Mesong uncupped her hand and held the small gem up to the light. Bits of bright color pierced the darkness and danced around her body. She smiled and covered it again.
The most precious gem in the galaxy was finally hers. Well, except that it wasn’t really a gem. But, that didn’t matter. She always wanted a Marku fertility stone and now she had one. She clinched it tight to her body and slipped out the door, back to her ship.
Li’ca laid on the floor and wrestled with the pain. It was gone. Thirty years to make and it was gone. She touched the small hole in her chest and wrenched with agony and loss. It was gone.
Her skin still glowed in bright pink and red hues. At least she was still fertile. But, who would want her now. Who would want to mate with a stoneless one?
She had heard the stories of the night thieves, sneaking in and snatching stones from the chests of fertile Marku. How did she become one of them? How was she not more careful? Would it be another thirty years before her body made another stone?
Stepka stepped out from behind the small wall that was hiding him. In all her glee, Mesong didn’t see him following her back to her ship.
She stood in the darkness, signaling for the ramp of her ship to drop. Stepka walked up behind her. The stone was glowing bright pink through her tiny hand.
He grabbed her shoulder and spun her around. “It belongs to her,” he said. Mesong quickly drew a small gun from her side.
“Are you crazy? Delusional? I have searched my entire life for this. It’s mine. And you can’t stop me from taking it,” she replied.
Stepka reached for his pocket.
“Not so fast there.” Mesong jabbed the gun in his direction to remind him of it.
Stepka slowly raised his hand. The night erupted with a magical display of bouncing lights. Mesong’s eyes lit up. Stepka’s stone was bigger than the one she had stolen from Li’ca. The light curtained them both with color.
Stepka held Li’ca in his arms.
“Life must begin with a stone. Life must begin with this stone,” he said.
“But, you traded your Santar for mine? That stone was given to your father by your mother. It was part of you. You will be stoneless now.”
“I traded my stone for ours,” he said as he brushed his hand across her face. “Anyways, it will come back to me. It knows me, as I know it.”
She kissed him deep and gave him her stone.
Stepka carried her to the bed.
Li’ca felt rested and content.
She would not need to wait another thirty years.