Gardening Tips for Dragonia Vines

BY : Lursa_and_BeTor
Category: 1 through F > Andromeda
Dragon prints: 6153
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.

My knife flashes in the light as I sit alone under the tree, considering. Oh, not Dylan Hunt’s recruitment speech. It is a good enough speech and adequate for its audience but hardly the sort of thing that would motivate a Nietzschean. While the others give Hunt their attention, I weigh my own possibilities.

When I hired on with Gerentex it was precisely to get where I am – aboard the Andromeda Ascendant. In that much, my original plan had worked. The rest of it --killing Gerentex and the Magog, using the humans as crew, taking the ship and using it to further camouflage my actions from the enemy – that would require some alteration. I, now, have other factors to ponder.

Who would have expected that Captain Hunt survived with his ship? That the Andromeda might still be sentient was something that I had considered before invoking my mercenary persona and going out to investigate the rumors that Gerentex has located her. My advisors had been quite perturbed over my desire to handle this one myself. They had pleaded with me to take loyal Nietzscheans instead of my little rag tag band of human and alien mercenaries but where would the fun have been in that…or the verisimilitude?

I sigh as Hunt drones on. Surely he must be coming close to an end of this tedious little speech. I have a virus hidden in my boot; a virus that could wipe and replace the A.I.’s personality with one more suitable but that path is not without risks. My scientists advised me to use other methods if possible before resorting to that one. The virus had been used before on old High Guard ships. Mostly it was successful but not always. My hope had been that the Andromeda would have been lonely enough after three hundred years to accept me as Captain. But now, I discover that she already has a Captain. That limits my options to sabotage or subversion.

I have no desire to damage such a prize. Oh, not for her technology, the Andromeda is three hundred years out of date. Kodiak Pride and the best of the remaining Nietzschean Prides have newer, faster and better armed ships but I suspect that my enemy kept a close watch on those. I would. The Andromeda’s value lies not only in her history; her presence at the Battle of Witch Head – she would make a fine trophy and a symbol for the restored Nietzschean Prides – but also in her obscurity. Only historians or the entrepreneurial minded would be likely to take note of her discovery and recovery.

How to deal with Hunt? I could contrive to have the Angel of Death, Captain Hunt, himself, in addition to the ship…that would be amusing. Think of it. How delicious it will be to have the Victor of Witch Head forced to serve the Prides.

Many Kodiak had died at Witch Head, at this human’s command. Our population had not recovered as quickly as that of the Prides that had held back at the battle. Our most recent troubles could be traced back to that loss. It had made us few and vulnerable, leading the Orca and Drago-Kazov to murder us and take Drago Museveni’s bones. My parents, my siblings had fallen trying to protect the bones. I had been captured and enslaved for a time. This man’s actions lay in the center of the ring of ripples that spread to overtake my Pride and family. I can take revenge in such a way that will leave Hunt dependent on me; how that would irk a man used to the independence and authority of command. That path might, indeed, work out better than my original plan.

I glance up as he continues babbling drearily of intangibles and vague dreams instead of laying out solid objectives and paths to conquering them as a Nietzschean leader would. The way I would and did when speaking to the Council of Kodiak or other First Alphas or Fleet and Field Marshals. I keep my eyes blank to all emotion. Let him see nothing more than guarded curiosity as I look upon him; this man who had endeavored to obliterate all Nietzscheans from the known worlds, the man who reduced my gene line to me alone.

I could do what would have to be done if I must. Sex would be the most effective way and, objectively speaking, Hunt is not unattractive. I look at him and mentally strip him but the image does not inspire me. Odd. Normally, I find blondes most stimulating. Not all of my wives are blond – my First Wife is as dark as I am -- but a number of them are. My First Consort, my only male spouse, is very blond. Hunt seems dark and bulky next to the image of Charlemagne’s sleek fairness.

