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Kiraling – Part 34 (Chapter 279-287)

Written by anonxyzus :: [Thursday, 09 May 2024 22:38] Last updated by :: [Saturday, 11 May 2024 14:52]

­ Chapter 279

Xara aced her Winter Quarter finals, as usual. Since coming back from Xanadu, she had decided to take a more relaxed workload. That meant 12 to 15 credits a quarter rather than the 18 to 21 credits she had been taking. So we spent more time together.

I had been trying to convince Kara that there may be Arion activity going on in a Central American country based on the number of gang deaths that had taken place in one of them. She had dismissed them as the usual cartel warfare in that part of the world and the DEA, while noting an uptick in violence involving the cartels, didn’t seem too surprised by it.

I had hoped that if the violence continued, I would be able to talk Kara into looking into it. But the violence did not continue. If gang disputes were responsible for the violence, either one gang had won, or they found a way to settle their disputes in a less bloody fashion. Kara’s opinion was that if the Arions were down there killing people, they would not have stopped. None of the other Velorians disagreed with her, nor did Gloria and Mona. So, reluctantly, I dropped it.

About this time Sharon seemed to be happier. She wasn’t showing up at my home looking for a shoulder to cry on as often. Or, more precisely, a Kiraling to have angry sex with. I could only surmise that her love triangle, her, Colonel Moore, and Deb, had smoothed out. I didn’t ask her outright; I didn’t want to spoil her mood. But I also noticed that Colonel Moore seemed friendlier and happier in our regular calls. And at a charity dinner and fundraiser Kara held at her home, Deb was quite civil with me, and every other man she interacted with. (More about that charity event later.)

Unfortunately, this turned out to be more like a temporary cease fire than, “peace in our time,” but the reduction in drama was good while it lasted.

Most college students want to spend their spring break somewhere warm, or at least that is the stereotype. Which brings up the question, where do kids going to school at Florida State University, or the University of Miami go for spring break? Xara, looking forward to the day we would have what she called a “space habitat” wanted to put me in one of my Kelsorian space suits, pack me up in a pod and take me to extreme environments to discover and solve possible potential problems without me dying in the process.

She wanted the Kelsorians to design and build an unpowered ‘vessel’ that she could use to take me to the moon or Mars, or to see the rings of Saturn. She said our latest delivery of cats to the Fesussians left us with enough Enlightenment money to afford it. Dixon and Johnson wondered if the Fesussians would ever figure out how easy it is to breed cats. But back to the space habitat …

“Darling, we should try to anticipate problems that might come up if we are far away from earth. Since we can’t really simulate the moon or Mars, we should try to find places here on Terra that would present us with various threats to overcome.”

By ‘present us with threats,’ she meant threats to me. She would do all the overcoming.

She wanted to take me to the summit of Mt. Everest, but March is when the expedition season starts. She’d considered taking me there before, but with the high winds during the ‘off’ season, she didn’t think it would be too much fun for me. But now fun was off the table, it was about making sure I could survive in extreme conditions. More to the point, making sure she could keep me alive in extreme conditions. So she decided to put Everest off until July.

In fact, with March being the month of the Spring Equinox, a lot of the more extreme places on the planet were less extreme. For example, during March temperatures at the south pole could be as warm as 30° Fahrenheit. Even Death Valley and the Sonoran Desert were downright balmy in March.

She gave up looking when she saw that the Gobi Desert got barely below 0° Fahrenheit in March. I felt like I had dodged a bullet.

Now, about that charity fundraiser. Kara had a date. He was Peter Jackson, the son of Senator Jackson, and was in his late 40’s or early 50’s.

She didn’t introduce him as her date, but it was obvious. When they were together, they were a couple. This caused the Supremis who were present (all of them were present) to begin speculating. And me too.

“Xara, is your mom dating this guy? Did you know about him?” I asked.

“She hasn’t said a word to me. And it sure looks like he is her date.”

When the event ended, and the guests had left, leaving only me, Deb and the Supremis, Mona asked Kara about him.

“This man who was with you tonight, Peter, is he Mr. Right, or Mr. Right now?”

“He isn’t either,” she said. “He had business that brought him to California and since he was going to be here, I invited him as my guest.”

“Mom, how did you meet him? Have you seen him socially before this?”

“I met him on one of my visits with Senator Jackson.”

Senator Jackson was in very poor health, and Kara considered him a friend, and she made frequent trips to the D.C. area to visit him and his wife.

“Uh huh,” replied Xara, “that answers my first question. Have you been going out with him?”

“I have,” she said. “We were talking one day, when I was visiting his father, and we discovered that we had both lost our spouses. His wife and children died in a traffic accident a few years ago.”

Gloria decided to get right to the point.

“Have you bedded him?”

“We’ve been intimate,” said Kara.

“Give us the details,” said Bri-an.

Kara, seeming a little flustered, said, “I’ll keep those details private.”

Wait! What? She and the other ladies get to grill me and Xara about our sex lives and she won’t talk to us about hers? That seemed like a double standard.

“Wait! What? You and Sharon and Mona and Gloria grilled me and Xara about the first time we were ‘intimate’ and now you think you deserve some privacy? Give me a break! This is a double standard!”

“You tell her Ricci,” said Johnson.

“I wanna hear all about it,” said Dixon.

“Joe has a point, Kara. Why are you being so coy about this?” asked Sharon.

“He’s a very nice man,” said Kara. “Kind and gentle, and I want to take things slow with him.”

“Sure as fuck he don’t wanna take things slow with her,” said Dixon.

“Take it slow with him, mom? What does that mean?”

“It means I’m approaching sex with him the way a Terran woman would.”

Dixon, Johnson and I wondered how she would know how a Terran woman approaches sex.

“Maybe she reads romantic novels,” speculated Johnson.

“Or maybe she watches the Hallmark channel,” suggested Dixon.

Xara got right to the point.

“What exactly does that mean, mom?”

“It means I’m letting him take the lead.”

“It means she isn’t using pheromones,” said Sharon. “I bet she also lets him be on top all the time.”

“Yes, to both,” said Kara.

The Supremis ladies just looked at her. Sharon was even tapping her toe, waiting for Kara to say more.

“Losing his wife and children hurt him very badly,” said Kara. “He’s very vulnerable and I don’t want to frighten him by being too aggressive. I don’t want to scare him away.”

“We don’t scare away the men we like,” said Sharon. “They are drawn to us like moths to a flame.”

“Do you think you could have a long term relationship with him?” asked Xara.

“Maybe. I don’t know. I don’t want to rush into things,” replied Kara.

Xara walked up to her, put her arms around her and hugged her. Both their breasts were compressed. If I’d been in that hug I would have been crushed to paste.

“Oh mom, I hope it works out for you. I know you’ve been lonely since Eric died. And if it doesn’t, don’t hesitate to put yourself out there again and look for someone who can make you happy.”

“Like mother like daughter,” said Sharon. “First Kara with Eric, then Xara with Joe, and now Kara with Peter. You’ve both gone native. No offense, Joe.”

“None taken,” I lied.

Deb had been silent throughout this discussion. She doesn’t like men, and in the past had no problem making that known, but she didn’t say anything snarky, or frown or roll her eyes during any of this. Until Sharon threw out that “no offense, Joe.” She winked at me and rolled her eyes at Sharon. I nodded back.

I crawled into a pod and Xara sealed it and flew us back to Bellingham, entering our house through the lake entrance in the lair. We came upstairs and I glanced out the glass door to the deck, and there was a Messenger standing on it.

“That’s strange,” said Xara, “they usually make contact with mom.” She went to the door and let him in.

He told Xara he had a message, from Velor, for her. He handed her one of those crystals they use for this sort of thing and turned to leave. Xara invited him to stay, but he declined, saying he had a schedule to keep.

Xara was visibly disappointed. I wasn’t, but she was. Her P1 enhanced eyes followed him for about two minutes after he was out of sight to me, then she went down to the lair to read the crystal.

The message on the crystal was addressed to her but was also meant for Kara and Sharon. It said a Velorian psychologist was on her way to Terra, via a Kelsorian ship, and would be here in a couple of weeks. She wanted to interview Kara, Sharon, Xara and myself about our Kiraling relationship, with special emphasis on investigating the dynamics of a Terran Kiraling married to his Kiraling mate.

“Well,” said Xara, “I guess she’ll be here soon. Since she’s traveling on a Kelsorian ship, we should be able to get a message to Kelsor about the space habitat.”

“Why is she traveling on a Kelsorian ship? Why couldn’t she get here under her own power?” I asked.

“Velorian psychologists are not P1s,” she replied. “They are usually Matras, or maybe even Bravas. They don’t have the training to navigate worm holes, and even if they did, they may not have the strength to reach the required velocity to do so.”

“What do you suppose he’ll want to know?”

“The psychologist will likely be a woman, Joe. And I have no idea what she’ll want to know. I’m going to call mom and let her know and ask her to let Sharon know too.”


Janelle purchased a weekend stay at the area's finest hotel for Miguel and Jaunita as a gift and reward for Miguel's hard work. All expenses paid.

The two oldest of Miguel’s girls were sleeping over with friends. The three younger girls were staying with Janelle at her apartment, and they were all having a great time. Baby Janelle, who was walking now, was sitting in her lap while one of the older girls was painting the toes of her (adult Janelle’s) right foot and the other was painting the toes of her left foot.  Prior to this they had been applying makeup to Janelle’s face.

Janelle had nail polish, but not makeup. So, to humor the girls, after Miguel dropped them off, they went down the street to a local store and bought some. They also bought several different colors of nail polish. By the time they were finished Janelle had ten fingers and ten toes painted six different colors.

With the makeup on, Janelle looked ridiculous. But the girls were having fun, and they made her laugh.

Janelle loved the girls, and they loved their ‘Aunt Janelle’ back.

