Page 42 of Broken Earth

“You will conduct yourselves as honorable warriors in training. You will hunt and gather food and learn to spar to protect your clan… familial unit. I shall not tolerate any complaints. As honorable warriors, you will not coddle the females. You will respect them, but you are not there to serve at their bidding. Courting of any kind is on your time as long as it doesn’t cause any disruptions until the time that I deposit you on the coast. I shall squash disruption without hesitation. Does this compute?”

The males rushed to nod at his words.

Veral turned away, his mandibles clicking as he made his way through the alleys toward his abode, leaving them to follow. He was well aware of their presence just behind him as they followed a short distance away. He did not care if they feared him, though he doubted that they feared him as much as they should. He was satisfied as long as there was some measure of fear. A healthy fear of him was wise on their part and would keep them from acting inappropriately.

Krono rushed to greet Veral as he returned to the domicile. He could hear the inventive human cursing behind him as those following him got a good look at his dorashnal. He patted Krono’s neck and glanced up as Terri came into view from the doorway.

“You males! Go inside and mind what I said. Krono will protect the females if you threaten them in any way!”

One by one, they filed past him into the dilapidated building, each of them eyeing the dorashnal with trepidation. Krono’s tails were held out stiff from his body as he watched them before turning to lope after them into the building. Terri watched after them, the corners of her lips quirking, before she turned her gaze to him, her eyes softening in a way that she seemed to reserve for him, much to his pleasure. “Did you scare them too much?”

Veral chuffed. “Only marginally for behavioral correction.”

Her teeth flashed, and she laughed. “That’s okay. I think it’ll be a good offset from all your admirers in there. The women we rescued have been asking after you for the last hour.”

He made a sound of disgust, his vibrissae fluttering around him anxiously. “I do not care for their attention.”

“I couldn’t tell,” she said, a playful edge to her tone. Sarcasm, she called it. She ran a hand through her yellow hair thoughtfully. “The caravan was heading west to the coast, but the other women are of a mind to go as well. Do you have enough room in your ship to carry everyone? They’ll have to wait until we’re done salvaging, but I’m sure they’d appreciate the shorter, safer trip.”

He inclined his head in agreement. “It would be logical. There is plenty of space with the cargo hold empty. It will not be comfortable, but it will be a short flight.” He hesitated, his eyes flicking over her. “However, we do not need to wait for the salvage to end. I confess that I recognize their needs outweigh my own. I have decided to cease salvage on this planet for the time being… It is not optimal, at least not until something can be arranged with the Council for their protection as per intergalactic law for salvaging planets occupied by sentient species. There are other targets in this system that may have a better yield.”

Terri’s brows winged up as she leaned in. “Oh yeah? Sounds like it might be an adventure.”

Veral trilled in the affirmative, his mandibles purring with pleasure as her breasts brushed against him as she fitted herself closely against him.

“So how many rooms does this exploration vessel have on it?”

He frowned thoughtfully. “One dining hall, the main command, the armory, and five cabins. What is your purpose for inquiry, my mate?”

“Well, according to that asshole Anak, your seed has taken hold with an embryo. I mean, we have time—three years from what you say,” she laughed, “but I figure that gives me plenty of time to decorate a nursery for our little one.”

Veral turned her in his arms, his hands skimming her belly. “We will have plenty of time for safe adventures before our offspring comes.”

His mate scowled at him and punched him in the shoulder just below the horn. She cursed and shook her hand out from the force of the impact. “Fuck, you’re built like a tank. Look, mister, you need to take a page out of your own rule book—I won’t be coddled.”

“I said nothing of coddling,” he stated mildly. “Our adventures will just be scheduled to prevent any risk to you or our offspring.”

“Not much of an adventure without some risk,” she muttered. “You said yourself that our baby won’t even grow noticeably until the third year. That means we have time for arealadventure.”

He growled, his mandibles clicking. His mate sighed and rolled her eyes. To his surprise, she reached up, grabbed some of the lower trailing vibrissae that always seemed to seek her out, and dragged his head down to her. Veral was caught off-guard as she pulled him down to press her mouth against his. The sensation was completely alien. Argurma didn’t do any such thing, but it was so pleasurable he couldn’t imagine why not except for the disadvantages of both members of a mated pair possessing mandibles.

Sweeping her up in his arms, Veral carried her through the domicile, ignoring the eyes of those watching them as he made his way to their room. Depositing her on the nest of fabrics, he smiled down at her, his fingers touching his lips.

“I am curious to see what else these can do.”

Leisurely he stripped her of her armor as he made his way down her body, caressing her exposed, delicate skin with his lips and tongue. His mate sighed as he explored, the sounds and scents of her arousal growing as he played along her flesh. When he reached her sex and brushed against it with both of his tongues, her body quivered and arched into him as she shouted his name, her voice raw with demand.

Curious, he spent much time between her thighs, sliding his tongues around the little bead of flesh that gave her so much pleasure before dipping into the sweet cavern that flooded his mouth with so many unique flavors that he couldn’t get enough of feasting on it. He lost count of how many times she cried out when he tasted and sucked at her flesh. He had no idea how many more times she screamed out his name when in a fit of desperation, his civix straining madly, Veral had slipped out of his own armor to join their bodies together, his sex buried deep within her own, seeking bliss.

The next morning was the dawn of a new life together as they led the humans into the desert to his starship. The very people who had seemed so broken and exhausted yesterday seemed to find strength on that day. They smiled and spoke to each other of the things they looked forward to as they faced another future and left the desert behind them. Some of the newer additions were still nervous around Krono but anxiety seemed to be low and there was a certain calm expectancy. All except for Becky, who, with the prosthetic he fashioned for her with the replicator, was striding through his ship to “get a good look at everything while she could,” by her own admission.

Although it taxed his patience, he allowed it because it made his mate smile. Besides, even though Becky was far too inquisitive, she was not disruptive in her explorations, which earned her some favor with him. Still, he was eager to deposit all the females in their new home so that he could be alone with his mate for a while. His ship was crowded and the noise made his ears and head hurt.

He watched eagerly through the viewscreen as the ship moved quickly over the desert until barren land started turning green and the sea rose up, crashing against the shore. He glanced at his mate seated at his side wearing one of the beautiful loose robes he’d fabricated for her. He liked seeing her there. The command center of his ship seemed empty before when he thought back on it. She turned her head and smiled patiently at him as he adjusted his receivers until he found a signal that he expected was coming from the sanctuary that the females had spoken of. Following it up the coast, he flew for some time at an easy pace so that Terri could enjoy the view.

When they finally arrived at the source of the signal, Veral’s heart dropped with dread. Amid a green valley, a white city rose up from where it was tucked behind a small mountain that, according to his calculations, protected it from the storms that brewed over the seas. Everywhere around it, green things grew. It seemed to be the most ideal place for humans to thrive—clean with plentiful food and water.

As they approached, he was able to see a number of humans spilling out into the courtyard as they watched his ship descend with expressions of awe and fear on their faces. Once, he might have enjoyed that, but now he just wanted to be on his way. As he looked at the beauty of the area, part of him feared that his mate would abandon him to remain.

Tags: S.J. Sanders Argurma Salvager Science Fiction
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