Authors: Evangeline Anderson
“You, boy, up on your feet. Let me see
what my credit has bought.”
rises on unsteady legs but he isn’t fast
enough. A big hand snakes out and slaps him hard across the face. He reels
backward, off balance because his arms are bound behind his back. Before he can
fall, armed guards catch him and thrust him upright, their loud, trollish
laughter ringing in his ears.
“Stand before the Master, boy!” one
growls. “And enjoy it while you can. You’ll be kneeling before him soon
I fear no male. I have honor and strength within.
Such are the
words that his Sire has taught him—the lessons he tried to instill every day.
But he isn’t there to teach Thrace
anymore. He’s gone…dead…. He was killed while trying to keep Thrace from being sold to the male
who stands before him now, the one who calls himself Master.
Thrace thinks, trying not
to remember, trying not to see it all again. The shouting and the way his Sire
had struggled when the male from Gemma won his auction—won Thrace as his slave.
“No—you shall not have him! Not my son!”
he had shouted, kicking and struggling against the security Crangs as they
attempted to lead him away. And then the man who had bought Thrace stepped forward with a
weapon on his hand. He had pointed it at the center of his Sire’s broad chest
think of it!
orders himself but he can’t help it.
Can’t help seeing the bloody, gaping hole that opened in his Sire’s chest…the
shocked look on his face as he stumbled to his knees…the callous way the man
who is called Master threw a sack of clinking gold credit-coins at the slaver.
“For your trouble. I can’t stand mouthy
The slavers had been more than happy with
their compensation. Thrace’s Sire had been dragged away, leaving a bloody trail
behind his limp corpse and Thrace, still shocked and horrified, had been led in
the opposite direction. A day and a night in a dark cargo hold had followed and
now he was standing before the male who had killed his Sire and bought his
contract. The male who now owned him body and soul.
he thinks again, his throat
What is to become of me?
He will not weep—it is weak and weakness
is not the Havoc way. But he can’t help the way his eyes burn when he remembered
his Sire, the only parent he had ever known.
“Promising…very promising,” the Master
says, appraising Thrace
with small, greedy eyes. “Though you haven’t got your full growth yet, have you
looks down at himself. Havoc males don’t
reach full physical maturity until their eighteenth cycle and he is barely
sixteen cycles old. He is a good height but not nearly as tall as his Sire—not
yet—and his arms and legs are slender and undeveloped. He is strong for his
size but not strong enough to break the chains that hold him.
Not that strength and size did his Sire
any good. He was killed despite his size…or maybe because of it. Doubtless the
Master didn’t think he could handle a full grown Havoc although apparently an
adolescent one isn’t beyond him. So he thinks.
“A beautiful boy, just the same,” the
Master says, nodding. “Those eyes especially—lovely. And that tight little
ass…” He has the guards turn Thrace
in a circle so that he can be admired from all angles.
It makes Thrace feel sick to be so displayed
and he doesn’t like the hungry look in those small, greedy eyes. It is as
though he is a prime cut of meat the Master wants for his dinner. But he
refuses to let his fear show. He glares back, never dropping his gaze when the
Master looks at him, taking the measure of the male who killed his Sire.
The Master is a medium sized male with
thinning gray hair and rings on every finger. His rich robes of purple
halla-cloth cannot hide his paunch but they do proclaim him one of the royal
elite of Gemma, not that Thrace
cares about that. He only wants to kill the male who killed his Sire. But in
order to do that, he must first get free.
“Very nice,” the Master says, nodding
again. “And look at that lush mouth. I think we should look into training those
sweet lips first. What do you say, eh boy?”
glares at him. “I say anything you put in
my mouth, I’m going to bite off,
But his threat only makes the Master
“A feisty one! I like it. It will make
breaking you that much more amusing.” He gestures to the guards. “Now leave us.
I want some time alone with my new slave.”
“No!” Thrace tries to move away from the
seeking fingers of his new master but he is trapped, unable to move, unable to
get away. If only his arms were free…if only he could get his hands around the
* * * *
it easy, big fella!” Trin leaned over the thrashing slave. He was moaning and
growling, making deep, hoarse sounds that reminded her of vids she’d watched
about the Earth predators called lions. The deep bass rumble coming from his
vast chest was like the beginnings of a roar. It was unnerving but it also
plainly signaled some kind of distress.
wouldn’t have left one of her horses if it was in pain and she wouldn’t leave
the Havoc either. She had bought him and she was responsible for him—it was
it easy,” she murmured again, bending over him to press a wet towel to his
the Havoc’s eyes popped open, showing that extraordinary silver-blue color
she’d found so arresting before.
