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Alien General's Baby (Brion Brides 7)

By:Vi Voxley



Five years earlier…

The night was dark and icy around him as the general walked through the graveyard. Until very recently, it had been a battlefield.

The coldness of the air crept in even through Braen's impressive armor. His breath was the only one misting on the silent, dead field. Nothing else moved, or lived.

Well, except for the enemy, that was.

The Fearless had not noticed the general coming, yet. Braen was keeping his footsteps slow and quiet on purpose. Not out of fear of the monster – it was bound to see him soon enough - but so he could observe the legendary terror in peace.

After all, it was only the seventeenth member of an ancient and mysterious species that had plagued the galaxy for as long as anyone could remember. No Brion had ever seen one, and now all who had laid dead before Braen's feet as he walked through the sea of bodies.

No Brion had killed one either. The sixteenth Fearless had appeared so long ago that Brions weren't yet the superpower they were now.

Now Braen knew why.

The Fearless needed time to grow and this one had been hiding for a long time. The general wondered if he would have the chance to share that realization with anyone.

I will.

The Fearless was so large that Braen could see the beast clearly, although he still had a few minutes to walk before reaching it. Black as starless space, enormous like a mountain, fast as lightning – this he knew because he’d seen plenty of the footage recorded on the battlefield of the beast’s actions. The monstrous fangs in the Fearless' wide mouth were taller than the general.

Braen could see pieces of his brothers between the teeth, mashed and red and unrecognizable. The Fearless was using the thigh bone of a once-great warrior to pick them out.

The general was walking to it on top of corpses. Miles and miles of torn and mutilated bodies, lying dead next to their weapons that hadn't managed to bring the Fearless down with all the hundreds of them. The general noted some faces he recognized, torn from the heads that had worn them, and plenty that he had only perhaps met during his service with General Valden.

If there was concern in his heart that he'd end up the same, it didn't show.

He was walking by the Fearless' impossibly long tail. Braen couldn't reach to see over it, but the appendage was covered in the same obsidian scales as the rest of the monster. Layer upon layer of carefully placed sheets, it was impenetrable. Even the great Brion battle spears, the most advanced weapons in the galaxy, hadn't been able to pierce it.

We were too late, Braen thought grimly, without a trace of fear. It has grown too big. Perhaps it can no longer be killed.

Yet he knew in his heart it could not be so. An ancient Brion truth said that anything that breathed could die. The Fearless was no exception to that, no matter how terrifying.

The valor squares on Braen's neck pulsed with peculiar calm. Those crystals, embedded right onto his skin, connected to the general's nervous system, were his visible heartbeat. The warriors of his species, the most feared in the galaxy, used them to communicate in and out of battle. The crystals spoke in the language of light and sound to transmit their owner's true feelings to the world.

Braen wasn't afraid, just like his crystals announced to anyone willing to watch and listen. The time for that was long past.

On his way down to the surface, looking through the list of confirmed dead scrolling on the screens before his eyes, on and on, his heart had beaten louder than ever before. The general had allowed that, knowing his pulse had to be even the second he stepped on the ground. And so it was.

Down there, on the surface, there was no escaping the Fearless. Nothing on that miserable piece of rock could have outrun or outfought the monster. He was miles from the dropship he'd taken after hearing the old general was dead, commanding his men to stay with the ship instead of accompanying him.

It was clear that added numbers would provide no benefit in this case. He would have to finish off the enemy alone, or die trying.

As the second-in-command, it fell to Braen to take up the charge, something he did without complaint or regret. If anything, he was disappointed that General Valden hadn't permitted him to come along for the first charge. Perhaps things would be different then. Perhaps this graveyard would still have some life, a pulse of valor squares other than Braen’s…

It was all ironic, in a way. In the ranks of the Brion armies, there were no promotions. Warriors cut their own paths through their predecessors. The old general had expected a challenge from Braen for a while now. They were Brions, rightfully ruled by the strongest. But now the Fearless had done Braen's job for him, promoted him to general without him ever having to draw his spear.#p#分页标题#e#

That wouldn't do. Brions would never have accepted a leader who hadn't proved himself. With General Valden gone, only one option remained to Braen.

