Shieldbrothers: The Bonding

BY : Lursa_and_BeTor
Category: 1 through F > Andromeda
Dragon prints: 7261
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.

Chapter Nine: The Colony


Wallace lengthens his stride as he stomps down the corridor. "Mariyam, you don't have to walk me to the ship."

"I know. I want to." Mariyam keeps her tone honey sweet with an effort. Wallace is becoming a liability and she is so tired of having to sooth and humor him to keep him in a reasonable frame of mind. It might be time for her to implement her own Plan B and "retire" Wallace in favor of a more easily managed male to act as her mouthpiece. Wallace had been the best choice at the time; the best politician, but now he is slipping. His leadership is increasingly ineffective. Griffith is might do; he's already proven his fertility and ability to sire talented children. When she'd married Tyr, she'd thought that the potency of her genes would overcome his mindblind genes but to her shock and horror, her eldests sons had no talents at all. She loved the boys anyway, but it'd been a relief to have birthed talented children with her lover.

"You're not going to change my mind."

"What could it hurt?" Mariyam asks. On the other hand, she is used to Wallace and knows exactly how to manage him. She might as well keep her options open. Wallace might surprise her and pull this premature act off successfully, but she didn’t rate his changes highly. And Griffith isn't going anywhere; he will be ready to take over if Wallace dies or fails.

"I don't need anyone else along on this."

{This entire venture is a fool's errand, Wallace.} Mariyam sighs.

{I will hear no more of this!}

Appeals to logic weren't working, but then Wallace is a man. Perhaps an emotinal appeal to family. Yes, a claim that she and the children need Wallace for protection. Wallace usually yields to that argument. Mariyam clutches his arm and turns big eyes on him. {THINK! For the Divine’s sake! What will happen to us if something happens to YOU? }

"Nothing is going to happen to me." Wallace smiles and pats her hand. "Captain Hunt has assured my safety."

Mariyam tosses her long dreadlocks over her shoulder. She has not even bothered with a veil in her hurry to pursue Wallace and talk him out of this foolish move while there is still time. "Dylan Hunt doesn't know these Nietzscheans."

"I am not taking Griffith with me."

"Why not? He's skilled and he's been a supporter for a long time." And if Griffith is onsite, if/when Wallace dies, Griffith will be in perfect position to assert himself and her leadership.

"He is head strong and openly disrespectful." Wallace sniffs disdainfully.

That's because, he is challenging Wallace for the position as her husband. Mariyam rolls her eyes. Wallace had not been born into the Colony. He had immigrated there shortly before the Nietzschean attack. In all the time since, Wallace had never figured out the real power structure of the Colony and she had chosen not to enlighten him. He had never even considered that the only reason that he held the position of Headman, the position that he was so proud of, was because she had selected him and married him. He was nothing, but her representative and stalking horse. "I'm sure it's just a misunderstand…"

"Why do you always take his side?"

"Wallace…I'm not taking anyone's side!" Mariyam snaps before she catches herself. She knows better that that; anger is not the way to manipulate Wallace. A pretense of sweet submissiveness is, but she is so damn tired of playing submissive. Mariyam touches a hand to her he She She can feel an ache growing at her temple. She needs to get on planet and soon. All her people do. They can't afford to let the two Prides keep them away much longer.

{I'm just worried. What if something happens?} Mariyam quickly sends the thought, flavoring it with fear and trembling. She strokes Wallace's sleeve.

{If something unforeseen does happen…well, you will be fine. The colony will continue.}

{That's not what I mean and yoow iow it.} Mariyam looks up at Wallace, startled by the bitterness of his thoughs. Why is Wallace being so difficult? Has he finally figured out that she has been auditioning Griffith? If so, Wallace would take it for a simple affair, not as an audition for his replacement as husband and Headman.

"I am touched by your concern." Wallace sneers.

Mariyam turns large, tear-damp eyes on him. She allows her mouth tremble just a little. {What do you mean by that? You realize that this sure to be an ambush. You will be hurt…or worse. What about the children? What am I supposed to tell them?}

Wallace sighs. {Don't do this, Mariyam.}

{Don't do what? Remind you of your responsibility to your wife…your family?}

{My family is why I'm doing this!}

{You cannot leave me…us…here!}

{Mariyam….}

{We’re fading…our powers are…muted here.} Mariyam shivers. Her muscles ache and the throbbing in her head is getting worse. "Please, Wallace. Please, don’t go."

