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Legacy of Earth: Birthright | Ch 15



Author's Note

Just a bit of a warning, this chapter has content that may be upsetting to some readers. All I can say is, it was extremely painful for me to write. Please don’t hate me.


CH 15

In transit to Orbiting Defense Platform Odin, aboard the Flint

Our ride, the Flint, was a Voyager class transport, a sleek and slender vessel and was among the smallest classes of ship in the United Earth Alliance Fleet. Often used on the front line to get troops in and out of tight spots, it was no mystery why they had so often been equipped with precision drives.

The vessel seemed more than a like familiar. The Centennial Hawk was a prototype model, which was the basis for Voyager-class ships, like our transport. There were, however, some pretty noticeable differences. I mean, they kept it a fair bit cleaner, and the Hawk’s bulkheads were a hodgepodge of different materials Tanner and I scavenged from wherever the hell we could.

The Hawk was unique, the only one of its kind, built with a modular dock that would have allowed it to be outfitted with dozens of different pods. As near as I’d been able to determine, the only pod ever produced had been the cargo container. It had been a good idea in theory, but the engineers at Briggs Aerospace and Engineering who had worked on her hadn’t quite worked out all the kinks after Lily’s death. So the company scrapped the modular aspect and sold the design to the UEAF as a transport ship.

When we’d gotten hold of the Hawk it had been an empty shell, a husk save for the propulsion system, but one which came at an enticing enough price that we hadn’t passed it up. Retrofitting her had been a challenge, but boy had it been worth it. Few transports could match her speed or maneuverability, and we had equipped her with second-hand and re-manufactured parts. If Tanner or I had managed to get our hands on some of those military grade hardware, I can’t speak for my partner, but I think I’d have died and gone to heaven.

After we were all inside, Lt. Chev Raymont, the UEAF officer who’d greeted us outside the ship, closed the ramp behind us by slamming his hand into a nearby wall switch, then turned back to us with a smile that looked a little too forced.

“If you’ll be so kind as to follow me, we can get underway.”

The Flint didn’t appear to be a troop or cargo transport, given that those sorts of ships had a more open design, with few bulkheads and no corridors. This vessel had both. My guess, it was a transport for persons of importance, like high-ranking officers, consultants, dignitaries, government officials and whatever the hell category we fell into.

A short walk down a corridor, and into an adjoining room, later, and we soon found ourselves inside an area that must have measured a good sixty square meters, lined with padded bench seats, a minibar and a holo projector on one wall. It looked very much like the interior of a limousine, only much larger, which pretty well confirmed my suspicions.

The good Lieutenant invited us to sit, have a load off, have a drink or two and… wait. He didn’t phrase it that way, but that was the general point. He turned to leave, and I put my hand on the door and called out.


He stopped in his tracks, then ever so slowly swung back to face me. The soldier didn’t say a word, nor did I, but I peered at him, hoping he could read the silent plea on my face. How could he leave me inside a room with the Qharr diplomat, my grandmother and business partner? No way, nope, just a whole hell of a lot of nuh uh. Things were awkward enough already.

The worst part was, he didn’t seem to understand or else he didn’t care enough to do shit about it. Not one to take no for an answer, what I did next shocked even me.

“You know.”

I rubbed a hand along the inside of my shirt collar, massaging the skin with slow sensuous movements, popping a button loose as I did. He didn’t move his head, but his eyes pretty well followed the movement and I realized I’d gotten the reaction I wanted.

What was I doing? I almost stopped there, but as his eyes looked over me with hungry desire, I realized something that weirded me the fuck out. I enjoyed getting the attention.

“My business partner, and I,” I paused long enough to nod back toward Tanner. “We run a small shipping business and our ship is an early X-419 prototype, we’d be interested in seeing more of the ship.”

He swallowed and averted his eyes, stepped away and nodded. “Uh, yes, we could arrange something like that. The weapons systems and engine sections are off limit to guests without clearance, but you and your friend are more than welcome to join me in the control room.”

“That, would be wonderful.”

I smiled, letting my hand slide away from my neck, but leaving the button of my blouse undone. When I peered back at Tanner, I paused before beckoning her forward. The look on her face and the one worn by my grandmother were almost identical. Eyebrows shot way up to the top of their forehead and eyes about as wide as they would go. I didn’t blame them for being surprised, so was I. The real question was, what came over me?

I shook my head, forcing breath in and out. It had gotten me all… excited, and a growing part of me was a little uncomfortable with the implications. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and snapped my eyelids open.

“Um, yeah can we forget about it?”

I turned back and took several steps away. I did not understand what that had been about, but I wouldn’t let myself take it any further. As fucking weird as that had been, I was a tad more concerned about how my companions would react.

That weird, newly discovered aspect of me was disappointed when Raymont left the room, but my sane half won out. I took one look around, noting that neither my grandmother nor Tanner looked even slightly less surprised, then marched into the corner, plopped down and cupped my face in both hands, wishing for all the world that I understood what the actual fuck had just happened.

The insides of my stomach clenched, and I remained there, burning tears streaking my cheeks, too humiliated to open my eyes or uncover my face. The room fell silent as the seconds passed into minutes. Soon enough I sensed movement, but instead of looking up to see who it was, I froze in place, unable to make eye contact with anyone. Hands slipped around my arm and a voice whispered in my ear.

‘Kaydence, you can do this. Find her, set her free.’

The voice sounded familiar, a unique combination of Salvadoran and Texas accents I had only ever heard from one person, my mother. I snapped my eyes open, and sat bolt upright, heart hammering in my chest when I discovered that there wasn’t anyone close enough to have whispered in my ear.

‘Khala, did you…’

‘Do what?’

Either Khala was messing with me or she really had no idea. I doubted Lexa would have pulled such a trick, and even if she had, the symbiote would have known. I wouldn’t be satisfied until I got an answer out of her, and when she replied in the negative, my heart sank. I was going insane. It was the only logical explanation.

For years now, I’d been hearing a voice in my dreams encourage me to find ‘her and set her free’. Until recently, I always assumed that the voice was trying to tell me I needed to find my mother, but since doing that, it had spoken to me four times, twice in dreams, and twice in the actual world. Granted, one time, I was an inch from death, but it seemed a little disconcerting that I was hearing voices.

“Kayde?” Tanner came over and sat beside me, putting a hand around my shoulder and held me. “What’s going on, you’re weirding us out.”

My grandmother hung back only a moment longer, before she moved across the room, took a seat beside me and placed her hand on mine.

“I’ll be fine,” I whispered, lying through my damn teeth. I wasn’t sure if I would ever be fine again. The experience had me shaking, doubting my sanity and confused as hell.

“I need to figure things out. Give me some time.”

That seemed to satisfy them both, but it would take more than a few paltry words to wash my doubts away. There was something very assuring about being held, a closeness that would have never been acceptable for me when I was a man. Things didn’t seem so uncomfortable anymore, even with Nyvok huddled in the corner, looking like someone who wanted to be anywhere but stuck in a cabin with a trio of human women. Quite a feat considering that the Qharr were so expressionless, but I suppose I might be getting better at reading his body language.

My first trip out since becoming a woman was less than stellar. Already, I’d pissed off a DTS agent, weirded everyone out, myself included, by flirting with Raymont, and had a very public breakdown in front of an alien ambassador who also happened to be a descendant of the warrior who enslaved my great-grandmother. Yeah, as bad days went, that one ranked in the top five, and it was only going to get worse from there.

I was never so glad when the bukheads of the transport shuddered, and an almost imperceptible snap-hiss sounded from somewhere on the other side of the wall. If I hadn’t been so attuned to space travel, I probably wouldn’t have even heard it, but it was sufficient for me to identify. I slipped my hands clear of my face and stared at the exit, all the shame and shock from earlier forgotten as I listened for any signs of movement.

My grandmother’s gaze snapped up to stare at the door at about the same moment as mine had. Tanner was slower, no doubt, because she lacked the enhanced senses of a symbiote, but soon enough she too watched the door with anticipation in her eyes.

Nyvok held a small volume resembling a book, but made of slats of a material that might have been wood strung together into sheets. Each page was about three millimeters thick, and I guessed there were around forty pages judging from the thickness. I’d never seen a Qharr text of that sort, but I’d been made to understand that they read it bottom to top and the characters weren’t so much a collection of words, but instead represented thoughts and ideas. The amount of information in a single sheet would have been the equivalent of pages and pages worth of English text. He may very well have been reading the Qharr equivalent to War and Peace.

He was either so engrossed in his reading that he was unaware that the airlock had opened or was hoping to find a good stopping place before setting the book aside. It wasn’t until the door slid open that the ambassador pulled one slat out a few centimeters, perhaps marking his spot, and rose from his feet, meeting Raymont’s gaze as he stepped inside the room.

Lurching to my feet, I was out the door before the Lieutenant could even blink at me. I had been eager to leave the ship, so eager that the desire overcame me with an almost obsessive, manic fire. In seconds, I was clambering down the hallways before the others departed the room, and when I reached the exit ramp, channeled all the patience I had to keep myself from exiting without waiting for them.

When they did join me I ran down the ramp, basking in the wide open space of the hanger as I strained my neck back looking upon my surroundings. I was more than ready to put my little breakdown behind me, but as great as that sounded, it wouldn’t be something I could cast aside. Despite this disconcerting revelation, I put on my best professional face and waited for everyone else to descend the ramp. I might have looked calm and collected on the surface, but underneath a raging storm of emotions threatened to come thundering out. I shuddered to think what would happen if someone pressed the wrong buttons.

I caught movement out of the corner of my eye, and I turned to face the approaching entourage, led by an aging figure wearing a fleet uniform and sporting three bars on each of his sleeves.

Oh great, a General.

On his right side and just a meter back moved the towering figure of Hetzapledra, the Dexagarmetrax ambassador, and about the last being I expected to see. The General and ambassador were escorted by a pair of Dexagarmetrax much both closer in height to the human than the ambassador. Two servicemen trailed behind, keeping a respectful distance.

When the leader of the group drew closer, I was able to make out his nametag which identified him as General Theodore Arnoff. He greeted my grandmother with a curt nod and a flat, expressionless face. “Ma’am it’s good to see you again and ambassador so good of you to join us as well.”

“Charming as always, I see. Arnoff this is my granddaughter, Kayde, and her business partner Tanner.” Kaya Briggs held her hand out, first to me, then to Tanner.

Charming? Ha! That was the exaggeration of the century. The guy had about as much personality as food dispenser.

“It is agreeable General to once again have the honor.” Nyvok bowed his head and closed all three eyes, then stood bolt upright as he glanced around the hanger. “If it is not too impertinent of me to ask. How soon can we see this second beast? My government is very concerned about these beings. Consolidator Fryshck has taken a personal interest in the matter and will be expecting an update by the end of this Terran day.”

“The situation has changed.” Arnoff cast his eyes back at the Flint. “I’m afraid no one will be seeing the creature. We have put most of the facility under quarantine.”

“What?” My grandmother and I stepped forward and spoke up in perfect unison.

