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Authors: Viola Grace

Tags: #romance, science fiction

PowerofLearning (3 page)

BOOK: PowerofLearning
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Yavil blinked, “Like what?”

“Pheromones, skin cells, the normal bric-a-brac of life.” Mala grinned as she set down the scanner. “That is a question for another day. We will take you for a quick spin through medical, and then, I will personally escort you to my table in the commissary. I get the best service.”

Yavil nodded. “Instructor Ender, we are moving on.”

Hosh jerked upright and blinked rapidly. “I will meet with Relay and report on a matter of research.”

Mala waved him off. “As you wish, Instructor. We will be in the commissary after you finish your meeting.”

Mala linked arms with Yavil and hauled her into Morganti Base with a bright smile and a sense of anticipation vibrating through her.

Yavil was surprised that her complex biology was a puzzle that Mala was eager to solve.

Doctor Effin Nywyn was waiting in medical, and he gave her the same style of physical as the doctors back home. Skin and fluid samples, observation of her body and an assessment of her general muscle tone.

“What spectrum of radiation do you absorb as sustenance?” Effin was making notes.

“Any and all. It was a very energizing trip here. I hadn’t realized that even in the darkest night, the stars still burn with enough power to feed me.”

Mala blinked. “You eat radiation?”

“And food. I also eat food.” She chuckled and got back into her bodysuit. “Any idea how long it will take me to get used to this suit, Doc?”

Mala frowned. “I thought it was comfortable.”

Effin made some more notes and lifted his head. “The people of Tebr only wear clothing if they are going to be interacting with off-worlders. Their planet is covered with jungle and sunlight is precious. The more skin expose, the more light absorbed.”

Mala blinked. “So you are naked most of the time when you have time off.”

Yavil shrugged. “Yes. There was no shame in nudity until the first visitors from the stars arrived eight hundred years ago. Since then, we have developed a work-day and day-off clothing system.”

Mala touched her arm where the suit covered her skin. The suit softened and tightened until it was as light as a layer of air. “How is that?”

“Better. Much, much better. Thank you.” She frowned. “Does it still meet modesty requirements?”

Mala chuckled. “It does, but from now on, I will design you a two-layer suit. Both layers will be permeable to light, but they will also be armoured. It will be a challenge, but I do love a challenge.”

Effin laughed and waved them off. “Yavil, I will process your medical report and forward it to the Citadel. They will have it within the hour.”

“Thank you, Doctor Effin.” Yavil flicked her long ponytail and smiled at Mala. “Ready when you are.”

Mala grabbed her hand and hauled her to the commissary.

Tiny squeals broke out, and two small beings attached themselves to Mala at the waist. “Yavil, this is Isala and Mabi. My daughters. Their brother is over there with the nanny.”

The nanny in question was a large male who looked like he would be more likely to eat children than raise them, but as she watched, he competently lifted the infant to his shoulder and burped the tiny baby.

“Okay. Now, how do I pay?” She looked at the amazing spread of food, and her mouth watered.

“It is paid for. As you are with the Citadel, you will be charged against your earnings, but as you have allowed me to experiment on you for several hours, you have more than enough to eat for three months in your account.”

“I get paid for that?”

“You get paid for every assignment you go on, even coming over here and letting me try to take your picture. As for your clothing, it is charged back against your earnings, a circle that goes around and around.”

“The idea of being paid for my work is a novel thing. On Tebr, the money paid for my lectures goes into a family trust, and it is dispersed on a requirement of assistance. No one in my family has drawn on the trust in two generations.”

Mala blinked. “Wow.”

“We live in the nude. We don’t need more than food and comfortable furniture.” She laughed and went to get a tray for some food.

The selection of vegetables was lovely, the tea smell bright and citrusy and the fish was white and flaky. There was not one item on her tray that didn’t appeal to her.

She walked over to Mala’s table, and the little girls stared at her. One had dark skin, one light but both had their mother’s brilliant rainbow hair.

The nanny was busy with the baby, but he smiled and inclined his head. “New to the Guard?”

