Amy walked out of the bedroom and into the kitchen to find Triara sitting at the island in the middle of the kitchen with a coffee mug in her hands like any other human would be at that hour of the morning.
“Hey there Amy,” Triara looked up as she set her coffee mug down, “how did you sleep? Well, I hope.”
“Well,” Amy sat down across from her, “after Amy stopped talking last night, I finally did get to sleep.” She looked over her shoulder in the direction of the bedroom. “Jessie’s still sleeping though, I figure that she’ll be sleeping for a while longer; she likes to sleep in.”
“Yeah,” Triara picked her coffee cup up and took another sip of her coffee, “I heard her chatting with you last night.” A questioning look came over Amy’s face, so Triara tapped her ears. “You forget that Zaltaens have excellent hearing. Our audible acuity is nearly double that of humans.
“By the way, if you want some coffee,” Triara pointed at the cupboard, “there’s some mugs up there and the coffee maker is,” she pointed over in the corner of the kitchen, “over there. Help yourself.”
“Thank you,” Amy sighed as she walked over to the cupboard and as she picked up a cup and looked at it. “Space Force?” She turned about and looked at Triara. “Are these special mugs or something?”
“Yep,” she pointed at the mug in Amy’s hand, “it’s made of a special Zaltaen compound that’s indestructible. Try it,” she pointed at the counter, “slam it down on the counter as hard as you can. It won’t break.” Amy squinted her eyes at Triara thinking that she was joking. “Try it! I dare you.”
Amy took the mug and slammed it down on the countertop as hard as she could and sure enough, it didn’t break, nor did it leave a mark on the countertop.
“No way!” Amy exclaimed as she looked at the mug in her hand that was still in one piece and then at the countertop’s surface that was just as undamaged. “This is way cool!” She slid her finger along the countertop where she had slammed it down and found no imperfection in the surface. “I take it that the countertop is also made of the same material.” Triara nodded. “Again… way cool.” She looked about the room. “Is there anything else that this material is used to make?”
“Look around you,” Triara looked about the room. “This whole room, hell… this whole station is made of the material. Everything from the walls to the thick outer armor plating that’s on the outside hull is made of the same material. This stuff is nearly indestructible. It would take some serious amount of kinetic and energy damage to be able to punch through this stuff.”
“And I take it that the Human Federation has started to use this stuff to make their ships?”
“Yep,” Triara took a sip of her coffee, “all new ships are being manufactured today are being made of the same material that makes up this station and that coffee cup you have in your hand.” She pointed at a plate on the countertop. “Even that plate is made of it too.”
“Can you try?” Amy asked. “I know your people are generally much stronger than humans.”
“Yeah,” Triara picked the plate up and like Amy, she slammed the plate down on the counter with every bit of her enhanced Zaltaen strength and it didn’t do a thing to the plate. The only thing that the plate did was bounce a few times on the surface.
“Wow,” Amy was amazed. “A truly indestructible material.” Then the thought about if and when the Vonosh attach. “What if we’re attacked by the Vonosh? Can this stuff,” she pointed at the countertop, “stand up to their weapons?”
“Not entirely since it’s not as indestructible as you think it is,” Amy began to worry, “but that’s not the first line of defense this station has.” Amy looked up from her cup of coffee. “This station also has a powerful energy field or shield of sorts that can absorb and deflect a serious amount of kinetic and energy weapons. Hell, we had a Zaltaen warship throw just about everything it could at this station as a demo for the Human Federation Space Force admiralty and not a scratch was on the outer hull was seen afterwards.”
“Damn,” Amy whispered. “Then I take it that if the Vonosh attack, this station is the safest place to be in this star system.”
“At this,” Triara pointed at the countertop, “very moment, yes. However, your colony’s outer hull is being augmented with this material and an energy shield generator is going to be installed as well but that’s going to take time. So yes, at this very moment, this station is the safest place to be if they were to attack tomorrow.”
“Are they?” Amy again worriedly asked. “Are they going to attack tomorrow?”
“Based upon our latest intel and without giving you the classified material that I can’t give you on account that’s it’s been classified as TS1Top secret., the answer to that question is,” Amy hung onto her every word, “no.” Amy felt relieved. “But if they do, there’s certain sections of the station that all civilians are to be evacuated to that are designated as a bunker of sorts.”
“I see,” Amy took a sip of her coffee. “Damn,” she smiled, “this is some seriously good coffee.” She looked back at the coffee maker. “I wish we had one of those machines back home.” She took another sip of her coffee and thought about another question, a question that she had been wanting to know the answer to ever since she had learned of Triara and Michael’s relationship. She knew that asking her would result in a rather difficult situation for both of them, but she wanted to know the answer. Hell, she thought she deserved to know since Michael was her uncle and she cared about him very much, especially after he had lost his wife and how she knew that he was in a bad way for quite some time afterwards.
“I have to ask something,” Triara looked up from her coffee mug, “I heard your voice last night but when I asked Jessie if she heard it too, she said no.” Triara pressed her lips together while knowing full well where this conversation was going to go. “Did you use your telepathic abilities to communicate with me?”
“Yes, I did.”
“Ok,” Amy set her coffee mug down, “what else can you do with your mental abilities?”
