Thursday, October 31, 2013

December 9

You know, I just don’t get it.  I mean, what is it about me that men are so fascinated with?  I wish I could figure it out, because I’d bottle that shit and sell it for a fortune. 

I’m attractive but not the prettiest girl ever.  I don’t have the most perfect body.  I’m intelligent, but not the most scintillating speaker I’ve ever heard.  There are other women for the Kalquorians to prowl after.   I mean, look at Candy!  She’s definitely too cute and bubbly ... man bait if I ever saw such.  And Katrina, while older, is quite attractive too.  She’s got personality to spare.  Plus she is happy to have sex.  What more could they want?

Yet I have another beau falling to my questionable charms.  My liaison Imdiko Betra of all people.   Yes, he of the flaring nostrils and obsession with asking me how I feel.  The weird guy.

I didn’t realize at first that this was what was happening.   When he stopped by this morning with a container full of goodies, I thought it was just another Kalquorian thing.  You know, ‘welcome to our culture and please like us enough to have our babies.’  That sort of thing.

The container had some pretty good things in it.  Soft, fuzzy slippers that made my feet want to just wallow in contentment.  A robe to match.  Pretty hair adornments that I’ll have to get Candy to do for me since I’m pathetic with styling.  Extra soft linens for my sleeping mat.  Some exotic foods from other planets like nellus from Plasius and drocori cubes from Joshada. 

“You guys know how to spoil us girls,” I told Betra. 

“I’m glad you are happy with the items,” he told me with a placid smile.  “How are you feeling?”

I decided to nip that one in the bud.  “I’m perfectly fine.  I feel terrific.  I’ve never felt better in my life.  There are no words to describe how wonderful I feel.”

He blinked at me.  “Oh.  That’s wonderful, Matara.  I’m glad to hear it.  You will let me know if there is anything you require?  Anything at all?”

“Sure,” I said. 

I thought that would be the end of it, but he had something a little less pleasant to ask me.  “I have been informed that you should visit our medical facility for a checkup.  When should I tell them to expect you?”

I almost growled like a Kalquorian myself.  Dad was poking his darn nose in again, comming others to bug me with his worries.  Then I got a little emotional, thinking how sweet he was to still be so concerned over my welfare.  I miss him.

I just shrugged at Betra.  “I’ll think about it and let you know.”  After all, I really had to check my social calendar, ha-ha. 

Lucky for me, he accepted that.  “All right, Matara Shalia.  I’ll schedule it when you get back to me.  I’m heading back to my office right now and I’ll be there most of the day, so that’s where you can contact me.”

Off he went.  Curious to know if the other women all got the same things as I did, I went to Candy’s quarters.  I took my hair stuff with me, hoping to get her to put my hair up in a pretty chignon, accentuated with one of the sparkly gem pieces in my new collection.  Maybe the curved spray of blue and green stones set in gold metal, I thought. 

She answered almost right away.  “Oh good, now I don’t have to go to you,” she said.  “I was wondering what we could do before I die of absolute boredom.  What’s in the little box?  Ooh, how pretty!  Where did you get these?”

“They were in the container Betra brought me.  What did you get?”

Candy stared at me in amused confusion.  “What do you mean, what did I get?  I didn’t get anything.  Betra gave you these?”

It was my turn to be confused.  “Yeah, along with some other nice stuff.  Slippers, robe, fruit.  He didn’t bring you anything like that?  I thought we were all getting something.”

Candy’s brows were raised far enough up to crease her forehead.  “Betra didn’t bring me anything.  Shalia, you are like catnip for Kalquorians.  Kalnip.  That’s it; that’s what I’m calling you from now on.  Kalnip.”

I frowned.  “Maybe he just hasn’t gotten to you yet?  Maybe he’s about to bring something?”  But he’d said he’d be in his office, not delivering goodies like some Kalquorian St. Nick.

“Come on,” I said, angry suspicion raising its head.  “I can’t be the only one who got a bunch of free stuff.”

I headed out the door, Candy at my heels.  “Where are we going, Kalnip?”

“Don’t call me that,” I said.  “We’re going to check with Ms. Popularity herself.  If anyone is getting presents, it’s going to be Katrina.”

