be right there with you.”
Luggage and personal belongings were beside the bodies or still in the hold as Darc made his final decision regarding this problem. He located the Princess’ items and pulled them to one side then took the chain around Janice’s neck to keep as a memento of his fine kill. Darc opened up the fuel cap with an amused grin as he reached for the torch he’d made from the clothing he’d ripped from Janice. He pushed the material inside the fuel cavity until it was soaked then did two more. He laughed cruelly as he placed a match to one torch and watched it light immediately as he threw first one torch then another into the aircraft and close to the fuel tank. Within minutes, it was burning and he stepped away as the acrid smell and taste of the dark smoke filled his lungs.
He walked rapidly toward the Princess’s personal belongings and dragged them away. Has he reached the dune that obscured his view of the aircraft he was delighted to see that it was burning well, shortly it would explode and all evidence except for a burnt out wreck would be the only testament to them being there? By the time anyone found the bones, it would be, literally ancient history.
Satisfied with his life now, he squared his thin shoulders and replaced his smirking expression with a dour one. He had to give the appearance of misery, after all, they had lost a good friend and the Princess has lost a lover. He continued on his way back to the shuttle and the promise of finally leaving this primitive rock.
Her eyes looked everywhere but at the woman sleeping peacefully at the rear of the shuttle. When Seera had arrived, she was steeling herself for her role in imparting the news to her friend. Although, Tavia probably would suspect something was up when she saw Janice’s blood covering her. She was certain that her face must look just as ravaged. As she climbed on board, Tavia didn’t make an appearance and her breath caught in her throat as she saw her friend asleep.
She quietly knelt beside her sleeping friend and pushed back the hair that had fallen over her eyes. She whispered, “How young you look Tavia, just the same as you did when you returned home from the scientific colony and sought me out. How old were you then, ah yes twenty-two and I was four years older and looked older. How you chastised me, back then for my debauched ways. If only you knew why…but you never asked and I never told. Now my friend, we both have to face the pain of loss again, but I’ll always be here for you… and the baby.” She didn’t care what the Queen or protocol said for Tavia was hers and that would never change. I will demand you sit at my side just as you have always been in my heart. Seera bent closer and kissed Tavia’s forehead tenderly. “I love you,” she said in an almost inaudible whisper.
As she stood up and turned she heard, “I love you too, Seera.” Her heart raced as she turned around expecting to see the indigo eyes focusing on her–they remained closed. The Princess shook her head as lines creased her forehead. Wishful thinking, she thought as she turned back to the job at hand.
Five minutes later, she had the shuttle ready to go. It had only been a matter of a few instructions to Astoria. Orin and Tavia had obviously been busy and they were ready to take off as soon as they boarded. Tavia still slept soundly complete with a faint smile, unaware her life had changed. Smoke billowing in the distant air had Seera tense as she wondered if the soldier’s had returned to finish them off. “Hmm shall we leave without Darc? He won’t expect me to stay if my life is in danger.” Her eyes scanned the horizon for any sign that her aide was arriving - there was none. Seera glanced at Tavia and asked, “should I or shouldn’t I? I’ll wait a few more minutes if he doesn’t return then I’ll take off.”
The minutes ticked by slowly and just as she was about to instruct Astoria to begin the ascent procedure she saw Darc dragging luggage over the dune.
Seera raced out of the shuttle and after reaching him she enquired, “Did they come back? What’s that smoke?”
Darc rolled his eyes. No, how are you or are you hurt. Oh no. All I get is…is she in danger and what’s going on. I could be invisible for all she cares. “I thought it best to destroy the evidence we were here. I set fire to the plane.”
Seera gasped at his action. “What about Orin and,” she swallowed hard as she spoke her lover’s name aloud. “ Janice’s, bodies?”
“I thought it best they were burnt too. In the circumstances, I thought it was the only thing to do. You didn’t want the buzzards to get them.” Darc had seen her expression change to horror until he mentioned the predators.
“Yes, I guess it was the best idea. Although I had hoped, we might take them back with us. Orin’s family deserves to hold vigil over his body. I also wanted to do the same for ….” She was unable to say her deceased lover’s name.
