This is SciFi/Uber-Xena, adult lesbian fiction.  If you are under 21 years old do not read further.


MY PROTECTOR
by
J.C. Wilder

jcwilder@hotmail.com

Part 3

Ramsey's rejection had brought her to the point of disunion with The Source, but her sorrow had faded while confronting Tai-Po. And now, unexpectedly, the elder had hijacked her shuttle. When the empress felt her hand being clutched tightly into Behira's palm she became more settled. She returned the reassuring squeeze to her priestess.

She saw that her pilot was ruined. He wore a blank expression, all his protests forgotten once the elder had fired the newly operational disrupter upon him.

Sarika tried to reason with the elder but he put her off with cold-edged hostility.

"Empress," he dared to interrupt her, "I have not given you permission to speak. From now on you will do what I command," he threatened, "or the same fate that has befallen your pilot will be yours."

She should have been outraged over the treason but everything was changing for her. Her emotions were occupied with Ramsey and, after their earlier exchange, there was little concern left to spare the elder now.

They traveled for over thirty minutes, then flew in a circular pattern while the elder made adjustments on the communication panel. The Rebel camp was somewhere down below and since Talbert had used a com device to send them a message, he knew they would hear him if he found a channel the Rebels were using.

"This is Chen Tai-Po, once an elder of the Royal Council." He repeated the message several times and was rewarded with a cracking response.

"You're far from home. What do you want Tai-Po?"

Vertigo caused him to hesitate, and he fought the urge to head back to the palace. He shut off the speaker and turned. "Don't use your telepathic powers on me. I'm no longer under your authority."

"I did nothing, Chen."

The elder turned away from Sarika with disgust and pushed a button on the com panel.

"Who am I speaking to?" he asked.

"Mikhail."

"I have a royal present for you Mikhail. It's your lucky day."

"No!" Sarika implored.

The elder turned off the microphone again.

"You threatened to banish me. Why shouldn't I give you to the Rebels?"

"Because…"

"You would destroy the world," Behira broke in, aghast at what the elder was planning to do.

"I have nothing to lose since you've chosen someone else to share your bed," he spoke with cold intensity directed at Sarika. "You humiliated me! Your grandmother's priestess foretold that I would be the Protector, yet you dismiss me as if I was nothing more than a Menial. Even less than one of your slaves," he ground out, "you threaten me. My life is nothing."

"I'm sorry Elder-- Chen. I should have considered how you would feel." If the life growing inside her were to survive, Sarika saw only one way out. "But you have nothing to fear. Ramsey can't replace you. Our relationship isn't what you think. Yes, I have been curious about her-- but you're the only one I have seriously considered making the Protector."

"Before or after you banish me? Bah! Of course you would say that now that death is staring at you."

"How can I convince you?" Her eyes were sincere pools of green. "The priestess could not have been mistaken about you."

"Nothing short of making me your mate would convince me."

Sarika squared her shoulders. "With Behira as my witness, I appoint you the Protector of Dethra."

"And," his eyes glittered, "Will you make a public announcement before we land?"

"Yes, if that's what you want," she replied and Sarika's heart withdrew into a small corner of her chest, hoping for protection.

He did not trust the empress but she would be bound by her word to the people. Tai-Po's smile revealed his crooked teeth. "Then-- I accept the appointment." He turned the microphone back on. "Here's your present Mikhail," he laughed, and blasted punishing sound waves toward the ground, celebrating his victory before heading back to the Holy Estate. He knew he would have to prove himself one day - that he would have to be willing to risk everything for the empire. He was born to be the Protector. His parents had known it and now, everyone else would know it.

 

_______O_______

"When the child is born, there will be no doubt she is not the elder's. She will be different than all who have come before her." Cara's concern led her to Priestess Behira. She did not know whom else she could talk with since the empress herself was overburdened.

Sarika tried not to let her unhappiness show but her misery was obvious to those who were close to the young sovereign. Some attributed it to the 'infamous royal hormones' but Cara and Behira knew what even the empress herself did not realize. She was in love with Ramsey. The doctor also knew that the child Sarika carried, the heir to the empire, would have Sarika's light skin color but Ramsey's blue eyes and black hair. She would be a dramatic departure from what was expected.

"The Ancients chose Ramsey for her but Sarika announced that the elder is her choice and it can't be undone, Dr. Holis." Behira shook her head and short white hair ruffled over her ears. "Empress Sarika will have to find a way to tell the elder the truth sometime within the next nine months. I hope he can take it."

"But tomorrow is her birthday, Behira."

"I know, and she must achieve a primal connection with the elder after the ritual. This isn't the way things were supposed to go."

"Did she ever tell Ramsey?"

"I think she was trying to decide how to tell her that she was with child on the day Ramsey disappeared. She couldn't reconcile the fact that she was producing a child with a Menial, but then she didn't have much time to try."

Cara slumped into the back of her chair, feeling every bit of her forty-four years. "It stinks."

"Indeed doctor, it does."

"What will become of Dethra if Tai-Po doesn't accept the child?"

"We shall have to wait and see." The old woman shrugged her thin shoulders. "Nothing happens without a purpose."

 

_______O_______

"You've been avoiding me, Sarika," the elder said as he entered her chamber. He smoothed his goatee with his usual flourish and lowered his head to kiss the cheek she offered to him instead of her lips.

"I'm sorry Chen. I haven't been well." She wore a black robe with an intricate embroidered design of golden flowers. Her light auburn hair fell over it, shimmering with gloriously feminine appeal.

