BLOG CHALLENGE #4
The next round of Amanda’s blog challenge has been posted and it was to select a prompt from a collection of prompts.
I have to admit I had a bit of trouble with this one. I hope you all enjoy it and please leave me a note and tell me what you thought of it in the comments section.
“The captain of a pirate ship is separated from her crew of cargo thieves during a heist. Stranded, she teams up with a prince in order to rescue his planet from dark forces, and collect a priceless treasure in return.”
Everything was going according to plan. Shari watched as her crew worked quickly to load their haul into the cargo bay before the authorities or curious passersby showed up. They were loading the last of the crates and had almost secured all the goods when Shari spotted lights flashing in the distance. It took only a moment for her to know exactly who they belonged to. It wasn’t the local law this time, it seemed someone had tipped off the Intergalactic Rangers, those pony boys were the last thing she wanted to see on this particular heist. They were hauling more than rations and baubles this time. She had gotten the lead on a lucrative deal and snagged it before the other pirate lords even knew about it. That meant big trouble if they were caught though, not just a slap on the wrist this time.
“Let’s move it, ladies, we have some star ponies riding high and fast.”
Her crew kicked it into overtime, strapping the cargo and hitting the engine at the same time. She hustled toward the ship, making a jump toward the bay as the ship lifted off. She felt the heel of her boot hit the bay door, then slide off it as she free fell back to the ground. Rolling, she came to a stop under the thick brush, branches, and thorns thrusting into her at all angles.
She grimaced but bit her lip to keep quiet. She could hear the whir of the Ranger’s hover-bikes filled the air around her. they circled the area her ship had inhabited only moments earlier, a few them muttering oaths in the local dialect. A few even dismounted and did a walking sweep of the surrounding area. She held as still as possible, hoping she was fully wrapped up in the brush as she felt. If she could avoid detection there was still a chance she could hightail it to the next town and message the crew to pick her up at a rendezvous point.
After what felt like an eternity, the Rangers remounted their bikes and revved them, filling the air with their whines and rumbles. She counted to ten before starting to try to wiggle her way out of the brush. She had just managed to free herself of the brush and was pulling her leg free of the thorny bushes when a hand landed on her shoulder.
“Well then, what have we here. Seems I found me a lost bitch.”
The black gloved hand led to an arm clad in hardened leather jacket sleeves and a chest protected by a dull black plate. She could have cried, so close to freedom, instead, she smiled up at the tall dark haired stranger.
“It seems you arrived just in time. I fell and got tangled up in this horrid little bush.”
She wasn’t innocent, and she was fairly certain she couldn’t pretend to be, still, it was worth a try to at least throw him off. He growled something soft and yanked her up by her arm. She had little chance to protest as he pushed her forcefully ahead of him until they reached his waiting hover-bike.
“I know someone who will be most pleased to make your acquaintances. Mistress.”
He handled her roughly as he secured her wrists with a set of cuffs, setting them to a tightness just a hair shy of cutting off the circulation. She tried to wiggle them loose. He shoved her onto the bike’s seat and tied her on with a security belt.
“Don’t fight too hard, wouldn’t want to deliver damaged goods.”
She grunted and continued to try to break free of her restraints. She was slung across the back of the motorbike like a freshly killed buck, her ass in the air and her head and boots jostling in time with each movement of the bike. She grunted when he mounted the bike in front of her, his rear pressing against her side. He chuckled and slapped her ass hard.
“Okay, Lady, time for you to pay a little visit to our Lord and Master.”
That stilled her, she wasn’t quite sure who this lord and master was, but she would have bet a years wage whoever he was he wielded a hell of a lot more power than these jackals. Her mind began to roll over the possibilities. She needed to find a way off planet and back to her crew. She doubted feminine wiles were going to work on this one, if he could control these bastards, he probably had a pretty solid control over his own desires.
The ride was far too short for her taste, she still had not come up with a plan when they crossed over an old wooden bridge. She looked down and nearly laughed as she saw an honest to gods moat below the wooden drawbridge. She craned her neck as best she could to take it all in. She had left the rugged, dusty, alien world behind and found herself in something that reminded her of a very well done duplicate of the castles and medieval castles one sometimes saw in old vid shows.
“Here you go, Lady, a castle fit for a Lord.”
She could not tell if he was being sincere or sarcastic, his voice was too even and the visor of his helm hid his eyes from her. She could have kicked herself for not doing more research on the government of this planet. The money for the job had just been so damn good. The timeline had been short and she wasn’t about to let one of the other crews claim before her and hers.
“Take her to the hold. Master will see her when it pleases him.”
