Marking of the Days
When the day comes I crack open an eye from the disturbance of light that has infiltrated my sleeping chamber. My face is buried in a cushion and I am too comfortable here. I reach a hand out from under the covers. It is cold.
"Nnnh." I pull my hand back in and close my eyes again, too lazy to face the chill.
I hear my outer chamber doors open then shut and little feet padding along the stone floor, over carpeting. Shortly there I hear a fire crackling away and I begin to feel the warmth of it from the vent system. Plates and utensils rattle quietly but I smell no food.
"Good morning." Laila calls to me quietly. When she does not receive a response she tosses a small cushion onto me. "Baika…Wake up now. Hanta says you want to have a run before your breakfast. I put out your clothing."
"Breakfast?" I mutter. "What is breakfast?"
"Morning meal… Hanta warned me not to touch you in the morning. She says that you have been trained to attack people that take hold of you in your sleep so I’m sorry about the pillow."
"Nnnh." I pull up the covers.
"Bai-ka…" She urges, "Don’t fall asleep again."
"Give me a little time."
"No. Hanta says your schedule is very tight today."
"You are her understudy already. So cruel."
I try to fade again but another cushion lands on me. I furrow my brow at the annoyance. Another cushion. I sit up with a growl and she squeals, running away clutching her next ballistic. I throw one of her previous attacks after her as I hear her giggling in my outer chamber. She has won. I am up. At least someone has some energy this morning.
I get out of bed to go splash some water on my face, put on what Laila has laid out and make to go from my rooms to find the barracks of the palace guard. They had better be up and ready for a run for I am in a foul mood… Laila skips out of my way quickly as I go past her to my doors.
"Have fun!" She cheers.
I growl briefly in response and leave. I feel somewhat better after having a long run in the wooded hills behind Manaleh with the palace guard and then doing a bit of sparring with them. I return to my chambers to find the table set for me to take a meal with guests. Hanta comes in the doors after me.
"Ahhll… You smell. Go wash!" She pushes me toward the bath, "Hurry!"
"Everyone is in such a rush!" I scowl.
Bathed and dressed I find Laila and Hanta in the main room along with Shilne.
"Look at Laila." He says.
I have a look. She has on the clothing I had requested be made for her for this trip.
"Very nice." I nod.
"Thank you." She curtsies.
"Stop staring at her." I warn Shilne.
"Yai. You are being her father."
"That I am. She will have better than you."
"I am offended!" He pretends.
"If you must be." I take my seat.
The meal is kept short then we depart for Aykovas. Laila sits with me in the back of the transport craft, fidgeting.
"What is wrong?"
"I’m nervous." She takes a hold of the sleeve of my coat.
"Of being with your own people?"
"Just meeting so many new people. They’re all going to have so many questions. What should I say to them?"
"Whatever you feel like saying. You should tell the truth of course." I remove her hand from my clothing, "Relax yourself."
I pull her into my lap and hug her, feeling her hugging me back.
My little daughter. You have a hold on my heart. I hope that you will not bond with me so much that you forget your own people.
"Thank you for trying to be my father." She whispers, "I love you."
"Laila…Do not forget yourself." I kiss her forehead, "We will find you a fine husband when you are ready."
"Not Shilne?" She smiles.
"Never him. I would not be able to see you for he would have you on his farm surrounded by children! Perhaps a human husband from
"Oh is that why you’re bringing me there? You want to hurry and marry me off?" She smiles a little more.
"No… I want you to be with your own people. It is important that you know who you are."
"Good. So just be who you are while you are there. If you decide that you would like to stay there you may."
"I know I will want to go home to Manaleh."
The small landing pads at Aykovas are cleared for us to land and we are met by the heads of the humans along with the Aykovan guards. Things seem to be rather casual here, the guards coming from the local enforcement troops. They are more accustomed to dealing with civilians than military personnel yet they do bow to me respectfully before escorting us into one of their common buildings to talk. Their newly elected human leader is named Thomas, a rather calm and open man. He appears to be a good choice for the newly created job.
"…Those that were brought here from Galrea seem to be settling in. They’re pitching in and helping to build the new housing so things are going quickly. Things are a little tight but everyone is getting along. The food and supplies you sent from Galrea are helping a lot."
