A Captive to Claim
A Space Opera Reverse Harem Novel
I thought they were a rescue mission.
When I woke up from deep spaceflight suspension to a damaged ship, I was relieved that someone was coming to rescue us - even if it was a crew of humans from some deep-space society that let their males develop into testosterone-fueled barbarians.
They captured my interest: all of their bulky muscle and their thick beards, square jaws and commanding voices.
Especially him. The one they call Cap. The one in charge.
He tried to talk me out of my plan. But in the end, I got my way: I would be the crew member to stay awake for the journey to Solymus.
The lone female on a ship of barbaric men.
And one of the first things he was going to show me was some discipline.
Captive is part one of a three-book series, A Captive to Claim. No cliffhangers await you at the end: just suspense and desire still simmering.
My heart was like a trapped hummingbird in my chest, the flutter so rapid and violent that I was sure everyone around me could hear it. I was grateful to have my forearms resting on a low wall to steady them. Otherwise my hands, clasping the only weapon I could find, would have trembled away with the terror I felt.
Not that it really mattered. I had a gun and about two days of defense training.
Those sessions had been pretty dismal. The instructors taught you a whole bunch of stuff and then, at the end, commented dryly that, if your ship was hijacked by the right pirates or mercenaries, you were probably going to die anyway.
Everyone always added: ATDC hadn't had a spaceflight accident of any kind in over 14 solar years, which I suppose was meant to be reassuring.
It wasn't. But ATDC likes its citizens to feel safe on their deep space missions, so we had guns and we knew how to point them at things.
The intruders, whoever they were, moved fast.Within five minutes of detecting them, they had attached to the hull of our ship, and they set up the airlock with scary efficiency. This revealed nothing about who they were, or what they wanted, but they gave (at least me) the impression that they were going to do whatever it was they did want to do.
The headache caused by my sudden lurch from deep space sedation to consciousness was finally fading as I stood there, shakily holding a gun I barely knew how to use. I was pointing it at the clean, surgical gash being carved into the hull of our ship. For a moment, I had a wish: that there was no airlock, and we would all just be sucked into space, boiled, and then frozen within nanoseconds. It sounded better than all the terrible possibilities that could be behind that hull breach.
I tongued the cyanide caplet between by teeth and gums. I lived in simultaneous fear of not getting to it in time and accidentally cracking it open when I didn't mean to. I was afraid, all through training, to even place the fake capsule between my teeth. I didn't want to find out if I was one of those chronic biters, the people who just couldn't stop themselves from crunching down.
Apparently it's a thing.
The gash turned into a circle, and the hull, all three feet of insulation and wiring stayed exactly where it was for a few moments. And then all the material within the circle vibrated - it just looked like a blur - and dissolved into dust that fell onto the floor with a strange sound.
Military uniforms of some kind. Humanoids - two legs, approximately human-sized, maybe a little large. Guns. A robot making proclamations, over the human voices, in all kinds of languages. Somewhere, in the middle of this, I heard one of the figures' voices.
"Solymus Hybrid Space Force. This is a rescue in response to your distress call. Lower and disarm any weapons, identify your S-C-S. Do not gesture!"
"Human!" I yelled, turning my gun to the side and setting it down gently. SCS stands for Species, Corporation, System. That at least sounded official. "Human, ATDC, inter-systemic crew!"
Stephen glared at me, and then shifted around nervously, backing up, still holding his gun.
Shouting ensued. The intruders turned toward me, guns - serious guns, by the way - pointed in my direction. Lasers criss-crossing over my eyes and chest.
I was sure I was dead, then. What would a pirate crew say, anyway, other than that they were there to rescue you?
You can't take people in deep space breaching your hull at their word.
A lot of yelling. Back and forth. I stayed out of it this time, watching the scene unfold with my hands in the air and a dumb expression on my face.
What difference did it make anyway? We were out-gunned, our ship had a big hole in it now, and the way these guys - and they were guys, all five of them - moved, we were going to get obliterated if that's what they wanted.
