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About the author:
Aya DeAniege wrote for years, first to please herself then writing stories for free—believing no one would ever pay to read her stuff—before pursuing indie publishing. She still writes mainly for personal pleasure, with topics ranging from romance, fantasy, science fiction, on to whatever takes her fancy in the future. World creation fascinates her, and when she finds one she likes, she dabbles endlessly.
What inspired you to write your book?
This world had existed for several years. While dabbling about with the possibility of writing a book, in walked Rachel. She’s not the typical companion for an Alpha, which was great because Morgan isn’t a typical Alpha. And while she’s told throughout about what Alphas do and do not do, Morgan just does what he does because he knows how far she can go.
Here is a short sample from the book:
I sat in the back corner of the metal holding cell as four others paced in various states of dress. My belt, shoes, and bra had been taken, but I still had my shirt, underwear, and pants. The bra was probably only taken because I had threatened to use it to hang myself with if they put me in the cell.
Maybe if I wanted to keep my clothing, I should have kept my mouth shut.
The bra would have been useful at that point. It had had an underwire built into it. I could have used that as the start of a weapon. Or a full weapon.
What was it my father used to say?
Everything is a weapon. You just have to know where and how to stab a man with it.
His second favourite saying was usually uttered after taking down an Alpha pup, “Alphas, they’re just like us. Except they whine and cry more when you beat the shit out of them.”
If my father were still alive, I wouldn’t have been in that position. He had been killed two years previous by the Dom because he hadn’t taken kindly to the Dom’s eldest son humping my leg at a bus stop. The young Alpha had then followed me home when I tried to tell him to stop.
A life for a beating, sure, that seemed fair.
I pressed my hand against the cold, smooth metal. Looking out over the room, I couldn’t find any creases. The room appeared to be made of one big piece of metal, moulded into shape. The toilet in the corner was the one exception, but that was just a lump welded into the opposite corner. It didn’t even have a handle to flush it, just a sensor built into the wall.
No toilet paper, someone might use it to strangle themselves, others, or to fashion a weapon. I realize strangulation by one-ply isn’t possible, but think of the headlines if I could pull it off. Maybe one-ply toilet paper would be banned. I could be the hero of people everywhere.
Leave it to Alphas to know what had to be removed because it might be used as a weapon.
I turned my attention to the floor. Solid metal, but with a hammered finish to it which kept us from falling as we walked. In the middle of the room was a drain, one of those industrial ones that were in public showers. Eyeing the others, I pushed off the corner and moved towards the drain. I knelt at the drain, but the damned thing was also welded into the floor.
They weren’t taking any chances, but then, they probably built the room with crazy people like me in mind. Rubbing my finger over one of the slits, I pulled it away and scratched at it with my nail. There was something caught in the slit. It popped off suddenly and fell into the drainage pipe, but not before I got a glimpse of it.
A finger bone.
I looked around, trying not to seem like I was panicking.
The other four wore absolutely nothing that could be used as a weapon. Not unless I wanted to take a shirt or a pair of pants and try to strangle an Alpha.
The thing was, television shows got strangulation wrong. It didn’t take seconds, especially not with Alphas. They processed air at a slower rate than the average person. The lungs and heart were built to support a body that evolved first as hunters, then as warriors.
Trying to strangle an Alpha was like trying to kill a tiger with a feather. They were also trained to fight. Every one of them had served in the war that had ended only twelve years previous. It wasn’t like you could just sneak up on an Alpha either.
Heightened sense of smell, hearing, and instinct in general. They had a higher metabolism which meant they burnt hot and needed a lot more food and water. Somehow oxygen was the only thing they needed less of, that and sleep.
Before the technological revolution—that they caused—it was believed that Alphas were psychic.
Not psychic, just highly tuned to pheromones and hormones, especially those given off by carriers of the G14 genetic marker. Without the marker, you were just a civilian to them, you barely existed. As long as you paid your bills and didn’t attack them or theirs, they left you alone.
Live your life how you please.
But if you had the G14 genetic marker, your body produced the normal stuff along with an extra set. That only really came into play in a couple of instances. One hormone caused you to break: your mind shattered and you were re-created as something else entirely.
Guided by an Alpha, a man could come through the break without changing in the least. They could also be turned into fuck toys for the Alphas.
