Welcome to the Umara Bale! Kin’s kin (hehe) are all curious about this mysterious human female!
And Rez gets a much needed cool down that clears her head!
There Be Mature Content Here
Please be advised that the following is intended for mature readers only.
Kin growled impatiently as the medic passed a scanner over his eyes. He could hear the shuffling and rustling of other bodies in the tight confines of the medical bay. Those about had announced themselves: the medic, his idiotic youngest sibling, and even Emys’s pompous mate-to-be. They were all there to help, and he fucking hated every last one of them.
Their combined restless noises were masking any sounds of Rez.
“So, Sub-Commander,” Ryorin Alast, the male courting Emys, huffed in challenge. “How did you damage your vision again?”
Kin picked up Ryorin’s insult. He asked ‘again’ not as ‘come again?’ but as ‘once again.’
“Flash grenade,” Kin shot back.
That answer was his only option, considering the evidence captured by the Bale’s surveillance systems. A bright flash of light—once in Rez’s recovery chamber and once in the sea cave level.
He heard Ryorin’s dismissive grump. “Just like your sibling?”
“Just like me!” Pyxis piped up next to Kin. Fuck, you’d think that the idiot was claiming a damn prize.
“And how did the female—”
“Rez,” Kin cut Ryorin off. “Call her Rez. Just Rez.”
“How did…Rez,” the conceited ass distastefully pronounced her name, “get her hands on flash grenades?”
“Because I brought them to her,” Pyxis said.
Kin bit back an aggravated groan. He knew his sibling well, and Pyxis’s demeanor was all affected. His youngest sibling was actually a conniving ass, not a helpful idiot.
“Well, two grenades,” Pyxis continued, “Maybe three.”
“Two or three?” Ryorin asked.
“However many flash grenades she used is exactly the number that I gave her.” Pyxis paused. “Plus one or two more, just to be sure.”
Ryorin hefted a frustrated breath. “We found no discharged grenade cases.”
“Because I picked them up,” Pyxis said.
By Aku, even though Kin couldn’t see his sibling’s idiotic face, he could still envision Pyxis’s expression—eyebrows raised, as if it astounded him that Ryorin hadn’t deduced the obvious.
Fuck. His youngest sibling was not helping.
Then again, Kin hadn’t been offering up much better assistance, either.
Kin couldn’t help not helping. All his focus was on tracking Rez in comparison to the other Akupara in the small medical bay. A rustle of her clothing. The warm scent of her skin. Her breathy exhale. At just the slightest indication of her distress, his roiling temper and tensely strung muscles were at the ready.
“You picked them up?” Ryorin asked Pyxis suspiciously.
“Of course.” His sibling huffed. “Can’t leave discharged casings lying around. Tossed them in the incinerator.”
Ryorin growled. “You tossed—”
“And you’re welcome.” By Pyxis’s tone, Kin knew he was beaming an irritating smile at Ryorin.
He also spared a small, truly tiny, microsecond of gratitude for his sibling. Pyxis was deliberately shoving himself into Ryorin’s face, and the disruption derailed questions that were ruthlessly honing down to one answer.
As Emys’s future mate, Ryorin did have the right to assess and approve of Emys’s chosen egg donor. But, not like this. Not in the medical bay after the security detail had been altered to two attacks within the Bale.
And assuredly, not while Kin could still taste Rez’s addictively sweet essence.
Aku help him, but when she’d exploded in bliss and her tight, luscious cunt had constricted around his tongue, his own racing orgasm had him releasing into his damn pants. For a mind-blowing second or two, he’d not been concerned that an afterimage of Rez—giving over to her release—dominated his vision. He’d thought it the result of his own powerful orgasm. That within a few blinks, his body’s bliss-wracked systems would right themselves. He’d even regretted that the un-fucking-believable gorgeous image of Rez—spine bowed, tits peaked tightly under her shirt, head thrown back exposing the column of her neck—would fade.
But then the sentries had come and the truth had punched him in the gut.
He’d been blinded.
For the third time.
“Easy there, Sub-Commander.” The medic placed a steadying hand on him.
Only now did Kin register the new, piercing pain behind his eyes. Hell, he’d been so wrapped up in his own thoughts, he hadn’t realized that the medic had treated him.
He blinked. The afterimage of Rez faded.
Blowing an angry breath, he scanned the medical bay and confirmed each blurry figure. The medic. Pyxis. Fuckface Ryorin.
She stood, pressed against the far wall, probably seeking to hide in a non-existent corner of the spherical room. She wore her shirt and a sheet was wrapped about her hips.
