Alien Conquest was possibly the darkest book of the series. The short story The Sentence, which re-visits Cassidy and her clan, is also the heaviest in this collection. Painful decisions must be made concerning Cassidy's grandfather General Hamilton, and none of the options are very palatable. But in real life, sometimes our choices don't include a happy ending. In those instances, one can only hope for the unwavering support and love of others to get her through.
Her religion, a hybrid version of the three older faiths of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, demanded an eye for an eye. Lidon’s beliefs, which he quoted often but never forced on anyone, pretty much said the same. She agreed justice needed to be served on behalf of so many dead. Cassidy just wished she knew what form that justice should take. Praying on the matter had given her no insight.
She finally gave up on her scholastic exercises. She couldn’t concentrate. Cassidy glanced at the other corner of the small room the clan had designated as her and Degorsk’s study space. Like hers, Degorsk’s area had a table and seat. Soothing tones drifted through the room which the Kalquorian said helped him relax and focus. Cassidy tended to tune it out entirely. The Imdiko hunched over his own vid, deep in making comments and observations on several cases his study group were involved in. He was making strides in his new field, and Govi had guaranteed Degorsk a spot on his team when his internship was completed. Degorsk loved the challenge of healing broken spirits even more than his former career of healing broken bodies.
Cassidy quelled the urge to walk over, undo the long, thick plait of hair lying down his back, and kiss him to arousal. He was intent on his work. Suppressing a sigh of longing, she left the room quietly.
Tranis was busy speaking on the vid com in the main sitting room of their temporary quarters, no doubt conducting business as an admiral of Kalquor’s military space fleet. Despite her extreme intelligence, Cassidy had found learning her new home’s language difficult. She was definitely geared more towards the math and sciences than language, and her ability to speak Kalquorian was halting at best. She could pick up a word or two of Tranis’ vid conference, but he spoke too fast to make out much. From the grim set of his mouth, it probably had something to do with the small but growing threat of trouble from the few Earther ships still fighting the long lost war; or the dissenting Kalquorians who didn’t want the two races mixing and had made a few raids against outposts in protest. Bloodshed continued, though thankfully on a far smaller scale.
She went instead to the bedroom they all shared. The quarters, decorated in soothing sapphire and gray tones, was specifically geared to a full Kalquorian clan. The soft sleeping mat took up most of the room, leaving little space for anything else. Lidon had found just enough room in one corner to set up his altar, which he now sat cross legged on the floor before, his eyes closed in meditation. His thick copy of the Book of Life lay open before him.
Cassidy didn’t love the warrior-philosopher any more than the other two men, but she did feel a deeper connection to him. Lidon was many things to her: the exacting disciplinarian, the instructive mentor, the spiritual guide, and of course her beloved mate. Despite her youth and naivety, he never made her feel stupid or that her opinion didn’t matter. In fact, he seemed to weigh her words with as much seriousness as he did the other two members of their clan.
She stood motionless in the doorway, looking over the sleek black hair and the strong and handsome face. His loose, white tunic and pants did little to hide the muscular perfection of her fierce but fair Nobek. Lidon knew she was there, of course. His eyes slid open and he looked over at her with a slight smile.
“I’m disturbing you,” she said.
“Not at all. But I thought you had set aside this time for studying.”
“I can’t concentrate.”
He stood, not at all as fluid as Tranis or Degorsk, but getting to his feet quickly nevertheless. Cassidy swallowed, looking at him. He was like a barbarian god of war, animal violence kept at bay only by the grace of a shrewd mind. Lidon was a scarred and savage beauty, much like a hunting tiger.
He approached slowly, his limp better than it had been earlier in the day. “The trial is bothering you.”
“Not the trial. The general was found guilty as he should have been. It’s the sentence that has my head in a muddle.”
Lidon took her into his arms, letting her burrow into the shelter of his chest. “My Matara, it is out of your hands now. ‘Despair not over that which you can exert no control over.’ He must face his justice, however horrible you may find it.”
“I know. But this memory wipe … it really, really feels wrong.”
Lidon kissed the top of her head. “Of course it does. You suffered a lighter version of it, so naturally you’re going to have issues with it.”
Cassidy raised her face so he could kiss her lips as well, which he did with great expertise. Clean, lovely lust warmed her belly just as his mouth warmed hers. She dove into it, but anxiety nibbled at the back of her mind no matter how hard she rubbed against her mate.
“Get these worries out of my head,” she begged when the kiss ended.
Her eager gyrations had aroused Lidon, and he gave her a bestial grin. “Gladly,” he growled, making her insides tumble with nervous desire.
Lidon yanked her clothes off with rough hands, the way he knew she liked it with him. Cassidy whimpered, feeling divine helplessness as he exposed her lushly curved body. When the Nobek brought out his hover cuffs, she trembled but offered her wrists without hesitation. Feeling them clamped over her flesh turned her wet. Lidon barked a command in his own language, and the hover cuffs lifted into the air, taking her with them, until she hung a foot off the ground, almost at eye level with the Nobek.
Completely at his mercy, knowing he had none, Cassidy stared into his cat-slitted eyes, gone dark with feral desire. His respiration came fast, and his cocks strained the crotch of his pants.