She shook her head. “No. I am with the Citadel, but it is my first day. Your charges look like a handful.”

He nodded. “If it wasn’t for Mala’s tracking devices and my own talent, those little girls would run right over me.”

“You have a talent?”

“Super speed. One would think I would do best in battle, but by being able to keep Mala happy and productive, I do more than life in the front lines would ever accomplish.”

“Where is her husband?” Yavil tried to make it casual.

“He is consulting on basic training for a new species. His skills as a Companion are sometimes more in demand than his skills as Shade.”

“Shade?”

Mala came in with a large tray groaning with food. “Shade is my husband’s alter ego. He becomes shadow and can move around in definitely spooky ways.”

“Interesting. Do you mind having a separate life?”

Mala grinned. “Not since I armour plated him. Now that I know he will be safe, he can run around free and feel like a man and not my personal valet.”

Yavil nodded. “Sensible.” She filed the armour plating away for questioning at a later time.

They ate in silence with the girls occasionally commenting on her bright blue eyes and chalky skin. “The people of Tebr are normally pale blue. I am a funny birth. No one knew I was coming.”

One of the girls perked up. “Like me!”

Mala nodded. “She can turn invisible and was hiding during the entire pregnancy. It was a bit of a shock as no one knew if a Selna and a Moreski could breed at all, let alone twins.”

“Twins are the norm on my world. A child born alone is not a good thing. We never fit in.”

Mala frowned. “But you were born with two siblings. You were triplets.”

“I am a genetic throwback to our ancestors, they are the contemporary people of Tebr, and they have the mind link common among twins. They will meet and marry another pair of twins one day, changing the link to their sibling to a link with their mate. Once they separate from their twin, they do not go back. The male becomes a member of the female’s family, and the sibling is forgotten.”

“You just do that? Discard a sister or brother?”

Yavil finished her tea. “In coming here, I have done it already.”

Mala was astonished, but Yavil went to get more tea and return her tray. It was a depressing thought, but everyone in her family knew that it would be the last time she would see them.

Leaving Tebr was a one-way trip for her contact with her entire family.

Chapter Five

Relay was pleasant and very curious to meet her in person.

“I swear, if you hadn’t typed to me, I would have thought that Hosh had gone around the bend.” Relay shook her hand and grinned.

“I am sorry that I can’t speak to the cameras, but I have never been able to show up in images. It was what brought Hosh to Tebr. None of my lectures could be recorded.” She enjoyed the camaraderie of the table and kept her teacup in her hand.

Yavil sat back and watched the connections between the women around her. The regular staff looked at their table with affection, and it occurred to her that the Sector Guard were more than warriors to these people, they were family. As a member of the Citadel, she was closer to being a visiting cousin once removed. Of course, she wasn’t quite in the Citadel yet, that would involve actually walking through their halls.

Hosh entered the commissary in deep conversation with Effin. They continued speaking as they got trays of their own.

Relay grinned. “They are related about four generations back.”

“That explains their medical interests.” Yavil sipped quietly at her tea.

Relay shook her head. “Effin was born to analyze illness and try to work out the best way to keep everyone around him fit. He is having a bit of trouble with your system, but he will manage.”

“Is there a doctor at the Citadel?” She bit her lip. She wasn’t counting on becoming ill, but it could happen.

“Hosh takes care of most medical emergencies, stabilising them until they can be shipped over here, but there is also a full medical centre with physicians.” Mala was monitoring her children’s food, and she spoke in an absent tone.

The two men grabbed another table and shifted it over to connect with the existing party.

Hosh smiled and took the chair next to her. “How was lunch?”

She inclined her head. “Fine. I am enjoying the company.”

“Not too cold?”

She shook her head. “Mala attached something to my suit. It keeps me in a warm, damp field. It isn’t home, but it is comfortable.”

“Good. I discussed your home environment with Effin, and he agreed that effort needs to be exerted to make you comfortable.”

She nodded and continued to drink her tea. Being a topic of conversation was nothing new to her.

Her internal clock told her that it was the middle of the night back home. She sat and yawned her way through the rest of the meal, the sun burning brightly through the windows and skylight.

