Dehmo Empire Territory
Commander Zharor Bolah of the Dehmo Empire and his Elite Command Team were relaxing over drinks in his cabin after dinner one evening. They were all dressed casually since they were off-duty.
He'd been informed that a new crewmember would be arriving that evening, a warrior from the Vajjerian Federation as part of the two intergalactic governments' warrior exchange program cementing their new alliance.
He and his Team weren't too sure about this alliance, twenty long grueling years in the making. However, being loyal to the Empire, Zharor had followed orders, informing the Emperor that he and his crew would do whatever was necessary to ensure the new alliance's success.
Commander Bolah was 40, and a widower, having lost his wife and four young children a decade earlier to a robbery.
Like all Dehmos, his skin was flesh-toned, and he had ridges that lay flat on his temples and the bridge of his nose. He had no markings, though, as many other races did.
He had medium brown hair that came down just to his shoulders. A gentle bear of a man, he was tall, 6'5", extremely muscular, with six-pack abs and a chestful of hair. He had a physique that could take your breath away.
Soon a knock was heard at his door.
“Come in.”, he called out. An ensign walked in, followed by a Vajjerian woman of about 25. He and the Team were surprised ro find that the new crewmember was a woman.
“Good evening.”, Zharor said to them.
“This is the Vajjerian crewmember, Commander. I showed her to her quarters so she could drop her belongings off, then I brought her here.”
“Thank you, Ensign Bocca. You're dismissed.”
“Please, have a seat.”, he said, and motioned for her to sit next to him on the couch. She handed her file to him. Zharor then handed her medical records to the doctor.
She was slender, barely five feet tall, with curly red hair that came down past her shoulders halfway to her waist.
She had ridges that lay flat on the bridge of her nose, and markings the shape and size of pearls across her face, down her neck, the sides of her abdomen, as well as the outsides of her arms and legs to the tips of her fingers and toes.
The woman was dressed in a short sleeved purple midriff top, a pair of faux blue denim pants, plus trendy rhinestone-studded open-toed sandals. Her hair was intricately braided on the top and sides of her head, with the rest of her hair falling down almost to the center of her back.
Her nails, including her toenails, were painted bright purple. She wore large hoop earrings, along with the traditional Vajjerian ear cuff and dainty chain and earring on her right ear cartilage and lobe.
“She's obviously what humans like to call a fashionista.”, the men all thought to themselves.
“Alright, let's see here. Your name is Bixanhi, correct?”, he asked as he looked over her paperwork.
“Yes, my name is Bixanhi, Sir.”, she replied nervously.
“Alright, Bixanhi. I'm Commander Zharor Bolah, and these are the members of my Elite Command Team. Your rank is...”, he said, his voice trailing off.
“You're not military. They sent me a civilian instead of a warrior.”, Zharor said, flabbergasted. An 'I told you so" expression crossed his face as he looked at his Team.
They rolled their eyes at the news. They'd silently wondered about that, seeing how she was dressed.
“Why would they send you instead of a warrior?”, Zharor asked after regaining his composure.
“I was available.”, Bixanhi replied.
“You were available. Hmm...do you know any self-defense methods to protect yourself in a battle or other type of fight?”
“No, Sir, I do not.”
“Do you know how to fly a ship?”
“No, Sir, I do not.”
“Do you know anything about living or working on a deep space vessel?”
“No, Sir, I'm sorry, I do not.”
“You've no military training, and no knowledge about living and working on a deep space vessel, but you were available.”
“Yes, Sir, that is correct.”, Bixanhi replied.
“I think I know the answer to this, but I'm going to ask anyway. Have you ever flown in space or been off your home planet before traveling here?”
“No, Sir, I have not.”
“But you were available.”
“Yes, Sir, that is correct.”
“What kind of work did you do on your home planet?”
“I sold makeup, skincare, clothing, bath and spa products from home, and am also a fashion blogger on intergalactic social media, Sir.”
“I see. Well...hmm...things are much different here than there. You're not military, so you have no rank and don't have to wear a uniform.
”You'll occasionally go on missions to alien planets with the away team. You don't have to salute me.
”Tomorrow I'd like the doctor here to give you a physical, mainly drawing blood and getting baseline readings so we can fix you up if you ever need medical assistance.
“I'll also give you a tour of the ship's various facilities. I expect my crew to be in peak physical shape, so I'll expect you to work out in our fitness center at least every other day. I do hope you have more sensible shoes for those types of activities.”
“Yes, Sir, I do. I have workout clothes and shoes.”, Bixanhi replied.