I cleared my throat, held my hands up and stepped back. My grandmother watched me and turned back toward Arnoff.

“I don’t understand. Is this second creature diseased?”

“It’s a bit more complicated than that,” he replied.

Despite his cool facade, I got the sense for the first time that he found the subject unsettling. Okay, so he was shifting from foot to foot and he had this odd tick where his left eye kept twitching, but I swear to you it was all intuition. Hey, what can I say? I just have a knack for reading people.

“Why don’t we discuss this very classified bit of information somewhere less public? I have some surveillance footage to show you, which I believe will be very illuminating.”

I craned my neck around, my eyebrows furrowed. We were inside one of the orbiting defense platforms, which was the most impenetrable military installation in the entire alliance. Couple that with the complete absence of anyone besides ourselves, and it just seemed… odd. Who would spy on us? A hunk of space debris?

Arnoff must have had reason to worry about eavesdroppers, but I didn’t see what it might be. Still, I was dying to find out what had happened and I’m sure the others were too considering they didn’t issue a single word of protest as the good General led us away. Not that I was in any place to criticize, I didn’t either.


We never made it more than a hundred meters before, you guessed it, shit hit the fan. Okay, so it didn’t happen all at once. It starred with the sirens, which sounded out of thin air. I didn’t know what sort of sound system the UEAF used, but shit, it was loud.

“Dammit.” Arnoff cursed and cupped a hand over his jugular. “Someone tell me what the hell is going on.”

He paused, listening to a response from a subordinate, then started barking out orders.

“Get all available units prepped in containment gear, throw some god-damned coil guns in their hands and send them after that thing. Nothing gets in or out of this base, do you hear me? Nothing.”

He dropped his hand, spun around on the balls of his feet and started ushering us back toward the transport. “I need you back aboard that transport, now.”

“I thought you said–” I started to object, but the General cut me short.

“It’s not going to take off, but it’s armored and a lot more secure than an open hanger bay. Now move!”

I didn’t budge an inch, for that matter neither did my grandmother. Tanner took a few steps back, but when she saw that neither one of us had moved, she stopped and stared back at Arnoff, who’s face turned so red I half expected him to drop dead of a heart attack. Nyvok inched toward the door, craning his head around and sniffing like a dog trying to pick up a scent. Hetzapledra and their aids were the hardest to read, but they didn’t seem at all alarmed. Mostly, they quivered, which was pretty normal for members of their race.

“No.” I folded my arms across my breasts and stared him down. No small feat considering he towered over me. “You need me. I’ve gone toe to toe with one of those things already and killed it without enhanced strength. Now that I’m joined to a symbiote, I’m much faster and a lot deadlier. If there is anybody here, that can deal with that thing, it’s me.” I said, this time confirming that not only was a dumbass but also extremely self-deluded.

“You, are not trained to handle this kind of threat. My men are.”

“Your right, but my symbiote, has more experience than anyone on this base.”

Arnoff gritted his teeth and pointed at our transport. “You will get on that ship if I have to drag you onto it myself.”

The General knew damn well he would never match my strength, but maybe he hoped his size would intimidate me. I guess it worked, I actually took a step back when he moved toward me, but you know what? That’s about when I caught sight of something a fair bit scarier.

“Please, General,” Nyvok spoke, his voice rumbling above the sound of the siren’s. “Allow me to stay, you are right that, these humans are not warriors, but I have fought many engagements.”

Arnoff nodded and glanced back at me. His eyebrows furrowed. “Back on the ship, now.”

“Uh, too late.” Tanner said, staring off into the distance.

“Dammit,” I cursed and slapped the palm of my hand into my forehead. “Stupid, stupid, stupid.”

You know how I have a nasty habit of doing something insanely moronic? Well, this was one such moment. I should have just ran like hell, but no Kayde’s gotta try to be the hero. It was just my luck that the creature had found us, before I had seen common sense. Boy, sometimes I could just kick myself.

I slammed into Arnoff’s side, sending him reeling away. As the creature came rushing across the pavement toward us, I screamed at the others to “get the hell out of the way,” just before I leapt forward to take the thing head on. It crashed into me, sweeping one huge hand out, and sent me careening into Arnoff who had just gotten back to his feet.

We went down in a tangle of limbs and it took precious seconds for me to work my arms free, but I did just in time to hear a high-pitched squeal and look up. Tanner lay sprawled on the ground, the creature towering over her, both its hands balled up into fists at its side. I lurched free, but before I crawled back onto my feet, there was a blur of gray as Nyvok moved in to take on the creature.

The ambassador grappled with it, and for a moment I thought he would overpower it, but then it slid free and sent him stumbling into the deck. Next, a flash of blue hair, as my grandmother joined the fray.

Kaya Briggs was no spring chicken, but her symbiote afforded her a strength and speed even an unbonded human my age wouldn’t be able to muster. She leapt forward, spinning sideways and kicked out, striking it across the side with first one foot, then landed on all fours. She rolled back to her feet, watching the creature stagger back. I wasn’t sure if Crae was manipulating gravity waves or not, but if she was, she’d only disoriented the beast. That struck me as just a little unsettling.

Strike that, it was very unsettling.

I dove forward, ready to join in the fight, but a split second before reaching the creature, it shrieked, whipped an arm out and latched a massive paw around my grandmother’s throat. I drew close and slammed a fist into its side as I called out to her, but it was a futile gesture. It’s sweeping claws raked me across my skull and I stumbled away, my face throbbing in fiery agony.

The pain soon dulled, no doubt Khala’s work, but as I staggered toward the creature, I felt something warm trickling down my countenance and reached up to touch it, realizing as I did so that I was bleeding from an open gash on my forehead. The wound began to close within seconds, thanks to my symbiote, but it had gushed out until it had trickled into one eye and blinded on side.

I tried to blink it away, but there was too much. I didn’t waste precious seconds wiping it out of my eyes, but struck out at the beast, hoping to dislodge my captive grandmother. It back handed me again, and this time I went tumbling down onto my ass.

Phase fire blasts fizzled and hissed against the beast’s skin, but it didn’t seem to have much effect besides drawing its attention towards the source of the discharge. It slammed my grandmother with enough force that the metal grating she hit groaned and shrieked in protest. Crae must not have softened the blow in time because when I bent over to check for signs of life, her eyes were closed and blood dripped from her mouth.

I bowed my head and sighed when I found a pulse. Good, she was alive, but not in very good shape. My head jerked back up and I belted out a blood-curdling scream as I watched the pair of servicemen drop their phase weapons and retrieve a set of coil guns from their sides.

Hetzapledra and their attaché stood huddled behind them, no doubt hoping that they would protect them from the beast, but I knew such an effort was futile. If they tried to make a run toward either exits, they’d expose themselves to potential attack from their aggressor. If they stayed put, the creature would bulldoze through their protectors. They stood little chance either way.

Bullet’s crashed into the creature, each inflicting enough damage to splatter blood all over the metal grating, but not enough to slow it down. I was already on my feet tearing across the hanger bay, prepared to fling myself at the rampaging beast if necessary, and Nyvok wasn’t far behind. Arnoff hung back, producing a slender coil pistol, a K5 Elite series from the looks of it, and opened fire. He was too far away to aim with much accuracy, and when they struck his bullets did not enrage the creature enough to distract it.

Neither Nyvok nor I reached the Dexagarmetrax or the servicemen in time. The monster tore into them, its own violet blood mingling with their crimson as it reduced them to dead, lifeless husks. I caught up with the alien creature as the two men collapsed, their gore seeping into the cracks in the metal grating, and grabbed at an arm as it swiped at the aliens. I diverted its fist, but it took every bit of strength I could muster. Instead, it smashed into the metal bulkhead and made a sizable dent. I released my hold, flicking purple blood from my eyes, and slammed my fists into its midsection. The attack had almost no effect, and it backhanded me, sending me careening away.

Next, Nyvok stepped up to the plate, his massive muscles bulging as he leapt at the creature. Its knees bent, almost buckling under the force of the Qharr ambassador’s attacks, but it staggered back and regained its balance. I didn’t dare step in. The beast was thrashing about and each time I got close it lurched into a new direction. Of all the beings within the hanger, Nyvok stood the best chance against the creature. He was closest in sheer strength and size, but when his opponent let out a roar and charged straight toward the bulkhead, I knew it was going to knock its opponent loose.

Sure enough, when it slammed into the wall with the full force of a freight cruiser, Nyvok slid off the beast, at least for the moment, disabled, and it swung around lurching for the trio of Dexagarmetrax and me. Arnoff changed clips and unleashed a new salvo of fire on that thing.

I threw myself between the alien dignitaries and the monster, bracing myself. Knowing that I was the only one that stood between them and life and death. The beast, disoriented at first, shrugged off the general’s weapon fire, picked up speed and came charging at us. I ran forward, knowing that if I stayed and let it come steamrolling into me, it would flatten me like a pancake.

When I was close enough, I intended to slip behind it and sweep it out from under its feet, but it had either figured out my plan or it had damn good reflexes, maybe both. It swept its claws out and around my waist, sweeping me up off my feet and threw me across the docking bay. I landed hard enough that I almost slipped into unconsciousness, but I fought it, trying to blink away the splotches of light that were disrupting my vision. I heard high-pitched, almost panicked squeals, like someone blowing into clarinets. One by one, each of those squeaks were silenced, and I knew the beasts had succeeded in either killing or subduing the Dexagarmetrax.

With slow, careful movements, which were the best I could manage, I swung my head, feeling blood trickling down the right half of my chest and from the re-opened forehead gash.

“Khala.” I said, in what came out sounding like a whimper.

‘Kayde, I am trying. You’re really hurt.’

“Yeah, tell me something I don’t know.”

I looked around, letting out a sigh of relief, realizing that at least the Qharr ambassador and the general were still standing. They converged, each moving toward my grandmother’s still form as the beast barreled toward them. I lurched up, gasping with pain as I put pressure on my left foot. Sharp, jagged pain flooded and my vision went pure iridescent white.

Oh, fuck it hurt, which probably meant it was broken.

Any ordinary person would have collapsed back to the ground, but I managed to inch forward. As I did so, I could feel my bones snap back into place as Khala healed my wounded appendage.

I slipped in close, but not before the creature grabbed Nyvok by the arm and swung him around, toppling the two. I was unsure if the beast just didn’t see me or if I was so injured it didn’t consider me a threat, but it ignored me. Instead, it knelt down, looming over my grandmother’s form. She moaned and tried to stand up, but it clenched her head and smashed it back into the grating. When I witnessed this, I shouted out and lurched forward, but my leg wasn’t completely healed and I collapsed again.

I caught the creature’s attention for the barest of seconds. It snarled at me, then returned its ire to my grandmother, pounding its fist down into her chest. She gurgled, coughing up blood. I fought to climb back up, but before I could, it grabbed her by the throat, pulled its fist free from her rib cage and slammed it down again, this time over her heart. As distant as I was, I could still feel blood splattering against my face, further blinding me. I saw just enough to realized it had pulled something out of her chest. A sob escaped my lips when I realized it was her heart.

