Richard sat down in the Officer’s Lounge at the bar and as he sat down, Kelea came up to him. “It’s been some time since you’ve been here.” She could see the look on his face, it was a look full of disgust. “Tell me about it,” he leaned over the bar and rested his forehead on the surface, “it’s been a hell of a month. Between coordinating the expansion of the space station to the upgrades to the computer systems to handle the new additions, it’s been a hell of a month. It was a wonder that I found time to eat and sleep. But now,” he picked his head up off the bar, “the work is done, and I’ve taken some leave to go see Rachel.”
“Good,” Kelea smiled, “it’s about time you go visit your wife.”
“Yeah,” he looked down at his datapad, “I’ve got a shuttle to take in about an hour and a half to go planet-side. I just hope my daughter still recognizes me when I get there.” She shook his head.
“Oh,” Kelea reached for his hand, “I have no doubt that your daughter will still recognize her daddy.”
“I hope so,” he shook his head as he closed his eyes, “it’s been too long since I’ve visited them.” He opened his eyes again. “But I’m going to go this weekend. I told the captain that I needed to do this. She, of course, understood when I told her how long I’ve not seen my daughter.”
Just then Triara walked up behind him and rubbed his shoulders the way only she and Rachel knew how. As her fingers worked into the knots on his shoulders, he sighed. “Oh,” he sighed, “don’t stop.” He shrugged his shoulders as Triara continued to rub his shoulders and he could feel a month of tension being released with every push of her thumbs into his aching muscles. “Oh,” he moaned at which Kelea smirked, “please don’t stop.” Triara continued to rub his shoulders much to Richard’s delight. “My God, you really know how to help me relax.”
“Of course, I do,” she leaned over his shoulder and looked into his eyes, “your wife taught me this and from the feel of your shoulders,” he winced as she pressed hard into a knot in his muscles, “you’ve been bottling up too much. You really do need to vent.” He winced again as she once again pushed hard into his muscles with her thumbs. “When was the last time you relaxed?” He turned to look at her and the look on his face said it all. “Yeah, too damn long.” He nodded. “That explains your shoulders, your muscles are a wreck. You really,” he turned to look at her and rolled his eyes, “ok, I get it. I’ll shut up now.” Kelea, of course, chuckled.
She sighed as she sat down next to him at the bar. “I’ll take a double of Johnny Walker Black please.”
“And I’ll have the same Kelea.”
“Kelea?” She spoke up. “Put his drink on my bar tab.”
“So,” he looked sideways at his Zaltaen friend as he leaned against the bar, “how’s being a newly minted Space Force officer treating you?”
She scoffed as she picked up the glass of Scotch that Kelea had just put on the bar in front of her and looked at it. “I swear to the Great Maker that you Humans must love paperwork because that’s all I feel like I’m doing these days.” He chuckled. “The Zaltaen Royal Space Navy never had as much paperwork to do as you guys seem to have to do.”
“Welcome to the bureaucracy of the Space Force, we’ve been expecting you.” He laughed mirthlessly as he held his glass of Scotch up. “I deal with the same crap too and it seems the higher you ascend in the ranks, the more paperwork you end up doing.” She shook her head as she gently swirled the Scotch around in her glass, breathed in some of the smell of her drink, and took a sip at which she smiled. “Oh, Great Maker, that’s the good stuff.” She took another sip of the Scotch and looked back at him. “So, what are your plans this weekend? Do you want to hang out?”
“Nope,” he shook his head as he put his glass back down on the bar after taking a sip, “I’m going to go visit Rachel. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen her and, of course, my daughter.” She slowly nodded and smiled. “I was telling Kelea here,” he pointed at her and put his hand back down on the bar top, “that I hope my daughter still recognizes me after being away for so long.”
“Aww,” she reached for his shoulder and patted it, “I’m sure she’ll still remember her daddy.”
“Yeah well,” he sighed as he bit his lower lip, “I wish I had your confidence.” He looked at his glass, picked it up and took another sip, and smiled as the Scotch went down his throat. “But enough about me, how about you? How are you and Michael getting along? Scuttlebutt has it that you went out on your first date with him last night.”
“Well,” she picked her glass up and held it in the air, “I… I guess that our first date went well.” She shrugged. “Remember, I’m new to all of this so I have no basis to fall back onto to say whether or not our date went well.” She took another sip of her drink. He was about to say something when she continued. “I mean, it must’ve gone well since he told me that he’d like to go out with me again.”
“That’s,” he picked his glass up and moved it slightly towards her in the air, “usually a good sign. I mean, if he had said that he didn’t want to go out with you again that would’ve been a dead giveaway that he didn’t think the date had gone well. But since he did,” he sipped his drink again, “yeah,” he pointed at her, “I think it went well.” He put his glass back down on the bar top. “Has he made plans to go out on another date with you?”
