Love Unconditional

Ok, the Child Goddess Aphrael is from David Edding's the Elenium and Tamuli series'. If you haven't read them then imagine Shirley Temple as a goddess, who's only desire is to keep everything in the world running and basically have everyone be as happy as possible. She's a matchmaker and she likes to be hugged and kissed, and once you pick her up you are automatically under her spell. (It's like a sort of euphoria that doesn't interfere with your thoughts, instant contentedness.) For the record I own nothing and David Eddings is a great Author. And now, on with the show!


Liam lay as he had fallen asleep the night before, his head cradled on his arms and his arms propped up on sheets of his paperwork. He had had a rough day, a rough week, let's face it, a rough year. He was fighting with Da'an, the resistance was having problems, and on top of everything else Zo'or had been unusually quite lately. It had made him nervous. He had stayed up all night trying to figure out what was going on and trying to finish his paperwork. Though he was not aware of it, at that very moment a bright light appeared in front of him. When it faded he was no longer laying on the desk, his head was cradled on the lap of a small girl. She smiled at his sleeping form and began to softly stroke his head, soothing away his nightmares and slowly bringing him to the upper levels of thought that we call consciousness.

The first thing Liam became aware of was a soft little tune playing in his head. Next the voice, and finally the fact that the person who was creating the music was very close by. He lifted his head slowly and looked up into an impish little six-year-old face. He was much too startled to say anything except the first thing that came into his head.

"Who are you?"

The child smiled at him, it was an innocent yet wise smile and it seemed to make him happy for some reason. "My name is Hadassah, and don't worry everything is going to be fine."

Liam was not the most trusting person, he had been betrayed and used many times, but for some reason he found himself taking comfort in this child. He believed her, and thus found himself believing that everything was going to be all right.

"You look tired," Hadassah said.

"I've only had about four hours of sleep," Liam said, rubbing his forehead slightly.

"Why don't you go home and get some sleep?" she suggested.

"I can't just leave, what about Da'an?" "Not to mention all this paperwork?" He gestured at the stack with a comically hopeless expression.

"Check your schedule, I doubt you have anything planned today."

"I'm pretty sure Da'an has something scheduled, I don't think we've ever had a day where there was nothing to do," Liam said.

"Check," Hadassah insisted.

Liam reached for his global and pulled up the Embassy schedule for the day. To his immense surprise there was a very large blank. It was as if Da'an had somehow forgotten that there was a seventh of September and had skipped right to the eighth. He gave Hadassah a puzzled look and received a knowing smile.

"I guess I have a little break from protecting, but I still have a whole lot of paper work," Liam said.

"I can easily take care of it for you, go on, take a break." Hadassah gave him another of her smiles a quick kiss on the cheek.

Liam got up, a little bemused. He began to walk out of the Audience chamber, but paused when he reached the threshold.

"Don't worry," she said, "I am more than capable of such menial tasks. Liam smiled sheepishly, nodded, and went home to collapse into bed.

Hadassah carefully completed every single piece of paper in very little time and sent them off to where ever they were needed. She was about to organize his mail when she became aware that Da'an was in the corridor. "You can come in Da'an, he isn't here," Hadassah called.

Da'an gave a surprised blink and entered the audience chamber. "May I inquire as to your identity?" Da'an asked softly.

"I am Hadassah, Liam's temporary secretary and all around guardian angel." She paused as she expertly forged Liam's signature. Da'an glided closer to her protector's desk then looked back over her shoulder. Hadassah noticed the gesture. "He won't be back for a few hours, don't worry, I'll warn you in plenty of time."

Da'an gave her a confused look. "I cannot comprehend your meaning."

"You are worried that Liam will walk in and there will be awkwardness and you will say something that you don't mean and that will make matters worse." Hadassah said frankly, not looking up from her work.

Da'an blinked again, a very slow, deliberate blink. "A Taelon should not worry over the personal affairs of his protector," Da'an said with a practiced air.

"Perhaps deep down this Taelon knows that her protector is much more to her than a mere friend;" Hadassah said nonchalantly, "perhaps she should put some serious thought into why she is so upset when her protector is angry with her?"