No one gave a fuck that Kin was sitting in cum soaked pants. It was his own damned fault. He hadn’t been in the frame of mind to pull his cock out before shattering along with Rez.
But as Emys’s chosen, Rez deserved better than some fucking sheet.
Kin shoved off the tabled and reached Rez in two quick strides.
“Sub-Commander Kinixys Strazar Dobar Umara, The Last of the Bale!” Ryorin hollered.
Eh. Fuck that male.
Ryorin had just rapid-fired Kin’s full title. If that hypocritical shit could bellow censure while speaking at his true pace, then Kin could very-damn-well move at his true pace to offer reassurances to Rez.
Kin wrapped his hand around her thin wrist—hell, it would take nothing to snap her bones—and gently tugged. “Let’s go.”
Her face—nothing but a blur—tilted up toward him. Was she looking him in the eyes, perhaps? “Thought you’d never ask.”
He appreciated her bravado, but he also caught the light tremble in her arm.
“That thought is telling.” He addressed only her.
Ryorin continued to spout his heated objections. “We are not done here, Sub-Commander! No answers have been given!”
“I gave answers!” Pyxis whined. “Several, in fact.”
Ryorin pivoted toward Kin’s sibling. “Those answers were shit, and you know it.”
Good. The male proved to have some crumbs of good sense by not blocking Kin from storming out with Rez.
“Telling?” Her soft voice and light footfalls echoed behind him. “How so?”
Ah. She was simply rolling with it—ignoring the chaos as they strode hand-in-hand.
His chest clenched, turning his voice husky as he forced the words out. “I am Kinixys Strazar Dobar Umara—”
“The Last.” She finished for him, then chuckled dryly. “Better late than never, is it?”
No, but he could see her point. He’d been silent since the sentries found them in the lower levels that directly accessed the sea cave. What must she have thought of his brooding? He had some unflattering ideas that didn’t bode well for him.
He’d think on all that later.
Right now, he relied on his familiarity of the Bale—whose chambers and corridors he knew like each-and-every seam of his armor. His feet carried him to his own quarters.
When the door split and opened, he pulled Rez inside. The lights immediately rose, illuminating his private nest. As The Last, he could have demanded upgraded accommodations. But then he would be living on the same level as the political and social sycophants.
Here, on the quartering level, he had access to a modest mess tucked into a wall nook, single bunk, and private lavatory. Though sparse and efficient, it was far better than the mateless barracks down below.
Yet, a far cry from the warm, inviting spaces constructed for mates with hatchlings.
His hand spasmed, tightened its grip on Rez’s wrist.
“Hey!” She tugged against his hold.
He glanced back, verifying that he saw a solid wall and not an opening to the corridor, and released her.
He mumbled a half-assed apology, to which Rez snorted.
Of course she would call him on being an ass while refusing to fill the silence that now pressed down between them.
You know what? Like hell he was going to stew in charged discomfort with her. Not when he wanted, so desperately, to complete what they’d started by the sea cave.
“Make like a flash grenade, do you?” He shot at her, feeling both righteous and ashamed at the same time.
By Aku, he was an ass.
‘Make like a flash grenade’ was something she’d mumbled last night while under the influence of the Kletka’s tranq barbs.
Why pretty it up? The drugs had compromised her.
Her loosened tongue had babbled freely. If he now chose to examine every bit of her uttered nonsense—puzzle it all together—he could find himself in possession of a windfall of confessions and secrets that she’d meant to keep from him.
“Kin—” Even though his eyesight was still shit, she’d clearly begun to back away from him.
“Rez.” It was a sharp warning.
He wasn’t ready to hear anything from her because his mind was wildly racing. And the Akupara never bolted about, rushing to snap decisions or hasty actions.
He struggled to slow the reeling mental replay of every encounter with Rez over the past several days. The slope. Their first encounter at the shuttle wreckage. Their second encounter at the wreckage. Walking through Briarwood. The attack. The sea cave…
Rez cut into his thoughts. “Kin, please, listen—”
“No.” He stepped toward her. “You listen.”
Her startled gasp brought him up short.
Short? How much shorter could the distance be? He had Rez pinned between the smooth curve of the wall and his heaving chest.
Hell. He’d moved so quickly that he’d surprised himself.
“God,” Rez sighed and her astonished breath warmed the base of his neck. “You’re so fucking fast.”
To his deepest shame, he very much was.
But he couldn’t tell her that, and he didn’t know what else to talk about. So they stood there, their heaving bodies pressed together, in the exact scenario that he’d been trying to avoid—sexually charged silence.
