Keel sat at the large stone table with Tark, Commander Korom, King Bor, Medical Commander Oris, Paru, and Lady Lilly. They were making the final preparations before they all left for the command vessel to meet with the Humans that would arrive tomorrow.
Bor had already spoken to the leader of this delegation, a male named Logan Hunter, and all that was left was to decide on a few final details.
“I think it would be a good idea to bring up the immigration plan you had,” Lady Lilly said, smiling at her mate. She had one hand on her belly, now showing the life growing inside her, and her other hand rested on Bor’s leg.
“I think so too, my love,” The king said, returning her smile.
“What of the Decagon?” Commander Korom asked, sitting forward, “Have they made their decision yet?”
Bor nodded, “They have. Even though Earth and its people are still primitive by their standards, they have agreed to count them as one of the planets in the alliance. Earth will have all the support it needs from the Decagon in the future.”
“Will a council be formed?” Tark asked.
“What council?” Lilly frowned.
“Each planet under Decagon rule must be overseen by one. Either a ruler, like here, or a single ruling council with a high chancellor at the head.”
“So you want Earth to unite under one ruling council?” The shock in her voice made all the males frown.
“Yes,” Bor said, “If they wish to advance beside the rest of the Decagon, they will have to.”
Lady Lilly shook her head, “Good luck with that.”
“You do not think it will be possible?” Keel asked, getting his mind back on the tasks at hand.
She met his eyes, “I think it will be a lot harder than anyone thinks. Earth has a history of being divided. I know the attack by the Spinners may have changed a lot of people’s minds, but I still think it will be hard to get all the countries to unite under one flag.”
“That is a problem for the Humans to decide on,” Bor grumbled, “They will be here tomorrow and they will be told the rules and requirements they will have to adhere to if they wish to benefit from the vast wealth, technology and resources of the Decagon.”
“I get that,” Lilly sighed, “I just don’t think it will be easy. I hope my race will be able to pull its head out of its own ass long enough to see the benefits of moving forward with the Decagon.”
Bor grunted a laugh and Keel and Tark both tried to hide their smiles.
Korom grinned, “The human expressions never cease to humor me.”
Lilly smiled. “You should hear Rose go off on one of her rants. That woman has some creative language.”
Tark smiled wide, “Yes she does. I have heard some of it myself.”
“How are things with the two of you?”
“Very well, my Lady. Rose has agreed to mate with me. We will be planning our ceremony after the delegation leaves. My mother is very excited.”
“I bet she is. Has she gone home yet?”
“Yes. She returned home this morning. With Domis and his males no longer a threat, it is safe at the lake house again. Also, Biltor seems to be very concerned with her safety.”
Keel met his brother’s eyes and the two of them exchanged a knowing look. Their mother, Mayla, lived alone in their childhood home. Their father had passed away many years ago, but now there seemed to be this new male in her life.
Neither of them liked the idea of their mother mating with Biltor, but as Rose pointed out to them, it wasn’t their choice. They could only support their mother in whatever she decides to do.
“Any news on Rose’s agent? Have they found her and her mate yet?”
Tark’s yellow eyes flashed with anger. “No. They have not been seen in almost a week now. The RPK is searching, but so far have found no trace of them. They believe that they may have been targeted by Domis and could be already dead. Until either their bodies are found or they turn up alive, we cannot know for sure.”
“How is Rose taking it?” Lilly asked, her eyes filled with worry for her sister.
“Not well. She is still having nightmares that include Arusa being found dead. I am doing what I can, but…”
“Just be there for her, Tark,” Lilly said, “That’s all she needs. Just to know that you are there for her. There is nothing that soothes the mind more than being in the arms of the man you love and trust to keep you safe. It will get easier, I promise.”
Bor smiled at his mate, his glowing green eyes alight with love and pride.
“Thank you, my Lady. That is one thing she can always count on, I swear it to you.”
“Speaking of my sisters, where is Tulip? Didn’t she say she would be here for this?” Her question was directed at Commander Korom.
He grinned, his cheeks growing a darker shade of pink.
Clearing his throat, he sat forward and said, “She is in our apartment, my Lady… Resting.”
One brow lifted on Lilly’s face. “Oh? Why would she need to rest? Is she okay?”
Bor chuckled, making all the males in the room smile.
Korom stumbled over his words, trying to answer her question while not offending the Lady of Toria. “Well, she and I… we had a late night.”
“We all have late nights on this planet,” She shot her mate a knowing look, “What’s new. But for her to still be in bed at this time of the day isn’t like her.”
“My love,” Bor said, taking her hand into his and giving it a soft kiss, “Miasm males are… how can I say this… They are capable of being with a female in two states… Solid and mist.”
Lilly’s eyes went wide, “Are you telling me that the two of them were at it all night in both forms?” Her mouth hung open for a moment, “How does that even work?”
Bor raised a brow, “Do you really want the details?”
She shook her head, “No! Never mind. It’s bad enough my imagination is trying to figure it out, I don’t need a play by play.”
