Carapace

Aggressor Queen Book 1

Carapace - Davye Desye
Part of the Aggressor Queen series:
  • Carapace
Editions:Kindle: $ 3.99
ISBN: 978-0-9988747-0-8
Pages: 388
Paperback: $ 15.99
ISBN: 978-0998874715
Size: 6.00 x 9.00 in
Pages: 386
Excerpt:

CHAPTER 1

KHARA

It’s a ninety-five degree afternoon as stifling as sex under a rhino. Got to be a hundred percent humidity, maybe a hundred and ten. I can barely breathe the thick air. I’m just finished with my latest session, clothes stuck to my skin, waiting for my dismissal. My back presses against the rough-brushed chrome doorway of Dominique’s Bar. I suck in a full breath in preparation for the final kiss.

I guess calling it a kiss is a pretty gross misnomer – I did my fair share of kissing when there were just humans around, and I remember the difference. When I think about it all. Which I don’t.

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Deep throat kiss from an alien named Ilnok – my master, my provider, he gives me hits of the drug I need to get through my horrible, endless days. He kisses me and sucks the last of the sugary sweetness from my stomach, sweetmead that I drink because he loves to suck it out. My head arches back as he towers two feet above me. His four jointed limbs wrap around me; his hard black shell presses against my breasts. I close my eyes to the sight of his mandibles open and against me. I close my eyes rather than look into the lidless, oil-slick faceted eyes. My squeezed-shut lids don’t keep me from feeling his cat-tongue-textured palpus against my tongue, the end of his palpus slithering down my throat. I’ve long since learned to stifle my gag reflex. The drug I took at the beginning of this session has worn off, and I’m near the end of my ability to cope with this crap – not that I have a choice. He finally breaks loose and goes back in. I’m dismissed.

I throw myself into the passing stream of bodies. I want to race away, but the crowd has its own pace. I push my way down a street packed with humans and the taller, silent aliens. More aliens these days than ever. The rhythm as we press against each other in passing is the daytime song of the city. I pray for night.

After my latest session, I can’t handle the touch of so many. Even after two years, the sight of aliens on our streets, their touch, hasn’t settled into the familiar. Earth of my memory belonged to us – humans – and I can’t let go. I wish I could. Lord knows I’m trying.

I rake fingers through my mussed hair, try to ignore the way the rough fibers of my loose shirt chafe my tender breasts. Suddenly, I’m face to face with a human in the crowd. Once upon a time, I might have thought he was a good looking guy. He holds me at arm’s length and stares me down with I-want-you eyes. Then he pulls me in and presses against me, thigh-to-thigh, shoulder-to-shoulder.

“Let’s go,” he says in my ear.

The words register, but I don’t get his meaning. My brain’s blank. He signals me to follow. I’m almost beyond noticing because all I can think is that I need a drink. I press past him without a word, like he’s not even there. He grabs my breast and it’s enough to gain my focused attention. I notice his rank and insignia, and recognize his high status in the alien corps. He has the power to claim humans, although not me.

Screw you, Traitor-man, I’ve already got a master. I swallow the bile his kind brings to the back of my throat, wondering how many of his fellow humans he’s used or killed in the service of his masters. It’s disgusting that he thinks he can reward himself with me. I jerk away, squeeze my way down the street past other humans, other aliens, trying to get away from the hot press of alien-and-humanity.

“Hey. Get back here.” His outraged voice yells from behind me. Then louder, “Hey!” The crowd comes between us and he’s gone from my mind in the same instant.

The street stinks of sewer and garbage and puke and piss. The city was never meant to support this many. I push away from the middle of the street, toward the buildings, hoping to avoid the sun and the thickest part of the crowd. I trip over the legs of a woman sitting on a doorstep of what used to be a hotel. She’s holding a baby who cries as I fall to the filthy pavement. I pull myself upright before I get stepped on. I look back at the empty expression on the woman’s face – has she noticed the child is crying? – horrified for mother and child and the hell we live in. I press on, supported by my need for a drink.

Refugio’s. My favorite bar. If I can just get past the chittering door­man. I squeeze in behind, lost in the press while the doorman concen­trates all four upper limbs on keeping some creep out. Got to have credit or rank to get in, but I’m not a stranger here. Doorman knows me, knows who I belong to. I’m almost in before Traitor-man grabs my wrist – I can’t believe he wanted me enough to follow me! There are plenty of others he could have claimed, prettier and more willing. It must be a power thing. Well, tough luck for him.

I pull free again leaving skin from my wrist under his nails, and wish I could leave the burning pain with him, too. I’m in.

I find a seat at the bar. Never as crowded in as out. A whiskey appears – the tender knows me. I hold up my thumb and he swipes my credit ring for payment.

Nearby, three young boys, long greasy hair, slop down cold beer, slop in rice mash. They shake their heads violently through blue-lighted swirls of dust motes and bang their fists on the bar in time to a screeching guitar up on stage.

“Training sucks, man,” screams one, “glad you got us out.” He smashes his beer mug into his friend’s, sending sickly looking globs of beer into the air.

“No shit,” yells his friend.

Wait until you’re done with training and they decide how they want you.

I slump lower over my drink, savoring the sour smell. It’s not like before the invasion. . . I throw my drink back, finish­ing it in a great burning gulp, somehow controlling the urge to smash the heavy glass on my head or theirs.

