I watch the video twice. The first time to make sure the woman lives through her testing. Before I hit play for the second time, I lock the cabin door and tell everyone else on board to leave me the fuck alone. Then I take my dick out and jerk off to the sight of her slaughtering everything that enters the room. I come, hard, when she starts laughing and yells out, “Is this the best you can do?”
Baby, I’ll show you what I can do, I think.
My head is filled with images of us together. She’s strong enough to handle me at my worst and vice versa. If we ever hate-fucked, we’d probably tear my ship apart. That thought probably shouldn’t make me smile. No decent man would grin at the thought of a woman punching him as she rode his dick, ripping a chunk out of his shoulder with her teeth even as she pulled him closer. But I’m not a decent man. I’ve never been one.
I masturbate again to the thoughts playing through my head of everything she and I could do to each other. My sex drive is higher than a typical human male, but this ravenous need for her feels like something else. Mine, some dark, primordial part of myself snarls, and I don’t fight the voice. After twenty years of being off my meds, I’ve finally come to terms with what I am. I’ve stopped fighting my urges, stopped trying to live by the human constructs of good and evil.
Even after I come a second time, I’m still semi-hard. I have a feeling I will be until I get her under me. Or on top of me. Or up against a wall. One thing is for certain: I will get her. She might not be as instantly smitten with me as I am with her, but once her meds start to wear off, she’ll need me. She might hate me for it, but better it be me, someone who has been through the same ordeal and can help her through it, than some perverted alien who just wants to wet its hemipenis in hot, human pussy.
I shove my dick back in my pants and unlock the door. “Send message.” The comms line flashes green. “To Thakhat: when is the auction?”
His response comes back immediately.
“Convert into earth days,” I say.
The number 10 lights up my screen. Ten days. Shit, that’s not enough time to complete our current run and get to Tau Ceti E. I need to order a halt to our mission and turn us around. We’ll need to haul ass if we have any hope of getting to the trade planet in time. The crew won’t like this.
My ship, the Raven, is equipped with the latest tech. Our guns can blow a Caprican destroyer clean out of space. The stealth shields are impenetrable. Thanks to the size of our engine, even if someone detected us on radar, they’d never catch us. I swipe my fingers over the nav screen and program a full stop. The crew will feel us decelerating, so I open the intercom line and call a meeting. My superhuman hearing lets me catch every groan and complaint from them in response. Somewhere down below, Kic yells out, “I’m taking a shit! I’ll be there in a minute!”
The comment is probably meant for me, but Ceres is the one to yell back, “Fucking gross, Kic!” She’s luytian, a seven-foot-tall, green-skinned soldier who looks like a cross between an elf and a tiger, with dark blue stripes running through her hide. The eight-inch ears rising above her head make her hearing even better than mine. Sometimes I pity her for that.
I slap the button to open my door. Cold air rushes into the cabin as the panel disappears up into the ceiling. I grab my jacket off the back of the captain’s chair and tug it on as I leave. We keep the hallways chilly because of Kic. His thick fur insulates him so well that he starts sweating at about fifty degrees Fahrenheit. The door whooshes shut behind me, and I pace a few feet to the stairs that lead down into the belly of the ship.
The Raven is small compared to most vessels in this solar system, manned by a crew of only eight. Our size makes us easy to overlook, made installing camopaint cheaper than it would have been on a bigger bird. If a comm goes out about a pirate vessel matching our description, all I have to do is program in new paint colors, new dimensions, and the camopaint covering the exterior will mimic that, letting us slip past alien warships like any other trading vessel.
Most of my crew waits for me in our mess room. If a human fresh from earth caught sight of them, they’d probably shit themselves and pass out. Ceres stands with her hip leaned against the counter, sipping hava tea, which has a terrible taste but packs a bigger dose of stimulant than a strong cup of coffee. She’s chatting to Am, a hulking, eight-foot-tall male that looks like nothing on earth. Parts of him could be reptilian, like his tail, and other parts feline, like paws tipped with retractable razor claws or the fangs hanging from his distended jaws. But his twin sets of arms? The antennae-tentacle things rising from his back? Nope.
Beside him is Mohrobid, another Markhassian like Thakhat. He looms in the corner, his wings folded close, snub nose twitching as he scents everyone’s emotions. Sitting in front of him at the table are Nin and Sita. They’re sisters, small, ethereal creatures with gray-lavender skin and huge black eyes. They look downright tame compared to the rest of the room, but I’ve seen them plow through soldiers three times their size. It helps that they have some sort of supersonic sonar built into their large sinus cavities and can use it to stop an enemy’s heart with a thought. They might be two of the smallest creatures on board, but everyone else treads lightly around them.
