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Authors: Aya Morningstar

Marauder Aegus

BOOK: Marauder Aegus
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Marauder Aegus
Number III of
Mating Wars
Aya Morningstar
(2016)

I can run from danger, but I can’t run from *him.
*

When my father tries to marry me off to a man I don’t love, I buy a one-way ticket to Mars. But before I can even get out of orbit, a brutal alien warrior attacks. He says he wants our ship, but from one look in his eyes, I know he wants
much
more from me.

I’m left with a choice: try to hitchhike to Mars--alone and penniless--through the empty cold of space, or accept this infuriating alien’s protection. And take him home with me.

I’d always wanted a man to stand up to my father, I just never thought it would be
him
. He’s frustrating, mysterious, and fiercely protective. All of humanity is one big game of chess to him...am I his pawn? Or his queen?

He’ll protect me from everything in the world, but nothing in the universe can protect me from him.

Marauder Aegus is the third book in the Mating Wars series, it features steamy sex, thrilling battles in space and on other planets, and plenty of romance. All books in this rock-hard science fiction series can be read as standalones, there are no cliffhangers, and happily ever afters are guaranteed!

Marauder Aegus
Mating Wars
Aya Morningstar
1
Anya

T
he rockets cut
off and I feel zero-g for the first time in my life. Free from the gravity of Venus, I pull off my safety harness and leap out of the seat.

“Hey! Sit back down!” Rikon, the smuggler captain, barks at me.

They’re used to this: being able to
fly
. But I won’t stay strapped down for this once in a lifetime chance to weightlessly drift around the cabin, totally free of gravity.

One of the smugglers starts unbuckling his harness to come restrain me, but Rikon grunts and waves him off.

“Let her do whatever, the spoiled brat,” Rikon shouts.

Kicking off the seat propels me through the tiny shuttle’s cabin, but I misjudged the trajectory so am heading straight toward a seat. With nothing to stop me from colliding with it, all I can do is hold my arms out, bracing for impact. I dampen the force with my arms, but I still bounce off the seat and hit the ceiling.

Rikon huffs and crosses his arms.

“I’m not spoiled,” I retort.

“There’s an old saying...” Rikon starts to say.

I push myself off the ceiling and fly through the air again. I feel my stomach churning from the weightlessness and excitement of finally being free.

“The grass is always greener,” Rikon concludes.

“What does that mean?” I ask. “The grass on Sankt Petersburg is plenty green.”

“Right,” Rikon shouts. “And Mars doesn’t even have any grass. You’re spoiled, and you’ll regret this.”

“You sound like my father,” I mumble to myself.

I catch hold of a handrail at the back of the shuttle and pause to look out the side window. The thick clouds of Venus block out the surface, and as bright as Sankt Petersburg and the other floating cities are, they can’t cut through the thick atmosphere enough to be visible from orbit. I start to wonder if I’ll ever see them again, but I stop myself. I’ve made a decision to leave everything behind. For Mars.

If my father hadn’t decided to marry me off to that pig, maybe I’d have stayed. But giving up my life and happiness to strengthen my family’s position with the empire is simply not my destiny.

“All right,” Rikon says. “You really need to strap back in now; we’re going to start maneuvering burns to dock into port.”

I hear and feel a low rumble, and go from floating gracefully through the cabin to ramming headfirst into the wall.

“Oops,” Rikon says in mock concern. “Guess I didn’t warn you in time.”

He laughs as I crawl into a seat and struggle with fastening the restraints.

2
Aegus

I
enter
the Venusian spaceport in disguise. My biosuit has concealed my purple skin with human tan, and I wear a pilot’s helmet to hide my pointy ears. I’m still too tall to pass for Venusian, Earthling, or Martian–but I’m not too tall to pass for a habber. What would someone from the habitats be doing in a pilot’s helmet–alone–on a Venusian spaceport? I hope that no one will ask questions like this, or if they do, that I’ll have already stolen a shuttle and be on my way to Sankt Petersburg by then.