“Yeah,” she turned on her barstool to face him, “he said something about doing something next weekend.”
“Then great!” he exclaimed as he threw his hands in the air. “That’s a great sign that your date with him went well. Usually, a second date doesn’t come along if the first one was shitty.” She laughed as she shook her head. “You’re overthinking things. Stop doing that!” He pointed at her with his index finger.
“I guess,” she stared down at her drink. “I just want things to go well.” She looked back at him.
“Anyways,” he looked at the chronometer on his wrist, “I’ve got to get going or I’m going to miss my shuttle.” He looked down at the glass in his hand, raised it to his lips, and tossed back the rest of his Scotch; much to Kelea’s dismay. He put the glass back down on the bar top, leaned over to kiss Triara’s cheek, and stood up from the bar. “Have a good date with Michael.”
“When are you coming back?” She asked as she turned on her barstool to face him as he began to walk away. He looked back at her over his shoulder. “Next Sunday, I plan on spending the week with my wife and daughter.” She slowly nodded as he walked away. “Good for him, he needs to spend some time with Rachel.” She turned back to Kelea who was leaning over the bar top. “And why am I just now hearing about how you’re dating Michael?” She asked in Zaltaen once again knowing that because there weren’t any Humans around, she could speak their native language.
“It just never came up.” Triara shrugged as she put her glass back down on the bar top.
“It just never came up?” she asked as she put her hand to her chest that was barely being covered by her choice of clothing that day, or any day for that matter. “Really Triara? I don’t buy that for one second. You’re my friend, at least I hope so.” Triara looked down at her lap as she said that about her. “Yeah, you’re my friend.”
“So, why didn’t you tell me?” Triara closed her eyes in shame. “You’ve got to have a reason why?”
“I wasn’t ready to tell you until I was sure about what was going on between Michael and me.”
“OK,” Kelea wobbled her head back and forth, “I can understand that. Why talk about something until you are sure about it? Right?” Triara nodded to show that she was right. “But you heard Richard, if he asked you for a second date, that must mean something. Right?” Triara simply shrugged her head. “You know, this is all so new to me, so I didn’t want to get my hopes up about this kind of stuff by telling you because then I’d have to acknowledge that this is happening in my life.”
“Oh, come on,” Kelea leaned over the bar which nearly sent her breasts spilling out of her blouse at which Triara shook her head as she saw that happen, “have some more confidence in yourself.” Triara looked up from the bar as Kelea poured more Scotch into her glass. “Any guy would be lucky to have you in their life. Quit being so damn hard on yourself already.”
Triara rolled her eyes as she took a sip of her drink. “Remember,” she pointed at Kelea, “we are aliens and Humans still aren’t…” Just then two people walked into the Officer’s Lounge, one was Commander Nathan Fox from reactor control and the other was a Zaltaen woman and they were holding hands.
Triara looked over at the Zaltaen woman, specifically the crest on her Zaltaen Royal Space Navy uniform; it was the crest of the House of Nightshadow. It was then that she began to wonder why someone like her who was from a rather high and powerful political House back on Zalta was hanging out in the Human section of the station.
“See?” Kelea pointed at Nathan and the Zaltaen woman walking by. “She’s with a Human. Why can’t you?”
“Well, you do know that Michael is still getting over the loss of his wife, Mary, so there’s that.”
“True,” Kelea shrugged, “but I doubt that he’d be willing to date you if he wasn’t ready for someone else to be in his life. He’s not the kind of guy to string someone along and you know that.”
“You do,” Triara looked up from the bar and pointed at Kelea, “have a point there.”
“I’m glad you agree with me on that one.” Kelea poured more Scotch into her glass at which Triara held her hand up. “After this, no more; I have an early duty shift in the morning, and I don’t want to show up completely hungover.” Triara picked up her glass and took another sip of the Scotch at which she smiled as the liquor went down her throat and she was starting to feel the liquor going to her head after having several shots. “I do have to know one thing though.” Kelea looked up from washing some glasses behind the bar. “Why is she,” she thumbed over at where Nelyssia was sitting with Nathan, “here,” she pointed down at the bar top, “on the station? You do know what House she comes from, right?”
“Yeah,” Kelea looked over at Nelyssia and then back at Triara, “she comes from the House of Nightshadow. I noticed her House crest. Why do you ask?”
“You know,” Triara shrugged, “the House of Nightshadow is one of the most powerful of the political Houses back on Zalta ranking right up there with the House of Greenfeather from which the queen herself comes from.” Kelea shrugged. “I mean, she’s got to have better options, right?”
“Hell, if I know,” Kelea put the glass she was cleaning back down on the underside of the bar and picked another up, and began to clean it, “why does anyone come here to this station? Better options? Did you ever bother to ask her?” Triara shook her head. “The only way you can find out is if you ask her, right?”
