from The Space Merchants

Years ago Yukihyo had fought and survived a bloody conflict with the Parvac that had left his entire clan dead. He would not have survived had Hiroshi and Phillip not found his life signs in the aftermath and carted him onto Tora. Since his rescue, Hiroshi and Phillip had become his brothers, but they could not provide the stability of the symbiotic link males of his race required in order to function in a civilized manner. The symbiotic links he had shared with his mother, aunts, and sisters ended with their deaths. Yukihyo had met a female with whom he could bond. However, her clan had rejected him, and her temperament and opinions had made her not worth the reward of pursuit. Yukihyo had decided to resign himself to a life of strenuous physical training and hours of meditation, when by accident he had found compatibility in Hiroshi’s new hire.

Yukihyo said with an undercurrent of disbelief, “Teagan accepted me without fear or prejudice. Her eagerness to question me was tempered only by her fear of causing me insult. She accepted an emotional bond with me as a dry sponge accepts water.”

Hiroshi grunted, “That must be why you gave her the most extravagant of our stores from Arachne.”

Phillip laughed, “He’s got to keep her happy somehow, boss. It won’t be with his ugly face.”

“I pay the whores on Scipio extra not to cringe when they first see yours and a bonus if they don’t laugh at your humble male offering,” Yukihyo replied.

“Enough you two,” Hiroshi laughed.

“That girl was living in a damn crate and happy about it. Henry told me she had nothing to wear, but that reclamation jumper before he took her to get some things,” Phillip said.

“Uncle said he pieced together that she was alone, with no family, having fled an abusive situation. She works and keeps to herself. I think that explains the sponge like quality Yukihyo observed.” Phillip leaned back in his grav chair, made sure life support systems were optimal, and scratched his flat belly.

“She’s better off with us. She has two handsome men and Yukihyo taking care of her,” Phillip said. Yukihyo offered Phillip an offensive hand gesture. Phillip grinned at him and said, “We’ll get a real smile out of her eventually. What do you boys say to a little friendly competition?”

“What do you have in mind?” Hiroshi asked.

“The first one of us to get an honest laugh out of the kid gets a thousand credits,” Phillip suggested.

“Deal,” said Yukihyo.

“Agreed,” responded Hiroshi. “It has been an eventful day. Let’s get some sleep,” Hiroshi said. Rising from his chair, he left the bridge and took the first door to the right into his quarters.

Phillip turned to Yukihyo and asked, “You feeling better now, brother?”

“I have only reached her emotions fully twice. She is guarded, but it is an indescribable improvement. I have been able to control myself more easily without the constant struggle and effort for a few hours now. Too long have I been without the comfort of female clan members.”

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