Da'an turned and walked slowly to her chair, looking shaken. Hadassah gave her a sympathetic look and followed her. Almost distractedly Da'an picked up the small girl and held her tightly on her lap. "How do you know that which I conceal even from myself?" Da'an whispered

"It's what I do," Hadassah said hugging the Taelon tightly. Unknown to Da'an, Hadassah delicately reached inside her facade and moved an energy pathway slightly to the left. Satisfied with the results her manipulation had given her she cuddled up to the thoughtful Taelon and smiled.


Meanwhile


Zo'or tightened her hands on her chair and struggled to maintain her facade. Through countless synod meetings, thousands of minor and even occasionally major power struggles, and numerous setbacks and delays in the saving of her race she had maintained her cool, detached manner and kept her emotions under total domination, yet this one human could shake her to the core with only a few comments! "Sha'bra!" she mentally cursed him. He was gone now, things were better when he was gone, of that she was sure. She didn't like the feelings he stirred in her, she detested the electrical charge that filled the air whenever he was near, she hated his strong, unyielding mental presence, she hated that she wanted him.

She attributed it entirely to Ka'atham. None of this would have happened if it weren't for that thrice-cursed reproductive cycle. Standing stiffly she glided off to her quarters for some much needed meditation. It was necessary if she wanted to maintain even partial reign over her overzealous mating urges.

It took her only minutes to reach her quarters and lock herself inside, but she could somehow sense something was different. Zo'or cautiously took a few more steps into her room and gazed around with steel in her blue eyes. She didn't sense any physical presence and yet she was certain that there was someone watching her. There was only one other place in the room that could possibly conceal anyone, and that was behind a small Chinese partition that she had procured. Reaching out one pale, slender hand she quickly drew it back.

Zo'or was prepared for nearly anything, but certainly not for a small female human calmly sitting on her floor. The child glanced up with her wide, dark eyes and smiled; for a moment Zo'or forgot all of her cares and felt only a profound happiness. Violently she repressed these knew emotions, again ascribing them to Ka'atham and her lack of meditation.

"Who are you and what are you doing in my chambers?" Zo'or asked coldly, "Are you lost?" The child stood and gently took Zo'or's hand and stared up at her with no fear in her almost ancient eyes. Zo'or could feel a kind of trance come over her, her eyes were locked on the small girl's and she could not look away. Frantically she pulled with all her mental power at her consciousness as it slowly sunk into a mystified reverie.

"I'm not lost, Zo'or, you are," a soft voice droned through her stupor. "You don't have time to ignore this crossway any longer." "If you won't find your own way I'll force you to find mine."

Zo'or vainly attempted to shift any part of her body, but she found herself unable to move a centimeter from her position. She was compelled to stand absolutely still as the small child reached forward without breaking eye contact and placed a hand directly through her facade and touched an energy pathway. There was no pain, but there was a difference, Zo'or could feel it slowly changing inside her. Finally the girl blinked with a deliberately nonchalant attitude, breaking the impromptu staring match.

Zo'or collapsed to her knees, propping herself up on one hand and touching the other gingerly to her chest. "Don't worry Zo'or, this is for the best," the girl said. "You'll thank me later," the child paused, "besides, you're still Taelon....mostly." Without a backward glance to acknowledge Zo'or's horrified look, the child left the room and grimaced. "I hate it when I have to do it the hard way," Hadassah thought with a sad smile. Then she disappeared.


Approximately 12 Seconds Later


Agent Ronald Sandoval walked down the empty corridor towards the bridge. He had finished the almost menial tasks Zo'or had assigned him and was going to report to the bridge. He didn't really need to, but after all of the needless jobs he had been given he was feeling more than a little vindictive. Even his presence seemed to bother Zo'or today, and he was looking forward to a little payback. Sandoval stopped and glanced behind him at the sound of footsteps. He furrowed his brow and then shrugged when he didn't see anything. He turned around only to bump into a very small person.

"Hi." Hadassah said, going for the too-cute-to-resist look this time.