Darc inwardly smiled at her loss but returned a grave face toward the Princess. Lady Emerald wasn’t around and he expected her to be outraged at his action when she did know. “Does Tavia know?”
Seera shook her head. “She is sleeping and I didn’t have the heart to wake her. I thought it best she rested for once she finds out there won’t be much respite for her.”
“A good idea, are we ready to leave?” Darc began to pull the luggage along the sand again toward the shuttle hold.
“Yes. Are they mine?” she asked nodding in the direction of the suitcases.
Darc gave her a dour smile. “Of course your Highness I couldn’t allow your possessions to be burnt.” He continued on his way.
Seera watched him and mentally shook her head. Whispering, “He had thought it fit to bring inanimate objects from the plane but leave the bodies of our friends behind. How different he is from the rest of us.” Once she caught up with him, she helped carry her personal belongings as they boarded the shuttle.
Darc glanced down at the sleeping woman who didn’t look like she was waking any time soon. “Do you think we should wake her Princess?”
A tender expression filtered across Seera’s face as she glanced in the direction of Tavia. “No, no leave her. She’ll wake soon enough and who knows if we’re lucky we’ll be back home before she does.” She returned her attention to the console and the matter at hand.
“ Astoria, bring the engines online.”
“Engines activated Princess. It is good to have you back, I’ve missed you.” The bio-computer warbled as it activated the necessary controls.
Seera smiled slightly. “It’s good to be back with you too Astoria. We need all your expertise today Astoria, you and I will have to work as a team to reach home.”
“ Captain Steele is not aboard yet Princess. Are we to leave without him?” Astoria had scanned the inside of the shuttle for the bio-signs programmed into her memory.
Seera gulped down the lump that formed in her throat as she turned her eyes to Tavia and saw a flickering of the eyelids. Without taking her glance from Tavia who now blinked rapidly, Seera maintained a blank expression as she answered the question. “I’m afraid that Captain Steel can’t make the trip Astoria, he died defending us.”
Tavia’s eyes widened as she heard the words but blocked out their meaning. Her eyes darting around the shuttle, seeing only Darc to her left and the Princess at the console in front, her mouth opened to speak but nothing came out. When she realized the enormity of what Seera had said her hand reached unconsciously for her bulging abdomen.
The shuttle began to move and elevated above ground in a vertical ascent, within seconds of take off, the shuttle had reached a velocity unseen on earth. To the naked eye, it appeared like a flash of lightening as it reached the outer atmosphere and headed for the programmed co-ordinates.
“We will reach the designated co-ordinates input in one earth minute. Please strap into your chairs for maximum burn ratio.” Astoria whirled out.
Seera, who hadn’t taken her eyes from Tavia, now had to look away. She desperately wanted to be beside her friend and explain what had happened. Right now unless she ensured that everything was as it should be they might all die, “Darc, make sure Tavia is ok.”
With her back to the man, he grunted a reply and moving reluctantly he strapped the shocked pregnant women into her chair. Seera waited as the moment they had all wanted was about to happen.
“Destination reached. The wormhole is imminent, Princess.”
As it appeared, Seera pressed the thrusters and sent the shuttle inside the vortex that had brought them to earth. The silence in the shuttle became disconcerting.
“Ok here we go again…let’s hope home is on the other side.”
The maelstrom would last for several hours as it had the first time they had entered it. There was no scientific data to prove that they would return where they had come from. However, Tavia supported the theory that if all the elements were the same they had a good chance. Right now Tavia was staring into the swirling void that encompassed them and her thoughts a mirror what was happening outside the shuttle in her mind – electrified chaos.
Seera watched her friend with a haggard expression on her face with eyes that looked unseeingly out into the bleakness of the space vacuum. To the Princess, a soulless place of nothingness appeared in the craft mirroring the external as her thoughts drifted into why. Hers was the echo of mortality from the bullet that killed Janice…Tavia’s was the sound of her voice calmly stating that Orin was dead. Since that moment, Tavia had avoided her eyes and pushed off any attempts by Darc to offer her solace. In fact, she hadn’t even asked how.
“Darc will you take over the console please, Astoria is monitoring it automatically. She’ll let us know when I need to do anything.” Her voice seemed to float over the silence in the shuttle.