“Katrina?  Wait, Shalia.  What if she’s not alone?  What if she’s ... entertaining?  You know.  A man?”

That almost kept me from going on.  I sure didn’t want to interrupt Katrina with one of her young conquests.  But I had to know that I wasn’t the only one benefitting from Betra’s generosity.  So I kept going until I reached her door.

“It’s Shalia.  Are you in there, Katrina?” I called.

“Shalia!  Hold on.”  A second later, her door slid open.  Katrina stood there looking delighted to see me.  She was alone, thank the Trinity.  “And Candy!  This is great, girls.  Come in.  Let’s have some drinks.”

“Drinks?”  Candy followed me in and goggled at Katrina’s purple and gold fabric-draped quarters.  “I haven’t even had breakfast yet.  Wow, this place is really something.”

There were seating cushions scattered everywhere on the floor, along with the sleeping mat.  Katrina certainly had ample places to do her ‘entertaining’ as Candy had phrased it.

Katrina smiled.  “Thanks.  Cozy, isn’t it?  I love being comfortable.  No breakfast?  How about some juice then?  The boys have been kind enough to supply me with a citrus-type beverage that is reminiscent of orange juice.  A splash of vodka will start your day off right.”

“What the hell,” I agreed.  “Set me up.  Hey, speaking of boys supplying things, did Betra bring you a container of items?  Like slippers or nellus or—”

“Or these,” Candy interrupted, yanking my box of hair accessories from me to show Katrina.

“Oh, aren’t those lovely?” Katrina breathed with appreciation.  “Very nice.  No, Betra does not give me presents.  He must like you.”

“They aren’t presents,” I insisted, taking my box back.  “He didn’t say they were, anyway.  I assumed everyone was getting things.”

“Afraid not,” Katrina said with a knowing grin.  She handed both me and Candy our drinks.  “I think you have an admirer.”

“Kalnip,” Candy said with a smirk.  She sipped her juice.  “Ooh, this is good, Katrina.”

“Damn it,” I grumbled.  I had a swig myself.  The drink was delicious.  I stalked over to a seating cushion and carefully flopped down so I wouldn’t spill any of it.  “I am not getting involved with any more Kalquorians until I choose my clan.  Do I have to give the container back though?”

Katrina sat next to me.  “Well, it might encourage him if you don’t.  However most of the men are cognizant that our flings with them are only temporary.  Betra isn’t clanned, so he knows the futility of pursuing you for more than sex.”

I groaned, thinking of Nang.  “I don’t even want that.  Some of them don’t get that being an impossible clanmate should keep them far away.” 

Candy sat on the other side of me and patted my knee.  “You can’t help being so irresistible,” she teased.  “Oh, don’t give me that mean look.  I’m only teasing you, you know.”

I sighed and took a sip of my drink.  “I know.”  My fingers played with the pretty hair accessories.  “I really like these.  I like all the stuff he gave me.  I’m getting so greedy in my old age.”

Katrina waved me off.  “Keep the stuff then.  It’s his own fault for giving you presents without first finding out if you’re interested.”

“I wouldn’t feel right about it,” I said.  “My stupid conscience won’t let me.”

My stomach twisted a little.  My drink, already half-gone, suddenly seemed too sweet.  I put it down and had another thought.

“Do you think Betra would be insulted if I give the gifts back?  I don’t want him to have a bad attitude towards me,” I said.

Katrina waved off my concerns.  “He would know better, I hope.  Giving you or any of us trouble will get him into trouble.  For the most part, Kalquorians are determined to not give their would-be Mataras any reason to not join the Empire.”

“All right, I’ll give him his stuff back then,” I said.  My guts churned a little more.  I suppose I was so nervous about telling Betra to shove off (even though I planned to do it nicely), that it was making me a bit nauseous.  Plus I really, really liked the goodies.

“At least I can enjoy a little of it for one day,” I decided to cheer myself up.  “Put my hair up for me, Candy?  Put this one in?”  I held up the blue and green jeweled hair embellishment.

“Sure,” she said agreeably.

