A new meaning to alien rule
|The night made her feel free, as if she could be anyone, do anything, … not even an inkling, a frisson of trepidation warned her it would end in blood, terror and what could be termed the end of her life. No, in that first impression, for those first few hours, the night made her feel as if she could conquer the world. Which woman would not have felt that way? She was going to a ball, after all. Alright, so she wasn’t Cinderella, her hips carrying a good 10 kilos too much, her too large breasts an irresistible draw for any sleaze-ball in the immediate surrounding and her thick, wire-rimmed glasses unfashionable enough to scare owls. Oh, and she attended the ball, not as a guest on the arm of her handsome prince, but as the personal assistant and general dogs-body of her overbearing and sickeningly perfect step-mother. But hey, at least the last was in keeping with fairytales - if only the bad parts.
Olivia Mathews was not even wearing a pretty dress, the black wide slacks and fitting blazer in the same colour were entirely suitable to her position as walking furniture. As Jane, her stepmother, so rightly had pointed out: this was an important diplomatic occasion, the outcome of which would set the atmosphere for the trade conference scheduled over the next few days. Each member of the household was expected to make it come off perfectly. It was rare for their galactic trading partners to even consider coming to Earth and they all had to appear at their best advantage - in her case, even though she had her own career at the university, that meant showcasing her considerable organisation skills. A life lesson: never be the ugly, unfashionable daughter of two prominent parents - you will be an eternal disappointment, no matter how many university commendations you receive or how well-known the journals are you publish in; you will always desperately try, and fail, to make your parent’s happy, even at the age of 31. With an impatient gesture, Olivia, only daughter of His Excellency Peter Matthews, the British Ambassador to the United States and would-be Cinderella, pushed her glasses up her nose and, as was in her nature, abandoned her useless musings in order to check one last time on the charity raffle, the event organiser, the caterer ….
As aforementioned, the night did not start with portents or alarm. The ballroom was beautiful and, most importantly, ready when the first guests began to sort themselves into the receiving line before her parents. Her father’s aide had found the list of attendees, and therefore any diplomatic mayhem resulting from a confusion of names or titles was avoided. No one took notice of her, leaving her to manage the pineapple dilemma, the wine snafu and the violin hysterics before it could come to the attention of anyone, especially her stern father. She missed the arrival of the galactic trade delegation, accompanied by the imperial ambassador, whilst she was busy discretely removing the hard liquor from Lord Hardings grasp. Therefore, the first sign of something remarkable was overshadowed by her own bewilderment when she collided with a hard, lean body in the hallway, dropping both clipboard and brandy. Only years of training kept her from swearing, and in her hassled bafflement, she missed his stunned reaction.
“I am so sorry, Sir. Please be careful not to hurt yourself.”
A quick perusal of the unexpected obstacle which had caused her sudden accident revealed that, blessedly, he was not only unharmed but entirely untouched by brandy splatters. After her mind had reassured itself on that front she did, to her shame, what every yokel on the planet had done since the first contact between the galactic empire was made public - she stared unashamedly.
He was a beautiful man - but his beauty was so utterly strange, utterly inhuman and terrifying as to defy comprehension. The imperial embassy had been led and staffed by the Teresch - a race so similar in appearance to Tolkien’s elves that Olivia had always been impressed by the acumen and strategic ability of the imperial government for appointing them to run the Earth embassy. The automatic reaction of every human faced with a Teresch was baffled reference and stunned respect, underlined with an almost unshakable belief that anything coming from that mouth contained the wisdom of the ages. Not a bad things for an ambassador and trade delegate. This man, however, was not Teresch, not in any way. His nature seemed to be closer to that of a reptilian from a warrior game than an elf from Middle Earth. He stood taller than her own 6 feet by a good eight or nine inches, his skin the iridescent green-brown shimmer of a cobras, his eyes large and slitted. The face was human, or at least humanoid, if strangely elongated. Quickly, she suppressed the irreverent mental question of whether or not his tongue was slitted like that of the reptiles he represented. The only truly human feature were his long brown hair which lay in small braids close to his head. He should have been terrifyingly ugly to her human mind - instead there was an overwhelming graceful beauty in his form and movement. When he spoke his voice held the sibilant undertone of a hiss and from the tone it was clear that he had asked a question. She did not understand a word. And with no interpreter in sight, no immediate solution presented itself to that dilemma. She knew most races of the empire had their children implanted with translation devices, which allowed them to understand other languages. Access to these devices and the related technology was one main talking point of the trade negotiations. Therefore she was confident that, though she did not understand him, he would be able to understand her when she told him.
