Same Difference

Stein Willard © 2015

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

Archiving : This work is copy written and should not be posted anywhere else without the writer's expressed permission.

Feedback: Constructive criticism is greatly appreciated, so feel free to drop a line or two at steinwillard80@gmail.com or sent me a friend request on Facebook .

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Chapter 23

 

Cilla sat on the bed, her chin touching her chest.

She never cried.

Not even when she found out that her mother had rejected her soon after her birth. In a society where boys were shunned and raised like contaminated creatures in quarantine. Once they reached sixteen, they were transported to the Basque border. The Basque were always eager to accept these rejects with open arms and raise them like their own.

She was born asexual.

Neither girl nor boy, but both. Her mother had left her in the medical suite after her birth and disappeared. She was raised by the Council. At age ten, they chose a gender for her. The first choice Cilla had ever made in her life, was to join the security forces as soon as she was eligible to do so. It was there, that she had met Yonne. She had followed Yonne everywhere since. Yonne always made the difficult choices and Cilla followed her blindly.

For the first time in a very long time, Cilla had made another choice, a difficult one. Her heart had chosen a mate and Cilla was going to follow her heart. Only for her to end up where she was now.

Rejected … again!

The hair on the back of her neck prickled, alerting her that she wasn't alone.

“Why are you still here?” The same impotent rage surfaced. She was so angry and yet she couldn't do anything about it. She was never ever going to lift her hand to Espert. It hurt her too much to see the other woman wounded. Her acute hearing picked up the soft, hesitant treads as the woman came towards her. She was surprised when she saw the small feet coming to stand right before her. Cilla slowly lifted her head. Espert's face was wet with tears. Cilla was baffled by the pain in Espert's eyes. Wasn't she supposed to be the one hurting? Her eyes widened slightly when Espert stepped even closer, levelling Cilla's gaze with her chest. Then, to Cilla's shock, Espert pushed her fingers into her hair and pulled Cilla's face against her chest. Cilla sat quietly, hyper aware that her face was pressed against Espert soft bosom. She inhaled deeply, catching the subtle spicy smell that was such a familiar part of Espert.

“I want you more than anything in the universe.” Espert's voice broke “But I'm scared of what this will mean for you.” Cilla tried to lift her head from its cushioned resting place, but Espert held her even closer. “You are more Borquois than anyone on this ship, the Director included. You can't be mine and still be a Borquois.”

Mine . Cilla swallowed hard at the sound and the ensuing heat the possessive noun spread through her body. Is it possible that she could finally belong somewhere? Or even to someone? She lifted her head and stared up in Espert's haunted eyes.

“Will you allow me to choose?”

Espert blinked. “Is there even a choice to be made?”

oOo

 

She wanted a choice.

Espert waited, with bated breath. When Cilla only stared at her, she wondered if, perhaps, she had heard wrong.

“Yes, there is a choice.” Cilla's eyes turned a shade lighter. “You.”

For a moment, Espert could only stare at Cilla. “I don't understand.”

Cilla rose slowly, her body brushing against Espert's until she was at her full height, towering over Espert. “I choose you.”

She had heard right! Espert swallowed. “Do you know what this means?”

Cilla smiled faintly. “I…”

The sharp whine interrupted Cilla, just as the room was suddenly engulfed in a bright red haze.

Adjutant Cilla.”

Cilla touched her earpiece, immediately in Adjutant mode. “I'm here?”

“The armada caught up with us. The Avion fleet are engaging them as we speak.”

“Ready our fliers. I'll meet them in the main hangar.”

Espert turned and rushed out of the bedroom, only to be stopped before she reached the door. Cilla's eyes were flinty. “We'll talk afterwards.”

“That's if we survive this…” She couldn't get herself to finish the sentence. Cilla was planning on going out there. She might not return.

“I will come back.” Cilla's voice was sharp and confident. “I'm coming back to you. Wait for me.”

Espert felt fresh tears burning behind her eyelids. She's coming back to her. “I'll be waiting.”

Cilla nodded curtly. “Be safe.” Cilla was blur as she left the quarters. Espert made her way to the medical bay. She couldn't help but think how strange it was that every time she found herself alone with Cilla, some kind of an emergency came up.