”That's good. We have alot of fitness equipment, a pool, exercise classes, plus boxing and wrestling classes.“, he said.
“I...I'm not comfortable with hitting people or getting hit, Sir.”, she replied. Zharor smiled ever-so-slightly.
“I understand, Bixanhi. I don't like getting hit either. But, we all need to be able to defend ourselves and those around us. I promise it won't mess your makeup or hair up very much. You might chip a nail, though.”
“I'm not really worried about that, Commander, but thank you for your concern and reassurance nonetheless.”, she replied, politely getting a dig back at his remark regarding her being a fashionista.
Clearly impressed by this Vajjerian woman's spunk, something he didn't expect based on her appearance, he offered her a drink and some chips.
She thanked him and took a sip of her drink. It was a very strong, potent Dehmo beverage called Blue Mother Sun. The drink reminded her of the Vajjerian cocktail called Blue M. Humper.
That was the polite version of the name. She was too much of a lady to say the real, expletive-laced name of the drink.
After some more conversation, everyone went to their cabins. Commander Bolah walked Bixanhi to her cabin, walking in to make sure everything had been set up properly by the Maintenance Department.
He shook her hand and left, telling her he'd be back around 0730 to take her to sick bay before having breakfast and touring the ship.
After he left, she took a good look around her cabin. It was very spacious, and had a large window.
She liked the bathroom. It had both a full-sized tub and shower, along with a vanity.
The kitchen was to the left of the cabin door. It was small but quite functional. There was a microwave, refrigeration unit, oven, tall freezer, and replicator.
There were also plates, flatware, cups and bowls, plus some seasonings. The kitchen was well-stocked with groceries.
The bedroom was to the right of the cabin door, and had a double bed, a dresser, two nightstands, and small walk-in closet. Each nightstand had a lamp.
One nightstand had a small nature's sounds box. The nightstand closest to the door had an alarm clock.
The Gathering Room had a sofa with built-in recliners at each end, plus two other recliners, a glass coffeetable and 2 end tables with lamps.
There was a large-screen in the Gathering Room just outside and to the right of the kitchen entrance. The sofa sat across from the large-screen.
On the wall just to the right of the kitchen and large-screen was plenty of room for pictures or curio shelves.
After putting her clothes away, she started decorating her cabin.
Among her belongings were doilies, decorative Vajjerian bowls, small statues, and local herbs for cooking, and some fragrant potpourri she'd made.
She put a large bowl on the coffee table in the Gathering Room, a small bowl in her bathroom, and a medium bowl on her dresser in her bedroom. She placed a doily under each, then put potpourri in them. She also put large scented jarred candles by the bowls.
Bixanhi put her herbs in a kitchen drawer. She placed the small statues in her bedroom, kitchen, and Gathering Room, along with some figurines in her window.
”Now THIS is what I call a Vajjerian cabin!
“A little piece of Vajjeria on a ship full of Dehmos!“, she said proudly as she lit the candle on the Gathering Room coffeetable.
She locked her door, made herself two grilled sandwiches with cheese and ham, poured herself a tall glass of iced tea, then did some embroidery for a few hours.
After using the bathroom, Bixanhi blew out the candle, turned off the main lights, got undressed and climbed into bed, setting her alarm for 0600. Within 10 minutes, she was sound asleep.
The next morning Zharor picked her up right at 0730.
When she answered the door, she was freshly showered, with makeup and jewelry on, and dressed in a sleeveless rose-colored top and blue denim skirt that came mid-calf.
The necklace she was wearing had a delicate chain that held a small rose with what looked like diamonds. Her earrings matched her necklace. Bixanhi wore her traditional Vajjerian ear cuff and earring set as well.
He noticed she'd put on perfume. The perfume was a light fragrance that smelled of some type of flower, but he wasn't sure what kind. He assumed it was a flower native to her home planet.
Zharor remembered how his late wife used to spray perfume on herself, and how she always put a little lipstick or lipgloss on her lips because she knew he liked how it tasted when he kissed her. He smiled at the memory.
After handing Bixanhi her money card and stipend account information, they went to sick bay. The doctor drew blood, running a full chemical and medical profile on her, adding the results to her medical records.
Afterwards, they went to the dining hall for breakfast. Bixanhi chose something that looked to her like ham, scrambled eggs, and home fries.
They both chose orange juice, milk, and coffee. Zharor had shredded beef with creamy gravy over biscuits. He ate two full helpings, plus four cups of coffee.