My stomach took a little while to settle from its nervous fit, but otherwise, we three had a nice day together.  I really like Katrina, and even Candy seems to be getting used to her outrageous comments.  Our older friend invited us to join her ‘salon’ after dinner, which would include the company of half a dozen young Kalquorians.  Candy giggled in a screamy sort of way, squealing, “Oh no!”  However her fascinated gaze as we bid Katrina’s newly arriving guests goodbye has me thinking she won’t be resisting Katrina’s parties much longer.  Curiosity is getting the better of my nervous friend.

As for me ... nope.  No more nonsense.  Instead I’m enjoying my one night with the soft slippers and nice robe.  I even took a vid still of myself with my hair done up nice and pretty with its jeweled piece making me look like a duchess.  Tomorrow the stuff goes back to Betra with my thanks (and private regrets).

Monday, October 28, 2013

December 8

I just had the craziest conversation with Dad.  He commed me first thing this morning.  I haven’t even had a chance to rub the crud out of my eyes.

I was happy to see his big, broad self nonetheless.  His hair was a big, coarse cloud around his head, kind of like he’d just gotten up himself.  There were circles under his eyes.  He looked like he’d passed a sleepless night.  I was on alert right away.

“Are you okay?  What’s wrong?”  I burst out after his smiling ‘hello’.

“I’m perfectly fine, my daughter,” he answered, his sweet face softening at my concern.  “I can’t com and say hello?”

“Of course you can,” I answered.  “You just seem a little ... I don’t know.  You look tired.”

“Bitev snores.”

A distant voice called.  “Serves you right.  You steal all the covers. ”

A second voice added, “And hogs the sleeping mat.  I nearly fall out of bed every night.”

I laughed as Dad rolled his eyes at the clanmates I couldn’t see.  It must have been early in the day all right if all three were still in their quarters.  I called, “Good morning, Dad’s clan.”

“Good morning, clanmate’s daughter,” came the chorus.  Then Dramok Bitev shoved into the transmission, pushing a chuckling Dad off to the side.  His lined but handsome face beamed at me.  “Shalia, you do realize that one clanmate’s child is claimed by the entire clan, don’t you?  I know you barely know Rak and me, but if you belong to Nayun, we should get to be fathers as well.  At least that’s Kalquorian custom.”

I was delighted.  The last few days on Earth I had eaten many meals with Nayun’s clan and I had liked his Dramok and Nobek enough to wish I had time to know them better.  “Am I adopted, then?”

“If it meets with your approval.”  His lean face, so much the opposite of Dad’s broad features, stretched in a grin.

I grinned back.  “In that case, hi Dramok Dad.”

Hands shoved Nayun right out of the picture and Nobek Rak put in an appearance.  “Don’t forget me, my daughter.”

“Good morning, Nobek Dad.”

My first Kalquorian father tried to yank him out of the transmission.   “She already said good morning to you.  Now go away.  I’m already late and I need to talk to her!”

Rak rolled his eyes at me, obviously unimpressed with his Imdiko’s argument.  “Can you believe this man, denying a father the joy of speaking to his new daughter?”

I could only laugh at the way they carried on.  After much good-humored jostling with Imdiko Dad and kind words aimed at me, Bitev and Rak left for their duties.

“Sometimes I envy you Earthers having only one mate,” Dad told me with pretend grumpiness.

“You don’t mean that,” I told him.  “You love those two.”

Eyes twinkling, he put a finger to his lips, as if to forestall me from giving away any secrets.  “Now then.  How are you, Shalia?”

“Bored,” I sighed.  “You’d think I’d be grateful for how quiet it is here after all that happened on Earth.  Hey, your quarters don’t look right.”

“New quarters.  We’re in Atlanta.  We transferred.”

I got all excited.  “Really?  Have you seen Dusa, Esak, and Weln?”

Dad looked a little grumpy.  “No, we’ve been too busy settling in and assuming our duties.  This place is huge compared to the Academy, and the work is constant.  Speaking of Clan Dusa, did you ever finish the vid of their clanning ceremony?  I’d like to a copy, if it’s ready.”

I smacked my forehead.  “Holy smokes!  I completely forgot about it.  I can’t even remember the last time I worked on it, but it was nearly done.  Thanks for mentioning it.”

Dad chuckled at me.  “I can’t imagine what might have distracted you.  Let’s see, building blown up, Earther attack, getting shot at—” 

“— locked in a burning building, rescuing my mother and father from said burning building and nearly dying in the process,” I finished for him.

