[...] Reluctantly she stood and answered the door to find herself face-to-face with her father. After a moment of shock, she closed her eyes, and took a deep breath to steady herself. She was in deep if he was here.
“It is time we spoke about your mother.” He informed her in a flat monotone bass voice that would send shivers up and down her spine as a child. He looked across her shoulder to see the sleeping human, “and about your choices in bed partners,” he finished even more dryly.
With a sigh, she let him in, wondering if she would have a chance to explain herself before it began. He walked over and placed a hand to Commander Jason Riker’s head, closed his eyes, and steadied his own breathing. After a moment, he opened them again and turned to her. “When were you planning on telling someone about your abilities? You have already made all memories of you just a dream to him and supplanted the notion that he needs to return to Earth, find a woman, marry her, and have lots of children with her.”
Anna looked down at the grey carpeted flower with red and blue Tamalian blooms and golden vines embroidered in it. When she looked up at her father, she was shocked to see only concern in his eyes. “There is so much we do not know about your mother that I worry for you and this need to travel among the stars.” He sat in the chair she had vacated, with a look of sadness about him. “Oh, K’Tee, how I miss your mother’s sweet scent and joyous personality,” He finally confessed. “Of all the women I was ever with, I wish I could have kept her near me till the end of my days. For her to have blessed me with two children at the same time, was a miracle! You have no idea how many women I tried with as I was nearing the end of my mating cycle and needing to return to Elas to assume my role as Dohlma. To ascend without an heir would have been a disgrace to our family line and would have caused so much turmoil. Then she left, without a word or a trace, taking your brother with her when you were just a few months old.” He sat quietly for a moment and with a deep, heavy sigh, he continued, “I have searched for her ever since. There are so many questions that we need answers to.” The frown lines deepened on Davin’s face making him look so much older than his six hundred and ten years. Anna’s heart felt for him. To have loved a woman so deeply and to have her leave in such an abrupt manner. Anna did not need to be empathic or telepathic to feel his anguish. “Not knowing half of your DNA, there are so many questions our medical technology can not answer. Just how talented are you? What can you expect for a lifespan? And when, plus how long, will you be fertile to provide an heir?”
He continued, “Then when I heard you screaming in the night for help, I thought all was lost for Elas. I feared that it was you being attacked!” He looked up at her, eyes brimming with tears. Anna quickly crossed the room to fold her father in an embrace they both needed so badly. She could feel his consent that she could let go and freely sob over everything that had just happened. No amount of telepathic abilities were going to be able to remove the nightmares on the USS Benjamin Franklin from her mind. He pulled her onto his lap, as if she was still only 10, not 110.
They sat there for a while as father and daughter, his touch uncharacteristically calming and tender, versus its usual “sting of discipline.” A moan from the bed reminded them they were not alone in the room and that Anna was once again emanating her feelings. “Go. Get ready for the rite. I will tend to him. His mind will be set right and his heirs will fulfill their destiny.” Her father brushed tears from her face, pushed an errant strand of hair back in place, and lovingly kissed her forehead. He alone was immune to her tears and raw emotions.
Anna stood and admired the electric Yinmn blue gown that was created for her. Embroidered royal blue and scarlet red Tamalian Blooms with silver and gold vines adorned the cathedral skirt and the bell drop sleeves. When she was younger, and her first T’Leth took oath to guard her, the dress had been plain white. When the next T’Leth takes their place it will be sunset gold, followed by the purest of Emerald Greens, with the embroidering becoming more elaborate each time till she took her place as Dohlma of Elas and the Confederation of Planets Empire. Then it would return to snow white with only the red and blue tamalian blooms with silver and gold accents.
She studied her face for any signs of aging and noted her hair had returned to its original multihued fiery coloring. Her attendant had been very adept at styling it with a full bun and curls hanging down, perfectly fitting into the open space upon her back. Her face had been modestly accented with make-up, with the attendant admiring her natural beauty and apparently not needing much makeup at all. She calmly lifted the front hem so that matching shoes could be slipped onto her feet, feeling the tight boning of the corset jab her in the ribs once more, wishing to take a full breath but unable to.
She felt sad and was unsure why. She looked down at the attendant and softly touched her head with comprehension dawning due to her long absence away from other Elasians, “What troubles you, K’Leigh?” She inquired.
