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.
Special thanks to me my beta, rleef.
Archiving : This work is copy written and should not be posted anywhere else without the writer’s expressed permission.
Feedback: Constructive criticism is welcome, so feel free to drop a line or two at firstname.lastname@example.org or send me a friend request on Facebook.
Hem knew she was close to losing control. The blood in her veins burned like a wildfire as her rapidly beating heart pushed it through her body. Desperate for self-control, she lowered her gaze to the pale face of the woman who hung limp in her arms. She was a few minutes away from Moser when a terrifyingly choking feeling came over her. First she thought it might be one of her daughters, but after a nanosecond she discarded her initial thought. The feeling was too powerful and too foreign to be coming from her daughters. Not once since she’d borne them had her daughters had reason to be anxious. No one in this universe would be stupid enough to invoke her wrath by threatening her daughters. The only other person whose emotions she could sense was Palmer.
Now as she gazed down at the pale face, she felt the anger, which only moments ago had threatened to surface, simmer down. Her arms felt strangely heavy and it had nothing to do with the human’s weight. Instead, it was the burden of responsibility of how important the being in her arms was, which weighted her down. She slowly lifted her gaze and met the guilty eyes of her daughter.
“What did you do?”
Nael swallowed hard. “She thought I was you and when I turned around she fainted.”
Cradling Palmer closer to her chest, Hem subjected her visibly nervous daughter to a piercing stare. Nael wasn’t vindictive, but Hem knew her daughter wasn’t very keen to the idea of meeting her mother. Hem turned away and out of the corner of her eye she could see Nael’s body sag with relief. She suddenly became aware of the other people surrounding her and slowly raked her gaze over each of them. There was a woman, who from her features and age could only be Palmer’s mother. Another woman with the same blonde hair, but hazel eyes, Hem concluded could be a sister or some close relative to Palmer. A powerfully built woman with dark hair and green eyes, holding an infant, was so out of place that Hem couldn’t figure out where she fitted in. Hem’s eyes lingered long on the last human, a petite redhead. She knew who she was.
They were all staring at her, their expression ranging from panic to outright fright. Hem nodded in their direction where they stood bundled together, as if they were trying to draw courage from each other’s nearness.
She cradled Palmer closer. “I need to take care of Captain Middleton, but I would like it if we could meet a little later for a more official introduction.”
Without a backward glance, Hem stomped off. She was halfway down the hallway which led to her private wing, when she realized that she had no idea which room had been prepared for Palmer. Her footsteps faltered for a moment, before they purposely continued to her suite.
She kicked the door open and walked over to the large bed where she gently deposited Palmer. Straightened up, she looked down at the unconscious woman and then at her trembling hands. When her eyes moved back to Palmer, Hem took a deep breath. Her eyes hungrily moved over the pale features. To have Palmer in bed again was one of her greatest fantasies. The Pharmac didn’t sleep much and could go for extended periods of time without any sleep, but those few times, that Hem found herself in bed, she’d been haunted by memories of the blue-eyed Starship captain. At times it was so intense that she’d considered taking a bed mate, but at the same time she was aware that doing that would only treat the heat but never douse the raging fire in her veins.
“Where is she?” a sharp voice called out. “What have you done with my daughter?”
Hem turned around to find the older blonde, staring back at her with blazing blue eyes, her hands on her hips. For a moment, Hem was tempted to snap at the woman for entering into her domain without her consent, but just as quickly the urge left her. She was a mother too and would’ve acted the same if her daughter was carried off by some stranger. With a slow bow, Hem stepped aside so the woman could see her daughter. The smaller woman pushed past her, fearless like a Juilkler mother guarding her child. Hem watched, as the woman climbed onto the large bed to take her daughter’s head and placed it in her lap. The woman gently stroked Palmer’s hair.
Hem moved closer and held her hand out to the distraught woman. “I apologise for my earlier impoliteness. My name is Hemheri.”
The woman hesitated for instant before she held out her hand. Hem was immediately impressed by the strong grip.