I’ve been in the human’s star system long enough that my biosuit has adapted to their primitive computer systems. I approach a terminal and put my hand right onto it.

I’m not supposed to be doing this, but I act like I own the place. I don’t raise any suspicions and dozens of people walk right past and ignore me as I hack into the flight logs.

There’s a shuttle about to dock, and based on this shuttle’s fudged credentials, it looks like smugglers. Stealing from smugglers is ideal because they won’t report the theft.

The computer indicates they are docking in Terminal 12, so I walk toward it with purpose in my stride. As long as I move with purposefulness, I minimize the risk someone will ask me what the hell I’m doing on the spaceport.

General Bahamut–from the Empire–is still on Sankt Petersburg, so security on the spaceport is higher than normal. Anyone with ties to Mars is especially suspect...and my travel pass confirms that I just arrived on a long-haul rig from the red planet.

I suddenly notice a wide, stocky man planted directly in my path. I move aside, not slowing down, but he shuffles himself so he’s standing right in front of me. I’m forced to come to a stop in front of him.

My first instinct as a Marauder is to punch his nose so hard it jams into his brain, but I have to remember I’m supposed to be a habber. Disdainful, but not prone to violence.

“Excuse me,” I say, acting impatient.

“Yeah?” the man grunts, blocking me completely as I try to pass around him.

From his muscle mass, he must be from Earth or Venus. I’m guessing Earth. No one is more disdainful of habbers than Earthlings, and the hate goes both ways.

“Fuck this.” I shove him back by the chest, and walk right past him.

I only gave him a light shove–a mere fraction of my full power–but it sends him back hard enough that he loses his balance and falls flat on his back.

I keep walking toward Terminal 12, not bothering to look back at him.

If I hadn’t shoved him, I risked him asking for my credentials, and then I’d only be one weak lie away from being caught as a Marauder. The Empire has a huge bounty on my head—and on the head of any Marauder. Dead or alive.

With his ass on the ground, I hope he’s humiliated enough to just walk away before he makes things worse for himself.

When I near Terminal 12, I see through the window that the shuttle has already docked.

I find a place to sit tucked away in the corner of Terminal 13. When the smugglers enter the spaceport, they won’t even see me unless they look back into the corner. And even if they do, they’ll think I’m just waiting for another shuttle.

They start to enter the spaceport from the loading tunnel, and one look at them is all I need to confirm they are indeed smugglers–or at least men who operate outside of the law. They have scraggly beards, tattoos inked up their necks, and move like men who know how to fight.

Not one of them spares a look back at me, but then I see a woman.

She’s dressed like the rest of them, wearing a greasy jumpsuit, but she looks to be out of her element. The jumpsuit looks wrong on her, and she tugs at it as if she’s never worn something so dirty and utilitarian in her life. And she
does
turn around, and looks right at me.

My visor is up and I’m sitting with my shoulders back, but the piercing blue of her eyes and her striking features make me bolt upright.

She’s the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen, and to accomplish my mission, I need to ignore her. Let her go.

I hit the switch on my helmet, causing the visor to fall down, covering my face from her view. But I can still see her, and though I know I should close my eyes or look away, I can’t make myself do it. I’ve always been drawn to human women…but not like
this
. It’s a magnetic pull, and it takes all of my willpower to not jump up and go after her.

She stares a moment longer in my direction, but then turns around when a bigger smuggler tugs on her arm. She starts walking away and I start breathing again.

“Not yet...not yet…” I mutter to myself. I have to finish my mission–my duty–before I can allow myself to find a mate.

But what if she was the only one for me? And what if I never see her again?

As if in answer, the whole group of smugglers stops dead in their tracks and I see them waving their hands up and down.

They start to look behind them, and finally I see someone pointing. Right at me.

It’s the guy I shoved over.

I stand up and raise my visor to get a clear look.

The woman has turned back around, too, and she frowns as she watches the smugglers start to step toward me.

I stand up hurriedly, realizing what has likely happened.