“Well,” Triara cupped her chin in her hands and mentally prepared herself for a line of questioning that she knew wasn’t going to be easy handle. “I can communicate with you telepathically and I can read your surface thoughts and a lot more if I were to do what’s known as a deep scan.”
“A deep scan?” Amy asked. “Are you doing one on me right now?”
“No,” Triara shook her head, “you’d know it if I were doing a deep scan on you.”
“How so?” Amy wondered.
“You’d be having a splitting headache if I were.” Amy winced as Triara thought back to when she was on the wrong side of a deep scan. “Having a deep scan done on you hurts. It hurts a lot.” Amy pushed for more. “A deep scan involves the telepath who’s doing said scan to stimulate neural pathways beyond what is normal. Most people take days to recover from one and they’re left with the mother of all headaches and often must spend time in an environment where there’s as little sensory input as possible. I’d have to say that it’s like what humans call a migraine but much worse.”
“Ouch,” Amy winced.
“I generally don’t like doing one because it takes a lot of effort and concentration on my part to be able to do a deep scan. It’s mentally taxing to do one so I generally don’t like doing one for it tends to leave me rather mentally drained. It takes me about a day or so to fully recover from the ordeal. That and if a telepath isn’t careful, the victim can be left in a coma.”
“Ah,” Amy winced yet again, “I see. What else are you capable of doing with your telepathy?”
“I can also form a two-way telepathic link with you so that we can both communicate and share our innermost thoughts and feelings with each other despite how you don’t have such abilities.”
That part worried Amy. If Triara could do such a thing, she had to wonder if she had somehow influenced Michael into being in a relationship with her. And that was just the start of her worries. Was she doing the same with her? Perhaps Jessie? Could she be influencing them into being accepting of her without her knowing it? She’d like to think that she wasn’t, but she had to know.
“Ok,” Amy paused. “With that being said, what did you do to my uncle? For the longest time, he was grieving the loss of his wife and mother of Jessie,” she thumbed in the general direction of where Jessie was still sleeping, “yet now it’s like nothing ever happened. They were high school sweethearts and now it seems like he doesn’t have a care in the world.” Triara really didn’t like where Amy was going with her line of enquiry, but she supposed that Amy had a right to know. “What did you do to him?”
“Well for one,” Triara put her mug down on the countertop, “if you’re asking me if I helped him in his grieving process,” Amy nodded as she indicated that that was what she was asking, “then yes, I did help him with that. However,” she put her finger in the air, “if you’re asking me if I used my telepathic abilities to do so,” Triara held her hand up, “I swear to the Great Maker that I did not.” She put her hand back down. “As Michael has told me so many times in the past, it was simply the fact that I was there for him while never thinking anything less of him when he needed someone the most that helped him deal with his grief over the loss of his wife and mother of his child. A sympathetic ear and once or twice a shoulder to cry on was all that he needed.”
“I see.” Amy took a sip of her coffee, “so you’ve never used your telepathic abilities to influence Michael?”
“As you already know,” Triara began, “I’ve lost so much in my life. I have no Zaltaen family, no House, and probably my home world now that I’ve abdicated or relinquished my Zaltaen citizenship and became a full citizen of the Human Federation.”
“Well yes,” Amy took a sip of her coffee, “I already know that about you; you told me that much.”
“There’s more,” Triara paused to collect her thoughts. “Though I’ve lost a lot in my life, I’ve gained so much more than I ever thought possible. I have Richard and Rachel in my life and now I have Michael whom I’m going to be married to soon. If Michael were to ever find out that I had manipulated him into loving me like you’re suggesting I did, I’m sure that he’d leave me in a heartbeat and it,” she looked down at the countertop, “it would devastate me.” She looked back up at Amy and that’s when she saw tears in her eyes. “And then, to add even more loss and pain to my life, I’d lose Richard and Rachel as my close friends and if that happened, I quite simply don’t know if I could live with myself. So no,” she shook her head, “I did no such thing to your uncle.
“Besides,” she put her hand to her chest, “after all that I’ve lost I wanted someone to love me for me, not because I wanted someone to love me but because they wanted to love me. I wanted something,” she slapped her hand to her chest, “real in my life and that’s what I have with my Michael. And the most important thing of it all is, he loves me regardless of the fact that I’m an alien.”
“I didn’t think about it that way.” Amy suddenly felt horrible asking Triara what she had asked of her.
“No,” Triara shook her head, “I’m sure you didn’t. I could never do what you suggest I did; it would be a betrayal of the trust that Richard, Rachel, and Michael have in me, and I could never do anything to cause them to lose that trust in me. As I said before, I’ve gained so much with them in my life, my life has been enriched in ways words can’t even begin to describe so I’d never do anything that would jeopardize what I have with any one of them including,” she reached for Amy’s hand, “you and Jessie.”
“I’m sorry,” Amy looked at Triara’s hand that was holding hers, “I never intended to hurt you like that. I’m just trying to look out for my uncle, that’s all. I know what he went through, I know how much it hurt him to lose his wife the way he did. It hurts him to know that her grave doesn’t even have her in it, all he has to visit is an empty grave since there’s nothing in it; no body in it at all.”
