Savage Miraya


A NOVEL OF ADVENTURE

BY JEFFREY BLAIR LATTA


EPISODE 35: JYLEESHA IN CHAINS


Seagrave ducked through the circular doorway to Shyrin Shas's dimly-lit cabin.

Both the gold-handled punch spike given to him by Montaz and his cutlass had been recovered from the Empress of Shek.  He wore the punch spike thrust under his belt, while the cutlass hung in its sheath, secured tightly at his hip.  The Earth tal-stone had likewise been found in Jyleesha's cabin, and now nestled in its pouch fastened with thongs beside the punch spike.

For a moment, the pirate paused just inside the threshold, his dark gaze drinking in the soft, tangelo curves of the lovely figure curled on her side on the hanging bed.

A single lantern, half-shuttered, slanted its warm rays onto her smooth back, turned toward him.  Her slender wings were pressed together, forming a single, nearly invisible blade along her spine.  As always, she was naked but for the slim thong garment disappearing between the globes of her bottom.  Only days before, on Earth, Seagrave had caught that supple body in his arms, smelled her enticing lilac-scented flesh, and wondered if he was dreaming.

Now he breathed in slowly, filling his lungs with her, his fists knotting at his sides.  She was no dream, he knew that well enough.  Aye, but she was as beautiful as a dream.

He crossed the cabin, the boards creaking under his bare feet, then folded to his haunches beside the hanging bed.  Studying her a moment more, he reached out and caressed the silken skin under her nautilus ear.

She started at his touch, inhaling sharply, then rolling over until her emerald eyes sparkled at him.  Her ripe lips smiled faintly.

"I'm glad you have come," she told him, barely over a whisper.  "I wanted to speak with you alone."  Her narrow features tightened, thoughtfully.  Then she continued, "You could have gone back to Earth after I gave you the tal-stone--but you stayed.  Why?"

Seagrave noticed the way her eyes seemed heavy, as if it was a struggle for her to hold them open.  He recalled she had been given something to help her sleep.

"I couldn't leave you," he replied, feeling foolish just saying the words.  He was a pirate; his kind knew only the cruel, brutal lust of brothels.  He felt odd admitting even to himself how much he desired this lovely creature. To cover his embarrassment, he laughed sharply.

"Damn it, girl, you didn't think I'd just desert you to that Trayken hussy, did you?  After all we've been through together?  Hate me if you will, but at least do me the favour of giving me a little credit."

Shyrin Shas's thin brows worked anxiously over her eyes, her look a mixture of relief and confusion.  "You stayed to rescue me?" she asked fretfully.

"Of course I did."  There was no humour in his voice now.  His eyes burned with deadly seriousness--and something more.

"But you said you only wanted the tal-stone."  She fought to stay awake, her black lashes fluttering more and more.  "You wanted to return to your world--to Earth."

Seagrave nodded, gently stroking two fingers under the line of her chin.  She closed her eyes, luxuriating in his caress.

"And so I do, girl.  So I do.  I have to get back to my world; it's where I belong.  That's why I've come here to speak with you.  I want you to come back with me."

It was a moment before his words seeped through the dense web of her lethargy.  Her eyes snapped open, her lithe figure stiffening.

"Back with you?  To Earth?"

"Sure.  Why not?  We've told your admiral all we know about the situation in Eukara.  Whatever happens next, that's up to him.  There's nothing more you can do here."  He saw the horror growing in her wide gaze.  She started to speak, but he leapt in quickly.  "Damn it, girl, I don't want to leave you.  Can't you get that through your thick, furry head?"

Whatever she had been about to say was stifled by his sudden growled admission.  For a moment, an uneasy silence stretched between them.  The lantern swayed as the wingship encountered a wild gust of turbulence.

Finally, as if forced to admit a terrible truth, Shryin Shas whispered, "I don't want you to go."

Seagrave scowled, his hand closing on her smooth shoulder.  "But I have to return to Earth.  I have to go back.  I don't belong here."

"But why?"  A pleading quality strained her tone.  "Why couldn't you stay?"

"Why?"  The question startled Seagrave.  He had never given it any deep thought.  It seemed so obvious.  "For one thing, I don't have wings.  I can't fly."

"Neither can I," she replied.  "You don't need wings to live on Miraya."

