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Chapter 7: Honored Guest

When they got back to her room Unegen showed Rowan her surprise. On Rowan’s bed was a beautiful suit of supple brown leather. It was exactly like everyone else’s on the ship except that on each cuff there was a golden crescent moon.

“These are the symbols of your rank,” Unegen said as she gently ran her fingers over the moon. “Only a Tolui can wear the crescent moons. Now put it on and I will put your hair up in the proper style for a Thracian warrior.”

Rowan took the suit into the beautiful bathroom where Vashir had tried to kill her. There was no sign of the struggle and for that she was grateful but the room still gave her the creeps. The suit fit her as if she had been born in it. Rowan immediately realized that the suit was made of nanocytes and it formed to her exact contour. She felt the gentle hum of their life force and as always it was a pleasant sensation. Rowan walked back out into the bedroom.

Unegen clapped her hands together in delight.

“You look wonderful. Now sit on the bed and I will put up your hair and give you a few pointers on how the crew will expect a Tolui to behave. Niurgun says you are new at this so I will try to help. As Niurgun told you our grandmother is the Qutugh Tolui and I lived with her for many years so I am sure I can help.”

Rowan sighed with relief.

“Any information is very much appreciated, thank you Unegen.”

“Well,” Unegen began, “for starters you must allow each crew member to take your hand and kiss the palm. It is the proper greeting and a great honor for each one of them. When each one lowers his or her head you can place your other hand on the top of their head and touch them with your mind. You can give them a fleeting thought or maybe just say their name but it is a great honor and considered to be something like a blessing. We call it the Bayar.”

“How will I know what to do?”

Unegen stopped brushing Rowan’s hair and put her hands on her shoulders.

“Grandmother always said it came naturally, so just do what feels right. Some Tolui will give them a brief glimpse of a special memory or dream but that is completely up to you. Just remember that this is a moment in their life that they will never forget. Most Thracians never get the chance to see a Tolui in person much less touch one, so if you can, try to make it as memorable for them as possible but remember that whatever you show them is completely real to them; they will actually relive the event. It is a very moving experience for a Thracian. Please be kind to them; a Tolui can reveal dreams or nightmares. They are a good crew and I care for each one, we have all been together for many years.

Unegen stepped back, “there your hair is perfect.”

She activated a holographic mirror using her wrist device so Rowan could see her hair. Rowan admired the twisted knot on the top of her head; a few loose curls hung down and framed her face. Three gold spikes held her hair in place and from the end of each spike dangled a small crescent moon.

“It looks lovely, thank you Unegen,” Rowan said sincerely.

“And remember those hair spikes make great weapons, straight through the eye, in the spine, side of the neck, in the ear…” Unegen added, dead serious.

“I will keep that in mind,” Rowan said slightly amused at how someone could be so feminine and at the same time prepared to kill someone with a nine inch spike. Then Rowan realized that this was the perfect time to try out her Tolui skills on someone who could help her.

“Unegen can I give you your blessing now, you know like a practice run?”

“Well of course, that is an excellent idea.”

Unegen reached down and took Rowan’s hand and she gently kissed the heel of her palm.

Rowan rested her hand on the top of Unegen’s head and touched her mind. She immediately saw the logical order of the commander’s thoughts. Unegen was a born leader but Rowan sensed that she believed she should have been born something else. She loved her crew and her ship though; she put everyone before herself.
Rowan pushed back further into Unegen’s memories. She saw a teenage Unegen running in an immense garden and beside her ran a young Niurgun in a pale blue coat that flapped behind him. The sky was violet…the sky above Erdene, though Rowan. A beautiful woman with long silver white hair was sitting beside an ancient looking fountain. She really did not look to be a day over thirty but somehow Rowan got the impression that she was very, very old. The moss on the fountain was as thick as a person’s hand and the water had cut deep channels into the edges of the fount. The water sparkled and tinkled as it ran down chains covered with hundreds of tiny bells.

