King of Kings – Michael-Scott Earle

“Am I gonna feel anything weird?” Zea’s voice drifted down the hallway from outside of Persephone’s galley, and I paused my walk before I turned the corner. “The cut hurts,” Aasne said, “The sensation of being bound to someone else doesn’t happen immediately.” “How long does it take?” I heard Paula ask. “Uhhh, you’ll start to feel where he is standing after a day or so,” Aasne answered. “A day?” Zea asked. “I kind of thought it would be faster.” “Could be a few days,” Aasne said. “I still can’t quite feel him, but I know he’s on the ship.” “He is standing around the corner,” Eve said with a soft laugh that I returned when I stepped around the hallway and walked into the galley. Eve, Zea, Paula, Kasta, and Aasne were sitting around the long table drinking glasses of wine and snacking on crackers and cheese. It was the day after they had all returned from their rite, and I’d been in meetings with Sivaha, Madalena, Elana, and all of our admirals so that we could sort through the logistics of our combined fleets. We’d already spent a bit of time working through all of this with Aasne’s forces a few weeks ago, but we were going to need many more months until all the Nordar clans were incorporated into the Vaish governance. “Eavesdropping!” Kasta laughed as they all stood to give me hugs. “Hard not to,” I said as I returned the android’s hug and long kiss. As our tongues touched, I realized that it should have felt a lot stranger than it actually did.

The movement came naturally, and I felt my emotions spin when our lips parted, and I stared into her blue eyes. “Oh, hi,” she whispered as she bit her lip, and then we both laughed as our arms parted. I hugged Paula next, and she kissed me shyly before leaning her head against my shoulder. The beautiful engineer didn’t say anything when we parted, but I could read her desire plainly on her face. When we were last together, she had told me how much she loved me. I wasn’t sure what would become of our relationship, but being without her while she took the rite had made my feelings for her and her sister crystal clear. “How were the meetings?” Zea asked as she took her turn to kiss and hug me. She didn’t look bothered by the blonde twins who I had just kissed, and I guessed that the hacker had come to terms with their relationship with me while they were all on their journey. “Long and boring,” I laughed as I crushed her body into me and kissed her. She gasped when we parted, and her cheeks turned bright red when she noticed the other women smiling at her.

“Sounded like it,” she said. “We were just getting to know Aasne a bit.” “I like your wives, my lord,” Aasne said with a nod. “We aren’t his wives yet,” Zea said. “Soon!” Kasta giggled as she clapped her hands together. “Would you like some food, my love?” Eve asked as she wrapped her arm around mine, leaned into my shoulder, and then gestured to the spread of cheese and crackers. “Sure,” I said. “I can prepare you–” Aasne began to say as she stepped over to the kitchen, but I waved my hand to interrupt her. “Just sit down. These cheese and crackers look fine.

” I sat in between Eve and Zea, and the rest of my friends all sat around and stared at me as I cut a piece of cheese. “What?” I asked as I opened my mouth to take a bite. “You are all staring at me.” “Sorry,” Zea laughed, and they all sat back. “Just missed you.” “Yep,” Paula agreed, and Kasta sighed. “They have told me some stories,” Aasne said as her green eyes focused on mine. “From before you were King of the Vaish. It sounds as if you have had many adventures.” “We’ve been on a few.

” I smiled at her, and the auburn-haired woman’s cheeks flushed slightly as she bowed. We had not spent much time together since I caught her at Oskmay and defeated The Six in their defensive arena matches, but I was going to need to in the next few days. “Just a few…” Zea laughed as she took a sip of her wine. “Have you all recovered from the rite?” I asked as I nodded to the food on the table. Eve, Zea, and I had spent last night together making love, but I’d woken up early to go to my meetings, and both of them didn’t even stir from their sleep when I took my shower, got dressed, and left. “We woke up only an hour or so ago,” Eve said as she smiled at me. “It’s a wine kind of morning,” Paula laughed, and the women all raised their glasses to toast. “So…” Kasta said as she wiggled her eyebrows and turned to me. “When are we going to get some weddings happening? Do I need a white dress? What is the custom with Nordar?” “The clans are a bit different,” Aasne said. “My people.

