“Audra, please. You’re my queen, but you’re also my friend. You must grant me this last request. Let me go after him. Please you know how much this means to me.” Tensign Kiti Dolana paced the Her Royal Highness’s beautiful sitting room. Bile rose in her throat and threatened to strangle her. Finally, she collapsed into a chair its soft cushions swallowing her as she sat across the small, highly polished and gleaming, coffee table from the Queen of Centauri.
The Queen, pregnant with triplets, her beautifully distended abdomen disallowing much frivolous movement, reclined on the couch. She sat up to pour the tea but had trouble reaching the tea pot in the middle of the coffee table. “Kiti, would you pour our aeta? I’m a bit like a beached whale right now.” Audra was anything but a beached whale. Kiti knew the colloquial term from her study of Earth.
Her queen was radiant. Her long, chestnut hair fell in waves to her waist, gathered on one side of her head. Her clear silver gray eyes shone bright in her pale face. She wore a beautiful royal purple empire-waisted dress that highlighted her pale features. She was beautiful. Kiti remembered a time, on their trip back to Centauri from Earth, when she’d not thought so, because she was jealous.
That was before Audra’s marriage to Darius, when she’d still been betrothed to Anton. Kiti had thought herself in love with Anton. They’d been seeing each other for years, and Kiti was jealous of Audra. Some of the things she’d said had been unkind, but Audra had seen her jealousy for what it was and forgiven her the words. They were now best friends.
Kiti poured the tea and continued to beseech her queen. “Audra, you have to let me go after him. Tybold killed my brother, Joridan. His actions directly led to Anton being captured and tortured. I need to see they both get justice. They deserve it.”
“And you are sure it’s only justice you seek?” Audra softly asked.
“Damn it, Audra.” Kiti got up and paced the room again. Her long black hair, tied in a high tankipa tail, swung back and forth, slapping against her back with each step. The thick, plush carpet kept her boots from clicking on the floor. “I’m begging you to let me go with Garrick Marcus. It’s not just revenge I need. I need closure. I’m the one who should deliver Tybold to the authorities. Garrick Marcus is the best captain in the fleet and I know Darius is sending him after Tybold. Joridan needs us both to avenge his death. To bring his murderer back to Centauri for justice to be served.”
“Kiti, are you combat trained? We don’t know what to expect from the Gregarians. By this time, Tybold could have convinced them we are conquerors and he’s their only salvation. We don’t know. It could be a suicide mission. I don’t want to lose my best friend.” She went on. “I know you’re grieving. Joridan’s loss and Lara’s return has been very hard on you.”
“Stop.” Kiti held up her hand. “I know what my life has been like. I mourn the loss of Joridan and I’m still angry about Anton’s capture and torture. Joridan was my little brother.” she smiled at that. “Even though he was a head taller than me, he will always be my little brother. I still smell Joridan’s scent in his room. Sometimes it’s so fresh it’s like he just passed by.” Her eyes filled with tears. “I miss the closeness that Anton and I once shared, but I do not bemoan him finding Lara. I’m very happy he found his lifemate. It was something he never thought to do. After the torture both Anton and Lara suffered at the hands of the Slavariens, it’s amazing they found each other. I wish I had a lifemate out there somewhere.
“Audra, I’m a historian and anthropologist, but first I’m Dragonera. Of course, I am combat trained. All Dragonera are. We are the Royal Guard. The best soldiers Centauri has. For that matter, the best anywhere.”
“You’re right, but I worry anyway. Must be my maternal instinct.” Audra patted her abdomen.
Kitty smiled at the thought of Audra as a mother. She would be a good one, even if she was a might over protective. At least she was of Kiti. Kiti could only imagine how she would be with her own babies.
“You know the people of Gregar are centuries behind us technologically. I’m the only person who can go on this mission that knows anything about their culture.”
“I don’t know,” Audra hesitated.
“Admit it. Garrick needs me.”
“We don’t interfere in the development of other planets’ civilizations. You know that.”
“Tybold has already interfered. I say we’ll be evening the odds for the tribes involved. And it’s not as though Gregar doesn’t know we exist. They already trade with other planets. Just because they’re not our technological equals doesn’t mean they aren’t advanced.”
Kiti saw Audra hesitate again before she answered. “I’ll have to confer with Darius before I can give you my answer.”
At that moment Darius came in accompanied by Garrick, Anton and Lara. The three men were in their Dragonera uniforms as was Kiti, the only differences being the color blocking. All wore the royal colors of amethyst and cream. Darius and Garrick wore amethyst uniforms with cream colored sleeves, denoting their status as starship captains. Darius’ uniform also had a cream colored stripe from the left shoulder to the waist, denoting that he was Captain of the Royal Guard. As a general in the Royal Army, Anton’s uniform was solid amethyst. Lara, Audra’s twin sister, still had the tanned skin from someone who’d spent too much time in the sun. She wore the House of Danexx royal colors like everyone else did. Hers were an amethyst jumpsuit and long cream colored duster. Kiti’s uniform was solid cream. Her rank as Tensign was denoted by a patch on her left arm.
“What do you need to discuss with me?” Darius asked as he took his wife’s arm and helped her to rise from the couch. She gave him a quick kiss. Darius rubbed her stomach then bent and said, “Hello, my children. Are you being nice to your mommy today?”
Kiti swore he expected an answer.
“If you don’t quit that people are going to think you’re crazy,” said Audra.
Darius laughed and kissed her abdomen.
“I am. Crazy in love with my wife.”
Lara made gagging sounds. ‘Will you two remember that you have an audience?”
“All right. But you and Anton are just as bad as we are,” Darius said to his soon to be twice over sister-in-law.”
“Never,” retorted Lara. “No one is as over the moons as you two.”
“I don’t know, I’m pretty much over the moons about you,” said Anton waggling his eyebrows at her.
The banter was not aimed at Kiti. She didn’t think the two couples even remembered they were not alone. Kiti glanced at Garrick, who rolled his brandy colored eyes at her. “Audra, the mission.” She reminded her queen to hurry by tapping the comulator at her own wrist.
“Oh, yes. Darius, Kiti has requested to be assigned to go with Garrick to Gregar, to apprehend Lord Tybold. I told her I would discuss it with you.”
“I don’t know if she will be needed,” Darius responded.
Garrick spoke for the first time since entering the room. “I think an anthropologist would be very useful on this particular mission. Tensign Dolana would be a definite asset to me in bringing in Tybold.”
“Thank you, Garrick.” Kiti was warmed by his words and agreed with him one hundred percent.
“Very well,” said Darius. “You will receive your orders tomorrow. In the meantime, can we eat dinner? I’m a starving man.”
From Cowboys to Space Captains…true love has no boundaries
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