“Sir, please do not concern yourself with this. If you would return to the ballroom, I will contact the servants.”
He spoke again, seemingly repeating the same question he had asked before.
“I am really sorry, Sir, but I simply do not understand. I am certain the Ambassador, or his staff, will be able to help.”
A frown marred his alien face, an expression so curiously human that it amazed Olivia. But he seemed to realise that she would not be able to give him the answer he needed, and with a curiously old-fashioned bow he left her on the hallway to deal with the aftermath of her own clumsiness.
The first frisson of worry, of something out of order, rose in Olivia only when her father’s frazzled aide found her forty minutes later, hustling her towards the first floor and her fathers public study. She had no idea why she was being summoned, in the middle of a ball, for which, as it was hosted by her father, his withdrawal to the study presented an unforgivable breach in etiquette. In her mind, she listed all the possibilities on a scale from most likely (catering strike) to least likely (invasion of the alien slug - not out of the question considering their guests) but could not come to a satisfactory conclusion. Her peace of mind was not aided by her stepmother descending on her before she could enter, tugging her clothes into place, straying perfume on her unsuspecting neck and pulling her hair-clip from her braid. As her long, blonde hair unravelled she glared at her stepmother in annoyance. She hated her hair lose - it was beautiful, true, but it was also cumbersome, distracting and simply troublesome. Though before she could express her annoyance in even the mildest form; before she could open her mouth, a deft hand pushed her through the door into the office.
The three men in occupation rose at her entrance. All three were familiar to her, at least in passing. Her father, the strict and distant disciplinarian of her childhood, was, to her surprise, not seated behind the large mahogany desk but in one of the Louis XIV settees arranged artfully by the fireplace. The other was occupied by His Excellency, Lord T’sera, the imperial ambassador and a not infrequent visitor for official functions in her parent’s home over the years. Leaning against the mantelpiece was her most recent acquaintance, the unfortunate object of her earlier collision. Mentally she bit her lip and stiffened her spine. It was possible, given the situation actually likely, that her earlier blunder had caused some form of diplomatic incident, insulted the alien in some form, and that her father had been forced to smooth the turbulent waters of diplomatic slights. If this were the case then she would spend the next ten minutes grovelling and apologising, and the next ten years suffering her fathers constant and public reminders of her state of utter incompetence. Both, whilst uncomfortable, were just a matter of practice - practice she had acquired long since.
Her eyes searched those of her fathers for some indication, some clue as to what he expected from her, but found nothing other than his usual cold appraisal. Lord T’sera, on the other hand, met her gaze with a reassuring smile of his own. Only when she felt the tense muscles in her neck relax minutely, her breath coming easier, did she realise how nervous she had been nevertheless. Her beautiful obstacle, on the contrary, impersonated a marble statue in his position beside the fireplace, only his eyes fixed on her like a predator watching its prey.
“Olivia, take a seat. The ambassador would like to speak to you.”
Crossing the room under their intense scrutiny took more courage than she thought possible, and she was glad to take a seat besides her father to take the weight off her shaking knees. She hated being the centre of attention. As Lord T’sera handed her a champagne glass filled with a strange orange red liquid, the famed and rare Ellysian wine, she wondered if her nervousness was so apparent he felt the need to provide calming libation. She took a polite sip, enjoyed the fresh bite, the tingling sting of the liquid before putting the potent glass down. She looked at the ambassador expectantly.