“Grandmother,” Unegen cried, “you are back.”

“Come you two and hug your grandmother,” the Qutugh Tolui said as she opened her arms wide. The children clung to her.

Unegen looked up at her grandmother, “you have seen the Divine Mother and the great city of the Fadians? What was it like there? Is it true that she keep Malmots as pets? Are her eyes really the color of the sky? Are the trees made of gold?”

The Qutugh Tolui laughed, “one question at a time little one,” but before she could answer a very somber looking man walked from around the fountain.

“Minister how good to see you,” the Qutugh greeted him. She looked down at the children. “Run on and play I will tell you all about the great city at dinner.”

The children slid off her lap but they didn’t go far. Unegen pulled Niurgun down behind some thick bushes.

“Ssshh,” she told him as he started to speak.

The minister sat down beside the Qutugh.

“You look tired Tolui; did your intervention do any good?”

The Qutugh shook her head.

“Cali insists that Niurgun must come to the Academy of Senders. The fact that he is the son of the Empress does not matter one bit to her, in fact I think it makes her more anxious to have him. I had so hoped he would be spared and we could train him here but she would not budge. He must be delivered on his twelfth year day to the school where he will remain for ten years at which time he may return to Erdene. The terms of the truce cannot be broken.”

“No!” the young Unegen burst from hiding. “I will go in his place. I will not let her have Niurgun.”

“Unegen come here,” the Tolui opened her arms.

Unegen ran to her. She was sobbing and suddenly Rowan understood. Unegen had not been born with the powers of a sender or a Tolui. Unegen felt that she was a disappointment to her family; grandmother placed her hand on Unegen’s head and whispered in her ear.

“You have the heart of the arach. Your gifts are not so obvious but one day your courage will be the wall between our enemies and our freedom. Today you are hidden from Cali’s gaze because she thinks you have nothing she wants but one day she will know your name this I promise. You will be the right hand of the Empress.”

Rowan lifted her hand from Unegens head.

Unegen looked up at her.

“You found the most pivotal moment in my entire life. What a great Tolui you will become Rowan Ross of Planet Earth. Thank you for showing me what I had let slip away and reminding me of the charge given to me by my grandmother. I will prepare myself for the battles to come and I hope you may be by my side”.

“I haven’t fought any real battles Unegen,” Rowan said as she lowered her eyes, “but when the time comes I hope I will be all you believe me to be.”

Both the women sat on the edge of the bed for a moment staring out the great window at the earth below them... One thought of the glorious battles yet to come and the other wondered who or what she was. Finally Unegen broke the silence.

“Well, no battles tonight only a marvelous dinner prepared just for you. Come now the crew will be waiting.”

The great door to the banquet hall slid open and the sight before her almost brought Rowan to her knees; Unegen steadied her gently with a hand to her elbow.

She leaned towards Rowan and whispered, “I am sorry, I should have prepared you. It is amazing is it not?”

Rowan could only nod. The room was not really a room, at least not in the conventional sense, there was no ceiling. The Earth loomed overhead and an effect much like the aurora borealis rippled across the unseen barrier that kept them from the cruel vacuum of space. In the air hovered orbs that looked like planets. Rowan could even make out the details on their surfaces; some were lush like earth others were red or gray or gaseous but they all gave off light and illuminated the banquet hall.

Perhaps, most amazingly, given the circumstances was the great fire that burned in a huge fire pit in the middle of the hall. Rowan could not help but enjoy the irony of the incredible technology centered by the most primal of forces. She wondered where the smoke was going but then she thought if they can create a room in space without a ceiling I guess they have the smoke handled.

Many low round tables were spread around with beautiful cushions on the floor decorated with fabulous designs much like the bed cover in Rowans room. Huge flower arrangements were suspended in midair, exactly how Rowan was not sure, and she could tell that the flowers had come from all over the world. Gorgeous bird of paradise blooms were clustered with tulips, azaleas and rhododendrons were paired flawlessly with ginger lilies and lotus. The perfume of the flowers hung in the air.