They all laughed as Lady Lilly shuddered, before the conversation returned to the topic on the agenda.
“Tark, have you mapped the route the delegation will take on their tour of the planet?”
“Yes,” Tark said, sitting up and swiping a hand over the table in front of him. The large holograph in the center of the table came to life and the sphere of Toria glowed brightly in the center. A red line began to move over the image, with larger red dots to mark all the stops that will be made on the tour.
“Very good,” Bor said, studying the map before he turned to his brother, Paru. “What about you, brother? Do you know what you wish to speak to them about?”
Paru nodded, “I do. Earth and some of the other planets in its solar system are rich in rare elements. I would like to plant the idea of a future trade agreement. Of course, that will only be possible if Earth will be willing to unite under one rule.”
“Let’s see what Logan says tomorrow,” Lady Lilly said, the humor gone from her voice, “He seems to be the guy in charge back home. At least he is in America. I don’t know about the other countries... Or even what’s left of them.”
“We will have all that information tomorrow, little mate,” Bor assured her, “Lower Commander Murso has been keeping track of the survivors and we should have a more accurate count on how many are left and where.”
Lilly gave him a sad smile, her eyes filling with tears at the thoughts of all the deaths on her home planet. It was a sensitive topic for the Lady of Toria. As a healer, it was hard for her to know that so many people died.
“Keel,” Bor continued, changing the topic, “Has accommodation been arranged for the delegation once we come to the surface?”
“Yes, my Lord. The six humans have rooms assigned to them in the west wing of the Keep. It is easily guarded to keep them safe as well as to make sure none leave at night. As this is the first visit by this delegation, it is best to keep an eye on them.”
“You think they will try something?” Lilly asked.
Keel shrugged, “We will not know until we meet them, my Lady. It has happened before that a delegation came to the Keep and tried to assassinate the Royal family. It is best to be safe.”
Oris spoke next. “I have everything ready for the six humans, my Lord. Translator injections, wide spectrum antiviral injections, as well as a fully equipped medical room in the West wing. As soon as they land I will be ready.”
“Very good. My mother and Stala have gone to the country house. They will stay there until the humans leave, just to be safe. Freyna and Mala are with her. I think it’s best that this first meeting is kept to business only.”
“Yes, my Lord,” They all said, giving him a small bow.
With a long sigh, Bor stood and helped Lilly get to her feet. “Now, I don’t know about the rest of you, but my mate needs to eat. Shuttle leaves in an hour.”
Lilly turned to glare up at him. “I’m not a child, you big oaf! I’m just growing one inside me. I know when to eat, I don’t need to be told.”
Bor smirked at her, his eyes dancing with joy. “Are you not hungry, my little mate?”
Lilly narrowed her eyes at him. “Yeah, I’m starving, but that’s not the point!”
“Then what is, my love?”
Lilly crossed her arms over her chest. “The point is that… I’m… Oh, whatever, just get me some food! This child is going to drive me crazy with its cravings.”
Bor chuckled, “Yes, my Lady, anything you wish. What will it be today?”
Lilly bit her lip, “Gomo cakes?”
“Again? You had five for breakfast.”
Lilly’s smile fell and her eyes turned into thin slits as she snarled at Bor. Actually snarled at the King.
“You got a problem with that?”
Keel smiled as he watched his king try to hide a grin.
“Not at all.” Bor said, gently ushering her towards the door.
“Good. Because I will eat whatever I want, got it? I’m the one who has to carry this huge Torian baby inside me, only to push it out of my…”
The rest of her words faded away as the two of them left the room and the door closed behind them.
Everyone chuckled at the display, even though Keel’s heart hurt. He wanted that with a female too. But not just any female. Thoughts of Violet swollen with his child flashed in his mind. She would look so beautiful. If only he could give in to both of their desires.
“Rose warned me of pregnancy hormones,” Tark chuckled.
Oris stood, a sad, distant look in his eyes “Yes, indeed. A true gift from the Great God,” He mumbled before he turned and left the room. Keel felt sorry for the male. Oris and his mate, Lika, had tried for years to conceive a child, but the Great God had not yet blessed them in such a way.
Paru and Korom stood next, both smiling as they walked out, chatting about the upcoming meeting.
When it was just Keel and Tark left in the room, Tark stood and came over to Keel.
“What is it, brother?” Tark asked, sitting on the edge of the stone table beside him.
Keel frowned, meeting his brother’s eyes. “What do you mean?”
One brow rose as he pinned Keel with an intense stare. “I’ve known you my whole life, little brother. I can tell when something is weighing on you. Tell me, perhaps I can help.”
Keel sighed, easing back in his chair. “It’s Violet.”
Tark nodded, “What happened?”
“She gave me an ultimatum this morning. Either I claim her as mine, or… Or she will find another male to mate with.”
Tark shook his head, a small grin pulling at his lips. Keel frowned deeper, his eyes flashing with anger.
“You find that amusing?”