Bedtime for the girls was 8pm, and when that came along, she put them in bed in her spare room, all three of them together, wearing their cute little jammies. Janelle had just finished reading a story to them and they were all fast asleep when someone knocked on her door.

Janelle looked through the walls and saw two frails at her door holding pistols with silencers. She looked at the girls, all asleep, then looked through the walls at the two frails again and started to panic. If she waited too long, they would knock harder, or break the door down or shoot off the locks. If she opened the door there was a chance that one of them would get a shot off before she killed them. Even silenced pistols make noise. Or maybe one of them would manage to scream as she crushed the life out of it.

Baby Janelle usually had a very sweet disposition, but Janelle knew from experience that she could be a little hellion if startled awake by a loud noise. Her cries would wake up her sisters, and then she’d have to calm the baby down, then read to them again, and only Skietra knew how long it would take to get them all back to sleep! And then she’d have to dispose of the bodies!

And in the morning, a baby Janelle who didn’t get enough sleep was no fun to be around at all. Janelle knew that from experience too.

No, these frails would not be allowed to wake the children!

She looked out the window, there was no one on the street. She opened the window and jumped down to the street, then went through the entrance to her building and ran up the stairs as silent as a cat. She came up behind the two men, grabbed a neck in each hand and squeezed. The men died instantly, and she lowered them quietly to the floor.

She quickly scanned her environs, there was no one out and about for at least three blocks. She checked the men’s pockets and retrieved their wallets. She picked the bodies up, one over each shoulder, and made her way outside to a dumpster in an alley two blocks away and threw the men in. She quickly returned to her building and jumped up to her open window and climbed back into her apartment and was relieved to find the girls still asleep. She shuddered to think what her night would have been like if the two stupid frails had been allowed to wake the children.

Both men had id in their wallets. They were from the neighboring country where the cartel who had sent assassins for her was located. She just shook her head. These frails never learned their lesson.

Monday afternoon the neighborhood was abuzz with the news that two armed men had been found, necks broken, in a dumpster. By Tuesday morning the police had identified the bodies using their fingerprints and Tuesday afternoon the police chief paid Janelle a visit. A car with foreign license plates had been found parked in front of her building and fingerprints found in and on the car matched the two dead men. They both had extensive criminal records.

The police chief asked Janelle if she had noticed anything suspicious. Janelle said no, and the chief thanked her for her time and left, not at all convinced that Janelle knew nothing about the car or the men. But he strongly believed nothing good would come from pressing her on the matter, so he kept his suspicions to himself.

Chapter 280

When it rains, it pours. The Scalantrans weren’t the only ones who knew that trick of causing localized storms to help disguise their ships or shuttles. The Kelsorians knew it to.

We were expecting the Kelsorians to deliver a Velorian psychologist, and maybe have someone Xara could talk to about a space habitat. And we were right about that. What we didn’t know was that someone on Xanadu who knew the Kelsorians were coming our way convinced them to make a side trip.

Kara later explained that Messengers talked to each other, and it was likely that one Messenger told another Messenger about the psychologist traveling on a Kelsorian ship to Terra, and that second Messenger who talked to another Messenger who eventually told someone at the Velorian embassy on Xanadu and … you get the idea. Somehow via the Messenger phone tree the Xanadusians found out and prepared a shipment for us. That’s why Xara got the message instead of Kara: The Kelsorian’s were coming to us to deliver their cargo.

They sent us clothing; beautiful, handmade clothing and food. Lots of food including their incredible pastries. And it was all fresh. How? Stasis chambers or boxes or lockers or whatever they were called. Food could be put piping hot into a stasis locker and come out still hot. Or frozen and it would come out frozen.

The captain of the Kelsorian vessel said he rendezvoused with a Scalantran vessel that had been contracted to meet them to transfer the goods from their ship to the Kelsorian ship. This saved time and was politically expedient. Time, because the Kelsorian ship didn’t have to travel all the way to Xanadu, and political, because Xanadu was not a member of The Enlightenment and would therefore not be a place where a Kelsorian ship would conduct business. The Scalantrans didn’t care about that, so they were happy to deliver the goods to the Kelsorians, for a fee.

There was way more food than Xara and I could eat, and we didn’t have stasis lockers to store it in. But that was really no problem. Just a call to our Supremis friends and the food would be consumed in no time.

The clothing was beautiful, but not really something that a Terran would normally wear. This Terran didn’t care. There were warm winter hats and coats, very high quality, and I was going to wear them.

They didn’t send any warm clothing for Xara; they knew the cold didn’t bother her. So they made her gowns instead. Xara loved them.

The psychologist was a beautiful woman of the Matra caste. Her name was Shira. She wasn’t as tall as a P1, but she was as tall as me. She had the same beautiful blue eyes and blonde hair that all Velorians have. And she was pleasantly surprised to discover that I speak Velorian.

We didn’t know if Kara had made any decision about where she would be staying, so after introducing themselves to each other, including breast squeezes, Xara had me show her to one of the guest bedrooms while she talked to a Kelsorian about what she wanted in a space habitat.

She was wearing a bulky, loose jump suit. At least two, maybe three sizes too big. I’d never seen a Velorian dressed like that before.

“You aren’t wearing gold,” I observed. “Do you spend a lot of time off Velor?”

“Yes,” she replied. “I have been assigned to several Velorian embassies in my career.”

“Oh, were you assigned to Xanadu?”

“No, not there.” She looked at the food and the clothing and said, “You must have made quite an impression on them.”

“They made quite an impression on us,” I replied. “They are a very kind people.

“May I ask about your clothing? I’ve never seen a Velorian dressed this way before. Is that how you usually dress on Velor?”

She started to laugh, then put her hand over her mouth.

“I’m sorry, it is rude to laugh. But to answer your question, the captain of the ship insisted I dress this way to be less of a distraction to his crew. Most of them had never seen a Velorian before. I have more suitable clothing in my luggage.

“I would like to speak to the senior Planetary Protector. Is that something you can arrange? You are her Kiraling, yes?”

“Yes, I’m her Kiraling. Xara will let her know you’re here. I’m sure she will be here shortly.”

“Will I be staying here or has the Planetary Protector made other arrangements?”

“I don’t know. I’m sure she’ll let you know, or Xara will after she’s finished with the Kelsorians.”

“What is she talking to them about?”

“She wants them to construct a space habitat that she can use to ferry me through our solar system, to show me the sights, so to speak.”

“You are also Xara’s Kiraling? And her husband?”

“Yes, to both.”

“Did you ask her, as Kiraling, to procure this space habitat for you?”

“No, that was all her idea. It never would have occurred to me.”

I had more questions for her, but Kara had arrived through the lake entrance and came upstairs and found us.

“Kara, this is Shira. Shira, this is Kara, Planetary Protector, Xara’s mother and my mother-in-law.”

They grabbed each other’s breasts.

“Shira,” said Kara, “I have a room for you at my home. Do you have a flight suit?”

“I do,” she replied. “But I have other clothing and tablets that I’ll need to carry with me.”

“Xara has captured Arion pods here. I’m sure she’ll lend us one.”

“Oh, you’ve captured Arion equipment?”

“Yes,” replied Kara. “We’ve gotten into the habit of scavenging their ships for whatever may be of use to us before we destroy them.”

So Kara and Shira fetched her luggage, put it into a pod, and after saying goodbye to me and Xara left through the lake entrance.

“She seems nice,” I said.

“Yes,” replied Xara. “It will be interesting to hear about her research. Want to hear about the space habitat?”

“I do!”

“They can build the habitat for a price we can afford. It will have power, but no engines. I’ll provide the propulsion.”

“What will the power source be?”

“Me! They have high capacity thermoelectric generators that convert heat to electricity to charge power cells. We’ll convert my heat vision to stored energy!”

“That sounds cool. Tell me more.”

“A partitioned stasis chamber. So we’ll be able to store food and keep it fresh for as long as we need. And in case of emergency, you can be put into stasis.”

“I don’t want to be put into stasis.”

“It’s only for an emergency, Joe. And it will give me peace of mind knowing that if something happens, I can keep you safe until I can get you back to Terra.”

“So you don’t see me in it on any kind of regular basis?”

“No. And if I did, Gloria would tear me a new one if she found out.”

She meant that metaphorically, of course. Gloria is not a threat to her. No one is. Nothing is.

“What about air?”

“We’ll carry oxygen and nitrogen tanks, but we’ll only need those to replace any gases that escape while we are entering and leaving the habitat and to maintain a Terra like ratio of Nitrogen to Oxygen. We’ll have a Kelsorian catalytic converter that will separate the oxygen from the CO2 you exhale.

“And your urine and feces will be processed to reclaim water, and the air will circulate through a dehumidifier that will remove the moisture you exhale.”

“I’ll be drinking pee and poop water?”

“You’ve done it before. On the Kelsorian ship that brought us home.”

“Yeah, but that was different.”

“How was it different?”

“I didn’t know I was drinking pee and poop water. Now I will know.”

“You know that if our house goes into lockdown, it will automatically start reclaiming water from your waste, right?”

“I hadn’t really thought about it.”

“Do you want to hear more about the habitat, or do you want to keep talking about reclaimed piss?”

“Tell me more about the habitat.”

“Well, there will be a couple of water tanks.”

“Oh good. So I won’t have to save up pee and poop to prime the system.”

“No. Do you really want to keep talking about your crap?”

“No. Tell me more about it.”

“There will be an airlock for getting pods into and out of it and there will be an airlock for you and me to exit and enter through.”

“Why do we need two?”

“The pod airlock will be a custom fit, so there will be almost no gas lost when we use it. It would be too tight for the two of us, so we’ll have another airlock to use.

“Since I will be providing the propulsion there will be grip bars in several places around the outer hull and inside between the living space and the inner hull. Inside I’ll be able to slide panels back to get access to the inner grip bars.”

“Wait, so you’ll be able to provide propulsion from inside? That doesn’t seem right.”