"I appreciate your concern…"

"My concer…my concern!" Mariyam hisses. Her dark eyes glint with suppressed fury for a moment before she quickly lowers them. Mariyam fights back her need for what only her planet can give her. She must not loose control. Perhaps the need is driving Wallace's determination to go down to the planet, despite the danger. She sniffs. He's always lacked her self-control and discipline. A faint smile curves Mariyam’s lips as she sees Griffith waiting next to the hanger doors. At least someone was obeying orders. "This is about more than my concern for your welfare, husband."

Griffith swaggers up to the couple, his dark gaze goes immediately to Mariyam. "Wallace. Mariyam."

"Hello. Griffith." Mariyam smiles at him.

{What are YOU doing here?} Wallace snaps.

Griffith raises his eyebrows and stares coolly at Wallace. {I have come to accompany you to the surface.}

"Maybe you can talk some sense into him, Griffith," Mariyam suggests, her eyes meaning Griffith's gaze meaningfully.

Wallace stiffens next to her. Anger flushes his face as he glowers down at her. "Don't try to bring Griffith into our private discussion, wife."

"Actually, we need to discuss another matter before we transport to the surface," Griffith moves closer, lowering his voice. His mouth is tight with worry.

"What's the matter?" Wallace asks with impatience.

"Some of the old ones are becoming…ill."

"Oh, no!" Mariyam gasps. She is only too aware of the fine quivering in her muscles and the ache in her temples. It will only get worse but she, at least, is a healthy adult in her prime. It will be worse for the elders and the children. "How many?"

"A few." Griffith looks at Mariyam with concern. {Almost all. And some of the children as well.}

{Freya woke with a headache this morning. She’s still in bed.} Mariyam chews her lip. Is it only a real headache? Or is it the beginning of something more? Teenagers, those on the verge of puberty, would be the ones in the most pain. Their changing bodies already had enough to cope with and the changes would make them more vulnerable to the effects. Her own Freya and Freyr were exactly the age to be hard hit by withdrawal.

{You may want to have one of the healers look at her.} Griffith frowns, worried.

{I shall do so right away.} She will tell the ship that Freya suffered from migraines and request drugs to ease her daughter's pain. It wouldn't be safe for the ship's healer to actually examine Freya. No matter what, her planet's secret must be kept.

"All the more reason for me to go talk to these Nietzscheans." Wallace draws himself up. "The sooner this situation in resolved, the sooner we can all go home."

{How is Freyr? Is he showing signs of…} Griffith ignores Wallace, reaching out to touch Mariyam's arm.

Mariyam steps quickly to Wallace's side and loops her arm through his. She frowns at Griffith. He knows better than to touch her in public. {He's fine…for now.}

Griffith. You don't need to come with me." Wallace glares resentfully up at the bigger man. His mouth twists as if he has just bitten into something bitter. "I need you here. I need you to take care of my family for me."

"I am honored by your faith in me." Griffith bows smoothly, his long black hair spilling over his shoulders.

Mariyam quickly brushes her hand over the silken fall of Griffith's hair as she lingers a step behind Wallace. She did so admire long hair on a man. She picks up her pace and catches up with Wallace as the doors to the hanger open. She is aware of Griffith following closely behind her. She can see Captain Hunt and his android waiting for them next to the Maru.

"Headman and Mrs. St. Clair, Councilman…we are ready when you are." Ro ste steps away from the open hatch.

"My wife and the Councilman are remaining onboard Andromeda. I am ready to go when you are." Wallace walks over to stand beside the hatch.

"Captain Hunt," Mariyam walks up to High Guard captain. She places one hand on his arm and looks pleadingly up at him. "Dylan. I have been trying to convince my determined husband that it would be better for all concerned if he didn't go down to the planet."

Dylan frowns and gives Wallace a questioning look. "I thought this was all settled."

"It is, Captain Hunt." Wallace glowers at Mariyam. "My wife is needlessly concerned about my safety."

"No need for concern about that, Mariyam." Dylan smiles reassuringly down at Mariyam as he covers her hand with his. The smile widens into a grin. "We will have Rommie with us…and have you seen my force lance?"