“I know… he told me. I’ve been to her grave here in Alpha Centauri, I prayed over her grave. As for how he feels, I’ve felt it,” Triara tapped the side of her head, “here. I felt and sensed every dark thought that he had.” She reached up and wiped her eyes. “I’d like to think that I helped pull him back from doing the unthinkable. And I understand, you were just looking out for your uncle; nobody would blame you for looking out for your family.” Triara gently squeezed Amy’s hand, “And yes Amy, I forgive you.”
Amy let go of Triara’s hand and came around to the other side of the table to where Triara was sitting. “Triara,” Amy hugged her, “thank you. It was stupid of me to ever think that you’d manipulate my uncle like that.”
“As I told you before as, I forgive you.” Triara hugged her gently. “Don’t worry about it, I’m used to this kind of treatment from humans and even other Zaltaens. It goes with how I’m a telepath.”
“What?” Amy questioned her as she sat down on a chair beside her. “Why is that?”
“Zaltaens like me had to wear a sort of badge that indicated that I was a telepath. As you can imagine, a lot of people slinked away from me when they saw the badge on my chest.”
“I see,” Amy thought. “They were probably afraid of what you could learn of them.”
“That’s the thing,” Triara said as Amy sat down on her side of the table, “all Zaltaens that are telepathic like I am follow a strict code of behavior. For instance, when it comes to deep scans, I must get the person’s permission to do so since it’s such a massive invasion of one’s privacy.”
“Alright then. Anyways,” Amy paused, “I know that you mentioned when I first met you that you were cast out of your House, but you never told me why.”
Triara hoped that Amy would not have asked that question but since she did, she figured that she deserved to know. “First and foremost, I have to ask… how much do you know about Zaltaen society?” Amy went on to explain that she knew that they had a House-based system. “Alright, so you understand that much. With that being said, I come… or rather, came, from the House of Moonbeam and when it comes to the various Houses of Zalta, you really can’t get any higher than that without being from the House of Greenfeather which Raina, the queen comes from.”
“I see,” Amy nodded indicating that she understood that much.
“The House of Moonbeam is one of six Houses that make up the majority of the ruling body of Zalta. The other five major Houses are Swiftlight, Duskmoon, Swifthorn, Nightshadow, and of course Greenfeather which as I said before, Queen Raina comes from. These six Houses all have members that have seats in the House of Lords or the Royal Court.”
“With that being said, as you know… Zaltaens lived among humans in disguise for quite some time. In fact, we were on Earth as far back as before World War 1.” Amy’s eyes widened; she didn’t know that. “That’s how long we’ve been on Earth among your people. It’s the main reason a lot of humans don’t trust us, they feel that we lied to them and rightfully so.” Triara nodded. “That’s what we did, we lied to you.”
“I know that, but I don’t blame you for what your people did, you probably had no power to change that, so I don’t blame you, personally. Why should I be mad at you?”
“That’s a very enlightened way of looking at things, the bad part is, the majority of humans don’t feel that way. But anyways,” she paused, “I took part in a protest of sorts on my world many years ago to convince the Zaltaen government to drop our disguises among humans and to stop lying to humanity. It was that night that I was arrested and otherwise detained by government officials. The next morning after I was released by the local police, I was brought before the matriarch of my House, and it was then that I was cast out of my House. She said that I embarrassed and brought shame upon my House.”
“But why?!” Amy exclaimed. “You weren’t the only one, right?” Triara shook her head. “So why did she cast you out when others were part of the protest as well?”
“Because Amy,” Triara looked down at the table, “for a House as powerful as the House of Moonbeam, it’s all about maintaining political power, status, and saving face. So, in order for my House to maintain its status and power, everything I did was disavowed and I was subsequently cast out.”
“My God,” Amy shook her head slowly, “that’s awful.”
“So, yes. That’s why I say that I wouldn’t do anything to ruin what I have with all of you. I cherish the friendship that I have with Richard and Rachel with all my heart,” she once again began to tear up, “the love that I have with your uncle Michael, and of course, with you.” Triara sniffled and wiped her eyes. “All of you are all I have left in this life and I’d do nothing to ruin any of that.”
“What about any friends from back on your world?” Amy asked all the while hoping that maybe, just maybe, she still had some people who she could talk to back on Zalta but as she watched Triara shake her head, she suddenly felt quite saddened by Triara’s whole situation. She couldn’t imagine the kind of pain that Triara carried with her every day of her life.
“I’m so very sorry for what you’ve gone through,” Amy stood up from her chair and hugged Triara, “nobody should’ve gone through what you have. I can’t imagine what you feel every day knowing everything that’s happened to you.” Triara nodded against her shoulder. “And again, I’m sorry for questioning you like that when I knew nothing about you and what kinds of things you had to endure in your life. I feel like such an ass.”
“I’m fine with it,” Triara shrugged, “I’ve learned to deal with what I’ve lost with time. Now twenty or so years ago, yes… I was a complete wreck. There I was on the streets of Zalta with nothing more than the clothing on my back. Only the Great Maker knows how I was able to maintain my rank in the Zaltaen Royal Space Navy. I suppose that they kept me only because we needed everyone we could keep.”
“I don’t know how you do it,” Amy sat back down, “I don’t care how much time passed, if I were in your shoes, I’d probably be still a wreck or quite possibly dead. You Zaltaens are definitely made of some sterner stuff than humans.”
