This story belongs to Eric Holingsworth and i am posting it with his expressed permission.

Daddy Dearest part 1

By Eric H

Early morning, on Tamaran…

Hall stirred awake and turned to the naked form beside him.

Starfire was curled up in a tight ball and purring contently. Her smooth flawless skin reflected the ghostly glow of the four Tamaranian moons outside, giving her an almost ethereal appearance. It was quite befitting, considering how he felt about her.

"Good morning Tibuzi." He whispered

He reached over and gently caressed the smooth orange skin of her bare thigh, partly out of his love for her but mostly just to confirm his situation was not just a dream. Soft and warm, indeed she was quite real. Hall strained over and pecked her cheek. She just purred louder and pulled her knees up to her chin.

Hall could have slept all day if he so desired but the part of him still on New York time wanted to be out, about and doing constructive things. He sat on the edge of their bed and looked out their bedroom window.

The sky was still dark outside, displaying an ocean of unfamiliar stars and moons. He learned the hard way that the nights here were two Earth days long. Of course, their days weren't much to crow about either as the sky didn't get brighter beyond a dark blood red.

Naturally the locals couldn't care less what with their glowing eyes and all. Luckily Galfor foresaw the human's special needs and provided their home with plenty of flaming sconces and glowing plants.

He slipped on his purple terrycloth robe and made his way down the dark hallway. Enroute, he stopped by the archway leading to the living room and peeked inside. Hall could just barely make out the gruesome twosome curled up in their cage and Silkie asleep nearby in his wicker basket. The couple used to let the larvae sleep in the bed with them but it got awkward when it vied for attention during their love making.

"Okay you guys: up and at 'em." He clapped.

Back on Earth the ferrets would have immediately snapped awake and ran down to greet him but now he didn't illicit so much as a yawn. Guess the easy life had made them all a bit lethargic. Well there was a sure-fire cure for this sorry state of affairs. He stepped over to the Ferret cage and opened the hatch, letting it fall to the stone floor with a clank.

Sensing their freedom beckoning, Oscar and Felix emerged from their hammock and eagerly darted out of their cage. But instead of getting into mischief like they would back on Earth, the Ferrets climbed in the neighboring basket and pounced on the snoozing Silkie. The trio immediately began to chirp and wrestle.

"That's better."

Hall left the living room and crossed the hallway to their kitchen.

Tamaranian homes were pretty simple affairs. Typically they comprise of a rumpus room to entertain guests, a single bedroom for the resident couple, a nursery for Bumgorfs and kitchen with adjoining outdoor eating area. No bathrooms though. Locals tongue bath themselves and when the time comes to answer natures call, they simply "go" over the side to the valley below.

He stepped inside the kitchen to find Rinnai busily grinding up Zorka Berries in a white stone mortar and pestle. Zorka Berries are only allowed during off hours as Silkie has a somewhat odd reaction to the fruit...namely forced evolution and gigantism.

"Dini testara Hall." The old woman bid without turning away from the strong-smelling berries.

When Hall and Starfire settled here three months ago, Galfor assigned them a Tovka to aid the human's acclimation and keep the place organized. Over time though he got the sneaking suspicion her presence was just to keep him from getting lost or hurting himself.

"Dini testara Rinnai." Hall returned

"Incorrect. Remember what day it is."

Damn that's right, the second moon was waxing. When that happens, certain words change.

"Dina…retestara Rinnai." Hall amended

"Acceptable."

The old woman had also been a respected royal tutor and as a consequence took it upon herself to teach Hall the Tamaranian language with all its intricacies. And since Rinnai lived next door, the human was basically a captive audience.

He stepped out of the kitchen and onto their garden terrace. The beds of odd indigenous plants reacted immediately to his presence. The watermelon sized, dark purple buds of their Sputz plants slowly began to vibrate, causing the long cone shaped Dioras flowers nearby to moan softly and the blue Blorb bulbs to make odd high-pitched farting noises.

It seemed to Hall that everything organic on this planet either ate, reacted to or squirted something on passerby. One plant Starfire originally had in her garden actually had a taste for human hair. His scalp still stung from the memory.

Hall walked to the edge of their garden terrace and looked out on the desolate Galdora valley. The surface of Tamaran was crisscrossed with natural canyons but this one was the vastest, nearly twice as wide as the Grand Canyon back home.

Less than a mile away to his left, on the valleys highest peak, sat the majestic High Rulers palace. The proximity was no coincidence. Galfor directed that their home be nearby so Hall could easily visit on foot. The two were good friends and Hall visited frequently to play Pincici (Tamaranian Checkers).

Small green lights darted above the expanse beyond. At first glance one could easily mistake them for fireflies but in reality they were locals flitting about on errands. Not that there was much business here. The Tamaranians were more interested in keeping fed, having babies and staying out of reach of the nasties below than earning a paycheck.

That was the hardest thing to get used to here. He didn't have to go out and make a living anymore. They grew their food and everything else was provided.

So to keep himself occupied, Hall turned to another passion of his: writing. He always had an excellent imagination but because of his job at the UN never had the opportunity to put anything on paper.

Now one would have thought living in such a surreal place would make his writing equally odd. But for the last few months he had been endeavoring to chronicle his meeting and eventual marriage of Star. And for practice, after a story was finished, Hall translated it to Tamarish under Rinnai's watchful and decidedly condescending eyes.

He had never even considered publishing them though as the stories were meant just for practice and hopefully explain to their future progeny why they wound up with brown hair. Well unbeknownst to him at the time and only recently revealed, Starfire had been covertly handing them out. It seems the locals had never read romantic novels before and his work had created quite a sensation. Such a hunger built up for his stories amongst the populace that he became an local celebrity. Now whenever he was out in public, women and men alike would mob him and ask when his next installment would be finished. Good a way to endear himself to the locals as anything he supposed.

One of the green lights ahead suddenly stopped in midair and darted towards him. This always happens when he was out on the balcony. Hmm, it looked to be Vinki: their next-door neighbor and mother of nine. Geez even after having nine kids her figure was perfect. Her long red hair was braided and draped over her shoulder reaching down to her bare navel less belly.

The woman slowed to a stop before him and bowed. Hall returned it.

"Dini Testara friend Hall." She said reverently through a wide toothy grin

"Dini Retestara friend Vinki."