Which had him wondering: what sort of imbecile could he possibly be? Who would want to avoid this? Because his sudden burst of speed hadn’t frightened Rez at all.
Well, at least, that was how he interpreted her reaction. She was rubbing herself all over him. Unless humans rubbed themselves all over menacing threats in order to…
Fuck if he knew.
He reached for her, curling his beak tip and tucking it up inside the roof of his palate. Like flipping a switch, softening his mouth for a female always hardened his cock.
With his fingers tangling in her hair, he tilted her face up while diving down to kiss her lips.
She flinched and squeaked. Rather nasally at that.
Right. That was her nose.
Calling on his tactical expertise, he made strategic adjustments and re-engaged. Success! He’d captured her lips. Plus her cock-twitching moan.
Her hands, though, had willingly surrendered and were currently groping him all over…as good prisoners do…?
Kin groaned, stroking into her sweet mouth as her heated palms trundled over his abs. Her fluttering fingers swept downward, slipping beneath the waistband of his pants—
The doors to his chamber slid open.
With a furious and frustrated growl, he pivoted, shielding Rez from the intruder.
The indiscernible figure, haloed by the brighter light in the corridor, strode boldly into his territory.
Fuck. He knew that graceful swagger.
“Emys,” he growled.
Normally his sibling didn’t spur such a visceral reaction in him. He had a reason, though. Despite the Akupara’s tenets for careful deliberation, his mind had raced through the events of the past few days. Even before he’d pushed Rez against the wall and lost himself in kissing her, he’d come to a startling conclusion.
Rez wasn’t wholly human.
The revelation conflicted him greatly.
On one hand, the Akupara came to Warren’s specifically to recruit human female egg donors. When Rez’s fertility examinations revealed that she wasn’t fully human…
Well, it was unforgivably foolish for Kin to hope that after the examination he could simply declare Rez to be his.
Thus, the ‘other hand’ conundrum: With the bullshit plowing through Akupara politics, he knew that detractors of the Umara Bale would exploit this unexpected turn. Rez was vulnerable. Her status as an Outbaler had been forever removed when Kin carried her into the Bale. She would either be Of the Bale or eliminated.
Therefore, Rez’s secret—that he suspected she already knew—had become his secret as well.
And Emys? His sibling could go eat a pile of flaming shit. Rez was his to keep and protect.
Once he figured out how to go about it, that was.
“Sibling mine,” Emys said, and her blurred form matched her formal tone by dipping her head in diffidence.
His reactionary rough scoff—that his sister dared to mockingly bow her head to him—lodged in his throat.
With one imperious step, another well-known figure breached the threshold of his chamber.
His mother never visited him.
Kin shut down his startled expression and bowed his head. “Greetings, High Umara.”
Rez followed Kin’s sister—Emys—down the corridor. She would have cast a concerned look over her shoulder for Kin—because they’d left him alone with one intensely coldhearted Akupara—only…
Good god, did Kin’s sister walk like a bonafide badass!
Rez couldn’t look away. As an Akupara woman, Emys was built on par with her brother—the same tapered waist and narrow hips—but on a smaller scale. Which made Emys’s sinuously slinky strides a freaking phenomenon to witness. Her movement wasn’t delicate, but hypnotic. Rez bet that Emys could flatten her in a heartbeat—if Emys managed to catch her—and that fact left Rez jittering with a healthy respect for the Akupara woman.
Yep. Rez’s gaze was totally riveted on a predator right now.
Though, unlike the other predators of Rez’s acquaintance, she couldn’t envision Emys obliging her with a merry chase about Briarwood. Which fell in-line with the warning that Kin hissed into her ear as she’d followed Emys into the corridor.
Dipping his head down, he’d spoken lowly, “My sibling is patient, cunning, and deadly.”
Okay, just so you know, she was totally heeding Kin’s warning. She really was. Her sense of self-preservation was smacking away all of Emys’s hypno-predatory energy left and right. Seriously, she had a rhythm going and everything. Left. Right. Duck. Left. Right. Duck.
However, the whole deflection thing would be going way better if she wasn’t wobbling after Emys because of Kin’s deep, core-clenching, rapid-fire voice.
Oh her liquified kneecaps, Kin could even growly-speak fast.
So, yeah. She was doing her ‘Toughen Her Titties Best’ because she had a lot of shit going on right now:
Beware of Emys. Got it.
Who the hell was the other Akupara woman—aka Coldhearted, Intensified—and what did she want with Kin?
How were Joia and Luna holding up?
Tranq drugs suck. More of a gripe than a question, but moving on…
And would someone—for the love of god—get her some damn pants.
