tagSci-Fi & FantasyIt's Legal on Other Planets! Ch. 02

It's Legal on Other Planets! Ch. 02


Chapter Two: It's True. It Really Ain't Easy.

He brought his mom.

I'm not even kidding.

So it turns out that female Konlogath are noticeably shorter than the males. This one was only about two inches taller than I am. She had the yellow eyes. She had the small nubby horn-like things on her forehead. She didn't have armor on like Kruune had, or like her son and his entourage were wearing. Instead, she was rockin' a toga made of about a million tiny little silver beads. And when I say "toga," I mean it was kind of a toga, but it showed off her curves down her sides since it didn't cover her arms, her sides, or the sides of her legs.

And she had curves. Oh God. She was larger than most human women, but the proportions were all just right. She was shapely and voluptuous. Her face didn't look "motherly," either. Mature, maybe, but attractive. Pretty damn human-looking, really...if you could put aside all the alien features, anyway, which I found I certainly could do without much thought.

The ship had floated back up into the skies, leaving behind only one member of the honor guard, Orrtraan himself, and her. She looked on with grave severity as Orrtraan returned to his kneeling stance at my doorstep.

"Honored Lord McLoughlin," he began again.

I held up my hands. "Let's go inside, okay?" I asked.

I led them to the dining room table. That's where I committed my first faux pas in front of his mother. I gestured to the seats on one side of the table and moved to take up the one opposite, leaving the end seat empty.

She said, "Lord McLoughlin, do you intend to treat with us as equals?"

I was just sitting down. I looked up at Orrtraan, who had an odd expression of confusion on his face.

"Um," I blinked. "Well, yeah, I kinda had, actually. I'm sorry," I said, rising, "I haven't had a chance to get, erm, caught up on the, uh...etiquette of being a house lord." I looked at her, then at Orrtraan. I was genuinely perplexed and a little embarrassed. "I'm sorry. You're a prince, right? So that means I address you as 'your highness?' Does it? I don't know how this works. We don't have royalty in my country. Am I supposed to bow or something?" I wondered if I was supposed to kneel. I was cool with bowing, but kneeling would be going way too far. All I could think was, Fuck that. I'm an American, goddammit.

He seemed a bit surprised, but nodded gruffly. "What my honored mother points out is that we are guests in your home and you are its lord. Regardless of my title, Lord McLoughlin, you are the sovereign here. It is appropriate for you to take up the head of the table."

"Oh," I said. It took a moment to process that, since that was the moment where I found out who she was. Naturally my brain screamed, Oh my God! You brought your mom along to pick up a space hooker?!

"Okay," I mumbled then, pulling out a chair for Orrtraan and another for his mother. Then I moved around to the far end of the dining room table (which wasn't exactly mammoth or anything—I mean it came from Ikea, right?) and sat down. No shirt. No shoes. Just me, my gym shorts, and alien royalty.

"Please," I said, gesturing to the chairs, "take seats however it's appropriate to your culture, and please forgive my ignorance. We've, uh...I've had a very busy night and to be honest I'm still catching up to all this."

Orrtraan bowed again and sat at the other end of the table. His mother looked at the side chair thoughtfully for a moment and finally sat down. The other guy stayed at the door.

I cocked my head curiously as I looked at him. "Are you folks expecting trouble or something?" I asked.

"Not at all," Orrtraan said gravely. "It is simply customary for a guardsman to take such a post while escorting me. It is a matter of etiquette. No, I do not believe anyone would dare attack or even insult House McLoughlin. The repercussions would doubtlessly be unpleasant."

"Right," I nodded. "Because Alyssa's so, um...well-connected. To important people of your empire. Vigorously. I mean, um, socially. Professionally. I'm sorry, I'm very tired. So you are Prince Orrtraan, and you are...?"

"Myialenn," his mother said.

I nodded again. "Myialenn. Right. Um, Queen Myialenn? Lady Myialenn?" She nodded to the last. I paused. They waited. It led to an awkward silence. "So you came here to see Alyssa?"

"I have come in hopes of engaging Alyssa's services for a short period, yes," Orrtraan intoned without embarrassment. "Time is of some concern. State functions of great significance will soon be underway on my home planet. Alyssa's presence would be most appreciated, for this and other matters."

"Other matters."

"On your world, the term is virginity," Orrtraan began to explain.

