Princely Pets – Sneak Peek

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Primitive: Chapter 9

The cot Lykos had set up for him was surprisingly comfortable.  Lykos had purchased a pad, and folded a couple blankets atop that.  Despite the fact that his hands had been shackled behind his back and his ankles secured together, he’d have passed a pleasant night if he hadn’t been dreading the events to come with the dawn.  Lykos had gone deeper into the cave before sunrise.  Christophe’s leash was fastened to the old track, meaning he couldn’t have followed even if his hands and legs had been freed.

He heard a sound and his stomach sank a little.  Lifting his head meant he could see the shine of Lykos’s eyes as the man returned.  Lykos had taken no light source with him into the dark.  He didn’t appear to need one, though he left a lantern in the cave that sheltered them for Christophe’s benefit.  He’d also left a flashlight next to the cot.

Lykos had brought with him what looked to be two pieces of metal railroad track.  He also brought several other pieces of metal back with him.  As Christophe watched, Lykos set to work.  The dwarf used his finger to slice one of the track pieces in half, moving through hardened steel as easily as a hot knife moved through butter.  Christophe half expected to see the metal glowing, but however Lykos worked the material didn’t seem to involve heat.  He swallowed.  “How do you do that?”

“How do you move your hand through water?”  Lykos glanced over his shoulder at him.

“Water is a liquid.  Not a solid.”  Christophe sat up.  “The basic state properties are different.  I couldn’t move my hand through ice.”

“Ah.  Science.”  Lykos nodded.  Then he shrugged.  “Don’t think this is science.”  He set one of the bars atop the longer one to make a cross-shape, then used his fingers to smooth the metal and join the pieces.  He then added small circles of metal to each of the ends of the arms of the…

Christophe’s eyes widened.  The arms of the cross.  Lykos was making a steel cross.  “Lykos —”

“It not yet dawn.”  Lykos glanced over his shoulder.  “You beg already?”

“You intend to kill me.”  Christophe shook his head.

“Kill?”  Lykos shook his head.  “No.  Young, healthy.  Can live days on cross.  Perhaps a week or more, if give you water.”

His body was started to shake a little.  He clenched his fists to try to make the shaking stop.  “I need a word.”

“Word?”  Lykos blinked, then turned back to him.  “What word?”

“So, you know the begging is real and not just reflex.  Give me a word.  I won’t mean anything I say except that word.”  He dragged his eyes from the cross to meet Lykos’s.  “Please, master.”

The nod Lykos gave him was one of approval.  “Two words.  Give you pause to think.  Snow White.”

“Okay.”  He drew in on himself, and took several deep breaths before watching Lykos finish his work.

Continue reading Primitive: Chapter 9

Silverfish: Chapter 15

The chronometer chimed a third time before Kyle finally let him out of the bed.  Julian staggered a bit as he rose, and had to catch himself on the wall.  Kyle’s ‘discipline’ of the previous evening had left deep bruises.  He exhaled before reaching for his small healing kit.  “What are you doing?”  Julian froze at the sound of Kyle’s voice.

“I have a shift in the infirmary today, Kyle.”  He turned toward the man.  “I will need to be functional to undertake my duties.”

“Yeah, alright.”  Kyle nodded before climbing out of the bed.  “You can uh…” He gestured to the healing kit before catching Julian by the back of the neck and pulling him forward for a kiss.  “I love you.  I don’t want anything bad to happen to you.”

“I know, Kyle.”  He made himself smile and stroke his fingers through Kyle’s hair.  “I love you too.  I am sorry I did not tell you earlier.”

“It’s alright, Jakob.  Just be more careful.”  Kyle smiled at him.  “I can’t protect you if you don’t do what I tell you.”

“Yes, Kyle.”  Julian nodded before turning and injecting himself with the nanites.  It was strange to realize it had been almost a month since the last time he’d used them.  Still, they did the trick.  A few moments later, the dull throb from the beating had faded.

