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Alien’s Gamble: Sneak Peek

Kamek

I almost heard the urge to ask if we were there yet brewing and bubbling in Laux’s chest.

Every time I glanced back at my brothers, there he was, the youngest out of us all, nearly vibrating in his seat.

He’d missed out on the last game of Speiwet due to a mid-game injury and he was itching to show off his new moves. Today would even double as revenge, given how we were going up against the same team that took him out before.

“To your right!”

Sorik’s shout made me jolt in my seat. My instincts took over and I changed course, barely avoiding crashing against a fragment of debris.

“Is that a slavers’ unit?” my brother asked.

I directed my gaze towards the point Sorik was staring at, and, sure enough, he was right: fire, hot and bright enough to rival Reazus Prime’s twin suns, had engulfed a slavers’ ship. 

Flames like tentacles rollicked up its sides and everything they touched reddened and darkened. Parts of the craft flew apart from the main body, disintegrating during its unmanned descent until finally, like a firecracker, dozens of smaller lights streaked through the dark.

“I’m getting life signs on those,” Sorik said. 

“Escape pods?” I muttered. “They don’t look right.”

Sorik looked over sharply. “Do you think anyone survived that?”

Norsuk leaned over the back of my chair. “They would if they were in storage pods. See if you can find what’s in there.”

A few moments of quick scanning, and Sorik had an answer. “Human females.”

A moment of quiet came over us as we considered the possibilities.

“Sleeping slaves, all ripe for the picking. What do you all say? Finders’ keepers?”

The familiar beep of incoming data transmission drowned out whatever else Norsuk meant to say. 

The air shimmered before our eyes and took on the form of a multidimensional map of Reazus Prime. 

With a flick of my wrist, I sent over the tracking data. At first, there was nothing, but then one by one, tiny blue dots flashed, drawing our gazes at them, scattered all over the globe.

“I hear they make good breeders,” I added, my mind forever on the prize. “I’ve counted at least a dozen. They should fetch a good price.”

It was stupid and probably nothing, but I found I couldn’t keep my eyes off a certain pod, far to the north in the mountains that were permanently covered in snow.

A noiseless hum rang in my ears and I felt my heartbeat accelerating. Something deep within me, almost primal, made me want to sprint and collect my bounty before anyone else got the same idea. 

I cleared my throat before speaking. “Let’s each pick a pod and whoever’s female brings the most money, wins.”

The proposal was welcomed with excited hollering and neither of us wasted any time in getting into our stingers and claiming our literal gifts from above. 

“Good hunting!” I called out as my brothers’ personal crafts split off from mine, racing towards their own targets.

All I cared about was mine.

A storm had beaten me to the site, heavy winds and thick gusts of snow coated the mountain passes, burning away the moments until I found the long trail from the impact of the stasis pod.

It had torn through a nearby stand of trees, the trail of smoking destruction in its path already half covered by the storm.

Banking away, I landed the stinger in a small clearing, excitement spurring me on.

Nothing was more exciting than the rush of the game.

Well, except winning.

Sinking up to my knees in snow, I grabbed a heavy cloak from the ship and checked the blaster holstered at my hip and the comm unit on my wrist.

Nothing from my brothers. I still might be the first to reach my prize.

The knot in my stomach tightened and I rushed towards the pod.

Restlessness, an urge to run and claw my way to the female slowly took over me. 

I pulled my cloak tighter against myself and broke into a sprint, the distance between me and the stasis pod lessening with every heartbeat.

Once there, I peered down at the shattered glass and let out a low growl.

She wasn’t there.

Deep tracks zigzagged away, but quickly faded out into nothingness.

Frantic, I ran around in circles, desperate to pick up her trail, going past a derelict cabin, a stand of trees, more pieces of debris.

Nothing.

She couldn’t have made it far. At least, not unless someone had already taken her, and if that was the case, I was prepared to fight to claim her.

Were there others out here, searching for the human females?

I snorted. Of course. We couldn’t have been the only ship who witnessed that explosion.

Tapping at the communicator, only the crackle of static filled my ears. What had I expected during a storm like this? 