I cried out, wriggling and writhing, struggling so hard to get up. I released another sob as it squeezed its fist tight, crushing my grandmother’s heart into mush. The remains of Kaya Brigg’s flesh still dripped from its hand as it turned its attention to me. It didn’t offer mercy or hesitation in the slightest. It kicked me, flipping me onto my back and slammed down into me.

I thrashed about, trying my damndest to injure the creature before it finished me, but nothing worked. It was like trying to level a mountain by driving a hover car into it. You might do a little surface damage, but you damned well weren’t going to move it. It forced its fist into me, ripping through lung, ribs and muscle and pulled flesh free. If the pain from my broken leg had been bad this was like a nuclear warhead going off. Pain rippled through my body with multiple successions of blinding white light. I could feel consciousness begin to slip away and I was sure I was a goner, but then the beast jerked back, howling in agony, before its fist pierced my skin a second time.

The General had come to my rescue. He and Nyvok had untangled their limbs from one another, and they both stood there as he once again opened fire. This time he was near enough to take careful aim, and he did just that, hitting the creature in its middle eye. It’s body collapsed, hitting the ground with a dull thud. Barely conscious, I rolled over onto my chest, my blood and guts gushing all over the floor, looking into my grandmother’s unseeing gaze, before my own eyes slid shut, ushering in the darkness.

LGBTQIA+ Resources Website Launch!


Some of you may have noticed that the LGBTQIA Resources page has disappeared from the site, but there’s a very good reason for that. When I first added that page to the site, I really did not intend to launch an entirely different website, but after some reflection I realized the ‘adult’ nature of the site, might turn some folks away that would otherwise benefit from those resources. So, I decided to build an entirely new site that would not have that limitation and lgbtqiaresources.com was born.

Visit the site here:
LGBTQIA Resources

Yes, if you’re wondering, the rainbow effect was necessary.

Have a deliciously devious evening,

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Legacy of Earth: Birthright | Ch 14


CH 14

Kingsburgh, California, Spaceport

“Do you think you’ve frisked me enough, or should I bend over and let you stick your hand up my–”

“KAYDENCE!” My grandmother’s voice shouted from the next booth over, silencing me before my big fat mouth finished saying the stupidest thing imaginable.

I clenched my jaw shut and scowled, fixing my eyes on the agent who slipped the gloves from her hands and glowered back. As it so happened, my big mouth had gotten us in our current predicament.

Okay, before I go further, a bit of an explanation might be in order. After arriving at the starport, we passed through security just as any international or interplanetary traveler would. Standard enough stuff, I experienced the same ordeal every time I departed from or returned to Earth. This time there was a minor snag.

The agent, with who I had the pleasure of dealing, seemed to believe that it was suspicious that my IDEC didn’t match my current form. Go figure, huh? Now, I know what you’re thinking. What about all that hubbub with the UEA Fleet giving me safe passage? Well, yeah, they did, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t get a thorough pat down, now did it? Tanner only escaped the nastiness by sheer virtue of choosing a separate line from my grandmother and myself. And now you’re pretty much caught up, so I’ll return you to your scheduled programming.

“Despite what I can only describe as a winning personality, you’re clean. You’re lucky you have someone up high pulling strings for you. If it were up to me, well let’s say, with that attitude of yours and that unusual IDEC which I suspect is a poor forgery, I would toss you into a detention room and throw away the keys.”

My teeth were grinding as I watched that bitch turn her back to me and disappear through the opening, but the moment it slid shut, a smile touched my lips. I loved sticking it to the ‘man’ even if she was a woman. I suppose it was a little like poking the bear, but so many things were out of control it seemed a little liberating to act without lasting consequences… for a change. Even if I pissed the rest of the world off.

Okay, now I should probably be a good boy… girl whatever.

I cleared my throat, let the scowl slip back onto my face, grabbed my leather jacket from the hook on the wall and followed the bitch out the door. My grandmother waited for me outside, and if possible, she looked even more irritated than the good agent. Not surprising considering she got the supreme honor of getting patted down right alongside me.

She grabbed me by the shoulder, hissing out curses in my ear as she led me away from the angry eyes and scowling faces of the DTS agents.

“What the hell was that about?”

I stopped, jerked free from her hold and rounded on her, ready to shout out an angry retort. Then I realize that behind the furrowed eyebrows and clenched teeth, there was a spark of concern in her eyes. My irate response died on my lips in that moment of shocking clarity.

“It was stupid.” I said mumbling out a hasty response refusing to look in those eyes again. Not because I feared to face her wrath. I’d stared her down more than a few times. The concern was the part that got me. It gave me the heebie-jeebies even considering it. Weird, right?

“Kaydence, I know this is difficult. I may not be able to understand what’s happened, but I’m here to help if I can. I know you’ve always been a little hotheaded, but it’s never a good idea to antagonize people who have the power to ruin your life.”

Okay, so maybe the temporary high I got out of pissing off the DTS agent hadn’t been worth the thrill, but hell, can you blame me? Now it was time to return to do the whole adulting thing, so that I didn’t get myself in real trouble. It was best not to tempt fate, you know?

“I’m sorry.”

Clenching my eyes shut, I almost immediately snapped them open again. I looked into my grandmother’s eyes and all the years of resentment and anger boiled away. For the first time in my life, I understood. All the things Kaya Briggs did hadn’t been done to punish me or to force me to follow in Lexa’s footsteps. At least not in the way I thought. She only wanted what she considered best for me.

Oh sure, she’d been misguided, and we disagreed a lot, but I understood that her motives were much more selfless than I ever imagined. It didn’t make it right, but at least I understood.

“I’ve been a fool, but thank you, thank you for being here.”

Hot tears stung my cheeks, and I let my grandmother wrap her arms around me. I experienced a warmth, an emotional bond, that I thought lost to us forever.

“When you left, I feared I might never see you again. I pushed you too hard, I should have seen that it was a mistake. You’re so bright and intelligent, I wanted the best for you.”

And somehow we were both crying… A lot of guys would say it was because we were a couple of gals, getting all teary-eyed from an overdose of estrogen. Having been a woman for half a week didn’t make me an expert, but I’ll just call bullshit on that right now. Truth be told, even were I still sporting a cock and flat chest, I’d still be bawling my eyes out.

My grandmother cleared her throat and reached up to straighten my collar.

“Come on Jellfree, our ship will be waiting.”

For once, my grandmother’s use of my old name didn’t bother me. For some odd reason, I couldn’t help but smile as we moved deeper into the spaceport. The overwhelming feeling of helplessness that had been with me since I’d first became joined to Khala withered away and died. Replaced by an overwhelming sense of hope, the like of which I had never experienced in all my life. All was right with the universe again, I had my grandmother back.


We met up with Tanner a short while later. My tears were dry, but there was some concern that my face might still be red. Either Tanner was too polite to say anything (not freaking likely) or else Khala’s healing capabilities had taken care of the redness and it didn’t show on my face. Given that my grandmother’s countenance didn’t show any signs of having shed tears, it must have been the case.

“Well, I’m assuming since you’re both here that it went well?”

“As well as a good frisking can go.” I replied, glancing toward my grandmother with just the slightest little smile.

Tanner narrowed her eyes and put her hands on her hips, perhaps looking to glean some information from the two of us. Neither of us cracked. I couldn’t speak for my grandmother, but I didn’t much feel like sharing. The frisking had been unpleasant, but what had followed had been illuminating. It seemed too personal to blab to anyone, even Tanner, in whom I had shared so much, and least of all in the middle of the spaceport.


When we made it to our dock, the UEAF vessel was waiting. An officer stood at attention outside of the ramp. He looked so out of place in his dull gray uniform against the backdrop of the spaceport and the sheer variety of humans and other beings coming and going. I came to a screeching halt as I caught sight of a dark form approaching from the east. Tanner followed my example, but my grandmother veered off course, making a beeline for the figure.

“Oh, shit,” I cursed under my breath, and stopped to marvel how odd it sounded when I swore with my new voice before I was off treading toward the newcomer. When we were close, I craned my neck back and stared up at the towering form of the Qharr ambassador Nyvok with just a little lump in my throat.

“Chairperson Briggs,” he said, his booming baritone cutting through the noise of the crowded spaceport like a hot knife through butter. So powerful, was his cadence, that several nearby travelers took a wide berth of him. Of course, that could have something to do with his stature and the fact that he was a gray skin, but the voice was probably a contributing factor.

My grandmother nodded and held a hand out first to me, then to Tanner. “You’ve met my granddaughter, of course, and this is her business partner, Tanner Grace.”

“I did not expect to see you or your kin here… And your associate,” he added the last part nodding toward Tanner. “Though given the circumstances, that would seem to be a miscalculation. I should have anticipated that the one called Arnoff would seek your expertise.”

“And he’s sought yours too, has he?” Kaya Briggs asked, folding her arms across her chest. Despite what she might say, I could tell from her body language that she wasn’t comfortable around the Qharr. Given that his ancestor had been the slave master of her mother, Lexa Briggs, it didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why.

Khala was no different. If she’d had insides that resembled anything but a blob of goo, they would have been twisting and turning. She made no appearance, but Lexa, or her shadow, or whatever the hell she was, wasn’t so shy. Her illusory form materialized, scowling up at the ambassador with undisguised hatred burning in her visage.

I glanced at my grandmother and furrowed my brow. Her mother had just materialized out of thin air and she didn’t even so much as bat an eyelash? When a voice whispered into my ear, understanding dawned on me.

‘They can’t see her, nobody can, except you and me,’ Khala said appearing a moment later, leaning against my shoulder.

‘Why?’ I thought toward her, not wishing to make our conversation public.

‘I can’t even begin to tell you.’ She shrugged and glided forward, stood beside my great grandmother’s form and tapped a finger against her temple. ‘All I can say is that she seems to have turned into a permanent fixture inside my head.’

‘You don’t have a head.’

‘Fair enough, I was attempting to borrow from your human vernacular. Suffice it to say, she’s become a permanent resident inside my consciousness.’

She disappeared so suddenly, with no fanfare, that I lurched back. I was quick to recover, my attention returning to Lexa and Nyvok. She paced back and forth before the towering Qharr, shaking her head and muttering under her breath. I couldn’t understand what she was saying, but coughed, receiving a few odd looks from the others.

It had the desired effect, Lexa’s head snapped around and her brilliant magenta eyes focused on me. To the average person a joined host’s eyes were disconcerting, but for someone like me, who had spent most of his… ahem… her life around all things K’teth and Conclave, they didn’t trouble me so much. Lexa’s gaze on the other hand was so powerful, so very intense, that I took a step back when our eyes met.

“It’s amazing. A hundred and sixty years later and one of Duvak Nakyrr’s descendants wears the same face. I thought I had moved past the tortures inflicted on me, but when I see that mug, my blood just boils with hatred. Oh, how I want to pummel him and beat his face into mush like I did Duvak’s, but I can never act on those impulses. I’m just a shadow in Khala’s and my great-grandchild’s minds. The latter is so ashamed of my legacy that he wouldn’t even use my name.”