“Miss Matthews, your father has informed us that, just as the rest of the population, you have never seen the original text of the intergalactic trade agreement signed between Earth and the Empire forty years ago. Is that correct?”
Her confused gaze flickered to her father’s impassive face but there was still no hint as to what he expected. She had seen the translations, as they were publicly accessible, but no one had ever seen the complete text, due to what was termed security reasons.
“No, Your Excellency - I have never seen the non-redacted document.”
Just for a moment she saw the muscles around his eyes tense, saw a flicker of concern, and dread rose. No matter what it was, no matter what he was about to tell her, it was always wise to take heed when an ambassador showed even the smallest sign of worry. The beautiful obstacle, no one had introduced him to her and so there was not even a polite need to change the way she thought of him, muttered something incomprehensible under his breath. Her anxiety skyrocketed, her fingers beginning a restless play over the crease of her slacks in a senseless attempt to find occupation. She reached for her glass, noting Lord T’sera curiously approving gaze on her hand as he continued his explanation.
“There is nothing to be alarmed about.” Was there ever any situation in which these words did not lead the recipient into a headlong panic?
“One of the clauses details that any and all citizens with a certain genetic predisposition become wards of the Empire. The disposition is exceedingly rare, to be exact over the period of trade among our governments you are only sixth candidate discovered. I can assure you that you will be very well taken care of. Ray Aten …” and here he nodded to her beautiful obstacle leaning against the mantelpiece but the importance of knowing his name had unaccountably taken second place behind the desperate need to understand what exactly was being said.
“Sir, I do not understand at all.”
She felt her father on the settee besides her wince at her rudeness at simply breaking into the Ambassador’s sentence but she needed all her concentration to control her slowly rising breathing. The Ambassador had leant forward in his seat, reaching for her hand. As circumspectly as she could she moved herself out of his reach.
“Miss Olivia, the world outside this planet is very different from what you are used to. It means nothing else but that your immediate well-being and care is under our authority. As I was saying, Ray Aten has agreed to accompany you to the closest Guild Hall where …”
Years, decades of manners were overtaken by a need to resist, to refute, to object so overwhelming she broke into the ambassador’s speech before he could even finish the sentence.
Instinctively, her eyes had turned to her father for aid. His voice was harsh and cold as he snapped:
“Olivia, I expect you to behave with decorum for once in your life. You are now the legal property of the empire and I would thank you if you would keep the embarrassment you heap on the name of our family to a minimum.”
She might have been gratified, even strangely pleased by the looks of twin shock and utter disgust her father garnered from both men but her attention was firmly fixed on the iron band constricting around her chest more and more with each breath. She could not breathe, could not draw in enough oxygen to satisfy her lungs no matter how much of her strength she put into the simple act of breathing. The sound of her own heart beating filled her ears and began to overpower all other sounds, black spots appearing before her eyes. She felt a touch on her arm and realised with detached surprise that the ambassador had assumed a kneeling position before her, a small silver flask in his hand.
“Miss Mathews, Olivia, there is no need to panic. Please, allow me to offer you this. It will help to calm your nerves.”
He raised the flask to her lips and the need to turn her head away gave her back a small semblance of control. She simply knew that it was a drug and with the first shallow breath she could take she accused:
“I am not going to let you drug me.”
