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(23-32ASP-2424-2433) Sunset (PG 13) (Part 1)
Gold, translucent amber, and dark ships in the sky, clouds breaking up the light as it shimmered off the Qui’os Lake.  Rust and flecks of green jade lazily cast over the sky in no great hurry as the sun was setting.

       Her green skin didn’t seem to absorb the light like she thought it might.  A pale orange washed over her face and exposed neck, arms, and shoulders; night was coming for more than just the day.

       She smiled as the wind tousled her blue and red highlighted hair. The style had been so synonymous with her for decades that being without it seemed more alien than she was on Cerim IV.

      Her last combat mission was fourteen years ago. She fell in love, had children, and fought every civil fight that had come her way much the same as her dancer’s knives had once upon a time.  She remembered Gen fondly. It was fitting that a member of her own world should be the reason she gave up her desire to run.

      Fremen returned the knife she left in his old master’s forehead. Jada and Pauc hired him in the defense force after their errant sister killed his employer in the most spectacular way an assassin could think of.  She flipped the razor-sharp blade between her fingers. Amber blood still burned the edge and saturated the cotton wrapping that covered the hilt.  Shavi liked the memory of it all, the memory of leaving the pain behind.

The golden disk of the sun had fallen behind the mountains; dusk was setting in.  She remembered hunting those hills; it was where she met Miyan. 
(nine years earlier)
      Hunting was forbidden on Cerim IV; Miyan was a Bajoran veteran who had taken a ranger position overlooking one of the many preserves in the province of Heia.  She caught Shavi stalking a boar with a simple knife; a herculean feat even with a spear but with a dagger only slightly larger than her hand Miyan could scarcely imagine any success.  When she stunned the boar and the green-skinned trespasser, she had the knife less than two millimeters from the boar’s carotid artery.

      Miyan realized who her prisoner was, of course, she did; Shavi was famous, second only in significance to her sister, and Vax, and Jasen.  She hefted the unconscious Orion over her shoulder and transported her to the brig. She was determined to bring charges on Shavi no matter what her title or history had been.  Justice didn’t discriminate.

      The ranger kept her locked up for a week; when the Cerim Council President heard Shavi had been put in jail, he demanded her immediate release, an order Miyan blatantly ignored for more than six days.  It would have taken Shavi no more than an hour to disengage the security fields and walk out a free woman.  Something about how determined Miyan held Shavi accountable fascinated her, and she stayed willingly after that.
       The penned prisoner of her own making saw a woman of striking beauty that was doggedly married to her job; a sense of duty was part of her cardinal makeup.  Shavi learned the ranger’s mother was in the Cardassian occupation, and the die-hard attitude came from there.  No one was above reproach, a concept that never really applied to the Orion temptress, no matter who was giving her the order.  At that moment, behind the security field, Shavi saw something heroic in her guard: a ‘lawman’ with a hardened steel resolve, armed, watching only her.  Even when she attempted to use her pheromones to influence the good ranger, the atmo-exchangers dispelled her attempts before they ever landed.
       Shavi watched the Bajoran’s mouth as she talked.  Her captor was brilliant, brutal, and honest.  If she ran into bounty hunters even close to as capable as this ranger so many years ago, there was little chance she would be the woman she was today.  The defiant ranger went on about how depraved and stupid a person could be hunting a boar with merely a knife, but over days of confinement, Shavi seemed most content to watch her speak.  The sense of appeal building as the pretty lips of her warden made her respect the visuals as much as the words leaving the ranger’s mouth.  She was trying to live up to her mother’s memory; as an Orion, that was the purest form of honor one could grant another.  More so, Miyan was trying to earn the perception that she would have fought as hard as her mother and father did if it was ever needed of her.

       In confinement, she told her guard about the torture she was subjected to at the hands of Alhena Station, how her parents were killed in an accident that turned out to be negligence on the hand of lazy federation engineers.  It took her years before telling even Jada what she was escaping when they first met. Paranoia, fear, and the unknown make even family often the last to know when something is consuming your mind.  

       Each day, she learned more about the ranger’s passion and the yearning for a purpose; Miyan seemed to be a younger version of herself.  Even twenty years ago, the Bajoran lawman could have easily won against an untitled and unknown Orion just trying to make her way through the universe.  Every word reminded her of what she was looking for, and the green-skinned master manipulator was smitten, bordering on infatuation with the sheer courage in her captor's eyes and heart.