Of course, I’d be cut off from my brothers.

They’d have to fend for themselves.

And then I found her.

Swaying on her feet, dressed in nothing more than scraps.

It was her. No question.

But I didn’t reach her soon,  she’d freeze to death and I’d have nothing to sell.

That was the only reason I sprinted through the storm, panic ringing through my ears.

Nothing else mattered.

Only the game.

Jaylee

I let out a long groan of displeasure. 

I’d swear the cold nipped at my feet. 

Perhaps I’d forgotten to close the windows? Unlikely, but then again whose ass was freezing? 

This girl’s.

Oh well, too late now, I told myself. 

If I got up and closed them, I knew it’d be a while before I’d fall back asleep, so I stubbornly stayed put. I tossed and turned in my bed, ignoring the lowering temperature, determined to get my eight hours of sleep. 

Come morning, I was to start my dream job at the local gym and I needed to be fresh as a daisy, not showing up with raccoon eyes. 

Except this was freakin’ cold! 

Whoever said chilly weather was conducive to good rest was an idiot. 

Still reluctant to move from my comfortable position, I blindly patted the space around me, wanting to pull my blanket up higher. 

Yet, instead of soft Egyptian cotton, the cold lick of metal grazed my fingertips. I recoiled with an audible gasp.

The thermal shock brought forth an unpleasant realization: it wasn’t my bed. 

It wasn’t even a bed. 

With sleep still coating my lashes, I glanced around. Opaque glass and unyielding metal surrounded me from all parts, like a nightmarish cocoon. 

Swallowing down my panic, I called upon all the strength I was capable of, kicking and beating my fists against the fine white lines peppering the ciel blue glass. 

Whatever this thing was that I found myself inside of, it was already cracked, which meant I could escape.

Once, twice, and then with all my upper body strength, I slammed myself against the least sturdy portions of my prison, ignoring the mounting headache and the soreness of my body. 

I was used to pain, but this was pushing it.

With lucky number ten, I finally broke free. On unsteady legs, I climbed out of my enclosure, but my hard earned freedom merely making the air in my lungs freeze. 

Without something between me and the elements, the wind kicked my ass something fierce. The cold hit me doubly hard and I could barely draw in another breath.

My body folded in on itself and I dropped down low.

I winced and closed my eyes. The sudden brightness was almost painful, not to mention unnatural, and for a moment there, I could’ve sworn I saw two suns, looming blue above me. 

I shook my head off the nonsense imagery and I called out. “Hello? Is anyone there?”

Yes, I knew shouting into the unknown was mistake number one in horror movies, but this wasn’t a movie. This was… I dunno, more like a nightmare? One set in apocalyptic levels of cold? 

“Please? Anyone?”

My voice was quiet and soft, all but lost to the snowstorm around me. The strong gusts of wind tearing across the space around me made my skin tingle.

“Fuck,” I muttered. 

I huddled, momentarily paralyzed with cold and fear.

Where the heck was I?

Did I sleepwalk to Narnia or something? This was definitely not LA weather. 

I couldn’t make sense of things, but at least I was still wearing my pajamas, so nothing too bad could’ve happened. I glanced down at my bare legs and arms, sunkissed brown now tinted red by the biting frost. 

My flimsy pajamas offered no protection against such weather. A thousand needles prickled my skin and I wrapped my arms around my knees, making myself smaller to preserve my body heat and minimize the exposed areas. 

I knew I wouldn’t be able to survive for long like that. Rescue seemed unlikely and something inside me, equal parts hysterical and pragmatic, bubbled to the surface, driving my body as if on autopilot. 

If I stayed where I was, I’d die.

So it was time to move.

I began to walk, slowly putting one foot in front of the other, staggering like a Walking Dead extra. 

I wanted to run, to sprint and scream, really, but I was groggy, shivering, and overall just ill, and every step of my bare feet onto the cold snow shot daggers up my half numbed calves. 

It felt as if someone had drugged me, but there couldn’t have been anyone. I worked and lived alone, hadn’t been out bar hopping or whatever people with social lives did.

