“How much is the buy-in?” Rone kept his face neutral, cool and disinterested, as if the answer made no difference to him. He’d been watching his quarry fleece idiots from their credits all evening by cheating at quaz.
The privateer, a male going by the name of Arpell, took his time to respond. Arrogance radiated off him like a stench. While most others in the disreputable male-only relaxation center set in the middle of a far-flung minor space station were likely impressed by the gambler’s name, Rone wasn’t. He doubted the male truly came from the caste his name implied. Out here, no one really looked too closely at someone’s pedigree. You could be anyone you wanted to be, pretend as much as you liked. Rone counted on that ability.
“Five hundred credits,” the guy finally barked out. He trained his beady eyes on Rone.
Mother, the male disgusted him and not only because of the cheating and the dubious work the male did. He was also layered in fat, an almost unheard of condition among males of their species and a testament to how much time the gambler spent sitting in his dirty clothes in the rank corner of the place. On a female, extra weight would have been lush and alluring. On a male, it spoke of slovenliness. If Rone weren’t so sure of the intel he’d gleaned through contacts around the Empire, he would never have suspected this guy was part of a sophisticated arms smuggling operation.
It didn’t matter what the cost of playing was. Rone had credits to spare, courtesy of the government. He waved his wrist unit over the credit register on the wall and sat down on the less than clean pillow across from his opponent. Like the other male, Rone had a role to play in front of everyone else. He’d cultivated his own persona of a privateer out only for himself, no one to fuck around with. As he sat, the leash attached to his belt tugged tight, forcing Preen to follow and sit on its haunches next to Rone.
Rone hated treating his companion with such blatant disregard, but that was also part of the game he played. Preen understood. It hadn’t taken long for Rone and the former pet of his mating sister to form an alliance born of loneliness and, on Rone’s part, grief. They communicated through mostly hand signals that, again, they’d developed themselves, although Preen understood much of what Rone spoke. The noises that Preen made didn’t translate into Travian at all, yet, after a while, the meaning of each sound had also become clear to Rone. Their hand signals allowed more sophisticated communication, however, with the added advantage that no one else understood their meaning.
Before the game began, Rone glanced to the far side of Arpell. Sitting in a tight ball was the male’s own pet. Rone recognized the species immediately—a human, a male one at that. Had to be. Even in this backwater place, no one would allow a female pet to be kept openly. With its face hidden within its arms, Rone couldn’t see the creature much at all. A curtain of long hair the color of bright starlight covered its head and fell over the arms wrapped tightly around small knees. Rone knew from his experience with his former house brother’s pet that humans didn’t tolerate Travian temperatures very well. Poor beast. Life with Arpell must be a misery, not that Rone had time to dwell on any sympathy he might feel for the human. He had a job to do.
Grabbing up the quaz pieces strewn before him, he nodded to Arpell. “First move to the dealer.”
The male regarded him with barely bridled glee, expecting Rone to be the next easy victim. For a time, Rone allowed himself to be just that, losing a few games and lots of credits. He pretended not to see the sleight of hand, moving pieces out of turn and substituting them with better ones. The effort, while impressive, was not hidden from his keen vision. The other players had either been stupid or chemically compromised—or likely both.
He shook his head over his latest loss and swiped in more credits, as if the large amount he’d already wasted didn’t concern him in the least. It got the attention of others in the place, one of the points to the game he played. Whoever supplied arms to the rebellion that still percolated within the Empire needed to notice him.
“You are a worthier opponent than I typically encounter,” Arpell said, leaning back. His meaty hand pawed at his pet’s head. A barely visible tremor ran through the boy’s body.
Rone hardened his heart to the sight and concentrated on his mission. “I’m new to this station.” He glanced around dismissively. “So far, this game is the most interesting thing I’ve encountered here.”
Arpell huffed out a laugh and made the next play. As with before, Rone let himself be cheated time and again. Then, having sufficiently lulled his quarry, he made his move. Arpell might be very good at cheating, but Rone was better. The look of surprise on his opponent’s face when Rone outmaneuvered him gave Rone the most satisfaction he’d felt in a very long time—since his mate had died, except he wouldn’t think of her or of the child she’d lost, along with her life. He didn’t allow any emotion to show in his expression. He simply continued his campaign of winning.
