Two months. Two brooding infuriating months. Aurora had known it was going to take time for the Senate to come to a consensus on what they wanted done but really?! Since her first visit to the Senate they had only been invited back one time. And that one time had been an absolute disaster.
Amongst the many other qualms many of the senators had about opening up trade with the Kanaima Aurora and Red had finally delivered the requirements of the Grand Council that made up the leaders of the Kanaima race.
The main spur of everything seemed to be the release of all the Kanaima held in what was simply called ‘the camp'. The camp was a compound deep in the Florida Everglades far away from most all human life. In it held all the Kanaima that had been caught crossing the border illegally. Aurora had heard mention of it from Gerhard a long time ago but had never given it much thought until it had come up in the negotiations.
Supposedly it housed many dangerous Kanaima who had attacked and or killed federal agents during raids on the black market trading areas. Red had seemed rather adamant that the camp be shut down. This of course had set off a fire storm of arguments back and forth amongst the various members of the Senate ending in them being asked to leave and only return when invited.
During this time the president seemed to be rather irate about the whole situation more than once being seen or heard in the manor cussing and fuming about the stubborn old men as he called them. He had tried to comfort Aurora over the situation saying that it was a matter that would quickly be resolved in just a few days.
That had been two months ago. Aurora had spent her free time mostly in the manor or on the grounds surrounding it. She and Red had found a large open gym area and would often be found sparring back and forth with one another. At one time a few of the federal security had asked to join in. Aurora had been surprised at their speed and strength, and while no match for her or Red they would be more than a match for the average Kanaima. The president had chuckled when she questioned him on it telling her they where a new generation of security team similar to a Kanaima but minus the fur and fangs.
Aurora and Red had both been surprised at this revelation but soon dismissed it. Besides the sparring Aurora had gone through hundreds if not thousands of rounds of ammunition both from her new found handgun and her new favorite toy. A specially modified M21 rifle it was a lot lighter and shorter than her Barret but packed a special 35 caliber round that worked at both close range and supposedly could reach almost as far as the massive 50.
All this though was only a mild distraction from the mounting frustration bordering on anger she was developing. This was compounded ten fold every time she called back home to check on everyone. Life it seemed was moving well back in Vail. According to Gerhard the town had been nearly completely restored. That was little comfort to her though especially when Ziggy would get on the phone. More and more the young kit would start crying every time they talked, she wanted Aurora back and Aurora couldn’t blame her.
In her absence she realized just how much she had gotten use to Ziggy always being near her. And seeing the young kit crying only deepend the longing she felt to be back home. The last call she had made ended with Ziggy begging her to just come home and only ended when Kathy had come in dragging the kit away.
Aurora had cried long and hard over that as she truly felt guilty for it taking so long. Sorin had come to her rescue and comforted her the best he could over the phone. It had not done much other than remind Aurora that she missed him as well.
But none of that paled in comparison to Frost. The fox was verging on a nervous breakdown almost daily. Her stomach had slowly started to grow more and more as the time progressed leaving a daily reminder to Aurora that time was not on their side. Blake had been of no help as he was stressing just as much as Frost over not being there, Aurora had tried reassuring him but that only made him more agitated.
Finally as Aurora rolled out of bed to the chiming of the alarm she had had enough. Grabbing her black outfit she got dressed heading out into the hall. Red was already outside in the lobby reading as he often did when he saw her marching by. Standing up quickly he grabbed her by the arm as she made her way to the exit. “What are you doing?” he said in a very serious tone.
She snapped her arm away from him her green eyes burning with her rage coming out in full force. “Im putting an end to this. It’s been two months and I am not waiting another two while these men bicker about some trial bullshit that doesn’t matter!”
Red slowly shut his book as he glared down at her. “You won’t be going anywhere miss Aurora. You are not going to blow this all up because you are being impatient.”
Aurora lifted her head challengingly as she stared back. “Im doing this red and you can’t stop me.”
Red cocked a brow tightening his grip on her arm. “You aren’t going and the only way you are going is if you can beat me.”
Aurora looked down at his hand then up at him. “Fine” she said relaxing. Red nodded and slowly loosened his grip. Aurora spun in a flash punching him square in the face with all her strength. With a satisfying crunch Red went flying back slamming into the far wall.
Slowly standing Red snarled wiping his nose as a little blood trickled out. “So be it.” He said coldly. Without another word he lunged forwards full force.
Taking a side step backwards Aurora managed to just barely avoid the powerful swing just missing the end of her nose. Before she had any time to recover Red was crouched down and lunging at her. Reflexively she brought her knee up hard only to be met with air. Red was now almost close enough for his shoulder to touch her as he brought his other hand around slamming his fist into her chest.