       Miyan knew she couldn’t hold her prisoner indefinitely; she was a fleet commander of the battle of the Beta Dorados system; she literally saved the world. When the ranger was eventually forced to release Shavi, she expected to find herself exactly where her prisoner had been only moments before.

       The look on the Bajoran’s face as the security field was deactivated and restraints were placed on her instead was more impactful in Shavi’s eyes than any of the last moments her memories captured of her victims.  Shavi intervened and dropped all potential charges against the ranger and said they couldn’t punish someone for doing their job and no title or past makes you above the law.
       No charges made it before a Magistrate, and Shavi was free to go.  Miyan was released as well to return to her duties.  Over the next eight weeks, Shavi found a reason to accidentally stumble upon or intentionally involve Miyan’s office in something she was working on.  At first, Miyan assumed Shavi was lording her untouchability to the office or her authority at large.  Over time, however, she saw Shavi was interested in her, not because of her position, not because of her background, but Shavi, one of the most influential people in the sector, wanted to get to know her better.   Eventually, Miyan gave up the idea that Shavi intended to recidivate her habits again and grew to enjoy her visits.
                                                                                       -  -  -

        Groundbreaking had begun at the starport:  Shavi unnecessarily involved herself in building a new high security and defense force headquarters. She wasn’t an administrator the same way Jada was, and she wasn’t a foreman, but she was Shavi, and if she chose to be, she was the legitimacy everyone wanted in making this project a success.  A heavy cruiser and a capital shipyard were being built to make Cerim IV a sector power.

        The people and equipment would soon be in place to legitimize the colony as a sovereign world.  Miyan, like any other person not in the know, watched the slow but steady progression of its construction with avid interest. Soon she wouldn’t be a colonist anymore, but a citizen of Cerim IV, a first for the ranger.  

       She watched an antigravity pylon being installed to ferry semi-completed ships into assisted orbit. The project would have been the first significant defense platform built in the region since its independence.  While its central beacon was aligning itself with the defense platform already in space, a light show of unimaginable brilliance bathed the countryside in an unnatural noon-day light.  With every significant event, this prompted an atypical celebration that had consumed the entire province in its atmosphere.  They called it the rave of the first pylon, a month-long festival celebrating the event, and they vowed it wouldn’t be the last time a party this spectacular was thrown again in its memory.

       The ‘Ta Aeher’ tavern had been a favorite of Miyan's even when Gen was in charge. She had been on the planet for less than a month when the pirate mysteriously met his end.  The prevailing theory was that he died at the hand of a Klingon assassin.  He was supposedly working for the Klingon High-Command; Jada and Shavi were quick to ensure the people that the Klingon Council was making no advances to annex the planet or any other part of the sector.  Still, five years later, the rumor mill always ran on unproven whispers from the shadows and salacious details of encroachment by a spy organization without a name.  Miyan grew to enjoy hearing the stories but couldn’t for a moment believe them for even the briefest of considerations. Gen was a pirate; a rival had to have killed him, which was as complicated as she ever thought it could be.
       Miyan absently drank rak’tajino and stared out the window towards the spaceport construction with her blue-green eyes the color of the sea before a storm smiled as her soft pink lips had creased into comfortable contentment at how peaceful things were.  The warm, lively music in the background became dismissable noise as she daydreamed about being a starship captain someday.  She had been so lost to her imagination she didn’t hear the uproar of a call for drinks and considerably more people entering the tavern, the clink of eights filling the tavern’s coffers.
       Shavi walked in wearing a gambler hat with blue patterned cutoff top, exposing her green-skinned midriff flecks of amber speckled her skin as micro lacerations from the laser welder’s spray had bitten in her.  A skin-tight pair of black leather leggings still covered in the soot from the day gave little imagination to how firm she still was even if she wasn’t operating any longer.
       She shared in the festivities with so many of the lower-tiered workers she hardly gave the actual administrators the time of day when they discussed significant aspects to the dozen projects, she was token in charge of at any one point and time.  She was famous for all the right reasons, but Shavi never seemed to take to the running of a sector the way her more renowned sister did.  A brilliant smile that could have disarmed a charging targ seemed to radiate off of her face like a spotlight improving the lives of anyone it fell on.  As her eyes caught Miyan, it took little convincing and pheromone control to get her body of followers to enjoy the night elsewhere while she excused herself.