"Once things settle out there I will have more brought." I offer.
"Fantastic. We’re also trying to get ready to start planting the fields again. With all of the extra help we’re likely to have an outstanding crop this year."
"This is good news for you will also have to feed all of that extra help… I have another issue for you."
"I will be freeing the many slaves that are kept amongst our civilian population. There may be more coming to you."
"Wow. We’re going to have a city here shortly." He jokes.
"You may at that. I have not even gone to Mycenea yet. You are serving as an experiment here. So far I see it is going well." I leaf through a few of the paper reports he has provided me.
"I would have to agree. You don’t think you’re going to have to send thousands more to us from
"I am thinking not. I hope that they will be able to have their own colonies there yet it is difficult. Your people did a grave injury to ours there and so there are very bad feelings. I will have a hard time convincing those in power there to release your people to their own doing."
"I hope that won’t bring a little war there."
"I hope that as well… Laila, the human girl that came with us today… I would like to have her come here to your school every once and a while. I wish to keep her involved with her own people though she has decided to continue to work for me at Manaleh instead of living here. I am also looking for her family. I know there are many in her situation, families that had been separated. It is the way to separate families so that there will be less of an urge to
rebell. Perhaps if you work with the groups on Mycenea and some of our other outposts you will be able to reunite a number of families."
"That would be a wonderful thing… You are a very different man from your father."
"I would hope so. I have worked hard to be different."
"Come and have a look at what we’ve been doing instead of just listening to me tell you about it." He suggests and we file out of the building for a tour of the new buildings. While the looks of the humans are still somewhat distrustful they are curious enough to come out and see what we are doing. At the site of the new housing I meet with the construction workers and thank them for their dedication to carrying out my will.
"Work is a good thing, sire." The Construction Site Master bows to me.
"That it is. I hope to keep you and your brotherhood of builders very busy for the next few cycles."
"Please do! It is good to hire into the company instead of shrug my shoulders that there is no work. My people are happy to be here, working and feeding their families."
Laila wanders away from us as we enter one of the dining halls. She is bored of hearing all of the details of
Aykovas, economics, buildings… Shortly she is surrounded by people who are asking her about why she is with us, why she hasn’t come to live with them, if she feels safe with us, about the clothing she is wearing. In a
taik we are back in their main common building talking of what will be needed for more to come to them from the civilian slave population.
"Baika…" Laila has come back now.
"Nnh?" I am reading over some more papers.
"I think I know why it is that they wanted to have their guards come back."
"Why is that?" I look up at her from where I am seated.
"This is why." She points downward to the child whose hand she is holding, "This is
He is blue of skin and gold of eye, "Hello, young one." I forget to change languages yet he surprises me by responding before I can correct my error.
"Hello. Nice to meet you." He speaks perfect human so he is not a child that is here with the builders.
"His father is one of the guards. His mother is one of the guarded." Laila explains.
"Ahht!" I smile. It makes all manner of sense now. "Do you live here
"What is the name of your mother?"
"And your father?"
"Your father is northern then, hmm?"
"Maybe." He shrugs.
"Where do you live?" He points out the door and I laugh. "Do you live with your mother and father?"
I notice that Thomas is looking a bit uneasy at this interview I am conducting. They have been trying to hide that there have been relationships between the guards and the humans that live here.
"I would like to meet your parents. Are they at home?"
"Uh huh." He nods his head.
"Take me to them." I rise from my seat.
"Sire…" Thomas stops me.
"Before you say anything, I understand that you have been trying to keep this hidden. It was likely your hope that while I visited I would not find any of the children from these unions. I am not angry. I simply wish to meet his family. How many pairs are there?"
"Five." He relaxes. "I’ll go with you."
Nikaru pulls Laila along the path to where he lives. A little community of separated dwellings on the outside of the town seems to have sprung up. He pushes open the door and goes inside.
"Nika you are covered in dirt!" I hear his mother.
"I know. We have visitors." He says.
At this point we enter and I watch as the human female goes pale, her eyes widening. She clutches her child to her.
"Nal!" She cries and he rushes into the room with us at the tone of her voice, coming between his mate, child and us.
