This fucking thing was a deathtrap.
The ship I’d booked passage on rattled so loudly that it was making me incredibly uneasy. It must have been centuries old. Odd clanking noises shook the rusted metal wall as I leaned against it and I absentmindedly wondered if today was the day that it would break apart and I’d die in the vacuum of space, out here in the furthest reaches of the galaxy.
I wasn’t on this ship by choice anyway. Not really. It was more like this was the only possible way to get to Dryac unless I wanted to sell myself to get passage on one of the more dangerous smuggler ships that patrolled these outer edges of the Milky Way. Fuck that.
I’d done better than that.
The man who piloted this ship was like eighty years old. He’d probably owned this hunk of junk for almost that long. Maybe it was a family heirloom or something. I rolled my eyes. Convincing him to take me on only took a little cash and the strategic way I showed off my cleavage when we’d met.
Water dripped from the rusted ceiling, straight on top of the bare skin of my knee. Dammit, that was cold. I shivered and wiped it away. At least it hadn’t fallen on my shorts. Probably would have stained them with whatever gunk was growing up above my head.
It shouldn’t be much longer now. Pretty soon, we’d be docking at Dryac and that was where I would get off and figure out what to do with the rest of my life.
I missed being a part of Ronin’s crew already. We’d spent years together, but when the Intergalactic Coalition had impounded our ship before we’d gotten the chance to escape, we’d been forced to part ways. We’d last been on the planet of Uthea X98 where we’d been selling our goods, some smuggled and some legitimate.
Some fucker must have tipped off the law and they’d taken everything. All before we could even get back to the ship, leaving me with nothing but the clothes on my back and the little money I had in my pocket at the time.
The ship rattled much harder this time and I stiffened. I’d never get used to that. It shook consistently for the next several minutes. I heard the landing gear deploy a few feet beneath where I sat, making the floor shudder and vibrate with such violence that it seemed about to be torn clean apart.
Yeah. This ship was definitely a fucking death trap. I really couldn’t wait to get off of it.
Not far away, the engine roared and convulsed, almost as though it was having a seizure. Anxiously, I stood and moved away from it. Finally, after another few minutes, the ship came to a complete stop and then the sound of sweet silence filled the air.
At least, as quiet as Dryac would ever be.
The back door of the cargo hold cranked open and I waited until the ramp had touched the ground before I sprinted off the flying menace onto the dirt below. For a moment, I squatted down and ran my fingers through the soil, thankful that I was once again on solid land.
I mean, I love flying through space usually. But not on that hazard to humanity.
On the bright side though, I was still alive, and I’d made it to Dryac. I knew I could find work somewhere here. Then I could get in contact with my handler in the Association and find out where they wanted me stationed next. If I didn’t and they found out that I hadn’t, I’d be good as dead. The Association didn’t allow runners. Once you were in, you were in for life.
Dryac was a shady place that wasn’t patrolled by the Intergalactic Coalition, which meant all sorts of questionable things took place here. I’d been to Dryac before with my former crew a few times. Gritty and dirty, long forgotten by the rich who used to live there and use the place as a tax haven. That was hundreds of years ago.
Now derelict and crumbling mansions lined the streets not far from where I stood. The roads used to be paved, but it had been so long since anyone put any money into this place that they had long ago disintegrated into overgrown, broken, rocky paths.
The ship I had arrived on had landed just outside the edges of town, about a mile or so from the large market square close to the city center. I adjusted the backpack on my shoulders, shrugging it higher on my back, and set off in that direction.
Toward whatever was next for me. I had one thing going for me, even though I was just a woman in what was mostly a man’s world. I knew how to fix ships and every smuggling crew needed a mechanic. And I was a damn good one and that always was a good cover story for the other things I was ordered to do.
Plus it usually paid well. And I needed some money because I’d used the last of it to get to this godforsaken place.
I didn’t really run into anyone on the outskirts of town, but the closer I got to the square, the busier it became. All manner of life wandered here, from the Centaurans to the Zosnoi to the Garans, all various species of aliens that wanted to use the planet of Dryac to disappear from the rest of the galaxy. I walked beside them, trying not to gawk at their green skin or their singular eyes or all manner of strange traits that made them definitely not human.
