Stein Willard © 2012
The characters in the story are a product of my own imagination and hopefully have no resemblance to any living persons. But if it does it is entirely coincidental. Some of the places mentioned are either fictitious and or adapted to suit the plot of the story.
Sex: This story contains sexual content of a graphic nature between consenting adult women, thus if you are not 18 years old and not allowed to read content of this nature, please move on to other suitable stories.
Archiving : This work is copy written and should not be posted anywhere else without the writer’s expressed permission.
This piece is not beta-ed and I claim all the mistakes that will surely pop up. I felt too guilty to harass my betas at such short-notice to check the piece. Hopefully I have not messed up too much. I want to thank the readers for the overwhelming response to the first part of Afterglow. Thank you for the encouragement.
Feedback: Constructive criticisms is greatly appreciated, so feel free to drop a line or two at email@example.com or sent me a friend request on Facebook.
Hem smiled warmly as she leaned in the door, watching her daughters and their trainer go through the final preparation for the ritual. The moves were complex but they were accomplished to perfection. Her mother’s heart were near bursting with pride as the girl’s tall body moved gracefully as she became one with the deadly weapon. A dark head lifted and ice blue eyes met hers.
Nael smiled and Hem winked at her.
She had never told the girls who was the eldest, out of fear that it might inadvertently affect their characters and choices as they fight for rank amongst themselves. But Nael was her lastborn and the one whom she knew would probably follow in her footsteps one day. Not only that, but Nael also looked a lot like Hem, except for the azure eyes which she inherited from her other mother. The other two girls sensed her presence too and turned sharply to face her. Yes, Nael would be the warrior. The others had the warrior gene, but lacked the raw instinct that Nael possessed. The other girls waved at her. Unlike Nael who was dark and brooding looking, Kalt and Elyst were fair in completion…once again Palmer’s doing. They could easily be mistaken for twins and looked like Palmer except that they topped their mother by at least four inches. They were part Pharmac after all and height was a common trait amongst the race.
The instructor, aware of her presence, bowed in Hem’s direction and the room through another exit. The girls stowed their weapons and came over to her. Hem’s heart melted when all three pulled her into group hug. Towering over them, she tenderly cradles them to her chest. Birthing three babies at the one time; Hem had quickly discovered the benefits of group hugs. No one felt left out. Hem placed soft kisses on their crowns as she inhaled their unique scent. They smelled wonderful. Since they were part human, Hem made it a point to bring back Terran products from her trips across the galaxy. The girls immediately showed an interest in the perfumed products.
The hug ended and three sets of ice blue eyes met hers. Hem was immediately taken back to the day before when she’d stared into the same blue ones of Palmer. Her daughters never made her forget their mother. Not only did their looks remind her of Palmer, but they were eager to know more about the Starship captain. For that reason Hem kept tabs on Palmer so she could report back to her daughters. She’d thought that would be enough until three months ago when they approached her making known their desire to be initiated as warriors. Hem had grown cold at the significance of their request. After eighteen years they expected her to contact the woman whose touch and smell still lingered in her mind after all these years. Almost every time she thought of the woman, bitterness boiled to the surface. When she returned from the kitchen having prepared a small breakfast for Palmer, she’d found the human gone from their room. For many hours afterward, she had sat on the small rumpled bed with the scent of their lovemaking still heavy in the air, aching for Palmer. Hem only left when the guard, whose room it was, came to claim her it back.
“Is she coming?”
Hem quickly blinked back to the present and looked down into Kalt’s face. The girls, with the now-expected exception of Nael, were eager to meet their human mother. Nael, it seems, didn’t care much about the other side of her heritage and fully embraced her Pharmac side.