Well, the people once known as Idonan would have long ceremonies with song, dance, and food. The bride would attend a sauna to sweat and wash out her maidenhood before committing to her husband, and the groom would need to create a song that he could gift his bride with. Both would wear the best outfits that their closest family would purchase or craft for them.” “That sounds like fun!” Kasta said. “The Skyad had many combat rituals,” Aasne continued. “I don’t know their exact ones, but Sivaha would. The Waymund would have various games in the celebrations. The Jotnar have long parties that last for weeks.” “What of the Vaish?” Paula asked. “As far as I know, the Vaish do not have any sort of ceremony besides the submission.

” “So they just go back to work after?” Zea groaned. “Figures. Madalena never takes a day off.” “Once we all celebrated in the same way,” Aasne said with a shrug. “The clans have been split for a long time though, so our personalities have flavored the proceedings.” “I don’t really need a party,” Zea said as she wrapped her fingers around mine. “I just need Adam.” “You’ve got me,” I said. “Not yet,” she chuckled and then stuck her tongue out at me. “We should at least get you all nice dresses,” Aasne said as she gestured to the flight suits that the four wore.

They were the same ones that we had first used when we found them in Persephone’s storage room. The material was skin-tight, and the gray and black stripes on the arms and sides of the legs actually looked a bit tiger-like. “I prefer this outfit,” Eve said. “As soon as I wore it, I knew I was home.” “I kinda like it too,” Zea said as she looked down at her chest. “Just wish my boobs were bigger.” “Your boobs are amazing, Zea,” Kasta said. “They are really firm and perky. I just wanna grab and bite them.” The women all burst into laughter, and Zea’s face turned red as she got up to walk toward the fridge.

“I don’t care about the outfit,” Kasta said as she turned her eyes to me. “I just wanna fuck Adam.” “Ugh,” Paula moaned. “Sis–” “What?” Kasta laughed as she shrugged her shoulders. “That’s what wives do with their husbands. Stop pretending, you wanted him when you first saw him too. Let’s just get the thing done and then move onto the fun part. Oh, do you want him alone, or can we both do it together? I’m fine either way. Of course.” “You are incorrigible,” Paula sighed, and then turned to me.

“Sorry, Adam, I–” “It’s fine,” I said as I leaned over Zea’s empty chair so I could touch Paula’s shoulder. “We’ll figure it out, there isn’t much of a rush.” “Except for the whole ‘the SAVO are coming to fight us, and we are all gonna die in ninety-ish days,’” Zea called out over her shoulder as she plundered the food inside of one of the fridges. “We will have a navy with numbers beyond reckoning by then,” Aasne said. “Surely, the Draugr will not be able to stand before our husband’s might.” “Maybe,” I said, and Eve nodded as the smile faded from her lips. “They are powerful. We don’t really know how powerful, but it is possible that their ships are beyond any technology that we have, and they could have an armada that is much larger than even mine. It’s possible that we won’t win, but I’m going to do everything I can to protect this galaxy from them.” “I find it hard to believe that you won’t win,” Aasne said.

“I watched you defeat The Six easily, something which sounded impossible.” “I–” My mouth opened to reply to the freckled woman, but then I sensed Madalena and Sivaha walking down the hall toward us, and I looked toward the entrance as they walked inside the galley with Elana. The tall woman with short hair was wearing a Vaish uniform that matched Madalena, and my newest wife shot me a shy smile when she saw me. I had spent even less time with her than Aasne, but the young woman who we had been fooled into thinking was a boy seemed pleasant enough, and she had spent all day working with Sivaha, Madalena, and our admirals to ensure that our forces were knitted with hers. Sivaha was wearing one of her usual dresses that showed off enough leg and cleavage to paralyze a room full of men. The silver-haired temptress winked at me when she saw me, and her tongue slowly traced her upper lip with an exaggerated promise. There was nothing understated about my second wife. She was a twisting inferno of passion, lust, and animal intensity. I loved that about her, and I felt a shiver of pleasure descend my spine when our eyes made contact. Madalena wore her long brown hair braided loosely over her left shoulder.

