Crineal Chronicles 1: In Hera's Service (23 page)

BOOK: Crineal Chronicles 1: In Hera's Service
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how did she end up here?” Strieger inquired gently, sipping her kafe.

back to live with her parents, not keen on the empire because of its annexation
of Earth. Then her mother and sister were beaten up by our security forces for
no good reason during a sweep of the area they lived in. So, she joined the
rebels. Then got caught. Forty-five year sentence. She opted to become a recreation
assistant to knock twenty years off the sentence and avoid an Imperial prison.”

you hate the rebels, she hates the empire. How’s that working out?”

at first… it caused a lot of friction. But I was able to persuade her that the
rebels weren’t what she thought.”

looked impressed. “How did you manage that?”

don’t want to know. Trust me.” Grimacing, Crineal took a last drink from his
cup before putting it down.

how do you feel about her now?”

back to being friends, I think. I don’t want to push it further than that
though. If I asked and she said yes and we ended up in bed together, I’d always
wonder if it was for the wrong reasons.”

man. That would wreck your relationship. And if she comes to you?”

we’d talk about it. I think she’d need to do some convincing. But I already
told her that. So I’m giving her as much freedom as I can whilst trying to make
it clear to her that I’m not attempting to buy her affections.”

thinks she likes you for all the right reasons and the lieutenant is a smart
girl. I think if Cyndora comes to your bed, it’ll be because she wants to.”

you don’t think I’ve been behaving like a damn fool hero trying to rescue the
distressed maiden?” Crineal asked with a self-deprecating smile.

laughed musically. “Oh, Sir, you always behave that way. It’s just not obvious
to anyone not close to you.”

nice to know I have your support,” he said ruefully.

you really think that Del’Tarim will be found guilty?” she asked, changing the

certain that imperial justice will prevail.” He gave her a smile that Strieger
knew meant that he was completely confident of victory because he’d already
assured the outcome.

she said putting her cup down and rising from her chair. “I’d better go and
find out what our darling pilots are up to and try and keep them busy so that
they stay out of mischief.”

you, Major. And whilst I may think you’re wasted as my second, I surely appreciate
having you in that spot.”

welcome, Sir, and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but here,” and with that,
Strieger left to round up the squadron.


waved to Feldea as she entered the med bay and felt a warm glow at the genuine
smile that lit the lieutenant’s face.

How are you doing? And how is the general? I didn’t expect you to visit with
having to look after him and all.”

gave Feldea a hug. “I’m sorry I didn’t make it yesterday, but I’ll make sure
that I visit as usual from now on. The general is doing better, so he said he
can spare me for visits.”

grinned mischievously at her as Cyndora sat down. “No need to worry about that.
The doc is releasing me tomorrow, so I get five days leave. But don’t feel bad
about missing yesterday. You’ve made me popular, so I’ve not lacked for

And how did I manage that?”

I’ve had every Hera pilot who’s back from leave come and visit me to see how I
am,” she paused giggling, “and, just coincidentally, asking all about you.”

it’s your fault I had a guard of pilots with me in the gym yesterday?” she
asked giving her fellow redhead a mock glare.

really? Who was there?” Feldea looked both amused and concerned.

Saphya seemed to be the ring leader but Muscovy and Staller were there, too.
Along with a few others.”

is ok. If she was in charge then they were there out of a genuine concern for
you. She grilled me for an hour yesterday morning.”

started to feel a touch of panic. “What did you tell her?”

you were really sweet and cared for the general and how much I liked you.” She
looked worried. “Did I do wrong?”

Fel, you’re fine. I… I just didn’t want anyone to get the wrong idea about me.”

honey, I can see how much you care for the boss and that’s all the squadron
wants to know about. You’re making him happy because you care. And that means
we’ll all stand by you.” She patted Cyndora’s hand comfortingly. “So… I’ve been
reading a bit. What do you know about saris?”


hour later, Cyndora walked into the Rec dorm and went over to Jaydea’s bed
where her friend was napping. She poked her in the ribs. “Wake up, lazy butt.”

eyes snapped open. “Cyndy!!!! Don’t do that!” swatting at her friend’s hand.
“Sheesh, girlfriend, you’ve been here less than a month and you’re already a
legend around here.”

around she noticed that several people were watching her with thinly disguised
interest. She spotted Marshalla and waved to her. The woman took that as an invite
and got up to join them.