He headed into the refresher unit, only for Kyle to follow him.  The big man pressed him back against the wall, kissing him as the hot water poured over them both.  Julian put his arms around Kyle’s neck, letting the other man lift him slightly before shifting to put his legs around Kyle’s waist.  Kyle groaned as he claimed Julian’s body again, lowering his head to nuzzle Julian’s neck and shoulder.  Knowing what Kyle liked and expected, Julian moaned in response, arching his back to allow Kyle to drive deeper into him.

Kyle braced himself on the wall so as not to stumble when he came a few minutes later.  He set Julian down before pressing another kiss to him.  “CSO wants me to run through some simulations after my shift, fix some of the holes in my training.  Shouldn’t take me more than a couple hours.”

“I will see you then.”  Julian stood up on tiptoes to kiss him again before going to get dressed.

Continue reading Silverfish: Chapter 15

Silverfish: Chapter 14

“We don’t have a choice.”  Mateo sighed.  “Without fuel and supplies, we won’t make it past the blockade.  Triton is probably our best bet.  It’s a neutral planet, with enough clout that the Alliance at least pays lip service to respecting its stance.”

“Which is exactly why the Alliance will be looking hard at it, watching all traffic in and out.  They’d be waiting…”  Anson trailed off, then suddenly brightened.  “Actually, sir, it won’t be a problem at all.”

“You…”  Mateo blinked at him.  “Changed your mind rather quickly.”

“We have a civilian shuttle, sir, one not tied at all to the Onager.”  Anson smiled.

“The doc’s shuttle.”  Mateo nodded in realization.

“I may take Doc with me on the supply run.  I don’t know what he needs to stock up on, and I’ll have no way to radio availability back to him.”  Anson took a deep breath, then met Mateo’s eyes.  “I suggest leaving his husband behind for this mission.”

“Right.”  Mateo nodded.  “Make sure the doc actually returns with you.”

Continue reading Silverfish: Chapter 14

Silverfish: Chapter 9

Captain Laria glanced at Kyle, then glanced at him again.  “You shaved.”

“Itched.”  Kyle waved a hand.  “Besides, we’re soldiers again. Seemed time.”  He shrugged.  “Hey, I was thinking if we hit…”

“Kyle…”  She chuckled, then patted his shoulder.  “I don’t need you thinking, I need you shooting.  Gear up, we’ve got a target.”

He grinned.  “Yes, ma’am.”

Continue reading Silverfish: Chapter 9

Silverfish: Chapter 8

His hands shook as he injected the nanites.  In school, they’d lectured about the things.  Potential complications of overuse.  Damage to organs from repeatedly forcing them to heal quickly.  Malfunctioning nanites cannibalizing parts of one system to repair another.  Taking two doses in quick succession resulting in the nanites tearing the body apart as they fought each other.

Julian watched the burns Frank had left on his body start to heal and vanish.  He hadn’t been ‘lively’ enough a ride, so Frank had pressed the glowing end of the decontamination device to him to get him to buck and jerk beneath the other man.  He’d heard his skin sizzle, smelled the burned flesh.  It made his stomach roll.

By the time the nanites finished, there were only faint red marks to show where he’d been tortured.  Those too, would fade.  Within an hour there’d be no physical signs left to show what he’d endured.  At least, no visible signs.  He looked down at the cuff, the clinical part of his mind noting the vital signs.  Blood pressure and pulse higher than they had been before his capture, but still within normal ranges.

Without better diagnostic equipment, he had no way to tell if the repeated injections were shortening his life.  It was a bit disconcerting to realize he wasn’t sure he cared.  The possibility wasn’t enough to make him risk enduring the doctor’s punishment if he refused to use them.

And they made the pain stop.  He clenched his fists.  At least, until the next time the door opened.

Continue reading Silverfish: Chapter 8

Silverfish: Chapter 7

War.  They were officially at war.  Kyle watched the newscast.  It seemed unreal.  Palindor had finally become weary of being pushed around.  He knew on some level he couldn’t return to being a soldier, but Palindor would need black ops specialists.

“You heard the news.”  He looked up to see Rand leaning in the door.

“I did.”  Kyle grinned.

“Soon, we won’t need to hide anymore.  We can start taking out real targets, get a hero’s welcome.”  Rand spread his hands.  “We can go to an actual bar.  Not a backplanet dive.  A bar.  Where they actually sanitize the cups more than once a decade.”  His eyes widened.  “Where all the dancing girls are actually women.”

