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Warriors: A Dark Sci-Fi Menage Romance by Piper Stone – Sample

Chapter One

Ciara

“Status Update. Entering Bendata Galaxy.” I stated the words matter-of-factly as I checked the command station for any errors. I was still waiting for the final coordinates from home base, itching to get the hell on and off the barbaric planet. Velathum Mining Colony wasn’t my idea of a good time. The atmosphere was treacherous. The planet devoid of creature comforts. And forget about intelligent life.

However, this was my mission and one I’d actually had the balls to sign up for.

After a nice bonus had been offered. Money was everything, after all.

“Duly noted, Ciara.”

Sighing, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes as the sexy and very masculine tone of the computer system reverberated throughout the shuttle. Whoever had reprogrammed the voice on the damn system would get a kick to the kidneys when I returned. The soft, velveteen tone had driven me to partake in sinful fantasies during the entire trip.

I sat back in the seat, studying the stars as I’d done for over one third of my life. While I’d always wanted to command a ship since the time my father explained the solar system, some of the gigs were downright disgusting.

This one was supposed to be a recovery mission for a single scientist who’d remained long after his colleagues had left. No big deal, so I’d been told. The highly regarded physicist had to be worth his weight in gold to warrant flying all this way to get him. From what I’d learned, the mining on Velathum had stopped several years before. What the hell was a scientist still doing on the planet after all this time?

After ten minutes, I couldn’t take the quiet any longer. “Oh, Sexy Guy. Please play my favorite dance music.”

“Happy to, Ciara.”

I closed my eyes as the music began to play, tapping my fingers on the console as the heady beat gave me a smile. Within seconds, I was in a much better mood, tapping my foot and shaking my booty. “Now that we’ve found love what are we gonna do… with it?” The lyrics were fun, entirely different than the crap the kids listened to today.

Plus, it kept me in a good mood, which was important on secluded missions. “Sexy Guy?”

“Yes, Ciara?” The computer immediately turned down the volume as it waited for my question or command.

There were times I felt like a queen, even though I was all alone. I bit back another laugh. “Why did I choose to go on this mission? I could have been on a sandy beach on one of the outward planets basking in the sun and drinking Mai Tais while a sexy waiter brought me everything I hungered for.”

The hesitation on the computer’s part was something new. I’d stumped the billion-dollar computer system designed by some of the most brilliant people in the world.

“I’m sorry, Ciara. I do not know how to answer that question. However, the beaches on the outward planets are infested with parasites.”

Of course, the computer would remind me that my dream was crap.

“Uh-huh. Well, tell me this, Sexy Guy. Why can’t I find the man of my dreams? You know, a gorgeous and very hunky blond with a long. Thick. Cock? His shaft hard enough to fill my wet. Tight. Pussy. I’m not entirely certain I would mind if he were an alien, although not one with pointy ears.”

“There are only two species of non-humanoid life that have pointed ears. Neither are within the jurisdiction of the treaties as secured by Earth.”

“Jesus Christ, you need to take a chill pill, Sexy Guy.” I closed my eyes briefly, allowing the vision of a true barbarian to slide into my mind. Instantly my pussy was wet, clenching from the vision alone; hair down to his back, rippling muscles made of carved stone, a huge cock, and oh, yes, a sword clasped in both hands. “Maybe we’ll have to take a detour and hunt down a savage, a man who’ll give me several orgasms while I scream out his name.”

Opening a single eye, I waited to see if the system went bananas; lights flashing everywhere and maybe sirens going off.

There was nothing but silence.

And the music.

Then the hard-pumping vibe stopped altogether.

“You do realize that every word you’re saying can be heard by the entire Mission 5704 crew, Commander Montgomery. Don’t you?” The female voice was entirely human and snarky as hell.

Director Sara Miles was head of NASA-COM, one tough taskmaster with a bitchy reputation. She was also my best friend and had been since college.

“Oops,” I answered, sliding further into my seat. I knew exactly what was going to happen next and I was right. As the monitor was forced on, I cringed. “I’m hoping you’re the only one in the room?” A warm flush crept along my jaw although I had no reason to be embarrassed. Everyone within the program had heard shit spouting from my mouth before. I was certainly no wallflower, nor did I take any shit.