Trin said, frowning. “You’re awa—”
she could get the word out, one muscular arm shot out and long fingers closed
around her throat.
gasped through her suddenly narrowed airway and beat against his broad chest.
go!” she choked out, barely able to get the breath to talk.
slave’s eyes narrowed and he squeezed harder. He seemed to be mouthing
something at her, some word she couldn’t understand. Was it…
tried to tell him to let her go again but she couldn’t get any air. Bright
specks of light were beginning to dance before her eyes and she realized she
was beginning to lose consciousness. She had to do something quickly or she
wouldn’t have to worry about what happened in the Demon’s Eye—she’d be dead
long before she got there.
she fumbled at her belt but there was nothing there. Dimly she remembered
handing the stunner to Sidna to prove she was protected. But had the medic ever
given her weapon back? Trin didn’t think so. They’d had their fight and then
Sidna had stalked off, presumably taking the stunner with her.
Please, Goddess—I don’t want to die!
thought, gazing down into the glaring silver-blue gaze of the huge Havoc.
I don’t want to die…
* * * *
Master’s face was all he could see. The thinning gray hair, the greedy eyes,
the fat jowls that quivered in anticipation when the Master came to get what he
suddenly the hated face melted away. The thinning gray pate was replaced by a
long, black main of silky hair. The narrow lips turned full and lush—the color
of ripe berries. And the small, greedy eyes became large and dark and full of
in confusion as the transformation took place. Who the hell was this female and
why was he choking her?
was choking her! Choking a female—
a female! Though the Havoc did not bond with females for life like their
genetic cousins, the Kindred, they still had a strict code of honor when it
came to the other sex. Foremost in that code was that a Havoc never,
physically injured a female.
He let her go, forcing his
hand which had been clamped around her slim throat to relax and drop to his
side. She fell back choking, her hand going to her throat as she tried to get enough
horrified at what he’d done to her. Who was she, anyway? She looked like
someone he knew or had met once in another life. She had creamy, light brown
skin the likes of which he’d never seen before. It was beautiful…unusual…and
The one who was talking with the
damn slaver just before he started the pain collar. The one who…bought me? Did
she buy me? Does she think she’s my new Mistress?
an agonizing bolt of pain hit his ankle and traveled up his entire body. He
felt every muscle locking up, going rigid with pain. And then…nothing.
* * * * *
out.” Sidna was breathing hard. “Are you all right, Trin?”
so.” Trin massaged her throat delicately. “He’s got a hell of a grip.”
sighed in relief. “Thank the Goddess he didn’t get
hands around your neck or I would have been too late.” She
handed the stunner back to Trin. “Here. I was coming to bring this back to you
when I saw what was happening. I don’t like to say I told you so but it’s clear
he’s a vicious, savage beast.”
not.” Trin coughed, feeling the burn in her throat. “He let me go before you
what?” Sidna frowned at her.
think he was having some kind of a nightmare. He was thrashing and moaning and
I was trying to calm him down. He grabbed me when he was still half asleep and
he was trying to say something. I think…” She frowned. “I
it was ‘Master.’”
Sidna put a hand on her hip. “So you’re saying he had a nightmare about his last
master and his response was to try and choke him? What does that say about what
kind of slave he is, Trin? Why do you think he was being sold in the first
don’t know,” Trin said stubbornly. “But I still don’t think he
to hurt me.”
whether he meant to or not, he nearly killed you. You’re going to have some
serious bruises there.” Sidna examined her neck critically. “Will you
move him into the brig now?”
Trin demanded. “He’s out cold and he’s huge, as you pointed out. The whole crew
together isn’t strong enough to move his mass from here to the brig.”
you have to at least restrain him,” Sidna said. “I mean it, Trin—it’s not safe
to let him stay loose. The whole crew is in danger this way.”
guess you’re right,” Trin said reluctantly. “Do we still have the manacles we
used on the Gox?”
do. Want me to bring them up?”
guess you’d better.” For some reason, Trin still felt reluctant to shackle the
big Havoc. She honestly didn’t think his attack on her had been on purpose. But
she could tell that Sidna wouldn’t feel safe otherwise and that probably went
double for the rest of the crew.
chain him to the cot for now,” the medic said. “But if he wakes up in a
belligerent mood, I still think we should move him to the brig. We can hold a
blaster on him and force him to move there under his own power if we have to.”
right.” Trin sighed. “Go get the manacles.”
Sidna left, she stared down at the huge Havoc who was still out cold. Who had
he been seeing when he tried to choke the life out of her? And what had
happened to him to provoke such a murderous reaction?
wasn’t sure she wanted to find out.
for the second time, gasping like a male whose head has finally broken the surface
of a pounding sea. In his case, a sea of nightmares. Memories he’d carefully
suppressed for years were crowding into his mind, flowing in like cold, slimy
sewage trying to drown him.
Gods, where am I?
looked around the small room he was in. It was dimly lit with bare metal walls.
