~ Foreign Harbors, Part I ~
by J.A. Bard

Disclaimer: #3 in the SciFi Fantasy of Major Jina Gari Zohra and Lt. Commander Lady Alexandra Harriet Montran. The characters in this story are mine as is the topic of the story.

Sex: There is sex between consenting adults in many forms. Ahh, yes. The 'many forms'. Think of all the possibilities of species dumber or smarter than homosapients populating the space near US and afar.

Hurt/Discomfort: There is the death of a fetus.

Review: Lt. Commander Lady Alexandra Montran and Major J.G. Zohra now married are headed back to their neck of the galaxy, accompanied by Lt. Megan Vanster. Since they are not on a time table they are stopping at various ports on their journey towards the Eckron and Zed sectors.

Not far ahead of them, is the new science and battle-class ship a Verbouth Argonaut, shortened to Vernaut, launched as Catching Butterflies, and an older battle-class ship, Emperor's Last Chance, crewed by those from Eckron and Zed sectors. Their job is to keep an eye on the two SEC ships that have prisoners that are awaiting sentencing by the Counsel of Rings.

Thanks to my beta reader, Martha and to the many who have sent Emails for yet another sequel. I hope you all enjoy the adventure. This is a sequel to Arnica, which is the sequel to Merker's Outpost. You might want to take a look at the Guideline to Foreign Harbors which offers a helpful list of terms, meanings and definitions.

Goddess bless and peace profound. J.A. Bard

Chapter 1

The sleek Deluxe Belton, affectionately called D-Belle, quietly cruised at 4gs through interstellar space. Consoles on the unoccupied bridge blinked sporadically from sensory updates. In another part of the ship thumps punctuated with grunts broke up the natural sounds of the yacht.

A portion of the roomy cargo bay was turned into a dojo along with the latest in technology of a fighting KungFu Master. Currently two combatants were circling each other. The sweat that glistened on the exposed skin created a slippery surface for each opponent to grab. Both women were breathing heavy as they looked for a weakness in the other's defense.

"You're going down JG," her adversary huffed. "There isn't any trick you have that I haven't seeeen!… ooffff, urrrgh!"

Thump, thump, dump.

The prone muscular woman struggled to regain her breath as the taller and slimmer, athletic JG stood above her grinning. JG took a moment to mop the sweat with her sleeve. She kept an eye on the prone figure.

"Bloody moon, JG! That's cheating!" the downed woman wheezed out.

JG smiled smugly.

The figure on the mat rolled and leaped up, kicking out at JG. JG stepped in and grabbed the attacking foot. She hoisted the larger woman over her and brought her down hard on the mat, successfully pinning her arms.

"Alright!" an annoyed muffled voice hollered. "So you're so much smarter," she rolled to her feet when she was released and shook out her arm. "So! I know you want to tell me, so tell me. How do I get out of the grip so next time I won't tear a freaking muscle. Damn bored ground-pounder," she accused under her breath.

"I'm not bored. I'm keeping fit. Okay, since you asked nice, I'll show you."

"Can I ask you a question…off the record," Megan asked.

Ahh. A delay tactic. Not gonna work, Megan. You're still gonna go down. She nodded grinning.

"This was your ship, technically…I mean possession is nine tenths of the law. Why are you letting the commander captain it? I'm just curious," she insisted.

"She's a line officer, Megan. Of the three of us she's trained and has experience in more military capacities then the two of us put together." Megan did not look like she believed what JG knew to be factual. "Besides growing up in a family where supervising groups and representing them is part of her duty, she's also served as a successful battlefield officer," she said ticking off her fingers, "she's negotiated military and nonmilitary agreements, she's commanded scout ships, worked on a flagship's battle planning table, arbitrated for political prisoner releases …helgas moon, soldier! You served with her on Arnica. Didn't she pass your muster for leader?"

"That wasn't a battlefield, JG. Those were civilians and a battle of something that I know nothing about…nor care to. I want to know that the person I'm following into a 'kill-or-be-killed' skirmish is not going to wig out."

"Just what is 'wig-out' to you, Megan?" JG asked patiently.

"Is she going to kill the other guy that has a weapon pointed at me?"

"Well, for that matter, Megan, I don't know if I would. I would need to know what the options are and the circumstances," she admitted seriously. "If it's some lover chasing you down either because you ran out on her or him, or because you got caught messing with someone else's lover…" she shrugged her shoulders. "I would really have to think about it. Someone that's really supposed to be good should never have been caught."

Megan laughed but her eyes did not register that she heard JG also expressing that she would not choose to follow the 'shoot first and ask questions later' approach the Black Rose Squad took with their own.

Megan gestured to JG that she was ready. However, she was unprepared when JG swiftly stepped in and lifted her in slower motion, and then dropped her to the ground and pinned her arms. Megan grunted and woofed out air as she hit the deck again.

[General Quarters,] the ship announced. Clangons rang out.

Both women jumped to their feet.

Helgas moon I've been rescued! Megan breathed heavily.

Rank was given first access through the exit as Major JG Zohra pelted up the passageway with Lt. Megan Vanster close on her heels.


Lady Alexandra was jolted from her meditation when the clangons sounded. Quickly she unwound her body from Asanas as her awareness leaped to a different level of consciousness. Sprinting to the open hatch she paused before exiting. Pounding footsteps in the passageway warned her of a potential collision. She saw two women in damp workout uniforms pass her in a run. She suppressed a laugh. The scene looked like a hare chased by a hound. However, this hare had a good lead.

The bridge hatch opened and the three in quick succession dropped into their assigned seats.

"Rouster, report!" demanded Major JG Zohra of Hekate's Inner Circle from the House of Athena, on DSA, Deployed for Special Assignment. She waited impatiently for the console to be unlocked from autopilot.

Lt. Megan Vanster, Shield Maiden from the House of Athena, and assigned to Commander Montran as an aide, quickly silenced the clangons and took the autopilot offline. "OOD transferring Conn to COB," she quickly announced. Ship's command transferred quickly to the captain's chair.

"Captain on the Bridge, receiving transfer of Conn," the Captain responded. Data pertinent to the alarms scrolled across her console the moment the Conn was transferred.

[What report do you wish to review?] the ship's computer calmly responded.

"Verbal report on the cause of the alarm," clarified Lt. Commander Lady Alexandra Harriet from clan Montran, also on DSA.

[Scans are showing a heavy concentration of debris on the programmed course. Arrival time is ten standard minutes. Hull damage is unavoidable from unknown elements. Unable to scan beyond ten stan minutes due to the debris field.]

"Rouster, give a recommendation," Zohra, head of security asked, hoping to redeem her changes to the program. It obviously needed more tweaking. They should have been notified sooner and 'unknown elements'? She made a mental note to check her change list as soon as this problem was resolved.

[Go around.]

"Gee, I wish I thought of that," Vanster muttered sarcastically.

"So it needs more work," Zohra reasoned.

"Why? It gave you exactly what you asked for," Vanster retorted.

