Scarred - Tana Stone Page 0,1

not him alone in his quarters night after night with nothing but images of the beautiful human to hold in his mind as he stroked himself.


Brok blinked a few times and realized that Kalex was staring at him, waiting for a response to a question he had not heard.

“Transmission from Drexian High Command, sir,” Kalex repeated. “Should I put it through to the bridge?”

Brok gave a brusque shake of his head. “I’ll take it in my strategy room.”

Kalex spun back around with a single nod. “I’ll send it through.”

Brok strode off the bridge, his boots causing the steel floors to echo and his feet to vibrate. There was nothing sleek and sophisticated about Inferno Force battleships, and that was one of the things he loved most about them. He relished the sounds of clanging metal, the scent of stale sweat, and the constant growl of the ship’s engines. It was as tough and rough as the warriors who manned it.

The adjoining room he entered wasn’t large, and it contained a polished-ebony table with a single chair and a display screen that took up most of the wall across from it. A transparent star chart covered another smaller wall with blinking points in various colors and their route indicated by a glowing red line. The air inside was cooler—fewer bodies to warm it—and the lights dim.

Sinking into the chair, Brok tapped a button to activate the screen. Within moments, a familiar face filled the display.

“High Commander Dorn.” Brok thumped his fist to his chest in salute but also grinned at the Drexian with hair as shaggy as his own.

Dorn grunted and returned his smile. “You know I hate titles, Brok. I will always be just Dorn to you.”

Brok knew the former Inferno Force Commander had been unwillingly pulled into a role in the Drexian leadership after he was summoned to the Boat—the Drexian’s space station tucked away in Earth’s solar system—to take a tribute bride. He’d had to take his elder brother’s seat on the High Command, and then had stayed to clean up a particularly unpleasant mess involving a mole in the High Command and traitors among their people. Even though Dorn was vital to High Command, and rumor had it he was also besotted with his bride and their impending child, Brok knew he missed fighting with Inferno Force.

“Very well,“ Brok said. “You have news for me?”

Dorn leaned forward, his green eyes flashing. “You are still en route to Spartos?”

Brok let out a breath. “Yes. The planet is far from where we last tracked the tributes, although we hope to reach it soon.”

“Good. We have been gathering intel about the planet, but there is not as much as I would have hoped.”

Brok steepled his hands in front of him. “They avoid contact with other species, even though they are warp capable, correct?”

“Affirmative. They are a curious society. From what we can tell from the limited reports, they are highly advanced, but they are distrustful of other species. They do not share technology, although there are rumors that it is impressive in unique ways.”

Dorn hesitated as he said the last words, and Brok cocked an eyebrow at him. “In what ways?”

“Again, this is mostly gathered from rumors and whispers, but the few aliens who have managed to interact with Spartosians or even sneak onto the planet have reported that they have used their developments primarily to enhance pleasure.”

Brok tilted his head. “I do not understand.”

Dorn shrugged. “They are a hedonistic society, but not a pleasure planet, so we don’t know how far their indulgence extends. Perhaps that is one reason they stay so isolated. Fear of judgment from other species. I do not know. And, again, this information is gathered from very few primary sources since they do not allow visitors.”

“If they are so fearful of outsiders, why would they buy a human and a Gatazoid from the Ganthar pirates? Why would they even be dealing with the Ganthar?”

Dorn shrugged. “Your guess is as good as mine, although the human female could certainly be seen as physically appealing. That would fit in with the idea of a hedonistic society.”

Brok’s stomach hardened into a knot. He did not want to think of Madeleine being used in any way by a planet full of pleasure seekers. Forcing himself to stay calm, he balled one hand into a fist. “That would not explain the Gatazoid.”

“Gatazoids are known throughout the galaxy as artisans. Perhaps that is why Serge was seen as valuable.”

“Isn’t he a