       The bold Orion watched her in silence for a moment; she liked that Miyan was average for a Bajoran.  Nearly one point eight meters, broad-shouldered, and looked like she could hold herself in a fight.  She had pinked skin; it gave the normally tawny peach-colored skin of her ancestors a more vibrant and alive tone.  The warm glow of sun-kissed attention gave each shadow of her face the attention of anyone she committed her gaze on, or in this case, someone who had their eye on her.
       The attentive Orion noticed a gentle scar marked a line along her jaw on the right side of her chin, ending just below the “D’ja pagh,” the earring on her right side so familiar to her people.  She wore it on her right ear, something normally reserved for men, she guessed it was worn in memory to him; a symbol of his D’jarra; the Ke’Lora caste, the responsibility, and community given to lawmen and laborers.  It made her distinguished to some, and it set her apart in the eyes of her admirer.

       Shavi loved her long black hair, it was gathered in a loose ponytail.  As she stared out the window, locks of pure night hung down her back and over her neck, highlighting the significance of her silhouette.  She wore a long leather jacket that came down to her mid-thigh; it had an old charm to it, the scent and history only long nights on conflict could earn.  It belonged to her mother, she wore it often, so it still smelled like her to Miyan’s imaginative mind, whether it was the truth or not it never seemed more than an arm’s length from her.
       A gray button-down shirt peeked out from underneath; her badge and communicator still on, she hadn’t been home from work yet.  The look of her hands were soft and well-groomed, she liked the way she looked, and it was clear; family meant more than fashion, and she wore both well.  Shavi moved to take a seat at her table, breaking her out of her daydream.

“I’ve been looking for you, Miy!” Shavi said with her best smile from ear to ear.

      Miyan jumped just a little as Shavi took up so much of the room it was seemingly impossible for her to sneak up on anyone. She looked entirely lost in thought, and it took her a moment to recognize the green-skinned criminal she had been introduced to two months earlier.

     “Sorry, I…” Her face visibly calmed, and a smile formed over her sculpted bow-shaped lips, revealing her teeth and creases in her cheek lines and crinkles around her eyes.  Her smile was genuine, even if some part of her would always see Shavi as a criminal; she loved seeing the girl who always knew how to light up the room. “…I was just thinking of family, Shay…” She said with a sense of loss in her eyes and memory of something she was happy not to relive. “Good to see you.” Her smile returned as her posture relaxed a bit more.

       Shavi smiled warmly in return; she had respect for those moments. Once upon a time, the nightmares of Alhena Station still woke her even while she were conscious. “Aye Miy, I remember daia berries in my mam’s cakes, da’s was always working on the planters, the sound of shuttles back and forth right next to the port, takes me back…” she remembered too, the fondness of those first few years were what made Alhena Station bearable.

       Her smile grew listening to Shavi talk about such a good memory. “…For me, it was Pana leaves, Morning tea mom would always make us drink.” She let out a soft chuckle. “My sister ships me leaves every month; replicators just don’t do it justice…”

“I’ve never had it; next time I come by, I’m not leaving til’ you give up your family recipe…” she smiled warmly again and folded her hands over one another on the table, her left above her right. “things okay down at the preserve?” Shavi, the assassin of dozens of targets, killers of men and women who killed innocents for sport, tyrants, and autocrats, Shavi hardly blinked as she ran them through.  In front of a girl she liked more than a little, she was as nervous as a teenager around her first crush.

       Miyan nodded and took another sip of her Klingon coffee. “Even on Bajor, I never really felt like I was ye’ know… welcome… after the occupation and the provi government, nothing on Bajor seemed real anymore.” she would have never shared anything personal with anyone… but Shavi was impressively disarming. “I’ve lived on eight worlds; none of them felt like home.” Her smile seemed hopeful. “I fit in here… I have plants!” she giggled. “The spaceport… it's making me think this is where I should be…” Miyan said as though if she said it too much louder, it would vanish. 

