Senator's Pet (Korystus Aliens Book 1)

1

It'd been nearly a year since we crash-landed on Korystus, a planet populated by beautiful, cruel beings known as the Korysti. They looked mostly human—if you ignored their pale purple skin and the glow of their silver eyes—but they had none of humanity's kindness. We'd been greeted with shackles instead of open arms.

Once the government of Korystus grew bored of poking and prodding us, they were more than happy to collect a tidy fee to get rid of us. Those of us that survived—thousands, from what I'd heard—were sold off to the highest bidder. For what? I couldn't be sure, but it was easy enough to come up with a few guesses. None of them were good.

Now, I had the luxury of finding out for myself. Someone on Korystus was finally desperate enough for a human toy to buy me. Just when I was certain I'd concocted the perfect plan to escape the lab for good. Then again, I'd had about thirty perfect plans, hadn't I? Maybe I'd fare better with a hopefully irresponsible owner.

It stung to know I was going to belong to someone. In their mind, at least. I'd managed to avoid being sold for so long I'd tricked myself into thinking I had all the time in the world to get off this planet. In fact, I had the honor of being the last human left at the laboratory. I came with too many warning labels. For good reason. I wasn't shy about hating the Korysti for what they'd done to us.

Yet, here I was. A guard from the lab and I stood in front of tall, ivory-colored walls. There were ornate, swirling carvings covering every inch, and they were bathed in the soft blue glow of the surrounding grass and trees.

All plant-life on Korystus glowed. Blues, purples, and pinks which stood out in stark contrast with the perpetually dark sky and white soil. It was like being in the middle of a cotton candy nightmare. At least that was what I told myself. It was better than admitting this planet was beautiful. It was difficult to admire something that imprisoned you.

I briefly looked up at the eternally starry sky, Korystus's two moons shining in the distance. It'd been months since I'd been outside for this long. Months since I'd breathed in the fresh, sweet scent of the air. And it was only so I could be transferred to another prison. Another cell, most likely. The Korysti had obviously given themselves the okay to be terrible to us. So why start being nice now, right?

"Be on your best behavior," the guard warned as she took hold of my arm. Her staff—a glorified cattle-prod—was pointed at my stomach. "If you try anything, I won't hesitate to incapacitate you."

It took everything in me not to roll my eyes. She'd been like this since we left the lab, and it was starting to get on my nerves. If I wanted to escape, I would've tried while I was still in familiar territory. Honestly, I wished I could just tear out the silver discs in my ears that translated her words, but then she would use that staff of hers to incapacitate me.

One of the guards nodded a greeting at my handler and moved to a screen embedded in the ivory walls. The gates slid open before us.

I took a deep breath and straightened my back. Time to find out who's crazy enough to buy me. I went to take a step forward but before I could, my handler jerked me inside and pushed me in front of her. I gritted my teeth as I prayed for more patience. I was running on fumes at this point.

"Move, human," she barked behind me, her staff pressed against my lower back in warning. I wanted to ask her if this was her first day on the job, because seriously—she was trying far too hard to act the part.

As I walked down the winding path that led to my new owner's home, I cursed inwardly. This wasn't good. My buyer was clearly someone important. I could already tell escaping was going to be much harder than anticipated.

The home sprawled out before me was large, which normally would've been to my benefit. That was how I'd escaped the lab so many times. Too much space for the guards to watch everything. But here? That wouldn't be an issue for them. It would be for me.

Guards were not only posted outside the gate but inside it, too. Everywhere I looked, I saw men and women dressed in navy uniforms, blending in with the night. I lost count after ten. They all carried the same zap-stick that my handler had. And while those staves made them look like space-wizards, they packed a punch. I knew from ample experience.

My stomach sank more with each step. The security here was ridiculous. I was starting to think the lab, which had housed a few thousand humans, had less security. Or at least it'd felt like it. Who in the galaxy bought me, and why are they so important?

My burning question was quickly answered as a tall Korysti male pushed through the wide front doors. The guards nearest to him scrambled to hold the doors open, their heads bowed in deference. The man didn't even glance at them. His bright eyes were focused entirely on me as he came to a stop at the top of the stairs. He was breathtakingly handsome, which didn't surprise me in the least.

All Korysti were perfect. They were born in labs, everything about them carefully selected down to each eyelash framing their silver eyes. They were gods and goddesses—strong, agile, and achingly pretty. But they were so ugly on the inside it spoiled all that painstaking effort.

I rooted myself in place at the bottom of the steps, staring up at him in defiance. For the first time since we left the lab, I grew painfully aware of the silly outfit they'd put me in and faltered. I couldn't imagine anyone taking me seriously right now.

I'd been dressed in slippery, shiny, semi-transparent fabric that seemed to be actively trying to wriggle off my body with every movement. And there was only enough material to fully cover one boob, yet it had to be divided up between my top and bottom. In other words, most of my olive-colored skin was on display.