The Prime Valkyrie’s face almost never showed emotion, but she smiled slightly when she saw me, and her gray eyes twinkled with the hints of the adoration she felt for me. Besides Persephone, all my women were together in a room with me, and I felt the beast I kept caged up in part of my soul purr with excitement. “I thought you all would be in meetings the rest of the day,” I said as I stood to greet my three wives. “We have something to speak with you about, my lord,” Madalena said as she nodded to Elana. “Yes,” the Waymund princess said. “I’m sorry, my lord, I do not wish to interrupt your time with your other wives. Your admirals and mine, well, they are yours now, began to speak about striking against the Jotnar, and… I did not wish to offend you, so I’ll make it as short as I–” “For the love of Odin, girl, spit it out.” Sivaha rolled her eyes, and Elana’s cheeks turned bright red. “Sorry,” she began, “I’m just a bit nervous speaking in front of… everyone.” “It is fine,” Eve said as she stepped forward to take the taller woman’s hands in hers.

“We are all sisters here, and we are all united by our love for Adam and our desire to save our galaxy from our enemies. Speak your mind, and none will judge you.” “My king,” Elana said as she bowed her head a bit. “Your wives and generals tell us that your plan is to attack the Jotnar directly.” “Not directly,” Sivaha scoffed. “We are going to show up, demand that they bend knee, and then let them decide if they’d like to die putting up a fight like warriors or surrendering meekly like bunny rabbits.” “That is not quite the plan, Sivaha,” Madalena said as she frowned at the other woman. “Oh, I know,” Sivaha sighed. “But that is what it will come down to, you all are complicating this. Our husband has the largest armada ever known to mankind.

What are the Jotnar to do? They will put their tails between their legs, roll over, and beg for us not to destroy them.” “But that is where I disagree,” Elana said after she cleared her throat. “With apologies, Queen Sivaha, I–” “Don’t apologize to me,” Sivaha groaned. “Just tell our husband your thoughts. If I didn’t think your opinion was important, I wouldn’t have called a halt to the meeting and then dragged your ass to talk to him–” “The Prime Valkyrie was actually the one who deci–” “It does not matter,” Madalena said as she gestured to me. “Tell him.” “My father and our admirals have conducted numerous clandestine spy missions against the Jotnar, since they have been attacking some of our mining operations.” “Okay,” I said, when she paused to swallow. I had realized that the young woman was painfully shy this morning during our meetings with the generals, but it was obvious by her earlier words and her glances at Zea, Paula, and Kasta that she was worried about making herself look like a fool in front of them. “Their armada numbers around a quarter million,” she said.

“And I know the plan is that they might surrender, but–” “Or they won’t, and we’ll kill them,” Sivaha spat. “A quarter of a million ships is too many,” Madalena said. “Bah,” Sivaha spat. “They won’t surrender,” Elana said. “I know it from hearing my father speak with his admirals. The Jotnar has been his primary focus and the Idonan his second since their territories share a border. If their king commands it, they will fight until their last ship is destroyed, and then you would need to carpet bomb the planet. They would lose any conflict with you, but your losses would be large as well.” “Hmmm.” I glanced at Madalena, but the Prime Valkyrie’s face was hard to read and her emotions were calm.

