Excerpt for Space Pirates’ Bounty by Reagan Hawk available at Amazon.com
Must be 18 years or older to read
In orbit off Planet Emperius Romanius (Emprom)
Captain Raider of Teranasnu stared at the viewing screen of his ship, the Gallant. Planet Emprom was in sight. A swirl of browns, tans, reds and blues, it was quite a vision to behold if one didn’t realize the atrocities that took place upon its surface. He’d been planet-side on Emprom more than once, and each time it had turned his stomach. There was a vast class separation. You were either rich or you were poor. You were either free born or a slave.
Ever since his first visit to Emprom, he’d been working on a plan to add to his wealth. He was an opportunist, and that didn’t always go hand in hand with his morals—despite how loose they tended to be.
The only way he could get back at the universal system—a system under which he’d been born noble, yet suffered greatly at the hands of those wanting more power, more wealth—was to do what he did best. Steal. He didn’t keep all the bounty for himself—though more than enough to be comfortable. But he was generous with those in need. Those who were born with notes of ownership and debt over their heads before they’d barely drawn in breath. The universe was hardly fair, and while one man could not change the minds of everyone, he could change the minds of a few—enough to help make a difference in at least some people’s lives.
They’d land on Emprom within the hour and then their plan would begin.
“Captain, you sure you’re up for this?” Galwin asked. The man was a master of anything mechanical. He could fix the Gallant in deep space with two pieces of adhesive material and a prayer.
Raider had seen it done before and still wasn’t sure how it was they’d made it to a safe port for repairs. By rights they should have been space dust. Whatever Galwin did had held, and that was merely one of the many fixes he’d done to the ship over the years he’d been part of its crew.
Galwin’s size often intimidated others. At just shy of seven feet, he was imposing. He and his twin brother Ewan, who were matched in every way except personality, often made Raider feel short. Since Raider stood six and a half feet tall, that was a feat indeed.
Every bit capable and able to kill a man, Galwin didn’t walk around with a chip on his shoulder. If anything, he seemed to go out of his way to mediate peace whenever possible. And though he didn’t like violence, he was capable of it when the need arose. Raider knew the man’s past and knew why he disliked having to resort to violence.
He couldn’t blame him. He offered a sideways smile at his friend. “Ever known me to miss out on a challenge?”
Galwin laughed. “No, sir.”
Ewan entered the flight deck. His long, dark brown hair that he normally wore tied at the nape of his neck hung free today. His gaze, so dark it often appeared obsidian, flickered over Raider, lowered to his groin, and then back up again.
Heat washed over Raider. He knew the thoughts running through his second–in-command’s head. Knew Ewan was thinking upon last night. The sexual tension that had ridden the air between them. It had been two weeks since they’d last shared a bed. Two weeks since they’d taken solace in one another’s bodies. Two weeks since they’d arrived at an understanding. The time had come for them to move forward with their lives, start families, take the next steps, yet Raider suspected neither was fully ready to do so. Ewan had a crazy notion they could do this together—that they’d find one woman who would want them both and who would want to be mother to both their children, living as one family unit—a union of three.
Raider seriously doubted that would come to be.
“Get in, get the gold, get out,” said Ewan as he neared Raider. “Emprom is backward, and staying too long will leave you nailed to a cross.”
It was well known throughout the galaxies that Emprom had unique ways of dealing with their unwanted and unsavory elements. Their love of public crucifixions wasn’t exaggerated.
“At least I’ll keep my hands if I’m caught,” Raider said, his attempt at humor falling flat. “Unlike what Planet Tresilian would do to a thief.”
Galwin laughed. Ewan didn’t. Instead, Ewan sat in the co-pilot’s seat. “Send one of us. Stay. This is a fool’s errand and you well know it. This Ahenobarbus tale is most likely a trap. No man is that rich on Emprom without being a bloodthirsty tyrant—one who will see a plan such as this coming a light-year away.”
