Entanglements: Sequel to Gardening Tips

BY : Lursa
Category: 1 through F > Andromeda
Dragon prints: 4563
Disclaimer: I do not own Andromeda, nor any of the characters from it. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.

Newly appointed Fleet Marshall Telemachus Rhade swaggers into the enlisted men’s sparring arena on Terazed. He can’t wait to flaunt his good fortune in front of the…well…the remaining three Nietzschean Admirals. Perhaps he can do a little something for their careers…if they ask nicely.

Rhade tugs the sleeves of his new gray uniform jacket. He glances at his reflection in the glass separating the main area from the hallway, pausing to admire the snug fit of the gray jacket over black cotton sweater. His black leather pants are rather snugger than he is used to but the tailor had insisted that it was the regulation fit. Yes. The look suits him. He lifts his chin. Fleet Marshall Rhade has a nice authoritative ring to it.

He walks into the main area, casting a dismissive glance over the sparring rings and the men in them. Nothing of interest there. Not to a Fleet Marshall. He edges around the groups watching sparring sessions. He looks around and spots Carson, Ironwood and Lee perched on the top seats of the bleachers.

They haven’t seen him yet. Rhade pauses to study the trio. Lee is sprawled back, in black sweats, drinking bottled water and studying the women watching from the balcony. Carson’s bare chest shimmers under a sheen of sweat. His gold-blonde head gleams brilliantly in a shaft of bright sunlight from the window behind him. Baggy dark, green sweats cover his legs. Carson seems quite comfortable, framed by Ironwood’s long legs. Carson leans one shoulder against Ironwood’s thigh.

Rhade rolls his eyes. Could Ironwood sit any closer to Carson? Ironwood’s chest is bare and loose navy sweatpants drape his legs. As Rhade watches, Ironwood pulls a white towel out of his gym bag and leans down to blot the sweat from Carson’s back and shoulders. Ironwood presses a quick kiss on the smooth fair skin. Carson turns his head and trades a long, intimate look with his lover.

Rhade snorts. Those two. He just cannot understand the why of that relationship. Ironwood and Carson hold the same rank and have similar social status. So why bother with another man? They should be concentrating on acquiring as many wives as possible and keeping them pregnant instead of pointlessly wasting their genetic matrix on each other.

True, he’d been with Tyr once…but one didn’t say no to the Progenitor and besides such an encounter could only enhance his status and that would lead to more wives. The same is true of his little interlude as Harper’s comforter. He’d worked hard for his new promotion and deserved it. Not that sex with the Second Consort had not been surprisingly enjoyable…enough so that he wouldn’t mind being Harper’s comforter in the future if summoned but…he simply cannot understand preferring men when there is nothing to be gained from an intimate alliance with one. He’d gotten far more out of his temporary relationship with the Second Consort than Carson or Ironwood would ever get out of their odd little arrangement.

Carson finally pulls his attention away from Ironwood and spots him, watching them. Carson grins and calls out, “Rhade!”

Have they heard the news yet? Rhade climbs the bleachers to join them.

Lee turns to look and smiles, a flash of white teeth against dark skin. He raises his hand beckoning Telemachus over, “Rhade – how long have you been back?”

Rhade poses allowing the men a good long look at his new uniform. He drops down in the space next to Lee. “Only just.”

Ah, Lee has been busy. Rhade nods with approval as he taps the helix wrapped around the dark man’s thick bicep. At least, Lee has the right ideas about things. “You’ve been busy.”

Carson laughs and playfully punches Lee’s shoulder. “You have no idea, Rhade. Lee bedded the little Alpha and had her happily pregnant before you made it to Hunt’s ship.”

“Very good, Lee.” Rhade claps Lee on the back. He leans closer, teasing. “A daughter?”

“A son!” Lee bristles and growls as the others laugh.

“So. It is true.” Ironwood taps the rank insignia on Rhade’s gray jacket. He glances down at Carson.