Unegen led her to a low back chair on a small dais; Rowan sat and looked out across the room. The Thracian crew was seated on the cushions and all of a sudden all eyes were on her. The crew began to hit their hands on the table tops and cheer. Rowan wasn’t sure what to do so she just nodded her head and smiled.

There looked to be about one hundred crew members, most were males. Rowan guessed there were about six or seven males to each female. Unegen held up her right hand and the noise stopped. She then let out a low whistle and from out of the center of the fire the arachs leapt out one after the other

Rowan gasped as the creatures leapt from the flames and landed lightly on the polished floor. The crowd again burst into cheers. The arachs shook like big dogs and ash and sparks flew from their skin like water droplets. They were about the size of tigers but taller and leggier, reptilian looking but yet not exactly; their skin was covered in scales that shone with a rippling iridescence that seemed to decrease as they cooled. Even from a distance Rowan could see the enormous talons on their three toed feet shining like stainless steel. Their long muscular tails moved like serpents but all of their marvelous features paled in comparison to their beautiful heads.

They held their heads like proud thoroughbreds putting their noses up into the air and flaring their nostrils. Rowan thought they looked like a cross between a horse and Komodo dragon. Powerful long jaws were filled with impressive looking teeth and their eyes looked like glowing red embers from the heart of a volcano. Stalking around the fire, Rowan could swear they were enjoying the attention.

Unegen whistled again and each one bounded off in different directions settling at the feet of various people in the audience. Rowan saw each arach get welcoming rubs on the head as they found their owners. The largest one of the pack however, seemed to be coming straight for her. She gripped the arms of the chair and tried to look completely unalarmed.

“Don’t worry he will do you no harm.”

Niurgun leaned down and whispered in her ear. The newly shorn stubble of his face brushed her cheek and the closeness of his lips sent chills down her spine.

She had been so absorbed in the spectacle that she did not even notice him behind her. The giant beast bounded to his side. Rowan could still feel the heat coming off of its hide as it brushed by her; he smelled of smoke and ash. The creature gave Niurgun a few good sniffs and a less than gentle nudge and then it turned to Rowan. Seated on the slightly raised platform she found herself looking directly into its demonic eyes. Suddenly without warning a huge blue tongue lolled out and licked Rowan across her face. The crowd burst into laughter and cheers.

Niurgun leaned down again.

“Let me introduce you to Batu. He must really like you; normally he does not warm up to new people so quickly.”

Unegen managed to get a cloth and was helping Rowan wipe the slobber off her face.

“That beast of yours has no manners Niurgun,” Unegen scolded him but Rowan could tell that she trying not to laugh.

Rowan took the cloth from Unegen, wiped her face and smiled.

“What better welcome than to be kissed by a dragon,” she said and the crowds went wild with cheers again.

Nuirgun leaned down and brushed his lips against her ear again.

“Well said, you are more Thracian than you know.”

The crew then began to come before Rowan one by one and every one took her hand and kissed her palm. She laid her hand upon each head and looked into their souls. Unegen was right, they were a great crew, loyal, honest, and each one completely devoted to their commander. Rowan wondered how a cancer such as Vashir had managed to stay hidden for so long in their midst.

As each crew member came before her Rowan tried to give everyone a memorable experience and with every mind she learned more and more about what it meant to be Thracian.

The process became easier and easier with each crew member. Rowan was beginning to see their minds like vessels with many compartments and she seemed to instinctively know where to look for what she was beginning to see as pivot points in a person’s life. One of those moments when your path is diverging and to pick one direction or the other will determine the events in your future. The pivot points connected each life like a web, some very important, to choose that path was to pick an unalterable direction, others were not as decisive and the path could lead back into the web but all were linked in an unending chain back to the beginning of each consciousness.

Rowan also began to glimpse where the consciousness was before it became the person. She sensed a light at the beginning of each person’s life that preceded their coming into being. She wanted to look into the light but she couldn’t quite go there, it mystified her.