“Me?” Triara pointed at herself. “Hello? CIC to Kelea, come in, Kelea.” Kelea chuckled at how she had used a military term. “I’m a Zaltaen without a House, I might as well be a nobody to her; I doubt she’d even say one damn word to me. She’d probably find it beneath her to even utter one word to me.”
“Well, you have your chance to ask.” Kelea pointed over at where Nelyssia was standing at the bar, and she was obviously waiting for Kelea to come over to her. “Give me a moment,” she held her finger up, “I have to attend to her.” Triara, of course, understood.
Kelea approached Nelyssia. “So, what’ll it be hun?”
“I’ll take two Olympus Mons Porters for myself and my date.” As Nelyssia mentioned what she wanted, Triara was rather shocked, and it must have shown on her face for Nelyssia looked over at her. “What?” She shrugged. “I just want a drink. Is there anything wrong with that?”
“Well, yes,” Triara stuttered, “I mean… no, there’s no problem at all. It’s just that I’m rather shocked.” Nelyssia looked at Triara with a questioning look on her face. “It’s just that I don’t know many Zaltaens other than myself,” she put her hand to her chest, “and Kelea,” she pointed at her standing behind the bar, “that are willing to embrace the more, shall we say, hedonistic ways of humanity such as,” she pointed at the two glasses of beer that we placed before her by Kelea, “drinking alcohol for anything other than for celebratory events according to traditional Zaltaen customs.”
“Yeah well,” Nelyssia laughed, “I don’t believe in that kind of stuff. I’ve been among Humans for a long time and have more than adjusted to their ways of thinking about the world. In fact, I was one of the undercover agents that were planted among Humans. It was while undercover that I met Nathan.”
“Oh, I get it,” Triara pointed at her glass that still had a bit of Scotch in it, “I drink as well and then there’s how I’m dressed.” She turned on her barstool and gave Nelyssia a look at how she was dressed. “See what I mean? I’m wearing a skirt like most Human women would.” She shrugged. “About the only thing I have a hang up on is how…” Nelyssia interrupted her. “Yes, I get it.” She looked down at herself. “I’d be wearing the same thing you’re wearing if I didn’t just get off work. Nathan and I are here to get a drink after work for some relaxation.”
“No offense but how?” Triara asked as she pointed at Nelyssia’s House crest. “You’re still wearing your House crest. How have you not been,” she looked down as she once again thought about her situation, “cast out of your House like I was?” She looked back up. “If you haven’t heard, I’m a Zaltaen without a House; I’m surprised that you’d even want to talk to me.”
“Oh,” Nelyssia sighed. “Now I understand why you’re asking me these questions. And no,” she shook her head slightly, “I didn’t know you were cast out of your House. But then again, I just got here along with my fiancé, Nathan.”
“Yeah,” she watched as Nathan came up behind her and put his arms around her from behind, and looked back at him, “isn’t that right, honey?” Nathan brought her close and hugged her. “Yeah,” he smiled as he kissed Nelyssia’s cheek. “What’s taking so long? Who are you talking to?”
“Sorry, I never mentioned my name.” Triara extended her hand forward. “I’m Triara. I used to be part of the House of Moonbeam before as I already mentioned to Nelyssia here that I was cast out of my House.”
“Oh.” Nathan breathed out through pursed lips as he looked Triara over. “I’m sorry.”
“As am I,” Triara shook her head, “but I at least can say that I was able to keep my naval commission and I’ve since, with the help of some good friends, joined the Human Federation Space Force. Please,” she motioned for them to sit down, “won’t you join me?” Meanwhile, Kelea looked over at Triara off in the distance and nodded in approval.
“Sure!” Nelyssia exclaimed as she pulled out a barstool and sat down while Nathan did the same beside her at the bar. “You mentioned that you had some help from some good friends. What do you mean by that?”
“If you remember back when we all dropped our disguises, I had revealed my true self,” she looked down at herself and waved her hand down herself in the air, “to two Humans: Richard and Rachel. Ever since then, they’ve been two of my best friends, really the best friends that a,” she sighed as she closed her eyes, “Zaltaen could ever have in her life.” She opened her eyes again. “Recently, Richard welcomed me into his family.” She watched Nelyssia and Nathan look at each other. “I even met Richard’s parents; they too welcomed me into their home. Richard tells me that he sees me like a sister that he never had.”
“Wow,” Nelyssia breathed out, “that’s amazing. You’re lucky to have met them. From what I understand, not all of our people were accepted like that onboard Human ships. I’ve heard some seriously bad horror stories,” Triara nodded her head, “as I’m sure you’ve heard some yourself. Luckily for me, like you, I showed my true self to Nathan here,” she looked at him over her shoulder and then back at Triara, “and…” Nathan spoke up. “Yeah, it sounds like Richard and Rachel received you much like I received Nelyssia back then. I’m sure that others onboard your ship at the time were not at all welcoming towards you.” Triara shook her head. “Yeah, I thought so. Nelyssia and I, who while undercover I knew as Erin, were good friends for a long time. When she came to my room and dropped her disguise right there in front of me, I had several questions much like I’m sure Richard and Rachel had for you.”