“What?” Lee looks over his shoulder at Ironwood. He follows Ironwood’s gaze to the Fleet Marshal insignia, the scarlet ribbon of the Magog Campaign and the glint of the coveted Celebration pin. His dark eyes widen. “Oh, you managed to get a promotion out of the Hunt assignment, did you?”

Rhade preens slightly. He sits straighter and slants a smug glance at Carson. “Not that. The Progenitor appointed me Fleet Marshall over the Second Fleet. It seems that the Progenitor is not only partial to blondes.”

“Well, I see comforting the little kludge paid off.” Carson raises an eyebrow. He strokes a hand down Ironwood’s calf. “How was that, by the way?”

Rhade shrugs with assumed indifference. He doesn’t really want to talk about that but he will have to tell them something. “It was an educational experience.”

“Well?” Carson rubs his chin against Ironwood’s knee.

Rhade frowns. He doesn’t like the way the other three are looking at each other. Like they know some secret. “What?”

“Define ‘educational’.” Ironwood runs a hand up Carson’s nape and threads his fingers through his lover’s damp blond hair. He and Carson are not usually so openly affectionate in public but, after all the years, of Rhade’s little advisory lectures on the need to focus on wives and reproduction and not wasting time and genetic resources…well, one must find one’s entertainment where one can. Especially if the bit of gossip that Carson’s cousin passed on was true. The cousin swore that he was in the tent with the simulacrum and heard with his own ears, the instructions that the Progenitor had given Rhade shortly before the battle with the Magog. Ironwood smirks.

“What was he like?” Lee asks, leaning close.

Ironwood bedowndown to kiss Carson’s nape. Uumm. It’s kind of fun, molesting Carson in public. Lends a certain spice to touching his lover. “How was it…being with a human?”

Rhade shrugs and looks quickly away from the pair. “There was nothing memorable about it.”

“Was he afraid of you?” Lee asks. He cocks his head, studying Rhade curiously. “Some humans are reluctant to be near us.”

“Harper was not afraid of me.” Rhade smiles. His eyes darken with memories. “He uiteuite….fearless.”

“Oh….really.” Ironwood leans closer. His nostrils flare as he tests the air. Is that a touch of desire he notices in Rhade’s scent? How intriguing. He glances at his lover. The glint in Carson’s green eyes says the he also has noticed the aroused scent.

Rhade shrugs. “It’s just that getting to know Harper was…interesting.”

“Harper is its name, right?” Carson asks.

“That is correct.” Rhade waves dismissively. Enough about the Second Consort. That’s in the past. He doesn’t want to talk about Harper. He wants to discuss his new appointment.

“Come on, Telemachus…how often did you have to fuck the little kludge?” Lee chuckles. “Once a day? Twice a day?”

Rhade squirms, shifting his weigh uncomfortably. Really these new s ars are far, far too tight. Very uncomfortable. “I really never gave it much thought.”

“You didn’t break it, did you?” Ironwood asks in mock horror.

“Of course not, Ironwood!” Lee pretends to scold. His brown eyes glitter with amusement. “Rhade wouldn’t have gotten a promotion if he’d hurt the Progenitor’s kludge.”

Rhade stiffens and spreads a stern look among his former colleagues. “I’d really appreciate it if you wouldn’t refer to the Second Consort as ‘kludge’.”

“Ohhhhhhhhhhh!” The Admirals chorus. They trade amused glances.

Ironwood strokes the smooth, damp skin of Carson’s shoulder. His hand dips down briefly to brush lightly over a tight pink nipple. “Well, someone’s become decidedly politically correct of late.”

“Ahhh…” Carson smiles slyly. He leans against Ironwood, openly enjoying his lover’s touch. “So, Rhade, answer the question. How often did you have to fuck the klu…sorry…Harper?”

“I didn’t keep score, Carson.”

“Maybe the human was the top, Carson.” Ironwood adds speculatively. His dark eyes gleam with malice as he watches Rhade. “Is that it, Rhade? Was it the other way around?”

