Authors: Kelly Lucille
The Alpha Prime
Captain Jackson Ambar
looked down at his computer terminal and scrolled the mind-numbingly long list
of complaints, disturbances, and call outs. All of it station bullshit that
had nothing to do with the very specific job he was sent here to do.
Strictly present to keep
the peace, and protect both The Collector, his auction, and the visitors, the
crew of the starship
had its hands full without being bombarded
with the rest of the space stations’ flotsam and jetsam. There had already been
several break-in attempts that had to be quelled without hurting the delicate
accord, not an easy task. His marines were trained to defend themselves and
the populace; it was not so easy to protect and defend goods while trying not
to kill the criminals bent on taking them. This was neutral space; a death
here would be catastrophic to the fragile peace. And even worse, along with the
usual rats that populated any place that had rare goods, the Alpha Guild was
Some would call them the
scourge of the solar system, a power to be reckoned with. Ruthless, they ruled
their edge of space with iron claws. Even the bloodthirsty pirates and Cornata
mercenaries had more sense than to take on the Alpha Guild. Too many had lost
their heads and assorted other body parts to the cause. Now, star systems
across the known galaxy curried favor or simply stayed out of the way when the
Alpha Guild deigned to leave their hunting grounds around Alpha Prime and
travel the more civilized star systems, which was not often.
The fact that they were
here spoke volumes to the value of the relic up for bid. If they wanted it
badly enough to come to neutral space and bid on it, they were deadly serious.
They tended to get what they wanted. Should the bidding not go in their favor,
his marines might get more trouble than they could handle.
Added to that headache,
The Collector was not a man you could trust. He was also not a man who gave up
his possessions. That he was putting such a rare item up for bid was
suspicious and out of character. While he did tend to find and auction off
lesser items, his growing collection of the truly unique was never touched.
Purportedly, the item that was up for sale tonight had been in his collection
All of this led Jackson
to the sure knowledge that this was building up to be a diplomatic shit storm
of epic proportions. Being the man given the dubious honor of keeping the
peace meant he had likely been thrown to the wolves, career wise. With his own
reputation for lightning fast moves and brash tactics, he was the last captain he
expected to be called up for this type of mission. The best of the best he
might be in a battle, but he was not known for his diplomatic skills, rather
his skill as a pilot and unparalleled killing ability. That he had been
requested specifically by The Collector did not give him the warm fuzzies.
He had tried to point out
to his superiors that he was not exactly popular with the Alpha Guild having
butted heads with them on numerous occasions. The powers that be reported back
that if he was still walking and talking after such altercations, he was
probably as lucky as he was good. They had shot down his objections quickly.
With so many house lords with powerful house names being expected, Jackson
would have preferred to be anywhere else in the galaxy. Orders were orders.
Jackson rubbed his hands
over his tired, no doubt bloodshot brown eyes and pushed back his military cut
brown hair that defied taming, even as short as it was. The treated leather of
his armor creaked when he settled back in his chair, and the scuff of his black
boots almost echoed in the cavernous silence. His captain’s ready room might
be a tiny speck of a cubicle, but sounds bounced off the soundproofed walls
making it feel more like a tomb. The idea was that no one could listen to his
business from outside the room. But it also meant trained assassins could
sneak aboard and slaughter everyone and he wouldn’t hear a thing. Not that it
had ever happened in the history of the Alliance, but such were his thoughts
whenever he was forced to spend time there, which might be why he usually
managed to avoid it.
He needed to get out of
there and soon. He could go days, even weeks, without sleep in the thick of
the fighting, but this mind-numbing administrative paperwork had him ready to
take his blaster to his own head.
How long have I been doing this shit?
looked at the chrono and cursed – less than an hour.
Oh, fuck this shit.
Jackson bolted out of his
chair like his ass was on fire and stomped out onto the bridge. His five-man
command crew looked up, saw his face, and quickly turned back to their tasks –
all except for one.
His second, Commander
Charles Morgan, was around his height. At six feet, Charles had more bulky
muscles than his captain, bulky muscles that he worked hard at, making him look
scarier at first glance than the more whipcord lean Jackson. He was good at
keeping discipline because no one wanted to take that on. You just knew you
did not want to be hit by those meaty fists of his. But it cost him in
dexterity and ease of movement, which was why Jackson would never win an arm
wrestling contest with the man, but he could shove a sword through his neck in
thirty seconds or less. He did not get spending quality time on building more
muscle when the man should have been working on his sword work. Blasters were
all well and good planet side, but you didn’t use them on anything floating in
space for the simple reason that the shields that protected the ships were the
same ones that would deflect blasts right back on your ass, if you were stupid
enough to fire inside them. So, bulking up to make yourself a bigger target in
the limited space of a starship was just asinine in his opinion. Charles
“Have you seen Cordan
yet?” The commander had been with him enough years to know of the bad blood
between his captain and the Alpha Prime Commander Lo Cordan.
“No, and if we’re lucky
we won’t. There’s no reason the high commander would have to come; he’ll more
likely send a representative.” Jackson shook off the tension that had settled
on his shoulder at the mention of that name.
“Sorry to deflate that
lovely balloon of denial you got going, but I just saw his ship at space dock.
Word is he and a ‘companion’ will be attending the auction personally.”
unclenched his teeth with an effort. Then his hard brown eyes narrowed. “What
do you mean companion? Everyone is allowed one representative and no more.”
“Apparently, they made an
exception in the case of the Alpha Guild. We both know none of the other
delegates will have the brass to complain.”