Alexandra quietly groaned at the exchange. Since they left Arnica both women had been stumbling in establishing a relationship. Their previous rapport had always been based within a military atmosphere fraught with competition and distain at those that showed weakness. Their last assignment together was in Committee space as operatives to infiltrate a group that had ties with galaxy smugglers. Both women had changed during their separate experiences on Arnica, a strange planet in itself. It created a profound disconnect they were struggling to overcome. The most notable difference was Zohra's marriage to her, Lady Alexandra Harriet Montran.

Alexandra gave a mental sigh. Being the only one with more training in ships and their systems she withdrew from their squabbling and nit picking and decided to only step in if any safety protocol was threatened.

"Helga's bloody moon! It'll take a week to go around," Vanster complained. They all stared at the scans. A picture slowly appeared showing a dense cloud formation.

"It's not like we're really busy at the moment," Zohra reminded her, pleased that their arrival home would be delayed.

Home was the operational word. Zohra and Montran were newly weds and had not gotten around to discussing where they would call home. Would it be in Collective space where Lt. Commander Montran served as an officer on the flag ship of the Centurion's Ziggy, or Committee space where Major Jina Gari Zohra's Shield House was?

Alexandra looked at Vanster in mock annoyance. "You haven't been wishing for something to relieve your boredom, have you Leut?"

"Yeah!" Zohra demanded in a childish tone, changing the competitive mood into playful energy.

The two women laughed at Vanster's expression. They were all relieved that the tension on the bridge dissolved.

"I'll give ya that stuff about thoughts having power on Arnica, but off…nah uh. Otherwise I'd be having wild nights of sex and fun with exceptionally fine partners that I can image."

The newly weds chucked, feeling only slightly guilty that a woman known for her sexual proclivity was reduced to satisfying herself while they, in a surprising cloud of sensuousness, were always finding reasons to be alone together. It was a soldier's lament to find pleasure where and when she could.

"Lieutenant, do you have the break-down on the debris yet?" Zohra asked as she looked over the computer's possibilities for course changes and assessed any possible threats from unknowns.

"No. Still scanning and building a model. Give it a little more time," she muttered. She scowled as she drummed her fingers impatiently at the slowness of the system.

"It's looking like a small satellite planet that exploded," Alexandra murmured, studying the same readings as Vanster. "Clean it up, Leut," she ordered impatiently.

"If a certain uncertified person would stop tinkering with it, it wouldn't need cleaning up," groused Lt. Vanster. Her fingers slid over full paragraphs of commands, cutting them, and then restarted the first command. Scrolling data filled the screen.

"JG, darlin', perhaps you should leave the programming and tweaking of the ships' systems off your list of 'to dos'," Alexandra suggested softly.

Zohra leaned towards Vanster's screen to see what she was doing. "I gotta exercise my brain too," she griped in a mocking tone.

"There are a lot of 'brain' games loaded in the DB," Alexandra pointed out.

Zohra took a breath to begin the same old argument the three women had since Zohra started to meddle in Vanster's territory, navigation.

"Let's not go there," Alexandra told her softly, looking up into eyes that suddenly darkened. She held her breath as the all-too-familiar flush of sexual excitement rushed over her.

Zohra cleared her throat, watching Alexandra's eyes flutter from the closeness of their bodies her thoughts wandered off in a different direction than her intended argument.

"Do you two mind?" Vanster demanded slightly put-off. Helgas bloody moon! There are enough pheromones in here to set a herd of baroas into a premature rutting season. She tapped the environmental controls to neutralize the air, ignoring the face Zohra gave her.

Alexandra gestured with her head that Zohra was to stand back. Zohra pointed a finger at herself and mouthed a silent 'me?' Alexandra nodded and signed herself the number one designation and Zohra two.

Moving to the back chair, disgruntled that as much as she believed what she had told Megan about Alexandra's command, she was antsy with the inactivity of only being in charge when it was her shift to take the CONN. She was also in charge of all shore parties and anything to do with security but they did not visit enough ports to give her something to think about.

"Sssshh!" Alexandra told her annoyed.

Embarrassed at forgetting that Alexandra could hear her thoughts, and then because she easily became upset at what should be something minor Zohra decided she should find something else to do…off the bridge.

"Call me if you need me," she told the two preoccupied women.

Zohra trudged down the corridor examining her confused feelings of competitiveness and her hyper-sensitivity to being challenged…which translated into a need to dominate Alexandra. Alexandra as an empath was more inclined to give into her demands to avoid conflict. Eventually, Zohra knew in her heart, this would cause Alexandra to leave her. Alexandra's assurances that they would adjust and adapt as they went along gave her only momentary relief.

You're maudlin! she declared. It's cabin fever. Yeah, that's it, she decided pragmatically, but it did not ease her mood. She needed an outlet other than having to prove herself to Megan that she was still the Zohra both of them thought they knew in their cadet years, or groping Alexandra whenever she was near.

Zohra took a deep breath. You're getting yourself down about nothing. We're doing just fine. Sex is good. Intimacy is right in there…Her eyes lit up and a broad smile broke out on her face as she contemplated the intimate connection that kept her on a high. It was addicting, she admitted, and that made her want her marriage to work.

She sighed heavily. A distraction, that's what she needed. But beating up Ninja Master is getting old, she thought with conviction. Maybe if they all were longing for a nice bit of adventure it would happen. She also reminded herself that with adventure there was sacrifice and that was originally why the sleep pods in military transports were installed. Losing an army because they were bored and went looking for trouble defeated the war effort.

I am not going to get in the sleep pod for the duration of the trip home! What is cabin fever anyway…boredom. So, I'll make the Ninja Master a naked… hm…Alexandra.

She shook her head perplexed as her thoughts again returned to what she would rather be doing and to whom. Why this sexual haze between them? They had consummated the marriage. That energy should have dissipated the tension or at least dropped it to a manageable level. An image of their unquenchable drive to make love brought a silly grin to her face. She quickly looked down the corridor for Megan who seemed to take issue with her preoccupation of Alexandra.

Helgas moon. What's wrong with Vanster anyway? Can't she just let go of childhood hurts and move on?

She realized that when tension with Megan increased, they resorted to their old combative ways, somehow bypassing their recent changes from Arnica.

Well, being on a small ship with not very many places to escape certainly forces us to find a way to talk without doing damage to the other. Jeesh. Either we're going to find a way to sit and have a conversation or there isn't going to be any relationship.

That gave her pause. I don't think we've ever had a girl-to-girl talk. Oh, helgas moon. What are we gonna talk about besides military maneuvers and who can lay with the most women or men in one leave? And I'm not going to brag about my sex life with Alexandra. Bloody moon, I know that would tick Megan off. She didn't do too well with my explanation of why it made good sense that Alexandra be captain. Helga's moon! I've been acting as a CMSgt longer than an officer in my covert work. And Megan certainly hasn't dropped her enlisted attitude. Someone's going to have to speak to her about the difference between an officer and NCO. Zohra groaned softly, knowing that it would likely be her.