Kyle laughed.  “Rand, we could take out the entire council and no decent bar would let you in the front door.”

Continue reading Silverfish: Chapter 7

Silverfish: Chapter 6

“You’re talking about full on war.”  Leon’s eyes widened as he stared at his grandfather.

“I fear it is not merely inevitable, Leon.”  He sighed.  “It has already begun.  Palindor warships engaged our vessels in the Kyer system several hours ago.”

“What?”  Leon blinked.  “Why?”

“From what we have learned thus far, a freighter had an engine failure and drifted across the border.  Whatever it was carrying…”  Vendral shook his head.  “Palindor apparently didn’t want our ships to get their hands on it.  When Alliance vessels moved in, Palindor warships crossed the border to drive them back and recover the ship.  They destroyed an Alliance vessel in the process.”

“Surely we can…”

“It was the Harmonium.”

“Oh.”  Leon let out his breath.  Captain Regin’s ship.  Captain Regin, whose father was one of the loudest voices on the council.  “Survivors?”

“Most of the crew, Captain included.”  Vendral’s eyes narrowed just a little.

Leon started shaking his head.  “You think it was intentional.  You think Regin moved in with the intent of getting the Palindor warships to fire upon him.”

“What I think at this point is…”  Vendral sighed.  “Irrelevant.  Palindor is claiming we invaded, and their own warships are massing.  With the council up in arms…”  For a few moments, the Prime Minister vanished and it was only his grandfather standing there.  “Regin is claiming Julian’s abduction was a sanctioned operation and that the only reason I am advocating for peace is that the Palindor government is —”

“You’re going to write Julian off.”  He stared at his grandfather.

“Leon.”

“You’re going to write Julian off and go to war to protect your position.”

And the Prime Minister was back, eyes cold and hard.  “Captain Vendral.  War has already begun.  I expect you to do your sworn duty.”

“Yes, Prime Minister.”  Leon glared back at him.  “I will do my sworn duty.”

Continue reading Silverfish: Chapter 6

Silverfish: Chapter 5

Leon sat down, burying his face in his hands.  Three weeks, and no leads on his brother.  For all he knew, Julian was dead.  He sighed, and looked down at the report again.  The situation along the borders was fraying.  The truce between the Seven Star Alliance and Palindor was not going to hold.  It was likely Julian’s abduction had been intended as the catalyst.

Except the President of Palindor was denying their involvement, and had in fact promised to turn over the crew of the Silverfish to Alliance justice if they were captured.  A false promise most likely, but enough to stop things from getting out of control.

It was a bitter irony.  Of all the people they could have taken, they took a voice active on their behalf.  He’d been waiting for a call telling him his brother had entered one of the zones as a protest measure.  The zones had sprung up as a response to violent protests, and there were still violent people within.  Agitators and provocateurs, attacking PeaceKeepers along the border.

The zones were a brutal necessity.  Until the Alliance was in control of all systems within its borders, they had no other option.  Once that was done, perhaps relocation or…  Hell, it would serve Palindor right if they just dumped them all in Palindor space.  That was a problem for politicians to solve.

In the meantime, his little brother was still missing.

Continue reading Silverfish: Chapter 5

Silverfish: Chapter 4

The door opened.  He couldn’t quite suppress a chill when the captain walked into the chamber.  She gave him a long look, and he felt his skin start to burn.  “Captain.”

“The crew say you’ve been cooperative.”  She smirked.

“You made the consequences of behaving otherwise abundantly clear.”  Julian nodded.  Sooner or later the Silverfish would cross paths with another ship.  He might get lucky enough for it to be an Alliance vessel, but frankly even a Palindor vessel would do at this point.  They could leverage his rescue into getting some of their own people out of the zones, if not some other grand concession.  He just had to stay alive until then.

“They also say you’ve got a smart mouth.”  Her eyes narrowed.

“I suppose it was too much to hope they’d appreciate a clever ton —”  He was cut off by a backhanded blow that left him staggering.