The universe seems to be conspiring against the two of them. But it should try much harder to keep her from meeting up with Cilla later.

oOo

Yonne was almost halfway dressed when Noor sat up in bed. Her body was still quaking from her latest orgasm. The state of the bed was undisputable proof of the torrent passion that had been spent in the past two hours. Yonne had been feasting her body, never letting up. Who would've thought that a novice could so effortlessly top their master? She shivered slightly as her mind replayed a particularly heated scene. A soft groan stole from her lips. Yonne's head turned to her. Their eyes held for a moment, before Yonne looked away.

“I need to go. The ship needs me.”

Noor nodded. “I understand.” She watched as Yonne jerked on her boots and wondered if this interruption would forever sever the fragile link that they had established over the past few hours. Yonne, having finished zipping up her tunic, turned back to the bed. For a moment, she simply looked at Noor. Then after a moment of hesitation, and to Noor's surprise, she leaned over and planted a soft, lingering kiss on Noor's lips.

“I'll return once this emergency has been dealt with.” She was out of the bedroom and a few seconds later, the main door the slid open and close. With a soft sigh and a wide smile, Noor fell back on the bed, her arms spread wide. Well, it would seem that all wasn't lost. After reveling in the warmth of the moment, she swung her legs off the bed and began hunting down her scattered clothing.

This has become her ship now. Her family. She had heard over the comms that the fliers were being prepared. She had trained as a pilot, at the insistence of her father, and had liked it. She glanced in the mirror. She looked well-loved and strange enough, happy. Her cheeks had a glow to them and her eyes were darker and smoky. A giggle burst from her lips and she quickly stifled it with her palm, her eyes wide in wonder. She simply can't remember the last time she had giggled. Before she could delve deeper into her elation, the ship rocked.

Time to earn her keep.

When she entered the hangar, she blinked in surprise. She had never been to this side of the ship, and even if she had before, she believed she would've felt the same awe. More than fifty gleaming fighter flyers were lined up, ready for takeoff. Cilla stood in the center of it all, strong and confident. Her entrance drew the attention of some of the pilots and Cilla turned to face her. For a split second, her face went slack with surprise. Noor nodded at her and walked over to fall into line with the other pilots.

“Once the hangar doors open, the first squadron will emerge, fully visible. The rest will follow cloaked. One squad will provide protection for the ship carrying the Avion royal couple and the rest will flank the Mercer.” Cilla's eyes sharped. “Remember, that we have the element of surprise on our hands. They will be able to detect our ion trails as soon as you start to engage. Make it count.”

A resounding ‘aye' sounded before the pilots rushed for their respective flyers. Cilla came over to Noor.

“Does the director know of your intention to join the flyers?” Even though her face was expressionless, her eyes held a gleam of admiration.

“No.”

“Would she approve?”

“I don't think she would approve of us wasting valuable time discussion a moot issue, Adjutant,” Noor responded calmly. “I'm a trained pilot and I want to be here.”

Cilla held her gaze for a moment longer before she nodded. “Fair enough. You're with me.”

oOo

“We have them pinned down, milord.”

Concalle almost smiled at the news. He'd been in enough battles to know never to underestimate the enemy. They may outnumber their opponents, but he knew they were more technologically advanced than them. One misstep and they would be blown to pieces.

“How long before we reach them?”

“Approximately one hour, milord.”

One hour! A lot can happen in an hour. He only prayed his scouting ships could hold up the aliens until his arrival. If all goes well for them, they could all retire from space piracy at the end of this day. All they had to do was prevent the Avians from entering Monolith space. He'll be doomed if he was caught by any of the Monolith patrolling cruisers. An involuntary shudder skittered down his spine.

“Maintain course.”

oOo

Yonne stared at the screen, her eyes never leaving the small blinking dots which represented her fliers. If only she had been there to… She quickly cut of her off her own thought. She was not going to undermine Cilla. Cilla was a good commander and a superb strategist.

And there was no way that she was going to regret the time spent with Noor. No one could foresee Concalle's men sneaking up on them. A thought crossed her mind. Sneaking up? How? Concalle was still behind them with his armada. The Mercer were only a few thousand kilometers from the Monolith wormhole.