With a backward glance at the motionless Tavia, he nodded and released himself from the straps and took the console seat. “She’s not saying anything or doing anything is that normal? Why doesn’t she cry, shout, or show some emotion?”
Seera slowly walked to the back of the shuttle and sat down as close as possible to Tavia.
As Tavia watched her friend approach, she knew she didn’t want to talk to her. All Orin ever did was to protect and love them, yet Seera allowed him to be killed–it wasn’t fair. I hate her…I really hate her! It’s all her fault…all of this is all her fault!
“Tavia, how are you doing?” Seera asked with genuine concern showing in her own haunted features. A mirror image almost of her own disturbed emotions turned to greet her words. What she saw there made her bow her head in sorrow. “Do you want to know what happened?”
A pain ravaged voice echoed in the chamber at the back of the shuttle. “I know enough. Orin is dead, why couldn’t you have died instead.”
For a few seconds Seera wanted to cry out her own pain in outrage, selfishly thinking of her own pain of losing Janice. However, she didn’t. She breathed in heavily before she confronted her friend. With a tone bordering with compassion she said, “We were attacked on arrival. The best I can figure is that Orin heard the commotion and came to help us. He killed one of the soldiers who …” She broke off unable to say the words again. Tears shimmered in her eyes as she attempted to compose herself. “He was a brave man Tavia and he died doing what he had always done, protecting me, and protecting us.”
Tavia felt like the words buzzing in her head were jumbled and inconsistent. “I’ll need to make arrangements for his body to be given vigil rights when we arrive home.”
Seera frowned at the comment for it was practical and almost sounded detached. Is this what Tavia is doing, detaching herself from the truth and the horror of the situation in the only way she knows how. Seera didn’t know what to say and debated whether it was best to lie and leave the truth for when they got home or tell her now. At least there, Tavia will have people who love her for help. Seera reached out and grasped Tavia’s hand, even though her friend tried to shy away from the touch she would not let go. “It’s not the time to talk of such things Tavia. We’ll sort it all out when we disembark. Are you ok…and the baby?”
Silence passed between them until Tavia answered in a hoarse voice. “I’ll never be ok again. How can you ask me that? What does it matter how could you understand.”
Seera dragged a hand through her hair and tried to speak. She eventually managed to say, “I understand perfectly Tavia. I lost someone too.”
Tavia sucked in a breath as she for the first time looked closely at Seera. Her eyes appeared bloodshot and she looked pale and drawn. Her voice replied, “You can never have any conception of how I feel. Orin meant nothing to you, you said so often enough in the past.”
Seera acknowledged the accusation, recalling one of the many times she had dismissed the man as merely a necessary embarrassment for her station in life. That was in another life Tavia surely you of all people know how much I’ve changed. “I didn’t love Orin as you did that’s true Tavia, but I felt he was a dear friend and one I will miss. Never mind I guess nothing I’ll say can make any difference to how you feel at the moment.”
“How can it make a difference? Can you bring him back to me?” Tavia’s voice was harsh and filled with emotions that raged inside fueling them into hatred.
Seera said one bleak word as she stood up, “No.”
Darc looked up as Seera stood beside him. The only part of the conversation he heard was when Tavia’s voice rose to a high pitch. The bitch wouldn’t get away with that for much longer. She’ll join her precious Orin as soon as I can have an audience with the Queen. No one speaks to the Princess like that, ever!
“I’ll take the console back Darc. You keep an eye on Tavia she’s suffering from shock.”
“I doubt my being there will make any difference whatsoever. I take it she isn’t very happy that we are alive and Orin and Janice aren’t.” He saw the Princess flinch at the mention of Janice’s name.
“I never told her about Janice.”
The quiet words puzzled Darc. “Why not? She isn’t the only one here who lost someone that they cared for today.”
Seera blew out a breath of air that pushed away the hair that had fallen over her forehead. “There’s enough pain inside at the moment. I think it can wait don’t you.”
Darc, without another word left the Princess to her deliberations as he headed for Tavia. He gave her a cursory glance and sat down in the chair he’d vacated earlier. His fingers rapped against the metal of the arm as he considered what to do next.
“Re-engaging thruster’s Princess,” Astoria’s voice appeared louder than normal in the silence of the shuttle.
