Planet of the Dino-whores Ch. 05by100 Angry Bananas©
As night darkened the horizon, the jungle came alive with noise. Insect chirps. Howls. Hoots. Screeching from the tops of the trees. The air was rich with the symphony of the natural world.
Zara thought about what kinds of creatures must be capable of creating such a racket, and an involuntary shudder of disgust trembled through her. She had met more than enough of the planet's indigenous inhabitants; all of them could stay far, far away as far as Zara was concerned and sing their songs from a comfortable (preferably lengthy) distance.
She brushed a hand through her short auburn hair. It felt greasy and unkempt. She pulled a long strand of it down in front of her face and appraised at it. Snarled, twisted strands capped off with split ends. She stuck out her tongue in disgust. The first thing she wanted to do once she blasted off and got into the more familiar reaches of deep space was treat herself to a nice cleaning ritual on Planet Zest.
Zara sighed, closed her eyes, and imagined the scalding hot water cascading over her, the sudsy, foamy bubbles lathering every available portion of her body below the neck, the smell of soap and water, the sweet rich fragrances of perfume.
"How're you feeling?" the voice of Karh Blade said, interrupting the metal reverie. Zara opened her eyes and twisted around to look where the voice came. She couldn't help thinking what a mess she must seem- greasy hair, greasy face, wearing the same torn and dirty flight suit for the last two days; not that it mattered. Or so she told herself.
The grime and dirt, however, suited Karh Blade. His rugged features were highlighted by the unshaven bristles along his jaw, the sheen of sweat on his skin, his jet black hair messy and windblown. The splatters of mud and blood accentuated the colors of his tan vest, the dark blue undershirt, and his canvas trousers. He was the kind of man meant for the dredges and ditches of worlds. Cleaning him up would only take away everything about Karh that made him attractive.
"Lovely," Zara responded, professionally threading tones of her trademark sarcasm through the word. Unable to settle on the features of Karh for long with any sense of comfort, her eyes flicked back to the deep dark depths of the jungle.
"Where's Hunter?" she asked.
"Shouldn't you be?"
"Couldn't," Karh said with a deep sigh. He leaned against a tree, regarding Zara with sharp eyes. He had been looking at her the same way since their mutual escape from Vanitoth as though the past dealings between them were all forgotten in the formation of this new but forced friendship. Zara turned her face away from him and frowned. Karh looked at her as though as she was a trophy in a glass case, something to be won and owned. He sorely underestimated her.
"You look tense," Karh said and approached her with long, confident steps. He walked without making a sound, stealthy even in heavy black boots. "Let me help you with that."
Before Zara could protest, strong hands slipped over her shoulders and fingers pressed down to massage her muscles. Her knees almost buckled from the feeling of relief that washed over her neck and shoulders and down her back in smooth, overwhelming waves. Her protest died on her tongue, and Zara felt her eyes roll back into her head. She'd had massages before, all manner of good and professional massages, but never before had they felt as good as Karh's present one.
Her head felt light, her mind high on the released stress.
"Feels... good," she managed. Her head lolled on her neck. Karh's hands rubbed her shoulders, moved down; fingers tickled along Zara's neck, then her clavicle and slid down the deep grove of skin leading into the dip of her shirt. When Karh's hands caressed the slope of her breast and slipped over her nipple, catching it between his thumb and forefinger, Zara gulped air and came back to reality.
This could not happen. She could not let it happen.
"What do you think you're doing?" she said. She didn't tear his hand away from her breast, but she stopped Karh Blade with her tone of her voice all the same. He froze, his knuckles holding Zara's hardened nipple in a slight grip.
"Nothing that you don't want," Karh replied, his voice soft in her ear. Zara felt lightheaded and knew that he was right- she DID want it. But she couldn't let him know that. At the end of the day, he was just a bounty, and she was better than him, better than a moment of physical pleasure and lapse of judgment.
"If you're trying to seduce me," she said and pulled his hand by the wrist out of the front of her shirt, "you're going to have to do better than that."
In response, Karh wrapped his arms around her waist and forced her back into him. Zara opened her mouth to protest, and then she felt his hands dip into the pants of her flight suit.
Hands swept lower, warm on her cool skin.
