Alien Savior: 3rd Edition (The Arathians Book 1)
Kor hated Vox.
He’d read the planet’s description prior to landing and had known what to expect, but now all he could think about was the scorching heat… And the never ending sand that managed to get everywhere. With the way the wind was blowing, he was sure to have sand in places he’d never had sand before.
“How much longer will it take to complete the scan?” he asked Ty, his companion and mate, who stood at his side with his face buried in his handheld tablet.
“Not long,” Ty replied without looking up. “We just need to scan the rest of the city; I don’t want to miss anything.”
His voice, as usual, was calm and patient. Kor hadn’t expected to hear anything different, but he’d hoped that they’d be able to finish quickly and get off the desolate planet.
Comprised of deserts and the occasional outcroppings of rock, Vox was a small planet. It was mostly uninhabitable, but due to its remote location on the outskirts of the galaxy (as far as one could get from the Galactic Alliance, the galaxy’s governing body), Vox attracted individuals who wanted to stay far away from the law. These thieves, murderers, and mercenaries had built a small city and used it as a stopping point through space. It gave them a place to hide, and a center to sell their stolen wares.
Kor and his crew had been assigned to that sector of space for several months, having been ordered to search every inhabited planet, asteroid, or hunk of rock to find new species. While they usually traveled in their ship, the Adastra (a science vessel that Kor captained), he hadn’t wanted to draw too much attention on a planet like Vox. Instead, he and Ty had landed a small shuttlecraft, and would rendezvous with the Adastra in several days.
Kor was thankful that the single city was the only populated area on the planet. That meant that by the end of the day, he and Ty would have it scanned and be on their way. But until Ty finished, Kor would suffer the oppressive heat in silence, and be vigilant of their surroundings. The people who lived on Vox adhered to their own rules, and no one would come to their aid if they were in trouble.
Kor wasn’t going to allow any harm to come to Ty; the most important job he had in the universe was to protect his mate.
While Ty’s eyes stayed glued to his tablet, scanning for all life forms within reach, Kor guided him forward with a hand on his shoulder, his other hand near one of the many weapons holstered at his hip. They were currently walking through what passed for a market in the small city, and although it was mostly empty, Kor was on high alert. His eyes strayed to every shadow, every window, and every door frame in search of threats. He saw none, but that didn’t calm his anxiety.
He knew that something wasn’t right.
In the middle of the afternoon, the market should have been packed with merchants hawking their newest wares, and traders looking to make a deal. But there was scarcely anyone in sight.
Where the hell is everyone? Kor wondered.
It was another few minutes of walking before he finally heard the sound of voices. Kor kept a firm grip on Ty’s shoulder and steered his distracted mate towards a clamor of sound coming from one of the buildings up ahead. As they neared the door, the ruckus was enough to distract Ty from his scans.
Intrigued, the two males walked into a crude building, which was filled to capacity with the planet’s denizens. From every corner of the room, beings were yelling and jostling each other. Some shouted taunts or sums of money, while others seemed to be yelling just for the fun of it. There was even a group of males on their left working out their problems with knives and fists. Through it all, Kor could tell that the frenzy of sound and activity was centered on a stage that occupied the length of the far wall.
Kor and Ty shared a long look as they realized that they’d walked into a slave auction.
Slavery had been outlawed on their homeworld of Arath for several centuries, but it was not illegal throughout the galaxy, or even throughout the Galactic Alliance. Slaves procured legally were sold farther towards the center of the galaxy, where the seller could get much higher sums of money, especially if the slave was special or rare in some way. But on the outskirts, planets like Vox specialized in slaves that had been taken illegally.
Kor scanned the audience again and couldn’t help but wonder what sort of auction could garnish this kind of frenzied response. Slave auctions could get heated when there was someone worth bidding on, but that was rare.
The two Arathians moved farther into the room, careful to keep their distance as they stepped around a group of Grungles. Once the stage was in clear sight, Kor stopped, frozen at what he saw: a bipedal female stood on the raised platform… and she was absolutely breathtaking.
She had the palest skin Kor had ever seen—it was nearly pink in color, and without scales, horns, or fur. She was around five and a half feet tall, and scantily clad in a tattered outfit that she obviously had to endure to be sold. He could see she had long brown hair hanging down her back, but Kor unfortunately couldn’t see her eyes, since she was staring down towards the beings at the edge of the stage.
He was so stunned by the sight of her that it took him a moment to notice that the manacles around her wrists shook with fear. A wave of aggression swept over Kor, threatening to overtake his usually-stoic demeanor. The Arathians had dedicated centuries to defending planets and people weaker than themselves; never in his life had he ever seen anyone so vulnerable as this small female.