Arpell knew Rone had cheated. He could see it in Arpell’s eyes, yet what could he do? If he called Rone out on it, he’d open himself up to the same accusation. With so many others avidly watching their game, a quiet confrontation would be impossible. Rone didn’t want one, anyway. What he wanted was a pissed-off Arpell, in the hopes that he could leverage that into information when Arpell made a move against Rone. He would, too. All of Rone’s intel on the guy said that he was a smuggler, privateer, outright thief and a killer when crossed. Rone certainly hoped so. Physical fights had become a handy outlet for his anger and grief.
The crowd around them grew larger the more Rone won. He made sure to lose a few, as well, so that his winning streak wasn’t completely unbelievable. Eventually, though, he’d gained all that he’d lost and so much more. Arpell sneered down at the game pieces when Rone placed the winning one yet again. The male grasped the strands of his pet’s hair once more, the only sign of his distress. A small sound reached Rone’s ears, a whimper perhaps, although it was so faint that he almost thought he’d imagined it. Almost. He couldn’t afford to be distracted, however.
Picking up his pieces, he raised an eyebrow at Arpell. “Another round?”
Arpell licked his lips. “Your luck has certainly changed.”
Rone leaned back on one hand while he rolled the pieces in the other. “It has. I seem to have stolen yours from you.” The threat hung between them. If Arpell entertained the idea of calling Rone a cheat, he’d be on the receiving end of the same accusation. “If you wish to end the game…” He moved, as if intending to stand.
“No,” Arpell barked out. “I feel my luck will return. It’s only that you have temporarily cleaned me out of credits.”
Rone was willing to bet he’d taken just about all of them. “Then we can’t continue,” he replied, lacing his tone with a modicum of regret for the benefit of the onlookers. Once more, he began to rise.
“Wait. I have something I can bid.” When Rone merely stared back at him, Arpell shifted his gaze briefly to his pet. As he did so, he also tugged the boy’s head up by its hair.
A delicate face came into view, young and so beautiful that for a moment Rone believed he’d been wrong about Arpell keeping a female pet. But no, this was a boy with skin as pale as any Travian. When it… No, when he raised downcast eyes for just a moment, Rone caught a glimpse of ice blue ringed with white—and fear, before it was quickly banked and the gaze dropped again. Arpell’s brutal grip kept the human’s face up, though, on display. There were murmurs in the crowd and some lewd remarks.
“I don’t understand,” Rone said slowly. “Are you intending to offer your pet as a wager? If so, I’m not interested. I already have a pet.” He gestured toward Preen, who still sat quietly by his side. The little alien had endless patience.
Arpell’s expression turned nasty. “Ah, but mine is better. You can fuck it, and it knows how to suck cock. I’ve trained it very well, if I say so myself.”
Laughter broke out and more rude observations were made. Rone ignored it all, as he did Preen’s hiss. Rone knew that sound, and it meant his companion was pissed off. Small as it was, Preen could be dangerous when provoked. Rone entreated it to silence with a subtle gesture. He needed to consider this turn of events. His simple plan to provoke Arpell and gain notoriety hinged on beating him soundly and taking as many of his credits as possible. If Rone didn’t continue to play, another male would take his place. He could already see the speculation in some of those around them. The idea of owning such an exotic and enticing pet would prove too tempting. No one would win the boy, of course. Arpell would see to that. He’d rack up more winnings, and all of Rone’s efforts would have been for naught.
“Very well. I suppose it’s pretty enough. If nothing else, I could sell it. Your move first.”
Arpell released the boy then leaned forward. “No, I insist the first round is to you.”
Idiot. He thought to gain an advantage by seeing Rone’s opening gambit and reacting accordingly. Rone could already see the extra pieces moving their way down the male’s sleeve. Really, Arpell’s cheating was amateurish compared to others—compared to Rone’s. The male was too full of himself to even realize Rone had maneuvered his extra pieces where he needed them while they’d talked. Winning would be easy. He just had to make it look hard.
