Eternal Flame

m/f space opera
romance space opera

Chapter 2: The King

A stinging in her side brought her back to consciousness, and Nami opened her eyes cautiously, instantly alert and looking for enemies. She felt more adjusted to the gravity; it would not slow her down as much. Seeing a man’s back, she edged into a sitting position, feeling for her sword and frowning when it wasn’t in its sheathe. She could force him to return it before killing him, Nami decided. Sliding silently off the bench where she lay, she ignored the burn in her side and moved behind him. He was looking at something, attention totally diverted.

Before he could react, she clamped a hand over his mouth and grabbed his throat, locking him in a tight grip as he struggled uselessly. Her fingers closed cruelly around his windpipe and he gasped for air, trying to claw her hands away.

“Return my sword,” she said menacingly, inching close to whisper in his ear.

He pointed, still unable to speak, and she shoved him against the wall, reaching to open the drawer and remove her sword. Sighing as its familiar weight comforted her, she crouched and examined him. Tall, gripping his neck in pain and glaring at her with sky-blue eyes. His golden hair was short, and his tan skin was flushed with rage. He was dressed simply, and didn’t appear to be armed. Since he hadn’t evaded her attack, she had to guess that he didn’t know how to fight.

“Some thanks for saving you,” he muttered, massaging his throat and wincing.

“Saving me?” she asked quietly, and he gestured to her side. Glancing down, she grimaced as she saw that the bear’s claws had managed to cause a lot more damage than she’d thought. The continuous exertion had probably numbed her body too much to notice how badly she’d been injured. He had neatly bandaged it for her.

“Oh,” she said, blushing slightly and sheathing her sword. “Thank you. Who are you?”

The man chuckled, shaking his head. “Why should I tell you anything after you attacked me? And what are you doing on this planet? No humans are allowed to live here.”

“So what are you? Why are you here? And what gives you the right to say who can and can’t live here?”

“I’m not the one who decides. The bears here are sentient, as you may have noticed, and they attack any human who comes into their territory. Which is the whole planet,” he added.

Nami crossed her arms, considering. When the city had requested help, she’d assumed they needed to be evacuated because of an outside threat. But they hadn’t actually said that another army was attacking, just that they were being killed and needed help. Surely they would have specified if it were the native species attacking, but perhaps they were still hoping to be allowed to colonize and knew colonies were forbidden if the natives objected. Maybe they were hoping that she and her army would take out the natives so they could remain.

“I’m here,” she said slowly, meeting his eyes warily, “To help evacuate the colony here. The people were being killed, and needed help.”

His eyes widened, glancing from her copper hair to the tight, rust colored outfit she wore. “You’re Ultia, aren’t you? Don’t worry, I’m not a threat. I have other people to do my fighting for me.”

“Who are you?” she asked softly, drawing her sword once again and adopting a fighting stance. It was a little unnerving how quickly he recognized her as the commander of Calib’s army. She wasn’t wearing a mask, and very few people had seen her face. She wasn’t quite prepared to let another person onto that short list.

“King Bertran of Mammon,” he said simply, and she gasped. One of the royalty, here? Mammon loosely bordered her system of Calib, but the huge stretch of space between them was completely devoid of any stars. Still, they were enemies, and often clashed in the Unclaimed Quadrant, where their borders did collide. Examining the room quickly, she plotted how to take him hostage, but still faced the problem of finding her city and ships. And what was he doing out of his territory? This system had been considered hers for almost a year, and she wasn’t going to let anyone else take it.

“Perhaps we can help each other,” he said, eyeing her full figure and moving closer. “You need to get back to your city. I need some information only you can get me.”

“What information?”

“I know that there’s a dealer in… unusual products somewhere near Wendigo. I need to know who it is and where he or she is.”

Nami tapped her lips thoughtfully. “What for?”

“I need something that I can’t get anywhere else,” he said. “Don’t worry,” he added. “I’m not going to do any busts. I’ve always encouraged a healthy black market.”

“Take me back to my city, and I’ll tell you,” she said slowly. He offered his hand, and she shook it, formalizing the agreement. She knew exactly who he was talking about and wondered what his interest was in Adrian’s black market. Adrian kept the location of his black market extremely well-hidden, mostly to prevent other nations from stopping his operations. But the few people who did discover it, like Nami, generally found it far more useful to leave it functioning than to try to limit its operations. She would have to hope that he was telling the truth on not wanting to bust the black market. But if he did need something illegal, Adrian was the best place to go.