She struggled, but Karh was strong, stronger than she expected. Nor did Zara struggle as much as she should have, but a part of her wanted this to happen, wanted Karh to overpower her and force his body on her. Into her.
No, she would stop him before it got that far. Karh had to know that there were some lines not to be crossed, and Zara was not something he could take as he pleased.
She gasped as his fingers found her, teased her, manipulated heat and moisture out of her, and Zara's struggles turned to a kind of writhing against Karh. She could feel his hard lust straining against the curve of her rump, prodding her through the fabric of their clothes. She fought to maintain her defenses, to not give in and let the desperate need pounding her heart take over and control her.
His finger slid into her. Zara gritted her teeth and gave a low moan.
Then she slid her blaster out of its holster and moved her arm back, jamming the barrel into Karh Blade's ribs. Karh jerked in response, slowly withdrew his hands and raised them over his head. Zara turned to face him, careful to keep the blaster aimed at Karh's chest. Her flight pants protruded where Karh had unbuckled them and trespassed, but Zara didn't bother fixing them. She wanted Karh to see what he couldn't have, where he had touched but would no longer, how easily she could rebuff his advances.
"Don't take what doesn't belong to you," Zara said. "Always ask."
His voice came soft and hurt: "Can I?"
Then a new voice cut through the darkness: "Zara!"
Zara swung towards it, readying her blaster, and said with relief, "Henrik?"
Dawn broke orange and yellow across the horizon, casting bright colors through the thick jungle canopy. Dew dripped like fat tears.
Lorna straightened her helmet as she approached the Queen with the bad news. The helmet had once been the head of a fearsome predator, a snake that had proved to be a challenging and formidable foe to the Captain; now it served as a declaration of Lorna's own intimidation. It also helped her remember that luck was almost as an integral component of a champion's arsenal as preparation and strategy. Lorna composed herself as she came to a halting stop before the Queen.
The Queen's face was a blank, as unreadable as ever, as Lorna spoke.
"There's no sign of your slave. He seems to have disappeared," Lorna said. The Queen's only response was an indifferent blink of her serpentine eyes. Her green scales gleamed in the morning sun.
Lorna continued with a wary voice, "He may be a liability."
At this, the Queen's lips creased with an amused smile.
"My slave's loyalty is ensured. Between the two of us, he has no reason to go back to those heathen harlots from the sky with their impure, colored hair, bony frames, and smooth skin," the Queen said with a chuckle. "Whether he realizes it or not, he will prove to be our enemies' undoing."
"Of course," Lorna said.
"You disagree?" the Queen said, reading the implication in the Captain's tone of voice.
Lorna took a moment of caution, choosing her words with care. It wasn't safe to contradict royalty, no matter what your station and rank in life. The only reason Lorna felt safe to continue was the common bond that the Queen had confided in Lorna the previous evening. She thought back to the Queen's watching eyes as her slave, Henrik the Lazy-Eyed, impaled Lorna with his engorged member, driving into her again and again with deliciously brutal impact.
"He's not one of us," Lorna replied. "He can't be trusted."
The Queen's smile spread wider, revealing teeth like a steel trap, and she said, "He's a man, Captain. If there's one thing you learn about men, it is their predictability."
Lorna made no effort to further argue the point. She nodded, bowed low, and said, "I will ready the riders."
"It was easier than I expected," Henrik said between swigs from Zara's canteen. "I suppose they thought they had me cowed. I don't know, but I know I'm glad I'm out of there and back with people who are actually people and not lizards."
Zara gave him a smile and a clap on the back. She was glad to have him back, regardless of his immaturity and cowardice and everything about Henrik that annoyed her. Those were the things that made Henrik, well, Henrik, and she had missed him. Especially since he'd be a welcome safeguard against any more advances from Karh Blade. Speaking of which, Blade watched Henrik with suspicious eyes and said nothing.
Throwing his head back and his arm up, Henrik took another long swallow from Zara's canteen. A dribble of water leaked down the corner of Henrik's mouth. He wiped it away with his sleeve.
"Glad to have you with us," Zara said and gave Henrik's arm a light squeeze. Hunter nodded her agreement, probably happy just to have another man around to jump. She was already eying Henrik with an expression not unlike a shark regarding a wounded tuna.
