Top Menu

Category Archives Short Story Series

cover: scent of sondja

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

This is the 4th and final chapter.

Part 1 is here.
Part 2 is here.
Part 3 is here.

Chapter 4

Jack was tired, grouchy and worried when he got up the next morning. He’d hardly slept at all, waiting for Sondja to get back to him. She still hadn’t. As he straightened his jacket, he looked into the mirror and gave himself a steady glare. If he had to push aside her retainers and barge into her quarters, he would see her.

It was possible—unthinkable—that Sondja had somehow become unattached to him overnight. Maybe the pheromone attraction wore off after a while. He still loved her, but maybe the feeling was no longer reciprocated. Maybe he was going to have to go to Krate, in love with its leader, but unable to reach her except professionally. The idea was crushing.

As it turned out, getting in to see her was easy. She was sitting in her reception area, wearing her helmet and her dark blue body suit when he was shown in. The helmet was confusing. Weren’t they past that?

“Jack!” she cried, standing. “I am glad to see you. Very glad.”

He took her in his arms, or tried to, but she resisted. “I don’t understand, Sondja. Why didn’t you return my comm? Why are you wearing the helmet again? What’s going on?”

She strode away and gestured to the couch. “Please sit down. I have news for you.”

“And I you,” he said, sitting. She sat across from him, her posture stiff and formal.

“You go first.”

“We found the culprits behind the bombing. They are two of your delegation, plus someone on Krate. We don’t know how many populate the Krate homeworld, but identifying one will probably lead you to the others. When the bombing failed, the terrorists made a plan to kidnap you and hold you hostage until you reneged on the deal with Seeter.”

“Mimika?”

Surprised, Jack nodded. “Yes. How did you know?”

“We suspected all along, so intercepted his messages. I am not afraid of him or his cohorts. I did not know who he was working with, however, so I wanted to trace his communications back to Krate. We were able to do that and the terrorists on my homeworld are safely removed. They will be charged with treason.” The downturn of her lips showed her sadness.

“I’m sorry.”

“It is troubling, but it had to be done. You have Mimika?”

“Yes.”

“You will release him to me? He’s with the diplomatic corps, so has immunity from your crimes. He will be tried on Krate and confined for his treason.”

While Jack sincerely wanted to try Mimika and his co-conspirator in the Commonwealth courts, he knew he had no jurisdiction. “Of course. But, Sondja, why are you helmeted? We’ve come so far.”

Her head tilted down. “I did not wish to infect you further. Things have changed.”

“Not with me, they haven’t.”

“I had a long meeting with some of my scientists on Krate, last night. We talked until very late.”

“That’s why you didn’t comm me back?”

She nodded. “Yes. It was late, and I was troubled.”

Jack leaned forward and tried to take her gloved hands. She resisted. “What’s the matter?”

“There is a cure.”

“A….what?”

“A cure for the infection. I told my physician what had happened and he told me about an experimental drug my health scientists have been working on. I had been unaware of it before. Apparently, it can remove the infection and reverse the symptoms in several species, humans among them. An inoculation for human males will soon follow.”

Jack sat silently. Did he want to return to normal? What would his life be like, dispassionately dealing with Sondja on a professional basis and none other.

“I did not know,” she said, a note of pleading in her voice. “I am so sorry.”

He stood and walked a few paces away. Did he love her for herself, or only as a result of the pheromones? “I have to tell you, I’ve been promoted to become the Commonwealth ambassador to Krate. It’s a position I want, but perhaps you’d rather I wasn’t there.”

“Oh, Jack,” she said, her voice shaky. “You would be so welcome on my world.”

“Welcomed by whom? Your people, or you?”

“Both. You see, the cure is only for humans. It does not apply to Kratian females, so the love and attraction I feel for you, although caused by the infection, would not be removed. I will remain in love with you for my entire life. But, Jack, I do not wish to obligate you. Please take the cure and be free from this curse.”

The fact that she was willing to suffer unrequited love for him was stunning. The emotional pain would be heartbreaking. And, really, how much of his love for her was the pheromones talking and how much was caused by her good qualities: intelligence, wit, wisdom, confidence, and beauty. She was worthy of love in so many ways.

“I will take the cure,” he told her, and watched her shoulders droop. “But I will also become ambassador to Krate, because I know my love will not fade. I love you for you, Sondja. I would love you without the pheromones. I’ll prove it to you. How do I get this cure?”

She still looked forlorn. “For your sake, I had the molecular formula sent to your chief of medicine on the ship. I would imagine synthesizing it would take very little time.”

“I’ll go to sick bay right away,” he told her. “We’ll have our answer before you leave tomorrow.”

“Jack,” she said, then paused. “Jack, I have no hope for us. You will lose your love for me. It was false.”