“Not really,” Triara said. “I mean yes, they asked some questions but honestly, they were more fascinated with how I looked. They said that I looked like something,” she chuckled, “straight out of a Tolkien novel.”
Nathan laughed. “Yeah, that’s the same thing I said!” Nathan exclaimed. “Right, honey?” He kissed her cheek. “To this day, I call Nelyssia my space elf.” Nelyssia smiled as she too turned to kiss him. “Right, you are Nathan. I love you.” Nathan once again kissed her and as Triara watched the two of them show obvious signs of affection towards each other, she couldn’t help but feel jealous of what they had. She hoped that perhaps one day she and Michael could have the same thing that they had but it was too early in their relationship to tell where their relationship would go.
“But I have to ask,” Triara looked over at Nathan and then back at Nelyssia, “what does your matriarch think about how the two of you are together? I can’t imagine that she’s happy about your relationship with Nathan. Or, have you,” she pointed at Nelyssia, “told her of the kind of relationship that you have together? And if you have,” Triara watched Nelyssia nod her head, “how have you not been cast out of your House like I was over how the two of you are together?”
“Well,” Nelyssia paused, “my House recently had a new matriarch appointed as leader of our House that’s more, shall we say, liberal in her ways of thinking. She’s not like many of our elders that caused our society to stagnate, she’s open to new ideas. Now, had I told the old matriarch about our relationship then yes,” she rolled her eyes, “I would also have been cast out of my House much like you were. However, I’m happy to know that that didn’t happen to me. As for you,” Nelyssia reached for Triara’s knee, “I’m deeply sorry that that happened to you. You seem like a nice person; you didn’t deserve it.”
“Thank you,” Triara smiled as she touched Nelyssia’s hand and briefly scanned Nelyssia’s thoughts telepathically, “I appreciate it. I really do. Richard thinks the same way as you do in the sense that he too thinks I didn’t deserve it. As you can probably imagine, after what happened to me, I don’t have many friends besides Richard and Rachel,” she pointed at Kelea at the other side of the bar, “Kelea, and a few others. And when it comes to the other Zaltaens aboard this station because many of them come from prestigious Houses, they want nothing to do with me.”
“It’s their loss,” Nelyssia shrugged. “However, speaking about not having many friends, Nathan and I,” she looked at Nathan over her shoulder, “just got assigned to the station two weeks ago.” Triara, meanwhile, had wondered why she hadn’t seen them before. “If you ever want to hang out with us,” she felt Nathan’s hand on her shoulder, “we wouldn’t mind. We usually hang out here after work to have a drink or two before we turn in for the night. If you want to join us, we’d love to have you join us.”
“I’d love to.” Triara yawned. “But I’ve got to get going, I have an early morning shift and I need to get some sleep. I didn’t get much sleep the night before.” She was about to stand up when Nelyssia reached for Triara’s hand. “Wait.” Nelyssia looked back at Nathan and the both of them tossed back what they had left of their beer. “We’ll come with you.” They both came up behind Triara. “Where do you live?”
“Blue section, sector two.”
“That’s where we live,” Nathan said as they approached the lift that would take them to the tram level. “Nelyssia and I live together.” Triara looked back at them as the door to the lift opened. “Wait.” She stopped in the middle of the doorway to the lift, turned about, and put her hand on the door to stop it from closing. “You two live together?” They both nodded. “As in… together?” She made the air quotes gesture with her fingers. Again, they both nodded as Triara walked backward into the lift allowing the two of them to come inside.
“Why do you seem so shocked Triara?” Nelyssia asked. “You know you don’t hold a monopoly on Zaltaens embracing more of what humanity has to offer, you know.” She put her hands on her hips. “I got off Zalta because I couldn’t stand the place anymore after I heard how many opportunities were in Human space and the rest of the galaxy. As you’re probably already aware,” she pressed the button for the tram level on the console, “Zalta’s a snooze fest when compared to what’s going on out here in the rest of the galaxy.”
“You’re not wrong about that.” Triara pointed at Nelyssia. “There’s so much more going on out here than back in the Zaltaen star system or for that matter, any Zaltaen star system.”
“Exactly!” Nelyssia exclaimed. “I got out here in Human space to explore and experience new things.” She scoffed. “I came out here to learn about humanity and in the time that I’ve been among Humans, Zaltaens back home have humanity all wrong. Oh sure,” she laughed, “humanity may be a bit rough around the edges.”