“I don’t work like a rocket motor, Joe.”


“There will be a bed, of course, and some exercise equipment for you to use.”

“What about gravity?”

“It will have artificial gravity, just like the ships we were on to and from Xanadu, but because of its power limitations it won’t handle more than ten Gs, and that for only a short time, and then the safeties would cut it off. It can handle 3 Gs sustained.”

“How much can I handle?”

“That’s something we should test, but I wouldn’t expect you to handle more than 7 Gs, peak. Maybe 6 Gs for a short period. And it would be very uncomfortable for you. The habitat will have an acceleration couch for that.  And I’ll be keeping tabs on you, I won’t subject you to forces you can’t handle.

“There will be stations for cooking and laundry, and a charging station for Rosey.”

“We’ll take Rosey with us?”

“No, we’ll have a new one dedicated to the habitat.”

“What about toilet paper?”

“Uh, I hadn’t thought about that.”

“Will the Kelsorians?”

“I hope so. We should make a list. Toilet paper … Joe, that never would have occurred to me.”

“You know, Xara, we can buy our own.”

“Yes, but I have no idea how much we’ll need.”

“You mean how much I’ll need.”


We buy toilet paper at Costco, and since I’m the only one who needs it, we don’t buy it very often.

“I’ll keep track of how much I use, Xara, and we can use that to estimate how much we’ll need depending on the length of the trip.”

She grinned and said, “And how much roughage is in your diet.” Then she giggled. The blondes try to be polite about it, but when the topic of Terran bathroom habits comes up, pooping always makes them giggle.

“Where will we store the habitat when it’s not in use?”

“I haven’t figured that out yet. The Central Basin of Puget Sound has a depth of 930 feet, but that’s near the Kingston – Edmonds ferry route. And the navy uses that area for deep water testing.

“I could ask mom to talk to the Shuar about it. Maybe they’ll let us use the Cueva de los Tayos.”

“Will it have a cloak?”

“Yes. Nothing that would hide us from an Kelsorian Cruiser with a full sensor suite, but good enough to keep anything developed on this planet from detecting it.”

“What happens next?”

“The Kelsorians will get back to us with some drawings, a feature list and pricing. Then we can look it over and submit changes, that kind of thing.”

“So we won’t have it anytime soon?”

“No, we won’t. But be patient darling, when it comes, I’ll be able to take you deeper into space than we’ve ever gone before.”

This isn’t something I’m dying to do. She wants to take me into space as a way to share with me the life she has. And if that makes her happy, then I’m more than happy to go along with it.

Chapter 281

I was in a meeting in D.C. with Colonel Moore, Kara and the FBI. And someone from Homeland Security. They hadn’t found anyone who is a good candidate for being the Arion we call “The Doctor.” That doesn’t mean there are no candidates. Just no good ones.

The FBI gave us three files of three female doctors who had all transitioned from their medical practice into local politics. From their pictures it looked like two of them were middle aged. One looked like she was in her late sixties. Kara looked at their files and their pictures and said none of them were Arions.

The FBI pushed back. They’d never seen an Arion before, they didn’t know what to look for. Kara stood up and walked around the room and said, “An Arion woman would look like me. Her true hair color would be black, but otherwise she would look like a young woman.”

One of the FBI women suggested they may use makeup to look older. Kara said maybe, but Arion Prime women would be too vain to do so. The FBI wasn’t convinced. So Kara agreed to check the women out in person. Well, not all of them. She had Bri-an and Juliet help. They each checked one of the women.

All three were under constant surveillance by the FBI so their locations were always known. Kara said, privately to me, that alone was a clue the women weren’t Arions. An Arion agent would not tolerate being under surveillance by Terrans. Someone would have died. The FBI told Kara where the women would be at what time and the Blondes just showed up at a convenient time to check them out. They finished in one morning and Kara told the FBI she had confirmed none of them were Arions. And she told them, in gentle terms, what could have happened to members of their surveillance teams if one of the women had been an Arion.

So the next question was where to go from here. And the answer was to move the search to Canada. The Canadians, at a high level, knew about Arions and Velorians, but the knowledge didn’t go very deep at all. That meant most of their law enforcement and security apparatus was in the dark. The FBI and Homeland Security thought they could work through their contacts, but it would take time.

Kara looked around the room and sighed, and then said, “If you think it will help, I’m willing to meet with the Canadians to explain the threat to them.”

“Wouldn’t that mean explaining yourself to them?” asked Colonel Moore.

“Yes,” replied Kara, “and I would hope the Canadians would guard the information closely. It’s a chance I’m willing to take.”

The Homeland Security guy suggested the Canadians come to D.C. for a briefing. Kara countered, suggesting a briefing reinforced with a demonstration at the Dugway Proving Ground in the Great Salt Lake Desert would be a more effective way to get the Canadian’s cooperation.

Colonel Moore said, “I think I can arrange that.”

That ended the meeting. That evening Colonel Moore invited me and Kara to dinner and told me Xara was welcome. So I contacted her in the connection.

“Xara, are you there?”

“Yes darling, how did your meeting go?”

“It went well. Colonel Moore has invited your mom, me and you to dinner. Think you can make it?”

“I’m in the lab until 4:30. Can it be a late dinner?”

Xara was working as a student lab assistant in the Biology department. She didn’t need the money, but her academic advisor said the experience would be helpful, so she agreed to do it. She quickly figured out that the real reason he wanted her in the lab was that he was the teacher, and this let him have more time to ogle her.

“Xara can’t leave campus until 4:30. Can it be a late dinner?” There is a three hour time difference. 4:30 in Bellingham would be 7:30 in Washington D.C.

“Can she be here in time for an 8:30 reservation?” asked Colonel Moore. Of course, Xara heard the question through me.

“Yes, I can. I’ll pack something to wear and will change in your hotel room.”

Xara says she can make it. She’ll meet me at our hotel.

At 8:00 pm I heard a tap at the sliding doors to the balcony of my hotel room. The blondes made room reservations at hotels that had small balconies whenever they were available. I opened the door and Xara floated in, carrying a small Arion pod, about the size of a woman’s purse, a medium sized purse. As I was closing the door behind her, she was taking off her flight suit and pulling a dress out of the pocket of her cape.

Her back was to me, but she saw me watching her in the mirror, and she turned around and asked, “What?”

“I can’t believe I’m married a woman like you. I don’t deserve you, Xara.”

She came to me and put her arms on my shoulders, around my neck and kissed me and said, “You deserve me, darling, and so much more.”

Then she turned around and finished getting dressed. She folded her flight suit up into a little square and opened the Arion pod and pulled out a necklace, a strap and a pair of sandals, then put her flight suit in it and closed the pod.

“Should we put that in the safe?” I asked, gesturing to the pod.

“No need,” she replied. She slid little loops out of the pod and attached the strap to it.

“See, this is my purse for the evening! Now, help me with this necklace.”

She pulled up her hair so I could fasten the clasp of the necklace. Then she turned and kissed me again.

We met Kara in the lobby and walked to the restaurant. It was only six blocks away. Colonel Moore was already there, and we had a table in a back corner. It looked like it had been designed to be private, there were no other tables near us.

“I picked this restaurant and reserved this table so we could speak privately,” said Colonel Moore.

“Well, let’s be sure,” said Kara.

And just then Kara’s phone rang. She answered it without saying hello or anything else, nodded her head and hung up her phone.

“That was Bri-an,” she said. “She scanned he restaurant for snooping devices and looked for anyone suspicious. We can speak openly here.”

“I meant this mostly as a social occasion,” said Colonel Moore. “Do you have something else in mind, Kara?”

“I do,” answered Kara. “I have observed that over time the people in your government and military that I have interacted with become more focused on my beauty and less focused on my power. They see the long legs, the blonde hair, the impressive bust and forget that, if it pleases me to do so, I can end their lives in a fraction of a second.”

The color drained from Colonel Moore’s face.

Kara reached across the table and put her hand over Colonel Moore’s. “I’m sorry, Sarah. That was much too harsh. The point I am trying to make is that your people, the people in your government and military, lose sight of the Arion threat. Closely surveilling suspected Arions is an example of that. I want to refocus their attention.

“I want to put on as spectacular a show of force as I can without endangering anyone. And to accomplish that, you need to arrange as spectacular a show of force against me and Xara as you can.

“Tanks, artillery, high caliber automatic weapons, even a few jets. I want them to try to destroy us, and then we will destroy them.”

“You want to destroy tanks and jets, without anyone getting hurt?” asked Colonel Moore, who was starting to get back her color.

“Yes. They can attack us, and when we have shown that we can’t be harmed, we will play with them, to demonstrate that they are helpless against us. And then we’ll give them a prearranged signal to abandon their weapons, their vehicles, their jets, and we will destroy them in a manner that will make a very strong impression on all who are observing.”

“Oh, mom, that sounds like fun,” said Xara. She was gushing. “Their jets can fire missiles at me, and I’ll let some of them hit me and I’ll just move out of the way of others. Then I’ll chase the jets and let them try to get away from me. Then I’ll signal them to eject, and I’ll fly into an engine. I bet that would make a spectacular explosion!

“Oh, Sarah, tell them to shoot missiles with infrared tracking. I’ll make myself hot, so the missiles chase me. I’ll play tag!”

“You’re serious about this?” asked Colonel Moore, “And you can guarantee that no one will get hurt?”

“I am serious,” said Kara. “And I’ll assign Juliet and Bri-an to protect your people. No one will get hurt.”

“I’ll see what I can arrange,” said Colonel Moore. “And since we’re talking shop, we at the Pentagon have been getting some push-back about Joe here being your liaison with us.”

Kara rolled her eyes … yeah. I’ve never seen her do that before. She rolled her eyes and said, “This again.”

“We’ve been pushing back,” said the Colonel. But State thinks you should be working with them, not the Pentagon, and they want to embed someone in your organization to replace Joe.”