“Again,” Triara reached for Amy hand that was resting on her thigh, “it’s why I cherish everything that I have with my human friends and why I said I wouldn’t do anything that would jeopardize my relationships with the people I’ve come to know and love. I thank the Great Maker every day for the people I have in my life because I don’t know what I’d do without them.”
“And I’m happy to be one those people.” Amy patted Triara’s hand. “You’re an amazingly strong woman Triara, you’ve overcome and endured more than anything I could’ve ever imagined. I don’t know if I could’ve found it in myself to endure what you did.”
“I did, I endured, and now look,” she looked about the room, “I have everything I could’ve ever wanted. Friends, family, and true acceptance in my life.”
“Does Michael know? Have you told him?”
“Told him?” Triara asked. “No, I didn’t tell him. I showed him.” Amy gulped. “I shared with him all of my most innermost thoughts and feelings about what happened to me that day in the most intimate way possible and if anything, I think that experience brought the two of us even closer. In some ways, I think what happened to me gave me the experience I needed to help Michael with his issues.”
“I see,” Amy thought about Richard, “does Richard, your best friend, know?”
“Yes and no.” Amy wondered what that meant, it was all over her face that she was asking for more. “Richard is a friend, a very good friend in fact. He even sees me as a sister that he never had and though I’m honored to have him think of me that way, he is, after all, just a very good friend. He knows about what I’ve dealt with but none of the emotional side of things; that’s the difference between Michael and Richard.”
“Is it because Richard is just a friend and Michael is…” Triara spoke up. “Yes.” Triara couldn’t help but smile as she thought about it. The very thought of a Zaltaen being involved in a romantic relationship with a human was a laughable concept for most Zaltaens for many of them did not see humans as their equal. “There’s a difference. Richard is, as you just said, just a good friend who has been there for me when I needed someone the most, but Michael is different. We’re in a romantic relationship together.”
“Oh, I get it,” Amy smiled, she was beginning to understand. “There’s a difference between a friend and a lover or fiancé.”
“Yes, that’s exact how it is.”
“Speaking about romance,” Amy had to know, “do you know how to be romantic?”
“Um,” Triara looked down at her now cold coffee, “this is one aspect of my relationship with Michael that I’m rather ill-equipped to handle. There’s no such thing as romance on Zalta.
“I’ve tried to be romantic by emulating many of things that I often see in what Michael refers to as Hallmark movies and vid shows,” Amy laughed, “but beyond that, I generally let Michael take the lead on such things. He’s very good at it. When he is romantic,” she stopped mid-sentence to hug herself, “he makes me feel so incredibly special; like I’m the most important person in his life.”
“Well, that’s the whole point of being romantic. To make one’s significant other feel special.” Amy leaned against the table with a grin on her face. “You know, I can help you in that regard.”
“You mean with being romantic?” Triara asked. “How can you, an eighteen-year-old girl, teach me anything about romance and how to be romantic?”
“Nineteen!” Amy exclaimed. “I’m going to be nineteen years of age soon and as for how I’d be able to teach you… just because I’m young doesn’t mean I don’t know a thing or two about being romantic. I’ve watched my parents be romantic towards each other as soon as I was of age to know what was going on. When it all comes down to it, it’s about making the mood right.
“Sometimes it all comes down to setting the mood like putting some soft music on, turning the lights down low, dressing a certain way, having a nice meal together, and otherwise making the person in your life feel like they’re special and appreciated for what they have brought to your life.”
“I get it, but Michael often told me that when I’ve tried to be romantic, it felt forced. So lately, I just let him take the lead and I go along for the serotonin high.”
Amy had to laugh as she used the phrase ‘serotonin high.’
“That’s because you’re trying too hard. You’re too caught up in the technical side of things when it comes to being romantic. Romance isn’t so much about the things that you do but the meaning behind the things that you do. Meaning is far more important than the act itself. Sometimes the best thing you can do to be romantic is to just let things flow naturally.”
“I think I do,” Triara thought, “if I gather what you’re saying, my problem is that I’m trying too hard.”
“Exactly!” Amy exclaimed as she pointed at Triara. “You’re so worried about being that perfect romantic partner as per what you said you saw in movies and vid shows that you’re not letting it just… happen. Sometimes being romantic involves a little bit of spontaneity. You can’t plan it; you have to just let it happen.”
“I see,” Triara nodded, she still didn’t understand but she’d at least give it a try the next time she had some alone time with Michael but now that Amy and Jessie were living with them, she had to wonder when the next time that kind of situation would happen.
Just then they both heard the sound of a door opening and Jessie walking into the kitchen.
“What’s going on here?” Jessie asked.
“Oh,” Amy ran for Jessie and picked her up, “nothing for your little head to worry about. It’s just something that Triara and I were talking about. All right?” Jessie nodded as Amy put Jessie on the chair that she had once been sitting on and afterwards sat down beside her. “I’m hungry.”
“Me too,” Jessie said as she took hold of her mug and took a sip from it. “Is there any food in this place?”
“Well,” Triara thought, “we just got the place, so I doubt it. Even when Michael and I lived back in our old rooms, we usually went to the officer’s wardroom for breakfast but since you two are…” Amy interrupted her. “Wardroom? What’s that?” She asked because she wasn’t familiar with military terms.