Before she knew it she had met them all and now she knew each one as if they had been friends since birth. Rowan expected to be exhausted but she wasn’t, in fact she felt exhilarated as if each person had given her a bit of their energy.

They had all returned to their seats and now everyone was looking at her so she figured she should say something. She looked out over the crowd and spoke.

“Thank you brothers and sisters for sharing your hearts with me and I hope that I have given you some comfort here so far from home and family. I have looked into your souls and found them pure. You have my blessing.”

Rowan wasn’t even sure where the words had come from but the crowd seemed very pleased. They stood and cheered until Unegen raised her hand.

“Now let’s eat,” she shouted and the cheers were even louder.

Unegen guided Rowan to the largest table by the fire. She sat down on one of the large cushions. Gal sat to her left and Niurgun to her right. Batu curled up on his own cushion behind Niurgun and slowly wrapped his prehensile tail around Rowan’s ankle. It was very warm and she found it comforting. Rowan looked above her head as the planet earth filled almost the entire view surprisingly she felt no discomfort, no sensation of vertigo in fact everything seemed perfectly natural.

I think I could love life in space, Rowan thought to herself; its beauty is so absolute.

The food began to come out. Some of the dishes were earth foods brought up from the surface but many were new and exotic. A beautiful golden suckling pig was placed in the center of each table. There were waxy white vegetables that looked like giant carrots but tasted nutty like a cross between cashews and peanuts. Rowan particularly enjoyed a beautiful purple grain that tasted like the finest jasmine rice with just a hint of anise flavor, but her absolute favorite was small delicious crablike creature called ebon that was sweeter than lobster. Niurgun told her they were raised in the ships hydroponic tanks.

Gal and Niurgun took delight in pointing out each dish and explaining the ingredients and origin but the most wonderful of all by far was the drink. The color was the clearest most vivid blue but when you swirled it in the glass it changed to a bright red.

“It is called Truth,” Niurgun informed her.

Strange name thought Rowan as she swirled her glass again and again fascinated the color change before she took a big swig.

“It is distilled from very rare fruit that only grow on one moon in the Cygnus system and it is only served at the most important occasions Tolui,” Gal added.

“Oh please call me Rowan, Gal,” Rowan said as she reached out and patted Gal’s hand. He blushed like a school girl.

Rowan took another big mouthful of the drink. The flavor was indescribable; the tastes were layered in a complex blend of fruit and spices so that just when you thought you could identify one taste another took its place.

“Oh my God that’s good!” Rowan exclaimed.

Niurgun laughed and poured her another glass.

“Wars have been fought for it,” he said as he poured.

“No doubt,” answered Rowan.

She realized half way into her second glass that Truthhad some kind of alcoholic or narcotic effect, she felt wonderful, almost euphoric.

Without thinking she turned to Niurgun and said, “I will do you disservices in the future please forgive me now for I won’t realize what I am doing… I’m not sure why I said that.”

Niurgun laughed hard.

“It is not called Truth for nothing,” he said between laughs, “and of course I would forgive you for anything. We are all somewhat accustomed to the drink’s effects but you are not, so maybe you should not have much more.”

He motioned for another glass and he filled it with water.

Rowan sipped at the rest of her Truth slowly, it was delicious but she didn’t want to blurt out any more sensitive facts about herself and how she came to be there. As the evening wore on and the people became more relaxed, Rowan could tell that many were couples. They openly kissed and held each other. Men with men, women with men, often more than one man.

The Thracians also differed physically; there were some with dark hair, some with light hair but Rowan was the only red head in the room. Their skin tones varied as well from light to dark but most were quite tall at least by earth standards and physical fitness was definitely the norm. Some had beautiful slanted eyes like Niurgun’s with the catlike pupils but a few looked as human as Rowan. She wasn’t sure if they all had fangs but she made a note to herself to check on that later. Rowan decided that being Thracian might be something more than just the way they looked.

