Ben Miller went from having goosebumps to beads of sweat in less than a minute. Naked and leashed, he stumbled out of the small cargo ship along with Rone, Frey and Preen and into a steaming jungle that reminded him of every sci-fi vid he’d ever seen—the kind where bugs as big as houses barged from nowhere to crush you to death and suck your juices. For once, he wasn’t focused on the very real danger that Travians presented. Instead, he swiveled his head anxiously to peer through the tall vegetation surrounding the rebels’ primitive settlement.
The heat and humidity were oppressive, making it hard to breathe. The weird sounds bombarding him sent a shudder through his body. He felt under attack by millions of insects and other horrors, even though nothing had actually touched him yet. Everything about the planet was inhospitable to a non-insect species, human and Travian alike. Now Ben understood why the rebels had chosen this place to host their base of operations. For beings that naturally preferred cool, clean and orderly, this place would be that last one they’d want to live on. It was the perfect hideout.
Rone’s jerk on Ben’s leash caused him to stumble, a reminder that he was walking too slowly for his alien master. Frey grabbed his arm to help him keep his footing, giving him a tight smile in the way of an apology. Ben returned the look, letting Frey know that he understood how Rone had to keep up appearances. The whole mission depended on the rebels believing that Rone was a merciless privateer who was delivering a gift, along with more weapons.
He picked up his faltering feet and hunched in on himself, presenting the picture of a cowed and frightened human. It wasn’t hard to do, given that at least the second part was true. He was scared spitless of what was to come. If all went as planned, he would soon find himself the possession of the mysterious rebel leader’s right-hand male. Dane had already gained a reputation of being a brutal killer. It hadn’t been hard for Rone to ferret out the male’s name. It was whispered about the far-flung stations of the Travian Empire by vicious aliens that didn’t spook easily. Dane, however, terrified even the most ruthless of them. It was said that the male had single-handedly turned on the entire crew of a military cargo ship, slaughtered them then delivered his prize directly to the Leader.
While no one seemed to know the identity of the Leader, and indeed simply called him that—Leader—Dane was well-known. He’d finagled his way to the Leader’s side and represented the best way to get into the inner sanctum of the rebellion. If the plan succeeded, Ben would soon be in Dane’s bloodthirsty hands. Frey had tried to warn Ben what he might face and provided advice about ways to cope with being a pet. But all the ‘lessons’ had done was convince him that his life would soon become almost unbearable. There was no real way to prepare for it. His fear had manifested as a large clump lodged tightly in his chest. Instead of trying to banish it, he embraced it. If he was to succeed in his mission, Dane needed to dismiss him as nothing of consequence and not worthy of monitoring.
As they approached the open-sided structure, one of the Travian guards intercepted them. Like the others lounging around staring at them, this guy was practically naked. The only thing he wore besides tall boots was a black loincloth that existed, as near as Ben could tell, as something to rest the weapons belt on around his hips. Seeing all that pale, heavily muscled skin on display, as well as the sizable bulge behind the cloth, gave Ben a small flutter in the pit of his stomach. He supposed it was a good thing that even in his terror, a glimmer of sexual interest shone through. His gay orientation made him the perfect choice for this desperate mission—that and his kick-ass engineering skills. If anyone was going to be able to extract the information they needed from the rebels’ computer systems, it was him.
The guard planted his feet, forcing Rone to either stop or plow into him. “What are you doing, privateer? You’re not allowed inside.”
Being a high-caste male, Rone didn’t get intimidated easily. Although Ben barely knew the guy, he could tell by the set of his shoulders that he was relaxed and unimpressed by the show of force. He stood with one hip cocked, the three leashes dangling from one hand. His ‘pets’, Ben, Frey and the odd little creature, Preen, came to a stop behind him. Ben mimicked Frey’s posture, keeping his head down and his hands clasped behind his back. Preen, as usual, marched to a different beat and simply squatted on the hard-packed dirt.
“I wish to speak with Dane.” Rone’s tone implied boredom, as if the guard was wasting his time.
“No one sees Dane, nor is he interested in what the likes of you have to say.” He tossed his head in the direction of Rone’s ship. “Go back. You’ll get your credits once the cargo is unloaded.” The guard turned to walk away.