The woman smiled sheepishly and blushed. He already knew what her question was going to be. She had been by here every morning for the past month.

"Is your latest novel of romance near completion?" She asked excitedly

"Almost. Tomorrow at the latest"

"You must tell me. 'The woman begged' will your elder brother overcome his listless ways?"

"Ohh…maybe." He said with a roll of his eyes and smirk

"I cannot wait." She moaned

"Well you'll be the first to know. I'll drop it off personally."

She giggled happily and darted off. He never realized how much of a cottage industry his work would become. There are circulating rumors that even Galfor had been found secretly reading his stuff. Who would have thought the big lug was a romantic?

"MORNING MEAL IS READY!" Rinnai roared and placed a tray loaded with two chalices of Zorka berry juice and a heaping platter of sliced Flooz Loaf on the round stone patio table.

Hall sat at the white stone table and took a cup of juice and loaf slice from the platter. As he nibbled, a still naked Starfire stumbled onto the terrace and sat at the table across from him. Now her being threadbare in public in itself was unusual but she was also toting around Pooky her purple stuffed dragon. And even odder, she was holding the stuffed animals mouth to her naked breast like it was nursing.

"Good morning Tibuzi?" He asked uncomfortably

She did not acknowledge him or give him her usual radiant smile. Instead she began mewling and gazed down at her nursing stuffed animal. This was getting creepy.

"Err…dear?"

Star just continued looking distant and nursing Pooky.

"Honey?" He asked while reaching out to her

She bore her sharp teeth and shielded the toy away from him like it was a real baby.

"DO NOT HARM MY BUMGORF!"

The ferocity of her roar nearly knocked Hall to the floor.

"Dear?"

She jumped to her feet, her stuffed animal still pressed to her bare chest.

"YOU WERE ALWAYS JEALOUS OF OUR LOVE! YOU CANNOT TAKE HIM AWAY!"

"But…"

She screamed in rage and ran back into the house. The bedroom door slammed loud enough to shake the house. He could hear her jumping around the bedroom and screaming. A crash and thud echoed as the bed collapsed to the floor.

Rinnai reappeared and without batting an eye, calmly took up Star's uneaten breakfast.

"Umm? 'Hall asked' Just what in the hell was that?"

"She is in the throes of Bikna-ro."

"And what is a…Bikna-ro?"

The old woman looked at him in disbelief but then relaxed.

"Of course. You, being a human, would know nothing about our mating seasons."

How was it possible that this person could make being Human sound like a curse? It was a real skill.

"When our females reach a certain age without procreating, their matriarchal instincts seize control, causing incidents like you just witnessed."

Well she certainly couldn't blame their lack of progeny on him. He had been ready and able since they arrived. But her work at the palace had monopolized so much of her time that her dream of having babies was placed on the metaphorical back burner.

"And how long will this go on?"

Rinnai rolled her eyes.

"Until she PROCREATES." The old woman sighed in disgust and flew away.

Well! Obviously to get Starfire out of her punk and back into some semblance of normalcy, he would have to take the reigns and lead the way. Hmm, and he knew just the thing.

That evening…

The bedroom door opened a crack and Hall cautiously peeked inside. The place had been torn apart. Their dresser and chest had been upended, spreading their clothes all over the floor. The bed had been dismantled too and was leaning against the far wall, forming a crude shelter. From inside he could hear a desperate mewling sound.

"Umm…hon?"

He heard growling and gnashing from within the lean-to in response to his intrusion.

"Present for you." He said while carefully pushing a flat parcel wrapped in purple silk inside the room and closing the door.

He quickly retreated back down the hallway to the kitchen. The ball was now in her court. Would she investigate and make the connection? Before he could formulate a hypothesis, a squeal echoed through the house and the bedroom door flew open. Hurried footsteps were stampeding up the hallway. Hall had the sudden fear she was going to tear him apart! Hall threw himself to the floor and assumed the "duck and cover" position.

The footsteps stopped before him. He uncovered his eyes and peeked above him.

Starfire, still buck-naked and her red hair in wild disarray stood before him. Geez she was filthy. Instead of her stuffed animal, the woman held their brand new Karbox Avnaar plaque between her breasts and sported an wide excited smile.

"I, Starfire, accept your proposal to procreate." She giggled

"Umm…you're welcome?"

That's all it took? Sheesh!

Later…

As Hall glued their bed back together, Star sat on the floor and gave herself a much-needed bath with her long raspy tongue. No way were they going to reproduce with her covered in dirt and grime. He sat and watched the fascinating scene. She was actually doubled over and cleaning her toes.

"Lucky tongue." He snickered

Star stopped her labors and turned to him.

"Would you care to aid me?" She asked

Hmm, he had tried many unusual things but giving a tongue bath? What the hell.

"Sure" He said and stood

"Please clean my back? I can not reach it."

He kneeled behind Star and she pulled up her mane of thick red hair, revealing her long delicate neck. Hall stuck his tongue out and pressed the tip on her orange skin. Her body trembled and he immediately retreated.

"Did I do something wrong?" He asked worriedly

"No. It feels…unusual. Please proceed."

Hall began cleaning her long neck. Geez even the skin of her neck tasted good. He made long horizontal laps with the surface of his tongue, covering every inch. When her neck was clean (or as clean as his smooth human tongue was capable of), he began to gently make his way down her spine.

Just about the time he reached the small of her back, her entire body began to spasm. To most it would resemble a seizure but he knew full well what it meant. She was in pure unadulterated ecstasy.

"You…are…gifted." She managed

"Aim to please." He whispered and continued.

Much later…

Ah that was good for practice but it was now show time. For the first time ever, their congress will be to create another life. And to think that with humans all it took was decent timing and no protection.

They sat on the bed with the bronze acorn shaped plaque between them. Starfires green within green eyes were focused squarely on the small device. She was deep in concentration. Naturally! Deciding the number and sex of ones children is not a decision to be taken lightly.

"How many shall we ask for?" She asked in awe

"I dunno. 'He said scratching his head' you'll have to be the one to carry them. All I ask is to try to keep it to even numbers? I'd hate to put some poor kid through that "middle child" crap."

Starfire had heard that it was wise for new mothers to keep the number of Bumgorfs small their first time as one cannot be sure how their body would react under the stress of pregnancy. She barely knew her mother and had no idea how her ordeal went so going by family history was certainly out of the question.