"Hello, Nalgon. I see you have taken your guard duties to all new levels of devotion." I smirk for he is ready and willing to fight me to keep them safe rather than bow to me.
"Baika… I beg you to leave us in peace."
"I shall. I simply wished to meet you since I have met your son. He is a strong young man. You should be proud."
"I am." There is a growl in his voice.
"Have you joined with his mother?"
"I have married her in the way of her people. I love my wife. I love my child."
"There is no need to be so defensive, Nalgon. I am simply fascinated. Why are you hiding this?"
"No one would understand outside of Aykovas. You know that as well as I. My family has abandoned me for this fact. They will not even speak of me."
"I am sorry to hear that. It is their loss for they will never know your son. You do not need to hide,
Nalgon. Make your son be proud of who he is… The child of love despite difference."
Nalgon shifts, wanting to go to his child who is feeling distressed but not ready to take down his defensive position.
"It is all right. Truly." I assure and smile at his son, "I am sorry, Nika… I have worried your parents."
Nalgon goes and hefts his child into his arms now, "Do not worry. We are just talking of foolish adult things." He tells the little boy, kissing his cheek. "What are you going to do?" He asks me.
I shrug, "Just say hello and ask if you are teaching him to speak our language."
"Yes, I am."
"Wonderful. Please tell those others that are so busy hiding that they should not. Do not fill your children with shame. If you have not registered them be sure to so that they will be able to have their education and other benefits of being citizens."
"Yes, Baika." He squeezes his son with a sigh of relief.
"It is nice to meet you all. Excuse me."
I linger at the door as the little group files back out. He is holding his wife and child to him tightly, "We do not have to hide any more." He tells them.
"Nal… I love you so much." His wife seems relieved too and I leave them be to settle from the surprise.
"I am very proud of you." Hanta says, patting my arm instead of prodding me for a switch.
"This gives me hope. Perhaps we will find the same on Mycenea… Nikaru is what I might have been." I muse.
"You really are half human then?" Thomas inquires.
"Half?"I raise an eyebrow, "I do not know of percentages… Yet the docors I have seen over the seasons have told me that the only thing they can identify in my genetics as being human is my hair. It is not straight as is usual amongst our people... Believe me my father was surprised that his seed that had failed with many healthy women of his own species produced a child with a human female. A strange miracle that was never repeated."
"You do not seem to be too worried by your heritage."
"It does worry me. It has been a major factor in my life all along. I was raised to hate humans. I was raised to kill you all and over the cycles I have done so with great pride and efficiency... I could not tell you how many humans I have dispatched during my life." I can see from his expression that Thomas is growing increasingly nervous at this admission, "My father did all he could to wipe away all of what made me human. I cannot even see a little bit of it in myself when I look in a reflecting pane."
"And how do you feel about humans now?" He shrugs his shoulders uneasily.
"I have many different opinions. I know that each person is different whether they be human or not. I expect everyone to prove him or herself. I am certainly glad to be done with the human generals and your lying, fat politicians… I realize that most of those who remain in our borders are not military or politicians. You have come here because of them, because they opened up territory for your people to farm and such. You likely had no idea that you were coming to worlds that were ours. I will keep care of your people the best I can, Thomas. It will be difficult. Please be clear that if you and your people decide that they wish to cause problems, I will no longer defend you. I will be unable to and further I will be unwilling to... So if you have some in your population that you feel might cause harm to my citizens, you should make me aware of them. Now not later."
"I can’t speak for those that came from Galrea, but our population has been very steady."
"Have the guards keep attentive of those who are not from your population and give me report as to anything unusual that happens."
"Frankly I just think they’re happy to be here and with other humans. I haven’t noticed anything strange, but then one never can tell. We don’t want to lose our freedom, highness. We will do all we can to protect this chance you have given us. Giihio…" He beckons to one of the guards who has been walking with us all the day and he comes over. "Did you overhear all that?"
"I did." He nods, "I will pass this through the guard. If you do not need me for anything right now I will go off and do so immediately."
"I think we’re all good here. Thanks."
"Of course." He smiles and departs.
"Giihio is married to my sister." Thomas says with a smirk. "So he’s very interested in keeping things safe here."
"I see. You do not mind that your sister married one of my people?"