An aching, familiar excitement filled him and stirred his sex. He sat next to her on the royal settee and she stiffened noticeably. 'Such as waste,' he thought, 'needlessly fighting lust that will eventually consume her.'

"Sarika," his words slithered over her while he stroked her arm in the same ostentatious pattern he had used to fondled his goatee, "your body is telling you what you need. "Why do you persist in this ridiculous waiting when I could easily make you feel better now?" He had physically joined with her countless times in fantasy and there was nothing he wanted more than to possess her in reality and quench the fever her small, sensual body had aroused in him for so long.

She closed her eyes and immediately a vision of the tall woman appeared. Every part and fiber of her being longed for Ramsey's touch but she knew there would be no fulfillment. Her slave was a renegade. Ramsey was probably traveling the world as she wished. Then she would join the fight against her empire. They were enemies now.

Tomorrow Sarika would do her best to find release from her growing torment with the elder, but such thoughts were always accompanied by a repulsive response and she realized that it might not be possible to accomplish a primal connection with him. She silently prayed once again that it would be possible, and that it would stop being so difficult to keep her thoughts clear, and away from the memory of blue eyes.

"It is preferable to wait until after the ritual," she offered him what little she could and wondered again if she should tell him about her pregnancy. Unfortunately, there would never be a good time. It was now or never.

"But I'm glad you're here. I must tell you something that will be-- difficult for you to believe."

"And what is that, my dear?" he asked, pleased that he was one of the few who could look into her beautiful green eyes, and would soon be the only one to know what she looked like during the height of passion.

'He calls me his dear, but would have sacrificed my life to the Rebels,' she cringed at his smug expression. "I want Priestess Behira and Dr. Holis to be present when I tell you."

When the four of them were assembled together, Sarika told him what happened to her the night of her coronation. As she anticipated, the elder did not believe her, despite the affirmation of the witnesses.

"What are you three up to? Why have you conspired to tell me a ridiculous story? The Ancients choosing Ramsey?"

Hearing her name caused the empress to tremble, and she could only tell him that it was the truth.

"-- But a woman-- a slave?"

"Yes, a woman that you made a slave," the priestess added.

"Bah! Impossible. The prophecy of one of your own foretold that I would father Sarika's child."

"Who told you that?" Behira asked with interest.

"My father didn't even know that my mother had conceived when he rescued a priestess from drowning and the old woman said that his son's child would rule Dethra. He died soon after, before I born."

Behira was more concerned than before. "Don't you know who your father is?"

"Of course I do, old woman. He was an elder-- from the eastern continent. I carry his name."

"Your mother should have told you the truth, instead of feeding you a fabrication because he was already mated. Elder Melborne is your father. There was no prophecy."

"Lies!"

"If you're sure, then you won't mind taking a closer look at the record of your birth, will you."

"I don't need to prove anything here," he sneered. "You're the ones telling an unbelievable tale, for a reason I can't even guess."

"Let science provide some clarity, shall we?" Cara offered.

"Yes," Sarika gave her approval. ""That's what it took for me to accept what the Ancients have done." She looked upon Tai-Po with something akin to pity. "Perhaps it will help you as well."

In the infirmary, doctor Holis pulled out the test results that indicated Sarika was pregnant, and that the developing life was a genetic combination belonging to Sarika and Ramsey.

"This doesn't prove a thing. You could have made this up from-- from nothing," he rationalized his protest.

"You won't be saying that when the child is born," Cara challenged, so much into telling the truth that she forgot to be anxious about the potential repercussions. "And, ah-- look here--" she pulled up the Library record of his birth on her desk's screen. "Look at the programming code. There are tracings of electron tampering here," she pointed, "and here", where your father is named and his background is listed. There's no genetic code recorded for him. Probably erased. Shall we compare your record with Elder Melborne's, or would you rather just have a talk with him?"

Tai-Po turned to Behira. "But how would you know anything about this?"

"Everyone needs to tell their story, elder. Your mother was no different. For all our sakes, telling you the truth now is more important than protecting you from it.

"Bah! I'll talk with Melborne. And afterward, when he denies your lies, I will expect you both to stay away from the empress." He stroked his goatee rapidly and stared at Sarika. "Better yet, I'll expect the empress to banish you both. Your influence is damaging to her."

 

_______O_______

Less than an hour later Tai-Po returned, looking ghastly. He told Cara and Behira to leave, but Sarika commanded they stay.

"They have the right to know this. Did you speak with Elder Melborne?"

"Yes. He's my father." His lips curled. "That doesn't prove that the Ancients have chosen Ramsey. I will never believe that," he let his head drop for a moment. "But I won't ask you banish your priestess or Dr. Holis." He was not softening, only tired. Very tired. He had spent his life believing a lie.

"I have told you the truth as I know it, Chen. When my child is born, will you accept her?" Even as she asked this of him, her heart cried silently, wishing it was Ramsey that she was asking.

The three women waited anxiously for his answer.

"I will accept your child, because it will be our child, Sarika."

"Even when she has blue eyes and black hair?" the doctor asked.

"She will be mine, no matter what she looks like," he promised. How odd that the prophecy his mother made up was coming true anyway. He would do what he could to make sure it come true, even if it meant giving Sarika just enough poison to abort the unholy child she carried. The Ancients be damned. He was willing to sacrifice everything for Sarika, now more than ever.

 

_______O_______

That night the Rebels broke into the Garrison and took control. The guards had no opportunity to alert the palace of the invasion.

