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The High Priestess and the Wheel of Fortune

Posted on Thu Jan 7th, 2021 @ 9:33am by Alden Loxley & Alison Bliss & Kindra Graham

Mission: Sweet Emotion
Location: Quantum of the Stars
Timeline: Timeline: 2515 - After Port Out Starboard Home

The door to Kindra's cabin swung open in response to her key chip. In most respects it resembled an expensive hotel suite, but smaller. Her agreement with the cruise company did not permit significant changes to the décor, and yet she had added personalized touches that made it her own work and living space. A curtain separated the sitting room from the bedroom and en suite bath. A plush throw and pillows in red, orange, and yellow hues on the sofa had once occupied her bed on a certain transport ship. Her tea set was displayed on the low table, and a small tapestry was laid over the desk and Cortex screen. And of course, Kindra's harp was there, next to a chair near the sofa.

"Please, come in." Kindra felt a sudden awkwardness as she waved them in, that she hadn't felt on the shuttle. She indicated her suitcase and added, "Just put that down anywhere. Thank you, Alden." She turned her attention to Alison. "May I offer you something to drink before we go through my closet? I have wine, and uh… tea." Jiàn tā de guǐ (Damnit), more awkward. Enough. You're a companion. Act like it, she told herself. Kindra straightened. "Or we can call for room service, are you hungry?"

Memories hit him like a warm ocean wave as Alden stepped into the room with its hints, throwbacks (and a very specific throw) to another time and place. Lost briefly in that year old world, he turned slowly to take in every detail and stopped, his grin and his gaze fixed on the harp while Kindra welcomed them into her personal space.

At the Companion's request, the pilot handed over her suitcase and instantly returned to his internal reverie. A hand reached out to idly pluck a couple of harp strings and in a discordant harmonic, Alden's belly grumbled audibly. It had been a while with too much trouble and activity since he'd eaten and he didn't bother to hide the sheepish childlike look of joy as he interrupted Alison's turn to speak.

"Room service sounds Jing tsai!" Alden enthused. "Can we do that?"

Alison nodded. She moved around, her lips curling in a distant smile seeing the interior. It was very much... companion-style. Alison was perceptive enough to see slips here and there and understood that this situation was as much awkward for her as it was for them. However, unlike the companion, they were in it for a while now. She thought for a moment how to make it easier for Kindra without making it too obvious and so even more awkward.

"Yes, room service sounds good." Alison pointed at the bathroom. "I'll refresh myself, if you don't mind." Alison glanced at Kindra. "Please order me something you feel suitable." Alison thought that her quick bath would give Alden and Kindra a chance to talk alone and catch up. Kindra likely had many questions.

"I will," said Kindra, gesturing with a genuine smile for Alison to go ahead and make herself at home. She waited a moment, to see if Alden would follow Alison into the bathroom. She had often imagined seeing Alden again and explaining why she'd left him on Pelorum without saying goodbye. In her daydream he'd forgive her and offer a second chance. But now… now she just hoped to be a friend to both of them.

Kindra went to the desk and folded back the tapestry, then brought up the ship's room service menu on the cortex screen. "Alison is really something." She wondered if Alden was the reason Alison had given up being a companion, but asking would be inappropriate. "Order whatever you want. You probably should order for Alison too, I've no idea what she'd like."

He didn't move a muscle towards the bathroom, neither did he comment on Alison immediately. No, he simply observed Kindra through the half-veil of those harp strings and Alden wondered why she'd helped them. Why she'd risked everything to bring them on board. Kindra didn't owe him anything, besides perhaps an explanation he wasn't sure he wanted.

But silence had zero chance of enduring long between them, and as he wandered back across her space, Alden kept a polite and respectful distance. He owed Kindra that at least, regardless of his actual wants.

"Okay," he said, amicably and brightly as he moved to study the menu. He had no real idea what Alison would want either, but Alden hit a few images and options, aiming for whatever looked good. "Thanks," he noted, stepping back to let Kindra make her own choices. "You didn't have to help us."