I try imagining Hunt nude and bound beneath me. Nothing. I sigh. Perhaps it is because in none of my imaginings can I envision Hunt responding to me in any way with any kind of passion – negative or positive. He is too remotely dispassionate. Even his speech…I have no doubt that he cares greatly for his lost Commonwealth, but his words have no passion, no spark. He could just as easily be discussing filtration systems with that tone of voice. All I see in him is a rigid self-righteousness.

Is that why Gaheris Rhade failed? Back then the Prides united and sent out their best to serve on High Guard ships and insinuate themselves into positions of power. Gaheris Rhade was an Alpha masquerading as a Beta among the humans. He was intelligent, handsome, seductive and deadly like any Alpha. There had been whole groups of such agents, carefully trained and altered – the first generation of Nietzschean Alphas designed for subtle biochemical warfare against their targets. But, like any first generation weaponry, flaws had been discovered; design weaknesses exposed. Had Rhade discovered a hidden flaw too late? Had he miscalculated? Or had Hunt’s chilly remoteness forced him to choose another path?

My hand stills, ceasing the idle knife play as Hunt looks at me and asks, “What about you?”

Is he dreamer enough to include me in his invitation to adventure? Now that would be useful. I would not be in a position to lay in courses of my own choosing like I could as Captain but I would have a much lower profile as a mere crewmember. None but a dreamer would think to reestablish the Commonwealth with nothing but one ship and a handful of crew. Commonwealth ships were known to accept diverse crews, including my people. Is Hunt falling back on habit? Does he merely want a token Nietzschean as proof that his restored Commonwealth applies to us too? Or does my Nietzscheanness draw him? How far had Rhade gotten with the Captain before failing?

“What about me?” I look up at him keeping my face calm and my manner indifferent.

“The new Commonwealth will have a place for everyone.”

“Including Nietzscheans?” I not noting that Hunt is keeping a wary distance from me. I slide my knife slowly back in its sheath.

“Including Nietzscheans.” Hunt smiles warmly but his smile does not reach his eyes.

Very well. I will be his token Nietzschean for now. I rise and stand near, but apart from, the Maru crew. The Magog’s beady eyes glint in the light as he stares at me with the air of one contemplating a choice dish. The purple creature flicks her pointed tail. The small human and his Captain Valentine smell of fear and unease.

I ignore them and the chill in Hunt’s pale eyes. I will accept Captain Hunt’s invitation for Kodiak Pride’s advantage and revenge. Plus there is the added value of causing confusion to my enemy. And I will succeed where Rhade failed. In the three hundred years since the Commonwealth failed, star ships are not the only things to have been improved upon. I have advantages that Gaheris Rhade lacked. And I have the will to use them. “I accept your invitation. It’s time I tried something new.”

“Very good.” Hunt’s gaze sweeps over me uneasily. “We’re going to make a difference people. We’re going to bring back the light of civilization.”

I cover a snort of derision. I can’t wait to hear what ‘barbarians’ are going to say to him for offering to bring back the light. The Magog has sense enough to stare at me with suspicion. The purple creature smiles brightly at me in apparent welcome. Captain Valentine taps her fingers against her holster as she looks from Hunt to me. Her small engineer cautiously, casually puts the Magog between him and me. I smile inside as I watch him. None of the others seem to notice his clever maneuvering. The boy certainly made the rightice.ice. The Magog is the one who could give me the hardest fight unless the purple creature has hidden resources. I will have to make a study of her and discover her weaknesses for future consideration.

&&&&

I inspect the deck where the senior officers lived and take Rhade’s old quarters for my own. His scent is gone but the furnishings are such as would be chosen by a Nietzschend end except for Hunt’s own quarters, these are the largest. They are also conveniently close to Hunt’s quarters. Since Hunt has appointed Captain Valentine as his First Officer, these quarters should be hers but I doubt that she will contest me over them.