Kic lumbers into the room behind me, his broad shoulders filling the entire doorway. He looks like the result of some strange science experiment gone wrong, part water buffalo, part bipedal ape. I step aside to let him pass and take up a spot against the wall. Kic has to duck to keep from catching his foot-long horns on the door frame. Sita smiles to see him and pats the seat beside her. Kic’s thick brown fur makes it impossible to know for sure that all the blood just rushed from his face, but the way he shakes his head and plants himself next to me, like he’s hiding behind Dad, speaks volumes. Sita’s smile widens, exposing serrated teeth, turning from friendly to predatory in a heartbeat.
I lean toward Kic, our shoulders brushing as I drop my voice. “What’d you do to piss her off this time?”
“I don’t want to talk about it,” he says, his low voice rumbling through the room. His response isn’t English, but that doesn’t matter. The translator implanted into the computerized part of my brain means I understand him nonetheless.
Sita and her sister laugh at Kic’s discomfort, the tinkling, chime-like sound raising the hair on the back of my neck.
Time to turn their anger toward me. “We’re aborting the mission.”
My declaration is greeted with utter silence. We’ve been working together long enough that I can read their expressions by now. They range from surprised to pissed. Can’t say that I blame them. We planned this run for an entire earth month.
“The lizards picked up another shock troop,” I say. The lizards onboard the Sessah have a name for their people, but I don’t use it. To me, those fucking slave traders will always be the lizards. “A female shock troop.”
Ceres blinks. “And you want to set fire to all our hard work for some superhuman ass?”
I shake my head. “It’s more than that. She’s still on her meds. She might not know what happens when she comes off them. Plus, she’s the only other one of my kind out here. I feel like I owe it to her.”
Nin nods. “Then we get her.”
I meet her eyes, tipping my chin up in thanks. I knew Nin would support me. I helped her pull Sita out of a prison on Taras half a decade ago.
Sita squeezes her sister’s shoulder and turns to meet my gaze. “We get her.”
I look to the others, waiting.
Kic speaks up first. “I go where you go, Captain.”
I nudge my shoulder against his. If only everyone on board was as easygoing as him.
Mohrobid makes a rumbling, contemplative noise that comes more from his chest than his throat. “If she’s the only other one of your kind, the price set for her will be astronomical. We can’t afford her.”
“No, we can’t,” I say. “I don’t plan to buy her. I plan to steal her from whoever does.”
At that, Am perks up. “Anyone wealthy enough to purchase her could have other valuables on board. We might be able to recoup our losses from aborting this run.”
Ceres shakes her head, her waist-length braids waving like snakes. “We might, but we have no idea what kind of ship they’ll be on, what kind of firepower they’ll be packing, where they’ll go after they buy her, or –”
Am nudges her with two of his elbows. “That’s what makes it so fun.”
Ceres rolls her eyes at him in a very human gesture of annoyance. “That’s what makes it so dangerous.”
“You’re not wrong,” I say.
“Can this human woman fight like you?” a small voice asks.
Everyone in the room lifts their gazes. Prim has decided to come out of his hiding spot. The small creature hails from a planet of monstrous proportions. Its mountains dwarf the Himalayas. Creatures akin to dinosaurs stomp across its surface. Prim’s folk, a species called the elix, make their homes in trees twice the size of redwoods. He looks like the offspring of an aye-aye and a house cat, only in miniature. His spacesuit could be something made for a doll, and one of us usually carries him in a pocket until he’s ready to be deployed. For such a small being, he has a big brain, and the two combined are what make him critical to our team. He’s our eyes and ears inside pipes and air ducts. There isn’t a crack he can’t wedge himself into.
Somehow, Mohrobid is his best friend on board, and the giant winged alien has made Prim a series of tubes and platforms that run overhead throughout the ship. Prim sits at the edge of his favorite little cubby now, tucked right beneath the ceiling, blinking his big eyes down at me as he waits for my answer.
“Yes. She can fight like me.”
Prim drops his snout in a nod. “I vote we get her.”
Ceres isn’t so easily convinced. She crosses her arms over her chest and eyes me. “Prove it.”