“What do you mean?” Rhade asks in an uneasy voice.

Carson is all wide-eyed innocent interest. “Did you have to let the little human fuck you, old friend? It did look a little to delicate to play bottom all the time.”

“NO!” Rhade flushes and sputters. He glares at Carson. “Of…of…course I a I am alpha!”

Carson lowers his gaze and rubs his cheek against Ironwood’s thigh to hide his smile. So his cousin’s gossip was true. He looks up into Ironwood’s amused eyes before summoning up a solemn expression to face Rhade with. “No need to take my head off. I was only asking a question.”

Ironwood makes a show of sniffing the air. He raises an eyebrow. “You know…I’ve heard that some men don’t fiut tut their true sexual orientation until later in life. Don’t you find that interesting Lee?”

Lee winks at Ironwood. “Yes. You think you like your sex as vanilla as freshly fallen snow then one day you discover that you like all sorts of different…flavors.”

“What are you saying, Lee?” Rhade curls his lips and growls softly. How dare they imply that he is the sort to waste his genetic resources? He will have more wives than all of them combined with his new salary and status. Higher ranking wives as well. Every Nietzschean knows that reproduction is the name of the game. How often has he told the others that wasting resources is wasting valuable time?

Lee leans back and crosses his legs at the ankles. “Nothing. Just talking about flavors, Rhade. Just talking about flavors.”

“Are you saying that I prefer men to women?” Rhade glowers. “Nothing could be further from the truth! I have three very satisfied wives. There are no complaints there.”

“Calm down, man. No one’s saying anything of the soRhadRhade.” Lee soothes. “Why are you so sensitive?”

“Still,” Carson muses with mock thoughtfulness iro ironically glances over his shoulder at Ironwood. Like the number of wives is a determining factor in anything. He has five wives and Ironwood has four yet they much prefer the company of each other and have for years. “That little human is so tiny. I suppose you had to be extra gentle wit.”it.”

Rhade’s eyes darken with remembered desire. He shifts uncomfortably on the hard bench. Damn these new pants are way too tight. “Not everything about him was small.”

“Oh?” Ironwood asks in arcnes.nes. He trades looks with Carson and Lee. So. The talk about the ‘energetic’ little kludge’s charms from the “Celebration” appears to be true as well. “What do you mean?”

Rhade scowls. “Nothing.”

Lee sips from his bottle of water. “Did the Second Consort really create the tesseract bomb?”

“Yes.” Rhade nods.

“I understand that the Progenitor has moved his human onto his flagship. He’s to remain near him at all times.” Lee drains the bottle and drops it into his gym bag.

“So I’ve heard.” Rhade sighs pensively. He has other concerns now. He has to settle into his new command role and will have little time for thoughts of Harper. Perhaps that is just as well. He doesn’t want to end up like Ironwood and Carson.

“Tell us about this new appointment,” Carson urges. “Fleet Marshall of the Secoleetleet….very nice. Isn’t there a new ship commissioned for the Second Fleet, Lee?”

“I hadn’t heard.” Lee shrugs but his eyes are sharp on Rhade’s face.

“Not a new ship, really.” Rhade carefully adjusts his new jacket. “I’m taking command of the Wrath of the Progenitor as soon as I leave here.”

Ironwood nods. “Hmmm. That sounds like a powerful ship.”

“She is.” Rhade smiles proudly. “She’s been retrofitted with some exceptional armaments. And the accommodations are exquisite.”

Feeling eyes on him, Rhade looks around and sees a big man with short, wavy black hair and dark blue eyes staring at him. The stranger’s tight black leathers cling to a heavily muscled frame. Who is this stranger and why is he staring? Rhade narrows his eyes as the stranger scrambles up the bleachers to stand in front of him.

“Fleet Marshall Rhade?” The stranger grins widely. The strange has an unnerving air of gleeful giddiness. “Sir. I just wanted to shake your hand and offer my congratulations on your recent appointment.”