A cell of some kind? He tried to sit up but his body wouldn’t obey. Then he
heard a metallic clinking and felt the manacles around his wrists. A surge of
panic hit him and a low growl began to build in his chest.
The Master! He’s chained me up again! That
means it’s only a matter of time before he comes in and—
you’re finally awake. Again.”
unfamiliar voice made him jerk his head—the only part of him which was able to
move freely. A familiar face came into view—a female with creamy, light brown
skin and long black hair. She was lovely, with big, dark eyes and delicate
features. Her full lips were the color of ripe berries.
there were finger-shaped bruises in a ring around her slender neck.
vague memory of throttling her and felt a surge of shame.
I did that to her. Me—I did it.
seemed to remember bad dreams, memories coming back of things he’d buried years
I thought she was the Master…
why was he thinking of that bastard now? What had unearthed the bad memories of
he stared at the female’s face, it all began coming back to him. The seedy
portside bar on Padge where he and Solar had gone to drink while
was repaired. Being captured
by the slavers…sold on the auction block at the Flesh Bazaar…. Sold,
apparently, to this female here. The one who had been eyeing him before that
bastard of a slaver used the fucking pain collar on him.
opened his mouth to talk—to demand that she untie him—but nothing came out but
a low croak. More memories came back.
That fucking slaver—the paralytic he
injected into my vocal chords…
But shouldn’t it have worn off by now?
try to talk,” the girl said. Her slim brown hand came towards his face and Thrace
tried to jerk away, certain she was holding some kind of a weapon. Retribution,
maybe, for the way he’d hurt her.
still, she admonished him. “You’re sweating like crazy—I’m trying to cool you
down. Not that it ended very well the last time I tried it.” She touched her
fingertips to her bruised throat and winced before reaching for him again.
as her hand descended to his face. He tried to raise his own hand to stop her
but the manacles held him fast. He was tied down and helpless—there was nothing
he could do.
felt his breathing go short and sharp as his heart started to pound. There was
nothing worse than this feeling of helplessness—the feeling of being tied down
and unable to move while another acted upon you.
Ha—“acted upon you.” That’s a nice way to
growled a sarcastic voice in his head.
Really fucking poetic considering—
hand reached his face and something soft and cool and slightly damp caressed
his forehead. Thrace
jerked again—this time in surprise.
you big silly? It’s just a wet cloth. Just to make you feel better.” The girl
spoke to him in a soft, coaxing voice, almost as though she was talking to a
wounded animal or a sick child. “Not gonna hurt you, big fella,” she went on,
stroking his hot cheeks with the cloth too. “Just trying to help you get well.”
at her uncertainly. He had nearly choked the life out of her—why was she
touching him so gently? And why was she talking to him like he could barely
understand him? He opened his mouth again.
he finally managed to croak.
can’t do that, sorry,” she said.
Thrace demanded more forcefully,
though it hurt his throat.
can’t and it’s your own fault.” The girl frowned at him. “I can’t let you go,
not after you did this.” She touched her bruised throat with her fingertips
again. “Not that I think you did it on purpose,” she went on quickly before he
could formulate a reply. “But I’m pretty much the only person who feels that
way. The rest of the crew all think you’re some kind of crazed psychopathic
monster and honestly, they didn’t have that high of an opinion of you even
you tried to strangle me. Because
you’re male, I mean.” She sighed and shook her head. “If I let you up to roam
around the ship I’d have a mutiny on my hands.”
at her appraisingly. So she was the captain of a ship—which was probably where
he was being held. The question was, how the hell did he get loose and get out
of here? Experimentally, he tried the manacles again but they were incredibly
strong—some kind of alloy maybe. Thrace doubted he’d be able to
are plasti-dura-steel,” she said conversationally. “We used them last cycle
when we transported a Gox. Have you seen them? They’re these huge, hairy
beasts—about your size but they have two hundred times the strength of a normal
male. So you might as well give up. You’re going to be manacled to your cot
until I can be sure you’re not a risk to me or my crew.”
his mouth but his voice didn’t want to work at all now. Damn it, when would the
paralytic wear off? Or were his problems vocalizing due to the merciless bout
of agony he’d experienced when the slaver used the pain collar on him? Either
way, when he tried to speak, all that came out was a croak.
you’ve been out for hours,” the girl said. “Are you thirsty?”
to say “yes” but again, only a dry croak came out this time.
try to speak—your voice needs to recover like the rest of you,” the girl
admonished. “Just nod your head if you want a drink.”
Here.” She was already holding a long silver metal container with a flexible
straw stuck in it. She put it to his lips but Thrace turned his head away as more
memories washed over him.
Drink it up, there’s a good slave,
the Master’s physician.
It’s to relax
you…it’ll get you ready, make things a little easier…
girl frowned, clearly not understanding his silent refusal of the drink.
thought you said you were thirsty? Don’t worry—it’s just nutrient water. See?”