“Hey!” Nathan exclaimed.
“Let me finish my love,” Nelyssia smirked. “As I was going to say, humanity may be a bit rough around the edges,” Triara watched Nathan roll his eyes, “but they’re nowhere near as bad as the elders back home would like you to believe and you, yourself, already know that. Right?” Triara nodded as the lift came to a stop and the three of them walked off the lift at which Nelyssia turned back at Triara who was walking behind her. “In the time that I’ve been among Humans, I’ve become quite fond of humanity in general. I love being among Humans! They’re so not like the sticks in the mud that Zaltaens can generally be.” She laughed. “I’ve tried to talk to some of the Zaltaens here on the station to try and get them to open up to humanity as I have, but damn,” she raised a hand in the air, “it seems like I’m talking to a damn wall.” Triara chuckled for she too had similar experiences. “They’ve, to use a Human phrase, bought the line that our elders back home are selling hook, line, and sinker.”
The three of them came to the edge of the tram platform and waited for a tram to come.
“Let me tell you this,” Nelyssia pointed at Triara, “ever since I’ve come to live among Humans and, of course, ever since I started dating Nathan here,” she reached down and took hold of his hand, “I’ve been the happiest I’ve been in years! Going back home to Zalta seems like torture.”
“You do have a point,” Triara looked down at the floor of the tram platform, “however, I do have to ask,” she looked back up at Nelyssia, “how have you two been together?”
“Excellent!” Nelyssia exclaimed. “As I said before, ever since I found Nathan,” she looked at him and kissed his cheek, “my life has been rewarding. I mean come on,” she showed Triara her hand on which there was an engagement ring on her finger, “Nathan here proposed marriage to me! I mean seriously! I have no doubt that if I had stayed back home on Zalta, I’d be absolutely miserable.” She put an arm around Nathan. “I have everything I could ever want with Nathan in my life. I have someone in my life that doesn’t care what I am or what world I came from and most importantly,” she turned to Nathan, “he loves me, and I love him.” She turned back to Triara. “I have everything that I could’ve ever hoped for and a whole lot more. So, with all of that being said, what’s stopping you from finding love in your life? Are you dating someone?”
Just then the tram came up to the station and the three of them boarded the tram at which they sat down in the relatively vacant tram for at that hour of the night, traffic on the tram wasn’t that heavy for they were in the middle of a shift, and it wouldn’t be a busy again for another couple of hours.
“Well,” Triara nervously reached up and rubbed the back of her neck, “I am sort of dating someone but it’s a bit complicated because of his baggage.”
“Complicated how?” Nathan asked. “What kind of baggage are you talking about here?”
“Well.” Triara looked down at her lap, crossed her legs, and tugged at her skirt. “I’m dating this guy named Michael and he’s got a young daughter, she’s four standard Terran years old.” Both Nelyssia and Nathan looked at each other and raised their eyebrows. “And during the war between the Human Federation and the then ACF, he lost his wife and mother of his child. His wife was his… high school sweetheart.”
“Ouch!” Nathan exclaimed as he winced. “Now that complicates things.”
“OK, so you’ve been out on a date with him. Right?” Nelyssia asked. “How did it go? How did the date go? Did he ask you out again for another date? Spill it, girl!” Nathan chuckled at how his girlfriend and soon-to-be wife was acting and talking so much like a Human.
“Yes, he said something about doing something next weekend.”
“Well, that’s a good sign!” Nathan exclaimed.
“Do you like him?” Nelyssia asked. “Did you have a good time with him on your first date with him?”
“Well yeah,” Triara looked down at her lap again, “I do.” She looked back up. “I like him a lot. He’s a lot like my friend Richard. And yes, we had a wonderful time together and he told me that he’s interested in me. It’s just that,” she sighed, “I just hope I’m not getting in over my head considering what baggage he has. I mean, I want to help him. He’s hurting. He doesn’t show it, but I can,” she tapped the side of her head, “sense it. He tries so hard to bury his pain but it’s there, I can feel it.”
Nathan sighed. “Alright Triara, if there’s any advice that I can give you, it’s that you need to give him time. People like him, especially after he’s been hurt so badly and lost so much in his life, need time. Eventually, if he indeed is interested in you as you say he is, he will open up to you. He needs to learn to trust you and only time will make that possible.”
“Yeah,” Nelyssia reached over to Nathan and took hold of Triara’s hand, “that’s what I was going to say. Give him the space he needs. And as Nathan said, if he’s indeed interested in you like you say he is, he just needs time. And when it does come time for him to open up to you, be there for him; he’s going to need you.”