Gaheris Rhade had some explaining to do. Where had he failed in his duty? I sweep the room with a glance. I felt at home in his quarters with the open spaces and sparse handful of furniture. The thick rugs are a richly somber blue-gray color with a design of black leaves scattered across it. A large couch with black and gray velvet cushions is pressed against one wall. One painting hangs in the room. It is a large piece done in oils – a dramatic image of a dark storm raging over a beach. Whoever painted it had talent. The painting is filled with a sense of menace and anger. I look closer and see Gaheris’ name riding one of the waves in the lower corner.

I drop my duffle bags on the couch and walk into the bedroom. My attention goes immediately to the huge bed. The black, white and gray quilt is folded back invitingly, revealing white sheets. I smile. Perfect. Finally, after months of bunking with my mercenaries, room enough to sprawl my full length in comfort. On the wall facing the bed is a large tapestry depicting a garden by moonlight. The tapestry conceals an alcove filled with uniforms and clothes. Against the other wall is a sleek, black dand and console with a gray leather chair pulled up to it.

I walk back into the main room. I lean against the closed door, tracking the others by the sound of their conversation. I can hear the Maru crew wandering from room to room, their lively chatter growing softer and more reflective and melancholy as they encounter the relics left by the previous crew.

“What is the problem, Trance?” The small engineer who attracted my attention earlier asks irritably.

“It’s so awful.” The purple creature’s voice is soft and sad. “All these people…just gone.”

“I know.” Beka Valentine sounds as if her mind is on other things.

Is she really willing to accept Hunt’s authority; to yield her power to him? I rest my head against the doorframe as I consider. If I want to keep a lower profile, one Captain is as good to me as another. But would she be able to kill Hunt? If she killed Hunt and the ship discovered it, the ship would probably kill her, which would leave the field clear for me to assume command. The ship’s choices would be very limited with Hunt and Valentine out of the way. I could not see it accepting a Magog as Captain and as for the small human; I doubted that he desired the responsibilities of command.

The Magog’s gruff voice sounds nearby. Its claws tap against the wall. “So many lives affected by the fall. These few things the only remnants left.”

“Guys! It’s not like they all died. Well, I mean, eventually they died but they didn’t die on the ship! Geez, most of them escaped to be picked up by other High Guard ships.” Only the small engineer seems determined to hold on to his high spirits and gloat over the greater comforts offered by Andromeda. “I mean look at the bathrooms. Did you get a load of the towels? Oh, and the beds are wonderful. No offense, Beka, but the Maru’s bunks are nothing compared to this!”

Beka laughs. “Okay, Harper, you’re right. It is cushy.”

“The old High Guard spared no expense when it came to their crew. Take a hint, Boss.”

Hmmm. The engineer sounds close. Very close. I tilt my head and laugh softly. Does he know that he selected the room adjacent to mine? I doubt it. I open my door and lounge against the frame, waiting with anticipation for the look on his face when he emerges and sees me. The next door over opens and the Magog steps out. He pauses and we trade cold stares. It is good to know his location. To judge from the twitch of his ears and the glint in his beady eyes, he feels the same way about me.

The door next to mine hisses open and the small human pops out, crooning contentedly over a steaming cup of coffee. He freezes in the doorway and stares. His appalled blue eyes go from the Magog to me. We stare back. I force my lips to stay in neutral lines instead of curving into the smile that tugs at the edges of my mouth.

He buys time with a sip of his coffee. “Uh, hi, guys.”

“Hello, Harper.” The Magog nods. His eyes focus on me. “Nietzschean.”

I raise an eyebrow. “Magog.”

“His name is Rev Bem.” Harper scowls at me, his unease at the Magog’s nearness suddenly forgotten in his annoyance with me. Interesting that he doesn’t object to the Magog calling me ‘Nietzschean’. “You best remember that, Über.”

“Indeed.” I fold my arms over my chest as I look him over. I am charmed by his blond spikes and the flash of temper in his vivid eyes. No lack of passion in this one. “You’ve got quite a large bark for such a little man.”