They left the tower, climbing upwards to the top, where a small ship waited. The tower, which had seemed so sparkling white from a distance, was actually a ruin now that she saw it in the light of day. As moonlight had reflected on the crystals worked into the wall, it looked like snow, but viewed in the daylight, it was only rock, chipped and beginning to collapse.

“What is this?” she asked, running a hand along the wall as they approached the ship.

Bertran glanced over at her. “A ruin, from a very ancient civilization. I’ve been studying it. It’s the only place safe from the bears,” he added, typing a few commands in as the door unlocked to the ship.

She entered cautiously, but the empty room reassured her. There were no secret troops stationed here to ambush her. Besides, he hadn’t gotten his answers yet, and probably wouldn’t kill her until he did. He gestured for her to sit down, taking the pilot’s chair as he plotted a course to her city, practically on the other side of the planet. How did she manage to get so far off course?

“We’ll be there in twenty minutes,” he said, turning to face her and once again running his eyes along her body.

She shifted, not sure whether she wanted to encourage or avoid that look. She had only had one lover, Prince Aaron of Calib, but it wasn’t a good relationship. She would have preferred to avoid him, but she had once been his slave and even though she had been freed on her eighteenth birthday, even though she had worked her way up the ranks to command the military, he still viewed her as his property. She resented him, but couldn’t fight him without losing everything.

This man, though, was different. He was handsome, and her stomach fluttered at the thought of his lips on hers, his strong body pressed against hers. But he was an enemy, and a King. Smiling as if he read her indecision, he moved to kneel beside her chair and raised her hand to his mouth, kissing it tenderly. At his touch, she felt a shiver of pleasure run through her body and tossed aside all reservations. After all, he couldn’t fight; she could overpower him if she really needed to.

Caressing his cheek and drawing him close for a kiss, she shifted into a more comfortable position and sighed as he began removing the tight outfit. He carefully avoided her injury, stroking and arousing her as she hungrily pulled off his clothes. He was gorgeous, with pale ivory skin that gleamed in the light of the shuttle. He kissed along her flesh as he pulled her uniform off layer by layer until she was naked in front of him. His lips were like electrical sparks along her skin, shocking her mind with pleasure as he kissed her shoulders, her neck, her breasts. He grazed his teeth over her nipple playfully and she moaned in unexpected pleasure.

She pulled at his pants and was pleasantly surprised to see that he was already hard. They kissed for a little longer, then she straddled him on the captain’s chair and slowly lowered herself on him. She had never done anything like this before, never wanted anything like this before. An unfamiliar lust was filling her and she felt helpless before it. She needed him inside her, to feel that electricity inside her and not just on her skin. He filled her completely and when he was inside she leaned against him for a long moment and just exhilarated in the sensation. Then he began to move and she cried out.

He paused, probably unsure if he was hurting her, but she pulled him back into a rocking motion and soon, sweat dripped from his chiseled face and he was gasping as hard as she was. She shut her eyes and bit her lip as a wave of pleasure and heat washed over her, then another. It was incredible; she had never felt this way with Aaron before. He let out a low moan and she felt him explode within her.

A cautionary bleep from the monitor broke their passion off just as he finished moving, and she smiled in contentment. Perfect timing.

Carefully pulling her outfit back on and making sure her bandage was still tight on her side, she watched Bertran slip into his pants, leaving the shirt off while he landed. His chest was just as chiseled as his face and he was beautiful sitting there piloting the ship. She almost wished she could stay longer, but responsibilities called. As she stood up to leave, he pulled her into a passionate kiss.

“Your information?” he whispered, moving to her neck and biting gently, sucking just enough to leave a love mark.

She held him close, not wanting to leave. “His name is Adrian, he’s on Vega, if you say that I sent you he’ll probably listen to what you say instead of killing you.”

“Thank you,” he murmured, kissing her lightly on the lips and staring at her eyes intently. “I might need more information, you know,” he said. “Is there somewhere I can find you?”

She chuckled. “I travel a lot, it’s hard to talk to me. But if there’s somewhere you want to meet me, I can show up as often as I can.”

Running a hand over her round breast, Bertran grinned. “My palace is on Lavos. I’ll make sure any redheads who stop by are directed straight to my personal rooms.”

“Perfect,” she murmured. “I’ll come visit every chance I get.”

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