“Thank you Astoria.” Seera turned her head to the others. “You’ll need to strap back in and cross your fingers, we deserve some luck right now.”
Astoria began a sequential countdown to the reappearance in normal space. “Five…four…three…two…maximum power burn.”
All eyes in the shuttle went to the portals and they held their collective breaths hoping that their planet would be in view as it had been when they activated the wormhole.
Darc was the first to jump out of his seat, nearly doing himself personal injury as the straps pulled him back down. “We made it, we made it!” his excited voice far in contrast to the two women who reflected on the reappearance of their world quietly.
Seera reset the coordinates to take them into the atmosphere and the shuttle home base. “We’ll be on the ground in ten minutes.”
The shuttle dove into the atmosphere shielding them from the atmospheric pressure build up. The pink and orange skies that covered their planet eventually appeared. They would no longer experience the blue skies of the day and the blackness of night as they had back on earth. No more stars to brighten up the heavens all that was gone as they returned to the familiar landscape of home.
“Princess I have communicated with home base they are cautionary and advise that they demand a guard unit check the shuttle and the passengers on arrival.” Astoria droned out as Seera checked that all was functioning, as it should.
“Accept their instructions Astoria.”
The shuttle finally landed at the appropriate coordinates and Darc stood up excited that he was finally home. He glanced down at Tavia shaking his head at her sorry state. “You might want to have a story ready for the authorities, about that,” he said pointing to her protruding belly.
Tavia flashed him a look, part hatred, part fear. She and Orin had never really worked out exactly what they would say about the baby on arrival home. “My mothers will understand.”
Darc gave her a sneer. “Really Lady Emerald, I doubt that very much, especially when they are made aware of whom the father is.”
Her eyes narrowed at his contemptible words. “At the end of the day it isn’t my mothers or any one else for that matter who has any say,” she replied.
“Don’t be too sure of that. It isn’t Earth now with all their liberal views. Its home, remember, and all that goes with it, particularly one of your rank. Unless something has changed drastically since we’ve been gone doesn’t the Queen have the final word on everything?” He smirked and turned his attention to the guards that appeared outside the shuttle.
Tavia bit her lip and the numbness of Orin’s death, compounded with the problem of her baby was almost too much to bear. Right now, she had no one she could trust, not even her mothers.
Seera authorized the opening of the shuttle doors and waited for the guards to board the vehicle. Three guards entered and had weapons ready to fire should they not accept what they saw as valid. They looked at Darc and spent an even longer time gazing at Tavia, which had Seera’s hackles rising. Then they moved further down the shuttle and she stood up facing them, but their eyes didn’t flinch, as they looked her over insolently. They are so damn young. I doubt they even knew what I look like, except for those terrible pictures that adorned the palace.
Then another person joined them in the shuttle. This time it wasn’t a young man it was a person of a much higher rank and considerably older. He nodded to Darc and bowed slightly to Tavia, his eyes didn’t falter as he saw her condition. Then he made his way over to the front of the shuttle, and glanced Seera’s way. His eyes crinkled at the sides as he smiled slowly. He was a large figure of a man yet in contrast a quiet tone ordered, “Bow to her Highness Princess Diamond.” They immediately bowed before they pulled back with fear etched on their faces at their previous insolent expressions.
“Your Highness it’s a miracle. We had thought you lost to us forever. The Queen will be happy for your return. Please I will escort you to her immediately. She has been informed that your shuttle had returned.” The older man bowed and waited for her to agree to his suggestion.
Seera couldn’t help but smile slightly before she glanced at Tavia recalling that this man wouldn’t know the worse yet. “ Thank you General Steele. We did not think we would return either. We have your son to thank for our safe arrival.”
General Steele swiveled around looking for his son then with a quizzical expression returned his gaze to the Princess.
“I’m sorry General. Captain Steele gave his life honorably. He ensured my safety and everyone else’s here when we came under attack.”
The General’s expression remained stoic, and then replied, “As he was trained to do your Highness. I will wait for you outside.” He spun around and left the shuttle sparing no one else another glance, while taking his guards with him.