The attendant stopped what she was doing to look at her T'Lana Dohlman, tears threatened behind sad grey eyes. Soon K’Leigh began to sob. Anna knelt the best that she could to comfort her. The story of a lover and a child lost as she was nearing her Heshana and would soon be barren came pouring out. Anna knew that she was personally too young to be feeling maternal towards anyone, and suddenly felt very motherlike in comforting this woman that was much older than her.
“If I could heal your heart with a single word, I would, K’Leigh. Would you do the honor of being my S’tara? I will do all that I can to fill your maternal void. As you know, I am without a mother. Having one as brave as you fill her role would be a blessing.” Anna spoke softly into the blue and silver head she held.
K’Leigh looked at her with shock. “But my lady, is that not someone your father should choose?” she stammered in surprise. “I am but a servant and nowhere near as wise as though who have been trained to be S’Tara of the Dohlman.
Anna softly chuckled and attempted to stand back up. K’Leigh was quick to help her and then became busy with adjusting the stays on the corset and returning circulation to Anna’s lower extremities. Anna sighed with relief at finally being able to breathe again and groaned at the latest fashion trend of tiny waists on the men and women of Elas, praying that it would only last a few decades and not centuries. “I think my father will trust my judgement on many things after this, even if he doesn’t agree with them.” Anna reassured her, then turned to her closet to find a gown she owned of the deepest Tamalian Red with silver accents. “Here, I believe this should fit you and would be appropriate.” Anna gracefully handed the gown over to K’Leigh and watched her face light up. She was rewarded with a loving hug from her new S’tara, adopted mother.
It took only a few minutes for the women to both be dressed and ready when the company of S’thara arrived at her door, indicating the rite was about to begin. Anna steadied herself, knowing that as she walked past them in review that each would be hoping to be chosen to lead the procession. All fifteen lined up in the hallway as Anna and K’Leigh walked past them, studying each one intently. Anna returned halfway down the formation to an elderly male, “What is your name, S’thara, and what is your station?” she asked him.
He stood a bit taller before bowing slightly to his T’Lana Dohlman. “I am S’Thara Tobin Dræl. I have completed the Rite of Ocoshana and come from seventeen generation of S’Thara devote to the Royal Family.” He stood tall once more and slightly bowed again. Anna gave a brief glance to K’Leigh, who gave a telepathic nod of agreement.
“What of your training?” Anna continued her inquiries, “What are your ratings?”
“I have spent a Quarana of my life studying Linguistics, Cultural Anthropology, Universal Theology, and mastered several of the combative arts from different worlds. I am rated an Empath five and a Telepath four and have been an instructor at the J’Danika Academy for the past tǣnth.” He came to attention and bowed again. Anna could hear K’Leigh giggling in her mind.
“Tell me S’Thara, are you mated?” K’Leigh could not help herself after glimpsing that Anna had an appetite for older men. The rewarding look of shock on his face was worth it.
Anna snapped a small glare at K’Leigh, who quickly righted herself to her new position. “I, uh,” Tobin stuttered a bit, “I was mated on my Tritara and we have had our requisite four offspring. The two youngest reside with their mother, S’Tara Colleen, as tradition dictates for my position.” Anna watched his eyes flick to the left and was quick to recognize a resemblance between the man in front of her, a male and a female further down the formation.
Her Decision made, she reached forward to pin a blue emblem to his tunic, and was rewarded by him slightly blushing and pride eminanting for the entire formation that one of their company was found worthy. After that, without a single spoken word the company of guardians fell in around her, pyramid formation with S’thara Tobin to the front and pyramid formation to the back, two guardians flanking her on each side were the children of Tobin that Anna strongly suspected he would insist on coming with, and K’Leigh behind her also flanked on each side. As they walked down the corridor, she could hear the Festungcloigín announcing her presence. Elasian Guards, in their formal military uniforms, lined the corridor leading to the rotunda of the ship. As the door to the rotunda corridor opened, Anna got to see the Shedira Bubble Nebula with her own eyes and it was breathtaking.
Her father joined her for the remainder of the procession. The rotunda was lined with guards, who would each slightly bow, fist to chest, as Anna passed them heading towards the center. Rows of Elasians already stood at attention, with the same slight stiff bow as she passed their row. She could see the Helgernaofa in her regalia that was fit for the duty she was about to perform. The lack of silver and gold embellishments with the distinctive and prominent triple suns embroidered on the regalia told Anna that she was still a fourth level acolyte in the Order of Solasicht. For some reason, Anna felt anxiety over this event and she did not recall being this nervous a hundred years ago. She felt a comforting tightening on her arm from her father as they proceeded on.
