An Intergalactic Affair
She stood looking out at the stars, her arms resting on the rail in front of her, bent slightly forward. She sighed softly then focused not on the stars but on her reflection in the glass in front of her.
Angela Cole was a slight woman in her early 20′s with shoulder length brown hair and hazel eyes. She stood barely 5 feet 5 and one half inches tall. A half inch less and she would have never gotten into the space academy. They wanted taller people but they had gotten her. She wasn’t that smart either, at least she didn’t think so, not like some of the other cadets but, she did okay. She had been so excited when she found out she had been accepted to the academy. She had had to do some college courses to be considered and she had.
Angela had aced most of her classes with one or two exceptions so she had been very hopeful about being accepted. She had always been the ordinary girl in school, not in any clicks because she just hadn’t fit into any of them. And she hadn’t been very popular either. Instead she had studied hard to pass all her courses and not been into partying all night like some so she had gotten left alone for the most part, by everyone except her best friend Carlos. A real nerd if you went back a bit for the vernacular. Worst part was it had fit him to a T. He was barely two inches taller than herself and skinny with black hair that had a tendency to stick out at odd angles at the worst of times. He had always worn black rim glasses â€“ no one ever did that anymore if they could help it but he had â€“ and he was always pushing them up on the bridge of his nose. The glasses were so thick she wasn’t even sure what color his eyes were behind them either. But then Carlos was the exception to most people. The way he walked, talked and acted was as if he was out of an old-time movie. She had had to laugh about that one. Even the way they had met had been out of a movie. She had run into him, literally, on the first day of college. They had collided, her books had gone flying as had his, and in the process of picking them up she had ended up with one of his books and he had had one of hers. Outside the class of the missing books (hers that is) Carlos had been standing waiting on her and handed her the book taking his in return. His smile had been sweet and he had apologized, again, for having walked into her. Inside her book had been a short note from him saying, yet again, how sorry he was for bumping into her and then had asked if she wanted to study together. Apparently, they had one class in common. She had met him at the library and they had become friends from that moment on.
At any rate, she had been sitting on the front step on the day when her acceptance letter had arrived telling her she was accepted to the academy. It had been exactly one year before that Angela had applied to the USEA, the Universal Space Explorers Academy, right after graduating her two-year mandatory college classes. Carlos was there that day as he was most days; sitting on her front step beside her and waiting for the mail to arrive. He hadn’t applied to USEA, at least she didn’t think he had. But he came over each day to sit and wait with her, keeping her company and talking about all sorts of things. She was grateful for his friendship and that how she had saw him, as a friend. She had a feeling that he might want more but he never pushed the issue and so there they would sit and talk, until that day at least.
The mail person had arrived on the small hover device most mail carriers used and started to put the mail into the box. But then she looked at the top envelope in her hand and up at Angela.
â€śBeen waiting on something have you Angie?â€ť And she smiled holding out the top letter. Angela had flown off the steps and run to snatch the letter.
â€śThank you! Thank you! Have a good day!â€ť The last having been said sort of over her shoulder in the mail person’s general direction as Angela was already heading back to the steps, the letter in hand. The return address was indeed the one for the academy and she kept staring at it even as she retook her seat on the steps. Her mother and older sister came out on the porch behind her a moment later. Carlos just sat watching her.
â€śWell? Aren’t you going to open it?â€ť Her sister Vanessa said from behind her. Vanessa had never even considered going to the academy or any academy so far as Angela knew but then Vanessa was head over heels in love with a certain guy and had been for 4 long years. They had only recently decided to get married too.
Angela sighed and turned the envelope over in her hands. Her fingers shook as she slowly tore the envelope open and then she stopped. She just couldn’t do it. She shoved the envelope into Carlos’ hands.
â€śHere, you open it, I can’t. If they reject me I .. I’ll just .. die!â€ť She hid her face in her hands as he peeked into the envelope and drew out a rather formal looking letter. He scanned it over quickly then looked sideways at Angela. She still had her face covered. Clearing his throat, he started to read.