Tark shook his head, “Not at all. Honestly, I thought the two of you would have done it months ago. What is holding you back?”
“She’s so young, Tark. Far too young to mate with.”
“Maybe on Toria. But Humans age differently, you know this.”
“I do… I know, but…” He sighed again.
“Keel,” Tark stood and placed a hand on his brother’s shoulder, “You know that I want you to find the kind of happiness I have with Rose. what Bor has with Lilly, and Korom with Tulip. Violet is that happiness for you, brother. We all see it. Hell, we saw it from the first day she woke up in the medical suite on the command vessel. Don’t let her slip through your fingers because you are holding so tightly onto a belief that has nothing to do with her.”
Keel stayed quiet for a moment, wrestling with the idea of telling his brother the truth. Finally, he let out a long breath and said, “I’m already hers, Tark. In every way. There will never be another female I love like I do Violet. But… But what if she changes her mind one day? Humans don’t have a mating call like Torian’s. They can leave us at any moment. I don’t think-”
“Do you not think that Bor, Korom, and I fear the same thing?”
Keel thought about that for a moment. His brother was right. Lilly, Tulip, and Rose didn’t have a mating call to bond them to their males. With the exception of Tulip, who was now part Miasm, the females could leave and find another male without the agony of breaking a mating bond.
“How do you deal with it? Knowing that Rose could wake up one morning and no longer love you?”
Tark patted his shoulder, “I wake up each day and remind her why she loves me. I show her how important she is to me. I give her everything I am, and pray to the Great God of Creation that it will be enough. But, the thing is, brother, I know she loves me. We have our ups and downs, as she calls them, but at the end of each night, we go to bed and there is no doubt in my mind of her feelings for me. It’s called having faith, little brother. Faith that the female you love and cherish with your whole being, feels the same way about you.”
“But how do you know she does?”
“Rose and I are different. Each mated pair is. But, I can tell you with certainty, Violet’s heart only wants one male. You.”
Keel nodded, taking in his brother’s words. Maybe he was right. Maybe he was overthinking all of this. His greatest fear was that Violet would grow up and find that she doesn’t love him like she thought. But as a Torian male, it was up to him to prove to his mate that he was worth her love. Like Tark said, waking up every morning and showing her why she gave her heart to him was something keel would be more than happy to do.
The decision snapped into place like a rubber band. A huge weight lifted off his chest and he smiled.
“Alright.” He said, getting to his feet with a smile.
Tark raised a brow, “Alright?”
“I’m done waiting. I knew that female was going to be my mate from the moment I met her. I’ve waited two years… I’m not waiting any longer. As soon as we return from the command vessel, I will claim my mate once and for all.”
Tark grinned wide, slapping him on the arm. “Alright, brother! I’m happy for you. But we best hurry. The shuttle leaves in half an hour.”
Keel shook his head, “I told Violet I would collect her from the academy and bring her home. I will join you on the command vessel later.”
Tark nodded. “Very well.”
With that, they both left the meeting room. Tark headed towards his and Rose’s room, and Keel rushed towards the parking area beside the Keep.
Violet would be finished with her lesson’s soon and he wanted to be there waiting for her when she came out. Maybe he would even let her drive today. He’d been teaching her how to operate the Air-Bike for the last few months, and she was getting rather good at it.
Keel exited the Keep with a light spring in his step. He was smiling as he thought about the decision he had made.
Rounding the corner to the main parking area of the Keep, Keel frowned as he scanned the shuttles and other vehicles parked in neat rows.
Where was his bike? He always parked in the same place. All the staff and residents of the Keep knew where he parked and they made sure it was always available for him.
But the spot was empty. Anger erupted inside Keel like a volcano.
Someone had stolen his bike. From right in front of the Keep, of all places. It was worrisome to think that a thief managed to get this close to the residential part of the Keep without being noticed, then steal a craft and leave with it.
But to Keel, his anger came from somewhere else. There wasn’t much Keel owned in his life. He lived at the Keep, where everything he needed was provided for him by Bor. If he needed to get away, he went to his mothers lake house for a few days. If he needed a shuttle, he took one of the Keep’s shuttles.
But the Air-bike had been a very expensive gift to himself. It was the only thing of value he owned. And he loved that bike.
Growling to himself, Keel reached for the small data pad in his thigh pocket. Whoever this thief was, they would not get away with this.
As his only possession, Keel had made sure it had the latest tracking system.
Pressing the locate button, he waited as the map zeroed in on his bike. Grinning, he saw the small craft rushing through the city at a great speed.
“Oh no you don’t,” He mumbled to himself, “You might be fast, but I’m faster.”
With that, he spun and ran over to one of the smaller, emergency response shuttles belonging to the Keep. They were small, sleek, and incredibly fast.
Without waiting, he climbed in and activated it. As a captain in the Royal Elite Warriors unit, he had access to every craft owned or used by the King and his warriors.
He lifted into the air and raced forward, towards where the thief was trying to get away with his bike.