“You may wear these.” Emys presented her with pants.
Huh. Well then.
Wait a second. Where the hell were they?
Rez distractedly accepted the pants as she looked about. They appeared to be back in the medical bay.
Well, hell. Emys did have some master hypno-skills. How else could Rez have forgotten that her long list of ‘Shit to Deal With’ included:
Avoid a medical examination. Like, ‘not joking around here’ AVOID. IT.
Right. Time for a new plan—
Wait. Was it time for a new plan? Fuck, she had no clue. She’d completely lost count.
“Would you like different pants?” Emys asked.
Rez swore silently. Focus on the predator, idiot.
“These are great.” She raised the balled up garment like offering a toast. “Best pants ever.”
Shit. She was still hypno-jumbled, wasn’t she?
Right. Left. Du—
“The shower,” Emys said.
Rez blinked. “Shower?”
“Yes.” Emys canted her head toward a smooth portion of the wall. “This medical bay contained the nearest cleansing unit.”
Nearest cleansing unit. All right. Rez liked the sound of that. Just a shower. Nothing but a shower.
“Afterward, we shall discuss much, you and I.” Emys bowed her head and strode from the bay.
The door slid closed behind her.
Rez hissed lowly in awe. “And she can make an awesome exit, too.”
Between Emys’s pointed ‘we shall discuss much’ punctuated with her ‘get ‘er done’ nod, Rez found herself rushing to comply. She was highly motivated to avoid being added to Emys’s ‘Shit List’ until absolutely necessary. No doubt, Future Rez was gonna be on that list once she inevitably dodged her end of their agreement. But, there was nothing she could do about that now. There would be no eggs donated. It was that simple.
Therefore, leaving that landmine for Future Rez to defuse, Present Day Rez needed the stupid walls to split open so she could get into the stupid shower.
She must have zoomed back-and-forth a dozen times along that smooth wall before the obvious whapped her upside the head. The Akupara were a contrary people. They could move fast, but they didn’t for…reasons…which must be asinine in nature.
She didn’t get it. Who wouldn’t want to move as fast as possible? To feel the air parting for them as they cut across the landscape? Seriously, her life’s goal was to hear a thunderous sonic boom as she broke the sound barrier.
Grumbling about obstinate aliens, she took slow, measured steps toward the wall, and the seamless surface smoothly parted for her.
Whatever. Sliding doors sucked.
She stomped into the lavatory and catalogued everything as figure-out-able. Toilet-thingy. Sorta sink. Kinda cleansing stall. Yeah, she could work with these contraptions.
Stripping down, she stepped into the tube-like stall of the cleanser and waited. Similar units ran cycles—that hopefully bio-scanned the occupant first—so she huffed, began tapping her foot, and waited.
And waited some more.
She clamped her jaw shut on her frustrated snarl. Why would a race of people that could move like she could—scratch that—who could move the way she’d seen Kin move, live their lives at a turtle’s pace?
When Kin leapt at her—
No. When he backed her against the wall—
Wait. His sexy voice, when he spoke a mile-a-minute—
A husky moan echoed inside of the unit. Yep. That was her. The heaviness in her breasts and belly confirmed that an added layer of frustration had joined the party. Just thinking about Kin—and how he’d completely shattered her assumption that he’d fumble through sex with slow, creaky humps—lit her up like her flash hairs.
You know, if the cleansing unit was going to take ages to cycle, she had plenty of time to dirty herself up once or six dozen times.
Rez leaned back against the unit’s smooth, hard wall, which immediately rocketed her into her fantasy. Since Kin had demanded that combo of a reverse cowgirl a la lap dance, straddling him would be pretty dang close to this—his hard chest would be pressed against her back. Based on his telling crotch stain from her orgasm and how amazingly he could move, she bet Kin would totally be into a fast and furious ride.
With scorching arousal rushing through her, Rez skipped the whole ‘slide her hand down her belly’ tease and went straight to her launch button. Parting her slick folds, she strummed her finger over her clit. She imagined Kin’s hot, heaving breaths heating the back of her neck. She added his deep voice growling explicit instructions and encouragement into her ear.
But the fantasy started to crumple when her achy core clenched, wanting to be stretched and filled. Of course, it did. Never mind the fact that she had limited options right now. Kin wasn’t there, no matter how badly she wanted him to be.
“Fuck.” She dropped her head back in defeat. “I need a cold shower.”
A door, that she hadn’t noticed before slid shut, sealing her into the cleanser unit.
Water from the iciest depths of outer space burst down on her from above.