I'd never thought of myself as exotic before but brown hair, brown eyes, and darker skin weren't exactly common here. I was the hot alien girl and I'd been tarted up for this Korysti's viewing pleasure. Ugh.

I didn't care what any of them thought about me but especially him. I twisted my upper lip as I stared up at the man who'd purchased me. I could've sworn I saw his lips quirk up in amusement for a moment. In the next, however, his expression was unreadable.

"I hope the trip wasn't too long." He spoke in a deep, rich voice.

"Of course not, Senator," my handler said, breathless as if she was in awe of the man before us. Senator? You've got to be kidding me.

If their politicians were buying humans, then we were even more screwed than I thought. I couldn't be certain of what his job entailed. It was probably just the closest translation for whatever he did. But still, he was obviously important, and not shy about buying a human. No matter what, that was a bad sign for us.

"Bring her to me," he ordered.

My handler nudged me with her staff. Screw this. I didn't move. I curled my upper lip back even more, probably looking feral at this point. But I wanted him to know just how happy I was to be treated like property.

"Move, or else," she hissed behind me, panic edging into her voice.

I took my look of disgust with me as I glanced over my shoulder. "Worried I'm going to embarrass you in front of this guy?"

As her finger inched toward the button that would trigger her staff, I rolled my eyes and started up the steps. I got some sense of satisfaction as I listened to her scramble to catch up.

I walked directly toward the senator and a faint smirk curved his lips the closer I got. When I reached the top, he didn't move out of my way. So I stood there on the last step and held his gaze, unflinching.

The Korysti arched a dark purple brow. "Something tells me your records weren't exaggerated."

"There's probably more they were too embarrassed to put in."

I grimaced as he slid his long fingers beneath my chin and tilted my head back, searching my eyes for something. I wanted to slap his hand away but that would earn me a zap and I wasn't in the mood. But I would get in the mood soon if he kept testing me like this. Something told me he would. What reason did he have not to, right?

"They weren't lying about your cunning, either. I was watching you on your way in. Scanning the area. Calculating your odds. Tell me, have you found any weaknesses in my security?"

"I will."

As if I would actually tell him whether I had found an escape route or not. Truth be told, it still wasn't looking good for me, but I could worm my way out of anywhere. Or at least I told myself I could. It was staying out that was the problem. My track record with that one was obviously a big zero.

The senator stroked his fingers along my jaw and my grimace turned into a scowl.

His smile only grew. "No, my pet, you won't be getting away from me. I'm far more cunning than you."

"My name is Marion," I corrected. I wouldn't let him call me anything else. Especially something as demeaning as pet. I'd been named after the mother of interstellar travel, Marion Deidrich, and I wore her name with pride. I wouldn't let some Korysti strip me of that honor.

"Well, pet, my name is Senator Rylos Sonethel. You may not know our ways, but I assure you that name and title means I can call you whatever I wish."

"I really don't care who you are. You're nobody to me."

Saying my piece, however brief, was worth the sudden jolt from behind as my handler jammed her staff into my spine. In an instant, my vision went white and I fell to the ground. A loud ringing deafened my ears as I convulsed, painful shocks racking my body.

But inside my mind, I was at peace. I was used to this by now. I wouldn't let them keep me down. I would always speak my mind. I wouldn't give them the satisfaction of being afraid of them. I would sooner die.

Through the shrill ring in my ears, I could've sworn I heard yelling. Someone took me in their arms. I wanted to push away but I couldn't. As frustrated as it made me, I was too weak to fight back. My handler must've let their staff linger a little too long. Probably her way of saying screw you and goodbye, you insufferable beast. I had zero fans back at the laboratory, so I wasn't exactly surprised.

As I was brought inside the Senator's home, I caught flashes of blue walls, purple skin, and silver eyes peering down at me. As my hearing returned, I heard a door open, then I was gently placed on a soft surface. Hands tugged and pulled at my skimpy clothes. What the hell? I frowned and batted them away. I jolted in surprise when the hands batted mine back with equal force.

"Stop," a deep voice commanded. Rylos's voice, I quickly realized.

"You stop," I retorted with disgust in my voice.

I couldn't believe he was already trying to get a sneak preview of his plaything. Especially at a time like this. I was barely functional. I blinked rapidly, trying to clear my vision. Above me, I saw Rylos frowning as if I had done something wrong.

"What? Disappointed already, are you? Get used to it, because you're never going to—"

"I was only trying to cover your breasts." Rylos folded his arms and pointedly slid his eyes down my body, a brow arched.

Wait, what? I froze for a second before my hands flew up to find that those strips of fabric had, predictably, failed to keep things covered. I quickly moved them back into place and gave him a hard look. "This could've been avoided if you hadn't made them dress me like a hooker for you."

"I'm not certain what a hooker is, but I didn't ask them to dress you like this. Although, I'm certainly not complaining." He swept his eyes over my nearly-nude form and nodded. "I may send my thanks."