“Hi, Ciara. Hope the trip is going well.”

“Hi, David,” I muttered as the video-scan was shifted, allowing me to see two others in the room. I was going to slit my own throat from embarrassment.

“We miss you down here!” Lucy called out.

“I miss you guys too.” Not that I really missed either one of them, but their egos were fragile. Right now, I simply wanted to melt into the shuttle floor.

“I’ll be sending the coordinates for Velathum in about five minutes,” Sara said guardedly, totally shooting my mood straight to hell.

“Why the secrecy about where I’m going?” I knew the planet was off limits to anyone other than those assigned to a particular operation, but something in her tone of voice indicated there was an entirely different story.

“You know protocol, Commander. Hey, guys. Why don’t you go ahead and get some coffee?” Sara instructed to the two others, creating yet another red flag in my mind.

I manually turned up the volume to the music, shifting the command chair back and forth as another disco song popped on.

Only a few seconds later, Sara leaned closer to the screen, shaking her head. “Why in God’s name do you listen to twenty-first century music?” Her shout was laced with agitation. “Computer, please turn down the music.”

“Because it’s happy music and it keeps me going on these long, lonely nights.” I knew Sexy Guy wouldn’t respond to anyone but my voice, even though his system had obviously been tampered with. “Sexy Guy. Please turn down the music.”

Immediately, the volume dropped.

“Yes, Ciara.”

It was her turn to roll her eyes. “And why do you call the computer voice Sexy Guy?”

“Because it’s the closest I can get to any kind of a hunk with a huge cock. I doubt there’s any rugged, handsome warriors where I’m going.”

When Sara hesitated, I zoomed up her image. While she was smiling, her eyes held no amusement.

“What aren’t you telling me?” I demanded.

“First of all, I know your track record with men so this time I’ll say you’re right.”

I shot her the finger, winking afterwards. “So, I have despicable taste in men. So what?”

“So, you haven’t gotten laid in months. Maybe years.”

Snorting, I refused to qualify her accusations with any kind of response. Although she was right. Men couldn’t seem to tolerate the bad ass bitch in me. “That hasn’t been tops on my list. And second?”

Sara shifted in her seat uncomfortably, darting glances to her right and left. “Look, this is a dangerous mission. Okay? I don’t want you to think otherwise.”

“How tough is it going to be to collect one aging scientist from the planet?”

“Rougher than you were advised.”

I finally sat up, getting as close to the screen as possible. “What are you talking about? I thought Dr. Cavanaugh simply requested to come back to Earth.”

“He made a distress call, one that created serious concerns.”

“O-kay. Was he attacked or is he ill?”

Sara shrugged and even from a million miles away, I could clearly see the nervous tic at the corner of her mouth. “That’s the issue. We just don’t know. Dr. James Cavanaugh insisted on remaining behind after the termination of his project.”

“Mining? That’s a project?”

“It’s classified, Ciara. I wish I could tell you more about what he was working on, but I can’t. You don’t have the clearance.”

“Uh-huh.” I’d had exactly two hours to scan the details surrounding both the planet and the history of the mining expedition concluding years before. Nowhere in the data had the word ‘termination’ been used. What the hell was Sara hiding? I was well aware of the conditions and limited danger, but I suspected I’d been led astray, or my bestie figured she could convince me to keep my mouth shut. I trusted her with my life. I could certainly do the same now. “Fair enough. What do I need to know?”

I could tell she was typing on her computer. I heard a blipping sound as information was sent to my console unit. “Are you aware of the various species that reside on the planet?”

I shifted my gaze toward the screen as images of actual monsters appeared in gory detail. “Um, I was told there were animals that still existed, but I also read that issues with the atmosphere had destroyed a significant portion of the food supply, even contaminating the water. In other words, aren’t the majority of the planet’s species extinct?” The two creatures appearing in vivid color were vastly different than anything I’d read about.

One terrified the fuck out of me. The other was enticing as hell.

“You are correct, at least for the most part. These are the two species who have the greatest numbers remaining.”