I’m going to need another hit soon; I’m thinking too much. Another whiskey appears to replace my empty. I order a beer to drink with it. Have a slug of each. Feels good to get the sweet and sour taste of Ilnok out of my mouth. I concentrate on that, trying to keep my mind numb, trying to hold on one more day, trying not to think about the patches in my pocket.

I lose the battle and am slapping a patch on my jugular when I notice the man. Scruffy. Big. Just short of ugly, with a potato nose that over­shadows his thick upper lip. Same one I’ve seen maybe twenty, thirty times this month, not just here. I’d guess he was track­ing me, but I’m not sure it can be done in the dense humani­ty streetside.

The drug-induced swirl behind my eyes runs awhile, emptying me, scraping out my self-disgust, my anger, before I order another set of beer and whiskey and slide toward the man.

“Whaddya want with me?” I ask, not looking at him, knowing I can’t focus anyway. He scours me with hungry eyes for a long while before peering down into his drink.

“You’re a fighter,” he says. He looks up and around as though afraid someone will overhear us. With the screeching guitar, I almost don’t hear him.

He watches me with his dissecting eyes as I snort and pick up my drinks. I pause, dizzied by my sudden movement. “Leave me the fuck alone.” I move back to my abandoned seat, still warm, ready to heat the back of my throat with rotgut for the third time in ten minutes.

Without warning, Traitor-man is there pinning my arm behind my back, and crushing my throat with the other. He’s squeezing my throat so high he doesn’t notice my collar-monitor under the high neck of my shirt that tells everybody I’m claimed. Through my self-inflicted haze, I blink at his image in the mirror behind the bar. He grins his triumph at me over my shoulder.

I try to pull away, wanting to kill him for touching me again. Sorry for the moment my shirt collar is so high or that I’m not wearing my own insignia which would show I’m taken, protected, but I hate wearing that shit. His hand tightens on my throat. He pulls my arm higher behind me. My wrist burns where the nail marks he left in me still bleed under his grip. My peripheral vision darkens as I start to pass out.

Then he lets me go. Gasping for air, I turn to see a shocked expression on his face. His eyes are open, rolled up toward the low ceiling. He falls like a board to the damp darkness at my feet. The ugly human I approached earlier at the bar pulls me over the large lump.

To my besotted senses we seem to melt through the wall at the back of the toilet and into a tunnel. The man’s hand is clasped over my torn wrist. With a curse, he pulls my now-ripped shirt collar closed over the bright splash of red from my collar-monitor when it goes off, and pulls me faster.

With a mix of nausea and relief, I realize Ilnok wants me again. Better the evil I know than the confusion this man has caused in me with his rescue.

Through another wall and I’m standing in a dim restaurant kitchen. Humans scurry around us preparing food. No one is surprised at our appearance. No one misses a beat.

“I have to go, I need to . . . ,” I begin.

“I know. I know all about you and what you do,” he answers. He makes his way to a cabinet, and brings me a bowl of the cloying sweetmead Ilnok loves to take from me. It’s a large serving bowl, and he fills it, somehow knowing how empty I am. Well, except for the booze. I hold out my credit ring on my upraised thumb but he ignores it.

I stare into the mead at the ruby reflection of the monitor at my throat before I gulp it down. It is even more sickeningly sweet as a whiskey chaser.

“You’re a fighter,” the man says again, this time at normal speaking volume, then pushes me across the kitchen floor and through a door into the teeming street. I know what he wants. He’s part of the rebellion – one of the hopeful who believe we can win against these alien invaders. I’m not. I’ve given up all hope.

“I am Samuel,” he adds before letting go of my shirt.

Turning back, I fight the stream long enough to say, “Fuck off, Samuel.”

The slamming of heat and sunlight against a mind ready for cool darkness is nauseating. I want to puke. The taste of beer, whiskey and sweetmead combines with the streetside stench of human sweat and almost pushes me over the edge. I can’t puke. It will mean I need to drink more sweetmead for Ilnok. To Ilnok, I am larger and more amusing than a beer mug, but as a drinking vessel, I have to start full or be useless.

Pulling at my choker in the fetid humidity, I press toward Dominique’s – Ilnok’s favorite lair.

Ilnok is in the red semi-dark­ness with his siblings (team? crew? – I’ve intuited a connection but not its clear form). He leaves my monitor lit until he’s undressed me, which he does with slow, distracted movements. I’m almost happy to have the scratchy pants away from my not-so-private parts again. In the dim red light, I lean toward him as his mandibles open, ready for a long kiss, but he barely moves his palpus into my mouth. I lay backward over his lap with my arms and head hanging toward the floor, my legs and body open to him. He moves his antennae over me, my smallness, my softness that is my – our – vulnerability. Beneath the relaxed occasional click and wave of antennae that passes for conversation among these aliens begins a low ticking that’s almost a purr. I’m glad for the patch at my neck, and the drinks I’ve had. I’m content for the moment I’m safe.

COLLAPSE
Reviews:J. Saman, USA Today Bestselling Author on Amazon Editorial Review wrote:

"This is an absolute MUST READ!"

Chris Angelis, Home for Fiction on Amazon Editorial Review wrote:

"One of the best science-fiction works I've read lately. Very highly recommended!"


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