Dessert was a magnificent affair. A large platter was placed in the center of each table and on it was what appeared to be a huge egg. Beside each egg was a small mallet.

Niurgun reached for the mallet and handed it to Rowan.

“Hit the egg,” he said,” just hard enough to crack it.”

Rowan did just that and the egg cracked down the middle and fell into two halves. From each half many flowers began to open. They filled the halves and spilled out onto the platter. They were not real flowers but glittering confections that tumbled out of the egg. Once the flowers stopped tumbling out of the eggs everyone cheered in approval and began to eat the treats which were the lightest cakes Rowan had ever tasted and their flavors seemed to match the flower each represented.

“I have never seen or had a more marvelous time,” she said to Niurgun. “Thank you so much.”

He placed his hand on hers and said softly, “you are one of us, never forget that.”

Unegen rose from the table and raised her hand and shouted, “now for the entertainment.”

The fire suddenly extinguished and the heavenly bodies that were lighting the room slowly began to move. The artificial planets dipped and swirled as they gradually gravitated towards the center of the room. They began to form a solar system lining up and revolving around the darkened fire pit. Suddenly there was a boom and from the fire pit shot a ball of light. It stopped about thirty feet in the air and hovered. It was a star, the sun for the system that was forming around it. The crowd cheered as all the planets and moons began to move around the artificial star in the clockwork dance that creates a solar system. One planet had a purplish hue, that’s Erdene, thought Rowan, this is their system. She realized her mouth was hanging open.

A light shone up from the black hole that had been the fire pit and slowly a figure rose out of the darkness as a beam of light shot down from the artificial star and illuminated her. She was dressed in a robe made from the iridescent scales of an arach, the colors shifted and changed as the sun light flowed across the scales. The crowd was silent and motionless; music filled the room. Rowan could not tell where it came from it was simply everywhere.

The figure began to sing in a voice that was nothing short of angelic. She sang a song about the battle between the two great races that almost destroyed the Thracian’s original home world Tegus. She sang of how even with their home world decimated the Thracians had fought on never giving up; the war had lasted a thousand years.

The song told of the discovery of their new home world Erdene and the eventual truce that had kept the peace between the Thracians and Fadians for the last ten thousand years. She sang of heroes and villains, of death and sacrifice but most of all it was a song of joy and discovery, of new life and a new world. Rowan realized that Unegen had chosen this song for her so she could learn the history of the people. She looked over at Unegen and saw that she and Gal were holding each other’s hands under the table; Rowan smiled.

When the song was over there was total silence, no one moved. The singer raised her arm and opened her hand. It was as if the light beaming down from the artificial sun was captured in her palm. She turned her hand slightly and the beam of light shot from her palm directly at the holographic planet Erdene. The planet became a swirling ball of light and then it reformed; it was Earth. The rest of the system began to transform as well. Some planets grew, some shrunk, and a few disappeared. The center star became smaller. Rowan saw her own system form and its planets begin to move around the sun.

The singer began a new song, the song of Rowan the Red, Tolui of Earth. The song told of Rowans capture at the stones, her battle with Vashir, this part was accompanied by many gasps from the crowd, her beauty and her wisdom and how she would be loved by the people for ten thousand years. Rowan was completely embarrassed, Niurgun leaned close and whispered.

“This is the first singing of your song. It will be added to as your accomplishments and adventures continue. It is an ancient Thracian tradition and a great honor especially for one so young. In our world you are hardly more than a child so don’t be embarrassed, enjoy it. You looked into each one of their minds now they get to know you a bit, it is only fair.”

Rowan guessed that it was only fair so she did just what he said; she sat back and enjoyed the beautiful song about an earth girl who was bound for glory. She also sucked down the rest of her Truth.

When the song was over everyone cheered, the singer descended back into the blackness of the pit and each heavenly body burst into a firework display that rained down harmlessly onto the crowd. Unegen took Rowan by the hand and together they said good bye to each crew member as they left the hall.

