Authors: Viola Grace
Tags: #Adult, #Science Fiction, #Space Opera, #Romance
With a firm grasp on shifting her shape, she meets a man who can always see through her, and she doesn’t mind.
Illuma was born of two different species and it created a rift between her parents. Growing up as an elegant young woman crossed with a being of mist made knowing what she was supposed to look like difficult.
Recruited as a young adult, she joined the Citadel and pursued xenobiology. Her fascination with alien appearances extended into work with espionage and species assessment. She could make any member of a species look like any other species or race that she wanted.
Olwick had served his time in the Citadel, but when Illuma came to his sister’s rescue, he felt a connection to her, and he certainly owed her. Seeking out the Breethin-Nishan cross in the Citadel was difficult but making a connection beyond a shared origin would tax his skills and her patience.
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Blue and Alluring
Copyright © 2015 Viola Grace
Cover art by Martine Jardin
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Blue and Alluring
Tales of the Citadel 49
Illuma kicked her feet and worked on her homework. Her tutor suddenly shot to his feet when her father walked in. He looked as he always did. Handsome and scary.
“Lord Ambrehar, we were not expecting you.” The tutor scrambled to take stock of what his charge was doing.
“I am aware of that. Illuma, close your books and come with me.”
Illuma nodded and hopped down to the floor. Her father took her hand, and they walked through the halls of the manor house that served as his base of operations when he was on Breethin.
“Illuma, you are nearly twenty years old. It is time for you to grow up.” He sighed and squeezed her hand.
“I don’t know how.”
“I know. I am taking you to see your mother. She will tell you what I don’t know.”
Their driver was waiting, and Lord Ambrehar lifted her, settling her into her seat and making sure she fastened in before he took his own spot. “The hollows, please.”
Her father kept her hand as they travelled. She didn’t ask questions. She didn’t have to. If he wanted her to look her age in the physical sense, only another Nishan could show her. Her mother had lost the ability to keep a physical form when Illuma was born, but she could still help out with instructions.
When they had reached the hollows, their vehicle stopped, and her father helped her unbuckle and get out.
The valley filled with mist was her favourite place to visit. She tried to do it at least once a month, but it was hard to convince her tutor and her legs were too short for her riot runner.
She waited for her father and took his hand as they approached her mother. Tendrils of mist curled out and touched her cheek, played with her hair and stroked her father with the same care.
“Good evening, Lumina. Illuma needs your help. She is still wearing a child’s body, but she is two decades old. She needs to look the same age as her mind. There is a future for her, and she cannot take advantage of it if she remains a child.” Her father’s tone had the hitch in it that it always had when he spoke to the woman that he loved.
The tendrils of vapour tugged at Illuma until she walked down into the misty hollow.
Child, your father is worried.
I know, Mother. I would have become a young lady years ago, but he told me that he loved me just the way I was. I guess that has run its course.
A deep chuckle ran through her mind.
It isn’t that he loves you any less; he just wants more for you. He wants you to travel, have adventures and fall in love. You cannot do those things here, and you certainly cannot do it in that body.
How do I change?
I will help you with the basics, but you are going to have to select your final form and appearance.
Thank you, Mother.
Their minds meshed, and Illuma gathered energy from the world around her to propel her increase in mass.
* * * *
Lord Ikther Ambrehar watched as the mist pulled back after three hours. Sitting in a crater was a young woman with shimmering skin and long, straight blue hair. He had been terrified that she would look like her mother’s favourite form.
He took steps toward the woman, and she rose to her feet, her form blurring as fabric replaced skin texture.
She swayed a little and smiled. “Hello, Father.”
He could feel the tears tracking down his cheeks. It didn’t matter. His little girl was all grown up.
“Illuma. I think you need an appointment with a dressmaker. None of your clothing will fit.”
She grinned and hugged him. His heart skipped a beat. This was the first step on a path that would take his daughter from him, and he had forced himself to make it.
* * * *
Experimenting with her skin was the first week of her new transformation. She left the hair the way it was and made two braids at her temples just like her mom used to.
The dressmaker had nearly had hysterics as Illuma had increased and decreased her measurements every few minutes.
Illuma’s tutor had quit, and now, she was stuck studying xenobiology without a companion. Her life had definitely changed.
Her father remained at the house, and they had dinner every evening. Tonight, he had invited a special guest.
When he had told her that, she had caught the subtext that she was to be on her best behaviour and fully dressed.
Illuma stared at herself in the mirror and made faces without moving a muscle. When she was done, she let everything slide back to normal, and she looked through her dinner gowns. For her, misting was the most awkward portion of the shifting process. Her mother’s natural form had been mist, and her system had been stressed as it carried a child to gestation. Once she had delivered, she had dissipated and gone to the hollow.