Men and their little phallic obsessions. As much as she despises Tyr, she will have to grant him the grace of admitting that at least the Nietzschean had never felt the need to compensate for anything by bragging about his "force lance". Despite the ache in her temples, Mariyam tosses her hair and giggles girlishly at the feeble joke. "I'm sure Wallace will be fine in your care, Captain Hunt. However…"

"Mariyam!" Wallace snaps. "That is enough. We must be on our way."

Her eyes widen as Griffith’s hand slides possessively around her arm. That's twice that he's touched her in front of Wallace. What is the man thinking? Wallace is already suspicious. If Griffith can't be more discreet, perhaps he's not the right material for her new husband either. Mariyam smiles sweetly at Wallace and Dylan and allows Griffith to steer her out of the hanger. As soon as the doors close behind them, she jerks her arm away and turns on Griffith with an angry hiss. {What were you thinking!}

{I was concerned about you and our…} Griffith steps closer with a confident smile. His hands slide around her waist, pulling her to him as if he intends to kiss her.

Mariyam jerks away as a couple of her colonists walk by. This is hardly the time or the place. {Don't.}

{I'm tired of watching you with him. We need to tell him…}

Mariyam raises a trembling hand to rub her head. Is Griffith going to be as tiresomely high maintance as Wallace? {And do what? Do you think the council will accept you as Headman?}

Griffith tosses his head. {I have made some alliances. I have some support.}

{Not enough.}

Griffith steps closer to her. {I miss you in my bed, Mariyam.}

She sighs. Bed with a partner is the last thing she feels like thinking about right now. If Griffith can think about that sort thing then he feels a lot better than she does. {Is that all I am to you…a bedmate?}

{You know I love you, Mariyam.} Griffith draws a finger over the curve of her cheek.

Mariyam looks up at him through her lashes. {You know how I feel about you.}

"I'm tired of these games." Griffith looks quickly around and steals a brief kiss.

{Soon. I promise.} Mariyam steps back and forces herself to smile at him.

{When?} Griffith demands sharply.

{When this situation is resolved and we’re back on the planet.}

{I look forward to that day.}

"I must go, Griffith. I have to check on my children." Mariyam walks away. She can feel him staring after her. Later. She will deal with him later. Right now, she must see if Freya and Freyr are ill.

***

Tyr Anasazi stands at Weapons station on command deck. A vest of loosely woven brown silk cords covers his wide chest, cords rub softly against his skin and over the passion marks that Harper had gifted him with. Tyr folds his arms over his chest. His bone blades quiver briefly in response to the pressure of his brown leather gauntlets against the bases. His activities with Harper had left them very sensitive this morning. A faint smile curves his lip lips at thell rll reminders of last night's pleasures. He glances over at Beka Valentine. She stands at the Slip Stream station her pale hands resting on the tight black leather covering her hips. Her blue eyes are wary as she watches the Eureka Maru leave the Andromeda and head toward the planet. She looks as if she shares his reservations about the Captain’s choice of action. "This is not right."

"Is it just me, or is this all, way too easy?" Beka sighs and shakes her head.

Trance looks up from her station. Her tail curls in slow, puzzled crooks behind her. "I don't understand. Where are the ships?"

"Bingo!" Beka's hands tighten on the edges of her console as she frowns at the screens.

"I thought the Nietzscheans had contacted Dylan." Trance looks from Beka to Tyr.

Tyr shrugs. Dylan hadn't mention any such thing, but that didn't mean that the Captain might not have had private contact with someone representing the two Prides. "He didn't mention any communications in our briefing this morning."

Beka glances over her shoulder at Trance's guileless face and orders, "Andromeda. Show all transmissions to Dylan Hunt from the Creek-Shalom."

Andromeda's image appears on one of large forward screens. "There are no transmissions to Captain Hunt from the Nietzscheans."

"Then why are they going to the planet?" Trance asks in a bewildered tone.

"Because Dylan Hunt is a fool." Tyr curls his lips in a sneer. That's the Captain, always rushing off and willing to trust every idiot that turns up with a sob story.

Andromeda's frowns at him, her dark eyes narrowing. "No, Tyr. There was a coded transmission to Headman St. Clair from the Neteryu."

Had the Headman shared the message with Dylan? That might explain much. But the information only brings up more questions. Is the message real or fake? And if geniune, is it an invitation to a trap? Tyr tilts his head to one side as he considers the possiblities. we hwe have a recording of that message?"