She took another step toward me, glanced back toward Nyvok, scowled and disappeared as Khala had. I found everyone in the groups’ eyes on me.

“Earth to Kayde, is anybody in there?” Tanner asked, waving a hand in front of my face.

I bit my lip, grabbed her hand out of the air and forced it away from my face. “I was just talking to Khala.”

“Right, well… Should have figured.”

I kneaded a hand into the back of my neck and grimaced before taking a few tentative steps forward. I paused long enough to wave the others on, then continued toward the UEAF ship. They got the message. Soon enough, they followed suit.


An Update on Coming Out


Well, if you follow me on twitter or BigCloset Topshelf you’ll already know this, but I figured I shouldn’t neglect the rest of you.

Coming out was… interesting. My plan yesterday was to email my mother and my father when he got off. It didn’t exactly happen that way. My father still doesn’t know, but well, I’ll figure out when the best time is.

After my mother read my email, she called me some things were said and we talked for over two and half hours. That may actually be the longest phone call I’ve ever been in. I don’t want to get into too many details, but suffice it to say the entire conversation left me very, very frustrated. After getting off the phone with me, she called a friend with a gay daughter who seems to have pushed her into a more positive direction and afterwards she called me back and apologized. I’m encouraged by this, but as with all things, time will reveal what will come next.

Everyone have a deliciously devious evening,

Featured image credit: Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office. License.

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Legacy of Earth: Birthright | Ch 13



CH 13

Kingsburgh, California, The Briggs Family Estates


I groaned and slipped under the covers. The fabric shifted and remolded around my bare body. I might have found it disconcerting if it wasn’t so damn comfortable. The wonders of technology. Blankets that never wadded or bunched under your body, but shifted to keep you covered and comfortable were a luxury item to be sure, but God I’d missed them.

With a sigh, I made a mental note to reprogram the shades, so they wouldn’t open at such an ungodly hour, like they did around the rest of my house. In the years during my absence, Athilda, the house’s artificial intelligence, probably overrode my preferences. The AI’s logic algorithms would see no reason to maintain my settings once I no longer lived there.

An intelligent being might have seen fit to restore them once I returned, but an AI might not always connect those dots. Human engineer gave our systems limits to their deductive reasoning systems by design to prevent a true intelligence arising. It happened in the past, and the results had been catastrophic. Only the Qharr invasion and subsequent occupation of Earth were more devastating to humanity.

I clenched my eyes shut, willing all my unbidden thoughts to go away and let myself drift back into the world of dreams, but as it so often happened my brain wouldn’t shut the hell up. I sighed and sat upright, brushing a few loose hair strands away from my face as I peered across the room at my reflection.

My hair looked as if it had come out on the losing side of a battle against a pack of disgruntled hair brushes, but other than that, I would never believe that the woman who peered back at me had just woken up. There were no bags under her eyes or droopy eyelids. Most gals would love to appear so fresh in the morning, but I only winced. Was I even completely human anymore, or some kind of weird hybrid? Some people would say it was an improvement, but I didn’t agree. Flaws gave people character, without them there would be nothing to define us.

I shuddered and looked away.

“Athilda,” I called out to the house’s AI, prepared to tell it to adjust the settings on the shields, but stopped myself. Instead, I looked around the room and rattled my skull back and forth. “If anyone comes looking for me, tell them, to leave me the hell alone.”

“As you wish.” Came her crisp, emotionless reply. Athilda had a habit of taking requests a bit too literal, which meant she’d end up using my exact phrasing. That thought alone was enough to bring a smirk to my face, but it soon faded away.

Many AIs could simulate emotions, but my grandmother eliminated all personality subroutines from Athilda’s storage banks. I couldn’t recall her exact reasoning, but I kind of preferred it that way. Sometimes, it was easy to forget that an AI was a simulation, Athilda’s dull dispassionate tones left no doubt what she was.

I thought about getting dressed, but stopped. I’d already decided that I would not leave my room for the day. Why the hell should I dress? I didn’t bother closing the blinds either, my bedroom was on the top floor and given that the closest home was just a little shy of half a kilometer away, there wasn’t much chance my exposed wanderings through my room would attract any peeping Toms.

It was my day, no one would tell me what to do or where to go. Solitude was what I was after, but the more I paced, naked as the day I was reborn, I was never so aware that I would never have privacy again.

“Khala,” I whispered. I didn’t intend to summon her, but my symbiote must have interpreted my use of her name that way.

“So you’re looking to be alone, today. Is that what’s going on here?”

“No shit, Sherlock. Do have any other brilliant deductions?” Okay, that came off harsh, but so fucking what?

I didn’t reply, but backed my plump ass into the wall and slid down onto my haunches, my knees pressing into my nipples. I studied my symbiote and frowned.

“Who am I?”

She knelt down across from me and shook her head. “You’re the same person. A different face doesn’t mean–”

“Doesn’t mean that I’m any different on the inside? Is that what you were going to say?”

“More or less.”

“When I was fifteen, I swore to myself that I’d never become bonded to a K’teth or join the conclave and now look at me. I’m bonded to you, not just any symbiote, but Khala, the most renown of your kind in the galaxy. The same one who was bonded to the great and mighty Lexa Briggs.”

“If you’re looking for sympathy, you’re barking up the wrong tree. Your protestations ring a bit hollow to me. You insult and demean me, decry my kind and yet at the end of the day when your life was nearing an end, you released me from the stasis pod and we became bonded.”

“I was near death,” I replied, but it sounded hollow, even to my ears.

“So that makes your convictions somehow less relevant? Or is it simple distaste for my kind, that makes you so antagonistic?”

“I don’t hate K’teth, if that’s what you think.” I met her gaze and released a deep sigh. “This is my life. I don’t want to live it being compared to Lexa. The best way to stand out if you’re a Briggs, is to not become host to a symbiote in the first place and most especially not a Queen.”

“Fair enough, but you’re bonded now. Could you dial down the hostility? I’ve bent over backwards trying to accommodate you. The least you could do is try to be a little more pleasant.”

“You don’t understand. Everything I’ve worked long and hard to make a name for myself, and now all that is moot. I should have just–”

“Just what? Left the Endeavour to drift in space?”

I nodded, not trusting myself to reply.

“Then I’d still be in stasis and your mother’s corpse would have remained frozen in space for untold eons.”

I so wanted to point out that I’d just followed coordinates given to me by Faioloese traders. There would have been a trail, someone would have followed up if I hadn’t, but the only words that I could croak out were “My mother”.

I cupped my face in my palms and closed my eyes, fighting back tears. Soon, a hand clasped my shoulder and looked to find that Khala was now sitting beside me. “You must have so many questions.”

I blinked and gawked at Khala with my mouth hanging open. All this time, I’d been so focused on the negative aspects of being joined that I didn’t consider there might be a way for me to benefit from the bond beyond the obvious reasons. Khala knew my mother, perhaps better than any being alive, and could cut through so much of the bullshit my grandmother fed me growing up.

Lexa… well, she was there too, but I was still trying to grapple with what that meant. She’d been there all those years, interacting with my mother, like Khala, but whether a shadow or the real consciousness of my great-grandmother herself, I had no idea. I wasn’t sure if either of my guests would be able to provide insight on that question, but Lexa’s presence set me on edge more than the symbiote ever could. She was, quite literally, the embodiment of everything I ever feared.

“Why did my mother leave?” It was the one question I’d been asking myself over and over for almost as long as I remembered. Kaya Briggs had always been evasive whenever the subject came up, and I’d never been able to wrangle a satisfying answer out of her.

I looked over at Khala and watched her bow her head and sigh. I was aware of another set of eyes on me, but I knew without shifting my gaze that they belonged to Lexa.

“Kaya didn’t tell you?”

“Kaya Briggs did what she does best, distort the truth.”

“Well, I can’t speak to Kaya’s reasons for–”

“Don’t defend her.” I stared back at her between gritted teeth. “Just tell me, please.”

Khala sighed again and rested her palm on the nape of my neck. “Your mother left because your father had an affair and she needed to get away from it all.”

All the puzzle pieces fell into place and a sob escape my lips as so many mysteries from my life made a lot more sense. Watt Briggs killed himself a few days after they called off the search for the Endeavour, but he’d been a mess long before that. Which is why I went to live with my grandmother instead of my father when my mother left.

My grandmother was always so circumspect about my father, but, as in all things, you can find answers if you knew where to turn. Like any family or social group there are gossips, but unfortunately when you turn to such an individual, in this case my Aunt Muriel, you have to filter through all the bullshit.

I remembered very little about Watt, but I was told I shared his temperament. I was not sure how to take that, considering he’d been a cheating, drinking layabout, but I tried not to read too much into it. I put myself into his shoes and let my imagination fill in the gaps. He blamed himself. If he hadn’t stepped out on my mother, she may not have left, and by extension she might not have disappeared. So, to escape his grief, he took his life.

“Shit,” I cursed, my hands shaking as I looked at Khala. “So that woman in your memories, the one she called her pichoncita, was her lover?”

Khala frowned, but nodded in acknowledgment. “Yes.”

Well, at least I knew the truth. My mother had been having an extramarital affair, in the technical sense, if not in spirit. Though she’d yet to file the right paperwork, their marriage was over.

I rose to my feet and turned my back to the pair of them. I was all too aware of my very naked body and I blushed with the realization that I was holding this conversation in the nude, but while it seemed as if they were staring at my exposed body, Khala and Lexa saw only through my eyes. Nothing in my line of sight revealed my nakedness to them, but I would have almost no chance of hiding anything from them.

“Tell me about my mother.”

Khala spoke with a steady, gentle whisper as she told me of my mother in simple words. There was a warmth in the way she spoke, and I felt somehow comforted in knowing that there was a being who loved my mother with all her soul. This put a smile on my face.

Two more days passed, and I remained shut inside my bedroom the entire time, save to relieve myself. On the third day, the world intruded upon my solitude. I suppose I would have found my own way, given enough time, but hell, was it too much to ask for some alone time?

I woke with a start early that morning, sensing a shadow hanging over me. I squinted, brightness assaulting my eyes where before there was only a comfortable all-encompassing darkness.

“Kayde?” A soft and silky smooth voice asked from out of the abominable illumination.

I jerked upright, glanced down, and pulled the covers over my breasts. I squinted again, trying to clear my vision, and stared off into space until my tired eyes adjusted to take in the room around me.

“Tanner?” I asked, my mind still mired in grogginess.

“Yes, sunshine, it’s Tanner. Now would you get up, already?”

I groaned, fell back into bed, curled up inside my blanket and turned away. 

“Come back in an hour, Kayde’s not in right now.”

She ripped my blankets free and grabbed me by the shoulder and forced me to match gazes. “We gave you two days to wallow in self-pity, now it’s time to rejoin the world, princess.”

The gears and cogs in my head were starting to turn, and I scowled and forced her hands away. Given my recent transformation, I might object to Tanner’s adoption of the term ‘princess’, but she whipped that one out whenever someone acted like a crybaby or was being self-involved. I knew which applied to me, but I wouldn’t give her the satisfaction of admitting it.

