Reaver’s Return: Chapter One


“But why the mecha?” Kyla said. “Why would the commbangles lead us there?

“Who cares? It worked, we were recovered, happily ever after.” Jael was one of the girls with me when our escape pods landed on this primitive planet.

Now, we lived in caves with winged cavemen and a few hulking dudes of assorted colors.

By-and-large, the dudes in question were not into girls. Or guys.

From what I gathered, they were genetically designed clones, built for warfare. Maybe their Makers thought romance would only complicate their simple soldier design.

They made for less than exciting company.

“It could be that the mecha have flight capability, that the bangles are trying to help us get off-world,” Kyla said.

Blah blah blabbidy blah, I didn’t say.

I stood in the corner of what had become the women’s chamber. There were no other women on Thaxios, save the survivors of a crashed spaceship, Smarniks Dream.

All of us Earth girls were hired as dancers on that cruise ship. The Loliax, tentacled jerks who put us on display, hadn’t bothered looking for their cargo of entertainers after the ship exploded.

We had landed here almost a year ago.

You’d think being one of the only women among hoards of muscle-bound alien hunks would be paradise.

But none of them approached me. The rest of the girls didn’t like me much, either. Screw them.

Maybe it was because I tried to seduce the first humanoid male I’d seen in forever.

Could you blame a girl?

But Vandath, who looked like a combination of classical statue and bronze angel, was mated to Maisie.

For a bunch of asexual guys, they really took mating seriously.

Just look at Kyla. Could you be a hundred months pregnant? She was ready to pop.

My attempts to drag Van into the bushes earned me a half-shunned status.

No male, bronze angel, red devil, gray monster or striped tree hugger, gave me the mating eye.

Lord, I was bored.

A year ago, we were dancers. Regular girls, taking a job to get by.. Now, super-pregnant Kyla sat at a table, talking about strategy against underground creatures bent on taking us out. Discussing huge, armored suits and strange weapons to use against the subterraneans.

Can you believe it?

“How’s it going with the sonic guns?” Sarah bounced her little cherub, the winged infant babbling.

She was mated to the leader of the Sen’ki, the angel guys, Dakath. The baby was the only one known in the whole world.

“We’re missing a component. Ryven and I need to make a trip to the Mansion in the Icelands,” Kyla said. Ryven, red and scaly with spiny hair and thorns, was her mate.

To each her own.

“Not while the serkits are migrating. It’s the end of winter,” Sarah pointed out.

Most of the animals on this planet were out to kill and eat you. And some of the plants.

“And the gekka will pursue them until they reach the highlands,” Hannah added.

Hannah was mated to the spooky, silver-scaled Khelos. His eyes were solid black, features on the aquatic side.

Thinking about it, maybe the Reavers’ lack of interest in me wasn’t so bad.

“Sen’ki could fly you there safe,” Allison said.

“Hah! Like Ryven would be caught dead…”

Kyla slumped forward, elbows on the table. Her eyes turned bright and wet, hands trembling.

“Not again,” Maisie got up from her place. “Get some of the herb tea.”

“I hardly had any trouble with my pregnancy,” Sarah said.

Allison hurried to a side table. She poured water from a woven bucket into a carved bowl. Adding dry leaves, and then stones from the fire to heat the water, she carried it over.

“We’re almost out of the herbs,” she said.

Maisie frowned. “I thought she’d have the baby by now, or I’d have found more. It’s tough with snow still on the ground.”

Kyla sipped the brew. She made a face. “Ugh.”

But in a few moments, she sat upright.

Maisie put a hand on Kyla’s extended belly. “C’mon, little guy. You’re making mamma sick. Time to come out.”

“Stubborn,” she said.

“Like his mother,” Sarah smiled.

“I’ll get more herbs to see you thought,” Maisie said.

“Let the Reavers gather them. It’s dangerous out there,” Kyla said.

Maisie shook her head. “They can’t tell which are the potent ones. They can’t smell it like I can. Besides, I can take care of myself.”

“I’ll go with you, girlfriend,” I said. “Shorten the time.”

The other girls exchanged catty looks.


“Okay. Be nice to get out of the cave,” Maisie said.

Which only inspired more amazed glances.

I was sick of my fellow human women.

“No time like the present,” I said.

We walked together through the tunnels of the Aerie. I found it ironic that winged men would spend their lives underground, even if this was at the top of a mountain.

“Man, can I use some time away,” I said. “Those bitches get on my nerves.”