The cargo bay portal slid open. The workout with Megan did not have the calming affect a hard workout used to give her, but now she understood why. Opening the weapons locker she reached for the leather sheath, a gift from Queen M'Lu on Arnica. Slowly she drew the intricately etched blade out of its cover, admiring the colors that played on the sharp foreign metal. Dropping the sheath near the locker, she moved to the center of the workout mat. The moment she decided to work the blade a profound peace settled in her. And so began her dance with the blade.


"Were you two like this on Merker's?" Vanster asked as the ship moved to its new setting.

"I don't remember it being quite like this," Alexandra's lips quirked into a smile, remembering their evenings together on Merker's Outpost. Of course they were new to each other then, with an invasion to worry about.

"Supposedly the last ritual dance takes the sexual edge off the relationship. Instead it heightened it. Believe me when I say it's not just driving you crazy." And the competition between us is too stimulating and too intense. I'm gonna have to look up more information on this bonding ritual thing or maybe our species mix. Bloody moon! We never thought to look that part up, Alexandra thought with annoyance.

"Big concession…you have each other to work it off with," Vanster grumbled.

"Go get your own dolly, Leut. I'm not loaning her out," Alexandra laughed, shaking her head with orange curls bobbing around her face. She pushed them out of her face impatiently. "Helgas moon but we need some time off this ship. As the captain of this vessel I order us up some R&R. There has to be friendly civilized planets around here. We can do catch up with the other two vessels another day."

"I'm glad you said that, Captain," Vanster responded eagerly. "I was going over the incidental hailings Rouster received on her trip to Arnica." Vanster eagerly searched the data base for what she had found earlier before taking a break. She intended to speak to JG about it but somehow the conversation became a challenge to a wrestling match.

"We had that many incidentals? Vacation advertisements! Ooohhh. Did you find something that will make us all happy? Somewhere that newly weds can be alone and not get bored."

"Right. Don't want everyone being dragged off by a hotyamamababe. I have a few marked. At the speed Catching Butterflies and Emperor's Last Chance are steaming, I'll bet they've stopped at a few of them."

Alexandra struggled not to laugh at Vanster's wistful voice.

"Yeah. Herding those SEC ships must be driving their helm crazy. Prisoner confinement ships aren't meant to travel as fast as war ships like Emperor Last Chance or for sure not like the new class ship, the Vernaut - Catching Butterflies." Alexandra shook her head at something that occurred to her. "I can just imagine a counsel member getting it in her head that prisoners captured in distant galaxies deserve to be brought to the nearest galaxy tribunal as speedily as possible so that the crime they are accused of is brought to trial within the life span of their victims. They would have to retire the majority of the old cruisers that barely go faster than the present SECs. Oh, bloody moon. Every ship building company would back it to get the boon to business. Taxes go up, and only the economics of the planets that own interest in the shipyards would be clapping their hands." She sighed at the mixed blessings all changes brought.

"As long as it's not me that has duty chasing down an escaped prisoner, I'm not concerned. Hm." Vanster paused for a moment, thinking about the thrill of the hunt.

"Don't be wishing that on yourself, Leut. You may as well become a hunter… That reminds me, wonder why we haven't received any messages from Emperors or Butterflies."

Vanster did a search and then snorted. "They're right here. Rouster filed them under miscellaneous. They weren't marked urgent so the ship did not notify us. Someone turned off the notification for anything not considered serious. Commander, she's dangerous. Can't you get her to keep her hands off my…" she did have the where withal to stop short of declaring possession of the helm with the captain on the bridge. "Well, to stop messing with stuff," she finished lamely.

"Before you point the finger at your comrade, make sure the previous owner didn't have a hand in it," she cautioned.

As captain of the ship Alexandra had to pay attention to the accusation one officer made of a superior officer, deciding if it was meant to be an official report. It put her in an awkward position.

It was important to keep a command structure in place, especially when they were moving through unfamiliar space. It became complicated when she took into consideration the fact that the three of them had graduated from the same military academy the same year. Alexandra's experience of commanding solders and sailors taught her that if those she commanded did not respect her, then an order given would not be acted upon quickly which could cost lives. She could feel Vanster's distrust of her and knew one day she would challenge her and it would probably be when they all could least afford it. She was saddened that their experiences together on Arnica merely widened the rift between them.

Alexandra closed her eyes as something disturbed her line of thought. It came from outside of their ship.

Vanster glanced at Alexandra and noticed she had a far-away look on her face. She waited, hoping it was not something that went along the same vein as their last assignment on Arnica.

Alexandra took a deep breath and brought her attention back to the bridge. She tapped the yellow alert to bring Zohra to the bridge.


"Trouble," she said softly.

"Where?" Vanster's hands moved over the screen pulling up scans. There were no alerts, but since JG had messed with the system she now was not sure who to believe more, the computer or the captain.

"What's up!" Zohra rushed onto the bridge, sliding into her seat while stowing a sword sheathed in its leather tooled cover near her console.

Her damp workout uniform clinging to her athletic body brought images of a different sort to Alexandra's mind. "Something," Alexandra told her faintly, smiling at the image of her naked lover performing a kata.

"One of those feelings…huh?" Unaware of the effect she was having on Alexandra, Zohra studied her console as the results of Vanster's scans filled her screen.

"Found it," Vanster whispered. Helgas moon! How did she know? Never mind. Tell me I didn't ask that question. She took a deep breath and returned her attention to a ship appearing on their screens. "Hiding from someone, you think?"

"No. I believe she really is adrift and too close to that cloud of debris for her own good. I don't feel anything lurking about using her for bait. Lt. Vanster, give the ship a hail," Captain Montran ordered.

"Aye, aye, Captain" she replied. "Message away."

"Captain, no readings on what's inside yet," Major Zohra reported calmer than she was earlier. "Whatever is in the debris is interfering with our scans at this range. We're going to have to send out a bot to analyze it further."

"Four life signs aboard," Captain Montran informed her crew softly. "I can feel them. Two are frightened and two are seriously injured. One of the injured is an infant."

"Getting some readings now. Let me narrow this and change the range," Vanster reported. "I don't recognize the ship's configuration from our neck of the woods."

"Come about so we are running alongside, Leut. Major, prepare to board her…"

"Hey, she can't go alone!" Vanster objected, excited with something to do. Her fingers automatically calibrated the other ships trajectory and speed and had Rouster moving into intercept position smoothly.

"Right, that's why I'm going too." She blinked her eye lashes at the major playfully.

"I don't think that's a good idea," the two opposed.

"Why not? I'm the captain."

"Exactly, Captain," Major Zohra told her firmly.

"That's not fair," she returned in mock indignation.

Vanster rolled her eyes. "One month and we're cracking up."

Alexandra and JG laughed. They all were relieved at the break in their routine.

"You're right. We're getting too lax. Okay. We know the drill - Major, take the Leut with you. While you suit up I'll belly up to her hatch. Looks big enough for you two to enter."

"Rouster, this is Captain Alexandra Montran taking full bridge command. Switch on my mark…mark." Systems the navigator and second in command usually supervised were switched to her console. She activated the infirmary and watched the status bar come up, showing the progress of the diags that ran a check on the medical system. The three spare cabins were activated to prepare for guests with the small cleaning bots coming on line. However, since one of them was an infant, she suspected this was a family and they would not need the three cabins.

