Bad Alien Boss (Royal Aliens 6)

Page 45

I believe he will be thrilled with this revelation, for Tyrant knows what all warriors of all species know. There is always another, greater, enemy out in creation. It is as if the universe spawns them out of desire to test the mettle of those it has created before. All creation is a cage match, and none of us is getting out intact. But this ship will give us an edge.
“You did well, Terrible. Better than well. You proved yourself yet again, though nothing needed to be proved.”
Something is happening in this conversation. I am not entirely sure what. I thought at first the king was merely tired from domestic responsibilities, but now I am sensing a shift in energy.
“You always know before I say anything, don’t you, Terrible,” he smiles.
“I would not presume to know the royal mind, sire.”
“Ah, but you do. Because you have a royal mind yourself. Because you are more worthy than any in my bloodline.”
Perhaps the king needs a nap.
“What is it you wish to tell me, your majesty?”
Tyrant is usually much more direct than this. I sense whatever he has to say carries great weight. There’s a momentousness brewing in this apparently casual conversation.
“I have decided to take Tania to one of the peaceful, defended colonies in our realm,” Tyrant says. “We wish to raise Atom in a semblance of peace.”
We lost our fleet in the battle with DICK, but we did not lose our colonies, or our wealth. There are many places Tyrant and Tania could retire with their infant and live pleasant lives of what some might call normality. The notion makes my skin crawl and my stomach heave, but I keep myself composed. A king may do as he pleases. Always. Questioning his abdication is akin to some form of treason. But this comes to me as a significant surprise.
“You will rebuild. And to rebuild, you will need this.”
He snaps his fingers. Nothing happens. There is a moment of embarrassment as we both realize what he has done and why.
“I often forget that I am not aboard our Essence…”
“Materialize us back to the crown vessel!” Tyrant raises his voice so somebody does his bidding. They do as he wishes, and we are immediately standing back on the vessel I would die to protect.
“As I was saying. You will need this.”
He produces a crown from the everywhere. Our crowns are rounded in the front to match the curve of our foreheads, but then take on a teardrop shape in order to accommodate the fin. They are symbolic, but that does not mean that they lack power.
“King Terrible,” he says, lifting it toward my skull. “I name you successor.”
“I am not sire. You are the sire now,” Tyrant says as he settles the crown on my head. It feels correct, but this is not how I imagined ever becoming king.
“You do not need to abdicate the throne to take a few years to raise your son past infancy…”
“I do need to abdicate and renounce this throne. I am not the king I once was. I do not have the taste for death any longer, mine, or anybody else’s. I should have been on the shuttle which captured the EnD ship. I did not even consider going. I ran with my mate…”
“It is my duty to protect the crown,” I say.
“Yes. It is. It is also your destiny to possess it.”
He shakes his head at me and puts his hands on my shoulders to quiet my words. “I have thought about this for a long time, Terrible. This is why I requested you take a human as mate. It was a test. One you passed.”
“A test?”
“You have always been worthy in war and in sheer dominant power. My only concern was your lack of connection to emotion. A king needs empathy. That is what makes any cruelty necessary, what moderates the harsher impulses of the throne. As king, you have almost endless power. I wanted to ensure you could care, as well as kill.”
I do not know what to say. “So you chose a human?”
“From the way you reacted to Tania, I knew that caring for a human would be a challenge for you. They have all the qualities you despise. They are physically weak, they are disobedient, they make illogical decisions, and they challenge one constantly. I knew if you could handle a human, you were ready to rule.”
“So you wanted me to fall in love…”
“Actually, I was going to settle for the human still being alive after six months. But you fell in love practically instantly. So.”
“Instantly may be a slight…”
“Instantly,” he repeats, knowingly. “The moment you met her, you became absolutely invested in her.”
“That is because she required constant supervision.”
“True. One can never take one’s eyes off a human for long.”
“So they are distractions. Is that not counterproductive to the crown?”