His eyes strayed to the only other individual on the stage: a Blattarian (who resembled a giant insect) was enjoying his role as slaver and auctioneer—far too much. He was currently describing her attributes to the crowd.
According to him, she was a female that was strong enough to be used for labor, and intelligent enough that she could be taught menial tasks. He’d generously implanted her with a Universal Translator while she’d been in stasis, so that she’d be able to understand any of the galaxy’s languages.
He even pointed out her many orifices to the aliens with tentacles, and that she had plenty of extra pounds to make a good meal, if her buyer was inclined to eat flesh. But to Kor, by far the most interesting fact the Blattarian mentioned was that she was originally from the planet Earth.
To say that Earthers were “exceedingly rare” on this side of the galaxy (or anywhere offworld) would be a gross understatement. Not only had their technology not evolved enough to have interstellar space travel, but more importantly, the entire planet was under the protection of the Grays.
The Grays were scientists and scholars above all else, and had been studying Earth’s evolutionary development for the past several thousand years. Kor had heard that their observations had yielded very interesting data, and their experiments had been highly successful. Luckily, the few Earthers who remembered their experiences with the Grays were often dismissed and considered foolish, or even crazy, by others of their species who didn’t yet realize how populated the galaxy actually was.
No one knew exactly how long Earth had been under the Grays’ protection, but it was widely known to stay away from the planet. The Grays were pacifists, but also highly advanced (technologically speaking), and held influential seats on the Galactic Alliance; crossing them was not in anyone’s best interest. The Blattarian had to be insane to have poached her from Earth, violating its protected status. But judging by the large sums of money being bid for the female, the Blattarian would soon be insane and wealthy.
“Did you hear that? I never imagined finding an Earther in this sector,” Ty commented from his side, interrupting Kor’s thoughts. Kor could tell that his mate was trying to hide his excitement at finding such an extraordinary creature. He understood the treasure she could (potentially) be to their species. Could she be the key to the Arathians’ survival? It was a possibility.
Arathians had never been able to test Earther DNA, due to the planet’s protected status; but there were no galactic laws against having an Earther in your possession, if you managed to buy one offworld.
Kor didn’t have a chance to reply to Ty before the crowd erupted with laughter. The female had just skittered back from the edge of the stage, barely avoiding getting hit with mucus from one of the aliens in the front row. The bidding intensified once again, as if her repugnance was an added attraction.
“I can’t believe they’re bidding on her like a piece of meat.” Ty didn’t bother to hide his disgust. “Look at her, she’s trembling in fear.”
Kor and Ty’s eyes met, and he knew that they were in agreement. Even if her DNA was completely incompatible, there was no way either of them could stand by and watch this female be won by any of the creatures assembled, when at their hands her future could be worse than death.
There was no other choice but to win the auction himself.
With his most authoritative voice—the one used when chastising his crew—Kor shouted, “I bid half a million credits.”
The noise in the room quickly dwindled, and all heads swiveled in his direction. Silence filled the air. There was no way any creature present could outbid him. Five hundred thousand credits was a small fortune, but Kor knew that his planet would spare no expense to test the Earther’s DNA.
Kor looked straight at the Blattarian, silently beseeching him to conclude the bidding so that they could leave with the little female.
Lacy stood on the stage in the dirty room, staring aghast at the things all around her, while they yelled out the various foul things they wanted her for: sex, entertainment, service in a home, or a living lawn ornament. One thing with tusks even said that it wanted to take her home to be the main course at his dinner.
She couldn’t believe that they were yelling out sums of money and goods offered in exchanged for her. Her body was numb with fear, but a small part of her realized that she was just as enthralled as she was repulsed. She looked around the room at the aliens—Aliens!—in all shapes and sizes.
She’d always believed that humans were not alone in the universe, but she’d imagined that the ETs would look more like the “little gray men” from the science-fiction channel, rather than the six-legged, eight-eyed, scaly, oozing things that stood around her. Some were covered in hair, some in hard scales, while others looked to be covered in layers of mucous. They came in every size, shape, and color, but the smell of her audience was the worst part. It seemed that washing wasn’t a requirement out in space, making some individuals smell as though they’d gone unwashed their entire lives. The stifling heat inside the small building wasn’t helping. The smell was so strong that it made her eyes water, and made breathing difficult; but she continued to focus on one thing: finding a way to escape.
When she’d gotten over her initial shock of seeing the auction’s audience, she’d scanned the room looking for an exit. Unfortunately, the only way out of the building (besides through the curtain at her back) was a doorway at the far side of the room, behind the audience. But even if she somehow made it past all the aliens and out the door, she had nowhere to go. Manacles were locked securely around her wrists, she had barely any clothing on, no money, no transportation, and no idea where in the universe she was!