He went to her and took her hands, squeezing them in his. “There’s more to me than that. Trust me.”

She nodded, but wouldn’t meet his gaze. Jack hoped he was right about his feelings. They’d only had a few days together. Could he really be genuinely in love with her? They’d laughed together, conversed, worked through difficult negotiations, and even more difficult danger. Although she was powerful, she was also vulnerable. Taking the cure would risk wounding her deeply and forever. Nonetheless, he had to prove his love to himself and to her. Taking the cure was the only way. He hurried off to see his chief medical officer and tried to keep an open mind and heart.

He couldn’t return to her until the next morning. The cure had been painful, excruciating. He was told that the inoculation for uninfected people wouldn’t be as bad, but as he’d already been exposed to the pheromones, he couldn’t be inoculated. After some truly awful hours, they’d put him to sleep, and hadn’t awakened him until the ship was on “day” shift. His joints still ached, and his head swam as he sat up. The dizziness soon passed, and the doctor called him cured. How he knew that the drug had worked was a mystery to Jack, but he’d seemed confident with his scans, so Jack was cleared to be exposed to Sondja.

Her guards were no longer at her quarters, and no one met him at the door which was unlocked. He began to have the impression that he’d missed her, that she’d gone back to Krate, when he heard movement behind her bedroom door. He knocked sharply and she called to him to enter.

She was dressed in a diaphanous garment that glittered subtly, swaying over her sweet body like gold-shot silk. She had no helmet, and her eyes told him nothing when her gaze met his.

He breathed deeply, not knowing what to expect. She stood there, as if paused while pacing, staring at him. He breathed deeply again, but he didn’t have that feeling of sensual attraction, the nearly overwhelming itch to make her his own. Instead, he felt a subtle sense of coming home. Of seeing a loved one for the first time after a long absence. Relief, pleasure, longing for an embrace all swelled in him. He took a step closer, now within a meter of her, and watched her anxious expression turn desperate. He couldn’t relieve her worries yet; it would be unfair to be premature. He wanted to kiss her. She was beautiful and exotic. Her fragrance was like button flowers from Zion, sweet, floral, gentle. Another step and he was close enough to feel her breath on his face. Her breathing was rapid and shallow. Fear.

“Kiss me,” he whispered.

“I am afraid.”

“We need to try, but I don’t want to force you.”

She nodded and he touched her cheeks, tilting her head toward his. As she leaned up toward him, his hands slid into her silky hair and the red stripe there shifted like a corona around her head. When her lips touched his, he knew. The answer was clear as could be.

He loved her.

There was no hesitation in him as he stole his kiss. It was tender and yet confident. She responded eagerly, returning the thrust of his tongue and the firmness of his lips.

They broke and stood forehead-to-forehead, breathing heavily. He drew in air like an almost-drowned man. “You smell incredible, my love,” he told her.

Her head popped back and her gaze was panicked. “It did not work.”

“Oh, it worked. I don’t want you the same way I wanted you yesterday or before. I want to talk to you, to know you, to laugh with you and build something. I don’t want to overwhelm you and demand that you feel as I do. I want you to give your love to me, but not in desperation. I want a merging. The kiss sealed it for me. I love you.”

“Are you certain?”

“With everything fiber of my being.”

“Will you come to Krate with me, Jack Hamilton? Will you make it your home? Will you make me your mate?”

“Yes, Sondja. Yes to all of that. Yes to building a life together. Yes to exploring each other and learning every detail of our thoughts and emotions. Good, bad, boring, exciting, and wonderful, I want you.”

She threw her arms around him and kissed him again, with even more enthusiasm. Once again, he was embraced by the scent of Sondja.

The End

Thank you for reading “The Scent of Sondja.” I hope you enjoyed this short story. Eventually, I’ll put all my short stories in a book and share them with the world, but for now, these are for my blog readers, all of whom I cherish. If you want to be among the first viewers of my short stories, or any of my posts, sign up for my mailing list (over at the top, right column). I sometimes give things away there as well. Next prize: Saturday, May 23, for mailing list members only.

short stories in five minutes

 

cover: scent of sondja

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Part 1 is here.
Part 2 is here.
Part 4 is here.

Chapter 3

The conference room set aside for negotiations held the two Seeters and Sondja plus one Kratian aide named Mimika. The red-eyed Mimika, who sat behind his leader was quiet, making notes on a hand-held device that was unfamiliar to Jack. Sondja did all the talking. She was respectful and reasonable. She wanted to sell the moon, not give it away, but the Seeters felt it was theirs to begin with, despite the long history of the Krates having charge of it.