"Woah, okay," I said, holding my hands up. It was too late, though. That cat was already out of the bag. Out of the bag, stuck in my brain, loudly meowing "TMI" over and over again.

Myialenn seemed to immediately suspect my ignorance. "I see. It is as you said. You do not yet have a firm understanding of our society and culture."

"Not so much, no," I sighed. Then I caught myself. Alyssa may or may not have been running any number of ploys that I didn't want to unwittingly blow. I dodged. "I've been kind of busy up 'til recently with a whole war thing goin' on here on Earth."

Her son was observing good posture to begin with, but even so he immediately straightened up with an added bit of respect. His mother tilted her head in a bit of deference. I suddenly felt like I was that sort of tool tells chicks in bars that he's a big badass Navy SEAL. Why, I thought, didn't I tell them that I had been delivering babies? That's supposed to be a big deal to them, too...

"My son is of age to find a wife, but I have encouraged him to seek out the exercise of his sexual needs elsewhere in order to put his desires into perspective before he makes a choice. Given my son's political stature, there could be social complications to open carousing. I had thought that a quislanan would provide an appropriate introduction to this aspect of maturity. There are none more renowned than Alyssa of House McLoughlin."

I gave that a second to process. "You don't want his wife to wrap him around her finger because she's the only woman he's ever slept with?"

Myialenn pointedly fought back an understanding smile and nodded just a bit. Orrtraan looked away. I started to think that our differences in body language weren't so great. Hell, they had human enough faces apart from the coloration and the nubby antennae-horn things. "Perspective," Myialenn repeated quietly.

"I'm sorry. Again. I would offer you something to drink, but I don't even know what your people can or can't drink...?"

"It is no bother, sir," Orrtraan demurred.

"Lord McLoughlin, your ignorance of our society and customs is noted and understood," Myialenn said simply. The cold distance was back in her expression. "No offense is taken, and we shall keep that ignorance in mind for this meeting. Further, we are given to understand that you are only recently come into adulthood by Konlogath standards. Our race is more perceptive of nuance and intent than yours; we would know a deliberate insult were it offered. Please feel no further need for apologies."

"Okay." I shrugged and thought for a moment. "Then you'll understand that I'm not entirely sure yet how to proceed here. I've got a privacy concern on my mind."

"Privacy concern?" Orrtraan asked.

"Yeah. Is it proper for me to talk to you about Alyssa's...schedule? Her clients? Is that all a matter of public record for you?"

Myialenn smiled thinly. She looked almost predatory. "My dear Lord McLoughlin, if you are to wear your innocence in these matters so openly, whatever is there to prevent us from taking terrible advantage of you?"

"My impression is that you wouldn't want this to be a one-time-only arrangement. No one ever does, from what I've seen. And as we've just established, I've got quite a number of cards to play. Erm, favors and assets to call in," I corrected, seeing that the poker metaphor was lost on her. "You could take advantage of me this once, sure. But given my ignorance, I'd be a fool to make anything but the simplest, short-term arrangements, and eventually I'd realize that I'd been fooled. I'd have to pursue redress if only to ensure that others would know that it won't happen twice.

"Besides, Alyssa has a very high opinion of the Konlogath. She tells me that you're a peaceful and honorable people."

"We are," Orrtraan stated flatly.

His mother nodded, and her smile became less wolfish and more conciliatory. "We are, Lord McLoughlin. By and large. I met Alyssa in passing some time ago. I would warn you, in confidence, that she, too, is perhaps a bit...innocent. As with any culture, the Konlogath are neither universally peaceful nor honorable. We strive toward both. Some fall short. Alyssa has had the good fortune to associate with the better examples of our society."

I smirked. Well, half-smirked, half-frowned. I ought to have known. Truth be told, I kinda did know. Suddenly I wished I had done something to check out Lord Kruune better before Alyssa left with him, but at least he was someone she'd known for years. Such a talk we were gonna have when she got home...

I was the last to realize that we had new company. The guard beyond the table was the first to notice, but he was unperturbed as Monica slipped in behind me. There was a big mug of coffee in her hand, which she smoothly set on the table in front of me before she draped her wrists around my shoulders. She coolly leaned in to kiss the back of my neck.

