Once the details of her life are sorted out and all impediments removed, Hesker takes on a new name for a new life in a new position. She heads to the stars, is reset, and all traces of her previous life are removed from her body.
No one wants to carry a lifetime of mistreatment and murder with them, after all.
Once she gets to the Imperium, she is ready to start afresh, and being the envoy to the imperial heirs is not a task for the faint-hearted.
She is tasked with bringing boxes containing gifts to nearly a hundred worlds, and she is guarded with her own set of guardians.
One of her guards is tasked with guardianship of her person, and he immediately gives her authorization to touch him for instructional purposes. What woman could refuse an invitation like that?
Hesker took the two boxes from the sad-looking man in the sombre suit. “Thank you, Mr. Bywell.”
He nodded. “Have a peaceful day, Ms. Linton. My condolences.”
She nodded. “Thank you.” She turned her back and carried the boxes of cremated remains to her car. She put them in the trunk and drove to her appointment.
She parked in a towaway zone in front of the terminal and left her car unlocked with the keys in it. She saw the woman she had already met with inside the terminal and smiled.
A guard rushed out and said, “You can’t park that here.”
“It isn’t parked; it’s abandoned. The keys are in it. Enjoy.”
She walked toward the terminal, and the guards around Minerva opened the door and nodded to her.
Minerva smiled. “You have concluded all your business, Ms. Linton?”
She inhaled slowly and exhaled. “Call me Hesker. I don’t want any part of them coming with me.”
Minerva nodded in calm understanding. “Hesker then. We will update our records. Ready to sign?”
Hesker nodded. “Yes, please.”
She took the tablet, signed, and pressed her thumb into the square. A weight lifted off her shoulders, and she smiled. “I am going to get those alterations?”
“White hair and red eyes, no freckles or body markings. Well, until you get your imperial courier tattoo.”
“New marks are fine. Old marks have to go.”
“We will scrub you clean.” Minerva nodded. “May I hug you?”
Hesker paused and then nodded. The woman hugged her and pressed a kiss to her forehead. To be on the receiving end of a kind and warm embrace made her eyes sting. It was a new sensation.
Minerva’s embrace felt like the world herself was holding her. Hesker breathed deeply and wiped at her eyes when Minerva stepped away.
“Be well, be blessed.” Minerva smiled at her. “Be your awesome self.”
Minerva linked arms with her and led her to the vehicle that would take her to the shuttle that was waiting. She was leaving everything behind—her life. Years of torment were over. Now, she was getting a chance to start clear, and she was taking it. The things she had always dreamed of—education, travel, and exposure to new cultures—were now going to be hers. She would be able to actually spend a few decades living instead of letting her early life weigh her down.
She needed to cut herself off from her past and start over. This was the best way to do it.
She looked at the man in front of her tank, and her senses shrieked at the danger. She pressed her hand against the tank, and he smiled at her. She blinked. He was a different type of danger, and she hadn’t seen it before.
The man spoke to her, and the voice came through the fluid she was in. “You have excellent reflexes, but you will have to refine what you sense. I am an avatar. I have a living, sentient star linked to my body and mind. Two, if you count my wife.”
“Your wife?” The thought of this man having a normal relationship like marriage was a stunning idea. She tried to speak, but he seemed to catch on.
“Minerva-Gaia. She’s the avatar for your world. She and the planet share her body as needed.”
She blinked and spoke as clearly as she could. “Oh, that is what I felt. She’s very kind.”
He smiled. “She is. She and my daughter are my greatest joys. Zanican is the name of my star, and he is also very protective over my family.”
“You are telling me something.”
“Not all avatars are benign. Not all stars are deadly, and not all shadows have dark hearts. That is all you need to know for now. Congratulations though. We conducted that conversation in four languages, and you understood them all. Well done, Hesker.”
She didn’t know why, but she was very proud of herself. She inclined her head formally, and he grinned with sharp and deadly teeth. If Minerva had taken that to her bed, she was tougher than she looked.
The man’s voice rumbled through her tank. “I heard that. You ladies always go there right off. I am very careful with her, but she can be a bit rough with me. Deal with that mental image.”
Hesker blinked, and she laughed without making a sound. His indignation had been genuine but so had his affection for his spouse. It was adorable for someone who was over seven feet tall and nearly three feet wide with living tattoos under his skin.
So, she had to look around and see who she was sharing space with. There was a woman with blue and green hair and pale skin, another with burgundy hair and gold skin, another woman with chalky skin and navy hair, a fourth with pale peach skin and black and purple hair. It seemed that leaving the human hair colour was a common desire.
She looked at her own white locks, the body that was tighter than it had been the first time she saw twenty-five, and her scars were gone. She focused on the new information that she was being given via the jack on her skull and the screen in front of her. Today’s lesson was etiquette, and it was going to be her lesson for the next few weeks. It was going to be her life, and it would be up to her to figure out every situation and respond appropriately. It was a good thing that she was an expert at finding her way in dangerous situations. She was going to need every advantage she could get.
There were men in the med chamber, and they weren’t the Tival medics that had been attending to her. The men were wearing armour, and one of them looked impatient.