» Passionate Warriors

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Blurb

Description: A plague has ravaged the planet Zanthonia, killing most of the women and children. Commander Argo Stallon leads a daring raid to capture women from their long-time enemy, Alphia. But Alphia is a unisex planet where men and women are equals and reproduction is a carefully controlled laboratory procedure.

Astronavigator Jena assumes leadership of the captured Alphians, determined to keep any of them from taking part in "bestial" sexual practices. But the effects of the hormone suppressants they have been given since childhood fade and womanhood blossoms. Even Jena finds it difficult to resists the blandishments of the Zanthonian men, especially Commander Stallon.
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Excerpt

A series of explosions rattled the walls of the women's barrack. Jena leaped up and stood on her cot to see out the high windows of the sleeping room. Small fires illuminated the inky darkness, and through swirling snow, she saw the twisted wreckage of the communications building.

"What happened?" the now wide-awake scientist from the next bunk asked in a shocked voice.

"I don’t know," Jena replied and shook her head in disbelief. Surely this couldn’t be an attack. The retreat site was far from any rebel enclaves.

Becoming aware of the other women milling about the room in alarmed confusion, she reminded herself that the best young minds in Alphia had been selected to attend this retreat. If they were in danger, it was her duty to protect them. All the side arms of the few military personnel in attendance were locked in a cabinet in the lounge. She jumped from her bunk, ignored the fact she was wearing only her short clothes, and pushed her way into the lounge.

Captain Vita was already at the weapons cabinet, a ring of keys in her hand.

Jena rushed to her side. "The communication tower is down. We’re cut off."

Vita nodded sharply and swung the door open. "I heard zapper fire. We must be under ground attack."

"Is it rebels?"

"Not with zappers."

“But Zanthonians couldn’t mount a ground attack."

"It doesn’t matter now." Vita handed Jena a weapon. "We can’t let any of these women be captured, no matter what."

Ensign Fana ran up to them, still fumbling with the zipper of her tunic. Vita pressed a weapon into her hand and spoke more softly. "Don’t let them take any prisoners."

The outside doors burst open. Vita and Fana stood in Jena’s way. Before she got a chance to fire her weapon, the high-pitched whine of zappers filled the room. Vita and Fana crumpled, and the piercing sound waves hit Jena with devastating force. She managed to get a hand up to one ear before the excruciating pain knocked her into blackness.

Jena became aware of moaning. To her great embarrassment, she realized the pitiful sounds were coming from her. She clamped her lips shut before she tried to move, but something restricted her. She blinked her eyes, hoping to clear her blurred vision. A mesh-like material covered her face—no her entire body. It encased her so tightly she could barely move. She forced herself to take deep breaths and stopped the panic building in her.

"Shall we start loading the cabinets?"

The words were spoken in the hated Zanthonian language. Jena had spent her life preparing to destroy these villains. Was she now their prisoner?

"Naw," another voice answered. "Why bother until we know if we’re gonna make it out of Alphian airspace."

"The Commander doesn’t want these women waking up and starting a commotion."

"Is he sure they are women? My fat uncle Rolo had bigger tits than any of these creatures."

"I guess they’ve been bred not to have them."

"What the hell else have they been bred not to have? I say the Commander’s brought us on a fool’s errand that’ll likely get us all killed."

"Commander Stallon was as much against this mission as any of us. The magistrars ordered it."

Stallon! Jena’s blood boiled. He was the squadron commander responsible for the destruction of so many Alphian ships. She had prayed to Alpha to have a shot at the bastard some day. What foul plot had the dammed Zanthonians hatched? If they thought her people would back away from final victory because of a few prisoners of war, they had seriously underestimated their enemies. She’d bet Alphian fighters were on their way now to blow this ship and everyone on it to bits.

A swoosh of sliding metal announced the opening of a door. "Get these women into stasis cabinets," a new voice ordered.

"Have we reached the asteroid fields yet?"

"Just coming to 'em."