“Hey! I’ve got your ‘little man’ bub.” The small human bounces on the balls of his feet carelessly sloshing some of the hot liquid over his hand. “Ouch!”

My lips quirk in an amused smile. “I quake with fear.”

He scowls fiercely at me. The blue of his eyes deepens with temper. “Are you making fun of me? You’d better watch your step.”

“Harper…” The Magog murmurs gruffly. His beady gray gaze darts back and forth between the human and me. “Don’t bait the Nietzschean.”

Harper glances warily at my bone blades. The anger in his eyes is replaced by caution. “Oh, yeah, right.”

I flex my bone blades, watching as the human’s eyes widen. I wish that the Magog had kept silent. I had been enjoying the engineer’s display of temper. The Magog sniffs the air. What does it make of Harper’s blend of fear and anger? Or the scent of my rising desire?

“What is your name, Nietzschean?” The Magog…Rev Bem…asks gruffly. The human watches me warily.

I watch the human as I answer. “I am Tyr Anasazi, out of Victoria by Barbarossa.”

“All that stuff is your name? What do people call you?” The human…Harper…asks with wide eyes. Why is he asking? He has to know something of Nietzscheans so is he trying to initiate conversation as an overture of friendship?

“His first name is Tyr. His last name is Anasazi, Harper.” The Magog answers for me. “The rest of the information is his lineage. Victoria is his mother, Barbarossa is his father.”

“Correct.” I turn my head as another door opens.

Valentine pops out of the quarters on the other side of Hunt’s. She poses provocatively in the doorway in a large yellow towel. Her hair is damp and droplets of water gleam on her bare shoulders and legs. “Harper, can you do something about this shower? It’s not working right.”

My gaze flicks briefly over her and away, back to the small human. What her towel barely hides holds much less interest for me than speculating on what Harper’s tee shirt and loose pants conceal.

“Sure, boss. Let me grab my tool belt.” Harper vanishes into his room.

Beka smiles coolly at me and retreats into her quarters. Perhaps she was hoping for Hunt but he is snug in his quarters, ignoring us. I can hear the murmur of his voice and then the ship’s but the conversation is not one that holds any interest for me. What use are plans laid in a foundation of ignorance? At present, neither of them knows enough about this time to make feasible plans.

The Magog stares at me. He sniffs the air again and his ears tilt in my direction.

“What is it, Magog?”

He tucks his claws into the arms of his orange robe with a soft rustle. “Harper is my friend, Nietzschean. I would be most…aggrieved should something happen to him.”

I raise my eyebrow. A Magog with a sense of honor, of friendship? Interesting. I had not thought such a thing possible. It also increased my interest in Harper – that he would draw such regard from a Magog. “A threat?”

“An observation.” The Magog bows slightly in my direction and retreats into his quarters, leaving me with much to think on.

Hunt is suspicious about my selection of Rhade’s quarters but for all the wrong reasons. He thinks that I have intentions, secret intentions, and possibly violent intentions. He is right, I do, but his knowledge of Nietzscheans is so obsolete and incomplete that he guards against all the wrong things.

While the ship is observing me, I must be subtle. For now it is enough to be close to the Captain; to be in the same room with him as much as possible. Slowly and so gradually that he will not even be aware of it, he will come to prefer my company, to seek my company just as he did Rhade’s. There will be nothing for the ship to note except that Hunt, apparently of his own free will, seeks me out and spends increasing amounts of time with me.

Let Hunt keep a close eye on my whereabouts and a wary eye on my weaponry. It will do him no good. He is looking at the wrong weapons but there is not a reason in his world for him to look at me and suspect my personal biochemical arsenal. Of them all, only the Purple Being and the Magog are remotely threats to my plan. Trance, who is so interested in botany and biology, is the one most likely to be sensitive to such things. The Magog, I am also wary of. His nose is much more sensitive than that of humans. He is more aware of the scents riding the air currents. It will not do for him to suspect.