Some of them were big. Others were small and loud. One thing was for certain though; most of them weren’t good people. They were criminals, smugglers, murderers, thieves. All of them were here to conduct business. Ninety-nine percent of it was completely illegal.
But I wasn’t here to judge. I’d been part of far more than my fair share of questionable activities throughout my life.
The buildings were bigger here, but closer together. Most of them were attached to each other, like condominiums, but a few of them were single structures, separated by dark, dirty alleyways people moved in and out of constantly. I knew better than to go down those though. That was where the shadiest of business occurred and as a woman on my own, that was just asking for trouble.
When I finally reached the big square, I grinned. The place was pretty busy, which meant there would likely be a ton of options for me. My eyes gazed out across it, taking in the hustle and bustle of Dryac’s most popular market.
Merchants set out tables in a haphazard sort of a grid pattern. They openly sold drugs of every kind, weapons, and attachments for illegal high-powered machine guns, mods of all sorts for ships, and disguises of all kinds. You could pretty much find anything you wanted here if you looked hard enough.
The wind chose that moment to pick up and the dirt around me hurtled across my cheek, getting in my eyes, and I groaned, wiping my eyes with my fingertips.
I needed a shower. This place made me feel dirty.
I saw the message board over on the far end of the market. It was a big wooden plank set up to communicate about crew opportunities, jobs, and all manner of work, and it was covered with pieces of paper. It was the best place for me to start looking. I’d find something there. I was sure of it.
I started down the stairs and descended into the square. I made my way between tables and avoided as many lecherous grabs as I could, but at least seven hands squeezed my ass and tried to slink in between my thighs on the way. I didn’t react to any of them. That was asking for trouble. Instead, I just carried on and walked a bit faster than I had before.
If I’d had a crew with me, I would have kneed them all square in the balls, but I was on my own. This place was dangerous, if you weren’t ready for it that is.
Once I reached the board, I started scanning the papers. Some were written on yellowed notebook paper, some on napkins, and some on thin pieces of cardboard, nailed on or pushed in with a thumbtack. Closer to Earth, things were way more digital, but many different pieces of technology just hadn’t made their way here yet. Even Intergalactic Coalition cyber failed to work out here. No cyber tower planets way out here. Too far out of range.
No. Dryac was a forgotten place and that’s what made both its inhabitants and its visitors like it that much more. Out here, rules and propriety didn’t apply.
People and aliens and all manner of creatures roamed around me, their shoulders brushing against mine, elbows skewering me in the side, but I ignored them all. I focused on the messages on the board, searching for any of them that were looking for a mechanic or an engineer. I saw one, tucked up in the corner, and I reached up and grabbed it. I skimmed it, noting that the captain wanted to meet in the local bar called The Alley Pub. I shivered. I hadn’t ever gone in there. Tucked away in a rather grimy alley, all kinds of shady things happened there, but if a job was there, I needed to go find it.
I turned and that’s when I noticed a big man watching me. Normally, this wouldn’t concern me, but he was standing less than two feet away from me and the look in his eyes was dangerous. I gritted my teeth and lifted my chin. I practically snarled in his direction, but I remained silent, waiting to see what his first move would be.
His get-up was pretty ridiculous. Kind of like a cowboy, but kind of not. He had a big hat on his head, but it was more of a high-top hat than a cowboy one. He wore a heavy-looking dark gray leather jacket and beneath was a dingy brown colored button-up shirt. He wore dark, dirt-covered khaki pants with thick, steel-toed black boots.
He was big. Probably some sort of human and alien hybrid, likely Crannix with his pale, bluish albino skin and large, circular spaced eyes. Freaking creepy really.
Dude fucking smelled too. The hair on top of his head was covered with grease, mud, and so much dirt that I couldn’t tell what the original color was.
“What’s a pretty thing like you doing down here, darlin’?” he asked, looking me up and down as he did so. Probably imagining me naked. I’d have bet money on it.
“What’s it to you?” I answered. He didn’t need to know why I was here.