Her hand closed around his throat and she shoved him into the wall hard enough that he saw stars.  “Do you actually think you can talk your way out of this, boy?”  She laughed.  “You’re kind talk and talk.  Always so arrogant.  You’ll talk yourselves right into the grave.”  She flung him to the ground.  “There is something I do want to hear from you.”

“And what would that be?”  He remained where he was, certain if he tried to rise he’d only incur more violence.

“I want you…”  She reached down and grabbed his hair.  “To tell me you love being my ship’s whore.”

“I do apologize, Captain…”  He swallowed, trying to put on a braver face than he felt.  “But my parents taught me not to lie.”

Behind him, she started to laugh.  Then she hauled him back to his feet and threw him face first into the wall.  “But that’s the point, boy.  I’m not going to stop hurting you until it’s the honest fucking truth.”

He cried out as her belt hit him across the shoulders.

Continue reading Silverfish: Chapter 4

The Duchess: Chapter 12

Durante couldn’t help but stare at the man pacing the cell.  He’d heard legends of the Stone Dragon, and had to admit that some of them may well be true.  The man was taller and even more muscular than Ruarc.  The second man was smaller, though of similar age.  He too, was a handsome man, with short blond hair and a warrior’s build.  According to the jailer, Ruarc had kept Jurgen Draak in line by threatening that they’d shoot the other man first.

“You want to play.”  Vitalia’s voice purred in his ear.

“Some games are too dangerous even for me…”  Durante turned to smile at her.  “Though I do admit to a certain temptation.”

“He’s unarmed and unarmored.”  Vitalia shrugged.  “How dangerous could he be?”

“He once torn a troll’s arm off and used said arm to beat another troll to death.”  Durante chuckled.  “Looking at him, I can believe it.”  He hesitated a moment.

“The Dragon Queen may pay well for the return of her heir.”  Madzia’s voice was quiet.

“More likely she’d send a horde down on us.”  Vitalia shook her head.  “We are too near their border.”

“They say she once spent a year torturing one of her husbands to death.”  Durante glanced at Vitalia.

“I like her already.”  Vitalia smiled, then returned her gaze to the pacing man.  “We can always tell the king we were simply interrogating him to learn if there were others near.”  She flicked her eyes to the blond man.  “And tell our draconic guest that any failure on his part to cooperate will result in his friend bearing the brunt of said interrogation.”

“An interesting notion.”  Durante’s smile widened.

“Let us sleep on it.”  She shrugged.  “Ruarc is occupied.  I’ll send for Gian to entertain us.”  She headed up the stairs.

He followed.

Continue reading The Duchess: Chapter 12

The Duchess: Chapter 11

Vitalia accepted a glass of wine from a tray brought by a servant, and smiled.  Madzia had found her early in the visit and whispered to her that Lord Liam of Bohm was in attendance.  It seemed as good an opportunity as any to dispense with agents and make the purchase.  Things weren’t going exactly as she planned, but she found herself enjoying the company anyway.  She’d expected Lord Liam to be a Solsthriem lordling, all prim and proper.  The man in front of her was of Jolusth, tall and handsome in a tunic that covered only one shoulder.  His other shoulder was bare, the better to show off the tattoo that decorated it.  The servant who accompanied him was a tiny, golden skinned exotic with unusually shaped eyes.  She’d never quite seen the like before.

“How is it you’ve acquired lands in both Solsthriem and Thatela?”  She raised an eyebrow.

“It behooves one to range far.”  His accent was a soft drawl.  Despite her lands bordering theirs, she’d rarely had the chance to talk with one.  Lord Liam was delightfully tall, though slenderer than her husband.  “I have interests spanning the world.”

“Your people aren’t known to be merchants.”  She sipped at her wine.

“My people are often underestimated.”  He took a sip from his own glass.  “But pray tell, what interest do you hold…”  He frowned as his servant stumbled a little, spilling from the tray he carried.  Liam barked something in another language.  The servant bowed his head low and hurried off to replace the spilled items.  “Manisar’s training routines seem problematic.”  He glanced at her, then inclined his head.  “Forgive me, duchess.  I know the purchase of slaves is not legal in your lands.”

“Tis a shame.  Servants are well and good but so difficult to train properly.”  She raised her glass in his direction before sending another look in the direction of the servant.  She’d really never seen anything quite like him before.  “I admire your taste.”

