Seducing Stag Page 35

He waited until they passed the damaged pirate ships they’d targeted and then took over the helm, controlling their speed himself. He’d had it with Veller, and didn’t want his authority questioned again.

“Mark on zero,” he announced. “Three, two, one.” He didn’t go to full burn at first, but instead increased power to the thrusters steadily, until they were at maximum capacity.

Yammer reported reaching the engine room and wasn’t seeing any signs of pressure leaks. Stag hoped that news remained the same. Minutes later, Maze contacted him.

“We have one minor leak. I’m attempting to seal it.”

“I’m sending Parqel to assist you.”

He woke the other crew member and studied the long-range sensors. They were leaving the pirate ships behind, and only a few new ships tried to intercept them. He changed course when the screen cleared and headed toward the asteroid belt.

Hellion cleared his throat. “The abandoned mining core sample?”

His crew knew him well. “Yes.”

“The heavy metals inside the largest rock will mess with our sensors but it will hide us from theirs too.” A wide smile spread across Hellion’s face. “They won’t look there. It’s a bitch to maneuver that far into the belt without being smashed apart by the smaller chunks. We can easily do it, but they can’t.”

He nodded. “I doubt they are aware that Earth Government took core samples twenty years ago. That sector was too monitored at the time by patrol ships.”

“I disagree,” Veller stated. “Earth stopped having that sector patrolled as soon as they decided there wasn’t anything they wanted there any longer. The pirates have had at least a decade to get to know that belt. We should keep at this speed and return home, not find a hole to hide in.”

The cyborg got on Stag’s last nerve. “We also have a leak in engine two, which could take that engine down if more open up. I’m not willing to risk it. We going to find a safe spot and do patches. What is your problem? You’re pissing me off!”

“You’re not the only one feeling anger. I’m excellent at repairs, yet you made me sit for five shifts in a row watching readings. What have I done to raise your contempt or make you believe I’m incompetent?”

Stag tried to hide his surprise.

“You’ve always allowed me to head repairs. I must have done something to lose your trust. I know you appreciate strong males who have excellent leadership skills. Perhaps I’ve grown lax in my duty. I’m attempting to show you that’s not so.”

Stag held his gaze. He hadn’t meant for Veller to take it that way. He glanced at his crew in Control. All of them were watching him. They’d spent years together, were a tight group, and he had to admit his recent behavior might have been taken wrong.

“I needed the distraction. It had nothing to do with you, Veller. I have been avoiding spending much time in my quarters,” he admitted. “I left you in charge of Control because I trust you that much.”

Veller’s tense expression cleared. “The Earther.”

“Yes. I apologize. I should have stated that right off.”

“Only you wouldn’t.” Hellion had the nerve to chuckle. “You don’t like to share your feelings. Nala is getting to you, isn’t she?”

“I refuse to discuss this. We’re on alert right now. Focus on the problems at hand.” Stag lowered his gaze to the screen. “We’re clear of pirates.” He adjusted course again. “Let’s get lost while we’re out of sight of them.”

“She is hot. I would let her pretend I was a sex bot and take any orders she gave if it meant getting her naked in my bed.” Hellion made a low growling sound. “I don’t blame you for finally realizing she’s appealing and distancing yourself. I’d be all over her in your place.”

Kelis snorted. “Yes, you would, but the rest of us have more control over our body functions.”

Stag refused to look away from his pad, memories of Nala naked in his bed filling his thoughts. Most of his crew would be disappointed if they ever learned he’d been unable to resist the Earther’s sex appeal. He was supposed to set an example for them, and he’d failed.

He really needed to reach Garden so he could hand her over to the council.



Chapter Twelve


Stag targeted a chunk of rock, tethering the last cable to the side wall of the inner core of the massive asteroid. There was slight gravity inside but not enough for the shuttle to remain in one place without the lines. They’d made it inside without any exterior damage. It had been a tight fit to back into the huge circular hole some mining operation had blasted tens of thousands of feet deep into the slow-spinning mountain of rock.

“I’ve got weapons targeted and ready to fire if anything shows up at the opening,” Kelis stated.

“Just make certain you fire at them before they enter.” Hellion shuddered. “I don’t want to be buried if the walls collapse. There’s no exit. That’s the only way in or out of this cavern.”

“Stow your emotions,” Stag ordered.

Hellion turned in his seat. “Am I the only one who hates being in a big dark hole? We could block the opening by accident if another vessel slams into it, and become trapped. The heavy metals not only block sensors but we’d be unable to call for help. Coms don’t work in here except ship-wide.”

A headache began to form. Stag reached up and rubbed his temple. He used his other hand to form a link with both engine rooms. “Parqel? Status.”

“We only suffered the one leak and it was minor. We’ve resealed it and it’s holding now that the engines are powered down.”

“I’ve already cleaned up the slight spillage,” Maze added.

“Good.” Stag sighed. “Yammer? Report.”

“All readings are fine. I’ve visually inspected everything. No leaks. The pressure reads a little high on one line but it held.”

“Will it last until we reach Garden? Best assessment.”

“I believe so. We’ll just have to watch it closely.”

“Thank you, Yammer. All of you may return to quarters until your shifts start.” He closed coms and stood, stretching after being in his seat for too long. “Now we wait it out to make certain the pirates haven’t managed to track us.”

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