Yes, I said it. Men were little more than blow-up dolls for the Alphas.
The women, however, were an entirely different story.
Depending on how the gene presented itself, our interaction with the world changed. A majority were little sheep like people who needed guidance, but put us near an Alpha and we get stupid.
The effects of an Alpha’s pheromones on a carrier of a marker was a bit like a woman being hit on by a hot man after a couple glasses of wine. We giggle, we flirt, we drop our pants and climb into their laps and beg for it.
Not all Alphas could find companions to serve them willingly, so laws had been made to keep them in companions. An Alpha with a fuck toy is a lot easier to control than one that was sex deprived.
I’ll give you three guesses as to why the five of us were in that room, I’m betting you won’t need all three.
Sure, we broke ‘laws’ but so did lots of others. And in the new world, those laws could change on a daily basis.
Such as the brand new law stating no one could give alms to a shunned one. Effective only in a fifty-mile radius from the Dom’s home and unenforceable outside of that. The law that was brought into effect because some little brat told the Dom that I had been trying to lure my mother from the place on the street where she had been sleeping because he had decided she was Ig.
Ig, meaning cast out or abandoned.
Loranna IgOwen could find no reprieve from another Alpha because Alphas never stopped to ask why a companion had earned Ig. They assumed the worst and moved on with their lives. Of course, Owen AgDarrel was accepted. Right before the war, mutts were allowed to live, and Owen’s daddy forced him out because Owen was a mutt. Except Owen killed Darrel during the war, so no one was left to stand for the innocents and proclaim Owen a mutt. Alphas tended to believe their own over commoners or even companions.
That was the shitty end of the stick, as it were.
The punishment for most crimes was death.
Hence the metal room with the grate in the middle of it. Alphas weren’t exactly keen on humane execution unless it was for their beloved companions. We would be killed at the discretion of the Dom. Our lives could be given to any Alpha in his territory, to do with as they pleased.
With women, that was mostly slaughter. Males with the G14 could always be salvaged, even if it was a gift for another Alpha.
Any moment, the Dom would walk into the holding cell and claim me. Legal rape was all it was, and I’d be a ghost of who I once was, willing to breed him if only to stop the pain. Once a G14 was broken, an Alpha could cause pain with a simple word, or even by refusing to be in the presence of the companion.
I’d rather be killed, but he wouldn’t give me that option. He’d break it out of me. I wouldn’t be able to take my life no matter how hard I tried. Even after he died, I’d still be indentured to him, unable to move to another, unable to think for myself.
If I had carried the other marker, the one for homosexuality, I would have been let off. Maybe Alphas thought homosexuals had been persecuted enough.
Why in the hell couldn’t they think the same thing about women?
Of course, Alphas needed breeders and could only beget more Alphas on those who carried the G14 marker, which was why we weren’t immediately executed. Anyone of value or extraordinary beauty, sometimes even those who were nuisances, were saved from execution to lend their genetic material to the Alpha gene pool.
The men didn’t exactly get off easily. If a second law was broken they found themselves in a similar room. If they weren’t picked up by local Alphas, they were auctioned off on the national market. If they didn’t sell there, they were executed, but the rumour was, few ever made it to the national market.
Rumour said all Alphas, every last one of them, was bisexual. They also had high sex drives, probably because they had to have a ton of sex to get a woman pregnant.
Only men on the planet not to feel like less of a man because they had a low sperm count. Ask me? They should all be castrated for all the damned good they do women.
There were two female Alphas, and only two. Rumours abounded about the pair, but it all boiled down to the same thing. No Alpha who valued his life was going to try to make the females breed with them. In this case, the female of the species was a great deal more dangerous than the male.
Rumour even said that one of the females was born of an incestuous relationship. Think that stopped the males from bidding for one of her harvested eggs?
They hadn’t had females among their numbers in almost four hundred years. There was no way they were going to turn one down because her mother might have raped her brother/father.
I heard something in the hall outside the cell. Without giving any indication of what I was doing, I walked back to the corner of the room and sunk to the floor. I could hide my face, but that wouldn’t stop the Dom from sniffing me out. Once an Alpha was locked onto your scent, they said, it was impossible to shake him off.
Of course, there was one other person in the world who smelled exactly like me. Looked like me, moved like me. The only differences between us were that she was considered the more playful and carefree sister.