"No." Andromeda shakes her head. "It was encrypted. Headman St. Clair viewed it in privacy mode."

Beka taps her fingers against her console. "Well, well…the colonists seem to have an agenda."

Tyr snorts. Of course, the Colonists have an agenda. Everyone has an agenda. The only question for him is whether the Colonists' agenda can further his own agenda or not. "This is not a surprise, Beka."

Trance leans forward on her station, her tail waving lanquidly in the air behind her. "Do we need to contact Dylan?"

"Is your avatar aware of this information, ship?" Tyr looks at image of Andromeda glowing on the screen. He feels quite certain that avatar is aware, but whether Rommie can persuade Dylan to alter his plans is another matter. He can probably count on Dylan's innate stubbornness to place the human in a position of danger. The only question remaining is whether it is more to his benefit to rescue Dylan once again or to arrange a fatal mishap that will leave Beka captain.

"Yes." Andromeda sounds mildly insulted at the question.

Tyr glances at the others. They seem reassured somewhat at the information. No reason to disabuse them of whatever comfortable illusions they choose to maintain on the subject. "She is aware of the situation and is handling security. There is no need to do anything more at this point."

***

Wallace leads the way through theest est to the Colony. He walks quickly down the white gravel trail. Leaves rustle overhead in a vivid green canopy, framing the cool blue of the sky. Birds call to each other and thrill in response. He had missed all this so much on the ship. He is too ct upt up in his homecoming to pay much attention as the android and her Captain follow quietly behind him. Almost there. As he rounds a bend in the trail, Wallace can see the patches of white of buildings. His pace quickens. The cool, crisp scents of the forest fill his lungs. He can even smell the faint sweet scent of the sacred spring. Wallace stops. He closes his eyes and inhales deeply. A smile curves his thin lips. He glances over his shoulder at his guests and waves his a hand in the direction they are headed. The pure, bright white buildings gleam like jewels tucked in between the forest and mountain. The brilliant deep blue of the lake fronts the Colony. Wallace smiles proudly at his domain. How he had missed this place! "Welcome, to the Colony, Captain Hunt."

Dylan studies the city for a long moment. "It is beautiful."

"That's interesting." Rommie looks around as they set off again, walking toward the city.

"What's interesting?" Dylan asks softly.

Rommie glances at him. "I'm not picking up any Nietzschean life signs."

Dylan frowns. "That's not surprising. They're not supposed to be here yet."

"There's also a problem with that lake. It doesn't look natural." Rommie raises her voice to address Wallace, "Headman St. Clair…is the lake a natural occurrence?"

Wallace stiffens and glances quickly over his shoulder. "Yes…yes, of course...why?"

"The shape is…odd."

"Does something trouble you about the lake?" Dylan squints against the sun, trying for a better view of the lake.

"Well, actually," Rommie says slowly "...it is quite beautiful. It appears to be clear."

Wallace picks up the pace even though he is panting already from the brisk walk. "It is. There are mountain springs feeding it."

"This is quite…extraordinary, Dylan, I can detect no pollutants in it." Rommie frowns.

The Captain shrugs. "The colonists must utilize an anti pollutant system."

Rommie shakes her head. "No, Dylan...no chemicals...not even trace elements."

"Excellent!" Dylan exclaims as he makes a show of admiring the view. He turns to Wallace with a smile. "You have your own corner of paradise here."

"We are quite fortunate," Wallace replies breathlessly. "That is one reason we like to keep this place free of Nietzscheans and other worrisome outsiders."

Dylan raises his eyebrows in question. "I assume you don't mean the Andromeda and her crew."

"Of course not!" Wallace forces a smile. "Please, come, we must hurry.”

"Why are we in such a hurry, Wallace?" Dylan asks, slowing his pace slightly.

Wallace casts an annoyed look over his shoulder at Dylan. The damned man isn't even breathing hard after their little hike. He sniffs. That over-muscled barbarian, Tyr, could probably have run the distance and not be breathing hard. Well, there are more important things than mere physical skills. "We must get to the colony before the others arrive."

"Yes, when are the Nietzscheans arriving?" Dylan strides along, his long legs easily covering the ground.

"Shortly. Come."