“I will.” Just then the tram stopped in blue section, sector two. “Well, here’s my stop.” Triara stood up from the seat and approached the door. “This is where I get off.” They too stood up. “Where are you two going?” They both pointed at the door as the door opened. “We’re in this section too.” They continued to walk down the hallway to the respective staterooms when Triara stopped at hers and when she looked behind her, Nelyssia and Nathan stopped at a room right across the hall. “Wait,” she called to them before they had a chance to walk into their room, “you live across the hall from me?”
“Yeah.” Nelyssia turned about. “You didn’t know that?”
“I thought Ensign Leah Pearce lived there.” Nelyssia turned about. “Yeah, she used to live here; she was transferred to the shipyard about a month ago. She received a promotion to Lieutenant and a change of station in the process, I’m surprised you didn’t hear that.” Triara shook her head. “I had no idea. Honestly,” she reached up and rubbed the back of her neck, “I’ve been far too busy with my workload to know what’s happening on the station.” She yawned. “Anyways, it was nice talking with the both of you, but I need some sleep. Good night.”
“Good night.” The two of them smiled and walked into their stateroom that they shared.
In Triara’s stateroom, she leaned against the door as it closed behind her. “That went better than I had thought.” Just then her datapad dinged showing that she had received a message from Kelea; it read… “See what I told you?” Triara rolled her eyes as she read it. She typed a message back saying… “Yeah, you were right.”
As the door closed, Nathan turned to Nelyssia. “What do you think about her?”
“Well,” Nelyssia began to unbutton her uniform blouse, “she’s got some issues.” She took her uniform blouse off and threw it on the couch. “That’s for sure! Then again,” she reached down around herself to take her uniform t-shirt off leaving her wearing only her bra and her uniform pants and boots, “if I were in her position and I,” she pointed at herself, “had been cast out of my House, I’d have some issues too.”
“That’s true,” Nathan sat down on the couch and watched her get undressed, “you can take your shower first, I don’t mind.” Nelyssia nodded and continued to undress. “That’s probably the case. She’s trying to not let it affect her but it’s clear that she still has some issues.”
“Any Zaltaen would.” She sat down on the couch and began to take her combat boots off. “For a Zaltaen to be cast out of their respective House, especially in the upper Houses, is to lose said honor among our people. It’s kind of a big deal,” she sat back up, “and I’m not surprised that she still has some lingering issues that she might not want others to see in her despite her putting on a brave face. She’s trying to remain strong but there are, as you said,” she stood up and undid her uniform belt, “cracks in that armor she wears.”
“Yeah,” Nathan shook his head, “but you better go take your shower so I can take mine.” He looked up at his fiancée while she was wearing very little. “We both have an early morning to look forward to, seeing as how we’re finally going to get married.”
“I know,” Nelyssia walked away, “I can’t wait.”
The next morning Nelyssia and Nathan were standing outside of Captain Byrne’s office just off the command deck waiting for their appointment with her. Nelyssia could see Nathan’s nervousness. “Honey, it’s going to be OK. I know it.” A Zaltaen officer walked by and sneered at Nelyssia at which she turned about and sneered back at her. “As the Humans say, screw off. What I want to do in my life is none of your business.” Just as she said that the door to Captain Byrne’s office opened.
“Please, come in.” At that, the two of them walked into the captain’s office. “I was told that you wanted to have a private meeting with me.”
“Yes captain,” Nathan spoke up, “I’d like to have you marry us.”
“Well then,” Danielle stood up from her desk and came over to their side of the desk, “before we begin, I have to have someone to witness this ceremony.” She looked back at her desk and pressed a button on it. “Lieutenant Leffler, please come to my office.” A few moments later, Lieutenant Leffler knocked on her door, which Danielle opened the door.
“Reporting as ordered, captain.” She stood at attention with her hand at her eyebrow.
“At ease.” Lieutenant Leffler, of course, at her captain’s request, put her arm down at stood at ease. “I’ve called you here to be a witness to a most joyous and wonderful event in these,” she pointed at Nathan and Nelyssia, “two lives. They’ve requested that I marry them, and I need someone to stand witness and seeing as how Commander Smith is off station, I thought that you, my adjunct, could stand as that witness.”
“It would be an honor,” the small and somewhat petite Asian woman bowed, “to stand witness for this most joyous of occasions.”
“As you know, Nathan,” he nodded, “this is a tradition that harkens back to the days of the wet navies of Terra, the tradition that a captain of a ship has the honor to marry two people. However, it’s not something that I’ve ever done before but I’m happy to have been asked. In fact, it’s an honor to be able to do this for the two of you.” She picked up her datapad from her desk and began to read their personnel records. “I see that the two of you have known each other ever since Zaltaens dropped their disguises. Right?”
“Yes captain,” Nathan replied curtly.
“Please,” Danielle put her hand up, “call me Danielle. Being called captain during such a joyous occasion is a bit stuffy. Would you agree?”