And she was broken and bred by the Dom. Three boys, all bound to be the strongest of Owen’s children, even if they were sickly looking things. That was why he wanted me. If the carefree ‘weaker’ sister produced that, well, he imagined my children might be higher blood.
I would kill them all in their cribs, but then…
“I’ll be good, I’ll be good, I won’t do it next time.”
The naked woman pacing the length of the room, her breasts heavy with milk, hair a mess, had probably chosen that route and look at her. About to be dead.
I heard the key set into the lock, and I relaxed every muscle I could. My eyes slid closed, and I breathed out slowly. I let my mouth hang open just a bit.
My father trained and fought alongside Alphas. He had learned their tricks, the hearing things. Turns out, most people when they breathe through their noses quickly, make a sound. Especially if they’ve recently had a cold or blown their nose. Their next instinct is to sniff, which of course makes a louder noise. It’s easier to take in a deeper breath through an open mouth. It also gave me the opportunity to use that air to fill my lungs, pushing out my breasts.
Alphas might be bisexual, but any of them over the age of twenty-five hadn’t been allowed to touch or so much as look at a woman until twelve years previously. They were like teenagers still. If boobs moved, that’s where their eyes went.
The door opened, and two of them walked in.
Once upon a time, they had their own pronouns. At the birth of the females, they started questioning if they should continue with the pronouns. By the time the girls hit puberty, the Alphas had come together and agreed to shed their age-old pronouns in the vested interest of respecting the females. Calling the females by the male pronouns was apparently an insult of the highest regard.
With no way to recall the female pronouns, it had been the logical choice, I suppose. Having three new sets of pronouns outside of the male, female, and gender neutral just seemed insane to me. How did one ever keep them separated?
A lot had changed since I was born, however.
When I was born, Alphas were on the sidelines of society. They created our gizmos and fought in our wars. They were our artists and great thinkers, but they were strictly controlled. Alphas couldn’t even breed without the permission of the government.
Someone had gone and poked the beast in the eye. Then the government added gasoline to the fire. When it was discovered that every Alpha carried the G14 genetic marker and that many of them carried the secondary marker which made them homosexual, the shit hit the fan. The Alphas had fought to make those people nothing more than objects, only to become objects themselves.
A war broke out.
In the end, the Alphas won. Even with their numbers at one to every thousand, they won.
They always win.
In the dust of the civil war, they were learning their new place in the world. Territories were destroyed overnight. The ranks were slowly setting up, with the owners of fifty miles to two hundred miles being called Doms. Above them were the Masters, above them was Abraham. No title for him, just his name.
The rest of the Alphas were still in flux. They challenged the Doms but left the older, more experienced Masters alone. The last Alpha to try a Master had found himself under Abraham, broken and nothing more than a drooling husk. The Alpha was still on display as a warning to those who thought themselves better than the pecking order.
So it wasn’t much of a surprise that, of the two who walked in, I only recognized one. The guard of the facility who was a lesser Alpha. For the most part, Alphas were Alphas. There was everyone, and then there were the Alphas.
But spend some time with them, and you’ll notice the differences.
The other one, the stranger, was taller and broader than the guard. His features were in the ‘gorgeous’ spectrum, which was not a thing many Alphas could boast. They had almost flawless skin. Alphas apparently didn’t suffer from pimples. They always had full heads of hair and could grow the thickest beard you’ve ever seen.
An Alpha doesn’t have to be pretty to pass on his genes, however. It was their companions and breeders who were chosen based on their beauty, a choice that they hadn’t had until the civil war. Before that, the government had been purposefully diluting the Alpha blood by offering up inferior—those who the Alphas only accepted for lack of choice—women for breeding.
The stranger, though, was a higher blood. That was what they were called, higher blood. They were almost entirely of the new generation and only born to certain lines. Older lines, prettier lines. The Master of the area was said to be gorgeous, and he had been born in the time of starvation. There were mutterings of what he could have been, if only he hadn’t been starved as a child like all Alpha young were before the war.
The stranger had light brown hair. He was scruffy, hadn’t shaved that morning at the very least. As his blue-grey eyes roved over the room, he reached up and scratched at his chin idly.
He was dressed in—get this—a torn t-shirt and worn out shorts.
Flip flops on his feet.