The blow sent Aurora flying back crashing through a small coffee table shattering it. Rolling backwards with a snarl she sprung up to her feet only for Red to be almost directly under her. Spinning sideways she barely escaped his grip driving her foot up into his gut.
Staggering a little Red didn’t hesitate as he turned quickly using the claws in his feet to stop his motion and launch forwards at her again. This time however Aurora had her feet under her and she jumped up just avoiding him again. With an insane speed Red brought himself to a stop and spun just as she landed.
Aurora caught his shoulder square across her waist as he tackled her to the ground. Grabbing her arms he pinned her down with a savage snarl. Aurora hissed back baring her fangs at him driving her knee up twice into his abdomen making his grip falter. Using her entire upper body Aurora drove her head strait into his nose making him topple over backwards.
Siezing the moment Aurora lunged forwards jumping on him and locking her jaw around his throat. Red punched her hard in the face but she did not release her grip. Tightening her fangs around his neck she gave a loud snarl tasting blood in her mouth.
Red froze and finally went limp against her. His chest heaving up and down. Aurora held her grip for several seconds longer until she was satisfied that he was no longer going to continue to fight. Slowly releasing her grip she stood up slowly looking down on him spitting “fucking stop me now” she snarled baring her fangs.
Red rolled over slowly climbing to his feet as he looked at her grabbing his neck then pulling his hand away. Looking away he took a long slow breath and nodded. “You beat me… fair and square. Do what you want.”
Aurora snorted and nodded finally taking her eyes off of him and looking around. There where no less than twenty men armed to the teeth all of them had their guns trained on the two of them. “Leave them be” came the booming voice of the president as he stepped forwards through the sea of men.
Aurora huffed nodding at him as the men all slowly lowered their weapons. “Thanks” she said shortly rubbing the side of her face.
The president nodded walking over to her. “That my dear was absolutely stunning. I see now why the arc angels where so feared in combat.”
Aurora sighed and nodded turning towards him. “Sir can I have a ride to the Senate. I’m ending all this child’s play.”
The president’s eyes twinkled with delight as he nodded. “Of course, will it just be you going?”
Before Aurora could answer Red was at her side. “No we will all go, frost included. She is right this needs to end.” The president raised a brow as Red lifted a hand. “Kanaima custom the strongest member decides what we do. Up till now that was me, give us a minute to prepare.” Without another word he walked down the hallway to Frosts room.
Aurora sighed as she took a deep breath to steady herself. “I apologize that happened here but something had to give.”
The president chuckled shaking his head. “My dear if our politics where handled in such way this country may be better off. I will go prepare for our arrival.” With that the president bowed slightly and walked off down the hallway.
A few short minutes later Red and Frost where both loading into a SUV while Aurora was asked to ride in a separate vehicle with the president. Climbing in she was a bit apprehensive now about what she was going to do.
“Now the Senate has not been told you are coming. But I want you to show the passion in there that you had in that fight.” The president chuckled as they pulled out of the drive. “If need be I will step in. I do have some power over the Senate and I will use it if need be.”
Aurora nodded as the short drive ended and they all climbed out of their vehicles. Climbing out on to the marble steps Aurora took a deep breath as Red and Frost came up behind her standing on either side with the president pulling up the back. Marching up the stairs Aurora and the others marched in much to the desk clerks dismay. Reaching the double doors Aurora paused for a moment “here goes” she said softly.
Grabbing the two doors she flung them both inwards with a resounding bang. The Senate hall was completely full with a senator standing on the podium speaking. The entire room jumped and instantly went silent as Aurora marched to the front with a new found confidence.
The senator at the podium scurried out of her way as she climbed the stairs to the podium. Before she could even speak senator Travors stood and boomed out “what the hell is this? We are in the middle of a meeting!”
Aurora cut her eyes at him as the anger in her body welled up to the surface. Her chest puffed out as she nearly roared out. “Shut the hell up you pompous old windbag!” This sent the senator ducking down instantly as Aurora grabbed either side of the podium looking out over the crowd.
“In all my years in this Earth it is astounding that such a group of men lead this country. We came here bearing an olive branch to you all to end tensions between our nation’s. We have been patient and understanding but that ends now. Our requests are not difficult to understand nor are they hard to follow through with. The fact that it has taken two months to come to a decision is sickening!” the entire room seemed frozen in fear at the ferocity of her voice.