“Yes ca… I mean, Danielle.” He nodded slowly. “Nelyssia and I met right after all the Zaltaens dropped their disguises. In fact,” he looked at her, “I was the first person who she revealed her true self to. She told me that she felt that I’d be more receptive to her revealing her true self to.”
“I know,” Danielle paused, “I had a similar experience myself. A good friend of mine, Elantia, revealed her true self to me as well. Since she’s gone back to Zalta, I don’t talk with her as much as I’d like to, but we do try and talk at least once a week to keep in touch with each other. In a lot of ways, I think she’s helped me keep things together after the loss of my husband and father of my children during our war with the then ACF.”
Both Nathan and Nelyssia looked at each other out of the corner of both of their eyes; they both didn’t expect her to be so forward with her personal life.
“She’s invited me to come stay with her on Zalta 4-B the next time I have leave so I might just take her up on that offer and go visit her world.”
“Oh,” Nelyssia spoke up, “I really do encourage you to do so. Zalta 4-B is a beautiful planet with a whole host of activities to do. In fact, Nathan and I,” she looked to her fiancé, “when we do get leave, we plan to spend our honeymoon there. Isn’t that right, honey?” Nathan smiled and caressed Nelyssia’s back as he thought about being able to spend some alone time with his newlywed wife.
It was then that as Danielle watched Nathan and Nelyssia, she remembered back to how her life was like with her then fiancé and it was very much like they were. Her life with her husband was so hopeful, so full of happiness and she could only hope that their life wouldn’t end up like hers. She closed her eyes and fought hard to keep the tears at bay.
“Everything from just lying on the beach to something called surfing but if tropical environments aren’t your thing, there’s always the more mountainous regions where one can find snow-covered mountains where many Humans have brought something called skiing and snowboarding. And then there’s the food, Great Maker… the food scene is something to behold I tell you!” She licked her lips. “I really do encourage you to partake in traditional Zaltaen cuisine while you’re there. If you don’t, you would be missing out on a lot.”
“I know.” Danielle smiled as she opened her eyes and hoped to God that they didn’t see a tear drop down her face. “Elantia has told me. The more you tell me about your world the more I want to go there. God knows that I need some leave so with that being said, I’m going to take her up on her offer to go there and do some much needed relaxing.
“However,” she turned to her adjunct, “I am a busy woman, so I’d like to continue.”
“Yes Danielle,” Nelyssia nodded, “I’m sure you are.”
“Anyways,” Danielle paused, “seeing as how I’ve never done this before, I had to look up the rites and rules of this ritual but rest assured, I have it and as I said before, it would be an honor to join the two of you in marriage.” She put the datapad down. “Without further ado, let’s get the show on the road.” She looked at Nathan as she rubbed her hands together. “Do you, Nathan, take Nelyssia to be your lawfully wedded wife; to have and to hold, for better or worse, in good times and in bad, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, from this day forward, until death do you part?”
Nathan looked to Nelyssia and took hold of her hands. “Yes; yes, I do. I very much do.”
“Do you, Nelyssia, take Nathan to be your lawfully wedded husband; to have and to hold, for better or worse, in good times and in bad, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, from this day forward, until death do you part?”
Nelyssia squeezed Nathan’s hands as she looked down. “Yes, yes I do; I wholeheartedly do.”
“Then by the powers vested in me by the Human Federation Government and by the Space Force Bureau of Personnel, I now pronounce you… husband and wife.” She paused as she watched Nathan and Nelyssia look into each other’s eyes. “You may now kiss the bride.”
Michael pressed the button next to Triara’s door, at which the door opened which he thought was weird but didn’t think much of it beyond that.
As he stepped inside, he looked about the main room of her stateroom and she was nowhere to be found. “Triara?” He continued to look about. “Where are you?” He called to her.
She had to have been in the stateroom because the only way the door could’ve been opened for him was if someone had opened it from the inside.
“Triara? Where are…” He wasn’t able to finish the sentence for as Triara walked into the main room out of her bedroom, his jaw dropped open.
“What do you think?” Triara asked as she spun about to give him a good look at what she had chosen to wear for their date that evening. She faced him again as she slid her hands down the sides of her hips. “I thought I’d wear something nice for our date tonight.”
There she stood before him wearing a very tight body-contouring dress that left very little to the imagination for it seemed to mold itself to every single curve of her very feminine figure.
He gulped as he looked her over and saw how the dress seemed to push up her already ample sized chest and bring attention to her shapely backside. And then there were her high-heeled shoes and black opaque tights that seemed to make her already long, lean, and sexy legs look that much sexier.
“I hope you like it. Is this too much?” She asked as she smirked, she knew that he was drinking in her appearance.
“Um,” he gulped as he once again looked her up and down, “uh… no.” He gulped again as she walked up to him and put her arms around his neck. “I was hoping you’d say that. I bought this dress for this very evening. Do you like it?”