“I like to employ pretty things like you. The men here like to fuck them the most,” he said, the tone in his voice mildly threatening as he stepped forward just a little bit.
Shit. He was a pimp. A slaver of women who profited off of their bodies. And he’d just decided I was his next target.
No one around us paid him any mind. No one cared. He took another step closer and I stepped away, but the message board was just behind me and the back of my boot scuffed against the wall beneath it. I had nowhere to run.
He was much larger than me. At least seven feet tall and probably three times my weight. My chances in a physical confrontation were slim, but I’d fight anyway. I hadn’t gotten to live my life out here on the edges of space without getting into brawls from time to time.
I stiffened, positioning myself so that I could kick him in the nuts or punch him square in his oversized nose. It was then I noticed his breathing made a wheezing noise. Ugh. This guy was gross.
He chose that moment to surge forward, clocking me in the jaw and forcing his hand into my hair. His fingers curled into a fist and he jerked his arm to the side, pulling my hair cruelly along with it. I cried out, feeling a few strands rip free from my scalp, and I tried to kick him between the legs, only he shifted his hips to the side and I missed him entirely. He jerked my hair again and I lost my balance. He dragged me off with one hand and I screamed.
No one interfered. People glanced my way, but they did nothing as the slaver dragged me across the dirt. I kicked and clawed at the ground, but none of it did any good. I couldn’t use any of the defensive maneuvers I knew when he had me like this. I had to do something though.
My scalp was on fire and the rocks and pieces of concrete scraped at my skin. I tried to ignore the pain, but it was becoming too much. I wanted to cry, but I knew that would only make me look weaker and I had to focus on how to get out of this mess without losing face. I grabbed his wrist with both of my hands and tried to twist out of his grip, but he stopped, lifted me clean off the ground, and forced me up against a dirty brick wall, his other hand working its way around my throat.
“You better learn to be more obedient, human,” he growled, his spittle bouncing off my cheek. I grimaced but as his hand tightened around my neck, I began to grow even more worried. He released the hair at the back of my head and brushed his dirty fingers against the top of my breasts. I would have pulled away, but I couldn’t.
“I’ll show you them, if you’ll let me go,” I offered, hoping that I could use my body to distract him.
His hands ventured down beneath the collar of my shirt and across the swell of my breasts, and I couldn’t help my shiver of disgust. He grinned, his large, circular eyes staring down at me, and then his fingers crawled beneath the fabric of my cotton bra. I really wished I could kick him straight in the balls. As soon as I got the opportunity, I would have this man singing for the stars.
I stilled, staring daggers at him as he took a nipple in between his fingers. His gaze never left mine as he pinched it harshly.
I cried out, pain lancing through my body, and then out of the corner of my eye another man strode up beside us.
“Fucking bastard. You know better than to pull this shit when I’m in town,” a firm, gravelly voice said, and I turned my head, lifting my eyes so that I could gaze on the face of the man who had dared to interrupt my abduction. Eyes the color of the midnight sky met mine, soft and hard at the same time.
The man was nearly eight feet tall, with long, wavy locks that ventured down past his shoulders. He had several braids and dreadlocks woven into his hair, even a few with beads plaited into them. His jawline was firm, strong cheekbones jutting out, but something about him was decidedly not human. He was far bigger than a human man, both by height and sheer muscle mass. There was no doubt in my mind that he was incredibly strong, but at that moment, the only thing that mattered was that he was bigger than the slaver who was trying to steal me and make me into a street whore on this little forgotten slum of a planet.
I studied the newcomer more closely, taking note of the furrows across his forehead and the small pointed horns that jutted out of the top of his head, racking my mind for the alien species he originated from.
There wasn’t much time for me to think though, because he swung his arm back and then shifted his weight, punching straight into the side of the slaver’s head with a strength that I couldn’t ever even begin to match.
I turned my head and the slaver’s grip on my neck loosened. His obnoxiously large pupils rolled back in his head and then the man slumped and fell over on the ground. His skull cracked against a rock and the sound was sickening to hear. My hand rose to my neck, rubbing at the soreness on my skin, and I breathed a sigh of relief.