“I will certainly never forget tonight. I really do not know how to thank you,” Rowan said to Unegen.

“The pleasure and honor was all mine,” Unegen gave a small bow, “now I think I will retire to my quarters and attend to some ships business.”

“Tell Gal I really enjoyed his company tonight,” Rowan whispered in Unegens ear.

Unegen smiled a sly smile, “of course.”

Niurgun and Rowan walked slowly back to her room. Batu trailed behind them swooshing his tail from side to side. They didn’t really talk because each one knew they had to talk about her leaving and neither one wanted to start the conversation. The door slide open and Niurgun stopped.

“Do you want me to come in?”

“Of course I do.” Rowan laughed, “the last time I was in here alone someone tried to kill me.”

Niurgun motioned for Batu to lie down outside the door. Back in her room Rowan noticed that there was a lovely plate of food and another bottle of Truthon the table by the viewing window.

“If I didn’t know better I would think someone was trying to get me drunk,” she said as she poured another glass, the stuff was just too good to resist.

“It doesn’t really make you drunk in the sense of the earth drink alcohol.” Niurgun assured her. “Truth heightens your senses, makes you more honest, makes you more aware of your feelings, creates a sense of euphoria but you are not technically impaired physically or mentally.”

They sat on the seat overlooking the planet below. Rowan suddenly realized something.

“I never gave you Bayar.”

“No,” Niurgun answered, “you did not.”

“Would you like me to?” Rowan asked shyly.

“I would be honored,” Niurgun said as he raised her palm to his lips.

Rowan didn’t put her hand on the top of his head. She rubbed her hand across his cheek. He was so warm. She felt the stubble of his beard and the strong muscle of his jaw. Their eyes meet as she touched his mind.

Moving through Niurgun’s mind was like swimming in liquid love; like being immersed in that feeling you get in your stomach when you are near someone you want very badly. Rowan wasn’t sure if it was the effect of the Truth, if he truly felt so strongly about her or if it was because she was so attracted to him. In either case it certainly was not an unpleasant sensation.

Her sense of emotions had increased exponentially and she realized that she was not just viewing his memories she was feeling his reactions and emotions. The Truth was enhancing her abilities to touch his mind just like the mind altering drugs on Earth help Shaman talk to the spirits.

Suddenly she saw a young boy, Niurgun, running down a huge hall way. He wore baggy blue pajamas and behind him ran an enormous arach, Rowan recognized Batu. Young Niurgun skidded to a stop in front of mammoth ornate double doors. Two guards stood at the doors. They looked down at the young boy, tears running down his face; one knelt down to the boy’s height.

“Prince Niurgun what is the matter?” the man asked gently.

The guard could only make out the words ‘mother’ and ‘bad dream’ between the child’s frantic sobs. The guard patted him on the head and then spoke into his wrist device.

“Empress, Niurgun needs to see you. He is very upset.”

A disembodied voice answered. “Please, send him in and thank you Joser.”

The guard pushed open the huge door and Niurgun ran through it as soon as the opening was large enough. The arach followed closely behind, head held high. The two guards smiled at each other and gently closed the door.

“That little one is his mother’s favorite without a doubt,” Joser said. The other guard smiled and nodded.

Niurgun’s mother was sitting in a huge bed much like the one in Rowans room on the ship. She was propped up on many luxurious cushions and she didn’t seem to be wearing anything other than the sheet that was wrapped around her, behind her was a very handsome blond Thracian man. He had the most beautiful tattoos covering his arms and chest and so did Niurgun’s mother Rowan realized. The man was slowly brushing her long copper colored hair.

Another man, who didn’t look Thracian at all, was reading to them both as he lay with his head in the Empresses lap. Even lying down Rowan could tell that he was much shorter than most Thracians and his dark hair was cut short. Neither man was wearing a stitch of clothing. The scene did not seem to bother the boy in the least; he dove onto the bed hardly giving the reclined man a chance to get out of the way. He clung to his mother sobbing.