“If she knows what good for her, she’ll be here,” Hem said quietly, her gaze roaming over the girl’s beautiful face. Who would’ve thought that a Pharmac/Human fusion could be so…so perfect? Her shock at finding herself pregnant a month after her rendezvous with Palmer, almost killed her. She had spent hours staring at her body in the mirror, scared and confused of what to expect. Never before, in the timeless existence of the Pharmac, had there been any crossbreeding. Least off all with humans, the most vulnerable of all species in the universe. As her bump grew bigger, so did her confidence and excitement. Before meeting Palmer, she’d been with others, many others, but it never crossed her mind to want to produce offspring with any of them. Even when she saw Palmer from across the smoke-filled bar, the thought of breeding with the human was far from her mind. All she knew at that moment was that she wanted the human like she’d never wanted another before. In the end, the small human managed what no one else in this universe could accomplish. Pharm grinded to a standstill on the day the triplets were born, discernibly half-human. Hem was breathless as the miniature doll-like beings were placed in her arms. They were the most beautiful sight she’d ever behold. She wept inside when their small eyes opened; blinding her with a bluish hue that immediately reminded her of their mother. As the leader of the Race, Hem didn’t owe anyone an explanation and strangely, none was expected. Her daughters were accepted into the fold and their Royal status not challenged once.
Hem yelped when a sharp nail dug into her side. She glared at Elyst, who glared back at her.
“Don’t threaten our mother,” Elyst hissed and Hem saw the blue eyes flash.
“You don’t even know her and yet she enjoys your protection,” Hem muttered.
“She’s our mother and that’s reason enough,” Kalt jumped in. Hem held up her hands. If the people from Pharm could see how these girls wound her around their little pinkies, her reputation would surely be dented for all eternity.
“Okay, I apologise for having threatened her.”
“You actually threatened her to her face?” Elyst pulled away from Hem. “I can’t believe you did that. Now she would surely not come. Everyone will laugh at us.” The blue eyes shimmered with tears and Hem quickly bundled her daughter against her broad chest.
“She will come, believe me. I saw her ship turn back to Terran soon after I left her. I promise you she will be here.” As she said that, Hem already contemplated ways of how to abduct Palmer if she wasn’t here within the next forty eight hours.
“That, I would like to see,” a husky voice said. Hem turned to look at Nael who stood stooped shoulders, looking at her toes. She must’ve felt the eyes on her because she slowly looked up. “Why would she show up now when she didn’t care to find us over the past eighteen years?”
Hem’s heart ached at the pain she heard in her stoic daughter’s voice. Now she understood Nael’s indifference to Palmer. The girl felt abandoned.
“It not like that, Dura,” she said gently. Nael never really liked endearments, but Hem felt that her baby needed to hear one now. “She didn’t know about your existence. I saw it in her eyes when I told her about you. She really didn’t know.”
“Does that make it all right? Should I just accept her when and if she shows up?”
“That’s up to you, Nael. I will not force you to do anything. I believe your mother would want you to be yourself too,” Hem said tenderly as she waved her lastborn closer. She folded them all into another warm embrace, raining kisses down on their cheeks. “She will be stupid not to want you once she’s met you.”
Hem’s head suddenly jerked up and she quickly stepped out of the embrace. Gone was the woman who seconds ago cuddled her daughters lovingly. In her stead was a cold, flint-eyed leader. The girls didn’t even bat an eye at the sudden change. Hem rarely showed her gentle side except for when she was with her daughters in a private setting.
“Milady, I apologise for interrupting you so soon after your return.”
Hem turned to look at the tall dark woman. Selit was her second in command and also acts as her personal aid.
“What is it, Selit?”
“With the Yram only three days away we are confirming the attendance of all the initiates. Shall I confirm for the princesses?”
Hem nodded. “Yes.”
Selit looked uncomfortable and visibly swallowed. “There is another presence that needs confirmation too, milady.”
“Confirm for their mother too.”
The woman nodded quickly. “Thank you, milady. All the preparations should be done by midday tomorrow.”
“That is fine, Selit. I want you to have a suite prepared for the girls’ mother.”
“Consider it done, milady.”
As the sound of Selit’s footsteps faded down the long corridor, Hem began to unbutton her leather overcoat. “I want the three of you to show me how good you really are.” She unsheathed her sword and watched with amusement as the girls made a mad dash for their weapons.