"We should get moving," Karh said, his first words all morning. He had a dagger out and had been using it to clean out the grime underneath his fingernails. Karh sheathed the dagger into a leather scabbard in his belt and stood up, no longer leaning against the tall, palm tree. He was the epitome of anxiousness, hands on hips, an expectant expression on his face.
"Fine by me," Henrik said and handed the canteen back to Zara. As he did so, he leaned forward, gave her a wink and whispered into her ear, "Still bounty?"
Zara nodded. Now the odds were in her favor. 2:1 against Karh, perhaps even 3:1 though she didn't want to have to split the cut three ways and wasn't sure if Hunter Haux would prove trustworthy once they were off the planet and in space. Something about Hunter set Zara's inner alarms ringing.
Hunter knew more about the planet and its inhabitants than she was telling, Zara was certain.
"Which way?" Zara asked the one-eyed, blue haired mystery.
Hunter pointed towards the rising sun. The shadows of the jungle canopy hid her face.
Halfway through the day, the riders caught up to them.
A rumble like thunder and the ground trembled; ferns and leaves shivered, making annoyed shushing noises as if roused from a deep sleep. Hunter and Henrik at once recognized the sound for it was, even before the huffing grunts of the beasts could be heard. Hunter's eye went wide, and her hair swirled as she swung her head back towards the others. A look of pure terror strained her face.
"Quick! This way!" she cried and dashed into a twist of foliage.
They followed without thinking, pushing obstacles of scratching bushes and ferns and clawing limbs of trees out of their way, heedless of the fresh, raw cuts bleeding on their palms and fingers. Zara stumbled and tripped, watched the ground coming up at her quicker than she could put out her hands to stop it, and then Karh Blade caught her and pulled Zara to her feet. She opened her mouth to thank him, but she saw where she stood and her mouth choked on the words but stayed open in surprised silence.
Eggs- large, blue-spotted eggs, they thrust up from the ground like shelled cabbages. Zara looked down at her foot and saw that she had tripped over one of them; a bit of slime dripped from her boot where she had cracked it open with her toe.
"Jupiter's rancid spunk!" Zara cursed in disgust and tried to shake the dripping yellow goop off her foot.
"What is this place?" Henrik said in an awed voice. He bent over and poked one of the eggs with his index finger. It jiggled ever so slightly in response.
"Looks like Breakfast Central," Karh said, rubbing his hands together. Hunter Haux did not seem to appreciate the sentiment. Her face darkened, and she motioned with her arm for the others to follow. She had pulled back her hair in a tight ponytail, but her bangs were slick with sweat and clung to her forehead in wet, stringy clumps.
"Come on," Hunter said, her words spiced with urgency. She took care to step around the protruding eggs, and Zara followed suit, Karh and Henrik close behind her. A sense of dread made every step heavy, but Zara wasn't sure why that should be. Why would the field of eggs fill her with such trepidation?
What kind of creatures might force their way out through the shells and into the light of day...
"The sanctuary is close, where we'll hide," Hunter said, breaking off further thought. "Don't worry, this is sacred ground. They won't follow us here. Too afraid they'll smash the eggs."
A domed concrete building curled out of the ground like the bald pate of a buried giant- the sanctuary, Hunter called it. It didn't particularly look like anything, just a sterile grey overturned bowl. Zara wondered why this building and these eggs would hold any kind of reverence for the Queen and her subordinates. Again Hunter had proved to have intimate knowledge of the Queen, the kind of knowledge that couldn't be written off on Hunter's time hiding out in the secret tunnels of the Queen's palace.
The building loomed over them as they approached, and Hunter stopped at a rusty metal sliding door and threw it open with a low grunt. It slid with a gritty crunch and shriek of protesting steel. A stink of decay ushered through the door like a withheld burp. Hunter disappeared into the shadowy dark, and after a hesitant pause, Zara followed.
"Smells like my gramma's dirty underpants," Henrik said with a sharp voice as he entered.
"When and why the stars would you have smelled those?" Karh retorted.
"Quietly," Hunter ordered. Karh and Henrik kept their complaints to low murmurs as they fanned the air in front of their noses. Hunter found a dusty window and wiped it with the sleeve of her uniform, smearing a clean-enough circle to see out the window to the field.