“Yeah,” Triara began, “it’s like the mess hall but for enlisted crew rated E4 and above along with officers like,” she pointed at herself, “me and Michael. As I said before, Michael and I usually go there in the morning and have breakfast together since you get a decent amount for very cheap.” Amy perked up as she mentioned the word ‘cheap.’ “You can get a whole meal for about four to five credits whereas anywhere else on the station you’ll be paying about double that amount and since you’d be going with me, an officer, we can go there.”
“Well, OK then,” Amy exclaimed, “then let’s go. I don’t mind going with you.”
“OK,” Triara stood up from the counter, “let us all get dressed and we’ll grab some food.”
“And afterwards,” Amy turned to Triara and pointed at her, “we need to get some food for that fridge of yours. I’m assuming there’s a grocery store of sorts on the station. Right? At least I hope so since as you said, families live onboard this station.”
“That would be the commissary so yes, but I’ve never gone shopping before; I wouldn’t know the first thing about knowing how to shop for groceries. Hell,” Triara thought, “I’ve never prepared a human-style meal before.”
“Well then,” Amy perked up at the thought that she could once again come to the aid of Triara, “it’s a good thing that I came here with Jessie. I’m going to teach you about all of this kind of stuff.”
“You’d do that for me?” Triara was shocked.
“Of course, I would.”
As Amy looked about the wardroom, she saw countless service members; some of them were Space Force while others she didn’t recognize. With so many officers and chiefs about in uniform, Amy felt a little self-conscience what with how she wasn’t in the military and felt very out of place. She was beginning to have second thoughts about coming with Triara and as she looked at Triara, the thought that next time Triara had suggested going to the officer’s wardroom, she would steer her away from the idea.
She went back to look around the room and could feel the eyes of the officers on her and once again that feeling that she didn’t belong there became that much more evident.
“Triara?” she looked back to her. “Maybe this wasn’t a good idea.”
“Excuse me?” Triara asked as she looked at Amy. “In what way?”
“I’m the only non-military person here, everyone’s looking at me.”
“Nonsense!” Triara said to try and put Amy’s obvious nervousness to rest. “Look over there,” Triara pointed off in the distance at which Amy followed her finger, “that’s Lieutenant David Montgomery with his wife and his two kids. They come here all the time because they know that they can come here to the wardroom and get a decent meal for very little credits. The same goes for,” she pointed off in a different direction, “Commander Maria Brooks and her husband Evan and her two kids.”
“Evan isn’t in the military?”
“Nope,” Triara shook her head, “he’s a civilian contractor.” She rubbed her chin in thought. “I believe he works for Fusion Dynamics as a consultant overseeing the fusion reactors that power this station. So no,” she looked back at Amy, “you’re not the only civilian here.” As Triara explained that she began to feel not quite so self-conscience about herself being a civilian in a sea of Space Force officers. “And besides, they’re not looking at you; they’re looking at,” Triara pointed at her chest, “me.”
“You?” Amy asked. “Why? Why would they be looking at you?” Triara was about to say something when it dawned on Amy. “Duh!” Amy smacked her forehead. “It’s because you’re the only Zaltaen in the room.”
“I’m not the only Zaltaen in the room.” Triara once again pointed off in the distance. “Over there is Nelyssia. She’s much like me, she too is a Space Force officer much like I am and she’s sitting with her husband, Commander Nathan Olsen. However, I do have to admit that me being a Zaltaen does tend to bring a little more attention to me than I’d otherwise like.”
“Does it bother you that people stare at you like that?”
“You know,” Triara rubbed her chin, “it used to bother me, but it doesn’t bother me anymore.” She took a step forward in line. “People are going to look no matter what, I mean I do kind of stick out like a sore thumb what with my,” she reached up and touched her hair, “blue hair and all along with my pointed ears.” She put her hand back down. “People are going to look and there’s nothing I can do about it, so I’ve learned to live with it.”
Amy looked about as Jessie clung to her. She couldn’t fault the young child for doing so, she was, after all, in a very unfamiliar place with a lot of unfamiliar people around her and she wanted to feel safe. “There, there.” She looked down at Jessie and picked her up in her arms. “There’s nothing to be afraid of, I’m here.” She held the small child against herself and hugged her close which had a calming effect on the young child.
Triara looked at Amy as she held Jessie in her arms against herself and smiled. “You’re good at that.”
Amy knew Triara was right. At first, she had to admit that she kind of resented Jessie being in the house for she was an only child and she liked getting things her way but with the arrival of Jessie, that changed; she was no longer the center of attention for her parents, and she didn’t like it, not one bit. She even, at one point, hated Jessie but that hate for her quickly went away as she found herself warming up to Jessie. She even began to see Jessie as a little sister that she didn’t have.
“Yeah,” Amy turned to kiss Jessie, “I am. Surprisingly, I am.” She turned to Triara. “I’m going to miss Jessie; I’ve really become rather attached to her.” As she said that, the small child hugged her even closer. “Yeah Jessie, I love you too.” She turned to kiss the small child again. “Yeah,” she whispered, “I love you too.”
“You know, I think you’re going to make a great mother.”
“You heard what I said.” Triara smiled to try and reassure her. “Look at yourself, you’re doing great with Jessie.”