The drawn-out pause made Palmer fight the urge to fidget. Her eyes were fixed on the screen as she studied the stunned faces of Terran’s Senators’ Council.
“Let me get this straight,” a thin man with sparely hair said. He held up a bony hand. “You’ve somehow managed to impregnate Principal Hemheri and are now expected to attend a function on Pharm for the benefit of your daughters?”
Palmer nodded. “That is correct, Senator Loa.”
There was that nerve-wracking silence again.
“Captain Middleton,” a throaty female voice said. “We appreciate the fact that you felt it was necessary to inform us. You do realize that we have no authority over what happens in your personal life, as long as it doesn’t threaten our security.” The woman was older than Palmer by at least ten years, but she had a very distinguished look about her that Palmer found very appealing.
“I understand, Senator Keane. I believe that in this case my personal life could threaten our safety.”
The woman’s green eyes shimmered in her beautiful face. “Yes, I do believe so too.” Senator Keane sat back in her chair. “What does the Council suggest?”
“I believe Captain Middleton should attend the ritual. Even if it is just for the sake of her daughters,” Senator Burns said softly. He was the eldest on the Council at eighty nine. The man was renowned for his love for children and his remark didn’t seem out of place.
“I concur,” said Senator Loa. “I would however suggest that one of our members accompany the Captain. This will be a great show of solidarity and it could give us the opportunity to work at an alliance with the Pharmac. It would serve us well to have an allegiance with the most powerful Realm in the galaxy.”
Palmer groaned inwardly at that. Not only would it look bad trying to court the Pharmac into forming an alliance, but she’ll have to spend an unspecified period of time in the company of one of the Senators. Her every move will be scrutinized and she doubted she could handle that on top of handling Hem.
“I don’t know. The Principal is a very dangerous woman. We know of at least three worlds, she singlehanded wiped from the galaxy. Would it be safe to send one of our own into the lion’s den? The Principal could easily hold our representative hostage.” Senator Landon was known as the pessimist on the Council and he lived up to his reputation. Nevertheless he was very much respected. His pessimism has saved Terran from many close calls in the past and that was why his presence and opinion was valued on the Council.
“As always, you’re right, Senator Landon,” Senator Keane said. “But a presence from the highest echelon of Terran could also be seen as sign of faith and goodwill.” She leaned forward in her chair. “That is why I volunteer to accompany Captain Middleton.”
“Enough,” Senator Keane said in an authoritative voice. “As the Presiding Officer of the Council, I believe I have the final say. The Principal will only be swayed when someone she considers her equal addresses her. Secondly, the Pharmac are an all-female race and being the only female on the Council, I am most suitable choice.” When no more protestations could be heard, she continued. “Captain Middleton, I will join you at Port Heverenson tomorrow at 1200 hours. In the meantime I suggest you make arrangements for our travel.”
Senator Keane logged off and the others followed suit. Palmer exhaled noisily. Things still looked bleak from where she stood. She respected Senator Keane, but she was still a Senator and having one on her ship was going to take getting used to. Then there was her mother. Palmer quickly walked over to the replicator and got herself a glass of wine. She will need Dutch courage if she was going to talk to her mother.
Palmer took a deep breath. She should’ve followed her instincts and asked Taffy to join her.
“Are you not going to answer me, Palmer Susan Middleton?”
Cringing, Palmer shook her head. “I…I don’t know what else to tell you, Mother.”
Sandra snorted. “Maybe you can start by how long you were going to keep quiet about this?”
“I didn’t know they existed. I only found out two days ago.” Palmer sighed deeply. “Believe me no one was more shocked than me.”
Sandra cocked her head to the side and even over the long distance transmission; Palmer could almost sense her mother’s next question. “How many other children could there be?”
“What…I…NO!” Palmer sputtered. “How can you say that? You make it sound like I’m…like I’m a sexual addict of some sort who criss-crosses the galaxy making babies.”