"Perhaps two would be best?" She suggested

"Sounds good. 'Hall nodded' any ideas on gender?"

She thought seriously.

"Two girls? But then you should have a boy to teach the "belching" to."

"And two boys might be a bit too competitive."

She smiled

"Then perhaps we should ask for a boy AND girl?"

"Sounds good. Keep all our bases covered."

"Then it is settled."

Star opened the small leather pouch and picked out two of the pearls: a black one for a boy and white for a girl. She held the small gems in her palm. And that would be enough to choose their sex?

She deftly slipped the two pearls in the plaques first two chains. Hmm, there were six chains altogether. She could have six? No way was he changing that many diapers.

She gingerly hung the plaque on the wall above their headboard then kneeled on the bed and bowed her head. She patted her hand on the bed beside her. Hall took his cue and kneeled by her side.

"What do I do?" He whispered

"Pray to Mentra our goddess of fertility and ask her to honor our request. But you must truly mean it or else she will sense your reservations and pass by our home."

"Gotcha."

He bowed his head.

"Mentra 'He silently prayed' I know I'm an outsider in all this but Starfire has been through so much sh…crap and has truly earned the right to be a Knorfka. Please give her Bumgorfs? I know she'll love them dearly and I should make a decent father, in spite of my obvious physical and mental difficulties."

They raised their heads together.

"Now what?"

She turned to him and kissed him full on the lips. They embraced and lay out on the bed. Starfire sat up and gently wrapped her leg around Hall, straddling his pelvis.

"Ready?" He asked

"Yes. Let us create life." She smiled and went to work

Hours later…

It had to have been their longest session ever. She was determined to make good and sure their endeavor stuck so Hall made two deposits in her. They then collapsed on the bed in one sweaty and exhausted heap.

"Will it work?" He panted

"If we are found worthy."

"Well I gave you one hell of a recommendation." He said and pecked her on the head.

That morning…

Hall lazed about in bed and dreamt what it was going to be like having two Tamaranian toddlers flying about. If they take after their mother, things will probably work out nicely. But if by some quirk of fate they become pint-sized versions of him? He cringed at the notion. Could he deal with that much insecurity and psychosis?

Starfire suddenly sat up and anxiously laid both her hands on her flat stomach. She roared with joy.

"Dear?"

She hopped into the air and pounced Hall, nearly collapsing the bed again.

"WE ARE PARENTS!" She squealed happily while bouncing up and down on Hall's stomach.

"But it's been only three hours. How could you possibly…"

Starfire grabbed his hands and held the palms to her belly. He felt two sets of small rhythmic pulsing.

"Well I'll be." He gasped

She stretched out on Hall and squeezed him tight.

"I knew Mentra would accept you." She sighed contentedly

……………………………

And that same day they set to work on getting their home ready. Now unlike back on Earth where parents-to-be can simply walk up the street to their local Babies-B-Us store, Tamaranians prefer to make the preparations themselves.

First came the walls for the nursery. Since they were playing both sides of the gender fence, pink and blue would not suit their needs. So instead they chose a soft neutral lavender color. It was Star's favorite and considered good luck.

The lavender paint was created by mixing Sputz plant buds with plain white plaster. The shade had to be just right so Hall carefully added the purple Sputz plants to the tub of plaster while Starfire squashed it together with her bare feet. The resulting paste was then smeared on the walls of the nursery with Star taking the ceiling.

Now came the most important nursery decoration…the deity symbols. It is believed that their gods would see the symbols and lend their character trait or specific skill to their Bumgorfs sleeping therein. But if one chooses too many deities or gods of opposing philosophies (I.E: Peace and war, love and hate, etc.) one or both will get pissed off and skip town. So complimentary gods must be chosen.

Much to Halls chagrin, there were hundreds of gods. There were ones representing love, sex, happiness, sadness, honor, food, water, war, the list went on and on. But Starfire was not interested in raising warriors so decided to keep it simple. She chose Evtra- the goddess of love and Korvak- deity of happiness. They squashed up some more Sputz plants and painted the appropriate symbols on the four walls.

With the walls done, now came the furniture. An ordinary Earthling wooden crib wouldn't cut the mustard as a newborn Tamaranian is just as hardy and strong as an adult. So instead they used Rinnai's antique crib chiseled from a single block of granite. The top was sealed with a hinged lid to prevent the cubs inside from escaping and flying away.

Rinnai and her sons hauled the five-foot tall, white stone monstrosity inside the nursery and set it in the center of the floor. Hmm, looked very used. Some of the bars were nearly gnawed clean through.

Not to be left out, missus Crowley made her own special contribution to their grand babies' room. During their last visit they dropped off their old changing table. It sported handy drawers underneath for extra diapers and sundries. It was not as sturdy as the crib but should be strong enough to suit their needs. They also donated Halls old toy chest and her white rocking chair.

And that led them into the finishing touch: toys. Teddy bears and pacifiers wouldn't last five seconds against their cub's sharp teeth. So under Rennai's guidance, Hall fabricated some authentic Bumgorf teething Nuks. They procured a jar of Jum-Jum sap and placed it on their kitchen fire to boil. After an entire day of boiling, the oily sludge condensed into strong smelling yellow clay. Hall carefully molded the dough into rings and allowed them to cool. The resulting toys were hard as a rock.

Galfor contributed as well. Star was rearranging the furniture when the giant appeared with a rectangular wooden box.

"Are those my old toys?" She gasped

"Yes. We searched the attic and found these under a stack of your old nappies."

She had given these things up for lost. Inside the chest was her stuffed Rartook made of thick Porkin skin. She had been given the thing by her parents the day of her birth. As a consequence, each of the creature's six legs had small noticeable teeth marks. Also inside was her toy chariot complete with removable driver and four legged Borgi. When she was first placed under Galfors care, he was unsure which method of rearing to use so he hand carved the toy out of bone. She would spend many an afternoon, scooting it across the nursery floor. It was the memories of these toys that kept her going during her captivity.

"Starfire?" He asked worriedly.

She was cradling the stuffed Rartook like a real Bumgorf.

That evening…

They laid together on the floor of the nursery and took it all in.

"Will they appreciate our efforts?" She asked

Hall laid his ear on her flat belly and carefully listened.

"Hmm…"

"What are they telling you?" She smiled

"Our girl is saying that purple is her favorite color and the little fella likes redheads. Sounds like they are gonna be real happy campers."

