Authors: Viola Grace
Tags: #Paranormal, Fantasy, Sci-fi, Romance
Table of Contents
Nya has enjoyed her time on Arcros, mediating minor disputes and arranging marriages. She never expected that she had been offered the position based on her suitability to be a Draikynkyn mate, and that her soon to be lover was working his way through stone pathways to her side. Hyfor is not what she was expecting, but as she was expecting to work in obscurity, she wasn't really prepared for anything. Mating with a dragon might be a good bar joke, but the reality far eclipsed the fantasy.
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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2011 Viola Grace
Cover art by Martine Jardin
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A Terran Times Novella
Mediator Antonya Morris stretched and twisted, working her stiff muscles before she had to return to the meeting room. The negotiations had been rough, but she felt that she had managed the best possible arrangement for her client's family. This was going to be one hell of a wedding.
Nya smiled as she thought about her client, Viisha Ordu. That young Evian woman had everything she wanted in life clearly outlined. There was no getting around it. Her husband was in for a hard time unless he mastered the phrase,
The Ordu family had engaged Nya's services to manage the mediation and contract signing, but it had hardly been necessary. Viisha had her mate-to-be well in hand.
With her break completed, she returned to the table where the families were sitting in a subdued silence. "So, are we all still in agreement?"
The families nodded. It had been two days of negotiations, but it had been worked out to everyone's satisfaction. "When do you want to hold the ceremony?"
The Ordus sat up, their head feathers ruffling slightly. "Within a month."
The groom's side muttered in shock. The matriarch looked down her nose at the patriarch of the Ordus. "Unseemly. We have no means to arrange this within the month."
Nya held up her hand, the mediator robes falling back to expose her forearm. The room went silent. "The Ordu family has already agreed to take on all extenuating finances. That will include organizing a rushed ceremony and all of the rituals leading up to it. You need only pay for the actual official performing the ceremony, as is custom."
The Zenki family inclined their heads, their feathers smoothing to lie flat along their skulls. Viisha was still a little irritated, but her peacock blue feathers slowly receded away from the static halo. "That is not customary."
"I am aware of that, but I am here to make sure that you both meet each other halfway. I am aware that Evian families tend to give all of the financial responsibility to the male, but with your agreement, Yargo will have plenty to take care of with finding you both a home to the agreed specs."
Yargo Zenki nodded, his raven black feathers lying in a relaxed manner on his skull. He was the most mellow Evian that Nya had seen in her three months as Mediator. He had sat silently through the entire negotiation, his eyes on his blushing bride-to-be. For Nya, it would have been unnerving for that raptor gold gaze to be focussed on her, but Viisha fluffed and preened her feathers for the entire event.
Nya quickly completed the addendums to the contracts and slid one copy to each party to sign, including a file copy and then switched them before signing herself. "There. You are officially engaged in a mating contract. Congratulations on your nuptials."
As per her Evian Mediation training, she lanced her finger with a quill and drew a line through all signatures in her own blood.
"I hereby ratify this contract by the laws of the Evian and the Alliance." Nya pressed her finger subtly to the pad next to the quill, stopping the flow of blood.
The families stood, shook hands, took their copies of the arrangement and left her office. She breathed deeply and let her breath out on a low sigh.
Years earlier, she had never guessed that her ability to smooth over family dust ups would land her in the Volunteer program back on earth. Joining the Alliance export program had come as a shock to her, but her family had been all for it.
The Alliance planets called them Terrans now, a much more graceful term than the Earthers that had been proposed by some of their governments. Nya had done two years of general studies at an Alliance mediator-training centre and five years of rotating station duty.
When the post on Arcros was offered to her, she had jumped at the chance to be ground bound for a while. The Evian settlers were friendly, the planet's avatar was generous with her stipend and being part of the colony and yet a completely different species was a challenge that she enjoyed.
With her clothing and shelter being provided by the planet itself, she had no expenses, so her retirement fund was rapidly growing to enormous proportions. Working with the Evian paid very well.
She grabbed the contract and scanned and filed it. It was her fourth wedding mediation, but fifteenth contract over all. The Evian's kept her fairly busy.
She checked her calendar for any new appointments and when it came up clear, she giggled. It was time to get some food and have a charming night in.
The construction mediation was due to start in the morning and she was going to need fortification.
With her basket full of food ready for her delicate touch in the kitchen, she entered her small home and came up short at the sight of the avatar of Arcros sitting at her kitchen counter with a chilled glass of wine.
"Hello, Berenghetti. How are you this evening?" Nya walked into her kitchen and started to assemble her meal. "Would you care to share dinner?"
"That would be lovely, Antonya. You are a thoughtful hostess."
Nya fished some more vegetables out of the cooler to supplement her shopping and started chopping. "What brings you to my humble home?"
"I was simply wondering how you were adjusting to life here on Arcros. Not everyone is able to work with the Evian day after day." Berenghetti inclined her head and sipped at the wine.
