Hanna stood in the air lock, frozen in place, as useless thoughts ran through her head. Her instincts had proven accurate once again. The Galactic Marines were on the planet. She wanted to run back to Pusher X7 and burn space away from here until she ran out of fuel, but the Pusher would never leave this world on its own. Even had it not been damaged, it didn’t have the engines for escape velocity.
She felt trapped but had no choice but to continue with her cover story. She’d been in tight spots before. Anyway, she’d been with Starfield’s band only a short while. It was likely the GalMars wouldn’t have intel on her identity as a member of his group, and thanks to her hacking expertise, she had a cover identity.
Still, Hanna was terrified of stepping through the air lock door into the station proper. The place could be crawling with marines. They could be checking everyone. Her implant should allow her to pass a scan, but she hadn’t had to test it yet and didn’t feel like finding out the hard way that the GalMars had countered the implant’s fake identity.
She stared at the terminal. It was waiting on her to punch the button to open the inner air lock door. Hanna hesitated with her finger over the button.
“Like Dad used to say, ‘Pee or get out of the sani-station,’” she said to herself, and realizing that standing here only made her look suspicious, Hanna hit the button. The inner doors of the space terminal opened slowly before her. She vainly tried to control her breathing and stepped out of the air lock and into the warmth of the main station.
“Welcome to Benn, the galaxy’s premier provider of iridium, deuterium, and other rare and valuable resources. We are bringing the future to you,” intoned the robo-announcer positioned by the door.
Hanna had jumped at the unexpected voice and tried to cover herself with a quick cough. Ignoring the rest of the announcement, she removed the filters from her nostrils and took a deep breath of the clean air of the terminal. That warm breath helped her start to relax.
“I can pull this off,” she said under her breath.
That’s when a striking figure stepped out in front of her. Hanna didn’t know the man, but she’d recognize the look anywhere—tall, well over six feet, and broad like a wall, with short-cropped dark hair and a face that looked like it had been forged from steel. He could have stepped right off of a recruiting poster for the Galactic Marines. However, he wasn’t dressed like a GalMar. In fact, if he hadn’t stood so straight and appeared so rigid, she could’ve believed he was a pirate by his dress—at least a low-budget holovid actor playing a pirate.
Besides his loose-fitting pants and stereotypical ebony blousy shirt, the man had one other feature that caught her attention, his eyes. They blazed at her like a supernova, clear and bluish white. They were the most captivating eyes she’d ever seen. And if she weren’t pretty sure this guy was really a GalMar, she’d have found them beautiful.
Hanna tried to simply sidestep the man, nodding her apologies for being in his way, but the massive probable marine moved with a grace that belied his size and swiftly grabbed Hanna’s arm. He had a grip like a crusher robot. Hanna wasn’t going anywhere.
“Hanna Seldon? I’m The Lance. I was Mister Starfield’s contact in system. What happened up there?”
Hanna looked at the man uncertainly. Was he playing with her? No way he wasn’t really a GalMar no matter what clothes he put on? She decided to believe the former, play stupid, and look for a chance to bolt.
“Sorry, I don’t know what you’re talking about. I just landed for some ship repairs. I got caught up in some crazy firefight near orbit, and—” She realized she was rambling and tried to shut up. Hanna needed to get away from this walking wall as quickly as possible. “So, excuse me.”
“Look. I understand why you’re wary. You were ambushed. I look like a GalMar. You had to see their cruiser outside. But I’m not GalMar. The look’s my cover.”
Hanna shook her head involuntarily. “I’m sorry, you must have me confused with someone else.”
The Lance tightened his grip on her arm slightly. “We don’t have time for games. We need to get out of here before we have problems.”
Hanna was sure she already had a problem. She was trapped.
Hanna felt her face heating, and a tingle ran through her as Arden placed his hand against her back. He leaned toward her.
“I’m very glad you are here, Hanna.” He wrapped his arms around her, and she could feel his hands against the bare flesh of her sides.
She rose up on her toes and kissed Arden hard. He responded immediately by lifting her off the floor and spinning around so he could lay her down on the soft bed.
“That’s no illusion,” Hanna said, reveling in the comfort of actual sheets on top of a real mattress. She had only dreamed of such luxuries. She sank into the comfort, her auburn hair pooling around her head. The feel of the cotton sheets against her arms sent shivers through her as her body overdosed on sensation.