"I sure hope they fit in the bunks," she mumbled as she expertly adjusted to the unfamiliar ship's changing trajectory. She guessed some of the debris Rouster's systems had not recognized had breached its hull and was destabilizing it. "Rouster, run another scan on the debris, recalibrating for unknown substances with trajectory analysis." She was worried that whatever had left the gaping hole in the bulkhead of the drifting ship may have been missed by its sensors. Forewarned is forearmed.

Gently the two ships bumped energy shields. The umbilicus reached out, pierced the shield of the other and resealed as the cup fit over the injured ship's hatch cover.

"Hailing boarding party. Major Zohra, come in. Over," she called.

[Boarding party to helm. Captain Montran." Alexandra could hear the smile in her voice and smiled back in reflex. "Ready and willing. No breathable air on the other side of the hatch. We're taking over two gurneys and the backup medibot, over.]

"Copy that. Rouster confirms your air reading. Major, the child on the lower deck…I'm getting a weak life signal. Over."

[I read you, Captain. I think their life support is down. Whoa!]

The two women nearly fell to the deck of the boarded ship. It had lurched to the side and both could feel the deck under their feet shudder.

[Captain! We're gonna split up! Vanster will take the bridge. Go!] she ordered the lieutenant.

"You have thirty stan at the most, you two. Over." Alexandra struggled to right herself in her chair from the sudden shift of the other ship. Rouster gamely adjusted to compensate, slowly moving back into a righted position.

[Copy that. Over.]

Vanster headed towards the bridge where her scanner detected three life forms. She could feel the ship move unnaturally as it lost more power to its stabilizers. Before her was a wall and according to her sensor on the other side were the three she was here to rescue. As she approached the hatch, it suddenly slid open and a person dressed in an unfamiliar AEG pointed something at her that she did not recognize. With effort, Vanster reminded herself firmly this was a civilian ship and she could appear as a pirate to these people.

"Hey! Put that down. You can hurt someone," Vanster exclaimed, holding up both of her empty gloved hands. She wondered if she could sic the gurney behind her on the figure. Vanster gestured where she wanted to go. "Come-on. This ship is not stable."

The figure shook his head and then looked back in the room, exactly what Vanster was hoping for. An invitation to help. She stepped in without resistance and could see another person kneeling over a prostrate form.

Vanster touched the key on her sleeve and the gurney came sailing in. She and the other person quickly laid the unconscious form on top of it. When Vanster looked up the other person was gone. "Major come in. You've a survivor that may be heading in your direction. Over."

[Leut, copy that. Captain. Come-in.]

[Captain, here. Go ahead.]

[I've a baby in a medical pod. It's detachable but I don't think it's compatible with our equipment. Over]

[Copy that. Will be ready. You two get on back. Ship is collapsing. Out.]

The ship shifted again, causing everyone on board to stumble.

Chapter 2

Captain Montran was kept busy using Rouster to steady the destabilizing ship as the shift of weight increased its drift towards the debris cloud. While she managed the two ships, she set Rouster's system to access the other ship's computer. The download of medical data was completed by the time Vanster and her two rescued crewmembers boarded. The medibot created a stasis chamber in the infirmary for the life-form.

Shortly afterward Major Zohra entered the umbilicus with two others. The movement of the two ships caused dangerous undulations in the umbilicus. As soon as they were over the sill in the Rouster, Zohra hit the close and retract buttons at the same time, giving some immediate stability to Rouster.

[Captain! We're all aboard.]

"Prepare for breakaway. The other ship's situation is deteriorating rapidly," Captain Montran announced over the ships PCC.

Rouster shifted sharply but the affects of the acceleration was absorbed by the dampeners.

Once Zohra stepped into the main passageway she saw Vanster's figure standing outside of the infirmary with her AEG helmet recessed, and her short dark hair curling in all directions. Beside her stood one of their rescued members without his helmet. His violet eyes glinted in the light as he glanced at Zohra and her companion as they raced toward them with the small chamber. The other had insisted on carrying the infant, which Zohra knew better than to challenge. For all she knew it was her child.

"Arax!" Vanster's companion shouted both with relief and some anger.

Arax nodded and brushed past Vanster into the infirmary. Arax reluctantly handed over the small chamber to the medibot. The helmet recessed and a young woman with elfin features was revealed. She and the man watched with troubled silence as the medibot released the lid from the chamber and placed the infant beside the unconscious woman who was also elfin. Zohra noted the man and child were not biologically related to the two women.

Once the child's life-signs were stabilized, Zohra felt the tension in the room dissipate. She glanced at Vanster and noticed her gaze was on Arax. She was a young woman, the kind Vanster usually liked to spend down time with. "Lieutenant Vanster," she called quietly.

Vanster looked over at her. "Yes, Major?"

"Why don't you…"

[General Quarters,] the ship announced. Clangons interrupted her.

"Stay here!" Zohra commanded. She was not going to leave strangers unchaperoned on her ship.

Zohra headed up the passageway bracing herself from bulkhead to bulkhead as the ship began evasive maneuvers. Managing to keep her feet she pulled herself through the bridge hatch and fell into the seat next to Alexandra, her hands quickly moving over the screen.

"What's happening!?" Major Zohra demanded, forgetting their command structure.

"Looking for a place to hide," Captain Montran muttered not noticing. The ship took a dive and then slid sideways. "Right now we're behind some of these unidentified clumps of matter that didn't register on our first scan. Let's see if our pursuers know about it."

The ship shuddered.

"Guess they do," Major Zohra replied. Quickly she primed missiles and concussion torpedoes. "Armed and ready to deploy."

"I don't think they are a good …"

The ship shuddered again from another hit, but their shield held solidly. Whatever their attackers were using was not enough to damage their protection.

"Did you hail them?" Zohra asked annoyed at being shot at and not shooting back.

"Yep. They called themselves the Recruiters and demanded we were to pull over and be boarded. I took issue with that," Captain Montran explained. She could feel her lover's need for action but knew they had to sit this one out. She reached over and patted the back of her hand without taking her eyes from her screen.

"Recruiters? As in 'you're with us, fall in'?"

"They didn't give me a chance to ask." She glanced quickly at Zohra, "I think I surprised them that I not only found them but caught on that they meant to do us harm."

"Why don't we just take a pot shot at them?" Zohra asked impatiently, but mindful that this was Alexandra's territory.

"Because some of this debris has gas pockets ready to explode with the right stimulus. Besides we out gun them and have more guts in our engines. No sense in giving too much of what we're about away."

"Gas pockets? Helgas moon. I didn't think of that. As for out gunning them…"

Alexandra chuckled at Zohra's image of a little dog nipping at a bigger dogs heels. After a few moments of playing hide-and-seek Montran used the ship's energy shield to push into the other ship, knocking them into a large cluster of rocks. The recruiter ship chose that moment to fire. The shot went wild, igniting a gas pocket.

"Idiots," Zohra grunted. Serves them right!