Damn, Jena thought. Once they entered the space littered with asteroids, it would be more difficult for Alphian search beams to find the ship. Of course, if this were one of the new Zanthonian cruisers, their scanners couldn’t see it anyway she realized. Another blip on her panic screen.

"But the doc wants us to bring one of them to his lab."

Jena saw a hairy beast peering down at her.

"Take this one. She’s got her eyes open and might be hard to get into a cabinet."

Two Zanthonian devils pulled on handles sewn into the bag encasing her. Her body floated toward the entryway as the guards walked on either side her. Their magnetic boots clanked against the metal deck as they maneuvered her weightless body out into a passageway with little more than casual shoves.

Frustration over her helplessness became so unbearable that she struggled against the netting cocooning her. Her efforts sent her body into a slow spin and drew chuckles from the guards.

"We got a fighter here," one of her escorts said.

"The doc will have something to calm her down," the other man replied.

Telling herself not to waste her energy, Jena relaxed. She had to be ready for whatever befell her—-ready to fight.

They entered a galley not unlike the sick bay on an Alphian battle cruiser. The men settled her onto a thinly padded table. She lurched and nearly succeeded in propelling her body off the table, but one of the men grabbed her shoulders and pinned her down.

"Hold her while I get the restraints fastened," a new voice said. "No need to wait until we reach Zanthonia to start the tests."

Straps tightened around her legs and then her chest. Damn! Trying to get off the table had been a foolish act of panic. Now she really couldn’t move.

"If you want to know if she’s do-able, I can check her out for you real quick, doc," the man who'd been holding her down said.

Alpha, give me strength! Did they intend to force their decadent sexual practices on her? She struggled violently against the restraints, but only succeeded in making herself breathless and a little dizzy.

The netting was pulled away from her face. "Don’t be afraid," a voice said in stilted Alphian. "I'm not going to hurt you."

She caught a glimpse of a face not covered with hair—it almost looked Alphian. Cold metal pressed against the side of her neck. A burst of compressed air hissed, and Jena, despite her best efforts to resist, relaxed into sleep.

Strange words tumbled through Jena’s mind. Was she dreaming? No. She abruptly remembered the Zanthonians and began to understand their meaning.

"I have the blood samples and skin scrapings, Doctor. Shall I put her shorts and top back on?"

The bastards had stripped her. What else had they done?

"Cover her with the sheet for now. Get those blood samples into the analyzer."

A door swished open. "Commander Stallon! What brings you to the medical galley?"

The devil himself!

"I was checking on the prisoners in the stasis galley and learned you had one of them here. I ordered all the women put into stasis cabinets." Stallon asked in his gruff voice.

"My God, she isn’t even restrained!"

That news surprised Jena. She had no feeling in her arms or legs, much less the ability to move them.

"Don’t worry. She’s been given a muscle relaxant and a sedative. It'll be at least an hour before she regains her major motor functions."

"Don’t take any chances. These women aren't like ours. They're vicious. That one was captured with a phaser in her hand. If our Marines hadn’t been faster, she might have killed some of them."

They weren’t faster. My aim was blocked.

"I wanted to start my tests so I'll have something to report to the magistrars as soon as we land. I've already determined that she’s anatomically compatible."

What the hell did they mean? Jena heard a swish of cloth.

"Look at her body. She has the breasts of a twelve-year old and the muscles of a Cybering wrestler. No Zanthonian man will ever be aroused by her."

The bastard had raised the sheet! Jena’s eyes flew open and she looked up at long black hair flowing on either side of a short beard, topped by a hawkish nose and piercing black eyes. Forgetting her intentions to pretend to be docile, she glared up at him in a fury.

"The bitch is awake," Stallon barked. "Tie her down."

"Please, Captain." The clean-faced doctor came into Jena's view. His golden hair was as long as the other Zanthonian's, but tied back. He took the sheet from Stallon's hand and let it fall over Jena’s body. "As long as this woman is in my galley, I insist she be treated with the dignity all patients deserve."

