Coming Soon at ChangelingPress.com Loved by the Elite Commander (Intergalactic Guardians 1) by Jessica Coulter Smith
by Jessica Coulter Smith
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Loved By the Elite Commander (Intergalactic Guardians 1)
Jessica Coulter Smith
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Copyright ©2019 Jessica Coulter Smith
The sun on the unforgiving planet beat down, making it hard to breathe. My parents were long gone, and there was no one left to protect me.
The colony I called home was a lawless place where men dominated and females were no better than slaves. I knew our history, had heard of my ancestors and how they’d been captured on another world, taken into slavery. Then the ship had crash-landed here, and the survivors had created a new home.
The alien slavers had died, but the slaves had all lived. Mostly Human, though there were a few other races that seemed peaceful most of the time. The others kept to themselves and didn’t interfere.
My mother had told me stories about Earth, the world our people had come from, and how wonderful it had been. The stories had been passed from her mother, and so on all the way back to the original Humans who had landed on X-2. There had been something called television and movies, music, and tall glass buildings that reached up into the sky.
She’d said that women had the same rights as men on our home planet, and were given a voice even when selecting leaders. It seemed a bit strange to me, not having known any of those things, but it was nice to think there was a place like that out there somewhere.
Our current home was a nightmare. The red dirt coated everything, and the sun stayed bright and hot for all but a few hours out of each day. Unlike the Earth my mother had spoken of, women here had no rights of any kind. Whatever a man told us to do, we had to comply immediately or face the consequences. Some of my friends had learned the hard way exactly what that meant, and bile rose in my throat as I thought about it. Each punishment was made public to make an example of the woman who had dared to disobey. It didn’t matter if a man asked you to fetch him food, or strip off your clothes. We weren’t allowed to say no to anything.
I’d heard of females running and hiding. I didn’t know how true that was, or if they were even still alive if they had managed such a feat. The only shelters I knew of were the crude homes and buildings of our small village. Sometimes I wished there was a place I could hide as well. Men didn’t take wives, like my mother had said happened on Earth, and those who did choose a female to bear their children didn’t remain faithful to them. Women were cattle to be used as the men saw fit. Breeders, or a thing to play with.
I felt Bruce’s hand slide up my arm as he crowded me. Revulsion filled me, but I knew better than to pull away. I’d been his favorite for a while. Not his ‘only’, by any means, but his favorite. I’d have gladly given that honor up to someone else. The brute never cared if he hurt me, and I sometimes felt like he got off on making me scream. My body still wore the bruises he’d left the last time he’d forced my submission.
Better me than some of the others, though. In this lawless society men didn’t temper their needs for any reason, which meant even the teen girls were fair game. My mother had assured me on our home world something like that would have been cause for punishment, that men could be imprisoned for the things they did here. I often wondered if what she said was true, or merely a story to give me hope that life could be better.
There were times I wished both the aliens and slaves on the crashed ship had died that day rather than live like this another moment. Bruce’s hand tightened on me and he turned me to face him.
“You’re going to serve drinks to me and my friends tonight, Marcy. And you’re going to be a good girl, aren’t you?” he asked.
Like I had much of a choice. I nodded and refused to meet his gaze.
“Good.” His hand petted me some more. “After our card game, we’ll all have some fun.”
Oh, God! Anything but that! I knew exactly what he meant. It wasn’t uncommon for Bruce to have game nights, and after they were well and truly drunk, they’d take turns with whatever woman had been serving them that night.
I tried not to tremble or give away my fear and disgust. By some miracle, I’d never gotten pregnant, but sooner or later that luck would run out. I’d either give birth to a daughter who would face the same fate as me, or a son who would become a monster. I couldn’t stand the thought of either scenario.
“Go brush out your hair and come to my place. Don’t be late,” he said.
Just as quickly as he’d arrived, he was gone. My body sagged and I couldn’t stop the tears that tracked my cheeks. I couldn’t do it! Not again. There was so much I’d endured since I’d turned sixteen and caught a man’s eye, but I knew I was slowly losing my mind. I should be grateful.
I’d been late in becoming a woman, my body not changing until much later than the others. Had I developed curves and begun my monthly bleeding at an earlier age, I doubted the men would have waited until I was sixteen. A few women in our small colony had already broken and taken their lives. I knew if I had to endure much more, I would follow in their steps. I refused to believe that my life was supposed to be like this.
I crept into the hall of the cracked and crumbling building we called home. As silently as I could, I managed to flee into the hot air outside. A breeze caressed me and gave me the courage to move forward.
Freedom! That’s what I tasted, what I smelled… No matter what happened, I wasn’t going back! I silently made my way through the winding path of crumbling buildings until I reached the outer wall. The guard at the gate had his head slumped, probably having had too much to drink.
I ran, my bare feet digging into the soil and broken bits of rock that served as a road to the other alien settlements. The original survivors had broken off into groups, and set up colonies on this small, dry planet. The trees beckoned, their brown and orange leaves crackling in the air, and I pushed myself, not daring to look back and only moving forward. I ran until my lungs burned and my legs ached. Pain pierced my side and I didn’t think I could go much further.
A few land vehicles had been salvaged from the crashed ship and still ran even all these years later. The Human colony had one, as did two other settlements. I heard one approaching and crouched, hoping to blend in with the scratchy branches and dead leaves lining the roadway. My heart pounded so loud I worried they could hear it.
A hand covered my mouth and I was jerked against a large, hard body.
“Quiet,” a male voice said in my ear. The accent was different from anything I remembered hearing before, and my body tensed, but I knew better than to fight. If anything, my life had taught me that to deny a male would only end in more pain and suffering.
The hovercraft drove past and the male holding me moved further back into the dead foliage. Once the sound of the patrol was gone, I was released. I stumbled, nearly falling to the ground, but the guy caught me, holding me against his broad chest. I stared at it a moment, then blinked and blinked again.
His broad gold chest. My panic rose again as I realized that none of the survivors on this world were gold.
I whimpered, but my upbringing in this hostile place had taught me not to fight. I hung limply in the stranger’s embrace and hoped that if he wanted to kill me, that it would be quick and painless. The fact I’d never seen anyone like him before made me tremble, and I worried about what would happen to me. When had a new race of aliens landed on X-2?
The sheer size of him was intimidating, as he towered over me and was rather broad. Not from fat, because his arms and chest appeared to be thickly muscled. His eyes seemed like liquid gold as I looked up at him. Long black hair cascaded over his shoulders and down his back, with a braid on either side of his face. His jaw was covered in a short beard and there was a scar along one cheek. Something flicked against my ankles and I looked down, gasping when I saw a long, slender tail. I’d never seen anything on two legs with one of those before. It was golden like him, with a puff of black at the tip. As I studied his face again, I realized there were three ridges across his brow that looked like some sort of hard plating.
“You’re safe now, female,” he said. “My name is J-Ril, and I mean you no harm.”