This was a stalling tactic . She inhaled deeply. They were held up until the armada joined the battle.

“Hail the Royal vessel.”

“Aye, Director.”

She turned back to the screen. There were a squadron for Mercer pilots flanking the Queen's ship, firing furiously at one of the three freighters. She grimaced in delight when a torpedo found its target and the freighter limped away, a large gas cloud left in its wake. She scanned the screen, taking in the pilots flanking the Mercer. In the corner of the screen a solitary blinking dot got her attention.

“Officer Packt, what is that flyer doing way over there?” Being separated from the rest of the group left them vulnerable, especially if the armada arrives.

“It is Flyer 243.”

Cilla's flyer! What the hell was the woman thinking? “Please hail the Adjutant.”

“The Queen is on hold, Director.”

“On screen.” The Queen's face appeared immediately. “Your Highness, this seems to be a stalling tactic from Concalle. I'll order my pilots to shoot a way thought to the wormhole. We'll be following shortly.”

The Queen shook her head slowly. “We are in this together. I've already called from assistance. They should be here shortly.”

Without asking she knew whom the queen was referring to and she didn't like it one bit. Having Monoliths crowding the space, not knowing if they joined as friends of foes, could make their odds worse that they were already.

“Do you think it's wise to involve the Monoliths, Your majesty? We are not sure if we can count on them not to fire on our ships?”

The Queen's face was expressionless. “They are the lesser evil in this situation. Besides, they would be grateful to have a chance to capture Concalle.”

“Even then. Should we not…”

“Director,” Officer Packt called softly. “We have the Flyer 243 on the line. The armada's ETA is in ten minutes.”

Yonne nodded at the Queen. “I suggest you move closer to the wormhole while we distract them.”

With a curt nod from the Queen, the screen flickered to show Cilla's face. Yonne's heart stuttered at the sight of Noor at the helm of the flyer. Just as quickly her anger sparked.

“Adjutant, I request that you return to the ship immediately.”

“I wish we could, Director, but we can't leave the wormhole unguarded. In stealth mode, we could at least stage an ambush. Fire a few torpedoes at the wormhole to destabilize the conduit and temporarily close the wormhole.”

“Negative, Adjutant.” Yonne's eyes moved to Noor. “You have the Crown Princess of Avion with you and that is in breach of our agreement with Queen Asmara.” Yonne felt bad for putting Cilla on the spot, but Yonne couldn't very well show her panic at finding out that instead of being safe in her quarters, Noor was on a flyer ready to be blown to pieces by an armada of hostile space pirates.

“I'm my own person, Director,” Noor responded, her voice cool and curt, but her eyes were warm. “But thank you for your concern.”

Yonne inhaled deeply. She hated that fact that she couldn't pull rank over Noor, especially now. She could pressure Cilla into returning to the ship, but she knew it wasn't fair to use her friend that way. She pinched the bridge of her nose. She inhaled deeply. She trusted Cilla, as a soldier, maybe she should extend the trust to include Noor. She opened her eyes slowly.

“You won't have much time to get away afterward.”

“We would, if we had the fire power of the Mercer,” Cilla said curtly.

Yonne nodded. “You'll have it.” Her eyes flitted to Noor and she swallowed when she found the green eyes already looking at her. Not sure what to say, she simply nodded.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 24

 

The moment they exited the wormhole, Concalle knew that he'd made a mistake. The sight that greeted him was one that woke him more nights that he counts to remember, soaked and with fear choking him. His eyes were riveted on the great hammer-like shapes hanging in the air like silent sentinels, even as an epic battle were fought around them.

The Monolith patrol.

They've finally caught up to him. A terror unlike any other, kept him staring, frozen at the large ships.

“My Lord, they are powering their weapons.”

That seemed to jerk him from his frozen nightmare. “To the wormhole! Now!” He had barely uttered the order when the alien ship he'd been chasing, fired. He held on as the ship rocked. He didn't need to ask, for he knew that that had been a very calculated hit.

“Direct hit to our thrusters, milord.”

