“I don’t want to be taken again,” Gilly whispered. Gone was the bloodthirsty little fairy. In its place was a frightened young girl. She burst into tears, fat droplets splashing on the dead metal at their feet. Breck dropped to her knees and pulled Gilly forward into a crushing hug.
She whispered soothing words, but Andi didn’t hear them. She wasn’t listening.
She turned and looked out the viewport at the waiting ships. So many of them—Solerans, by their sigil. And then, all around her, a rumble. It seemed to shake the very bones of the ship, rattling the walls. A deep, dark sound that made Lira drop her hands from the throttle and rush to Andi’s side.
“They’re pulling us in,” Lira whispered. “If you have a plan, Andi, you’d better tell us now.”
But there was no plan.
For the first time in her pirating life, someone had bested her.
It’s not him, Andi’s mind whispered. It can’t be him.
And yet the Marauder was a corpse. It was already growing cold on the bridge, Andi’s breath appearing before her in tiny white clouds.
Do something, her mind screamed. Get us out of this. You can’t be captured, Andi, you can never go back.
Fear spiked through her, in and around, threatening to freeze her, just like the ship.
But she was the Bloody Baroness. She was the captain of the Marauder, the greatest starship in Mirabel, and she had a crew waiting on her word.
So Andi settled her nerves, shoved them down deep. She turned, unsheathed her swords and held them at her sides.
“Stand up,” Andi said to Breck and Gilly.
They stood, Gilly wiping tears from her small face, Breck keeping a hand squeezed on the younger gunner’s shoulder.
“Weapons,” Andi said.
The girls lined up side by side, Andi with her swords, Gilly with her gun. Breck unveiled a black short-whip that crackled with light. Lira stood with her fists clenched, appearing weaponless to those who did not know the ways her body could move, lithe as a predator on the hunt. Her scales flashed as she glared at the bridge’s exit.
They waited, determination the only thing keeping them on their feet. On the deck below, the main door of the Marauder opened.
Andi heard the echo of heavy footsteps moving through the narrow halls, climbing up the stairwells. A faint male voice mingled with the footsteps, whispering a command as they drew closer.
Andi saw the first man’s head as he came around the corner. Others followed close behind, soldiers filling the hallway that led to the bridge, all clad in blue Arcardian bodysuits, the white three-triangle badge of the Mirabel Patrolmen on their chests. They held silver rifles against their stomachs and satisfied grins on their faces.
Andi was all too familiar with those rifles and the small electric orbs they released. One shot would paralyze its victim, rendering them helpless against capture by the Patrolmen.
“Hello, boys,” Andi said.
Arcardian or not, she’d see the badges of those who wouldn’t back down stained with blood. It was her crew or her past and—her soul be damned—she would always choose her crew.
“We can do this the easy way or the hard way,” the soldier in front said, his voice calm and cool, as if he were making pleasant conversation.
“Ah,” Andi laughed. “But see, you just interfered with my ship. I don’t take too kindly to that.”
Her attention was pulled away from the man in front of her by the sound of boots tapping against metal. The Patrolmen turned sharply to attention as their commander approached.
This was the man who’d bested her.
This was the man she’d have to kill today.
As he approached, Andi’s chest tightened at the sight of him, tall and muscular and perfectly honed for fighting.
It’s him, said a small, frightened voice in her mind.
Then, as if confirming her suspicions, he stepped out of the darkness, like a demon emerging from hell.
The purest shock spiked in Andi’s veins. Then it melted into fury.
“You,” she growled.
“Me,” Dex said with a shrug.
“You’re supposed to be dead,” Andi whispered. “I left you...”
“Left me to die?” Dex lifted a brow.
She remembered every inch of the angular white constellation tattoos twisting their way across his brown skin, the feel of his strong hands on her body. The memory of him, the pain of her shattered heart. It all twisted into boiling rage as she stared at him, alive and free, on her ship.
Andi’s swords crackled, purple light arcing around the fierce blades. Beside her, the rest of the Marauders tensed and readied themselves for a fight.
“I’m going to kill you,” Andi whispered.
“You can try,” Dex said, shrugging, his once-captivating brown eyes sparkling with laughter. “But we both know how that will turn out.”
She screamed and charged straight at him, not giving a damn if there were twenty or even a hundred heavily armed Arcardian soldiers blocking her path.
She was going to drown Dex Arez in his own blood.
Chapter Six (#u2c495123-a205-5bed-8b1b-b7611314f030)
IT WASN’T EXACTLY the reunion Dex had hoped for.
It’s not like he’d imagined Androma running into his arms and kissing him with the passion of lovers parted for years. Their last moments together hadn’t exactly gone well, what with the whole “Andi soaring away with Dex’s ship, leaving him bleeding and dying on a barren moon” thing.
Then again, he had sold her out to the Patrolmen for her crimes, knowing she’d be sentenced to death upon returning to her home planet.
Love was all well and good, but money was the true key to Dex’s heart.
Still, for what Androma did to him, he should hate her, should want her dead.
But seeing her before him, melting into rage and riot, the smooth metal implants on her cheekbones reflecting the electricity that swam around her swords...
Godstars, she was magnificent; a creature who had released her wrath on the world. It would be worth every drop of blood about to be shed to be the one who finally brought her to the general’s feet.