Cyndy. How’s it going? Been hearin’ about ya.”

she said looking nervous.

spoke up. “We heard they’re gonna try a commander, and a noble at that, for
raping you.” Her eyes were wide in disbelief. “Is that true?”

her head, she put her friend straight. “He didn’t rape me. He did assault me
and would have tried to rape me, but the general stopped him. He called in a
security team and had the commander arrested.”

our life better I tell ya. No one seems to be hitting us much anymore. Guess
they figure if they’ll arrest a noble then they’ll have no problem locking up a
crewman. Folks think he’ll still get off, though,” Marshalla said.

shook her head again. “I don’t think so. If he’s found guilty then they’ll
shoot him.”

other two women exchanged glances. “Really? The general’s going to have him
shot for trying it on with you?” Jaydea asked in amazement.

only part of it. He also broke into the general’s quarters and had an illegal
key card. So they’re throwing the book at him.”

so, he’s still a noble and they get away with everything. This general of yours
must have some clout,” her friend said wonderingly before adding, “and he must
like you a lot to give you that kind of protection.”

nodded in agreement. “That’s for sure, honey. Word is that ya protected from on
high and no one messes with ya or ya friends.”

looked at them both. “Been using my name, huh?” She smiled to show that she
wasn’t upset.

what advantages ya can.” Marshalla appeared totally unrepentant.

can’t hold that against you. And maybe I have a few more advantages.” She
opened her purse and took out two new lipsticks, a small jar of blush and a tube
of mascara. “Hopefully these will help, too. Make them last though. The general
said I can’t cart in loads of stuff or someone will ask questions.”

both nodded as they gleefully examined the small trove. “Yeah, they would. But
even this is great. Would you thank the general for us, Cyndy? We know that you
wouldn’t be able to do this without his help,” Jaydea said.

thank ya, too, girl. You’re making things better for everyone, and me, Jay and
Xian especially.” Marshalla gave her a hug. Cyndora watched as the two women
tried on the make-up.

need to ask if the general is still treating you good, I guess?” said Jaydea,

he is, but I’m having to nurse him at the moment. He was injured in a battle
the other day. At first I thought he’d died.” Cyndora remembered how upset
she’d felt.

had to be a bad moment for you, honey. We’d heard he was hurt, but not that it
was that serious.”  Jaydea put her arm around Cyndora to comfort her. “He’s
recovering ok, though?”

I just have to help him around and make sure he doesn’t do too much. I probably
need to head back and make sure he’s ok.”

Cyndy. You take good care of him and we’ll see you soon.” her friend said.

be back in the next few days. I don’t know about the few days after that
though. I’m required to be available as a witness during the trial.”

ok, girlfriend, I understand. You take care of what you need to, then you can
come back and tell us all about the trial.”

hugged Jaydea “I will. You take care too, Marsh. Say Hi to Xian for me,” she
said as she started to leave.

will. Kiss the general for us,” Jaydea said as Cyndora departed.

Chapter Twelve


the time Cyndora arrived back in their quarters, Crineal was dozing on the
sofa. Poor thing, she thought with a little smile and she quietly made her way
to the bedroom to get changed. With that done she returned to the lounge, made
herself a drink and sat down at the table to watch Crineal. He hardly looked
like the ruthless killer pilot, just a tired man who appeared very alone
because of his position. It struck her as very sad, to have all those pilots
around him who adored him so much and not be permitted to find a companion
amongst them and, at the same time, be too honorable to want to use the recreation
assistants that were available to him for that very purpose. But how did she
really feel about him? A lot of the man she had liked fourteen years ago was
still there. He could be amusing and he was always caring and honest. The
shyness was gone though, robbing him of that boyishness. She’d always felt that
he’d have liked them to be more than friends, but she’d never let herself
consider him in that light because she was attached to someone else. Now, she
had no attachments, though. They were friends, and that meant she loved him at
least a little. Her mind went back to that moment in the med bay where she
thought he’d been killed. The sorrow she had felt was for that of a loved one.
She realized that she probably could grow to love him as a lover if she let
herself. Would he want her after the way she had been used? She didn’t want him
to love her out of pity, like some abused, rescued pet. Honest love was still
as important to her as it looked to be to him. Cyndora studied his face, his
short brown hair, now all spiky from the cushion, the slight gauntness, but she
liked his eyes best, the way they seemed to change color with his moods. He wasn’t
classically handsome, but he was attractive in a quiet way.

object of her attention stirred and opened those blue eyes. “Urrrm… Hi, Cyndy.
I didn’t hear you get back,” he said, running his right hand through his hair.

not been back long,” she smiled at him. “What did Major Strieger want?”

wanted to see how I was and bring me up to date on the doings of the pilots,”
Crineal replied in an off-hand manner. Cyndora felt that he wasn’t telling her
everything but then there would always be some things he couldn’t say due to
security considerations.

eyed him critically. “You still look tired. Let’s get you that shower and then
settle you into bed for a nap.” She moved over to help him up.

feel like some geriatric when you say it like that. Am I getting gruel for
dinner?” he complained.

gave him a long look. “Yes, if you don’t stop whining.”