Kindra had taken note of the way Alden touched her harp and the distance Alden kept from her, and had returned to the screen after he stepped back. "I did have to," she said truthfully, facing the screen. It was impossible for her not to help him, for reasons she could barely understand herself and didn't want to try explaining to him. Alden had something special with Alison, and Kindra could never do anything to mess with that. She selected something random from the menu, submitted the room-service order, then turned to face Alden with a smirk. "Who knows when I might need a guitar accompaniment? Where is Bessy?," she asked, referring to Alden's guitar.

Okay, he thought, that didn't really answer the Big Question, but given the way they'd left things - well the way she'd left - he supposed he should give up on that. A light frown aimed at the back of Kindra's head and, once again, Alden let it pass.

Then Kindra threw him a loop. A classic double-take shielded his inner thoughts not even a little as Alden regarded the Companion. Women, eh? Mysterious. Tough and mostly unfathomable.

"Uh," he said, eloquence abandoning him utterly. A flash of an impish grin. "Had to travel light for reasons I can't - won't - drag you any deeper into. But, Bess is safe. Had to leave some stuff with my sister for safe-keeping this trip." There was a brief pause, and Alden let his gaze linger on Kindra's own. His uncertainty coloured his statement that ended up as a question during its asking. "Doesn't look like you need any more lessons?"

Treasured memories of teasing and touch and emotion flooded her thoughts, and the companion façade fell away to expose Kindra's uncertain desire for connection she had no right to and could not claim. Words slipped past her lips before Kindra thought through the implications. "Are you offering… lessons?" Her gaze shifted to the bathroom door. "I thought… I thought you and Alison…"

Curious, and cautiously hopeful, Kindra's gaze returned to Alden. She let the implied question hang between them, wondering what kind of understanding Alden had with Alison. Maybe their relationship was open, or maybe they included the occasional unicorn in their bed. Or maybe, he was only teasing and she was making a fool of herself.

Alden's brain was still a few steps behind Kindra's but that pause between the word 'offering' and 'lessons' connected the dots in a clunky settling of thoughts, memories and simple, honest desire. Then the pretty, smart and debonair lady glanced to the bathroom door and he was back at the beginning of that emotional loop. Alison? Huh?

Kindra was waiting for him to answer while Alden's primal brain did little cartwheels of unexpected joy, though his expression failed to accurately project this internal process. She was really asking him?

"Alison already knows how to fly, she's a great pilot," Alden heard himself say, even as they both heard sounds of motion from behind that bathroom door. He tried to correct his course and reverse the metaphor he was royally screwing with right now, but made it worse. "Actually think she taught me some stuff." He winced and adopted unhappy apologetic unsure face as he tried again. "Uh, I mean..."

"No, no. I understand," blurted Kindra, cutting him off before Alison emerged from the bathroom. Mortified, she turned to the side, eyes on the floor and cheeks hot. He was only teasing, and she'd made a fool of herself misinterpreting his friendliness as something else. Alison was companion trained, obviously committed to him, and there was no reason to think he had any lingering interest in herself. The last thing Kindra wanted was for Alden to engage with her in a lesson out of some misplaced chivalrous sense of obligation, just because she'd helped them.

Kindra regained her serene companion smile by sheer force of will, though her cheeks were still warm, before facing Alden again. "Alison is lovely. I'm so glad you found each other."

His expression got lost somewhere in between a mix of intended emotions and concerns, but the overriding tone in Alden's voice was awkwardness. "Huh?" He said. "Um... I didn't... I don't... It's not... Ali's..." He scrunched his entire face up as his verbalisation floundered magnificently, nose wrinkling as he struggled and failed to recover some form of face. "I wouldn't really say she's... lovely... "

Alison stepped out of the bathroom, refreshed with the shower, with hairs wrapped in a towel around her head and wearing one of the fluffy and skimpy robes that were donned with the cruse liner's logo on the back. Out of clothes, with long and thin legs exposed, she looked slender and even skinny. She moved graceful and sensual in a very natural way, approaching them both. Her blue eyes glanced on Alden, catching up on his internal turmoil and then shifted piercingly on Kindra, finding her almost too perfectly composed.