And right now it didn’t matter.

I shouted and shouted again, each time the sound echoing less and less into the distance.

There was nothing but a great white flurry of flakes whichever way I cared to look.

Was I going in the right direction?

Was there a right direction?

Maybe I should’ve stayed in that metal cocoon.

I wanted to return to it, to let it shelter me, protect me.

Unless that wasn’t real either. Just a part of this crazy dream.

Thinking straight was a chore and the reality before me had grown fractured.

Because I could’ve sworn there was a person out there, not ten feet away, coming towards me, but that had to be another brain glitch. 

Real people don’t have skin that looks like molten gold.

They’re not that tall.

They don’t stand that way, so rigidly straight.

I was aware of the rasp of my own breath, the quiet, barely audible rustle of my pajamas as I walked, trying not to fall onto my knees and let the white death take me. 

Almost there, I thought, almost close enough to fall into this golden man’s arms and then I’d be safe.

I felt myself swaying, my vision growing blurry and after a few shaky breaths, I found I couldn’t hear anything anymore.

It was suddenly so quiet, the awful kind of silence that only the dead of night brought, but I wouldn’t die now, would I? Maybe it was all just a dream, I thought, before my legs gave out from underneath me and I fell. 

Kamek

The most valuable cargo wasn’t the biggest, bulkiest, most outstanding, but the exact opposite. 

Just like the little female in my arms, lithe and almost weightless, whose shallow intakes of breath worried me. She was ice cold and motionless, practically lost to the world around her. 

Fragile, like all humans I’d ever heard about.

Vulnerable, like all stolen females. 

Mine to keep, a voice from within added, but I pushed it back into the darkness it’d come from. 

I wasn’t the type to be easily softened and I most certainly didn’t have a weak spot for the less fortunate of this world. 

She wasn’t the first, nor the last, kidnapped female about to be thrown into a life of slavery. 

It was just her bad luck. It had nothing to do with me.

Whatever that moment of doubt was, it better pass as quickly as it had come. 

The skies added to the miniature mountains of white surrounding us. 

On instinct, my body wrapped itself around her form, lending the female some much needed warmth. My kind could sustain ten times nature’s fury, but she was of a much more fragile breed. 

I glanced down at her.

If I meant to sell my quarry, it was imperative that I acted fast, bringing her to proper shelter. 

The stinger, small and light, would never make it out of this storm.

The trees weren’t thick enough to break the wind.

So the cabin I’d passed would have to do.

I could take her there, see the condition she was in, other than half frozen to death, and then make a decision.

With renewed purpose, I made my way to the building. From up close, it was clear it’d been abandoned for quite some time. 

Its roof looked suspect and some of the windows were replaced with wooden boards. 

But it was better than being out in the elements.

We could wait out the storm and then I’d bring her to the main ship, win the bet, and carry on with a heavier purse.

With my hands momentarily full, I kicked open the door, stepped inside, using my considerable body weight to close it shut, before taking a look around. 

If the place looked derelict from the outside, the inside wasn’t that much better. There was a rudimentary fireplace, something akin to a bed, a slanting, half-broken table, and a chest that doubled as a chair, if need be.

I gently laid the female down onto the rickety bed and she let out a low moan. 

The sweet sound of it made my insides tie into knots. Small and precious and wonderful, it called for an answer.

For protection against the world.

For answering sweetness.

Yet, it was as far from that as it could be and I knew it. 

I wouldn’t delude myself by thinking something might happen between us once she woke up. I intended to sell her and win the bet against my brothers.

I couldn’t keep her. 

I wouldn’t even imagine it.

Without truly meaning to, I reached out a hand and brushed the little human female’s hair out of her pale face. She looked so peaceful, so delicate. 

Was I really going to do this to her? 

It wasn’t my fault.

She’d already been taken. 

Her fate was decided upon long before I laid eyes on her. 

Somewhere between now and the moment the slavers picked her as their target, her life’s course had been completely altered. There was no going back.

