The First Her

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Part 27

“Wo’ton, I am going to relieve Ni’ev of his duty so that he may greet you,” Ak grumbled.

“Yes, of course.”

“Would you like a seat?” Kira asked when she saw Wo’ton rub his hip. She felt guilty that his constant determination to bow strained his back.

“Yes, son– oh,” Wo’ton laughed. “Forgive me. I have gotten used to calling everyone younger than me ‘son.’ I still have not gotten used to the idea of females returning.”

“It’s okay,” Kira smiled. “Here, let me get you a chair.”

She walked to the wall with Vrox hot on her heels. Her mind was a mess. Now that more men were entering the picture, things wouldn’t be the same. Paranoia would reel its ugly head, arguments would brew, and questions would be tossed. On top of the opposition that they would face, Vrox’s mysterious illness was still lurking, Kyros was still missing, and her pregnancy was still high-risk.

It would take years before they could entertain peace again.

When she reached the wall, she grabbed one of the stools. Vrox was quick to cover her hand with his. “I will lift it.”

“Not now,” she whispered. “I’m trying to be hospitable. This thing doesn’t weigh much.”

“I insist.”

She grabbed his scaled arm, but immediately released him when she heard Wo’ton shuffle. She turned to their guest and found him staring at the ground.

“I should, er- I should return later.”

Kira was bewildered by the reaction, but it only took seconds to realize her mistake. Scales cannot be embraced or caressed in public.

She released Vrox as if he burnt her.

Did she insult Wo’ton? Did she embarrass him? Errattic, irrational thoughts cawed at her.

She had a PhD, but couldn’t assimilate into Ezronian culture even after six months. How could she be the queen of a people when she couldn’t do something as simple as learn customs?

When something tickled her chin, she realized that she was crying.

Great, another absurd breakdown.

When Vrox was unconscious for those awful days, she kept her composure together. She didn’t cry. She took charge, and she got shit done. Through the experience, she accepted that she was more than just human. She was part Ezronian too, and not just because she had one in her womb.

Why was she backtracking now? Why was she washing away her progress with her tears?

“Female,” Vrox mumbled, cornering her against the wall with his body to hide her. “You are overthinking. I can see your eyes flickering. Get out of that storm and come back here to me.”

“I’m scared.”

The admission was delivered through a whimper, so distant from the shout of her joy when she succeeded in making a bomb, when she finalized her plumbing system, when she pulled Vrox from unconsciousness, and when she got the transmission locket to work.

Her achievements felt light-years away.

“Scared of what?”

“Scared for Kyros, scared of men coming here, scared of people rejecting us because we’re having a mixed baby and you only have noble blood, scared that I won’t ever learn how to become an Ezronian.”

Her face was drowned in tears. She hated this; hated that instead of getting food cravings, she was flooded with emotions.

“We’ve known for a long time that we will meet rejection, but now it’s real. Men are appearing left and right. Things are changing fast.”

Vrox rubbed his nose against hers, but his caress only summoned more tears.

“Yes, and bitter men will come our way, but they are not above nature. Age will kill them, and they will have no children to continue spilling their poison. Even if they build armies to fight us, they will fail because our hope runs stronger than their hate. You have me, our child, my brothers, Nebula, Wo’ton and his grandsons, and the many more that will join us."

She could only nod.

“You are not weak. It does not matter if you call yourself Terran or Ezronian. Your body is under stress, so it is normal to be emotional. Do not confuse your evolution with your identity.”

She placed her forehead on Vrox’s right pectoral, breathing deeply for a few seconds before wiping her cheeks one final time.

“Sorry, Wo’ton.” She turned around and picked up the stool. “I forget about the rules sometimes. I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable.”

Vrox followed closely as she carried the chair to Wo’ton.

“I understand. Thank you for the seat.”

“Do you need anything else? Anything to drink?”

“Do you have a rejuvenation potion? I miss the days in which I looked more like Vrox.” He laughed at his joke, absentmindedly rubbing his hip.

“With age comes with wisdom, though. That’s something no potion can give you.”

Wo’ton smiled. “Thank you. Oh, Ni’ev! Come here and let me see you.”

Kira turned to the entrance. Ni’ev b-lined for Wo’ton, offering his forearm. “It is a blessing to see you, Wo’ton.”

“You remember me?” Wo’ton asked, accepting Ni’ev’s forearm.

“Not much since I was young, but memories are there.”

“You youngsters grew up well.”

Ni’ev nodded. “Yes. I am proud of my brothers.”

As the men chatted, Kira considered an idea. Since Wo’ton had been around for many more decades than the others, he probably knew about Vrox’s illness. The problem was that she didn’t fully trust the man yet. While he had a history as a guy and seemed like a warm grandfather, she didn’t know him. Would he take advantage of Vrox’s ailment?