Some weeks later…

Tamaranian pregnancies are physically intensive affairs so Starfire opted to stay in bed once they finished the nursery. The only time she left was to stand in front of their mirror and see if her belly was any larger.

And during all this time Hall stayed by her side and saw to her needs. She loved the attention but began to feel a bit guilty keeping him away from his work. And something very special was coming up that needed her husband's full attention.

The annual Blorthog Festival was just around the corner and Galfor personally asked if Hall would be interested in organizing a live version of his literary works. The High Ruler even volunteered the use of their amphitheater, props and anything else he needed.

Hall was sorely tempted but the timing was so lousy. He couldn't in good conscience leave Starfire alone. Eh he figured maybe next year.

Later that evening…

Hall returned to the kitchen with Stars empty tray. Geez! A whole Flooz Loaf. It was only by will alone was he able to stop her from eating the plate.

As he made to return to her side, Rinnai set down on their garden terrace outside. She was also a practicing midwife and helped watched over Star. And when the big day came, she would help with the delivery. Hmm, but usually she didn't come this late in the day.

"What brings you here?" He asked

"Starfire notified me of our High Rulers offer."

"I wish she hadn't." He sighed

"Then you have reached a decision?"

"My place is by her side."

Her stern expression did not change.

"Your children are not due for an entire season. To wait all that time is folly."

"Yeah but…"

"Such an offer by our High Ruler only comes but once in a lifetime. And do not forget I can easily watch over her while you are gone."

She did have a point.

"Besides 'she added with the slightest of smirks' I am certain she is getting tired of your company."

"You will notify me immediately if something happens?"

"I will"

"Oh alright. 'He sighed' I'd better go inform Galfor."

"As it so happens, I have already taken the liberty."

Days later, in the Amphitheater…

The young Tamaranian male in a short brown wig and Halls own Gray suit, hobbled across the pebble covered floor and into their rough cafeteria set. Lines in the gravel indicated the walls and tables.

"Release my bar of candy stubborn machine of snacks." The girl growled while shaking the tall wooden box

The young male made his way across the cafeteria to the ruckus and stood by her side.

"That thing never works. 'The boy smiled' you got to smack it."

He slapped the empty box on the side, nearly knocking the thing over. She bent over and pretended to reach in and take her candy bar. As she turned to thank the boy, their green eyes met. A trumpet player off stage blew his instrument. Of course this was just practice; a full band would play for the final performance.

The boy just stared at the young woman.

"Remember Tiala! 'Hall yelled from off stage' she is the most beautiful woman you have ever seen."

"Agreed." The boy nodded

"And how should I react?" Roanak asked

"Bewilderment at his reaction. You are new to the city and still pretty unaware of how your presence will affect others. Let's try it again."

The girl returned to her spot by the pseudo vending machine and the boy left the set.

This thing had been an odyssey to say the least. The only plays on Tamaran are historical battle reenactments. As a result, their professional actor's repertoire consisted of mostly grunting, yelling and beating each other up. After days of auditions, he chose Tiala, a young male two years younger than Hall and Roanak, a female the same age as Star. They were both novice actors but had none of the scars and attitude so common with battle reenactors.

All the people Hall chose were thrilled to be part of the production and followed his directions to the letter. They even learned American slang. Of course none of them knew what the hell they were talking about but if it gave the performance depth. One of the reasons why his stuff was so popular here was for its exotic taste.

Tricky part was the props. Vending machines, desks, even trashcans do not exist on Tamaran. So Galfor directed his palace carpenters to fabricate the necessary furniture and sets for their performance next week.

"Okay Tiala! And roll 'em!"

Back in the nursery…

Starfires decision to stay in bed did not sit well with Rinnai. Yes the first instincts of a new mother were to keep stress to a minimum but one must be strong for the delivery. What condition would Star be in eight months when all she had done was sleep and eat?

So instead of allowing Star to lay about, Rinnai had her get out of bed a few hours a day and do some chores around the house. They sometimes tended their garden, did some light cleaning or took a walk up to the palace. Nothing strenuous, just enough to keep her muscles limber.

Today though, Starfire decided to reorganize the nursery. They had moved the crib a good dozen times and still she was not satisfied. Should the Bumgorfs be closer to the walls with Korvak's symbol or the ones with Evtra's? She wouldn't want to piss them off but didn't want to appear indecisive either.

As she surveyed the room again, Rinnai stood back and watched her carefully.

"What do you think?" Starfire asked

"I think that the gods will love your children no matter whom they are closer to."

"Perhaps."

Rinnai could tell the girl was deep in thought.

"Something vexes you?"

"Do you like Hall?" Asked Star

"He is a…interesting person."

Starfire turned to the Tovka

"No. Do you LIKE him?"

For once, the old woman's face softened.

"Yes. He is intelligent and caring, everything we had always hoped for you."

Starfire smiled and returned to her work.

"Is that what was troubling you?"

"It is hard to ascertain your feelings, Rinnai."

"Dear: love and a relationship such as yours do not come easily. For all your love for him, Halloway is not Tamaranian. Everything here is alien to him and as such imposing. Only with him striving to learn does he find his place here."

"Is that why you task him so?"

"It worked with you did it not?"

"My sister…"

"You are still fussing over your sister? 'The old woman laughed' the only thing that girl lacked was a good spanking…which Halloway took care of in short order. You were always her moral and spiritual superior. She is not to be feared but pitied."

Starfire moved to adjust the crib again.

"I think that is enough heavy lifting for one day." Rinnai said

So instead, she busied herself with reorganizing their toys. As she gathered the Nuks in her arms, she began to waver. Rinnai stepped over to her and took the toys away.

"What is wrong?"

"I feel a bit dizzy."

She helped Starfire to the stone floor.

"Perhaps that is enough for the day." Rinnai assured her

"Everything must be perfect." She said and tried to stand but fell back to the floor.

Suddenly her skinny body began to shiver. Rinnai began to panic.

"Just relax and meditate." She assured her

As Rinnai helped the panting Starfire take deep measured breaths, something warm covered her legs. She looked down. It was blood!

"By the gods." Rinnai whimpered

She ran off to find a blanket and summon her sons.

"I CANNOT FEEL THEM!" Starfire sobbed

At the auditorium…

"A bit louder. 'Hall yelled' Remember the people in back have to be able to hear you!"

