So I had someone tell me they read this story, and it got me thinking I hadn’t worked on it at all. So I went in and wrote the next chapter, so to speak. I’m very unfamiliar with sci-fi, and futuristic settings, so this I am finding harder to write.
It may get a bit sexy, and perhaps even require a warning of *mature content* because it seems my characters are quite aggressive in that regard. Oh my…
Anywho, here is Part 3 of Jeremiah – FYI mature language. F-Bombs and S-bombs, so NSFW in some cases.
Jeremiah was quite sure he had never had a worse berth on a transport. They were taking a slightly different route to their first stop in the Jupiter quadrant, and they had hit some turbulence of some sort. Space turbulence, of course, meant that you were likely to lose the gravity on the transport from time to time, and thus strapped yourself into your bunk when the need arose for the bumps as the ship made quick changes in trajectory to avoid space junk and asteroids.
Priya had taken the top bunk, and he could see her long fingers dangling just over the edge of the bed, wiggling slightly as the ship bounced. She was asleep, a small imperceptible breathing pattern coming from further in on the bunk. He noticed no personal rings or other effects, but then again, Mercs were never the family type. That was why they were Mercs. Most were orphans, or delinquents who made good and joined the Guild. He wondered at her story. She was well-bred to be a Merc, her bone structure perfect, her teeth taken care of, her speech classical. Most Merc’s were scrawny buggers with no teeth and questionable hygiene.
Thank God for small mercies she was his escort, he thought then with a wry twist of his lips. Ten days in here with a toothless and odoriferous man would not be pleasant at all.
He lay on his back, staring at the bottom of the bunk above him, sleep eluding him completely. Quite a large amount of craziness had happened in the past two days, and now that they were on their way to Earth, he was glad for down time to process it, even if it put his brain into overdrive. A haircut and some new off-the-rack clothes had helped, and he felt more himself in one day than he had for the past three years combined. He felt strong and virile. He felt powerful again, and confident, like he used to be when he strode into boardrooms and gave the orders.
He flexed his fingers slowly, and wondered how much of the strong and virile was being helped along by the shape above him. She was the hottest thing he had seen in three years that wasn’t on a screen, and of course, his body had reacted to her. What man’s wouldn’t?
A large bump threw him about on his bunk, and he grabbed the side of the mattress to steady himself. The red light above the comm panel flickered on, and he groped in the dark for the restraints to throw across his torso. It was going to be another long sleep period, with the way the transport was handling this rough patch.
As he buckled, another bump sent them straight up and back down again. Priya rolled to her side, muttering peevishly. A moment of silence was followed by a popping noise from the corner of her bunk, and then another. He darted his eyes to the underside of the bunk above him, and saw flakes of paint falling to the blanket over his toes, as well as what seemed to be a buckle in one brace. He quickly scrambled for his restraint buckle as the popping turned into a creaking, and then the bunk seemed to fold in slow motion downward towards him.
Jeremiah rolled off his bunk as the entire structure crashed against the wall, and was shortly hit full body by Priya, who was now piled on top of him, groaning, splayed over his hip, her head buried in his shoulder.
“Priya? Priya!” He said, tapping her lightly on the back. “Say something.”
“Well, ok, we can start with that.” He replied, rolling as best he could onto his back. She levered herself up onto her hands, still on top of him, and they regarded each other in the dark.
“You hurt at all?” He asked.
Priya just blinked slowly, and he felt her wiggling her legs, then breathing out. “No.”
They looked each other for a moment, on the floor, him pinned under her. In the glow of the dimmed lighting, he noticed how much softer she was, her blonde hair a mess around her face, her suit unzipped slightly to show her cotton undershirt. He felt his pulse quickening, her body heat giving him thoughts of slowly peeling her uniform off and seeing what the rest of her looked like. He wished for more control as he felt himself going hard, her body rubbing up against his crotch enticingly. She felt it too, her eyes went wide for a moment, and she scrambled to her feet, running her fingers through her hair to regain her composure.