Amy looked down at how Jessie was clinging to her and smiled. “I guess I am. But she’s not my child, she’s Michael’s child and eventually I’m going to have to give her up to Michael and, of course, you.” As she said that, Triara could sense a wave of sadness come over Amy with her telepathic abilities. “As I said, I’ve become rather attached to her.”
“Yeah, but have you ever thought about having your own child?”
“I have,” she sniffled as she once again thought about how she would miss Jessie in her life, “but I’m only nineteen years old.” Triara was about to say something when she continued. “And besides, Narin and I are only just starting out; we have no idea what’s in store for our future. Things may not work out between us. Think about it,” she turned to Triara, “I’m here and will probably be here for the next couple of months to help Jessie here,” she quickly glanced at Jessie out of the corner of her eye, “become acclimated to life here on the station. There’s a chance that Narin will find someone else to be with while I’m gone.”
“I don’t think you’ll have a problem with that happening.” Triara said to try and reassure her. “I’ve sensed how you think of him.” Amy turned from Jessie in her arms. “Remember, I am a telepath.”
“But how?” she asked. “I thought that you said that you wouldn’t scan me.”
“I’m not scanning you.” Amy looked at her confused by what she had said. “Surface thoughts are easy to pick up on, especially when in immediate contact with someone.” Amy nodded as she hummed. “Now, I could sense the thoughts of everyone in the room, but it’d be overwhelming; hence why I dampen down my abilities.”
“How do you do that?”
“It’s simple,” Triara shrugged, “how do you listen to one voice in a crowd such as the one we’re in right now? You learn to block everyone else out other than the voice you want to listen to; it’s something that you learn to do.” She rubbed her chin as she looked up in thought. “I remember back when I was no more than eight or nine years old, that was when my mental abilities… activated, for a lack of a better word. I woke up one morning and as I walked into the main chambers of my House I nearly collapsed on the floor. Luckily, another member of my House who was also a telepath knew what I was experiencing and helped me to build the walls in my head to block out the noise. I use that same method today to block out the thoughts of people around me.”
“With that being said, I sensed that you were thinking of Narin. I saw in your mind’s eye the last time that you were out on a date with him.” She could see the embarrassment on Amy’s face. “No, don’t be embarrassed. I think it was wonderful, it really looked like you two were having a good time with one another and it really seems like Narin likes you.” Triara patted Amy on her back. “You’re doing a good thing; I hope you know that.”
“I know,” Amy nodded, “he tells me the same thing. He’s very thankful to me that I’ve accepted him for who and what he is and where he comes from. But, even if he does, as you say he does, I’m going to be here for a while. I wouldn’t expect him to just wait for me like that.”
“You could invite him to the station, you know.” The thought that she could spend more time with him without parental supervision was an intriguing idea but that was when she realized that there wouldn’t be enough room with Michael, Triara, and Jessie. “And I know what you’re thinking, you have no place to call your own to have him stay with you.”
“Yeah, I don’t, and I can only imagine how crowded it would be in your suite if Narin came to live with us here on the station.”
“You could get a place of your own, you know.”
“How?” Amy asked incredulously. “I have no money.”
“Look around you, this station is… huge.” Triara waved her hands in the air to emphasize how big the station was. “You saw how big it is, it’s like a city in space.” The idea that she could make a life for herself on the station was starting to sink in. “Think about it, the station really only came online about a year ago so there’s a lot of job opportunities. We’re talking about everything from keeping the facilities clean, to food delivery, which I know a lot of the people who do that kind of work are tipped quite well, and there’s even various restaurants and stores onboard. There’s not a place onboard the station that I’ve gone to that doesn’t have a help wanted sign. And as more people come aboard and the station expands, there’s going to be an even larger demand for more commercial services.”
“You mean to say that there’s plans to expand this place already?”
“Uh-huh,” Triara hummed, “phase three is about to begin in a couple of months. It’s going to expand the station by as much as two or three times the current size.” Amy’s mouth dropped open. “Thankfully, the architects have realized that they need to add another central corridor for travel from one end of the station to the other so in the end there will be three central corridors which should alleviate travel issues at peak times.”
“I see.” Amy rubbed her chin as they all stepped forward again. “So, you’re saying that there will be even more things going on here on the station.”
“Uh-huh,” Triara hummed once again. “There’s talk of a fourth expansion phase but that’s just rumors at this point. I seriously doubt that they’ll expand it past phase three though. But with that being said, you could work here on the station and go to school at the Alpha Centauri University chapter that’s onboard the station.” The idea that she could actually make it happen was setting in. “Yeah, that’s the spirit. All it takes is a little bit of initiative and I’m sure that your uncle can help you.”
“You know,” Amy began to think, “that sounds like a great idea. And once I get a job, a place to live, and I’m established here on the station, I can call Narin and have him come here to the station and live with me.”
“That’s going to take some convincing on your behalf though, you know how Zaltaen men can be.”
“Yeah,” Amy sighed, “I know. I just hope that I can convince him to do so.”
“But anyways,” Triara pointed forward, “we’re at the front of the line so you might want to put Jessie down to get a tray.”
As the three of them came away from the buffet line, Triara looked about to find a table for the three of them to sit down at. It was a sea of officers and enlisted officers that were rated E5 and above including chiefs.
At that time in the morning, it was to be expected that the wardroom was to be busy, so seating was going to be at a premium. She kept scanning the room until she saw two women waving their hands in the air to flag her down.