“Don’t be silly, Palmer. That’s not what I’m saying.” Sandra sat closer to the screen and Palmer watched in trepidation as Sandra bit down on her lower lip. “I was always worried about Taffy, considering the many lovers she’d had over the years. You, on the other hand, were too busy competing to gain your own command. However, the news that you have daughters, grown daughters…I can’t help but wonder, Palmer. You spend more time in space than on Terran and I can only assume that you must’ve taken other lovers. To my knowledge, not many humans traipse through space.” Sandra’s blue eyes, so like Palmer’s, narrowed. “Have you…have you been with any other aliens?”
Palmer quickly downed the whiskey in her glass. She was thirty six years old and only now her mother wants to have the birds and the bees talk with her.
“No, mother. I haven’t been with any other aliens since my…since the last time.”
Palmer blushed. “I’ve been careful.”
“Come on, Palmer, humor me. How many lovers have you had?”
Clearing her throat, Palmer made direct eyes contact with her mother. “Four.”
Sandra blinked. “That’s all?” Palmer nodded. “But why? You’re beautiful and influential considering your position in the Terran Space Fleet.”
“Mother, please. I don’t know where this conversation is going,” Palmer said quickly. “You wanted to know if I had more children and the answer is no.”
“And you know this how?” Sandra asked sceptically.
“Because my human lovers were all women and last time I checked I was not equipped to impregnate women.” Palmer glared at her mother, but had to look away after a while. Sandra was the only other person she knew who could stare her down. The silence stretched between them before Sandra spoke again.
“I want to meet them,” Sandra said quietly and Palmer’s head jerked up.
“No, mother. I don’t think that’s a good idea,” she said, trying to keep the desperation she felt out of her voice. “Senator Keane will be accompanying me, making this an official mission. I can’t…”
“Try and stop me. If you will not take me, I will find a way to get to Pharm.” Sandra’s chin was jutted out stubbornly. “I have the right to meet my granddaughters and no one…NO ONE…will tell me I can’t do that.”
Palmer threw a glance at the replicator. She needed another drink. Looking back to the screen, she noticed mother wiping away a tear. The last and only time she’d seen her mother cry, was when her father’s ship was shot down during the Inter-Galactic War of 54778. Palmer was ten years old then and had not seen her mother cry since.
“Please, mother, don’t cry,” she said weakly.
“Besides you and Taffy, I have no one else. With the two of you in space dragging my grandson through some of the most inconceivable dangers, I’m alone at home, praying that I will never get a message that would crush my world.” A single tear ran down Sandra’s cheek. “I don’t care if they are four-legged and blue. They are my grandchildren and I have more right than anyone else to meet them.” Sandra wiped her cheek. “Make it happen, Palmer.”
The screen went blank.
Palmer was silent as she watched the blank screen. She knew telling her mother would be difficult, but she realizes now that it was gross understatement. She got up to get herself another drink and downed it in one gulp. Sandra didn’t joke when she said she would find a way to get to Pharm and Palmer will have to try and stop that from happening.
Hem briskly walked down the hallway leading to the Reception Hall. An urgent meeting had been called by her advisors earlier regarding her daughters. The closer she came to the Hall the angrier she grew. By the time she reached the heavy doors, the walls were undulating with her rage. The guards stationed at the door quickly swung it open and stood back, trying to make themselves invisible. Only four people awaited her in the Hall. Hem quickly made her way over to the throne-like chair, offering short nods to those in attendance.
Seated, she threw her hands wide, forcing her rage down. “I was made to believe that was a matter of extreme importance.”
A tall warrior stepped forward, a younger woman’s hand clasped in hers. Both women bowed low.
“Milady,” the older woman pointed to the younger woman,” I present before you my betrothed, Namte. I offered to test my skill against her mothers, at the Yram to finalize our union.” Hem noticed a flash of rage cross over the woman’s eyes. “I’ve changed my mind about being with her.”
