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Using Fejo: Chapter 27

The sky was a bright, electric blue, the air filled with the sweet scent of sea plums. Fejo reclined on his elbows in the warm, velvety sand, watching Vanessa dip in and out of the water. Her wet, naked body glittered and shone in the sunlight, and she lifted a large spiraling shell, grinning toward him at the treasure she’d found.

They’d stopped off on this planet after rescuing her sister and niece from Earth. His mind stilled. Her sister. He tried to recall what her sister looked like. What Mia looked like. But for some reason, he couldn’t remember.

His focus pulled back to Vanessa, and his confusion fled. She emerged from the water, the waves lapping at her thighs, her dark hair wet over her shoulder. His ravenous gaze trailed over her body, her figure fuller from weeks of indulgent eating between bouts of lovemaking. She waved him over with a gentle smile.

His heart pinched in his chest. Unable to say no to any request, he rose to join her. Warm, soft sand stuck to his body as it had for the past few days, leaving their skin exfoliated and soft. He took in her smiling face, her skin a little pink from the bright sun beating down on her. She dropped the shell, reaching her arms out to him, and with a deep purr, he slipped his hands over her slick body.

The smell of sea plums increased, and he tried to recall where this planet was. He couldn’t remember ever being here before. How had he found it? He pulled away with furrowed brows and peered around him. It was so picturesque, so untouched. There were no people or buildings in the distance. No signs of life at all. Just lush greenery, bright white sand, and turquoise water. How had they gotten here?

No sooner had he had the thought than he caught sight of his ship out of the corners of his eyes. Had it been there a moment ago?

“Fejo,” Vanessa breathed, pulling his attention back to her. She sank into the water, tugging him down with her until they were sitting on the soft, wet sand of the ocean floor. She crawled over his lap and kissed him. Her skin was warm from the sun, and the cold water flowed between them, refreshing their overheated bodies.

“My glorious Vanessa,” he crooned, pushing her hair over her shoulder. She grinned at him.

Something crawled over his brain like an insect. He frowned. She hated when he called her things like that. As if a program had glitched, her face changed, her lips pursing the way he’d expected them to.

Fejo blinked. Something was wrong.

With a soft hand on his shoulder, she pushed him back, forcing him to recline, but there was only water. He tried to remain upright, but her grip was too strong. Far too strong. He couldn’t fight back. His head dipped under the water, his body freezing in place. He couldn’t move his arms or legs, couldn’t struggle. Suddenly his throat flap wouldn’t work, and his gills refused to open.

Flashbacks of the first time he’d breathed underwater came back to him, and the beautiful image of Vanessa morphed into the white-winged male from his childhood who’d held him down under the water. The male’s wings flared out, blotting out the bright sun, and the water turned a dark murky gray. He struggled, but it was no use. He was too weak.

His lungs burned from lack of oxygen, his throat bobbing helplessly. He coughed through the water and was sure this time the scientist would kill him.

Vanessa’s image popped into his mind again, though, and cool determination washed over him. In a flash, his throat flap closed; his gills sliced through the sides of his neck. He sucked in water, filtering out the air. His spotty vision snapped back into focus.

The water above him rippled, but he could just make out a horned male. His large hands were on Fejo’s shoulders, holding him down. Maladek.

Was he trying to drown him? Fejo rarely revealed what race of Clecanian he was. His crew knew, but most didn’t. Had Klinara told her two Tetran spies? Did Maladek know he couldn’t drown?

Confusion rammed against his skull, keeping him frozen in place. A screeching sound floated to his ears from far away, and he felt a tug on his brain. A flash of the lush island popped into his head, but he forced it out.

Where was he? Where was Vanessa?

Maladek’s raspy voice filtered through the water in barely a whisper. “Pretend.”

Pretend? To die?

Fejo didn’t know what was going on, but he noticed that though Maladek was holding him under, that was all he was doing. His large hands weren’t around his throat and his blurry expression was tight, not cruel.

He continued to study Maladek through the rippling water, and the male turned his head, as if talking to someone. Fejo saw something plugging up the male’s ear, and memories roared back to him. He’d been working on the bridge, ensuring the Ylare stayed under the radar, when a horrible noise had echoed through the sound system and everything had gone fuzzy. There was only one race he knew of who could do that.

Fejo didn’t know why, but something in him told him to trust Maladek, so he flailed, pretending to drown. He struggled for a few moments longer, then blew out a large bubble, imitating the last breath that escaped the lungs before water flowed in. He let his body go still.

Maladek gave a barely noticeable nod, his hands unclenching from Fejo’s shirt. The water had made his jacket and clothing heavy, and he let his body sink until he felt ground beneath his back. The water wasn’t deep, only a couple of feet. Something sharp sliced his hand as he felt through the coarse sand underneath him. A knife, but not one of his, judging by the smooth, pointed handle. Had Maladek dropped it for him?

His lateral lines picked up on the vibrations of footsteps as they grew more distant. His eyes darted to the side, and he could just make out Maladek standing above him, facing away toward whoever else was there. The male placed his hands behind his back as though stretching and held up six fingers. The number of enemies, maybe?

