The nauseating stench of the Petrika colony filled Devix’s nostrils when he stepped out from the vessel bay. It was a solid tangible wall of cloying greed, shit, bile, and the familiar scent of whores’ desperate arousal.
It was something he’d wished never to smell again. Yet, there he was, breathing in the same atmosphere as criminals, rapists, and degenerates from all species across the Quadrants.
I am no better than they are, Devix reminded himself silently, observing his surroundings with training that had long been ingrained within him. He had lived on Petrika once, after all, for two full rotations after his exile. Two rotations that he hardly remembered, as consumed as he’d been by rage and betrayal and self-hatred and strong Brew.
Petrika was a winding maze for such a small colony. Filth-covered roads wound around crooked housing stacks and seedy brothels, leading towards darkened alleys and stairs covered in piss that concealed hidden underground fighting rings, where Devix had made most of his coins for Brew. The colony was surprisingly quiet for that time of the span, but the few species that milled around cut Devix a wide berth.
For good reason. He was a Luxirian warrior—or at least, he had been—the most feared, brutal, and well-trained mercenaries in all the Quadrants. Their battles were legendary, their training program intense, their skills highly sought after by warring factions of races.
What made Devix even more fearsome was his shorn hair, cut close to his scalp, baring his black, curving horns that protected his hard skull. A weathered Krevorag accidentally stepped in his path, looked up, and hissed in surprise before darting away. Shorn hair on a Luxirian warrior meant only one thing: exile.
And an exiled Luxirian equalled unpredictability. An exiled Luxirian meant danger and questionable morals.
It was why he’d been paid good coin to fight in the underground rings when he’d lived there. Different species wanted the exciting show of an unpredictable, possibly unhinged Luxirian fight. And Devix had shown them just how dirty he could be.
The tavern tucked behind a tevvax den was his destination. It was the meeting point for a hand-off. His strong strides ate up the distance quickly. This would be his last job for his employer, the same employer that had taken him from Petrika, who had seen him fighting in the underground one night and had offered him a second chance.
The debt owed to Sarkon hung heavy over Devix’s head, but it was almost fully repaid. Once he picked up and delivered Sarkon’s newly bought pleasure slave to add to his harem, he would be free.
The tavern door appeared when Devix turned the corner. Through it, he could hear the sounds of drunks, of mating, of loud, sickening jeers. Devix closed his eyes.
One more job, he reminded himself. One more and I can live in peace on Rozun.
Opening his eyes, he steeled himself and then walked into the tavern.
* * *
Cara obeyed her own silent commands. One moment to the next, connected only by her breaths…that was her focus. Just one moment to the next.
It was her reality. Ever since she’d woken up, naked and caged, it had been her reality. Ever since she’d realized her captors weren’t human, that she’d been taken from her own bed by fucking aliens, it had been her reality. Although during her imprisonment, she’d certainly questioned her own sanity.
Cara took another steady pull of air, but the horrible stench made her want to retch. She sat, frozen, on a hard wooden bench, next to the alien that had taken her from her steel cage, that had hauled her onto a spaceship before bringing her to this planet, to this disgusting place. Her wrists were bound in heavy metal chains and her entire body, from head-to-toe, was cloaked in a brown fabric that smelled like piss. A large hood shrouded her face, concealing her features in shadow, allowing none to see her.
Cara was partially thankful for that. Her alien captor had brought her to a bar of some kind. Cara had seen her far share of bars, but none quite like that. Aliens, of all different species, milled around, sloshing a foul-smelling bronze-colored alcohol over the rims of their silver goblets, becoming more inebriated by the second, her captor included. Cara recognized certain species. She’d seen them during her imprisonment, at the Pit. The bar was small, made even smaller by the press of strange bodies and the constant buzzing drone of languages and sounds she didn’t understand.
Sweat beaded down her forehead from the suffocating heat, from the sickening roil in her stomach. Her eyes constantly flickered from one alien to the next. She was always aware, always watching, always breathing.
Her captor’s gaze kept straying to the steel door that opened every now and again to allow another alien entry. Cara already suspected he was waiting for someone. She already knew it had something to do with her. Why else would he win her from the fights at the Pit, drag her all the way to that planet, and make her sit next to him in a bar for seemingly hours, watching him get drunker and drunker?
Cara’s throat felt like she’d swallowed glue when she asked him the same question again, for the fifth time since he’d won her. Each time she’d asked it, she’d gotten a slap across the face that rattled her brain.
But she always kept trying.
“What are you going to do with me?” she asked right then, keeping her voice quiet. Perhaps he was drunk enough that he would actually answer that time.
Cara knew he spoke English. All the aliens she’d come into contact with at the Pit had all spoken English. None had told her how they learned to speak it, however, and she, nor any of the other captive human women, had asked.
“Keep your mouth shut, human whore,” her captor slurred, leering down at her from his towering height. He craned his neck and his rancid breath was hot as it lingered in her hood. “Or I will stuff it full with my cock.”
His three-fingered grey-colored hand pawed at the fabric covering her thigh. Panic threatened to choke her, but Cara held still, eyes narrowed, knowing he would stop. For some reason, he always did, as if he knew better than to touch her.
Eventually, after a few sickening moments, her captor released her, grumbling into his goblet, draining it with one last chug before signaling to a passing, frazzled alien for another.