After a few more minutes of walking, Wallace leads them to where the white gravel path empties into a large plaza. The white slabs of marble covering the ground look pristine. No chips or scratches mar it. The buildings lining the plaza are all made from the same marble and look equally fresh and new. Their footsteps echo softly as they cross the plaza. The only color in the plaza lies at its center. A forest of tall, carved columns supports a large, circular roof. Some columns are deep crimson while others are a vivid green. Stylized vines and leaves wrought in gold climb the columns and glitter in the sun along the eaves. Wallace trots eagerly across the plaza and through the columns. In the center of the circle is a gently bubbling spring of deep blue water. It is surrounded and confined by an ancient stone rim. Moisture beads along the stone and moss grows velvet green along the base. An open green marble cabinet hosts rows of gold and silver goblets. Silk pillows in a multitude of colors sprawl in invitation along the marble floor.
Wallace hurries to the cabinet and grabs a silver goblet. He leans over dipping it into the water. His hand shakes as he gulps down the water.

Dylan glances at Rommie. "He must be thirsty."

Rommie frowns as she watches Wallace hastily guzzle a second cup. "We weren't hiking that long."

Dylan asks softly, "So what's wrong with the lake?"

"Nothing…it's perfect…that's the problem."

"I don't understand what you mean," Wallace wipes his lips with the back of his hand. He feels much better. A flush of color rises along his pale cheeks. He can feel the power of the sacred spring surging through hWallWallace replaces the goblet in the cabinet. He doesn't like the machine asking about the lake. Her interest is premature. Some secrets are mean only for those who lived in the Colony.

"This lake is a perfect circle, Dylan. That does not occur naturally." Rommie stares at Wallace with narrowed eyes.

"What are you saying?" Wallace stands protectively next to the spring. "I don't understand what you're saying."

Rommie cocks her head. "I think you do, your heart rate is up and you're perspiring."

Wallace laughs. "Well, we have been hiking through these woods for some time, and I'm not as young as I used to be."

"I don't think that's the reason." Rommie steps forward, placing herself between Dylan and Wallace.

"Give it a rest, Rommie." Dylan chuckles and steps around her to smile at Wallace.

"Dylan…"

Dylan turns to face her and frowns meaningfully. "Leave it alone. I'm sure Wallace is being perfectly upfront with us."

"Understood." Rommie nods as her gaze goes from Dylan to Wallace.

"Wallace, lead on." Dylan turns and claps Wallace on the shoulder. "We need to get to your council chambers before our guests arrive."

"Of course, right this way." Wallace leads them out of the green and red columns and across the plaza to a large circular building that juts out onto the lake. It has a dome that shimmers in iridescent shades of white, gold and blue. Dylan and Rommie are looking around at the structures.

"Dylan," Rommie whispers. "These buildings are old. Much older than anything the colonists might have constructed."

Dylan glances at her and lowers his voice, "How old are these buildings?"

"Approximately three thousand years old."

"Rommie that's impossible. These buildings look new."

Wallace opens one of the ornate doors to the structure. The doors are twelve feet high but appear to swing open easily. He walks into the building, his footsteps echoing in the large room. Dylan and Rommie enter behind him. Dylan looks up to a shimmering ceiling. It must be thirty feet high. There are rows of balconies with green silk cushions. Places for about four hundred people to sit around the perimeter. The marble walls are covered in intricate carvings of forests and animals. The floor was a strong, clear glass that provides a view into the depths of the lake. There is a raised dais of white marble in the center of the room. It holds a semi-circle of chairs lined with red silk. At the arch of the circle was a large, chair covered with gold leaf. A canopy of red and green silk hangs over it. Wallace breathes a deep sigh of relief. He has missed that chair. That chair is his proper place not that stupid crate on the ship. He is home where he belongs. Soon, if all went to plan, his family and his colony will be back here as well. He would have Mariyam by his side and his world would be right again. Everyone, all the Colonists would know him for the great leader that he was.

"Dylan." Rommie turns to her Captain.

"Yes, Rommie?"

"The Nietzscheans have arrived."