“Is that a fucking dragon, like a fire-spewing dragon?” The creature appeared to stand over nine feet tall, the expanded wings enormous. While it was obvious the monstrous beast took after what I knew to be a dragon, there were also disturbing differences including an almost humanlike facial structure. “Jesus.”

“Dragon Beasts don’t breathe fire, Ciara, but they are extremely dangerous creatures and their numbers multiplied even during the crisis on the planet.”

“Dragon Beasts? Really?”

“A name coined by the original scientists sent to Velathum. All the information I have on the Dragon Beasts is from their detailed notes upon their return.”

Sara continued typing, shifting the second picture to full screen.

I leaned forward, shocked at my body’s reaction to the gorgeous warrior-like beasts. Tall and brawny, their rugged features were unlike any men I’d ever seen on Earth. Every one of them had broad shoulders and thick, muscular arms with rippled chests that made my mouth water. The material covering their legs failed to hide their thick cocks and sculpted legs.

Just like my earlier vision.

Oh, fucking fantastic. I was a clairvoyant now.

“Wow.”

“Dorchadas,” she commented.

“What?”

“Gaelic for darkness. I don’t know how accurate the name truly is, but Dr. Cavanaugh indicated he’d actually spoken with one or more of the warriors on several occasions.”

“Oh, please. As if they speak English,” I retorted, sitting back and crossing my arms even though I couldn’t take my eyes off the warrior standing decidedly in front of the others. He was a thing of beauty; chiseled in all the right places, including the massive bulge between his legs. I shifted back and forth, my pussy aching at the thought of having him buried deep inside. What in the hell was I thinking? He was some kind of monster. “Warriors? Come on, Sara. This planet has been basically dead for years.”

“Not dead, exactly. From what the doctor said, these particular aliens speak several languages. Okay, you need to listen to me. I wasn’t entirely happy that you volunteered for this mission. It’s much more dangerous than you realize. Once you land, you need to find Dr. Cavanaugh and leave as quickly as possible.”

“I didn’t just volunteer, Sara. Jarvis asked if I would be interested. Now, I asked you before. What aren’t you telling me?” She had no idea her boss had brought me into his office, explaining the importance of the mission, even offering me a bonus if I accepted. My skin began to crawl.

Sara sighed before answering, obviously exasperated by the beads of perspiration I could easily notice on her forehead. “Jesus. Jarvis never mentioned anything to me. Even landing is treacherous. The atmospheric storms are horrific, causing a disturbance in almost every system on our shuttles, making landing difficult and lifting off basically impossible. The early scientists were lucky to get off, but since the crisis grew in size and nature, our scientists became convinced our shuttles would fail.”

“Okay, wait a minute. You’re telling me that there’s no way off this planet once I land? Why the hell am I just hearing this now?” I moved to a standing position, trying to calm my anger.

“Don’t panic. I wouldn’t allow anyone to return to Velathum if I thought they’d be stuck. Our engineers have fortified the thruster systems as well as the shields to eliminate any possibility of shutdown, at least on a permanent basis.”

A nervous laugh escaped my lips. “I was told every scientist, with the exception of Dr. Cavanaugh, returned safely. Was that a lie?”

The hesitation was my answer. Some of them remained or were dead.

“Oh. My. God. This is a death trap,” I half whispered, falling against the console.

“No! Everyone at NASA-COM is certain that the alterations made are sufficient for both a successful landing and a return to Earth. If there are any issues, there are manuals to guide you and of course, Dr. Cavanaugh will be a great help.”

Only if I could find him.

“His journals are… important as well, Ciara. Make certain you locate those while you’re there. If the worst happens and God forbid the doctor isn’t alive, then you must find the books containing his works, but again, be very careful.”

“Then why the fuck are you telling me this?”

“Because,” Sara started, “you’re my friend and I worry about you. This particular mission is somewhat beyond your scope.”

“Meaning I’m not qualified.” Well, fuck this. I was furious, my mind reeling as to what could happen. I paced the floor, finally shutting down the music altogether.

“You are extremely qualified, Ciara. You are the best aeronaut we have. You just need to be careful. I’m sending the landing details now. Dr. Cavanaugh’s coordinates are already in the GPS. He’s been at the same location for… a significant period of time.”

Again with the hesitation. My stomach churned for all the wrong reasons.