The man she had been manhandled by, the one she had begun to suspect was the captain of the guards, waved his hand in the direction of an old stone building. His minions began jerking her and pulling her in that direction when his voice cut through the din around them.
“Be sure she is fed and watered. Wouldn’t want her appearing before him half dead.”
She blanched at him and tried to break free of her captors, they were not about to let her go though, and held tight to the chains attached to her restraints and continued their forward progress toward the now looming stone building.
“Move it, little lady. You may have charmed the Commander, but we aren’t so easily swayed.”
The one to her left, the larger of her two escorts jerked hard on her restraints. She stumbled, nearly falling on her face. Only her restraints kept her semi-upright. She righted herself clumsily, ignoring the glances of the few beings they passed by. She noted most were decidedly not of the humanoid persuasion in their appearances. She was the odd woman out in more ways than one it seemed. The guards were mostly humanoid, though their skin reminded her of the darkest nights and their build was far more stacked than any she had seen before. The big one’s arms were as large around as her entire body, and she was certainly no petite little flower.
At last they reached the door set in the stone wall, it was set in slightly and opened inward. She noticed it required more than a key to open. The smaller guard, the one that had remained silent through most of their tortuously long walk across the courtyard, leaned in and placed an eye against a metal plate on the door.
“Move it, in you go. Now.”
The large guard pushed her roughly through the door where she was greeted by three deep steps she nearly tripped down, but caught herself unsteadily against the wall. She was pushed and prodded the rest of way down the hall until they arrived at a series of cells, each holding a prisoner, most of a different race from the one beside them. She was shoved into the cell at the very end, the darkest, dampest one from the feel and smell of the straw she landed on. She stood up as quickly as she could, but reached the doorway only to feel the metal door slam against her hands and cheeks. She rattled them, hoping to feel some kind of give. No such luck. The large guard laughed as he strutted away and back up the stairs leading to the outdoors.
“Ignore him, he gets off on being a bully.”
The smaller guard took her hand from the bar and pulled it forward gently before touching something on the side that caused it to make a soft snick sound and the restraints clicked open and fell into his waiting hand. She rubbed her wrists a moment before looking up at him.
“And what about you? What gets you off in all this?”
He blushed deeply, his already dark cheeks turning still darker as he shook his head.
“You’re not my kind, sorry babe. But I will tell you this…”
He paused, seeming to hesitate about giving her what he offered. After a few moments, he shrugged, smiled down at her and chuckled softly. He then leaned in and whispered against her cheek.
“The Prince is a lonely man, and I think, perhaps, you might just be his kind of treat. Don’t overdo it though. I would hate to have to lock you up yet again.”
She nodded, squirreling that information away for later. She wasn’t quite sure what she could do with it, but a wise woman never said no to free information.
“Oh and one more thing, don’t eat the food here.”
He winked and walked away, only to reappear a few minutes later with a platter of what she assumed was food and a small pail of water with a metal cup dangling from the handle.
“Enjoy your stay, Lady.”
He thrust the items through the bars and let go when she barely had a grip on them. Before she could say anything he was already down the hall and jogging up the stairs. She set the items down in the best lit part of her cell, not that was saying much and pondered her circumstances. She poked at the items on the plate and found she was quite happy to follow his suggestion to not eat the food. From what she could see it had at some point in the distant past been a slice of bread and some form of protein. Now though? Now it was a rock and a slab of wiggly, fuzzy, stinking glop. She nearly gagged when one particularly hard wiggle of the plate sent a wave of noxious fumes to her nose.
“You here to see the Prince? I hear he likes the ones with two legs and big tits. I guess having one out of two ain’t bad.”
She wasn’t sure where the voice came from, but she assumed it was one of the other prisoners. She debated answering back, but decided silence was better. It wouldn’t due to give your potential competition anything they could use against you. She wasn’t sure what was going to happen next, but she’d be damned if she didn’t do all she could to get the hell out of it.
She shuffled around her cell for what seemed like hours before finding a patch of straw that did not feel, or smell, like a sweaty fat man, had rolled in it. She sat down carefully, not wanting to slip on anything unseen. Shari couldn’t relax, but still, she tried to relax her mind and take in her surroundings. The first thing she always taught her crew, know where you are and what is close at hand. What she saw was both depressing and frustrating. There was the bucket, the cup, the plate with questionable contents, and straw. There was so much straw. She wondered briefly if she could pick a lock with straw, but discarded thought as quickly as it came to her. Even if she could, she was sure it would take more time than she had and who knew what kind of alarm her fellow prisoners would raise. No, better to think of something more subtle. And fast, she needed fast.