***

Harper hurries onto the Command Deck and glances at Tyr, pausing to admire the muscular back and mass of black braids. His eyes widen as he spots a large purple splotch on Tyr's shoulder. Did he do that? Harper freezes and looks closer. He kinda vaguely remembers...oh...oh, yes, he had. He had been all over Tyr's chest and shoulders last night, sucking on the dark, delicious skin. Harper squeeze his eyes briefly shut. He can feel the color rising in his face. And, of course, day of all days, Tyr just has to wear that silk vest thing. Everyone has probably seen the passion marks by now. The Nietzschean had pbly bly been waiting all morning for the him to notice and react. Or wait -- is this some Nietzschean thing? Tyr glances his shoulder. The amber eyes glitter with amusement as Tyr strokes a finger over the mark on his shoulder. Harper looks quickly away and circles around to Beka. "Boss, there's something odd going on with the colonists."

Beka leans against her console, frowning at him. "What do you mean…odd?"

"I'm not sure exactly, but I think some of them are sick." Harper steals a sidelong glance at Tyr. Oh, shit. There are even more purple blotches spotting the wide chest. One particularly big blotch centers on one of Tyr's dusky nipples. The silk cords neatly frame each mark. Oh, shit. He doesn't remember doing all that. How many of them are there?

"How do you know this?" Tyr growls softly.

Trance huffs and stares at him, her black eyes large and reproachful. "Have you been spying on them?"

Harper ignores Trance. Why is Tyr looking at him with such concern...oh...the Nietzschean is probably wondering if getting jumped by the Colonists is the oddity in question. It wouldn’t have been the first time something similar happen to him. He smiles in reassurance at his lover. "Whoa…whoa…whoa….I've just been checking in on Andromeda's internal sensors and keeping an eye on our guests."

"Okay, fine, what have you found?" Beka asks impatiently.

Harper removes his pad from one of his cargo pockets and taps a sequence and points it at the center forward screen. Images of the Colonist flicker on the screen. A woman slowly cutting geometric patterns into her bare thigh. A man sticking a fork into his hand over and over, apparently fascinated by the activity. Some Colonists are clutching thier heads and moaning as they lean against walls. Some are screaming and staggering around their makeshift temporary camp in the cargo bay. A few sprawl limply while others are convulsing.

"These people are mad!" Tyr taps commands into his console. "Sealing the deck."

"Wait a minute, Tyr. Andromeda, what is the location of the colonists?" Beka asks.

Andromeda's image appears on the right forward screen. "All colonists are located in the cargo bay except Mariyam St. Clair, and her children. They are located in crew quarters."

"Sealing cargo deck and crew quarters N through R." Tyr’s fingers dance lightly over his console as he enters a another series of commands.

"What are we supposed to do with these people?" Beka glances at Tyr with amusement. "And don't suggest opening the cargo bay doors to blast them into space."

"Ah, then we'll have to consider option two." Tyr shrugs in mock disappointment as he smiles at Beka.

Trance coils and uncoils her tail as she considers the images continuing to flicker on the center screen. "Maybe we could give them some medical help."

"You want to go into that cargo bay and give them medical attention?" Tyr asks dryly, nodding in the direction of the view screen where a teenaged girl is systematically hacking off locks of her hair.

Trance eyes the image uneasily. "Well, no, but we need to do something."

"Harper." Beka leans back against her console, looking at the engineer.

"Yeah, boss?"

"Can you go down there and rig some sort of…"

"No!" Tyr snaps. He turns a cold stare at Beka. Is she picking up Dylan's habit of throwing Harper into harm's way so cavalierly? He will not have it. "Risking any one of us puts all of us at risk. We will think of some other solution. Flooding the areas with a gas, perhaps or..."

"That's it!" Trance exclaims. "Andromeda can put them all to sleep."

"Andromeda," Beka orders. "Flood the areas with sleep gas."

"Initiating saturation sequence."

The view screen shows activity slowing on the cargo deck as the gas begins to take effect. Colonists fall asleep and slid to the floor in untidy piles.

"What will we do with them when they wake up?" Trance asks as she looks from Beka to Tyr.

Beka shrugs. "We'll cross that bridge when we get to it."

"Saturation sequence complete." Andromeda tilts her head as if listening. "Tyr. Your sons are still awake. They are attempting to contact you."

"I'll go to them." Tyr turns and heads for the door, pausing only for a quick glance over his shoulder at Harper.

Beka and Trance trade amused looks at each other and then turn to study Harper.

Harper stares back, his face wary. "What?"

