The First Her

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Part 23

His shoulders hunched, his brow furrowed with fierceness, and his teeth ground together. All Vrox could do was clutch onto her.

“We’ll be okay,” she repeated, although she was trying to convince herself.

“Patrol will be increased,” he finally spat. “Four of us will be on watch at all times, and one will be with you females.”

“What? That’s insane. You’re all pushing yourselves too much already.”

“I will not be able to sleep. My brothers will feel the same way. This has to be done.”

“But you can’t patrol day and night. You will all lose so many hours of sleep,” she insisted.

“No. You can’t lose hours of sleep because of your condition. We are different.”

He stood up.

“Where are you going?”

“I must burn this energy.”

“You won’t try to hunt whoever did this, will you?”

He hesitated before delivering, “As you said, we cannot afford to get separated.”

He left, and she groaned out her frustration. Minutes after he vanished, Nebula rushed inside.

“He scared the shit out of me,” she whispered, coming to sit next to Kira.

“You’re not the only one shaking in her boots.”

“Well, look at the bright side. At least we know that Ni’ev isn’t breathing down your neck.” When she saw that Kira was distracted, she grabbed her shoulder.

“Look at this wall. After examining it for weeks, I finally figured it out. I knew that this rock type is limestone, just like the one used in the Egyptian and Mayan pyramids. I couldn’t figure out these specs of gold, though. Gold is most commonly found in quartz. It doesn’t happen, er, naturally on limestone.”

“What does that mean?”

Nebula ran a hand down the wall. “Well, I noticed two things. The gold specs vary in size, but they are never more than two inches apart. On top of that, do you see how limestone is a relatively light color, but the gold specs are embedded into whiter spots?”

“Yeah.”

“That’s not normal. Limestone is calcium carbonite. When you heat it at a high temperature, the carbon dioxide leaves and limestone becomes calcium oxide, or lime. Lime is whiter in color. I think this entire pyramid was machine-made. There is no way that Ezronians were able to manually separate the gold so precisely.”

Kira gaped. “That’s amazing, Nebula. I thought they just used lasers for the inscriptions.”

Nebula smiled, grateful that she was able to provide a distraction.

“We could teach the guys about how to make lime. It’ll be useful for the building of future structures,” Kira mumbled. Oh! I’m sure I can rig some sort of way to mass-produce books.”

The girls exchanged a smile. Kira couldn’t be more grateful for having something other than fear to focus on.

When the night crawled in, Kira was pacing in her room, waiting for Vrox’s return. Draekon was guarding outside, and Nebula was keeping her company. The darker it got, the more worried she became.

When male chatter came from the outside, she rushed to the entrance. Vrox was there, his skin freshly washed. The same couldn’t be said about the two bloody daggers in his fist.

“Are you okay?” she piped.

“Yes,” he grumbled in a tone that said otherwise.

“Why don’t you come rest for a while?” she invited.

“My brothers and I will start patrolling soon. I am sorry.”

Kira smiled sadly.

Over the next weeks, a distance grew between them. Vrox was either patrolling or sleeping. Fatigue and paranoia were starting to contaminate the camp. When she joined Vrox for lunch, she found him rubbing his neck. He would also stop mid-sentence when a shift in the trees distracted him. The other men showed the same symptoms. Their poor sleep cycles were draining them, and there was nothing Kira could do.

Vrox tried his best to be present. Whenever they crossed paths, he would ask if she was eating well. When he slipped into bed after a nightly patrol, she sometimes woke up to him rubbing and whispering words to her baby bump.

She tried not to stress. Her stomach was blooming with life. Her dresses now stretched around her three months of pregnancy. During the days, she messed around with her work. Nebula and one of the men were always by her side. She successfully created a full-sized freezer that was powered by the blurak and hurak substances. The men used it to store meat for longer periods of time, so they didn’t have to hunt as often.

“Kira, what is wrong with this?”

Lately, she had been working on the plumbing and made plans for miscellaneous projects like a clock.

She dropped the pieces she was holding in and peered at Ni’ev’s hands. “That valve gate is way too big. It won’t fit into the body. It’s okay, just thin it some more.”

She resumed her work, excited about what was to come. In just a few hours, they would get to run their first trial. When the three water valves were all set, she rushed her very-pregnant body outside to search for Vrox. Ni’ev was right behind her, arms extended. He knew that if she tripped, Vrox would trip him into a coffin.

“Vrox!” Kira called out, waving from across the staircase.

He spotted her and ran to her side, assuming the worst. “What?” he snarled, his hand gripping her bicep and his eyes scanning their surroundings.

“We finished, but we didn’t want to try it out without you. Can you come?”

“I cannot abandon my post.”

“Just for a few minutes? Please?”

Vrox wanted to argue, but he knew that her experiments meant to her. With a final look at the jungle, he nodded. “Be quick about it.”

She gripped his hand and led him back into the blacksmithing room. Three long pipes had been drilled in the roof. Every level had its own valves that allowed water flow. They were hard to miss, but Kira promised that she would decorate the metal to make it less intrusive.

“Would you like the honors?” she offered, pointing at her creation.

“What must I do?”

“Just grab that little wheel and spin it.”

He did as ordered, and within seconds, a very thin line of water began to trickle out.

A sniffle made him turn around.

“It actually worked,” Kira whispered, her bottom lip trembling.

“Of course. You are intelligent beyond the stars. Of course, it worked,” Vrox replied. He embraced her, not even bothering to scold her for crying. Over the past weeks, he noticed that her sensitivity had heightened. She cried over the most ridiculous things. Once, when they ate lunch together, she sobbed because the food was ”yummy.” When he gifted her new sandals, she cried because apparently, that was “very nice.” He was most baffled one morning when she sobbed because she found him petting Vee.

The pregnancy was giving her a severe case of mind-rot. Vrox was happy that he was going to be a father, and he was glad that she no longer bled every month, but he wished pregnancy came without the craziness.

“I am so proud of you. Keep up the good work, yes?”

“Yes!” she cried, clutching onto his biceps for dear life.

Nebula chuckled from the stool she was sitting on. She was storing pieces of metal into a sack. Vee was helping her, and Ni’ev was muttering something along the lines of, “who needs a faucet when you have Kira producing water all the time.”

“I must return to work.”

"Okay. Thanks for coming.”

He kissed her head and returned to his position at the western staircase. Even if his fatigue made him drop dead, he couldn’t allow an enemy to get close to his beautiful, intelligent, emotional, waddling female.

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