[The following contains scenes of naughtiness and strong language. Reader discretion advised.]
"Bronya," Morwenna purred as she stretched underneath the sheet on the shared bed. "Come back? I'm getting cold."
Bronya continued to brush out her platinum blonde hair, still damp from her morning shower. "We don't have the time."
Morwenna pouted, her lips pursing into a moue. "Are you sure?" She slipped her legs out from under the covers. "Not even for a quickie?"
"Dear, there's nothing quick with you." Bronya turned and blew her red haired lover a kiss. "You're insatiable."
Morwenna let the sheet fall, revealing a lack of bed clothes. "You better believe it." She stood up. Her red tresses cascaded down over creamy shoulders. "So, how about it? It's not like you're dressed yet."
Bronya sighed. "And leave our client wondering where we are when we don't show up for the meeting. A meeting you scheduled, I might remind you."
"But Bronya." Morwenna padded over on bare feet over the golden pile carpet. "I want you. I need you." She stood behind the tall blonde and wrapped her arms around Bronya's waist. "I mean, I really need you." Morwenna's hand slipped under her paramour's towel. "Now," the redhead breathed.
Bronya tensed as she felt Morwenna's fingers play along her bush. "Morwenna!" She gestered sharply with her right hand. A cold gust blew up the horny redhead's leg, past her thigh and at her crotch. "No!"
"Bronya!" the redhead yelped. She jumped back. "What the hells?" Mowenna slapped the tall blonde's arm.
"I said we don't have the time."
"You didn't have to get pissy. Gods, Bronya, I can't believe you did that." Morwenna turned on her heel and stormed into the bathroom, her hair streaming behind her. She slammed the door hard.
Bronya shook her head. Great, she thought. She's going to be in a mood all day. The platinum blonde sighed. She continued getting dressed as she heard the shower turn on in the bathroom. The towel got hung over a bar on the closet door as Bronya picked out her outfir for the day. She pulled a grey linen skirt and a dark green blouse from the closet and laid them down on the bed.
By the time Morwenna emerged from the bathroom, Bronya had finished dressing. The redhead walked over to the dresser, ignoring her lover. Bronya glanced over. "I'm only having fruit for breakfast this morning. Want anything? Cereal? Toast? Juice?" Morwenna tossed a pair of mauve lace panties on the bed without answering. "Fine," Bronya said. In the kitchen of the one bedroom apartment, Bronya grabbed an apple from the crisper. She took a solid bite from it. If she wants to stew, she'll stew. Not my problem.
Morwenna came out of the bedroom as Bronya tossed the apple core into the recycling. She maintained ignoring the blonde woman as she sat down to put on a pair of silver strappy high heels. Her white mini skirt, black blouse, and purple under bust corset both hugged and showed off her curves. Bronya took the moment to admire her lover's appearance with a tinge of jealousy. Bronya herself was tall and athletic, but didn't get half the stares Morwenna did when they went out together. The blonde admitted to herself that part of it came from Morwenna dressing to be noticed. Came in handy at times in their line of work; not so much when the two were spending some personal time together outside the job.
The redhead stood up and smoothed out her skirt, her hands running over her behind in an almost sensuous manner. She looked behind her. "Well? We have an appointment to keep." Without waiting for an answer, she left the apartment, leaving the door open behind her.
Bronya slipped a pair of black felt ankle boots on her feet then rushed to catch up with Morwenna. The elevator dinged its arrival as Bronya locked the apartment's door. "Oh, it's this game," the platinum blonde muttered. She dashed in time to get inside the elevator car before the door closed.
The elevator ride down and, indeed, the trip to the women's office were both spent in an overwhelming silence. Neither woman spoke to the other. Once inside the office, they separated; Morwenna heading into the office, Bronya into the meeting room. After twenty minutes of deliberate busy work by both women, a knock came from the door. Bronya emerged from the meeting room to answer, opening the door to reveal a man in his forties wearing a tailored expensive suit. "Please, come in," the athletic blonde said. "I'm Bronya Maestas." The door to the main office opened as Morwenna stepped into the reception lobby. "And this is Morwenna Sunee. We are the core of Sunee and Maestas Investigations. Would you like anything to drink?"
"Thanks." The newcomer stepped into the reception and looked around as Bronya disappeared into the meeting room.
"Mr. Ian Woon, correct?" Morwenna said. She held out her hand. "Ambassador from Tevan III."
Woon bowed his head. "That is correct, yes." He shook the red haired woman's hand. "You've done your research."