“Are you so willing to risk the male’s wrath?”
That got the guard’s attention. He hesitated long enough for Rone to clarify his intent. With a quick jerk of the leash, he had Ben careening forward. The only reason he didn’t face plant was because Rone grabbed him by the hair and held him up. Ben had been growing it out for the last few months as this bold plan was being hatched by both humans and Travians far above his pay grade. So, Rone had no trouble fisting enough strands to keep him upright. The grip brought tears to Ben’s eyes.
“I have a gift for him.” Rone shook Ben’s head a little. “A pretty human pet.”
In a perverse way, Ben took a measure of pride that he’d been chosen for this mission because of his looks as much as for his skill. While his dark-brown hair and eyes didn’t hold Frey’s pale, exotic beauty, they were still much different from the unrelentingly black hair and eyes natural to Travians. Plus, Ben’s hair, even long, curled enough to make a nice contrast to the straightness of the aliens’.
He kept his gaze downward as the guard silently scrutinized him. The urge to cover his groin with his hands was strong. He made an aborted attempt at it, only to have his hands batted away by Rone hard enough to make him give a small cry of pain. That short show of fear, discomfort and Rone’s heartless mastery were all to the good. This was why when he’d volunteered for the mission. He’d been seen as the perfect choice. As a soldier—mostly in name only—and a virgin to boot, he wouldn’t have to act so much as react to the terrifying situation he was thrust into as a captive. He’d had no training about how to survive as a prisoner and no experience parading around naked in front of anyone outside of a shower.
Dax had argued strongly against picking him, which had made Ben more determined to do it. It also eased his hurt over how the man he loved—Dax—didn’t love him back. Dax didn’t trust him, apparently, to succeed, either. Ben would show him, and maybe make the man proud. Wen, Dax’s alien lover, had counseled Ben about how Travian males viewed younger ones. They liked submission and the mean ones liked instilling fear in their boys. Trusting the advice that his former rival, now friend, had given him, he let the shudder that ran through his body show. And he made only a half-hearted attempt to blink back the tears threatening to leak out.
The guard reached out a hand, making Ben flinch. The alien only managed to skim his chest before Rone yanked him back. “It is for Dane and no other. Even I haven’t touched it. But, if you don’t think he’ll want the pet, I’ll be happy to keep it for my own pleasure.”
To make his point more clearly, Rone dragged Ben close to his side and cupped Ben’s cock and balls with his free hand. Ben barked out a quick cry of distress and jerked away from the hold. At least he tried to. Rone’s grip on both Ben’s hair and junk tightened, keeping him in place.
He sobbed out a pathetic, “Please,” then forced himself to stay still and silent except for his heaving breath. The humidity made it hard for him to seem as if he were getting enough air into his lungs.
“Well?” Rone demanded.
A few seconds ticked by until the guard relented. “Very well. Follow me.”
Rone immediately relaxed his grip on Ben’s hair and released Ben’s cock and balls. The guy even took a second to furtively pat Ben’s head before tugging him forward with the leash. They quickly passed an array of guards into the relatively coolness of the open structure.
The rebels had been clever about clearing as little of the jungle as necessary in order for small ships to land and to provide basic living quarters and storage facilities. They could have erected a climate-controlled haven for themselves, yet they had been sufficiently disciplined to forego comfort and convenience to keep their base as unnoticeable from space as possible. Still, a ceiling and walls made from a concrete-like material managed to drop the overall temperature. It also created a dim environment for Ben’s human eyes. He squinted to see what lay ahead.
After passing through a small and easily defensible entry room, they arrived at a long corridor. They tramped silently down it and into a much larger, almost cavernous space. At the far end sat a dais with a single high-backed chair—a throne, to Ben’s way of thinking. Of course, the Leader must sit there when addressing his males. Shit. Ego and ambition seemed to be traits that humans and Travians shared. Although guards ringed the space, the throne was empty at the moment. The only other occupants were a male lounging to one side of the dais on a much smaller chair than the throne. Another Travian kneeled between the male’s legs.
