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Resisting Maxu: Chapter 14

The icy wind whipped over Maxu, making him sway back and forth above a hundred-foot drop. The Xeric Tower wasn’t the tallest he’d ever climbed, but the blustering wind threatening to toss him off the side of the building ensured his muscles would be stiff tomorrow.

It was exhilarating.

Maxu raised his palm, using a small device he’d affixed to his glove to scan the airspace above, searching for any lingering security measures he hadn’t accounted for. Nothing—he scoffed.

When the humans had been discovered in Insurgent bunkers across the planet, their rescuers hadn’t just found a new compatible species sent directly from the Goddess. They’d also found stores of Earth items. And what had his city done with the valuable alien objects that had once belonged to the abducted humans? Locked them in a secure facility where the rarest of Clecanian treasures were kept and guarded? No. To Maxu’s amusement, he’d discovered last night that they’d all been sent to a group of biological and cultural scientists for study.

The idealistic pishots weren’t prepared for a break-in by someone like him, and why would they be? From what he could gather, they were studying the chemical compositions of old clothing, mostly.

He braced his feet apart on the narrow ledge, spotting the window the bribed guard had told him would be the best point of entry. Squatting as far as he could, he leapt.

He flew past the window, jumping much higher than he could before, and barely caught a ledge a half story up from where he needed to be. He hung from his fingers, grinning toward the ground below. The mating marks had changed not only his mind but his body as well. He was faster, stronger, and could jump higher than before. Suffice to say, it was taking some getting used to.

Maxu swung from side to side until he had momentum, then released the ledge, dropping onto a beam just above the window. He pressed a machine he’d acquired from an undersea city on the planet of Chado and programmed it to emit the highest amplitude and frequency it could. Within seconds, the glass had shattered, and he swung inside, landing without a sound.

Floor-to-ceiling metal cabinets lined both walls, and he groaned. This would’ve been much easier if he knew what he was looking for.

Trying it Rita’s way hadn’t failed per se, but it also hadn’t worked. Maxu wasn’t the kind of person who could have relaxed, open conversations. He wasn’t used to revealing information about himself to strangers—especially females, no matter how luscious they were.

So yesterday, as he’d run through Rita’s silly exercises—which he’d never admit had actually made him sore in a few spots—they’d brainstormed an alternative approach. Well, he’d brainstormed and she’d tried to push him to speak with Meg again instead. Rita had also claimed that joining her in some prolonged meditation might help calm him.

Ultimately, Maxu had decided his problem was he didn’t know enough about humans. Before he could learn more about his mate, he had to learn all he could about her species. The free information listed in the Intergalactic Alliance directory was fine if he wanted to learn about their basic physiology, but when Rita had vaguely mentioned a catalogue many of the humans were contributing to, he’d known it was exactly what he needed.

The only problem? It hadn’t been published yet. Troves of valuable information directly from the humans themselves just sitting in a data bank somewhere, waiting for him to steal it.

The trip to the tower had only taken an hour or so. Meg had been wrapped up with the large beach party Adenelas was hosting, so he was sure she was being guarded at least.

And yet the twitches of pain in his stomach were becoming more frequent by the hour, regardless of his logical mind arguing that she was fine. He hated being away from her this long. What if she somehow escaped again?

He checked his communicator and took in a calming breath. His partner in crime was on his side. He was sure of that at the very least. When he’d awoken, bleary and furious after Meg had knocked him out, he’d been about to tear apart his room in a rage when he’d noticed an odd, folded message on his floor.

Using his reading glass to translate the clunky written language, he’d discovered his new accomplice—Rita—had explained where the next stop of the tour was. Given their talk yesterday in Adenelas, she hadn’t seemed the least bit regretful of going behind Meg’s back.

When he’d asked why, her simple response had been, “You two are like coconuts and pineapples.” With a lazy smile at his confusion, she’d added. “Once you get past those tough outer layers, you’re both delicious and even tastier together.”

Though Maxu didn’t know exactly what the fruits Rita mentioned looked like, he had to disagree with the point of her analogy. He’d followed Meg around all day today, and the only person she seemed to don a shell with was him. To everyone else, she was happy, carefree. Though there were a few instances that confused him.

With his heightened hearing, he’d listened to her gush over every detail of the famous Adenelese Dimples, as they were affectionately known to the citizens of Adenelas. But later in the day, when she’d been approached by an older male and he began describing the formation of the craters to her, she didn’t interrupt. She’d let him teach her something she already knew, and Maxu couldn’t fathom why. The male would have been beyond impressed with her knowledge of his beloved home.

During today’s interview, Maxu had also noticed the rigid set to her smile and the way she’d bunched her toes beneath her thin fabric shoes when one citizen had asked her what her family structure had been. Her answer had been innocuous enough—a mother and father who she’d lived with—but the way her eyes had changed had him tying himself in knots.

Keeping his distance annoyed him at first. Why should he stay away from his mate? But when he’d decided to think of his time observing her as recon rather than surrender, their separation became much easier to swallow. He was gathering intel. Instead of discovering the best way to breach a building, he was learning all he could so he could breach the defenses she’d barricaded around herself.

Keeping his senses on high alert in case a late-night visitor happened by, Maxu found the drive in which the partially complete human-built resource was compiled. He copied the information and then began searching through the cabinets.

Stained clothes reeking of body odor made up a majority of the collection. Most were negligible pieces. Just underwear and small shirts.

He bared his teeth as he examined a long loose dress that had been ripped down the front. His blood raced through his veins and a snarl built in his throat. Logically, he’d known the humans had been stolen from Earth, but seeing these scratched, dirty things painted a bleak picture. What had his mate gone through? Had she been forced to wear her clothes for days on end?

Had she been dragged out of her home in the night wearing next to nothing? Terrified? Crying?

As someone who’d always resented the laws and customs of his planet, he’d had a certain ambivalence about the Insurgents. Wasn’t it a good thing that they’d broken the law and searched the universe for a compatible species?

Now, seeing this, Maxu’s mind was forever changed. The sour scent of fear clung to each item as if haunting it. For the rest of his days, he’d use every skill he’d acquired to hunt down all living Insurgent members and ensure this same smell clung to their clothing as they died.

One hour passed before he moved on to the second wall. The bag he’d brought with him was almost full now. He didn’t know what he wanted with the items he’d stolen specifically, just that he needed more time to examine them alone without this gnawing feeling in his chest distracting him.

A buzz ran through the implanted chip in his arm, and he stilled.

“Who?” he growled.

As someone who’d spent his life getting into places he wasn’t supposed to, Maxu was a master at protecting his own space. The only time this chip was activated was when one of the traps he’d laid at his home was tripped. Slowly, he lifted his communicator. Whoever it was would be alive and would have to be dealt with.

A side trip back home to Tremanta was the last thing he needed at the moment, and even before bringing up the camera feed, he knew this person would be in for more ferocity during his questioning than normal.

His brows knit when he saw the attempted break-in hadn’t occurred at his home but rather his room, back in Adenelas. Though he always set up a few snares wherever he stayed—his Traxian half territorial no matter where he went—they rarely got any use. His breath caught in his chest as he pondered who it might be.

A live feed lit up in front of him. If Maxu had ever smiled harder in his life, he couldn’t recall when. There was Meg, battling fruitlessly against his restraints.

Stowing his phone, he headed back through the broken window. He couldn’t waste any more time here. He had a mischievous female to see to.


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