Kira didn’t hear the men step out of the room. All of her energy was invested in calming the trembling of her hands. Her mind was just as jerky, flippling from one thought to the next.
Why can’t we be allowed a week of peace? Why do we keep running into death? First, we fight the squar, then we fight men. We lost Kyros, and now we’re going to lose Vrox too?
Maybe Ezron’s deities really existed. Maybe the fates scrutinized Ezronians and found their race to be unworthy.
She touched her forehead, finding that her skin was deadly cold.
She didn’t understand what these fates wanted from her. Why would they teleport a woman with a healthy womb to the planet they made barren? To flaunt her as their salvation?
Her hand fell to her stomach.
If that was the case, this universe had used her as a vessel, allowing its men to pour their hopes into it, planning to pour her empty.
“No,” she spat in English.
“No,” she repeated in Ezronian.
Both the gods of Earth and Ezron– whoever was listening, needed to hear her rebellion. They were not going to take her kid, or her man, or her friends.
She blinked hard to dismiss her tears. She was Ezronian now– a warrior. She wore a softer armor than the men, but it was an armor nonetheless. There would be no more tears. The only thing she would allow to flow was adrenaline.
She finished the mixture and set it aside, rising to take another look at Vrox. He was eerily silent, but a quick touch to his chest assured that his heart was beating as powerfully as ever.
She moved her hand from his chest to his arm. His scales were lighter in color– something she was sure never happened. His irises tended to change color to relay emotion, and his cock reddened with passion, but his skin always remained a healthy tan.
After dipping her fingers under his shoulder and onto his back, she discovered that the dotting of scales she found a few days ago was gone. Weaving her hands into his hair, she found that his scalp was soft, too.
“What is happening to you, babe?”
If he heard her, he would have asked why she had asked her belly that question.
She smiled at the memories of his adorable confusion, but it was lassoed off her face when she saw the vines that bound his wrists. Her selfless, endearing, protective male was bound like a criminal.
Before she gave into her the looming storm in her waterline, she slid off the bed and walked outside.
“Are you alright?” Ni’ev asked, surprising her.
“Yes. He hasn’t shown any signs of waking up.”
Ni’ev sighed, taking a moment to observe his feet. “Would you like to rest? We can prepare a bed for you.”
She shook her head. Vrox wouldn’t want her to waste away beside his bed, begging the unknown to spare him.
“No. No resting. We have too much to do. I’m sure Nebula won’t mind waiting out here. She’ll come for us if he wakes up.”
“And you? What will you do?”
She smiled. “Engineer.”
She was a builder, a maker of things. She stitched babies together in her womb, and she pieced metal together. She wouldn’t use this as an opportunity to build herself, too.
With a final look over her shoulder, she sought out Nebula.
– • –
“But how would we connect these long tubes?”
“There are special pieces called elbows. They are curved to allow connection of the straight ones. See? I made a sketch right here.”
Ni’ev nodded. “I see. How many of those would we need?”
“Not many. What we need to worry about are the long ones. Did you find suitable metal?”
Ni’ev nodded, turning to the furthest corner of the room and picking something from the pile of weapons.
“This,” he said, opening his palm and showing a two-inch slip of gold. “It is a great metal. I remember you mentioned using material that does not rust.”
“Ni’ev, this is... gold?”
He nodded. “Yes.”
“Um... isn’t it rare to get this kind of metal? We need to make many, many tubes.”
He shrugged. “It is not a rarity for us. I can find it easily.”
She blinked. ”Wow. That’s great.”
“This is all you needed, yes?”
“For now, yes. I just need you to show me the bathrooms.”
“A bathroom is where people go to... erm, defecate?”
He frowned. “There is no such place in the commander’s home, Kira. There are outhouses outside. Defecating inside the commander’s home is dishonorable.”
“Why?” she asked, confused by the taboo.
“It is just how things are. Defecation, urination, mating, and child birthing is not allowed. Only the commander and his family are excused.”
“Oh,” she frowned. “Well, there is no royal family anymore. Wouldn’t it be alright for you guys to change the rules now that you’re what remains of the government?”
Ni’ev shifted his legs, looking uncomfortable. “My brothers and I grew up in this place, along with other noble families. We are wary of disrespecting anyone’s memory. It is acceptable to have running water through these pipes because all you are changing is architecture. But when it comes to changing customs... this discomforts us.”
