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Double Play
by Rick Tornello

I’m a ronin. By definition I’ll serve any employer. My clan, the E’Tivels had been eliminated in the great wars. I survived through skill and luck. As an ally I was granted a temporary assignment as a bodyguard for the Consul’s family, in particular Ka’Trink, his wife. She acts as his eyes, ears, and roving ambassador. The Consul is a warrior of evil repute.

Ka’Trink is the daughter of a great wizard. She has emerald eyes. Her pupils are alabaster slits. Her hair is long, thick, intermixed with pearls, and burgundy. She is known for her white magic strength. And she has a mute pet sphinx.

And I? I was stuck with a wife who despised my very existence. I was clanless. An underworld spirit would have been more acceptable as a husband. I was nothing. But I was alive.

Still, I sent the money home every lunar rotation.


The boarding formality begins each flight. “Your ladyship, let me insure the systems are up and prepared before you board.”

I looked straight at her and that was forbidden.

I couldn’t help it. No being from any planet could resist. Her husband slayed many for so as much as a glance. It was rumored he was strict and beat her for any infraction, real or imagined.

She was the ambassador. It was none of my business why she wore what she did. Her uniform was doughty, and ugly. But it couldn’t hide her eyes.

Ka’Trink turns toward me. Her alabaster cat eyes narrow as she delves.

“I beg forgiveness. I should not stare.” Still, I don’t turn away.

“You always do,” she laughs.

Chimes? What, where was that music? Yes that was it, chimes. That was the first time I had heard her laugh.

“Is my ship ready?” Her job as her husband’s eyes had her traveling from one planet to another

I was about to make the perfunctory sweep of the ship when she walked passed me. Her sword of rank swayed with the movement of her hips. I noticed the slight bulge of a weapon under her flowing skirts strapped what must be legs of …

Get a grip, I laughed to myself. These two missions lasted nine months each. Any fool knew there could be no games between us. My short physical stature, and lost rank were guaranteed degrees of separation. So was my love of my life.


On our third mission, as she was boarding, she turned to me as said, “You WILL join me for midmeal today. I have made the arrangements.”

“Yes, your ladyship.” What to do? She commanded it. Once we were space bound, she was in total control.

Midmeal was awkward.

She began, “You are an E’Tivel and one of those who stood up to the Dariates. It wasn’t a question. “That’s one reason you were chosen for my guard.”

I knew the others: a ronin, married, short and all the qualities her kind looked down upon.

“Your ladyship, if your husband learns of this, I…”

“You are here to protect me. I feel your presence is necessary. We both have to eat. I am in command.

I shut up and ate.

The next few meetings were not much better for me. Thankfully, Ka’Trink did all the talking.

Out of the blue she confides, “Yes, he is cruel for no reason. He doesn’t care. He will be ruler someday. I can’t stand him.” She hesitates, “or his touch.”

“This is not what I should be privy to,” I declared standing up.

“Oh, and why not? This is my ship. I am in command. Anything I want, is mine. Is it not? And, I… desire someone to confide in. I have watched you. I trust you.
Now Sit.”

I stare into those eyes. I don’t have to answer. She reads me. I can feel her delving. The first experiences of her probes were unnerving. Now, I almost welcome them.

She smiles. I hear chimes.


At a meal Ka’Trink says something that’s news to me. “Your wife has terminated your relationship. She claims long separations are beyond what any marriage can endure. It was granted.”

I knew it was coming, but still.

Is there a slight hint of a smirk on her face?

I hear chimes, if only distant. I hear them just the same.


The next meeting she is wearing something new.

“My lady I know it’s not my place but that’s a new uniform, and if I may say.”

“Yes you may.” She hesitates, “please do.”

“You look radiant.”

She touches my hand. The delving is deeper than ever, the electricity that passes between us… I faint.

Her white witch cat eyes are staring into mine. She is inches from my face and says, “I knew that would happen. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have.”

She is no one to play with, the Consul’s...I’m-so-going-to-die-do-I-dare?

I hesitated,

I reached out,

I touched her hand.


The room was empty. Usually there are others in attendance.

Her alabaster eyes are wide. She looks into me. Her long red hair, loose, falls into my face as she kisses me.

“My name is Ka’Trink. Use it!” She kisses me again.


From that day I could no longer be with another. And That was so NOT me.

Ka’Trink arranged all the assignations. With time, we opened up to each other as neither had done with any other.

I looked forward to the diplomatic missions. No one knew, or ever let on. I was never questioned.

Her husband ignored me as if I didn’t exist.


Her reasons, why me, and those experiences are still beyond me 20 sidereal periods later.

Her husband died in a shakedown test. It was a new drive system. It exploded.

Ka’Trink became the Consul of his sector.

And I… I became her consort.

I wake to those chimes every morning.

The sphinx is asleep on the corner of the bed.