“That treaty is outdated and no longer relevant,” the swarthy Seeter said to Sondja. His Interstallar was marred by a thick accent, and Jack had to carefully parse each word that came out of the Seeter’s lipless mouth. Sondja, on the other hand, looked focused but relaxed despite wearing the helmet with the breather quietly humming. There were slight differences between the Krates and Seeters, but it was clear that their races came from the same genetic stock, albeit a long time split off.

“We disagree,” Sondja said firmly. “Krate is willing to accept an offer of six billion bets for Dolaris, plus royalty rights to the minerals there.”

“Six billion! Outrageous,” the Seeter exclaimed. “Dolaris’ mining is worth less than half of that.”

“Are you offering three billion bets?”

“We will go no higher than two, and no royalties.”

It had been going on like this for hours, with neither side budging. Jack thought it reasonable to step in. “Have you considered going with an all-royalties scheme rather than the purchase of Dolaris?”

The Seeter frowned, dark eyebrows beetling. “We want to own the moon and all its minerals.”

“There is a compromise here,” Jack told him. “If Krate is willing to accept royalties for the mining, and perhaps the water, maybe it would be equitable.”

Sondja shot him a wary look and a tiny smile. “We would be willing to discuss royalties only, Minister of Seeter.”

“You would?”

She nodded.

“What rate would that be?”

They negotiated for another two hours, but finally settled on a royalty scheme whereby Krate would receive a percentage of the mining and water profits, in exchange for the use of the surface of the moon for anything but projects deleterious to the environment there. The moon would remain the property of Krate, though Seeter could populate it in whatever fashion they chose. Since the Setter population was booming, outgrowing its small planet, it was a good deal for all parties. It also had the benefit of both worlds forming an alliance as each wanted something tangible from the other, something that could only be had through good behavior.

Jack tried to be unbiased during the negotiations, not encouraging either side to misbehave. Sondja pushed the limits more than a few times, but so did the Minister from Seeter.

Sondja left the bargaining table first, and Jack wrapped up with the Seeters and then left as well.

There hadn’t been time or opportunity to tell Sondja about the promotion to ambassador, but Jack had wanted to get through the negotiations without influencing her or creating the impression that he was siding with her over Seeter. It was her job to get the best deal, and Jack’s job to point out places where there was potential agreement and move the process along. But the negotiations were over, and Jack’s obligation for impartiality along with them. He could hardly wait to give Sondja the news.

Unfortunately, he was told that Sondja was in conference when he arrived at her quarters. He left her a message and headed back to his office. As he was walking along, he got a comm from Tatum.

“We think we’ve identified the two Kratians behind the terrorism, Captain Hamilton,” Tatum told him.

“Come to my office. I don’t want to discuss this over the comm.”

“Aye, aye, sir.”

Jack settled into his chair and was reading messages on his vid screen when Tatum came in. He was the picture of a calm and collected, efficient and stiff security chief.

“Sit down. What have you got for me?” Jack began.

“Thank you,” he replied, taking a seat in front of Jack’s desk. “We traced the chemical signatures, and then correlated them to potential black market dealers for those chemicals. We narrowed it down to a single dealer in this quadrant, and had a…chat…with him.”

Jack arched his brow.

“He was actually fairly easy to convince. We used a combination of muscle and money. He responded well to both.”

“I see. Go on.”

“We showed him pictures of the Kratian delegation and he identified two faces.”

“And?”

“One was Mimika, and the other was a Kratian female called Artis.”

“Mimika! He was in the negotiations today. He didn’t say a word.”

Tatum shook his head. “No surprise there. After the interrogation, when we were sure he was in the conference with you, we intercepted his transmissions off the Dreadnaught and decoded them. He was sending messages back to Krate, planning to kidnap Hefalia Sondja and hold her hostage unless the Hefalia breaks the contract and keeps the moon.”

“Political suicide for her,” Jack pointed out. “The new deal would be lucrative to the Krates, easing up their economy and leading to greater prosperity. I’m sure Sondja would rebel against killing it.”

Shrugging, Tatum went on. “I only know what I read on Mimika’s messages. But we’ve got him red-handed.”

“And the Kratian female delegate?”

“We arrested her immediately. She’s in the brig.”

Jack sighed. The situation was awkward, but there weren’t too many ways to resolve it diplomatically. “All right. Grab Mimika and get ID on whomever he was communicating with on Krate. The Hefalia needs to know about the plot and her security at home depends on knowing who is behind it at home.”

“Agreed,” Tatum said, standing. “I’ll get right on it.”

Jack watched him march out of the office and immediately went to work recording an urgent message to Sondja. Hopefully, she’d get it as soon as her conference was done.

short stories in five minutesPart 4, the final chapter, on Wednesday.

cover: scent of sondja

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Close