He met Ali's hard look and almost imperceptibly shrugged. He wasn't proud of how the Kindra conversation was going, but Alden didn't waste the chance to at least admire those endless legs either.

It was exactly as she expected. Alison gave them this moment of solitude, so they could catch up. She thought of staying longer in the bathroom, intuitively guessing they needed more time, but doing so could look like if she was eavesdropping. She stopped near them, folded her hands on her chest, and gently nodded toward the bathroom.
"Go and clean yourself, Alden. The bathroom is yours." She said but she was looking at Kindra, curious what exactly was between them.

Alden opened his mouth to protest and lowered his head, shaking it as he moved downward. "I could use a bath," he returned, finding a happiness in the opportunity and owning it rather than fighting with his partner. They'd lucked out, truly, and Alden could appreciate that.

The proposition was also to give Alden a chance to collect himself. Whatever was going on here, it seemed awkward for Kindra and Alden, at least in Alison’s eyes, so separating them for a bit might be a good option. “And please stay there until we call you, so I can try clothes from Kindra in peace.” Alison’s face broke into a soft smile toward the other woman. “That is if the offer still stands.” Kindra was slightly shorter but Alison was sure that the companion had something in her luggage that could fit Alison.

A strong exhale and Alden rolled his eyes. "I'll come out when I damn well please," he said, with a stern voice accompanied by a fierce stare, both of which were swiftly ruined by a quick flash of a grin.

He wouldn't say Alison was lovely? Kindra could not fail to miss that the woman who emerged from the bathroom was simply stunning, even wearing the cruise ship robe and a towel on her head. Kindra also had not failed to notice how Alison just told Alden to clean up, and how earlier he'd asked Alison for permission to order room service. That could be a revealing dynamic of their relationship.

Kindra nodded, somewhat relieved to be rescued from the awkward talk with Alden. "Of course the offer still stands, Alison. Let's take a look at my closet." She gestured toward the bedroom door.

They were interrupted by a knock on her cabin door. "It's too soon for room service to be here," said Kindra as she answered it. A young woman in purser staff uniform stood on the other side and looked in at them with a smirk, then handed Kindra a clear plastic garment bag before hurrying away. A label on the outside read only Cousin Yummy. Inside the bag was a pair of khaki trousers, a pale pink polo shirt, and a black thong.

Kindra grimaced and handed it to Alden. "I, uh, told the purser you are my cousins. I believe he sent this. For you." At least he'd have something to wear after his shower.

He'd been about to duck into the vacated bathroom to lose himself in the temporary sanctuary of a hot bath and a luxurious hotel robe when - of course - the Verse had to remind him of his tenuous place within it. "Cousin Yummy?" Alden noted, laughing as he pulled the items out of said bag.

The polo shirt received a grimace, the trousers were thrown onto the bathroom floor ahead of him, and the thong was held up high for the two women's amusement. "Been a while," Alden said, casting a wistful look to the ceiling before he pinged the tiny piece of underwear across the hotel room and turned haughtily to leave Alison and Kindra to their game of dress-up and compliments.

Alison kept the straight face waiting for Alden to leave and close the bathroom door before she giggled. It was going to be fun to see him later on in those thongs. She turned to Kindra and assessed the companion.

"So..." She said deceptively soft. "What's your story with Alden?" She undid the robe but kept it close by holding her hands. For the time being anyway. She doubted that Kindra would be affected by her nakedness, so she wasn't planning on trying to use it to put Kindra off balance. Instead, she let her lips to curl in a friendly smile. Alison should give the woman a benefit of doubt, considering what she did for them. Alison was also guessing that there was something deeper between Kindra and Alden. After giving it a bit more thought as she was looking at the other woman, Alison decided to be careful here.

Kindra laughed at Alden's antics, enjoying his self-deprecating humor, pleased to see it was still part of him, part of his charm. After the bathroom door closed, she considered Alison's question and charm, took in her sultry voice and hand poised to let her robe fall open. She was good. But as interesting as a game of seduction with Alison might be, Kindra was willing enough to answer her question. Besides, Alden was in the next room and Kindra was unsure what, if anything, Alison had in mind.