I detest flip flops. The sound they make, how people drag their feet just to keep the damned things on. Flip flops spoke of laziness and carelessness.
No Alpha would be caught dead wearing those things in public.
This Alpha was. He wasn’t dressed to impress. Even his hair was messed up. I was betting that if I got close enough, he hadn’t brushed his teeth that morning either. Or worn deodorant, if the guard’s scrunched up nose was any indication. The stranger’s smell wouldn’t be offensive to my nose, but to the guard, it would be about the same as smacking him about the face with a dead and decaying fish.
The guard served in a close position for the Dom, I couldn’t recall what, but he wasn’t just a low level Alpha. He had managed to get himself close to a Dom. He might not have looked like much or had the genetics to be more than a step away from a normal man, but he was clever enough to find himself in a position of power.
The stranger, in his worn out clothing and bodily hygiene, appeared to have no rank whatsoever, yet the guard still put an arm’s length between the two of them. Smell or no smell, an Alpha always kept within arm’s reach of a stranger so that they could simply reach out and take control. The smell of another body, at the end of the day, meant very little. Especially when no one but the Alphas could smell the odour.
Being in that cell made the stranger dangerous. He could have been friend or foe of the Dom. Some Alphas would give criminals to their enemies to buy time, or sway favour.
“Down,” the stranger commanded.
The other four sat and turned their attention to the stranger. He watched the reaction placidly.
Those who inherited the G14 genetic marker but were not blessed enough to inherit whatever it was that set the Alphas apart from the rest of us, were typically seen as prey for a good reason. Alphas were capable of giving commands to common people and G14 carriers alike.
Sitting where I was, I refused to budge as his eyes flitted from woman to woman. He seemed to be inspecting each of them as if searching for something.
A cold crept over me as his eyes fell on the one who had recently given birth. His gaze hesitated.
Alphas didn’t take kindly to baby killers.
I didn’t want to see someone ripped apart before my eyes. One way or another, it was probably going to happen because I wouldn’t just give in to the Dom. If I couldn’t kill him, I could kill his favourite breeders and their sons, which meant that in a few weeks to a few months, I’d be in that woman’s position.
Those blue-grey eyes locked with mine and I almost wet myself.
Yes, wet myself.
This wasn’t just a man who might have control over my life. The Dom wasn’t there. The stranger was of better blood than the guard, probably had better training. Was bigger and stronger. There’d be nothing stopping the stranger from doing whatever he pleased to any of the women in that cell, myself included.
“There are only four on the list,” the stranger said.
“That one’s been claimed already.”
“I’ll take her.”
“She’s been claimed.”
“I’ll take her. Age?”
“Twenty-three. Virgin. Educated. Owen has her mother and sister. She’d probably be more comfortable with him.”
“I’ll take her.”
“She’s been claimed!”
The stranger turned ever so slowly to the guard. “Am I speaking a different language? Are the words coming from my mouth not making sense to you? I said that I would take her. Da needs a breeder, and he’s jealous of those who touch his companions before he does. A virgin would be good. Educated even better. If Owen’s bred her sister, obviously she’s a worthwhile breeder, I’ll take her.”
Don’t laugh. In my generation virginity was something that was tossed aside by fifteen at the latest. Alphas were about free sex. Common folks were taught to insist on condoms and sleeves for the Alphas they coupled with, to practice safe sex, but we weren’t ever told not to participate in the act with everyone else.
The only reason I hadn’t had sex was that I suspected from a young age that I was a G14, like my mother and father before me. The marker travels through the maternal genes, but having a father and a mother with the marker pretty well guaranteed that the child would also carry it.
Sex did not mean breaking, but it was a favourite route of the Dom and his servant Alphas. The Dom had drawn in several young commoner men to his ways. So I simply avoided it altogether.
The marker meant that anyone could break me. With an Alpha, the chances of coming out whole were supposed to be higher, if one believed the rumours.
The stranger sniffed the air. If he could smell beyond his own bodily odour, that’d be something real special.
Alphas have two eyes, two ears, faces that look exactly like everyone else’s. The higher blood tended to be more beautiful, but at the end of the day, it was pretty easy for most Alphas to walk among commoners without being noticed by look alone. It was the behaviour that gave them away, not the looks.
