Authors: Viola Grace
Tags: #sci-fi, paranormal, futuristic, romance
When their bodies stilled and their breathing returned to normal, they curled together, still joined and got a good night’s rest.
The ships came as a bit of a surprise to Ceelie. She had gotten used to the low-tech that was the standard on Hassoi. Her com unit was in her home, just as she had designed it and since she knew that none of the folk had been in the house during construction, it did make her rather curious as to who had installed it.
Three shuttles came down and landed in the clearing, each disgorging a representative of a different species or gender.
Ceelie and Rimeer walked toward the newcomers together.
Ceelie was surprised to see two Sector Guard uniforms with the third male. “Greetings, visitors.”
The woman in the uniform stood near the male and the connection between them was almost visible. “I am Counsel, this is Contract and over there is Representative Tau of the Tival. We have come to help the process along.”
Rimeer kept an arm loosely around Ceelie’s waist. “Please, come with us to the negotiation area. Food has been prepared.”
They waved their guests toward the tables and chairs that had been set up under the canopy.
The Tival Representative kept staring at Ceelie and she looked at him with Hassoi in her eyes. “You are staring, Representative Tau.”
He swallowed nervously. “I was told that you harboured ill will toward my people.”
She laughed. “It was Keeln that I did not like. He considers his employees to be property. As a Terran, I am no one’s property.”
Tau looked to Rimeer. “Would you agree with that statement, Avatar?”
Rimeer chuckled. “Ceelie and I are bond mates. I am hers as she is mine. It is an equitable arrangement.”
Counsel and Contract smiled at each other.
Ceelie stifled a laugh. She knew all about the partners of the Sector Guard. Several Terrans were members of the Guard and a bonding was part of their partnerships.
Counsel smiled at Ceelie, “May I walk with you? I would like a moment alone.”
Ceelie pressed a kiss to Rimeer’s cheek. “You boys play nice.”
She gestured to Counsel and she started to walk along the edge of the woods.
Counsel smiled at her, her Wyoran features quite pleasantly attractive. “I have been sent to make sure that you are adapting well to being an planetary avatar.”
Ceelie chuckled. “I am, though having time to adapt is the problem. We just returned from our wedding trip yesterday afternoon. This is the first day that we have not been engaged in Hassoi rituals.”
Counsel tilted her head. “What did these rituals entail?”
A slight blush didn’t deter Ceelie. “As avatars, we needed to celebrate our union with all of the population of Hassoi. This meant travelling from village to village and consummating our bond in order to spread the energy of Hassoi directly to his people.”
“It sounds exhausting.”
Laughter spilled from Ceelie. “You have no idea. Even Hassoi was grateful for the reprieve.”
“You generate energy?”
“Every time we couple. It is very rare that we can hold the energy between ourselves.” She shrugged and smiled as a tree held out a flower for her. Ceelie inhaled deeply and offered the bloom to Counsel for a sniff.
Counsel inhaled deeply and smiled at the scent. “That is amazing. The forest just gave it to you?”
“It wasn’t the forest. It was Hassoi. I am not simply in a relationship with his avatar as I am sure you are aware.”
Counsel sighed. “We are aware. When Hassoi asked for you to be given to him, his avatar was an afterthought. Of course, Rimeer needed a companion, but it was Hassoi who wanted you specifically. He planted the need for you in Rimeer.”
Ceelie would have stumbled if she hadn’t already known. “I see. That is a little awkward, but we already settled it.”
Counsel stopped in her tracks. “What?”
“I figured it out when I went through Rimeer’s memories. There was a glow about my images that was unnatural. I confronted Hassoi during our journeys and while it made for some tense days, we managed to sort everything out.”
Counsel grinned. “You are doing my work for me.”
“I try to make things easier for those around me.”
“That is a very passive thing to do. Does it give you much trouble?” Counsel had gotten to the heart of it.
Images flashed in her thoughts, the way her body responded to Rimeer when he gave her orders, when his demands put her in positions she would never have chosen. Embarrassment paled in comparison with the satisfaction she felt at his pleasure. Pleasing him pleased her and while it wasn’t the most comfortable thing to admit, it was part of her.