Hem sat up straighter. This was uncommon and what did it have to do with her daughters. Her eyes turned to Namte who was blushing profusely. The girl was young and gorgeous. Short raven hair curled around a delicate heart shaped face and large dark eyes met Hem’s. “Klinit, you’re aware that it is rare that betrothed unions are dissolved at such an advanced state? Have you lain with her yet?”
The tall warrior lowered her gaze. “We have copulated, milady.”
“Then why do you want to sever the union? Was she not proficient enough?” Hem asked. The younger woman turned even redder.
“She is more than satisfactory, milady. The reason for my request to sever ties with her is because of Princess Nael.”
Hem slowly came to her feet, causing everyone else to take a step back. “What about Nael?” It wasn’t her intention to sound and act threatening, but she had a terrible soft spot for her introverted, soft-spoken daughter. Elyst and Kalt were less socially-inept than their youngest sister and could handle themselves.
The warrior swallowed hard, her gaze wary. “The Princess corrupted my betrothed.”
This time Hem could only blink. There surely must be a misunderstanding. Nael was too shy to approach women. She would expect that from her other two gregarious daughters. But not Nael…never Nael.
“I find that hard to believe. Do you have any proof?”
The warrior pointed to the other two women in attendance. Hem’s eyes swept over the seasoned warriors. She’d fought many battles alongside these women and could vouch for their loyalty. They wouldn’t lie to her nor would they dare to. Giving her daughter the reasonable doubt, Hem turned to the blushing young woman.
“Is it true? Did my daughter lay with you?”
The girl threw a cautious glare at her soon-to-be ex betrothed. “Yes, milady. We have copulated.”
Hem slowly took her seat. As she stared at the young woman, confusion and pride warred inside of her. Who would’ve thought? Her baby has become a woman. Hem hoped Nael first time had been somewhat pleasant and not to traumatic. She returned her attention to the warrior.
“If you are sure there is no reason or will to reconcile I will grant you the dissolution. What do you say?” Hem asked.
The warrior looked at her betrothed and back to Hem. “I have been courting Namte for a very long time, milady, and had hoped to produce offspring with her.” The warrior lowered her gaze. “Even if I would like to forget about the transgression, I don’t she would want to.”
Intrigued, Hem cocked her head to the side. “Why do you say that?”
“Whatever the Princess did with Namte…” The warrior’s eyes were dark with distress, before she looked away.
“Continue, Klinit,” Hem prodded gently. She couldn’t help but feel as if she was on the brink of getting a deeper insight into her aloof daughter’s psyche.
“She took Namte like a male would.” The warrior shook her head. “When I came across them…she…the Princess was behind and Namte…”
Hem was stunned speechless. Nael? Up until that moment, she’d hoped that what she had to deal with was the awkward fumbling of a novice.
“It was also not the first time they were copulating, milady,” Klinit said.
The warrior’s sour tone made Hem grimaced. She looked at the young woman and for a moment felt sorry for her having to hear about her transgression from others.
“Is it true?”
Hem swallowed, scared to ask and terrified of the answer. “How many times have you lain with my daughter, Namte?”
Large dark eyes rose to meet Hem’s. “I lost count, milady.”
A loud gasp sounded in the Hall and Hem quickly held up her hand. She didn’t want this to turn into a spectacle. She needed fresh air and time to process everything she’d found out about her daughter.
“Do you not want to be with Klinit anymore?”
“I do, milady, with my whole heart.” Namte threw a glance at the warrior. “The Princess was simply too difficult to resist. Even after hearing about her many conquests, I was too weak to …”
Hem came to her feet. “Conquests?” Everyone stirred uneasily as they lowered their eyes. Hem closed her eyes briefly. “Will someone please answer me?”
Namte lifted her head, her eyes fearful. “The Princess has been linked with close to sixty women.”
Hem stared at the woman for a long time and only looked away when Namte began to fidget nervously. The Pharmac was a passionate race, but this was too much
for someone so young. Sixty women in two years? Where did the girl get the stamina from not to speak of the time?