“Ah yes, the reason for my com.  I’d like you to report to the transport’s medical department and have them check you over for any residual issues.”

I stared at him, my brows drawing together.  “Residual issues?  Like what?”

Dad gestured vaguely.  “Well, you took considerable lung damage.  Oxygen deprivation might have had some other effects as well, things that didn’t show up in the short term.”

I frowned.  “You said everything looked good before I left.  Tissue regeneration, blood oxygen levels all normal, heart functioning well, everything.”

“I know, I know.”   He smiled with what looked like an attempt at reassurance.  I wasn’t convinced.  “I have no reason to doubt you’re doing perfectly fine.  Still, you could humor your worrywart of a dad and get a checkup.”

I snorted.  “Did you just say ‘worrywart’?  Who have you been around that talks like that?”

Dad reddened.  My mouth dropped open and I made an indignant sound.

“What’s her name?  When did you meet her?   She’s there in Atlanta?  Is the whole clan in on this or just you?” 

Dad refused to look me in the eye.  “We’ve had a couple of dinners with the young lady, that’s all.  Look, I really need to get to my patients, my daughter—”

“Oh no you don’t!” I yelled at him.  “I need to know how serious this is.  How young is this young lady?  She’d better not be younger than me!  I want to meet her before this goes too far!”

“Shalia, I really have to go now.”  Dad was beet red.  “I’ll com you later when I have more time to talk.  I’ll tell you everything then.  In the meantime, get over to Medical and let them check you over.  I’ll talk to you soon.”

Before I could stop him, he cut the transmission.

Well!  That man has some explaining to do.  A couple of dinners, indeed.  After that lame excuse that Bitev snores and that’s why Nayun looked so tired, I’m betting those men have been up to a lot more than dinner dates.  As bad as Dad was blushing, there’s DEFINITELY a lot more to it than that.  He is in for it when I catch up with him next time.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

December 7

Katrina just kills me.  That woman is not well in the head, which means I want to spend all the time I can around her.  Hey, I gotta do something on this ship to keep me from going into a coma, right?

Candy and I sat with her for lunch today.  The Matara dining hall, separate from the ship’s crew’s dining hall, is huge.  It’s bigger than needed for the paltry five or six hundred Earther gals Kalquor managed to convince to come to their home world this time around.  Someone said this vessel is supposed to be at troop transport that is used to cart around foot soldiers.  Since most of those guys have been dumped off on Earth for now, we’re its main cargo.  Katrina has named the ship, christening it the Pussy ‘Porter.   “Or should it be the Vagina Vessel?” she asked us as we choked on herbed rizpah fillets.

I told you she’s not right.

It wasn’t just her crazy, in-your-face comments that had me alternating between hysterics and astonishment.  The way she carried on with the Kalquorians who brought us our meals and checked on us from time to time was beyond scandalous.  Katrina is not shy in any way, shape, or form.  She touches the men.  Blatantly.  Intimately.  Not one masculine rump passed by that she didn’t rub, squeeze, or pat.  And the guys loved her for it.  I noticed several went out of their way to guide meal carts past Katrina, walking slowly just so she could give them some attention. 

“When is your next party?” one young Imdiko asked, pausing next to her.  I thought he could have been her grandson, he was so sweet and fresh-faced.

Katrina grinned saucily up at him.  “I’m still recovering from the last one.  I haven’t made plans for tonight.  Were you the one I discussed private consultations with?”

The Imdiko grinned from ear to ear.  “If I say yes, will you trust me?”

“Hmm,” Katrina said, looking that muscled body up and down.  “Seems you might be trying to be a little dishonest with me.  I think you need to be taken in hand, young man.  An hour after evening shift starts?”

“Yes, Matara.”  The Imdiko walked away with a swagger in his step.

Candy’s face was beet red.  “Did you just arrange to – are you going to have – is he going to spend the night in your quarters?”

Katrina looked at her with surprise.  “Well, you heard how he was trying to be deceptive.  That naughty boy needs a guidance.”  She sighed, as if bearing the weight of the world.  “I will do my part in putting him on a more honest path.  It’s the least I can do for the Empire that has rescued me.”