“Hey, thanks, man,” I finally said, feeling as though I owed my savior a bit of gratitude.
“You shouldn’t be here,” he answered, his hardened gaze turning to mine.
“That was kind of like you’re welcome,” I muttered in return.
A glimmer of amusement passed over his expression, but it quickly disappeared a moment later. He studied me a little longer before cocking his head to the side.
I looked up at him. His eyes had a distinctive feline feel to them. Raizor. That was what he was. An alien species known for their exploits in battle. Fierce natures. Powerful in a fight and relentless in the pursuit of something they wanted. I flicked my eyes downward.
I’d heard some pretty freaky rumors about their dicks too. I mean, when you’re surrounded with men all the time, it was one of their favorite things to talk about. How big their cocks were, how their shafts hung between their legs. The sheer number of girls they fucked…
“You need to come with me,” he demanded. There was no question that I would obey him in his tone, but he had another think coming if he thought I was just going to trade one slaver for another.
I tensed and took a step back.
“No. I’m meeting someone at The Alley Pub,” I retorted, keeping my voice as fierce and powerful as I could manage.
He looked back at me, his brow furrowing even more. His eyes flared with anger at my words.
“The hell you’re not. Girls like you don’t go there unless they’re selling something you’re most definitely not,” he growled. He reached for me, grasping my upper arm, and I tried to pull away. When he didn’t let go, I whirled around and used my momentum to punch him hard in the stomach.
It was like punching a fucking metal wall.
I tried to cover up my cry of pain, but he heard it anyway and chuckled because of it. Instead, I tried to save face by pivoting quickly and kicking the back of his knee. His leg only bent the slightest bit.
God. He was way fucking stronger than I had anticipated.
He grabbed me and shoved me against the wall. I lifted my arms to combat his assault, but then he did something unexpected and seized the waistband of my pants instead of going for my breasts like I assumed he would. He deftly undid the top button, followed by the rest so quickly that I barely had time to snatch his wrist and try to stop him, but it didn’t do any good anyway. I didn’t have the strength to fight against his.
He pushed my pants and panties down my waist and past my hips, baring me in a single smooth and incredibly swift movement. He used his body to corral me and then his hands dropped to his belt. He undid the clasp and I heard the sound of leather sliding against leather as he slid it free from the loops of his denim pants. He quickly folded it in half and snapped it together and I jerked with surprise.
What the fuck?
He spun me around, lifted his leg, and perched his foot on a large rock. Then he grasped me around the waist and lifted me up into the air, depositing me over his thigh. I was suspended in the air and I couldn’t even reach the ground with either my feet or my hands. I was balancing precariously face down over his leg, with my bare ass up in the air for everyone in the square to see. He couldn’t have chosen a more public place to do such a thing.
One arm held me firmly against his thigh, his forearm pressing against my lower back and his fingers gripping around my hip, and in his other hand was his long, thick, and well-worn brown leather belt. I stared at it and a nervous feeling in my belly swelled up just then.
I felt vulnerable and anxious then and more than a little exposed. I looked back at him, watching as the brown leather swung back and forth in his hand, and bit my lip. Fuck. What was he going to do? He wouldn’t hit me with that, would he?
I’d never felt more helpless in my life.
“Maybe now you’re ready to listen to me,” he said firmly, his tone low and full of warning, but that didn’t matter. My ass was bare for anyone in the square to see and no matter what the cost, I had to fight back and show them all how tough I was. This man wouldn’t break me. I wouldn’t allow him to. No one here would ever respect me if I just gave in and more important, I’d never get a job out of this place if people thought I was weak.
I tried to kick and swing my arms, but it didn’t matter. It was almost as I was glued to his thigh, and the more I struggled, the further down my panties and pants fell. Finally, I stopped moving when I realized that my pants had fallen down to my knees.
“Let me go, you fucking bastard!” I roared. “I’ll kill you for this.”
The goddamn man just chuckled. He laughed at me!
“Well then. It’s going to have to be the hard way,” he answered with amusement.
I renewed my struggles, but he held me firmly in place.