"Giihio is a good guy. That’s all I care about. My sister was in a pretty bad marriage before we got here." He frowns, shoving his hands into his pockets, "My sister and I were sent here with her two kids and her husband was left on
Mycenea. I won’t be sad if he doesn’t turn up ever again. You know what I mean?"
"He would harm her?"
"And the kids." He nodded. "They gave her a kind of divorce when we got here. Giihio met my sister at the intake. She had bruises all over her. Bruises all over the kids. Wouldn’t say a word to anyone. He looked absolutely ashamed. It seems that he thought his own people had done it to her and the girls. He made it his business to check in on all of them every day and finally she told him that it wasn’t any fault of your people. I remember that night. I woke up because she was crying and came out to the main room of our dorm floor to find Giihio holding her… He saw the look on my face and said that he wasn’t hurting her. She just cried and curled up in his arms… He has never hurt her. If anything he’s tried to make up for all that has happened to her over the years. I’ve never seen her happier."
"I am glad. I am always pleased to hear that my people are being honorable… I am curious… Are all of the children of these pairings similar in appearance?"
"Yes. It appears that the genes for blue skin are the dominant."
"Ah that would please my father to hear. Dominance."
"And now I have a curiosity for you."
"Please don’t take any offense… The oldest of the children is almost to an age of majority and this will probably be pretty important to him… Are you fertile?"
"Nnh??" My eyes go wide, "OF COURSE I am!" Thomas jumps back from my eruption.
"So much for not taking offense." Hanta rolls her eyes skyward.
I calm myself as best I can. "Believe me, my father wanted to ensure the line did not end with him. I was tested. If I want children I will apparently be able to have them."
"That’s very good news then. Sorry to get so personal, but it really will make Tyven very happy to hear. He seems keen on having a family of his own."
And there is another constant theme… Children. I have never seen so many children! A small herd of them is running and playing a game over the hill we are coming up. The mud of the ground that is breaking into better weather does not seem to bother them at all. It will likely bother their parents. I suspect this is where Laila came across Nikaru for he was fairly dirty himself.
We remain for a good while more and take a meal in one of the dining halls where I meet with some of the residence managers. I suspect that even before their freedom was officially granted, things have been as I see them—very peaceful. They have separated themselves quickly into a tight little government and all seems to be going well. The humans who were looking nervous at our arrival have now calmed. The news of my acceptance of the mixed pairings must have spread for now I see more of the mixed children in the hall. More like myself. I am not alone. Perhaps one day there will be no more humans, there will only be these mixed children that do not at all appear to be human.
"Excuse me, Baika."
I turn in my seat to find the young man who must be Tyven, bowing to me. "Yes?"
"I wished to greet you and say my thanks to you for being so accepting of us."
"I how can I not accept you? I have been you."
I take the young man by the arm in friendly greeting as we look at each other. I see in him what I was but without the anger and hatred… He is looking back at me and wondering if I am who he will be one day.
"Has it been difficult for you?" I ask at last.
"Not too I suppose. In the beginning it was because I was the only one. Now there are 10 others like me. It could have been worse… But my father is very warm to myself and my mother and while I have known I am different my parents have always made me feel good in spite of what others might say. I am glad you let us come back here."
"Ahht, when I had the guards and staff removed from here you went with them?"
"Of course. We all did. We do not look human. It would have been hard to explain why we stayed with our mothers… How was it for you growing up?"
"Very different. I did not have the parenting you did. Be grateful for your mother and father."
"I am, sire."
"I have had to fight for everything in my life. I have had to prove myself a million times over and still I have to prove myself. I have never known what it is to be human and yet that is what most people see of me. I have not failed my people. I will not fail my people."
"I will not fail mine either. Either of them!" He smiles. "I am glad you have come to be the king. It is nice to meet so many other humans, the ones that came from
Galrea. They say a lot of strange things about you and your father and how things were."
"Do you think they are happy here?"
"Yes. There are a few who really would like to go back to human territory but they are at least relaxed with being here."
"Good. What is it that you want to make of your life?"
"I am not sure yet. I thought that I would always stay here yet bit by bit I can see that I might be able to go outward and do more. Perhaps become part of government and help both our own and humankind."