The smugglers fan out, their leader in the middle. The leader is a big man with a big, protruding gut, and a cunning look in his eyes. He still looks strong despite his heft and immense girth.

As difficult as it is, I let the woman fall to my peripheral vision and assess the threat before me.

Five men–six if you count the guy I knocked over earlier–all moving toward me. From the way they reach behind their backs, I assume they’re armed. Security here is tight, so at best they are packing shivs.

I grin. They may as well fight me with toothpicks.

There’s plenty of room behind me to run, but the shuttle I need is right here and I’ll have to steal it immediately after I kill these men–before they can lock down the port.

Terminal 12 and 13 are less populated than most of the other ones in the port, and after taking one look at the smugglers’ scowls, all onlookers start to scurry away from us. They know what’s about to happen.

3
Anya

T
he insanely handsome
man lowers his visor.

Shit. Was I staring at him? Yes,
of course
I was staring at him. I’d seen habbers before, but they must have stepped up their genetic engineering because this one looked absolutely stunning.

Even from so far away, I could see his high cheekbones and the perfect symmetry of his face.

His visor had been down covering his face for many heartbeats now, but still I can imagine every line of that beautiful face through the thick-tinted glass. I may never forget that face. His nose was strong and his beautiful green eyes peered deep into my soul, despite the distance.

But I have a ship to catch–I need to leave everything here behind, including insanely hot guys who literally stop me dead in my tracks with one look.

Rikon elbows me. “Come on!”

I nod and follow Rikon and his crew through the terminals. The ship we are taking to Mars is waiting for us, but it won’t wait forever.

I can feel the man’s gaze on me as I walk, and with each step away from him, the urge to turn back to see him again grows. What if he was just a figment of my imagination? If I turn around, I may only see empty seats, but then it will be so much easier to leave.

But if I turn around and he’s still there, each step away will feel...wrong.

Just before I give in and turn around, a man runs toward us, shouting.

I see the smugglers reach toward their belts where their shivs are tucked away, but Rikon waves them down.

“It’s him!” the man says, as he stops in front of us, panting to catch his breath.

“Me?” Rikon says, pointing. “You don’t want to recognize me, and if you do, my boys will make sure you realize it was all a misunderstanding…”

“No,” the panting man says, huffing. “Not you.
Him!

He points behind us, and I know where he is pointing, or rather, at whom he is pointing.

I turn back around to see that the beautiful man is still there. He’s real, and now he’s standing up.

He raises his visor, and I feel my heart burn as I look at his face again. It’s as if it’s grown even more strikingly handsome in those few moments since I last saw it.

But now the smugglers’ hands really are on their shivs, and they’re all moving stealthily toward him.

“Who?” I ask. “Who is he?”

“It’s one of
them
,” the panting man says, “A Marauder!”

Suddenly the smugglers stop, leaving Rikon to move forward alone.

A Marauder? But didn’t they have purple skin, and–

The man pulls off his helmet and tall, bear-like ears pop up above his head. I see his skin begin to melt away, and I realize it’s not
really
his skin. Beneath the false, tan skin his body is a deep purple color. The Marauder grins, flashing gleaming white teeth at Rikon, who approaches him alone.

“Rikon,” Nate, one of the younger smugglers, says. “These guys can shoot plasma out of their hands and cut people open with crazy sharp tentacles. They got like...nanotech suits, and we just got these shivs…”

Rikon doesn’t break eye contact with the alien, but he speaks back in the direction of his men. “You got your balls, too, don’t you? If you don’t have any balls, feel free to run, but
this
alien, Aegus, has a bounty on him so juicy that–even split six ways–we’d all live like kings for the rest of our days. I’m too old for this smuggling shit, and the rest of you are too young to be that smart.”

Nate turns and runs. He sprints down the terminal at full speed, not looking back even once.

“If you believe everything you hear,” Rikon says, drawing his shiv, “these guys can even turn into big purple bears. Chances are that if the five of us bumrush him, we might just take him down. Even if he kills all but one of us, that’s a nice one in five chance at winning the fucking lottery…”

Rikon’s four remaining men pull out their shivs and follow Rikon’s lead.