In the corner of the bar, a commotion attracted stares and loud jeers. Cara watched, gaze wide beneath her hood, as an red-scaled alien with small tentacles extending from his mouth pushed one of the available prostitutes against the filthy wall. He rutted between her thighs, inhuman sounds reverberating from his throat as her moans filled the bar. The prostitute had approached Cara’s captor earlier with her breasts completely bared. She’d lifted her skirt to show him underneath but he’d waved her away, his stare steadily fixed on the door. Obviously, she’d found another customer.
Cara’s eyes slid away, swallowing, trying to ignore the grunts and sounds of flesh slapping against flesh. It felt like her heart was trying to beat its way out of her throat.
A loud cheer and muffled roar told her the red-scaled alien had finished with the prostitute. With a quick glance, Cara saw another had taken his place and the sounds began again. Eyeing the growing group, forming a half-circle around the couple, she wondered how much longer it would be before the bar went full orgy. Again, she was glad for the cloak that covered her face and body.
The prostitute was on her third customer when she sensed her captor straightening beside her on the bench. The steel door had hissed open and the sound of heavy footsteps met her ears.
The sudden hush was deafening. It was something straight out of a western movie, with aliens craning their heads around their goblets to look at the newcomer. Even the couple fucking paused in their activities.
The hairs on her arms prickled. Slowly, Cara raised her eyes.
The alien that had just entered, the alien that had just sucked all of the noise out of the bar like a vacuum, that had just commanded the attention of every single breathing soul in that enclosed space, was looking straight at her.
Cara heard herself gasp as blood rushed under her skin, pumping to every part of her body. Though she knew the alien couldn’t see her face cloaked in the deep shadow of the hood, she felt completely exposed. Naked.
He was massive. That was Cara’s first impression. Standing at least seven-feet tall, he seemed even larger because of his sheer bulk. Cords and cords of rope-like muscles lined his bare arms. His shoulders were the size of basketballs. He was wearing a dark suede sleeveless tunic that stretched tight across his chest, highlighting square pectorals and a slab of defined abs. And his thighs…they looked as strong as tree trunks and filled out his smoke-colored pants.
When Cara’s gaze lifted to study his features, she felt her heartbeat stutter in her chest, suddenly breathless. But whether it was from fear or awe or something else entirely…she didn’t know.
His eyes were a bright blue, an impossibly shade for a human. They glowed in the low light of the bar as he returned her stare. His features, however, were more human than any other species present. Two wide-set eyes, except she saw no white—only pupils and blue irises. His nose was angular and straight, the bridge so sharp that she wondered if he could cut her with it. Full lips and high cheekbones that human male models would kill for softened the severity of his features.
But there was no doubt in Cara’s mind that he was brutal, deadly. Her gaze flickered from the jagged scar that ran from his temple to his cheek to the sharp points of two, smooth black horns that curved around the crown of his skull. The silence and sudden tension in the bar explained why she felt a rush of adrenaline, her fight-or-flight mode kicking in.
Then her eyes caught on his skin. At first, in the low light, his skin looked like her captor’s, a light steel gray. But as he began to approach, it shifted in color, shimmering like a mirage in a hot desert. As he passed underneath a hanging domed light by the door, his skin turned golden.
That was when she noticed something else. Her nipples were pebbled into tight diamond peaks underneath her filthy cloak and warmth swarmed her belly, making another bead of sweat drip down her face. The space between her thighs heated. She physically felt every powerful step he took towards her reverberate in her clit.
Cara’s lips parted.
What was happening to her?
Her brow furrowed as she wondered why her body was betraying her in a place like this. She couldn’t possibly feel aroused, not when just a moment before she’d been on the verge of vomiting, sick from fear.
Her captor, the gray alien that resembled a snake, with slitted nostrils and iridescent yellow eyes, stood from the bench, swaying. Even with his monstrous height, he only reached the newcomer’s shoulders, who stopped in front of the table before them.
In a language she couldn’t understand, the horned alien said something to her captor. His voice made the hairs on her arms stand on end. It was both as smooth as velvet and as rough as sandpaper. Either way, it made her clit give another helpless throb.
Though the alien spoke directly to the snake, his blue eyes were latched on her. His lips were downturned, an almost quizzical expression furrowing his sparse brows. It made him look angry as he tried to glare into the dark shadow of her hood. Out of reflex, Cara tilted her head down, trying to shield herself further.
This was who her captor was meeting? Why?
The bar remained deathly quiet, even when the snake roughly grabbed her arm to make her stand. Cara bit her lip to keep from crying out in pain and surprise, but quicker than she could blink, the newcomer lashed out at her captor. She saw the glint of sharp claws and then the metallic scent of blood filled her nostrils, making her want to retch.
Before she knew it, her captor had tumbled over the bench, quaking the floor with his fall, cradling his arm which had fresh, deep cuts imbedded in his thick skin. Black blood flowed from the wounds. The blue-eyed alien hissed something down at him before unclipping a weighted pouch from his steel belt and tossing it down onto his chest.
The sound of clinking metal inside the pouch made the blood drain from Cara’s already pale face. And when the massive horned alien grabbed her around the waist, tucking her into his side, surprisingly gentle considering what she’d just witnessed…that was when Cara knew.
With that exchange, she’d just been bought.
The alien pulled her out of the silent bar and into the humid dark night.