“Um.” He gulped again as he felt her press herself against him because he didn’t expect her to be so forward. “Yes… I do like it.”
“Good,” she purred as she stood with mere centimeters between their noses. “Kelea said that this dress was more of a second date kind of dress.” He nervously nodded in agreement. “I’m glad you like it.” She smirked as she felt his hands caress her backside. “What are your plans for the evening?”
“How about we go out for dinner and then we’ll see where the evening takes us.”
As Michael brought Triara back to her stateroom, she stopped at her door and paused. “Michael?” He hummed as she took him into her arms. “I had a wonderful time with you tonight.”
“As did I, Triara.” She felt him caress her back.
“When will you be free for another evening like this?”
“Unfortunately,” he shook his head, “it might be a while. My department has a big project coming up and I don’t know when I’ll be able to get away.” He could see the disappointment on her face. “But I’ll try and make time for you for I want to spend more time with you.” He watched her smile at the thought that he wanted to spend time with her. “Have a good night, Triara.”
“Good night to you too, Michael.” That’s when she thought about something. “Michael?” He turned around. “There’s something that you should know about me before we go any further.” She was about to continue when he interrupted her. “If you’re going to tell me that you’re a telepath,” he saw the look of shock on her face, “I already know that about you.”
“How,” she stuttered, “how did you know?”
“Easy!” He shrugged. “Richard told me you were back when I asked him if you were single. That’s one of the first things he told me about you. He also asked me if I would have a problem with that.”
“And do you?” she asked as she looked down at the floor. She was worried about what kind of answer he would give her until she felt his hand under her chin at which he lifted her gaze up to look at him. “No Triara, I don’t have a problem with you being a telepath at all.” She was instantly relieved to hear that. “However, I do have to ask… How does it feel to be a telepath?”
“Well.” She tried to think of a way to describe how it felt to be a telepath to him. “Most of the time, I have to tamp down my abilities, build walls inside my mind especially if I’m out and about otherwise it would feel like a thousand voices inside,” she tapped the side of her head, “my head.”
“How do you filter it all out if you want to concentrate on one person?”
“It’s sort of how one focuses on one voice in a crowd, it’s something that one learns to do but I generally keep my mental walls up otherwise it’s mentally taxing.”
“Oh,” he hesitated, “I see. Do you have your mental walls up now?”
“Yes, a majority of the time I keep those walls up just to remain sane. If I don’t, well… as I said before, it’s like a thousand voices all trying to talk at once. No offense but Humans generally broadcast their thoughts at the top of their minds.”
“Ok.” He closed his eyes; he was almost embarrassed to ask his next question.
“Let me guess, you’re wondering how it would feel to have me inside your mind.”
“How did you know I was going to ask that of you? Are you reading my mind?”
She shook her head. “I don’t have to read people’s minds to know that most people have that kind of question. As for an answer to that question, I don’t go into other people’s minds uninvited; that would be a blatant violation of one’s privacy. If you want to know the answer to that question, you’d have to give me permission to do so.”
“Ok,” he shrugged, “I give you permission to go into my mind.”
“Ok,” she held her hand out to him, “give me your hand.”
“Because to form a telepathic link with someone who’s not a telepath themselves, I have to have physical contact with you such as,” he took hold of her hand at which she looked down and was surprised at how readily he had taken a hold of it, “holding your hand. If I didn’t know any better,” she smirked, “I’d say you wanted to experience this kind of contact with me.” He shrugged. “Oh alright, I was just messing with you.” She gently squeezed his hand after which she closed her eyes.
Meanwhile, he was wondering when she’d telepathically make a connection with him when all of a sudden, he gasped. “Relax,” he heard her comforting voice inside his mind, “it’s me. Triara. I’m inside your mind.” He shuddered as he felt her inside his mind. “Breathe and relax.” He could feel himself relaxing. “There you go.” She opened her eyes after which she nodded. “What do you think?”
“Wow,” he said, or at least he thought he said. “Hey! This is weird! I can hear myself talking but I don’t feel my mouth or my lips moving. How is that possible?”
“I redirected your speech so that it comes across the telepathic link that we’re sharing together. It’s just a matter of redirecting neural signals inside your brain.” He sighed as he nodded his head. “What do you think?”
“I,” he stopped in thought, “this is… this is unreal. It’s amazing really.” He watched her smile. “It’s unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in my life.” She let go of his hand and the telepathic link between the two of them ended. “Oh man, why did you stop?”
She smirked. “I have to leave something for you to look forward to the next time we’re together.”
“You’re,” he pointed at her, “bad.”
“Yeah,” she took him into her arms and kissed him on his lips, “but you wouldn’t have it any other way. But anyways, good night, Michael.”
“Good night,” he kissed her once again, “Triara.”
Last updated on Sunday, February 4th, 2024 at 12:11 AM by trparky.