“Is that why you wish to acquire my property?”  He smiled at her.

“I think…”  She gave Lord Liam a contemplative smile.  He was a handsome man, and clearly someone not adverse to more unconventional pursuits.  “I have acquired a member of the family that used to hold it.  I wish to acquire the property as well, to ensure there are no…”  She shrugged.  “Behavioral issues.”

Lord Liam laughed.  “Duchess, you have expensive tastes.  I am curious if this acquisition of yours is worth such a grand price?”

“To be fair, there are also the vineyards.”  She took a sip of the wine, peering at him from the rim of the glass.  “Wine and sex do seem natural bedfellows.”

“Perhaps you intend to arouse my curiosity?”  He raised an eyebrow.  “I would be interested in seeing this…”  He chuckled.  “Acquisition of yours.  Perhaps an arrangement can be made?”

She smiled, imagining the look on Ruarc’s face when she ordered him to service a barbarian lord.  “You could accompany me back to my estate, judge for yourself?”  She allowed his servant to refill her glass.  “Then we could come to our bargain.  I’m sure, after experiencing my hospitality, you’d be willing to bargain.”

“You offer an interesting enticement.”  Lord Liam nodded.  “I think there may be business at your estate that could draw my interest.”  He rolled his eyes.  “And one is often led to wonder why one leaves important work to their agents.  Especially when it seems they oft have trouble listening to the simplest of instructions.”

“It does give one an excuse to use a flogger.”  She batted her eyes at him.

“You require an excuse?”  His grin became mischievous.

“Lord Liam, I think you and I could become friends.”  Vitalia laughed.

“The future does tend to play out in the oddest of ways.”

Continue reading The Duchess: Chapter 11

The Duchess: Chapter 10

She ran her hand down Ruarc’s cheek, and was pleased to feel no stubble.  The fact that he kept himself well-groomed pleased her.  Gian had taken to tying Ruarc’s hair back for him, and she found she liked the way it looked.  He knelt before her obediently, awaiting her command.  She’d ridden him for nearly an hour that morning, and his body showed some of the effects.  The saddle tended to leave abrasions, and there were light scratches along his legs and torso from stray branches.  “When I return, I am going to have the craftsman rethink some of the straps.”  She frowned as she examined the small blisters that had formed were the straps went over his shoulders.

“Thank you, my lady.”  Ruarc hesitated a moment, then gave a small twitch of his shoulder.  “It would help my balance, I think, if the saddle sat either a little higher or a little lower.  It tends to slide a bit where it is.”

“I see.”  She smiled.  “I would prefer a steady, longer ride.”  She caressed his face with the back of her knuckles.  “Something to consider when I return.”

A shadow crossed his face, gone almost before she noticed it.  “Will I be accompanying you?”

Vitalia narrowed her eyes.  He’d been complicit in Gian’s recent poor behavior.  She was reasonably confident that Gian hadn’t smuggled any letters out for him, but the fact that he had accessed information without her permission made her wary of taking him anywhere he may be able to make contact.  “I think not.”  She tilted her head at him, then caught his chin.  “You’ll not be permitted to write this month.”  His face darkened slightly.  “Nor will you be permitted to write again until I say otherwise.  You attempted to subvert my authority, husband.  That is not acceptable.”

“I apologize, Mistress.”

Mistress.  He’d never called her that before.  For that matter, Gian had stopped using the term as well, adopting Ruarc’s habitual address of calling her ‘my lady’.  When had that occurred?  “You’ve been a good boy for me, Ruarc.  I am willing to be merciful over this lapse.  But my forgiveness goes only so far.”

“I understand, Mistress.”  He lowered his eyes submissively.

“Good boy.”  She leaned forward to kiss his forehead.

Continue reading The Duchess: Chapter 10

The Duchess: Chapter 9

Gian’s eyes were wide, and he was grinning like a small child.  Sita pranced just a little, making Gian laugh gleefully.  The sight brought a smile to Ruarc’s face as he kept a firm grip on the lead rope.  Sita trotted in a circle around him.  He’d been shocked to learn Gian had not only never ridden a horse before, but had a fear of them.  Sita’s sweet nature had taken care of the latter problem, and letting Gian ride sidesaddle ensured he was comfortable trying the former.