“Yes,” Rhade confirms witcurtcurt nod. “Thank you….what is your name?”

“Xerxes…. Admiral Xerxes Mavica out of Catherine by Ptolmey of Zuni pride.”

Ironwood grins. He leans down to kiss Carson’s throat. He murmurs in his lover’s ear, “Isn’t that the First Consort’s comfort…”

“Yes. Shhhhh.” Carson muffles a snigger.

Rhade looks the stranger over. Why had the man really approached him? “Were you hoping for an appointment to the fleet?”

Xerxes pales. His dark blue eyes are wide and appalled. He shakes his head. “No. No…no sir. I have only recently been transferred. Truthfully, it was more of a demotion, sir.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.” Ah. So that’s what the stranger wants. Well, it might be useful to have the man owe him a minor favor. Rhade smiles reassuringly. “Perhaps I could speak with your superior officer and have you reinstated.”

“NO!” Xerxes steps back, almost stumbling in his haste. A shiver runs over his lean body. “I was assigned to the Third Fleet under Archduke Bolivar. I served with him for tw..two…two years. I’ve been reassigned to the Progenitor’s flagship.”

“I understand.” Rhade nods sympathetically. He had his own close call with the First Consort. There had been a time when he had the unnerving feeling that Charlemagne was interested in him but fortunately it had all come to nothing. He can’t really blame the poor man for wanting to be as far away from the First Consort as possible.

“I’ll be going. I only wanted to offer my congratulations and wish you well.” Xerxes turns and rushes away.

A high-strung fellow. No doubt Xerxes’ association with the First Consort exacerbated his fragile personality. Rhade shakes his head with pity. His com link beeps discreetly.

Rhade makes a show of removing and activating it. His friends are watching avidly. No doubt impressed. Rhade assumes a bored air. No need for them to know that this is the first time that it has gone off. “Rhade, here.”

“Fleet Marshall. Please report back to the ship. We have new instructions.” A soft female voice announces in carefully neutral tones.

“New instructions?” Rhade arches an eyebrow.

“Yes, Fleet Marshall. We’ve been reassigned.”

Reassigned? Already? Well, well. His time with Harper had really paid off. Rhade smiles. The Progenitor is probably moving him to command the First Fleet instead. “I see. What is the reassignment?”

“We have been reassigned to the Third Fleet, sir.”

“What?!” Rhade gasps. The Third Fleet…but that’s…that’s commanded by…There must be some mistake!

“Sir, the Archduke is already aboard.”

“He is?” Rhade pales.

“Yes sir. The First Consort is in your quarters and is requiring your imate ate presence, sir.”

Calm down. Calm down. His hands feel oddly cold. Rhade glances down. He closes his hands into fists to hide the tremor. He takes a deep breath and forces calm command into his voice. “Right. Inform the Archduke I will return shortly. Rhade out.”

“You certainly seem to be on the fast track, Rhade.” Lee tilts his head, studying Rhade’s frozen figure.

“Carson, doesn’t the Fleet Marshall serve a dual role with the First Consort?” Ironwood asks in a tone of idle interest as he strokes Carson’s blond hair.

Carson glances sidelong at Rhade’s pale face. “I believe so.”

“Well, I suppose congratulations are in order again, Rhade.” Lee announces cheerfully.

Rhade turns wide eyes on Lee’s dark face. “I’m sure it’s a mistake.”

Carson adopts a thoughtful air and pretends to seriously consider the possibility. Finally he shakes his head with mock regret. “No. I don’t think so. Especially since the First Consort is already aboard your ship…”

“AND in your quarters.” Lee finishes with amusement.

Ironwood claps Rhade on the back. “Congratulations! You’ve just been made comforter to the First Consort.”

“You might want to stop by one of the body shops before you go to your ship.” Carson suggests helpfully. “Better to get your piercing done by a professional than allow Charlemagne to do it in your f ses session with him.”

The End

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