“My king,” Elana continued, “if your goal is to have the largest possible armada to battle against the Draugr, then you should probably just leave the Jotnar alone. It just isn’t worth it to fight them.” “As you can imagine, I disagree,” Sivaha said after she made a gagging sound. “My husband doesn’t leave enemies at his back, he destroys them all.” “What do you think, Madalena?” I asked as I turned to the Prime Valkyrie. “The idea is worth considering,” she began as she sat down, and we all joined her as Zea laid out more cheese, crackers, lunch meat, and wine. “Explain,” I said. “If we fight them, they will still lose, but we will also lose many ships.” “We outnumber them more than four to one now,” Sivaha said, “how will they fight back?” “Queen Sivaha, you underestimate their strength,” Elana said carefully. “Or you underestimate our husband’s, Queen Elana,” Sivaha grumbled before she took a bite of cheese.

“A battle between our forces could lose us an equal number of ships,” Madalena said. “I have gone back and forth on the strategy many times, my lord. At first, I did not believe that you should challenge them directly. Then I changed my mind once you began to unite the clans. However, now I find myself leaning toward Elana’s suggestion. The Jotnar will not know the moment that we will battle the Draugr, so they will not know exactly when to attack. Also, we can push the clan into ship production, and maybe get another ten thousand ships made in the next quarter of a year. We can leave behind a small defensive force to guard each homeworld before we take the majority of your aramada to Uraniel.” “This is why we came to you,” Sivaha said as she smirked at Madalena. “The Prime Valkyrie is suddenly afraid of combat.

” The tone of Sivaha’s voice made it clear that she was joking, and Madalena actually cracked a half smile. “What are my other options?” I asked. “What do you mean, my king?” Elana asked. “You both think it’s a bad idea to attack them directly, but I also agree with Sivaha. I don’t want to leave them at our back. They could attack us while we fight the Draugr, or they could realize that we are all merged and decide to test our strength with attacks that could distract us from our goal.” “I do not know of any other options,” Elana said as she shook her head. “We, as in Waymund, are at semi active war with them, but I doubt they will make a large move against us in the next ninety days.” “I agree,” Madalena said. “We should focus on the Draugr.

That is the real threat.” “What about setting up a meeting?” I asked as I nodded to Sivaha and then Aasne. “It has been a useful strategy so far.” “They will not meet with you privately,” Elana said. “Their king is cautious. From what I know, Jotnar’s king almost never leaves his battle fortress, and that is in orbit around his homeworld just as the Odin Geirr is.” “We warped into Idonan’s home sector, battled them, and then forced their king to surrender,” Sivaha said. “We can do the same with Jotnar.” “They had fifty thousand ships,” Madalena pointed out. “Yes, but now we have the combined armadas of Vaish, Skyad, Idonan, and Waymund.

” Sivaha shrugged her shoulders, and one of her straps that held her dress on slid down to expose all of her perfect skin there. “Might I interject?” Aasne asked, and we all turned to her. “My father was no coward, but he was one to try negotiation before fighting. We knew we were the weakest clan, and we did not wish to fight unless we were backed into a corner. Jotnar will know they are backed up into a corner as soon as we show up with the entire Vaish armada.” “What about what we did with Aasne’s wedding to Alrick?” I asked as I winked at Elana. “Is there some way we can sneak onto the Jotnar battle fortress under a false pretense and then get to the king?” “It would be next to impossible,” Madalena said. “Except that a group of assassins tried to kill Adam and me just a few weeks ago,” Paula said with a shrug. “It can’t be that hard to get in.” “Those assassins were waiting for years for an opportune moment,” Madalena said.

“Although, I do see the merit in the suggestion. It seems too difficult to plan.” “And it might take a long time,” Zea said as she leaned back in her chair. “Unless…” The blonde hacker paused with her mouth opened and then shut it with a clicking noise of her teeth. “What are you–” Elana started to ask, but Zea inhaled through her teeth sharply with a hissing sound and then turned to Madalena and Sivaha. “I’m thinking like a hacker, so you all come with me, ‘kay?”

.

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