She moaned again, this time closer to a whine. Her strange, soft skin had taken on a bluish hue and she was so cold to the touch, the few snowflakes remaining on her body wouldn’t even melt.

I sighed.

“This doesn’t bode well,” I murmured, my breath turning into a frosty fog. A cold shelter wasn’t much better than no shelter at all. 

There was no way to immediately seal off the space and the fireplace didn’t have the tiniest twig with which to make fire for the little human female to warm up near.

So I did the only thing I could – I took off my cloak and draped it over her form before kneeling down the side of the bed. She was barefoot and her toes were turning dark purple. 

Carefully, I touched her, but the little female hissed.

“Bear with it,” I said, unsure if she could hear me or not, but some strange part of me needed her to know I meant her no harm. “I need to restore the blood flow or you’ll lose your feet.”

For a moment, I froze. Even if she heard me, did she understand?

A quick check behind her ear answered that question. The slavers had implanted a translation device. Usual procedure to ensure that slaves would follow orders quickly, but useful for me now.

Reassured, I massaged her foot, from sole to ankle and higher up her calf.

Slowly, surely, the deliberate path my fingers took as they pressed and dragged over her frozen, aching skin started to produce heat.

Not just in her body, but in mine as well. 

Inappropriate thoughts crowded my mind, but I pushed each and every one back down.

She wasn’t mine.

If I took her, claimed her, tasted her, she’d be worth less at auction.

Nothing could or would ever happen between us.

I switched limbs, giving her right leg the same kind of hands-on treatment and she moaned again, sending my thoughts back out of control.

I stared at her fragile form, visibly more relaxed, so completely unaware of the dangers of this world or of the way my hands worked to loosen the kinks in her muscles, fighting the urge to explore more of her body. 

She was so different from the females of my species and yet, still so beautiful, even with such smooth skin and a lack of scales or facial ridges.

There was some meat on her bones, some good muscle definition there, telling me this human took good care of herself. 

I wondered how she managed to become someone else’s prey. 

Lost in my own head, I failed to notice she’d woken up and was quietly staring at me, assessing the situation. 

It was only when I pushed the cloak higher on her body, revealing her curved thighs, that our gazes met.

If she was scared, she hadn’t shown it. 

She looked ready to fight me – her jaw squared, her lips set in a thin line and all the fierceness this beautiful, tiny creature was capable of was infused into the words she uttered next.

“What the fuck do you think you’re doing? Hands off me, you bastard!”

She tried to pull her leg from my grasp, but I held onto her, unreasonably unwilling to let her go.

If she panicked, if she ran, she’d be back out in the cold.

She was like a wild animal, straining, pulling and twisting, wanting to get away, but my grip wouldn’t let her gain an inch of freedom, no matter how hard she tried.

“Calm down. You’re going to hurt yourself.” 

She’d only end up killing herself in the raging storm out there, or worse, die a slow and painful death by the time I found her to bring her back here, her limbs lost to the frostbite and then going septic. 

I wrestled her closer to me and with a neutral, level, tone, I laid out the terms of how it’d go. “If you calm down, I’ll tell you everything. If you continue to try to fight me, I’ll have no other choice but to tie you up.”

Her eyes flared wider. “Let me go! Let me go, let me go!!”

She continued to uselessly struggle against my superior strength, making me think she was pretty, but dumb.

Surely she knew it wouldn’t work.

“Fucking asshole, I told you to let me go!”

Then she kicked me in the face.

I had to admit, it’d been a while since someone had taken me by surprise like that.

Her little foot actually managed to split open my lower lip. 

Golden liquid stained my copper skin and I tasted iron on my tongue. I rubbed the pain away.

“Impressive,” I let out. 

I could make her pay for that, hit her back and beat her into submission, but I wouldn’t. 

A dainty little human she might be, but I’d been a fool to think she was dumb. 

I deserved the ass-kicking I got, for underestimating my opponent. 

She was a firecracker. 

There was a part of me that wanted her to take a gamble and go against me once more, to see what all she was capable of. 

I liked her fighting spirit. 

I liked the thrill of the chase. 

What else would she try? When would she admit defeat? 