“They want to control both sides of the conversation,” said Kara.

“Yes,” answered the Colonel. “And to be fair, that’s what they think the Pentagon is doing with me and Joe.”

“Seriously, someone thinks I control … anything?” I asked. “Do they know Kara is my mother-in-law?”

“Well,” said Colonel Moore, “that has come up too. State is questioning your loyalties.”

“They question my loyalty? I have fought for my country. I have burned for my country. Get me in a room with them and I’ll take off my shirt and show them what loyalty looks like. No one who hasn’t been up to their armpits in shit and blood and guts has any right to question my loyalty!”

“Calm down, Staff Seargent,” said the Colonel. “We have your back, and your service record speaks for itself. You have a three star General in your corner.”

Xara was sitting next to me. She put her hand on my knee and gently squeezed it and said, in the connection, “You’d think a woman would understand telling someone to calm down doesn’t calm them down.”

I replied, in the connection, “In the Army when an officer tells an enlisted man to calm down, he calms down. Or fakes it.”

Our server came and took our orders. And then Kara steered the conversation towards more mundane subjects. The weather. Cherry blossoms. Colonel Moore’s opinion of the American League East. Until then, I didn’t know the Colonel was an Orioles fan. Evidently, Kara did. I kept my mouth shut. The Mariners were above .500, but it was early in the season and their fans had seen that before, only to have their hopes crushed. So I just listened, and discovered that Kara followed Terran sports. I hadn’t known that.

“It’s not so much the sports,” said Xara in the connection, “it’s the athletes. Their muscles may not be able to do much, but they look good. And their tight butts too.”

For dinner Xara ordered lobster and I had a porterhouse steak. Not my first choice, but Xara had told me in the connection that the steak looked good too. So I ordered it knowing that I couldn’t finish it and Xara would eat what I didn’t. Which is what happened. I also ordered the same dessert she ordered, so she could have two desserts.

After dinner we declined the Colonel’s offer to drive us back to our hotel and we walked instead. I had a beautiful blonde on each arm as we laughed and talked on our way back to the hotel.

A block away from the hotel a man started yelling at us. His speech was garbled, and it was hard to understand him, but he pulled out a knife, basically a steak knife, and came running at us. He was pointing his knife at me, and as he got closer, I could understand him. He wanted our money.

He was about six feet away when Xara stepped towards him and reached out with her index finger and poked him in the stomach. That’s what it looked like, just a little poke. The guy dropped his knife, wrapped his arms around his midsection and fell to the ground. Or almost to the ground. I caught him and let him down easy. He was gasping for breath. Xara had poked him in his solar plexus.

I laid him on his back and gripped him by his belt and pulled him up, then let him down, several times while telling him to breath. I don’t know if that really helped him. I’ve seen it on TV shows where a guy gets hit in the stomach and that’s what is done to help him get his breath back. Again, I don’t know if it helps, but he did recover.

While I was doing that Kara picked up his knife and crumpled it up like it was tin foil and threw it away. I mean, it arced up and away and it was glowing.

The guy got his breath back and he started to cry.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry. Please, I’m so hungry. I just wanted some money so I could get something to eat.”

I helped him to his feet and Kara took him by the hand and said, “Let’s go over to that diner, I’ll buy you dinner.”

There was a diner across the street. We got him into a booth and sat down with him. Xara took a napkin and used it to dry his tears. He stank. Didn’t bother me, I’ve smelled much worse, and Kara and Xara acted like they didn’t notice. There were only a few others in the diner, and they were at the counter.

A waitress came with a menu and Kara, who was sitting next to him, opened it up and asked him what he wanted. He asked for a cheeseburger with fries and a diet coke. Kara waived at the waitress to bring her back and gave her the order, then asked the guy if he liked turkey sandwiches. He said he did, so Kara pointed to the sandwiches on the menu and asked the waitress to have two made to go.

We sat with him while he ate. He told us lost his job working on a loading dock when the company he worked for went out of business. Then, when his unemployment ran out and he couldn’t pay his bills he lost his apartment, and his wife left him with their daughter and moved across the country to live with her parents. The in-laws didn’t like him, they didn’t approve of the marriage, and they’d never met their granddaughter. They let their daughter and granddaughter move in with them under the condition that he didn’t come with them. She took the car.

He'd been living on the streets for three months.

Kara looked at Xara and said, “I need some trust.”

Kara and Xara traded places, and Xara leaned in towards him, very slightly. Then Kara asked him, “Do you use drugs or alcohol?”

He hesitated until Xara told him it was okay to answer.

“No. I stay away from them.”

“Have you ever robbed anyone before tonight, or stolen anything?”

“I stole the knife yesterday. This is the first time I’ve ever tried to rob someone. And I’m sorry.”

“What’s your name?” asked Kara.

“Rod,” he answered.

“Finish your dinner Rod, I’ll be back shortly.”

Kara left the table and stepped outside the diner. Through the window I could see that she took out her phone and called someone. When she came back in, she sat down and scribbled an address on a napkin.

She waited for Rod to finish eating, and to get his sandwiches, then gave him the napkin and said, “Go to this address, to the front desk. It isn’t too far. Tell them Kara sent you. They’ll have a bed and a change of clothes for you, and you can take a shower.

We all stood up to leave, and Rod reached out for Kara and broke down sobbing as she held him close to her.

“Thank you,” he said. “You’re the first person to show me any kindness since I’ve been on the street.”

“You’re welcome, Rod,” she answered. “Now, go to that address, and no more stealing, okay?”


We all left. He went one way, and we went another.

“That was very kind of you” I said.

“Where did you send him, mom?” asked Xara.

“To a shelter.”

“And they have room for him?” I asked.

“They do.”

“Mom, is there more?”

Kara sighed and said, “I donate to shelters. One of them is a men’s shelter near here.”

I hadn’t heard from Johnson or Dixon all night. But after hearing this, Dixon said, “Damn, she must donate a lot if she can call a shelter and tell them to take someone.”

Johnson replied, “Or maybe the shelter just happened to have space. We don’t know. Ricci, ask her.”

“No guys, that would be rude,” said Xara in the connection.

Then Xara asked, “Mom, do you have a lot of pull with them? Can you make a call and tell them to take someone in, and they will?”

“Now who’s being rude,” said Dixon.

“I give a substantial amount of money to them,” replied Kara. “It gives me influence. But they have the autonomy to say no to my referrals.”

“Do you do this a lot?” I asked.

“Sometimes men are too proud to ask for help,” she replied. “Or the people tasked with doing outreach to the homeless are afraid to go into certain areas. It isn’t always safe. So from time to time, I do my own outreach.”

“Can a superwoman go into a dangerous area and not get noticed by the wrong type?” I asked.

“Joseph, I’m always noticed. And I’m always careful about who I approach and where I approach them. Occasionally I must do something like what Xara did. But I have learned from experience that the men who prey on others are always looking for someone weaker than them. As soon as they discover I am not weaker, they retreat.”

My mother-in-law is one impressive woman.

We got back to the hotel and Xara came up to my room.

“I can’t stay tonight, darling. I have an early class and I want to get out of here before sunrise.”

Because it would be unlikely anyone would see her leave.

“But we can make use of this bed for a little bit.”

And then she was naked and undressing me and lifting me up and placing me on my back on the bed.

“Oh, I don’t need pheromones,” she said, giggling.

Even quickies with Velorians are spectacular.

Chapter 282

Back in Bellingham April showers were making lawns green. Colonel Moore and I were passing ideas back and forth for weapons systems that would fail impressively against Kara and Xara and not make generals and admirals cry when the ladies destroyed them. The generals had to be mindful of their budgets and disliked seeing their expensive weapons systems destroyed.

The Velorian psychologist, Shira, was conducting her research on the Kiraling relationship and the culture around it. She didn’t want to bias her interview subjects by going into detail about what exactly she was looking for, but Xara said she had her suspicions, which she wouldn’t share with me, because she didn’t want to bias my answers when it came time for my interview.

First, she interviewed Kara. Then Xara, and finally Sharon. Then she interviewed the three of them together.

I was next up. She was going to interview me, then interview all four of us together. She wasn’t going to talk to Skar-El. Xara said as much as Velorian’s like to pass themselves off as enlightened and egalitarian, there was still a lot of sexism. Even on Velor, where their Orgone based powers are suppressed by the planet’s gold field, females are stronger than males and that had implications in their culture and society. I asked Xara what those implications were. She pointed out that even the Messenger Corps was headed by women. Beyond that, she didn’t say.

Shira came to our house and sat down with me in the living room to begin the interview. Xara was at school. Xara hadn’t let me listen in, in the connection, to her interview and decided not to listen to mine. We could compare notes after the psychologist was gone. The blondes told me that Shira was briefed on how I became Kiraling.

She started out asking me about my history. My family, how I was raised, that kind of thing.

She asked me about my sexual history. I told her that my high school sweatheart and I had had sex. She broke up with me when I deployed for the first time. I met another girl between my first and second deployments with whom I had sex. She broke up with me when I came home from my second deployment.

Shira asked why I had broken up with my girlfriends. I said I hadn’t. The first one broke up with me because she wasn’t interested in a long distance relationship. The second one broke up with me because she said I had changed during my second deployment.

Shira asked me to explain that, how I had changed.

“I had the beginnings of PTSD,” I said.

“What is PTSD?” she asked.

“It’s Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,” I answered.

“I’ve never heard of that. Can you describe it?”

“Well, in my case, it was caused by my combat experience, from being under constant stress.”

“What are the symptoms?”

“I can tell you about my symptoms.”

“Please do.”

“I was easily frightened by loud noises. I was always looking over my shoulder for threats. I began drinking too much. I was irritable. All the time. I was nervous and uncomfortable in crowds.”

“I see. I must admit I am ignorant of some aspects of Terran physiology. You said you were drinking too much; I don’t understand that. Were you over hydrating yourself?”

