Marking of the Daysby Sincline Koutaishi
The remainder of our stay is peaceful and wonderful. She hates to put on her flight gear and pack away her new clothing. It is written across her entire being that she does not want this to end. How I understand her feeling, yet we both have responsibilities to see to and many people who are waiting to see us. Hanta is no doubt going through fits, trying to sort out what happened with the Tastians and keep things quiet in the news. Her people are likely no happier, wondering what has become of her.
“For the next trip...” I tell her gently and watch as she closes the drawers on her vacation clothing.
“Yes... The next time.”
She helps me to close up the house for the time we will be gone and Djarond comes around to say his good byes and see us off.
“Ah, little one. You should not look so sad. Before too long you will be back here again.” He tells her.
“I know. I will just miss it.”
“Keep good care of your new husband. The gods know he needs you to.”
“Djarond...” I laugh.
“And you know it, too!” He says in response, “Best of fortunes to you both until you return again. May your bond grow and keep you both in warmth, whatever may come.”
“Thank you.” She kisses his cheek.
“It is a good thing my wife is not a jealous woman.” He chuckles, “Now get out of here.”
She nods and smiles and goes to stow the last of her things on her craft.
“Be good to her.”
I laugh at his concern, “Yes, mother.”
“In seriousness. You are very different people, in more than just species. She has a softness and innocence that you appreciate because that is not how you are. Be respectful of that. Yet do not protect her too much from the universe.”
“Nnnh. Good advice from a good friend. We will see you again soon.”
We take each other by the shoulder and bow our heads, “Gods keep you, my friend.”
“And you and yours. Good life.”
I join my wife at her craft, setting it so that mine will be able to take it into tow. We wish to spend the last few moments of our time together and not piloting separate craft. And so I burn a bit more fuel to escape the planet's gravity but it is worth it as we can be together for the short trip through skip points through the Empire's borders towards her own. There at close a skip point station held by imperial troops, we will part our ways. Shilne has eagerly agreed to meet us here with some of his direct reports to see to her safe return to her world. They will escort her craft all the way to Altea and this offers me some comfort. I can see their craft approach and so I make my final partings with her.
She had been watching me closely as I changed into my uniform before we landed at the skip point terminal, completing the transformation from husband and tourist to king and warlord. It seemed that it was disturbing her for her emotions were wavering between sadness at our parting and nervousness at seeing me dressed as she had been used to seeing me during times of trouble. There she stands beside me, watching as a contingent of my strongest warships approach.
She turns to me again, her eyes peering through me, fidgeting... And then she looks away and squeezes her eyes shut.
“Saich...” I say and smile for her, pulling her out of her thoughts, “What is that look on your face? Cannot wait to be rid of me, nnh?” I laugh quietly and come closer to her.
“Don't say that.” She sighs, looking up with a smile of her own for me, “You know that's not how I feel.” But her brow is still crossed with lines.
“Of course I know. Your look does worry me though.” I remove my glove and stroke her cheek, seeming to be relieving some of the tension that had been building in her body as we stood there.
“Just worried... about what comes next... Going home... All of that.”
“Worry will not make it better... Ahhll... That was not very good advice, was it?” I smile more.
“No. It was awful advice.” She agrees and laughs back at me.
“Let me try again.” I pretend at dramatized thought, “Ahht! I know... Look at it in this way for a moment... Our lives have had their own strange ways of figuring themselves out. Perhaps we should not tamper with the fates for in the end they have decided to be kind to us. Let things happen as they will. Things will come together.”
“I suppose you're right... It's just so hard to be patient... and so hard to think about being away from you again.”
“I am quite wonderful, nnh?” I smirk and she rolls her eyes at my humor.
“I think I just changed my mind...”
With that I lift her up into my arms for a long kiss, “Trust yourself, my love. It will all go well and soon we will be together again.”
“Do you really think so?” She sighs and nuzzles my cheek, hugging me.