â€śDear Miss â€¦ um I guess I can skip that part. Letâ€™s see.. ah here it is. ‘We are happy to inform you that your application to USEA has been received and as all of your test scores are at the levels needed you are hereby accepted to the academy and should report to the academy’s launch pad by April 20 of this year. We hope you are well and we look forward to teaching you all that you will need to know. Sincerely â€¦ blah blah blah. Wow, guess you got accepted Angie.â€ť He held the letter and envelope out towards her as she slowly uncovered her face. Accepted. She was accepted. She took the letter and read it herself to make sure he wasn’t joking and her eyes got big. Behind her, her mother and sister were both congratulating her. She glanced at the date she was to report again and squealed.
â€śOh my God! I have to hurry! That’s only two weeks away! I have to get some things together, figure out what I’m doing with stuff! Have to hurry!â€ť She jumped up and turned to run into the house and came face to face with Vanessa. â€śOh Vanessa, I’m so sorry. I’m going to miss your wedding.â€ť Vanessa smiled and put a hand on Angela’s shoulder.
â€śThat’s okay. This is important to you. You will do well I’m sure of it.â€ť Then Vanessa did something she hadn’t done in a long time. She pulled Angela into a tight hug before releasing her and stepping out of her way. Angela glanced at her sister then at her mother, smiled and then remembered and turned to look at Carlos only to find him walking away down the sidewalk.
â€śCarlos? I will see you again before I leave, right?â€ť He turned, grinned and waved but never said a word, just kept walking. Angela started wondering how all this was going to affect their friendship.
Their friendship. Angela looked at the stars again and signed. That had been a year ago and even though she had written to Carlos a time or two he had never written back. She hadn’t seen him again before leaving either. She wondered how he was, what he was doing and realized that of everyone she had left behind, she missed him the most. She turned to walk away from the railing and noticed someone standing a short distance away. He was slight but well built. He was staring out at the stars so she only saw him from the side but what caught her attention the most was the bluish tinge to his skin. The features she could see of his face were smooth and he looked .. well .. regal in the way he stood there. His hair, a bluish black color, was smooth and well groomed. She hesitated a moment and in that moment he turned to look at her. His eyes were the deepest violet color she had ever seen. His voice when he spoke seemed to caress lightly.
â€śThe stars are quite beautiful are they not.â€ť It wasn’t a question so much as a statement of fact. Angela walked towards him slowly.
â€śYes, yes they are. Quite beautiful. Ummâ€¦ forgive me for being so forward, but you are Kardovian are you not?â€ť He nodded as he turned to look at the stars again. Thinking he didnâ€™t want to be disturbed Angela sighed. â€śI’m sorry if I disturbed you sir.â€ť She turned to walk away.
â€śRuvator Kalach.â€ť He looked at her again and smiled. â€śMy name that is, is Ruvator Kalach. I know it’s quite horrible but it’s what I was stuck with.â€ť The amusement in his eyes was so obvious it had her smiling in return and instead of walking away, she joined him at the rail leaving an inch or two between them.
â€śOh it’s not so bad.â€ť She looked sideways at him, he grinned and they both laughed. His voice and laugh were both earthy and deep, but it didn’t rumble. Instead it seemed to glide over her and she felt relaxed and calm. Maybe all of those classes she was taking in diplomacy were taking hold. She leaned on the rail at his side in silence for a bit then she found herself telling him all about herself, what she had done, where she had been, why she was at the academy and the entire time he looked at the stars and nodded every so often.
And then she told him about Carlos. Oh, she didn’t name him or even describe him just told how he had always been there for her and how much she missed him and how she felt that maybe she hadn’t given him enough credit for being her friend. Finally she drew quiet and Ruvator merely stood there, but then she realized he was no longer looking at the stars. He was leaning one elbow on the rail and watching her quietly, a gentle smile on his lips. Just then another Kardovian male walked up behind him. This one was tall and broad shouldered and looked every bit the warrior type.
â€śSire, we should proceed to your class. You will be late. Again.â€ť Ruvator nodded absently then reached out to take Angela’s hand in his. He bent over and brushed his lips over the back of it gently. As he released her hand he stepped back and started to turn but stopped.
