Alien General's Bride (Brion Brides)(10)

By: Vi Voxley

His pronunciation of her name was surprisingly good, but it was getting kind of annoying, even if she did like hearing him say it. She was also infinitely grateful to him for speaking simplified Brionese with her. It would have been a nightmare to be stuck on an alien ship and not understand them.

“You don’t have to keep saying my full name, Commander. Just Isolde is fine. And um… no, I am not sick. I…”

She was aware she was now blushing fiercely. Something, which of course, didn’t go over his alien head. He frowned.

“Now your color is changing. Are you sure you do not want a healer?”

Oh yes. Tell them to find a cure for being attracted to you. Or you know, don’t. Just throw me over that console there and…

“No,” Isolde said more firmly. “It must just be the space and the ship. I have never left Terra before.” A part of that was even true. She quickly added, “But thank you again, Commander Grothan, for your concern.”

Something flashed in his eyes as she said that and before Isolde could think of how she had offended him, Grothan levelled his piercing gaze straight at her and all but growled, “Yes. I am very concerned about you. If you have any troubles, let one of my men know and they will hurry to aid you.”

That was… uncharacteristically kind of him, Isolde thought.

Then something even weirder happened. The alien warlord looked uncertain for a moment, almost hesitant. As quickly as the feeling had appeared, it was gone and his posture became rigid again.

“Tell me about yourself,” he said.

Well. That phrasing was odd, even if it seemed reasonable to Isolde that just like she was interested in her hosts, the commander would wonder about this strange human woman on his ship.

“What would you like to know, General?” she asked, unsure of how to address him. Would he prefer “General” or “Commander”? So far, he didn’t seem to mind either. Perhaps they were equal titles in his mind.

For an answer, he spoke something quickly into a device on his collar. Then he unslung the heavy Brion battle spear, their signature weapon – How much blood must have trickled off that, the thought shot through Isolde’s mind – and placed it against the wall. It was nearly as tall as he was. It also occurred to Isolde that he might have been trying to seem less threatening to her. This was just getting weird. With skepticism she didn’t usually possess, she had to wonder what had made the bloody general suddenly so keen to play nice.

The doors opened for a Brion – without the squares and the spear, much shorter – who delivered two cups and a decanter. He placed the items on the table and left quickly. Grothan didn’t even spare him a look, his gaze fixed on Isolde.

“Drink,” he instructed, taking a seat on a couch. Other than the table and two couches, the cavernous room was empty. Brions valued function. “It is safe for humans.”

Isolde wasn’t all that thirsty, but to refuse would have been foolish. She poured herself a cup, sitting opposite of him, feeling very conscious of the fact she was alone in a room with a man personally responsible for more people killed than she had ever met. She was also painfully aware of how his surprisingly calm, deep eyes seemed to caress her skin, making her bask in his attention.

The squares didn’t seem to glow, either. He seemed… relaxed.

“Tell me about why you were chosen to go to Rhea, and why you are not,” Grothan said as she took a sip. It tasted a bit like lime juice, if she had to compare it to something, but sweeter.

Isolde sighed. “I don’t really know either, Commander,” – OK, he seemed to react better to that – “I was told to go to Rhea and help with the research there. You know, the usual stuff with new planets. Culture, languages, research into their economics and politics and if we could establish an alliance with them. A sort of an observational negotiator, I suppose? We were to introduce our own cultures too. Trying to show an image of the GU. But I missed the ship.”

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