After taking a guard hostage, they used a shuttle in a Trojan Horse maneuver to gain entrance into the palace. Then they gained one foothold after another, using the disrupters against the guards in a bloodless assault that rendering them useless and unable to offer any resistance at all. Each one was securely bound. They did not stop their assault until an alarm sounded.

"They're onto us," the Rebel leader notified his general as he whispered into his com badge, "but they have few soldiers left able to fight."

"It's almost over Mikhail, I've got the empress in my sights as we speak," the general responded.

How the Rebels got this far Tai-Po could not imagine, but he was prepared to sacrifice everything to protect what was his. He secured the top floors with the guards that responded. "Protect the empress at all cost," he ordered. "Do not let them pass." He instructed the guards in the central hall to kill anyone who tried to exit the elevator. Then he found the empress.

"It's time to make an escape, Sarika."

"Now? Are you serious? How--"

"I don't know how they managed it, but the Rebels have occupied all but the top floors and they're still advancing. It's time to escape in the shuttle. Come."

"Not without Behira and Cara. I won't leave them behind. And not Celeste either."

"They'll be all right. It's you the Rebels want. We can raise an army from among the villagers and take back the palace in time. But right now, we have no choice but to leave. I must protect you."

"I-- I suppose so," the empress said, not wanting to fall into the hands of the renegade slaves. What had gone wrong? The Source was silent as always lately.

They entered a small bay attached to her chambers and popped open the shuttled door. Elder Tai-Po helped Sarika in and then followed her.

"Leaving without waiting to greet your visitors, Empress?" Ramsey sat in the pilot seat, her long, lean-muscled frame relaxed.

"Oh!" the startled empress responded.

"Ramsey!" Tai-Po reached for his bracelet and pressed it.

"Don't bother," Ramsey said as she removed the disrupter from the elder's belt. It happened before he remembered he had it. Seeing his confusion, Ramsey smiled and felt like a cat toying with a mouse. "It's General Ramsey now. My new friends removed the collar you put around my neck." She lifted her chin and swept the long hair aside to reveal bare skin. Ramsey flicked her eyes to the young sovereign. "Seems you were mistaken about it being at part of me forever, eh Empress?"

"I'm glad it's-- gone." She leaned toward the dark woman, unable to completely restrain her body's demand to close the gap between them.

"Are you?" Ramsey wanted to believe the empress whose complex nature had touched her in a way no one else had ever done, or would ever do. The open yearning in her liquid green eyes included a terrible sadness that pulled at the Rebel, making her want to take her into her arms and comfort her. It was startling how easily the young woman could mesmerize her.

The elder grabbed Sarika and put himself in front once again. "Let us leave the palace or the rebels will kill her."

"Don't worry, Protector Tai-Po," Ramsey said sarcastically and with the same contempt she felt when she had first heard of his appointment. She had known that the empress would take him as her mate, but her emotional reaction against it was unexplainably extreme. "We Rebels have no intention of killing your Empress. We merely wish to make an agreement."

"What kind of agreement," the empress asked from behind the elder, trying to sort through the myriad of sensations that swirled mercilessly within her.

"A legally binding one that would free the Menials."

"All of them?" she asked.

"Of course."

"Anarchy!" Tai-Po shouted.

"Sit down and be quiet," Ramsey ordered. "It's Empress Sarika that I have business with."

"I'm here to protect her and the empire-- from you." His chest puffed up as his lungs expanded.

"It's too late for that," General Ramsey grinned again and Sarika's legs gave out, forcing her to sit down rather ungracefully. "But it's not too late for you and I to settle things between us Tai-Po. I still owe you for the collar, and for Talbert."

The elder was well-versed in martial arts and he looked forward to thrashing her senseless for things he did not want to discuss in front of the empress. More than that, he wanted her dead. "You're certainly full of confidence for a woman who is past her prime."

The major looked down at him for a moment before replying. He had read her military record and knew what she was capable of. "As are you, old man."

Despite Sarika's protest, they exited the shuttle.

Ramsey's greatest strength was in her legs while the bulk of Tai-Po's power lay in his shoulders. He blocked several powerful kicks she presented in quick succession until a fourth one caught him squarely on the knee. There was a loud crack and he went down.

"Gagh!" he grunted and quickly flung himself forward, knocking the tall woman onto her back with the full force of his weight pitted against her center of gravity. She recovered in a flash, rolling over and shoving her knee hard against his sternum. Again the sound of cracking bones was heard and then the sound of flesh hitting flesh as his fist connected with her jaw. She blocked a second blow aimed at her throat and after grabbing his wrist she continued the arc, moving his body forward until he faced away from her and his arm was securely twisted between his back and her chest.

Tai-Po pulled his arm out of its socket attempting to free himself. He was drenched in sweat and breathed hard while the Rebel general seemed to be having fun. "Sarika," he groaned, willing her pick up the disrupter that had fallen from Ramsey's belt. But the empress did not move. Sarika was in awe of the magnificent fighting machine Ramsey had become, turning her opponent's every move to her own advantage.

Finally, she encircled his neck with her free arm and drew him up tight against herself, lifting him off the floor slightly and cutting off his air supply. His reddened face began to turn blue. Then an alarm went off in Sarika's head.

"No! Don't kill him Ramsey," she pleaded.

"You may want him, but he deserves-- to be killed," the major blurted out between clenched jaws.

