Authors: Viola Grace
Tags: #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Science Fiction, #One Hour (33-43 Pages), #Literature & Fiction
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A Terran Times Novel
Aleyn Zargas was exhausted. The sex with Baileez had been great, but it was time to leave. Meeting him had been easy, he was always on the prowl. Getting him into bed had been as simple as running a hand up his thigh and a heated kiss. Escaping from him now was her only chance.
As soon as he knew that she was pregnant, she wasn’t going to go anywhere, so now was her only window of opportunity. Too bad he wouldn’t remember her.
“Bai, you have to wake up. Just a bit.” His hand skated up her thigh and his mouth sought her breast. “Not that much, sweetie.” She touched his mind and his hand relaxed, his breath fell into the even breathing of sleep. This was the hard part. “You did not meet me tonight. We did not meet at any of the events. Your lover, Vaiu, was here with you. She was here all night and well into the morning. Aleyn never existed.”
He frowned and she moved to reassure him. “Aleyn was not on Hickom, she was just a name that you read in a report. The woman you wouldn’t breed.” He smiled and reached for her again. She read it in his mind. He had bred her, she would be his. “No, you never touched her. Don’t know what she looks like, smells like or anything else.” As she mentioned his senses, he called them up and she blanked them out.
She removed any trace of her mind and body from him carefully, then took up her gown and left him slumbering with a frown on his face. He wasn’t happy, but she was free to live her life.
With their child forming in her belly.
* * * *
“Son of a bitch! What the hell happened to my head?” Baileez gripped his head in his hands as he sat up. He rarely overindulged in drink so this headache was out of scale.
“Good morning, sir. How are you this fine morning?” Von, his manservant, was attentive as always.
“Wondering what the hell hit my head in my sleep.” He shook his head gingerly. “What did I get up to last night?”
“You were seen with a rather attractive woman last night. Vaiu was jealous and made a number of comments to her companions who spoke to your staff.”
“I thought I was with Vaiu last night.”
“No, sir. She was irate and took another to her bed.” Von straightened the bedclothes as he left the bed and blinked in surprise. “Perhaps this belongs to your mystery woman.” He held up a gauzy strip of fabric that could have been a scarf or a shawl. Based on the stains on it, it had been used while they coupled.
“Give me that. There was no mystery woman. It was Vaiu. I am sure of it.” He groaned and gripped his head again. Every time he thought of the night before, pain wracked him. “I think I need to go to medical.”
“I think that is a wise decision, sir. Take this with, they may be able to identify your mystery woman.” He held the scarf for Baileez.
The instant that he took it, he turned to head for the door.
“Sir! You may want to put some clothing on before you go to Medical.”
Baileez blushed and grabbed some trousers, a tunic and a robe from his wardrobe. Struggling into everything at once was not a good idea and he had to slow his dress to yank on the tunic, pull up the trousers, shrug into the robe and then step into the boots. Given his state of mind, he checked his reflection in the mirror and made sure that his cock wasn’t hanging out. It would sort of fit his current mood.
Von walked next to him through the halls of the palace, keeping close but not so close that it looked like Baileez needed help. They walked into the Medical Quarters with their heads held high and he imperiously lifted his hand to summon a physician to him. The instant that they were in a private room, he collapsed, groaning and clutching his head.
“Sir? What is the matter? A bad batch of brandy?”
“No. I can’t remember last night. Nothing.” He thrust the veil of fabric at the doctor. “And
woman was with me. The problem is that there is nothing in my mind to tell me who she was, what she looked like or anything. Every time I try to imagine her, pain grips me.” He grunted again as a wave of pain hit him.
The physician looked curiously at him. “You are sure?” He looked at the stains on the gauzy fabric and a speculative gleam came to his eyes. “This could have been left by a previous lover, sir.”
“Not on your life. I clean sir’s bedchamber every day. There is never a trace of his encounters left after I am finished.” Von came through the door with every inch bristling with indignation. His ivory fur was standing on end and his nose was twitching with irritation. “Whoever that woman was, she had never been in his rooms before.”
“I see. Well, I will test this fabric and consult with my colleagues. We should have an answer for you shortly.”
“What about the pain?”
“Well, sir. From what you have told me, you are the victim of a Minder.” The physician straightened his coat. “I have never heard of pain being associated with their treatments, but usually their clients don’t want to keep their memories. You obviously fought to keep them and that is what is causing your pain.” The doctor left, taking the fabric with him.
A Minder, that would explain it. “Von, make a list of all Minders on the planet last night. There couldn’t be more than a dozen. Find the females and compile a file for me.” A stabbing pain to his temples stole his breath for a moment. “And if the doctor hasn’t summoned one, get our Mind Healer down here. I want this reversed, whatever it is.”