To kill the victor. The Fearless. Or he would never be fit to carry the title of general.

Finally, the Fearless turned its vulpine head.

He stopped right in front of it, looking unflinchingly into its burning red eyes. His fingers itched for the spear sheathed on his back, but he didn't move.

"Another," the Fearless gargled to him in a voice that made the ground shake.

The monster gestured to the landscape of body parts and blood around them with one of its large paws. Its claws were stained with crimson, but the light of the planet Sarton's moons still reflected off their sharp edges.

"Have you come to add your flesh and bones to my feast?" the Fearless demanded with its booming voice.

"I have come to avenge my general," Braen replied, his deep voice echoing on the endless, empty plain much like the Fearless’ did. "And to finish his duty."

The Fearless laughed. Its entire humongous body heaved as it did that, the tail twitching a little as the beast turned, still crouching on its hind legs. Braen had to crane his neck to meet the red eyes. It was like looking into a furnace.

"Brions," the Fearless growled, lowering itself to all fours, starting to circle slowly around Braen in wide swooping patterns.

Its massive tail was like a trap in itself, forming a wall of living flesh around Braen, but the general wasn't concerned. He was a Brion and running from an enemy was unknown to them. From the lowest pest to the worst creature the galaxy could spawn, Brions fought them all. This one would be no different.

It was the price of being the best, to fight when they were called and the need had never been so dire.

"We have existed from the dawn of time," the Fearless said, its fanged mouth coming so close to Braen he could smell the stench of his brothers' rotting corpses. "There are only a few things that never change. The stars, our hunger, and Brion stubbornness."

"On behalf of my species, we're flattered," Braen replied dryly.

The Fearless' large mouth spread even wider in a smile.

"Do you think you can kill me, little general?" it asked. "You are late. I have waited. I have grown. Nothing can harm me now."

"We'll see about that.”

The Fearless drew its head back in surprise, regarding the general seriously. It was obvious the monster wasn't used to prey like that. Prey that talked back.

"I ate your general," it said after a long moment, clearly savoring Braen's involuntary wince. "He screamed as I bit down. He was tough. Usually people stop screaming much sooner. I had to chew on him for a while to silence him."

Braen drew his battle spear at last, holding the razor-sharp blade in front of him, ready to accept the attack that was to come.

"I will make you choke on his blood," he said calmly. "And your own. He would have liked that."

His valor squares flared red when the Fearless finally stood, larger than a carrier ship, fury burning in its blood-colored gaze. Braen raised his spear on guard, taking a deep breath.

The Fearless was right about one thing, at least. The Brion forces had been alerted too late, and the Fearless had been discovered nowhere near soon enough, letting the monster grow too big. It couldn't be allowed to leave the desolate planet of Sarton. Losing – or failure of any kind – wasn't an option.

Suddenly, a wall of blackness came down on Braen, nearly kicking him over when the stench of death reached him first. Massive fangs closed around the young general, catching him in a cage of teeth.

Braen let the beast come, steeling his resolve as the world shrunk to a stinking, bloody trap of flesh. As horrible as it was, it had been Braen's plan from the beginning. From the second he realized what General Valden had done wrong, he knew what he could do right.

His former lord should have known better. You didn't win fights with ancient evils by playing it safe. To triumph over something like that, Braen had to tread the thin line between life and death.

Braen struck down as soon as the Fearless tried to unbalance him by throwing its head back, clearly aiming to simply gobble him up as he’d done with countless others. The Brion battle spear was made of the alloys of the strongest metals known to the galaxy. The general hit hard and true, embedding the blade right into the soft flesh of the Fearless' throat.

The roar that followed nearly deafened him, spraying saliva and remnants of The Fearless’ meal over him, but Braen held firm, knowing with crystal clarity that the second he let go or slipped would be his last.#p#分页标题#e#