She was just about to give the straw idea another consideration when she heard heavy footsteps echoing down the hall. She prayed it wasn’t the big guard. It wasn’t. It wasn’t the small one either. Instead, it was a woman. A tall, broad-shouldered, large breasted woman, clothed in a leather vest, tight leather pants, and boots that reached her knees. Her dark hair was coiled in an elaborate design atop her head. The rest of her was covered in what looked to be cream colored fur. Shari took the tall woman in and gulped silently. This was a woman that had no reason to fear anyone and she suspected she could put any male to shame without even trying.
“I am Jalexia of the Mariposa tribe. I serve Prince Alaeno. He summons you to his suite.”
She stood tall and proud, never looking down at Shari as she spoke. It was only when had finished reciting her statement that she looked down her nose at Shari, wrinkling that long nose as she took in the sight before her. It had been several hours since she had been tossed in the cell and Shari was quite sure she was a sight to behold. The large woman sniffed a couple times then sighed.
“It will not do to take you to his Highness in this state. First, we bathe. Then, you will be presented for his pleasure.”
She nodded as if it was decided and Shari had no say in the matter. If she was honest, she was almost glad the decision was not hers to make. She wouldn’t have known whether this was a blessing or yet another curse on what was turning out to be a day full of trials.
She found herself hoisted up by one arm as the large woman picked her up and carried her out of her cell and down the hallway leading toward the door she had entered through. They did not take that path though, instead, the woman, Jalexia, carried her down a different hallway. Her arm screamed from the stress of bearing her weight. She was about to cry out when Jalexia set her down. They were in a room as different from the cells as one could get. White marble glistened from walls as pools of water shimmered and bubbled in several inviting looking pools.
“We start with the wash. Step under the fountain.”
She pointed to a metal spigot sticking out from the wall nearest them. Shari obeyed and nearly yelled when a flood of water came splashing down onto her head. She had to hold onto a metal bar on the wall to keep from falling over from the sudden flood.
“Come, now you soak. Then they scrub. Then, you perfume.”
She indicated the place for each step as she named, pointing first to a pool that had steam wafting off it, then an area with large stone tables and large muscular woman relaxing on them. Lastly, she pointed to pools the color of creamy lavender.
Shari nodded and followed behind the large woman as she walked briskly to the first pool. She climbed in and bit her lip to keep from crying out at the heat of the water. She was fairly sure her skin would be boiled off if she stayed in the water too long, still, she endured and slowly her body adjusted to the water, though it still felt scorchingly hot.
She only just relaxed in the water and was starting to enjoy it when Jalexia tugged at her arm.
She tried to protest and stay in the water a little longer, but the larger woman was having none of it and rather than being hauled up in the air like a rag doll again she climbed out of the pool and made her way to the terrifying looking woman by the stone table. Jalexia spoke in a short clipped tone, but none of them were words Shari knew. The muscular woman nodded, looked at Shari, then nodded again. One of them came over to her and quickly hefted her up onto a table and began to scrub her now tender body with a rough sponge. She started at Shari’s neck and made her way to the tips of her toes. She did not skip any of part of Shari’s body. She scrubbed every inch of her, front and back. Every inch.
Once she had been scrubbed to within an inch of her life, she sat up and winced as her body protested the abuse it had just endured.
She followed the woman, stepping carefully as her raw thighs rubbed against each other. She would have given her last credit for a bit of oil to slick on them. Instead, she followed the larger woman to the lavender pools. The water was milky and opaque. Gingerly, she stepped up the three little steps leading to the ledge surrounding the pool. Stepping over the edge, she dipped a foot into the water and nearly cooed at the silky warmth that welcomed her. The rest of her body quickly followed that food into the inviting waters. She moved slowly to the other side of the large pool and sat on a ledge she felt under the water. Within moments the water began to bubble and swirl gently around her. As she sank deeper into the waters the faint smell of fresh cut flowers filled her nose. Her skin drank in the warmth and smoothness of the water. Closing her eyes she let the water overtake her senses and lull her into a moment of peace.
“Back shortly. Then you dress. Then Prince.”
The large woman nodded at the end of her announcement before turning and striding out yet another set of doors. Shari was not about to argue with being allowed more time in the soothing waters. She sank still deeper into the waters, letting her rear slide off the step so that only her eyes and nose were above the waters. She ducked under the water’s surface for a moment, savoring the feeling of complete solitude the water offered her. It ended too soon. Jalexia reappeared, standing beside the pool when Shari resurfaced.
“Finish. Now. Time to dress.”
She held several lengths of fabric over one arm as she stood waiting for Shari to climb out of the pool.
“Wish I could stay in there all day.”
