For those who read PREY and wish to see more of what happened to Tiana,
look for “Disposing of Tiana” after the last chapter of this main story.
PS She deserved it.
Thorn stalked along the ship corridor, her knee-high red boots with the buckle accents clacking as they hit the plas-metal floor, and then...then she stopped dead. She’d been waggling her hips again, or waggling her ass as Baldor liked to point out, smirking.
Not her way of doing things, but maybe the imminence of the naming ceremony was doing something to her hormones? She hadn’t had her first cycle yet and was late hitting sexual maturity for a s’kar. Brain maturity was more important as far as she was concerned.
Though she dreaded the coming of her first sexual cycle, she’d also rather like to get it over with. Dammit. Her tail lashed, swiping the lower edge of her coat. She caught it absentmindedly, ran her hand down to the tufted end then released it. The thing had a mind of its own when she was agitated.
Body, get your act together. On second thoughts, make it happen after the Naming.
Sex, being in heat, was something she’d have to endure for at least a few weeks. Twice a year, and a few weeks each cycle at that. She could do this.
Thorn stomped her boot heels into place and smiled. Any males who thought she’d be on their menu would find she had other plans.
The ship would be hers entirely in a week. Last barrier was the naming. Her father would have been proud. The Jocelyn had been his for the last two decades of his life. She let out a meditative sigh and rested her fingers on the wall of the white corridor, ran the tips over the bumps and the cool smoothness as she ambled – ambled without swaying her lower torso.
A ship’s captain must be proper. No one was looking, though. She cleaned the wall with the elbow of her burgundy coat then lightly kissed the surface.
Yes, the Jocelyn answered in her mind. The ship’s firm whisper seemed to echo.
“Hi there. Everything ready for landing, Jocelyn?”
Yes ma’am. We are squared away. Your co-captain Baldor awaits you on the bridge.
Did he now? The asswipe wanted her ship, prayed she’d mess up or admit him as her equal.
She straightened the front of her uniform – historically the skin-hugging suit for s’kar officers was made for quick entry into a spacesuit in an emergency. The tighter the fit, the better – that way one could slip into the full spacesuit, screw and snap on the helmet, seal up faster than a missile could ream an airlock.
Centuries ago, they’d been pirates of the systemways but had adapted, made peace with the solar system lords, ladies, monarchs, and governments.
Buttons and logos, buckles and graffiti were integrally printed nowadays and not real, but getting fancy was half the reason for the uniforms for most officers. Show off your badassery with a well-tailored suit and the enemy, or fellow s’kars, were halfway to being cowed.
Her chosen theme today borrowed from warriors of fantasy – angel wings on the back of the red coat, and a ripped and clawed, explosion-blown rendering on the material of the suit – black, gold and white. Golden dust and a hint of blood, a wave of gemstones across the bodice.
It was pretty awesome, in her opinion. There were silhouettes of black birds on the back but the coat hid that. With her stark-white hair sculpted into a peaked wave, she could probably cut down her foes by blowing on them.
A tingle ran across her body and she gasped. She glanced down, frowning. Excited, yes, this was normal but the burgeoning of her nipples until they visibly poked out was a step too far.
Love the battle-damaged theme, Jocelyn murmured.
“Thanks, girl. Me too.” Thorn smiled and couldn’t help the sway of her hips. It felt, oddly, good.
Fine. She’d let her emerging hormones take charge and be female until she hit the bridge.
A heated wind seemed to swirl across her, staggering her sideways. She planted her feet and waited for the surreal situation to normalize.
The corridor became silent and still.
Nothing was out of order.
What in the Ten Worlds was that?
The extreme coolness of her chest made her look down again. Threads had popped, shredded, for reals. Her skin showed, as well as her black bra with the silken cloth and the three-stranded sexy straps. She smacked her palm over her breast area. Fuck!
Today was the weirdest. She’d have a severe chat to her tailor next time they landed on his planet – using a knife to his groin, if this was deliberate sabotage.
A cloth-degenerating chemical? Poor-quality fabric made to degrade over time? She wouldn’t put it past Baldor to do something to make her respect score go down. Disastrous if it happened up on stage on Naming Day.
She drew a breath to settle herself. Then another.
Get changed but test the cloth first.
Thorn swiveled efficiently, boots squealing on the floor, and headed back to her quarters.
“Landing procedure on Planet BART will be delayed for a few minutes, Jocelyn!”
This would cost them in fuel.
Her eyelids lowered and she saw through a blur as she walked. Shoving her hand down her pants while in her bunk would be too much, take too long, wouldn’t it?
For once she wished she had someone else’s pants to get her hands into.
Her hormones were going to kill her.