I slammed my hands on the console, dropping my head out of view until I could control my increasing rage. When I finally looked her in the eyes, I could see the terror riding her face. “What else do I need to know, and if you hesitate again, I’m going to turn this ship around.”

“Ciara, you know you can’t do that. I’ve equipped your ship with a various selection of weapons.” This time, she smiled after issuing the statement.

“Different? Is there something wrong with the laser guns?”

“Not at all, but in case they don’t work—”

“Because of the atmospheric conditions,” I hissed, cutting her off. “Just what are these weapons?”

“Various swords. Archery equipment.”

I gawked at her, praying to some God that she was yanking my chain. “Swords? If attacked, I have to fight dragons and some kind of Neanderthal warriors with swords and a bow and arrow? Are you freaking out of your mind?”

“You fenced in college. You enjoy archery,” she countered.

“So that makes me an expert. This is insane.”

Sara leaned as close to the screen as possible. “Let’s go over this one more time. It is necessary and vital that you understand you will be entirely alone while on the planet, other than the doctor. Communications will likely be down and there is no assurance that Dr. Cavanaugh is even alive. If not, there are a series of journals that he wrote while on Velathum that you need to acquire. They will likely help you return to Earth and they are vital documents, important to our cause.”

“Our cause. What cause would that be exactly?” She’d backtracked herself. I had to find the damn journals or I’d never get back home. I rubbed my eyes, my head spinning.

For all the times she and I had spent drinking the finest tequila while sharing stories and gawking at men, she’d never indicated she was working on some… cause.

“Dr. Cavanaugh’s experiments were and still are vital to our defense chain. It is our belief that the journals have been secured somewhere on the compound where he and the other scientists were working. You are a tenacious woman, so I have no doubt you’ll be able to find them. That is all I can tell you. You have your mission and you need to follow it. Do I make myself clear?” Sara was now acting as the director instead of my friend.

“Very clear, Director.”

“There’s one more thing. You may need to seek help from the Dorchadas. There is some documentation that they are a stronger and more vicious species than the Dragon Beasts. Dr. Cavanaugh’s last message indicated he was seeking their help.”

This was not just insane but a total nightmare.

“Then what if I don’t survive?” While I’d accepted the mission without asking too many questions, I’d never been given any inclination this wasn’t a normal situation. Why did I have the feeling I’d been set up?

“Then God help you, Ciara, but I know you. You will survive. The landing coordinates are already programmed into the computer. Keep your GPS with you at all times. I have no doubt that it will continue to work even if the vicious storms sabotage everything else. The location of your landing I’ve chosen is near to the bunkers built by the original scientists. You will find some shelter there but please beware of the Dragon Beasts and the Dorchadas. They are… true monsters.”

I was only mildly shocked that she ended the call, pitching me into a darkness I hadn’t experienced before. The people I’d worked with for years had no faith that I’d return alive.

Fuck. Fuck!

I didn’t like anything about this goddamn mission. Not one tiny thing.

I shifted my attention to the instruments. I had maybe fifteen minutes before entering Velathum’s atmosphere. “Sexy Guy?”

“Yes, Ciara?”

“Brace for a difficult landing.” Swords. Before strapping myself in, I moved to the weapon’s cabinet, peering at the armor I’d been left with. I was dropping into prehistoric times, forced to fend for myself with blades of steel.

It wasn’t long before the difficult atmospheric conditions reared their ugly head, sucking the shuttle in as bolts of lightning in various colors slammed against the hull of the ship. The vibrations quickly turned into vicious shakes and there was nothing I could do to stop from being pulled toward the planet.

I buckled myself in, every part of my body quaking. If I survived this mission and managed to return, a number of people would pay for lying to me.

If I survived…

The velocity of the fall was tremendous and for almost a full minute I had difficulty breathing. Everything flashed by in strings of neon colors and as I pulled back on the throttle, doing everything to slow down the hunk of metal, I made a list of everything I was going to stick with my new sword.

The moment the shuttle was tossed onto the surface, the thrusters screamed in their attempt to stop the underside from skidding dangerously close to what appeared to be a drop-off. The flash of trees pummeled the front window, the hard thumping of limbs smashing against it rattling the entire shuttle.