"You don't need them, no," the pirate conceded wryly; "but they help."  After some thought, he added, "Anyway, I don't know anything about your world, or any of the other moons of Korash.  I'm a stranger here."

"I could teach you."  Urgency surged in her voice, her tapered fingers leaping to his chest.  "I could tell you whatever you needed to know."

Seagrave refrained from pointing out the obvious.  If she was as young and innocent as Nisram Nyl had said, her teaching him would be a case of the blind leading the blind.

Still, he could see he was upsetting her.  In her condition, she needed rest.

"Don't fret it, girl," he soothed, touching a silencing hand to her open lips.  "I'll still be here when you wake.  We can talk about it then.  For now, you close your eyes and get some sleep.  You've been through an ordeal."

She studied him doubtfully, as if suspecting he might be lying to her.  "You won't leave while I'm sleeping?" she asked.

"I promise."

After a while, reluctantly she closed her eyes.  For a time, Seagrave knelt beside the bed, one hand gently smoothing the sleek line of her neck.  She lay on her side, facing him, her breathing relaxed.  The motion of her ribs caused the ruby to twinkle magically between her satiny breasts.  With no little astonishment, Seagrave gradually noticed a low, contented sound rising from deep in her chest.  A crooked smile moulded his lips.

On top of everything else, she purred!

***
Shyrin Shas had said that Seagrave was to be afforded every courtesy; so, when he asked to be admitted to see Jyleesha, the two Kamir guardsmen didn't stand in his way.

There was unmistakable irony to the Trayken captain's captivity.  Like the vat where she had imprisoned Shyrin Shas, Jyleesha's prison was reached through a hatchway in the main deck.  But unlike that closed and sweltering pit, this prison was cool, with well-circulating night air that gusted down through the bars of the circular hatch.

Seagrave turned at the base of the ladder and grimly surveyed the wooden chamber.  A bare glim-gem, set in a silver sconce, threw a soft mantle of light over the sapphire figure crouched in the far corner.

There were no furnishings; not even a chain hung from the low ceiling to hold a food rack.  Jyleesha sat on a tangle of straw-like grass, face turned toward the wall, legs bundled up tightly beneath her.  At the sound of Seagrave's entrance, she stirred, unfolding her sleek legs as she twisted awkwardly to face him.

His features hardened, cords rising on his jaw.

Her bracelets and anklets had been removed along with her veils.  Instead, she wore a gold collar tightly locked around her slender neck.  Her slim wrists were fettered with shackles on either side of the collar, single links constraining movement so her hands formed fists pressed against the sides of her jaw.  Gold shackles flashed on her extended ankles, likewise connected by a single link.  Her pointed elbows met over her nearly-naked breasts, protectively, adding to the unpleasant image of ravished confinement.

Seagrave thought of what she had done to his back with just her claws; the wound was still in the process of healing.  He knew how dangerous she could be.  But still, his blood pounded to see her fettered this way.

Jyleesha raised her dark eyes, squinting into the light.  Her throaty voice quavered in the empty chamber.

"Go ahead," she said bitterly.  "Enjoy yourself.  Laugh and mock me.  You've got what you wanted."

"I didn't want this."  Seagrave's voice rumbled dully like the dragging of a ponderous stone.

His response made her look at him anew, a puzzled contraction to her brows.  After a moment, she pulled in her legs and grimly struggled to rise.  Fettered as she was, she was forced to work her way carefully up the wall. Grimly, Seagrave noticed her colourful wings had been trimmed back, broken around the edges so she couldn't fly.

Reaching her feet, Jyleesha steadied herself, then cautiously turned.  She raised her splendid chin defiantly, fiery anger snapping in her sloe eyes.

"I am shackled and humiliated," she said.  "I have lost my ship, my crew.  In all likelihood, I will soon lose my life."  She saw the look that came into his eyes at this last comment.  For a moment, the anger in her gaze melted away to fear.  She swallowed stiffly.  "You have won fairly, and I accept my punishment.  Now enjoy your victory, enjoy the sight of it...then leave."

Seagrave regarded her in silence.  She was wrong.  He took no pleasure in this victory.  It tasted bitter on his tongue.  To see Jyleesha imprisoned and fettered this way was like seeing some magnificent jungle cat caged and tormented for sport.