I heard the leather slice through the air before it connected with my ass for the very first time. The whipping sound as the belt slapped across my skin was deafening, almost like a gunshot. It was so loud that it hurt my ears, but that didn’t matter here. Sounds of weapons, screams, and more grisly things like murder were common here and no one did anything about it. Even I knew that.
The belt whipped me a second time and that’s when it all became far more real than it had before.
I screamed and a line of fire spread across my skin. He whipped me with the belt once again and I struggled, but positioned as I was with only his leg beneath me, there wasn’t much I could do that wouldn’t result in my tipping forward and crashing my face into the ground, which wasn’t ideal in the slightest.
“Are you ready to come with me yet?” he demanded, and I quite literally growled back at him.
“I’m not going anywhere with you, you fucking brute,” I answered, and he snorted, the sound amused once more.
“Such a filthy mouth on you, little girl, but I kind of like it,” he answered, and a shiver raced down my spine. “I also like admiring my belt stripes across your pretty little ass,” he added, and I snarled with anger, trying to escape him once more.
The belt whipped against my ass more firmly this time, again and again. I did my very best to keep my mouth shut and not make a sound, but he was relentless, and the burning agony of the belt was quickly compounding on itself and becoming more and more intense with every stroke. I tightened my muscles, hoping to dull the pain of the implement, but it didn’t do as I hoped. In fact, it only seemed to make it worse.
The thick piece of leather lashed from the tops of my cheeks to the middle of my thighs, leaving not a single inch of skin untouched. It burned, the pain reaching down deep into my body and radiating out until it settled right in between my legs in the most unexpected of ways.
My clit pulsed. Once and then twice and I stilled, shocked at my body’s traitorous reaction. The belt thrashed me again and I cried out, the searing pain far more intense as he spanked the lower curve of my cheeks where my ass met my thighs.
Quickly realizing my mistake and hoping no one heard my cry of discomfort, I clamped my lips shut and closed my eyes, trying to remind myself that I had to stay strong, that this stranger wasn’t going to break me. I’d take whatever he had to give and then I would walk away with my head held high. It didn’t matter that my ass was sore. He wouldn’t break me.
Almost impossibly, he whipped me with the belt even harder than before. I squeezed my eyes shut tighter and tried to think of anything else, but the cruel piece of leather stole my entire focus. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t fight. The only thing I could do was lay there balanced over his thigh and take his cruel punishment until he decided I had enough.
The breeze picked up and I heard a few onlookers gasp and talk about my bare welted ass. Completely embarrassed, I whimpered as quietly as I could, feeling my shame strengthen with each passing second. I wondered how much they could see. I tried to keep my legs together, but with every lash of the belt, I found myself tensing and unintentionally spreading my thighs.
I’m sure I’d shown the whole market what my pussy looked like. They could see all of me, from my clit all the way to my most shameful of holes. I could feel my face beginning to flush and I moaned quietly to myself, wallowing in my own self-pity.
I shuddered as I thought about how exposed I was, and I sensed that I was aroused. The folds of my pussy were wet and with the gentle wind caressing my punished skin, my wetness cooled and the feeling of it became more obvious on my skin than ever.
I couldn’t believe it. Here I was in the middle of the market, getting my ass tanned with a belt by a total stranger, and it was turning me on. This couldn’t be real.
For a moment, the belt stopped, and it took me far too long to realize that it had. I’d been too distracted by the betrayal of my own body to notice.
He ran his fingers along my thighs, gradually drifting inward until he encountered the wetness that had coated them. He drew in a breath and I knew then that he had discovered my shameful secret. That now he knew I had grown aroused as he punished me with his belt.
“Such a naughty little human. Look at how wet you are,” he said, loud enough for those around us to easily overhear, and I moaned with shame. His fingers glided along my wet inner thigh, just glancing against the folds of my pussy before he drew himself away. I gasped, unused to anyone ever touching me there. I knew what sex was. I’d heard plenty about it from the men I’d worked with in the past, but I’d never gone that far with anyone. I was innocent in the ways of experiencing sex.
For a long moment, I wondered if he would force himself on me, stealing my virginity for himself, and I whimpered quietly in response.
But my punishment was far from over.