The alien tears his clothes away, and the tan skin has hardened into a thick armor, which begins to turn teal the closer the smugglers get to him.

“I’m hungry,” the alien, Aegus, suddenly says.

The smugglers stop approaching.

“What?” Rikon grunts.

“I’m hungry,” Aegus says. “I don’t want to waste biofuel on you pieces of shit. So I’ll take you all down with my bare hands.”

“He
can
turn into a bear!” a smuggler shouts. “Fuck!”

“Bare hands. B-a-r-e,” Aegus says, balling his hands up into fists. “Shifting takes up a lot of calories, too.”

The smugglers all give each other looks, and I start to back away, one slow step at a time. I should turn around and bolt like Nate did, but I can’t take my eyes off this powerful alien warrior.

Suddenly, he rushes toward the smugglers.

One drops his shiv and flees, shoving into me as he runs past.

I fall to the ground, and when I look up, the fight has already begun.

Aegus has disarmed one of the smugglers, and he jams the shiv into his throat.

Two more charge him, but Aegus throws the dying man into them.

The dying man’s body knocks them flat on their backs, and Rikon throws his shiv at Aegus.

The weapon is heading toward his neck, but Rikon threw too low and the shiv bounces harmlessly off Aegus’s teal armor.

Aegus rushes the two downed men while another decides to follow in Nate’s footsteps and run away.

I’m still on the ground, too afraid to move, but when the smuggler begins running in my direction, I spring to my feet.

Rikon grabs the runner by the collar, whips him around, and slams him to the ground. He tears the shiv from the man’s hand and jams it into his neck.

He pulls out the bloodied weapon and looks me dead in the eyes.

I start to run away from Rikon, and behind me, I hear a man grunt as Aegus slams his head against the wall.

Rikon snatches me by the waist and pulls me up against him. The sharp end of the shiv presses against the soft skin of my neck, and as I fight against his grasp, the sharp point draws blood from my neck.

Aegus looks up, and he throws one of the smugglers back toward Terminal 13. The smuggler flies at least ten meters through the air before landing and then rolling and slamming into the wall.

Aegus’s green eyes are locked on me, and I think I see him exhibit fear for the first time.

“Ah!” Rikon says, laughing. “I didn’t think I could believe everything I heard about youse aliens, but I guess at least some of that shit had to be true. I guess you really do like human sluts!”

He pulls me harder against his body. I can feel his fat and sweaty gut pressing into me, and his bad breath blows hot on my neck.

“She means nothing to me,” Aegus bellows.

“All right,” Rikon says. “I’ll slit her throat then!”

I feel the shiv cut deep through my throat, and when I try to draw in a breath, it gurgles through the wide, bloody cut.

But before I can even draw in another dying gasp of air, I see Aegus’s armor melt away and he rushes toward me in a teal blur.

The last thing I see before his armor covers me is his naked purple body, tall and sculpted and perfectly muscular in all the right places. And I notice his cock is still armored...or is the cock itself teal?

My last thoughts as I suffocate and bleed out will be of teal alien cock. People have died thinking of worse things.

The armor covers me completely. I feel its cool liquid form rush into my neck as it encases the wound.

When I try to breathe again, I feel the air come blessedly out of my mouth and nose rather than gurgling through the hole in my neck.

The armor doesn’t just cover my neck, it blocks out all the light and completely enshrouds me. I can’t see a thing, but I can still hear.

“Fuck!” Rickon grunts.

And then I hear Rickon’s voice gurgling, and I know Aegus has slit his throat.

When the armor pulls away from me, my throat stays healed. None of the other smugglers were so lucky.

Aegus looks up at the blaring alarms and klaxons, and then those perfect green eyes shift in my direction. He peers deeply into my eyes as he holds out his hand to me and speaks to me for the first time. “Woman, what is your name?”

“Anya,” I say, mouth agape.

“Anya,” he says. “Take me to Venus.”

BOOK: Marauder Aegus
8.94Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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