Galwin snorted. “Emprom is full of wealthy, glutinous pigs. Let us pray they are too busy counting their gold to take note of us and this scheme.”
“I pray the tides turn upon them,” Ewan said, disgust in his voice.
Raider reached over and touched Ewan’s armrest. He met his longtime friend’s gaze. “Your distaste of nobles and the rich is noted.”
“You know what I mean,” Ewan muttered, refusing to look at him. “We have more than enough credits and gold as is. Let this one pass. Emprom’s riches are not worth your life.”
“Two weeks and it is done,” Raider stated clearly. “I’ll get in, be hired on and learn all I can about his guard detail, then empty his coffers. We are richer, he is poorer, and we can funnel the money to those on the Waysoni Moon who need it more.”
Ewan snorted. “And you’re sure this background your contact gave you will hold? What if this Ahenobarbus looks too deep into your invented history and backstory? What then? Think it will be too difficult for him to find out you are not Emprom born? That you have never actually served in Emprom’s military or ever worked for anyone in Emprom, let alone high-borns?”
With an amused shrug, Raider smiled. “If the fake papers do not work, then I fight my way clear and leave with his head on the end of my sword.”
Galwin lifted his fist in the air. “May the gods deem it so!”
Ewan cracked a half smile, his hand moving over Raider’s. The men shared a look, one that spoke volumes without any actual words being said. They were friends, yet something more hung in the air between them.
Baton, the only member of the crew from Earth, entered the flight deck and glanced around. “Are we discussing leave time? My dick needs tended to and Emprom is full of whorehouses that would handle that very thing and more. I’ll even pay extra for a pretty one.”
Galwin laughed harder. “Learned your lesson after the last one, huh?”
Baton grabbed his clothed crotch. “The injections to cure the ailment that hussy gave me were not worth the five minutes with her.”
All the men laughed.
“I told you to avoid the ones who discount to near free,” Ewan said cheerfully. “The coin is well spent in certain areas and sex is one of them. Do not skimp or your cock could fall off. Plus, the prices the medical stations around this galaxy charge are far, far more than what the high-end whores ask for.”
“Take leave while I am there,” Raider said to his men. “Tell the others they can as well. Have them drink and fuck their fill, then be ready for me in two weeks’ time.”
“What of your needs?” Ewan demanded, his mouth downturned, his posture rigid. The jovial mood among the crew ended quickly. “Going to see to those as well?”
“Oh shit,” said Galwin before he and Baton moved towards the back of the flight deck, growing quiet. They busied themselves with work that had already been done. Raider knew it was to give him and Ewan alone time.
Raider shifted uncomfortably in the captain’s chair. He wasn’t one to back down from anything, but in this moment he felt guilt deep into his soul. He couldn’t give Ewan what he sought. Raider wanted more. He craved women like the air he breathed. He could not give them up and he strongly suspected that Ewan couldn’t either. That what had happened between them, while certainly pleasing, was not something that would fulfill them for the remainder of their lives. “I require things too. My cock is heavy with the need for release.”
“And you will find a whore to ease the pain?” asked Ewan, his jaw hard and his mouth pinched. Contempt rolled off him in waves.
“If time permits, yes.”
Ewan jerked as if he’d been burned. “I see.”
He put a hand up. “No. If this is to be the way of it, then so be it.”
Raider disliked arguing with Ewan. He knew it was Ewan’s nature to lash out in anger first and think harder upon things later. Knowing and accepting it were two different things. Raider was a thinker. In fact he was inclined to overthink just about everything he did. And he wasn’t known to fly off the handle in fits of rage. He tended to keep a level head about him and find humor in most things.
Life had placed him in a privileged circumstance that should have been ideal. Born to nobles. A lord of his own lands. Yet life had thrown him a loop. His parents had been murdered by someone they trusted all because that person wanted more money, more power, more lands. Raider had sworn vengeance that day, not just against his parents’ murderer, but against all who allowed power to corrupt them.