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Insufficient Mating Material (recovery room)

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  • Rowena Cherry
    Ark Imperial, Recovery Room Djetth was aware of a threat. He could hear a gruff voice like the rumbling of distant thunder. Sounds were muffled, like falling
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 5, 2008
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      Ark Imperial, Recovery Room

      Djetth was aware of a threat.

      He could hear a gruff voice like the rumbling of distant thunder.
      Sounds were muffled, like falling snow. There was cottony stuff over
      his ears.

      His eyes wouldn’t open, but he knew someone was in his room.
      Drifting in and out of consciousness made him all too vulnerable, damn
      it. Even when he was half awake, he couldn’t force his limbs to move.
      The pain was tolerable. It was no worse than a hangover all over. That
      was the drugs. Fewmet, he was as helpless as a baby.

      He heard a closer sound, a sharp indrawn breath. Slack-damn, he
      couldn’t see, couldn’t turn his head.

      Oh, shit, there were two of them.

      “Prince Djarrhett! Didn’t see you, Sir. Sorry to disturb you.”

      Neck bones clicked. The surprised one must have turned his head.

      “You may call me ’Rhett. I’ve no plans to use my rank to save a
      Worldâ€"or a lifeâ€"without bloodshed tonight.”

      So ’Rhett was there. Double talking bastard! So, he had no plans to
      not shed blood? Whose blood was he planning to shed tonight? What was
      he up to? Fratricide, perhaps?

      Someone with human body odor was too damned close to his bloody bed.
      And the insensitive bastard was bending closer.

      “Those aren’t nail clippers on a cord around his neck, are they, Sir?”

      Grievous! Only Tarrant-Arragon’s right hand man went around calling
      Princes and title-stealing impostors Sir. What was Grievous up to?

      “They’re wire cutters, Grievous. I imagine there is a limit to how
      advanced medicine can be. Djetth’s broken jaw is not only braced by
      the half mask, but wired shut. If he had to vomit, the wires would
      have to be cut immediately, or he’d die.”

      Bloody hellfire!

      “That’s bad, Sir.”

      Too damned right.

      “Giving Djetth the means to get himself chunk-blowing drunk could also
      be fatal.”

      Good of you to say so, ’Rhett. That’s exactly the sort of thing I want
      my enemies and future in-laws to know. Perhaps you’d like to point out
      that an involuntary mouthful or two of wine could choke me while I’m
      in this helpless state? Grievous might not have thought of that.
      Slackness damn you, ’Rhett!

      “He’ll have what you’d call a ‘glass jaw’ for quite a while,” ’Rhett
      continued unconcernedly. “The rigid half mask will give him some
      protection for the next month or so. Nevertheless, he’ll have to swear
      off fistfights, and give up getting wall-banging drunk. He can’t
      afford to get his jaw broken again.”

      “So, you’re saying he has a drinking problem, Sir? I dare say he’s not
      happy with his life.”

      No shit, Grievous!

      “I guess not,” ’Rhett agreed.

      Psycho-bloody-analyze me, do! Djetth’s brain flick-flacked
      unpleasantly. If he’d been drunk but not incapable, at this point he’d
      chug down two long glasses of the nearest alien equivalent of orange
      juice to counter the imminent mind-somersaults.

      How the Carnality had the topic turned to boozing, any…? Djetth felt
      his brain take a dive. Wheeee!

      No way to stop himself from cartwheeling back into unconsciousness. No

      ~ * ~

      “What were you planning to do with whatever you’ve got behind your
      back, Grievous?” ’Rhett asked in a deceptively sweet,
      Tarrant-Arragonian tone of voice.

      He twirled his nasty little knife through his long, flexible fingers,
      as though it were a ballpoint pen-sized baton.

      “I thought I’d crack open a bottle.” Grievous held up a swan’s neck
      shaped bottle as if it were a large silver passport at a corrupt

      Still seated, ’Rhett held out his hand for the bottle. He’d decided
      that Grievous would drink whatever was in it, but there was no
      advantage in being uncivilized.