Wham!

When the thrusters failed completely, I wasn’t surprised. Then everything else began to shut down one by one. “Sexy Guy, what’s happening?”

“There… is… baaaaaa baaaaaa baaaaaa.” Sexy Guy’s voice was interrupted, as if a record skipping on a particular song.

“Sexy Guy! Talk to me.” Jesus, I could tell I was going off track, the landing site far removed from the original coordinates. “Come on, you fucking piece of junk. Work with me!”

“System… fail-uuuuuuure.”

“Yeah, I think I figured that out, Sexy Guy. Have a nice sleep.” Fuck me. Fuck this mission. Fuck everything.

The computer system went completely dark, every instrument flashing in an eerie neon blue just seconds before shutting down. I smacked my boots against the floor, digging my fingers into the edge of the console as lightning continued to flash all around me. Oh, God. This was going to be bad.

The brutal landing took my breath away, the sudden stop pitching me onto the console. I took several deep breaths, moving my arms and legs to make certain nothing was broken. My hands were shaking as I glared out the window, the dust and debris the landing had surfaced covering everything in a sickening orange haze. The quiet inside the ship was too much. As I eased from the seat, I walked the entire interior, my legs shaking. From what I could tell, there were no breaches in the hull.

Thank God for small favors.

I made certain I had a laser gun as well as my hand computer before standing in front of the manual mechanism for the main door. Oh, this wasn’t going to be tops on my list of missions. That much I already knew. I glared at the GPS, smiling seeing its happily glowing screen. The hand computer was something else. “No. No! God fucking damn it!” I punched the on button a solid ten times before rage and impatience overtook every thought of common sense.

So I tossed it behind me, enjoying the crashing sound. I knew it wasn’t damaged, at least not by my childish actions. The hull was carefully protected by all the dazzling new scientific discoveries provided by NASA-COM. As if their expertise and skill could help me out now. I was all alone, no way to communicate with anyone.

“Perfect, Ciara. Just perfect. You really did it this time.”

I didn’t bother attempting to issue any last parting words to Sexy Guy before daring to open the door. Blinking several times as the dust settled, all I could see were patches of massive trees. While some of the trunks were twisted in formation, at least they were alive and green. Maybe I could figure out where the hell I was supposed to go.

Yeah, right, and pigs could fly around this freaking godforsaken planet too.

The humidity was almost suffocating, the harsh breeze blowing sand and grit into my eyes. As I brought the hand console toward my eyes, I was grateful at least the damn GPS still seemed functional. Dr. Cavanaugh’s supposed location had already been programmed before I even left Earth. Thank God the hard blip indicated he was still alive.

Unless some beast had his wrist unit.

Or his arm.

“Why did you put yourself in this position, Montgomery?” I muttered as I scanned the area, an odd sound drawing my attention. What the hell was that? It was almost deafening. “Oh, fuck me.” As the wretched noise increased, I realized I was hearing wings—flapping wings to be exact. Dragon Beasts had already found me. Racing inside, I yanked the handle of the weapons storage bin, my entire body jazzed from the increase in adrenaline. I glared at the various implements, selecting a kitara and slipping it into my boot. Next came the sword.

Sara had been right. I’d taken several obscure courses in college, my adoration of history fueling my desires. Fencing had been one of them. As I pulled the sword from the sheath, a smile crossed my face. My bestie had selected wisely, the steel blade glistening in the dim light of the shuttle.

There was no time to waste. I’d return for other weapons as needed, but right now, I had to figure out how to find some level of safety. I waited as the door closed, at least securing what had been my previous life before taking a few cautious steps.

Whoosh!

The skittering noise drew my attention once again, the odd sounds more like the cawing sound of a flock of birds, millions of them.

I stumbled ahead a few feet, turning in a full circle as I glared into the sky. No way. No fucking way. Within seconds, the wretched dragons were in viewing range, four of them hovering over my head.

Terror raced through me as they approached. They were far uglier than in the pictures and it was easy to tell they were coming after me. I lifted my laser gun, squeezing off a shot. I’d been the best shooter at the academy, earning several accolades. Nothing happened. There was no ray erupting from the barrel or a bright flash in the sky. “Fire, you useless piece of crap.” I repeated the action, holding my breath.