Cyndora supporting him, they headed to the bathroom. Crineal was still mostly
asleep and hadn’t thought through how he was going to actually take the shower.
In the bathroom Cyndora stood in front of him and eased the bathrobe carefully
off his shoulders letting it drop onto the floor, and before Crineal could
react, her fingers were inside the waistband of his shorts, pushing them to the
ground. He stood there befuddled for a second before blushing at being at being
stark naked in front of her; the bandages down his left side didn’t really
count as clothing. Cyndora hardly noticed. She opened the door to the shower to
turn on the water and check the temperature of it. Satisfied, she helped
Crineal inside. The doctor had told her that the bandages were waterproof, but
not to give them a prolonged soaking. The warm water felt good to Crineal and
he closed his eyes, enjoying letting it run over him. As he opened them again
he realized that the shower door was still ajar and Cyndora had kicked off her
sandals and was unbuttoning her top.

what are you doing?” he asked as she dropped the sleeveless silk shirt to the floor,
her breasts in full view.

I’m not going to help you shower with my clothes on, am I?” she replied,
undoing the buttons on the waistband of her shorts before pushing them off her
hips and letting them slide to the floor, her breasts hanging there slightly as
she bent forward a little. Crineal stood there dazed at the sight of her naked
except for the small white panties that were part of her assistant’s uniform,
his body starting to respond to the view. He watched as she casually slipped
her panties down to her ankles and stepped out of them, his eyes drawn to her
neatly trimmed pubic area.

think I can shower myself…,” he started as she stepped into the cubicle with

snorted softly. “Don’t be silly, you can barely walk, never mind bend and
stretch. Now stay still and let me start with your hair.” She stood to his rear
and lathered his hair using the shampoo.

was fully erect now as he felt her behind him washing his hair, her breasts
brushing his back as she worked. He tried not to think of how she must look,
with beads of water running down her trim body, dripping from her nipples… Quit
That! he chided himself.

head under the water so I can rinse it now,” she ordered him. Crineal ducked
his head a little and even this caused him discomfort down his injured side. He
guessed she did have cause for saying that he couldn’t wash himself. The
feeling of her massaging the soap out of his scalp was wonderful and he almost
groaned in disappointment when she stopped. Then she started on his right
shoulder and back, soaping and rinsing. He almost jumped when she moved to his
bottom. Finished with his back, she moved to his side to start on his upper
chest. This was the part Crineal had been dreading. Knowing that her recent
sexual experiences hadn’t been good he didn’t want her to see how excited he
was. He gritted his teeth and tried to think calming thoughts.

wasn’t anywhere as clinically detached from the experience as she was
pretending to be. She was enjoying feeling his body under her hands, especially
his nice tight buttocks as she washed. It was difficult keeping her mind on her
self-appointed task. Cyndora started soaping his chest but couldn’t help
noticing his body’s rather obvious reaction to her ministrations. She felt a
little pleased that he obviously wanted her; it was reassuring that he didn’t
seem to think of her as damaged goods. She carefully worked downwards to his
stomach and then to his crotch. At her first touch there he groaned a little
and she realized that perhaps this wasn’t fun for him in some ways. Crineal
must be very uncomfortable being that erect and not wanting or feeling able to
act on it. She nodded to herself after a moment’s thought and then gently began
to stroke him.

eyes flew open at her actions. “Cyndy? What are you doing?”

her wet body gently against his right side she asked, “You need me to tell
you?” her right hand continuing to tease him.

But I….”

stopped him. “Shush, Crin. You need this. I’m your friend and I want to help,”
Cyndora breathed into his ear and then planted a soft kiss just below it on his
neck. “If you really want me to stop, I will,” she offered tightening her grip
just a little. His groan was answer enough.

let me help you feel better, Sweetie,” she whispered, nibbling his earlobe. He
was all out of objections at this point and he turned his head to kiss her.
Cyndora returned his kiss gently and felt his right arm slide wetly around her
back to cup her bottom and pull her in closer, her pubic mound pressing nicely
against his hip. She heard his breath grow faster and he moaned against her
lips. Cyndora quickened her strokes and felt him respond, suddenly shaking as
his climax hit him. She reached up and cradled his head to her neck and
shoulder as he shuddered against her. Cyndora was thankful she wasn’t a man;
her own arousal would have been as equally obvious as his had been.