As they retook their places for the big Rocky Horror number, a local set down by him. It was Pokka, Rinnai's youngest son. Suddenly Hall had a feeling of horror.

"What's…" The human whimpered

Without another word, the young man grabbed Hall around the waist and sped him home. They darted over the valley fast enough to make his eyes water.

"Is it Star?" He yelled over the roar of rushing air

His escort remained silent but the boy's eyes were tearing.

"Oh dear God." He moaned

In record time he gently placed Hall on their porch. His hip screamed in protest as Hall ran into the house. Rinnais son waited outside and bowed his head.

Silence from inside the house…then sobs.

The throne room…

Galfor sat on his throne and signed a seemingly endless stream of documents being presented to him by a long line of scribes. Requests for this, declarations for that. What the hell is this? A request for a declaration? Gods if his name was only shorter.

His personal page ran up to his throne and fell to his knees.

"What is it?" The giant asked

The page looked up to him; his green eyes were filled with tears. Even Blackfire from her stool by his throne was taken by surprise.

"What?" Galfor asked again

"Starfire lost her babies." The young boy sobbed

Back at the house…

From her lifetime of experience as a midwife, Rinnai knew the situation was hopeless. Tamaranian cubs are pretty tough customers but Star's were so young, even they quickly succumbed. The only thing left to do was keep Starfire comfortable.

When Hall arrived, Rinnai had already moved her to the bedroom and closed off the nursery. The last thing the human needed to see was it's floor covered with blood. They gave Starfire enough tranquilizers to keep her out for a few days and allow her body to heal.

He found Star curled up on the bed and deathly pale. Hall kneeled by the side and took her hand. It was so cold! Only by her shallow breathing could he tell she was still alive.

"I should have been here. 'He sobbed' Maybe I could have…"

"There was nothing you could have done Halloway." The elderly healer assured him

"But why? She was fine when I left."

Starfire fell victim to the Kioraak or: "last season". When a Tamaranian female reaches old age, it is typical for them to expel their uterus during the delivery.

But in Stars case, the whole thing was unusual. For one thing she was much too young. It doesn't usually happen until a woman reaches at least sixty. Secondly it happens during labor and the cubs always survive the incident. Rinnai had been midwifing a majority of her life and was still at a loss.

Sadly the Tamaranians look at life through the spiritual side of things instead of the physical. As a result, the cause of Starfire's spontaneous miscarriage was attributed to "divine intervention" and no further investigation was given. But Hall supposed that at that point it really didn't matter. She was sterile now and they had to deal with the horrible consequences.

When women suffer the Kioraak, they usually already have children to satiate their maternal instincts. But in Star's case, her Bikna-ro will now continue unabated and without cubs to satisfy her urges.

"There must be something we can do."

Rinnai just bowed her head.

"It is possible that she will overcome her urges but…"

"It's my fault." Hall whimpered

"What?"

"Maybe it was my human genes or the painkillers…"

She squatted down to his level, placed her hand on his shoulder and looked him straight in the eyes.

"This is not her fault or yours. This is NO ONES fault. It happens. Right now she needs her husband by her side and not some self-hating child. Understand?"

In the palace…

All governmental business was canceled and Galfor ordered his pages and aides leave the throne room.

In one split second, all he cared for fell into doubt. All his time with his Bumgorf was spent readying her for life as a mother and empress. But he knew full well about the Kioraak and the consequences therein. Now not only will she never have children but also she would never be mentally stable enough to take charge when he advocates.

He also bid Blackfire to return to her room. She probably couldn't have cared less what happened to her sister so best just keep her out of the way.

But unlike what Galfor had supposed, Blackfire was sitting silently on the side of round bed and deep in thought on her sister's plight.

As long as she could remember, the pair was never close. She had been the adventurer and risk-taker while her little sister was the self-righteous and safe one. Blackfire had always been the most dominant of the pair and Starfire acknowledged the fact and fell into line.

It wasn't until Starfire washed up on Earth and took up with those Titan people did Blackfire begin to see something else. Of course she denied it to the last but with her speech at the Earthling United Nations, she had come to realize that her sister was stouter of spirit than she had figured.

Maybe her time with Hall's brother and loosened her up a bit, or perhaps it was the years she spent on that accursed stool. But reluctantly the woman came to the realization that Starfire was the only one qualified to take the throne. Blackfire was not one for small details and would have ached to leave eventually. Her attempted coup years ago would have been a big mistake (fun though it would have been to see Starfire married off to that snorting ball of phlegm).

But after what she pulled, her people would rather blow the place up then let her take charge again. So for the status quo to continue, like it or not, Starfire would have to take Galfors place.

She too knew the consequences of the Kioraak. Hmm, but there might just be a way to solve the problem and in the process give Blackfire something she had wanted for quite some time.

She left her apartment and made her way to the throne room.

The throne room…

Galfor had been alone for the majority of the day, mourning for his Bumgorf and the future of their people.

The towering double doors opened.

"No business today. 'The giant roared' Begone!"

It was Blackfire. Of all the denizens of the palace, he figured it would have been her that would have appreciated being sent away. Her appearance heralded something…something he most assuredly wouldn't like.

"What do you want?" He sighed

The girl stood before him and kneeled. Now he KNEW he wasn't going to like this.

"Have I got a deal for you." She said with a smirk

Days later at Starfire and Hall's home…

Hall kneeled on the floor by their bed and offered the girl a piece of waffle. She just glanced at the morsel with her dim green eyes and turned away.

"Please dear. 'He whispered' you must eat."

"It does not matter. Nothing matters anymore."

"You do matter. Please eat…for me?"

"My Bumgorfs are gone." She whimpered

"They would want you to eat Tibuzi. They would want you to live."

She just remained silent. Hall stood from the floor and left the bedroom. Rinnai was standing in the kitchen and waiting. They had been taking turns watching the girl since she miscarried.

"Did she eat?" The Tovka asked

"No. This makes two days." Hall sighed while forcing the uneaten food down the sluice in the sink.

"It is a symptom."

"There's gotta be something we can do. Maybe we could take her to Earth and seek therapy."

"Her wounds are all spiritual Hall; your human medicines can do nothing. All we can do is wait and pray that she overcomes it."