“Ksar will be on his way in a few minutes. I took the liberty of summoning him when we were walking here.” Von was always efficient with his data pad.
They waited a few excruciating minutes while Baileez tried not to think of how someone could have taken his memories and for what purpose. What was the female hiding? What didn’t she want him to remember?
“Sir, your memories are damaged, but not removed. She tried, but your senses were too tied to your memories.” Ksar had his delicate and slender fingers pressed against Baileez’s skull. “She is Citadel trained, definitely a Minder. She didn’t want to hurt you, but she wanted to remove her presence.”
“Why?” He felt better already. The weight of the pain had eased as Ksar moved through his mind, setting things to rights. “Why would any woman want to be removed from a man’s mind?”
The door opened and the physician entered. “I can answer that last question for you, sir. It seems the Minder in question was trying to get pregnant. She was at the peak of her cycle and you were obliging.”
Ksar tightened his grip, “Stay still, sir. I almost have it.”
“You are sure? Sure that our joining would have had results?”
“Yes, sir. Both you and she were in peak physical condition and your fertility was never in question.” The physician was nervous. He had never seen Baileez this agitated.
“Do you know who she was?” Ksar was tightening his grip on his mind and he could barely get the words out.
“Of course.” The physician was indignant. “With her genetic profile, it was simple to find her identity.”
His roar shook all of the men in the room. Von closed his eyes and Ksar worked as fast as he was able. “Who was she, idiot?”
“Aleyn Zargas, Minder of the Alliance Protectorate of Terra, Retired. She is off on Propagation Leave to complete her contract.” His voice was both prim and offended. “She left this morning on the passenger transport.”
“Aleyn!” The block broke and his mind flooded with images of her body writhing beneath his, her smile, the delight in her eyes as she tied him to the headboard using that scarf of hers, and her flushed skin as she rode him to completion. “Von, prep my ship. I am getting my own back.”
“Your own, sir?”
He stood, shook the hand of Ksar and turned to look at his manservant with an evil grin spreading across his face. “My woman and my child. She will make a most suitable queen and I intend to reward her for her ingenuity.”
“Ma’am, please explain to us why you are registering as two life forms when you were only one upon arrival.” The confusion in the insectoid face was hard to read, but a touch on its mind and she understood.
“Please check my records, I have a breeding permit extended to me by the Alliance. I am required to produce an heir to my talents. The second life form is my heir.” Aleyn placed one hand over her belly and smiled.
“Congratulations on the completion of your contract. Your ship is at gate Dehal on the third deck. Please enjoy your stay on the Hickom Station.” The security agent handed her documents back and Aleyn moved back into line with the rest of the passengers from the transport. The slow measured shuffle continued until they broke out of the hall and spread across the station.
“I need something to eat.” She walked through the ubiquitous vendors that covered every mass transit facility in the universe. She patted her belly and smiled. She had gotten what she came for and no one was the wiser.
Baileez had refused a breeding contract with her. The Alliance Representative on Hickom had tried and failed to get him to agree to meet with her.
He didn’t want an heir, either for her body or his own.
She had been shocked when they told her that because of his rank as King, he could keep from impregnating her simply by thinking about it.
It was a mental skill that he had been taught to kill sperm production and it was a highly guarded skill only taught to the royal family. He was her perfect match genetically, and when she saw holograms of him at a variety of formal events, she had fallen hopelessly in love. Her second choice was an Avari who would require that she take up residence with him. So it was a man she wanted that didn’t want her who was her final choice.
Typical. She could cross the galaxy and still make the same choices. Idiot.
Aleyn smiled and homed in on a fruit pie with an odd gravy. She had found it years ago on assignment near Haldis and had been a fan of it ever since. “Two please.” She had an hour before her ship left so she was going to grab two for the road. She handed the credit slips over to him and wandered away, looking at kiosks full of crafts, formal weapons, gifts and utensils for use on board ship.
She didn’t have any use for the gadgets and items on sale now. She was on her way home. A small cottage on an Azon colony world. No one to bother her and all the time in the world to relax and train her new child.
When the humans had volunteered to leave the Earth to come to the Alliance as test models for their species, they had not expected to be paid so handsomely for talents that had made them freaks back on earth. It was the psychic adaptability that made them so popular. Aleyn’s ability to calm people who had experienced a trauma made her an ideal candidate for the Alliance. They had sent her to the Citadel where she was trained to use her talents to blur the fear of the memory and create a relatively balanced person in its wake. She worked with rape victims, persons who had been in crashes or natural disasters. People affected by fear to the point where they could not function. She helped them and was paid handsomely in return.
Guilt had been her first reaction, but when she had been told how short her working life span would be, it had changed her outlook on the matter. Three years of training had led to five years of active work and now she was no longer allowed to work for the Alliance. She was officially retired. Even knowing it was coming, it was still a bit of a shock.