Arden’s hands caressed her thighs and slid up her body to the hem of her band bra. His lips found hers again. He lightly licked her lips with his tongue. Gooseflesh broke out up and down Hanna’s left side from the sensation.
His hands slipped under her bra, and with a deft move, Arden freed her breasts and cupped them in his palms.
“Ahh,” Hanna said, sighing. In return she grabbed his shirt and slipped it over his head.
Arden’s hands gently squeezed her breasts, and his tongue traced the outline of her earlobe. A little nagging voice in the back of her mind told her it was never a good idea to get involved with your captain, but she reminded that voice that she wasn’t officially a member of the Scourge, so it didn’t matter. Anyway, she always got involved with the captain, as long as he was good-looking and straight.
As her eyes took in Arden’s bare chest, his tanned skin stretched across the tight muscles of his chest and abs, she ran her hand across those muscles, enjoying how he twitched as her hand grazed the top of his hip bone.
“Are you up for something new?” Arden said, pulling back and looking into her eyes.
“Let me see your wrist jacks.”
Hanna didn’t even hesitate. She just held out her left hand to him. Arden pulled the extra jacks from her EXS and plugged them into his wrist ports.
“Now initiate a hack,” he said, twining his fingers into hers.
“A hack into what?” Hanna said. Her breathing had become quicker. She thought she had an idea of what Arden had in mind, and it both intrigued and frightened her.
He only looked at her, not answering with words, but his face told her that he did indeed mean what she thought.
“But…” she began, but Arden stopped her with a kiss.
“Just initiate it. That’s all. Trust me.” Less than an inch separated their faces, and his warm breath on her cheek caused her to shiver slightly.
“Okay.” She used the EXS HUD to pull up Arden’s system. Connected like this, it was simple to browse the public side of someone’s personal system and was often used to quickly share private or sensitive information or even make expensive transactions securely. That wasn’t what she was here to do, though. She had to get past Arden’s public side.
It took her a few minutes to find her way around. The pirate captain had made a number of modifications to the Galactic Standard Biosystem, so many that his system was barely recognizable to her. However, finally she found what she needed: a Standard diagnostic log. She used it as an entry to access Arden’s personal system.
“Now, let’s see if this works.”
Hanna was unsure what Arden did in the next thirty seconds, but when next he spoke, a whole new world exploded inside her, and she felt dizzy. It was kind of like tripping on some hallucinogen. She noticed Arden shook gently on the bed beside her. Then he reached out his hand and cupped her breast, and Hanna gasped.
“I can feel you feeling my breast. I can feel my excitement and yours.”
Arden’s face lit up. “Oh yeah. It’s a bit disorienting, but fabulous, no?”
Hanna started to answer but instead rolled toward Arden and pressed her lips to his. The double sensation was overwhelming, and she at once felt the wetness between her legs increasing and a foreign feeling of tightness in the same area. When she looked at the swell in Arden’s pants, she understood. She could feel his erection.
His voice awoke her from her reverie. Hanna responded by pushing his hand, which had returned to her breast, down her stomach and into the waistband of her body shorts. Arden smiled and lowered his head to kiss her mouth. His hand slipped under her panties. She jerked involuntarily as his fingers brushed the hollow of her hip bone. She sighed with disappointment as his hand slid back up and out of her panties. At the same time, she could feel the throbbing desire in his cock.
“Don’t stop,” she said.
“I couldn’t now if I wanted to,” Arden said, panting. “We’re too connected. Your desire is my desire.”
“I need you,” Hanna said and felt Arden’s eagerness through the connection. Both of his hands slid down her sides and pushed down her panties. Hanna raised her hips off the bed so he could slide them completely off. He turned and tossed them into the corner with his shirt.
Arden turned back around and stopped. His eyes traveled over her body. Hanna could feel the hunger inside him, and it heightened her own desire. She had a fleeting urge to cover herself with the bedsheet and block his view. His eyes danced, and she could see the hunger she felt reflected in his eyes.
“You’re more beautiful than I remember,” he said, taking in every inch of Hanna’s toned body. Arden’s eyes stuck on her breasts for a few seconds and then descended to her pussy.