“I’m Sandra,” she said evenly and retracted her hand to wave it in the direction of the door. Hem followed her hand and found the three other humans bundled in the doorway. “The other blonde is my youngest daughter, Taffy. Standing next to her is her wife, Mara and their son, Joshua.”
Hem walked over to them and held out her hand to the two women. “Welcome once again.” She slowly turned to the petite redhead. “Senator Keane, it’s a pleasure to welcome you to Pharm.”
Hem noticed a brief flash of surprise in the woman’s eyes before they became unreadable again. Hem almost smiled at the woman’s initial surprise. In her capacity as the Pharmac it was her duty to know each and every head of the different realms. She was sure that the Senator knew about her too.
“Thank you, Principal Hemheri,” the woman said in a deep, throaty voice.
Hem studied the woman for a moment longer. The Senator’s diminutive figure was extremely misleading for the woman possessed an incredibly powerful aura. As she studied the woman, she was aware that woman was doing the same, with an unflinching gaze. Hem was impressed by the woman’s spirit.
A soft groan sounded and they all turned their attention to the bed. Hem quickly made her way to the side of the bed.
Palmer lay unmoving for a short moment as she waited for all her senses to kick in before she opened her eyes. She was lying flat on her back with someone’s lap cushioning her head. At the familiar flowery scent of lavender, she knew it could only be her mother. There were no other distinctive sounds and movements.
“Yes, honey,” came the soft reply.
“Did I faint?”
“Yes, you did, honey.”
Palmer slowly opened her eyes and found her mother’s eyes. Sandra gently cupped Palmer’s cheek, her eyes dark with concern.
“How’re you feeling?”
“Like someone who fainted,” Palmer tried to joke to reassure her mother. Her eyes moved from her mother’s to take in the other three people standing at the side of the bed. Senator Keane had an almost pinched looked on her face, whereas Taffy and Mara visibly looked shaken. Mistaking their rigid countenance for concern, Palmer quickly reassured them too. “I’m fine.”
“We…we know. I mean you look…look fine,” Taffy stammered, her eyes nervously fluttering to the other side of the bed. With a slight frown, Palmer turned her head, following Taffy’s gaze. What she saw made her surge into a sitting position.
Standing with her hands behind her back, the black and gold eyes piercing, was Hem. The woman’s powerful aura filled the room, enlarging her impressive figure. Palmer was again struck by how tall and beautiful she was. Speaking of tall and beautiful? Everything rushed back. She saw those familiar haughty features swim before her with the unexpected bright blue eyes. Palmer swallowed hard.
“I saw her,” she whispered as her eyes roved over the same haughty features of the mother of her children. “She…she looks just like you.”
Hem’s lips twitched. “I know. I’m afraid that’s not where the similarities end.”
Palmer gave a weak grin. “I suspected as much. Where are they?”
“You want to meet them…now?”
Palmer felt her heart began to race at the prospect of seeing her daughters. She had this overwhelming urge to see them suddenly.
“Yes, please,” she wheezed softly.
Hem eyes darkened, the golden streaks catching flame. “Are you sure you’re well enough to meet them. You will not faint again?”
Palmer quickly shook her head. “I am fine. I want to meet them. Please.”
“As you wish.”
Palmer watched as Hem placed her hand over her heart and closed her eyes. A moment later she opened her eyes again.
“They should be here shortly.”
Palmer’s eyes trekked from Hem to her mother. Sandra gently smiled back at her. Comforted by her mother’s presence and quiet strength, Palmer took a deep breath, mentally preparing herself for what was to come.
Hem looked on quietly as Palmer fortified herself for the meeting with her daughters. She had to forcibly hold herself back from touching Palmer to reassure her. Palmer will need to establish her link with her daughters on her own. That was the way of the Pharmac. The same was to be said of her daughters. Even now she could sense their trepidation at meeting their mother.
“Are you sure you’re ready for that now, honey?” Sandra asked with deep concern.