Stallon stepped back. "Dammit, Doctor, you have to be careful with these Alphians. I've been fighting them all my life and the women are as deadly as the men."

"I'll have her back in the stasis galley well before she's a threat."

"What have you found out about her other than general anatomy?"

"My technician has just started the tests."

"What about those marks on her neck?"

"They appear to be some sort of tattoo. I checked the prisoners on arrival and noticed they all have them."

"Yeah," Stallon replied, "but they’re not all alike."

He pointed at the series of little lines on the side of Jena's neck. "The lines vary in thickness and length and are arranged in different orders on different women."

"They're probably identification marks. The Alphians classify everyone according to their genetic makeup. My guess is the marks have something to do with rank," the doctor answered in a disinterested voice.

"But these women are all supposed to be military, and Alphians select their warriors according to genotypes. So they should have similar marks. Also they're not the same heights. The few times I've been close to Alphian warriors they were all tall, whether male or female."

The doctor turned back to his workbench. "The stasis data did show a good bit of variation in their body weights."

"How soon before this one is able to talk?" Stallon asked.

"I'd say an hour," the doctor replied in a hesitant voice.

"Well, don’t put her in stasis until I've had a chance to question her. Put some clothes on her and put her back into the restraint bag before bringing her to my quarters." With a quick turn, he left the galley.

Zots! Apparently the devil didn’t know he’d captured experts in almost every sphere of Alphian life. She prayed to Alpha for the strength to protect this secret no matter what tortures Stallon subjected her to.

The doctor came back to the examining table and looked down at her with what appeared to be real sympathy. "I'm sorry you have to go through all this. I'd planned to have you in stasis before you awoke. Now you’ll have to endure..." he paused and signed. "Oh, well. Remember, my technician and I are medical personnel and don’t be embarrassed while we’re dressing you."

Jena wished she could move, so she could crush the fool's windpipe.

The doctor and his aide easily redressed her. She felt strange, almost as if she were out of her body, as she watched them slip garments onto her weightless, numb limbs. They also put a long suit over her short clothes. The two-piece coveralls were made of a strange fiber that stretched to fit her body. Unlike loose-fitting Alphian long suits, this suit hugged her form closely. Good. She hoped her nearly flat chest would continue to disgust her captors.

After she was dressed and strapped to the table, the doctor opened the front of her suit and laid a small meter against her chest. "Can you feel that?" he asked in Alphian.

Ignoring the slight coldness she felt, Jena closed her eyes. Maybe they would think their heathen drugs had done her permanent damage.

Stallon paced in his small galley. The bridge had reported no Alphian pursuers, so he’d order his ships to avoid the asteroid belt and stay on straight courses for home. He should be relieved, but couldn’t shake the feeling something was wrong. The whole damn mission had been too easy. The base they’d attacked had been poorly defended, and the physical differences in the prisoners suggested it had been something other than an Alphian military installation.

At least he’d gotten female prisoners as the magistrars had ordered, but they'd specified military females, hoping they’d be strong enough to survive. Those tattoos and their size variations definitely showed these women were a mixed lot. No telling what their base in the Frozen Zone was really for—maybe more of their weird genetic experiments. The Creator only knew what they were taking back to Zanthonia this time.

A rap sounded at the door and Stallon pressed the "Open" button. Two aids entered carrying the prisoner. Nosy Doctor Jaymar followed them closely. "I won't need you, Doctor," Stallon said.

The doctor bristled. "I'm charged with the welfare of the prisoners. I insist on being here during the questioning."

Stallon glared at Jaymar, but to his surprise, the doctor's stance grew firmer. With a shrug, Stallon gestured to his aids. "Strap her in the acceleration couch. I want to see her face."

When the restraints were around the female’s chest and legs, Stallon slowly looked her up and down. Like all Alphians, the lower half of her head had been shaved. Tufts of short, light brown hair on the top of her head protruded through the weave of the body bag. If she'd been a man, he would have admired her obviously fit body. Since she wasn't, his disdain for her grew. Perhaps, however, she'd be strong enough to recover from the plague.