* * * *
Frey tried not to quiver at the angry sound of his master’s voice. He didn’t have to lift his head to see what had happened, either. He knew. His master had gambled him away. The vicious creature who prided himself on cheating others so well and often had met his match and lost. There was no suppressing the violent shudder that overtook Frey’s body as he absorbed the awful truth that, as bad as his life had been, it had just become infinitely worse. He’d glimpsed the Travian who’d just won him and had seen a depth of hell in that moment that had surpassed all others. Not since his ship had been boarded and its crew slaughtered right in front of his eyes had he been gripped by such mind-numbing terror.
“You have lost.” That low voice held more menace than any loud one would.
“We’ll play another round.”
“I think not. You have nothing left to gamble with, and, in any event, I grow weary of the game. I’ll take my winnings now.”
For a few tense seconds, there was silence. Frey didn’t dare look up, but he wondered if there would be a fight. What happened when one cheater lost to another? He had no doubt that the other alien had, in fact, cheated. How else could he have won? Finally, Arpell, whom Frey had always thought of as Jabba the Hut in an effort to find some humor in his predicament, tugged angrily on Frey’s leash. Choking against the sudden tightness, he tried to move quickly to his feet to ease the strain. The Travian gave him no consideration, as usual, and yanked so hard that he sent Frey stumbling into his new master.
Where Arpell had carried soft, doughy flesh over muscle, this new alien was like a wall of rock. Frey couldn’t help but cry out when he hit that unyielding tower. He cringed, expecting a blow. None came. Instead, a large hand grabbed his shoulder and steadied him. The grip was firm, yet not as painful as it could have been. Frey forced himself to remain still, not to shy away. Resisting would only earn him a beating, and he’d had plenty of those. Besides, he wasn’t sure he would survive one meted out by this creature. Taller and broader than Arpell, with a coldness far more frightening than anything else Frey had encountered, his new master looked like death on two legs.
In the early days of his capture, when Arpell had brutalized and humiliated him, Frey had prayed for death. He’d fought hard, too, every step of the way. Eventually, though, he’d realized that resistance only led to unimaginable pain that wouldn’t be alleviated by something as merciful as death. And he’d decided that he wasn’t ready to die. He could withstand the dehumanizing life as an alien’s pet and fuck toy. If he held on, there might be a way to get back home. Maybe he’d fooled himself with pointless hope. If he had, this new alien master would be the one to kill any dreams he had of a better future. For now, he’d be a good boy, give him no reason to hurt. No more than necessary, of course.
“Thank you for a most entertaining evening.” That cool, clipped tone held a note of derision, even to Frey’s human ears. Did the guy want to goad Arpell into violence?
If so, Arpell turned out to be brighter than Frey imagined. He didn’t react, simply handed over Frey’s leash and stomped away. The crowd of Travian males parted for him. In all the places Arpell had dragged Frey, no one seemed to be the cream of Travian society. Although what did Frey know, other than that they were a ruthless species that occupied New World Colony Seven? If the rumors were true, Frey wasn’t the only human boy to have been forced into sexual slavery, either. As far as Frey could tell, the entire species was populated by murderous thieves.
Which brought him to his current master. With more timidity that he would have wished for in himself, he glanced at the creature from under his lashes. It was like looking at a mile of grim, all-black leather, with nothing soft or colorful to break it up. Other than the monkeyish pet with the purple hair. That creature stood almost casually on the end of another leash hooked into the master’s belt. It peered around the master’s massive legs and grinned at Frey. At least it appeared to be grinning. Was that even possible? Frey hadn’t seen much of other aliens besides Travians and nothing so almost-cute.
“Come.” The command, sharp and curt, reclaimed Frey’s attention.