Jeremiah regarded the ruined bunk as he rose, holding onto something as the bumping around them continued. He watched out of the corner of his eye as Priya zipped her suit, smoothing the folds out, and rubbed the sleep out of her eyes. The turbulence for her, now on her feet, was much less difficult, but she still kept her stance wide. Another bump hefted them up in the air for a moment, then back to the floor, stumbling. Priya grabbed the table, and Jeremiah sat back on the edge of his bunk.
“Well. Would you like to report this, or shall I?” He asked, picking up a pillow that had also made it to the ground, and tossing it back on the rumpled bunk beside him. He was lucky he hadn’t been pinned. The hinge supports that held it up had simply crumbled, the rust and decay on them evident under the now cracked and peeled layers of paint. He wasn’t even sure it could be folded back up into it’s cubby, the wires for the motor control frayed ends out beside the foot of the bunk. It banged noisily against he wall with each bump of turbulence. There would be no sleeping in the lower bunk either.
Priya made a noncommittal noise in her throat, and pushed on the collapsed bunk angrily. “I’ll go.”
Priya stood at the front of the shift manager’s door, waiting for someone to answer. It was a “night” shift, so she fully expected to be greeted by some punk kid who wouldn’t be able to help them, and she would have to wait for the next shift when the Captain’s staff was again on duty. In the dim light along the hallway, she read the instructions beside a fire extinguisher three times before giving up and staring at the tread-plate pattern under her boots, counting the small, oval shapes in each tile.
Jeremiah had, in fact, been quite solid and warm when she had landed on him, and it had jolted her senses quite hard. She had watched his lips open and close, his eyes snapping fiercely as she had levered up to check her back and legs. She could still feel the outline of his hips molded to hers, and she rubbed her thigh with her hand, willing the imprint to leave. She was not irritated by the physical contact of his hands on her waist either, strangely, since it was the first non-combative contact she’d had with another human in years.
She could not let this cloud her judgment. This was not the first time her contract had been attractive, and she wasn’t about to let herself get sucked into something destructive. But her body, thrumming with heat, had told her otherwise, when she had felt him hard against her, his eyes taking on that husky look that meant only one thing. Sex. And she could just imagine the sex.
Movement in the hall to her right made her turn towards the sound and shake her head out of her languid thoughts. Perhaps this was the manager coming back from wherever he was. She straightened when she saw the person rounding the corning into the hallway was not crew. Nor was it one of the travelers she had committed to memory. This person she had never seen before.
As he got closer, Priya felt her intuition prickle. Something about this man wasn’t right. He was walking very quietly, his footfalls silent and cat-like. Too quietly not to have been trained to do so. He was looking around, as if he was scanning the area for something. He was dressed fairly rough, except for a familiar jumpsuit under the rags, and she saw the obvious sign of a piece strapped to his hip. Three days stubble and rumpled hair perfected the image of a Merc who had been sleeping in corners. Not officially on-board.
Priya affixed her hand out and down in the traditional Merc greeting, two fingers down staight, thumb at a right angle pointing in, then flashing her fingers in and out three times. She wondered, as she did so, if that was the best idea. But if he was a Merc, he would do the same, and they would not harm each other, or get in each other’s business. If not, it would look like she was flexing her weapon hand, as a warning.
The man looked up and saw her, standing by the Shift Manager’s door, her hand out in greeting. He stopped short, his hand hovering over his weapon, then lowered in the traditional greeting as well. Priya relaxed. Her colleaugue then looked around, and made his way towards her.
“Brenden.” He said simply, coming to stand beside her, a wary eye out. He was not that old, perhaps in his forties, but had seen some hard years. He was likely a lifer, and she wondered at his rank in the Guild. Surely someone in this long would be more well off, and better ranked to be trapsing around a transport in the Mining quadrant.
“Transporting a contract?” He asked suddenly. Priya looked sharply at him, and his squinted, craggy face turned towards her with expectation of an answer.
“Who is asking?” She replied defensively. What kind of Merc asked about a contract in process? it was against Guild rules to ask directly if Mercenaries met while working. Doing so broke the rule of confidentiality, and sometimes, if a Merc was contracted to transport a fugitive, and the other Merc employed to protect him, then they would go about their business anonymously as possible. Mercs could not engage in negotiations outside of contracts, to prevent side deals, ransoms, and profiteering. It was law, and what kept them as a legitimate faction in dealing with criminals and the like within the enforcement profession. And if a dispute happened, usually one Merc ended up dead.