“Guess they’re looking out for me, in a way,” Maisie said.

I sighed. “Why are you my friend? I tried to steal your man.”

“You were half-drugged on zingot sap and siqot juice. If you girls hadn’t been sleeping in your escape pods, you’d all be dead. Happily frozen to death,” she said.

It was true. The marsh our pods landed near was a trap to turn our bodies into fertilizer. Stinky sap and hallucinogenic fruit kept us blitzed, stupid and lazy.

“Maybe I would’ve been more successful if I wasn’t so high,” I said.

“Why do you always have to push?” Masie said.

“Sorry. You land on the planet of the buff barbarians, and you expect a party, right? Freakin Loliax. Those squirmy SOBs owe me a ton of cash,” I said.

Maisie gave me sympathetic eyes.

“I’ve never been popular. Never had friends. My folks were survivalists. Anti-alien. They’d kill me if they found out I was married to a Sen’ki. Now, I’m one of the girls. Who knew? All I needed was to be marooned on an alien planet.”

“Well, I don’t want to be marooned anymore,” I said. “What was Kyla talking about, the commbangles trying to get us off-world?”

I shook the ornamental bracelet that acted as communicator, translator, homing beacon.

“We really don’t know why they signal like they do,” she said. “I know it sucks here for you. I really hope that’s what the bangles are doing.”

“You wouldn’t go if you had the chance?” The idea of it astounded me.

She turned away, pink face pinker with blush. “I’m too stupid in love.”

“I don’t need love,” I said. “Just a good hard banging. Here I am, on a planet where point oh-oh-oh-oh-oh one percent of the population is female, and I can’t even get a leer, a wolf whistle.”

Giving her a covert look, I had to wonder how she scored an Adonis with wings.

There wasn’t much to her. Back on the ship, she was stand-offish, quiet. I had come to think of her as either backward, or somewhere on the Asperger scale.

Turned out, she was the one of us most suited to survive this planet.

“I can’t explain the Reavers, why they do what they do, why some fall for us girls. But I was really worried when Van and I found you in the marsh.”

“Worried?” I asked.

“He thought you were attractive…” She took a breath. “Oh, face it! You’ve got that curvy body, those freakin curls. I thought he’d dump me in a heartbeat. Either you, or Jael. Hell, any of you. Anyone other than me.”

“Well, he sees something in you, that’s for sure. C’mon, Maze, you’re good looking. A little on the short and plain side. But you’ve got something special.”

She snorted in response.

I put a hand on her shoulder. “He’s not the biggest Sen’ki, but he’s certainly the hottest. That beautiful face, those abs, those shoulders.”

“Stop already!”

I held up my hands. “What I’m saying is, he’s into you. Nobody else. You don’t need to worry. I can see it every time he looks at you, kid. You hooked the best possible alien dude on Thaxios. I put on the full-on flirt, and he didn’t budge. Hold your head up, all right?”

When the winged god in question stepped from a tunnel, I buttoned my lip. He smiled at Maisie. I saw the love look in his eyes before he kissed her deeply.

Dang it!

“I need a lift, Van,” she said a little breathlessly when they broke.

His eyes studied hers. Jeeze, he was stupid with her!

“Anything you need, babe.”

“We need to collect herbs. It’s the only thing keeping Kayla going,” she said.

“Hmm,” he frowned. “The edge of Ken’ki territory. Those striped tree dwellers don’t like us much. It’s nearly sunset.”

She nodded. “We’ll have to be careful. Believe me, we’ll stay where you can keep an eye on us. But we can be back before dark.”

The bronze angel faced me. Van smiled. “Ray-lnnn.

But I didn’t get a smile like Maisie had. “Can you help us out?”

“Of course,” he said. Then he called down a cave. “Evrik! Nakavs! We’re going on a flight.”

A moment later, a taller, thinner Sen’ki appeared, two bladed spears in his hands. He gave one to Vandath; holstered the other behind his back. Then he looked me over.

“We’re flying the females?” he said. “Should I get a sling?”

“Nah. Just pick her up. This won’t take long,” Vandath said. He scooped Maisie into his arms as she giggled.

Evrik looked hesitant.

I sighed. “C’mon, tall, bronze and nervous. Pick a girl up already.”

It was an awkward moment. He tried to keep my body away from his.

“You are unnervingly soft,” he said. “Will this hurt you?”

“Just fly, kid. Just fly,” I said.

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