Not acknowledging his officer, Concalle made for the exit off the bridge. There was no way that he was going to let them capture him. With their thrusters gone, they were sitting ducks. He ran down the hallways, pushing his way past his panicky men to the hangar. He still had too much to do and dying wasn't in his immediate future. He aimed a volley of shots at the hangar doors, not caring that the sudden change in air pressure might suck out the men working the hangar bay. As soon as the door gave in, he shot out into the inky darkness of space. With the battle continuing on the other side of the ship, no one would think of covering the area between his ship and the wormhole. With a wide smile, he shifted the small shuttle into a higher speed, as soon as he cleared the wormhole, he'll fire off a torpedo to destabilize it, giving him enough time to make his getaway. The next moment, he was thrown from his seat and landed between the two pilot seats. Shocked, he climbed to his feet to and looked through the viewer to find a ship hovering in the air, effectively blocking his way to the wormhole. Where did they came from? Suddenly the answer was obvious. The only other ship with such advanced cloaking technology, was the Mercer. He slammed his hand on the control panel.

He'd been so close.

oOo

Cilla strode through the doors leading to the medical bay. Her eyes immediately found the smaller woman in her office, completely engrossed in studying something on her desk reader. For a moment, she simply watched the woman. Was it possible that such a gorgeous creature would want her. Maybe even have feelings for her? Stationed at the mouth of the wormhole, they were not really in as much risk as the flyers who were engaging the Herecate ships, but she had prayed that she could return to the ship and see Espert again. Espert suddenly looked up, her eyes widening slightly at the sight of Cilla. With a quick look around her, Cilla noted that there were at least ten other people in the medical bay with them. Hiding her disappointment, she made her way over to Espert office. Espert rose from behind her desk and was staring at Cilla intently.

“You're not hurt, are you?” Her voice was tight with fear.

Cilla shook her head. “No.”

For a moment they could only stare at each other. Cilla rejoiced in the beauty of the other woman. She was aching to touch Espert, but knew that it would not be advisable while they were both on duty and also when they had an audience.

“I wanted to see for myself that you were unharmed,” Cilla said softly and turned to leave. She needed to find Yonne, but instead had come to the medical bay first. She couldn't stop herself. As soon as their flyer docked, she had rushed through the safety protocols, overwhelmed by her need to see Espert. Now that she had seen her, although she would've liked a more physical link, she could don her Adjutant persona and get back to her duties.

“Don't go … yet.”

She turned at the softly spoken words. Espert was wringing her hands as she stared at Cilla, her eyes roaming over Cilla's face. Cilla stepped closer, until only a few feet separated them. She watched as Espert pressed something on her desk reader and the next moment, the glass cubicle, that served as Espert's office, became closed off completely and the windows darkened. Surprised, she turned to Espert.

“Sometimes, I have to conduct private consultations and without interrupting the operations of the medical bay, I can atleast afford my patients privacy.” She closed the distance between them, her eyes scanning over Cilla's body with a practiced eye.

“I told you I was unhurt.”

“I know,” Espert murmured. “but I'm the doctor, not you.”

Cilla smiled at that. She swallowed when Espert placed her hands on her chest and looked up into Cilla's eyes. It felt incredible to be touched by Espert, and know that she could touch her back.

“I meant what I said earlier.”

“You said a lot of things, doctor.”

Espert's hands slid around Cilla until she was hugging her. “I want you more than anything.”

Cilla felt her knees buckled slightly at hearing that. She wondered if she'll ever get used to the feeling of someone wanting her. Really, really wanting her. She slid her arms around Espert and hugged her close.

“I love hearing you say that,” she whispered into Espert's hair. They stood like that holding each other for a long moment, before Espert pulled away.

“I'm sure you are needed elsewhere.” Her eyes were dark as they looked at Cilla. “If you have time, would you like to come for dinner tonight?”

“I would like that.” She brought Espert's hand to her lips. “I will know for sure after my meeting with the Director.”

“Good.” Espert gave her a small smile, which made the blood in her veins thicken. She might not be as experienced as Espert, but she knew what the dark, smoky look in her eyes signified.

oOo

Just like the first time, Yonne found herself drawn to the holo-image of the Queen, her consort and their copper headed toddler. The last time she stood before this holo image, she was again struck by the love and happiness she could sense between the couple and between the couple and their child. Now, staring at it, she felt a sense of regret. A mischievous copper headed child was not in their future.