People think of plants as pretty and largely passive. To limited human perceptions they may appear so but out in hydroponics there is a whole secret world of chemical warfare going on with various plants competing for the advantage. Few humans have ever figured out that there are reasons why Drago Museveni started his genetic tinkering with plants or considered the qualities of the Dragonia Vine as compared to the qualities of Nietzscheans. We are both designed to be beautiful, seductive and deadly. The vine has its delicious scent and I…I have my pheromones.

The pheromones are part of what makes me Alpha. Oh, we all have them, of course, and we are all consciously aware of them just as we are aware of the other scents riding the air; scents that few humans can detect on a conscious level. We communicate among ourselves regarding rank and status and other things in this silent way. Like any Alpha my pheromones will override those of the Betas and those of the lower ranks. I can silently seduce them to my will. Oh, they can resist the siren call of my scents; we are not mindless but the longer the Betas are exposed to me the more difficult resistance will become unless they are frequently exposed to their own Alphas and providing that their own Alpha is strong enough to match my pheromones.

As an Alpha, I can consciously select the pheromones and adjust the levels I produce from the highest to none at all. I can silently invite someone closer or drive them away. I can offer sex or protection or reassurance without a word if I choose. I can challenge another Alpha’s control of his Betas if I wish.

The Kodiak saw early the potential promise of pheromones and begin incorporating them into our gene lines, making them more potent within us and combining them with other useful characteristics. These things saved our Pride in the dark times after the attack that almost destroyed us. We killed, evaded, escaped and regrouped. Currently our numbers are still relatively small but we have an influence out of proportion to those nrs. rs. Particularly when groups of Kodiak Alphas gather, working in concert to achieve advantageous agreements and treaties.

I have exposed the humans of the Maru crew to just enough to influence them to be less fearful of me and more comfortable working with me. It is not magic. I can not make ttrustrust me but I can put them at a certain level of ease; a subliminal feeling of being safer, of feeling better when I am present. I have carefully kept the amount of exposure to just enough to provide the minimum of those feelings and not enough that the Maru humans are in any danger of coming to need and depend on my presence. In the early days, mistakes had been made regarding dosages and some unfortunate Alphas had found themselves relentlessly pursued by humans who had come to require them like food or air.

We of the Kodiak have always had humans among us but never as serfs. Nor did we consider them lesser beings or deny their usefulness or attractiveness. Those who proved worthy were welcome among us and granted our protection but in return they have to give their loyalty to us and turn whatever gifts or talents they have to contributing to Kodiak’s success and survival.

My potential choices on this ship are limited. Beka is attractive and intelligent and cunning. She has courage and the will to take risks. She is also an outstanding pilot and that is a highly useful skill. And yet…there is something about her willingness to use sex as a bargaining chip; as a quick, easy way to achieve her goals or mere casual gratification that strikes me as unacceptable weakness that enemies might exploit.

This judgment may seem harsh. The Kodiak use the lure of possible sex, of our beauty, of our pheromones to achieve goals but only against judiciously chosen targets. Due to the enhancements made to us, sex can never be a casual thing. It must always be weighed and considered carefully. Among other Nietzscheans, it is safe enough as long as certain precautions are taken but with outsiders…particularly humans…well, let me just say that will all our enhancements and pheromones, sex is the nova bomb in the Kodiak personal biochemical arsenal. And so, on those rare occasions when we choose to follow through on our hints and implied promises, the sex is never quick or easy or casual.