“I do... for I will not allow our parting for long. I know that I will ache for you the moment you leave my sight. You had best be quick about things for I fear I may come to see you before you are ready.”
“I will be ready the moment I leave your sight.” She leans back a bit from our hug and kisses me, then rests her forehead to mine, “My people, however...”
“I am not so popular with. How I know.” Again I smirk, “I am not worried.”
“At least one of us isn't.” She gulps back a sob and hugs me again as tightly as she is able to.
“Tsshhh... And soon your leg will be healed so you will be able to run off even more effectively than you do now... I only hope that you will not run away from me.”
“No... Never... I would be too afraid that my old husband wouldn't be able to keep up with me.”
“I would find a way... I love you.”
“I love you, too.” She sniffles and then we hear the low rumble of a ship docking.
She releases me from her tight grip and I let her feet drop gently back to the ground, watching as she wipes the tears from her eyes and attempts to compose herself before Shilne arrives.
He exits his craft once the bay has been pressurized, his boots clattering on the metal walkway. He strides out of the bay and across toward us, bowing down to us as he removes his helmet from his head of unruly dark blue hair.
“Royal High Commander... Princess.”
“Rise up.” I say and Shilne joins us in standing.
“This ends a mystery.” He smiles and nods a bow to her, “Or two... I am relieved to see that you have found him with what little help I could provide you.”
“You did your best and I appreciate that so much. He is rather difficult to find when he does not want to be found, but I couldn't have found him without your help.” She smiles sweetly at him, “It's so good to see you again, High Commander Shilne.”
“And you. I am glad you have found him... As to the other mystery... you are now found! Your people have been missing you, as I suspect you know.”
“Yes. I know.” She sighs.
“To that end, split the contingent. Half will go with the Princess to see her safely home. Who have you brought with you?”
“Akti and his team.”
“Fine, fine. Send him with the Princess. Instruct him to see to her safety better than he would to mine. Understood?”
“Of course.” He bows again, “I think you must have a story to tell.”
“Perhaps a small one.” I chuckle with contentment, “Be sure that the men are not seen when you return her to her home. I do not want to have anyone shot at unnecessarily... If you will excuse us for a moment.”
“Yes, my King.” He returns to his craft to give us a private moment.
“You will be safe with them. You do feel that, yes?” I ask her gently.
“Of course.” She nods.
“Good... Then home you go. Keep care of yourself.” I bend and kiss her again, trying to remember the feeling of it, the way my heart rushes still even after so many such embraces, “Gods, woman... How I miss you already and you are not even gone from me.”
“I know.” She falls against me once more, my arms encircling her happily. “I'll miss you...”
“Remember... As soon as you need me I will be there. Do not hesitate.”
“I won't... Goodbye, for now.”
She tears herself away and I watch her run down the walkway to the bay where her shuttle is docked. I can see her trying to keep her composure to go through the last of the checks before disengaging from the dock. At last she releases the docking mechanisms, freeing the shuttle from the moorings. Then she turns back to see me where I am standing as close to her as I am able, my hand laid on the glass that separates us. I see her draw a hard breath before doing the same at the shuttle port, and I smile a little for the tears she sheds before her craft turns her away from me to join the others.
Ah my love. So much sweetness in you. Be safe. Gods keep her to her next destination.
I watch until the flash as the skip point takes my wife away from me... and I am sadly correct... I miss her already.
My katsuna chimes to me shortly.
“Majesty... We have reached the other side safely. Straight flight to Altea. She will be home in less than a sun.”
“Thank you, Akti. Take care to avoid their sensors. I would not want to have you attacked for no good reason.”
“Yes, sire... End transmission.”
I close the katsuna again with a sigh as Shilne returns to me, carrying his helmet and raising an eyebrow at me.
“Has she been with you this entire time?” He asks.
“Yes.” I nod, still staring toward the jump point.
“What is going on? You have called off your marriage and she has run off from her world again, just to find you. You denied that she was with you to her people when they called. I worried she had not reached you after so much trying...”
