sci-fi romance book
genre: sci-fi romance book
length: 26835 words / novella
released: July 2009
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Daughters of Lyra: Heart of a Mercenary
Princess Miali, one of the beautiful and strong daughters of Lyra, is an ambassador for Lyra. Her true identity is kept secret to protect her but it’s her beauty that puts her in danger when slavers attack her ship while she’s in cryo-sleep. When she wakes, she finds herself heading for the markets, her only company the ship’s handsome young Minervan doctor. Kosen makes Miali’s body react like no man before him, sending her hair floating with her positive emotions and making her wonder if she might just be falling for her captor.
Kosen has been part of Nostra’s crew since his two sisters were sold into slavery. His only desire is to gain enough money to buy them back, and Miali’s sale will get him just that. But the more time he spends with her, the more he realises that the path he chose was a mistake and the life he’s led is a shameful one. When he discovers Miali’s secret, he agrees to help her escape, and not just because she promises him the money he needs. Miali fascinates him with her beauty and the way her body reacts to him, and he can’t help believing that they might have a chance with each other, and he might have a chance at a better life.
Can Kosen help Miali escape the slaver vessel and the terrible future that awaits her at the markets? Will he be able to save his sisters and change the course of his life? And will Miali be able to convince Kosen to stay with her?
ALL OF THE DAUGHTERS OF LYRA STORIES STAND ALONE AND DO NOT NEED TO BE READ IN ORDER.
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Miali walked along the corridor between the bridge and her room, her thoughts miles away and running through her schedule and recent events. They were safely en route to Dliaer. She glanced out of the oval windows running alongside the corridor and stopped when she saw Sekaria Prime slowly disappearing into the distance. Its bright blue orb was dazzling under the light of the twin suns.
It was beautiful.
The backdrop of the Andromeda galaxy only made it more stunning. A smile touched her lips and she gave herself a moment away from her duties as an ambassador to take it all in. All of her life she had dreamed of seeing space as her father and mother had. Now she was finally able to travel amongst the stars whose names she had memorised, following ancient shipping routes that predated her grandparents.
Sometimes she missed her parents and their home on the Nebula-Lyra II, the ship her father, Remi, captained. Her mother, Emmanuelle, had told Miali that her father had always been homesick when in space. Perhaps she had picked up this trait from him. Her long silver hair floated upwards. Miali frowned and smoothed it back down again.
That was definitely something she had inherited from her mother. It was a Dazkaran trait that she wished she didn’t have. It made it impossible to keep some things secret.
If she liked a male, her hair would betray her feelings, rising and swaying with them. If she was happy, it floated in the air as though she was underwater. They had tormented her in school about it, so much so that, much to her annoyance, her father had pulled her from lessons and had her privately tutored instead. He had only been protecting her, but she had wanted to spend time with the children of the other officers on the ship. She had wanted to be normal.
The communicator bracelet around her wrist bleeped. Miali looked down at it. It was time to turn in. Soon, the ship would drop into sub-space and it always made her feel sick if she was awake when it happened. The other ambassadors on the ship understood her need to be in cryo-sleep when they travelled in sub-space but didn’t know the reason for it. The ship’s doctor had explained to her that her sensitivity to her feelings amplified her fear and the reverberations of the ship. Those combined to make her nauseas and gave her panic attacks.
It was a nice change to have someone treat her as an adult and a normal person for once. The doctor hadn’t picked on her because of her part-Dazkaran roots, or fussed over her because of her royal blood. In fact, no one here did.
That was probably because no one here knew that she was born of Lyran royalty.
Her father had agreed that it was best to keep that fact about her hidden. He had spoken to parliament and the military, and had arranged a new identity for her under the same name. Her uncle, Sebastian, the king of Lyra, had issued her the position of Lyran ambassador.
They had pulled so many strings to make her safe and give her this chance of living her dream of a normal life. She thanked them so often that they were probably sick of hearing it now. Whenever she wrote to them about a planet that they had agreed a new treaty with or a new species they had made contact with, she always thanked them for giving her this wonderful opportunity.
The universe was a fascinating place full of so many kind and generous species. It was more incredible than she ever could have dreamed.
Making her way to the cryo-sleep chamber, Miali read the files stored on the small computer pad that she held. The other ambassadors on the ship had all filed their reports on the meeting on Sekaria Prime and their thoughts on the topics they would broach at the meeting on Dliaer. She hadn’t had the time to write hers yet. She had spent the remainder of her time on the planet seeing the central city.