She saw his gaze flicker to her glass, flicker to the liquid he had handed her earlier, and knew in that instance that it was already too late. She had already ingested the drug. Anger and adrenalin gave her the strength she had not had before. She kicked him, resulting in his ignoble fall backwards in an undignified heap of silk and spilled liquid. She heard the yell behind her and ignored it, intent on escape. Her head began to turn, her balance precarious, as she stumbled to her feet. She made it three steps before she felt a presence behind her, a sixth sense of pursuit hardwired into the primordial remnant of the human mind. She tried to speed up, to find a burst of speed, which was why the hand reaching for her arm only managed to take hold of a handful of her hair. The pain was considerable but anyone with a life-long habit of tangly long tresses and male relatives was able to ignore the painful pull on her scalp. In some ways it even helped her to clear further the rising clouds in her mind.
In fight and flight responses her character leant towards the flight side of the equation - but she had also spent most of her life surrounded by security personnel with too much time on their hands. Before she had even stopped entirely in her forward movement her knee came up and when he turned her she was able to aim for the area of the most potential pain. But she was off-balance and whilst her leg made contact, resulting in a satisfying grunt, she was not able to catch herself, gravity taking over inexorably, pulling her down. His hand still buried in her hair cruelly stretched her neck, making it impossible to catch her fall. One of the last things she remembered with any clarity was the sickening crack as her temple connected with the corner of the marble side table, and the taste of blood in her mouth.
She woke to slashing pain in her head, strange hands touching her and the realisation that she could not move, that she was caught in the prison of her own paralysed body. Initially the only reality in her world lay in the hell fires of torture burning behind her eyes, in the all consuming agony rising, swelling with each beat of her heart. But any torment, and may it be utterly unbearable in the first instance, fades, by necessity, into background torture when more pressing concerns intrude. The first pressing concern intruding on her agony was the realisation of paralysis, of an inability to move even the smallest toe or finger by a millimetre. She wanted to panic, felt it rise in tidal waves, but her body did not react, hear breath did not speed up, her heart did not beat faster, she was simply caught screaming in terror in her own mind. She felt warm water poured over her skin, hands manipulating her limbs, fingers massaging her muscles with a slick substance. But this was still mild in comparison to what came next. She felt herself lifted and bedded on a flat, icy cold surface, a needle inserted into her arm and what could only be an infusion attached to it. She felt thumbs stroking along her throat in a reminder of the time she had been in hospital with a tonsillitis. The hands stroked along her clavicles and in the same dispassionate examination began to knead her breasts. Without input from her brain her nipples reacted instinctively to the stimulation, pebbled and swelled. Different degrees of heat and cold, of a strange prickling sensation alternated before the hands abandoned her breasts to continue moving downwards. Over the skin of her stomach another set of changing sensation played out but too quickly she felt her legs being parted. She was entirely helpless as a finger stroked over her labia and pushed into her, as a second was added. Even her mind’s scream died in terror when the fingers were replaced with something long and metal, something cold playing though the same plethora of sensations subjected to her breasts and stomach. When it was removed and the questing fingers moved further, found her anus, her mind shut down in self-defence.
“Mylord Aten, we need to speak.”
Ray turned away from the observation window through which he had been able to watch over the little human when she was brought in after the examination and implantation of the translation device. It was hard to remove his full concentration from the vulnerable body on the large bed, almost impossible, but no one ignored Master Jocelyn, the Guild leader. The man was stunning, with a beauty so otherworldly that it had inspired poets for decades. Piercing green eyes in a face of even male beauty, a muscular body as close to perfection as was possible. It was rumoured he shared a bond with the empress, though this seemed unlikely as his position as guild leader precluded exclusive mental bonds. Notwithstanding the possible, or impossible, existence of a formal link, it remained a fact that his best friend since childhood was the primary bond-mate to the empress. It was unquestioned that he had built the guild back to its former glory and aided hundreds of imperial wards in assuming their positions as kings or queens. It was pure luck for him to be visiting the closest Guild Hall when Ambassador T’sera had informed them of the discovery of a vulnerable ward on planet Earth. It was even more fortuitous that Master Jocelyn had been willing to drop all and meet them en route when all had gone to hell in her acquisition. Ray had seen her bruises, the gaping wound on her temple, as he helped the healers to strip her. It was amazing how they could have done so much damage to someone who should only be treasured, in such a short time.