He dutifully fell into step behind his new master as they wove through the crowd of onlookers. One of the males dared to grab Frey’s ass when he passed by. That was nothing new. It happened all the time. He was an oddity on these stations, he knew. Arpell had seemed to enjoy the attention and had even lent Frey out to business associates from time to time. That’s how Frey knew for sure that not a Travian alive would treat him with anything other than brutality. This time, however, things unfolded differently.
As if he had eyes in the back of his head, Frey’s new master stopped, turned and growled at the offender. He actually bared his teeth, scaring Frey so badly that he couldn’t hold back a whimper. He hated showing such fear, yet he was beaten down, hurting and starving, as always. But the master’s ire wasn’t directed at him, so really he was being a baby. It was the male who’d groped him that was in trouble. The guy’s eyes went wide then he turned to push his way through the crowd to get away. With that show of force, everyone else found something new to take their attention, dispersing rapidly.
No one bothered them further on their journey into the sleeping quarters. Where Arpell had always taken meager accommodations, this master had more means—or at least a taste for a bit of luxury. He led Frey into a large chamber with a bed that promised far more room than Frey was used to. That was assuming he wasn’t kicked onto the floor when the creature finished fucking him. Then again, he might just shove his dick in Frey and keep it there for the rest of the night. It would be painful, but at least Frey would be warm and lying on something relatively soft.
His master surprised him by immediately taking the leash and the choke collar it was attached to off Frey. Once again, he couldn’t hold back his reaction to the sudden and looming hands. He flinched and shied away before remembering to be still. Be good. The alien didn’t seem to notice the reaction or care. He merely did the same for the other pet and tossed everything onto a table. Then, walking farther into the room, he started removing his clothing.
“Seek your bed, Preen. We’ve accomplished all we can for now.”
It took a moment to understand that the master spoke to the monkeyish creature. It had a name, apparently, and the master was inclined to use it. That alone was something new. Arpell had always called Frey ‘boy,’ ‘pet,’ or ‘slut.’ He’d never bothered to learn Frey’s name. Preen let out a series of chattering sounds that stumped the translator that had been forced inside Frey’s head soon after capture. Weird. Frey had just assumed it could allow any being to communicate with any other. Obviously not, although just as obviously, the master somehow understood what Preen had said.
The Travian held up his hand. “I know. It can’t be helped.” He eyed Frey briefly, making Frey want to hunch in on himself and become invisible. “Just go to your own room, please. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
With a final screech, Preen scampered toward a door at the far side of the room, then through it. Even weirder. The other pet had a room of its own? And did Frey hear his master right? Did he say ‘please’ to the pet? Maybe Preen wasn’t a pet at all, but if that were the case, why the leash? Nothing made sense to him anymore, and given how hungry and thirsty he was, maybe he was starting to hallucinate.
“Take off your clothes.”
Frey started at the brisk command. No ‘please’ this time. Before his mind even registered the order, his fingers had already started to comply. He had precious little of his uniform left, only his pants and T-shirt. Everything else had been ripped off him and tossed away. It might not be much, but the worn material helped with the never-ending cold of Travian domains. It gave him a modicum of privacy, as well. He removed it quickly, then carefully folded it. The cleaning treatment he’d given it before leaving for space still lingered enough to keep it from smelling. That would change soon, not that Arpell had cared about something like a bad odor. The guy had reeked, at least to Frey’s sensibilities. The new master didn’t, however, so maybe he’d be inclined to let Frey bathe himself more, then also wash his clothing when the time came.
After placing his meager pile on the same table as the leashes and collars, Frey turned to his master and waited for the next command. The Travian already stood naked himself—and aroused. Frey kept his gaze firmly on the ground, not wanting to see the thing that would soon invade his body and make him hurt. There was no avoiding it entirely, of course. He caught enough of a glimpse to know that this new master was hung even bigger than the last. Not so surprising. Everything else on the guy was bigger, so why not his cock, too? Another shudder ran down his spine, and he ruthlessly beat it back. He couldn’t let fear rule him now. He needed to stay sharp and obey, so he could eat. God, he was so hungry his stomach had given up growling about it.
“Get on,” his new master said, pointing to the bed.