Rouster's sensors indicated a heat buildup in the attacking ship's engine. Small pods from the doomed ship shot out and scattered but were pulled back into the debris cloud. Some disappeared into the debris and other's blew up either from crashing into a fellow pod or with debris.

"Let's get the hell out of here," Montran muttered. "This cloud is starting to pull energy from our ship. Send out a concussion one-hundred fals. That should break up from this pull."

"Aye, aye, Captain. There she goes," Zohra reported, expertly aiming for an area that was sucking them in.

"All hands, brace yourselves for a blow," Captain Montran announced.

Captain Montran held her hand over the throttle, waiting for the first crest of energy to reach them. The scans picked up the wave of energy, like an ocean wave. Skillfully, the captain maneuvered the ship to catch the energy at the right point, then hit the throttle, giving them more power that sent them past the fire blast that was accompanying the energy.

"Whooooowhoo!" Alexandra yodeled as they felt the lift and then the ship's navigation adjust and push forward. Dampeners made it easy for the passengers but the screen images showed both women how it looked.

"Yeah!" Zohra grunted as she quickly made calculations and verified that the ship's systems were not affected by the unidentified elements in the cloud. "All systems checked and cleared," she reported to the captain.

"All hands, stand down," Captain Montran announced.

"Hey, is this what you two were looking at after I left? Look at all these attached advertisements in different languages. Just like home, huh?" Zohra noted. She looked up at her lover. "You two planning on something?"

"R&R. My crew needs it. Whatdya, think number one?"

"Ooh, now I'm number one," she teased.

"Just choose something you like and we'll draw straws if need be."

"How about this one?"

Alexandra looked at the advertisement and laughed. "Just like the Leut. What's with you two? It certainly will keep Vanster busy for our entire R&R. I thought two or three days. By the way, what do we pay with? It's not like we have funds."

"There's always someone at space ports that will trade goods for local credits. We have enough gifts from Arnica to weigh down a regiment of pack animals."

"Let's not give something away without all of us deciding," she strongly recommend to Zohra who had an aversion to one of their wedding gifts.

"Hm. I'm gonna see to our guests. We need to drop them off somewhere before Vanster woos the young woman and finds she bit off more than she can chew," Zohra answered.

"Oooh. She got her wish did she?" Alexandra laughed.

Zohra nodded. "I can feel it. Helgas moon, if I had this sensitivity before I went into the covert corps, I would…"

"Don't think back, darlin'. Believe me when I say…it's not worth the stress," she told her gently.

Chapter 3

"So, JG, when are you going to file your report on the Esstas and our taking on survivors? I'll need it for my message to Emperors and Butterflies by 0800 tomorrow," Alexandra asked JG softly.

JG lifted her eyes from the game board. She looked back down at her player and moved it to stand next to her magician…only it turned into a rock.

"Helgas moon!" she muttered, "you said that on purpose so I would lose concentration. What do you mean I fill out a report? Those are the perks of being captain."

"But it was an operation that took place off this ship," Alexandra pointed out, and then made four of JG's plunders disappear and then reappear in her dungeon.

"As captain, you ordered it," JG took Alexandra's magician's pet dog to punish her.

"Okay. I'll include your report with mine," she smirked as she dropped a net over JG's key player. "Gotcha."

"Where did you learn to cheat like that?" JG asked dismayed as she watched the score tally up.

"Ha! I used to be the ranking CheeMaat player in Committee space."

"Well, I can tell you didn't hone it on Spinner's Tale."

"Sure did. They may have been slow in a lot of things…but at board games they were masters."

"Selective dumbing," Vanster remarked from her comfortable couch nearby. Arax was also in the couch, napping. Her mother, Lashay and mother's husband B'eme, were enjoying music in their quarters. Lashay's recovery was coming along well though the infant, M'thore was still weak. Apparently, they were transporting the ailing infant to a hospital for the child's parents who could not afford to accompany the child. Relatives of the ailing child would care for him until the family could afford to return him to his parents.

"You don't have any argument with me on that," Alexandra replied distractedly as she mentally touched each of their guests. JG, who still possessed some of her sensitivity, chose to let Alexandra do the 'touchy" stuff.

"Arax says C'cogi is busy, but is every bit of what it advertises. Mind if I take liberty…disappear for a few days?"

"Just tell us where you're going and check in daily. On the third day, maybe we can meet for dinner or something." Alexandra looked over at JG to see as head of security if she had a problem with that. JG caught the tone it was asked in and nodded her okay. Then she looked back at the board game to study Alexandra's moves. She hated getting beaten.

"You two make me feel like you're my parents," Vanster complained.

"We're in unknown territory and we don't have a troop for backup," Zohra told her seriously.

"Sorry, Major," Vanster mumbled. "I…its reflex."

JG waved the explanation away. "Verow delate," she quoted. It was a Black Rose warning that someone was getting too lax.

Vanster was uncertain of what to do with the young elf. Since the first day, the young woman had been pursuing her. She wondered what kind of signals she was putting out that indicated she was interested. Vanster was interested in both men and women, and right now she was fed up with female energy. She was looking for something different - more course and rough.

"Well, I'm going to get the storage bay locked down for our downtime," Alexandra announced.

Vanster glanced at JG who was frowning over the board, trying to figure out how her spouse fooled her. Vanster hated that game. Too much fighting with unseen weapons. The woman leaning against her moved, brushing a sensitive area as she did. Vanster looked into the normally silver eyes of the elfin and found them almost black. She wondered if that was the color they turned when they were sexually turned on.

Alexandra was disturbed by the emotions she was picking up from their guests. They were polite and very grateful that they were rescued…but she could feel something underneath the politeness.

As with all military ships, guests were usually restricted from certain areas, and on Rouster there were not many places their guests could roam without an escort. The adults accepted the restrictions and kept to their quarters and the mess. However, Arax was curious; therefore, when Vanster was not on duty, she stayed close to Arax so she could move restlessly about. Alexandra could feel Vanster's interest in the young woman, but knew if they reached harbor, she would seek others. She wondered what Arax would do about that.

Alexandra entered Yanaba, and began the lock down sequence. It took thirty stan minutes since she wanted to first make sure no one had tampered with her. As she was leaving she nearly ran into B'eme who was stepping onto the ramp. Alexandra held up her palm and shook her head.

"This ship is off-bounds," she told him. "And so is this bay."

He nodded smiling. "Just thought I could get a look since someone was here. I'm curious how different your ships are to ours." His tone was amiable, but Alexandra could see erratic flashes of energy around him that left her unsure of his ulterior motives. Since she was not familiar with his species, she relied on her instincts.

Alexandra shook her head.

C'cogi station was bustling with travelers from various planets. The rectangular multilayered station with bulbous eyes that formed dots on her exterior orbited the planet Marigold. Ships either awaiting their turn to unload or just at station keeping while their crews shuttled over for business or a break from duty, formed a cluttered half circle around the station, leaving the space between the planet and space station free for shuttle travel. The station was colorful with advertisements, hawkers and brightly clad passengers.