"But his death would mean yours too," she added desperately. "And I can't allow that." She raised the disrupter she had retrieved from the floor and pointed it directly at Ramsey. "Don't. Don't make me do it-- put him down."

"Will you negotiate with me in good faith if I spare him?"

"Yes."

Ramsey lowered the unconscious elder to the ground and stood straight, putting her clothing back in order.

Sarika forced her eyes away and wished her heart would cease its pounding. She needed to be in control.

They stared at each other. "You chose Tai-Po," Ramsey said, disappointment weighing down her voice.

"I would have chosen you if I could."

The major was shocked. "Me?"

"The Ancients wanted you. Badly." Suddenly embarrassed, Sarika looked away again. She wanted Ramsey more than she could say, and did not know how to tell her that she was expecting their child, or even if she should since the elder would claim her heir as his. "It doesn't matter now. You're a Rebel and I've already announced my choice." She focused on the still, broken body of the elder. "Will you let my guards take him to the infirmary?"

"When we're finished here. I'm not a Rebel, Sarika." She grinned crookedly and the young empress felt faint once again. "I no longer where the collar, so I'm not a rebel slave. I'm a freedom fighter."

"Is it not the same thing? We're enemies."

"You want order and peace and so do I. I happen to believe that you will never again have peace in your empire unless you re-order your society and abolish slavery."

"That would bring chaos," she looked at the lips she hungered for, "and most of the Menials do not want the freedom you value so highly." Her body ached with need and she shuddered before standing to stop herself from projecting her desire to Ramsey.

"Menials who wish to remain slaves are simply afraid of not having food and shelter." The woman before her seemed much older than when they were last together and she felt a degree of empathy. It could not be easy for her to face defeat so graciously.

"Those are legitimate concerns," Sarika said. Helplessly, her eyes lingered on the perfection of the bare skin on the tall woman's neck. The memory of what it felt like to place her lips on the flesh above where a black slave collar once lay flowed through her in a hot wave.

"Please, sit empress." Ramsey stood and held out her chair for her. "I understand this is a frightening change for you and many of your subjects." Long auburn hair brushed her shoulder when Sarika moved to do as she had bid her. Despite the clothing covering her, the nerves of Ramsey's skin responded with a melee of appreciation and for a moment she forgot what they had been discussing. "No one who is willing to work should be concerned about that kind of security," she continued, reminded herself to avoid any physical contact with the alluring empress in the future. "And, for those who need it, there is already a system of charity. Why not free the Rebels, along with other Menials who want their freedom now-- then give freedom to the rest in stages that they, and the economy, can handle?"

"That seems like a good compromise."

"I think so."

"And you have already pledged that you will always tell me the truth, haven't you," the empress smiled for the first time.

"I have," the general confirmed, pleased that the empress remembered and valued her word.

"Will you stay and-- and help me govern the changes you suggest?"

"I'm no politician." The tall woman shook her head. "You already have your Protector to help you."

"Nevertheless, I will need someone who has a strong belief in these changes. Protector Tai-Po does not hold such beliefs. So, this is my condition for accepting your proposal. You must stay and help me put the changes into effect, and deal with the consequences- whatever they turn out to be." She glanced again at the elder and then pressed her. She needed Ramsey in a way she had not before. "Well?"

"All right, Empress. But only for a time."

Mikhail knocked on the chamber door and Ramsey let him in. "Got it worked out yet?" He looked over her shoulder and noted the fallen elder. "Is he dead?"

"No." 'Damn the luck', she thought. "It's all done but the writing and signing of our agreement, my friend. The empress has given us what we've asked for."

Mikhail smiled broadly and shook Ramsey's hand. "Thanks. It wouldn't have happened without you."

"I needed to do it." She pulled him into the room. "Empress Sarika, meet the Rebel leader, Mikhail Alexander."

He kept his eyes averted, still mindful of her spiritual position despite his political opposition. "Empress," he kneeled and when she offered her right hand, he placed a kiss over the ring.

"Rise Mikhail Alexander, you're no longer a Menial, but a free person of Dethra, along with all the renegades."

 

_______O_______

It was after midnight when the remnants of the functioning palace guards began their usual patrols. One Royal Guard, grateful that he had avoided the misfortune of the majority and was not a drooling idiot, made his rounds through the courtyard. The sound of fighting hounds caught his attention and led him to the garden. Once there, he met the grizzly sight of a body in the process of being ripped apart.

In her chambers, fruitlessly trying to sleep, Sarika received the message that Elder Melborne's body had been drug from a shallow grave by guard dogs.

It did not take long for Dr. Holis to determine his death was the result of a broken neck. And when skin underneath Melborne's fingernails was identified as belonging to Tai-Po, Sarika ordered a guard posted at his bedside in the infirmary where the healer still worked on his own injured body.

When the elder awoke he faced a quick trial that revealed to the Council members that one of their own was a murderer, along with the more startling fact that their empress was carrying Ramsey's child.

It was not possible to successfully lie to the Council, since the physiological processes of those giving testimony was monitored by apparatus able to detect such things. And being small of spirit, Elder Tai-Po had not hesitated to name his accomplice, telling all in attendance that it was who had buried Melborne's remains.

"Melborne asked to be killed, the way he treated me. But I blame myself for trusting Celeste," he spat," and if the bungling Menial hadn't made a mess of it-- Dethra would have the Protector it deserves." He continued knowing his end had come, barnig his soul for no other purpose than to hear himself talk, if not to gain understanding.