now, Hon?” she asked softly as he stopped shaking and just rested against her.

have no idea,” he gasped. “You didn’t….”

gave him a quick kiss on the lips to silence him. “I wanted to.” They stood
there holding each other for a minute before Cyndora shut off the water and
reached for a towel. She first dried him off and then herself before going to
find clean under shorts for him. She helped him put them on, thinking that if
she hadn’t relieved him he probably wouldn’t have been able to get them on at
all. Without stopping to dress herself, she assisted him to the bed and tucked
him in. As he looked up at her, Cyndora thought he looked more peaceful than
she had seen him since she’d arrived. Ahhh, the joy of hormones.

lay there staring at her still nude form, not feeling embarrassed to enjoy the
sight of it now. He wanted to invite her into bed with him, but despite what
had just happened, he still wasn’t sure what she wanted. She’d used the word
‘friend’ not ‘lover’ and he was reluctant to push it.

leaned forward and kissed his cheek, further adding to the ambiguity of the
situation for him. “You get some rest. I’m going to finish up my shower and
tidy up in there.” Actually, she really wanted to look after her own needs and
then think about how things had just changed between them. Cyndora turned and
went back into the bathroom, closing the door behind her.


Del’Tarim sat waiting in an interview room. As seemed usual lately he was less
than pleased. A few days ago he thought his recent run of bad luck had changed
when he heard that Crineal was dead. He was ready to do cartwheels. But just a
few hours after that came the counter rumor that he was still alive. The least
desired story was the one that turned out to be true. This morning Del’Tarim
had finally decided that he could delay things no longer and sent a message to
that cretin Junon, requesting a meeting. The hatchet-faced legal commander
finally deigned to arrive and seated himself across the table from him,
activating his data pad.

afternoon, Commander. I understand you wish to see me?”

I want to enter a plea of not guilty at the court martial,” Del’Tarim said

appeared unsurprised at this as he tapped away at his data pad. “Very well, Commander.
And what line of defense do you wish me to pursue?”

I was set up by the general and his bitch. She lured me to his quarters and he
was waiting there to trap me,” he said self-righteously.

you give me the basics of what happened then, please?” Junon asked, trying not
to let the amazement show on his face.

was in the corridor near the recreation dorm when the woman approached me and
said that she thought I was handsome and would like to entertain me. She
exposed herself for me to fondle and told me to be at the general’s quarters
just after nine the following morning as the general would be busy. So I went
there, she let me in and then the general and the security squad leapt out at
me to put me under arrest on these trumped up charges,” Del’Tarim finished

legal officer stared at him in utter disbelief and then put down his data pad.
“Commander, I think I need to make something clear to you. If I am to give you
a credible defense then I need to know the truth. When I question the various
witnesses I have to know what they are going to say. If you tell me something
that isn’t true then they will give me an answer that will hurt your case. I’m
sure that you’re aware that all the witnesses are monitored and if any of them
are lying then that will be indicated to the court.” Del’Tarim’s face went red
as he realized the Junon was implying that he was lying to him. “So, for
example, if I go into that court room and ask the girl if she approached you
and she says ‘No’, you can see how it would look as regards your case if all
the sensors show that she is telling the truth.”

you don’t believe me then what is the point of you being here?” blustered the

believing you or not is immaterial. But I have to know what really happened so
that I can find something to work with to defend you.”

just told you what happened,” Commander Del’Tarim replied stubbornly.

him coolly Junon picked up his data pad again. “So let me make sure that I have
this right. The girl approached you and invited you to the general’s quarters?
You did not approach, assault and threaten her as stated in her submission?” Del’Tarim
nodded. “And the following morning she let you into the general’s quarters? You
did not threaten her or use an illegal key card to gain entry?”

is correct,” he said stiffly.

you did have an illegal key card in your possession that you had just happened
to find?”

it was lying on the floor outside of the door. Likely planted there to
incriminate me.”

looked at the man, trying to remember when he had last heard such a complete
load of drivel. “Very well. If that is the case, then their lies will be
exposed by the court monitors and you will be acquitted. Is there anything else
you feel I should know that is relevant to the case, Commander? Like why
General Crineal should want to frame you?”

because he hates me after a misunderstanding when I first arrived. I was
perhaps a little hasty and did not show him the respect due his rank. I believe
he has had a grudge against me since then.”

BOOK: Crineal Chronicles 1: In Hera's Service
11.93Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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