The First Her

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Part 10

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Before her body decided to jump Vrox and give Nebula a show, Kira gave one last stroke to Vrox’s hair and stepped away. She walked to the entrance of the cave, watching the rain continue to disturb the jungle. The cave they were in was tall but narrow. She doubted that the entire group would be able to sleep comfortably inside.

“One more day, huh?” Nebula said, standing beside her.

“Yeah. This field trip from hell is almost over,” Kira sighed. “You’ve been holding on well. All the power to you.”

Nebula nudged her hip with her own. “My thighs have been burning for days now. I’ll be thicker than a Snicker by the time we finally make it.”

Kira snorted, palming her shyly rounded stomach. “Cannot relate. I’ll be thicker than a planet.”

Movement in the trees made both women stiffen. Vrox was up in seconds, guiding them to the darkness of a corner. Like a coward, Kira kept her gaze on the droplets trickling off his loincloth, too terrified to look outside.

“Vrox, you better not throw a dagger at me!” Ak roared.

Everyone sighed their relief.

A minute later, Ak and the others were inside. They were wet from head to toe but didn’t seem bothered by the chill in the air. Kira helped Ni’ev with the logs, unwrapping the leaves that protected the wood.

“We can make the fire large for now. The rain will cover the smoke,” Ni’ev directed.

She followed his instructions, arranging the wood in the pattern she was taught.

“We stored the fresh kills in a cave that is a few ticks away. I will go there and prepare the meat,” Rokan offered.

“No,” Ak intervened. “Stay. You are still recovering from your wounds. I will go.” With that, he offered Nebula one of his burning stares before stepping into the wilderness.

Kira and Ni’ev had the fire roaring in no time.

“Come on,” Kira beckoned everyone. “Sit around the fire to dry yourselves before you catch a cold.”

“We do not get ill from rain. We are healthy males in our–”

“In our prime,” Kira finished for Vrox. ”Yeah, yeah. I’ve heard it all before. Now, sit.”

The floor was dirty, so they had to use leaves as mats. Vee joined them, shaking water droplets out of his fur and running laps around the group.

“Hopefully, the rain stops soon. I estimate that we will reach the ruins tomorrow when the sun is halfway done burning,” Ni’ev shared.

When Nebula shot Kira a confused expression, Kira clarified, “tomorrow afternoon.”

“When we arrive, Draekon, Ak, Rokan, and I will scout the area for men and animals. Vrox, you can watch over the females as we search.”

Kira shrunk at the thought of crossing any more men.

“Which dwelling will we settle in?”

The men quieted. Was their bedroom still there? Was their playground now overrun with weeds? It was enraging to picture nature and looters defacing the place they were raised in.

“We will settle in the royal house,” Vrox answered. “It is tall, giving us a good view of everything below. It is the safest option.”

“We will need to hunt too,” Ni’ev added to distract everyone from their bittersweet memories. “We need furs and food. The snowfall is quickly approaching.”

“I’d like to take a look at the structures with Nebula,” Kira interjected. “If this place has been abandoned for fifteen years, then there are probably some places in need of repair. We don’t want a panel giving out and sending the roof down.”

Draekon nodded. “You may do this, but you must be accompanied at all times.”

Their conversations went on for hours. They planned a guarding system and discussed gathering materials to forge new tools. Now that Kyros and the horsiraptors were gone, they had to start from scratch.

When the night came, they had to lower the fire to avoid attracting the attention of predators– either men or animals. Ak arrived with meat for the men, and to Kira’s surprise, offered her a leaf full of cooked meat.

“I’ll try it first,” Nebula offered. “We don’t know how this food will affect humans. If I’m still alive tomorrow, you can try eating it too.”

Kira didn’t know if she should laugh or cringe.

“Okay. Don’t die on me.”

Recognizing that there was no space for them to lay down, Ni’ev, Draekon, and Ak moved to the nearest cave. Rokan stayed behind.

Since the rain had stopped its tantrum and Vrox burned hotter than a furnace, they put out the fire. She starred at the purple moss that trailed down a wall and disrupted the view of twinkling minerals. The moss served as an infection. It got her thinking of the one currently raging through Vrox.

She sighed worriedly, skimming her fingers over her fur-covered stomach.

I really hope your dad is okay.

“Kira, come rest.”

She turned to face him. His arms were wide open, welcoming her. Warmth swirled in her belly, the love she had for this man swimming alongside their seedling.

With a loose smile that betrayed the fear in her thoughts, she replied, “I’m just looking at the jungle. It looks oddly peaceful.”

“No. It is late, and you need rest. Come here, or I will grab you.”

Please, let him be okay.

Vrox was so sweet that losing him would sour much of her life. The only reason she’d keep fighting would be for the product of their love– their child.

She walked into his arms. They fell asleep with her atop his chest, and their greatest treasure tucked between their bodies.

– • –

Come morning, they regrouped and began to trail through the jungle. The air smelled fresh, and the glistering leaves provided a green carpet for the main event– The Ruins.

Their adventure begins today.

Five aliens, two humans, one pufil, and one hybrid fetus have set out to change the world.

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