Major Jina Gari Zohra stepped off the ship with Lt. Megan Vanster eagerly tailing. Since this could loosely be termed a recon mission, the major was in charge which left Captain Montran aboard to gather information and make certain there would be no unwanted boarding while docked. Alexandra sighed as she began the search for what the Talog Collage was. C'cogi station was a part of that organization.

"Hm. Okay, it's the name of the collection of planets around here that unified under the premise to agree to disagree on individual planet business but to keep the space around them open for trade. Sounds like most political galaxy organizations. Gawds, but I hope they don't take long. Look at all this stuff to look at!"

Zohra stepped out of the harbor patrol office with a more permanent docking space and a list of laws for the station and Marigold, just incase they should decide to visit planet-side. In a soft voice she gave docking directions to Alexandra over her neck communicator as Vanster led the way to their next job, seeing their rescued survivors were safely taken care of.

A ripple of anxiety passed through the milling crowd, causing Zohra to look for the source. A small party of uniformed people moved off in the distance. The crowd parted quickly, seeming to loathe their presence.

"Thank you all for rescuing us," Arax spoke, distracting Zohra. She gestured to one side of the station. "The trade tents are over to the left. Go to Trader Orontha. Tell him I sent you. He will give you a fare trade for your goods and advice on where not to spend your dacas, or credits. You can use them here and on Marigold, should you wish to visit."

"Thank you, Arax. We are glad we could be of some service to you," Zohra answered. "We're sorry we could not have saved your ship."

Arax waved a hand in dismissal and grinned. "If Pater B'eme had spent the extra money on upgrading the energy field instead of gambling it away we would not have had the problem."

"So you don't mind not having a ship…to explore the stars?" Vanster asked surprised. After trying to answer all her questions about space travel, which Vanster knew very little about, she had assumed Arax loved to travel.

"Not in that heap of metal! We've been lucky. If his family invests in another ship, it will be mother that will be handling the money this time around." She glanced at the group she had introduced as her pater's family. They appeared to be waiting for her. Reluctantly Arax moved to join them.

"See ya around," Vanster told her gruffly. Arax turned slightly and smiled before disappearing in the crowd.

"Well, let's go and see what we can get for this stuff."

"I thought you liked that?" Vanster referred to the vase that had been a wedding gift from a young Kiuzu trainee on Arnica.

"I do," she admitted embarrassed. "But…I don't like who gave it to us. She was flirting with Alexandra."

Vanster broke out in laughter. She quickly stifled it when she noticed the startled looks on the people passing by them. She could not remember her stalwart friend ever showing jealousy or possessiveness with anyone she had been with. "Gawds! JG it was meant as a compliment. It's to show the groom…uhh…other bride…that they have a valuable catch." Vanster's stifled laugh started to sound like giggles, as JG's expression changed to a rueful smile.

"How did you find out?"

Vanster glanced at her. "Well…I…had issue with her attitude and had a chat with her," she admitted embarrassed.

JG let out a puff of air. "I should have done it myself. I just got…uh…busy with other things." Her eyes caught a vendor that had boxes with intricate designs and she weaved her way over for a closer look.

Vanster looked around anxiously. "JG, I don't like this crowd," she told her in an undertone.

Guiltily, JG quickly brought her attention back to their surroundings. "Yeah. Come on. Let's look for Arax's friend and we'll see just how fair he is."

Trader Orontha's tent was well marked and JG liked the feel around his area. He was elfin though not with the same features as Arax. His skin was darker and his eyes were golden. After mentioning Arax's name he became more open with advice. He recommended not to sell the vase on the station but rather go to Marigold. He even gave her the name of a shop that would give her a fair price.

"On our way here we encountered a ship that only identified itself as Recruiters. Do you know who they could be?" JG asked.

He studied the two women with an appraising eye. "They won't bother you while you're on the station, but once you're free from the harbor patrol's territory, they'll board ya and try and get ya to join their ranks. They troll the station for hopefuls, and wait. Since you said you had an encounter, I take that to mean you were able to escape. Best to keep an eye on each other. They'll take that as a challenge."

He glanced around him and the two women made discreet glances too.

He leaned closer to JG. "They've been getting bold the last year and kidnapping those they think will make good fighters. That's overstepping their recruiting charter."

"Fighters?" the two muttered in a threatening voice.

"For the arena. We don't have wars anymore. We have the arena where trained soldiers refight battles from history. A lot of times those outcomes change, and the fortunes of those foolish enough to gamble on such an imprudent game. There's been an increase of hostility among the losers of late. Rumor that some of the fights are predetermined doesn't help. And all that loss of life," he added sadly.

Both women glanced at each other, echoing silent warning signals.

"Is there a law to protect the kidnapped?" JG asked.

"Who's going to stand up to them?" He gestured to the recruiting posters hanging among the other advertisements. "They're supposed to ask. At one time there was over ten recruitment companies vying for willing members, but now there is one. Sooner or later the magistrate and the counsel will have to stand up to that…general. And it better be sooner!"

JG picked up his unspoken thought. His clan was disappearing. JG knew elf folk did not make good soldiers unless the war was for their cause. The trader feared that his kin were being used as prey for the training of the company soldiers. JG thought so too.

The two wished the trader well and thanked him for his advice and information.


"Hi, hon," JG plopped in the seat next to Alexandra and leaned over to kiss her cheek.

"Hi, love. What did you find out about the local customs?"

"That we're gonna have to keep our eyes peeled for the Recruiters when we leave this harbor. Assholes have taken up kidnapping for potential soldier material." JG's angry tone was reflected in her darkened eyes.

"Exactly what I've picked up their local newscasts."

"I went back to the Station Master's office. The official comment was that the station and planet are neutral zones and the recruiters have authority only to pursue AWOL soldiers."

"I hope they know the difference between AWOL and tourists. Damn. Well, we're here and I plan on having a good time…just you and me." She leaned over and kissed JG tenderly.

Vanster was in her quarters changing into her newly acquired attire. She made arrangements for her days off while JG went to make sure the Station Master understood why it would not be a good idea to target them for a foreign military's draft mob.

Probably told him in no uncertain terms that besides the sister-hood, they would have to worry about two military galaxy powers, and Lady Montran's clan that would come and whoop their arses if anything happened to us. She grinned as she attached her sexy underwear and stepped back to scrutinize the effect. Uh huh. Tough love in a leather thong. The cut of thigh muscles was admired as she flexed one and then the other, admiring the hard work she put into keeping herself strong.

Next, she touched her pulse points with scent. For outer clothing a tunic was selected designed to be removed easily, but also concealing her strong physique. A long skirt was wrapped around her lower torso, and tested for movement. Vanster did not dress in what could turn out to be a handicap should she be attacked. She picked up the hardcopy of an image of the advertised male model she had selected and studied him for a few moments. He was not muscular but he had enough meat on him in the right places and he was advertised to be strong in other areas. She intended on playing mistress to a man who had enough fight in him to resist her long enough for her to feel the heat of conquest.

Humming, Vanster met her crewmates in the cargo bay.