“So this is how we are going to handle this. I am giving you lot 48 hours from right now to come to a consensus. If one can not be met we will return to our country, only after we have released every Kanaima in the camp. Any attempt to stop us will be nothing short of a declaration of war. And if you do not decide once we have returned our borders will be closed forever more to the federation. Any human caught in our lands will be tried and executed. We are not pawns to be played with. Should you decide to work with us we will send an envoy at a later date to discuss the finer details of our new trade city.”
Staring out at the crowd she gave a pause before continuing. “ we do not want a quarell with the federation but we will not be made to sit and wait upon your whims to try and show your authority. You have no authority over us nor will you ever. We are your equals. Have I made myself perfectly clear?”
All around the room everyone stayed frozen until a senator in the very back of the room stood up. “I vote here and now that the full terms of the trade deal be accepted” around the room the senators slowly began to stand all stating the same thing. Finally senator Travors was the only one left sitting.
Aurora glared at him with icy eyes until he slowly stood. “Very well. By unanimous vote the Senate of the federation agree to the terms of your treaty.” The entire room erupted in a round of applause as Aurora took a deep breath bowing her head down.
Feeling a touch on her arm the president stood at her side smiling. Aurora stepped out of the way as he took the stand. “And from here on out, we shall acknowledge the existence of the Kanaima lands in their entirety. Let us learn from our past so we can make a better future.” The room erupted in a thunderous round of applause.
Watching the crowd Aurora noticed a few of the senators looking less than pleased with what had just transpired. But at that moment Aurora was feeling invincible as she stood next to the president. Finally they both came down off the stage as he shook her hand. “I always knew you’d be the one. Somehow I knew you’d end all of this. We will send an emissary back with you to talk to your council and begin working on the foundations of this new future.”
Aurora took a long ragged breath as she nodded slowly. “Thank you for all your help.” She smiled back at him.
“Oh don’t thank me dear. I owe my life to your kind.” He gestured to the scar on his face. “Kanaima saved my life once upon a time. I hehe had a rather shady past as a smuggler once upon a time. A Roanoke attacked us down on the Rio grande , I’m only here because they saved me. Been trying to pay them back ever since.”
Aurora cocked a brow and nodded with a smile. “Well I’m glad we could return the favor. For now though I would like to head back and start getting packed. I want to return as soon as possible.”
The president chuckled and nodded. “That kit of yours has been missing you hasn’t she?” Aurora smiled and nodded as they all headed to the front lobby amongst cheers and handshakes from several senators along the way.
Finally outside the building Aurora turned to look at Red and Frost. Red was standing there grinning ear to ear as he nodded. “Good job.” He smirked.
“Oh like you planned this.” She snorted
Red shrugged. “Well they weren’t going to listen to me being who I am. But a young woman with a voice like thunder who can simultaneously be both terrifying and inspiring… well that might work.”
Aurora couldn’t help but smile as she punched him in the arm. Turning to Frost she was a little surprised to see the fox fighting back tears. “Its over? We are really going home?” she said starting to tremble.
Aurora wrapped her arms around Frost and chuckled. “Yes but let’s not tell the others I want to surprise them.” Frost beamed and nodded as their vehicles pulled up. Again the president pulled her into his vehicle.
Aurora looked at him confused as he held up a hand. “I wanted to tell you some things in private.” He said as they started moving. “The camp will be cleared, though I do recommend someone of your kind oversee everything. I will also ensure that any held in research are brought to light and returned as well. But I do have one request.”
Aurora raised a brow but nodded slowly “alright I’m listening”
The president softly clapped his hands together. “While I am sure most if not all of your kind will have virtually no interest in exploring our country I have been hounded since the ball to let a research team in and explore your lands. If you recall a certain red headed woman named Topaz from the ball.” Aurora nodded slowly leaning forwards. “She and a few others would very much like to see your country.”
Aurora sat back and pondered for a moment then nodded. “I don’t see it being much of a problem really. When we get back I can speak to a few of the traders, maybe a couple of the locals see if I can’t get someone to guide then around.”
The president raised a brow curiously as he looked her over. “you mean to say that you will not be joining them? I thought you would leap at the opportunity.”
Aurora smiled and shook her head as she glanced out the window. “Had you asked me that three months ago I may have had a different answer. But I have people who love me waiting for me back in Vail and I simply can’t not be with them.”
He chuckled as the vehicle pulled to a stop in front of the manor. “Any suggestions on gear for the group?”