"I did everything for you, Sarika. To be your Protector, I took your mother's life little-by-little, giving her a poison no one could detect." He laughed at the look of horror on the faces of his empress and his foolish peers. "I knew my place. I am the only one among you who knew my place, and acted accordingly. Now, men who have no vision at all will take my life."

Before noon, Elder Tai-Po had been sentenced to death for the murder of Empress Vilell and his father, and the sentence was carried out without fanfare. Those who supported the elder in his quest to become Sarika's mate would not mourn. He had brought dishonor on the Council, and its remaining members could imagine no greater crime than the murder of an empress. Murdering one's parent was not far behind.

In time his name would be used as a curse, and it would be erased from the historical record except as it was necessary as a reminder of what happens to those who break the law.

Celeste was spared execution, but began serving a long sentence for her crime of deception in trying cover-up Elder Melborne's murder.

Hours after the execution, it was with mixed emotions that Ramsey watched while Sarika signed the Declaration of Emancipation for Menials. The tall woman was receiving more variety of looks than ever before from the inhabitants of the palace, and some were strangely shy.

Afterward, while the Council members continued to debate the issues surrounding the declaration, Ramsey expressed to the empress her regret at the betrayal she suffered. Now, she could no longer think of the empress as an enemy, or anything other than someone who had lost a loved one and carried the weight of the world on her shoulders.

Sarika was greatly comforted by Ramsey's warmth toward her. "I've already spent much time mourning my mother's death. I'm sorry for the loss of Melborne, and I want you to know that I only named Tai-Po the Protector to prevent him from handing me over to the Rebels the day you became a renegade. He was a madman." The empress wished she could lose herself for a while in the shelter of the tall woman's strong arms. But now was not the time. "I should have known--"

When Ramsey heard this, she was angered and relieved at the same time. "He kidnapped you that day?"

"That's right."

"I knew it! My instincts told me he had, but I couldn't find you and then I heard you chose him for your mate and I thought, well I thought that…."

"You searched for me?"

"Yes."

"You would have rescued me." Sarika's smile was blinding. "But when you couldn't find me and you heard Tai-Po was the Protector, you came to the conclusion that I wanted him. Of course you would think that. I'm so sorry." The empress yearned to touch the strong jaw. She would have done so if they were not in public. "His death means that I'm free now. You see, I'm free too," she said with her heart in her eyes. She blushed and pulled the major aside in a most undignified fashion. "I really must explain something to you. I'm giving you the chamber next to mine. May I come to you this evening?"

"Of course."

She left and Ramsey found herself able to think of little else other than the way Sarika's eyes lit up when she smiled. And her perfectly white teeth. And the way her beautiful hair seemed to radiate light.

 

_______O_______

The warmth of the water relaxed her back and shoulders and she sang an old cowboy song that was part of her shower routine. 'Things were working out well' Ramsey thought with a degree of hard-won contentment. 'But what of the future? What of the empress?' She was far from finished and she had not forgotten Sarika's condition, nor her own response to the young woman. As if her thoughts had summoned her, the empress stepped into the shower.

"Oh! The water is just right. No, don't stop singing. Your voice is beautiful, and it-- it pleases me." She took in Ramsey's wet profile and saw the unbelievably attractive eyes narrow dangerously. Her ex-renegade was angry with her.

"I don't recall planning to meet in here." Sarika had intruded into her privacy as if she were a slave again. But in spite of her displeasure, in spite of everything, the major noted how her light auburn hair hung like a glossy curtain on either side of her high, full breasts-- which were tipped with rosy pink…Ramsey averted her eyes. Shower forgotten, she made every effort to avoid contact with the nubile body so close to her own. Her pulse pounded loudly in her ears

"I won't harm you," Sarika assured.

A small hand touched her shoulder, gingerly at first, and she froze.

"The Ancients chose you for me-- that's why I'm here-- that's what I need to talk with you about."

Ramsey stood very tall and still. She could have been an ancient statue, so perfect was her form. Sarika was overcome by the need to run her hands along her shoulders and the speech she had rehearsed was forgotten. "Let me-- wash you." Water continued to rain on them both, as if time itself was not standing still while she waited.

Anger transformed into another kind of heat when Sarika's soft, warm breasts rubbed against her back.

Feeling the change, Sarika pressed harder against firm skin. "Mmm--" the empress leaned her head forward and breathed in deeply. The dark woman smelled wonderful, like warm spice. Ramsey was her mate, whether she knew it or not, and Sarika craved gratification that she had yet to experience. She was dissolving around a woman who caused wave after wave of heat to pool in her loins. Her hands found Ramsey's hips. "You are the most beautiful person I've ever seen. Is my appearance pleasing to you also? Tell me." She rubbed her flushed cheek against the wet smoothness between Ramsey's shoulders, stopping a few times to place hot kisses against the warming flesh. "Yes?" the empress prodded again and seemed to beg at the same time. Her hands stroked Ramsey and explored lower, moving down toward her thighs.

The tall woman had lost her voice. Fingernails grazed lightly over her skin and caused the muscles underneath to quiver. 'God help me', Ramsey pleaded silently. The young woman knew just how to touch her, and her internal conflict increased a hundredfold.

"This won't work," her larger hands caught Sarika's and held them fast while she forced her breathing to remain even. "You're a child!" she exclaimed and left the empress alone under the falling water. It should not have been so hard for her to do.

"Ramsey! --" Sarika called out to her, but she had already left the room.

 

_______O_______

Priestess Behira was thankful that Ramsey came to her. She had hoped that she would.