Again, Frey moved to comply quickly. His master sounded annoyed with him already. How had he screwed up? Probably it didn’t matter what he did. This master would find fault with him, regardless. Nevertheless, he went straight to the bed and lay face down. He pillowed his head on his folded arms, raised his ass, bent his knees and widened his legs. He always thought he must look like a frog in this position, but Arpell had liked it. He hoped this master would, too. It might be demeaning, yet it was far better than being forced to ride his rapist. He closed his eyes and kept his breathing steady.
The bed depressed with the heavy weight of the Travian joining him. Frey tensed at the approach before making himself relax. He could do this. He’d learned how to make his body go slack in order to accept the invasion with as little pain as possible. If he was very good, his master might not do anything more than fuck him once. No beating, no being made to dine on alien cock instead of real food. That was his goal for the evening. Pathetic, but that was his life now and crying about it wouldn’t get him anywhere except in a worse situation.
A warm hand landed on his back, the touch startling in its lack of force. It was almost a gentle caress as the palm slid down Frey’s bony spine. Always thin, he’d become gaunt from lack of regular meals. He wondered idly whether his master even found him appealing. An inward snort brought him back to reality. He was no longer the pretty boy that men, women and girls gave sideways looks. He was just two holes to be used.
That hand moved onto his ass while his master positioned himself between Frey’s opened legs. The heat of Travian skin chased away the chill of the room. That was something, at least—a small comfort to help offset the misery to come. And there it was, the blunt, wet thing sliding up Frey’s cleft, then rubbing against his tiny hole—pressing, breaching, stretching. Oh, God, the burn of it. How could something so big fit inside his small channel? Each time a Travian fucked him, he marveled anew that the act didn’t simply tear him apart. Sometimes he did bleed—never enough to kill him, only enough to make walking and sitting cause a special hurt.
He bit back the cry. Crying wasn’t allowed, not unless the master wanted him to, then he’d find a way to wrench the sound from Frey’s throat. He made his lungs breathe in and out to the rhythm of the thrusting. He made his muscles melt into the bed, become totally pliant to the invasion. In his mind, he played out the best memories he had—the ones where he and his mom had first arrived on the fertile plains of New World Colony Five and finally had clean air to breathe and endless space to grow food, run and be free. His mother had been so beautiful. Everyone had said so. And she’d been happy and hopeful, even when she had gotten sick. The doctors had shaken their heads and said that the only real hope for her had stayed back on Earth, a place they couldn’t return to. Memories of her, the sound of her voice urging him to make something of his life, to take the gift of a new start and be whatever he wanted… That’s what really kept him going in the face of this horror.
With a muted grunt, his master came. The hated sticky wetness spurted deep up inside Frey, marking him as the property of this new Travian. Frey understood how it worked. Arpell had taunted him with it. Everyone would smell his new master on him and know him for the thing—the nothing—he’d become. The thick rod slid down Frey’s channel as his master pulled out. Frey could feel every tug and pull of his delicate flesh as it emptied. He turned his face into his arms and grimaced with revulsion. At least it was out for now.
The master heaved a breath and tossed himself onto his back next to Frey. Silence reigned. The Travian didn’t move, didn’t speak, didn’t give Frey leave to go scrounge up food and water for himself. Oh, God. He wasn’t going to be allowed to eat or drink still. After the seemingly interminable amount of time that Travians marked as a day, Frey was still going to be denied. It wasn’t fair! He’d been a good boy, no struggling and no whining. He was supposed to be rewarded for that, wasn’t he? Then he remembered that fairness wasn’t part of the devil’s bargain he’d struck by default in order to live. His head already swam and his stomach clenched for the first time in a long time with the knowledge that, after being so patient, it was still going to be denied. He quickly shoved his fist in his mouth to silence the groan.
Not fast enough.
“What is it?”
Frey forced his eyes open. He didn’t dare look at his master’s face, of course. He stared instead at the creature’s massive chest. “Sorry, master.” His apology came out in a strangled whisper. Another cramp chose to strike him at that moment, too, and he flinched with the pain.
His master raised himself up on one arm. “What is the matter with you?”