“Triara!” She heard her name over the din of the room thanks to get enhanced hearing. “Over here!”
Triara put a hand on Amy’s shoulder and gently patted it. “Come on you two, come with me.” She looked over at where Amanda and Chelsea were sitting and cast her voice telepathically into their minds to tell them that she had heard them and that they were coming to the table. She looked back at Amy and smiled. “I have some friends that have saved us a seat.”
“OK,” Amy shrugged, “I was wondering where we were going to sit.” Meanwhile, she looked down at Jessie who was carrying a small box of orange juice. “Come on Jessie,” she looked up at her, “we’ll be OK. We’ll have somewhere to sit soon.”
As they came to the table where Amanda and Chelsea were sitting. “There we go,” Triara pulled out a chair for Jessie, “come. Sit down.” Jessie, of course, looked at Amy for confirmation. “You can sit down.” She watched as Jessie climbed into the chair. “There you go.” Triara looked down and smiled as she pushed the chair that Jessie was sitting in and gently took hold of the juice box that she was holding in her little hands. “Here, let me help you with that.” In a few seconds she had the juice box opened and with the straw sticking out of the top. “There you go, little one.”
“Thank you, Triara.”
“You’re welcome,” Triara gently patted her on her shoulder at which she watched as Amy smiled and nodded at her.
“And here you go.” Amy took a small plate of her tray and put it in front of Jessie that had some scrambled eggs, breakfast sausages, and pancakes that she had cut up into small pieces and drenched in syrup for her to eat. “All nice and cut up for you.”
“Thank you, Amy.”
“Aww,” Chelsea cooed, “you’re so cute. What’s your name, little one?” She put her hand to her chest. “I’m Chelsea and this,” she looked at Amanda, “and this is Amanda. We’re friends of Triara.”
“Go ahead,” Amy said as Jessie looked at her, “you can tell her your name.”
“Aww,” Amanda cooed, “that’s a pretty name for such a pretty girl.” Jessie hid her face in Amy’s shoulder at which Amanda gasped. “Is it something I said?”
“Oh no,” Amy spoke up, “don’t worry. She’s just shy.” She turned to Jessie. “I’m here, don’t be scared.” She turned back to Amanda. “She’s been through a lot for someone who’s so young.”
“Aww,” Chelsie cooed, “you poor little thing.” Jessie looked up. “You don’t have to be scared of us. As I said before, we’re friends of Triara.”
“So,” Amanda spoke up, “is she your sister?”
“No,” she leaned down to kiss Jessie’s head, “I’m her niece. This is Michael’s daughter.”
“Oh my God,” Amanda gasped as Chelsie smacked her hands to her mouth in shock, “then she must be the little girl that…” Amy put her hands up. “Don’t say it. She’s still not really good about that.” The two women nodded their heads in understanding. “Which is why Michael decided to bring her here to the station to live with him and, of course,” she glanced over at Triara, “Triara. I’m just here to help her settle in.”
“Ah, that’s good. That’s probably a good thing to have someone there who she can trust so she can get used to living here on the station with Triara and her father. But anyways,” Amy turned back to the two women sitting in front of her, “so yeah, I’m here to help out but honestly, I’m beginning to think that I don’t want to leave.”
“Why?” Chelsie asked as she put her coffee cup down.
“Look around you,” Amy looked about the wardroom, “this station is… huge! There are far more opportunities for me here on the station than where I live in the colonies. There’s an abundance of jobs that just don’t exist where I live.”
“That’s true,” Amanda spoke up, “there’s a lot of jobs opening up here on the station and with how there’s plans to expand the footprint of the station, that’ll open up even more jobs on the station as more people choose to come here to live on the station.”
“That’s what I mean,” Amy sipped her coffee, “there’s none of that in the colony. It’s like when this station came online, it all but decimated the economy of the colony. I’m actually afraid that having this station here in this system is going to kill the colonial economy stone dead.”
“I doubt that.” Chelsie ate a bit of her scrambled eggs. “There’s always going to be people who don’t want to live their lives on a military outpost and like it or not, this place is a military outpost so keep that in mind as you think about wanting to stay here.”
“You seem be wanting to talk me out of staying here.”
“Not at all!” Chelsie exclaimed. “I’m just pointed out the obvious, you need to take that in mind. It’s one thing for Jessie to be living with her father here on the station because he’s posted here, it’s another thing to choose to want to live here. Just keep that in mind.”
“Yeah well,” Amy sighed, “I’ve kind of already made up my mind. I already have plans to look for a job here on the station, enroll myself at the university, and ask my boyfriend to move in with me.”
“Just as long as you have a plan, and it sounds like you do. You can’t go into this without some kind of plan as to how to support yourself.”
Later that evening, Michael walked into the suite to smell something good, but he didn’t know what it was. “Triara?” he called out as he sat down in one of the many chairs in the living room of the suite. “What’s going on?” He sighed as he sank into the chair.
“Michael?” Triara called out. “Is that you?”
“Yeah honey,” he called out to her. “Where are you?”
“In the bedroom getting dressed, I’ll be out in a moment.”
“Alright,” he said as he sniffed the air and once again smelled something good. He got up from his chair and walked into the kitchen. That’s when he heard the sound of Triara’s voice again. “Check the oven, there’s something in there for you.”