She decided to ask Vrox his take on the idea when they were in private.

It took a few minutes before Rokan’s voice disrupted all conversation in the room.

“Three strangers approaching!”

“Must be my grandsons,” Wo’ton said as he stood up.

“I will go talk to them,” Vrox announced. “Kira, can you stay here with Ni’ev for a few minutes?”

“Yes.”

Vrox embraced her and rubbed her back as he whispered, “remember what I said.”

She watched him go, and her anxiety rose with every step he took away. Soon after he disappeared, Nebula appeared with a cloak over her head.

“And so it begins,” she sighed.

Kira bent down to pick up Vee. As usual, the pufil sniffed her stomach and nuzzled into her baby bump.

“Females?” a stranger laughed from outside. “Do you have a case of mind-rot?”

“And so it begins,” Kira echoed.

Although they were far from the entrance, they could hear the men’s conversation.

“Salis!” Wo’ton yelled as if scolding his grandson.

“Grandfather, let us go. These men are not stable. They. speak nonsense.”

“You are mistaken. What they say is true. I have confirmed it.”

“Let us see, then,” a new voice demanded.

“Let me clarify something,” Vrox snarled, “because there seems to be some confusion.”

“And what–”

“You do not interrupt me, you do not make demands, and you most definitely do not touch the females. I do not want Wo’ton to mourn a grandson today, so do not make me a killer!”

Kira winced. She was the person that was the least likely person to be attacked by Vrox, yet here she was intimidated by his fury. He rarely got like this. Her crying must have unhinged him.

“We agree, but we will leave if we do not like what we see. Grandfather, I apologize, but I will throw you over my shoulder if I have to. This place seems full of madness.”

“You can follow me if you wish,” Vrox told them. “But remember that you have already been warned. I will swing a sword instead of words next time.”

Kira shifted her weight from one foot to another, feeling heavier than usual. She didn’t particularly enjoy being stared at by shocked Ezronians, and she definitely wasn’t a fan of their praise. Still, she had to endure this. The men would only believe of her existence if they saw her in her swollen glory.

Nebula threw an arm around her to silently share support. Kira’s heart quivered out of nervousness for her friend. She knew that Nebula was particularly vulnerable since she wasn’t pregnant. It was only a matter of time before the newcomers asked why she wasn’t knocked up yet.

Kira barely got a glance at three pairs of grey eyes before the men tumbled to the floor.

“Not again,” she groaned when they bowed and began to mutter nonsensically.

Two of the men had long braids like Draekon. The black braids rested on the ground beside their clenched fists. She could see that one had a scaled neck, but she couldn’t see scales on the others. She didn’t care to explore their bodies because they were stark naked.

“I am staying here, my sons,” Wo’ton spoke up. “I will stay here and help these people rebuild our great planet.”

“Grandfather, it is dangerous. Men will come for these females.”

“And that is why I am staying,” Wo’ton interrupted. “I cannot wield a sword anymore, but I still have breath in me. I must do this for my people, but I will not demand that you stay. While I call you boys, I know that you are men. You can decide your destinies.”

The brother with cropped hair raised his head, revealing his muscular chest. Kira wasn’t surprised about his physique. All young Ezronians came with a six-pack.

“I will stay with you.”

His two brothers followed, although their gazes were stuck to Kira and Nebula.

“A child?” one of them asked.

Kira rubbed her stomach. “A child,” she confirmed.

Their breaths hitched.

“How? Who is the father? Are there more of you?”

“I think it is best if you three spend some time speaking with your grandfather. Your options are to join us or leave. If you decide to stay, you will have to camp outside until we can trust you. You will have simple tasks gathering supplies and feeding our animals.”

The brothers exchanged looks, and the one with the short hair nodded. “We will return tonight with our decision.”

The group left.

“That was something,” Ni’ev grumbled. “What do you think, Vrox?”

“I think that we need them. I hope that they do not disappoint us.” With a sigh, he looked over Kira and Nebula. “Are you two alright?”

As he asked that question, he raised a hand to rub his head.

“I’m fine,” Nebula answered.

"Yeah... how about you, Vrox? Are you feeling well?” Kira asked.

“A headache,” Vrox grunted. “But I am getting used to them. I must go now. I will relieve Draekon of patrolling duty. Ni’ev, do not let your guard down.”

“Of course.”

“I honestly think I’m going to be sick if I see another man kneeling. It’s so freaking weird.”

“Sick?” Kira repeated, switching to English. “I thought I was the only pregnant one here. Did you get some action that I don’t know about?”

“Kira!” Nebula groaned. “No! I didn’t smash any of your brothers-in-law.”

Kira grinned. “You have options now, you know. Did you see the guy with the short hair? The one with the scar under his eye? I think he was the hottest out of the three.”

Nebula snatched Vee from her arms, making him chirp with surprise, and buried her face in its fur.

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