She smiled sincerely and resisted the urge to ask whether Alden had ever mentioned her. "The direct approach. I like that." Kindra walked into the bedroom, slid the mirrored double-doors of the closet open, and gestured for Alison to choose whatever she wanted to try on. Then Kindra answered Alison's question with a confession as succinct and honest as she could manage. "I met Alden about a year ago. We were lovers with a time limit. We filled our few days with good music and great sex. And then, when our time together ended, I left." Wistful guilt colored her tone as she added, "While he was sleeping, without saying goodbye."

Alison listened looking through the closet. She extended her hand and touched the clothes, letting her palm to slid over the fabric, enjoying the touch of high-class clothes. It's been a while since she had a similar closet. These days... these days she was traveling light. She picked a simple in style, navy blue mini dress with a flower embroidered motif with matching it well silver pantyhose. Alison assessed that they should fit her well, but to be sure she put the dress against her body and she turned to Kindra showing it and the pantyhose in the unspoken question if she didn't mind Alison taking these.

"So... you let him fall in love and then left him?" Alison actual question was as direct as it could be, though the tone was far from judging and even understanding. Alison herself did such things on more than one occasion.

"Oh." Wide-eyed, Kindra shook her head. Alden in love with her? "I left but… no. No, he wasn't. It was only…"

Slipping his naked form completely under the hot water of a freshly drawn bath, Alden probably hadn't heard any of their discussion. It was likely just pure coincidence that as Ali asked her question his voice could be heard belting out a old familiar song from behind that closed bathroom door.

"So calm and so cool, yeah I try to be
Like it don't bother me
The last time was the last time
Until I'm all alone

Kindra's mouth went dry. At the time, leaving Alden on Pelorum had seemed like the right thing – the only thing – to do. It had taken her months to understand that maybe, just maybe she'd fallen in love with him. And by then, his messages had stopped coming and it was too late to send any of the replies she'd made.

She swallowed and composed herself, hoping Alison would politely ignore her lapse. "Anyway, all that is history now. Alden moved on… and he found you," said Kindra brightly. She nodded approvingly at the minidress and hose Alison had chosen. "The outfit suits you, far better than it suits me."

"So, uh," Kindra tried to keep her tone nonchalant. She wasn't sure she wanted to know, but she had to ask. "What's your story with Alden?"

Alison was too sensitive to those things, too perceptive to miss all the signs and what they all pointed to. She blinked holding the dress and processing again everything, every single minute since she met Kindra. Of course! How could she be so blind? It all made sense now. The smooth change of subject was all so smooth for non-companions. Alison felt burning desire to press on to know more, but as her eyes met Kindra's she felt sorry for the woman and as sudden as the desire came, it faded away, replaced by the compassion. She gave Kindra a soft smile. It was very likely that Kindra realized that Alison saw through her, so Alison wasn't going to hide it, still she was going to respect Kindra's privacy.

"I'd love to hear the full story about that. One day.”

Alison put the outfit aside and went for Kindra's underwear. Since they had different bust size, Alison simply picked a pantie that would go well with the outfit.

"My story with Alden..." She raised the comfortable tanga-style dark underwear and gave Kindra a mischievous grin. "I first saw him when he thawed me when a group of bounty hunters caught me and he saved my life. Then I froze him, because he didn't want to help against those bounty hunters, but later when I'd killed them all, I thawed him as well, to save his life when we crashed."

She put the underwear with the dress and slipped off the robe, standing fully nude in front of Kindra. For Alison, being naked was even more natural than dressed so she didn't mind. Her feminine, skinny body, smooth and hairless, was marked with bruisers of a recent fight. There was particularly big red bruise all over her flat belly, reaching almost to the level of her breasts that was bound to become a nasty purple one in a day or two. "The way it started is somewhat indicative of our relationship. We saved each other lives more than once since that, stood by one another and accepted our quirks. We both were lonely at the time and so it helped staying together."