Aurora snorted and gave a quick nod. “Yeah tell them to pack light. And whoever you got our cloths from last time, don’t use them again. In fact if they want I know a very good tailor in Vail who can make them all outfits that can withstand pretty well anything. Besides that, small traceable items are always a plus and a quick easy way to make friends.”
The president nodded as he grinned ear to ear clapping his hands together. “I will inform them immediately” he said giddy as a school kid as he trotted off towards the far side of the manor.
Aurora smiled shaking her head. Walking up the steps she gave a soft sigh looking at the building “last day” she said to herself going through the double doors. Once inside she was surprised to see that Frost and Red had already beaten them there.
Frost came flying over and jumping on Aurora causing her to stagger backwards a bit. Frost had her arms locked around Auroras neck trembling. “Thank you Aurora.” She said squeezing harder.
Aurora smiled and gently rubbed Frosts back as she kept a tight hold on her neck. “Ok ok shhhh calm down. It’s all over now, we are leaving first thing in the morning.”
Red smirked and nodded as he walked around patting Aurora’s shoulder. “Im proud of you. I knew you could do it even if the council didn’t.”
Aurora raised a brow as she walked down the hallway carrying frost in her arms like a kit. “Oh so the council never wanted me to come huh?”
Red shrugged as they walked into one of the lobby areas and Aurora gently sat down with Frost on the couch as red took one of the wing backed chairs. “Honestly no. They where quite put out over the whole situation with you and the camera crew to begin with. Then there was the attack and Rachel contacting the president afterwards. Then culminating with you being asked to represent us in a treaty was a major slap in the face to them.”
Aurora nodded as she looked down at Frost who had passed out in her lap. Smiling she shook her head. “So how do you play into all of this? And on an entirely different note they are sending another camera crew. I kinda already said yes.”
Red snickered as he leaned back. “Well they won’t care about the crew now with all their demands being met. As for me, well let’s just say I carry a lot of weight with the council. That’s why I came along. The whole asking the traders thing was a bit of a ruse.”
Aurora huffed as she gently slid Frost over on to the couch next to her. “Is anything you do ever direct? You know what never mind I don’t even wanna know. We got the job done and that’s all that matters.”
Red grinned and nodded as he took a deep breath before getting up with a grunt. “Is the phone in your room?” Aurora nodded looking up confused. “Im going to call the council in Grand Junction and let them know what happened. Hopefully we can just go strait back to Vail then. Otherwise it’ll be an extra day spent fooling around with those old farts.”
Aurora smiled and nodded. “Im gonna start getting packed and make sure all of our travel plans are set. If I have any time left over I might go get in a last round of brass burning before we leave.”
Red nodded with a smile as he vanished down the hallway. Aurora took a deep breath and looked down at Frost who was still passed out. Shaking her head Aurora stood up before gently scooping the fox up and carrying her into her bedroom and laying her on the bed.
The rest of Auroras day flew by in a blur. Packing all but her favorite outfit and a few minor essentials. She had agreed that they would leave around 10 am after speaking with the president. Though somewhat to her surprised they where having slightly different travel plans this time.
Apparently Austin or Topaz as Aurora knew her had been sitting on a hair trigger waiting for them to say she could go. She and an entire crew where ready before Red had even gotten off the phone with the council.
The council itself seemed more than happy according to Red. And while they wished she would come to Grand Junction first Red had convinced them to give her a few days to get settled back in with her family before shuffling her off again. That had all been well and fine with Aurora until red had informed her she was going to have to speak publicly when they got to the city.
Frost had been so emotionally drained from the stress if the trip she had slept most of the afternoon away. Aurora truly felt sorry for her since she had tried so hard to stay silent about her own problems during all of this. Aurora was going to have to have to find a way to repay her for her patience when they got back.
Red on the other hand had spent most of the afternoon behind closed doors with the president. And while it didn’t bother her, Aurora’s curiosity was driving her insane. When they had finally emerged Red had only grinned at her not letting any information slip. And before Aurora could question him further the president had announced they where all going to dine together in the main hall. Aurora had groaned thinking she would have to dress nice again. Thankfully the president had said otherwise.
Waking frost not long before dinner Aurora helped her get dressed and cleaned up. Heading down together they entered the main dining hall to a dozen others already seated and waiting. Quickly Aurora moved around to the only two open spots. One was next to red and the other was almost at the head of the table at the presidents right hand.
Aurora had groaned knowing which seat was hers. Sitting Frost down she made her way around to the head of the table sitting next to the president. As soon as she was seated he stood up holding out a wine glass. “I propose a toast. To our wonderful guests who have shown grace and dignity far above measure time and again.” Everyone raised their glasses taking a drink.