Harper is more difficult than the othersith ith his past, he requires higher levels of exposure to put him at ease. This has resulted in an inclination to appear in whatever public rooms that I am in and to hover around the edges. He also has developed a tendency to gravitate in my direction when frightened but I do not mind it. Harper is amusing and makes me laugh, on the inside, at least. Harper is courageous. One might not think so at first but consider this – he serves on a ship with the personification of his two deepest fears; that is a Magog and a Nietzschean. He does so with grace and aplomb. Could a lesser man do this? Could our esteemed captain? No. Harper is also an undoubted genius. I have come to like him as well as find him distractingly attractive. Dylan Hunt, however, is a different story. I have set my will against him a wil will bend him to it.

&&&&

I stand on the basketball court, watching Dylan roll to his feet. I hold the basketball with deliberate awkwardness.

He stares at me with a bemused expression. “Personal fouls, Tyr. Remember personal fouls?”

“Oh, yes.” I look contrite; concealing how much pleasure it gives me to see the Victor of Witch Head at my feet. I wonder how long I can get away with pretending forgetfulness of certain rules. “Sorry, Captain. I’ll try to do better.”

Dylan takes the ball out to put it back into play. There is a smug note in his voice. “You know, Tyr, for such a superior specimen; your hand-eye coordination is not very good.”

“I didn’t realize.” I hide a smile. My deliberately poor play has achieved the goal that I intended. The Captain is feeling confident and superior. Enough so that he no longer keeps a wary distance between us while playing. The more proximity, the more physical contact, the more he becomes drawn to me.

“Oh, yeah. You seem to have a hard time dribbling the ball.” Dylan smiles at me, relaxed and easy as he bounces the ball.

I laugh throwing my head back and exposing the strong line of my throat and my chest to Dylan’s view, testing his reactions. He looks briefly at me and then quickly away. I can scent the faint stirrings of arousal. I smile at him. “What was the word again?”

His hands falter on the ball as he glanat mat me. “The word is ‘dribbling’, Tyr.”

“Perhaps with more practice, Captain, I will become more proficient.” I snatch the ball from him and toss it easily into the hoop.

Dylan frowns slightly. “Yeah. That’ll work.”

For the rest of this game I will follow the rules. Perhaps even the next three before my memory lapses again. It is bad for self-discipline to indulge one’s self too often. I pass him the ball, throwing it just the tiniest bit too hard.

It is rather amusing -- the earnest way that Dilly seeks to teach me fair play and good sportsmanship by way of basketball. One would think after having Rhade for an extended period of time and failing to impress those concepts upon the First Officer, Captain Daffa-dilly would have figured out that Nietzscheans’ carssiossionately about winning. We do not care a great deal about rules.

Daffa-dilly is coming along well. The basketball games have progressed from biweekly to weekly to every other day. My pheromones at work. The other amusing thing about basketball is that it gives me apparently innocuous opportunities to increase my influence. Dilly likes to play in baggy shorts and a sleeveless top. I wear my black exercise pants and gauntlets and nothing else.

Once I begin sweating, I make contact – bare, damp skin to bare, damp skin. With every game, he absorbs a little more of me. He is beginning to give me confused, sidelong looks as we play. Fragile new sensations are heating his blood. I can smell the faintest hint of arousal in the air during our games. I give him blank face back and crowd close under the guise of playing his precious game.

He has also taken to frequenting the gym when I lift weights. The other humans often drop by then as well so I have to judge carefully in the matter of pheromones.

“Why, Captain, you seem to be working out a bit more of late.” I push the bar over my head as I bench press much less than I am capable of. No need to give Hunt, or the crew, a clue to my true strength. I spread my thighs a little wider as Dylan sits on the bench across from me, improving his view of my crotch.

“What can I say, Tyr, you are an inspiration.” Dylan’s pale gaze flutters over me. He looks quickly away but his gaze keeps returning to me with unwilling fascination.

I writhe a little on the bench seemingly struggling with the weights. My voice lowers to a husky tone. “Thank you, Captain. I try to provide…inspiration…when I can.”