My cheeks scorching, I started to rethink the whole sleeping topless thing. This wasn’t the first time that Tanner barged into my quarters while I was asleep, nor did I believe it would be the last. Now that I sported a set of bazoongas, the whole scenario was a tad more awkward. Even if she possessed a pair of her own.

“Tanner, is that really necessary?”

She paused, made a big show as if thinking about it, before nodding “Definitely.”

“You might have at least let me stay covered up.”

She cocked her head, cracked a smile, and leaned in so she could get a good look at my breasts. “Nah, then I wouldn’t get such a good gander of the goods.”

She snorted and exploded into a fit of giggles as I stormed through my room. I grabbed the first top I got hold of, a sweater which had been sitting in that dresser since I was about sixteen, and slipped it over my head. It seemed huuuge on my tiny little frame, but at least it gave me back some little smidgeon of my modesty.

“Tanner, I don’t have any idea what you’re hoping to accomplish, but I really think I need to–”

“You are going to get your stinky ass in the shower, then the two of us are going out on a little shopping excursion.”

My eyes scanned her, raised a single eyebrow and tucked my arms over my chest. “Oh?”

“You need clothes. Stuff that actually fits and oh, maybe a bra or three! Look at you Kayde, you’re a mess. The sooner you get this over with, the sooner you can get your life back in order.”

I paused, expecting the disembodied voice of either Alexana or Khala to chime in and offer some unwelcome and sage advice, but by some small mercy neither did. I pursed my lips and dropped my fists.


The next thing I knew, Tanner had thrown her arms around me and my face burned again. Her embrace invoked certain interesting… warm and tingly thoughts. Her lips pressed against mine, a bit of panting, and a helluva lot of heaving… and her penis sliding into my new vulva. I stiffened, my eyes growing wide, and pushed her away. Tanner stumbled back a few steps, braced herself against the wall and peered at me like a deer caught in headlights.

“Sorry,” I whispered and cleared my throat. Despite my new diminutive stature, as a joined host I could snap Tanner in two. “Still don’t know my strength.”

“Look, I’ll get cleaned up and meet you outside in, say thirty minutes?”

Tanner nodded and disappeared out of the room. I let out a sigh of relief and made a beeline for the adjoining facilities. As I closed the door behind me and undressed, I realized Tanner had been right about one thing, I really did smell bad.
A long shower, and a good fifty minutes later Tanner pulled me kicking and screaming into the daylight. Okay, so there wasn’t so much a violent struggle as several muttered curses and a lot of grumbling, but I had to get that visual in there. Despite my complaints, I did see Tanner’s point. I needed clothes and it wouldn’t do me any good to keep myself holed up while the world moved on without me.

Getting ready had been easy, I mean I only had one outfit that fit. I wore the same clothes I had the day of my transformation, save for a fresh pair of panties. My grandmother had seen fit that the cleaning staff laundered that outfit while I’d been wallowing in my own misery. 

I expected the cold to assault me when I stepped out into the open, but when I did find myself outside, a pleasant breeze wafted through the air. Though it had been cold and unpleasant such a short time ago, it was now a more seasonable temperature.  

Despite my condition, I couldn’t help but smile. This was home, the place I’d spent years of my youth trying to escape. Now that I had realized my worst fears, a growing part of me wouldn’t mind if I stayed. That’s not to say that I still wasn’t itching to run for the hills, but it wasn’t as much of a driving force as it had once been.

I glanced at Tanner, who looked at me between pursed lips. She looked worried, which freaked me out a little.

“Kayde, I’m sorry if I went a little far this morning. I thought…”

“That you’d continue our little game.” I finished rubbing a hand across the back of my neck. “Forget it, it’s fine.”

“Good, but it’s time we moved past these games, and the innuendos that never lead to anything. I crossed a line just now, and I should never have treated you that way. I think what happened the other night, took things to a different level.”

“Jek…” She winced. “Sorry, Kayde. You should know that the whole K’teth thing, and your transformation… None of it’s a deal breaker for me.”

I stopped dead in my tracks, as a car pulled up in front of us, and stared at my business partner with a slack jaw. This talk was a long time in coming, but I hadn’t quite expected it so soon. I always suspected Tanner might be at least bi-curious. The furtive glances she cast toward other women’s posteriors or the times her eyes lingered on a nice bit of cleavage were enough to arouse my suspicions, but there’d always been a little of doubt in my mind.

“Tanner, we’ve been over this. I need time to get my bearings before I can even think about it.” My hand reached out for the car door, but I held it there without opening it.

“I understand, trust me.” She took a step back and brushed a few stray locks out of her eyes. “After our night together and… Everything else, I was worried that your feelings had changed.”

I bowed my head and erupted into a frenzy of manic laughter. My fingers slid free from the door panel and I grabbed her by the shoulders. 

“I have no idea what I feel right now. Everything is so confused and jumbled, I’m struggling to sort it all out. Fuck, I’m not even sure which team I’m batting for anymore. I realized my sexuality wasn’t quite as hetero as I’d led myself to believe, but now… I got these.”

I cupped my breasts in my hands, then dropped them, clasping my fingers around the panel again. “Once, I get everything sorted out… Believe me, if there is ever a time where I think we can take the next step, you’ll be the first I tell.”

Tanner pressed her lips together and nodded. I pulled the door open and held it, waiting for her to climb inside. She leaned in, furrowed her brows and kneaded a hand along the base of her neck. “Uh, Mrs. Briggs, I didn’t realize you would be coming along.”

“There’s been a change of plan. Get inside the both of you. We need to get to the spaceport.” My grandmother’s muffled reply came from within the vehicle.

“What? Why?”

My grandmother leaned forward, peering through the doorway, matching gazes with me. “There’s been an attack from a creature very much like the one you encountered on the Endeavour.”

“Well gee,Ttat sounds like fun and all, but, say, here’s a better idea: why don’t we all just book our asses the hell out of here. If you’d seen what those creatures can do, trust me, we’re much better off putting as much distance as we can between us and that thing.” I said and turned as if to leave, but stopped when Tanner clasped her grip on my left shoulder.

“Enough with the smart mouth, the creature is dead. I doubt it would pose a threat.” My grandmother replied, teeth gritted.

I shook the ol’ noggin and glowered at my grandmother as I climbed into the vehicle. Once Tanner was inside, the car took off. Despite Kaya Briggs’ reassurances, I suspected that some major shit was going to go down.
“You have a ship prepped?” Tanner asked, staring out the window, her hands tracing across the seal as our craft hovered across the landscape toward the spaceport.

“Not as such, the conclave’s ship is in use and my personal transport is… Under repair.”

This drew Tanner out of her daze and she turned to stare at Kaya Briggs with unblinking eyes. “How do you plan on getting to wherever the hell we’re going then?”

“The UEAF, has been gracious enough to send transportation.”

I leaned forward in my seat, folding my arms across my chest, but blushed and lowered them the moment they pressed into the globes on my chest. 

“Isn’t air or even star travel going to be problematic? I mean, my IDEC doesn’t exactly match this mug…” 

I ran a hand across my face and paused, glancing at my hand in surprise. My skin was so soft, so like a baby’s that it seemed… almost alien. Few women had such smooth skin, but I guess it made a sort of sense. 

Khala had remade my body from the cellular level. In some respects, it was like that of a newborn. My flesh was newly grown, which meant it hadn’t seen years of wear against the elements. It also made me look younger than I was, which some would say was a bonus. I wasn’t so sure of that. 

“Uh… Jek?” 

Tanner’s hand clenched my shoulder. I coughed and shook my head. I didn’t call attention to her use of the wrong name. I cringed, but couldn’t say why.

“Sorry, I was just, um, thinking,” I said, looking into my hands as I rubbed my finger together.

“Right, well. Your IDEC shouldn’t be an issue, the Colonel’s men have been fully appraised of your situation and they took measures to ensure you can pass through security.”

“Since we’re on the subject. Shouldn’t I, I don’t know, do something about my identity chip? In the off chance, I get the opportunity to have a real life?

“I’ve already made arrangements for that. It should take a few weeks, but once all the proper forms have been processed, you will have your IDEC reprogrammed.”

“Well then, yay for that.” I waved my hands up into the air, making a show of being excited, but the truth was I had mixed feelings about getting my IDEC updated. If I wanted to travel or continue to run my business, I needed a valid form of identification, but it also meant once it was changed, as far as the UEA government was concerned, I was and would always have been Kaydence Briggs.

My display of enthusiasm didn’t come across as sincere, no surprise there, as both Tanner and my grandmother rolled their eyes.

“I almost hate to say this, but since we’ll be out and about, is there any way we could hit the stores? If I’m going to keep wearing a bra, I would like one that fits a little better. This one hurts.”

Good Lord, what the hell was I saying? I held my hand up, gritted my teeth then pointed a finger at first my grandmother then Tanner.

“Wait! I swear to God, if either one of you makes a jab about me wanting to shop, I will get out of this damn car. Shopping is the last thing I want to do.”

I paused, brushing the hair from my face, but felt my cheeks burn anew as I realized just how feminine the gesture must have looked. “It’s a matter of necessity. I need clothes, but I don’t want them. Shopping is not exactly something I’ll enjoy.”

My grandmother nodded, an expression on her face that was hard to read. Tanner smiled and rested a reassuring palm on my shoulder. If anyone understood my predicament, it was her. She’d gone through the same experience, but in reverse.

There was just one little problem. Her touch invoked thoughts of our lovemaking and produced the slightest shiver. I guess she sensed my discomfort. Tanner’s eyes grew wide. She withdrew her hand and bit her lip. I felt like a great big transphobe, but I couldn’t get the image of her dick ramming its way up my ass, out of my thick skull. It made me uncomfortable, and… a bit turned on. 

Never mind that I’d been the one to butt-fuck her, my imagination had created this image that freaked me the fuck out. Granted I was a woman now, and you know joined hosts had a history of changing sexual preferences when they underwent their transformations, but Tanner didn’t land on the male side of the gender spectrum. So where did that leave me?

Frankly, I’d been attracted to her before I changed, so it didn’t offer me any more clarity. It was confusing as hell, and I just wished I’d find some way to come to terms with the whole mess.

One day, very soon, I would have to decide, but for now I was more than happy wallowing in self-misery. Hey, I’m nothing if not honest… at least when it comes to me.

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Legacy of Earth: Birthright | Ch 12



CH 12

Kingsburgh, California, The Briggs Family Estates

“Dammit, it’s hot,” A voice spoke disembodied at first, but Khala’s memories resolved before me. They granted a view of a brilliant violet sky, cementing the idea that I was looking upon an alien world. My head craned around, or rather, I reminded myself, not mine, but the person whose eyes I saw through, that of my mother.

In the distance, the violet sky framed a red and baren world, a harsh desert which showed almost no signs of life. A stray plant, growing through a crack in the rock, or a half-dead brown huddled mass with spines, quivering more than a dozen meters away, just visible behind a cluster of boulders. The world was dying, its fate sealed centuries ago, probably before humanity had ever reached out to the stars.

