Mavim (Sam Cheever)
Release Date: May 4, 2015
Publisher: Electric Prose Publications
Available Formats: MOBI, PDF, EPUB
Mavim AgDurness closed his eyes and set his jaw against the ravening blood lust. His stomach growled its need, the muscles around it tightening as it twisted hungrily. He’d gone longer and longer without taking sustenance of late, so the debilitating hunger had become a nearly constant companion over his months on the primitive planet. Though the surface of the thriving alien planet called Earth was covered in walking, talking edibles, snacking from them was like eating nothing but mealfollows. All empty calories and no real sustenance.
Mavim snacked only when his body absolutely demanded it. And then only quickly, in the dark, with such a sense of revulsion he could barely keep the blood from boiling back up and spewing out on his shoes.
Always when he fed, he would see her face. So pale, so perfect. It was his undoing. For Mavim, no other female would do. None could take her place.
So he suspected he would simply fade away over time, as was the Sangui way of dying. And be launched into the sky for his final journey to Maja, protector of souls. Then his pain would finally end.
The comm unit spat sparks and sound flared briefly from it. Mavim’s head snapped up in surprise and crashed against the underside of the console. He swore in several intergalactic languages and pushed out from under the console, grabbing his tools as he moved into the open.
The ship’s communications had been fried when they crossed the atmospheric barriers to Earth, and he’d been trying to get them working again for months, scavenging resources from other parts of the ship and trying to repurpose things he’d managed to locate on Earth.
It had been long since the Sangui had heard from others of their kind. Though only a relative few had managed to escape the dying planet Sanguinoss, the small band of elite vampires living on Earth were keenly aware of the existence of others who’d escaped before the infection took them down.
And even more keenly aware of those who hadn’t managed to escape.
The lights on the comm flared to life and a blurry figure appeared briefly before snapping into blackness again.
It had spun too quickly through the visual cogs within the unit to be recognizable, but Mavim had been able to tell it was a woman.
Lights flared again. The same shape, slightly clearer this time, exploded onto the screen. “Mav…” Renegade star spikes ate the rest of the transmission, turning the words she spoke to a garbled mash. But Mavim had heard enough to make his pulse jump. He dropped his tools and slammed a hand over the comm, quickly adjusting levers until the image he’d seen flashed past again and then snapping a lock on the transmission before it could fitz away.
The pale oval staring back at him was marred by filth. The rich mahogany brown of her curls lank with oil. But the lush, cranberry lips were unmistakable.
The soft lilt of her bedroom voice distinctive.
Mavim had heard it every night in his dreams since he’d risked life and future to place her mangled form inside a burial capsule and send her on her final passage to Maja.
“Mav… Help… Gleschutions have tak…”
And there the transmission faded away, leaving behind only the terrified gaze of the woman he loved above all else. And the horrifying realization that she was in danger. And that she’d risked everything to try to get word to him.
Mavim touched the screen, tracing it with a shaky finger as tears slipped hot and unnoticed down his cheeks.
Tears of deep, unending agony.
Then the comm blinked out again and her visage was ripped from his sight. Mavim threw back his head and roared, mad with the agony of her loss. Yet again.
~ M ~
Fania Sa crouched in front of the bars, her dirt-encrusted fingers clutching it for support as she strained to see the guards several cells down.
“What are they doing to him?”
She snapped a quick look toward her cellmate. “Shhh.”
The other woman paced behind Fania, her emaciated features pinched into a terrified frown. “He must be all right. He must be.”
Fania expelled a frustrated breath. If the woman didn’t stop yapping…
“You there! Get back!!”
Fania’s head shot up and she frowned at the pig-faced alien ambling toward her, his thick tail scraping the dirt behind him. “You do not see me here.”
The alien stopped, blinking, and looked toward the back of the cell.
The other woman dropped to a hard cot alongside the wall, going perfectly still. The alien’s bulgy black eyes narrowed, moisture seeping from its flat nose, and its nostrils flared.