Indeed, the shackles merely served to emphasize the coiled power lurking in her smooth, sinuous thews.  When her wrists twisted suddenly, as they did now, her biceps swelled in the tight clefts of her arms, and bands of trembling sinew rippled under the glossy skin along her ribs.  Her's was a savage, primordial beauty tempered of supple physique and uncompromising pride amounting to arrogance; an alluring combination which no mere fetters could hope to conceal--or to tame.

Once again, in her presence, Seagrave found it impossible to sustain his anger.  Instead, he found himself aroused by her feral, breath-stealing beauty.  Dimly, it occurred to him that Jyleesha was not the only one with two warring halves.

The Trayken captain mistook his silent stare for gloating.  Abruptly, her eyes narrowed and she hissed with rigid fury: "Damn you, drink your fill!"

In her rage, she forgot about her shackled ankles.  Her lithe legs corded suddenly, twisting as she sought to take a single step.  Then her eyes dilated in realization as her fetters jangled--and she lost her balance, tumbling with a weak moan.  With pathetic desperation, her bent arms tensed, jerking at her collar, her elbows thrusting out uselessly as she fell...

And then, Seagrave caught her.  He had crossed the chamber in a single smooth-limbed bound, even as she tottered.  With easy grace, he scooped her into his arms.  Her sleek figure weighed considerably more than Shyrin Shas's slender body, but she was still a minor burden to the powerful pirate.

For a moment, the unexpectedness of her rescue left Jyleesha breathless in his grasp.  Then she realized what had happened--and an angry snarl showed her fine white teeth.  She flexed furiously, her trim muscles suddenly made firm and slick as burnished metal.  Grimly Seagrave tightened his grip, stubbornly subduing the powerful thrashing of her body as he might the wild flapping of canvas torn loose in a storm.

Gradually Jyleesha's struggles weakened, ebbing into panting exhaustion.  She glared up into the pirate's steady features.  Her fingers worked along the sides of her jaw, curling and uncurling like claws--but Seagrave noticed her true claws had remained sheathed throughout her exertions.

"Damn you," she gritted.  Then, in a weaker voice: "Damn you."

Even as Seagrave looked, the anger in her eyes gave way, the fire dying as if starved for air.  Her fury subsided, draining away in concert with the tension in her supple flesh, the startling transformation washing over her like a subtle shift in the light.

When she spoke again, her voice broke achingly.

"Don't you understand?" she pleaded.  "I didn't want you to see me like this.  Not you.  Captivity, fetters, the loss of my ship, even death--all these I can bear.  But the one thing I feared most, the thing I dreaded, was to have you see me like this, to have you see me bound and humiliated, reduced to a mere cringing captive."

A tear spilled down her cheek, glinting silvery against her blue skin.  Her shackles rattled like mocking laughter, preventing her from brushing it away.  A shiver of frustration shook her.

Miserably she turned her head.  "Couldn't you have spared me this?"

Seagrave frowned.  "You worry too much about what others think," he muttered.  "These shackles don't lessen you in my eyes.  You're as proud a creature as I've ever encountered.  Aye, in chains or not."  After a moment's thought, he added: "Still, I'll do what I can to get you free.  I'll talk to the admiral.  If he won't listen, I'm sure I can convince the princess."

She glanced at him sharply, her breath catching as his words reminded her of the trick which had been played on her.  A trace of bitterness leapt into her voice.

"The princess--I might have known she was more than a slave girl...the way she drew you."

"Slave girl or princess, it makes no difference."  Seagrave's tone became a simmering growl.  "You tried to kill her.  She never did you any harm."

Her dark eyes widened, regarding him earnestly, imploringly.  "She kept you from loving me--what more harm could she do?  To me, there could be no greater crime.  Your love for her made her my enemy as surely as if we were guardsmen fighting on opposite sides in a desperate war.  Should I show weakness in the midst of battle?  She is a formidable foe, perhaps an impossible one--am I not justified in using all my strength, every weapon at my command, to defeat, even to destroy, such a deadly opponent?"

The pirate was silent, unable to think of a response.  Jyleesha took his silence as a sign that her words had softened him to her position.  Fearful hope quivered in her throat.  She struggled awkwardly, raising her head until her urgent breath played on his face.