She blinked. “Oh, I understand. We don’t need to have toilets in here, then. Running water is enough.”
Ni’ev cleared his throat. “You should discuss these matters with Vrox, but I do not believe that he will agree.”
She looked at the quill in her hand.
Today, she had unearthed a rabbit hole. Someday, she’d fall through it.
If the men were so queasy about installing toilets, she didn’t want to begin to think about how they would react when she argued that women should be allowed to be commanders. Ezronians loved their culture. If her firstborn was a girl, would they love their culture more than her– the human who demands change?
She swallowed, and the cloud of war that hung in the horizon inched closer.
“Um... anyway, about that metal... is there a lighter one? You know, as in less heavy.”
He nodded. “Yes, there are. However, they can be rare.”
"Awesome. Let’s talk about this tomorrow. It’s getting late.”
She offered him a hand, seeking a high five, but lowered it with a laugh when he only looked at the digits with confusion.
“Tomorrow, we’ll also discuss high-fives. Oh, shit. Can you help me up, please? My back is killing me.”
Ni’ev stood up and offered both of his hands. She took them and allowed him to help her.
“Can we go see Vrox?”
He nodded, bending down to pick up their paperwork and quills.
“Let us get you food, and you can eat on the way. Mothers, please do not tell Vrox I allowed you to eat while walking.”
She rolled her eyes. “I can’t eat while walking because it may cause indigestion. I can’t bend down because it might suffocate the fetus. Vrox loves making up theories.”
In her rant, she hadn’t noticed that she sped up out of desperation to reach the overprotective alien.
They stopped by the room everyone slept in.
“Is Akdronis patroling?”
“Yes,” Rokan confirmed.
As the men exchanged words, Kira rushed to roast tidbits of meat.
“I’m done!” she called out many minutes later, showing Ni’ev her leaf-plate.
“Good. I will get you wat–”
“I’ll be fine. Come on!”
Ni’ev followed her to Vrox’s room. When Nebula noticed them, she stood up. “Please tell me that you found seasoning. I’ll even take hot sauce.”
“Nope, sorry. Thanks for watching over Vrox. I appreciate it.”
“No worries. Vee kept me company.”
“Did Vrox move at all?” Kira asked, taking a step forward out of excitement.
“It’s okay,” she sighed before crossing into the room.
Vrox looked the same, except that his lap was now covered. She placed her leaf on the furs, eager to run her fingers through his hair.
“Ni’ev, what are we going to feed him?”
“Until he wakes up, nothing. We must rush to feed him liquids when he starts to awake. Tunyun blood will be good for him.”
“Blood?” she repeated. “What do you want blood for?”
“It is nutritious for us, but can only be consumed for seven days. Any more will have poisonous effects.”
He wants to feed him blood?
Shoving her discomfort, she sat on the bed and caressed Vrox’s cheek.
“Hi, baby. Ni’ev and I did more sketching today. We made plenty of progress. We’re going to start crafting the tubes in a few days.”
He remained unresponsive, but that didn’t stop her from continuing.
“I can’t believe you guys have gold just lying around.”
She stopped to swallow a piece of the rigid, cooked meat. Three dry gulps later, she gagged.
“Why couldn’t I get pregnant on a planet that has seasonings?”
She chuckled, brushing her thumb lip across his bottom lip.
“Ni’ev, what do you think Vrox would have responded if he was awake?”
“Something along the lines of ‘stop saying nonsense and eat your food. You need it for the seedling’.”
She laughed at the accuracy and then continued to tell Vrox about her day. She doubted he could hear her, but it made her feel less lonely. She told him about the concoction she made, and about the plans she had for tomorrow. She hoped that when he returned to his normal mind, he would award her with a proud pat to the head.
She smiled, reminiscing their early friendship. In a strange turn of events, she went from being Vrox’s little brother to the mother of his child.
She turned to face Ni’ev.
“It is late. Come get rest and drink water. Vrox will decapitate me and use my head as an outhouse if he finds out I allowed you to stay up so late or become dehydrated.”
She ate the last few bits of her dreadful dinner.
Planting a kiss on Vrox’s lips, she whispered, “I’ll be back tomorrow.”