Dylan’s eyes widen as he watches the flex of my thighs and the tautness of the snug brown fabric of my exercise pants over my shaft and balls. Color is rising in his cheeks. Embarrassment or desire? I test the air. The scent of his arousal is stronger than usual. Strong enough that he must be consciously aware of his reaction to me now. Strong enough that he can no longer blame the reaction on anything but need.

I amuse myself while counting reps by watching the other humans’ reactions to me. Beka works out nearby; her attention is divided between me and Daffa-dilly but since Dylan favors those awful baggy shorts – they are so baggy that I am inclined to wonder if he has some…shortcoming, shall we say, to conceal –and I, like all Nietzscheans, dress to display my physical assets, Beka tends to sneak stares most often at me. It will do her no good. I have already decided that she is not a suitable addition to Kodiak.

Dylan finally finishes selecting and adjusting his weights. He starts his reps as I sit up. I untie my long hair and shake it loose. I pick up one of Rhade’s soft black and gray striped towels and languidly blot my face and then my chest. I can feel Dilly’s eyes on me. I watch him for a moment as he lifts then I chuckle.

“What’s so funny?” Dylan sounds both breathless and offended. He scowls at the ceiling as he lifts.

“Your form could use some…polish.” From my position, I have an excellent view of the tent forming at the front of his baggy shorts. My nearness is affecting him more than he knows.

Dylan shoots me an annoyed look but does not rebuff the implied offer. “Really?”

I walk around him and position myself at his head, not incidentally providing him with a close-up view of the solid bulge outlined by my tight, brown exercise pants. Since he is, in theory, staring at the ceiling rather than my groin, he may stare as long and hard as he pleases without the others suspecting any untoward interest. I slide my hands over his arms, wrists and hands, smoothing him into the proper form. “Here. Let me show you.”

“I…I think I’ve got the hang of it.” Dylan drops the rod on the rack hurriedly. He lies back on the bench, breathing quickly. His eyes are wide an uneasy as he stares up at me.

I smile winningly down at him. “Try it once more. I’m sure you have it right now.”

I do not move as his gaze reluctantly returns to my groin. The more aroused he becomes, the more disturbed he seems. Why? A Nietzschean captain would have thought nothing of taking anything his officers chose to offer or even what they did not offer if he needed to emphasize his power. Why is Dilly so skittish about reaching for more? Particularly when more is dangling right over his face.

He jerks his gaze away to focus on Beka as she settles on the bench next to him. “I’ll try it again in a moment.”

“Good. Would you like me to assist you further?”

“No. Thanks.” Dylan’s tone is curt.

I move away, pausing by Beka. She glances sidelong at me. Her smile is slow and inviting but her easy rhythm never falters. Her form is good. I nod in approval. “Very good, Beka.”

“Thanks.” Her gaze flickers over my thighs and crotch.

I turn away from her and see Harper on the bench at the far end. I walk over to him. “Would you care for some assistance, Harper?”

“Ahh. No thanks.” He smells deliciously of fear and desire and his own scent but his attention is too much on me and not enough on what he is doing. I do not wish to hto harm himself in his fear. I raise my pheromone levels and begin radiating silent promises of security and safety to him just as I would to a disturbed Beta.

I do not move closer until he relaxes and his concentration returns to the weights. I watch the flex of muscle under his pale skin. He is stronger than he seems. The damp cling of his white tee shirt offers a pleasant view full of tease and promise. The looseness of his cargo pants conceals his mysteries from my eye. I am intrigued. Harper offers possibilities. The bubbling champagne volatility of his personality is refreshing. He strikes me as a very sensual creature and one who could hate or love well.

I will continue to consider him. The choice of a human lover is something to be weighed carefully. Different Prides have different rules regarding relations with humans but few of the other Prides chose to pursue this line of enhancements as vigorously as the Kodiak did. Even other Nietzscheans find the wiles of Kodiak’s difficult to resist once we have been intimate with them. Humans find us almost impossible to resist.

TBC


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