As they neared the center of the rotunda, Kiang and Kynar approached from opposite sides, the audience saluting them with a fist over the heart. They were dressed in full Klingon Regalia, with the prominent blue intertwined in their baldrics. Their d’ktahgs were prominently on their belts and well polished Elasian piastilcéims (a highly deadly pistol weapon) strapped to their other side. Both weapons had been adorned with the Crest of Teacch’Nach Tor and their Bat’leths strapped to their backs, at the ready. Both looked very uncomfortable with their new attire.
Anna gasped, and stifled a case of the giggles, as she realized that both men had their hair styled in the latest Elasian fashion: pulled tightly back in a braid with rows of curled hair leading to it, very much in the pompous fashion of Earthen Victorian male aristocrats. She felt her father grasp her arm a bit snuggly as a reminder that all eyes were on her and to behave appropriately.
Perhaps that is why she was nervous. A hundred years ago, she was only ten. Skipping down the aisle in the procession was deemed “adorable” by all present, along with being picked up by her first T’Leth in a giant bear hug. She prayed that she was more practiced in the rites and traditions of her people to not forget any words then feel the need to bury her young face in her T’Leth’s shoulder to avoid speaking. She also prayed that all of the words would be in Universal as many Elasian words were difficult to pronounce by other species.
“Of Kings and Queens, ancestors before to the descendants after, a sacred duty is passed from one T’Leth to another,” the Helgernaofa began in a singsong voice filled with subharmonics. “Guardians of the past, present, and future. The T’Lana Dohlman that stands before is but a child and not yet ready to assume her role as leader to all. Who here has protected her person when all others have failed?”
D’avin responded, “I, D’avin Qang Boq Tor, Dohlma to all of Elas, High Ruler to the Empire and Confederation of Planets, have guarded T’Lana Dohlman K’tee Tor. Her life is mine. I come before you to seek the Order of Solasicht’s blessing in assigning this sacred duty to,” paused for a moment and reached out to the minds of the two Klingons to find that both were willing to die for her of their own accord, “these two T’Leths of Qo’Nos. They have guarded her well, when others tried to harm her. They will continue to guard her till the end of their days.”
With a nod from the Priestess, D’avin stepped forward, held out his hand to Kynar, “Kynar of the House of D’taless, as elder, I charge you with giving her all the love a father can. Guide her as your own child and see to her education in my place.” D’avin took Kynars hand and placed it on Anna’s shoulder. He reached out his other hand to Kiang, “Kiang, Descendant of Sompek, I charge you with protecting our T’Lana Dohlman till she is mated and that duty is passed on to him.” He placed Kiang’s hand on Anna’s other shoulder.
Anna stifled a smile as she could feel the devotion of these two Klingons emanate through the whole chamber. Quietly she spoke, “Kynar, you are my oldest, truest, and most dearest friend. I look upon your wisdom to enlighten mine.”
Kynar moved his hand to her head, to fatherly caress her face, before returning to his formerly stiff stance. “I, Kynar of the House of D’taless, swear to all who are present that I will fulfill my sacred oath as guardian to the future of all.” He moved his fist to his chest, stepped back, curtly bowed and remained.
Anna looked into the eyes of Kiang, and felt her icy heart melt. “Kiang, descendant of Sompek, I look to your sword and skill to protect me…” Anna had to pause for a moment as the next word caught in her throat, “always” was the barely audible whisper that earned a sidelong glance from her father.
Kiang stood tall, “I, Kiang, great grandson to Sompek, pledge my sword and my life to your everlasting protection.” He removed his hand from her shoulder, pulled his Bat’leth to the ready and stood behind her.
The Priestess continued, “Know all that are present here, and herald it to the far reaches of the galaxy. T’Lana Dohlman is under the guardianship of two warriors and they are to be given the same courtesies as T'Lana Dohlman Anna Leigh K’tee Tor, daughter to D’avin Qang Boq Tor, Dohlma to all of Elas, High Ruler of the Empire and the Confederation of Planets, and successor to the throne.” The blazers to each side flashed in brilliant colors, as the three stood before the assembly, and the cheers. As gracefully as she could muster, Anna retreated down the path she had just come up, flanked by Kynar and Kiang, followed by the company of S’thara from earlier. Her life had just taken a major turn, she could feel it, and it scared her.