Authors: Tracy St. John
Tags: #erotic science fiction
Clans of Kalquor 9
Tracy St. John
© copyright October 2014, Tracy St. John
Cover art by Erin Dameron-Hill, © copyright March 2015
This is a work of fiction. All characters, events, and places are of the author’s
imagination and not to be confused with fact. Any resemblance to living persons or
events is merely coincidence.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS:
The Kalquorian Empire was and still is a civilization of great importance to the Galactic Council of Planets. The fierce but intelligent species has been at the forefront of technological, medical, and scientific breakthroughs for millennia. Their military might has never been in question; even their ancient enemy, the opportunistic race of Tragooms, hesitates to attack a Kalquorian force half its size.
However, Kalquor’s survival is in jeopardy. The force that threatened this mighty race was not one that wielded weaponry. It could not even be seen with the naked eye. It was a virus.
Centuries ago, this virus struck the home world of Kalquor, wiping out a substantial number of its people, particularly the females. Symptoms included massive bleeding of the body’s major organs, along with those of the female reproductive tract. Damaging the x-chromosome of the Kalquorians, the virus’ effects went beyond death. The majority of women not killed outright were rendered infertile, and daughters born to those who could bear children were not guaranteed the ability to do the same. The virus altered the very DNA of the entire race.
In an effort to keep their race from going extinct and prevent fighting amongst the men, family groups called clans were formed. Each clan was made up of one female known as the Matara (childbearer or ‘lifebringer’) and representatives of each of the three breeds of male: the Dramok (leader), Imdiko (caregiver), and Nobek (protector).
Despite their efforts, the numbers of Kalquorians continued to decline. So few children were born that extinction was thought by many to be inevitable. Despite all their medical expertise and attempts to find compatible species to mate with, the Kalquorian culture seemed destined to disappear.
A little over a decade ago, a scout ship from a small, isolated planet no one knew of flew into the Galactic Council of Planets’ space. These newcomers, searching for a new planet to house the overflow of their ever-growing population, called their home planet Earth. It was immediately remarked upon how similar they were to Kalquorians. The doomed race took note at once, and hope was restored. It was theorized that perhaps the Earthers were the fabled Lost Tribe of Kalquor’s ancient ancestors.
Earth, however, was not as enthralled with their potential distant cousins. Ruled by a government based on fanatical religious beliefs, Earthers were taught they were God’s Chosen, made in his wondrous image. They looked upon Kalquor with hostility and outrage, particularly since the beleaguered inhabitants of that empire suggested compatibility testing for purposes of interbreeding.
The leaders of the Kalquorian Empire, feeling they had no other recourse, decided the time had come to seduce Earther females and convince them to come to Kalquor. Women on Earth were treated as lesser creatures and second-class citizens by their government and religion, and the Kalquorians with their near-worship of women hoped they could entice these lifebringers to join their clans. And if the women would not be seduced, Kalquor was no longer above the distasteful necessity of abducting them outright.
Almost 2000 Earther women went to Kalquor, putting the Empire and Earth at each others’ throats. Then the unthinkable happened: an Earther woman joined the aliens’ ruling clan, making her Kalquor’s empress. Earth immediately declared war.
The fighting was horrific, with Earth’s greater numbers slowly overwhelming Kalquor’s more advanced technology. With its already dwindling numbers reaching crisis stage, the Empire was desperate to find a way to win the war and secure its future. They staged an invasion of Earth itself. Earth’s answer was to set off nuclear explosions beneath its own major cities, devastating the population and dooming the planet.
Most of the survivors have been rescued by Kalquor. Some women, traumatized by their experiences under Earth’s tyranny, have dared to start anew with the Kalquorians. There are still too few to guarantee Kalquor’s survival, and they are held by most of the alien men in the highest regard.
But not all Kalquorians are happy to have the Earthers among them. Some are determined to see Kalquor go extinct rather than mix the species. Many who have not attracted women to their clans feel they have been unjustly denied. Those with a political ax to grind ask the question, who exactly ordered the abductions of the first Earther Mataras? Who should answer for the deaths of billions and the destruction of an entire planet?
A revolt, led by a shadowy figure known only as ‘The Basma’, is brewing among the disaffected Kalquorians. Those in power know it won’t take much to widen the rift between those clans who have won lifebringing females and those who have not. A wrong word, a thoughtless gesture, or a long-held secret is all that is needed to shake the foundations of an Empire ... and finish the existence of two cultures already teetering on the brink of extinction.