He noticed her eyes--light blue and glaring back at him. Good, she wasn’t afraid. That would make questioning her easier. "What is your name?" he asked loudly.

She didn’t respond.

Stallon glanced over at the doctor. "Can she speak?"

"You spoke in Zanthonian. Perhaps she didn't understand. Would you like me to translate?" the doctor asked.

"That won’t be necessary." Turning back to the prisoner, Stallon began to speak in Alphian. "What is your name?"

Her lips firmed into a thin, hard line.

He leaned closer and glared at her with the expression he’d often used to intimidate reckless young cadets.

She met his gaze without flinching.

He couldn't let her get away with this defiance, but he knew Jaymar wouldn't let him beat her into submission. "Perhaps this one was bred without a tongue."

He looked up at Jaymar and switched back to Zanthonian. "Did you check to see if she has one, Doctor?"

The young physician looked confused by the question. "Why, no, sir, I--"

Stallon didn’t wait for him to continue. "I don't want to keep yelling questions at the poor thing if she’s mute. I'll see for myself." He pulled the grippers of the containment bag apart and uncovered her face. Wrapping one hand around her chin, he forced her mouth open and stuck the index finger on the other hand inside her mouth. "Yes, she does have one."

She promptly chomped down on his finger.

Spewing curses, he pried her jaw down again and freed the throbbing digit.

"Keep your filthy finger out of my mouth," she roared up at him.

"So you can speak," he said while examining the teeth marks on his finger. At least she hadn’t broken the skin. "And in Zanthonian, too. Isn’t that convenient?"

She was also hot tempered. A weakness he could use against her. Sticking his face close to hers he yelled, "By the terms of the Taurolean Pact, you are required to identify yourself. What is your name?"

"Jena A5D45623," she yelled back at him.

"What branch of the military are you in?" he demanded.

"Prisoners of war are not required to give any information other than their names," she growled through clenched teeth.

"Then you admit you are military?"

"I didn’t admit anything."

He sneered to let her know she’d made a foolish mistake. "Only military personnel can be prisoners of war."

Uncertainty creased her brow and she closed her mouth so tightly her lips almost disappeared.

"Too late. Your secret's out. Now tell me the rest, and maybe I won't let my men have their way with you." He leaned closer and blew into her ear. Then he whispered, "You know what Zanthonian men like to do to females don't you?"

She jerked her head away. Then she jerked it back in an attempt to head butt him. Seeing her intent, he grabbed her throat and pinned her against the high back of the couch.

She bared her teeth in a feral grimace and muttered, "Hairy beast."

"Commander, Commander!" Doctor Jaymar called.

Stallon had forgotten the doctor was in the room. He became irritatingly aware of the man hopping from one foot to the other, very near his right arm. If the doctor grabbed his arm, Stallon knew he'd hit him, which wouldn't go over well with the magistrars. He released the woman and stepped back.

Jaymar continued in an agitated voice. "You know how important it is to get these women back to Zanthonia. I can't allow you to harm even one of them."

Stallon turned to tell the young fool who was in command here, but before he could speak, the woman blurted out, "Why are you taking us to Zanthonia?"

The doctor looked at her with a stricken expression. "Ah--ah--medical reasons."

Her mouth dropped open.

Stallon couldn't stop himself from smiling and saying, "That's right. We need organ donors." Then he waved impatiently at his men. "Take her to stasis."

The doctor would surely file a complaint if Stallon continued to question her. Besides, he'd probably have to seriously hurt this hardheaded female to get any more information. He couldn’t help admiring her courage, though. Despite being completely helpless, she had stood up to him like a true warrior.

Reviews

“I was swept away by this novel that chronicles the conflict between the Alphians and and Zanthonians. The author does an incredible job of combining science fiction with romance to create a story that has great depth and emotional resonance, as well as being a rousing good SF story.” ~ Jean, Fallen Angel Reviews

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