Sandoval raised an eyebrow at her. "I don't think this is where you are supposed to be."

Hadassah smiled up at him, "Actually, it's you who isn't in their place." "Zo'or is that way." Hadassah pointed towards the Taelon quarters and waited until Sandoval turned to look before disappearing again.

Sandoval pulled out his global and called the Volunteer bridge crew. "Yes sir?" the Volunteer asked.

"Is Zo'or on the bridge?" Sandoval asked calmly.

"No, Sir, Zo'or recently departed for his quarters."

Sandoval closed the global without replying to this statement and looked around. There was something else he was going to do, something involving another person who was just here. The image of the person blurred in his enhanced memory and he shook it off. Rubbing his temple he changed direction and headed to the personal quarters of the Synod leader.


Meanwhile: In Zo'or's Chambers


Zo'or stared in a kind of terrified fascination at her reflection in the mirror's reflective surface. Her normal covering of skin could now no longer be referred to as a facade, as she was unable to make it disappear, and her energy pathways, while still constructed of the same material, had rearranged according to her knew shape and physiology. She found it difficult to channel her mind or emotions and could barely feel the commonality's presence. She was still connected, but was now so far from them that it was impossible to speak or hear. Her skin tone was still pale and white, her eyes were also of the same color, but she was now possessed of long white hair and was quite obviously no longer androgynous. Her purple jumpsuit was now uncomfortably tight along her top and loose about her waist. Zo'or sank to the floor behind the partition and wept silvery tears of shame and loss; invisible beside her a tiny dark-eyed girl held her hand and cried too.

Outside Zo'or's Chambers

Agent Sandoval glanced at Zo'or's locked door with annoyance. Normally he would simply have left, but for some reason there was a sense of urgency herding him towards the creature who had dominated his life nearly since the moment they had met. There was no guard, so Sandoval overrode the lock and stepped through the silent doors into the dark room. Ignoring the reengagement of the lock, Sandoval concentrated on the soft sounds that came to him through the near pitch blackness.

"Zo'or," he called, a soft gasp came from the corner of the room and Sandoval's searching hand came into contact with what felt like the oriental panel that separated part of Zo'or's personal quarters. Pulling it aside, he tapped the small pad on the wall and a dim light came on. Sandoval blinked and peered down at his Companion.

"Agent Sandoval, it is nice to see that you are so respectful of my privacy," Zo'or said bitterly. She stood up slowly and brushed past him, stopping only to pick up a small mirror and throw it with great force at the wall.

"Zo'or what happened to you?" Sandoval asked, still astonished at her transformation. It wasn't just that she was now a beautiful human female, or that she was looking vulnerable or afraid, there was something different about her. Always before Zo'or had been able to hide what few emotions she experienced behind her human-like facade. Now, no matter what she projected or how angry she got he could read her as he could read any other human's body language. She wasn't just uncomfortable because of her change or her defenselessness, she was hiding a quite different emotion from him!

She turned to face him, her emotional pain registered on her face, but her voice only betrayed anger. "Leave Agent Sandoval, now!" But Sandoval had long learned to ignore both the face and the voice, either could lie easily. The only thing that could be trusted was the eyes, for the eyes were the windows to the soul. If he was to get answers from her, he would have to see her eyes.

Sandoval made no noise as he walked up behind Zo'or and spun her around. He disregarded the surprised sound she made and lifted her chin to stare deeply into her eyes. What was that emotion the she was trying so hard to conceal? His gaze separated the anger from the disgrace, the fear from the horror, until he reached the reality.

Releasing her suddenly, Sandoval closed his eyes. He understood, but understanding was far from acceptance. She loved him? How could she love him, she hated him. "Eyes don't lie," he silently reminded himself.

"So, how will you use this against me Agent Sandoval?" Zo'or asked bitingly, bracing herself against her wall and glaring up at him. "I suppose it won't be enough that I will be found unfit to command my species, there must be some revenge in store for me at your hands."