"Maybe we can adopt…"

"It would not work. For the Bikna-ro to be appeased, she would have to sense both hers and your scent on the child. An adopted baby will have neither."

As he struggled to figure out his next move, a page landed on their terrace. Dear God if it was another local wanting to know about his next story. For all he cared, his writing was dead.

He left the kitchen and met the new arrival. Without uttering a word, the page handed Hall a scroll, bowed and flew back towards the palace.

It was sealed with the official High Rulers crest. Hall broke the wax seal and unrolled the parchment. It was written in Tamaranian. Hmm, he could make out a little. Hall recognized Blackfire's name and an unfamiliar word:

"Kvorka?"

Rinnai gasped, snatched the scroll from his hands and read it herself. Her green eyes opened to their limits.

"By the gods."

"What is it?" Hall pressed

"Blackfire is volunteering her body to give you children."

"Artificially?"

"No. You mate with her and see to her needs as she gestates. When the children are born, they are yours."

"Hold it. I heard what you guys do to husbands who cheat on their wives."

"This is different Hall. Only the High Ruler can authorize the Kvorka and according to this, he has given his blessing."

"But she has to detect both our scents."

Rinnai thought seriously.

"Both yes. But perhaps if she sensed yours it might just be enough to stop the Bikna-ro."

"Why would Blackfire volunteer to do this? This isn't like her."

"Well maybe her time with you and Galfor has made her more sensitive to others."

"Oh horse shit. She's getting something out of this."

Later…

With Rinnai's help, Hall did some research on the Kvorka ritual. The volunteer basically becomes the mothers stand in. Star's husband, house and possessions would become her sister's until the children are born. And like a father, Hall will be expected to see to her every need. Maybe that was another reason she was doing this.

But why Blackfire of all people? She was the most selfish and self-centered person he knew. How much crap had she pulled on her sister and people? For her to make a sacrifice like this would be the equivalent of the Joker working in a soup kitchen.

Before he agreed to anything, he had to know all the facts. So for the straight poop, Hall skipped the middlemen and would talk to Blackfire herself. That morning he hobbled over to the palace.

With all governmental business suspended, she had been shut in her room. Hall found her room just next to Galfor's apartment and knocked on the door.

"Enter" She called from within

He pushed the door open. Blackfire was sitting in a purple upholstered armchair and quietly reading a book. Seeing Hall, she stood and walked over to meet him. God that reptilian smile of hers. He half expected a pair of horns to pop out the sides of her head.

"Ah. I wondered how long you were going to be."

"Cut the shit. 'He said and showing her the scroll' what the hell is this all about?"

"Just like it says. Shall I read it for you…HUMAN?"

He took a deep breath and gritted his teeth.

"You'll forgive me if I don't trust you." He said

"And why not? 'She asked with a look of shock' It is all for the good for our people."

"You tried to overthrow your people."

"Oh that was a long time ago. 'She dismissed' I was younger and more…"

"What are you getting out of this?" He interrupted

For a split second, her façade of self-assurance wavered.

"My freedom. If I bare your children, Galfor will consider my debt paid and I will be allowed to come and go as I please."

Hmm, made sense. But a part of him still found it hard to believe she would do something this noble.

"And how do I know you won't take the babies and try to ransom them? You tried that before too."

"And what exactly would I do with an armful of Bumgorfs? My freedom is more valuable to me than gold or power. Eight months of discomfort is cheap in comparison."

He rolled the scroll back up. It wasn't like he had much of a choice. God where was his mother in situations like this? He could seriously use her counsel.

"Where and when." He sighed in defeat

"Tonight. A guard will bring you here at moonset. After which my sister will be moved to the palace and placed under Galfor's care."

She offered her hand.

"Do we have an accord?"

God it felt like he was making a deal with the devil. Now he knew how Faust felt. He took her hand and shook it. Hmm…awfully delicate for such an evil person.

"Very good. See you tonight." She said with an evil grin

That night…

Hall, in his bathrobe, stepped inside their bedroom. Starfire was still curled up on the bed semi-conscious with Rinnai by her bedside. She had a bag packed for Star's stay in the palace. Silkie was on the bed and gently nuzzling her face but wasn't getting a reaction.

"Ready?" The old woman asked

"No." He moaned

"It is just your body Hall…not your heart." She reminded him.

He kneeled down to Stars level and kissed her sunken cheek. Her big green eyes opened for a second at the attention then slid closed.

"She will be in good hands. 'Rinnai assured him' I will not leave her side until your return."

Galfors page, flanked by two palace guards appeared at the bedroom doorway.

"It is time." The page whispered

"Let's get this over with." He sighed and turned away from the bed

With one last look at his unconscious wife, he followed them out the door.

Later, back at the palace…

"Our father, who art in heaven…hallowed be thy name." He repeated to himself

They led him right to Blackfires bedroom door. A few years ago, if Hall was being led to a sexual liaison, he probably would have run the whole way. But the karmic consequences of what he was doing were seriously weighing hard on his libido.

"Halloway! 'The page announced aloud' you have been authorized by the High Ruler to take part in the Kvorka. Wherein you will donate your seed…blah, blah, blah."

As the page blathered, Hall just kept repeating to himself that this was all for Starfire.

"Do you accept your responsibility?" The page confirmed

"Yeah."

The page turned and left while the guards took their posts by either side of the door. Hall took a deep breath and opened the door.

"Okay let's get this…"

Her room was dark with the exception of a ring of lit candles round the bed.

Blackfire lay naked on her bed. Her smooth flawless skin was illuminated orange by the flickering candlelight.

The Crowleys, with the exception of his brother Tyler (whose mother still to this day believes was the result of a paperwork snafu at the hospital), were renowned for their fidelity. All the times they went to the beach, never once did his father's eyes wander. But in a purely primal way, he was aroused.

She could clearly see his reaction above and below decks.

"Are you prepared?" She asked

He just muttered a guttural babble. She lay back down on the bed and with great agility pulled her smooth supple legs straight up to her chin.

"And which method would you like? 'She cooed' Safe and ceremonial…"

She slid off the bed like a Boa Constrictor and settled on the round carpet.

"Or savage and untamed?"

Well at this point all self-control went down the toilet. His robe suddenly became very confining.

"T-the Avnaar?" He stuttered

"Oh we can skip that; my sister is just big on ceremony. I already said the prayer and am ready for your…contribution."

"How many did you ask for?"