She retook her seat. She will have enough time later to ponder the sex life of her daughter.
“Can this breach between you be healed?” Hem asked quietly.
For the next hour Hem listened and advised the couple as they decided to try reconciliation.
Port Heverenson was in a state of urgency as everyone prepared for the arrival of Senator Keane. Standing in the conference room of the Station Master, Palmer straightened the jacket of her ceremonial dress whites. A glance at the chronometer showed that it was 1130, just a half hour left before the Senator arrived. She walked over to the replicator and got herself a glass of juice. Standing at the window she looked out over the floating port. Far off at the docking bay, she could make out the formidable shape of the Concorde. She will miss her ship. The Concorde was well-known and respected in the galaxy as a state of the art fortress. She closed her eyes briefly. That was of course until Hem effortlessly breached their security.
Palmer turned to find the petite Senator walking into the room. She quickly saluted but the woman shook her head, a faint smile on her face. Palmer relaxed as she took in the Senator. The woman was dressed rather casually in a dark suit which set of her fair features. Her long auburn hair was pulled into a tight bun, making her look much younger than her forty six years. Sharp green eyes studied Palmer as the Senator came to stand before the captain. Feeling slightly uncomfortable at her height compared to the Senator’s, Palmer avoided looking down at the woman.
“Senator,” she acknowledged the woman’s presence.
The woman smiled and Palmer almost blinked at how it changed the woman’s usually serious expression.
“Captain Middleton, since I have the privilege of meeting you face to face, I would like to congratulate you on the birth of your daughters.”
This time Palmer blinked as she looked at the Senator, not sure what to make of the woman’s words. In the end she settled for a demure ‘thank you.’
“By the way, Captain, since we will be a very small, intimate party, I would like it if you would call me on my first name when we are in a private setting.”
“As you wish, Senator,” Palmer said softly.
“Good. Do you mind if I call you Palmer then?”
“Not at all, Senator.” Palmer straightened her shoulders under the close inspection of the Senator.
Palmer nodded. “Noted, Senator.”
The woman studied her again for a few seconds before she too straightened her shoulders. “I believe we are set and ready to leave.”
“Considering the nature of the mission, I have selected a small group of people to accompany us. Lieutenants Stein and Middleton will accompany us. Lieutenant Stein is my Head of Security and Lieutenant Middleton will be our pilot.” Palmer stopped waiting for the Senator to make the connection, when nothing was forthcoming, she continued. “I have also asked for permission to have a civilian accompany us on the mission.”
“Your mother?” Senator Keane said softly and Palmer nodded.
“We have filed all the necessary documents absolving the Council of any accountability.”
“I understand,” the Senator said with a hint of amusement in her voice. “Now if we need to reach Pharm before the set date, I’d suggest we get going.”
Palmer inwardly breathed a sigh of relief. Sandra had really pushed her hand this time and it was lucky that the Senator was so accommodating. “We will use the J-678 shuttle which is smaller but comfortable and more than equipped for deep space probing. If you’ll follow me please, Senator.”
The room was quiet except for the clanging sound of cutlery against porcelain. Hem, seated at the head of the table, carefully dissected the piece of meat . Now and then her gaze would stray to the place on her left where Nael sat. The girl was her usual, brooding self as she picked at the food on her plate.
“If you want to build and conserve energy for the Yram, you’ll have to eat as much as you can before the ritual,” Hem said quietly, not looking up from her plate. Out of the corner of her eyes she saw the girl’s hand tighten on her fork as she speared a vegetable like piece and brought it to her mouth. It was still impossible for her to reconcile the quiet, shy girl with the promiscuous playgirl she was painted to be.
The girl looked up with a slow grin as she chewed the piece the mouthful. Hem blinked at the transformation. Smiling like that she could understand why women would find Nael irresistible. The smile lit up the girl’s dark features, causing her blue eyes to glitter. Hem quickly lowered her gaze to her plate. As much as she didn’t want to belief what she’d heard about her daughter, Hem knew deep inside that it was true. She had no idea how she was going to bring up the topic, but she needed to talk to the girl. Cuckold lovers and mates could be dangerous enemies.