Sandoval was finding it very difficult to keep his thoughts focused. He finally had this alien exactly where he wanted her and now he found himself hesitating to strike the final blow. "Damn, if only she weren't so beautiful!" he thought darkly. Looking up at her cynical, infuriated expression he said the first thing he could think of to stall for time. "Your clothing doesn't look very comfortable, Zo'or, I'll see what I can find in the volunteer shelf." "Please wait here." With that he turned and exited.


At the Same Time


Liam had awoken from his rest refreshed and much more optimistic. He walked to the embassy humming an Irish folk song and smiled at the volunteers on duty, a task he had not been up to for many days now. He headed immediately into the main audience chamber where Da'an entertained any visitors. Having no reason to suspect anyone of manipulating his direction, he walked calmly into the room before remembering that he was avoiding Da'an. He may have imagined it, but he thought he heard a small tinkling laugh echo in his mind before the door disappeared behind him.

"Liam," Da'an said, standing.

"Da'an," Liam said uncertainly. He gave the Taelon greeting.

Da'an slowly walked up to him with an almost dreamy expression on her face. For some reason Liam was subjected to a very strange feeling. It was like a tingling from the soles of his feet to the top of his head and he was feeling strangely warm. Liam found the tingling increased the closer Da'an got to him and a loud noise was throbbing in his ear. Belatedly he recognized the sound as his own heartbeat.

Da'an reached up and placed a hand on the side of his face. Liam could feel the heat Da'an was generating it was very familiar somehow, though he was sure he had never experienced it himself. It was comforting and exiting all at the same time. One of Ha'gel's memories suddenly boiled to the surface and Liam's eyes widened in understanding. "Ka'atham?" Liam asked in a wondering tone.

Da'an smiled happily and nodded. "Yes."

"How?" Liam asked, not even bothering to fight his Kimeran mating urges. He gently placed his own hand on Da'an's face in a loving caress.

"Does it matter?" Da'an asked, beginning to feel herself starting to disperse.

"I guess not," Liam murmured, giving Da'an a gentle kiss. He pulled her near, feeling that she was getting closer to the point of conception. He wasn't certain if his human-Kimera physiology and her Taelon one would be at all compatible but he intended to find out. Liam could feel his few energy pathways burning through his body as Da'an gently melded into him. His mind was filled with a kind of blissful covering and his world now consisted of nothing but himself and Da'an, merging their minds as they had never done before.

Da'an was not aware of how much time she and Liam had spent in the joining, it had felt like somewhere close to both an eternity and an instant. They had been together forever, but it wasn't quite long enough. Da'an sighed against Liam's bare chest. Directly after their mating she had felt a strong desire to be as close to Liam as possible. She hoped she had not done any permanent damage to his shirt in her haste. They were now laying on the floor; Da'an was in her natural energy state and Liam was gently stroking her exposed pathways. He was probably completely aware of the pleasing tingles of energy his touches were conveying, she smiled and ran her hand down his chest, enjoying his shiver with a kind of amused yet revengeful glee.

"So," Liam whispered, breaking into her thoughts, "any hints as to whether our labor was in vain?"

"I won't know for several days," Da'an replied happily. "Let's hope for the best."

"Da'an?" Liam asked after a long comfortable silence.

"Yes?" Da'an replied.

"Did you choose me because I was convenient?" Liam asked, almost afraid of her answer. He devoutly hoped this joining hadn't been a case of him showing up at an opportune time. He wanted their joining to mean more to Da'an than just a chance to create a child with a strong mate.

"Liam, of course not," she smiled at his expression. "I would never have entered Ka'atham if it weren't for my-," she paused and then continued as if embarrassed, "opinion of you."

"Are you saying you have feelings for me?" Liam asked in a half teasing, half deadly serious tone.

Da'an looked ashamed to even be having this conversation. Beings as evolved as hers were not supposed to have feelings. "I admit that when I am in your presence I experience certain emotions that can cause me to behave in a somewhat irrational manner."

Liam raised an eyebrow then grinned when he noted how uncomfortable she was. He leaned forward and kissed her lipless mouth, feeling her facade take hold even as he pulled back. "I love you too."

Da'an smiled at him, "Had I known you responded so well to such admissions I would have confessed my desire to mate with you again."