Ben squinted to get a better view of the scene as he was yanked along. He couldn’t be sure until he got closer, but yeah, the seated male was getting an enthusiastic-appearing blow job. The boy doing the sucking had a cascade of intricate braids down his hunched, slender back. The larger male, likely Dane, had one hand on the boy’s head, although it was hard to tell whether that was for convenience or guidance. In his other hand was a tall glass of something. As they approached, Dane shifted his gaze from his boy to their group. He took a lazy sip of his drink while keeping his eyes on them. If he was getting any pleasure from the blow job, his expression didn’t show it until the last moment.
Just as the guard and Rone came to a stop, Dane’s lips parted on a silent exhalation. He pulled the boy away from his crotch with that hold on the hair then—surprisingly to Ben—shoved his glass to the boy’s mouth. The boy accepted the offer before turning around and resting against his master’s thigh. The alien had the same kind of elven beauty that Frey had but with Travian coloring. Like Ben and Frey, he was completely naked, except for his collar. No, not only that. A delicate gold chain ran from the collar to rings pierced into his nipples then down his flat, hairless stomach to one hanging loosely around his hips. Yet more chain connected to a series of rings surrounding his long, thin dick and held in place by a piercing through his glans. The adornment was both startling and surprisingly erotic.
The boy flicked his gaze over them, eventually resting it on Ben and giving him a thorough inspection. Frey, who had stopped right behind Rone and next to Ben, gasped softly. Rone jerked on all the leashes briefly, silencing him. Ben gave Rone a sideways glance while resisting the temptation to check out Frey. He didn’t understand why he’d reacted as he had. It hardly mattered. It was showtime. If Dane didn’t accept him, the whole mission would go to shit.
“What is this?” Dane’s icy tone caused the temperature to drop about ten degrees.
The guard answered with obvious trepidation. “Apologies, sire, for the interruption. This male says he has a gift for you.”
“Indeed?” Dane’s stare was the kind that could turn someone to stone—or at least make them piss themselves.
Rone, though, had ice water running through his veins, as near as Ben could tell. With a jerk, he sent Ben to his knees in front of Dane. “If it pleases you, sire. I would like to show my appreciation for your business by gifting you with this exotic pet. As you can see, it is a human and an untouched one, at that. I would expect it to give you much pleasure, as my own does. I humbly ask you to do me the honor of accepting it.”
Mother! Of all the obstacles Dane had expected to encounter on this mission, having a new pet thrust upon him hadn’t made the cut. Of course, all the rebels and the scum they dealt with like this privateer tried to curry favor with him. Everyone wanted to advance, to get closer to the Leader, and Dane had succeeded in planting himself right in the middle of that path. He was used to deflecting bribes of various sorts and more personal favors being offered. This, however, was something entirely new and different—a fetching human boy kneeled at his feet, quivering with fear.
His fingers tightened involuntarily, eliciting a mew of pain from Kath. Dane immediately loosened his grip. Kidnapping a fuck boy and forcing him to be his pet had helped create and maintain his carefully constructed persona of a vicious, murderous traitor to his people. And while he had to treat him harshly in public, he also tried not to be too gratuitous about it. He changed his hold to a petting motion—condescending, yet not painful. That was the most he could do for the boy at this point. Later, when this damnable rebellion had been crushed for good, he would do what he could to make up this period in the boy’s life. Perhaps he could even find him a position that didn’t involve selling his body to strange males.
He lounged against his chair and affected the bored attitude that served him well among these cutthroats. They saw him as confident, which led to them being less so. It gave him an edge that he desperately needed with the whole group, especially the Leader, most importantly. His relaxed air, along with a few personal challenges that ended in bloody death, had eased his way to the Leader’s side. He only needed a little more time and he was sure he could raid the Leader’s personal files and gain the definitive list of who within Travian society belonged to this heinous movement.
“An excellent effort to gain my favor, privateer. But as you can see, I already have a pet.” Dane tugged gently on Kath’s hair so that the boy’s face lifted for inspection.
The privateer tipped his head in acknowledgement. “Very pretty, sir, and I expect highly trained. Too trained, perhaps.” Reaching down, he mimicked Dane by yanking the human’s head back by his long, curly hair. “This creature has a more exotic allure, don’t you agree? And I can assure you from personal experience with my pet that human bodies are delightfully tighter than any Travian’s.”