“No, I was drinking alcohol. I was getting drunk.”

She frowned and made some notes.

“Shira, do you know what alcoholism is?”

“No,” she replied, “I don’t. Should I?”

“It’s probably something you should learn about if you want to understand how Terrans can sometimes use inappropriate coping mechanisms when we are under stress.”

She took more notes.

“And you say these PTSD symptoms caused your sexual partner to separate herself from you?”

“Yes. She told me I should get help and I wouldn’t listen to her.”

“What did you do instead?”

“I spent all of my time with my army buddies. Guys who had been through what I had been through, who understood.”

“Understood what?”

“Understood what I was feeling. Understood why a car backfiring would make me hit the ground and look for cover.”

She took more notes. She didn’t understand. That was obvious. How could she? Outside of an Arion Prime there was no one or anything that would frighten her.

“After your second sexual partner ended your relationship, did you have any others?”

“No. I didn’t date after that. Then, after my third deployment, after this happened,” I gestured to my face, “the psychologists and counselors I saw told me that I probably wouldn’t be getting any dates.”

“They told you your disfigurement would keep you from finding sex partners?”


“Let’s move forward to the day you came across the Velorians and Arions.

“Had you ever seen an Arion or Velorian before?”

“No. I didn’t know there were Arions and Velorians.”

“You didn’t know the Supremis existed?”

“No, I didn’t.”

“I know that you came into a cave and found the Velorians entrapped in gold, but I don’t know why you went into the cave.”

I didn’t say anything. She hadn’t asked a question.

“Why did you go into the cave?”

“From up on the trail I was hiking I saw what I now know was an Arion come out of what I now know was a cloaked ship carrying one of the ladies over his shoulder. I didn’t know what was going on, but I knew it wasn’t right. It looked like a kidnapping.”

“Before you entered the cave, did you know it would be dangerous?”

“Did I know? No. But everything about the situation told me it would be. That’s why I drew my weapon.”

“You were afraid?”


“Afraid enough that you thought you needed a weapon?”


“If you were that afraid, why did you enter the cave? Surely you must have known, or suspected, that you would be in less danger if you stayed outside or left the area.”

“Yes, but I thought there was someone in there who needed my help.”

“You put yourself in danger in order to help someone else, someone you didn’t know?”

“I did.”

“Did you think your life might be in danger?”

“I did.”

“You weren’t overcome by fear?”

“Shira, I stopped letting fear make my decisions for me a long time ago. I never would have survived my first deployment if I allowed myself to be ‘overcome by fear.’

“So you can ignore your fear?”

“I don’t ignore it. I can’t ignore it. I don’t let it be in the driver’s seat.”

More note taking. We were speaking Velorian, and I don’t think ‘being in the driver’s seat’ is an idiom she recognized.

“Kara told me that at one point she told you to run. But you didn’t. Why not?”

“She told me to run just a second before the first Arion Beta got to me. I didn’t have time to run.”

“But he threw you out of his way. You could have run then.”

“Don’t forget that I had no idea Arions existed. He was big, but I had a gun, so I told him to step away from Kara. When he came for me, I shot him. More than once. And then he made a mistake and I got lucky.”

“Alright,” she said, “I know the rest of the story. You rescued three women and a man. Did you believe, at the time, that put them into your debt? That they owed you something?”

“No. That never occurred to me.”

“When did you learn that you were Kiraling?”

“In the cave, Kara called me Kiraling. I didn’t know what it meant, I thought she was addressing me by name, so I told her my name is Joe.

“Sharon told me I had made powerful friends but didn’t elaborate. I was in the hospital afterwards, because I’d broken a leg and had a cracked rib, they, the Velorians, came to visit me. Kara told me they were my friends forever and if I ever needed anything to let them know.”

“But they didn’t explain the Kiraling relationship to you?”

“No,” I said, “they didn’t. But it wasn’t long before I started getting clues.”

“What were these clues,” Shira asked.

“Well, when I was released from the hospital there was a car waiting to take me home. When I got home, I found a new car in my garage. There were groceries in the refrigerator. A paint job I’d started before I went for the hike was finished. Kara, or Xara or Sharon, I’m not sure, arranged for groceries to be delivered to me.”

“And there was no explanation?” she asked.

“No,” I replied, “but I figured it must be their way of expressing gratitude.”

“So you still had no idea what Kiraling meant?”

“No. Let’s see. I knew there were powerful blondes and evil black haired guys who didn’t fly. I didn’t know much at all, until Xara came to visit.”

“And she explained Kiraling to you?”

“Yes, she did. She said saving them meant they had a lifelong obligation to me.”

“Joe, think back to when she told you about being a Kiraling mate. Once you understood, how did you take advantage of it, of your status as Kiraling?”

“I didn’t.”

“You didn’t take advantage of this great gift to you?”


“Why not?”

“I had no idea how I would take advantage of it. I had no idea I could take advantage of it.”

“Xara says you didn’t have sex with her after she made it obvious to you that you could. Why not?”

“She was 15, maybe 16 years old. I am, I was at the time, an adult man. Having sex with an underage girl is understood to be sexual abuse. It is against the law. We protect children, we don’t abuse them. I don’t abuse children.”

“Alright. The others explained Terran sexual mores to me. It’s quite different from Velorian attitudes. So, in your mind, sex with Xara was not something you’d consider at that time.”

“Xara is beautiful. The most beautiful woman I’ve ever met. And she is sexually attractive. But she was too young. Sex with her was not something I’d consider.”

“Very well. Sex is off the table. Did you ask anything of your Kiraling mates? Did you ask for money, or power, or material goods?”

“No, I didn’t ask them for anything. I didn’t really understand that I could. If I had understood that I could, I still wouldn’t have asked them for anything. Because they showered me with their generosity.”

“Tell me about that.”

“Well, they gave me a new car, I told you about that. They bought me a completely new wardrobe. They took me to exotic places, beautiful Pacific islands.

“When the army sent me off for training Kara arranged very nice housing for me, much better than the army would have sprung for.”

“Sprung for?”

“Paid for.”

“They did something else for me, too.”

“And what was that, Joe?”

“They cured me of my fear of flying.”

“You were afraid of flying?”

I gestured at my face again and said, “The wounds I suffered, some of them were caused when a helicopter that was evacuating me from the battlefield was shot down. I’ve been afraid of flying ever since. Or I was until the blondes, mostly Xara, cured me of my fear.”

“What is a helicopter?”

I opened my laptop and showed her videos of helicopters.

“And there is more,” I said. “By the time I met the blondes I had full on PTSD. I was being treated by psychologists and psychiatrists. But I wasn’t a very good patient. They prescribed a lot of medications, and I only took them when I needed to make sure I wouldn’t get out of control.”

“Out of control?”

“Because of my PTSD.”

“Until I came to Terra, I had never heard of PTSD. Kara, Xara and Sharon each brought it up, but I didn’t explore the subject with them.”

I’ve suffered from PTSD, I still do, but I’m not a clinician. Shira didn’t speak or read English and I wasn’t about to attempt to translate psychiatric journals for her. I thought about asking Gloria to talk to her, but I didn’t know if she knew Kara had Arions working for her.

So I tried to explain it myself, my symptoms, how it affected my life, how my penchant for ignoring my treatment and medications resulted in self-sabotaging any chances I had for recovery.

“The reason, Shira, I’m telling you about this is that my exposure to Kara and Sharon, and especially, Xara, stabilized me. I don’t need to take my meds anymore. They say it is the Supremis-Terran Effect, STE.”

“I’m familiar with the STE,” she said, “but I’ve never heard of it affecting psychological disorders.”

“Well, it does for me. I’m not cured. But the symptoms are under control, or under more control than they were when I was taking my medications. We think it’s mostly due to my constant exposure to Xara.”

“You said you took medications for your PTSD. What were they?”

I still had my meds. If I was separated from the blondes, from Xara for too long I might need them. So I went into my bedroom and brought the box of meds out to show her.

Of course, the medication names didn’t mean anything to her. I read them in English, I didn’t know what they were called in Velorian. Hell, I don’t think Velorians even had those drugs. Why would they?

“Joe, may I have a sample of your medications to take back to my lab to analyze?”

“You have a lab?”

“I have access to one.”

“How much do you need?”

“One of each pill should suffice.”

So I grabbed some baggies from the kitchen, labeled each of them with the name of the medication I put in it, and gave it to her.

“Thank you, Joe. Now, let’s get back to your Kiraling experience. With three P1’s at your beck and call you must get all the sex you want.”

“Um, Shira, you have that wrong. First, they are not at my beck and call. I wouldn’t treat them that way and I’m not sure it would go over well with them if I tried. Second, I do not get all the sex I want. I get all the sex they want.

“They even talk about it that way.”

“Explain that?”

“Xara made it very clear to me, when she was 15 or 16 years old, that she could take, or have me, whenever it pleased her. Sharon and Kara told me that too. The only reason she didn’t ‘take’ me was respect for my values. Sharon told her that was silly, that if she wanted me, she should just take me.

“Sharon and Kara make booty calls and they don’t ask me if I want to have sex, they either assume I do or assume my feelings about it are irrelevant.”

“Do you ever say no to them?”

“No. Except for Xara, when she was underage.”

“But you never say no to Sharon or Kara?”

“Xara has told me, many times, that refusing sex with a Kiraling mate is considered very rude and insulting behavior. I would never be rude to either of them or insult them.

“Also, no man in his right mind would refuse a Velorian. Unless he was married to a Velorian. Then he might.”

“You are married to a Velorian. Have you ever refused one?”

“I tried.”

“Tell me about that.”

“Juliet and Bri-an wanted to have sex with me. I initially said no.”

“Initially said no? Does that mean you relented?”

“They put a guilt trip on me. And Xara helped them.”

“What’s a guilt trip?”

I explained what that meant to her.