He cleared his throat and looked uncomfortable. Clearly, he had not wanted to ask. She furrowed her brow.
“What manner of question is this?” She repeated to him, standing up straight and stepping in front of him.
He held up his hands, backed up a step, and from the inside of his pocket, slowly pulled out a tablet. he handed her the tablet.
“You should see this.”
Priya pressed the activation button, and blinked as pictures of Jeremiah as both Herman and himself stared back out at her. Careful to keep her poker face on, she thumbed through the information, and then came to a publicity photo where he was standing with Yangling, both of them dressed for a black tie affair, smiling for what looked like a red carpet stop. Her heart stopped, and she felt a sweat start under her jumpsuit.
of all people he could have been in that photo with, he was wrapped around the daughter of Quiang Tenagri, former head of the Huunari. So she was right. Jeremiah was a spy of some sort, or perhaps he was a Huunari escapee… or maybe he was Huunari himself! What had she walked into? She sucked in a breath and looked up at Brenden, who nodded. Danger coursed through her veins suddenly. She’d swore never to deal with them again, and here they were.
“Who are you?” She asked quietly. “Why do you bring me this? Are you trying to compromise or warn me?”
He shook his head, and rocked on his heels.
“I am warning you. I was contracted by Iakati Tenagri’s folk to apprehend you and your contract when you boarded the transport. Unfortunate for me, since I owe Iakati money, but fortunate for you, the UCBI pays better.”
Priya sighed and rubbed her forehead with her fingers absently, and thumbed through the pictures and communications again. Ok, that wasn’t helpful. Both sides wanted this man, but which side was Jeremiah’s allaince to?
“is he Huunari?” She reluctantly asked.
“I don’t know.” But they seemed pretty pissed when they told me to bring him in alive, so I’m not sure he’s on friendly terms. The UCBI agent I spoke to was also pretty adamant he come in alive, and healthy.”
Priya grunted. More likely he was someone who had crossed them, or perhaps it was personal. He looked pretty cozy with Yangling. Did Daddy and Brother Dearest want revenge for a broken heart?
“Do you need protection for this break in contract?” she said as she looked at Brenden. It was a lot to risk, this contravention of Guild law, playing both sides as he was, and now, warning her. She was grateful for it. if she could help, she would.
Brenden shook his head. “No worries Doll, I’ll be fine. This man knows how to disappear. You, however, may be out-gunned at Jupiter station when you arrive. The Huunari have a shuttle waiting for me and your contract. When I do not arrive with him, they will likely tear the station apart looking for him.”
“Shit.” Priya muttered, for the second time that night. She knew very well what they were capable of. Too aware. She had not expected this complication, and was slightly ticked that the UCBI agent had not warned her of Huunari involvement. Perhaps he wasn’t allowed to, but it sure made a big difference in how she handled this contract now.
Brenden nodded, took back the tablet, and they stood awkwardly for a moment. She ran her hand through her hair, and looked across the hallway out a small port hole into the blackness, thinking about the next step.
“You want my help getting onto a shuttle for D-241 before you land? Or perhaps onto a freight bound for Earth?”
Priya shook her head. “Not sure, we are scheduled to stay on this transport through to Gaia station, then transfer the contract to a secure moon-jumper headed directly for Langley. I’m expected on Gaia for payment, that’s where my responsibility ends.”
Brenden made a sound in his throat and gave Priya a withering look. “And the Huunari have no idea of that schedule.” He coughed, and fumbled into his coat looking for what Priya assumed was a tobacco inhaler. “Look Doll, you gotta be nuts not to change the game plan now. They know you and pretty boy are landing at Jupiter station. Don’t be surprised if they board this rustbucket before the airlock is secure, just to make sure I am doing my job.”
Priya folded her arms, slightly annoyed at being called ‘Doll’, and nodded. “So noted. But who’s to say we won’t end up on a Huunari contract ship anyways?”