Sita had learned quickly that Gian was an absolute pushover for treats and pats.  Whether it was just the chance at more exercise or her own nature, she appeared to be having just as much fun as Gian.  She even kicked up her heels a little to make him squeal.  Ruarc sighed when he noted the position of the sun.  “Time to head back.”  He clicked his tongue, and Sita came to him.

“She’s wonderful.”  Gian beamed as he slid off the saddle into Ruarc’s arms. Ruarc set him on the ground, and Gian immediately turned to Sita.  “You are.  You’re the most beautiful animal in the world.”  Sita nickered in response, and Gian laughed.  “She’s talking to me.”

“I’ve always suspected she understands most of what I say.”  He led his companions back into the castle.  In the stables, he showed Gian how to rub Sita down, then smiled to himself as Gian started plaiting her mane and promising her ribbons next time.  She tossed her head proudly when he finished.  “He’s going to spoil you.”  He patted the horse.

“Yes.”  Gian rubbed her neck.  “I will bring you apples and carrots and oats and —”

“Not too many, or you can make her sick.”  Ruarc shook his head.

“Just the right amount then.”  Gian leaned in toward Sita and whispered to the horse.  “And I won’t tell Ruarc about the occasional sugar stick if you don’t.”  Sita nickered in response.

Ruarc just rolled his eyes as he headed out of the stables.

Continue reading The Duchess: Chapter 9

The Duchess: Chapter 8

Vitalia ran her hand down Ruarc’s taut belly.  His wrists were still secured above his head, and his ankles were chained to the foot of the bed.  As she demanded when he slept, he was naked.  The bonds weren’t in place because she feared he’d attack her.  She just liked the way the chains looked on him.  His eyes blinked open, and she smiled before slithering atop him.  “Good morning, my darling.  Did you sleep well?”  She fiddled with the ring she’d placed in his left nipple.

The shackles on his wrists rattled a little.  “I dreamed I was trapped in a mad woman’s castle.”

She laughed.  “Darling, you’ve done nothing to make me angry with you.”  She raised herself up a little to kiss him.  Then she trailed her hand down to begin fondling him.  “You’re the most delightful pet I’ve ever purchased.”  Only the briefest shadow crossed his face at the reminder.  He’d become better at schooling his expressions.  She kissed him again, tasting his lips as she continued toying with him until he was squirming beneath her.  Then she mounted him.

His back arched as he moved for her, thrusting upward to please her.  It hadn’t taken him long to learn.  She arched her own back as she rode him, moaning softly.  The rules of their morning sessions had been explained to him carefully.  If he came before she did, Durante would be allowed to take a belt to his ass before using him.  To Durante’s disappointment, Ruarc had proved disciplined enough to avoid that fate.

When she came, she slid off him, leaving him unfulfilled.  A smirk came to her face when he responded with a glare, and she leaned forward to plant a quick kiss on his lips.  “Keep your hands off yourself, my dear.  If you wish release, you may ask Gian to service you.”  He gave a small shake of his head.  He wouldn’t, as she well knew.  Which meant he’d be having a frustrating day.

“Are you going to unchain me?”  He pulled at his wrists before raising an eyebrow.

“From the bed, yes.”  She grabbed the key, then glanced up when Gian entered in response to her ring of the bell.  Gian was limping just a little.  “Gian, bath Ruarc and then take him into the dungeon and secure him to the frame.”

“Yes, my lady.”  Gian bowed.

Ruarc rose from the bed as soon as she’d finished unfastening the shackles.  There were no clothes laid out for him, and he gave a small shake of his head when he noticed.  She smiled at him.  “And Gian?”

“My lady?”  Gian looked at her.

“Keep him hard, but do not give him release unless he asks you for it.”

Gian gave her a slightly confused look, but nodded.  Ruarc, however, clenched his fists and glared again.  “You said —”

“You need not do anything to him, Ruarc.”  She patted his shoulder.  “Unless you want to.”

Continue reading The Duchess: Chapter 8