Kindra gasped when Alison slipped off her robe. Not because of her feminine nude form, but the huge bruise on her stomach that couldn't have been more than a day old. Whatever they were involved in together, it was far more dangerous than Kindra had imagined. And yet, oddly comforting to know Alison and Alden supported each other - their relationship was strong.

Alison put the panties on, sliding them up her long legs with one graceful move.
"We haven't had sex if you’ve ever wondered." She stopped briefly, giving Kindra a playful smile.

Kindra had started a critical survey of Alison's other bruises, wondering if Alden was similarly injured, when Alison's words sank in. Kindra focused on the other woman's face. She must have misunderstood – they hadn't had sex? A double take, and Kindra made a conscious effort to close her mouth then cleared her throat. The question that emerged was unfiltered by manners or good sense. "Why not?"

Alison shrugged picking up pantyhose.

"I guess this is a question to Alden." She replied. "There was interest on my side by I think he was still hurting deep down." Alison paused giving Kindra a curious look. Until today she assumed it was because of Alden's wife, but now... could that be because of Kindra. She quickly pull the garment with a skill of someone who did that many times.

"How long you two had been together?"

"Seven days," Kindra murmured, and sank down to sit on the bed, stunned. The possibility of a return to Alden's carnal embrace had flared brightly one second only to be doused in the next. Surely Alden could not be hurting because of her? But if he was… she could not hurt him again.

Kindra looked up at Alison, admiring her independence. What would it be like, to walk away from a life, a vocation, she'd worked most of her life to achieve? To give up her Guild license? She opened her mouth to ask, but they were interrupted.

The bathroom door opened and Alden wandered back into the room, a towel wrapped about his waist, a second smaller being rubbed roughly over his head. Muffled singing stopped as he punted the wet hand towel at Alison and stood tall to regard both women.

"Go Shi," Alden said, tone somewhere between impressed and concerned as his gaze lingered on Ali. "He really kicked ya, huh?" He looked down at his own torso and half-smiled. A few minor bruises, nothing nasty. "I must be getting better at this whole beating people up thing."

Alison was still topless, but typically for her, she showed no problem with parading half naked in front of a man. In fact, he saw her fully naked before so there was really nothing to it. However, have face scowled as she turned to him. "Ta Ma Duh, what part of 'please stay there until we call you' you didn't catch, Alden?"

That big dumb grin suggested he didn't really care about Ali's reprimand, but the follow-up frown told a different story with regards her bruising. Alden exhaled, "Sofa's free, right?" He said rather than asked, and wandered on through, reaching to pick up that discarded thong on the way through.

Alden looked just as good half-naked as she remembered. Kindra checked him out openly, relieved that he didn't appear to have any serious injuries and also relieved that Alison had clarified their relationship, making this situation slightly less awkward. She smiled indulgently at her two half-naked guests. "I'm beginning to feel like I over-dressed for this occasion." More seriously, she added, "Do you need medical attention, Alison? The ship has an infirmary. The ship's doctor is probably Alliance, but I think I could bribe a medic."

"You really should get checked out, Ali," Alden vehemently agreed. Then he pointedly recovered his dusty jacket, and held up a battered cortex and headphones for both women to see that he'd be just fine entertaining himself. "Yell if you want any fashion advice," he threw over as he dropped into a reclining pose on the aforementioned sofa.

Alison glanced at Alden and then back at Kindra.
"It's all right. I've had worse." She said softly, warmed by their care. "Getting any help would draw attention to us." She pointed. "And we probably should lay low..." Her lips twitched mischievously as her eyes moved back on Alden and the thongs.

Kindra wondered again what trouble they were laying low from, specifically. There was another knock at the cabin door, and she crossed the sitting room. "Must be room service."

She opened the door to a cart laid-out with delicious-smelling covered dishes pushed in by a man in a purser's staff uniform. He handed Kindra an folded sheet of paper, then exited the room leaving the cart behind. Kindra unfolded the note. "It's from the purser. He wants us to meet him in the casino. In one hour."



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