She patted his back.

“You had the dream again didn’t you?”

Niurgun nodded as he sobbed. The blonde man brushed back Niurgun’s tangled hair and wiped his little face with the edge of the sheet. The Empress looked at the other man.

“Carta, will you get him something to drink while his father and I try to calm him?”

“Of course,” Carta said as he climbed out of bed. He gently squeezed Niurgun’s little hand before he got up.

Once they had him calmed down a bit the Empress held him tight.

“Tell me what happens in the dream, exactly, don’t leave anything out.”

“No,” said Niurgun, “I don’t want to.”

“You must,” said his father, “you must face your fears if you wish to conquer them.”

“Boke is right Niurgun,” his mother said. “Face the dark and you will find it to be only shadows.”

Niurgun leaned his head against his mother’s breast, closed his eyes and began to speak.

“I am on a great plain, it is very hot. Red sand stretches so far I can’t imagine walking to the end of it.”

His father interrupted him.

“That sounds like Tegus son, our original home world. Many Thracians dream of Tegus even those who have never been there.”

“Ssshh dear let him finish,’ Mongke whispered.

Niurgun sniffled and continued.

“Suddenly I am standing before a cliff. Huge black rocks rise in front of me and I see an opening. All I can think about is getting out of the heat and into the darkness. I go into a cave but it is not a really a cave. It is a long hall, longer than the great hall in grandmother’s palace.”

Carta returned with a small cup. Niurgun took a few sips between sniffles and then continued.

“There are many people whispering but I cannot understand what they are saying. From far away I hear someone shout my name so I run. I run as fast as I can but it takes a long time before I reach the end of the hall. There is a great mirror and when I see myself I am not me, I am big like father. I think it is me, just not me now.

“I understand dear, go on,” his mother whispered.

“When I get closer to the mirror I can see that someone is behind it. She is not clear but I can see her long red hair and she is trapped, trapped in the mirror and no matter how hard I beat on the glass I can’t help her. I beat on the glass until my hands bleed but I can’t break it. Mother you are trapped and I cannot help you and when I turn around darkness is rolling towards us and it is alive.”

He started to cry again. His mother rocked him in her arms.

Rowan looked deeper into Niurgun’s mind. She looked for the dream, but when she found the dream she was not seeing it through Niurgun’s eyes, she was there looking back at him from the other side of the mirror. She felt his terror; his helplessness and he recognized her. They both opened their eyes.

“It was you behind the glass, not my mother!” Niurgun exclaimed.

Rowan still had her hand against his cheek.

“It would appear so,” she answered, “I have no idea what it means but yes I felt it, I was there.”

Niurgun reached up and took her hand from his cheek and placed it over his heart.

“It means that I have found the one who was hidden from me for so long; I will not let you go again.”

He pulled her close and kissed her like he meant it. Rowan knew that if she did not stop things now events would be put into motion that would be very hard to stop later. He felt her hesitate.

“Tell me no if I am wrong,” he whispered in her ear but Rowan couldn’t have said no if her life depended on it.

She had never been with a man. It wasn’t from lack of opportunity it had just never seemed right, but this felt more than right, this felt like fate.

Niurgun took her hand and touched the collar of her nanoleather suit. He ran her finger slowly down the front between her breasts. The material parted like he cut it with a knife. Her skin tingled from his touch. Rowan slowly did the same, taking his hand and running his finger down his broad chest.

She saw he was tattooed like his father and mother; graceful deer raced across his chest. He peeled his suit down exposing beautiful dragons coiled around his muscular arms. They were done in shades of blue and black and even though a minute earlier she would have sworn he couldn’t be more attractive all of a sudden he was. She traced the outlines of the dragons softly with her fingertips. Niurgun gently lowered Rowans clothing, peeling it down carefully as if she would break. His hands followed her curves around her breasts and to her hips.