Brenden sucked on the thin white tobacco inhaler, the tinny gurgle echoing in the hallway. He cleared his throat and then tapped it on his cheek, thinking. “Leave that to me, Doll… I have some friends in some low, low places. I’ll give you a hand.”
Priya didn’t have much choice right now. She could poke her own network, but anyone on Jupiter Station would have sensed the danger with Huunari arriving in port, that she would get nowhere.
“Ok.” she relented, and slumped slightly, defeated. “Find us a berth on a freighter, or something. As long as it gets us Earthbound, I’ll take it.”
Brenden nodded, and stuffed his inhaler back into the folds of his coat. “Good girl. I’ll send you a message when I know the way is clear for you and your contract.”
She nodded, and with that, he melted back into the darkness of the hallway, leaving her, once again, alone in front of the Captain’s door. When a second knock gave no answer, she turned and headed back to their cabin. It was time to have a chat with Mr. Plackett. She needed to know what she was dealing with.
Jeremiah looked up as she stepped back in through the door, her face set into a stone-like glare of unhappiness. She clicked the door behind her and he swallowed. Her figure was outlined perfectly, and all he could think of was her hips fitting perfectly into his hands. He could care less if they had to sleep on the floor at that moment.
“No luck?” He asked hesitantly, setting down the tablet and the engrossing game of Othello he had been playing. “Are we stuck?”
She shook her head, and he watched her pace the room, looking at the comm panel, her hands flexing rapidly. He eyed her sword, tucked in the corner, and sensed she was royally pissed off about something. After a few more moments of her pacing and staring at objects, and him watching her from his chair, he got fed up. She could be a stuck-up bitch later, once she’d delivered him. Right now, she had to share his space, and it was irritating him that she didn’t seem to want to open up to him, Merc attitude bedamned.
He got up, walked across the small space, and stood in her way as she turned to pace the length once more. She stopped, folded her arms, and glared at him.
“Not until you tell me what has you all twisted up and pissed.” He said, folding his own arms, attempting to glare back. Two could play this game, and since neither of them could sleep, this would be fun entertainment. Poke the lioness, so to speak.
She simply glared across at him more, her eyes glittering in the semi-darkness of the “night” lighting. He watched her jaw set, her teeth working, and her lips purse. if it weren’t for the knowledge she could kill him with her pinkie finger, he would have kissed her then and there, just to break the tension.
“We’re being followed.” She finally spat out, and broke from his gaze. She pushed past him and dropped into one of the chairs. “Or, rather, we were being followed so we could be warned about the people who are following us.”
That sent alarm bells jangling in Jeremiah’s head. He knew Priya didn’t know anything about his involvement with the Huunari, and his role as informant. But if they were being followed by Huunari, then the stakes just rose.
“By who?” He asked innocently, and sat down.
“I have some questions first.” She said, and crossed her arms again, her jumpsuit making little rubbing noises across her breasts. Jeremiah shoved the image of her prostrated on top of him out of his head, and ignored the inviting sound of arm rubbing on breast. Damn but she was sexy when she was mad. But, if she wanted to play that way, then fine. He could be cool. He’d faced down hostile corporate takeovers. A snotty Merc was no obstacle.
“ok then. Shoot.”
“Who are you?” She spat back. “and by that, I mean who the fuck are you that the Huunari want you so bad they’ll come to Jupiter station with heavies to get you?”
Jeremiah broke her stare and ran a hand down his face tiredly. So they knew. He’d been foolish to think they wouldn’t.
“Fuck.” he muttered.
“You can say that again.” She replied, and leaned foward towards him. She jammed her finger onto the table for emphasis. “I did not sign on to get involved with the Huunari.”
Jeremiah realized she was worried. What she assumed he was, he didn’t know, but for some reason, her anger, and her sharp edges seemed less intimidating than mere moments ago, with the undercurrent of something less confident echoing in her actions.
“Why does it matter? You deliver me to wherever it is we are going, you get paid, and you can wash your hands of me.” he said, deciding for a moment to enjoy the flicker of rage flying through her face. “Besides, don’t Mercs work for the Huunari as well?”