"What sort of investigators would we be if we couldn't?" Morwenna smiled. "Rest assured that we are discreet. We do not divulge the names of our clientele."
Bronya returned with a tray holding three mugs filled with a steaming liquid, a small container of sweetener, and a small pticher of cream. "Is herbal tea good?" she asked.
"It is, thanks," Ambassador Woon said. He picked up a mug and added a spoonful of sweetener to it. "Ms Sunee was telling me about the research she did."
"Morwenna is very diligent in all her work." Bronya smiled as she set the tray down. "You'll find that if there's anything to be found, she's the one to do the finding."
"Mr. Woon, perhaps you could tell us what you're looking for?" Morwenna said, not reacting positively or negatively to Bronya's compliments. "It's unusual for an ambassador to hire private investigators, especially ones that aren't from his home world."
The ambassador sighed as he ran his hand through his greying dark hair. "There is an... incident that needs to be kept quiet."
"I assure you, Ambassador Woon, that Sunee and Maestas will no breach any confidentiality," Bronya assured.
"I appreciate that, Ms Maestas." The ambassador took a deep breath. "The daughter of a senior cabinet member of the Tevan III parliament has disappeared. The girl is a student at the University of Laego on Tevan III, a prestigious university." Woon took a sip of his tea. "She was on Study Break on Yeeran IV. Have you heard of it?"
Morwenna nodded. "It's popular with the student crowd because of its weather and its government's stance on public nudity. Tourism is the planet's second largest industry as a result."
"It is, whether parents want the kids to go or not." The ambassador took another sip of his tea. "The girl in question, though, never returned to class when the Study Break ended. She was last seen on Yeeran IV. Authorities there report that she did get on her flight off-world."
Bronya heard the tone of doubt creep into Ambassador Woon's words. "But you don't believe them."
"No." Woon shook his head. "I've heard chilling stories about the local authorities there. I also did some preliminary investigating of my own. There have been many students who disappeared after spending a vacation there. I couldn't find a pattern, though, not outside the odd spike in the disappearance of university-aged students."
"Students can change their minds, though, Ambassador," Morwenna said. "It's not unheard of for a student to succumb to pressure and just drop out of school. Some even drop out of polite society from the stress. How do you know this girl didn't do the same thing?"
"The girl's parents told me that she had plans for when she returned home, plans that she herself initiated. It'd be... far out of character for her to just ignore them."
"And she didn't stow away on the transport from Yeeran IV?" Bronya asked.
"All flights into Teven III orbital are checked for just that. It's a law dating back to the early settling, mainly from pressure from the major transport firms of the time. The law's never been removed from the books."
"And you think that this girl is still on Yeeran IV?" Morwenna asked.
"I do," the Ambassador said.
"And you think she hasn't run away from home?"
"It's not in her character to do that. She had moved out on her own already to live with some of her classmates."
"What is the girl taking?" Bronya asked.
Ambassador Woon blinked. "Astrophysics. I believe she's interested in a variety of stellar phenomena."
Bronya raised a blonde eyebrow. "Astrophysics? How old is this 'girl'?"
"She's in her early twenties. Twenty-three, I believe. I have her details and other assorted files if you take the job."
Morwenna smiled. "We will, Mr. Woon. We're just getting enough information to begin our own investigation."
"It might be best if we travelled to Yeeran IV," Bronya added. "Depending how long ago she disappeared, the trail may still be fresh."
"Thank you. Thank you both." Ambassador Woon reached into his pocket and pulled out a small data card. "Everything you need to know about the missing girl is on here. I trust you have standard data tablets here?"
"Of course," Morwenna sad. "Picasa V is a signatory to the Commonwealth Technology Accords."
Bronya received the data card from the Ambassador. "We'll send you regular reports. I trust you agree to our fees and agree to reasonable expenses?"
Ambassador Woon nodded. "As long as nothing gets leaked to the press, especially if something... sordid has happened. Cabinet ministers on Tevan III need to maintain the semblance of propriety." The ambassador finished his tea and stood up.
Morwenna opened the reception desk drawer and pulled out a data tablet. "I just need your authorization. Fingerprint, thumb print, or voice print are all acceptable. This is to protect both of us." She handed the tablet over to Woon.
The ambassador read over the terms of the contract. He nodded, then pressed his thumb on the screen. "Thank you, Miss Sunee. I trust that you can find the girl. Please keep me up to date."
"I'll send regular status reports," Bronya said. "We will find the girl." She walked Ambassador Woon to the door. "Thank you for choosing Sunee and Maestas Investigations, Ambassador."