Palmer looked at Hem, her eyes giving away her fear. Hem moved to sit on the bed.
“We can wait if you want,” she said quietly. “The girls will understand.”
Palmer swung her feet of the side of the large bed. “I want to meet them…please.”
For a moment fear, so foreign, yet unmistakable, filled Hem as she slowly came upright. She took a deep breath to calm herself before she gave Palmer a warning stare.
“Don’t hurt them. They are mine and I will protect them at all cost.” Hem almost groaned when an unexpected sharp pain cleaved through her. With Palmer in such close proximity to her and the girls, her emotions were much stronger and its intensity almost crippling. Palmer’s eyes were awash with tears.
“Is that what you think of me?”
Hem just stared at Palmer, confused but also comforted by the pain in Palmer’s eyes. “Please, don’t hurt them.” She knew with that she’d just revealed her weakness to everyone in the room.
Palmer sniffed softly. “I promise I will not.”
“Also try your best not to faint. For you will alarm them,” Hem said, injecting a sliver of amusement into her severe warning.
Palmer wiped her eyes as she came to feet and looked up at Hem. “I promise I will not faint.”
The door opened, admitting her three daughters. Elyst and Kalt were the first to enter, followed by a still guilty-looking Nael. The girls scanned the room and Hem knew the moment their eyes fell on their mother. The moment was indescribable. The girls with the exception of Nael stared, as a collective gasp sounded from the humans. Hem’s gaze quickly switched to Palmer. What she saw made her move closer to the human, who was swaying dangerously.
“Hem,” Palmer said in a broken whisper as her eyes filled up again.
Hem gestured for the girls to come closer and they moved as a unit to come and stand at her side, their eyes still fixed on Palmer. They press against her side and at that same moment, Hem felt Palmer also pressing against her from the other side. The emotions of both parties raged through Hem, causing havoc with her own senses. From her daughter she sensed a mixture of fear, awe and excitement. Palmer was a different story. The blonde radiated shock, pain and remorse.
Elyst, who was the closest to Hem, peered around Hem at Palmer.
“Greetings…mother,” she said in small voice filled with so much insecurity. The room had been quiet since the girls’ entrance, but now it was filled with a chorus of sniffles. Hem ignored everyone else in the room but her daughters and their mother. She stiffened in alarm when Palmer suddenly doubled over and a raw sob tore from her. The girls pressed closer to her.
Palmer had never felt so eviscerated in her life. She’d been shot at and stabbed a few times in the line of duty. But nothing came close to this moment. The soft, anxious, melodious voice of a girl had torn through vital organs like no blade or phaser blast ever could.
The moment the girls’ entered the room, Palmer lost all ability to breath. With the exception of the dark girl she’d met earlier, the other two were exact replicas of herself. Albeit a few inches taller than her, they had the same blonde hair and sky blue eyes. Even the little worry line on their foreheads was too familiar. It was like looking at herself in a mirror.
Heeding Hem’s warning of not alarming the girls, Palmer tried to keep the burgeoning feeling of completeness inside her. It threatened to burst from her lips as it thickened her blood and made her heart swell. But when the angelic looking girl spoke, sounding so nervous of the possible rejection at Palmer’s hand, it did it in.
Scared she would burst if she didn’t let it out, that pressure inside made her stomach clench painfully and as she bent over, it came out in the rawest sound she’d ever expelled. Unable to look upon the perfection she’d help create, Palmer shut her eyes as she let out the pain and guilt which had pervaded her body, the moment her daughters entered the room. They were so beautiful, so angelic and each of them pulled a string inside her that she didn’t even knew existed. It was as if her heart had split, the pain so bittersweet. Even before the girl had spoken, Palmer knew already. They belonged to her. Not because she helped to conceive them or that they looked like her. It was inside of her—in her heart. Her heart screamed at the knowledge that these beautiful creatures were, and forever will be, part of her. It was as if her core had opened a door that had been shut for so long to allow them entry.