He gave the other man his official title in recognition of his expertise and the aid offered. That beautiful mouth twitched in amused recognition before setting into serious, almost worried lines.
“It seems that what can in any way go wrong with this young lady, will go wrong. Physically she is in supreme condition, mentally - we will see when she wakes. The translation implant has settled and connected well but the CT scan gave rise to some worrying suspicions.”
Ray felt his body tense in concerned expectation, reading himself to fight whatever might threaten the woman, though his rational mind knew exactly that all his considerable skill with weapons was useless in this fight.
“Her scan reveals that she was, with high probability, conscious but unable to move for most of the examination. The only blessing in this is that she seems to have lost consciousness again before the implant was inserted in her brain stem.”
Ray thanked the deities for that small mercy. He did not want to even consider the possible agony she might have experience had she been aware as the implant was inserted. But the rest….
“So she…” He could not finish the sentence.
“Yes, she was aware as we, for all intents and purposes, violated her. No matter what the reason was, it would have felt like defilement to her.”
The “we” in that sentence was generous as the examination had been undertaken before Master Jocelyn set foot on the ship, and one of the first stones of contention had been the Master viciously cutting down the healers for their neglect to attach a brain scan to the woman, to ensure no unhappy surprises. Truly, what could go wrong, did go wrong with this woman.
“What do you suggest is the best course of action, Master Jocelyn?”
The other man mustered him thoughtfully before answering.
“Her whole framework for reference has been destroyed in the most brutal way possible. The one person she should be able to trust implicitly, her father, has handed her over to pain and abuse, according to your own notes. In a situation like that I would ordinarily suggest to dispense with the ordinary time of acclimatisation and give her a strong, stable presence, preferably someone who shows the first signs of bonding, to cling to and to stabilise her world. The first testing results suggest her affinity lies in your region, most likely with your own home planet. It is therefore likely that she will take over from your dying queen and bond in that area. I have noted that you have never shown any interest or draw in bonding and therefore I am willing to provide her with that stability. Emotionally, the easiest access to her will be through physical pleasure …”
As he realised the meaning of these words, Ray suddenly saw red. Overwhelming fury tinging his mind in flames, consuming all rational thought. It did not matter, Master Jocelyn only suggested seducing the human ward for her own protection or that her safe-guarding was, essentially, part of the duties of the Guild and its Master. Nor did it matter that monogamy was virtually unheard of in the empire, especially for the Kings and Queens who often needed the stabilisation of more than one bond-mate in order to survive the demands of their territories. In that moment, he simply saw the other man as a rival, as a threat to the woman he had instinctively already claimed as his. With the guttural battle-cry of his race he attacked, one hand instinctively going for the knife he had not been allowed to wear in the healing quarters, at behest of the man before him, the other hand circling Master Jocelyn’s throat as he slammed him into the wall. His rationality only returned when he realised that the other man was not only not resisting but chuckling in quiet, though slightly strangled, mirth. He let go in horror.
“Milord, I am sorry ..”
But the older man waved him off.
“No harm done. It was not unexpected, and a test anyway.”
He felt manipulated, angry and strangely unsettled so the next question came out sharper than he anticipated.
“Is that why you made me give up all my weapons before entering.”
The other man was unrepentant.
“In part, though I have learnt the hard way that it is not wise to give an enraged ward access to sharp objects. That is how I acquired most of my scars.” A dry chuckle sounded as he continued ruefully: “Actually, most of those can be traced directly to the temper of our referred empress.”
For a man, any man, to speak of their all-powerful ruler with such irreverence, and gentle love, was enlightening and woke a strange longing in Ray’s heart. He wanted something similar, wanted it with the woman behind that window.
“What do I do?”
The older man raised a sardonic eyebrow and let his gaze travel suggestively down Ray’s body.