Fania knew it wouldn’t be able to smell them because she’d covered them both with oily feces she’d snatched from beyond the bars.
Gleschutions had such a strong, pervasive odor they were unable to smell anything else beyond their own stench.
“You will interrupt the guard down the way. The high master calls to you.”
The stupid creature blinked rapidly several times and then barked out a guttural command in its own language. Fania smiled.
As a Royal Princess in the Order of Sanguinoss, she’d been taught the language of her enemies at her mother’s knee from a very young age.
She only wished she’d learned much sooner how to use her special energies to confuse the disgusting creatures and bend them to her will. It would have made her first few months imprisoned on Gleschute much more pleasant.
The guards shuffled away down the passage and Fania’s cellmate leapt to her feet. “They’ll be back when they realize they weren’t summoned.”
Fania pulled a twisted chunk of metal from her pocket and, reaching through the bars, inserted it into the lock and turned.
The lock snicked open and she moved into the passage.
The woman, Keenie, pressed herself against the bars. “Tell me he is fine?”
Fania touched the other woman’s fingers, which were twined so tightly around the bars they were white. They felt like ice beneath Fania’s touch. “Hold faith, sister.”
She hurried toward the distant cell, where the Gleschution guard had been torturing a Sanguinoss blood slave under the false charge that the man had stolen bread from the larder when they’d been let out of their cells for work detail.
She found the man lying in the middle of his dirt-floored prison, his back covered in raised, bloody welts.
Fania swore, determined that, if she ever found a way off that stench filled, vermin-ridden planet she would blow it up behind her. Kneeling down next to the unconscious man, she lifted her wrist to her mouth and bit into it. As rich, dark Sangui blood rose up out of the tiny bites, she held the wrist to the man’s mouth and, touching his temple with a finger, willed him to drink.
Moments later she forced her arm from his lips as he returned to consciousness. The man’s eyes snapped open and he groaned, his hand going to his head. “Dammed pigs.”
Fania patted his arm. “I’ll tell Keenie you are fine.”
The man grabbed her hand, kissed the back. “Thanks to you, my princess. May the stars bless you until Maja welcomes you to her bosom.”
“Thank you Aloc.” She stood slowly, forcing her lips shut on the groan of weariness that threatened. It wouldn’t do to let her people know how weak she was becoming. Her constant care, the refusal to eat so they could survive, was taking its toll on her. “I’ll see if the guards left any scraps behind.”
The man pushed to his feet, shaking his head. “Give them to Keenie. Or the weaker ones. I am enriched by your gift. I need no other sustenance for a while.”
She touched his arm and left the cell, locking it behind her. Fania hurried to the guard’s station and grabbed two loaves of hard bread and some meat scraps, handing them through the bars to her ravenous subjects as fast as she could go.
But it wasn’t fast enough. She hadn’t quite made it back to her cell when she heard the shuffle of big, pig feet along the passage.
Dizziness swamped her. Fania scrubbed a hand over her brow and leaned against the wall for just a moment, knowing it was risky but unable to move with the room spinning around her.
She would just use her mind magics when the pigs arrived.
But it wasn’t to be.
“What have we got here, princess?”
Her heart thumped hard against her ribs at the sound of his voice. She focused her gaze on the tall, dark haired man standing before the two Gleschution guards.
His black eyes gleamed. She’d given him exactly what he wanted.
She’d been caught disobeying. A treasonous offense on the maggot-infested planet. She shook her head as dizziness turned to fog and her legs bent out from beneath her. She knew she was falling. But she never hit the ground.
A strong, unwelcome pair of arms caught her before she could fall.
“Mavim, you’ve lost your mind.”
He threw another pair of the useful Earth trou made of the stiff blue fabric into his bag and reached for his boots. “You aren’t going to talk me out of this, Kai. I’m going after her.”
