“Good job!” Vrox praised.
They had been training for about an hour. She had struggled with a particular wrist maneuver, and she finally got the hang of it. Vrox was still wary about exerting her too much, but she felt like he was going easy on her.
She polished her dagger whenever she got a chance. The thing was small, but it meant so much to her. It made her feel more independent. She could wield daggers, create technology, and make babies all at once. Slowly but surely, she was becoming the same confident woman she was on Earth.
Walking around was becoming very difficult for her, so she spent most of her sitting down and messing around with experiments. She had recently been working on a water clock. Last week, she finalized a tablet that allowed her to mass-produce text. The design was simple but effective. The tablet contained horizontal bars that she organized alphabetical characters on. Once the tablet was full of characters, she would dip the face of the tablet in ink, and then press it to sheets of paper.
Ak recently brought home a plant that she suspected was opium poppy. Her family had Indian roots, and the plant brought business to her family members centuries ago. Because of this, Kira knew that the opium poppy had medicinal purposes. Although the plant was infamous for heroin-creation, Kira knew that the dried sap could be used to create morphine. In this wild planet where danger breathed, injuries were bound to happen. She was determined to figure out how to reproduce morphine. With Nebula’s help, they could figure it out.
“You have spaced out,” Vrox said. “Come, let us go inside.”
He helped her up and placed his hand at the small of her back. As they walked outside, they crossed two men. They were older, maybe in their 50s.
“Commander, high mother.”
They dropped to a knee, placed their fists on the ground, and bowed. Kira cringed like she always did.
Apparently, Ezronians didn’t believe in coronations or weddings. They didn’t throw big parties to announce the acquiring of a throne or mate. You were just supposed to own your shit and slay down whoever said otherwise. Vrox had been accepted as the new Commander by the men, and with that acceptance came the title.
“You can just call us by our names,” Kira insisted.
One of the men stared at her shoulder. They found it inappropriate to maintain eye contact with pregnant women unless you know them personally. Apparently, it’s taboo to stare at two souls at once. For people that walk around naked, Ezronians, sure have a lot of social rules.
“We would prefer not to use your given names, high mother.”
Kira gave Vrox a hopeless look, but he only grinned. He didn’t care for honorifics. His only interests were that the men were productive, the pyramid was safe, and she was healthy.
They stopped by the entrance of the common room, where Rokan was watching over Nebula.
“I must pass you off to Rokan. I will see you later, yes?”
“See you later,” Kira replied.
She pulled him into an embrace, her swollen stomach pressing his flat one. When he returned the affection, Kira’s body stirred with awareness. Many weeks had passed since they last had sex. During the day, they worked. During the nights, Kira was eager to sleep. Lately, she felt the furthest thing from sexy. All she did was ache and sweat. She was certainly not excited to show Vrox the stretch marks that had begun to appear at her sides. She may be one of the two women on Ezron, but she still felt insecure.
Vrox pulled away and rubbed his head.
He shrugged. “Nothing. It is just another headache. I will be alright. Go inside.”
Kira sighed, upset that there was nothing she could do. She turned and walked into the common room. “Hey, guys.”
“Hey, Kira. How was training?”
“Sweaty. You should join us sometime.”
“No, thanks. Rokan and Ni’ev have been teaching me Ezronian. I find that much more interesting than sweating.”
Kira chuckled and sat beside her. “Let’s continue working on the opium poppy tomorrow, yeah?”
“Sure. I’ve been wondering if the potency is the same as Earth’s.”
Kira shrugged. “Probably stronger. This planet has proven itself to be on steroids.”
She dove into a conversation with Nebula. The sounds of men working rang in the background. It was late in the afternoon. Soon, everyone would head for their camp since they still hadn’t earned enough trust to be allowed residency in the pyramid.
Kira occasionally saw a man or two walk through the pyramid levels, but it seemed like they avoided her. According to Draekon, she was scary. Any wrong move would get them decapitated. He found it amusing that the most vulnerable person in the camp was the most dangerous.
That night, their team sat around a small fire. Kira shifted around on her seat. The baby seemed uncomfortable, too. It wouldn’t stop moving around. When she winced from a particularly hard kick, Vrox grabbed her hips and moved her to his lap.
“Thanks,” she whispered, melting into his strength.
Vrox palmed her stomach and rubbed it as he continued his conversation with Rokan.
“Yes. We have repaired much of The Ruins. We started farming, have an armory, built external camps, built watchtowers for the future, and stocked furs and meat for winter. We could do so much more, however, if we had more men. Eighteen is good, but we are not a nation yet. It is time to expand.”
Vrox nodded. Lately, he had been working with Wo’ton to plan the new council and draft policies. Soon, Ezonian would have a constitution again.
“I have been thinking about this as well, but I did not know who to send out.”
“I volunteer. I can take one of Wo’ton’s grandsons with me. They will know where we can find honorable men. I will test these men morally to see if they are a good fit.”
“Are you sure you want to go, Rokan?”
“I am sure.”
“Good. Thank you, brother.”
Rokan nodded, and they resumed eating. Kira chewed on a few slices of meat, but her stomach was so upset that she regurgitated everything only minutes later.
“I’m so sorry,” she blurted, reaching for a rag to mop the mess on the floor.
“Do not worry. We will clear this. Go get rest,” Draekon said.
“Oh, no, I got it,” she insisted.
Vrox gripped her wrist. “Time to rest.”
She groaned but didn’t have it in her to argue. She allowed Vrox to help her up and then followed him. Once in their room, she was only able to drink a few sips of juice. Vrox frowned the entire time. She knew that in the morning, he would try to fatten her up.
“Yes, please, baby. Everything hurts.”
She laid on her side, and Vrox removed her sandals. He took care of her feet and then massaged her back. Somewhere along her groans of pleasure, she fell asleep.