Despite rumours, their eyes did not glow, their ears were not pointed, and their teeth were not longer in any manner. Those same rumours also claimed that Alphas could fly, really were psychic and that there was, once upon a time, a creature beyond an Alpha that made the males and females alike quake in their boots.
Most of their differences were internal. Bodies that rarely failed, senses that were heightened compared to that of the average person. Depending on their upbringing, they were highly intelligent as well, to cap everything off. Those ones, though? They didn’t waste time being Dom, they just fucked up anything that stepped onto their territory, or looked at their territory, or breathed near their territory.
Even to others of their kind, intelligent Alphas—those the rest of us were coming to call higher blood—were scary as could be. They weren’t just predators who stalked the shadows. They were the beasts that the predators were afraid of, who had no problem hunting those who walked in the light of day if more interesting game wasn’t about.
Every other woman in the cell drifted ever so slightly toward to the stranger. They eagerly wanted to obey the edge to his voice, but that edge wasn’t for them. It was for me, still pressed against the back wall and not moving in the least. I had to lock my knees, one of my hands pressed against the floor as I tried to subconsciously respond to the command.
The stranger’s head cocked to the side. His eyes roved over my body, almost curious as he seemed to consider every inch of me.
“Come here,” he said, louder than before.
What? He thinks I’m hard of hearing?
“No,” I said through gritted teeth, trying not to allow my body to react.
I only spoke so that he wouldn’t repeat the command again. The other women were in various stages of whimpering and muttering to themselves. I wasn’t certain what state the others had been in before the stranger had arrived, but they were acting like broken playthings after his second command.
“Now,” he said. There was no doubting his command.
Before I knew what I was doing, I was walking across the cell as the others parted to give way to me. I stopped just within arm’s reach of the Alpha, every bit of me tense. They had left the door open behind them, but that didn’t mean I’d make it very far. If I caught the main Alpha off guard, kneed him hard enough, and if I got past the lesser Alpha, and if they hadn’t brought a third with them?
I’d make it to the end of the hall, where the door was locked with a key card.
Then I’d really regret it.
“Wrist,” he said, almost sounding calm as he held out his right hand.
I lifted my right hand but didn’t place it in his. His eyes darkened just slightly as he frowned at my hand. Perhaps he was wondering if I was daft, or from another land. Immigrants arrived all the time, flinging themselves at the feet of the Alphas if only for a chance to try to breed them. When those eyes met mine, I dropped my right hand and raised my left.
They had conceded to the wrist because most people had their wrists uncovered. Something about blood pumping through the heart let off certain pheromones. It didn’t even sound possible to me, but for them, it was a very real thing. They had wanted to go for the throat. It was a lot closer to the heart than the wrist. Common people were understandably squeamish about an Alpha greeting them by placing tooth and jaws that strong so close to such a vital blood vessel.
He took my left wrist in his hand and raised it a little higher before bending and sniffing the skin right where the wrist and palm met. As he sniffed, his nose grazed against my skin. I swear I saw his hair lift off his head just slightly as he tensed.
Not this again.
Every Alpha that met me just had to take the next step—lick it.
The nose and tongue are connected. Alphas were more sensitive than the average person to nearly everything. Normally it was a sniff in greeting, and that was the end of it. Only after a G14 had been claimed by an Alpha were they excused from being sniffed.
The lick was meant to identify strange scents, to nail down those who were curiosities. It was said that Alphas could pick up mutated genes with that lick, but I never believed it.
Even though his head was bent slightly, I saw the lips pull back from the teeth. Instinctively I tried to yank my hand out of his, only to have him clamp his teeth down on my wrist. I had to grit my teeth to stop from making a sound, but, as he broke the skin, a sound trickled out anyhow.
For a moment he stayed like that, teeth sunk into my flesh, burning beginning to spread. The pain hadn’t quite started by then, though I knew it should have started. When Alphas found a G14 they liked, they were ever so careful with the person. One wrong move and they could break the G14 by accident. Something everyone wanted to avoid.
The teeth withdrew from my flesh, but the lips remained locked. His tongue flowed over the fresh wound, lapping up the blood that I knew was flowing. As he pulled away, he seemed to suckle on my flesh, as if trying to get every last bit of blood he could.
He straightened, a finger on his lips. Turning to the other, he made a sound and a hand motion. The other one stepped forward, and I was afraid he was going to bite me too. The fiery pain was blooming in my hand and throbbing up my arm as my blood dripped to the floor.