His friend expelled a frustrated breath, his dark face clearly showing his concern. “You don’t even know if the ship is safe to fly. And you can’t pilot it into Gleschute airspace by yourself.”
“I’ll be fine. The ship is still fully armed. We didn’t need to fire a single shot coming into Earth’s atmosphere.” And he still couldn’t believe it. What a singularly lackadaisical species Earthmen were. “I’m going to land on the Void side and cross to the Wallow from there.”
“You’re going to cross half the planet all by yourself? How do you propose to get into the prisons? And what if she’s not there?”
Mavim threw a box of dried meals into the bag with his clothes and several tubes of water.
Kai glanced past his determined friend to the man leaning against the door frame, long arms crossed over his chest. The oldest of the Earth-bound Sangui, Yvan’s word generally held more weight than the others. “Help me out here, Yvan. You know he’s going to his death.”
The elder Sangui slid a neutral gaze to Kai. “He’s going after the woman he loves. You don’t really think he’ll listen to reason?”
“Finally! Someone speaks sense.” Mavim dropped his bag over his shoulder and turned toward the door.
Yvan didn’t exactly move in front of the door. Not really. But somehow his big body covered the opening anyway. “You do realize those transmissions you heard were probably from months ago.”
Mavim frowned. “What are you saying?”
Yvan shrugged. “They probably bounced around the universe for a while, getting waylaid by a dozen or so black holes. There really is no way to know how long the message has been out there or where it originated.”
Mavim’s temper eased upward a notch. He tried to step around the elder.
Somehow Yvan was still in front of him. “You don’t even know they’ve taken her to Gleschute.”
“I do. I am certain.”
Yvan stared into Mavim’s eyes for a long moment and then nodded. “Fine. I’m going with you.”
Mavim opened his mouth to argue.
“This is not up to discussion. We will stop by Sanguinoss after we rescue Fania.”
Mavim’s eyes grew wide. “You wish to search for survivors?”
Yvan’s gaze darkened briefly, brittle with pain. “Yes.”
Mavim considered only a moment longer. His chances of saving Fania were much greater if he had Yvan by his side. For one thing, they could land their ship much closer to the palace in Wallow. He nodded. “We leave in one hour. As soon as I do the final check of systems and comms.”
Yvan inclined his head and Mavim suddenly had open air before him. But behind him, as he hurried toward the wing of the warehouse where they kept the Sanguinoss Star, the air soon became blue.
It seemed Kai wasn’t happy with Yvan and Mavim’s plans.
~ M ~
Fania jerked out of the grasp of the pig-faced woman trying to dunk her into the fragrant pool. “Leave me!” She fumed helplessly as the two Gleschution slaves laughed, the sound like a series of rumbling barks.
The one who’d been holding her arm grabbed it again and shoved, sending her sprawling into the flower-strewn water. Fania went under, bumped her elbow on the step formed of rock, and hit the bottom hard, skinning her knees.
Ignoring the pain, she shoved off and threw herself onto her feet, exploding from the water with a rage-filled growl. Her alpha roared beneath her skin, turning the world to dark everywhere except the small area where the pig-faced slave stood, laughing at the treatment she’d doled out to the hated royal from Sanguinoss.
The dim-witted creature was about to discover her mistake.
Fania embraced her alpha and was suddenly on top of the thick-skinned bitch, carrying her to the floor. The slave landed with an “umph” and her big, ugly hands came up to push Fania from her chest.
Unfortunately Fania was no longer in residence. Her alpha had taken full control and its rage at her treatment, added to the months of deprivation and worry in the prison caverns, had warped its feral mind to the point that nothing would save the slave.
Fania’s vision pulsed silvery-green, the terrified snout of the unfortunate slave its focus. Her fangs pressed through the soft skin of her bottom lip, throbbing with the need to rend and tear. Her claws slid through the tough Gleschution skin like butter and the woman screamed as Fania ripped long, deep trails through her flesh.