"There is always that possibility. I have mentioned to your leaders that I want to have you all registered with the census so that you will have full rights. Go to University,
Tyven. It will open your eyes further… You are very well spoken. You would go far."
He nods, "Thank you. My parents have been overly proud of me as the seasons have passed. I’ll leave you alone now. Thank you for talking with me."
"You are welcome."
"He’s cute." Laila says as he walks away.
"Ehh?" I turn and look at her as she watches Tyven leave. "Is that the husband you want?"
She shrugs, "Just saying he’s cute."
"I have a great deal to look forward to with you, mmh?"
"Yep." Her eyes continue to follow him.
"Perhaps I should not send you here for school after all!"
"You’re such a worry wart." She concludes and finishes her meal then goes off to talk to him.
"What is worry wart?" I ask Hanta and she laughs as I keep my eye on the two of them.
"You! Over protective. That poor girl. You are going to be chasing everyone away from her!"
"Not everyone. Just those that are unacceptable."
"Everyone will be unacceptable to you. I know you well."
Before departing I inquire with Thomas if those that were returned of the guards are of any worry to the people there with the strange pairings. He confesses that things are as my suspicions have said to me—it has been relatively pleasant here at Aykovas even prior to the end of my father and the beginning of their new freedom. They all work well together, their guards only acting as guards when an appearance is required. I wonder if I will find the same on
Giihio returns and sits with us for a while. He is a man that seems odd to me. He is quiet and rather serene in his expression regardless of the strange things that are happening.
"Do you have children with your wife?" I ask him.
"I do. Three girls. Two from her former marriage and one from our union. All of them fill me with happiness." His look is calm and unwavering.
I get up and go to stand before him where he is half sitting and half leaning on a ledge by the office window. He does not react at all to my approach. "You do not seem like an enforcer to me."
"That is my occupation." He says evenly, "I am third grade. I spend my efforts on interactions, counseling."
"Nnh… What I mean is that you do not strike me as right for an enforcer. It is not what you have always been, is it?"
Still he does not waver and then I see it—the marking on his forehead. He has tried to keep it hidden by wearing his short hair combed forward.
"Ahht… Jiawan Ahtne." I say, "What is such a deadly man doing in this place playing at being counselor and enforcer?"
"Jiawan Ahtne is my past. The marking remains, but it is not who I am."
"I have never heard of such a thing."
"It has never happened before or after myself." He agreed. "I am Giihio Diya Miyutenshi. My brother you know—Kiatan. He is commander under Banrek in the 133 now."
"I know him well. Big mouth, calls the names of the Gods at every opportunity. He served under me proudly and with distinction in the 102."
"That would be my brother indeed. He always spoke well of you… I will tell you in honesty that it should have been myself under your command. I am the eldest brother and my father thought I would have a proud career in the military. Instead shortly after I was marked Jiawan Ahtne my instructors and commanders realized that I had certain abilities that they could not control... I was sent to the temple to learn of them. I became High Priest."
My eyes widen. I know him now. This man my father very much wanted dead. High Priest of the temple Aligar with skills of the most deadly nature… And I smile.
"My praise to you for hiding from my father so well."
"I had good friends to help me."
"I would imagine so!"
"What think you of this?"
"I am happy you have found a place. I will not come after you, Giihio. My father had an argument with you. Not I."
"I am glad… I am a priest, not a fighter."
I nod, impressed with his continuing calm.
"I believe it is time for us to leave you all to your own way." I offer my arm to Giihio and he accepts, "We will talk again."
"Yes I know." He smiles. "Gods keep you, Baika."
I say my partings to them all, pleased. The last thing to do is find Laila. She is still in the dining hall talking to Tyven and some others. She tears herself away from Tyven and we depart from
"And so have you forced a marriage with him yet?" I ask.
"No… Sheesh. He was very nice though. I like his smile."
"Pay him no attention, Laila." Hanta offers.
"He’s just being dad-like. I don’t mind."
She smiles and sits with Hanta to go over the requirements for the next few days. One of the things I have to look forward to is the meeting with my Diya. They have finally called to demand an audience with me at the
Kaitenshi. They want to put me through a bit of torture at long last.