All of the other ambassadors on the ship were male and often teased her because of her desire to see the cities they visited. She didn’t mind if they thought it was a female thing to do. She loved to see them. Once, she had even managed to convince a few of the men to join her. After that, the others had teased her less, turning their taunts towards those men instead.
Miali giggled to herself about the constant torment those men had been given since their tour of the city. It had been on Minerva Four. Months had passed since then.
The ship’s doctor greeted her at the door to the cryo-sleep chamber. She smiled at the grey-haired man and finished reading the reports on her computer pad as she stepped into the sleek curved white metal and glass pod that the doctor had prepared.
“I’ll take it from here, Doc.” A familiar male voice made Miali look up and she blushed with her smile when she saw it was Eryc, the Terran ambassador. They had met as children on Lyra Five, her Uncle Balt and Aunt Kayla’s planet. Her aunt was the last surviving member of Terran royalty and had gathered all of her scattered people there when she had married Balt. Eryc thought that she knew the royal family because she was a friend of Renie, Balt and Kayla’s eldest daughter.
“You’re thinking about Lyra Five again aren’t you?” Eryc said with a wide smile, his chocolate brown eyes warm with it.
“Maybe,” she said and handed him the computer pad. “It’s been a while since I’ve seen Renie. I bet her brother Rezic has her off in the wild depths of space somewhere looking for ancient tat.”
Eryc laughed. “You know Renie and Rezic. They’re inseparable. I’ll never understand why they want to haul arse around the universe looking at dead things.”
“And they’ll never understand why we travel from planet to planet forging new peace treaties and maintaining relations with other species.” Miali reached for the strap above her right shoulder at the same time as Eryc. Their hands touched, hers covering his. She froze, her heart beating a little harder, and then took her hand away. Eryc looked at her for a moment before pulling the strap down and clicking it into place with the array of other straps over her stomach.
Miali willed her hair to stay put. She wasn’t stupid. She had seen the way that Eryc had been looking at her recently. In Iskara’s name, half of the men on the ship had been looking at her that way. Considering that they spent most of their time in space and that she was the only female onboard, she could understand the flirting and the looks they gave her. She was beginning to give a few of them looks in return but that was where it stopped for her. She had never been the kind of woman who could have flings. Her feelings were too strong and she knew that she would want more than just a short romance. She wanted love.
She hoped that the heated looks that Eryc gave her weren’t just because it had been months since they had spent longer than a day on any one planet.
After all, the way that things were going, she was starting to get the impression that she might like him and, given enough time, that like might become something else.
Something more than friendship.
He clicked the last of the straps into place and tugged them, checking that they were secure. With a flash of a smile, he stepped back. The doctor checked her vitals on the monitor beside the pod and then touched the panel below them. As the door closed, the doctor walked away but Eryc remained. He had done this the past few times that they had sent her to sleep. It was comforting to see him there when she was sent under and then to wake to see him still there, as though he had been waiting for her the whole time that she had been asleep.
“See you when you wake up, sleeping beauty.” Eryc held his hand up and smiled again.
Miali nodded and then everything went black.
* * * *
Miali’s head ached when she came around and she frowned when she found herself faced not with the cryo-sleep room and Eryc, but with a tall, very broad and ugly bald man in black. The man grinned to reveal twin rows of pointed teeth. Her mind felt as though someone had scrambled it and although she knew that those teeth meant something, she couldn’t piece it together. He grabbed her around the throat, squeezing so tight that she couldn’t breathe. She tried to push him away as panic lanced through her but her arms wouldn’t work.
Dazedly, she looked over at her right arm. She blinked when she saw a thick black metal band encircling her wrist, holding her arm out horizontally. A metal bar extended out from the band and joined it to a wall a foot behind her.
Miali swallowed to clear the dry sticky lump from her throat and quickly looked at her other wrist. A similar cuff wrapped around it, the bar holding it rigid. A glance at her feet revealed they were blurred. When her eyes finally managed to focus, she saw that they were shackled to the wall too, spread shoulder width apart. Her gaze tracked up her legs.
Her heart jumped in her chest when she saw that her deep blue and black skin-tight flight suit was no longer done up to her neck.
Someone had opened it far enough that her cleavage was on display. It must have been the man. She wriggled in a desperate attempt to get free, afraid of what the man might do to her and not caring that the metal cuffs bit into her wrists where her flight suit ended. The man laughed at her, deep and menacing, and tightened his grip on her throat.