      “Gotcha, Sir.” Grievous left the foot of Djetth’s bed and handed over
      the bottle. “I dare say that might not have been such a good idea, if
      he doesn’t hold his drink well.”

      ’Rhett inclined his head, and deftly sliced the top off Grievous’s
      bottle with his very sharp surgical knife, releasing a pungent
      fragrance that reminded him of sweet fennel seed and heavy duty

      “I remember the time you came to visit me with a bottle of wine,
      Grievous. You hoped to loosen my tongue, as I recall. You’d arrested
      me, thinking I was Djinni’s troublemaking fiancé.”

      They exchanged conspiratorial smiles.

      “And you, Sir, were willing to be tortured or put to death in his
      place rather than let on that you weren’t him.” Grievous jerked his
      head, indicating the sleeping Djetth. “I never figured out what
      possessed you to be so noble.”

      ’Rhett never revealed information without a very good reason to do so.
      He thought he had one. Djetth could use a sympathizer in his enemy’s
      camp, and the Englishman had potential, if only because of the English
      fondness for underdogs, dark horses, and noble men.

      “He is my big brother.” Having lobbed an informational bombshell,
      Rhett ducked for cover, and reached for a stack of paper receptacles.
      “Did you think to bring Djetth a flexible drinking straw, Grievous?
      No? Then, we’ll drink it. Pull out a pallet.”

      ’Rhett nodded to one of the pull-out drawers, and swiveled his own
      segmented chair to face away from Djetth’s bed.

      “His brother, Sir?”

      Near silence descended apart from the thick glug of wine as ’Rhett
      unhurriedly poured the first slug into one of the paper bowls left for
      the patient’s use.

      Without rising from his seat, he passed the first bowl of acid green
      liquid to Grievous, who took it and sat down.

      “Your Great Djinn relationships confuse me,” Grievous grumbled. “Not
      so many days ago, you told us you’re Princess Djinni-vera’s brotherâ€"”

      “I apologize if I misspoke, Grievous. To be strictly accurate, Djetth
      and I are half-brothers. He and I had the same mother. We are also
      cousins because Djetth’s father and mine were half-brothers.”

      ’Rhett poured a bowl for himself before continuing. “Djinni-vera and I
      had the same father but different mothers, so Djinni is my
      half-sister. Her mother, as I think you know, was an Englishwoman.”

      In referring to his and Djinni’s sire, ’Rhett used the past tense
      misleadingly. If Djinni hadn’t told anyone that their rogue Djinn
      father was alive, let alone that their sire was the male behind the
      Dragon headmask worn by Tarrant-Arragon’s greatest enemy, then he
      wasn’t about to do so.

      “Your very good health, Grievous.” ’Rhett set the bottle down at his
      feet, then raised his paper bowl to his lips and tilted it. The
      opacity of the paper and the shape of the bowl made it impossible for
      Grievous to tell whether or not he’d drunk any.

      Grievous took the first sip, then another. Almost immediately, the
      man’s personal, nervous aroma mellowed.

      “Incestuous lot, you Great Djinn,” he remarked, glaring suspiciously
      over his bent shoulder at Djetth. “So, he was all fired up to marry
      his half-brother’s half-sister.”

      “Oh, absolutely,” ’Rhett agreed cordially in a very uppercrust English
      drawl, as he swirled his wine in its full paper bowl.

      “My dear fellow, you must bear a couple of facts in mind. We Djinn are
      almost extinct. Great Djinn males are highly sexed. Moreover, our
      exiled ancestors were granted conditional sanctuary on Earth. The
      condition was that we don’t interbreed with Earthwomen.”

      “I see. That explains the little miss’s mother.” Grievous’s sarcasm
      was heavy.

      It was also entirely justified.

      “Your own Anglo-American taboos are relatively recent, Grievous. Think
      of the Egyptian pharaohs. They practised sister-marriage, even though
      they weren’t on the edge of extinction.”

