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The Scent of Sondja
by Patricia Green
Copyright ©2015 Patricia Green
All Rights Reserved

Part 1 is here.

Part 3 is here.
Part 4 is here.

Chapter 2

Jack felt himself grinning like an idiot.

She scrambled to put the helmet back on, but the latch was broken and it was too late. Jack was nearly overwhelmed with feelings of deep attraction to Sondja, feelings so earth-moving that he nearly wept with longing for her. She was too far away. He needed to feel her close to him, tight against his body. Gently, he removed the useless helmet.

“Sondja…” he said softly, taking her into his arms.

She trembled beneath his hands, and pushed weakly to release herself from his hold. But her efforts were feeble, halfhearted, barely pressing her hands against his chest. When Jack pressed his lips to hers, she stopped her shaky struggles and added her kiss to his.

Jack ran his fingers through her soft hair, cupped her face between his hands, kissed her deeply and long. Although he felt lust for her, he mostly felt a deep emotional attachment, as though he’d found the love of his life and could finally be complete.

Only Tatum’s voice through his comm unit pulled his attention away from the woman Jack loved. “Captain? Captain Hamilton?”

“Yes,” Jack responded, his temper short. “Have you contained things?”

“Aye, sir. We’ll need to assess the situation more carefully, but it looks like a bomb blast.”

“Great…” Jack muttered, concern pushing his desire for Sondja aside for a time. He rose from behind the planter and looked around. There were scorch marks on the walls, one planter with a tree in it had toppled, and Kratians and humans, alike, were beginning to stand and ask questions. His security men were there to calm the situation, but it required a Captain’s direct influence to keep the crowd under control.

Jack moved among the people, seeing to it that the Kratians were immediately escorted to their quarters. Sondja talked to her people, using the lilting Kratian language to soothe them. They stumbled off, dazed, with his security people.

Jack made sure the bomb squad was at work before he escorted Sondja to her suite. Once inside the quiet room, they kissed again.

“You know this can never be, Jack,” she pointed out, resting her head against his shoulder.

“We’ll make it work. We have to.”

“I cannot mate with a human. My people would never understand.”

“Give them credit for being understanding.”

She pinned him with a serious look. “How can we mate when you are here, aboard this starship, and I am back at Krate? I cannot lead my people from here. They depend upon me.”

Jack couldn’t make any promises. He knew he was to be reassigned, but he didn’t know where. It could be light years away from Krate, light years away from his love. The thought made his stomach plummet and his heart grow heavy. Intellectually, he knew his feelings were only a chemical reaction, but his will to fight it was weak.

He had to agree with her assessment, but it was so hard to do. “I know. There must be a way, though. There has to be.”

His comm chimed. It was Tatum again. Jack had to go see to the emergency repairs. Like Sondja, his people depended upon him.

* * *

It was hours later that the bomb squad and Jack’s security people made their report. The bombs had been set by Kratian reactionaries. The signature on the chemicals could only have come from two places, Krate or Seeter, and the Seeter people—a delegation of only two—had been securely in their cabins from the time they were escorted there, to the time of the explosion. A security detail had been out in their hallway, keeping them safe from potential harm the whole time. Neither of them was responsible.

Jack had to tell Sondja, but he dreaded it. She’d be hurt, worried, angry.

Instead, she was apologetic when he came to her and explained.

“I am so sorry, Jack. I knew that some of my people are against any potential trade of our moon with the Seeters. I never expected violence over it. Apparently, my people have not evolved as far as I had hoped since the last war.”

He touched her face, skimming her soft cheek with his fingers. Within her cabin, she didn’t need to wear the anti-contamination suit, and instead she wore a loosely flowing gold and blue robe that moved with her, gliding around her body like a breeze, molding itself to her with every step she took, and then teasingly flowing away.

“I must go home,” she told Jack, a mournful note in her voice.

It took every bit of will in his body not to tell her that she mustn’t go. “I’ll go with you.”

“Jack! You cannot! Your career!”

“I’ll give it all up. I can’t live my life apart from you, Sondja.”

“This is foolish. We must not do this. We must resist. We are adults, not to be driven by our hormones.”

He pulled her into his arms and kissed her deeply. “Can you do it?” he asked her, whispering in her ear.

“I must. You must.”

“But, can you, Sondja?”

Her voice cracked when she said, “No. My spirit is broken.”

“I’ll go with you.”

“What will you do there, Jack? I have my duties, but what will you have?”

He wanted to scream with frustration. It was true; he’d have nothing. Perhaps he could be a military advisor to help Sondja with her internecine problems. “I’ll ask my Admiral.”

“What do you have in mind?”

He raked a hand through his hair. “I don’t know. My mind is spinning. I want you so badly.”

“I desire you as well.”

“I’ll go comm my Admiral. I’ll come up with something.” He kissed her deeply again, and then dragged himself apart from her, hating every step he took away.

It turned out that the solution was at hand.

* * *

“You what?” Jack quickly amended his comment to make it more respectful. “I mean, I’m very surprised, sir. How long has this been planned?”

The admiral had raised an eyebrow at Jack’s initial tone, but soon relaxed his face into something less irritated. “For about six months, Hamilton. Your career has progressed. You never slow down. Besides, we really need your common sense and resilience on Krate. It was the perfect job for you.”

“I wish I’d known. I might have handled the Krate delegation differently.”

“Which is why we didn’t tell you. We wanted your impartiality.”

“Well, you got it up to a point.”

“You do have choices, Hamilton. We can put you on Telus. They need an ambassador as well.”

“No! I mean, no thank you, sir. I want to learn more about the Kratians, explore what that world has to offer. There are many things that attract me to the place.”

The admiral was nodding from his place behind his desk, looking at the vid conference panel. “Then it’s settled. We’ll be transferring you to the diplomatic corps. You’ll be ambassador to Krate. Get the moon issue resolved, catch those terrorists, and off you go.”

“Thank you, sir. I’ll do my best.”

“Of course you will, Jack. You would never do less.” The screen went blank as the admiral logged off.

Jack leaned back in his chair, somewhat stunned. They’d picked him and the Dreadnaught for the Kratian/Seeterian negotiations because the plan had been to promote him into the diplomatic corps. It was quite a change from space operations, but Jack could see why they’d look to him to do the job. He’d hosted a number of these negotiations, acting as arbiter and coordinator, and they’d been quite successful. The bonds between the arguing parties had been forged well and with seeming permanence. He was good at what he did.

However, he had two problems to solve before he could go. Two big problems.

short stories in five minutesPart 3 on Monday.

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