Or was she the type to never admit such a thing? 

I liked the idea.

Finally free, at least from my touch, she slid backwards on the bed until her back connected with the cold wall behind her. She eyed me with apprehension, but also a good deal of determination. 

For some stupid reason, I felt proud of her for that.

And then the questions flew out of her and my feelings of pride were replaced with ones of dread and awkwardness.

“Who are you? Where am I? Why am I here? Where is this place, anyway? It’s not LA. Why the hell are you dressed up like that, like it’s Halloween?”

She pulled my cloak around her body. Bundled up like that, crammed into the corner, she looked even smaller than she was.

I got up to my full height, towering above her. Playing nice hadn’t worked. Maybe she would only respond to fear.

Or not.

She didn’t shy away from me, just going back to a defensive position. I could tell she was like a tight coil under the cloak, ready to spring into action if the opportunity presented itself. 

“My name is Kamek Teki and,” I trailed off. Surprisingly, the words tasted bitter on my tongue. But this little warrior deserved the truth. “You are a slave now.”

She scoffed. “The hell I am!”

“You were kidnapped by slavers, taken from your home and brought here, to my planet.”

“Planet? Are you drunk?”

I ignored her. “And as soon as this storm passes, you-”

I didn’t get to finish my sentence, because she threw the cloak at my face, distracting me. 

I twirled on a foot and reached out, my hand just barely grasping her wrist to pull her back. 

I miscalculated the force I used, though, and we fell backwards onto the bed, landing with a loud and painful thud, her sprawled over my chest, my arms trapping her to me.

She wasted no time kicking my shin and punching my stomach, but I breathed through the impact.

“You’re one crazy fucker, you know that?” 

I bore punch after punch, kick after kick, roll after roll, noting how precisely she targeted the spots on my body.

Were I another human, I probably would’ve been defeated five hits into her attempt at escaping.

Unfortunately for her, she was against a far tougher species.

I used to go fishing with Laux when we were younger. The bigger the prey, the harder it struggled.

Her size had nothing to do with her value. I let the little female exhaust herself before reining in my exotic game once more. 

With her on top of me, panting hard, trembling, and how I could see down the valley between her breasts, taking in her nearly bare legs splayed open, wrapping around my hips.

Even in her anger, she was beautiful.

Yet, now all I could do was ignore the way my cock stirred feeling her soft weight atop my body.

Rolling slightly, I maneuvered her between a wall and my solid presence, wrapping a hand around her throat. 

The human female stopped struggling the second I squeezed her against me just enough to tell her I’d won this round.

During our little dance of power, my cloak had fallen off her body and she knelt before me, half naked and flushed, out of breath, her messy hair inviting me to run a hand through its gentle waves and bring her head closer, covering her full lips with mine. 

I could make her burn, even with this snowstorm outside. 

Her quickened pulse echoed in my own body, making it harder and harder to not push her on her back and claim her as mine, at least once. 

It was madness.

Her defiance was an incredible turn on. Even like this, her eyes bore into mine, unafraid.

“Why are you looking at me like that?” she panted.

I coughed, clearing the lust from my voice before addressing her. “Are you done trying to hit me, little one?”

I could almost taste the frustration in her words. 

“Yes.”

“Will you try to run again?”

“No.”

I chuckled. Her answer came much too quick, too clear, to be genuine. “Yes, you will.”

“Then why ask me if you already know the answer?”

I shook my head, deeply amused. 

She was unlike any female I’d ever met.

Hells. She was unlike anyone I’d ever met. 

The more she held her ground, the more she swore at me, yelled at me, kicked me and tried to escape me, the more I wanted to keep her for myself. 

I wanted to claim her, to ravish her, to conquer her in a way that perhaps she wouldn’t fight so hard against. 

I wanted to talk to her some more, to draw out her name, to coax some compliance and sweetness, but an unexpected itch across my back and a sharp pain in my chest made it hard to stay coherent. 

“I’ll be back with some wood,” I snapped. “If you try to run again, you won’t live to see another sunrise.”

And then I fled the cabin, and my own disturbing desires.

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