Once she is done with Laila she moves on to me, sharing the list of upcoming events. It is long. Very long. Even the list for the remainder of the day is long. I have so much to do before leaving for Mycenea. I wonder if I should bring Laila there… It might be too dangerous. I will have to think on it. Her presence might settle the humans there or… Who can tell what I will find after what I found at
"Stop talking for a while." I hold up a hand at Hanta. "You make my brain ache. I need some peace."
She sighs and clicks her katsuna shut, "When we get back you will have to concentrate on this again."
"I know. Now be quiet."
She gets up and leaves me alone to stare out the window at the clouds and the land that passes below. I try to clear my overly full mind by concentrating on the patterns made by the different types of land... The fields, the towns, the roads, the cities… In the background I hear Hanta and Laila working on her language skills. Shilne is trying to make bets with the co-pilot over meeting his sister. Things are going well still and I fade into a quiet meditation there.
The next few days tick by with details and a long stream of things to do, obligations, people to speak with, laws to change, news to pass on to the empire, finances to move... Sholan contacts me to point me to some good news. There has been increased standing of the empire in the Western Arm’s Galactic Markets since my ascension. A spike occurred after the news of the fall of Galrea and a steady climb seems to be going on.
The details are broken by a chime on my katsuna. It is Sachay again, smiling at me.
"Piatich!" She squeals.
"Do not call me that." I growl.
"So sour still? How can you be when things are going so well for you? At least from what I read of the news."
"I had asked you not to contact me on this sig. Yet here you are again."
"You know I never take such things seriously from you. You promised to come and see me once you were back on Forth and now you are here… Yet I have not seen you! Why not?"
"I am very busy, Sachay."
"Do you know I even came to Manaleh but your stupid guards would not let me in? They said no unannounced visitors. That I had to make an appointment with Hanta to see you. Can you imagine?? No matter how I pleaded they would not allow me entry."
I smirk, "I can hardly imagine…" My guard should be rewarded well for not succumbing to her charms.
"You should punish them for such a thing!"
"They are doing their jobs, Sachay. I am proud that they did not let you pass."
"Rrhhh… When will you see me?"
"When I have time, Sachay."
"That will not do for an answer. I have a performance coming up and I expect to see you there. You will be well taken care of. Please say yes?"
"When is it?"
"Next amon, the 18th day. Say yes??"
"I will do what I can."
"Wonderful!" She smiles, "I will leave you alone for a while
"Sachay!" But it is too late to yell at her, she has closed the connection.
"Who was that?" Laila asks from where she sits by the fire sewing some buttons back onto my jacket.
"An annoyance named Sachay. She has proclaimed herself my dearest love and pursues me relentlessly."
"You don’t sound like you’re in love with her."
"If only she would notice that!"
"Do you like her at all?"
"I like her as a friend of mine. I am of a hope that one day she will be a friend and not pursue my affections!"
"No need to yell… She’s definitely not the one for you. She’s too pushy."
"You are quick to decide, just like Shilne."
"It’s pretty obvious. You need someone who isn’t pushy. Someone quiet… Shy I guess."
"How do you know this?" I lean forward and place the katsuna on the table.
She shrugs, "You’re very loud and confident. You need someone who can be the opposite of that. I don’t mean she shouldn’t be confident… But you’re kind of… Aggressively confident, if that makes sense."
"It does." I nod.
"You need a girl who will make you feel like you don’t need to be that way all the time. Someone to calm you down." She smiles and then bites the thread to break it. "There. All done. Next time don’t take your anger out on your coat." She gets up and hangs it in the wardrobe for me.
"I will do what I can. I am fortunate I have someone to sew my buttons back on."
"Do you need anything else? I’ll come back and check on you later if not. I have some studying to do."
"I have enough water and warmth to keep me for the remainder of the evening."
"Good. If you’re asleep when I come back, sweet dreams." She comes and kisses my forehead, "Nighty."
"Goodnight." I take up my katsuna again and listen as the door shuts behind
Laila, "Someone shy, nnh? Calm me down?"
I flick through the human news feeds and find someone shy… Beautiful… Calming. I sigh deeply, just watching a news stream with her in it.
"So you are correct, Laila. How ever did you become so wise at such a young age?"