I caught a whiff of roses, a scent that I’d always associated with my mother and a hand slid against my forehead, Sofia’s forehead, wiping sweat and dirt free as she hunkered down next to a pale-skinned, dark-haired fellow with a zigzag scar on his temple.

“Find anything?”

It was odd hearing my mother speak after so long. I wouldn’t have recognized her soft feminine voice at all, if it weren’t for her unique inflection, the barest hint of a central American accent combined with the tiniest impression of a Texas drawl. She’d lived all over the world, an archaeologist who dedicated her life to uncover evidence of the Phyrr Lesch on Earth, but she spent two of the biggest chunks of her life in those two areas.

Given her career choice, it was obvious why she had been so quick to join the Endeavour expedition.

“Something,” the man nodded, panting, and taking a sip from the tube of a hydration pack. “Can’t tell yet if it’s anything of note, might be just another damned stone. If you ask me, we’re wasting our time here.”

He glanced up, eyes lingering on my mother’s chest, which I’m ashamed to admit it took me a few seconds to realize he was staring at her breasts. 

‘I wished he’d stop doing that.’ My mother’s voice said, echoing around in my skull.

‘I supposed you would be used to it by now. Humans get so hung up on these things. You’re an attractive woman and its simple animal instinct.’ Khala’s replied.

“Wait,” the man said, running his hands dusting dirt away from a smooth surface.

My mother leaned over the hole he had dug. “Is that a light?”

The two met each other’s gazes but didn’t say a single word before they both started tearing into the soil with their hands, throwing clumps of dirt away from the light without seeming to care where it might go. Within a few minutes, the two had unearthed a simple box that looked to be the same one I’d found aboard the derelict Endeavour all those years later.

“It’s sealed,” the man looked up, glancing at my mother’s chest one more time before meeting her gaze.

Sofia’s neck craned around, peering toward the horizon where the red sun was retreating, pale yellows and brilliant magentas already appearing in the soon to be darkened sky. “It’ll be night soon. Let’s get this thing up to the Endeavour. There we can set up a clean-room environment and get it opened up. Hopefully, it’ll shed some light on this place.”

She turned away, moving toward a dark hulking mass that may have been one of the Endeavour’s support pods. I never found out. The scene darkened, fading away into Khala’s consciousness, replaced by a new scene within the Endeavour’s bridge.

My mother was standing, glancing down at the pilot, the same young woman, whose dead body I had unstrapped from her seat. “What is it?”

The young woman’s voice was shrill, so high-pitched I winced upon hearing her speak, but I listened, hoping to learn some world-shattering truth. That was wishful thinking, but, even so, I was hearing the words of a dead woman. Something one of them said could provide some clue. I just hoped that if there was any subtext behind their words, I’d pick up on it. 

“For all we know it could contain a Phyrr Lesch recipe for pupusas de chicharrón,” my mother stated the remnants of her Salvadoran accent, never so evident as in that moment especially when she rolled the double ‘r’s in Phyrr Lesch and chicharrón.

“I just hope whatever it is, we find out soon.” The pilot replied, her face stretching into a grin, as she gazed up at my mother with a smile. “It’s been three months and I’m already itchy for some action. Something needs to happen.”

Sofia Briggs bent over, kissing the young woman on the cheek, and placed both of her hands on her shoulders. “And it might be another three months. Don’t worry, mi pichoncita, the wait will be worth it, I’m sure of it.”

To say that it surprised me that my mother seemed to have such an… intimate relationship with the other woman was an understatement. I had no clue she’d ever shown the slightest bit of sexual interest in women, and, in that regard, I didn’t care. What upset me was that she would be so flirty with anyone while my father was still alive. It seemed like a betrayal, and it hit me like a physical blow to the stomach. A sob escaped my mouth, but by some mercy I had little time to mull it over. Khala’s memories soon took a very different turn.

“Uh, I’m getting something here,” a voice said from across the bridge, a man in his late thirties, and another face I recognized from among the corpses aboard the Endeavour. “It’s big… Might be a ship.”

“Can’t be. If it were a ship, there’s no way it could–” My mother’s lover stopped mid-sentence, her hands sliding across the control surface. Before spinning around in her seat and matching the gaze of the captain. “He’s right, sir. The computer isn’t able to recognize the configuration or the energy signature, but it is a ship.”

“Try opening a communications line. Something tells me that this new–“

“They just opened fire, sir.”

“Evasive maneuvers. Return fire.”

“Sir, I’m detecting an alien life sign in the corridors. I don’t understand how, but they seem to have penetrated our shields.”

The entire ship rocked, and my mom just caught herself on the console before taking off running toward the exit, all the while cursing under her breath. “¡Hijo de puta! La caja!”

Soon she was running through the corridors at a speed that only a joined host could match. Not even slowing when she hit the corners, but rather running across the side of the wall and to the floor again. Given her speed, she reached the research area in a fraction of the time that I had in my explorations, inputting her code, and bolting through the door the moment it slid open.

“¡Gracias a Dios!” She exclaimed upon entering. “It’s still here.”

She moved across the room, stopping just shy of the counter. A single gasp escaping her lips as her hands grabbed at her chest where a giant fist had struck, cleaving clean through her back and out the front right through her heart. The hands slid free and my mother collapsed to the ground, having suffered a blow even Khala could not heal, my mother made use of her few remaining seconds. I was no doctor, but something told me that it was Khala’s abilities keeping my mother alive in those precious few moments. Her hands went for her waist and she unhooked the stasis pod from her belt, clenching it in her hand.

“Khala,” she spoke the symbiote’s name. “If you ever see–” She never finished, a gurgle escaped from her mouth and the light, which twinkled in her eyes, faded away. I imagined the thoughts that must have been going through her mind. Had her final recollections been of me, or perhaps my father? Trembles racked my frame, and tears welled up in my eyes as the image of the Conclave chamber supplanted Khala’s remembrances.


As the sights and sounds of the real world returned to me, my head tilted around the room looking from face to face and it wasn’t until sound escaped my lips that I realized Khala was still running the show. Tears were streaming down my face, but whether they were mine or Khala’s I couldn’t even guess. Khala relinquished her control over my body and my grandmother’s arms wrapped around me.

It was odd having so much twisted into one big knot inside of my stomach. Cold chills wriggled down my back in response to what just witnessed. Red hot fire flushed my cheeks as my mind seethed at what that creature did to my mom, and hot tears stung the corners of my eyes over what had been lost. I stiffened. Kaya Briggs clenched me so close that my breasts were throbbing. The resulting awareness of my feminine form turned my cheeks an even brighter shade of red. I should be focused on the matter of the Endeavour and my mother’s death, but having these sensations, so new and unfamiliar, only served to highlight how different my body had become.

I almost pushed my grandmother away, when I sensed eyes on me, but I had enough tact to realize that would have been a bad idea. My grandmother came to her senses and released her hold. She snapped around as Colonel Cayne cleared his throat.

“Everything that, the parasite was kind enough to show, coincides with what we’ve been able to gather. We aren’t certain, but the Endeavour’s logs and navigation data were wiped. Given Meinhoff, the Colonel in command’s, psychological profile and UEAF standard procedures, I suspect he ordered the ship into a blind leap and destroyed the logs after failing to activate the self-destruct mechanism, which was damaged by the initial attack.”

“And why would he do that?” The lean woman with prominent crow’s feet asked.

Cayne clenched his jaw and met her gaze without blinking. “If Meinhoff had an incling that these mysterious aggressors were a threat to Earth, he would have sacrificed every single member of the crew. I never knew the man, but I have read his psychological profile. There was nothing he wouldn’t have done in the defense of Earth and the outlying colonies. He might have sabotaged the ship given enough time, but we’ve found no evidence of that which suggests he may have taken the only action open to him before his death.”

“And the missing crew member?” My grandmother asked.

“We don’t have any idea. The mysterious aggressors may have abducted her, or perhaps she’s drifting in the missing pod, in some godforsaken void halfway across the galaxy. With no evidence, we can only speculate.”

“This is troubling,” an unfamiliar voice spoke, letting out a high-pitched wail, prompting several council members to take furtive steps back. The Dexagarmetrax dignitary stood dwarfing everyone else in the room, including Vakrexid and Nyvok. “Whoever or whatever attacked the Endeavour represents a genuine threat. Hetzapledra does not believe we should ignore it.”

“Nor I,” Nyvok said, rising to his feet. “I have at my disposal, the destroyer Qellanas, and it’s likely I can convince the High Gieff Huntmaster to lend me one, perhaps two more destroyers. With that sort of firepower we could assist the United Earth Alliance in routing out this new threat.”

“Indeed,” the Dexagarmetrax ambassador spoke. “Hetzapledra cannot make promises without first conferring with my government, but Hetzapledra can say that there will be much eagerness to join in the investigation if there is even the slightest possibility of discovering the secrets of the originators.”

“Thank you.” Cayne nodded.  “I appreciate your offer of aid, but as I am not authorized to organize a strike force, I cannot commit to any course of action. Later today, I’ll be briefing General Arnhoff, and I’ll pass along your sentiments. The Endeavour’s recovery is a piece of a much larger puzzle. We need to consider this creature that Ms. Briggs…”

He paused, holding his hand out to me. “Was kind enough to recover which is, in and of itself, quite the specimen.”

“Our scientists are examining the corpse, but we can infer something very important from its existence. Our mysterious friends, whoever they may be, have created a mindless beast to do their bidding. Which means we can ascertain two key details about its existence.”

“And what would those reasons be, Colonel?” Nyvok asked.

“I would think it would be obvious, they don’t wish anyone to see them.”

“And the other reason?” I asked, reassessing my initial appraisal of Cayne. He was a cold-hearted and insufferable jackass, but he was far more intelligent than I’d given him credit.

“That they believe this creature is so formidable that they don’t see a reason to give it more than the most rudimentary intelligence and given that it was able to massacre the Endeavour’s crew they would seem to have very good reasons to believe this.”

“It almost got me too… If it hadn’t been for Khala, it might have been another twenty years before someone found the Endeavour again.”

“Ladies, gentlemen, enbies please try to remember that this is a formal meeting, things are getting a bit… out of hand.” My grandmother spoke up, having regained her composure.

“If it’s just the same to you, Chairperson Briggs, I believe it’s time I leave. The General will want to hear about all this and I believe we’ve covered the important pieces.”

“That’s it?” I blurted out before I even realized I’d spoken. “What are we supposed to do now?”

Cayne glowered and shook his head. “We wait.”

He took a dozen steps as if to leave, then paused, and glanced back at us, the scowl still on his face. “And pray our new friends don’t come out to play again.”

He left, the door slamming shut behind him, his footsteps beating against the floorboards for several seconds until it faded away. No one spoke, but we all were hanging on those last few words. I couldn’t speak for the others, but what they had left me wondering whether anything in the world would ever be right again. The biggest problem? I was pretty sure that I was right on the money.