"I love you.  I love you more than life itself.  What can this soft princess offer you?  She doesn't know you the way I do.  I offer you companionship and the wide whispering spaces.  I offer wild adventure and fierce burning passion.  I am beautiful, am I not?  I offer myself!"

More tears sparkled in the corners of her anguished eyes.  Her whole body quivered with frantic longing.  Her voice dropped to a pleading moan.  "I offer myself..."

For a moment, she stared into his face, her head raised up on the column of her throat.  She held her breath, every fibre taut awaiting his response.  Finally, without a word, Seagrave knelt and set her gently on the straw in the corner.

He straightened and looked down, his shadow thrown over her like a cloak.  His features were cast in darkness.  She watched him with wide, desperate eyes, her smooth limbs drawn tight to her sleek body.  Seagrave inhaled against the pounding in his chest, then released it in a slow stream.

How could anything so deadly be so breathlessly beautiful--or so maddeningly vulnerable?

"I will see you are set free," he muttered in a stiff, curt rumble.  Turning, he crossed to the ladder and clambered up out of the prison.  From below, he heard sudden, pitiful weeping and the cruel rattle of relentless fetters...

***
Seagrave went directly to the aft starboard turret, climbing to its circular deck with an angry, reckless haste.  Staring out over the curved rail, he cursed again and again under his breath.  The sweeping wind caught at his scarlet head-scarf and washed over his naked skin, drying the sweat between his shoulders.

With an impatient gesture, he grabbed the pouch at his hip and knocked the tal-stone into his palm.

The vivid waxing moons and the greater swirling sphere of Korash threw their warmth on the lavender gem, rose sparks leaping and dancing on its faceted skin.  Now and then, the light struck the gold flakes embedded within the crystal, creating nebulous explosions of scattered ghostly fire.

He could go home.  This very minute, Seagrave could close his fist and concentrate and, if all he had been told was true, this tiny violet and gold jewel would whisk him back to Earth, never to return.

Never to return...

He cursed again, his eyes scalding the reddening night.  Strange wild thoughts whirled in his mind.

He could take Shyrin Shas with him.  Aye, and why not?  Her honour be damned, he could go to her cabin, grab her up and whisk her away to Earth before anyone could stop him.  He was a pirate, wasn't he; since when had he balked at taking what he wanted?  He had sent whole shiploads of men to green, watery graves for lesser trinkets; why shouldn't he take her now, whether she wanted to go or not?

A deep growl of disgust sounded in his throat.

And Jyleesha?

What was it about that savagely gorgeous creature that caused his blood to snarl like a hurtling surf, that filled him with a fierce, groaning hunger?  Was she right?  Were they two of a kind?  Did she really know him so well as she claimed?  Anyway, what could he hope to come of his desire for Shyrin Shas?  If he dragged her away to his world, her tangerine body might be his, but it would be a cold, hollow prize.  He would have made her hate him.

Jyleesha, on the other hand, was imprisoned and chained, death her only reward if she remained on this world.  If he offered to take her with him to Earth, he knew she would accept.  Her love for him was sincere, frighteningly so.  Why then did he spurn her?

A sudden twinge in his spine gave him a partial answer.

Aye, there was another side to the beautiful captain, all right.  Like a crackling bonfire on a cold black night, she promised warmth and light, but, come too close, and she burned like the devil.

Back and forth raged the argument.  His passion for Shyrin Shas threatened to end in bitter disappointment.

His lust for Jyleesha might see him disembowelled.

He eyed the tal-stone as if it were to blame.  In the end, he could say to hell with both women and return home.  There were women enough on his own world to satisfy any man; why then did he allow these two alien creatures to torment him?  He could close his fist around this glittering bauble...concentrate...just concentrate...

And yet, he couldn't.

Damn them.  Damn them both.

Immersed in his sullen brooding, Seagrave barely noticed the soft whirring that swelled suddenly in the cool air just overhead.  With casual indifference, he raised his eyes--just in time to catch a booted, spurred heel full in his upturned face...



Next episode..."If I Can't Have You, Then Neither Can She!"

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Savage Miraya is copyright 1998, by Jeffrey Blair Latta.  It may not be copied or used for any commercial purpose except for short excerpts used for reviews.  (Obviously, you can copy it or print it out if you want to read it!)