The other woman only gave a slight snort and shook her head. Her coiled and braided hair barely shifted with the movement, but her pupils narrowed as she took in Shari’s movements.
“Dry off there. Then wear this.”
She pointed to a set of bars against the wall that held a variety of towels, then to the clothes on her arm. Shari nodded and trudged over to the towels, reluctant to wipe away any of the soothing waters. She suspected too much dawdling would work against her though she did as she was bid and dried off and took the clothes handed to her. They were sheer, barely hiding any of her, even through the multiple layers of fabric.
“You sure I can’t wear my own clothes?”
Jalexia wrinkled her long nose again.
“They are fit for vermin.”
She couldn’t really argue with that point. They had been quite ripe and torn by the time she was released from the cell. Still, she would have preferred that to the almost nude state she found herself in.
“Come, now you meet Prince.”
She led her down another hallway, this one far more decorated than any of the others she had been in previously. There were ornate tapestries hanging along the wall depicting various alien races and what she assumed were heroic deeds. Finally, they arrived at the end of the long corridor and came out into a room filled with light. Looking up, she noted at least twenty chandeliers hanging from the rafters, each filled to overflowing with candles and crystals of all shapes and sizes. Whoever this Prince was, she had no doubt he was wealthy. Wealth equaled power, that was a fact all pirates knew.
She picked up her pace and followed close behind the other woman. She nearly tripped over her when she came to a sudden stop. Shari’s attention had been on the room rather than her guide. She straightened herself and did her best to rearrange the strips of cloth to hide what she could.
Peering around Jalexia, she was met by the sight of a being sitting atop what she assumed was a throne. The back of the chair was adorned with long, golden feathers and what appeared to be metal twisted and bent in such a way as to look like flowers. The throne wasn’t what drew her attention though, no that honor went to the being sitting on it. Given that she was fairly certain it was the Prince, she assumed it was a male. His skin was an iridescent blue, shimmering and changing colors depending on the way he moved. His eyes, all four of them, were golden with slitted pupils like a those of a cat sat slightly slanted on the upper portion of his face. Like his eyes, he also had 4 arms, two on either side of his body. They were pleasantly proportioned, neither long and gangly nor trunk like or grotesque.
“Do I please you, little female? I know my form can be repulsive to some species. You seem… curious.”
She stood mutely, uncertain. He beckoned for her to step forward, she obliged slowly, acutely aware of the image she presented in her current state.
“I see they have dressed you to the taste of our people. Does this please you?”
He tilted his head as he spoke to her, his hands resting in an open and welcoming stance.
“Sir… it is… not my usual taste. If I am to be honest, with your Royal Highness, I am more used to what you might call men’s wear.”
She bowed deeply and tried to smile as sweetly as she could. She had to find a way to get the hell out of there, and fast. He seemed to sense her urgency as he waved his hands and smiled at his other attendants.
“We will retire to my rooms. Send refreshments.”
He waved one of his hands again, then stood and sauntered behind the throne, turned to her and tilted his head.
“Come, we are not finished little female.”
She followed him, glancing back at Jalexia but the other female simply shrugged and turned back on them, standing as if to guard them. Shari followed the Prince through a set of floor to ceiling black, silk curtains and into a large, opulently appointed room. The front room was tastefully, yet luxuriously decorated with large floor pillows, reclining couches, dark wood tables, and other fine furniture.
“Please, be seated.”
All four arms spread wide to indicate the room. She stood a moment to take the room in before moving toward one of the reclining couches. She did not recline though, instead, she pressed her back against the back of the couch.
“I will not bite, this I promise.”
He smiled at her as he selected a large, overstuffed pillow on the floor near her selected couch. He wiggled a little until he was settled. He then reached over and patted the arm of the couch.
“Now then, no small ears to hear big plans. I have a use for you and I think you will see that it benefits you as well.”
She tilted her head, her curiosity awakened. Maybe the guard had been right. She let the fabric slide slightly off her shoulders, revealing more skin. The Prince chuckled and shook his head.
“No, little female, not like that. I have plenty in my harem to satisfy that need. No… no I’m thinking of a more business related matter.”
A servant entered them carrying a large tray laden with food and drinks. As they set it down the light from the candles overhead caught several of the containers and made the whole affair glitter like a treasure chest overflowing with goods.
“Please enjoy my bounty. The fruits are especially pleasing with their sweet nectars.”
He held a small dish up to her, sliced fruits glistened on it. Gingerly, she took it and began to nibble on a piece. It was some of the best she had ever had. For himself, he selected a few other morsels. She wanted to hurry up and find out what this business was that he thought she could help with, still, she nibbled the fruits and let the juices coat her lips as she leaned in close to him. Harem be damned. He only chuckled and handed her a delicate cloth.