â€śYou should not give up on a good friend Angela. I’m sure he still cares for you. Until we meet again.â€ť Then he smiled and walked off with what had to have been his bodyguard. Angela heard a small sound and yelped suddenly. Class? She was going to be late herself! She ran off to take even more diplomacy classes. The academy had decided to groom her as a diplomat to one of the outer planets. She briefly wondered if she might get sent to Cordova and grinned at herself as she continued her day.
After classes were done for the day she went to dinner with the three friends she had made while there. Two were human females, Terri and Sissy. (Sissy said her name was horrendous and refused to answer to anything but Sissy) and one alien girl named Khair. No last name. They didn’t seem to have them on her planet. She was a green lizard-like girl from Galaxytor. Her world was hot most of the time and had little water or so she said. And all of the descriptions Angela had been able to find seemed to agree with that. Angela proceeded to tell them all about her encounter with Ruvator Kalach. The human girls seemed impressed but had no idea who he was. But Khair stared at Angela until Angela finally asked what was wrong.
â€śRuvator Kalach is the Kardovian prince. Didn’t you know that? Oh, my. Be glad you didn’t say anything wrong. It’s said he can be a real bear with people he doesn’t like.â€ť Angela stared at her and started shaking her head.
â€śNo it can’t be the same person I spoke to. The man I met was kind and gentle and sensitive.â€ť
â€śAnd blue. You did say he was blue didn’t you Angela?â€ť Sissy had a hand on Angela’s arm as she stared past her. Angela glanced at her.
â€śYes his skin had a bluish tint to it. Why?â€ť Angela watched her friend quietly.
â€śBecause there is a big blue guy heading this way.â€ť Sissy nodded in the direction of Angela and all the girls turned to watch. The one walking towards them was the one Angela thought was Ruvator’s bodyguard. He stopped at their table and looked at each of them then at Angela only.
â€śPrince Kalach would like you to join him at his table if you would be so kind.â€ť Angela looked at her friends for a moment then, at their urging, nodded.
â€śI .. uh .. I would be delighted.â€ť She stood up and allowed the bodyguard to lead her to a rather spacious semi-circle booth off to one side. Ruvator smiled as she approached and stood quietly.
â€śThank you for joining me. At times eating alone is enjoyable but at others .. well .. you wish for good companionship as well. Please.â€ť He indicated for her to take a seat and she did. He slid back to his spot near the very back part of the semicircle and smiled again.
â€śSo how have your classes been Angela? Are you doing well?â€ť He settled back and watched her quietly. Angela looked back for a moment but felt suddenly uncomfortable.
â€śMy classes are going well. I have been told that I seem to be a natural diplomat. Though I find myself wondering how that could be possible. I was never a .. people person as I grew up.â€ť Ruvator nodded quietly.
â€śSometimes the one thing you don’t do much of is the one thing you are the best at. You just don’t know it until the time comes.â€ť He looked around the room quietly. â€śAt other times you are more or less forced into something whether you like it or not.â€ť Angela tilted her head as she watched him.
â€śSounds like something is bothering you. If you would like to talk about it â€¦?â€ť She waited quietly. As he turned to look at her the waitress arrived with a few dishes that she placed in the center of the table for them to choose from. Angela took note of a few of her favorites in the mix as well as some decidedly off world items. One dish looked like dark blue pasta yet gave off an odor almost of cinnamon. She looked at Ruvator as he choose a few bits here and there and put them on his plate. Even some of the human dishes got chosen. Angela sighed and decided to try the blue pasta but did take some of her favorites as well. As she was about to take a bite, Ruvator spoke softly.
â€śI did something that I was not proud of and I keep wondering if I can ever make it right again. Do you think that’s possible? To be able to back and right a wrong you did when no one even knows of it?â€ť He looked across the table at her, waiting. She set her fork down and folded her hands in her lap.
â€śIf it’s something that bothers you a great deal I would think you would want to correct it even if it caused you very little pain. What would concern me, if it was myself that done it is, if I say something to correct it would it cause pain? Or in keeping quiet would it hurt someone. Sometimes it’s best to simply weight the good and bad aspects of a decision before you make it. Like if you do it what good could come of it versus what bad might come. Do you see what I mean?â€ť He nodded and took a bite of food. She thought perhaps that was his way of delaying. She picked up her fork again and took a small bite of the blue pasta and found to her delight that it was extremely good.