“I never denied she was with me. I only said that she suffered from wanderlust and would return to them when she was ready.”
“Ahhuuu…” He nods, understanding, “So, what of all of this drama, my friend?”
“Hnnn...” I try to shake off my feeling of loneliness and turn to him with a smile, “Your King has his Queen.”
“What??” His eyes are wide.
“She is my wife, Shilne.” I feel the joy at telling someone in my true life this wonderful fact and my face nearly splits from the smile that comes to me.
“Gods! How long??”
“Only the matter of days, for true. She found me indeed... and we joined our lives whilst together on my vacation.”
“Why are you still standing here?? You should be going with her to Altea!”
“No, it is what we decided. Her people are still becoming used to the fact that I am Emperor and that my father is gone. The news of our marriage will take much longer to settle with them. She will attempt to make the way for us back on Altea.” I nod.
Suddenly Shilne hugs me, “I am so happy for you!!”
“Ahhlll! You are cutting off my air!”
He lets go, his grin covering his face, “SO wonderful! You have finally done something smart. I am so proud of you.”
“Rrrhhh...” I growl at him.
“Say it, fool. Let me hear you say it.” He nudges.
“I love her.” I nod, “And she, strangely enough, loves me.”
“Perfect! Our people will be thrilled for their King and Emperor.”
“Our people will not know until hers do. We will have to keep this between us until they know. Will you do this for me?”
“Of course, of course. Now I do not have to buy you and your wife a marriage tribute! My gift is my silence.” He punches my shoulder, behaving so much as a brother.
“Yes you do! And it had better be a good one.”
“Saich! You ask too much.”
“And I will ask even more, as you well know. See to it that Akti and the men remain to keep watch of her borders. Rotate them out as is standard border practice so they can rest. She has consented to having the transmissions from her world monitored by us. I will know immediately if the Alliance is come to see her or is asking such. Understood?”
“Yes, sire. I know how you feel on this subject very well. There will be no more little metal rods.” He bows to me.
“Enough of this formality then. When you have seen to what I ask, come and find me at Manaleh. This calls for a drink!”
“That it does! Gods keep you. I will find you soon.” He bows one last time, puts his helmet back on and jogs back to his own craft.
I follow him out to the skip point, setting it to point to Forth... To my home. To the home that will be our home.
With a heavy heart, she joined the formation of Imperial warbirds and allowed them to lock her in so she wouldn't have to worry about navigation, then just sat back and let this high powered alien contingent be her guide home again. She hoped that no one might come across their passing for she feared what might befall anyone who crossed their path in even a mildly threatening manner. Nothing came their way of any consequence and before she knew it she was on the landing pad at home after thanking Akti for the service of himself and his men. As the engines turned to cooling she said a little prayer for their safe journey back home.
Before she opened the hatch she finished changing into her regular clothing, hiding away the Imperial uniform she had been given when last she had made this journey home. She could see that the castle guard were coming around the outside of her craft, wondering what might immerge. With all of what had been going on recently, she wasn't surprised when they looked rather disappointed to just see her. Her defense team came rushing out as she was halfway up the stairs. They looked surprised to see her in one piece.
“Where have you been??” The captain fumed.
“Traveling.” She smiled and continued up the stairs with her bag.
“Traveling??” They pursued her.
“Yes... Traveling... Thinking about everything that has been happening lately.”
“You can't just keep wandering off like this!”
“I don't plan on it happening again.”
“That's not good enough.”
“It will have to be.” She stopped at the top of the stairs, meeting the minister there.
“Welcome home, Princess...” He frowned, “Do you intend to stay about for a while? Or should we not bother to have your rooms kept clean any longer?”
“I am going to be staying. I'm sorry for running off again. It won't happen anymore.” She hugged him.
“Well... We are just happy you are home safe... And not injured further!” He smiled understandingly.