But the pain of them burrowing deep into the true essence of her was too much to bear. It tore through her, prior priorities were roughly pushed aside, some thoughtlessly discarded as three warm beings pushed by them to settle in a place that rightfully was theirs. Palmer didn’t even realize that she had sunken to her knees as her body physically adjusted to more emotions taking over. Gentle hands lifted her and she was pressed against a soft body.
“Mother…?” It was that devastatingly beautiful voice again. Through her ragged sobs, she felt a wet face pressing into her neck. Palmer pulled back to look up into overflowing blue eyes. With hands that shook wildly, she reached out to cradle the beautiful face. Another set of arms closed around her as she felt her body being transferred. An identical set of wet blue eyes peered into hers.
“Mother.” The word held such wonder, such longing.
They were killing her and they weren’t even aware of it. Palmer pressed her face into the soft, convulsing neck of her daughter as if she’d been doing it all her life. She was unable to speak, the emotions coursing through her too much. The arms around Palmer tightened as she was cradled tenderly. Just as she wanted to burrow deeper into the love that enveloped her, another set of arms pulled at her.
Through bleary eyes she made out the strong, haughty features of her darker daughter—her very own replica of Hem. The blue eyes were dry, but behind their luminance, Palmer could read the same pain she’d felt when she’d first laid eyes on her offspring. For a long moment their eyes held. A deep sob tore through Palmer as she realized she was the cause of the pain in her daughter’s eyes. Palmer burrowed into the strong arms.
“Forgive me,” she gasped.
“Mother.” The word was whispered in her ear, an acceptance.
It destroyed what little resolve she had at not breaking down completely. She needed to be grounded. She needed something more…something that had been so elusive for all these years.
She needed Hem.
“Hem,” she croaked, her arms still fastened around the neck of her daughter. She couldn’t break down in her daughter’s arms. Hem was a different story. She’d broken down before in Hem’s arms and that was what she needed now. Only Hem could find all the small pieces of her as they were scattered all over the place.
“I’m here, dura,” came the steady, strong voice. Palmer lifted her head from her daughter’s broad shoulder and met Hem’s black and gold gaze. She wasn’t sure, but she could swear that those black and gold eyes were shining a little too brightly. Was Hem crying? She held out her arms and was immediately clasped in a strong, sure embrace. Her daughters’ were great substitutes, but they will never be able to bring her even close to the feeling she experienced in the arms of their deadly mother.
“Oh, Hem,” she muttered, her voice raw from all the crying. “They’re mine.”
“Yes, dura,” Hem murmured in Palmer’s neck, close to her ear. “They’re ours.”
Palmer felt Hem’s arms tightened around her. “Yes, they are.”
The pride she heard in the deep voice made Palmer lift her head from where it was buried in Hem’s neck. Those peculiar eyes were soft as they stared into hers. “I’m so sorry, Hem, Please forgive me.”
“You didn’t know.”
Hem’s lips curved into a small smile. “Not necessarily.”
How do I tell you that you didn’t love me when we made them?
Instead, Hem cradled Palmer closer. Even through this entire emotional rollercoaster ride, she had been acutely aware of the other people in the room. The humans were crying now, as were her daughters. She needed to be alone with Palmer if they had to talk.
“Girls, could you show our guests to their sleeping quarters? I would like a private moment with your mother.”
Palmer’s head lifted from her shoulder as she turned to look at her daughters. Hem quietly watched her face as Palmer watched her daughters. The look of wonder on the blonde’s face made Hem smile faintly and her heart swell with pride. Her little blue-eyed angels seem to have enthralled their mother. Pharmacs are by nature beautiful, but the moment Hem laid eye on her new-born babies, she’d known that they were the most beautiful creatures in the universe. Only a mother would look upon her offspring like that—and Palmer did. Her earlier fear of Palmer not accepting her daughters had evaporated the moment the girls had shuffled their shorter mother between them, acknowledging her.