“No, it doesn’t give me much trouble. I manage to muddle along.”
They were a solid distance away from the men who were engaged in negotiations for some of the life-giving trees.
“Have you come to grips with what you are?”
“That I am destined to want him in whatever way he will have me? I have come to grips with it. We have struck a balance.”
“Do you get to use your own voice?”
The meaning was clear.
“I take him into me, as me. He comes into me as Rimeer. Hassoi joins us once the fun and games have begun.”
Counsel looked like she would like to crawl into a hole. “You understand why I am asking these questions.”
“I do. I was not given much choice, but I do not regret it. Sometimes you know where you are supposed to be in the universe. It just clicks into place around you and your life starts to turn on its own axis at long last.”
Counsel reached out and took her hand. “I know precisely what you mean.”
The two women walked together and collected the flowers offered by the forest.
Ceelie was learning her place in the scheme of things and knowing herself was the first step.
Once the contract had been signed for a dozen of the great trees, they all sat for a meal before Representative Tau left with a smile. They watched his shuttle fly off and Ceelie sat back with a sense of relief.
“I thought that he would never go. Those Tival creep me out.” She ran her hands through her hair.
Rimeer came up behind her and massaged her shoulders. “You did well, Ceelie. I am sure that he could barely sense the contempt.”
The Guardsmen laughed.
“I can’t help it, I just don’t like their whole species.” She groaned and leaned back into Rimeer’s ministrations. “I suppose that first impressions have wrecked them for me for life.”
Rimeer chuckled. “I am sure you will get over it in a few centuries. Anyway, now that he is gone, we can get down to the serious discussion.”
Ceelie looked up at him and then let her head droop as his hands loosened the knots in her shoulders. “What discussion?”
Contract grinned and pulled a small device out of a pocket on his belt.
“This year marks the local planetary avatar conference and it is being held on Hassoi.”
She blinked. “Why?”
Rimeer smiled. “It is our turn. We will be hosting the event on the far side of the eastern continent. An island has been created for the purpose and Hassoi has been busy crafting a meeting centre. The Sector Guard will help us with supplies and transport for the guests.”
“When does this event start?”
Ceelie sighed in relief and relaxed completely. “Good. I need a little break.”
Counsel smiled and when Ceelie peeked at her from beneath lazy lashes, the woman had an expression of satisfied relief on her face. Whatever the Guardsman was looking for, it seemed that she had found it.
Rimeer’s caresses worked down her arm and she lost the thread of conversation as he worked at her arms and back in turn. It seemed that massaging her was a form of doodling to him and she had no complaints.
Ceelie tuned out the voices around her, but Hassoi whispered the information to her. She nodded absently when she was told that she would be the hostess for the event. Thirteen planets were going to send their avatars to Hassoi under heavy guard. Once they were on the surface, they were going to be her responsibility.
The Sector Guard would provide her with whatever she needed for the avatars, she only had to make the equivalent of a shopping list and provide it to them.
The planets and species of the avatars were on a data chip and she would be making all decisions regarding their food and drink for an entire week.
She sleepily looked up at Rimeer, “Did you bond with me just so you wouldn’t have to host this event?”
He chuckled. “I won’t tell and Hassoi has promised to keep his thoughts to himself.”
The Guardsmen laughed and Rimeer kept up his attentive massage until she couldn’t keep her thoughts straight, let alone hold a grudge.
The Guardsmen adjourned to one of their shuttles when the sun began to fade. Based on Contract and Counsel’s posture, they were on their way to an intimate evening and Ceelie couldn’t blame them.
Life was hard for those in the Sector Guard, they flitted from ship to planet to base and back again. It was an awkward life for those who were partnered. The fact that Counsel and Contract arrived in separate ships was proof that being a partner did not ensure that you would remain together.
She asked Rimeer the question that was in her thoughts. “Will we ever be separated for duty?”
He shook his head. “No. We share the power of the world we walk. We travel together and appear together, two representatives of the same world, male and female. We complete each other.”
