This is a draft of about 1/2-2/3 of the first chapter of a sequel for 'Cynthia the Invincible'. When I'm not sure of what to use for a word, I'll often put in <> which is computer science shorthand for "insert value here".
Since as you would expect, Cynthia actually ends up with Lord Wroxham in the first book, this book flips it around where he's the odd one out.
This chapter is sort of a prologue, and the plot, such as it is involves how do they find themselves in this position.
Cynthia shouted at her ship. “What do you mean I’m grounded? This is Catelexit, it’s not in the Terran space. I can’t stay here.” She paused, “We can’t stay here.”
Chris calmly replied to her. “Madame Ambassador, what did you expect?”
“I don’t know. But not this.”
“You’re definitely pregnant and you cannot fly. Do you want to lose your child?”
Cynthia stopped for a second, then in a low voice said “No, of course not.”
“Then you’re grounded. For at least a year.”
“Chris, what am I going to do? I’m sure James will be happy, but the Cataxi?”
“Ma’am, if I might remind you why the Cataxi asked for you, specifically for you, to be the first permanent Terran ambassador. It’s a great honor.”
“Right, I stole the Xree.”
“No. It’s because they think it worked on you and Lord Wroxham. Because, although you stole it, you respected their religion in the end. In their eyes it wasn’t theft if you were using it for the proper religious purpose. They expect it to pull you here so that your first born can be part of the circle of Clix-at-ticth.”
“Do we know anything about their reproductive biology?”
“It doesn’t matter, Madam. They are going to be excited about seeing how humans reproduce.”
“Christ, Chris. I really don’t want my child’s birth on their television.”
The screen clicked into live. It was the Cataxi Prime Minister and his Gotha translator <>. “Madam Ambassador” <> said.
“Our sensors indicate that there are now three humans on Catelexit. That is one more than we agreed to.”
“I know. Can you explain to the most honored minister that I am with child?”
< > turned to his minister and with a series of clicks and whines translated what Cynthia said. The Minister bowed and his carapace turned bright green. < > replied to her, “Madam Ambassador, my honored minister expresses his deepest respect. He did not realize that you were in the breeding season.” There was a further stream of clicks. “He continues, do you need a nursery for your egg?”
“Can you tell him that I will carry my child inside me?”
“I will. May I add my personal congratulations? I hope that Lord Wroxham and you prosper. That your child is healthy and brings happiness to you.”
“Thank you.” The Gotha were one of the few truly honest races in the known galaxy. Physically, if they kept their clothes on, they could pass for human. Unlike humans they had a well-earned reputation for accuracy and truth. As such they made excellent translators and police. You knew that if they made an error in translation, it was an honest mistake or an untranslatable concept.
< > turned to the Minister and explained as best he could what was happening within Cynthia. The minister clicked away and then < > expounded, “We are truly honored that your eminence chose to bear her young on our planet. May they enter into the cycle of the stars and live a proper life.”
Cynthia bowed, the minister used the formulaic greeting that implied an honored birth. She really was stuck here now. “I hope that he or she may be worth the honor you imply.”
The Minister clicked a few more times at his translator. <> turned to Cynthia and said, “My Minister would like to be a member of the party that delivers the T'cha to you. Would you be agreeable to that?”
“Can you give me a moment to decide?”
“As you wish.”
Cynthia hurriedly asked Chris, “What the hell is a T'cha?”
For once, Chris was at a loss, “I have no idea Ma'am. This is probably a ceremony involving birth, but that is a guess.”
“Can you raise James from the AR? I think I'll need him for this ceremony.” Her husband was being force-fed the things any educated man would know in 2350.
Cynthia addressed <>, “I would be honored if your elegance would attend. Could you explain to me what is involved?”
<> clicked away to the Minister, then turned to Cynthia and said, “Madame Ambassador, the T'cha is a gem that signifies your status as a mother. There is a religious ceremony where it is presented to you.” Cynthia nodded, despite being a highly advanced civilization, the Cataxi embedded everything in religion and ritual.
“Please tell the Minister that I am truly honored. My husband is currently in the AR unit, but should be ready soon. How long do we have to prepare?”
The Minister, who understood Terran but used the translator for protocol's sake answered directly, “Ch'tl ahul”
Cynthia replied,“An hour. That should be fine. If you would allow us to prepare.”
The screen went blank.
James, Lord Wroxham, entered the room. He was bleary and more than a bit disorientated. It was never pleasant to be pulled out of the AR unit. He said, “What's happening?” while he was trying to clear his mind.
“You know how we thought I might be-”
“I am, and the Cataxi detected it. They're making an official call to celebrate.”
“Oh.” James stiffened. The Cataxi were so alien to humans, that he had nearly run when he first saw them. While his AR-training had filled in many of the blank spots in his knowledge, he still felt uneasy in their prescence.
“It will be fine James. The Minister likes you.”
“I know, it's just that he still gives me the willies.”
“That will pass as you get used to them. I thought this would be a good time to trot out the formal wear.”
“Get your suit. I'll wear that dress.”
“Your wedding dress?”
“Why not? I never would have thought it, but it is comfortable. I've grown to like dresses. Besides, there isn't time for Chris to generate two formal uniforms.”
The bell to the Terran residency rang. When Lord Wroxham opened it, he was greeted by ten Cataxi priests. They were all in their second instar and dressed in their ceremonial orange robes. They danced and chanted, while the aroma of a burning resinous incense filled the air. Two mature Cataxi priests, dressed in the green raiment of T'cha ceremony followed them, and finally, walking with a measured dignity came the Prime Minister and translator.
Lord Wroxham bowed and gestured for them to enter the room. The young priests split to make a passage and the three mature Cataxi entered. Then the young followed them. Cynthia stood before them and waited for James to stand beside her. She put her hand in his, and whispered in his ear, “It isn't that bad, is it?”
He squeezed her hand, and said, “They are an acquired taste. Still, I am glad you're next to me.”
The Prime Minister took a package from one of the other adult Cataxi. After much bowing and what seemed an interminable chant, the Minister pulled a small necklace from it. Cynthia bowed her head and the three adults put the necklace on her. The green gem that formed the pendant on the necklace began to glow. Cynthia started, and quickly asked Chris “Will this harm my baby?”
“No. At least I don't pick up any radiation, so it should be safe for now. I'll check the chemistry later.”
The chanting stopped, and the priests filed out. Only the Prime Minister, the translator and one of the young priests remained.
The Prime minister sat and indicated with a gesture of the secondary arms that this was now an informal visit.
Cynthia and James joined him and pulled up chairs so that they could converse in comfort.