I turn toward the screen in the corner. “Raven, play the video sent by Thakhat.”
The vid screen flashes to life, showing my crew the viral recording of the kitcha chasing its own tail.
“Oooh, cuuuute!” Nin squeals, her voice gone high enough to pierce my eardrums.
“The latest video from Thakhat,” I say.
A flash of darkness and then blinding white as the test chamber on the Sessah materializes in front of my eyes for the third time today. My adrenaline spikes when she steps into the room. Knowing what I do now, it’s easier to spot the signs that she’s not what she appears. No tame human soldier. It’s in the way she moves, in the way she tips her head, listening to noises she shouldn’t be able to hear.
Together, the crew and I watch in silence as the woman rampages through every robot the lizards throw at her. All I can think about is fucking her. Of shredding those whisper-thin pants and burying my face between her legs. Or bending her over one of the robots she destroyed and taking her from behind. She’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen, and I need her.
The silence in the room lingers even after the video ends.
It’s Kic who finally breaks it. “She might be better than you.”
I nod, knowing the grin splitting my face is more feral than friendly.
Nin makes a small sound of disgust. “Put your dick away, Captain. She’s not here for you to fuck yet.”
Mohrobid looks at my crotch. “His dick is not out.”
Beside me, Kic smothers his laughter. Markhassians can be extremely literal sometimes.
“It’s an expression,” Nin says.
Ceres looks from her to me, frowning. “You humans are turned on by the weirdest things.”
Being rock hard when witnessing violence isn’t a typical human male response, but she doesn’t need to know that right now. I just need them to get on board with going to Tau Ceti E and –
“I get it,” Am says. “I’d fuck her after that.”
The smell of his lust hits my nose. I lunge for his throat. Mine. She is mine. Not his. Not anyone else’s, and I will fucking murder anyone who thinks otherwise.
I don’t hear the yelling at first. My ears are too full of my own roars. I don’t feel the hands and paws and tentacles grabbing at me, dragging me down to the floor. The only thing I want to feel is Am’s throat collapsing within my grip. I don’t see the concerned faces of my crewmates. My vision has gone red.
Somebody punches me in the face.
“What the fuck are you doing?” someone else screams.
“Captain, he’s your first mate!” another voice.
I fight. I rage.
“Am, get out of the room!”
It takes three of them just to hold me down.
Then I hear Nin. “I’m sorry, Captain.”
Pain. Excruciating pain. Someone must have ripped open my chest cavity. They’re squeezing my heart. They’re going to fucking kill me, and I’m never going to be able to find her, to make her mine.
“Sita, help me!” Nin yells.
My lungs are next. Someone is shredding them. Fuck, I can’t breathe.
I black out. It’s only for a minute, but it’s long enough that when I come to, I pause. What the hell am I doing on the floor? How the hell did I even get down here? The last thing I remember is the video and then Am – oh, fuck. I tried to kill my first mate.
“Captain?” a small voice asks.
I open my eyes, seeing the wreck of the mess room spread out around me. Prim peers down at me from up on high, concern in his beady little eyes.
“I’m alright, Prim. No, Kic, don’t get off me yet. I don’t know what I’ll do if I smell Am’s lust again.”
Ceres leans over me. “What the fuck just happened?”
“I’m not really sure,” I tell her.
Her braids brush my cheek when she shakes her head. “Well, that’s reassuring.”
Mohrobid is on my other side, holding down my shoulders. “It’s been ten years since you lost it like this. The last time was when we ran into those slavers on Goredah. The ones who had those human women in –”
My vision goes red again. I try to lunge to my feet.
A high-pitch whine, barely on the edge of hearing. My heart seizes in my chest.
“Careful, Nin,” Ceres says. “You might stop it entirely.”
“I could bring him back after,” she says.
I wheeze in a breath. “Mm oky.”
Ceres narrows her eyes. “You sure?”
I nod. Speaking is too hard with Nin battering at my heart.
The high-pitch noise stops, and my heart starts pounding in my chest again.
Sita folds her small frame next to Ceres and meets my eyes. “I think I know what this is. You think the woman might be a compatible mate.”
I blink up at her. “Humans don’t mate, Sita. We fall in love and get married. And then we wait ten years, fall out of love, get divorced, and buy ourselves an inappropriately priced sports car.”
She frowns, missing the joke. “Maybe humans don’t mate, but we’ve sequenced your DNA, and you know you’re not entirely human.”