“So you did have sex with them.”

“Yes I did.”

“But you didn’t want to.”

“No, I didn’t.”

“Because they and Xara manipulated you with guilt.”

“It was mostly Xara, but yes. But I did put a condition on it.”

“You did? What was the condition?”

“They had to let me teach them to cook first.”

“So you taught them to cook?”

“I did. And I did a very good job. Ask them to prepare a meal for you before you leave.”

“In your mind, Joe, do you every use your Kiraling status to manipulate them?”

“I’ve tried. But never succeeded.”

“Tell me about that.”

“If I ask them, they will go on and on about their obligations to me as their Kiraling. But they never let me say no to them. If they want something from me, they get it.”

“How do you feel about that?”

“Sometimes I feel like I have no control over my own life. But mostly I’m grateful to have them in my life. Kara treats me like a son. She’s given me a job and helped me with my Army career. Xara is the most loving wife I can imagine. Sharon manages my finances for me. Apparently, I have no talent for that, but she’s very good at it.

“But mostly I’m grateful for them for saving my life. 22 veterans commit suicide a day. If not for Kara, Sharon and Xara, I would have become one of them.”

“At some point you demanded that Xara marry you. How did you come to your decision that she should be your wife instead of Kara or Sharon?”

“I didn’t demand that she marry me. I asked her to marry me. Because I was in love with her, and she was in love with me. I made up my mind that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her.”

“But surely you knew that because of your Kiraling status she would feel obligated to accept your proposal.”

“I knew no such thing. I didn’t know if she would say yes or no to me. I agonized over it; it took me a while to build up the courage to ask her.

“I asked both Kara and Sharon for their advice and they both encouraged me to ask her.”

“I see. At some point did you demand that Xara be … what you call sexually faithful to you?”

“I did not.”

“But she agreed to limit her sexual partners to you and Supremis, no other Terrans. Did you not insist on that?”

“That wasn’t my idea. That was Xara’s.”

“Explain that, please.”

“She said that until we she and I became intimate, either of us could have sex with anyone we wanted, Supremis or Terran. But after we became intimate, in respect for my feelings, she wouldn’t have sex with other Terrans, only me, and with Supremis. And she expected that I would only have sex with Supremis.”

“How did you feel about being barred from sex with Terrans?”

“Barred? Look at me! Before Xara came of age, I was only having sex with Kara and Sharon. Terran women would never think of me as a sexual partner. They wouldn’t be able to get past my face.”

“So, because you couldn’t have sex with Terrans, you forbade her from having sex with Terrans.”

“Shira, goddamnit! You aren’t listening to me! Xara made the rules. She cut herself off from her Terran lovers, out of respect for my feelings. I didn’t make her do anything.”

“You didn’t make her, but she did so because of your feelings about it? Your sense of sexual propriety.”


“How is that ‘not making’ her?”

“I’m Terran. She’s Velorian. How can I ‘make her’ do anything?” Yeah, the air quotes were implied. By both of us.

“So now you are married. Who assumes the domestic duties?”

“Well, we have a robot to do the cleaning and laundry. I maintain our cars. I probably do most of the cooking. Xara is a student and devotes a lot of her time to schoolwork.”

“Oh? Are Terran schools a challenge for a Velorian?”

“She makes it a challenge by taking on a heavy load of coursework.”

“Do you resent that time?”

“No. I don’t.”

“If Xara found one of her fellow students attractive and decided to have sex with him, would you be offended?”

“I’d be hurt.”

“Hurt enough to forbid …”

I cut her off right there.

“I’d be hurt, Shira. We’re going to leave it at that.”

“May I ask how you feel about her Supremis sex partners?”

“No, you may not.”

We talked some more, and it was obvious she was trying to get me to say that I use my Kiraling status to manipulate the blondes to get what I want.  And I kept telling her that wasn’t the case. We were talking past each other, neither of us willing to give ground. Then the interview took a turn towards the bizarre.

“I’d like to talk to you about your waste elimination practices. Can we do that?”

“Waste elimination? You mean like garbage and recycling?”

“No. Human waste. Waste that is expelled from your body.”

“Okay? I guess. What do you want to know?”

“Where do you eliminate your waste?”

“Follow me.”

I showed her the bathroom. I demonstrated how a toilet works and told her about septic and sewer systems. She flushed the toilet three times, examining it from all angles, probably looking through the porcelain to see the internal workings. She giggled twice.

“What if you aren’t home when you need to eliminate waste? Suppose you were someplace else?”

“Many businesses have public restrooms. Rooms with toilet facilities.”

“So you, as a Kiraling, don’t dispose of your waste wherever you want and expect your Kiraling mates to clean it up?”

“No. Why would you think they would cleanup my waste if I was so rude?”

“It’s just a line of inquiry. Sometimes it helps to delineate the borders of a Kiraling relationship, if there are any borders at all.”

“Let me assure you that eliminating waste wherever I wanted, like a baby, and expecting them to clean up after me would be far outside any borders we have.”

So much for talking about poop and pee. Shira left and about half an hour later Xara came home.

“How’d it go with Shira?”

“I think she’s already come to a conclusion about the Kiraling relationship and is looking for evidence to support it.”

“That’s what mom, Sharon and I thought.”

“Xara, do you think I use the Kiraling thing to take advantage of you guys?”

“No, dear, you do not. And we told her that.”

Chapter 283

The next weekend Kara and Sharon were at our house to do the group interview with Shira. Only it wasn’t supposed to be an interview. It was supposed to be an intervention. It didn’t work out that way.

“Thank you all for joining me here,” she said. “I’m afraid I have some good news and bad news. The good news is for you, the bad news is for me.”

None of us said anything, waiting for her to continue.

“The purpose of my research project, on the relationship between Velorian P1’s and their Kiraling mates, was to confirm my hypothesis that the Kiraling relationship had, over time, devolved to the point where non-Supremis Kiraling were taking advantage of and using their Supremis Kiraling mates for their own selfish ends.

“My methodology was to interview the Kiraling pairs, demonstrate to the Supremis that they were being used, and then conduct an intervention where the non-Supremis member of the relationship would be shown how his or her conduct was a betrayal of what the relationship stood for.

“The hope, then, was that the non-Supremis would either modify his or her behavior or the Supremis would end the relationship.

“The bad news, for me, is that, at least here, my hypothesis is wrong. The good news, for you, is that the relationship the four of you have established is strong and healthy.”

Xara asked, “How many Kiraling relationships have you studied? How many of those supported your hypothesis?”

Shira answered, “This is the first relationship that I have investigated in depth. Kiraling relationships are rare and are spread out a large volume of space. When I was developing a list of candidates this one, a single Terran Kiraling to three P1s and a Messenger, looked like low hanging fruit. If there was a Terran who would take advantage of his Kiraling mates, it would be Joe.”

“What will you do now?” asked Sharon.

“There are two more Kiralings within two years travel distance from here. I’ll conduct interviews and if the results are the same as here, I’ll abandon the project and look for something else to study.”

“How did you form your hypothesis,” Kara asked. “Are there misbehaving Kiraling mates?”

“Have you been to Velor anytime in the last fifty years?” asked Shira.

All three ladies shook their heads no.

“Leave it alone, Joe,” said Xara in the connection. “Now is not the time to make Shira’s point for her.”

“I wasn’t going to say anything!”

“We wanted to,” said Dixon.

“There are a lot of stories about Protectors,” said Shira. “You’re all legends. Even Scribes. And while many things about Terra are closely held secrets, word has gotten out that a Terran became Kiraling to multiple Velorians. That generated a lot of gossip and speculation. Then someone got it into their head that writing fiction about Kiraling relationships could be fun and profitable. And they were right.”

“Tell me more,” said Kara. It wasn’t a request.

“An extremely popular holovid tells the story of a Terran Kiraling who has numerous P1's at his beck and call, catering to his every whim.”

“Holovid?” I asked.

“Three dimensional TV,” answered Sharon, “done with lasers.”

The blondes didn’t look happy. But I was curious.

“You decided to do a research project and formed a hypothesis based on rumors and works of fiction?” I asked.

I wasn’t sure I really understood what a hypothesis is, but no one corrected me.

“I needed funding for my research,” she replied.

“I hope, when you publish, you make it clear that your hypothesis is wrong,” said Kara. It wasn’t a request.

“And I’m certainly going to include this in my next report,” said Sharon.

“Alright. So Joe doesn’t manipulate you, or so you all claim. But you’ve told me that he’s had sex with all three of you, one on one and together.”

“Yes,” said Xara. “But it isn’t because he’s manipulating us. It’s always our idea.”

“That’s where you draw the line?” I asked. “You’re okay with fictional depictions of me having sex with multiple P1s, but not if it’s my idea?”

Sharon nodded and said, “Yes, you understand.”

“That’s the twist that makes the vids popular,” said Shira. “No one would watch if it was three Velorians subjugating a Terran for sex. That’s the natural order of things. But put the Terran in charge, now you have a story that sells.”

“And pays for your research,” said Kara.

“Will there be any consequences to you for your failure to prove your hypothesis?” I asked.

“No, none at all,” Shira answered. “These rumors have taken on a life of their own. Debunking them will be nearly as good for my career, if not better, than proving them.

“Now, I really must thank you for your cooperation. I’ll be sure to send you my report when it is published. I just have one more request …”

“Yes?” asked Kara.

“I’ve heard that Joe is an excellent cook. May I request a demonstration of his culinary skills?”

“You may,” I replied. “Come back tomorrow evening and I’ll make Beef Bourguignon.”

“What is it called?” She asked.

“Beef Bourguignon.” I replied.

“Thank you, Joe. I look forward to sampling your boof boof boof.”

“Don’t even try to correct her, Joe. It will be Jarrod and Katri all over again,” said Xara in the connection.

“I wasn’t going to,” I said. “Been there, tried that.”