She wrapped her lush, berry-colored lips around the clear straw and sucked,
see her drink and swallow. “See?” she said again when she was finished.
looked at her for a long moment. Surely she wouldn’t have taken a drink of the
stuff herself if it was drugged or poisoned. It was just that his head was
still fuzzy and the past kept getting tangled up with the present.
girl looked at him and held the cup patiently, waiting for him to make up his
mind. At last Thrace
decided he had no choice but to trust her. Slowly, he inclined his head.
she said briskly. “I’m glad you’re willing to at least
placed the straw gently between his lips and held the cup for him while Thrace
took an experimental sip.
minute the cold, slightly sweet liquid hit his tongue, his thirst exploded. He
drank quickly, almost gulping in his eagerness.
it easy, big fella,” the girl cautioned. “You don’t want to make yourself sick.
Take it slowly—there’s more where that came from.”
finished what was in the cup and lay back, letting his head rest on the pillow.
That’s good.” The girl seemed pleased.
she wasn’t really a girl, Thrace
thought, studying her. He estimated her age to be somewhere in the mid to late
twenties—younger than himself but old enough to know what she was doing. She
had a calm self-confidence about her that was impressive.
was studying him as well.
guess I’d better come up with a name for you.” She sounded thoughtful. “I can’t
keep calling you big fella and big guy.”
glared at her.
he croaked, finally getting a few words out.
huh? Okay.” She nodded. “I’m Trin—Captain Lonnara Trin of
. I wasn’t
sure if your people had names or not—some species don’t, you know.” She
shrugged. “Anyway, you’ll have to excuse me. I’m from Zetta Prime so I don’t
know much about males. Also, I’ve never owned a slave before so there’s going
to be a pretty steep learning curve here.”
at her, his arms tensing in the manacles until his biceps bulged and the chains
He choked, his voice failing him again. “Not…slave!” The harsh words were
tearing his throat to ribbons but he’d be damned if he let her think she owned
frowned. “So you
the Carnal Houses and trained to serve all your life?”
shook his head violently.
right.” She nodded. “I believe that. But I
believe you’re not a slave. Why else did you call me ‘Master’ when you
tried to choke me?”
subsided, looking away. Even if he could have talked, there was no way in all
the Seven Hells that he would tell her about his past.
Trin was looking at him thoughtfully. “Hit a nerve, didn’t I? Don’t suppose you
care to tell me what happened to your
master, do you?”
turned his head to look at her, letting all the hated and rage show in his
flinched away from his look of hate.
right, so you don’t want to talk about it. Fine. We can discuss it later. But
just so you know, I’m not unchaining you until I know what I’m dealing with.”
kept glaring. Never—he was never going to speak aloud what had happened back so
many cycles ago. To speak memories aloud was to give them new life…new power.
And this slim girl with the creamy brown skin and big, dark eyes already had
much too much power over him to start with.
rattled his chains again menacingly. Not that she would have him in her power
for long. Thrace
was going to be certain of that.
* * * * *
watched the emotions play over his strong features. Clearly he was angry that
she’d dared to question him. Well, he could be angry all he wanted—she wasn’t
letting him up until she had some answers.
shifted on the cot, his big body straining against his bonds. His biceps bulged
and his torso and hips moved as he shifted, causing his abdominals to ripple
had never seen a being who was so muscular before—with each muscle group so
well defined. It was…interesting. It almost made her want to touch him—to pet
his smooth, tan skin which was several shades lighter than her own—but
something held her back.
been treating him like one of her horses—like a big, dumb animal that needed
patience and understanding. But there was a fierce intelligent blazing in those
extraordinary silvery-blue eyes. It made her question her people’s long held
belief that males were little better than animals with limited understanding
it would be better just to leave him alone for a while. She was about to get up
and go when she realized what all the shifting around was about. He wasn’t just
trying to get free—he’d been out for hours and a few minutes ago he’d drunk a
huge cup of liquid. He needed to relieve himself.
have to go, right?” she asked, looking at him directly. No point in beating
around the bush.
looked at her mistrustfully and then gave a short, curt nod.
Great! Just great.
suspicion confirmed, she sighed internally. Not only had she bought a slave who
was angry and hostile, she was now his sole caretaker since she and Sidna had
had their falling out. And she was going to have to help him since she didn’t
dare to let him help himself.
luckily the med-bot was set up for this kind of thing. It had a long, sliver
tube that connected to various parts of the anatomy for waste disposal. As long
as all he had to do was urinate, it shouldn’t be too bad.
she said, reaching for the clasp of his too-tight black leather trousers. “Now
I don’t know a lot about male anatomy but—”
low rumbling growl began at the bottom of his deep chest and turned into a full
throated roar of pure rage.