Sitting in her living space looking out the large picture glass window at the city view she now thought of as home, Sui Erom allowed her mind to slip back to the time she’d spent with her father after leaving her home planet. It had started as an act of desperation, sneaking onto his transporter, and had ended with her holding on to treasured memories. The time spent with her father had been the first and only period in her life she’d ever had with him alone. There was nothing more special for her, nor would she trade away one second.

When she’d snuck onboard his official carrier, Sui’d had no plan, didn’t even know where her father was heading on his latest mission on behalf of Zandia. It hadn’t mattered. She’d been sure any place was going to be better than home, where her pathline had dictated she go where she didn’t want her life to. In the end, the experience had been more than she could ever have dreamed.

Even better, Lady Luck had been her companion. Her father, Ambassador Ero Seccus, had been sent to take a new posting on Earth for a four-year period. This was a usual occurrence, him leaving for long periods of time. Her mother always went with him, but this time there had been an emergency with her parents and she’d remained behind until it was all settled.

She’d always understood her father was an important and therefore a busy man, but she’d be forever grateful he’d made time for her, listened to her, and helped Sui find her own pathline. They’d talked of many things, agreed on some and not on others. Her views on Zandian society—how messed up, behind-the-times beliefs opened them up to ridicule and lack of respect from others in the Universe—were ones she’d been surprised to find they had in common.

During their first meal together, they’d returned to her reasons for being on his transporter, leading them to touch on the state of their society.

“Nations constantly reevaluate themselves and where they stand within the time and the developments made. Despite what people think, there is no utopia for everyone. There is, however, a suitable medium. In fact, Sui, you can guarantee there is always going to be someone or some group left out. It doesn’t make it right, but it does make for a more peaceful existence for society in general.” The subject matter was something her father knew quite a bit about and she’d listened carefully to what he was saying.

“If we’ve “reevaluated” ourselves, then why are we still stuck with these outmoded beliefs?” It didn’t bother her to show her confusion to him, not in the midst of their changing relationship.

“I don’t have an answer for that, although I think when a planet decides to hold their traditions close, there’s little room for advancements. In my opinion, there’ll be a problem somewhere down the line. King Rore was never meant to take the throne and hadn’t planned on it either. The years of his rule have been static, nothing suggested and therefore, nothing changed. Between us, I think he argues with his heir to find a mate in a bid to bring someone more youthful, enthusiastic and prepared to make changes to the throne.”

After a long silence, Sui looked up at her father and, with tears in her eyes, told him what was in her heart.

“You realize you’ve never spoken to me like this before, as if I were a person who had a brain and cared about the state of our nation. You’re treating me with respect and acknowledging my ability to have a stance on these important issues. This, amongst other things, is what I wanted at home but it wasn’t an option.”

She’d watched with tears flooding her eyes as he’d reached across the table and held her clenched fist.

“I understand.”

The next day he started to teach her how to speak and write English. She’d loved seeing how astonished he’d been when he realized how quickly she picked up the language. He began teaching her other skills as well, such as etiquette and unique customs for various planets. Unbeknownst to her, he’d been grooming her, giving her tools to be able to work and support herself somewhere other than Zandia.

Sui smiled and sipped her hot cup of black mort, taking the time to slowly ease herself into heading off to work. The happy memories comforted her this morning. It hadn’t been all work. She remembered how they’d spent many a day in front of his computer and watched speedball games from various sectors of the Universe, debating tactics and team selections.

It wasn’t shocking that they shared enjoyment of the beloved sport. Speedball was a Universe-wide sport, and everyone was a fan. Each planet had leagues, playoffs, trials, whatever it took to compile the best national team possible. There were many knockout competitions played leading up to the big event. Every six years, the best teams converged on Earth for the pleasure of competing for a cup and, more importantly, bragging rights of being called The Universe’s Best Speedballers.

She laughed out loud, thinking how she’d surprised her father during one game when she’d voiced lust for a couple of players. As quickly as the laughter came, she once again became thoughtful when she remembered how the conversation had progressed. It had started out being about sex and ended with his giving her something she hadn’t known she needed, acceptance for being herself.

“Have you had a sexual encounter yet?”


“Well, you think this player is hot and another is kissable. I figure, even though you were on the emotive path, you might’ve been sexually active. I need to be sure you’re prepared for what could happen. Men can be rather rough and uncommunicative when lust is riding them.”

“No, I haven’t but I’m sure I’ll find a man I want and who wants me just as much.”

“You’re lucky Sui, not all young women are as comfortable in their skin as you are.”

“It’s the one I was born with, not much I can do to change it.”

“Would you—change, I mean—if you could?”

“No, I wouldn’t want to be anything other than me. I’m different and that’s fine. There are times I wish I were taller, all the men back on Zandia prefer women who are tall and have thin muscular frames. When I stand beside a man I often feel like an overweight child, and I’m sure my appearance doesn’t inspire sexual feelings.”

“Don’t be so quick to judge the male species. They’re intelligent beings who, unfortunately, often listen first to their bodies, and only later to their hearts or brains. Remember, like women, not one is the same as the next.”

Sighing deeply, she felt the inevitable sadness at being far away from home and her fold, her closest family members, settle over her like a chill. Her mother was a traditional Zandian woman, there to make her path-mate’s life easier and therefore more fulfilling. In relationships like theirs, the man moved on to his companions for sexual satisfaction once the usual three children had been conceived. The Seccuses were different in that they’d remained together, despite not being able to have any more children beyond Sui. She liked that about them both.

It was clear to her now, she’d never have survived long on Zandia living true to the pathline chosen for her. Here on Earth, she felt secure and confident in her ability to live through her own hard work. It pleased her to be able to make this declaration. Who knows, maybe it was being older, but on this planet she interacted with men on equal footing and not from a position seen as beneath them.

She’d even taken a lover.

Sui giggled into her cup. No one from home would recognize her now, she appeared even less like a Zandian woman than she had before. She blended in with everyone else and liked that very much.

There was no doubt in her mind, the time spent with her father had been everything she’d needed. Last year, when the time came for her parents to return to Zandia, Sui’d remained behind on Earth. Unlike other occasions when she’d said goodbye to them, this farewell would most likely be the last time she’d ever see them. On the other hand, she’d also felt oddly happy to know her father meant something more to her than he had before this adventure. They’d made a connection on their journey here that she’d always remember fondly.

Standing up, she made her way into the kitchen, rinsed out her cup and walked back into the living space. Picking up her bag, she checked to make sure she had everything she needed and made her way out the door.

Life was good and about to get better. The Universe Speedball Cup competition was in town and she was working it.