“Great. Just great.” I kept the piece, shoving it into my belt, taking another look at the woods. I was going to have to sprint for cover. Wonderful.

My nightmares were real.

Not only would I be forced to use primitive weapons, I needed the Dorchadas’ help if I wanted to survive.

God help me indeed.

I was a feast waiting to happen.

Chapter Two

Bane

The fragrance was sweet, enticing.

And I was hungry, my cock twitching for relief.

A female… How long had it been? Far too long.

I would take her as mine, filling her with my seed. After all, I was the prince, my people ruling over the entire planet. The female was forbidden to refuse me, no matter the species.

The Panthera flanking my side obviously sensed her too, the big cat baring his canines.

I took off running through the forest, swinging the sharp edge of my sword through the dense vines, my keen vision able to see clearly. The hunt was exactly what I needed. Every muscle was tense, my lusts increasing.

As I neared a small clearing, I stopped to scan the perimeter. There were hundreds of predators hiding in the shadows, but few would dare cross a warrior or his protective beast. Only the dragons would dare be so bold.

I snarled, dragging my tongue across my teeth. I knew my scents, the different species carrying an entirely unusual set of odors. This one was entirely human. Every part of me remained on edge. I’d dealt with their kind several years before as they’d dared to descend on our planet, pretending as if it was their own. They’d built fortresses out of our resources, securing their presence by using violence as necessary. They’d also stripped our land of minerals and precious stones.

I continued to hate them for what they’d done, even though my father insisted they would be allowed to survive. However, I’d thought all females had left long ago.

As Benga issued a slight growl, I took a deep whiff. The air was laden with the stench of death. The dragons had been hunting, procuring their weekly feasts. This time, they’d come far too close to our land. I took their actions as a direct threat. I stroked the big cat in my attempt to calm his anxiety. His sense of smell was even greater than my own, his keen eyes fixating on something approaching from deep within the forest.

An electrified flash drew my attention.

A vicious storm was approaching quickly.

I glared up at the malevolent sky, snarling from the sight of lightning careening across the horizon. The storms were getting worse. I stood on the knoll, twisting the handle of the sword in my hand. The brisk breeze had brought the recognizable scent toward us, leaving my entire body electrified. My kind were used to predators, beasts foraging for food in the dense forest. Her scent was almost sweet.

Delicious.

I was starving, only my desire had nothing to do with food. My cock filled with blood, hardening to the point my balls ached. I’d never had this kind of reaction to a human even after all these years. There was something entirely different about the female who’d dared to enter my realm.

She was also being hunted by the dragons, although I doubted she had any idea they were close.

Tipping my head, I allowed my savage growl to permeate the darkness, my enraged sound fending off some of the smaller creatures. They knew better than to fuck with me. Even the dragons were leery, although they’d managed over the course of eons to nearly exterminate our species. However, we’d given as good as we’d got and were still a strong, dominant force that would never allow vanquishing.

That was my burden, a heavy weight I carried every day. I was the prince, required to take the throne but only after acquiring a mate. I snickered at the thought. I had no desire to select a suitable candidate, especially given the specimens available.

At least for tonight, it was all about the hunt, and my prize? A human to feast on.

Benga rolled his head against my thigh, the ferocious beast my constant friend, a protector of sorts. I’d found him as a cub, abandoned by a mother who refused to allow the runt of the litter to survive. Sadly, his kind were almost extinct as so many others were. As I stroked his head, his deep purr was my reward. The giant creature would die in my place if necessary, a rarity among their kind. He issued a low and husky growl, baring his sharp canines.

“You smell her too, don’t you, boy?” I could almost taste her, the sweetness of her pussy. And I would capture her.

Fuck her.

Use her.

I pulled the steel blade closer to my nose, savoring the remaining smells from dozens of kills. My nostrils flared as the fragrance from before seeped into every crevice of my body, igniting an entirely different kind of hunger.

My cock ached from the thought alone, ravaging desire pushing every one of my senses to a heightened state. I hadn’t been with a female for several years, the last time a terrible mistake.

