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Protector:A Scifi Alien Romance

By:Anna Hackett

We don’t have a lot of rules here in Kor Magna, but the Srinar and their allies are flaunting the unwritten ones. Plus, the fight rings are luring some of our clientele away.”

Madeline knew that wasn’t really it. The stands in the arena were packed, night after night. “You’re planning to invade the underground fight rings.”

Galen lifted one shoulder. “I have to talk with the other imperators first. The House of Galen can’t do this alone. Besides, we’ve already raided the fight rings once. The Srinar and the Thraxians will be watching us.”

Madeline released a breath. She hated just hearing the names of the aliens who’d kept her captive. The demon-like, horned Thraxians—worse than any nightmare—and the plague-deformed Srinar. “I’m not very good at waiting. I like action. I want to help. I need to help.”

Galen didn’t move. “Madeline—”

“No. The Thraxians pumped me full of drugs, they kept me docile, they beat me. I saw them inject Blaine too. Over and over. But it was different for him…it made him more aggressive. We have to get him out of there.”

She watched the three gladiators trade glances.

“We’re doing everything we can,” Raiden said. “Blaine is Harper’s friend, and I’ve promised her we’ll get him out.”

Raiden Tiago struck Madeline as a man who kept his promises. And she’d seen with her own eyes that he was head-over-heels in love with Harper Adams. It wasn’t hard to believe that the competent, tough space marine had fallen for this alien gladiator.

“I assure you we are working to free Blaine,” Galen said. “For now, we have a large arena fight to plan for. It’s a mock sea battle and they draw the biggest crowds. I need my team focused. That includes my gladiators and my back-of-House team who are pulling everything together.”

She watched him share another long look with Lore and Raiden and she narrowed her gaze. “You know something else?”

Galen sighed, sinking back in his chair. “Things were far easier around here when I was the sole person in charge. I’m not sure I enjoy people questioning my every decision.”

Lore leaned forward, a faint smile dancing on his lips. “Maybe she can help.”

Madeline felt anxiety eating at her. She needed to help find Blaine. She needed to do something to take her mind off what had happened to her, and where she was.

“Fine.” Galen waved a hand. “Tell her.”

“Galen’s invited certain people to the arena battle tonight,” Raiden said. “He’s also encouraged some…side bets.”

Lore shifted. “It’s all to entice a certain couple to attend. A man and a woman called Vashto and Cerria. Word is, they bet big in the underground fight rings.”

“They’re some of its best clientele,” Raiden said darkly.

The meaning behind what they were saying clicked into place for her. “If the fight rings are still operational, the biggest gamblers will know where it is.”

Lore nodded. “Exactly.”

Raiden crossed his arms over his chest. “We can’t afford to scare them off. These two are our only lead.”

Madeline nodded. “So we lure them to the battle tonight and then see what we can glean from them.”

“I’ve gathered everything I can about this couple,” Galen said. “They like excess and nice things. We ply them with their favorite drinks, and we give them a good show. We give them whatever they want—” a scary look crossed Galen’s face “—and then we get what we want.”

Madeline tilted her head. “You have a party planned for after the fight?”

“Yes. I’ve hired a box above the arena.”

“It’ll be the standard affair? Food, drinks, music?”

Galen nodded.

“Let me help.” Madeline pressed her palms against Galen’s desk. “If this couple like excess, then let’s give them a show they’ve never seen before.”

She felt all the men watching her, and unfamiliar nerves filled her belly. She felt like she was back in the early days of her career, fighting to make her ideas heard. She’d carved out a fantastic career for herself, in order to give her son the life he deserved. She’d gotten very used to never being nervous.

“My staff is already planning the party.”

“I can enhance it.” She saw Lore watching her. “I need to help. I need to do something. Harper fights, Rory fixes things, and Regan invents. This is what I do best. I organize and plan.” She swallowed, hating the feeling of being so powerless. “I’ll work with your catering people and we’ll put on a party people will talk about for years.”

Silence fell. Galen’s gaze was unwavering, and Madeline felt those nerves threatening again. This was important to her. Then she saw Lore wink at her, and something eased inside.

Finally, Galen nodded. “Okay. Do it.”

Elation burst inside her. “Thank you.” She nodded. “You won’t regret it.” She’d make sure of it.

“And Madeline?”

She looked into his single eye, the other covered by that coal-black patch.

“I’ll organize an office for you…so you stay out of mine.”

She fought back a smile. “Thank you.” She hurried out of the office and down the hall. As she turned a corner, she narrowly avoided running into Harper.

“Whoa, hold up,” Harper said.

Madeline nodded at the woman and spotted Rory and Regan with her. Madeline had to admit, it was still a bit of a shock to see her former security officer, station engineer, and scientist here in this alien place. Regan was wearing a flowing dress, Rory was in slick, black trousers with a bright-green shirt, and Harper was dressed in fighting leathers. Like the gladiator she now was.

“Mads, how you feeling?” Rory asked.

Mads? Madeline swallowed, her gaze straying to the small, robot dog at Rory’s feet. Lights blinked along the dog’s sleek, gray metal body. The dog tilted its head like it was studying her.

She really didn’t know these women that well. She hadn’t allowed herself to have friends on the space station, and this whole ordeal had made her realize that she’d let herself go…hard. On Fortuna Station she’d only had her work, and when she’d visited Earth, she’d spent