"Call us daily," JG ordered her. "We'll be staying at Manfra's Home Away From Home." She slung her pack over one shoulder and gave a smile to Alexandra who also picked up her pack.

Not planning on going anywhere but the brothel she was unimpressed with the warnings. She had been to many foreign ports and spent her downtime alone in various brothels. Anyone who thought they could take her down spent time recuperating in a medical ward, rethinking their mistake. "Yes, ma'am," Vanster responded distractedly as images of slave scenarios played in her mind, forgetting altogether that her two companions could read her thoughts.

The three walked down the ramp and into the busy throng of people. It was end of a shift the tourist advisory had informed them. If they wanted a shuttle planet-side it would be better to wait an hour when they were not so full.

Alexandra and JG had reserved a honeymoon suite on the station with the intent of working off their unbridled sexual energy. It was easy to find the hotel. It was two levels up from where they docked with a view of their ship. The balcony bowed out into space with an expansive view of stars and ships comfortably nestled in their moorings. However, the two occupants were not interested in that view.

"Wow. Look at the bed!" Alexandra studied the dials on the side. "Not like Merkers. You can dial smells and sounds but not the rest of the atmosphere. Oh," she purred both in sound and thought, setting up a pleasant vibration along their telepathic connection when arms encircled her. Hands moved from her waist to her thighs and then slowly up to curl around her covered breasts.

While JG nuzzled the back of her neck through her curly hair, JG's hands lifted to untie the ties that held her spouses top together. Fingers intentionally lingered on bare skin as the ties were pulled loose. Not losing contact with her body, JG dragged her hands down to the bottom of the blouse and pulled it from her slacks. As she lifted the blouse, her palms radiated heat against skin that pebbled from the sudden cool air. Holding the blouse up around Alexandra's shoulders, JG's lips sucked on her back. She dragged her tongue along the groves of her muscular back and stopped at the nape of her neck. Her palms cupped around Alexandra's soft breasts as her fingers squeezed her nipples.

Both women moaned as a slow burn curled in their stomachs and settled in their budded flowers. Alexandra pushed hard against JG's thighs, encouraging her to rub herself against her firm butt.

Clothes were tossed haphazardly about and skin was stroked, igniting their fires further. JG pushed Alexandra's naked body onto the bed and rested her hands on Alexandra's wide spread thighs. Her swollen labium was wet with desire and with a groan JG brought her own engorged genitals against Alexandra's bud. Alexandra angled her hips to welcome the contact as they pressed against each other, and like suction cups their genitals clung to each other. Bodily fluids mixed as they rubbed, both mindless of anything but sex. After cries and bites, hands pulling the other closer, the first climax was brought to an end.

With less intensity they slowed their movements to an unhurried pace, enjoying their intimate connection. JG had not yet learned to tell the difference between her sexual arousal and Alexandra's.

Alexandra stared into the eyes of her lover, realizing that they were not dark, but rather points of light that would flare up at different times of their love making, just as her aura. She could tell the difference between Gari's arousal and her own, and knowing her lover was excited intensified hers which she shared.

In their connection the casual finger that stroked the length of an arm was as arousing as a tweak of a nipple or a tongue in the ear. A climax shared in thoughts was like experiencing a supernova, from explosion to implosion, and then a need to go on even when energies flagged. It could easily become addicting. Hearts became open and the two saw the other's frailties and fears, but most of all, the depth of love for the other.

For the staunch woman trained to be a warrior since a child, it was a new frontier and Jina Gari Zohra willingly opened herself, realizing why she and Megan Vanster could not share a relationship as intense as she was now able to experience. Vanster despised her own frailties and would never embrace them, therefore never able to accept a loved one's weaknesses. Following the brief insight, Zohra fell exhausted beside her spouse and into a deep sleep.

Alexandra sprawled across the large bed, resting a hand on her spouse's arm, too tired to move. She could feel something different in her and her lover but was too satiated to want to think any further about it.

Chapter 4

Lt. Megan Vanster nearly jumped when a small hand slipped around her elbow pulling her out of the way of a stumbling traveler. She thought she saw an annoyed look on the man's face as she avoided the collision.

"Arax! Be careful! I could have knocked you down thinking you were a thief." Vanster warned her, but realized Arax only had her welfare in mind. "You're not going with your mother?"

"No, Lt. Vanster. I thought it would be better to show you around, that way you will not loose your dacas. You have them still, yes?" she teased.

"Arax, I'm going where you can't go. I already told you…you look like a kid, and are probably too young for me. Besides, I don't feel that way about you." She uncurled the young girl's fingers from around her arm, and continued walking.

Though Vanster's legs were longer, Arax kept up effortlessly.

"I'm old enough. I just age slower than you."

Vanster stopped and turned to face her. Taking a deep breath, she decided to get tough. "Arax, I told you that though I like to have sex with men or women…I want to be with a man tonight and I don't want to have to worry about you."

"Why would you worry about me?" Arax asked surprised.

Vanster resumed her walk, spotting the sign of her destination. She pushed open the door and headed to the front desk. The proprietor was lying on his side atop of the desk with a long smoking pipe in his mouth. His black eyes looked at her and then to Arax. At the sight of Arax he frowned.

"I made arrangements for a companion for my stay," Vanster informed him.

He pointed his pipe at her, "I recognize your voice. New in town are you?" he purred. "However, you didn't mention…" he began and then glanced at Arax.

"She's not with me," Vanster told him firmly.

He raised his eyebrows. "Hm. Well, I have your room ready…however, the one you picked is not in yet. He's late!" With that he bit down hard on his pipe. "But he shall be here soon."

"Can I wait in my room?"

"Certainly!" He pushed her a card with symbols on it. "I'm sure you want to get ready." He looked pointedly at her pack.

"I'll show you where it is," Arax told her and picked up the card before either of them could say anything.

The proprietor looked at Vanster. "You have your hands full with that one. You must be pretty strong to schedule a second person."

Vanster was going to object to his incorrect summation but Arax returned and pulled her after her. Vanster's curiosity was piqued.

"Come-on. You don't want to hang around down here too long. You'll have all sorts of residents dragging you into their rooms and charging you." She took the stairs instead of the elevator. Vanster's eyes were stuck on watching Arax's rump that was a few feet from her face as they moved quickly up the stairs. By the time they reached the right floor, Vanster was sweating, but not from the workout. The room was three doors from the stairway. Arax slid the card in the box near the door and flung it open.

Vanster looked around the room, not especially impressed. The bed had a lot of gadgets attached with a cabinet nearby. Vanster opened it and looked at the apparel that was sized to fit her and her male partner…when he arrived.

All the things she asked for were in the drawer and…she sniffed the air. Following her nose, she opened up a large bathing room. The tub was filled with scented water and by the smell of it, drugged to enhance performance and feeling. She could feel the drug coyly wrapping around her and settling into her pores.

"It's alright," Vanster said softly.

"It's the deluxe room," Arax spoke behind Vanster. Vanster turned to look at Arax and was surprised. She was still wearing the same clothes but seemed different.