Hosh winced. “I am sorry, Yavil. I will just finish up, and we will get you to your new quarters at the Citadel.”

“It’s fine. I am just a little tired after the lecture and the trip.” She shifted in her chair.

His food disappeared with a speed that reminded her of her brother when he was going through puberty.

“Don’t eat so fast. You are going to choke on something.” She bit her lip.

He swallowed and drank a gulp of water. “Naw, I never choke. The key is to cut your food into bites that you don’t have to chew.”

Effin was laughing.

Hosh got to his feet and extended his hand to her. “Shall we? I am certain that you will be seeing all of Morganti Base soon enough.”

Yavil shrugged and smiled at the table in general. “It has been lovely meeting all of you. Mala, you know where to find me.”

Mala was holding her son, his midnight skin, rainbow eyes and matching fluff of brightly coloured hair was adorable.

“I do indeed know where to find you, but I may just come to you at the Citadel. There are a lot of distractions here.”

The adorable infant in her arms belched and settled back with his thumb in his mouth and his eyes wide open.

Yavil followed where Hosh led, and there was something in her that resented not knowing where she was going. Her life had been out of her control since the moment the midwife had pulled her into it, and she was sick to death of not knowing what would happen next.

The skimmer ride to the Citadel was quick, and Hosh carried her bags into the building.

A man with large horns and official-looking robes came out to meet them.

Hosh murmured. “Yavil, that is Citadel Coordinator Turnari. He is in charge around here.”

“Instructor Ender, I am guessing that this is Instructor Yavil.” He came forward and took her hand in his own, bowing low.

“Pleased to meet you.”

He straightened, and she craned her neck back to meet his gaze. “We are honoured that you are here among us at last. While many Alliance members reported that you were the most comprehensive instructor that they had ever seen, they could not remember why.”

She chuckled. “It is a side effect of the learning process. If they simply attend one lecture and leave, they will not retain knowledge of how it got there. Hosh had a little more staying power.”

The male in question moved to stand closer to her. “I did indeed. Yavil is tired, Coordinator. I was showing her to her quarters.”

Turnari nodded. “I will accompany you.”

Hosh radiated displeasure as they walked through hallway after hallway. Their trio got a wide berth from everyone they passed.

Yavil sighed in relief as they reached a door and paused. Hosh gestured for her to press her hand to the plate. There was a light gel under the panel that was cool to the touch, but the plate lit up and the door opened.

She stepped inside and the feeling of home rushed over her. Yavil turned to Hosh. “When do I need to be seen again?”

He looked at Turnari.

Turnari inclined his head. “I would like to speak with you at nine in the morning. Please, allow me to meet you here and give you a tour of the building.”

She shook her head. “I will get schematics from the data station. See you tomorrow at nine.”

Hosh inclined his head. “I have a class in the morning, but will you allow me to take you to lunch?”

Yavil grinned. “Of course. I look forward to it.”

Hosh brought her bags in and put them down next to the wardrobe.

Turnari sighed. “I suppose I should say goodnight.”

Yavil grinned. “Please. I am about to make this place feel like home, and from what I know of Dhema, that is not an acceptable thing for you to witness.”

Hosh grabbed the Coordinator’s arm and hauled him out.

Yavil sighed happily and peeled off her uniform. It was time to make this place look like home as well as feel like her home.

* * * *

Hosh winced as Turnari pinned him against the wall outside. “How dare you touch me?”

“It was for your sake as well as hers. The Tebr are nudists who live in a warm, damp environment. She was about to strip, and there was no sexual intent.”

Turnari released him. “Oh.”

“Right,
oh
.” Hosh sighed. “I am sorry we got off on the wrong foot last year. For Yavil’s sake, please consider this a fresh start.”

Turnari leaned back and crossed his arms. “For her sake?”

“We are beginning to form an attachment, and I have far more experience with her culture than you do. She is going to need help. The Tebr are not very advanced. All of the tech on their world has been provided by others.”

BOOK: PowerofLearning
13Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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