Benga padded forward as the storm continued to drive closer, his long tail positioned for the hunt.

I shifted into a predatory mode, making my way through the line of massive trees, their limbs bending to the relentless wind. As another bolt of lightning lit up the sky, I held the sword in both hands, prepared to strike at a moment’s notice.

A single crack drew my attention, forcing me to crouch low to the ground. My entire body was alive, on fire in a way I hadn’t experienced before. She was close, venturing into our territory.

Whoever she was, she would pay for her interference in our protected environment in whatever way I determined.

Perhaps after a feast fit for a king. Krishan would certainly appreciate my find, his hunger as significant as my own.

He’d been my best friend since our youth, a highly decorated warrior in our clan. He’d been assigned to protect me during this venture, as if he was my servant. I often loathed our culture, rules that had been imposed since the beginning of time.

But our mission stood, a requirement by our king and one we would not fail. Not only was I required to find a mate if possible, I was to try to devise a treaty with the leader of the dragons. If I was successful with the last requirement, my people could return to our beloved city without fear of being attacked. Maybe fate had made it easy. A half human heir to the throne. Would that suit my father and his insatiable needs?

The answer I already knew. I wasn’t allowed to mate with a human. That had been a recent mandate after dealing with the group of scientists.

Benga took a deep whiff, swinging his massive head from side to side. I was thankful for having a friend by my side, especially given Krishan’s recent injury. The dragons would pay for their actions even if the injury hadn’t been fatal.

I dragged my tongue across my lips, savoring the thought of the female’s sweet flavor. She had no way of knowing she’d entered into the world of darkness. I chuckled as I waited, my keen eyesight able to see clearly in any level of light. Within seconds, my patience reaped a wondrous reward.

The female fought her way through the underbrush, the sharpness of her long blade easily slicing through the dense bushes. As another bolt of lightning flashed across the tumultuous sky, her figure was highlighted, her expression one of anger as well as sadness.

And there was no doubt she was searching, hunting for her own choice of prey.

I was thrown by her intense beauty; flaming red hair, a statuesque figure unlike any of the other females I’d ever come in contact with, and eyes that managed to burn a hole through me. Her stance was solid, her chest heaving as she scanned the perimeter. She was a vision of a true warrior, although given she was human, that meant she was just another vile creature. Humans had difficulty surviving the unforgiving terrain as well as the dragons. However, this particular female was intriguing, my desire continuing to swell, sensations surging through my body.

The stirring was unusual, an intense craving I’d had only once in my life. I was shaken at the thought, my body tingling.

Benga snarled, turning his head in my direction. I had no doubt his hunger could override the training I’d spent countless hours on perfecting, but as I gave him a single look, he retreated.

I was the alpha, his superior in every way.

A low rumble left my throat, pulsing against the sounds of the forest. I’d watched the development of the stone buildings. Now, the once formidable fortresses had been left abandoned, the remaining humans fleeing.

That begged the question. What the hell was the female doing here and all alone?

I released another growl, remaining in a hunkered position. She snapped her head in my direction as she held the sword in front of her with both hands, taking purposeful steps forward. I waited only a few seconds longer before standing.

The female continued walking closer, a snarl curling on her upper lip. As the roll of thunder sounded in close proximity, another flash of neon blue light lit up the entire area. I was mesmerized by the shimmer dancing across her porcelain skin, eyes that any creature could drown in. My balls were instantly tight, my cock throbbing to the point of sheer anguish.

She’d obviously noted my presence, stopping short and swinging the sword from side to side.

Waiting.

Baiting.

No female, no matter how beautiful would ever venture into my territory without feeling my wrath. She lunged toward me, immediately slashing her sword through the air. As our blades clanged together, her expression was one of victory. The little human thought she could best me. While there was nothing more invigorating than a good sword fight, I was cognizant of the fact dragon soldiers had been spotted in the vicinity.

“Yah!” she hissed when I pushed her away, regaining her footing immediately. She rushed me again, her ability to block the blow impressive as fuck. Adrenaline thundered through me, my blood boiling from the female’s audacity. And all the while I could hear Benga’s growl of disbelief, chastising me for allowing the battle to get this far. The beast was correct and I was finished playing games. There was such determination in her eyes, a level of fight I didn’t see in the majority of humans who’d already been broken by the rough terrain and almost nonexistent food supply.