Aurora smiled until Red chimed in “even if we did break a few pieces of furniture along the way” Everyone chuckled except Aurora who glared down the table at him. Red simply shrugged with a grin.
As the dinner was slowly being brought out the president patted his hands gently on the table getting everyone’s attention. “Apologies where are my manners. Aurora, Frost, Red, these people surrounding you have been some of your biggest supports both on the Senate floor and behind closed doors.” He gestured down the table. “You already know miss Austin, next to her are Jason, Samuel, Terry, Brooke and Roseanne.” Each one waved at her as the president called their names. “They are the crew venturing out with you all tomorrow.”
Aurora dipped her head to each. They all looked like people who spent a lot of time outdoors, tanned skin and lean bodies she hoped they could keep up with the traders. “Then on my left here we have senators Blane, Johnson, Ernest and Samson. Then way down there at the end is my lovely wife Eleanore.”
Aurora nodded to each as a huge plate was set in front of her. “Mr Red here informed me you all eat mostly wild game. I hope you enjoy the venison steaks.”
Aurora smirked since the president had pretty well gotten them anything they wanted from day one. “I want to thank you again for your generosity sir” she said cutting off a hunk of the steak before chomping down. “I am not sure we could have survived on fast food for two months”
The president chuckled nodding as one of the film crew leaned forwards “so what are the lands like exactly? Because of the media and history blackout we know essentially nothing.”
Aurora smiled as she took another big bite. “Imagine forests so thick from the air it’s just a sea of green. Grey stone mountains jutting up between valleys as far as the eye can see. Snow covered peaks lead down to streams of crystal clear water. The smell of pine and earth permeate the air. All around are the sounds of wildlife. Vail is the only town I’ve ever been to but is a paradise. Stone lined streets are lit by LED lights and gas lanterns. The streets are filled with the soft bustle of craftsmen at work amongst buildings of stone and wood…” she trailed off looking up seeing everyone transfixed on her every word.
Austin beamed and nodded “Whats the food like?” she asked taking a bite of her own steak.
Red smirked as he leaned back in his chair chiming in. “The food is all very simple. We hunt and fish for everything. The wildlife is numerous enough and our population is low enough that is all we need. Some places out on the plains have cattle and pigs but those are more of a delicacy. There is some farming as well but not anything huge. There are maybe five or six farms total that are larger than a hundred acres.”
The president chuckled “please let our guests eat. You will all get to see it soon enough. Oh and miss Aurora. Since you are officially an emissary between our countries I will be leaving the helicopter with you. This way you have a fast reliable way back to us should we ever need you.” Aurora nodded with a bitter sweet smile as she was beginning to loose count if her rising responsibilities.
“I am also sending some supplies with you. A gift so to speak for your help in the negotiations. You may do with them as you see fit.” The president finished as he took a bite of his food.
Roseanne looked across at Aurora and smiled. “If you don’t mind my asking how old are you? I don’t mean to sound rude but it is very hard to judge your age”
Aurora froze mid bite and slowly sat her food down as Red started grinning wider and wider motioning her to answer. “I ummm I’m 18. I’ll be 19 in a few months.” Everyone stopped as they all turned to look at her then at the president as he raised his hands smiling. “You must understand though amongst Kanaima a 15 year old is considered an adult.” She added quickly looking down.
Frost finally chimed in as she looked around. “She is right you know. I’m only 17 and my mate is just 16. To us it’s normal. A person in Auroras position and at her age is not that uncommon. We base things around a person’s actions not a number”
Red chuckled and cleared his throat. “And miss Aurora here has been through more in 3 months as a Kanaima than most go through in their entire lives. Even I respect what she says and I’m almost 90” one of the senators choked on his food at that as he looked up at Red. Red snickered leaning back in his chair. “I am a veteran of two wars and countless scuffles and I can tell you all, that woman right there.” He pointed to Aurora “Is worth her weight a thousand times over”
Aurora looked away as she felt herself blushing as she tried to bury herself in her food. The rest of the dinner went by slowly but in a calm tranquility that Aurora was all to grateful for. As the dinner finally came to a close everyone sat back and relaxed.
Finally the president stood “well I want to wish all of you the best of luck. The helicopters will depart at 10am from the front lawn. Until then I wish you all a good night.” Everyone nodded as they all slowly got up. Aurora helped Frost to her room before slowly making her way to her own room.
Sighing she flopped down on the bed. Rolling over she looked up at the ceiling. And after a few hours of tossing and turning she slowly drifted off into a restless sleep.