“You have parties?” I asked, having caught that part of the Imdiko’s conversation.

“Little get togethers,” Katrina said offhandedly.  “Sort of like a salon, where we have a few drinks, I inform them on the ways to make Earther girls happy, entertain questions, and gather intelligence on what makes them feel good.  You two should join us at the next one.  I’ll let you know when as soon as I figure out a good time to have another.”

“Is that all that happens at your parties?” Candy wanted to know.  She had a suspicious look on her face.  “You just talk and drink?”

“Well, it is often necessary to indulge in practical exercises.  Just to demonstrate key points,” the older woman said with an unrepentant grin.

Candy looked at her as if she didn’t know whether to condemn or worship Katrina for her flagrant sexuality.  For my part, I could only laugh. 

Yes, the Kalquorians love Katrina.  As we neared finishing our meal and the dining hall began to empty out, the guys started to congregate at our table.  They flirted with our elder stateswoman with delight, and she flirted back with abandon.  She was definitely the belle of the ball.

At first, Candy and I might as well have not been there.  Katrina possesses so much personality that even my chatty and flirtatious friend was quiet and observing.  I could almost see Candy taking mental notes on what made the men respond.  I’m not sure Candy will ever manage the uninhibited joy that delighted the men paying Katrina court.  I’m not sure anyone but Katrina can manage it.

But as more men gathered, I found myself amongst the crowd.  A funny thing happened then.  The ones closest to me abruptly turned away from the laughter and teasing going on around Katrina.  They zeroed in on me.

“You are quite lovely, Matara,” said one.  I think he was a Dramok.  “What is your name?”

“Shalia,” I said, a bit uncomfortably.  The guy’s eyes had gone really dark, the pupils widening the way I’ve noticed Kalquorians’ do when they’re getting ready to fight or have sex. 

“Matara Shalia,” said an Imdiko standing at my shoulder.  “You are beautiful.  Do you enjoy parties like Matara Katrina does?”

He was no less avid than the Dramok.  I felt like a mouse caught between two hungry and playful cats.  “I’ve never been to Katrina’s parties, so I couldn’t say,” I answered.  I tried to catch Candy’s eye, hoping for some help escaping the immediate vicinity.  However, she was enthralled with the talk and laughter going on around Katrina.

The Dramok’s fingers stroked through my hair.  I jerked, trying to move away from the unwelcome touch.  He smiled apologetically.

“I’m sorry.  I have not even introduced myself, Matara Shalia.”  A crease appeared between his brows.  “But first – you have not been claimed by a clan?”

I was getting confused and worried by the situation, which the Imdiko on my other side wasn’t helping.  He stood close enough that I could feel the warmth of his body.  He sounded a little impatient with the Dramok.  “Of course she isn’t clanned.  She’s going into the lottery or she wouldn’t be here.”

“I was concerned about the yadbis.”

“Apparently, he was unable to claim her or she didn’t want him.  She’s available.”

“I’m not clanned,” I said, though something in me warned I might do better to allege I was taken.  These two were just so damned intense.  It was beginning to scare me.

Suddenly, Imdiko Betra was at our table.  His eyes narrowed as he looked at the pair standing over me.  Then he did his weird sniffing thing.  Suddenly, he barked something in Kalquorian at the other two.  His tone was low and threatening, and he looked every bit as feral as I’d ever seen Esak.  I didn’t know an Imdiko could look that frightening, but Betra was.

Whatever he said got the attention of all the Kalquorians surrounding our table.  Every purple eye was on me in an instant.  More nostrils flared.  Betra snarled something else, and every man, including my too-friendly pair, stepped back.  Even the Dramoks in the group were listening to whatever he was telling them with attitudes of compliance.

Except for Betra, the men all bowed, turned around, and left us.  Just like that.  Katrina, Candy, and I stared at our liaison.

“What the hell?” Katrina asked.  “You sent them all away?  Why?”

“It was necessary,” the Imdiko said.  “I apologize for interrupting, Mataras.”

With no more explanation than that, Betra also turned and walked off.  While I’m glad he got the Amorous Twins off me, I was left as lost and irritated as my companions.

That is one strange Kalquorian.