"I'm glad you said that, I'd hate to have to beat up T'than for the right to have children with you," Liam smiled when he saw her distasteful expression at the thought of mating with the War Minister. Liam kissed her once more. "Now," he said, "where were we?"


On the Taelon Mothership


Zo'or stood in her quarters, still leaning heavily against the wall for support. Sandoval had been gone approximately five minutes and she was attempting to pull her chaotic mind into a semblance of order. How much had he seen, and of that how much had he guessed? What would he do with his information? In all of the times Zo'or had ever been at a disadvantage to her Protector she had never felt so helpless. She realized that unless she went to the medical bay and turned herself in she was completely dependant on the man that she both loved and loathed.

Zo'or narrowed her eyes as her nemesis entered the room carrying a small bundle. Sandoval approached her almost hesitantly and held out a folded volunteer Mothership uniform. "I believe this is your size," he said quietly. He waited until she took it, then set the screen back up, blocking her from his vision.

Zo'or stared at the uniform in her hand for a moment before standing and pulling off the ill-fitting bodysuit. She was almost surprised at how comfortable she was with her new body, she supposed looking human was not a complete horror, as long as she didn't have to actually be one. Removing her bulky platform boots, Zo'or stepped into the skin-tight black and silver outfit. She managed to pull it all the way onto both her arms and settle it in place, but found the zipper up her back more of a challenge than she was up to. After several straining attempts she gave up and did what she always did when she needed help.

"Agent Sandoval, I require your assistance," Zo'or said in a commanding voice after pulling the partition out of her path.

Through a great exercise of willpower Sandoval managed to walk slowly and calmly over to the beautiful woman who had replaced his Taelon enemy's facade and raise an inquiring eyebrow. "Yes, Zo'or?"

At his cool gaze Zo'or became suddenly uncertain, but not before he had guessed her unspoken request. He took a long step next to her and motioned for her to turn around. Zo'or gave him a tentative look and swallowed. "I believe I can manage it for myself," she said, changing her mind as his intense psychic presence manifested in her psyche. He was almost overwhelming her senses; why was he alone so strong in her mind? Sandoval's next words surprised both her and himself.

"Nonsense," he said. He stepped forward again until there was barely an inch between them and reached around her to find the zipper. Using his other hand he smoothed her hair out of the way and lightly tugged it up. "Move away from the Taelon!" his logical, rational mind screamed at him. "Get out before it's too late!" He ignored it and simply stood with his arms around his adversary, staring into her eyes and praying she wouldn't come to her senses. Shyly Zo'or placed her arms on his shoulders and her expression became vulnerable and scared. Sandoval leaned down slowly to give her ample opportunity to pull away.

"Sha'bra," Zo'or murmured almost inaudibly as she pressed her lips against those of her most formidable opponent's.

Zo'or had no experience in human mating rituals, but she found them to be largely instinctual. They were also incredibly pleasurable. She soon found that several places on her new body were extremely sensitive to touch and her responses astounded her. Knowing about the human reaction to pleasure was far different than feeling it first hand. When it was over she had a new appreciation for the physical act of corporeal mating. A slight movement to her left directed her attention to the expression on her mate's face.

"Is there a problem?" she asked, beginning to dress and watching as he did the same.

Sandoval grinned ruefully, "I was thinking, it would be just our luck if Da'an walked in on us right now."

Zo'or grimaced, "That could be mildly upsetting to her," Zo'or admitted. "I could always say the I was overwhelmed by Ka'atham and was not responsible for my actions," she suggested.

"Was that what happened?" Sandoval asked, curiously upset.

Zo'or paused thoughtfully before answering. "While that may have been what weakened my inhibitions, I have always experienced a marked preference for you." She smiled radiantly at him.

"Zo'or," Sandoval said in a loving tone, "what are we going to do?"

His mate placed her hand on the side of his face in the characteristic gesture of affection and love. "I do not know," she confessed.

"You know, I wish we could just leave," Sandoval said.

There was a long silence as they both reflected on that statement. "Why can't we?" Zo'or asked.

"What?" Sandoval asked.