They walked home and she made her way easily in the dark. The window openings glowed green in welcome as they approached.
“It is funny how something that didn’t even exist a few weeks ago could already make me feel this way.” She smiled as she entered her home. It was her home, her territory. Rimeer was invited in because he was hers as well, but it would have been crass of her to mention it.
He knows. He knows your heart, better than you do at times. You needed a place here that was yours, so we provided it, free and clear. Yours to do with as you wish.
She smiled and Rimeer led her back to their bedroom. This time, he removed her clothing and then he completed the massage with an attention to all of the spots on her body that he had learned were vulnerable to his touch.
When she opened to him, she was ready and he was willing. The rest followed throughout the night and into the early light of dawn.
After a frenzy of preparation, Ceelie thought that they were ready for their special visitors and with special foodstuffs being delivered, clothing and bedding coming from across the sectors, they had everything that they could need.
If they didn’t have enough specific luxuries, the avatars would have to simply be displeased with the conference.
The Sector Guard shuttles landed on the small island, one at a time. Each one dropped off a planetary avatar and each avatar knelt and greeted the land under their feet before rising to greet Ceelie and Rimeer.
Kale-Gant arrived with his wife Carella, an ex-stellar avatar.
There was Norich, Venkar, Leevo, Orkan, Lenak, Hechlin, Barud, Sheellee, Zarro, Dasgul and Carutta. They all arrived one by one and under escort from their respective planets.
Ceelie welcomed them all and Rimeer escorted them to the buffet area. She greeted them all personally and then Hassoi greeted their planets.
When the final guest arrived, Ceelie was relieved. Though Hassoi had changed her skin so that she was not susceptible to the sun, she didn’t like being parted from Rimeer. Her attitude was a bit of a shock considering that she had never considered herself clingy before.
Maksuan greeted the ground and then stood to greet her. “Thank you for your hospitality, Ceelie of Hassoi.”
“I greet you warmly and welcome you unconditionally, Maksuan of Niiko.” She bowed and took his hands in hers.
* * * *
Hassoi took over. “Greetings, brother.”
Niiko nodded Maksuan’s head. “Thank you, brother. It has been a very long time.”
“It has. Not since we were spinning away from each other.”
Niiko grinned. “How are you enjoying having two avatars? This one looks lovely and her soul shines from within.”
Hassoi bowed. “She is generous with her spirit and has completed my prime. He has felt a joy in these last months that he had not felt since childhood.”
They turned and walked toward the gathering.
Niiko cleared his throat, “I have been feeling an emptiness in my avatar and frankly, I had never given much thought to finding him a mate before this.”
“You had best be sure that he wishes a mate. If you bring him one and he is not sure that he wishes to keep her, you may create a rift between you that cannot be breached.”
“I would not wish to destroy the link with my avatar. Maksuan has been an excellent companion and very useful.”
“As was Rimeer until his soul began to ache for something more. When I heard of creating a split avatar between a male and female, I was not sure that it would be a good idea, but once I met Ceelie, I knew that it was the perfect fit.”
“How did you find her?”
“I asked the Alliance and they agreed to look for a match for my requirements. If Maksuan agrees, it would be a good starting point.”
“What did the female demand in return for her life?”
“Nothing. Safety. She wanted safety and comfort and Rimeer was willing to provide both.” Hassoi shrugged.
“Maksuan is a little scandalized by her attire.”
“My climate is more temperate than yours, Niiko. She is wearing what makes her comfortable.” Hassoi laughed. “And what makes Rimeer uncomfortable. She delights in driving him to the edge of self-control and beyond.” Hassoi ran Ceelie’s hands down her body, over the gem-encrusted bodice and the belt of the skirt that held the fabric in place. Her midriff was exposed and the marks that the Alliance put on Terrans were proudly displayed.
“It sounds like she upsets him.”
“Only in ways that he truly desires. They communicate well and it might be pheromones, but they manage to find a happy medium. Rimeer is very happy and Ceelie is an ideal pairing for him.”