My head turned to allow me a brief glance. She was clad in a small, silky blue robe, which had to be Alyssa's. I didn't gape, but I surely noticed that she had it tied on only loosely, affording anyone who cared to look an alluring tease.

"Sorry, I didn't mean to wake you," I blinked, not really sure what else I could possibly say in this increasingly awkward moment. It was made all the more awkward because I was suddenly having exactly the sort of reaction I would normally have to a woman like Monica in this position if we were alone...only we weren't alone at all. I was glad I didn't have to get up.

"I'm a light sleeper," Monica said in utterly sultry tones. "Stacy's still out cold in bed upstairs. You really wore her out." She cast her gaze over at our visitors, seeming completely unfazed by the fact that there were green aliens in front of us . "But don't let me distract you."

She said it as if she didn't realize that was impossible. I turned back to the green people at the table, though, and pretty soon the (absurd) gravity of the situation had me focusing on the task at hand. I mumbled introductions. Myialenn and Orrtraan both nodded. Monica offered to get them something to drink, which they both declined. I noticed that Orrtraan had stiffened, though, and didn't quite look my way. Myialenn, by contrast, was watching me with more interest than she had before.

"So we should get down to business," I said, "but I'm afraid that might cut this very short. Alyssa is currently, uh...engaged, and won't be back for several days. Earth time," I added.

Orrtraan inhaled and grunted. I saw the slightest twitch from his mother's lips as if to signal something to him. "Might we inquire with whom?" Orrtraan asked. His mother's poker face darkened just a touch more at that.

"See, that's one of those points of ignorance that we talked about," I shrugged. "I don't know how appropriate it is for me to say or not. For most people on Earth, Alyssa's activities would largely be seen as scandalous. Her clients would be seen much the same way. It happens all the time, so it's...hypocritical, really, but it's there. So naturally, my own culture places a high value on discretion in matters like these. Does yours?"

"Some do," Myialenn conceded. "House D'yerliin would certainly flaunt any such association," she said, "as would House Aalsondth. To have a quislanan of beauty and stature at one's side demonstrates resources and power. To be certain, it is the more intimate services of a quislanan that are the primary purpose of such an engagement. One does not engage a quislanan merely to have her seen at his side. Yet even the most introverted amongst us understand the importance of public appearances."

Monica kissed my neck again. She slid around to my side, one arm still draped over my shoulders. Myialenn watched. Orrtraan tried not to notice.

Appearances mattered. I got it. I slipped an arm around Monica's waist, hoping it seemed casual. "Would you be seen in public with Alyssa, Prince Orrtraan? You said you had state functions in mind?"

"Yes," Orrtraan nodded. "There are ceremonial proceedings to be handled as well as the observation of a holiday of political importance."

"The handling of these matters will also likely have considerable impact upon our search for a wife for my son."

"Mother!" Orrtraan grunted.

Myialenn held up a hand. "If it were known that he had developed certain standards and expectations based on experience, it would have some significant influence on the field of candidates." She paused. "Marriage is a complicated and serious endeavor. I would not want my son to marry someone who would disappoint him in a critical aspect."

Silence. Myialenn was here to make sure that her son had a good romp with someone so he wouldn't be easily whipped by his future wife...but she straight-up didn't want her son marrying a lousy lay, either, and wasn't afraid to say it. In that moment, I decided that she was really sweet.

Admittedly, in that moment I was also very tired and I had lost count of how many brain-wrenching revelations I had been through in the last few hours, so my judgment might not have been entirely solid.

I glanced at Orrtraan. "You're an adult, correct?"

"Yes," Orrtraan nodded a bit gruffly. "I would not be here were that not the case."

"All good," I said. That meant that he was at least as old as me, for whatever that was worth among their society. I rubbed my eyes. Monica rubbed my shoulder. She was quite the ego boost – and, I had already realized, she provided real assistance in this whole deal. Just having her there meant that I didn't feel like I was facing this completely on my own. I also had the sense that she knew what she was doing and why, and that made me feel better.

"So Alyssa's currently engaged. I don't know whether I'm supposed to be discreet about it or not, so I'm going to err on the side of caution and hope you both understand. She should be back here in about four days, but I need at least a day to confer with her on a few matters and to make sure that she's ready to go out again." I felt silly saying that. What I wanted to say is that I had to make sure she wanted to go out again, and with Orrtraan in particular, but I was worried that the whole "House Lord" thing meant that I had to act like these were all my decisions. "So I couldn't really give you an answer until—"

"Lord McLoughlin!" called a voice from outside. Bright lights flashed in the front windows. The guardsman standing away from the table immediately put his hand on the hilt of the sword on his belt.