"The Ancients brought you to me at last, tall one." The old woman watched and waited with wise old eyes, brown and sparkling beneath her short-cropped white hair. "You're running from something. What is it?"

"The Empress says I have been chosen for her. I'm afraid-- I mean I'm concerned. She wants me as a sexual partner."

"Why does that make you afraid?"

"I'm not afraid, just concerned."

"No, you were right the first time, Major Laren Ramsey. You aren't afraid of much, but you are afraid of Empress Sarika." Her look dared Ramsey to challenge what they both knew to be the truth.

"I know the empress has needs, but we're not compatible."

"What makes you say that?"

"She's domineering-- she's too young, and I'm-- "

"She's not as bossy as she used to be," Behira cackled. "You're teaching her nicely. But she is an empress and must retain her authority, you know."

Ramsey ran her tongue across her lips anxiously and nodded her head.

"And as for her age, she's not all that young according to her biology. She's full-grown and ready to experience the Ritual of Womanhood this very day. In just a few hours, in fact."

"She'll have to choose a mate, won't she?"

"We will ask her to name someone, yes. But what's unusual this time, is that the Ancients have already chosen for her."

"Who?" she asked, unsure if she was prepared for the answer.

"You, Ramsey. It's you."

She shook her head in denial. "I would know if I were chosen."

"Not necessarily. You were in a daze when it happened." Then Behira told Ramsey what everyone else knew, and what the empress had been unable to tell her.

"I, uh-- I don't-- I didn't--. Did you say the empress is pregnant-- with MY child?"

"All the evidence leads to that conclusion. Wait here." She called Cara and within a short time she arrived to verify the story.

"I don't know what to say-- what to think." Ramsey shook her head as if to clear it. She was wrong to think nothing about Dethra could surprise her anymore.

"Say you'll accept what has already been decided."

"How does the empress feel. We-- we don't love each other."

"Says who," Behira snorted. "Judging from the way you two look at each other, I'd say the Ancients knew what they were doing, wouldn't you Cara?"

"I can't see all those looks, but I've picked up enough to agree." Cara smiled. "She only want's you, and I don't think sex is all she wants."

Ramsey glared at her. "And even though she's pregnant, she still has to go through the ritual?"

"Afraid so," Behira responded. "It's the official deflowering ceremony. Since Sarika's still a virgin, it must be done."

"Aha!" Cara mused. "That's what all the mystery was about? A simple deflowering, huh?"

Behira brightened. "Perhaps you will do it for her, Ramsey. She might enjoy the ceremony instead of having pain. Frankly, I haven't been looking forward to it."

"Yeah, Ramsey," the doctor prodded, "do us all a favor."

Behira and Ramsey looked at her with puzzled expressions. "What kind of favor would it be for you, Cara?" Ramsey wanted to know.

"Yes, well-- for one thing, I wouldn't have to restock the royal supply of serenity pills as often as I have been lately. And for another, I want to see the empress and her heir - and your child too by the way - to live and be happy. So do me a favor major."

Behira took Ramsey by her wide shoulders, but did not dislodge the tall woman from her rigid posture. "If you care about the empress at all, partake in this," urged the old priestess. Ramsey was still holding something back. "What are you really afraid of?"

"If I do-- let myself love her-- if I let her love me, then I won't want to return to my own time. My home will be lost-- forever.

"But this is your time Ramsey." Behira pulled her dark head down and held her firmly to her narrow chest. "You haven't lost you home child. You carry it inside you." Then she raised the handsome, dark face and looked straight into her clear blue eyes. "Listen to me. Your love will mean life to Sarika, just as her love will restore you. I never knew two people who needed each other more."

"Yes." Dr. Holis smiled. "Listen, you big dumb soldier, you're already home, you just haven't realized it."

"Doctor!" Behira chastised, "I was doing fine without your powers of persuasion."

 

_______O_______

"Please, don't harass me, I'm old and I don't have the stamina I used to." Behira continued to light ceremonial candles around the altar where Sarika lay. The altar was a round slab of smooth marble, one-and-a-half body lengths in diameter.

"But are you sure Ramsey will be here?"

"My impatient young empress, if I know anything about human nature she'll be here."

"Impatient? You have no idea how very patient I have been. I've been unbelievably patient." Sarika removed her robe with trembling fingers and sat her bare bottom down on the stone. "Oh!" she bolted off the cold altar.

"Such a hurry," Behira shook her head, laughing quietly while placing a soft fur upon the marble surface. "Now you may recline in comfort and prepare yourself with prayerful meditation."

Sarika groaned. "You know I haven't been able to meditate all day, and it's the last thing I feel like doing now."

"Nevertheless, Empress Sarika, I must encourage you to offer prayerful meditation to The Source. It will be easier for you if you are relaxed." She placed a box near the altar. "When it's time, give this to Ramsey." She closed the curtain that hid the empress from view behind her and motioned for the eleven other priestesses to begin the ceremonial music while she herself prayed.

Ramsey stood outside listening nervously to the soothing tones of harmonious flutes juxtaposed by the driving beat of drums. It was appropriate music, she thought, and used the communication panel to announce her arrival.

A joyous greeting welcomed her. "Ramsey!" Behira beamed, "I knew you wouldn't disappoint us."

"Uhuh-- I hope the Empress feels the same way."

"She's been asking about you every thirty seconds since we arrived."

"I'm not exactly sure what's expected-- I think Sarika and I have a lot to talk about before-- you know."