He stood up and she could see all of him lit by the beautiful glow from planet earth and the moon that was rising over the horizon. Niurgun picked her up as if she weighed nothing. He kissed her lips and then behind her ear. He softly kissed her neck over and over again until he could stand it no longer and he bit her, sinking his sharp teeth into her creamy skin and tasting her blood.

There was no anger like with Vashir only passion and Rowan was surprised with the pleasure she felt as he tasted her blood. His tongue moved up the side of her neck over and over again each time sending chills down her entire body. He laid her across the long low table before the giant window and he spread her legs as he dropped to his knees. He began to kiss her inner thighs gently at first and then he bit her again. As he licked the blood from her thigh he moved his tongue to taste her and Rowan could only grab the edges of the table and try to breathe as waves of pleasure swept over her.

They didn’t make it to the beautiful bed, at least not the first time or the second for that matter. He laid her down on the soft rug and they joined as one. At first he was gentle sensing her inexperience but soon her need matched his and gentleness gave way to hunger. Rowan matched his passion taking all of him and wanting more. The physical pleasure was more than Rowan could have hoped for but there was so much more; they joined their minds as well.

Rowan realized that most humans will spend their entire existence rattling around alone in the shell they were born in but when two Thracians join they can join completely and for those few brief moments their two consciousnesses become one. Rowan wept with joy and Niurgun tasted her tears. Male and female became one, two pieces of a whole parted for so long now brought back together.

Niurgun pleased her in every way he could think of and a few ways he had never imagined. She was pretty sure they broke the table and she wasn’t sure how sound proof space ships were but she sure hoped the walls were thick. Rowan thought she might just die of happiness but she decided that would be okay. They finally ended up in the great bed.

Rowan laid her head on his chest, I have never been so happy I want you to know that, she said with her mind.

We are truly one now, Niurgun thought back at her, the bond we formed tonight can only be broken by death.

“Is it always this way between Thracians?” She whispered.

“No,” Niurgun said. “To join completely mind and body is rare, each moment with you is a surprise Rowan the Red.”

He kissed her again, first her lips, then her throat, then her breast. She felt the stubble of his beard rub against her belly as he found his way to pleasure her again. Eventually they slept but even in sleep they made love in their dreams.

Rowan woke with the light of the sunrise over earth. She looked over at the sleeping man next to her. She followed the curve of his strong jaw to his full perfect lips; his blonde hair covered the pillow.

I think I just made love to Captain Kirk, she thought as she giggled out loud. Niurgun opened his deep blue eyes and smiled fangs and all.

“What are you laughing at?”

“Oh nothing,” she giggled again, “I just had a funny thought.”

“Well by all means share.”

Niurgun said as he propped himself up on his elbow, all ears.

“Well” Rowan began, “I just had this funny thought that I had woken up next to Captain Kirk.”

Niurgun raised an eyebrow which made Rowan laugh even harder.

“Who pray tell is this Kirk and how do I remind you of him?”

Rowan continued trying not to giggle.

“Captain Kirk is a dashing, handsome starship captain who makes love to beautiful women on every planet he visits. He makes them all fall in love with him but of course his only true love is his ship, The Enterprise.”

Niurgun looked thoughtful.

“Have you been with this charming Captain Kirk? He sounds interesting.”

“NO!” Rowan punched Niurgun in the arm, “it’s not like that. He is a character on my mother’s favorite TV show. He isn’t real and I have never been with anyone else, thank you for asking.”

Niurgun smiled, “I am truly your first?”

“Yes,” Rowan smiled back, “and I can’t imagine a better start…but then again I really don’t have anything to compare to.” She tried to tease him.

Niurgun leisurely began to pull down the creamy white covers. He picked up the small golden egg that hung around her neck. He held the tiny charm for a moment and then put it down. His eyes slowly drank in the sight of her body as his hand moved down her belly.

Rowan stopped his hand, “just so you know it though, Mr. Spock was always my favorite.”

They didn’t get out of bed for the rest of the day.

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