On the far side of the lake she watched as a khanid woman was playing with a small child. There was a happiness she could see in the two of them, even though she could not make out the details too clearly. The girl, only a few years old, and the woman, looked to be in her early twenties. Although it wasn't that apparent, there were guards surrounding the two of them, leaning against trees, hiding in bushes. Some of the other people in the park also looked to be wrong, their stances and the way they were paying attention to things set them aside as guards.
Carmilla sighed and sat down heavily on the bench. Orchid's hand rested on her shoulder
"What is it Carm? Who are they?"
"That, my dear sweet girl.... is my daughter and my ex-wife..."
The words came out almost as a sob, though it was restrained. She felt Orchids hand squeeze her shoulder involuntarily.
"I'm sorry, I didn't know."
"It's okay, I didn't tell you. It's one of my failures, loosing them both."
"Why dont you go over there and...."
"Because I'd be shot before getting half way there."
"What, those guards?"
"Orchid... look at their position. Really look at it. It's very defensible, and they can see anyone coming from at least a mile away. Dont think they havn't already seen us and wondered if we are a threat."
"But she's your daughter!"
"And she's also her daughter to. And I can't go there... it's too painful."
Orchid sat down next to her and soon after Rose came and sat on her other side.
"Why are we here, Mistress?"
"Rose, we are here because I like to torture myself. And see what I can never have again."
"We all have families...."
Something of the way she said it made Carmilla turn to her. The look in her face softened and her eyes glistened.
"What have I done? What have I done to you both?"
The two geisha looked at her and shuffled closer.
"What do you mean? You rescued us both, took us both in and made us your girls."
"You are my slaves... it doesn't matter how I see you both, legally you are both slaves."
"And? You look after us..."
"She's right, you do. We could have been bought by anyone...and who knows what our fate could have been."
"But you have families?"
"Yes... we both do. Just as you do."
Carmilla looked once more at Ithiria and their daughter playing and saw her look up, look at her.
"We're going. Now. Take me away please?"
The three of them stood outside of the hanger bay and she looked at them both.
"Rose. Orchid.... Where are you families?"
"I think that mine are still in minmatar space, Gulfondi."
"Mine travelled around a lot, though I dare say I can find them."
Carmilla pulled out her comm and called the ship.
"Get the prowler ready, we're going to Gulfondi and then... somewhere else."
"Mistress, you dont' need to do this."
"Yes I do. And one day, you'll realise why I had to. Come on... we have some searching to do."
Carmilla and Orchid stood in the rain on the far side of the street from the door Rose was standing at knocking. The rain that was falling was light, casual and refreshing change from the hot and dusty city. Gulfondi, she mused, I'm standing here with two slaves in the middle of a city that would quite happily kill me for having one, let alone.....
The door to the house opened and a surprised looking woman and a handsome man looked at Rose and pulled her into their arms. Orchid squeezed Carm's hand.
"The good thing about the rain is you can't see the tears."
"I'm not crying," she sniffed.
"Yes you are. You think I don't know you?"
Rose said something to the people and ran across the street to Carm and Orchid
"How long can I stay? I mean... can I stay?"
"Rose..." Carm wiped her eyes, "If you want to stay I will free you. If you want to return to me, you know where I am."
"If I come back to you, will I still be your slave?"
Rose looked at her and flung her arms around her, then around Orchid and ran back to the house.
"You know she'll come back, right?"
"I wouldn't blame her if she didn't."
"But you know she'll come back... right?"
"I hope so. Come on Orchid, time to get you to your family."
"And you'll offer me the same?"
Orchid slipped her arms around her Mistress and hugged her tightly.
"Carm... I am home."
Three days later, sitting on the end of the pier with Whisper and Orchid Carmilla looked out over the sea when she heard the shuttle landing. She didn't look around, just kept looking out over the ocean.
She raised her head and turned around. Rose was standing there, dressed in her finest kimono. Carm stood up and looked at her.
"Rose... you came back?"
"Of course I did."
"But... you could be at home, with your family...."
Orchid and Whisper stood up and looked at Rose with knowing eyes and a kindred understanding.
"Carmilla.... I am home."