Obviously, the pirate crew had better training than us. My crew was running around like chickens with their heads cut off.
At last, the yelling had a lull in it. The guy who was obviously in charge of the intruders, who had been standing there calmly all along, took that opportunity to jab his gun directly at me. Dark, liquid eyes, human and disturbingly attractive, glared at me over his masked face. They were calm and unflinching. This projected a sense of raw power that made me squirm a little, and not entirely with fear.
"State your SCS!" he yelled. It was a calm yell, if there can be such a thing. "Put down your weapons and state your SCS."
"Human, ATDC, inter-systemic!" I screeched again, looking over at Stephen. It was really his job to handle a situation like this, being the most senior officer (awake) and all. "Stephen, put the gun down!" I hollered.
Eventually everyone dropped their guns and held their hands up, which wasn't anything they asked us to do, but, you know. You see it in old films from Earth.
There was a really tense moment or two while the heavily-armed, still unidentified, obviously military-trained crew of humans pointed guns at us and processed this information.
I closed my eyes and tried to breathe.
When I opened them, the guy in charge was standing in front of me, still looking right at me. This was a look. The kind of look that you never get in ATDC, the kind of feral, barbaric, sexual look you only hear about. Or see in a documentary. Or illegal materials. The kind of look that pours right through me, if I'm being honest, and makes me have a very forbidden feeling between my legs.
He had lowered his gun, and was holding one hand up, making signals to the other members of his crew. They were responding by fanning out and patting down my crew.
"You," he said. "Name."
I stared back at him. Even his voice had a sexual quality to it, somehow. I started to say my name, but the air caught in my chest and burned, like a cold liquid. I felt my lips part, but no sound came out. A thought fluttered through my head, and it was insane.
I was actually thinking about how crappy I must look, having just been jolted from a deep space sleep.
You have to understand: ATDC, or Aquilis-Theta Democratic Corporation, is a hyper-evolved corporate state. Our citizens are hormone-limited, with a sharp cap on testosterone.
We don't engage in barbaric sexual practices.
And we certainly don't worry about how we look when we wake up from deep sleep.
To a member of the opposite sex.
He was still staring at me.
Question. He asked me a question.
"Uh, I am... Alena. W-98243." I cleared my throat and tried not to appear as nervous as I felt.
Something - a glimmer, a sparkle? I don't know - flashed in his eyes, and they crinkled so slightly that only someone as insane as I was at that moment could have noticed. A snicker came from one of the other men, who were continuing to pat down all of the other crew members.
Dark, Beautiful Brown Eyes stepped toward me. I was too stunned, too paralyzed by the weird feeling he was giving me and the fear that had never subsided, to move or even flinch. He was within inches of me, towering over me, the bulk of his body close enough that I could feel the warmth of it. I smelled him - musky, some kind of smoke, a pleasant, forest-like scent. Things I smelled rarely, things that were out-of-place in space, things that were wild and made me think of men.
Not men like Stephen.
Like this guy.
He reached for my gun first, picking it up and disarming it without looking at it, then tucking it into one of many pockets in his pants. His eyes never left mine. "Lift your arms," he said. "Alena, W-98-24-whatever."
"Three," I offered helpfully, which seemed to cause him to smile, imperceptibly, because the corners of his eyes squeezed slightly together. The moment was short-lived. He was all serious as he put his hands on my sides, and then ran them over me, down my back, along my outer thighs, and then between my legs, right up to my pussy, which he brushed over very briefly.
His brief, perfunctory search of my body seemed to make little impact on him, but everywhere his hands had touched me seemed to have been electrified. My skin was humming with energy, and inside, it felt like all the organs of my body had turned into superheated blobs.
He stepped back, pulling down his mask as he did so. Thick, dark mahogany bristle covered his jaw and chin, and I stared openly at him, a quiver in my stomach.