Alien Beast’s Fated Mate: Chapter Three


My shoulders barely fit in the tight passage, but I crawled forward on my belly until it opened wider. This awful place…

I sensed her. The girl from my dreams. I could feel the vibration of her thoughts in my heart. More than that, I caught her scent. She was real. Though I knew that already, I’d had no proof until—


Pain sliced me, sizzling fire drawing strips across my skin.

And again!

“Aahh!” I screamed through clenched teeth.

My voice echoed. Hands sliding over my body, I felt no sign of injury.

The pain wasn’t mine.

With double the effort, I surged through the smooth burrows deep beneath the earth. My Valti overwhelmed me with roaring abandon. The beast within railed against the pain. For the nonce, I exalted in the animal power, the bestial senses. It drove me faster. Surer.

The pain was hers. She was being whipped by flames, tortured. Surging agony could not slow my progress.

When the cave turned upward, I followed her scent. Unholy decorations appeared, red eyes watching, a fire that didn’t warm.

Frightened as I was, it was not nearly the abject terror I felt through the bond of my soul.

She must be protected. I must make her mine. Tear those who hurt her limb from limb.

Of a sudden, the pain vanished.

I stood still in a geometric cavern. Felt fear through the bond. She was still alive. Her heart sadly resolved.

Taking a relieved breath, I focused, calming myself. This strange place was no place to unleash my inner beast. Following the wind in and out of me with my mind’s eye, I restrained the animal within.

Feeling my true self after a time, I examined my surroundings.

Was this room so different than a chamber in the castle palace? Staring eyes could be candles. Flickering blue square windows. Bizarre boxes and tubes… furniture?

Calm. Balance.

I needed these to fight.

Tapping gently into my Valti nature, I sniffed the air. The girl, my mate, was somewhere above.

Stalking these shadow chambers, I sought a way up.

My motions halted.

My mind filled with a calmness more profound and stiller than I ever experienced. Unlike the state I fought the animal that lived in me, never had I felt such overwhelming tranquility.

I recognize you, though I don’t know you.

That touch, I knew it from before. “I am here for you,” I said.

So fierce… Are you my savior or devourer?

“None will hurt you and live to tell of it,” I said. “You are mine and mine alone. Come to me.”

I cannot.

Even in this serene state, I felt her fear rising. Was she held captive?

“Come to me!” I commanded.

Her thoughts quailed, intellect rippling like a still pool disturbed by a thrown rock.

I… I will…

“Come to me, my bonded soul!” I bellowed.

I will… try…

A shudder of hopelessness. The depthless tranquility flashed away. My mind had lost hers.

By the cursed red moon. If she could not come to me, I would go to her.

Passing beneath mountain-sized construction, through straight caves in steel, around cold objects that blazed with light, I sought a passage upward.

I am Branna. How may I serve?

A vision appeared, eyes without sight. Below, a network of lines pulsed and shined. Glowing red eyes winked on the flat surface.

“What are you?” I took a step back. “Are you trapped in there?”

I am Branna. Biological Oracle. Interface to Terr. How may I serve?

“Where is my bound soul, Oracle?” I asked.


“A woman held captive. Imprisoned. Where is she?”

Cells of initiates are on sublevel one north.

Meaningless. “Where are we?”

I am omnipresent. You are below sublevel five.

“How do I get to sublevel one north?” It was worth a shot.

This temporary monitor chamber is beneath Terr proper. Passages are natural lava tubes and unmapped.

Lava tubes. Is that what I’d been creeping, squeezing through since the Canyonlands? Easy enough to recognize.

I continued my quest.

Wandering, tiring, every chamber, every cavern started to look the same. No upward passages appeared.

I would not give in to despair.

There had to be an area I hadn’t searched. If only I had a torch, a lantern.

Then, voices.

Echoes made the direction difficult.

A jolt ran from my shoulder to my hand, stunning me. I tried to shake off the numbness.

Again, it was not my own feeling.

More jolts seared through me. I sprinted toward the source. As I neared, the intensity of the attack increased. At least I knew I was headed in the right direction.

Swerving around a curve in the tunnel, I came upon two hooded men. They stood above a form covered by a fluffy blanket. Each of them stabbed the fallen one with a wand.

Each touch crackled with energy. Through the nerves of the one on the ground. Through our bond. Through my own. Lunges of agony.

“Hold, torturers!” I raced toward them, drawing my blade.

Hooded figures staggered back in shock.

One cried out a babble of fearful words.

The other hooded figure sounded more commanding.

Warriors to sublevel five west. The temple has been breached by a primitive.

Branna’s voice in my head told me it was time to flee.

I leapt over the fallen one, putting myself between her and the hooded foes. They backed away even more, staring at my weapon.

The first made a sweeping gesture. A line of fire cut through the air. I parried it away. Even that slight touch brought heat all the way to the pommel.