Smiling with agreement, she handed Ramsey two large goblets filled with a dark red liquid. "Something to help you share yourselves. You will have plenty of time to say what needs to be said while you drink this together."

Ramsey looked curiously around the room. Priestesses playing their flutes and drums lined the circular room. In the center was a five-meter area encircled by velvet drapery, thick and red.

"She waits for you behind the curtain."

"Very symbolic, Priestess Behira." She stood tall and squared her shoulders, refusing to be intimidated. She had plenty of experience.

"Something you will come to appreciate the more time you spend in Dethra, Major Ramsey." She opened the curtain. "Be gentle with her." When the tall woman passed she smiled and pulled the curtain shut, enclosing her inside. She hoped the empress could still be gentle.

The music suited Sarika's mood and when she heard Ramsey's voice she thrilled under its richness. 'She's come for me.' Rising on her knees, she thanked the Ancients.

That is how Ramsey found her when she entered the enclosure. Sarika's eyes were closed, her chin tipped up and the shining hair that reached her buttocks covered the only part of her body barred from view. Her fingertips touched the fur blanket beneath her, providing added balance while the position of her upper arms pushed her breasts together, emphasizing their fullness.

"You're beautiful, Sarika."

Smiling, the empress opened her fully dilated eyes and directed her gaze at the object of her desire.

"Thank you. I've been waiting to hear you say it since you already know how I feel about you."

Handing her one of the goblets, Ramsey joked, "Either you're underdressed or I'm overdressed."

"Take off your robe."

Ramsey cleared her throat. So it was right to business, as usual. "A toast first," the tall woman suggested. "To life". Sarika touched her goblet to Ramsey's and raised the red liquid to her lips, keeping eye contact while the dark woman while they both drank and the liquid burned a path down their throats. Whatever it was, it was good. "Dr. Holis and Behira told me you're pregnant." Right to it.

Sarika put down her cup and busied herself with easing the robe down first one, then the other of Ramsey's glorious shoulders. "Yes." She was more interested in action than talk. She placed a kiss against one warm shoulder and Ramsey shivered. "You aren't going to run away from me this time, are you?" She looked anxiously into beautiful, crystal-clear blue eyes.

"Not this time." She finished pulling the robe from her own body and let it fall to the ground. She wanted to reassure the young woman who had stolen her heart and she wrapped Sarika in her long arms.

The empress shivered with delight. "You won't say I'm too young?"

"No. Young, but not too young. Especially not when you're having our child. I'm not running anymore, Sarika." The major leaned down and softly pressed her lips against sacred ones. The thought of their child brought increasingly familiar and extremely pleasant warmth to her chest.

Sarika's heart pounded. "Our child," she said, awash in sensations that were beginning to drive her wild. Instinctively parting her lips she kissed the major soundly and hot breath mingled with her own. The world began to spin. Overcome with need, she moaned and pushed her lips more firmly against Ramsey. She ran hands along her broad shoulders. Quaking inside, she brushed her ardent body against the solid form that surrounded her.

Ramsey felt Sarika's breasts rub and press against her and she heard a pounding in her ears. She groaned into the mouth that clung to her own until she had to capture the sweet tongue that teased her.

The empress moaned with pleasure. She loved Ramsey's response and hungrily sought an even deeper connection. Her hands found Ramsey's hips and she pushed her pubic mound against the tall woman's muscular thigh. Ramsey tore her lips away, breathing hard. "Wait." She had quickly become lost in a sensual daze. "Let's slow down."

"Please-- Ramsey, I need you to-- love me." Sarika sought her lips again but Ramsey picked her up and her arms clung tightly around her neck while she placed her softly on the altar, lying down gently beside her.

"I do," Ramsey softly said into her ear. "But we need to talk while we finish our drink."

"You love me?" She had dreamt of this moment, and was very eager to have their encounter reach fruition. Sarika picked her goblet up off the floor and downed the rest of her drink in one long swallow.

"Yes. Now that I'm free to do so I realized that I, uh--"

"You--?" A lone droplet ran down the corner of her mouth to her chin.

"I--." Ramsey stopped while she leaned down to lick it off with her warm tongue. Sarika easily caught her lips with her own. But Ramsey did not lose control of the kiss this time, keeping it shallow and short.

"I realized that I wanted to share my life with you," she kissed her nose, "that I want to make a home with you and raise our child together." She placed tender kisses on both her eyes and when she pulled away she was startled to see tears pooling in her green eyes. "I didn't mean to upset you." She thought the empress wanted those things too. Ramsey felt foolish. Perhaps it was only sex that the empress wanted from her after all.

"No, I- I'm sorry. I hoped that you would, and to hear you say it-- " Ramsey's strength surrounded her once more and she gave herself up to profound joy. "I love you too." She kissed her soldier and shuddered with need. "Please-- " she handed the goblet to her, "finish your drink."

The beat of the drums grew louder and faster. Sarika took the empty cup from Ramsey's hand and placed it beside her own. It was time. "We belong to each other, and after tonight I will call you My Protector." She reached for the box and handed it Ramsey.

"And I will call you my love," Ramsey said as she took the box and opened it. Her eyes grew large. She should have suspected as much. She held up the flesh colored dildo and raised her brow.

"I selected it," Sarika said with sensual pride and pulled out the matching belt, eager to begin. "It matches your darker skin perfectly. And it will give you pleasure too--" She pointed to the smaller appendage at its base. Her lover hesitated. "Don't you like it?"