Hem gently slid Palmer down her body to her feet. She almost laughed at the stunned look on Palmer’s face when she realized that for the first time in five minutes her feet were touching ground again. The blue eyes quickly swung to her retreating backs of her daughters. When they met Hem’s again, they were wide in wonder.
“They are very strong.”
“Palmer,” Sandra said softly and Hem watched as mother and daughter embraced.
“Oh honey, they’re gorgeous,” Sandra gushed, her eyes wet.
“And prefect,” Palmer whispered back.
Hem grinned proudly. That was the shortest, most accurate description of her daughters.
Sandra’s face was wet with tears as she pulled out of the embrace. Luminous blue eyes peered at Hem from under wet lashes.
“Thank you.” Not waiting for a reply, the older blonde left the suite.
Hem was relieved for she didn’t know how to respond to such gratitude especially if she felt she was the one blessed in this regard. She looked at Palmer and found her looking around the suite. Unexpected desire flooded Hem’s system as the presence of Palmer in her suite, alone and looking slightly mussed, registered.
“Where am I?”
“In my suite,” Hem said evenly. Palmer turned around to face her. Hem’s insides churned as Palmer’s blue eyes ran over her body.
“Why…why is your outfit…” Palmer’s eyes widened in panic. “That’s phaser burns. What happened?”
Hem shrugged. “I had to see to business earlier.”
“Business?” Palmer’s eyes darkened. “Do all your business dealings entail you getting shot at?”
“No, not always.”
For a long moment they stared at each other in silence. Palmer was the first too look away. She went to sit on the bed, her hands lying idle in her lap. “Why didn’t you tell me about them?”
“Not sure you’d want to know about them,” Hem answered truthfully.
Palmer’s eyes shot full of tears. “Hem…”
Hem watched helplessly as Palmer sat looking at her, tears streaking down her face. Palmer dropped her face in her hands and her shoulders shook as she sobbed. It hurt too much to see the woman she loved in such distress and Hem went to sit on the bed next to Palmer. Not touching her, she simply sat there listening to the heart wrenching sobs.
“I never told them who the eldest amongst them was. I wanted them to grow up giving each other equal respect and to let them grow naturally into the positions they feel they deserve to fill.”
Hem noticed that Palmer’s sobbing lessened slightly.
“I find it particularly interesting that Kalt, who is the eldest, acts like the youngest. She’s quiet and reserved and always allows the other two to lead the way. Nael, on the other hand, is the youngest and acts like the eldest. Her sisters value her opinion very much and since they were small, would follow Nael everywhere she led. I sometimes wonder what the other two would say if they were to find out that Nael was the last born.”
A soft snort, almost like a smothered laugh, came from Palmer. Hem smiled warmly. At least Palmer had stopped crying now.
Palmer felt the numbing pain recede slowly as she listened to Hem’s deep voice telling her about her daughters. At hearing that Nael was the youngest; Palmer couldn’t stop the snuffle that escaped. She could only imagine the shock and disgust on those beautiful haughty features of Little Hem, as she’d dubbed her stoic daughter, if she’d found out she was the baby.
“At the risk of sounding biased, I have to admit that our daughters are wonderful. Considering my position, I’d expected them to abuse the advantage they have over the other youngsters their age. But they didn’t, not once.”
A soft smile come over Palmer’s face as she sat quietly listening to Hem’s hypnotic voice as she talked about their daughters. Hem had called them ‘ours’ earlier. Palmer wondered vaguely at the feeling of inexplicable fullness inside her as she got to know her daughters. Was this what Taffy and Mara felt about Joshua? How could she have ever thought that she could be indifferent to her daughters? It felt as if her body has been taken over by someone else. This new Palmer’s heart burned when she thought of her girls. It seems the Ice Queen was melting from the inside out. The image of her blue-eyed girls flashed before her eyes.
They were so beautiful.