They ate in silence for a short time. When it started to get late she looked towards the table she had shared with her friends only to see the table empty. They had already left so she would have to walk back to her dorm alone. Ruvator noticed her look and smiled.
â€śI will escort you to your dorm Angela. Walking alone is no more enjoyable at times then is eating alone.â€ť Angela glanced at him and smiled.
â€śThank you. Some of the galleries between here and there do get a bit .. well .. spooky at night.â€ť She grinned in spite of herself and he grinned back. Something in his grin seemed almost familiar but she chalked it up to having been with him on the observation deck.
With dinner finally over with, they headed to her dorm. She and Ruvator walking side by side and talking about some of the instructors and so on with his bodyguard a good 10 paces behind them, thus giving them their privacy yet being close enough to come to their aid if needed. They kept the conversation light and laughed over a story or two about some of their fellow students. He never mentioned what he had asked her over dinner and she didn’t bother to bring it up. At her dorm, they parted ways with his light kiss to the back of her hand, as was his way.
Over the next few months it became almost routine for them to enjoy dinner together and on occasion meet at the observation deck to watch the stars and just be together. It became easier to just stand with him and not have to talk or share anything. Then came a day when he had told her he would be busy with family matters that she decided to go to the hollow-deck to relax. Her friends were not able to join her this time so she set it for a beach she remembered, with an early morning soft breeze, and very few people. She had it reserved for two hours so went in and relaxed on the sand. About 20 minutes into her time she heard what could only be the door opening and closing and she sat up to tell who ever it was that this was her reserved time. When she turned she almost thought she would faint. The guy standing there could only be one person.
They say time flies when you are having fun and Angela felt that way for sure. In no time at all it seemed the last day of classes was on her and her new post was due to begin on Kardova. She carefully packed up all that she had with her including the extra uniforms she had been given for classes so that they could be shipped on ahead of her. She had only recently discovered that she and Ruvator would be traveling in the family space ship not on a commercial one. Since space warping had been discovered a few years earlier, traveling to distant planets or even galaxies wasnâ€™t such a problem. A trip that would normally take several light years could be done in a considerably shorter time. She had read about a time when you had to be frozen to travel to other planets. Frozen. She shivered at the mere thought. She went and said her goodbyes to her friends promising to keep in touch then went to the launch pad where the royal ship waited. Ruvator was there speaking with his body guard and turning a device over and over in his hands. As she approached she could see the bodyguard shaking his head negatively but Ruvator seemed adamant in whatever he was saying. The bodyguard looked up as she got closer and stopped talking. Ruvator turned and smiled at her.
â€śSo, ready for your next adventure?â€ť She smiled back and nodded.
â€śAs ready as I guess I will ever be I suppose. But then how does one prepare for the unexpected.â€ť Ruvator grinned back at her.
â€śYou prepare by not expecting anything and hoping for the best there can ever be. My great grandmother told me that when I was very little. It has stayed with me all these long years. Shall we get on board?â€ť he motioned towards the ship and she went in ahead of him.
The ship’s interior looked less like a spaceship and more like a manor to her eyes. The seats were plush, the tables ornamented. There seemed to be a bar at one of the space that was allotted to them on the trip. She couldn’t quite conceal her pleasure in it all.
This is .. beautiful.â€ť She walked to one of the seats and eased into it and that was how it felt, like she was sinking into something wonderful. Ruvator watched her with a gentle smile on his face. The device still in his hands.
â€śWell, I suppose we should get strapped in. There won’t really be any G force or anything but when we first leave the security of the station we won’t have gravity for a few minutes. Then the artificial gravity will kick in and we don’t want to be floating around when that happens.â€ť he grinned at her as he set the device down and strapped in next to her. Then he picked it up again and held onto it. She looked at the ball like shape curiously
â€śWhat is that anyway? You seem quite fascinated by it.â€ť He looked over at her and for once seemed worried rather than amused.