Ramsey had never used a supplemental device, but… "I'm sure I will, but it'll be a new experience for us both."

"Oh," the empress was surprised. "We don't have to. There are other ways--" She forgot to speak when Ramsey inserted the dildo into the strap and attached the belt so it rode low on her hips. She pulled out a packet labeled "wet" and poured the contents over the length of the rod, adjusting it until the smaller projection slid into place inside and pressed against her clitoris at the same time. Breathlessly, Sarika watched as Ramsey's strong hands manipulated the dildo that protruded from between her legs. She would not have guessed it was her first time.

Ramsey recognized the lust in her young love's eyes. "Touch it," she commanded huskily.

And Sarika enfolded the smooth object in one of her small hands, noticing how sensitive Ramsey was to its movement. The empress was impressed. "You," she continued to run her hand up the firm abdomen and kissed the smoothly muscled flesh there, "are wonderful." She began to explore Ramsey's navel wantonly with her tongue.

Awakened nerves fluttered with excitement everywhere the empress touched and when her warm, wet tongue burrowed into the recess of her belly Ramsey's powerful legs trembled. She pushed Sarika away and stood away from her for a moment. Her midnight-black hair draped around her firm, brown-tipped breasts and wide shoulders. The lines of her back were well proportioned and graceful. Her smoothly defined buttocks presented a torturously erotic picture for the empress.

"Ready to be ravished?" she asked so quietly that Sarika barely heard her over the flutes and incessant beat of the drums.

The prominent veins at the junction of Ramsey's biceps and forearms added that slight blue-tinged perfection while the phallus protruding from her groin waved slightly and her eyes smoldered darkly. Sarika thought again that she looked as though she could conquer anything.

"You know I am," the empress responded, her voice low and thick with passion. "Are you?" she dared to challenge her soldier.

Not bothering to answer, Ramsey covered one rosy pink nipple with her hot mouth. Sarika gasped at the incredible sensation and her head fell back when she began massaging the other breast with her large, warm hand. The young woman reclined, clutching at the dark head when she teased the erect bud with her tongue and alternated licks with lusty sucks and pleasurable moans of her own. Sarika tasted intoxicatingly sweet, and the major knew she was going to make love with her as often as she could. She gave similar attention to the other mouth-watering breast and then spread the lovely thighs apart to wedge her body lower over the writhing woman.

"Yes!" Sarika groaned again and Ramsey believed she could feel Sarika's pleasure along with her own when she touched her tongue to the moistness between her legs. Ramsey drew her tongue across the swollen outer lips again and again before finally pushing her exploring tongue inside to caress her depths.

"Ramsey!" Sarika shrieked and thrust her hips forward.

Ramsey wanted to give her more, wanted to give her everything. She inserted a finger into her vagina and felt the resistance she expected. She pulled on the shaft of the empress' clitoris lightly with her teeth and then gently sucked on the hard nub at the end, driving Sarika to the brink of orgasm and then pulling back before sending her over the edge. Sarika would need Ramsey's orgasm to get the relief she was in need of.

"Oh no...don't stop!  Oh please, don't stop."

"Relax sweet empress, we're not finished." She placed her long, lean body over the smaller woman and kissed her neck. The pulse she found with her lips was beating much faster than the drums that seemed to fade into the distance. She slid her tongue up to the delectable jaw before latching onto the delicious pink lips that had been silently mouthing her name like a litany of worship.

Sarika met her tongue with her own and felt the length of the phallus against her abdomen. With a deep moan she spread her legs. "Come inside," she said breathlessly.

Ramsey positioned the distended rod between the turgid lips of her sex. "It will hurt at first."

"I know," Sarika breathed into her dark hair. "I'm ready." When Ramsey penetrated her she felt a white hot flash of pain that faded to pleasure as Ramsey's thrusts continued. She wrapped her legs around Ramsey and her own pelvic thrusts met hers with increasing abandon. She was stretched full and the world spiraled as she expanded with each movement. The empress knew what she needed and could not stop reaching for it. She was in a sensual delirium, prodding her lover on with her involuntary movements and sounds of wild, salacious pleasure.

"Oh god!" Ramsey cried, feeling an intense orgasm approach. She was soaked with perspiration, her black hair sticking to places on her olive skin and mingling liberally with Sarika's light-auburn strands. She tried to slow it down but the empress had other plans, driving their bodies together even faster in the ancient dance of physical love. The major's began to tremble.

Head whipping back and forth while she whimpered, the empress was enraptured, realizing Ramsey was not going to last much longer and she tried to prepare herself for the release that she knew was coming.

When she climaxed, Ramsey thought she would die, so intense was the discharge of energy that lasted minutes instead of seconds. She moved through time and space in an endless kaleidoscope of colorful, pulsing pleasure that squeezed and expanded her, and spread wave after wave of heat throughout her being. It was almost terrifying in intensity, and for a moment it was painful. She gave a final shudder and collapsed on top of the empress, gasping for breath.

When Ramsey would have moved Sarika tearfully clasped her even tighter to herself, whispering words of devotion. She was complete and joyously relaxed.

Ramsey finally eased away and removed the strap before lying back down on her side.

Sarika placed a reverent kiss on her hand. "All right?"

Ramsey opened her arms and invited the empress to snuggle. "Don't know. Never been ravished before. Where are we?" she groaned before kissing the top of the royal head. "Oh yeah," she managed a satisfied, hoarse chuckle, "we're home."

 

The End, at last

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