She shifted from foot to foot, challenging me with eyes that for other men would be enchanting. While desire roared through every inch of my body, I was ready to show her who was in control.

I took two giant strides toward her, snagging her sword with one hand as I tossed her to the ground with the other. Benga was prepared to strike, although he maintained his position, his low rumble an indication of his displeasure.

She made a vicious sound as she scrambled to get away, managing to punch me twice in the gut before her fist found my jaw. I was shocked from her utter vehemence as well as her strength, enough so I momentarily released my grip.

I roared my frustration, the sound shooting above the trees.

That was all the female needed to bolt out of my grasp, tumbling forward toward the forest. She darted a single glance in my direction before she took off running, weaving in and out of the trees.

I was amused as well as furious, but desire reared its ugly head in a way I hadn’t felt in years. After taking a series of deep breaths, I jerked to a standing position, wiping a string of blood from my mouth.

Benga roared, his vicious growl permeating the air as he clawed the ground.

“Leave her to me,” I huffed, my upper lip curling.

She couldn’t get away from me, no matter her obvious strength and agility. After a few seconds, I went after her, storming my way through the underbrush, ripping away at the vines and fallen limbs.

Her scent remained infiltrating my system, intoxicating. Invigorating. I licked my lips, almost able to taste her sweet pussy. Within a few paces, I was only a few yards away. I was surprised when she stopped short, grabbing one of the tree branches, prepared to use it in battle. The woman was ferocious in her own right, refusing to back down even though I weighed close to two hundred pounds more. Her hair had become disheveled, the tightly woven bun that had been fastened to her head now in disarray. The long red strands drew my attention, intensifying my hunger.

“Yah!” she yelped, swinging the heavy branch in my direction, her face holding the same fury she had before.

I tilted my head, studying her intently. She truly believed she could best me. I took a step closer. When she swung the club again, reaching out further, she managed to catch me in the gut. The blunt force was painful, forcing me to double over, bright lights flashing across my vision.

When I heard her lilting laugh, I’d had enough. I lunged forward, tackling her to the ground, the limb ripped from her hands. As the wind was knocked out of her, she gasped several times before attempting to fight me again.

I issued a low and husky growl as I leaned over her, admiring her tenacity if nothing else as I yanked her arms over her head.

She fought me fiercely, shifting her hips back and forth until she managed to free her hand. When her fingernails scraped down the side of my face, creating a wave of anguish, I let out a roar. I was shocked at her audacity as the barbarian in me reacted. I yanked her to her feet, wrapping my arm around her waist and lifting her off the ground.

Her foray had driven us deep into the woods, far removed from what I considered safe and protected grounds. The little human would pay for that as well. I released my practiced cry for Benga, preferring him by my side.

“Let go of me, you wretched fuck! Let go of me!” she screeched, pummeling her hands against my back as I carried her.

I took long strides, refusing to acknowledge her in any manner, even though all I could think about was shoving my cock deep into her wetness. The scent of her arousal was stronger than before, leaving an unexpected taste in my mouth. I carried her a solid fifty yards before I found what I was looking for. The moment I eased her onto her feet, she attempted to flee again, forcing me to yank her back by her wrist.

The second she raised her hand to slap me, I caught her other wrist, shaking my head several times.

“What the hell do you think you’re going to do?” she demanded, defying me even more.

Her exclamation was dusted with huskiness as Benga bounded by my side, baring his canines as he lifted his head in her direction.

Her dazzling green eyes opened wide as she gazed at the big cat, her lovely mouth twisting in a first hint of fear, although I knew she would never back down.

Dega,” I hissed, snarling at Benga, a command he knew well. He backed away but only after a slight swing of his head, his frustrations growing just like mine.

The female attempted once again to gain leverage, the hard kick to my thigh ending my patience.

Humans.

An unusual species, their kind understood nothing but forced discipline.

And I would enjoy every moment of doing so.

“Punishing you,” I said gruffly, yanking her savagely.

The look of shock on her face was a justified reward. Now she would learn what it meant to cross a Dorchadas warrior.

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