She looked at Kyros, who was, of course, holding Terra.
“I think Terra needs a change of loincloth. She is fussing.”
She smiled. “Not a loincloth. It’s called a diaper.”
“Go take care of her,” Vrox said with a rub to her back. “I must finish some work.”
“Okay. Stay safe.”
She went to Kyros and picked up Terra.
“I don’t think she needs a change,” Lamara said. “She doesn’t smell.”
Kira agreed. “She’s probably hungry, then.”
Hearing those words, Kyros left to guard the entrance and give her privacy. She adjusted Terra on her chest, only to frown when she didn’t latch on. “What’s wrong, baby? Not hungry?”
Terra continued to squirm.
Kira moved her to her shoulder, slid a hand under her dress, and stroked her bare back. “Were you just trying to get away from Kyros? Hmm? Did he annoy you?”
Lamara snorted from across the room. “I can’t blame her. Even I need a break from Kyros sometimes. And I don’t even share a language with the guy.”
Kira giggled and kissed Terra’s cheek. “Go to sleep. I promise that uncle Kyros won’t bother you any more.”
After an hour of more fussing, Terra finally fell asleep. Kira couldn’t put her down. The earlier incident made her paranoid that that another asshole alien would sneak in and hurt her. She kept Terra in her arms, tucked beside her developing twin.
As Lamara and Nebula chatted, Kira updated her journal. She wrote about her pregnancy and Lamara’s, the Council’s acceptance of her propositions regarding capital punishment and female Commanders, the conspiracy against her and Vrox, Layla’s mystery, and her worries about the war.
She wrote with one hand and secured Terra on her lap with the other. By the time she realized it, she filled ten pages. She put her quill away and organized her notes. Then, she stood up and walked to the entrance.
A shudder racked through her when she spotted the northern grand staircase.
Kyros must have noticed her disturbance, because he appeared beside her and pet her back with support.
She smiled. “I’m really glad you’re safe, Kyros. This place isn’t the same without you.”
He thrust his chest out arrogantly. “Of course not.”
She rolled her eyes and gasped when he ruffled her hair. It surprised her that he was so comfortable touching her. Lamara must have melted his distaste.
“Your position as queen does not intimidate me, Kira. You are as scary as Vee. Where is that fur ball, anyway?”
Kira pointed at the distance. “He lives in the jungle now. He doesn’t seem interested in coming up the pyramid anymore.” She shrugged. “I miss him, but I don’t want to force him to be with me.”
Her eyes watered a little, because she knew Vee wouldn’t be the last friend she lost.
“I am sorry,” Kyros said.
She shook her head. “It’s okay. I shouldn’t have gotten so attached to a wild pet, anyway.”
Terra shifted in her arms, and she dismissed the darkness in her thoughts by staring at her beautiful daughter.
“That was a short nap. Welcome back. Mommy missed you.”
Terra opened her little mouth, and to Kira’s surprise, began to cry. Kira took her inside and tried to feed her again. This time, she latched on.
“Kira?” Vrox called from outside.
Vrox entered the room. He kissed her first and then bent down to kiss Terra’s chugging cheeks. The infant’s hand pat his chin and then rested on Kira’s breast.
“How was work?”
“Busy. Made sure the perimeter is secured and triple-checked that your bombs are ready.” He sighed. “Rokan is taking too long to return, so I will have to send a scout to locate the prince and report his location. We need to know where he is right now.”
“We can’t send Kyros. Not when Lamara is so big. She could give birth any minute.”
“I know. I will probably send Draekon. He is the best tracker.”
Terra released Kira and began to whine. Kira rocked her, but this didn’t calm her. Within minutes, Terra was bawling. Kira didn’t understand why. She tried to offer her a different breast, but she didn’t seem hungry anymore.
“What is wrong?”
“I don’t know… she’s been a little sensitive today.”
Vrox picked her up and tried to calm her. “You will stop this at once, little flower, or I will start sobbing as well. Is that what you want? For father to look weak in front of his men?”
The rumbling of his chest had a soothing effect on her, making her cries become whimpers.
“Fix your top,” Vrox told Kira. “We must go to the Council meeting.”
She was so distracted by her worry that she forgot her breasts were hanging out. It was a good thing that Vrox was wide enough to cover her. She would’ve hated to flash Kyros.
Together, they walked up the stairs and met the other Council members.
“When do I head out?” Ni’ev asked.
“Head out where?”
Ni’ev frowned. “I assumed that after Kira’s attack you were on board with the assassination plan. Akdronis, Draekon, and Terson agreed to join me.”
“No. We will stay together,” Vrox said.
Kira was surprised, but wouldn’t speak out. Vrox was passionate about protecting his family. If he thought this was the best decision, then she would trust him.
“The prince will arrive, and I will remind him he is no prince anymore. My daughter has taken his title.”
“But…” Ni’ev began.
“This is a mistake,” Terson interjected. “You saw how vicious our enemies are. They hurt our High Mother.”
Terra began to bawl. Kira shot the men an apologetic look and tried to calm her. “Sorry.”
“It is alright. I was about to end this. If Rokan does not appear by tonight– which I doubt, then we will have to send out a scout.”
“The passageways have been blocked,” Usuri added. “No one will sneak in anytime soon.”
“Good. Meeting dismissed, then.”
“What’s wrong, sweetheart?” Kira implored.
Seeing that she was getting stressed out, Vrox picked up Terra and took them home. The baby wouldn’t stop crying, and Kira was losing her mind with worry. There was nothing physically wrong with Terra, and she wasn’t hungry.
No one slept that night. It was in the morning that Terra finally caved into exhaustion. Vrox left for the camp, leaving them in the common room with the women who tried to convince her to take a nap. No matter how many times she closed her eyes, they opened and moved to Terra.
She was staring at a wall, thinking about her pile of concerns, when Kyros waved her over. As silently as possible, she stood up and went outside. She held her breath and waited for the next horrible news to crash into her.
Kyros held something behind his back.
“I got you a gift.”
She ran a hand through her messy hair and mumbled, “You didn’t have to.”
He revealed what he was hiding. It was a nest, and inside it was Vee, and a second, much rounder pufil.
“Vee?” she exhaled.
“The little man impregnated a female and did not want to go too far from the nest. That is why he has not been coming to visit you.”
She laughed through her tears.
At least one of her worries had been washed away.