“Not this Merc.” She ground out. “Are you Huunari too? Did you somehow send them a message? If you did, so help me I’ll kill you and blow off the payday.”
That raised his eyebrows. Coming from temper, he wasn’t surprised, but that was a bold statement for a Merc. He watched her steam, her face snapping with anger, and he wondered if she didn’t have some connection to the Huunari she would rather forget. Interesting.
This woman was an interesting study, he mused. Interesting, and quite possibly the most arousing woman he’d ever seen. When she was angry she was like icicles and molten lava all mixing together. Her tension said ice, but her temper and her ascerbic tongue said fire. He had the urge to kiss her, yet again, and stuffed it away.
“OK, first off, I’m not Huunari.” He finally replied. “Unfortunately, the briefing from the UCBI destructs, or I’d share it with you. Let’s just say I did some things that pissed them off royally, and I had to go away for awhile.”
He watched her relax, just a little, and lean back. It seemed she trusted him, even if it was in her nature to trust no-one. He’d caught that the moment he met her. It was a small win.
“Like screw the bosses daughter?” She said, quirking an eyebrow back at him. “Is Daddy Tenagri mad?”
Jeremiah groaned inwardly and rubbed his face with his hand. That would never leave him, that story. Likely she’d been shown the damn pictures of him trussed like a turkey too. He looked back at her, scratched his jaw, and hid himself behind a crooked smile. “I dated Yangling under the guise of finding more information out about where Quiang might be hiding. It was rather… enjoyable work. I got outed before she could tell me.”
“Uh huh. So why does the UCBI want you now? And why are the Huunari so intent on getting you first?”
Jeremiah stood and stretched, and smiled at her. “I don’t know, Priya. I do know they killed my brother, and my sister is in danger. But as to why they want me back now? No idea.” he lied.
She slammed her hand on the table, stood up, and went nose to nose with him. Wow. Her temper was less than a hair’s width. He liked that.
“Bullshit, you condescending asshole.” she spat out. “you know exactly why. And that why could get us both killed, you hear? Unless I know why, I won’t know who I can trust to get us the hell off this tin can before Jupiter Station. You aren’t the only one who is in danger here, you know.”
“Really.” He said, leaning into her, taking in her decidedly female scent. “You really want to know, or are you just trying to come on to me with all the ‘asshole’ talk?”
“You are a smarmy, overconfident, playboy.” She ground out, fisting her hands, not moving as their noses bumped. “You don’t deserve my protection.”
“Nosy, icy, princess bitch.” He replied, smile never leaving his face. “See? I can come up with more if you like. Ooh here’s a good one… Assassin.”
“Assassin?” She narrowed her eyes. “No one calls what I do something that low, disgusting occupation.”
He chuckled, knowing he’d pushed the right button and slowly spelled it out for her. “Ass…ass…in.”
She snarled, her composure completely gone by his insults, and pushed both hands into his chest. He grabbed them before she could shove him, turned her and held her captive in his arms.
“Did that upset you?” he asked into her ear, and she struggled in his arms, trying to stomp his foot, which he moved out of the way in time. She was strong, but slender, so he could easily keep his grip on her. Any defensive moves she tried he could outblock her. His own training at hte UCBI hadn’t been for nothing, it seemed.
“Let me go, asshole.”
“Don’t think so. Don’t feel like being run through just now, thanks.” He replied jauntily, trying desperately to piss her off more. It was madness, but he enjoyed her when she was riled.
He prayed she wouldn’t heel him in the groin as they stood there a moment more, her struggling, him holding. He held her fast, knowing he was taking a chance, but when she stopped pulling, he turned her in his grasp, hands holding hers tightly. She just stood there, and they locked eyes. They were so close, he could feel her breath on his face, see the flecks of colour in her eyes, count each eyelash. She was breathing heavily, and he knew she wouldn’t resist. There was a woman under that Merc disguise. And that woman was no longer completely upset.
“Let me go.”
He thought about it for one brief second. That one brief second before her mouth parted ever so slightly, and the heat of arousal flickered in her eyes. Then, the second was gone, and his lips were on hers, devouring her.