"I'm tired of shaping the future, let Da'an handle it." "She'll do a better job of it anyway." She let the idea expand in her mind. "We could take a shuttle and leave for awhile, find some quiet corner of the world where they'd never find us."

"What about the Taelons?" Sandoval asked, liking the idea, but trying to be rational.

"The Taelons would never allow me to be the leader while I appeared human, and I certainly would not be allowed to mate with you." Zo'or's eyes glowed with determination. "I refuse to allow them to dictate my existence any farther!"

Sandoval leaned forward and kissed her. "I love you," he said firmly.

Zo'or smiled and stood, "I know," she said, "I love you too." "And now we had better leave." As they prepared to exit Zo'or's quarters she stopped and took his hand. At his startled look she shrugged, "Who will know, I am virtually unrecognizable?"

"I keep forgetting that it will be hard for people to recognize you," Sandoval said. He opened the door to her quarters and locked it behind them. Ignoring the gawking and staring from several volunteers Sandoval and Zo'or proceeded at a leisurely pace towards the shuttle bay, still holding hands and occasionally kissing one another. When they reached the hanger Zo'or used her energy signal and authorize the shuttle to be permanently placed under her command. As Sandoval wasn't the most proficient of pilots, Zo'or used the Taelon navigation system.

Sandoval released his seat belt when they were well away from the Mothership. Sighing, he leaned over to place several chaste kisses on Zo'or's neck. "So, where would you like to go, Love?"

"I have an unlimited amount of money in several bank accounts around the world," Zo'or said nonchalantly. "We could buy an island."

"Sounds good to me, maybe somewhere in the Caribbean." "But once this all blows over I'd really like to try moving to someplace with people on it," Sandoval said with a smile.

"What is your opinion of Japan?" Zo'or asked, navigating easily.

"I don't speak Japanese, Zo'or," Sandoval reminded her.

"True." "Canada?" she suggested.

"Hawaii?" Sandoval asked hopefully.

"You seem to have a preference for tropical islands." Zo'or noted.

"I know what I like," Sandoval said. "Besides, a nice secluded island is just what we need to introduce you to the human side of life."

"Ah, you wish me to immerse myself in the local culture?" Zo'or asked.

"Well, I was trying to avoid that kind of innuendo," Sandoval remarked. Zo'or looked confused and he pursed his lips. "And we will definitely introduce you to comedy."

Zo'or smiled up at her protector as he continued making plans out loud. She knew it wasn't what she had imagined for her future, but it was what she wanted. Leaning back into the comfortable seat of her shuttle Zo'or was content with the world.



Beyond space, time, and dimension, in a place where the Taelon's are considered an infant race and the affairs of men are as the affairs of amoeba, the child-goddess Aphreal smiled at her brother.

"Well, Aphreal, it seems your meddling has paid off; they're all paired off now." He paused, "I doubt it will do much good."

"I have actually grown quite fond of the name Hadassah, I may keep it for a few centuries." She gave another smug grin. "For your information, the offspring they produce are going to make great contributions to the universe." "It was essential that they became reconciled."

"And you like playing with they're lives," her brother added.

"What can I say, I'm good at what I do," Hadassah/Aphreal replied.

"So, where to next?" he asked in a bored tone.

"Hmmm, we could visit Q?" she threw in.

"Good idea," her brother perked up, "I wonder if he's gotten tired of that space ship yet?" "What was it called, Enyise, Eries, Energize?"

"Enterprise?" she supplied.

"Yes that was it!" They both disappeared in search of amusement.


The End

P.S. Many of you are no doubt wondering, what is up with this Zo'or/Sandoval, Da'an/Liam pairing, and why does everyone have to end up sleeping together? This is like the second one in a row! Well, there really is no clear reason for it, it just happened. Besides I like happy endings. Maybe next time we'll have a nice Liam/Zo'or with a Da'an/Sandoval. Or perhaps a Boone/Da'an, Zo'or/Liam, and Sandoval/Siobhan. Unless I try a father/son story. Hope you enjoy it. My Firm Regards,
~ Your Worshipfulness