Korom wasn’t sure what a guardian angel was, but the anger that surged inside him at another male even thinking of getting close to Tulip shocked him. Even though he had control over his other self now, it was still hard to keep his dark side calm at the mere thought of any kind of threat towards Tulip.
Not that she was ever in danger on this ship, at least not from the warriors on board, but just the idea of another male trying to claim her had his mist in a rage.
Biting back his growl, Korom took a few long, calming breaths as he tried to reassure his other side that she was right there, perfectly fine and with no other males at her side. But that only soothed his mist a fraction.
Releasing the tiniest of tendrils, Korom allowed his mist to brush over Tulip’s soft skin. It flowed over her body, taking in her warm, smooth skin, her beating pulse, and the steady rise and fall of her chest. He allowed it to seep into her deeper, checking her health. He couldn’t stop himself from checking if the energy of another male lingered on her skin, but silently sighed in relief when he found only a faint trace of himself there.
Unlike the scent of a male, the energy of someone else couldn’t be washed off in a shower or masked with perfume. If someone else had touched her, he would sense it.
It only took a few seconds for his inspection to be over, but when he reached her neck, he paused. Wisp was gone. He could feel the faint trace of it on her skin, but the piece of his mist she had adopted as her friend was missing.
Leaning back in his seat so the others wouldn’t see him, Korom closed his eyes for a moment and reached inwards to his mist. Now that he had more control over it, he was able to communicate his wishes with it far easier. He asked it if the tiny part of itself that was Wisp had returned to him through the night, but even before his thought was finished, he felt the tiny void of where it used to be. It wasn’t with him, and it wasn’t with Tulip. Where was it? What was it doing? And why did he not have any control over it.
Thinking back to the night before, Korom couldn’t help but grin as he remembered the vivid, beautiful dream he’d had. The intense feeling of rightness it brought him. He and Tulip were on Toria, walking the streets, hand in hand. He showed her the forests, the gardens at the Keep... His bedroom. He could still feel her small frame in his arms from how real his dream felt. The way her body fit against his, despite him being so much taller and bigger than her. He remembered how she had eased herself back, allowing him to hold her as she gazed out at the city beyond the Keep. He wanted that to be his reality so badly. To be the one she came home to every night. The one she trusted to hold her, and to protect her. To share a bed with her, and to be hers in every way. Letting those thoughts run freely in his mind, he opened his eyes.
Tulip and Keel were enthralled in an animated conversation about the shuttles and how they worked. The gleam of excitement in her eyes, the pure joy on her face at learning about something new warmed his heart. He wanted to see that smile everyday. If he had to let her take the entire command vessel apart to accomplish that, he would.
Never again did he want to see the fear, uncertainty and resignation he saw in her eyes the first day they met. It still angered him to think of how much danger she and her sisters had been in. At how close they had come to death. At how much they had suffered over the weeks after the attack.
No, Korom thought as he made a decision that he knew would change his life forever, Now she is mine to care for. To protect. And nothing will ever harm or frighten her again.
After morning meals were done, the females left the eating room while Korom, Bor and Tark made their way to the command center. They had a few final things to do before they went home.
One of those things was contacting the warriors left on Earth. They had left Lower Commander Murso in charge of the operation back on Earth. Korom was the only Commander in the Torian army, working at Bor’s right hand and second in command. But beneath Korom, were five Lower Commanders. Each one had the skills and knowledge to be in charge of such a large project. Not only that, but of all his Lower Commanders, Korom trusted Murso the most. It was why he had chosen the male for the task.
Despite the devastation Earth had gone through, he knew that the human race would eventually heal. It would take time, and the pain of the unimaginable loss would be felt for generations to come, but they had survived. They would rebuild, grow and thrive once more. Not only that, but with Kurmar forcing the Decagon to get involved, the Human race would now be brought into the fold of the Decagon rule... whether they were ready or not.
Despite how young and somewhat primitive the species was, they now belonged to the most powerful collection of races and planets in the universe. And, subsequently, they had access to all the technology, power, wealth, and protection that came with it.
