Valo Hazryn hadn’t been sleeping much. Things had been tense on the ship lately.
The facts were clear. Crystal clear.
The women of the Vargys planet were dying of the Telorex Syndrome. His mother — all of the crew’s mothers — would not survive without the Varstath mineral the crew had been mining. So what if there had been a minor skirmish with the Suhlik a MONTH ago? Big deal. Were they not Mahdfel? Should they not go back to the most bountiful repository his crew had ever set eyes on?
But no. Oz, his crewmate, was too busy being worried about his new human mate, Molly. So worried that Oz had managed to talk the crew out of going back to the Yastromus cluster.
Fine. Maybe the Suhlik did keep showing up in that quadrant. But, again, were they Mahdfel or not?
There wasn’t all that much Varstath to collect in the safe places they’d been mining lately, which was why Haze spent most of his time – when not on a mission – in the gym training, getting his energy out.
To make matters worse, Oz and his human mate, Molly, were so touchy-feely together, kissing all the time. It was disturbing Haze’s calm. He felt the jealousy pour through his bones.
As he landed several swift blows to the side of the dummy, raining hellfire on its plastic form, he tried not to think of having his own woman beneath him. Lately, it’d grown impossible not to think about it.
The ship’s first officer, Fyn, wandered in as Haze stooped down to grab a drink of water. “Haze,” Fyn acknowledged, giving him a slight nod.
“Fyn.” Haze nodded his head and glanced to the door. “Can’t sleep either?”
Their eyes met, and it was one of the few times Haze felt a meeting of the minds with the uptight tail-cricker of a man.
Haze pulled a couple of warngs from their stands on the floor. They were the heavy Vargys fighting staffs that the crew favored when they sparred with each other.
“Did you want this one?” Haze tossed one to Fyn. “Or would you rather use the one up your ass?”
That did it. Fyn stiffened up as he grabbed the warng out of the air and assumed his stance.
“This’ll do,” Fyn grumbled, holding himself at the ready.
Haze nodded his head. It was definitely more fun to fight someone willing to hit back, not that many got in more than half an attempt, regardless.
The first few points were casual warm-ups. He let the man parry and dance, getting his feet under him, then Haze made his move. He tried to reign himself in, not end the battle too quickly, but soon the fire raced through his veins. Time slowed down for him, and it was as though the fight were in slow motion. As Haze scored point after point, Fyn’s face took on a frustrated, sour expression.
Haze felt the fire increase. His opponent was broken, defeated.
He should end him. Now.
Haze pulled back from the feeling, the precipice of his battle cry. He showed his back to let Fyn have his point; rich boy would be intolerable tomorrow if he didn’t get at least something for his time.
Fyn looked breathless and spent. As usual, Haze felt only energized and ready for a dozen more. If not for the face of his suffering mother, Haze would be at the front lines taking out a dozen platoons of the Suhlik. Maybe that’s where he belonged. But he couldn’t leave the mission, not if he could directly bring her another month of life.
Fyn crowed. “About time,” he said.
“Another go?” Haze asked, knowing the answer.
“No,” Fyn panted. “I’d best get some sleep.” They slid their warngs into their stands.
Once they reached crew level, Haze nodded. “Night, Fyn.” At the stern look, he added, “Sir.”
Fyn nodded stiffly and turned to go to his room.
Haze shook his head. At least Fyn didn’t demand a salute. This time.
The problem with Fyn was… never mind. The list would take all night to compile.