“They may not, but I sure
as hell will,” Jackson growled, not even remotely hiding his pleasure at the
thought of causing that insufferable Prime trouble. “Which docking pad?”
“Two, but they will have
already disembarked. Besides, you would do better to stay away from Cordan.
what happened last time
.” By the last word, he was yelling after his captain’s
Jackson tapped his
communicator. “Base two, where are the Alpha Prime representatives located?”
There was a pause. “Two-five-six
Star Suite B, but captain, maybe it would be a good idea . . .
When he ran into both his
tactical officer and ship’s doctor on the short route to see the Alpha Prime
Commander he realized word must have spread. Not even in full uniform, they
must have rushed from whatever leave they were presently enjoying just to
corral his ass. That’s what comes from shipping out with people for years.
Everyone is family and feels free to meddle. He was able to disburse the big,
burly, blue-eyed, black-haired Jus Bryant, tactical officer and weapons
specialist with a quick command and a snarl, so discipline was not completely
lost, but Doctor Flynn Banner was resolute. Older than the rest of them by
about a decade and ship’s doctor, he was less persuadable.
“Jackson, this is a really
bad idea.” Doc was almost wheedling. Considering his grey hair and years in
the military, it didn’t suit him. “You know what the admiral said.”
“He said one delegate
per.” Jackson was aware that he was speaking through gritted teeth and did his
best to unclench his jaw.
“A small infraction that
no one else is worried about. Do you really want to start an altercation over
something that minor, with the
“One per,” he reiterated
firmly. “Every house lord in attendance left behind not only their assistants,
flunkies, and boot lickers, but also their security so they could attend this
auction. No way is the Alpha Guild going to be the one exception to the rules The
Collector laid out. They may not give the Alpha Prime any grief over it, but
they sure as hell will lodge a complaint with the Alliance.” Jackson reached
the door, the doctor trailing behind only slightly. Jackson took pity on him.
“You may return to your duties.”
“I might as well stay,”
Doc mumbled, moving his head from side to side like his neck was tightening up
on him. “It will save me the trip back when blood is spilled.”
Jackson gave him a smile
that showed a lot of teeth. “I’m not going to hurt him.”
Doc snorted. “I wasn’t
talking about him.”
“Your belief in me is awe-inspiring.”
“Yeah, well, you in a
rage is a scary thing. The Commanding Prime of the Alpha Guild in a rage is a
seven-foot motherfucker with retractable claws.”
“One rep per.” Jackson
repeated it one more time. “That big bastard is not above the law, whatever he
The banging on the door
that ensued when Jackson’s fist connected to it belied his seeming control.
There was no way anyone inside could have missed the sound short of complete
deafness, and an inability to feel vibrations. It was no surprise then that
the door opened almost immediately; what was surprising was who opened it.
“Can I help you?” The
voice was as soft as the eyes that met his. A soft violet blue unlike anything
he had ever seen. Her waist-length hair and softly arching eyebrows were a dark
brown that was almost black. She was obviously part human; she had freckles
across the bridge of her nose for fuck’s sake. What else was added to her DNA
was not as obvious. Surprisingly, she wore standard slacks in straight lines,
black boots, and a soft top that was neither loose nor tight, and left her
curves or lack of them a mystery. It was a soft grey color and too casual for a
delegate, and she was much too covered up for a companion. She was tall for a
human woman, just under his six-foot height, and most of it was leg. His
usually well-behaved cock was suddenly pounding against his combat leathers.
He caught her eyes, well
aware that his conveyed heat. “You are?”
She smiled a kind of
mischievous smile that did nothing for the situation his dick was in. “In my
room minding my own business. And you?”
“Looking for Cordan.”
She blinked up at him. “On
“I need to remind him
that he is not exempt from the law whatever he believes. One rep per, no more.”
He was getting fucking tired of repeating it.
She just looked at him
for a moment, her eyes conveying her doubt. “And you are going to remind The
Alpha Prime Commander Lo Cordan of the law?”
“Absolutely.” Fact was
he was dying to bring that big bastard down a peg or two.
“That is a really bad
idea.” She looked him up and down and then flinched looking behind her as if
she was hearing something he was not privy to. “Fine. He says to let you in,
but if I were you, I’d come back later. He’s in a bit of a playful mood.” She
winced and rubbed at her head. Jackson took note that this companion was more
than she seemed if she was bound psychically to the Alpha Prime Commander.
He followed her through
the room, finding himself more than a little curious as to who and what she was
to Cordan. She stopped at the double door and motioned to the doctor. “I am
sorry, he says just the captain. Can I get you any refreshments while you wait,
Jackson looked at Flynn; the
doctor was wearing his uniform but had neglected to put on the coat that
carried his medical insignia in his haste to avert unnecessary bloodshed. “How
do you know he’s a doctor?”
“Cordan says ‘doctor,’ I
believe him. Is he mistaken?”
“No, but how would he
know who is with me when he has yet to lay eyes on him?”
She tilted her head. “Smells
like a doctor apparently.” Right, the Alpha Prime nose was legendary.
“I would love a cup of
tea,” the doctor said moving to where she motioned him and sat down.
“I’ll get that . . .” She
sighed deeply and changed direction, “Someone will be in presently with your
tea.” She swallowed and seemed to gather herself before she went to open the
door for them both.
“You don’t want to go in?”
he asked her, following her down the short hall to the bedroom suite.
“Not especially, no.”