A thought sudden struck, the startling truth causing her head to jerk up, meeting Hem’s eyes. Hem’s eyebrows shot up. No matter what anyone else thought, they were conceived with love. What she’d felt in Hem’s arms that night all those years ago had been the closest to love. That overwhelming feeling of belonging and trust had never manifested in any of her other relationships. She recalled the wonder in Hem’s eyes when, in-between frantic love-making, they’d look into each other’s eyes, talking quietly. At that very moment, Hem would have conceived already. Palmer felt pain cleave through her.
“Oh, Hem…” Palmer moaned.
“Why did it have to happen like this? Why did you leave me the morning after?” The questions spilled from her lips just as fresh tears streaked down her cheeks. “Why?”
Hem’s eyes darkened, the golden flecks pushing the inky darkness of her eyes to the background. The alien pushed to her feet and stood looking down at her with a strange look in her eyes. For a moment Palmer was scared that Hem wouldn’t answer her. Hem clenched her fists tightly. Palmer could actually feel the light, almost tender atmosphere give way to Hem’s irritation.
“I didn’t leave you that morning.” Hem nostrils flared. “I went to the kitchen to get us breakfast. You were gone when I returned.”
Palmer blinked rapidly. “You didn’t leave?”
“No, I didn’t.” Hem’s jaw tensed slightly. “I thought you left.”
Palmer came to feet to stand before Hem, looking up into Hem’s flashing eyes. “Then it was a simple misunderstanding.” She was tempted to touch Hem, but the rigid stance of the woman didn’t give the impression that any physical closeness would be appreciated. Palmer wiped at her eyes. She can’t remember ever crying this much. Throwing caution to the wind, she reached for Hem’s clenched fist and gently cradled it between her smaller hands.
Hem’s face was still cast in stone as she looked straight ahead, her jaw clenched tightly. Palmer was slightly puzzled at Hem’s behaviour. Good and well, she had the right to be angry at Palmer for having left her all those years ago, but Hem looked hurt.
“I’m sorry, Hem.”
The dark head turned and expressionless black and gold eyes met hers. “It was a misunderstanding as you said.”
Palmer cradled the large hand to her chest. “Yes, it was.”
There was a soft knock on the door and Hem cleared her throat softly before calling for the person to enter. An attractive Pharmac entered and Hem left Palmer side to talk to the woman. Palmer couldn’t stop her eyes from following the Pharmac as she slowly made her way across the wide expanse of the room to where the other woman stood. Her eyes took in everything and it reminded her of the first time she saw Hem in that smoke-filled bar. Only this time, she could sense the powerful aura of the woman. Her eyes slid to the woman Hem talked to and a small frown formed between her eyes. Was she imaging it or was the woman standing a little too close to Hem? Hem seemed not to be bothered by the woman’s nearness as she listened attentively to what the other woman had to say.
Come on, Palmer, what are you doing, Palmer chastised herself. Her coming to Pharm was strictly for the sake of meeting her daughters. She had no right or an interest to develop anything deeper with Hem. She quickly turned away from Hem and instead studied the room.
It was huge, but not very luxurious. The only furniture in the room was the bed, a desk and a chair. A door led out to what Palmer suspect is a balcony and another to what could possibly be a bathroom.
“Supper will be served in a short while,” Hem said behind her and Palmer quickly turned to face her. She studied Hem’s face carefully for any signs of her earlier distress, but found none. The Pharmac looked calm and composed as she regarded Palmer.
“I will probably have to leave now.”
“No.” Hem indicated the room. “You don’t have to if you don’t want to. You can have my suite for the duration of your stay.”
Palmer quickly looked up into Hem’s eyes. “And you? Where will you sleep?”
“We, Pharmacs, don’t need a lot of sleep. I can find someplace else to rest if I need to.” Hem’s eyes gaze was intense. “It would please me greatly if you were to consider my offer.”
Palmer almost blurted out ‘why’. Instead she looked around the room before she returned her gaze to Hem. If even possible, Hem’s eyes were more intense—almost hypnotizing. Palmer swallowed hard, remembering that she was supposed to answer Hem. But what was the question again?
“Do you accept, Palmer?” Hem asked softly.