“The oven?” he asked himself as he reached for the door handle. That’s when he discovered the source of the smell, it was dinner on a pan for him that was being kept warm in the oven on low heat. “Wow,” he grabbed a potholder from one of the many drawers in the kitchen and pulled the pan out of the oven and put it on top of the stove. “Now this is a nice surprise.”
“Yes, it is. Isn’t it?” he felt the feeling arms around him from behind and turned to see Triara. “Amy and I went shopping at the commissary after we all got breakfast in the officer’s wardroom.”
“Oh,” Michael took hold of her hands, “I take it that you, Amy, and Jessie had some fun this morning.”
“Yeah,” she pulled him close, “Jessie and Amy wanted something to eat this morning, but I told them that we normally go to the officer’s wardroom on the weekends for breakfast and that’s when Amy said why not.”
“And how did that go?” Richard turned about and leaned against the counter next to the stove. “Did any other officers say something about you being with Amy and Jessie?”
“Well,” Triara leaned against the countertop of the island in the middle of the kitchen, “Amanda and Chelsea came over when they saw me with them. They asked about Jessie, so I told them that she was your daughter and that you had brought her to the station. We talked a bit after having something to eat and then we all went to the commissary where Amy took me shopping. Needless to say, Jessie tuckered herself out; she’s sleeping right now.”
“I see,” Michael looked at the pan behind him, “and what about this?”
“Oh, hey there Michael,” Amy said as she walked out of the bathroom, “do you like what we made?”
“We?” Michael looked over at the pan again. “Are you saying that you and Triara made this?”
“Uh huh,” Triara hummed, “Amy and I made this. We thought that you’d like something to eat when you came home. We all had some of it too and we left some for you.” She looked at the pan that was sitting on the stovetop. “I do hope you like it much like Amy and I did.”
“It certainly smells good,” he reached for the cupboard door and took a plate out and began to spoon some of the lasagna on his plate. “It looks like a lasagna, but I don’t see the noodles that would normally go into one.”
“That’s because it’s a sort of a different take on lasagna, instead of using traditionally flat lasagna noodles we used stuffed ravioli,” Amy pointed out a ravioli by taking one out on a spoon, “instead.” Michael nodded as he took a bit of it and put it in his mouth and smiled as he tasted it. “What do you think of it? Triara loves it, she couldn’t get enough of it when we had it at dinner.”
Michael put some of it into his mouth and hummed as he closed his eyes. “I take it that you know how to make more than just this.”
“If you’re asking if you’re going to be putting weight on with me here,” Michael put more of the food in his mouth, “then then answer is yes.” She watched him eat it. “I’m glad you like it and yes, I know how to make a lot more than just this. Say what you will about my mom and your sister, but she taught me how to cook. Sometimes I wonder if she wanted me to become a chef. As for Triara,” she looked to her and then back at her uncle, “I plan on teaching Triara.” Michael’s eyes widened. “Yeah Michael, I’m going to teach Triara how to cook since with the four of us here, going out all the time is going to get mighty expensive.”
“Yeah,” he ate more of it, “I can imagine so. Going out to dinner and having to pay for four people on two O5 salaries plus affording this place,” he looked about, “is going to get mighty expensive.”
“That’s what Triara said as well.”
“That’s why I’m going to teach Triara how to cook but Michael,” Amy pointed at him, “if you think you’re going to get away not learning yourself, you have another thing coming.” Michael paused with his fork halfway to his mouth. “Yes, I’m going to teach you as well.” His eyes widened. “Yep, you’re learning too.”
“Yep!” Triara slapped him on his back. “You’re going to learn too. However, in the meantime, I have to get to work. I have duty in about an hour and shift change is going to make the central corridor a mess.” Triara kissed the top of Michael’s head. “Have a good evening my love, don’t feel like you have to wait up for me.” With that Triara walked away and left the suite.
Michael looked back down at the plate in his hands and sat down at the center island.
“You know Michael,” Amy sat down across from him, “she’s good for you. You know that, right?” Michael nodded as he continued to eat. “So, when are you going to finally marry her?” she asked as she leaned against the counter.
Michael paused in his eating. “Just as soon as we have a venue to have the wedding take place, we can make our plans but until then, all we can do is wait.” He picked up another morsel of food.
“Then what the hell are you waiting for?!” Amy asked. “Why aren’t you out there looking for one?”
“Amy,” he put the plate down on the counter, “it doesn’t work like that. As you’ve seen, this place is big and it’s busy so reserving a venue here on the station where Triara and I want to have our wedding isn’t going to be easy. Because of that, I’ve assigned the task to Richard.”
“Richard?” Amy asked. “Why him?”
“He’s the XO of the station,” he picked his plate back up, “if there’s anyone that can make it happen, it’s him. He’s got the pull on the station that I don’t to make things like this happen. He knows people that can make things like this happen.”
“And has he had any success?”
“He thinks so,” Michael cleaned his plate. “If everything goes according to plan, we’ll have a venue to have our wedding at the end of next month. Your job, Amy,” he pointed at her, “is to help us compile a list of guests and then you’ll send out the invites. Can you do that for me and Triara?”
Last updated on Thursday, October 19th, 2023 at 2:33 PM by trparky.
- 1Top secret.