The council dispersed after Cayne’s departure and I made my own excuses, departing for the Briggs estates. I considered booking a hotel room, but that was just a little difficult considering I didn’t have any valid identification that matched my new body. Until I could update my IDEC, the only sort of places I could get into wouldn’t have been on the up and up.

At least my grandmother and Tanner had respected my pleas for solitude and I retreated to my room, never so eager to be alone. Perhaps, they sensed, what I would never speak aloud. I’d seen myself naked, after my initial transformation, but I hadn’t had the time to process everything and get a feel for my body. Now that I had some alone time, that was about to change.

I stripped out of my clothes, letting my jacket and top fall into a heap on the ground in front of the full-length mirror on the southern wall of the room. I was short, not that I’d ever been very tall, but I’d lost at least fifteen centimeters. There were more than a few people in the Briggs family who were vertically challenged. Which for most of my family, was a trait inherited from Lily, but in my case, my new diminutive stature may have had more to do with Sofia Briggs, who had been just a few centimeters shy of my current height.

I stared at my reflection, scowling at the pretty girl who was looking back at me. Hands slipping behind my back, I unhooked the bra. I closed my eyes, exhaling in relief, and stood there with my hands cupped around my bare breasts.

“This is so weird.” I whispered. I sensed movement and my eyes snapped open, taking in the sight of a tall statuesque woman with blue hair and the most intense magenta eyes I’d ever looked into.

“Holy hell!” I let out an ear-splitting and totally manly scream, before I backed away, covering up as best as I could with my bare hands.

“I told you we should have warned him,” the woman said, folding her arms across her chest and glancing toward the space where Khala appeared out of the nothingness.

“What the actual fuck is going on?” I asked, between clenched teeth.

I turned to my symbiote’s conjured form, hoping for some sort of explanation, but as I got a better look at the intruder, I got an odd feeling I’d seen her somewhere before. Then it struck me, and my breath caught in my throat.

“You’re dead!”

“Well, yes, technically.”

I dropped my arms, abandoning my futile efforts to cover my chest, and rounded on the form of my deceased ancestor. When I pounced on her, my fingers passed through empty air. With both fists clenched at my sides, I rounded on Khala and repeated my question.

“What is going on?”

“How much has your grandmother told you about the final battle for Earth?”

“A lot, can’t say I was listening to much of it, but she was always droning on about it, so I suppose at least some of what she told me must have stuck in my head.”

“Did she ever explain to you that the mental bond between Lexa and I underwent a fundamental change after we defeated Jykarr Bynd?”

“Yeah,” I bit my lip and glanced towards Alexana Briggs, feeling those eyes pierce into my soul. “Something about your emotions and thoughts being much closer to the surface to the point that you knew what the other was thinking, and you had some electrical discharge thingy that let you disable a bunch of Qharr hunters at once.”

Khala nodded, a smile touching the corner of her lip as her eyes darted toward Lexa. “Not how I’d put it, but yes, more or less.”

“I’m guessing this somehow leads to the part where you explain why there’s a weird facsimile of Lexa Briggs is standing in the middle of my bedroom.”

“Yes, you see, our bond left an imprint of Lexa’s consciousness upon my mind.”

“So, this is Lexa Briggs?” I glanced toward Lexa, who smiled and shrugged.

“Well, that depends on whether you believe that I’m greater than the sum of my memories and experiences.” The shadow of my ancestor spoke, pacing and every now and then glanced my way.

“Did my Mom know about this?”

“Yes,” both symbiote and great-grandmother answered in perfect unison.

“And my grandmother?”

Lexa shook her head and tucked her hands under her armpits. “My passing was very hard on Kaya. To find out that my consciousness had continued on inside of your mother would have been very difficult for her to accept.”

“So, that’s a no.”

“Wait, that weird double scream I heard when we first met that gray skin ambassador, Nyvok. That was you and Lexa, wasn’t it?” I asked, spinning around on the balls of my feet to stare each down before my gaze settled on my great-grandmother.

“Guilty,” she replied with a shrug.

“This is weird, maybe weirder than these.” I cupped my breasts and shook my head, my heart pounding inside my chest.

“That I know a little something about,” Lexa folded her arms. “That’s why we decided it was time for you to know about me. I can help you, guide you through this troublesome time, help you become the woman that society expects you to be.”

“And if I decide that path isn’t for me?”

Lexa bit her lips and let out a sigh. “I guess we’ll come to that road after your year is up.”

I shivered, not because it was cold, in fact my room was toasty, but because the whole thing was all sorts of freaky. Being saddled with Khala was bad enough, but to learn that the vaunted Senator Briggs’ consciousness was rattling around inside my head, had kicked the creepiness factor clear up to a ten. Which is to say, not as creepy as a ship full of corpses, but still up there.

I bowed my head and erupted into a fit of hysterical giggles. I know with everything that had happened, my head wasn’t screwed on just right, but hadn’t realized how close I was to breaking.

“This isn’t going so well…” Lexa spoke, glancing sideways at Khala.

“You think!?” I yelled, my eyes just about ready to bulge out of my head.

I turned my back to the pair of them and dropped my pants, then without another word I collapsed into bed. Closing my eyes, I willed both to just go away. I guess it worked because I didn’t hear so much as a peep from them for the rest of the night. Instead, I spent my time staring into space, lost deep in thought. Terrified of what new twist the coming day would bring.

By some small mercy I drifted off to sleep and my subconscious mind took me to a place far, far away.

Legacy Delay


Well, this is my own stupid fault. I had yesterday off and my original plan was to spend some of my time editing chapter 12 of Birthright, but I had this idea in my head that I would just do it tomorrow. I was busy building a new website (more about that later) and well I had it in my head that tomorrow was Friday. Well, tomorrow is here and upon waking I realize that it is Saturday and I am late getting the chapter up. I am currently working on grammar and style edits, but it’s going to be some time before it’s ready. Expect to see it some time later in the day today, or failing that, some time tomorrow morning.

I do apologize and I hope you all have a deliciously devious day,



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Legacy of Earth: Birthright | Ch 11


CH 11

Kingsburgh, California, Conclave Headquarters

“Ow! God dammit, what the hell are you doing back there?” I slipped my hand over my left shoulder, only to have it pushed away.

“This one won’t do,” Tanner said, all the pressure on my chest disappearing as she released her hold on the bra. I wrenched it free and spun around to face her bare chested, the bra clenched in my fist.

“Geez, the fucking Louise, why the hell do you women wear these things?”

Tanner pursed her lips, eyes never once leaving my breasts, before she coughed and averted her gaze. “Believe me, a well-fitting bra is a heaven-send. We don’t have that luxury right now, but I believe we should be able to find a close fit.”

I glared at the haphazard heap of bras, my grandmother’s assistant had brought in and grimaced, more than a little put-off by the prospect of trying each one out. There had to be at least a dozen for God sakes!

“You know,” I said, cupping both breasts in my hand. “These girls are pretty damn firm. Do I really need one of those things?”

Tanner grabbed me by both shoulders, guided me around to face the north wall and snatched a fourth bra from the pile, a little larger than the last one. “Maybe if we had some pasties, but the tops they brought are all made of thin material. If you want your nipples to show through, that’s your business, but given you’re about to meet with the Conclave Council it might give them the wrong impression.”


I gritted my teeth and raised my arms, allowing Tanner to slip this newest assault to my masculinity over my chest. When she pulled the straps tight and hooked them in place, I reached one hand down, testing the straps. She’d found one that seemed to fit. Thank God.

“Turn around.”

I obeyed and lurched back when Tanner reached out to cup my breasts. She shook her head, snorted and let out a little chuckle before grabbing me by the hand and pulling me close again. This time her hands moved across the underside of my boobs, pinching a glob of flesh between two fingers.

“Not a perfect fit. See here where you got a little hanging out,” she said wiggling her fingers. “That means this one is a little small. We can try out a few others if you like, but I think we were lucky to find this close of a fit.”

I glanced at the stack of bras, shivered, and shook my head. “Yeah, I can live with it.”

“I thought you’d say that.” She grinned and backed away, grabbing another bag, and dumping it onto the counter. She started picking through the heap and retrieved a couple sets of pants and tossed them my way.

“Try those on for size.”

I did as she instructed, more than a little surprised that the first pair fit pretty well. I half expected her to insist I tried the others, but all she did was nod and start throwing shirts my way. The first was too tight, I couldn’t even get the damn thing to slip over my breasts. The second wasn’t as bad, but it was way too long on my tiny frame. The third was too big, so were the fourth, fifth, and sixth, which all wound up looking like tents on me. I had a winner with the seventh, a simple, and very soft white blouse that hugged my curves, in all the right or wrong ways depending on how you looked at it.

“Not bad, but it needs something more.” She glanced around, eying the massive mound of clothes and frowned. She paused a moment, before slipping her hands inside another bag producing a leather jacket. “Try this.”

I yanked it from her hands and slipped it on. The leather was nice and supple and cool to the touch. I’d always had a thing for leather, and once I had the jacket resting on my shoulders, it seemed like I’d recovered an old part of myself. Nevermind that it was sized to fit a woman, it was very much the sort of thing I would wear. Just because I was swinging for the opposite team, didn’t mean my taste in clothes had to change.

Tanner slipped around my back, her hands sliding inside the neck of the jacket and pulled my hair free.

“Thanks, still haven’t gotten used to all this hair.”

I blushed, my hands sliding up my neck to collect the loose locks after she released them. I paused and grimaced, realizing that I had no idea what I had done with my scrunchie.

“Dammit, how the hell am I supposed to put my hair in a ponytail now?”

“Here,” Tanner said, grabbing hold of my locks again. “Let me put it in a braid. You’re lucky I know how to finish one without an elastic.”

I let my hands fall away and grimaced as she tugged on my hair, twisting and turning different strands in her hands. She finished yanking on the new braid hard enough for me to wince, but even I wasn’t baby enough to complain about that.

“Dammit Tanner, take it easy, would you?”

Okay, maybe I lied. I grimaced and whipped the braid around, eyed the tip. “This is how you end a braid without a hair tie? Make a knot in the end?”

“People have been using that method for hundreds of years,” she replied, putting both hands on her hips.

“You can tell. It looks like something a medieval peasant girl might sport.” I sighed, dropping the braid and shaking my head. “I’m sorry, it’s just this whole thing has got me all twisted around. Getting bonded to a symbiote and turned into a woman is everything I’ve ever feared. I’m due to meet the Conclave Council any minute now and I just feel like everything that makes me, me, has been stripped away. I’m not sure I’m even myself anymore.”

She cupped my face and touched her forehead to mine. It was an intimate gesture, but I didn’t pull away even though my heart was hammering in my chest. Tanner’s presence was the one thing that made me feel as if I had some control over the situation. My business partner represented the life I had chosen for myself, not the one the great Kaya Briggs had been trying to push me into for as long as I could remember. True, Tanner’d kept secrets, but so had I. I couldn’t blame her given the way I had reacted.

“You’re still Jek.” She smiled and her hands grasped my shoulders. “A set of mammaries doesn’t define who you are, but I won’t lie. When you have more estrogen pumping through your veins, your perspective does change and your emotions are so much more potent, but it doesn’t change you at the core. Your interests, and personality aren’t just going to fly out the window. You are who you are, regardless of your sex.”