"We shall make that my little secret."

She stood off the carpet and sidled up to Hall. The Tamaranian wrapped her arms around him and rubbed her crotch against his leg. As she did, her hands found the rope around his robe and pulled the ends, undoing the knot. The robe slide off his shoulders and fell to the floor.

"It seems some things never change." She snickered

Blackfire gently grabbed hold of his engorged manhood and led him towards the bed.

Later…

He had it planned: one time. That was all. How was it possible that she had him go four times? Maybe she had learned some techniques in her travels, or perhaps she was just having a good time watching his reaction? Well whatever, THAT should be sufficient.

Hall stretched out on her bed and relaxed. He honestly couldn't remember his back hurting this much when he and Starfire messed around. Blackfire had been a bit more eager.

She suddenly awoke and laid her hands on her flat belly.

"I am pregnant." She smirked

He could almost imagine the sound of a cell door slam closed.

That afternoon…

Blackfire and Hall set down on their home's back porch.

"And what a beautiful home it is." She said smiling wide

"Yeah, beautiful." He sighed

They stepped over to the doorway but Blackfire stopped in her tracks.

"What are you doing?" He asked

"Is it not human custom to carry the bride over the threshold?"

"You are not my wife."

"For the next eight months I AM. Now carry me."

She fell backwards into Halls arms. Although she was just a bit taller than her sister was, Blackfire had to have been ten pounds heavier: must be the attitude and accrued bad karma.

He carefully hauled her inside the archway sideways as to not bump her head and into the kitchen. This was actually new to him. When they first took possession of their house, it was Starfire that carried him.

"To the bedroom…hubby." She ordered

Hall bit his lip as he toted the woman up the hallway and into the bedroom. The place had been cleaned thoroughly and the bed sported brand new linens.

"In the bed."

He carefully laid her out on the bed. Her hands pressed on the mattress and caressed the quilt.

"Much nicer than mine in the castle." She commented

"Yeah whatever." He sighed and turned

"And just where do you think you're going?"

"I was going to write."

"Before you do that, I desire one of your human hamburgers."

"We don't have any."

"Well I believe they do at one of your many McDonalds?"

His body suddenly felt very cold.

"You want me to fly to Earth and get you a burger?"

"And some of your French fries as well."

"But…" He protested

"Away with you! It is a burger I desire now see to it…HUSBAND."

And so the true reason for her volunteering has come to light. For the duration, he was to be her slave. God it so figures.

Much later…

What exactly is Hell? Is it an actual place or just a myth perpetrated by the Catholic Church to keep the naughty in line? Well after two months of dealing with pure evil, I have come to realize that perdition was a very real place! And its name is…

"Oh hubby?" Blackfire hollered from the bedroom

He slumped down on the porch's round stone table. That was the longest break yet: five minutes. She must be slipping. God help him if she had to relieve herself again.

"Yes?" Hall returned

"I desire some Sput Flakes."

"You just had five plates worth."

"I DESIRE MORE!" She roared

"Okay! Geez." He said closing the laptop and walking over to the kitchen.

He opened the red and purple striped clay jar and upended it over her plate. Another helping of the small black gelatinous nuggets flopped down on the plate. Geez that was all? Rinnai would have to pickle some more.

Hall took the plate and made his way to their bedroom. The Tamaranian, clad in her black bathrobe, was relaxing in her bed. Her belly was getting pretty large now- an odd contrast to her still lanky body.

In some ways though, every visit to the room and seeing her belly was a relief of sorts. The day when she surpassed Stars pregnancy was quite possibly the longest in her life. The only odd symptom Blackfire exhibited was a case of the hiccups.

"Gimme." She growled with her arms outstretched.

The secret to feeding a pregnant Tamaranian was to keep all appendages away from their mouths. The scabs on his fingers were just beginning to fall off from the last time he forgot.

He carefully handed her to the plate. Just when her fingers grabbed it, he jerked his hands back. She began stuffing the Sput Flakes in her gaping mouth. Geez it looked like she could swallow an entire heifer.

Within seconds the plate was spotless. When they bought the plates, the surface of them were shiny and smooth. But they were all dull now due to Blackfire's rough tongue. She tossed Hall the plate and let loose with an ear shattering belch.

"Better?" He asked

"No. I must relieve myself."

"You can do that yourself."

"But hubby? 'She groaned' I feel so dizzy…"

"Oh all right" He sighed and helped her out of the bed.

Hours later, at the auditorium…

The performance of Halls play at the festival was of course cancelled due to the miscarriage. But the uproar of disappointment was so deafening that Galfor personally visited Hall and begged for the performance to continue lest a revolution take place. He would love to leave his pseudo wife but she would never allow him leave the house.

Now unbeknownst to Blackfire or Hall, Galfor had sneakily added a codicil in the Kvorka contract stating that she would not interfere with the play or its rehearsals. If she does, the contract will be null and void and she can spend her gestation period on her stool. Of course, being the total bitch queen she was, had her ways of still making Hall miserable.

"Where is he?" Roanak in her full Starfire costume yawned

"He has been late every rehearsal." Tiala in his gray suit and brown wig sighed

An older male stomped up. It was Toba their stage manager. He was the oldest of the crew and Rinnai's uncle.

"Be wary cubs. 'Toba admonished' Friend Hall is under his vow of the Kvorka. All his time is spent with her. For him to continue with the play and still see to Blackfires needs is a great strain…he should be honored for his sacrifice rather than pitied for his tardiness."

A rusty squeaking caught their attention. They turned to see Hall pushing a green wheelbarrow into the auditorium with the pregnant Blackfire sitting inside.

"Friend Hall." The crew and cast greeted and bowed

"Sorry I'm late. 'Hall panted' She wanted to take the scenic route."

"No need to apologize. 'Toba dismissed" Shall we begin?"

"Yeah, let's start from the beginning."

A local in a decent mock up of the rebels olive drab uniform and Ak-47 stepped forward and they all stepped over to their small hut set. The carpenters did an excellent job. Just the sight of it made him shiver. Tiala hunkered down on his knees and the rebel pointed the barrel of his gun to the back of the boy's head.

"Okay! Ready and…"

"I cannot see." Blackfire yelled

Hall sighed and hobbled back over to the wheelbarrow. He lifted the wooden handles and hustled it around the stage and over to the set.

"Better?" He panted

"Acceptable."