Cleaning up, rebuilding and advancing the Human race would be easy and move faster than anyone could imagine. But there were still many concerns for the Torian’s. It was Torian warriors left on the planet. What if the humans turned on them? Blamed them for what had happened to their planet? What if they decided they didn’t want to be ruled by an alien council.
Korom and Bor had seen it many times. They had been sent on many missions just like that. Rebel factions rising in defiance of the Decagon. It had been the Torians that were sent to deal with them.
Not letting his mind go to such places, Korom followed Bor and Tark as they made their way to the command room. Once inside, he took his seat at Bor’s side and leaned back, waiting for the day to begin.
Tark spoke first, “I received word from Lower Commander Murso last night. So far, the total number of survivors is close to four hundred million. Most of those numbers are from the Human survivor camps that were set up after the attack. Instead of fighting the Spinners, most of the regions chose to save as many as they could and hide below the ground in caves, mines, bunkers and any other place they could find shelter. It worked for the most part, as the Spinners had more than enough to consume above ground. Unfortunately, one of the groups on a land mass they call America, claims that over nine thousand species of animal was lost for good. Mostly land dwelling animals, like bears, lions, tigers,” As he read off a list, images of stunning wild animals from Earth flashed on the large screen behind him.
“A female calling herself Doctor Iliza Samson, from a camp called Survivor Base Bravo, is very determined to find a way to bring these creatures back,” Tark chuckled as he said the next part, “she is giving Lower Commander Murso a hard time, saying that if the Torian’s are so far advanced that we can travel through space, then we must be able to clone DNA and bring them back. He is asking how to proceed, Lord Bor.”
Bor sat forward, watching as image after image of strange, beautiful creatures flashed on the screen. Finally, he said, “Contact the Decagon. Tell them Earth is in need of a science fleet to assist with the repopulation of its indigenous wildlife. Now that the Decagon chose to help them survive, Earth is a part of the alliance. They will do what they can to save the creatures. What else?”
“A human male by the name of Logan Hunter, claiming to be a General in the Earth’s army, has asked to meet with you and the Decagon. According to the information sent, he is the highest ranking officer left alive and would like to begin talks of what the future will hold for this new Earth, as he said. He asked permission to come to Toria to meet with you, to talk of the new alliance and to thank you in person for helping save the human race.”
Bor thought for a moment, then nodded. “Granted. Have him and a small team of his choosing prepare to leave in the next rotation. Ensure that the warriors escorting him and his team are aware that he is a guest of the king, not a prisoner, and is to be treated as such.”
Tark nodded, tapping on the screen for a moment, then looked up again.
“The Decagon has asked you, my Lord, Commander Kurmar and Lady Lilly to present yourselves before the council. Their reason is that a new, concerning shift of power has taken place among the alliance, and they need to meet Lady Lilly to ensure she is not going to be a threat to the stability of the alliance.”
Korom could hear the distaste in Tark’s voice as he read the message from the council.
“They can wait,” Bor all but growled as he sat forward, glaring at the screen in Tark’s hands.
Tark nodded, “That’s what I told them,” He said with a small grin, “I knew there was nothing that would keep you from taking her home and making her the official Lady of Toria as soon as possible.”
Bor chuckled, “You know me too well.”
“Yes, my Lord. But I also know what I would want to do in your situation.”
Even as Tark spoke the words, something flashed over his face. His smile faltered, his eyes grew darker, the light in them dimming. Korom wanted to ask the male about it, but before he could Tark snapped out of his thoughts and continued.
“The Sastoria District is requesting your assistance once again. A fleet of Dostor’s has attacked another of their outposts, killing three hundred and five, and capturing a further ninety. They are asking for your help in finding their missing Sastorians and bringing them home. In return for your help, they offer a year’s shipment of Sas Liquor, Pamputo fruit, and a crate of Arumara gems.”