Her alpha roared for blood, her fangs painful under the need. As the slave squirmed, screaming for mercy, Fania’s head lowered and her fangs sank deep into the woman’s surprisingly tender throat. Hot, bitter blood spilled out and ran down her throat, warming her as nothing had done since the Gleschutions had captured her and her family and brought them to the prison at Wallow, a gift for their spoiled high master.
Hard hands grasped her arms and yanked but Fania had her claws deep in the woman and the slave came up with her, no longer screaming.
The slave hung limply from her claws, her head lolling back.
There was shouting all around her but Fania ignored it, reveling in the feeling of fullness for the first time in months. As two more guards tugged on her, trying to extract her from the now dead slave, she released the woman, flinging her to the ground like an empty vessel.
The guards shook her, dragging her back as the second female fell over her friend, howling.
Fania slid a slow glance upward, to the angry visage of the Gleschution high master, Amduark. Her smile was slow and satisfied, coated in blood.
“Your majesty, the woman is dangerous. She belongs in the prisons.”
Fania scanned her gaze toward the Commander of the Guards. Owat was a massive, vicious Gleschution who’d taken pleasure beating the male prisoners and raping the females. Few had escaped his filthy attentions. Fania had been lucky, mainly because the high master wanted her for himself. When she looked at him, Owat blinked rapidly, his hand going to the long, curved sword on his hip.
“Idiots!” Amduark roared. “She is injured. What did I tell you about manhandling my future wife?”
The guards shared a look. Finally, Owat bowed low. “Our apologies, majesty.”
Amduark kicked the dead slave, causing her sobbing friend to scurry away like a bug from flame. “She did the slave a favor by killing her quickly. I’d have torn strips from her hide until she had no voice left to scream and then boiled her.”
Sated for the moment, Fania’s alpha receded, leaving behind a bone deep cold and soreness. Despite her residual pain, she stuck her chin out and tightened her muscles against the need to shiver. “I’d like to be returned to the prisons. My people need me.”
Amduark’s dark gaze slipped over her, filling with heat.
Fania was suddenly aware that the light robes she’d been wearing were transparent from their soaking.
“You must stop thinking of them as your people, my love. Your people are in this room. They fill the passageways and courtyards of Wallow Castle. You are no longer Sanguinoss.”
He said the beloved name of her planet with a sneer, as if the very word created a foul taste in his mouth.
She shook her head, risking his infamous wrath. She’d rather be dead than be his high mistress. “You are mistaken, High Master Amduark. I am Sangui, Alpha of the Blood. I will always be thus. You can shackle me to you with a circle of gold around my finger and upon my head, but I will still be Sangui. Nothing will change that.”
To her vast surprise, Amduark merely smiled. “We shall see. Very soon.” He turned to Owat. “Ring her.”
The chill she’d willed away in his presence shook her to her very core as he turned and walked away. Owat held out a leathery hand and one of Amduark’s humanoid servants placed a gold, metal ring into it. She stood perfectly still as the big Gleschution soldier snapped the ring around her throat, feeling its taint as a burning sensation below her skin.
A moment later, she was blessedly alone in the bedchamber, with only a guard outside the door.
Alone with her thoughts and fears.
Only one thing would make the cruel and barbarous high master of Gleschute smile in that way.
Violence and death.
And it was clear she wouldn’t be the one to suffer his wrath.
Her pulse soared, fear spiked. Suddenly she knew what he had in mind. And she couldn’t allow it. She paced the confines of her room, wringing her hands as she struggled to find a solution.
She was strong. With the new blood coursing through her veins she was stronger still. But the high master believed she would not attempt a coup as long as he had what was left of her family locked within his prisons.
They made her weak because she would do anything to keep them safe.
That was when she knew he had reason to be smug. She would become his mistress. Because to do anything less would risk a long and painful death for her remaining family.
And that was something she simply could not allow.