“You seemed to have enjoyed that, there is plenty more if you wish for more later. But, for now, let us get down to business.”
He rubbed his hands together in glee, reminding her of a small boy about to reveal a secret plot. His whole demeanor transformed from cool royal to a man with a mission. His eyes caught a glitter and his lips curved upward. Even the blue of his skin seemed to brighten. He moved in close to her, taking one of her hands in his own. She realized it wasn’t skin, but rather scales so smooth they were like polished metal, smooth as the most perfect pearls.
“I need someone who can slip off the planet and onto others. Someone who can be…. Unseen. There is a somewhat delicate matter that needs handling.”
She shook her head and frowned. SHe was no politician and she was most certainly not a spy. She was many things… a pirate, a businesswoman, an entrepreneur. But a spy? Not in this lifetime. He watched her, his eyes becoming hooded the longer she stayed silent.
“Let me tell you what I want, then you may say yes…. Or return to your previous accommodations.”
Shari nodded, trying not to fret at his not so veiled threat. He smiled at her and continued, offering her another plate of food as he did so.
“Right then, there is something I need retrieved, it is quite dear to me and quite valuable. In the wrong hands, it could spell the end of my legacy and possibly the end of my people. It seems someone else has figured it out that it’s important, I only hope they have not realized the true significance of it.”
He picked at an invisible bit of lint on his robes as he gave her a moment to take his words in. He pulled a small flat screen from within his robes. It flashed a series of letters in another language several times before clicking over to an image of an ornate egg.
“An egg? You need a decorated egg? What is this, Faberge collectors?”
She knew she should keep silent, but it struck her as slightly absurd. He frowned at her and waited for her to be silent once again before continuing.
“As much as I appreciate your human reference, no. This is not an egg someone played dress up with. It is the core of our people. It holds the essence of all we are. You do not need further details, only that it is beyond value and only one familiar with it can wield it safely.”
He took a moment to pause and sip at his tea, slurping slightly as he did so.
“What could I possibly do? I’m a pirate, not a negotiator. Do you even know who might have this magical egg of yours?”
He nodded and tapped at his flat screen a few more times and pulled up an image of three beings.
“These three posed as loyal supplicants but were nowhere to be found when it was discovered that it was gone. They would have returned to their home planet, Macabaesia. It is not far from here. I cannot use one of my own, but one who is unconnected to me would raise fewer alarms and suspicions.”
She pondered his point several moments. She could certainly see his point. Still, she wasn’t sure she was ready to put her neck out for him just to avoid time in a cell.
“Let me sweeten the pot. I want to make my personal privateer. You would be in my employ and protect the interests of my legacy…but you would also be free to pursue your own transactions as long as they do not cross me and mine. A small stipend and upgrades to your crew and ship should you wish it. You won’t find a better offer anywhere else I think.”
He wasn’t wrong, in fact, such an offer was beyond what most in her position could hope for. The sanction of not just a person, but a government was nearly unheard of outside of ballads and history vids. The added morsel of upgrades and the ability to take other contracts only added to the sweetness. It all seemed a little too sweet if she was honest.
“Why so much sweetness?”
He chuckled and shrugged, popping another piece of fruit into his mouth and chewing slowly before answering.
“I have heard of you, Sharianna Blythias MacDonal. Your peers have some interesting things to say about you and your ladies. Seems you are very particular about who you allow on that ship of yours. I need someone who can go where others can’t. I need someone I can send into the territory of my competitors and not have them immediately seized. Plus… you are obviously resilient given how far you have come and where you are now. So, I get my precious back and a renowned pirate in my employ. You get security and freedom all in one.”
It was quite a bit to consider, an offer like this was not likely to come again in this lifetime. Still, being in the employ of the Prince meant his demands would come first. Could cost her contracts and contacts, but only if others knew.
“I’ll do it. On a couple of conditions. No one knows I’m in your employ. Only you and my crew. You send information through encrypted lines to an anonymous uplink. Payment is made before the job is complete.”
He shook his head and smiled.
“No, half payment before a job and the rest after. I agree to the other terms, it protects us both. One more thing. I want to meet your crew.” He slurped juice from a fruit then cleared his throat. “Oh, and Jalexia is now part of your crew. She is envoy and she will act as a bodyguard.”
She considered that a moment and nodded. She offered her hand and he took it, shaking it firmly.
“Now then, let us get your crew here and you on your way.”
He pulled up a link and had her input the personal code to her crew and relay the coordinates for them to rendezvous with her that evening. Once they disconnected she set about readying for their next contract.
-END PART 1-
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