By the time the ambassador had left and the blonde closed the door, Morwenna had again disappeared into the office. Bronya shook her head. 'At least she's keeping her professionalism.' She picked up the data card. "I'll make a copy of the information," she called to the back. "I'll leave the original here for you." Bronya sat down at the terminal at the reception desk and copied the information to a black chip. "Call me if you find anything, okay?" The platinum blonde grabbed the new chip and left, not even hearing a grunt of acknowledgement from her partner.
Morwenna sat in the main office, her mood still foul. She waited until she heard the door close before returning to the front. The ambassador's chip sat on top of the reception's terminal. Just like her, she mused darkly. Completely oblivious. The red haired woman picked up the chip and slid it into her tablet. The virus check ran and found the files on the chip clean. Morwenna scanned through the file names, then chose one labelled "Personal Data" to open. As she read, Morwenna made notes on the missing girl, one Rachel Burke. Third year student, top marks at her university, few extracurriculars due to course load, but still managed to get involved in the Drama Club. From what Morwenna read, Rachel had a extrovert streak that she kept under wraps during her classes but came out when surrounded by her peers. The file included the university's ID picture of the young woman; light brunette hair, held back in a loose pony tail, and glasses. Morwenna judged the prescription lenses to be for reading only based on the light glare in the photo. Cute enough, if you like the intellectual type. Not quite naughty librarian there. Twenty-three? A couple of years younger than me. The redhead kept reading. Nothing about a boyfriend or a girlfriend? Odd. Workaholic? Virgin, even at her age? Plays the field? Morwenna jotted her questions down in a separate file.
Seeing contact names and addresses for the missing woman's roommates, Morwenna composed a quick message explaining who she was and asking if the roomies knew anything about Rachel's plans for study break. The redhead left a roaming address in her message for replies. The door opened as Morwenna sent her email. Bronya returned, mumbling a greeting as she passed the red haired woman. Morwenna never looked up, maintaining the silent treatment. The platinum blonde walked into the back office. Morwenna shook her head. Figures. She returned to her research, trying to retrace Rachel Burke's purchases. Morwenna compared the items bought based on the receipts the ambassador had included to the stores listed. Several were on board the transport from Tevin III, most notably room service and several nights of hard drinking in the ship's lounge. On a hunch, Morwenna started tracing the ship's registry. Her search agent busy trawling the TransNet, the redhead leaned back to finish her now cool tea. Morwenna grimaced; she preferred her tea hot. She held the mug up with her left hand; with her right, she point at the bottom of the mug. A whispered eldritch phrase lit a flame that engulfed a long fingernail. Morwenna brought her finger closer to the bottom and concentrated for a moment. Soon, the herbal tea began to bubble. Much better.
Bronya returned from the office. Morwenna stiffened, refused to look at her partner. “Want anything for lunch?” the tall blonde offered. “I'm going to run down to the cafe.” Morwenna kept her attention on her data tablet. “Fine,” Bronya snapped. She stormed out of the office, letting the door close behind her. Morwenna never raised her gaze from her work, but she did exhale sharply through her nose, trying to will her anger down. I haven't done anything, she told herself. I'm not letting her just treat me like I'm disposable.
The search agent returned. Morwenna read through the results; the transport - the Heart of Sigma Minor - was a mixed passenger and cargo vessel, one that had boarding fees in line with student incomes. The Heart of Sigma Minor, though, was owned by Heart Shipping, LLC, and was registered out of Prime Landing in the Vasca system; a world outside the Commonwealth and known for lax record keeping. Getting in touch with the ship was going to be impossible, too; the Sigma Minor was listed as “cerning”, in transit travelling faster than light, and due for re-emerging in three days. Morwenna tossed the tablet down on the desk. She ran her hand through her thick red curls. The girl had been missing already for three days; delays would just leave the trail even colder than it was now.
Morwenna stood up and stretched. No use bitching about a lack of data now. I've just started. She walked around the front reception, working out the kinks in her legs. The light exercise helped clear her head a little. Might as well start working on a packing list for the trip to Yeeran IV. The redhead glanced at the door. Going to be a quiet trip, though. Morwenna sighed.
Bronya left the cafe with a bag of sandwiches in hand. Morwenna better appreciate this. The tall blonde stopped at the entrance to a florist shop. She looked at the arrangements in the front display. Tempting. Really tempting. Chocolate would work better, provided she even notices that I brought it to her. Bronya sighed. As long as she can remain professional, though. Last thing we need is a messy argument while on a job. She stopped at the entrance to the office building. I should give her time to cool off. She's never going to listen in the mood she's in now. Her mind made up, Bronya flagged down a cab. The taxi's thrusters blew up dust and debris from the roadway. The rear door slid open to let Bronya on. “Space port, please,” the tall blonde said as she tucked her long legs into the aerodyne car.