Palmer nodded slowly. “On one condition.”
A sable brow lifted. “Yes.”
“That you will come here if you need to rest. The room is big enough for both of us.” Not to speak about the bed.
Hem cocked her head to the side. “There’s only one bed.”
Palmer felt a blush ride up her neck. “I’m sure we can make a plan.”
“I accept,” Hem said firmly. “Shall we go for supper?”
“Yes,” Palmer said almost breathlessly. She needed to put space between her and Hem for a moment for it seems the Pharmac’s nearness were fatal to her brain cells. She was actually more relieved to get a quick break when Hem said she needed to change out of her ruined outfit before joining them for the meal.
The moment Hem entered the large dining hall she searched out Palmer. She felt a slight irritation when she noticed that the captain was seated further down the table, sandwiched between Elyst and Kalt. The other end of the table was taken up by the quiet, alert Senator. Hem met the woman’s gaze and held it. In that regard at least she was happy that the seating arrangement considered the woman’s position. On Hem’s immediate right were Nael, followed by Sandra, Taffy and Mara.
Hem turned to the table adjacent to theirs where her ten-man advisory committee sat. She acknowledged their presence with a curt nod before she took her seat at the head of the table. Heaving platters of meat, fruits, breads and steamed vegetables were placed on the table. Hem watched with amusement at the expressions on the humans’ faces as they took in the abundance of food. In accordance to their customs, Hem held out her goblet and it was immediately filled by one of the servers. She held it up and waited until all eyes were fixed on her.
“I officially welcome our guests to the Pharm and anticipate that your stay with us will be a great learning experience of our cultures and that we could in turn benefit greatly from your culture and expertise.” Hem’s eyes swung to Palmer and she felt a warmth infuse her body as she met the clear blue gaze. “On behalf of my daughters, I welcome you in our midst, Captain Middleton.” I have no idea how I will deal with letting you go again.
She brought the goblet to her lips and drained the sweet tasting brew. When she held up the empty goblet, a loud crash sounded as the Pharmacs in attendance slammed their fists on the table. The unexpected sound made the five humans jerk in surprise, with Sandra clutching her heart. Hem flashed an apologetic smile at the wide-eyed humans—even the human baby seemed to gape at her.
“I apologise for not forewarning you.”
“Well, I have its advantage, I believe,” Sandra huffed. “Why not have us all keel over from a heart attack and you can have more to eat in the end.”
“Mother!” Palmer and Taffy warned simultaneously.
“What?” Sandra hissed back.
Hem’s eyes swung rapidly between the three glaring women. A soft chuckle drew her gaze to Nael whose eyes were twinkling with merriment. For a moment Hem was not sure what stumped her more, the bizarre exchange between the Middleton women or the fact that her normally stoic daughter was actually displaying humour in such a public setting. In the end she settled for the familiarity of being a host. She signalled for the meal to commence. One of the servers approached her and began to fill up Hem’s plate. From her vantage point at the head of the table, Hem could study Palmer discreetly. A beaming Elyst and Kalt pointed out dishes to their mother as they coerced her into trying them. Looking at them, Hem was slightly taken aback by how alike the three seemed as they spoke quietly, their heads close together.
The Pharmacs at the table gave the guests first choice to serve after which they piled their plates with food. Hem almost burst out at the comical expressions on their human guests’ face as they considered the heaping plates of food.
“How do they survive on so little,” Ahalpa, who was seated on Hem’s immediate right, asked with a puzzled frown. “That will not even tide me over for an hour.”
Hem chuckled as she scanned the modest servings of their human guests. “At least we don’t have to fear that they will deplete our food stocks.”
The evening meal turned out to be most enjoyable even though Hem rarely partook in the conversations which took place around the table. The Senator, Kalt and Mara were having a quiet discussion at the other end of the table whereas a self-conscious Nael was constantly subjected to the coddling of her grandmother. Nael wasn’t a very patient eater and on more than one occasion a bit of sauce splattered on her chin. An attentive Sandra was quick to grab a napkin and wiped it away to the acute discomfiture of Nael. A beaming, loving smile from Sandra however seem to relax her unsettled granddaughter quickly until the moment passed.