"We'll stay here for awhile, wait for them to move on," said Hunter.
"Why would they move on? They've tracked us this far, and they're certainly better supplied than us. They'll just wait us out, expect us to run out of food and water first and give up," Karh replied.
"They haven't been tracking us," Hunter said vaguely. She kept her attention on the line of trees outside the field and the large, orange-red beasts moving behind them. The procession of riders moved efficiently and professionally to its destination.
"What?" Karh said with a note of disdain.
"They know where we're going," Henrik said. At his words, Zara felt thin slivers of ice trickle through her veins. The dino-whores were not as barbaric and "technologically retarded" as she had thought. If the Queen knew about the dish, she most likely understood its purpose. Zara's unanswered questions multiplied tenfold, and she had a feeling that Hunter Haux could answer most of them.
With mounting dread, they waited.
Henrik had overheard the Queen talking about a dish of some sort, expecting the prisoners to head for it. The key to escaping was the dish. The Queen knew this and wanted to reach the location at the base of the volcano before Zara and the others. Once there, all the Queen and the riders would have to do was wait for their prey to come to them.
Once he explained all this to Zara and Karh, he saw the hope and color fade from their faces. Hunter, on the other hand, seemed to expect no less. Her one eye held an indifferent glaze, and her face remained expressionless. She seemed bored.
"So what do we do?" Zara asked when Henrik finished. They stood and sat in a rough semi-circle. She took a moment to examine each of their faces. Only Karh's was totally readable- determined and fierce.
"We have no choice. If this thing's gotta be destroyed, we go destroy it. And if that means taking out some lizard lady and her entourage of blonde bimbos, so be it," Karh said, pounding his fist into a tall dashboard of buttons and levers. Something broke and went flipping end over end through the air, hit the floor and skidded out of sight.
Zara had already taken note of the complex machinery around them. Again, she wondered what this 'sanctuary' really was. She saw no religious icons from any domination of any culture of any planet she knew of, and she knew more than most from her travels. The only things she saw were machine on machine on machine. If anything, the place looked like some kind of experimental lab. The thought was not very comforting.
"I suggest while we can we get some sleep," Henrik said. The others nodded in relieved agreement. Their joints and minds ached to the point of numbness.
Karh went over to the window and peered out to the growing darkness. He could see only shadows and the pale white of the eggs glowing like unborn ghosts through them. Something about how they looked jogged his memory.
His first night there. In the Princess Sauria's room. She'd had a similar egg. Karh remembered examining it when the princess walked in, and she had said something. What was it? Ah, yes...
"I'm probably too sentimental, but one should remember her humble beginnings."
Henrik found a room off the main hub of the building. While he appreciated having the others around in case of emergency, he needed his privacy. He'd had none since landing on the planet, having every movement watched by the Queen, the Captain, or one of their underlings. He couldn't so much as take a leak without a set of feminine eyes boring holes into him, and sometimes it was hard to get a comfortable stream going under such ruthless evaluation.
Just as he settled down on what seemed to be some kind of examination table, his privacy was invaded. Typical.
"So you were the Queen's slave?" the voice of Hunter Haux asked from the doorway. She leaned in his frame, one hand on her hip, the other at the side of her head. Her head was cocked in a coy position.
"How was it?"
Henrik paused before answering.
Hunter took a few steps into the room. Backlit by the dim light spilling through the door, she was not much more than a slim, curvy silhouette of femininity. Henrik sat up on the examination table, wondering how a fool like him suddenly had women throwing their bodies at him like rotten fruit at a bad actor.
"Show me how interesting," Hunter cooed. A rustle and her clothes whispered to the floor.
Zara turned the egg shell over in her hands. It felt smooth and hard but fragile as if she applied any pressure it would crumble to pieces. A frown upended the corners of her mouth. Her hazel-yellow eyes examined the markings, the blue spots, the creamy white color. Her brow furrowed. Karh watched her and waited for her response.
"It makes no sense," she said. "Didn't you say that some of them were sisters?"
"Maybe they're all sisters," Karh responded. "Or maybe that's just a term they use for their close friends. Maybe it's a term they use for eggs hatched on the same day or in the same term or on the same patch of field. Who can say? But this is where they come from. I know it."