Lost in Barbarian Space(8)

By: Anna Hackett


Honor preferred her pistols, and for hand-to-hand combat, her stun-staff. It might not have the elegant beauty of a blade, but in her hands it was just as deadly.

Her gaze drifted to the large warrior in the center of the group. Mal Kor.

He was an inch or so taller than most of the others. He swung his sword with power and control, his long, black hair brushing his broad shoulders.

The warrior could move. She memorized his moves, where he placed his feet, how he held his sword. Still, she was honest enough to admit it was damned hard to keep her eyes on the fighting when her gaze kept straying down to the flex of his muscles. Why couldn’t these guys wear shirts?

Most of the men she worked with were far smaller than these warriors. Instantly, her thoughts turned to her last lover. She fought back a grimace. On her last posting, she’d made the terrible mistake of getting involved with an engineer on her ship. Jon had said he found her strength refreshing. What he’d meant was he’d been up for something different…for a little while. Then he’d started with the little digs: “Why don’t you dress up more, Honor?” “Why don’t you take a break from training?” “Why can’t you put me first?” When she’d caught him getting a blow job from a nurse from the medbay, Honor had been done.

She’d sworn off men, especially men she worked with, for the foreseeable future.

“How would you take one of these warriors down?” a cool voice asked.

Honor turned her head and saw Nera had moved up beside her. And Honor hadn’t heard or sensed a thing. Damn. She was learning so much from Nera Darc, but she had yet to master the level of stealth that Nera had.

She turned her attention back to the warriors, back to Colm. She watched him slam his sword against his opponent, driving the man back. “Well, they’re strong, and with these nanami, they’re also fast.” She watched Colm spin, raising his sword above his head. Wow. “Um, they like to get in close. Laser pistol from a distance would be a definite advantage.”

Nera nodded. “I would suggest you never let a warrior in close. In hand to hand, he’ll take you.”

Honor nodded. “If I did end up too close, I’d need to use the longest setting on my staff to keep some range.” She fingered the small, innocuous cylinder on her belt that extended out with the flick of a wrist. “And I’m guessing the highest stun setting.” She looked at her boss. “These nanami sound interesting. How much do we know about them? Just how much increased strength and stamina do they give the Markarians?”

Nera’s multi-colored eyes flashed. “We don’t know enough. They are keeping pretty tight-lipped on the subject. Whatever information we gather while we’re here will help us flesh that out. I do know they have two hearts, and multiple copies of other main organs.”

Honor nodded. Yes, Nera didn’t like being in the dark, either. Mostly because Nera didn’t like Niklas to be in danger. Ever.

“They always have the advantage, Brandall, don’t forget that.”

Honor snapped out of her musings. “Yes, ma’am.”

Nera’s eyes narrowed. “What have I told you?”

“Yes, Nera.”

“Better.”

Honor turned back to the fighting. She eyed one of the swords and wondered how heavy they were. She was Predian, and her species were built to hunt. They were naturally stronger, with enhanced senses. She was pretty sure she could lift one of the swords.

She saw two young warriors moving in a complicated dance, both of them grinning. These barbarians sure liked to fight. She watched their footwork, memorizing the moves.

“Would you like to try?”

The deep voice rumbled over her and Honor turned.

Colm Mal Kor stood in front of her.

Sweat glistened on his bare chest, and his dark leather trousers clung to powerful legs. He wore engraved leather gauntlets on his forearms. She looked up, tilting her head back. He was a lot taller than her… Her heart tripped. She wasn’t used to that.

He held his sword in front of him.

Instantly, she was entranced. “It is a beautiful weapon.” She squeezed her fingers into her palm to stop from touching it.

“Go ahead.” He moved the weapon closer.