Tavia held her breath as she saw General Steele board the shuttle. God I so want to tell you about the baby and that Orin is the father. Protocol, all those years of protocol that she had allowed to lapse now slapped her firmly in the face and drew her attention to the fact that he would be embarrassed and mortified to find out like that. He probably wouldn’t even believe her. With eyes closed, she felt glued to the spot unable to move. Why, couldn’t Orin and her just be together on their island and be happy. If only I’d told you that was an option Orin…if only.
“Hey, do you need any help?”
Tavia looked up into the quiet concerned expression of the Princess. Her previous thought scenario faded knowing she would never be happy staying behind with Orin. Seera was the reason she couldn’t stay on earth–she’d never be happy unless Seera was near. She wanted to hate the Princess but. Seera was the only one who can help her. Will you? With a tremor of her lips she replied, “I just need to …” I don’t know what I need. Please, please, help me.
Seera heard an inflection in the voice that set off danger signals in her head. The connection she and Tavia shared told her as much. Their attunement diminished substantially when they were on Earth, but it now appeared to be reacquainting itself to the frequency of their bodies. Oh I’m going to enjoy having our talents back…we’ve been too long without them. She saw Darc hovering at the exit. “Go ahead without us Darc, we’ll catch up.” Then she sat down beside Tavia and instinctively took one of her hands.
For a few moments, there was silence between them and then Tavia allowed other inconsistencies to register as she gazed at Seera’s profile and the humming in her head wasn’t her emotional overload it was her senses turning into Seera’s once more. It came from the Princess in the form of the raw emotional pain she’d endured. “ Janice is dead too isn’t she?”
Seera caught her breath and silently nodded as her attention drew to the gentle squeeze of her hand.
“I’m so sorry Seera, so very sorry.” Tavia whispered compassionately.
Seera composed herself as she turned to Tavia and gave her a weak smile. “Yeah, I know you are. I guess we’re both emotional wrecks right now huh.”
“Yes we are. Do you know what to do next, because I have to admit to being scared?” It felt good to say the words.
“Our first protocol is to see my mother. There’s no doubt that I’ll catch some grief for being away without her permission for so long.” Seera tried to alleviate the situation between them. Her eyes traveled to the chronometer in the shuttle. They had been gone from here a mere, ten years, two months, one week and four days. One day they might speculate for fun on the hours.
Tavia instinctively nestled her head into Seera’s shoulder and it made them both feel better though neither wanted to admit why. In the past, when they were kids and in trouble, it always helped them feel better. “Maybe she’ll have changed.”
They both knew that was a very, very long shot.
“Yeah we can hope can’t we? Right now, you need to see a doctor. This stress won’t be good for you or the baby. In your present condition, you’re acclimatizing and that will be a more significant problem for you rather than Darc or me. I’ll have my mother’s doctor take care of you.” Seera felt a kick from the baby against her side and her mind went into overtime to find a solution to explain away this problem to the Royal Court and the Queen.
“I’m sorry for saying those things to you earlier if only you’d explained.” Tavia said as they drew apart.
Seera smiled and gazed into the eyes of the woman she knew she loved so deep that it was an integral part of her. Nothing Tavia could say or do that would ever be wrong in her eyes. “That’s in the past Tavia. Right now, we have to think to the future. We are getting a second chance and I’m going to be here for you. I’ll take care of things with everyone… including the Queen…o kay?” Seera knew she meant every word and vowed not to squander the chance to start anew. The expression Darc often used popped into her head. When the opportunity arises, you must take it!
Tavia returned the gaze and knew Seera was sincere. She’d take her empathy for it might forge a bridge to love. I’ll savor the opportunity. “I guess we’d better go before they send out another search party.”
Both their hearts screamed…I love you…before the two women stood up and with their hands held tightly together, they disembarked. Their eyes drank in the splendor of the orange skies and the five crystal spires of the elementals that created the royal compound. They were home.
In their souls both knew that the bond they had would see them through whatever happened next…even Seera’s mother the omnipotent Queen Larissa. It wouldn’t break them, for they had each other and always would even if at times they didn’t realize it.
Their lost kingdom appeared found, though how it had changed and how it was to change them was another journey.
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It may be reproduced, duplicated or printed for personal use only. For all other uses, please contact J.M. Dragon
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