I nodded and pulled away, letting just the slightest bit of a smile touch the corner of my lips. “Thank you.”

There were so many things I wanted to say right there and then, but whatever opportunity we might have had to get our feelings out in the open was ruined when the door slid open to reveal my grandmother’s aging form. All my pent up hostility toward her bubbled to the surface as she waltzed into the room. I bit my tongue, forcing back all the angry words I was so close to spewing out.

My grandmother got right down to business, informing us that the council would meet any moment and it was time to go. So, I let her lead me away, glancing back at Tanner as she called after us, wishing me good luck. I had no clue what my grandmother had in store, but something told me it would not be an experience I enjoyed.


The conference room stood out from the other ones within the Conclave’s walls. Not only was it a fair bit bigger than the rest, able to accommodate a massive mahogany conference table with room to spare, but the walls were black. Now, I don’t mean, it was that dark shade we call ‘black’. This was much, much darker, the complete absence of any sort of any pigment. You couldn’t see any shadow against its surface or even tell where the damn corners were without feeling for them.

It was a bit disconcerting, but the floors were just the regular carpeted variety, so you had a good idea how big the room was without having to worry about walking into the wall. I couldn’t begin to guess why the Conclave would have designed the room in such a way. I’m sure there was an excellent reason for such an odd accommodation, I just didn’t know what it was.

My grandmother pulled two chairs out at the end of the table and motioned for me to sit beside her. I peered about, getting my first good look at all those who had already congregated around the table. There were thirteen other humans aside from myself and my grandmother, all but one of them sporting the telltale locks of a joined host. I recognized the odd man out as Colonel Cayne, and he looked no less intimidating than he had the last time I’d met him, especially when his gaze turned my way, and a frown creased his features.

The other three occupants of the room weren’t human, but all were of Terran descent. Two were Dexagarmetrax, the doctor and a violet-skinned individual who was not only broad-shouldered for a member of their race but also towered over Vakrexid by more than a head, the final was a Qharr and the only one in the galaxy I would have recognized, though our only encounter was brief, Ambassador Nyvok Nakyrr.

“Ladies and gentleman, I have the pleasure of welcoming Colonel Cayne, of the United Earth Alliance Fleet here with us today, and an Ambassador from Dexagarmetraxia, who as many of you should know customs forbid us from speaking her name, our own doctor who I won’t label for the same reasons, and Plenipotentiary Nyvok Nakyrr of the Gieff Ascendancy. Though our meetings tend to be more informal, we will follow the formal protocol as set apart in section nine paragraph three of our bylaws. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Conclave protocol, I may give only one person the floor at once, and as chairperson I will decide who may speak at my discretion. To request the floor, you may press the small yellow indent on the table in front of you.”

She paused, glancing toward me, and smiled before returning her gaze to the circle of people. “This young lady beside me is Kaydence Briggs, the newest initiate of the Conclave, and my granddaughter, who you will all recognize better by her birth name Jellfree.”

Given how K’teth queens were well-known for transforming male hosts into women, it made sense that she wouldn’t need to inform the rest of the council about my apparent shift in gender, but, to me, it just seemed like an odd omission given that Cayne and the Dexagarmetrax ambassador were present.

“Cayne.” My grandmother eyed the Colonel and nodded. “I’ll let you brief them.”

The Colonel rose, peering at each person in the room until his eyes settled on me. “At approximately ten-hundred hours on April the twenty-second, my ship the Valiant arrived in the Torrentian Void following orders from General Arnoff to investigate claims of a derelict ship. These claims turned out to be true.”

“It was the Endeavour.”

This elicited more than a few whispers and murmurs from the councilors, but that stopped the moment my grandmother rose to her feet. “Do try to remember that the Colonel has the floor. I was just as shocked to learn of the Endeavour’s discovery, but spare any comments until after he has finished speaking.”

“For reasons of interplanetary security, much of what I am about to tell you, we will not be revealing to the public. As such, you are all bound by the agreement between your respective governments, the Conclave, and the United Earth Alliance. Should any of you breach those agreements, you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Cayne paused just long enough to scowl my way, then cleared his throat and continued. “We found the crew dead, killed in what I can only describe as a horrific manner. The only exception being one Dr. Gina Ingraham, an expert in communications and linguistics, who is unaccounted for along with one of the ship’s support pods. We believe whatever happened to the Endeavour, happened quickly as the crew does not seem to have put up a fight. Its exterior was scorched, showing evidence of energy weapons’ damage. More troubling, most of the communications logs and all the navigation data from the computer systems were wiped.”

“We could not determine whether the ship’s crew or those responsible for their deaths wiped the computer, but what we know is that a creature of mysterious origins attacked them. The genetic evidence we’ve found pegs this thing as the killer, but given it’s small cranial capacity we believe it was either transported onto the Endeavour by accident or set upon the crew by someone or something else. The most disturbing piece of information we’ve uncovered is that we believe this being was either once a gray skin that was modified into a more primitive and brutal state or a being engineered using the Qharr genome as a base.”

All heads turned toward Nyvok, who leaned forward, clasping his hands across the table, before one of his large fingers reached out, tapping the indent before him. Rising to his feet, he looked about the room, all the while massaging the lower side of his left jaw.

“You’re not suggesting that my people are responsible for this attack, are you Colonel? We’re just as interested, if not more so, in determining the ultimate fate of the Phyrr Lesch as your race. ”

“No, of course not. None of the damage to the Endeavour is consistent with any known species or race, including the Qharr or Gieff.” Cayne replied, hands clenched at his side.

Nyvok bowed his head and looked around the room. “I cannot say who might be responsible, but given the creator race could manipulate genetics with a great deal more… How do you say, finesse? Then any of our races have achieved, even those as advanced as the servant race,” he paused, nodding toward the two Dexagarmetrax standing in the corner. “That might at least infer some sort of link to the Phyrr Lesch.”

“Please continue, Colonel,” Nyvok held his hand out then slid back into his sizable chair.

“That is the presiding theory among my people,” the Colonel replied, adjusting his uniform collar. “However, there isn’t enough evidence to give us a definitive answer. We know the Endeavour’s crew unearthed an artifact. Said artifact had been jettisoned from the craft…” He stopped to glower at me and then continued. “…along with the alien creature, some time before we arrived on scene, but we were able to retrieve both.”

“Excuse me.”

A thin dome-headed man stood up, the only evidence that he possessed the blue hair of a bonded host were the two wisps of hair that clung to the sides of his head, looking for all the world as if he’d pasted them there as an afterthought.

“What artifact would that be?”

“It’s a box, but I can’t tell you much beyond that. Se know it’s ancient, and it seems to emit an immense amount of energy which is rather impressive considering that our scientists have dated it at over ten thousand years old,” Cayne replied.

“Well then, from what you say, this artifact, and the creature may be the two biggest clues as to what transpired on the Endeavour. Why exactly were they jettisoned?”

“Oh, for crying out loud! It was self-preservation.” I yelled, blurting it out without bothering to press the button. My grandmother glared at me, but I ignored her.

“Excuse me?” The man asked.

I sighed, mashed my finger into the button, and stood up. Blushing as all eyes fell on me. I’d only been female for a few hours, but was already self-conscious about the change. “The box or the artifact, whatever the hell you want to call it, got blown out with the creature which, I might add, was trying to kill me. As for the box, that thing nearly went nuclear on my ass.”

“Look, it’s hard to explain, but maybe if I go back to the beginning and tell you what happened it would probably make a whole hell of a lot more sense.”

A single nod from my grandmother was the only encouragement I needed. I wasn’t eager to tell my story, but a part of me hoped sharing it might help uncover the mysteries surrounding the Endeavour’s disappearance. I glanced around again and started telling my story, beginning with my encounter with the Faioloese traders, and described the explorations of the Endeavour, finding the box, flushing the creature into the vacuum of space and ended with becoming joined to Khala. It took me ten minutes to finish and when I had, I was met with silence so pervasive that I hesitated to break it.

Finally, a council member, an aging woman with very prominent crow’s feet around her eyes, placed her hand on her own button and after receiving a prompt from Kaya spoke up with a quiet, but firm voice.

“I think I speak for everyone when I say that news of the Endeavour’s discovery is both heartrending and a relief to those of us who had loved ones who were expedition members. You say that you are now bonded with Khala. It seems clear to me, however painful it might be for us to hear, that she would provide valuable insight. As a witness of the events that led to the Endeavour’s downfall, she would be uniquely qualified to help us get to the bottom of the mystery surrounding this terrible tragedy.”

Once again, the eyes of everyone turned to me. I met my grandmother’s gaze, and she nodded. I tapped the button, rose to my feet, closed my eyes, and let myself slip away. Khala needed no prompting this time, and when my eyelids snapped open, I no longer held the reins. My neck craned around on its own volition, and Khala paused.

When she spoke, she enunciated with a soft timbre that I never thought I’d hear coming from my throat. The voice was mine, my new one anyway, but Khala’s inflection was so different. The way she uttered each syllable sounded so feminine, it seemed as if I was listening to someone else speak.

“I must confess that it’s a little strange being here. From my perspective, less than a week ago, I was still bonded to Sofia Briggs aboard the Endeavour, studying ancient ruins. The next thing I know, I come awake, separated from my host and forced to come to terms with not only her death, but that almost twenty years had passed. In my more than a thousand years of life, I have never experienced something so very disorienting and… so very devastating.”

A sob escaped my lips and my entire body trembled. There was so much emotion in my voice… So much pain that it made me stop to think. The K’teth were sapient, reasoning beings dependent on other species to continue their existence. It hadn’t struck me until that moment, how Khala must have felt about my mother’s passing. I’d lost Sofia Briggs a long time ago, but for her, her death must have been a fresh wound which hadn’t even scabbed over.

Of course, there was the physical bond to consider. K’teth joined to their hosts at a cellular level, and such an undertaking would have been physically taxing. So, not only was she physically exhausted, but emotionally spent as well. If I’d been in her position, I probably couldn’t have formed a coherent sentence, let alone address a room full of people. Then again, she wasn’t human, so I might as well have been blowing smoke in the wind.

A hand fell on my shoulder and Khala turned my head, meeting the gaze of my grandmother who whispered into my ear. “Don’t just tell them, show them.”

Khala furrowed my brows as my grandmother shoved a small cylindrical device into my hands. “It’s based on the same technology as the doctor’s implant, and it’s tied into the holo system. Share your memories with me and the others will see it.”

“I warn you, what you are about to witness may not be pleasant to behold. The Endeavour crew’s deaths were brutal. If you are the least bit squeamish, I would urge you to leave this chamber.”

No one stood to leave, but a lump formed in my throat as the realization hit me: I was about to watch my mother’s death through her own eyes. Not a pleasant prospect, but one which could help unravel the mystery behind the Endeavour. So, when the lights blinked out, I clenched my jaw and my breath caught in my throat as images flooded through my awareness.