"What is going on with you Tyr Tyr? Beka asks, walking over to him.

"I don't know what you're talking about." Harper frowns suspiciously. What can they know? Hen't n't even spoken to Tyr in front of them. Had they noticed the passion marks dotting Tyr's torso? Still no reason for them to assume that he's the one who put 'em there. Or is it something else? Harper backs away as Beka leans close and inhales deeply. Damn it, would people just stop with that. It's bad enough with the kids doing it. He doesn't need his fellow crewmembers to start. "And if you're going to sniff me I’m leaving!"

Trance grins. "I think it's cute."

"I don't know what the two of you are talking about, but I've got work to do." Harper draws himself up and speaks with careful dignity. He turns to leave, but Beka grabs his arm, pulling him back.

"That's a pretty big bruise you got on your neck, there, Harper," Beka teases as she taps a finger on the purple splotch on his neck. "You might want to go to medical and let Trance fix you up."

Harper slaps a hand over the passion mark. He can feel the heat of a blush riding his cheeks. He'd forgotten about that one. Why can't Tyr leave them in less visible locations? Why did the Nietzschean have to place the marks just high enough that his shirt won't cover them? Harper sighs. Somehow, he bets no one has commented on the marks that Tyr's sporting in that damn mesh vest. Why do people always have to pick on him?

"Beka, stop teasing him." Trance smiles. "I think they look cute together."

"Don't let Tyr hear you say that." Beka laughs as she pats Harper's shoulder.

Harper flinches slightly and tries to hide it by waving his hands dismissively at the two women. "You two can play this game alone. I'm going to machine shop 7."

"Don't go Harper," Trance pleads but her eyes still reflect amusement. She turns her gaze on Beka, sobering abruptly Beka's stern expression. "Are you okay, Beka?"

"Oh, I'm fine." Becka pulls down the collar of Harper's shirt. She can see a bruise on the pale skin of the engineer's shoulder and the thin red lines of healing scratches. "But I'm going to have a little talk with Tyr. Maybe tear break him limb from limb."

Harper pulls away and adjust his shirt. He knows that Beka cares about him, but he is getting a little tired of all this interest in his relationship with Tyr. He can just envision a scene between a pissed off Beka and a territorial Tyr. Not a pretty picture. "Beka, don't do that, please."

Andromeda's holographic image shimmers in the air next to Beka. "It is my observation that their relationship is completely consensual."

Great. Harper sighs. Another country heard from. He frowns at the hologram. "Andromeda…privacy mode…privacy? Where does it say that you blab what you see?"

"I was only making an assessment of what I observed. I did not go into detail about what was observed." Andromeda stares back at him.

"I don't need any help from you!" Beka snaps at the hologram which lifts its eyebrows in surprise and blinks off. Beka glances at Trance who makes a show of busying herself with her console.

"Beka, don't say anything to Tyr.” Harper’s voice is firm. He appreciates the concern, but it's not very flattering that Beka seems to think that he could be coerced into an abusive relationship with Tyr. There's no question that the big guy outclasses him on a physical level, but Beka clearly didn't realize all the ways in which a brilliant and furious engineer can make life painful and miserable. Assuming that said engineer did not arrange for a messy, painful and embarrassing death. One of the thing lik likes about Tyr is that the big guy has never discounted him on that level.

"If he hurts you…I'll blow him out an air lock." Beka scowls.

Harper sticks his pad pad back in his pocket and grins. "Is this your 'big sister' mode or your 'mother hen' mode?"

"It's my 'you're my friend' mode." Beka studies him for a long moment before asking softly, "Are you okay?"

About time that she asks, instead of jumping to conclusions. And to be fair, he'd have been upset too, if he'd noticed a bruise like that on her. He and Tyr were still learning each other's responses and needs. Whoa...who knew that playing with bone blades could get a fellow in so much trouble so fast. The bruise was his fault. Tyr'd been very gentle last night, but there had been a few moments when things gotten so intense and he'd been ly ely experimenting with the bone blades...ahhh, but it'd been fun at the time. Definately not anything that he's gonna discuss with Beka. Harper's grin widens. "I'm more than okay…I think I'm happy."

"Good. But if he puts a bone blade out of line…"

"I know, I know…" Harper laughs. "You'll blow him out an air lock."

"Damn straight."