“Young man, I would be quite happy to show you the basics, and much more, but if you are in need of that kind of instruction we need more time than we have before she wakes.”
Suddenly, Ray empathised with the empress’s desire to take a sharp object to this infuriating man. Master Jocelyn could drive a saint to distraction.
“I am sure, my knowledge will be sufficient.”
With a mocking bow, the Master turned to the door - and halted one more time.
“Some advice: she woke first to utter terror, to pain and degradation; let her wake to pleasure now, sneak under her defences and invade her mind with touch and delight before she is able to remember the fear and terror.”
That sounded like not half bad advice
This time she woke to warmth and softness, to the gentle touch of hands stroking along her flanks, to soft lips teasing her sensitive neck. Her eyes opened to familiar yellow ones and though she knew she should be frightened it was almost impossible among the gentle heat of her own arousal under his hands. Lips came to nibble on hers in a gentle caress. The taste of maleness permeated her very being, so different from the scent surrounding her and still so strangely familiar, fleeting and addictive; tantalising with its tempting flavour. It was impossible not to chase the taste, not to open her mouth and try to take it in deeper. She met wet heat and an explosion of taste and passion so strong it frightened her. Before she could tense his hand cradled her cheek, softly like the beat of butterfly wings on dew, and his tongue began to play with hers, a gently distracting game of catch that left no space for fear. For a long time it was only his hand and his mouth touching her, though her whole body was bathed in the warmth of his so close. Her arms came to circle his neck, her hands instinctively searching the touch of his smooth, soft skin, so different in its sensation from that of a human.
The rougher edge of his thumbs, calluses acquired through work which had formed not only his hands but the seductively long lines of his strong body, caught along the edge of her ribcage, teasingly stroked along the sensitive underside of her breasts drawing a ragged moan from her. The level of sensitivity, the knowledge with which hid hands shaped her breasts and the heated moisture pooling between her legs told her that he had spent not inconsiderable time acquainting himself with her body as she lay unconscious. She knew she should be frightened, should be fighting him - but she was warm, her mind cradled in confusing pleasure, every inch of her body sensitised to his touch, his gentleness. His mouth travelled a hot, wet path down her neck to her breasts. He took her left nipple into his mouth, increasing the suction with each draw, whilst the fingers of his other hand played over her right breast. Just before the suction became painful, his mouth would let up to lap at the nipple with soft strokes. The gentle movement of his tongue against the hard nub made her squirm, wanting more and not knowing of what she wanted more. Just as she was about to scream from frustration he would return to suck her nipple deep into his mouth. He repeated the treatment three times on her left breast before abandoning it to give her right the same attention. The gentle heat in her bones changed slowly to the demanding fire of passion.
Her body lost its dreamlike relaxation, writhed under him, demanding more. She felt his mouth stretch in a lazy grin but his teeth circled her nipple with a warning nip. What left her mouth was closer to a whine than a moan and made him laugh. He levered himself over her, met her eyes smiling, let her feel the strength and weight of his body over hers. Her legs came around him naturally, her thighs spread in a welcome she could not suppress through fear or embarrassment. In that moment there was nothing outside the feeling of him and her, the world too frightening, too complicated to be let in. He entered her slowly, carefully, in a movement so full of intimacy and gentleness, the burning passion underneath it transposed into something new, something deeper. She allowed him to take her, to imprint her mind and body with the promise of safety and as his mouth found hers, his movements let both of their bodies lose themselves in pleasure, she allowed herself the promise of a future.
He held her close later, her head bedded on his shoulder, his hands drawing lazy circles over her body. She did not want to talk, did not want to ask and discover that all that promise of safety, of protection, of gentleness had been a lie - but reality could not be denied forever and avoidance had never come easy to her.
“What will happen now?”
She heard the trepidation in her own voice.
“With high probability you will come to rule my home planet, possibly including various of its satellites.”