Six Sieliji? Was he right? Had they crashed on the Sieliji planet? They hadn’t been near it, though. Every captain with half a brain gave the Sieliji a wide berth. No, if they’d crashed, most would be dead or injured.


How long had he been under? Where was Vanessa? His body surged, his senses trying to pick up on her location, and relief washed over him. He could sense her. She was here somewhere, but not close.

His body tensed to fight. Six Sieliji. Only six? He recalled the substance blocking Maladek’s ears and knew it was a setup. If they’d crashed, the Sieliji would’ve greeted them with a fight and far more armed soldiers.

He heard the group speaking again over the sound of the screeching song. They might be distracted. Using the knife, he very slowly cut off pieces of his shirt. It might not work, but he had nothing better, no other way to block out the sound. Vanessa was getting farther away by the moment. He’d need to kill them quickly and hoped Maladek would help.

Sieliji weren’t hard to kill on their own, but if more came, they’d be overrun. Ensuring all eyes were turned away from him, he stuffed the wet pieces of fabric into his ears one at a time.

Like a shot, he burst out of the water, bellowing to drown out any lingering sound that might ripple through his makeshift earplugs. Fejo charged, and all eyes of those who weren’t entranced shot to him. There were only five Sieliji. Those who were not singing screeched, their eyes bugging out and going wide.

A male Cae who’d been standing on the sidelines came into view. Why was he here? Two other bellows joined Fejo’s, and the scene came alive with activity. Maladek charged forward, slicing the throat of the Sieliji closest to him. Uja spread his powerful wings, bolting into the fray and using the clawed tips of his wings to slice the throats of the two Sieliji still singing.

The last two ran, and when Uja tried to jump after them, he was wrenched back, his leg shackled to a boulder. Taking aim, Fejo hurled his knife. It flew through the air, blade over hilt, and sliced through the back of one Sieliji’s neck, cutting bone, tendon, and cartilage. They dropped, their white translucent blood pooling in sand. The other Sieliji continued to run.

The Cae, cowardly as he was, also bolted, and Fejo glanced around. His crew, who’d all been entranced, murmured and muttered to themselves, clutching their heads and looking around in confusion now that the Sieliji song was gone.

A loud engine rumbled, and Fejo spun. He watched in horror as his ship came to life. He sprinted, something inside knowing exactly where Vanessa was. His chest pounded, his pulse buzzing in his ears. He shouted and roared, his muscles threatening to tear as he dashed through the sand, running faster than he ever had before, but still not fast enough.

He slid to a stop, staring up at the belly of his ship as it lifted off the sand.

Fury lashed through every tendon in his body. He roared up at the ship, matching the volume of the booming engines, his throat going raw. Helplessly, he watched as the ship carrying his mate flew farther and farther away. His fingers curled.

Fejo wanted blood. He wanted to rip apart the first creature he could reach, and part of him was upset there weren’t more Sieliji to fight. He spun and found Maladek on the ground near Uja, ramming a metal key into the male’s shackle.

Fejo bellowed to Uja and pointed in the direction the Cae had run. The brown metal on Uja’s ankle clanked open, and with an evil grin, Uja’s gaze narrowed. He shot into the sky, screeching with a horrible pulsing call, and zoomed away.

Fejo stalked back to the group, his gaze following the bright white of Uja’s wings into the distance until he heard another pulsing shriek. A Huvuitian finding its prey. White flashed in a spiral downward as Uja dove for the ground.

Screeches rang out from the Sieliji castle, and Fejo’s gut tightened as dozens of soldiers streamed out, sprinting toward them. They’d never make it. Not once the Sieliji started singing. Fejo shouted to his males and pointed in the direction Uja had flown. They all raced forward. The Cae must have a ship around here somewhere.

Maladek remained in place, and Fejo cursed, sprinting toward the male. “Let’s go!” he barked.

Maladek’s eyes were focused on the advancing Sieliji, and he wrapped Uja’s chain around his fist, pulling the enormous boulder to him with a strength Fejo hadn’t realized he had. Maladek’s jaw tightened, his body thrumming with aggression.

“Go,” he growled. “I’ll keep them off you.”

“I’m not going to leave you here,” Fejo barked again.

“I brought you here. I brought your mate here. I let this happen. Let me do this.”

Fejo studied his expression and wanted to argue, but he saw it was pointless. Maladek’s gaze was hard, resigned. He wouldn’t be moved. Fejo reached out and gripped his shoulder, then, without another word, spun and bolted in the direction of his crew.

He looked back to find Maladek swinging the chain and the boulder around him, his muscles straining with the effort. He charged toward the oncoming soldiers and spun the boulder into them. They crumpled beneath the stone, their bodies collapsing to the ground and blood oozing out of them. Maladek leveled wave after wave of screeching Sieliji, but there were too many.

Suddenly, powerful hands gripped Fejo under the shoulders and propelled him into the air. Uja.

From this height, he could see the Cae ship in the distance. He looked back one last time and saw the boulder break off the chain, Maladek’s weapon failing. As a mountain of shrieking Sieliji blocked Maladek from view, Fejo silently thanked the male.


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