With a sigh, she turned away from the image. She was never interested in becoming a parent, not with her career and especially not with the type of assignments she usually picked. It was only as was growing older, and maybe wiser, that she realized the importance of one's legacy. Suddenly, she could see herself birthing an heir, one who would continue her legacy, leading the Borqious into the new millennia.

She never expected herself to mate with a woman.

The door slid open and an irate-looking Queen Asmara was followed in by her consort. Yonne respectfully held her tongue, waiting for the Queen to address her first.

“They have finally found a way to settle this,” Queen Asmara said as she turned to Yonne. The Queen's face was pulled into a look of utter distaste. “They want you to fight their champion.”

Yonne shrugged. “It's much better than we expected.”

“Maybe,” Londo said quietly. He was man of very few words and Yonne can count of her one hand the many times the man had spoken in her presence. “You are fighting their best warrior. He also happens to be Noor betrothed.”

Yonne pursed her lips. “Then so be it.” She was to face the man who would've violated Noor, had she not escaped in her pod. Karma seemed to be active and alive, no matter which quadrant you found yourself in, it seems.

The Queen shook her head. “It will not be so easy. Prince Holfer's prowess as a fighter is quite renowned. No one has ever been able to best him in combat.”

“What would it mean for Noor if I was to lose?”

The Queen walked over to her consort and burrowed into his arms. “Death, surely.”

Yonne felt the blood in her veins turn cold. Death. In her mind's eye she saw Noor's vibrant green eyes, staring back at her, devoid of life. If ever there was an incentive to not to lose this battle, she had one now.

“Then I will not lose,” she said curtly, causing the Queen to turn from where she was buried in her mate's arms, to look at Yonne.

“I would be eternally grateful to you if you could safe my daughter, Director Yonne.”

Yonne nodded.

oOo

Noor closed her eyes, trying to block out the sight of the gleaming city. She'd only been to Lithen a few times. She was still a toddler then and had accompanied her father on a few of his trading missions. Back then, she had reveled at the sight of the city with its gleaming domes and the crystal blue rivers crisscrossing through her city. Now, all she felt was dread. The Monolith's were not a forgiving race, especially not when their illustrious Crown Prince had been humiliated by his betrothed.

With a sigh, she turned away from the window. She couldn't hide in her quarters forever and let her parents take the brunt of King Homm's wrath. It was her choice to abandon her betrothed. She needed to fix this.

She left her quarters and on her way to the transporter room, was surprised to find that on her way there, quite of few of the Mercer's crew were nodding at her in greeting. She returned the salutations with a curt nod, not wanting to dwell on more than what she was about to face. When she materialized on the Royal vessel, she found her parents, in their full official regalia waiting for her in the living room of their quarters. She hadn't seen her parents in a few days. The usually robust couple looked drained and worried. She went to kiss her mother's cheek and embrace her father before she settled in a couch opposite from them.

“I want you to know that I take full responsibility for my actions.” She took a deep breath. “I'm so sorry that I dragged you into this mess with me, but I swear I'll find a way to diffuse the situation.”

Her mother shook her head. “No need for that.”

Noor looked from her mother to her father. “No need? Why?” She clenched her jaw at what it could mean. “Did you already meet with King Homm? What did he ask of you?”

“Like your mother said, the situation has been taken care of,” her father said gently as he got to his feet. “No need to worry yourself over this anymore.”

“No, I need to know what has been decided upon,” she snapped, as she too came to her feet. “What have you promised them?”

Londo sighed. “Nothing. They proposed a mortal combat and…”

Noor didn't want to hear anymore. She didn't need to. She spun her heel and made for the exit.

“Noor.” She turned at the door to face her mother. There were tears in the Queen's eyes. “Director Yonne already accepted.”

“She can't,” Noor rasped. This time it was her eyes that filled up with tears. “I haven't even told her yet.”

The Queen came over to draw her into her arms, her embrace desperate. The tears spilled over and Noor didn't even stop them. There wasn't much that fazed her mother, but this obviously did and it didn't bode well for Yonne. “Then you need to tell her.”

To be continued...

 

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