Bor leaned forward, “Send this reply to the Sastorian leader. Tell him that the Torian warriors will find his people, and bring them home. We will end the Dostor’s threat to their outposts once and for all, and we will include them in our routine patrols. We will do all of this for no fee. If they choose to send us a gift of thanks, it will be warmly accepted, but they never need to buy our assistance. They are our allies, our neighbors, our most profitable trade partner, but most important of all, they are our friends. We help them because it is the right thing to do, not because we expect anything in return. Also, ask the Sastorian leader to join me and Lilly at the Keep once we have found and returned his people. I would like to see what Lilly thinks of the fascinating species.”
Tark wrote out the reply, nodding as Bor spoke, then glanced over at Korom.
“The last thing to discuss is the news of your brother, commander.”
Korom stiffened in his seat. He knew this was coming, and as much as he wanted to find his brother, he wasn’t sure how he felt about everyone knowing. Especially Bor’s mother. She had raised him as a son, no different to her own children. He wanted to speak to her about this first, before news of it got out.
“My lord,” He said, turning to Bor, “If you will allow it, I would like to keep this information to the inner circle for now. I would like to speak to mother first, let her hear this news from me, before word gets out to the others at the Keep.”
No matter what happened in Korom’s life, Bor’s mother would always be his mother in his eyes. She took in an infant child of a different race and raised him as her own. She loved him, taught him the right way to live, and never once looked at him as different. He respected her, loved her and would protect her from anything, including the heartache of hearing such news from a stranger.
Bor smiled, “Very well, Korom. This news stays between the four of us. Tark, you may speak to Keel about this, but I trust I can count on your confidence with this matter?”
Tark bowed his head, “Of course. You know Keel would die before spilling any of your secrets, my lord.
“Very well. Then we will leave this matter until after my mating ceremony. Perhaps by then Kurmar will have more information for us. For now, we need to focus on the most urgent matter. Tark, I want you and Keel to lead the search and rescue of the Sastorians. Take a small fleet with you and destroy the Dostor scum once and for all. They have been warned enough times to stay out of Decagon territory and to leave the Sastorians alone. Korom and I will monitor the situation on Earth. When the next rotation returns to Toria I will meet with this general Logan Hunter,” Bor stood, signaling an end to their meeting. But before he left, he turned back to Tark and said, “Make sure the rotation only arrives on Toria after my mating ceremony.”
With a smile, Tark nodded, and they both watched Bor leave the room. When it was just Korom and Tark left, Tark turned to him.
Korom raised his eyes, “Yes?”
“I know this matter is personal to you, but I wanted you to know that I will do whatever I can to help. If you wish to find your brother I will help in any way I can. If you do not… I will make sure we do not find any information leading to his location. It is on your order, commander.”
Korom understood what the male was saying. He appreciated it. But Tulip’s words still rang out in his mind. He’s blood. He’s family. He deserves a chance.
“Thank you Tark. For now, let us focus on our next missions. You have a rescue to plan, and I have a planet to help heal.”
They both left the room and went their separate ways.
For the rest of the day, Korom busied himself with his duties, all the while thinking about Tulip, his brother and the situation on Earth. He couldn’t get over how much lighter he felt now that he and his mist were merged. He didn’t have to constantly worry about losing control, or fighting a battle inside himself. It gave his mind the freedom to drift.
When he was done for the day, he chose to skip his evening meal, far too eager to see Tulip again. Going to his quarters to cleanse in the shower unit before dressing into his usual black uniform.
A few minutes later, he found himself standing by Tulips door. With a long breath, he misted and flowed through the tiny cracks in the frame, before reforming inside her room. Once he was whole, he turned, looking for Tulip. When he saw her, his entire body roared to life with heat and desire at the sight of her standing in the entrance of her bathing unit, eyes wide, her mouth open. Her long black hair was wet, hanging over her shoulders, and her small, delicate frame wrapped only in a large white towel.
Unable to stop himself, his gaze ran over her body, taking in every inch of her from head to cute red painted toenails. A wide smile spread over his lips at the pure beauty before him. When he met her eyes again, the stunned look in her eyes was gone. Her brows were pulled down as she glared at him.
“Do you ever knock?” She snapped, pulling the towel up higher.
He turned his body to face her, taking a step closer to her, “Why must I knock, little one? I have all intentions of making you mine in every way tonight.”