Ahh. The herbs. Okay…Rule number one…don't carry extra credits that can get stolen. Rule two when in a strange port and with someone you don't know…don't get tied up. Rule number three…don't take any drugs. Okay. That covers most of the don'ts. But I think…it's too late for the drugs.

Arax moved toward her in a slow sensuous walk. Vanster's heart beat faster as a thin hand lifted to rest on her shoulder. The other ran along her tunic slowly releasing the catches.

Vanster watched the hand as it unhurriedly slid the tunic off.

Lips reached over and kissed her neck, sucking on her pulse point. A cool hand trailed down her bare back while hungry lips worked their way down her neck to her nipples that were hard with desire.

Vanster groaned when her nipples where sucked and hands slid down her pants, working them off. Kicking the remaining clothing away, Arax guided her toward the tub. She sat Vanster on the ledge and while she removed her footwear, her lips undulated along her thighs. Vanster quivered, wondering why she had never gone out with an elf.


Alexandra rolled over to see where she was. She bumped into a heel. Grabbing the heel, she shook it. "Hey, I recognize this," she croaked. "I need water." Gingerly she rolled from the bed and trudged to the bathing room.

"Hm!" Leaning over she studied the controls to get the bath to fill. Finding something she twisted and was rewarded with water and at the right temperature. Going through the bottles that lined the tub, she found herbs. Many of them had drugs to enhance whatever experience the bather was intent on having.

"We don't need any of that," she muttered as she poured her selection in.

"Any of what?" JG rested a hand on the bent back as she looked to see what Alexandra was doing.

Alexandra gestured at one of the bottles. "It makes you not only horney but it also gives you the belief you can last a year."

JG laughed. "After last night…I'm don't want to go nonstop for a year." She kissed Alexandra. "How are you feeling?"

"Better…but like you, sore. What's up with that, Gari?"

JG shook her head. "I don't know. But, whatever it is…" she shrugged.

"So, are we gonna stay in here all day or do some sightseeing?"

"What's you choice, the space port or the planet below?"

"Somewhere where we don't have to walk much."

"Tour bus…we sit in the back…privacy doors? Helgas moon. I feel like a soldier that's been away tooo long."

"Ooohh. And you, my horney soldier, are soooo lucky you have an equally horney sailor at your disposal," Alexandra told her.

JG laughed and brushed Alexandra's wild hair out of her face. "We can ask the desk downstairs. But first," she leaned closer and kissed Alexandra. "Mm."

Alexandra pushed her mouth harder against JG and slowly kissed her lips, tongue and mouth, drawing out shudders and moans from her lover. Drawing back, her lips loosened a captured tongue. Gently she pushed JG into the shower. While the warm water washed over them, Alexandra kneeled below her and sucked softly on her thick lips until JG's legs shook and was no longer able to stand. She slid down the wall to join Alexandra on the tiled floor.

After more time was spent on less sore parts the two finally parted, reluctant to let the energy that surrounded them go. JG finished her shower and Alexandra chose the bath.

As Alexandra sunk under the heated water the herbs tingled against her skin. She moaned in pleasure, feeling a rush of sensuousness and lust…however, this time she closed her eyes and just enjoyed what it did to her body. This is not the same feeling I had with Sharon…but…we sure are putting out a lot of pheromones of our own.

She heard the muted sound of the shower shut off and after a short time passed JG was back in the bathing room dressed. Her long dark hair was pulled into a warrior's club. "I'm going downstairs to get the information. Be right back," JG assured her as she knelt above her and kissed her wet hair.

"I'll be here," Alexandra told her and smiled contently. This is soo nice. It's helping the sore spots too. Hmm, I think I could fall asleep in here…however, there is no bot to pull me out if I should slide under, she laughed humorously.


Zohra stepped outside their room and took a few moments to orientate herself, then headed toward the elevators. The corridor was deserted and the car that arrived was also empty. She had not checked the station time.

"Hm. In my neck of space - station hotels never close," she muttered. As the elevator began it's decent she idly thought of the night before and the time since their wedding, two months ago.

I wonder if there is another part after the bonding ceremony nobody told us about. Maybe I should look up her species and mine. I never thought to ask her. Come to think of it, I know little about my mother's family or my father's. Damn. Well, it's not like this compulsion to jump each other's bones is hurting us.

The elevator car went past the floor she wanted and came to a sudden stop. Zohra cursed mentally to herself.

When the door slid open four uniformed Recruiters with weapons lifted in ready position looked expectantly inside for their new draftee. A surprised voice echoed in the empty elevator. What could be curses were brief. The elevator door closed and moved upward, back on its programmed path.

Zohra dropped from her hiding place, having pulled herself through the small emergency exit above the roof of the car. She punched the button for the top floor. Sniffing the air she picked up foreign scents and a particularly offensive odor. Carbou, Zohra's nose twitched. The scent was a heavier smell than female carbou huntresses left. The scent was marking this as an official hunt and she was the prey. Intense feelings such as fear, were like an odor to carbou so Zohra diminished thoughts on all levels, going into automatic mode. Their reputation in Committee space was that they were the fiercest warriors than any other species that went to war, however it was a misnomer. They were the most intense. They loved the challenge of the hunt and left the fate of their captured prey to those that accompanied them.

She needed to warn Alexandra. As soon as she punched the button, she lifted herself back through the small service panel and squatted on the top as it moved up. It stopped at the original floor it was meant to. Grabbing the frame of the next floor's closed door she pulled herself against the door and pressed against it as much as she could. There was a space between the actual door and the frame of the elevator car that she could squeeze into. The elevator moved up the shaft, past her. As it moved over her she grabbed onto a brace then swung to the bottom of the car. She hung for two floors and jumped to the lip of the fifth floor. As she worked to get the door opened, she heard the elevator stop, then the alarm go off as it did a free fall past her, and then abruptly stop. She hoped no one was in the car. The door above the floor opened. She watched two soldiers enter the shaft and drop onto the top of the car. Flipping open the small panel, one dropped into the car while the other remained the look out.

There were no other lookouts opening elevator doors on the other floors…a mistake on their part. Zohra's controlled fall onto the lookout rendered him unconscious. She stripped him of his weapons, and dumped his body down the hole after making sure no one she knew was in the car. She tossed in an unexploded ordinance and shut the hatch cover. Quickly she scaled back up the wall, but changed direction when she saw her escape door was being pried open.

She studied the walls of the shaft for exits. There were four small maintenance doors, two of which she would not be able to fit through. She opened a door to another shaft. The air gusting through it took her breath away. Hanging on with both hands she swung out and clung to the side of wall, studying her alternatives. Once decided she was moving. She felt her pursuers on her trail. Nothing was taken for granted where she was going. When something appeared to be too easy or she was being herded she did the unpredictable and turned on her pursuers. When it came time for her to pull another unpredictable move she did not change her path but rather met whoever was chasing her head on. She would make sure that whoever fought her would rue the day.

A cloud of darts felled her. She would have rolled down the stairs if one of the men had not grabbed her and pulled her onto his shoulder.

"Wait for the other," the leader instructed the other three.

Continued in Section 2

The Athenaeum's Scroll Archive