Check that. She shrieked until her lungs collapsed. Then she screamed some more. Frantically she banged her fists against the clear surface of the cleanser unit. One second. Two. Three.
How long was this cycle from frosty hell?
The sucking-clunk sound of a pump shutting off was followed by the unit door sliding open. Rez tumbled out and fled the lavatory entirely.
Standing in the private medical bay, she cursed and hugged herself. Her teeth chattered. Her throat and lungs ached. Her wet, naked body was wracked by a bone-deep chill.
Fuck that cleanser unit. Fuckit. Fuckit. Fuck. It.
She’d been anticipating techno-magical amazingness to clean her skin—like the barrier in the sea cave level—not to be hosed down with water from the dark heart of an evil iceberg.
The door leading to the corridor slid open. Rez spun, expecting Emys to enter. But it wasn’t her. Nor was it Kin.
“Prick?” She greeted the Akupara cautiously.
“It’s Pyxis, but you know what,” he waved her off, “close enough. You remember me!”
He beamed a smile at her as he spread his arms wide.
Yeah. She wasn’t gonna hug him.
His smile wavered as his black eyes flicked over her, head-to-toe. “You’re wet.”
Speechless, she stared at him.
He cocked his head. “And naked.”
Okay, now she narrowed her eyes at him, silently calling him an ass.
She was naked. So what? She’d been grateful for the pants because the sheet restricted her legs. Otherwise, being naked never bothered her. Under the clinical protocols of the scientists, she’d learned to bear her nakedness as inconsequential. Skin was skin, be it on her face, hands, or bare backside. Her true secrets were under the skin—flowing in her blood and coded in her DNA.
When she made no move to cover herself, Pyxis grimaced. “Kinixys is not gonna like that I’ve seen all of you.”
Not her problem. Pyxis barged in on her. She didn’t invite him, for fuck’s sake.
Besides, she needed to move on. She had ‘Shit to Deal With.’
With a grumble, she went back into the lavatory and snatched her clothes. She pulled her pants on, not caring that water droplets were running down her legs. If she ran fast enough, she would air-dry in seconds.
If she ran?
Her heart pounded wildly as she replayed the moments when she first woke with Pyxis looming over her. She’d flashed him, then in her panicked return to consciousness, she’d lapped that small space a half dozen times in three heartbeats.
Her shirt trembled in her hands. No. It was her hands that were trembling.
Good god, she’d succumbed to one moment of mindless panic and had given up her most tightly held secret to an Akupara.
She glanced over her shoulder, and Pyxis gave her a bright, friendly wave from the other room.
Which was so…unsettling to witness. It astonished her that the anatomic structure of Pyxis’s mouth could curl into a smile. Kin had never smiled, so she’d assumed grinning was something that the Akupara couldn’t do, given their beaks and all.
That, and Pyxis seemed really happy for no obvious reason. That oddness put her on guard. Constantly ecstatic people were either insane, fools, or both. Probably due to a hefty dropkick from Cosmic Payback, this apparently harmless Akupara possibly knew her secret.
Did Kin know about her speed as well? She couldn’t settle on ‘yes’ or ‘no’ with certainty. Even ‘maybe’ rattled her as too ‘if-ish’. When Kin had slammed to Pyxis, they both had gone down. Then she’d run, and to her dismay, her strides had been more limpy than leggy. If Kin had happened to see her running, surely she moved within normal human capacity. Perhaps the top of the tier?
Well, hell. Her ‘Shit to Deal With’ just kept growing and growing.
She tugged her shirt on and exited the lavatory. Time to tackle some shit.
Pyxis perked up. “Oh! You’ve distastefully truncated my name and I got to see you naked.”
Right. Beware Kin’s patient, cunning, deadly sister and his pointlessly perky, pesky brother. Got it.
She caught his eye, hoping he would catch her meaning. “And you got to see me run.”
Pyxis shrugged and lowered one brow ridge at her.
Did he…? Did he just wink at her?
She wrangled her exasperated eye roll and moved on. “Would you say I’m faster than you?”
He scoffed and waved her off. “I’m way slower than you are. Like, way, way slower.”
Slower. Of course. Kin always seemed gruffly appalled by all things labeled first and fast. She could work with this info.
“So, if we ran a race, and I came in first and you last.” She watched him closely, and he nodded along eagerly. “How close would it be?”
“The margin of time.” He looked confused, so she added, “Or the distance between us at the finish line?”
“I see.” He nodded, his mouth turned down. “In that case, you’d win by a hair.”
This chapter is complete! I’ve enabled commenting and have added my own thoughts as well.
As always, thank you so much for reading!