â€śI .. uh .. I will show it to you in a bit. After we have some lunch okay?â€ť then he smiled and she smiled back.
Launch procedures went smoothly and she felt the release of gravity and the reinstatement of it all from the comfort of the chair she was strapped into. As the artificial gravity took hold Ruvator released his belt and sat back staring at the globe in his hands.
â€śSo, you aren’t going to tell me what it is?â€ť he shook his head.
â€śNo, after we eat I will show you. I just hope .. never mind.â€ť He looked up as a blue skinned girl came in with two trays balanced in her hands. She put one in front of Ruvator and one in front of Angela. Both trays had auto telescoping legs that auto balanced themselves no matter what.
â€śOkay, so tell me about your world then. You have said so little until now. I did read up on it somewhat. Your people are big on technology. Both large and small. â€ť He had just taken a bite of food so had to swallow before answering her.
â€śIt’s a beautiful planet. Almost like your own. A lot of water but sufficient land as well. We Kardovians can breathe under water for short periods of time. But we must surface once an hour or have a breathing apparatus else we drown.â€ť
â€śOnce an hour, that’s impressive. Most humans can only hold their breath a minute maybe two. So, we created scuba gear to go under water. Of course, that was some time ago. Now with the new handheld breathing devices we can stay down even longer than scuba gear could allow. The devices draw oxygen from the water. You might want to consider those for your planet as well.â€ť she glanced at him to find him studying her carefully. â€śOkay something is definitely wrong. What are you not telling me.â€ť She watched him as he sighed, picked up the globe again and turned it in his hand.
â€śYou know, black rimmed glasses take a lot of getting used to.â€ť The silence that greeted that remark could have been cut with a knife. Angela stared at him, her mouth open.
â€śW… what? What did you say?â€ť He sighed again and still didn’t look at her.
â€śI was told to blend as much as possible, and I did. Perhaps too well?â€ť His eye flickered towards her and away again. He stood up and walked a short distance. â€śI hope you can forgive me. I never â€¦ it was not my intention to do harm. Funniest part is I think I did more harm to myself then to you. At least then.â€ť She watched as he turned to face her, thumbing a small button on the side of the device. By the time he was fully facing her he was Carlos, her friend, her confidant, glasses and all. She continued to stare at him without saying a word. He sighed, hand going through that messed up unkempt hair. â€śThe only thing the mystifier cannot do is change the eyes so â€¦.â€ť he took off the glasses, those thick ridiculous black rimmed glasses to reveal his still vibrant violet colored eyes. He looked at her as he flipped the device off once more and became himself again. â€śSay something, please. Yell, scream, whatever you wish but just say something. I can’t stand this silence.â€ť But that was all he got as she sat there taking it all in, thinking about it all. Wondering â€¦ The kiss, on the beach in the holodeck. Slowly she stood up and walked towards him. For some reason, she took an instant liking for the haunted look in his eyes, as if afraid she might do him harm.
â€śWhy?â€ť He blinked as she spoke. Angela waited and he licked dry lips to respond.
â€śI .. we study those we will be working with, before inviting them to our planet, our homes. We have done this for a very long time.â€ť She shook her head. They were definitely not thinking along the same lines.
â€śNo I meant. The kiss. In the holodeck. Why?â€ť He blinked again then tilted his head.
â€śYou haven’t figured it out?â€ť She shook her head no. â€śIt was .. I kissed you because I .. because I love you. I was afraid that this alien form might not appeal to you so I .. what? Why are you laughing?â€ť And she was laughing. So much so tears rolled down her cheeks.
â€śMen. You are all the same no matter what world you come from. The form you took as a human? Not so appealing. Not as much as you are.â€ť She said the last standing a few inches from him looking up into his eyes and he looked back quietly. As the words sunk in he smiled, his hands came up to her shoulders.
â€śI tried to make things easier for you. To let you adapt slowly to me, to my people, my family, my world. I am starting to understand that I may not have had to do that. You are a remarkable woman Angela Cole. A very remarkable woman.â€ť She laughed again and put her hands to either side of his face.
â€śOh, shut up and kiss me.â€ť And he did.