“Me, too.” She let go and kissed his cheek, “It's good to be home. I'm going to have a bath and then I'll come find you so I can get back to work... If you have time.”
“Of course. Gentlemen... Perhaps we can do a little better with keeping an eye on the princess?”
“Hey, it's not like we expect her to be sneaky.” The lieutenant grumbled.
“Perhaps it is time we all expected more of our young ruler.” He nodded a bow and walked away from them.
“Where were you?” The captain resumed.
“I would prefer not to discuss it at this point. I'll talk to you all later over dinner, but right now I have a lot of work to catch up on. Minister, please come and see me in a few hours, would you? Excuse me.” She hurried off to her rooms before Kirin could continue his line of questioning, and feeling rather glad that she’d remembered to erase her trip logs from the shuttle. Kirin would surely be trying to view them immediately.
She missed him terribly already, but at least she had her happy memories of their little honeymoon. The starlit nights on the beach, listening to the waves, watching them shine in the moonlight as they dried in the breezes from their last swim of the day. The sunny days spent wandering about in the hills and wooded areas, taking in the scent of the flower filled air. Her husband's smiles for her, his gentle touches, his loving embraces... She sighed and smiled to herself then picked up and started back to her regular life.
She began to let her minister know over the next week that she didn't want to rule on her own any longer. She did not know enough to do it by herself. That she was going to accept assistance in this from one who knew more. He didn't like the sounds of this, but sensed that she was determined.
“Who will this help... be coming from?” He inquired.
“I think you know.” She looked up to see his reaction.
“I must insist that you rethink this.”
“I have thought about it more than you know. Neither you nor I have the fortitude to do what must be done. Nor do we have it to tell the Alliance not to treat us like one of their territories. He will help me to strengthen my skills as a ruler and commander.”
“Or he will worm his way in here and take over this world himself!”
“Minister, I have come to know him, and this much I know. If he had ever truly wanted this world for himself, he would have it. There is nothing we could do to prevent him from taking it. He does not want that. His father wanted it...”
“Are you certain?”
“Yes... I was shocked to learn this. I was shocked to know that it was true. He has more than provided the proof.”
And so word began to filter out that the emperor would be returning to them. The defense force was indignant.
“I think we better get used to eating alien cuisine.” The big guy lamented. “What do they like to eat anyhow?”
“He’ll eat what we eat, just like when he visited.” She laughed, “I'm glad that is your greatest concern. It doesn't surprise me, though.”
“I'm NOT going to report to HIM!” The captain stood up, slamming his fists on the table. “You're aligned with the Alliance not the Empire! How can you let him come here and start ordering us all around!!”
“He's not going to do that.” She sighed, feeling a little more than exasperated even though she had expected this reaction, “Please sit down.”
“He's a tyrant and destroyer and a terrorist!!”
“He's the leader of a military, civilian and commercial empire.” She corrected, “He is not a conqueror any longer.”
“That's because he's already destroyed enough worlds to feed his sick obsessions!”
“Perhaps you should return to the Alliance and let them know that we no longer require your services.” She tightened her gaze upon him, her heart thumping in her chest, wondering where she was finding the strength to stand up to him for a change.
“Princess!” The minister exclaimed. “That is a bit extreme don't you think?”
“It would relieve my captain of his perceived conflict of interests.”
“We're not leaving you here alone with him!”
“Then you will have to keep your opinions to yourself unless you have any proof of his ill intention.”
“Fine. I hate to say it, but I know you'll be sorry. He's going to turn on you the first moment he can.”
“Well… I suppose we should start to make preparations. I suppose you have some ideas of how you would like to approach this?” The minister wondered.
“I do, and I’ll be glad to share them!” She folded her napkin now that she was finished with breakfast, placing it over her plate, “Please join me for a few moments.”
With that, she stood, ignoring the stares and glares as she headed out into the hallway with the minister coming along beside her. She just prayed she could keep steady while all of this was going on, and hoped that perhaps she had absorbed some of her husband’s determination while they had been together.Fin.