Chapter XVII

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Cenerea, 3rd planet from the star Letria. Regalius, The Homeland, Central Region,

Just Outside Of The Capitol City, The Arcturan Estate,

Forty-One Cenerean Years and Ten Months Ago

"What do you mean, you believe Wendy Powell was only using Gil to get to the throne?!?? Where does this nonsense come from?" Mother Arcturis asked angrily. "Regardless, what would this have to do with my Gil's death? Of all people, she would definitely not wish him dead!"

"Well, according to our investigation, it seems that the virus was sent from a computer where the scientist works, Mother Arcturis, we are just not sure which one as of yet," the CRDF Colonel said, standing before the throne. "We think she might have accidentally uploaded it when she was testing it. The Scientist General had scanned into the security system that evening and the logs indicated she did not leave the lab for three days. She was clearly at the Univ-Trans facility on the night the upload occurred."

"So, you are telling me that you think this scientist wrote a virus to eventually kill my Gil? Why? I had never seen my son so elated. My own spies' observations of their activities gave no indication that anything was amiss. In fact, I have never seen any Arcturan and their future slave as happy as the two of them were. The Chancellor himself even approved of the arrangement."

"Well, maybe she was going to wait until after they were married so she could take the throne, ma'am?" the slave remarked. "That's one of the theories. We believe that she might have even been, um...colluding with Lily.

"Colluding?"

"Another theory. Maybe, they were lovers, Mother?"

"Very unlikely, colonel."

"Regardless, Mother, there was no one else logged in capable of doing it."

"I just don't see it. None of this makes any sense, unless...wait," the woman said with a frown creeping across her face as a thought became clear. She tapped a bright red fingernail on the arm of her throne. "Oh, now I see. Alright, is that all of the information you have, slave?"

"That is all I have at the moment, Mother Arcturis," the man said with a bow. "We'll continue to investigate until we find out the truth. Whoever did this is very good, just so you know."

"Thank you, Colonel Kintavis, you may go."

"Ma'am." The officer backed away from the throne and left through the opening doors.

"Guard?"

The soldier holding the door, pointed to himself. "Me, ma'am?"

"Yes, you. I need you to send a request for General Pha' Li to have dinner with me this evening, please!"'

"Yes, Mother Arcturis!" the guard said, did an about face, and marched from the room.

"You want to play games, my daughter? Let's play. You want the throne? Well, when I am done with you, sweetheart, you will have earned it..."

...

"Welcome General-At-Arms, welcome!" the sparkling Doltanna said as she glided across the Arcturan mansion's glossy marble floors in a pretty, pearlescent gown to meet with the Confederation's highest military official.

The man took the woman's outstretched hand and brought the top of it to his lips, kissing its soft surface lightly. "Thank you for inviting me to your home for dinner once again, Mother Arcturis. Although I found the request a bit late in the day, I can always find time for your clan. I love these visits with you and your daughters," the general said.

"And tonight you will get this privilege once again, my dear."

"Then, what are we waiting for? Lead the way!" he exclaimed.

"You know General..."

"Call me Tan, Mother Arcturis," the officer suggested.

"And you may call me Doltanna, Tan," Mother Arcturis replied. "I do hate to pry, general, but it is my understanding that you are still not married..."

"No ma'am. I am still a bachelor, as hard as this is to imagine," he said and grinned. Mother Arcturis stifled a laugh. "Yes, it is hard to fathom."

"My marriage has always been to the military, however, as I have gotten older, I find myself regretting my lonely situation. Why would you ask, do you have someone in mind?"

"I might have a solution," the woman replied. "Ah, here we are."

A CRDF guard opened a heavy wood door for the powerful pair to enter.

"Have you met my daughter, Jinah, general?" Doltanna asked, placing her hand on the shoulder of the pretty Arcturan girl rising from her seat at her personal dining table.

"No, unfortunately, I can't say I have."

Jinah wiped her mouth with a napkin as she stood. "Erm, hello, general. I apologize. I wasn't expecting company."

"Please sit, daughter. The general will be joining you for the evening."

"Mother?"

General Pha' Li grinned widely as he examined the young woman with the large green eyes standing before him. "I must say, you have your mother's eyes, among her many other wonderful attributes."

Doltanna nodded in acknowledgement of the complement. "Well, general, due to some unfortunate circumstances surrounding my heir apparent, my daughter Jinah has now become the next in line for Mother Arcturis and this leaves me in quite the conundrum."

"And what is this problem, Doltanna? Is it something I could assist you with?" the man inquired, only momentarily taking his eyes from the beauty before him.

Jinah looked at her mother in surprise. No one dared call her mother by her first name unless... "Oh no," she thought.

"It seems my sweet daughter is too young and naïve to handle any real matters of state by herself. She just does not have the experience and years necessary to assume the management of Arcturius all alone in the event of my sudden passing."

"I see," the short, rotund man said as he scratched his scruffy chin in contemplation. He sniffed as he undressed the young woman with his eyes. "Well, as difficult as it might be to let go of my carefree bachelor status, I might be willing to make a sacrifice and fill this erm, void, and provide your daughter with the guidance that you require for your people's well-being."

Doltanna smiled a wicked smile. "Then it's settled. Welcome to the family, general."

Jinah gasped; her eyes wide. "Don't I get a say..."

Mother Arcturis glared at the girl. "No, you don't. The position of Mother Arcturis is not about you and your personal desires. It is about the Arcturan kingdom and its people as a Regional member of the Confederation. Why do you think we live here so close to the Capital? This is the new center of power on Regalius, is it not, general?"

"That is correct, Doltanna, or should I call you, Mother?"

The woman smiled and patted Tan on the shoulder. "Let me leave you two to your dinner and each other. Enjoy the evening and my daughter, General Pha' Li. We'll discuss some matters of state in the morning...and Jinah?"

The young woman slowly lifted her eyes to her mother's. "Yes, Mother Arcturis."

"Treat this man like an Arcturan treats any future slave of the Arcturan clan, am I understood? He is to be your husband, after all."

"Yes, mother."

Doltanna turned and motioned for the guard to close the door behind her as she vacated the room, leaving the general and Jinah alone.

Jinah glanced up at the man and tried to smile. "Would you like something to eat, general?"

The man stepped closer, continuing to ogle her. "No, I'll eat later, and do call me, Tan."

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