Lord Ambrehar had been left with a little girl to raise. Her regular visits to the hollow as an infant had given her what she needed to grow past the toddler phase, but when she was five, her father started to spend less and less time at home. She was unable to get to the hollow on her own, so she stopped growing.
As time passed, when she did visit the hollow, it was to share her new discoveries with her mother. Growing physically didn’t matter when she could speak and care for herself, even if she was small.
She hadn’t clued into the passing of time until her father had mentioned how old she was. For a physical being, twenty should have seen her through puberty. For a half Nishan, puberty was a state of mind. She had no interest in it, so it didn’t matter. If she got to the point where she wanted to reproduce, she would concentrate on it then.
With a soft blue dress that complemented her hair, she trailed tattoos across her skin in a vine pattern and looked at herself in a mirror. She supposed she could pass for attractive if you liked blue hair.
Snickering, she walked through the halls and smiled at the few maids who were finishing up their daily duties.
It had to have been stressful for them to have their eternal child change into a woman, but it was what her father wanted, so his servants would have to deal with it.
The sitting room was warm, and her father was sitting and reading a digital tablet. “Illuma, you look lovely.”
Learning that how she looked was important to him had been a surprise, but she was getting used to it. The fact that she could now reach all of the cookies in the house without standing on a chair was one of the perks of her new height.
She walked over and kissed her father on the cheek.
“I like the markings. New design?”
“Yes. I have been experimenting with the superficial. It is fun to see the reactions of those around me.”
He chuckled. “Sit. Tell me about your day.”
She sat on a well-stuffed chair next to him and went through her xenobiology studies, including her efforts to mimic the organs and appearances that she read about.
“Can you do one now? Without needing to change clothing?”
She shifted into an Azon appearance and smiled. “How about this?”
She moved to Nyal. “Or this?”
The third was a Selna with velvety black skin. “Or this.”
She resumed her features.
He chuckled. “You kept blue hair through all of the changes.”
She shrugged. “I didn’t want you to forget it was me.”
He laughed. “Well, our guest this evening might ask you to do a few of those species. He is a recruiter from the Citadel, and I believe that you would benefit from hearing what he has to offer.”
“The Citadel? I don’t have any extra-sensory talent.”
“Ah, button. Your half-Nishan bloodlines are unusual enough to qualify you.”
She frowned. “What about my Breethin half?”
“It is enough to get the Citadel here for the interview instead of you going to them.” He winked one of his navy-blue eyes.
She grinned and heard the arrival of a heavy vehicle. “I believe our guest is here.”
“I believe he is. Shall we greet him?”
Her father rose to his feet and offered her his arm. She took it, and they walked together to the entryway where Kremon was letting their guest in.
She stared at the horns and stowed the pattern away for later as she met her very first dhemon. It was her first alien of many.
Three years of medical training and a specialization in altering others’ physiologies gained Illuma a prime position in the Citadel. She changed folks.
Her personality did not lend itself to going on investigative missions, but her skills and awareness of the details of biology made her the perfect person to change the travelling operatives into something that would pass a close inspection.
She used her machines to alter the organs and bones, but when it came to skin, she used herself.
Illuma sent off another one of the agents from her small and solitary space station near Lowel. While there were treatments to create an artificial skin, Illuma had better results in coating her clients with a fine mist and shaping it to the texture that she wanted. The organs would be subjected to entry scans at borders and space stations. The skin could be altered to fake a genetic signature if you knew what you were doing, and she did.
Her expertise was letting the Citadel scout talents in races that didn’t know other species existed and who did not think highly of anyone who stood out.
When the agent was done, she recalled the part of herself that they were wearing at the same time that she renovated their organs back into normal formation.
Illuma spent a lot of time alone, and she liked it that way. Working with the agents and dropping them off on their target worlds was fun, but it was not what she really enjoyed. Her true passion had come as a surprise to her, but she liked to paint.
Paint was an absolute; it was a representation of a place or time that could exist, or it could be completely imaginary, but the colours were real. The paint was real, and the canvas was solid. It reminded her of herself. She looked one way, but she could change into anything else with just a bit of effort and an alteration in her surface.
Her com chimed, and she finished cleaning the lab as she called out, “Incognito Station, at your service.”
Her voice was the one thing she hadn’t been able to work on. She could change the pitch, but her inflection was still flat. Even her features had the possibility to smile and laugh, but she didn’t know what kind of stimuli would manage that feat.
“Illuma, there is an incoming request from Lowel. A specialist needs a fast turnover. Can you manage it?”
“I can try. Send me the specs and get him in the zip. I am just tidying up after my last appointment. I will be ready within the hour.”