“Are you scared we might run out of energy and embarrass you, mother?” Nael teased.
“On the contrary, Dura,” Hem murmured softly. “There is nothing you could do to embarrass me.”
Elyst looked up from her plate, a strange look in her eyes. “Not yet, that is.”
Hem skewered her second eldest with a sharp look. Did the girl know about Nael? “What do you mean by that, Ely?”
The girl shrugged. “We are bound to make mistakes and to disappoint you.”
Hem looked at Kalt, who kept her eyes focused on the plate and back to Nael, who followed her eldest sister’s example.
“You girls know that you can come to me if you want to talk…about anything,” Hem said softly, studying her girls for any outwards signs of discomfort. Instead three heads nodded curtly. Feeling somehow as if she’d missed an important piece of a puzzle, Hem listlessly continued with her meal.
Had she really been so naïve to think that her daughters would be pure and angelic at this stage in their lives whereas other parents are struggling to reign in theirs? She needed someone to talk too.
Palmer had no idea what awaits her.
Palmer reminded everyone to buckle up as the shuttle taxied through the incoming traffic of the port. Mara, Taffy and she were the only ones in the cockpit of the smaller ship. Sandra, the Senator and little Joshua sat a few feet away in a secured area. The passenger seating was protected by a containing force field which, as soon as the ship made the trans-galactic warp, would cocoon them and held them in their seats until after the jump.
The two older women had not exchanged many words since Palmer introduced them, except for the necessary basics. Between them, little Joshua was asleep in his crib, which was buckled to the seat for extra protection. Sandra adored her grandson and between the two older women, Palmer knew the little tyke will be well taken care off.
“Do you think they’ll be fine?”
Palmer turned to Taffy, who with a mother’s concern was looking back at her son. Even the unflappable Mara threw a few concerned glances her son’s way.
“They are fine,” she said softly as her eyes once again found the small crib. “Lieutenant, set in course for Pharm.” Taffy double-checked her coordinates before she pressed a few buttons. Without warning, the ship shot forward. A slight trickle of unease settled at the base of Palmer spine as she watched the stars streamed by the window of the cockpit. She had never been anywhere close to Pharm…no one she knew, would willingly venture into this part of the galaxy. For a second she doubted her sanity in dragging her whole family to the most dangerous place in the universe. Just as suddenly a phrase, uttered so many years ago, crossed her mind.
I will be safe anyplace as long as you’re with me.
Palmer shut her eyes briefly. Back then, she believed and trusted in Hemheri’s ability to protect her. Now she knew the woman was more than capable of protecting them or in destroying them if she so wish. The bottom line was that they will traipse through the most unfamiliar part of the galaxy at Hemheri’s behest. The Pharmac would not have asked her to come if they were to encounter danger. Palmer was after all the mother of her daughters. It felt strange to think of herself as somebody’s mother. She was still coming to terms with being someone’s aunt after Joshua’s birth and she’d though that was more than enough for her to deal with. She was obviously wrong. In less than forty eight hours she would come face to face with her daughters and she as of yet, she had no idea how she felt …or should feel about being a mother.
The ship jerked again, bringing Palmer out of her reverie. The jump was over. She glanced through the window and gasped softly. It was obvious why the Pharmac kept everyone out of this part of the galaxy. The stars were in abundance, painting a shimmering tableau. Palmer felt someone moving up to her stand next to her chair.
“I have seen many images from almost every corner of the galaxy, but never have I seen anything as beautiful as this,” Senator Keane said softly, her voice filled with wonder. “It is true then that Pharmac are indeed the divinities of the galaxy. They live as close to what can be construed as heaven.”