That evening…

And the play was progressing well. The sets were ready and most of the props were prepared. It was destined to be the most ambitious play ever. Even rivaling the Battle of Blorp sieges! But my joy of the play is pittance compared to my feelings about my wife.

As he typed, Blackfire waddled onto the porch and flopped on the bench opposite him. Okay this was new. Was she hungry, bored or just wanted to take her bitchiness up close and personal?

Instead of moaning or demanding something, she just sat and stared at him. He was tempted to ask what she wanted but just chose to remain silent. No way was she going to wear him down.

I had not seen Starfire in weeks. The pages visit me daily and give me updates on her condition. She is eating a little, but barely enough to keep her alive. I…

Blackfire slammed his laptop closed and wrenched it off the table.

"Hey! Give me that." Hall yelled

She walked over to the edge of the porch with a devilish look on her face. She wouldn't! She couldn't!

She did.

He watched as his laptop flew into the air, momentarily reflected the light of one of Tamaran's many moons and disappeared in the carnivore-infested depths below. They were so high up, he couldn't even hear it crash.

Hall could just stand with his mouth agape.

"What are you going to do…HUMAN?"

But instead of retaliating, he smirked. Blackfires smile dimmed.

"Yes, being Human, I am not as strong as you. 'He conceded' any punishment I give, you would just shrug off. But one thing about us humans, you sadly forgot."

"And what might that be?" She smirked.

"We are sneaky little bastards. DEFSI!" He yelled

A stomping resonated through the house. Suddenly, a giant nearly on par with Galfor, appeared in the doorway.

"Who is this?" She asked

"Oh you don't recognize him? 'Hall gasped' well maybe this will help."

The giant reached inside his tunic and pulled out a purple hood. He draped it over his head. Blackfire gasped. It was the guy that put her through that Torka ritual! It seems that the big guy was a very big fan of Hall's work and asked if he could be of help during his ordeal. Well Hall knew this was going to happen so he had Defsi on "standby".

Blackfire stepped back.

"No." She gasped

"Yes." Hall confirmed

She tried to fly away but Defsi grabbed hold of her miniscule ankle and pulled her over to the table. He sat on the bench and draped the woman over his lap.

"Let me go." She protested

"Not in the contract." He laughed

"How long should this be?" Defsi asked while pulling up the back of her robe, baring her fanny.

"Hmm 'Hall considered' Figure until I return."

"What? Don't you dare!"

Hall hobbled out of the porch and out the front door. As he climbed the path to the palace, he could hear Blackfire getting tanned. Each smack resulted in a squeal from the woman.

"Just pray I don't use the scenic route." He laughed

Later at the palace…

He reached Stars room. A guard was posted outside. Seeing Hall, he bowed and opened the door.

Starfire was still curled up on the bed. God she was even skinnier. Her protruding ribs slowly moved with each raspy breath. Rinnai left her place by the bed to meet him. She looked surprised at his appearance.

"She let you leave?" The old woman whispered

"I bought a few minutes. 'He whispered and kneeled by his wifes side' How is she?"

"I will not lie to you Halloway, she is not doing well."

He caressed her sunken cheek and Starfire's big eyes opened just a crack to look at him.

"Hi dear." He whispered with an assuring smile

The girl remained silent.

"She has not spoken in days." Rinnai explained

"Is she eating?"

"Barely enough."

"Hang on. 'He begged' just a few more months."

Her lower lip trembled. He reached out and hugged her.

Later…

He returned to the house. And as ordered, Blackfire was still getting tanned. Her butt was now a dark maroon color and her legs hung limply. The giant stopped the salvo and Hall kneeled down to Blackfires blushed face. Her tearing purple eyes met his.

"Okay, 'Hall said matter of factly' let's get a few things straight: I acknowledge my responsibility to you and will care for you for the duration. However, that does not include dealing with your nastiness and ill behavior. Of course I expect some emotional outbursts but you are really crossing the line. Are we on the same page?"

She sniffled and nodded.

"Are you going to behave?" He asked

She babbled incoherently.

"I'm going to need an okee dokee on that one."

"Okee dokee." She mumbled

"Very good. You may release her."

The giant slid the girl off his lap. As her feet hit the porches tile floor, her robe slipped back over her butt and reached down to her ankles.

"You will notify me if you require my services again?" The giant asked

"Oh of course."

Defsi stomped off.

"Now that we have a fresh start, you may return to your room. When you are hungry, I can make something…provided you end your request with a "please"."

As she stumbled off, Hall opened the kitchen closet and pulled out another laptop. He placed it on the table and opened it.

"You have another?" She gasped

"That one you trashed was a dummy. I figured you would try something eventually."

She disappeared down the hallway.

Yes there is a Hell. But then if there is, there also must be a God. And like a light banishing shadows, a little discipline can straighten out even the most twisted of noodles. Speaking of which…"

"Hungry?" Hall asked

"Some Flooz Loaf?" She replied with a much meeker tone.

"Some Flooz Loaf what?"

"Please?"

"Much better. Coming up."

Months later…

As Hall paced impatiently back and forth beside Blackfire's bed, Rinnai sat in the easy chair and watched the display.

"Should've been here a long time ago." He whistled

"Calm down. She lives twenty parsecs away." She reminded

"Yeah. Shame we couldn't get anyone closer." He said shooting an irritated glare at the engorged Blackfire.

Tamaranians don't have Obstetricians but instead depend on a group of "Listeners" that visit mothers to be and use their natural senses to ascertain the health of their unborn babies. There were thousands of listeners on Tamaran. Sadly, because of Blackfire's bad reputation with the locals, none were willing to get within ten feet of her.

With the promise of an autographed copy of his latest romance story, an bit part in the play and an year's supply of Flooz Loaf, they were finally able to procure one from the fifth moon of Floon. Sure she primarily sees to lifestock but an Listener is an Listener.

Blackfire was pretty oblivious. Her belly was so huge, she rarely left the bed. Instead her days are exclusively spent sleeping or wolfing down food. According to Rinnai all was normal but Hall was getting more than a bit nervous. God only knows if it had been Star in the situation.

"Hungry." She growled

"Afterwards." Hall sighed

"Feed me."

He just remained silent and continued his pacing. In preparation for the Listeners visit, no food could be given that morning.

"FOOD!" She roared through a mouthful of drool