After finishing breakfast, they went to the library. Bixanhi walked around, looking at globes of Dehmo and other planets, checking out the maps of different galaxies and solar systems that had been mounted on the walls.
She looked at some books and read parts of them. She found a book of maps of various solar systems and tried to find where Vajjeria, her home planet was.
Zharor found it for her, then had a copy made of a picture of Vajjeria as seen from one of its three moons for her. She thanked him profusely, telling him she had the perfect frame for it.
He offered to put it up for her, along with any other pictures or wall hangings she needed mounted on her walls. She thanked him for the offer.
Next they went to the fitness center.
The center was quite huge and had a vast amount of fitness equipment. To their right they heard music coming from a room.
Going over to investigate, they saw women doing what looked like dancing.
”That looks like fun.“, Bixanhi said to Zharor. He told her that these were exercise classes, and that he highly recommended she attend at least one of them.
In another large room they saw crewmembers doing graceful movements with peaceful music playing in the background.
It looked similar to an exercise and meditation discipline all Vajjerians learned to do. She'd done some of it herself that morning in the cabin before her shower.
In Vajjerian culture, it was not only a form of gentle exercise but also a form of self-defense. Most Vajjerians, however, used it mainly for exercise and meditation.
The two stood there watching them, then turned to leave.
They were hungry, and decided to have some lunch in the dining hall. After looking at the selections, they settled on chicken strips and pasta shells with cheese.
They poured themselves some iced tea, got containers of sweet n sour sauce and spicy sauce, plus spoons for the pasta, then sat down to eat.
After lunch Zharor showed her the bridge. They were there for a good hour as he took care of some of his duties there. He received the daily report from Hawtor, his second-in-command and lifelong best friend.
Zharor told her she could sit in his Command Chair, prompting wary looks from the bridge crew.
”Not to worry, folks. She's not military and has no idea how to do any of the things we do here.
“She can, however, give you makeup, hair and fashion tips.“, he said, easing their concerns with a touch of humor. She chuckled at what he had said, nodding in agreement.
For dinner, she and Zharor settled on pork roast and iced tea, and thought it was delicious.
Over the next four months, Bixanhi settled into shipboard life, staying generally isolated from the crew. There was still some slight resistance to the alliance between the Vajjerian Federation and the Dehmo Empire.
Bixanhi respected that resistance, since she had her own similar views about Dehmos, and stayed relatively out of view.
Other than the instructors at the fitness center, the only people she saw with regularity were Zharor and Hawtor, but never socially.
The closest she ever came to seeing anyone socially was occasionally at dinner in the dining hall, the only time she ate away from her cabin. She did, however, go to the dining hall late every night to get snacks and drinks from the vending replicators.
Once in awhile, Zharor and Hawtor would see her getting her snacks, and would invite her to sit with them and tell them how she was doing, if she'd been having any problems, or just to chat.
She'd accept their invitation, but not very often. She didn't want to impose. They were always polite to her, and vice versa.
Hawtor's wife, Lopilah, lived on the ship with him but never got to meet her, despite very much wanting to.
Lopilah Mogcha, like most Dehmos, was extremely wary of Vajjerians but, as the ”second lady“ of the ship, wanted to befriend her nonetheless. She always seemed to ”just miss“ seeing Bixanhi.
Rather than assigning her shipboard duties, Zharor told Bixanhi he wanted her in the fitness center at least every other day, and, with the exercise class teacher's input, gave her a workout routine to follow.
Bixanhi was thrilled about the pool. She swam laps every day for two hours in addition to the rest of her workouts.
She adhered to her workout routine faithfully, but shook terribly during boxing and wrestling classes. Once the trainer had her stop the wrestling class and box with boxing bags instead of people, she relaxed and did quite well.
The trainer eventually discovered one day that Bixanhi was a survivor of horrid domestic violence, which was why she was so terrified of boxing people and being hit. Wrestling terrified her as well.
By escaping her abuser, she'd been "available" to join the crew of the ship. She suffered from PTSD due to the abuse she'd endured. Boxing with people triggered all her memories, as did wrestling, terrifying her and reducing her to hysterical tears, rendering her nearly catatonic.
The trainer discreetly explained this to Zharor, and he told her Bixanhi's training didn't have to include wrestling or boxing others as he'd originally wanted done. He didn't let on to Bixanhi that he knew her secret.
Despite how Zharor felt about her and, especially, Vajjerians, he was a good man. He was not the kind to deliberately humiliate or embarrass someone, especially not a survivor of domestic violence! He was strict, but most definitely was not cruel!
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