She sighed heavily as she proceeded to the transport gate. She may as well get on board and get settled. Mooning around the space platform would just depress her. It was hard enough for her to keep moving away from Hickom, staying on the station would be idiotic.
Baileez had been a wonderful lover and his touch still burned in her blood. She shook her head and kept her self-control in place all the way to gate Dehal. A singular crewmember was leaning against a podium.
“Aleyn Zargas, single state room.” She thumbed the indent panel and smiled at the crewmember checking in passengers.
“You are the last passenger on this vessel so as soon as you get to your quarters we will get under way.” Aleyn wasn’t surprised. Due to the limited transport and technology available to the planet Hickom, it was not a popular destination. More people went past it than to it.
“Excellent. Which way am I going?” She stepped onto the ship and followed the directions given by the crewman. Aleyn smiled to herself as he closed the hatch behind her and took up a position inside. She passed a few personnel on her way to her quarters and they nodded respectfully, moving to one side of the hallway to let her pass. It was going to be a quiet trip if this was as chatty as they got.
Her room was sparse, tidy and had all the comforts of an impersonal hotel room back on Earth, minus the unidentifiable stains on the bedspread. She flopped back on the bed and closed her eyes. The engine start up caused a slight vibration in the bed and she turned to one side, a slow tear trekking down her cheek. If only Baileez hadn’t been such a possessive twit. If only Hickom wasn’t a level two planet, she could have been quite happy there. As it was, with only swords and hand thrown projectiles as weapons and medical equipment confined to a limited number of Citadel Healers, she wasn’t comfortable bringing a child into that environment. Only the wealthy regularly got medical attention and she wasn’t that well off. The Alliance had promised her medical care in perpetuity, but if she was beyond their reach, what could they do?
It wasn’t a situation she was going to put her offspring in to. She laughed through her sniffling. The thing wasn’t even the size of a brine shrimp and she was protective enough to leave the one man she had felt a connection to so that it could live in an equal society. Damn it.
* * * *
“What do you mean the damned ship left early?” Baileez was ready to tear the Hickom Station apart with his bare hands and his guard was willing to help him.
“The last of the passengers had arrived, they had refuelled and there was no reason to keep them.” The lower functionary was flushing red and purple as he hung from the King’s hands. “I am sorry, your Majesty. The ship is gone.”
“Call me, sir. I hate being a your Majesty.” He dropped the gasping creature and turned to his men. “Back to the ship and get that flight path from control. I want their pathway and I want us on their tail in the next fifteen minutes. Fuel up and let’s go.” Furious at being an hour late to catch her, Baileez slammed his fist into the bulkhead of the Blue Horizon, his ship and the royal conveyance for the last hundred years.
His hand throbbed and he winced as he shook it out. The last time that the Alliance had bothered to interfere in his life, it had nearly meant his end. This time they had gone too far. An idea came to him and he got the com officer to make a connection to the Alliance Council headquarters with a high priority seal. The response was not long in coming.
“Sir! To what do I own the pleasure of this communication.?” High Councilman Rivik bowed in the image on the screen and looked vaguely uncomfortable.
A ferocious grin came over Baileez, “I am calling to report a theft.”
“A theft?” He looked very ill at ease now.
He crossed his arms over his chest and kicked back. “Indeed. My heir has been stolen.”
Rivik had gone to an ashen silver, his regular lavender hue completely obliterated. It was obvious now that he had full knowledge of Aleyn’s manoeuvre. He had probably come up with the plan at a High Council Meeting. Jackass. “Er. I was unaware that you had taken a breeding partner.”
“Oh, I didn’t. For the last ten years I have not coupled with any woman capable of bearing young. Until last night. I met an Alliance Minder who bent my mind and created my heir with my cooperation.”
“She used her talents on you? That is against Citadel protocols.”
“Yet the fact remains she carries my child and I want it back.” The panic in the eyes of the councillor was almost funny. Aleyn would not find a home on any Alliance world now, not without him. His home was big enough for the both of them.
“I will put a bulletin out for her. She will be returned to you so that you may reclaim your heir.”
Baileez smiled and then looked confused, “I cannot take the child yet. It needs to be brought to term first. I am afraid that your thief will have to serve out her sentence on my world. I am unwilling to have her out of my sight. Who knows where she would take off to? Or whom she would manipulate?”
“Hold a moment, please.” The screen went blank for a moment. “The Carlisk is on its way back to the station. Aleyn will be taken into custody. I apologize for the actions of our agent in this matter. The Citadel will decide on its own disciplinary measures after you have her in custody.”
“Excellent. I thank you for your understanding and look forward to dealing with you again in the future.” Baileez cut the transmission and leaned back in the com chair. He put his feet up and crossed his legs at the ankles. Yes, he was feeling smug. He would get his way. He always did.