For a few frantic seconds, Frey weighed his options. Complaining always earned him a beating, but so did lying. He went with the truth. “I’m sorry, master. I’m”—he swallowed back the bile threatening to erupt—“I’m hungry.”
With alarming abruptness, the Travian sat up. Frey cringed when he saw him raise a hand and move it forward. Frey remained in his froggy position because he hadn’t been given permission to move. He knew he was vulnerable to all manner of torture. He whimpered and closed his eyes as the hand got closer. He flinched and shook, as well, when that hand touched his exposed side. Fingers, feather-light, fluttered down Frey’s ribcage.
No blow came, nor an admonishment. Instead, his master left the bed and returned moments later. Frey didn’t dare open his eyes, but he could smell something, something delicious, actually. His stomach cramped a third time in response, making him curl up.
That hand returned, resting on his shoulder. “Easy now. Sit up.”
His master pulled Frey up to a sitting position, manipulating Frey’s smaller body like a doll. Frey didn’t mind, so long as there was no pain. Pride had flown out of the airlock the first time he’d been beaten and raped. He opened his eyes gingerly and saw that the master had brought a container of water and a plate of something that looked like bread and maybe a soy type of protein. He had no idea. Anything, no matter how horrible-looking, smelling or tasting, that Arpell had allowed him to consume had been good enough. As desperate as he was to grab everything and shove it into his mouth, he knew better. He sat cross-legged with his head down, waiting for orders.
His master picked up the water and held it up to Frey’s lips. “Drink.”
Frey didn’t hesitate, he opened his mouth and lifted his hands to hold the container himself, but his master pushed his hands down. Understanding the silent command, if not the reasoning behind it, Frey clenched his fingers together and drank greedily. The water was blessedly cool, a rare treat. It slid down his dry throat and into his empty belly. A cramp tore through his middle again, and he choked a bit in response. The container instantly disappeared from his mouth, making Frey whine. He bit his tongue to stop the noise and bitterly cursed his own stupidity. It hadn’t been enough to quench his thirst, which was worse now that he’d had a taste.
“Easy,” his master admonished. “I’ll give you more soon. You’ll make yourself sick if you drink too much so fast.”
Frey looked up at him, blinking, before remembering to lower his gaze again. The alien was right, of course. Why he would care eluded Frey’s food-starved brain. It didn’t matter. Next, the alien held out a piece of the bread in his large, blunt fingers, wrapped around a bit of the other stuff. They hovered near Frey’s lips in an unspoken order. Frey obeyed, opening up sufficiently wide for the morsel to be slipped into his mouth. His eyelids dropped involuntarily and a moan escaped. He couldn’t help himself. It tasted that good.
His master regarded him intently, that weird Travian smile on his face—the one that looked more like a grimace of pain than happiness. Arpell had looked at him like that often, although with that creature the expression held menace. This one looked more like curiosity. Another bite followed the first one, then more water. His master alternated the drinking and the feeding with slow, measured movements. He kept his gaze on Frey the whole while, probably to make sure Frey didn’t boot all of it back up. No need to worry. Frey had suppressed his gag reflex already. Not only had it been necessary in order to swallow alien dick, but the one time he’d thrown up with Arpell, the asshole had forced him to eat it again.
Finally, his stomach felt comfortably full. His master seemed to know that even without Frey saying so. The alien disposed of the remnants of the meal then returned to the bed. Frey instinctively started to move back into position, assuming his master would fuck him again. With his needs met, Frey was only too happy to oblige.
“No. On your side.”
Frey instantly complied, rolling over to give his back to his master. He always felt especially vulnerable this way, even though it was no worse than being on his stomach or on his knees. The alien wrapped his arm around Frey’s waist while slowly feeding his newly erect cock inside Frey’s pliant ass. Jesus, these creatures were quick to arousal, going from zero to sixty in a millisecond. Frey didn’t care. With his stomach full and his body hydrated, he felt sleepy. The warmth of the body pressed against him helped, as well. As his master rocked into him, Frey closed his eyes and dropped off.