The other handed over a cotton kerchief, which the first tied around my wrist, stemming the blood flow.
“How many others have expressed interest in her?” the stranger asked.
“Six, Owen included.”
“Six?” the stranger asked, getting a look on his face as he stiffened and turned to the guard. “Six?”
“Did I stutter?”
“Six Alphas have listed a bid on her and not a single one of you thought that Da would be interested in her?” the stranger asked. He paused to run his tongue over his teeth. “Put my name at the top. I’m taking her to Da. He needs a breeder and a curiosity to distract him.”
“Even if Owen didn’t want her, payment is necessary.”
“That law is for mutts, are you implying that I am a mutt?”
“War brats are all—” the guard seemed to catch himself, he even paled as the stranger watched him. “Honoured guests. However, the payment is also for the untried. Tell me, do you own land? A breeder? A husbandwife even? This one here is being held to the full extent of the law. That means the bidding and tier systems of old.”
“That is clearly not what you just told me. And I can’t help taking after Da. He didn’t have his first companion until he was well into his twenties, his first breeder just five years ago. Though that was a failure.”
“Take after him or not, you don’t get to buy a woman outside of the betting.”
“Owen was going to take her outside of the bidding! She’s here for giving alms to the scorned. No one else is going to want her. Though I have to congratulate Owen on being the first to make that law.”
“A Dom reserves the right to claim any in his land. He wants her.”
“He’s the one who scorned and then charged.”
“Has her sister too.”
“Tell you what…” the Alpha straightened entirely and turned to the guard. “I can take her with me, or I can knock you unconscious and leave you here with these women. Who, I remind you, are only affected by you so long as you are awake and breathing.”
The guard cast a sidelong glance at the other women, who were still cowering. I had no idea if what the Alpha said was true, but I was also in no position to give it a try. I might have gotten one, but not the other.
Near as I could tell, the one that I had to get was the stranger. The guard was, well, he was barely above a common man. He also had the key card that worked the outer door, as well as the gate to the facility.
The two of them were facing one another, the Alpha’s back to me. There was nothing heavy or movable in the room itself.
But my father, before the Dom killed him two years previous, had served in the military. He had seen how the world was changing and moving.
Balling up my fist, I wheeled back and caught the stranger upside the head, across the temple. When he didn’t crumple, I hit him again and was around him in a moment. The guard got his hands up, but, as I suspected, he was only Alpha in genetics. He was being kept alive to pass on his genetic material to provide a wider gene pool for future generations.
I caught him in the balls with the tip of my foot. It hurt, my whole foot exploded in pain, but so did his balls. As he went down, my hands were on him, pawing through his pockets. In the left pant pocket, I found the key card, slim and plastic. Almost smooth in my hand.
With the key card was a set of keys. With the keys and the card, I bounded out the door, headed for the outer door that kept the G14 cells from the intake area. At the door, I slid to a stop and slipped the key card into the slot and back out again. The light blipped red.
“Fuck,” I said as I slammed the card back in and pulled it out.
It blipped red.
I felt something behind me. Stiffening, I turned and looked up at the cold blue-grey eyes of the stranger. Red was blooming over his temple, already turning the nasty shade that meant it would bruise. As I stared up at him, his lips turned upward in a devilish sort of smile.
He lifted his hand, in which there was a key card with a black strip running the length of it.
“Why do you think a gym membership will get you out of here?” he asked.
My foot ached something terribly. I hadn’t been thinking clearly, obviously. With a flick of my hand, I tossed the card away from me. Without warning, I struck out with my foot again.
He caught my ankle, teeth gritting as he growled out. As his eyebrows drew downward, his nose scrunched up, and his lips peeled back from those pearly whites. Almost casually, he reached out and grabbed my left wrist, thrusting me back and against the metal wiring that separated the two areas. I cried out as my leg was bent at an odd angle.
“If you had been a rightie, I’d be out like a light,” he rumbled. “Thank goodness you didn’t get the right angle.”
The overhead alarm blared to life. With a grunt, the Alpha looked up and around.
“And I would have woken up in chains,” he said, yanking me off the door. “Time to go. You give me any more trouble, and I’ll give you a smack, and you will wake up in chains.”