“This one has spirit,” he said on a chuckle and shoved her head back towards the wall.
Something clicked. His hand left her throat. Cold steel pressed against it. She struggled but couldn’t move her upper body. He had put a collar on her and fixed it to the wall like her arms and legs.
“What do you want?” she said, her voice small and trembling. Her gaze darted around the dim room. The only light was a tiny pinhole beam on the ceiling. It pointed straight at her, dampening her vision. She could only see the man in front of her. The rest of the room was in shadow. She could hear others but couldn’t see them. The thought that others were watching her, could see her so vulnerable and exposed, made her skin crawl. “Where am I? Where is everyone else?”
The man laughed again. “All in good time. For now, shut your pretty trap. Slaves got to learn to be quiet.”
A wave of nausea hit her.
It wasn’t just the thought that she was now a slave that evoked that feeling. There was something else. She focused on her surroundings and her stomach lurched.
In Iskara’s name, they were travelling in sub-space and she was awake. Wave after wave of sickness swept through her, crashed over her, until she was fighting a constant battle to stop herself from vomiting.
Miali gasped at air. It was cool and refreshing but didn’t stop the nausea from growing worse as her panic increased. Some people had her. They must have attacked the ship while she had been asleep.
“Who are you?” she said, voice shaking along with her body.
The man grinned and backhanded her. Pain shot out in all directions from her jaw and cheek. Flashing white dots punctured her vision. She closed her eyes against them and the sight of this terrifying reality.
“Quiet!” He grabbed her roughly by the jaw and dragged her head back around. She squinted through the pain to look at him. Those sharp teeth. It dawned on her. Minervan. “Think of me as your master, for now. Can’t say you’ll be needing this where you’re going.”
He took the translator from her ear, her voice alteration device from her throat, and the communications band from her wrist. With a chilling laugh, he walked away, disappearing into the gloom. The sight of his teeth wouldn’t leave her. A Minervan? Why did a Minervan want her? Slave? Master?
Her head pounded from fear and pain.
A door opened and she saw a corridor and then the silhouettes of several people. One was easily recognisable as the man who had spoken to her. He was tall and broad, but not in a muscular sense. Clearly, he was living well from trading the people that he captured, selling them into slavery. Two people just as tall followed him. Both male judging by their shape. One was as large as the man she had met and the other was far slimmer. The last silhouette was clearly a female.
A female working in the slave trade?
Perhaps she was a slave herself.
When the door closed, the light above Miali dimmed and then went out. She tried to look up, but couldn’t move her head enough. The collar around her throat dug in, stopping any attempts to escape. The metal was sharp at the edges and her wrists were already sore. Questions filled her aching mind.
Her hope that the others were alive faded when she remembered that this was a slave ship. From what she had read about and seen of slavery, male slaves were rare. Females brought the best price at market. She had heard of the incredible prices that some of them had fetched, and how prized they were by their masters.
Her aunt, Kayla, had suffered years of slavery with a Sekarian trader, thankfully only working in his warehouse. If Uncle Balt hadn’t saved Kayla, someone might have discovered that she was Terran royalty. They would have sold Kayla to the highest bidder. Her owner would have prized her as a whore.
Was she facing such a fate now?
What if these men knew that she was Lyran royalty? No. They couldn’t. Her family had been careful to give her a false background and to alter the records of the princess with another’s picture so no one would recognise her as the daughter of Prince Lyra IV.
White spots appeared across her vision again. It was a struggle to hold onto consciousness as the combination of nausea and fear threatened to take the universe away again. She blinked rapidly, clinging to the darkness and trying to calm herself. A stronger wave of sickness crashed over her and swept her away into the inky black.
Miali groaned when she came around, her throat aching from having her head hung forwards against the collar while she had been unconscious. She screwed her face up and then slowly opened her eyes. The dark greeted her, as menacing and chilling as before. Staring into it, cold fear crept down her spine. What would happen to her now? Where were the rest of the crew? Where was Eryc? Were they really all dead?
Her stomach had settled. They must have come out of sub-space. In fact, she couldn’t feel the ship moving at all. Perhaps they had docked.
A bright burst of light blinded her and she flinched away from the open door. When it closed again, the pinhole light above her came on. She squinted as her eyes adjusted to it.
A man stepped under the light, his black spiked hair and equally black eyes betraying his species as much as his sharp teeth did when he spoke.
“Not a word.”
This one was young and handsome.
And he spoke Lyran.