"I hope you enjoyed the show. It's the most you'll ever get."

"What could you possibly mean?" The way his lips curved up at one corner told me that wasn't an honest question.

"You know exactly what."

"Tell me, pet. I want to hear you say it."

I bristled. "I told you not to call me that. I have a name."

"And I told you I'll call you whatever I wish." Something flashed in his bright eyes. "I'm fairly certain you're mine to do whatever I want with."

"Try me," I said through clenched teeth.

He leaned over the side of the bed, sinking a hand down beside my head as he moved in close. "Is that an offer, pet?"

"You know it's not," I ground out, trying to hide the faint tremor in my voice.

No matter how hard I tried to make myself hate their perfection, sometimes it got to me. This was one of those times.

Rylos was undeniably beautiful, masculine perfection, body hard and perfect. His cheekbones were high and sharp, brows arched, and lips full. There was a faint shimmer beneath his pale purple skin, which was in perfect contrast with his dark purple hair. And his eyes. Those were especially unfair. Up close, the shine of those silver eyes was mesmerizing. Shame they belong to a Korysti.

Perfection didn't mean anything to me anymore. I'd been treated terribly by people just as pretty ever since I got stuck on this planet. I wouldn't let their beauty mask how awful they were. It only seemed to make them feel like they were justified in their actions. Remember that, I told myself again. Just in case I forgot in the few seconds I let my eyes linger on his.

Rylos stared at me for a second longer, then pulled away without another word. I watched him, wary of what he'd do next. I wasn't used to these situations ending without violence. To mask my confusion, I propped myself up on my elbows and looked around the room he'd brought me to. I was surprised to see there weren't guards anywhere in sight. He really thought he was more cunning than me. I'd be happy to prove him wrong sometime soon.

This place was a slice of paradise compared to the cell I'd lived in, though. In my few outings with the laboratory staff, which was before they'd realized I couldn't be trusted, I'd seen this kind of luxury in the various shops. The Korysti loved pillows. Probably so they could all lounge around looking pretty, or whatever it was they did with their lives. I certainly didn't know.

This room certainly wasn't lacking in the pillow department. Big, fluffy, shimmering pillows of silver and blue were all over the room. The curtains and bedding matched. The floor was the same ivory-colored stone I saw all around Korystus. Through the window, a bright blue tree cast a soft glow around the room. Honestly, it was beautiful. But everything here was beautiful, wasn't it? I just chose to hate it. Because of what it all meant to me. Captivity.

"Do you like it?" Rylos asked.

"No," I lied.

"That's a shame. I'd hoped you'd like your new room. The maids spent a lot of time putting it together."

"This is for me?" I asked before I could stop myself. Why would he go through so much effort? They hadn't even given me a bed at the lab. Just a pillow, a blanket, and the floor.

"It is." He crouched down beside the bed, studying me quietly for a moment. "All of this is yours. Hopefully you'll come to like it here someday."

"I doubt that'll happen."

"No, you will."

I bit out a humorless laugh. "You can't just say that and make it so."

"I can't. That's true." Head tilted to the side, he ran a finger down my arm. Feeling a faint tremble beneath my skin, I went to jerk my arm away but he clasped my wrist and, in the blink of an eye, snapped a hard, pearlescent bracelet around it. "So, until you learn to like it, you'll wear this."

In a panic, I tugged and jerked at the bracelet but it wouldn't budge. It was far too tight to slip over my hand. I couldn't even see where he'd clasped it together. There wasn't a seam or anything.

"What is this thing?" I asked, trying to mask the panic in my voice with anger.

"As long as that's on your wrist, you won't be able to go beyond the walls of my home without me at your side." When he caught the mixture of shock in my expression, he gave me a slow smile. "I told you, pet, I'm far too cunning for you."

I glared up at him, my heart pounding furiously against my chest. "We'll see about that."

"There's nothing to be seen. I've already won. The sooner you admit that to yourself, the better."

A flurry of curses flew from my mouth. Rylos was unfazed. He simply turned and left without another word. Smug bastard.

"I'm too cunning for you," I mimicked as I tried pulling, biting, and otherwise breaking the bangle from my wrist. Nothing worked. I still couldn't see how or where he'd snapped it together. They'd never used anything like this at the laboratory. I wasn't sure what it could do. Nothing good, I assumed.

Not making any headway, I gave up on it and paced around the room, studying every nook and cranny. If there was a way out, I would find it. Guaranteed. The main door to my room was locked, of course, but there were two more doors. One on each side of my room. The leftmost door led to a walk-in closet filled to the brim with luxurious fabrics I didn't care about. The other was a complete mystery. It was locked.

When I tried using the small screen near the door to unlock it, it briefly flashed those swirling Korysti symbols at me. I didn't need to know how to read it. I was pretty certain it said, "Nice try, sucker."

My escape was off to a terrible start.