“I would expect so,” Dane murmured, racking his brain for a good reason to refuse the offering. “How did you acquire these creatures?” Now, he was just stalling for time.
Rone nodded toward the fair-haired boy behind him. “That one I won off a male too stupid to keep it. This one,” he added with another yank of the kneeling boy’s hair, “I captured when I raided a human cargo ship. These inferior beings sometimes possess goods of interest to our people. It was easy enough to overpower and slaughter them, and I hoped to find something of value to your cause. Unfortunately, this boy was all that was worthy of your attention. It was difficult not to take for my own pleasure, but I thought you’d appreciate unsullied goods.”
Clever male… He was trying to remind Dane of his own supposed feat of mutiny in which he’d murdered his captain and crew to deliver weapons to the rebels. That setup had been carefully orchestrated by the Supreme Council.
“Humans have nothing of use to us or our cause, privateer.” He let derision drip from his tongue. “I expect I could find some pleasure in this thing you offer me, but I’m quite satisfied with what I have.”
He pushed Kath’s face back into his crotch and willed his dick to stiffen again. These public shows of sex seemed to cement his control over the rank and file even more, dumb males that they were. The fuck boy immediately started lapping at Dane’s cock and balls to encourage his erection.
The privateer inhaled deeply and inclined his head. “Very well. I am disappointed that I couldn’t serve you better. I’ll leave the human as a fuck toy for the others.”
The head guard, Abell, who’d stood quietly to one side after bringing the privateer and his exotic menagerie in, huffed in amusement. “On behalf of my males and I, we accept the gift.”
Right. It must have taken the span of a heartbeat for Rone to take Abell’s measure. The male wasn’t very smart and somewhat lazy in his ambition. The idea that he would share the human with others was a laughable lie. He’d hoard the human pet for himself then parade his exotic prize in front of him and the Leader. The privateer was cleverer than most of his ilk. He clearly knew that Dane would never tolerate a subordinate having something better than what he did. And an untrained human pet was something to covet more than a trained fuck boy.
When Abell moved to take possession of the boy’s leash, Dane stopped him with a word. “No.” He kept his tone calm and his voice low, having found that being understated was more impressive than being overtly aggressive.
Abell stopped in his tracks and shot Dane an eyeful of pure hatred before wisely banking his reaction.
“I have changed my mind. Your thoughtful gift is gladly accepted.” He shoved Kath away and flicked down the kilt he’d taken to wearing in the oppressive heat to cover his only half-hard dick. “Go get him.”
Kath stood with the supple grace of his kind. The body chain Dane forced him to wear tinkled with every step. Every pair of Travian eyes tracked the boy’s sensuous movements as he approached the privateer. No surprise. Kath was a beautiful boy. In the proper garments, he would make a convincing female. Dane had recognized the value of using him as an ornament the moment he’d seen him in the seedy victual establishment on an outer station.
The boy had a certain pride to him, as well. Even naked and adorned like the slut he was, he glided across the floor with enviable confidence as if the guards’ attention was beneath his notice. He stopped in front of the privateer and held out his hand.
“Sire?” Kath’s silky voice was like a caress up Dane’s cock. He bet every male had the same reaction.
Kath dared to shoot Rone a silent what the fuck? from under his lashes as he demurely waited for the male to hand him over the end of the human’s leash.
Rone gave him a subtle reply by the twitching of his eyebrows. The male was obviously surprised to see him there. Kath understood that, of course. Dane had snatched him so fast from his station that he hadn’t had time to convey the sudden, yet useful, change in his status. At least now Rone would be able to confirm to their superiors that not only was Kath still alive, he had become well-placed to discover the full roster of traitorous males in their midst.
That didn’t explain what Rone was up to. He’d obviously been working on getting closer to the rebel base by slowly taking over Kuren’s old privateering territory—or at least that was what Kath had heard. Bringing a human boy as an offering to get in his good graces made sense if Rone were truly the vicious privateer he pretended to be. Dane had quickly become the most direct path to the reclusive Leader. Kath knew, however, that Rone wasn’t such a male. His treatment of his own pets, both the beautiful human boy and the lavender creature squatting by his feet, belied that idea. So, what exactly is the plan here?