“Oh, I almost forgot,” said Shira. “I brought a copy of the holovid with me. We can watch it tomorrow evening after dinner if you’d like.”

“We’d like that,” said Kara. “Joseph, I think Juliet and Bri-an would be interested. Would you mind inviting them to dinner?”

“The more the merrier,” I said.

Chapter 284

Juliet and Bri-an brought wine for dinner and made a Dutch apple pie for desert. Shira enjoyed her pie and ice cream immensely. As usual for Velorians, there were no leftovers, which prompted Johnson to ask, “Is there a word for leftovers in Velorian?”

I thought about it for a second and realized if there is one, I don’t know what it is.

So the dinner went well. The holovid, however, did not go over well. At all.

The Terran was portrayed as a slob with no manners. He peed and pooped wherever he wanted to and made the Velorians, his Kiraling mates, clean up after him. Which answered any questions I had about why she wanted to know about my bathroom habits.

And it was obvious that the creator of the holovid had no idea how urination and defecation work. Which made sense, I suppose, Velorians don’t do either of those. But there must be some research out there somewhere. Or maybe he wrote it the way he did to make the Terran look bad. I don’t know.

His Kiraling mates waited on him hand and foot, and basically debased themselves for him. And the sex scenes … in every one of them the Terran finished up quickly and left the Velorians hanging.

After it was over, we had some questions. I was up first.

“Is that the way Velorians on Velor think Terrans behave?”

“No,” replied Shira, “they showed him that way for comedic effect.”

“People on Velor laugh at that?”

“Yes,” she said, “it is considered quite funny.”

The blondes were not amused. They didn’t think it was funny either.

“This is comedy,” began Kara, “and yet, you were able to justify and fund a study based on this …” She used a Velorian pejorative I’d never heard before. I think it was a pejorative. Her tone certainly indicated that.

“It sells,” said Shira. “You should see how they depict Arions.”

“Let’s not tell Gloria and Mona about this,” said Xara to me in the connection.

“I’m going to write up a critique of this,” said Sharon. “I’d like the rest of you,” she meant Kara, Xara, Bri-ana and Juliet, “to contribute.”

“If it is any consolation,” said Shira, “my report on my findings will make news. It could even inspire new holovids that depict the Terran as a true hero.

“Joe is a true hero,” said Xara. “that’s why he is Kiraling.”

“Well, yes, Joe is. But the holovid isn’t really about Joe, per se.”

“No?” said Sharon. “One Terran, three Velorians. Are there other triple or quadruple Kiralings we don’t know about?”

“Well, of course, the story about your Terran Kiraling did influence the writers,” said Shira. “But it isn’t meant to portray any actual person.”

"From where I'm standing, it certainly seems like it," I said.

“I agree with you, Joseph,” said Kara.

“I want something clearly understood,” said Xara to Shira. “Joe is a wonderful, brave, warm and loving Terran. He has good manners. He treats us,” she gestured at herself, Kara and Sharon, “with respect. He is nothing like your line of questioning suggests and he is certainly nothing like the Terran depicted in your holovid.”

“And we are nothing like the P1’s depicted either,” said Sharon.

After that there were a few seconds of uncomfortable silence and then Kara said, “Shira, I think it’s time we depart.”

Shira didn’t argue.

As Xara and I were getting ready for bed, I asked her, “Isn’t it a security concern, that me and my story are well known on Velor?”

“I’m not sure,” she replied. “The Scalantrans know. The Kelsorians know. The Fesussians probably know too. And an Arion captured you in D.C.”

“I don’t think I like being a celebrity,” I said.

“Even a celebrity who shits and pisses all over the furniture?” she asked with a smile.

“Yeah. Are Velorians hard up for entertainment?”

“From what I hear about Velor, it wouldn’t surprise me. You know most Velorians who leave Velor never return unless they screw up. Off planet assignments are highly coveted.”

“Hmm. How well was Shira vetted? In the back of my mind, I keep thinking that maybe she is part of the creative team, if you want to call it that, for that holovid. Could she be here fishing for new material?”

“I doubt that darling. We heard about her request to come here through official channels.

“Now, let me take your mind of Shira.”

And she did.

Chapter 285

“Kara, the Pentagon is all for seeing you ladies demonstrate your power. They seem to be really into that, especially the men. But they draw the line at letting you destroy top of the line weapons systems.”

I was meeting with Kara, Xara, Juliet and Bri-an in the lair. I was relaying to them the information coming from my conversations with Colonel Moore. Hearing that someone in the government had questioned my position as the liaison between Kara and the United States military, she, Kara, decided to make the communications channel more formal. For however long it took Kara to become convinced that her decisions would not be questioned, she was going to run all her communications with Colonel Moore through me, exclusively. No more meetings with the Colonel.

Colonel Moore didn’t like it. I did. There were times when I felt like an unnecessary middleman. Whenever Kara and Colonel Moore had an in person meeting, she, Kara, would insist on my attendance. But then the conversation was between her and the Colonel. I felt superfluous.

I had never mentioned this to Kara, it seemed petty to do so. But with the government questioning why I should be the liaison, she came to more or less the same conclusion that I did, and she was going to make sure the government understood that if they wanted to communicate with her, they were going to go through me.

“What do they propose instead?” she asked.

“There is older equipment in the inventory that is scheduled for replacement. They don’t want you to destroy a Stryker or Bradley Fighting Vehicle, but there are some M113 armored personnel carriers no one would miss.

“There are also some M60 tanks still around that you can destroy.

“However, it doesn't mean they won't deploy Strykers and Abrams tanks against you. They just don’t want you to destroy them.”

“What about aircraft?” asked Xara. “There must be some old fighter jets we can play with.”

“Although there are older jets that could be destroyed, pilot ejections are a concern. I’ve explained that Protectors would be in the air to make sure no one would get hurt, but they are unwilling to take the risk.

“Colonel Moore thinks it’s an ego issue. The proposal that came back is that you chase the jets, prove they can’t shake you, then you tag them or something.

“I suggested, and they agreed, to send A10 Warthogs against you when you are on the ground. I’ve seen them in action. Shaking off a couple of Maverick missiles and a dozen or so rounds of depleted uranium shells should make quite an impression.

“And the Air Force Chief of Staff wants to send an AC-130 after you.”

“What’s that?” asked Bri-an.

I pulled up a YouTube video to show her. Protectors will tell you that Terran weapons don’t impress them. And as threats, they don’t. But they do like to demonstrate to us how impotent our weapons are against them and taking everything an AC-130 can throw at them while they check their nails would make the point. That wasn’t lost on any of the ladies. This was a chance to show off.

“And they want to send troops on the ground after you, but want assurances no one will get hurt,” I said.

“Of course we won’t hurt anyone,” replied Kara. “But they need to keep their distance. We don’t want anyone getting hit by a ricochet.”

“They also want you to assault a bunker protected by mines and remote controlled automatic weapons.”

“No soldiers in the bunker?” asked Kara. Or maybe she was making a statement, but I treated it like a question.

“No soldiers in the bunker. You can destroy it and anything in it. And you’ll be subject to artillery fire until you get too close to the bunker.”

“This sounds like fun!” said Xara. I’d been hearing that from her the past couple of days.

I looked at her. She began to blush, just a little.

“I never get to show off in front of Terrans, Joe. None of us do.”

“You guys know some of the people in attendance are going to be frightened, right?” I asked.

“We know that, Joseph. And we want them to be frightened by the Arion threat. But we also want them to know that we are here to protect them,” said Kara.

“Maybe you should tell them that,” I said.

“I agree, Joseph. Work that out with Colonel Moore. Tell them we want to address all in attendance after the demonstration.”

“Why not imbed Sharon with the spectators. She can describe what is happening and reassure them that Velor is on their side.”

Kara nodded and said, “Have Colonel Moore arrange that too. I’ll talk to Sharon.”

“Mom?” asked Xara.

“Yes honey?” she replied.

“I want to show off Joe.”

“Show me off? What does that mean?” I asked.

“I want to make sure everyone there knows that you are my husband. If men are going to make passes at me, I want them to know up front that I’m a happily married woman.”

“Since when does that bother you, Xara?” I asked.

Dixon and Johnson wanted to hear about that too. Xara loves male attention. The better looking the guy, the more money he has, the more she likes it.

“I love the attention, Joe. Don’t get me wrong. But you and I have both talked about how disrespectful it is when a guy hits on me, right in front of you.”

“Sharon would say you’ve gone native,” said Kara.

“Sharon would have less drama to deal with if she went a little native herself, mom.”

“How would you ‘show off’ Joseph, as you put it?” asked Kara.

“Hugs, kisses, hand holding. I want them to see that he is my man.”

“I approve,” said Kara. “It would also help cement Joseph’s status in their minds. But,” she added, “the rest of us will not encourage sexual advances from the Terrans, nor will we make any towards them.”

Juliet frowned. Bir-an rolled her eyes.

“Many of the men and women we’ll be dealing with are used to being in command and getting what they want. It would be unseemly to allow a competition for our attention to develop. The jealousy that would result would be counterproductive.”

“Who’s going to tell Sharon?” I asked.

Kara sighed and said, “I will. Has anyone heard lately what the status of her relationship with Sarah is?”

“The colonel hasn’t brought her up to me,” I replied. “That’s usually good news.”

Chapter 286

A week later we were all gathered in the lair again, Sharon included this time, to go over the final arrangements for the “demonstration” as Kara called it. I had gone over this with Colonel Moore in detail and now it was up to me to get Kara’s agreement.

“We’ll start the day with a meet and greet,” I said. “There will be a few Americans present who, before now, didn’t know anything about the Supremis. They will be briefed by Colonel Moore a week before the demonstration. They will be meeting you for the first time on the day of the demonstration. And when I say “you”, I mean all of you.”

‘All of you’ meant Kara, Bri-an, Juliet, Xara and Sharon.