As was a habit now, Hem’s eyes strayed back to Palmer. The blonde was carefully chewing on a grape as she listened to an animated Elyst. It struck Hem again how beautiful Palmer was. Completely relaxed and with a small amused smile on her lips, Palmer was even more beautiful than the girl Hem approached eighteen years ago.
With Pendulum being afforded the designation of no-man’s land, Hem had chosen it to be her off-planet base. From Pendulum she was able to keep her finger on the universe’s pulse. The base also served as a place for her to recover on days when her duties seemed to threaten to drain every last bit of her immense power.
Eighteen years ago was one such day.
Returning from the Lingni planet, where an army of elusive cannibalistic aliens had severely butchered the local population, Hem was emotionally drained by the massacre she had witness. The situation had called on her to discard all humane notions as she ruthlessly dealt with the murderers. With the hope of regaining her equilibrium, she had stopped at Pendulum.
That night in the bar was the first time in almost two months of being cooped up in her fortress that she ventured out. Sitting in a dark corner of the bar, she immediately spotted the five humans as they entered. It wasn’t her first encounter with humans, but their presence was somehow soothing. Despite being humanoid in physiology, Hem never fooled herself in believing she was human. No human could do the things she was capable of. Humans were genteel and warm creatures and she’d long forgotten what it felt to feel like that. In more instances than she cared to remember, her duty had diluted and finally drained that aspect of who she was. She had watched the humans as they talked and joked and laughed—all those things she craved to do at that moment but which her conscience and dejection couldn’t allow her to muster.
The slender blonde girl had captured her attention when she took on a bet to finish ten glasses of the potent alien drink and won. Before Hem knew what she was doing she was halfway across the bar toward the beaming blonde. She recalled feeling as if something beyond her was steering her in the direction of the human girl. Hem was pleasantly surprised and greatly relieved to find that the girl didn’t recognize her. It was the single most enjoyable evening Hem ever had. Palmer was simply beautiful, warm, wonderful and funny. Hem stood no chance.
Their lovemaking was mind-blowing.
Never before has she wanted another being as much as she had wanted Palmer. And never before had she been so scared. The urgency of their desire was wild and bruising and on a few occasions Hem was scared she might have hurt the fragile human in her arms. Palmer brought an intoxicating mixture of naiveté, coyness, and playfulness to their coupling. More than once their frantic movements ended them up on the floor with Palmer not letting up as she screamed for more. As fulfilling and pleasurable as their joining was, there was that one moment where Hem knew Palmer took more than what was on offer.
She took whatever was left of Hem’s heart.
They were resting after a particular lively session, waiting for their souls to return to their bodies. Palmer, sweaty and deliciously rumpled, crawled onto Hem’s chest and looked deep into Hem’s eyes. With hands still shaking slightly, Palmer had brushed Hem’s soaked tresses from her forehead. Their eyes held and for a magnificent moment, their eyes conversed. Overwhelmed, Hem had closed her eyes and only opened them again to the sensation of small, achingly tender kisses being dropped all over her face.
A soft chuckle coming from the other end of the table jerked Hem from her musing. She was shocked to find that she was still staring at Palmer and that Palmer was also staring back at her. Gazing into the puzzled blue eyes, a numbing sadness filled Hem. She was tired of being alone. As much as she loved her daughters, she needed more—wanted more.
She wanted to belong to Palmer.
Confronted by a truth she’d kept hidden for so long, Hem pushed away from the table and stood. All eyes turned to her, aggravating her already frazzled nerves.
“Mother?” She heard the concern in Nael voice as the girl too came to her feet. But Hem’s eyes were fixed on Palmer paling face.
“Hem?” Palmer said in an anxious tone.
Taking a deep steadying breath, Hem nodded curtly and with long purposeful strides left the dining hall.
Return to the Academy