I stare up at her. Fuck, this is not good. “How sure are you?”
She shares a glance with her sister. “Pretty sure. The havik species the humans crossed you with mate for life. They are highly territorial creatures moved to extreme violence when mates or offspring are threatened, but they’re at their most dangerous during the initial mating frenzy.” She lifts her gaze toward the door, where Am most likely looms in the hallway. “It would explain this reaction, but I’d like to sample your blood to check for elevated hormone levels.”
She’s not talking about testosterone or adrenaline. She’s talking alien hormones. Fuck, fuck, fuck. It took me the greater part of twenty years to get control of myself. To stop blacking out with rage. To stop plowing through entire brothels in the span of a day, relentlessly fucking anything and anyone who consented. I can’t go back there. The thought of losing myself to blood or sex rage is unbearable. I have a ship, a crew I’m responsible for. They can’t have a leader who might snap their necks if they say the wrong thing about some woman I haven’t even met yet.
“Go get your med tablet,” I tell Sita. Mohrobid starts to ease the pressure on my shoulders, and I grab his wrists, keeping him on me. “No, don’t let me up yet.”
Sita leaves the room. “Maybe go lock yourself in your bunk,” I hear her whisper in the hall. Her soft footfalls fade away, followed by Am’s heavier ones.
I owe my first mate one hell of an apology.
Sita comes back a few minutes later and takes my blood. Sure enough, my hormone levels are through the roof.
Ceres frowns down at me. “What do you want to do?”
Want? What do I want to do? I’m not sure anyone in this room is ready for the truthful answer to that question, so instead, I say, “Go on my meds until we get her.”
Mohrobid squeezes my shoulders. “You sure about that, Captain?”
I nod. “It’s the only way I won’t be a threat to anyone. The only way I can keep a clear head while we plan and execute her rescue.”
Sita pats me on the chest before rising. “I’ll go get them.”
I close my eyes and wait for her to return. The crew know my history. Mohrobid and Am have been with me a long time. They’re the ones who used to pull me out of those brothels. They, more than anyone else on board, know how long it took me to adjust, to gain control of my instincts. When Sita joined the crew, one of the first things I ordered her to do was use her bioengineering knowledge to mix me up an equalizer. It’s different than the earth meds I used to take. It doesn’t dull my senses. It doesn’t turn me back into an eerily calm super-soldier. The nanotech in it regulates my hormones, keeps them from spiking like they just did. It’s the only thing that might keep me sane until I get my hands on this alleged mate of mine.
Sita returns and injects me with my first dose. I convince the crew to let me up so I can help straighten out the mess room. I broke two chairs and trashed half our appliances trying to get to Am. The fact that I don’t remember doing that makes me happy to be back on my meds for the foreseeable future. Happy and angry at the same time. I thought I had this shit figured out, was proud of myself for accepting and adjusting to the primitive creature I am. Then some woman shows up and nukes my hard-won victories from the orbit.
Once the room is clean, we test my meds.
“Okay,” I say. “Come in, Am. But don’t go farther than the door.”
Mohrobid is at my back, all four arms banded across my torso. Kic stands at my front, paws on my shoulders. Nin and Sita have taken up defensive positions on opposite sides of the room, gazes locked on me, ready to drop me back to the floor with their sonar if they have to.
Am shuffles in, looking apologetic.
Everyone in the room lets out a collective breath when I don’t immediately lunge for him.
“How you doing, Captain?” Kic asks.
“I still want to rip his throat out, but I don’t think I’m actually going to.”
Am takes a step into the room. “I’m sorry.”
I shake my head. “Don’t be. You did nothing wrong.”
Ceres lets out a heavy sigh. “So, obviously, we have to go get her.”
Am grins. “And then drop her and Captain off on some deserted planet until the mating frenzy passes.”
I frown. Shit. I hadn’t gotten past the need to get her within my grasp. What the fuck will happen if we’re both off our meds around each other? Sure, it was fun to fantasize about ripping my ship apart, but we might actually do that and end up killing everyone on board in the process. And if my murderous rage was triggered by an off-hand comment from a male I trust with my life, what will I do if someone actually insults her around me? Or makes a pass at her?
I meet Am’s gaze. “You might actually have to do that.”
Ceres steps forward, placing her knuckles on the table. “Let’s talk logistics then. We have a mission to plan.”
Copyright © 2021 by Navessa Allen
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.