Nya spared a quick glance to the avatar and noted the telltale signs of Arcros within his chosen vessel.
Berenghetti was an attractive female of Nyal extraction, her clothing was elegant and of a similar style to the robes that Nya was required to wear.
"They aren't too bad. As long as you remember that they are simply interested in gemstones and money, they are a fairly easy people to get along with."
Berenghetti laughed, a low, rich sound. "The feathered ones were very polite when they asked to start a colony here. Your presence has already had a bit of a calming influence. I thank you for that. It has been a rough two hundred years."
Nya barked a laugh in response. "I can only imagine. How long have you been avatar for Arcros?"
"I am going on just over nine hundred years. It was fairly lonely until the Evian and then the frustration took over with a rapid surge."
Nya smiled again and set up a pan to sauté thin slices of meat into a peculiar stir fry. It was hard to manage Terran-familiar foods, but with enough research and a few nights spent over her lav, she had managed to find blends that suited her palate and allowed her a balanced diet.
Berenghetti shared her fascination with attractive foods and this was not the first time that Nya had found the avatar nearby at mealtime.
Sharing just seemed the ideal method of learning more about the only other oddball that was walking this world of gemologists and jewellers.
Nya tossed the meat and sliced vegetables together and ran a light sauce across the whole brightly coloured mass. She dished it out onto both of her two plates and placed the eating prongs on them at an angle.
Berenghetti pulled out another wine glass and served her. "It is from Arcros's best vintage. I stocked your wine rack with it."
"Thank you." She inclined her head and waited for the avatar to start eating before she picked up her own prongs. She took a bite and smiled at the taste. "Now, no rudeness intended, Avatar, but what the hell are you doing here?"
Berenghetti raised one finger and swallowed. "It is a complicated matter, but in a nutshell, you know that your presence here is not a coincidence."
"I know that. No one comes to one of these colonies without someone behind the scenes pulling some strings. So, who was it that wanted me here?" She dug into her food and sipped at the wine while Berenghetti formed a reply.
"Antonya, what do you know about the Draikyn?"
"They are a winged race. They are fairly insular and rarely leave their homes." Nya put a few slices of shredded veg into her mouth and chewed slowly while she thought about them. "No one knows that much about them aside from a mythical link to ancient dragons."
Berenghetti finished her meal and focussed on the wine. "They are not so mythical. There is one of their ancient kind sleeping beneath the surface of Arcros and that is where the problem comes in."
Nya blinked in surprise and bided her time. She finished her own food while Berenghetti got her thoughts together.
"He is waking up and I have accidentally allowed the Evian onto his territory."
"I see. Do you want me to mediate?"
"No, an agreement has already been reached. I just wanted to make sure that you were aware of the terms."
The avatar was sipping at her wine, studiously not looking Nya in the eye. Suspicion immediately flared.
"Please explain why I need to be included in this little matter." She leaned back in her chair and crossed her arms over her breasts.
"Well, I accidentally let the Evian mine in the nesting site he had contracted for and since I was in default, he demanded that I produce his match immediately." Berenghetti turned her head and it was Arcros meeting Nya's gaze with calm and serenity. "We engaged in the search and found you."
The brilliant glowing green energy was quite noticeable in comparison to the normal placid red of Berenghetti's gaze.
"I see. So, I am a default on a contract?" She had to look at it in the confines of her job or she would fly apart.
"No, of course not. He would have courted you himself, but he has been burrowing out from under the Evian mines for the last few months and he wishes to be presentable when you meet."
Nya knew that Terrans were in demand as mates for certain species, but she was fairly sure that the Draikyn were not completely compatible with humans. "The last few months?"
"He started to shift his position the moment that you landed. Hyfor will be here in a matter of days."
"I can't possibly be his mate. From the little that I remember from basic training, Draikyn were on our incompatible list." She was clutching at straws, but it was all she could come up with on such short notice. The idea that there was a dragon under the settlements digging closer to her was a little mind boggling.
Being available for a mating and reproductive situation had been part of the Volunteer contract. They were required to bear a genetic heir to their lineage if at all possible and with the tech of the Alliance, it was more than possible, it was a certainty. Too bad no one warned the humans before they left their world.
Arcros looked uncomfortable. "This is what I wanted to tell you. Before you came here, you were subjected to a medical exam which involved you being sedated. You were altered to Draikyn specifications over the course of eight days."
Nya lifted the wine glass to her lips and drained the contents before holding it out for more. "What?"
"As part of your contract, we slipped in a specification that you would accept all of our medical insistences to make you acceptable to the population."
She thought about the requirement and groaned. "I thought it was in relation to dealing with the Evians."
Arcros shrugged. "That was the hope. As you have pointed out to your clients, the detail of the wording is everything."
Nya slammed down the wine that he poured for her and sat while her thoughts spun in a chaotic whirl.
Arcros kept pouring for her and eventually let Berenghetti take on her drunken blathering.