“The Canadians will be briefed the day before. None of them have met you, only a few have heard of you. This will all be new to most of them. The Canadian Government is aware that this is a highly secret briefing and the attendees from their side are being vetted by both the Canadians and the Americans. I’m told that kind of cooperation isn’t routine but isn’t unheard of either.

“At the beginning of the meet and greet the Secretary of Defense will introduce everyone to the issues at hand, then he will introduce Kara. Kara will introduce the rest of you ladies.

“The military personnel who will take part in the attacks on you will rehearse for a week ahead of time. They don’t know they will be facing … human targets …  until a few days before the demonstration. They have all been vetted. They will all sign NDAs and will understand the consequences of breaking those agreements.

“Three days before the demonstration they will meet you ladies and learn that they can’t hurt you. They won’t believe it, so I have agreed to give them a demonstration. On a closed firing range, I will shoot you with large caliber automatic weapons.”

I stopped talking for a bit. Xara came up to me and put her arms around me and asked, “Are you okay with doing that darling?”

“Yes. Yes, I can do that. There is a purpose here and it’s necessary. Otherwise, there is a good chance you guys will be standing on a firing range facing tanks that won’t shoot at you because the crews can’t bring themselves to do it.”

“Sharon, during the demonstration you and I will be with the VIPs.” I called the observers VIPs because I didn’t know what else to call them.

“Your job will be to describe what Kara and Xara are doing and reassure anyone who gets nervous or frightened. The idea here is to educate them as to the power of the Supremis and understand that the Velorians are the good guys, here to protect Earth from the bad guys.

“Kara and Xara, you’ll be taking fire, and, after the soldiers have evacuated the area, return it. Any vehicles leaving the field are off limits. Anything left on the field is yours to do with as you please. After that, assault and destroy the bunker. There won’t be anyone in it, just automated automatic weapons.

“After you take care of the bunker and the equipment left behind, you’ll be attacked by A10s and an AC-130. Then F-16s. When the aircraft have finished their ground attacks, your job will be to engage them in the air. The F16s will attempt to take you down with missiles. Avoid the missiles, or let them hit you, then ‘tag’ the F-16s.”

“How do we tag them,” asked Kara.

“Tap on their canopies, make sure the pilots see you, then accelerate away from them.

“Juliet and Bri-an, your job will be to overfly the area to make sure Terrans get out of the way when they are supposed to and intervene to make sure no one screws up and gets killed.

“When you’re finished, when you have tagged the last F-16, the demonstration will be over. All the observers will be taken to an auditorium where you, Kara, can address them.

“After that there will be a two hour break, then everyone will return to the auditorium for dinner. Dress up.

“Am I forgetting anything? Oh, yeah. We’ll have rooms at the Holiday Inn on base …”

“Holiday Inn!” Sharon interrupted me.

“Yes. The Holiday Inn. There’s nothing wrong with it, Sharon.

“And we’ll sleep two to a room …”

Sharon interrupted again, “I’m sharing a room?”

“You survived a camping trip,” said Kara, “you can manage this. Go on, Joseph.”

“I’ll room with Xara, Bri-an and Juliet will room together and Sharon and Kara will share a room.”

“I’ll spend the nights with Sarah.”

“Colonel Moore is sharing a room with someone else.”

“Sharon,” said Kara, “I explained this to you. We aren’t having trysts with Terrans, and you understand why.”

“What about those two?” Sharon asked, or more accurately accused, pointing to me and Xara.

“They’re married, Sharon. Some of the people who will be there are aware,” replied Kara.

“The Colonel and I discussed that,” I said. “Enough people know that I am married to a Supremis that it is almost an open secret among certain agencies. And the attendees at this event will be vetted by the FBI and the Canadian authorities. We’re both comfortable with it.”

The ladies left the lair, and I called Colonel Moore to update her. I didn’t tell her about Sharon’s objections. They weren’t pertinent, and I was pretty sure that the Colonel knew Sharon well enough to anticipate what she would have said. And the less I said to the Colonel about Sharon the less I would be drawn into their drama.

I went back upstairs to find that everyone had left, it was just me and Xara in the house.

“Sharon said she might bring Deb with her,” said Xara.

I rolled my eyes. “Deb, surrounded by that many men?”

“I know,” laughed Xara. “Mom almost called her bluff, but when Sharon saw it going that way, she mumbled something about room service not being up to Deb’s standard, so she’d leave her at home.

“How’d did it go with Sarah? Did you tell her what Sharon thought of the room arrangements?”

“No. I really don’t like getting between those two.”

“I know darling. I’m sorry, but it is funny to watch.”

“Funny? Just for that, you make dinner.”

“Oh, I’m sorry darling. I’ll take care of dinner; you go relax and watch TV.”

While I went into the living room to find a ball game Xara ordered Pizza. Dixon and Johnson wondered what Shira would make of that.


Janelle had just finished with her last patient of the day when a gentleman walked into her clinic carrying a briefcase. The same gentleman the cartel had sent before, to buy her off.

“You are the last person I expected to see here,” said Janelle.

“Yes, senorita, I understand that.”

“Have you come to make another threat against me?” Janelle asked.

“No, senorita. I have come with a peace offering.”

He opened his briefcase. Inside was $10,000 in U.S. currency.

“Is that what you think your life is worth?” asked Janelle.

The frail swallowed nervously, and said, “Senorita, we will not do business in this country, and we will pay you this amount, every month, to stay out of our country.”

“Senor,” began Janelle, “just a few weeks ago two of your assassins came to my home while I was caring for three of my nieces. They could have caused me to have a very unpleasant evening. Fortunately, I was able to manage the situation, but I was inconvenienced. I’ll take your money and advise you to pay me this amount every two weeks. If you agree to this I will stay out of your country and, as a bonus, allow you to leave here alive and unharmed.”

“Agreed, senorita. In two weeks, you will have your second payment.”

“No argument,” thought Janelle, “he must have been authorized to go higher.”

Janelle picked up a post-it notepad and wrote an address and a box number on it. She tore off the note and gave it to the frail saying, “Have the money delivered to the box at this address. Don’t be late.”

“We will not be late, senorita.”

He left the briefcase on Janelle’s desk and left the clinic. Janelle picked up her phone and called Miguel and told him she was ready to be driven home. When Miguel arrived, she showed him the briefcase and its contents and told him about the conversation she had with the frail, leaving out the part about the two who had come to her apartment. The children were, of course, safe when they were with her, but she knew he’d worry, and she wanted to spare him that.

Chapter 287

We had a week before we had to leave for Utah and Xara wanted us to get the boats and jet skis ready for the spring and summer season on the lake. That meant checking them out, checking out the dock, making sure everything was in order, the oil had been changed, fuel was available, that kind of thing.

Harvey offered to help, and I was glad for it. Harvey taught the safe boating class for the county, and he knew just about everything there was to know about taking care of equipment and getting it ready. He had certifications in marine mechanics and marine electrical systems. Skills that are in high demand, but also demand a lot of travel. He got sick of the travel early on and took the job with the county for a lot less money, but more stability and predictability. He had a lot to teach me, and I had a lot to learn.

He and I told Xara it would take us all week to get the work done. We wouldn’t be working at it full time, of course, we both had day jobs, though mine offered much more flexibility than his did. I didn’t mention that to Xara, I didn’t want her to think we could get the work done in less time. Try keeping that from a woman who can read your mind!

Why didn’t I want her to think the work could be finished sooner? Mount Washington in New Hampshire. That’s why.

By Pacific Northwest standards, Mount Washington isn’t particularly high. Or difficult to climb. Its summit is only 6,288 feet above sea level. There are nearly 100 peaks higher than that in Washington State. But Mount Washington is notorious for its erratic weather. 161 people are known to have perished on that mountain since the mid-19th century. 161 that are known, no one knows how many others may have met their end there.

Xara had just recently learned of it, and she thought that would be a wonderful place to take me to practice keeping me from dying. So, spending a week working on the dock and the boat and the jet skis would give me a reprieve. I didn’t know how long a reprieve, apparently the weather on Mount Washington can be a bitch anytime of the year. People have died from hypothermia there in July.

But I had the boat to work on, and then Kara’s demonstration. For the time being I could put freezing to death on top of a mountain out of my mind.

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Another enjoyable chapter, although I do find it very funny that both the Supremis and Janelle are still largely unaware of each other. You would have thought that at some point Joe would have been doing background checking on that strange town...
Another enjoyable chapter, although I do find it very funny that both the Supremis and Janelle are still largely unaware of each other. You would have thought that at some point Joe would have been doing background checking on that strange town where all the gang members keep dying and seen a picture of their new mayor who looks a lot like an Arion.

The discussions with Shira and hearing about the holovid was interesting, I hadn’t really thought how Joe and the others would be portrayed back on Velor. Although I did chuckle at the talk of them appearing in a work of fiction for entertainment! Also it does raise the question of what would happen if Joe did try to take advantage of his Kiraling status, something tell me it wouldn’t got down very well.

Sill as always I’m looking forward to reading the next part, especially with the demonstration. I suspect you are going to have a lot of fun writing that!
The Highlander
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I'm having a devil of a time writing about the demonstration. Shadar is much better at that kind of writing than I am.

Janelle isn't the mayor, she's a councilwoman. And while Joe has his suspicions, he was just as thrown off the track as everyone...
I'm having a devil of a time writing about the demonstration. Shadar is much better at that kind of writing than I am.

Janelle isn't the mayor, she's a councilwoman. And while Joe has his suspicions, he was just as thrown off the track as everyone else when the Arion aboard the craft that Xara destroyed had id that placed her in the U.S.

Remember also, I don't remember which part it was written in, that Janelle did see Bri-an and Juliet when she was sent to the Washington D.C. area to clean up after the Beta that was discovered there.
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Excellent. Can't wait Sharon-Deb-Sarah drama!
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Excellent work as usual sir. Keep up the good work!! 👍👍
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