Imperial Father Nobek Yuder wandered his home set in the cliffs overlooking the ocean. The Imperial Fathers’ Suite felt cavernous with emptiness. He thought about calling out for his Imdiko Tidro, but did not dare. He had the superstition that his longtime clanmate would not answer. For the first time in his life Yuder felt alone, as if everyone he’d ever loved had been erased from the world.
It was a ridiculous fancy, certainly one beneath a Nobek of his strength and standing. Yuder had faced many enemies over the years. He had been threatened with death and killed a number of men during his long life as a warrior and protector. He’d loved and lost before. He’d survived. Yet the former emperor couldn’t shake the sensation of having been utterly forsaken. The ball of fear lodged in his throat, the one that kept him from calling Tidro’s name, would not budge.
He found his clanmate standing on the balcony outside the sleeping room that had been used solely by their Dramok for the last few years. Imperial Father Zarl’s poor crippled body had degenerated to the point that no one could sleep on the same mat with him without causing him considerable pain. Tidro had taken over one of the guest suites in their apartments, with Yuder and his Earther lover Tara occupying another.
The bed was now empty. Yuder did his best to keep from looking at it as he passed.
Yuder paused in the archway that led out to the balcony. He watched his Imdiko stare out at the snarling ocean. The elder man’s long, bone-white hair flew wild in the wind. Tidro still wore the mourning robes of brown along with a thick black cape, the hems of both flapping in the stiff breeze. Yuder knew it was cold out there, especially with that wind coming off the sea. Tidro had no business standing in the blustery elements.
His Imdiko clanmate looked so very alone out there. The balcony had been stripped of all its furnishings at the beginning of winter. It remained bare as the soon-to-arrive spring had not yet put in an appearance.
Seeing Tidro like that made something in Yuder’s throat ache. How would they continue on without Zarl? What was their clan without its Dramok?
He tried to concentrate on the fact that he still had Tidro. He also had Tara McInness, the beautiful Earther woman he’d made his lover. A Nobek didn’t often like to think he needed others for strength. Still, he was willing to admit privately to himself that Tidro and Tara had been the rocks he’d clung to in the last few stormy days of Zarl’s final illness and passing.
Unfortunately, those storms would only build in strength in the coming weeks. Yuder had a duty to his Imdiko. He had to keep Tidro safe against the trouble that awaited them. He didn’t know that his placid but stubborn clanmate would allow it.
Squaring his shoulders, Yuder stepped through the home’s temperature-control shield to join his clanmate in the bitter wind of the night. The cold seemed to slide straight through him despite his heavy cloak.
He purposely made his steps loud enough to be heard over the moaning wind. He didn’t want to startle the other man by suddenly speaking in his ear. Tidro turned his head in his direction, but he didn’t turn around.
Yuder chastised him as he drew near. “My Imdiko, you shouldn’t be out here in this cold.” Acting like a nurturing Imdiko himself, he tugged Tidro’s hood up over his head.
He got a slight smile for his efforts. Tidro leaned back against his chest when Yuder circled his arms about him.
The Imdiko asked, “Where is Tara?”
Yuder couldn’t help but smile at the sound of his beloved’s name. “She’s with her daughters and the grandchildren. The little ones do not quite get the concept of where their grandfather Zarl has gone.”
“Lucky younglings.” Tidro sighed. A single tear tracked down his creased cheek. “I miss him already, my Nobek. My heart cries for my Dramok. Yet at the same time I am relieved he has died.”
Yuder nodded his understanding. “He had suffered too damned long. There was no quality left to his life. Even the pleasures of his grandchildren offered little joy in the end.”
It made Yuder angry that a good man had died in such needless pain. Those who had cursed Zarl with a crippled, weakened body had died years ago in terrible ways. Still, their executions had not spared the clan leader any agony in the end.
As gentle as Tidro was, his voice nonetheless shook with the same fury that Yuder felt. Yuder thought he also detected an unhealthy dose of guilt lying beneath it. “Damn it, my Nobek. There was no glory in Zarl wasting away as he did, wracked with pain. He deserved a better end.”
Yuder spoke in his ear as consolingly as one of his fierce breed could. “You did all you could to give him comfort. I know he was grateful.”
Tidro sighed unhappily. “I can’t stop thinking I should be attending him. I catch myself wondering, did I take Zarl his latest round of medicines? Should I check to see if he requires something to eat or drink? Then I remember he doesn’t need them anymore.”
Yuder’s grip on him tightened. “The pain is over for him. Now it is time for you to do something for yourself, my Imdiko. You have sacrificed your own needs these last years to serve his.”