Trance turns toward them, her eyes wide. "Beka."

"What?"

"I'm just detecting a Nietzschean ship in orbit of the planet."

"Andromeda?" Beka calls.

"One Nietzschean ship in synchronous orbit. Two more on the night side of the fifth planet in this system."

"Notify Dylan," Beka orders.

"Acknowledged."

***

Bellerophon and Chimaera watch for thier hiding places as the door hisses open. Chimaera crouches low, trying to peer around the edge of the sofa. Is the ship under attack? Where is their father? What should they do? The ship hadn't been very helpful when they had tried to ask it what was happening? He cann't see around the edge of the sofa. He glances questioningly over at his brother. Bellerophon has a better view of the door. His brother gestures an all clearn ton to him and stands up.

"Tyr." Bellerophon steps forward, relief plain on his face.

Chimaera rises, his fears easing at the reassuring sight of his father's tall frame filling the doorway. "There's something wrong with the air on this ship. Mother, Freyr, and Freya are dead."

Tyr steps into the bedroom and runs an assessing glance over the limp bodies. "No, they're merely sleeping. Come with me. I will explain."

The two brothers exchange worried looks and follow their father into the corridor. Bellerophon glances nervously up and down the corridor as Tyr reseals the door. No sign of anyone. Are they under attack or not? What's going on? He opens his mouth to ask and then shuts it. His father is being silent. Maybe now isn't a safe time or place for questions. He cannot think of anything else to do except take his cue from his father. He falls in behind with his brother as they follow Tyr up the incline to the next deck. Bellerophon can feel his bone blades easing slowly back down. He's more curious than worried now that his father is here. He looks around wide-eyed as they exit onto the command deck and turns expectantly to his father. Surely now, Tyr will explain things. Bellerophon smiles as he sees Harper. The human is wearing an intensely red shirt with blue flowers on it over a white tee shirt. Bell blinks at the colors and pattern. He cannot believe that Harper is wearing a shirt that has flowers on it. The neerneer is a strange man. Bell tilts his head. He can hear the quickened beat of Harper's heart. Hmmm. There is a new mark on Harper's throat. Just under the data port.

"Hey, guys." Harper grins at them.

"Hello, Harper." Bellerophon sniffs delicately at the scents in the air. His brother is testing the air also. His eyes widen as he in sudden speculation from Harper to Tyr.

"Have you been sparing with Harper?" Chimaera asks, clearly trying to sort the mystery of the mingled scents out.

"No." Tyr answers absently as he looks at Harper. "A word, please, Harper."

Bell watches closely as Harper nods and steps aside with Tyr. The murmur softly together in low, intimate voices. Bellerophon glances at his twin who is watching with a puzzled expression. He moves close to his brother and whispers in a superior tone, "Chimaera, Harper and our father are shield brothers."

"Are you sure?" Chimera whispers back, his dark eyes widening.

"Look at them!" Bellerophon urges as Tyr touches Harper's shoulder and bends to whisper in the human's ear. Harper's blue eyes have a sulty glint and there is a hint of sensuality in the curve of his lips as he smiles at whatever their father is whispering. Bellerophon nods knowingly. One of their data disks had referred occasionally to shieldbrothers, but no details had been provided. He'd not understood the hints about the nature of the relationship at the time, but now...it all makes sense. "At least now the scent makes sense."

"What do you mean? I don't understand." Chimaera frowns.

"Chi…look at them…can't you tell?" Bellerophon rolls his eyes. Clearly his brother is being a little slow at together the hints in the data disc program and the way their father is standing so close to Harper and touching the human. As Bellerophon watches, Harper eases closer to Tyr and Tyr strokes his fingers lightly down the line of Harper's throat. "Harper is Tyr's shieldbrother…his lover."

Chimaera blinks. "So that's what that means!"

"What means?" Tyr asks as he turns away from Harper and walks back to rejoin his sons.

"Nothing. We were just discussing…" Bellerophon looks hopefully at his brother.

"Discussing the katas you told us to study," Chimaera supplies quickly.

Bellerophon nods vigoriously. "Yes. That's it."

"Good. Now come with me, we need to discuss a situation."

Bellerophon and Chimaera look at each other and breathe a silent sigh of relief as they follow thier father.


TBC


You need to be logged in to leave a review for this story.
Report Story