      ’Rhett bent from the waist and set his full bowl on the floor at his
      feet beside the silver bottle.

      “My half-Earthling, half-sister was the last virgin of the Imperial
      blood line. Virginity is more important to Royalty than it is to
      commoners. It was inevitable that Djetth, being the oldest, would
      claim her… in the sense of an early, formal, legally binding
      betrothal. He was betrothed to her since she was eighteen months old.”

      ’Rhett threw out carefully chosen information like shark bait. He was
      fishing… for a friend for Djetth.

      From Grievous’s body language, ‘Rhett could tell that the man was
      reluctantly drawn in by a side of Djetth’s story he hadn’t heard before.

      “Djetth was honorably waiting for Djinni to reach legal Mating ageâ€"not
      always synonymous with marriageable ageâ€"when Tarrant-Arragon sneaked
      through the exclusion zone around Earth and bagged her before her
      birthday. Can you imagine how Djetth must have felt to lose her and
      everything that went with her, after waiting nearly sixteen years for

      “Well, when you put it like thatâ€"” Grievous stood, as if agitated.
      “Sixteen years. That’s quite a time.”

      Still standing, Grievous brought the paper bowl to his mouth and
      tossed back the wine as if it were a shot of vodka.

      “I lost my wife to another man,” he said gruffly, glaring into his
      emptied wine bowl. “I half killed the bastard when I found out. Ruined
      my military career. Well, he was my commanding officer. In prison, it
      helped to have a ‘hard’ handle. That’s when I began to call myself
      Grievous, after my crime. See, I did the bastard Grievous Bodily Harm.”

      “Have another,” ’Rhett said gently. He took up the bottle by its long
      neck and reached over to refill Grievous’s empty bowl. “Sit back down.”

      In thoughtful silence, they each stared at Djetth, whose regular
      breathing was interspersed with dreaming grunts of discomfort.

      “It’s all over, then?” Grievous turned a statement of the obvious into
      a question.

      “Is it?”

      ’Rhett had doubts of his own.

      Surgery was over. The patient had survived. As for the rivalry between
      Prince Tarrant-Arragon and Prince Djetthro-Jason, that might be far
      from over.

      “He won’t thank you.” Grievous glanced again at the unconscious Djetth.

      “No,” ’Rhett agreed wryly. “He’s not one for gracious speeches, even
      if he could speak. Did you have any specific reason in mind?”

      “Castration for a kick-off. Poor bastard.”

      Grievous had not been in the Operating Theater. Being human, he
      apparently didn’t understand the difference between the sensory
      neutering of a Great Djinn and the crude removal of bollocks.

      ’Rhett rested his elbows on his knees and steepled his fingers.

      “You didn’t think Tarrant-Arragon means to Mate his lonely
      younger sister to a physical eunuch, did you, Grievous? That would be
      a dirty trick.”

      “Then, what the dickens…?”

      “Let me explain about the rut-rage, and Djinn male anatomy. The truly
      dangerous organ is not the penis or the testicles. It is a little
      moth-shaped gland in the sinus area.”

      ’Rhett stroked the sides of his nose with his index fingers to
      indicate where his would be, if he still had it.

      “A fully functioning Great Djinn male can smell an ovulating Djinn
      female from the equivalent of fifty Earth miles away, if the wind is
      in the right direction.”

      ’Rhett smiled at Grievous’s expression.

      “Legend has it that a male falls irrevocably and permanently in love
      at first scent with the first ovulating female he smells.”

      “Before he sees her?”

      “Exactly. Sight unseen. It is a fatal flaw in our Djinn evolution.
      Another is that Great Djinn alpha-males do not share Mates. They don’t
      accept substitutes. They fight to the death to have and hold the first
      one they smell.”

      “Hold on, though. Crown Prince Tarrant-Arragon and Prince
      Djetthro-Jason didn’t smell the same girl,” Grievous interjected.
      The human caught on fast, too fast.

      “Confusing, isn’t it?” ’Rhett agreed.
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