       Shavi couldn’t get enough of her face; after eight weeks, she could dream of the sound of “Her Ranger” interrogating her. The first six days were burned into Shavi’s subconscious. Every emotion was real; Miyan was the first person she had ever met that always meant exactly what she said. “I’ve been planet-side for almost six years now. The first moment I stepped off the transporter pad, I felt the same way right now… this is home.” She tried to say it encouragingly, as though it would take more than a few acts of god to change the stars.

       Miyan looked into Shavi’s large, seemingly iridescent blue eyes. “I’ve been trying to remember the Romulan phrase Sujor keeps saying…” she nodded her head to the wizened old man tending bar as he smiled and waved in return. “en ekiaid, ormiin… something,” she stammered, trying to remember.

“En ekiaid ormiin; mnean ejhoi en ei’krih i faedhe h’rau,” Shavi returned perfectly. “The universe lays out the best option for us; we decide the home to be ourselves in,” She translated. “He said that to me when I first came through here too.  I think the old man knows the future.” She laughed warmly and looked into Miyan’s eyes.

      Miyan nearly choked on her coffee as she nodded and laughed in return. “I swear I should open a file on em’” she jested, her eyes linked intently with Shavi’s. “Thanks, Shay…” she took another sip of coffee and then returned her smile. “For the attention, and the spaceport.” She motioned her head towards the window and the construction in the distance.

       Shavi just nodded. “I wish I could take the credit; it’s been on the agenda for years…  I just decided where it would go, and people started making plans.” She smiled and bragged as little as she knew how.

       “You made this sleepy city very important,” Miyan responded appreciatively.

“I wanted to give something back…” she paused with a smile, looking down at the table. “Sujor told me something else that I think ultimately made the choice easy: “Ve aei'es eiihu mnea khira? Daehp vikra en a'rhea lagga.” she smiled; her eyes lost in Miyan’s. “If it’s only a matter of where? Create where the heart blooms.” She translated, getting very quiet.

        Miyan blushed hotly, and her pupils grew larger, thinking about what Shavi said. “Psychic!” she shouted and laughed, pointing at Sujor. He seemed to be laughing as though he could hear her perfectly over the low thunder that was the noise in the tavern. “It was good seeing you… ye know… here, and not in my preserve…” She teased. “I need to get some sleep, and the jino isn’t doing anything to keep me up.” Miyan moved to get up.

        “Not today anyway…” Shavi laughed in return.  As Miyan moved to get up, Shavi reached out to touch her hand and gripped it gently. “I have to go back to the mob if you go.” She joked. “Can I walk you home, just for a little more quiet?” She smiled.

        Miyan’s blush did not go away as her hot hand remained under Shavi’s. She nodded and tossed a few pieces of eight on the table with her free hand.

        Shavi managed to follow Miyan out of the bar without making too much noise or recognition.  As she passed Sujor, she dropped a slip of Latinum into his tip jar and smiled warmly at her first friendly face on Cerim IV.
        Outside it was marginally quieter; the festival was just getting started, and there were many very excited people buzzing to and from the spaceport. Miyan moved at Shavi’s side as they passed down the wide and well-lit streets.  For a while, neither said anything; they walked, appreciating the more anonymous air that was the main thoroughfare. 

         “So much better out here in the air, right?” Miyan spoke first.

“I don’t know which I like more: the noise that makes me feel normal, or the people not recognizing me that does,” Shavi replied, treasuring her privacy.

          “It must be crazy not having a moment to yourself,” Miyan spoke absently as if searching for the right words.

Shavi smiled and nodded without a reply.

          Miyan smiled and walked with her another twenty or so meters before turning down a darker road with a few small houses along the sides and ending in a cul-de-sac.  

          She reached the third house on the right and turned to face Shavi, as their eyes met, and Miyan was about to speak when Shavi slid her hand along the nape of her neck and pressed up against her crushing her lips deeply against Miyan’s kissing her passionately against the wall of her house. Miyan feverishly returned the attention and grabbed both sides of Shavi’s face pulling her urgently into another.  Miyan fumbled with the lock to her door as the door slid open, both falling to the carpeted interior of the living room.  They both laughed into the kissing and slid away from the door enjoying each other’s attention far more in private.
(end of Part 1)
I LOVE that intro, and the rest of the story ( so far) is really engrossing. I'm looking forward tor reading the rest of it. Well done!

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