When the hooded ones began attacking in earnest, I knew there was no point in defense. Turning the sword, edge meeting whip, I swung with all my strength.

With a clang, the tip of my weapon bounced off the rock walls. At the same time, glowing red and squirming, the flame whips lay on the floor.

With cries of panic, the hooded ones fled. I should go after them…

Her face froze me in my tracks.

Legends, stories told around campfires emerged upon the sight of her. Hair and lashes black as night. Skin pink and pale. Impossibly delicate features. A Frostling, a forest nyx, deceptively frail, yet bearing lethal magics.

In my dreams, haunting me, drawing me, never once did I think she was a fearful creature of myth.

She lay so still…

My bond mate was a creature out of legend?

Dare I?

My fingers touched her neck.

A strong pulse. Warm skin, not the feel of an unliving, unearthly fiend.

She stirred as I lifted her in my arms.

“You…” her eyes widened in fear. “You… what are you?”

Her head slumped again, unconscious.

And what are you? I thought.

The woman was small, hardly a burden. Though barely larger than a child, her feminine curves were evident under her clothes. Still, shoving her through narrow caves—lava tubes—all the way back…

Might as well give it a try.

“Branna, what is the fastest path to the Canyonlands?”

An emergency escape passage runs from sublevel one north beneath the city wall.

Okay, a good start.

“How do I get there from here?”

Take the central corridor to the farthest north wall from sublevel five east. Stairs lead to the levels above. A door beyond the level one north landing leads to the emergency escape tunnel.

Adjusting the woman’s weight, I moved in the direction the hoods had fled. Since they’d melted my sword in half, I hoped not to meet their warriors.

Following the oracle’s directions as best I could, I ran through the underground nightmare.

The female trapped in the wall wasn’t lying. After racing up flights of stairs at the north side of the dungeon, I saw a disused door. Kicking it open, I ran through a square, metallic passage that rose steeply.

Hollow shouts pursued. Warriors. Their torches provided enough light to see, and I sprinted after my shadow.

Finally, I came to a short flight of stairs, a door above.

Ramming with my shoulder, I crashed my way into the cool night.

Looming walls of the alien city rose close behind as I glanced over my shoulder.

Time to put some distance between us and it.

In my mind, I reached out to the bagart. Though I’d left my mount in the Canyonlands days before, she remained. Grindi was loyal, chained to the dominance of my Valti, even if she would rather run free.

My Valti summoned her, and she ran toward us. I would do my best to meet her halfway.

Running through the forest, I kept casting looks behind. This was territory controlled by the aliens. I needed to reach the Canyonlands, and my home beyond.

The bond of my soul, my creature of dark lore, stirred in my arms. Her legs thrashed.

Then she gasped.

I could not understand the words that followed. Gripping her more firmly, I continued losing us in the forest.

It did not take her long to wriggle free, forcing me to put her down.

I kept hold of her arms.

“We are destined to be one,” I told her. “I’m taking you to be mine. Should you not burn me to ash with your spells.”

Her eyes took me in, growing wider and wider.

She let out an ear-piercing scream.

More than that, her horror stabbed me in the heart.

“I have claimed you. You came to me in my dreams, and now you are mine,” I tried.

“Like hell I’m yours!”

Our language on her tongue sounded strange. How did she learn to speak it? Again, the possibility of a magical nature seized my heart.

“You’re a primitive, an animal!” she shrieked.

She tried to pull away, to run back to the city.

“I’d not whip you,” I said. “Chain you. Force you to live in a wall. Am I so savage?”

“Live in a wall?” After a moment, she stopped struggling. “Branna…”

“We remain in alien territory,” I said. “If we don’t move now, the warriors will find us. Drag you back to that living hell. Cut me to bits.”

“I can’t go with you!” she said. “My home is in Terr.”

“Do you really want to return to your prison? To the hooded men with the fire whips, the lightning cudgels?”

She faced south but trees blocked the view of the city.

Would she choose her terrible life over an unknown future?

If I couldn’t convince her to accompany me, my animal nature would fully consume me.

“Do you?”

She trembled, torn between the only home she’d ever known and the open unknown. I could see the indecision in her eyes, could feel the war raging in her heart through our bond.

“I…I don’t know,” she whispered.

I softened my tone, trying to reassure her. “You need not be afraid. I only wish to take you far from those who would chain and torture you. I swear no harm will come to you by my hand.”

She searched my face, looking for any deceit. I held her gaze steadily, willing her to trust me.

After agonizing moments, her shoulders slumped in resignation. “Very well. I will go with you, away from this awful place. But I don’t belong to you, primitive! Don’t think you can control me.”

Relief swept through me and I nodded. “We should move quickly, before the warriors come.”

I took her hand and we moved through the trees at a brisk pace. She stumbled often, weak and disoriented. I steadied her gently each time, waiting until she nodded to continue on.

I would never leave her behind.

She was mine now.

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