All that didn’t give a girl too many options.
She gave up thoughts of escape for now and focused on the creatures surrounding the stage, trying to find the least nasty among them. Sadly, all she saw was various examples of gross and grosser.
One such creature stood just in front of the stage. His many eyes leered at her, making her skin crawl. While she watched, it let out a sound almost like a sneeze, and some disgusting globs of green slime flew out of one of several holes in its face, to nearly land on her bare feet. When she let out a small cry of shock and revulsion, the crowd erupted into intensified bids. Apparently they liked her disgust. Perverted aliens.
Suddenly, above all the noise and putridness, a loud deep voice bid a sum of money much higher than any of the previous offers.
Lacy’s eyes followed the turned heads of the crowd until she saw two men who looked nothing like the creatures crowded around her. They so closely resembled humans that she had a moment’s thought: Am I being saved?! After a longer look at them she realized that she’d been wrong—the men were not from Earth.
To start, they were too tall. Each stood around seven feet with smooth caramel-colored skin, black hair, and wide chests. They were wearing matching black clothing reminiscent of a uniform, that hugged their bodies so tightly that it did little to hide the muscles underneath.
One of them was slightly shorter but bulkier than the other, and had shoulder-length wavy hair that should have made him look soft, were it not for the intense glower that he’d aimed at her captor. Clearly he was the one who’d bid on her and was waiting to seal the deal. Lacy counted herself lucky that she was not the recipient of the fierce look.
Her attention shifted to the man’s companion, who stood next to him. He was taller but leaner than the first, and wore his hair pulled back from his face. He stared right at her, an intense look of displeasure marring his features. It made her feel self-conscious of her appearance, and Lacy glanced down at herself to see why she should warrant such a look.
The strips of cloth covering her were still positioned correctly—no wardrobe malfunctions yet—but she saw a multitude of bruises and abrasions on her skin from being manhandled for the past few days. She remembered the smacks she’d received, and could safely assume that her face was also bruised.
Overall, Lacy was willing to admit that she didn’t look her best, but she wasn’t hideous by any standards. Well, any Earth-based standards, anyway. She had no idea what passed for attractive out here in this back-woods part of the galaxy.
Still curious as to what would have caused the man’s look of displeasure, Lacy’s eyes went back to him. His look of displeasure had turned into one of compassion. In his eyes, she saw the sympathy she’d been craving since she woke up to the inescapable nightmare she was in. It was only fear of the other aliens in the room that forced her to resist the urge to run to him and beg for protection.
Her attention was diverted when her kidnapper laughed from his nearby position on stage. He demanded proof of the man’s expensive bid, and she could imagine the thing clapping his many hands together in glee.
The first of the two men stepped forward, and after pressing a couple of commands, handed over a device that had been attached to his belt. The cockroach looked excitedly at the device before asking the crowd if anyone would bid higher. His question was met with grumbles from the audience. Since no one would outbid the two men, he excitedly exclaimed that she was sold.
Lacy knew she shouldn’t, but she felt immediate relief that these men had won her; better them and whatever they planned to do to her, than the other foul creatures assembled in that place.
The stern-looking man took the device back and inputted a command, causing her captor’s eyes to light up after being shown the screen. Apparently he was satisfied of the payment because he crossed the stage, grabbed ahold of Lacy’s bicep, and started to drag her towards the men. She couldn’t help but let out a whimper of pain as his pincher-like hands clamped onto existing bruises.
Out of the corner of her eye she saw the first man take one large leap onto the stage, bare his teeth, and growl in the bastard’s face.
“Do not touch our Earther again,” he commanded in a calm, but menacing voice.
The alien immediately dropped her arm and backed away, leaving Lacy within arm’s reach of her new owner. Up close, she realized that he was quite handsome. Aggression poured off of him in waves, but she strangely didn’t feel nervous. More like… shielded. She stood silently, her eyes fixed on his face, when she heard another voice.
“Come here, little one.”
Lacy turned and saw the man with compassionate eyes holding out his arms to her from just offstage. She knew that she had no reason to trust the two men, but she found herself walking quickly to the edge of the stage and allowing him to cradle her in his arms against his solid chest. She anchored her fingers in his uniform, just in case he had any ideas of changing his mind about buying her, and had instead suddenly decided to give her to the other aliens.
The other man jumped down from the stage, took a long look at her and his companion, then motioned for them to walk out of the building ahead of him. Lacy could hear him walking close behind as she rode in her savior’s arms.
At least, she hoped they were her saviors… and that she wasn’t about to be that night’s dinner.