Beka smiled to herself as she snuggled up against something that was warm and firm, but at the same time soft. Whoever it was, the scent was warm, faintly spicy and definitely male. She stretched languidly, reaching over to wrap her arm around the warm body next to her own, not really knowing who it was, but somehow knowing that she was safe.
"Beka, you're on my hair."
Her eyes flew open quickly, just a fraction of a second before she sat up in the bed and looked down at Rhade, who had been laying with his back to her and was now craning his head over his shoulder. "What are you doing here?"
"You keep asking me that question. As I pointed out last night, these are my quarters."
She blinked, not putting the pieces together at first, but finally remembering where she was. "Yes… but… I was sleeping here."
He waved a hand to indicate the size of the bed. "There's enough room here for two, and I'm not giving up my bed because you put me in this position."
"It would be the gentlemanly thing to do."
He gave one of those deep, throaty chuckles of his. "I haven't been a gentleman for a very long time. And may I remind you that it was you who were just rubbing up against me? I was just sleeping."
Her mouth fell open in shock, but she promptly closed it with a snap before she threw the covers aside and got out of the bed. Her movements where jerky and sharp as she figured out what she wanted to wear for the day and made her way to the lavatory. Rhade's voice was still thick with humor as he called after her. "Remember, Beka; bright and cheery! If you go in there grumpy they're likely to believe you've got a bad case of morning sickness."
"Oh, Shut Up!"
"I assure you, I'm not."
The matriarch standing near her did not look convinced. In fact, she looked down right hopeful. What was it with Nietzcheans and babies! There were how many of them already? Why should she be expected to have another one? She was already the mother of the whole damn race!
Now that she had a 'husband', the males were no longer in the picture. They were shut up with Dylan and Rhade, discussing tactics. This left her with the matriarchs and wives that had traveled with their husbands to see her. Everything she did seemed to be point of interest to them, including what choices she made at breakfast.
"Telemachus Rhade is a good choice." Elsbett Bolivar had warmed towards her considerably after learning of Beka's connection to her race, but these attempts at 'girl talk' were really starting to annoy her. "I understand that he was an Admiral before the restructure as Terazed joined the Commonwealth. That's an impressive feat for one so young. It shows cunning and superiority. You'll have several females wanting to join you as co-wives."
Beka paused, that idea sitting poorly within her for some reason. How did that work, exactly? Did each wife get her own room, or did they have to share all things equally? The bed in Rhade's quarters weren't that big.
And she wasn't jealous. She wasn't!
"I'm not much for 'sharing', if the truth were to be told."
Elsbett gave her an inquiring look. "It is our way, Matriarch."
"Well, it's not my way. I'm a one man woman and I expect the same treatment from the man in question."
"So you would limit him only to the children that you could give him."
Beka paused. There they went with the whole children thing again. Did these people never think of anything else? She was trying to come up with a rebuttal when Doyle came to her rescue. "Beka, we need you in Command."
"I'll be right there." She gave a forced smile to the other women at the table. "Duty calls." The trip to Command was uneventful, ending in her strutting through the doors. Rommie and Doyle looked her way as she entered. "What's up, girls?"
Rommie turned back to her console. "We were monitoring the activities in the officer's mess and thought you might require rescuing."
"Again," added Doyle for good measure.
"You know, every lousy thing I ever said about you two, I take it all back. You're angels. Both of you."
Core's image appeared on the screen at the front of Command. "I would counsel against encouraging them. It only causes them to become increasingly troublesome."
Doyle slid a smirking glance towards Rommie. "Big Sister strikes again."
The holographic representation of the ship's AI flickered to life. "Beka, they are growing tiresome."
"Take it up with Dylan."
"Captain Hunt refuses to separate them."
"Don't know what to tell you, then. At the moment, they're in my good graces." Beka stepped onto the pilot's station and looked over the logs. "Have you been keeping tabs on the battle planning?"
"Any idea when we're going to get out of here? Preferably without my relatives in tow."
Andromeda's image raised a brow. "The way the current discussions are going, the Nietzcheans are asking that a garrison of their soldiers be added to the crew."
Beka groaned and leaned back against the support cushion behind her. "Lemme guess… they want to slip in weakly disguised body guards."
"That would seem to be the most plausible reason. However, these men would be under the primary direction of your husband who would, no doubt…"
"Whoa, whoa, whoa… wait a minute. Rhade is not really my husband. It's just a sham." She looked at the androids who were suddenly very busy with other matters. "You guys know this, right?"
Core frowned. "You do not know very much about Nietzchean mating customs, do you?"
Doyle and Rommie were both looking anywhere but at her. Beka started feeling a nervous tick somewhere in her stomach. "Uh… what should I know that I… don't know?"
"According to Nietzchean custom, the female chooses her mate. She extends the proposal or makes her desire for a particular male known. If in a pride setting, the pride matriarch can approve or disapprove the union. If outside of a pride setting, the union is official once the male accepts the proposal."
"Okay… how does that work with this situation?"
"Technically, by advising the Nietzcheans that you were wed to Rhade, you were announcing your intentions. Since neither of you are part of any pride currently present, the union would be official when Rhade accepted and put on the Double Helix you sent for him… with my avatar." Core's image leveled a stern gaze at Rommie, who was not looking up.
Beka suddenly felt light headed. "Rommie?"
The brunette android finally looked up. "You had already told all those people that you were married to him before you chased me down and told me to take the band to Rhade, and there were two matriarchs coming right behind you. I didn't have time to warn you, or I would have. I swear!"
"But… why did he do it! He had to have known."
"Because Dylan pointed out that if he didn't, the other males wouldn't leave you alone until you picked one of them."
Beka let out a pitiful whimper, her knees turning to rubber. "I need a chair. Why did Harper take my chair?"
"Beka!" Doyle rushed to her side to help her sit down slowly. "Beka, it's going to be all right."
"Who ever heard of a pilot's station without a chair?"
Doyle looked up at her sister. "I think we broke her. Call Harper."
Rommie frowned. "Why Harper?"
"That's who we go to when we're malfunctioning."
"Beka's not an android. We need Trance."
Core interjected. "Trance is currently answering questions the matriarchs have about med bay. Summoning her would arouse suspicion. I recommend that you get Beka to Rhade's quarters, and then send him there once he is away from the other males."
"Why did he take my chair? I need my chair."
Andromeda's hologram frowned. "I would recommend moving her now, and without being seen."