The flight along the skyway to the New Kingston Space Port was smooth despite the traffic, thanks to the upgrade to the navigational system. Even though the taxi maintained a steady three hundred and forty kilometres per hour, the distance between aircars was kept at about a half metre; but, the cab driver moved up within five metres of the aerodyne in front of him. Bronya kept her composure, though; the benefit of being able to manipulate air gave her an extra option that most people, even Morwenna, didn't have if a collision happened. Still, being that close to another aircar wasn't up there on Bronya's wanted experiences list.
The taxi arrived at the New Kingston Space Port without incident. Bronya paid the fare and walked inside as a shuttle accelerated on the mass driver launch assembly. The sonic boom rattled the reinforced windows of the main space port building despite the distance. Bronya made a beeline to the Picasa TransOrbital kiosk. The terminal lit up. “May I help you?” a moderated synthesized feminine voice asked.
“Two tickets to Yeeran IV on the next available flight.” Bronya placed her hand on the biometric scanner to the side of the terminal's screen. A light flared as the terminal scanned the athletic blonde's palm print.
“Biometrics confirmed. Please indicate preferred departure time, Miss Maestas.”
Bronya looked over the times available on the screen. She considered herself lucky that Picasa V had enough population to have semi-regular trips off-world to tourist traps like Yeeran IV. Still, the earliest transport leaving was scheduled to do so tomorrow afternoon. Bronya confirmed the choice of both the transport, the Duchess Melisande, and a shuttle flight to the orbital station to minimize the wait time. If Morwenna's mood continued through the night and into the next day, the less time together, despite wanting to be with her, the better. If she needs time and space, she'll get it.
Morwenna felt her stomach growl. Where the hells did Bronya get to? The cafe's just downstairs. The red haired woman's growing hunger fouled her mood further. She's doing this just to get me to call her. Screw that. Morwenna walked to the back office, to her desk along the window. She looked outside, down at the people walking by on the sidewalk below. A patrol hovercar whooshed by. Morwenna scowled; she didn't see her partner anywhere on the street. Damn her. She sat down at her desk and opened her upper drawer. Her stash of chocolate sat ready for situations like this; Morwenna grabbed a chocolate bar and ripped the wrapper off. She savoured the first bite, slowly chewing the chocolate to let it melt in her mouth and roll over her tongue. The redhead moaned, enjoying the flavour. She closed her eyes and swallowed the bite. The buzzer for the front door sounded. Morwenna sat up. She heard Bronya call, “Mora, are you here?” The redhead started to answer, but decided to get up and walk back up front instead. She glared at the platinum blonde.
Bronya set the bag of sandwiches on the reception desk. “I'm late, sorry,” she snapped. “I picked up the tickets to get to Yeeran IV. I hope you weren't starving.” She gave a deliberate look at the chocolate bar in Morwenna's hand.
Morwenna slapped the chocolate down on the desk and glared at the tall blonde. She opened the bag and grabbed one of the sandwiches at random. After a quick glance at her lunch, she marched back to her desk. “You're welcome!” Bronya called at her back. Morwenna tossed the sandwich, egg salad on dark rye, on her desk and dropped into her seat. Bitch.
Out front, Bronya leaned on the reception desk. Bitch. She shook her head, amazed at her lover's behaviour. I cannot believe her! The tall blonde sat down at the desk. I shouldn't have bothered coming back. She's just not receptive. Bronya picked up the remaining sandwich, a vegetarian with a mix of tomato, lettuce, eggplant, and avocado. She scowled. Figures.
The return to the apartment was quieter than the trip to the office. Morwenna kept her attention focused on her data tablet as she kept tracing Rachel Burke's purchases. Bronya, in the meantime, guided the metallic red Picasa Motors Airstream aerodyne back to their home, not looking over at her lover and partner during the flight. The mutual silent treatment continued through the elevator ride up to the apartment, the rest of the day, and even late into the night. Bronya gave up on getting Morwenna's attention by running errands for her and retired to the bedroom. The platinum blonde stripped out of her clothes and put on a simple night shirt before crawling under the covers. She heard Morwenna slip into the bedroom and walk quietly to the bed. As Bronya's hopes rose that Morwenna's mood had improved, the redhead dashed them by grabbing her pillow and a spare blanket before leaving again.