"Oh no," I groaned, burying my face in my hands.

"That would be House D'yerliin," Myialenn remarked dryly.

"Didn't Alyssa ever tell you people to use the doorbell or call ahead?"

"Lord McLoughlin, the Scion of House D'yerlinn calls upon you to grant him an audience—"

"Mother!" Orrtraan hissed as the monologue continued outside.

I was already getting out of my seat. "I'm sorry," I said, "I can't have them outside making a racket like that."

"Lord McLoughlin," Myialenn frowned, "it would be a great boon to me personally if my presence here were not known."

"What, you want me to hide you?"

"—Defender of the Taurand Reaches," the herald outside went on. "Lord of the Moons of Banten III, IV and VI..."

Monica had my hand. "Kyle," she said calmly, "slow down. Think it through."

"What, I can't just let that guy wake up the neighborhood!"

"Why not? You plan on livin' in this little place long, rich man?" Monica asked.

I blinked at her. The introductory announcements continued outside. I looked at Myialenn. "What about your son?"

"His presence is imminently understandable, and nothing to hide," she assured me. "They likely already realize that there are Konlogath here. But it would be helpful to us if my particular presence were handled with...discretion."

I looked at Monica and shrugged. "Take her upstairs?" I asked.

She almost smirked, but she was too cool for that. "Lady Myialenn," she said with something like a bow, and then gestured respectfully for her to follow.

For just a moment I stopped to breathe. It was really late (or, really, it was way too early), and I was increasingly tired. I moved for the coffee that Monica had brought me, but found it was still way too hot and so I sadly put it back down on the edge of the table. Then I headed for the door, throwing a glance at Orrtraan. "I take it your House doesn't get along with these guys?"

"There are no open hostilities or conflicts," Orrtraan answered tactfully, getting to his feet.


"Our relations are somewhat less than cordial."

"Gotcha. So you want me to tell 'em you're here looking to pick up Alyssa? Or not?"

"It is your decision, Lord McLoughlin."

"Yeah, but I'm offering." Annoyingly, the guy outside sounded like he was repeating his long and windy intro all over again. "I don't have to say anything about Alyssa if you don't want me to."

"What would you tell them instead? That I am here seeking training as a warrior?" Orrtraan asked with a frown.

I shrugged. "Could tell 'em I'm gonna train you as a midwife." I was already reaching for the door.

Orrtraan's eyes were wide. "You are a life guide?" he asked reverently.

"What, you think I'm the Lord of House McLoughlin by accident?" I smirked. With that, I strode to the door, where I spared half a moment to regret that I wasn't at least wearing a robe if not something more practical. Nothing to be done about it now. I threw the door open, looking as confident and unshaken as I could in my gym shorts. At least they said "USN" down one leg in proud yellow letters. Go Navy.

How in the hell this scene and the one before it didn't wake up the whole neighborhood I'll never know. I was pretty certain that all the lights were shining directly at our house, at least. It was the same deal as before, only more ostentatious. An obsidian space ship hovered silently over the street. An honor guard stood in two columns running from under the ship to just shy of our porch, with more men than before who were more blinged out than Orrtraan's guys. This time there was the herald a few yards from the porch step, while the actual visiting dignitary stood further back with someone at his side.

They all had short-bladed swords at their hips. All guys this time. No women. Nobody brought his mom with him. It remained to be seen if that was some father-son deal standing in the street.

The herald, decked out in gleaming bronze-like armor, bowed slightly to me. "Greetings," he said proudly. "The Scion of House D'yerliin requests an audience with your liege."

"No liege here," I said. "I'm the Lord of this House."

The herald stiffened and looked back at the two in the center of the columns of guards. The two at the center came walking up with their heads held high.

"Lord McLoughlin," one of them intoned gravely. "I am Lord Gravlith of House D'yerliin."

"Nice to meet you," I nodded. "I need to ask a favor of you before this goes any further. You likely already know that my people aren't really aware of alien visitors. I don't want to disturb my neighbors. Could you please have your ship and your entourage here withdraw, and you can come inside to speak with me?"

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