Palmer agreed completely. For a few moments they were all caught up in the scenery. Remembering herself, Palmer went to stand behind Taffy and read the coordinates on the board. She mentally made quick calculations. They were about a day and a half from Pharm if they continued at their current speed. She quietly instructed Taffy to increase the speed to warp six. This was Pharmac territory, but she only knew Hemheri and would hate to encounter other Pharmac who weren’t aware of their pending arrival. The quicker they got to Pharm the better for them.
Hem’s head jerked up. She looked around her and found her daughters blinking at her in surprise. She came to her feet.
“I believe your mother just crossed into Pharmac space.”
Elyst was the first to jump to her feet, her blue eyes sparkling with excitement. “She’s really coming?”
“I told you she would,” Hem said with a grin. “It seems my threat worked.”
Elyst broke out in a silly dance and was quickly joined by Kalt. Hem shook her head at the un-Pharmac behaviour. This deviation was surely a result of their human side, but Hem loved to see her daughters’ humanity surface like this. She’s learning a lot about humans from them and she had to admit that they seemed to be more fun-loving than other Pharmac youths their age. She looked at Nael.
“And you, Nael? Are you not happy that your mother will be arriving soon?”
The dark head lifted and stormy blue eyes met Hem’s head on. “How do you know she’s on her way, mother? It could perhaps only be a Terran delegation sent to represent her.”
Hem took a deep breath. The girl was a pessimist at her best, but she had raised her girls with the assurance that no question is ever a stupid one. Nael’s question held merit, because the other two froze in their dancing routine.
“I know she’s coming because when you were conceived I’ve established a link with her. I can sense her anywhere in the galaxy.”
Nael still didn’t look convinced and her doubts were beginning to take seed in her sisters’ minds too. Both Kalt and Elyst were now looking at her with suspicious eyes. Hem waved them closer.
“Come and see for yourself.” They hesitated. “Come.”
When they were close enough, she bundled them against her wide chest and closing her eyes, opened her emotions. She heard one of the girls gasp, but she waited until they had sensed the delicate human thread that was wound around her heart. The closer Palmer came, the stronger the thread became and the stronger her heartbeat became. When she finally let them go, she found them staring at her with astonishment. Her girls were extremely intelligent and Hem knew already what would come next.
“You…you love her,” Nael said incredulously. “We could sense it.”
Hem shrugged, not in the least trouble by their observation. “I should’ve had this talk with you a long time ago. The only reason why I’ve held back all these years is because you are part Human.” She saw the confusion in their eyes and quickly continued. “As you grew older your human part began to surface.” Hem gently brushed over Nael’s cheek. “When a Pharmac produces offspring, she forms a bond with her mate. That bond is what humans call love. Humans on the other hand do not necessarily love the one they produce offspring with. I wasn’t sure if you’d be able to relate to this part of your heritage.”
Elyst pressed her head against Hem’s chest, listening to mother’s heartbeat. “How is it possible that you can still love her after all these years? Is that the reason why you’ve never bonded with anyone?”
“She gave me you and for that I will love her forever.”
Nael shook her head slowly. “It’s too complicated. I don’t think I will ever allow myself to fall in love with a human.”
Hem chuckled softly. “Believe me the heart does not take kindly to being commanded. It is perhaps the most treacherous organ in our bodies.” She walked back to her desk and looked down at the tablet. “Now we need to finish your history lesson before you have to leave for training. I believe we were discussing the Inter-Galactic War of 54778 and the formation of Galactic powerhouses.”
The girls moaned, but reached for their padds.
An hour later the girls had packed up and left the room to go get ready for their training. Hem remained, her eyes staring unseeingly out at the room.
The first few weeks after she’d given birth to the girls she’d dreamt of Palmer coming to Pharm. Every time the door opened and one of the servants entered to bring her food or drink, she’d looked up hopefully always thinking that one day the face peering around the door would be Palmer’s. But it never happened. Palmer’s absence made it abundantly clear that the human felt nothing for her. The absence of a bond was a screaming statement of Palmer’s lack of feeling for her.
Hem took a deep breath, pushing back the bitterness.
She actually came. That’s all that mattered.
Return to the Academy