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Exile’s Hunter Chapter One: Free Sci-fi Romance

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Present Day

Some days Mad dreamed he was back on Krudare. He’d have dinner with his family to celebrate his newest military promotion. He’d play with his young nephew and show him how to slip into the kitchen and steal cookies when the servants weren’t looking.

And he’d punch the living shit out of his sister’s husband.

There was no dreaming today. His fist sank into the hard flesh of his opponent’s abdomen and the man doubled over with a grunt. This wasn’t a fight for energy. This was payback.

“Do it again and Jadirel won’t send me next time,” Mad warned, shoving the man away and taking a step back. They were in the middle of the market in Jadirel’s territory.

Orion, the biggest city on Guerran, was split up into hundreds of territories ruled by exile kings. There were no laws except for what the kings decreed, and surviving one day to another wasn’t guaranteed.

Oron scuttled back, blue eyes wide and mouth hanging open. “I didn’t do anything!” he protested. It came out in a wheeze.

Mad shrugged. He left Oron where he was. The exile was new to Guerran. He’d arrived with the last batch of criminals and served in a different territory. Oron was little more than a boy. A few years ago, Mad might have pitied him or tried help, but he wasn’t a fool anymore.

He had the scars from more than one lesson learned.

His energy was low, and he wanted to crawl back to his quarters and sleep for a week. He’d fought in the pit the night before, desperate for the energy winning a fight would give him. He hated the fights, but there was no way to get a Pitcher from Krudare. If he didn’t fight, he’d have to fuck, and he didn’t trust a Kru’dari not to stab him while he slept.

Kru’dari energy was scare on Guerran. They generated an excess when emotions ran high, which made the fights popular. When Mad entered the pit, he usually won.

But everyone had an off night. And to make matters worse, he had to report back to Jadirel.


The streets of the market were dusty, making his eyes water. Jadirel’s territory was falling into disrepair. The exile king didn’t want to waste labor on rebuilding crumbling roads or constructing new buildings, so the people in the territory had done what they could for three years. The roof of Mad’s own quarters threatened to collapse any day, and he knew of more than one family that lived in a house without all of its walls.

There was no love for Jadirel in his territory. But he was a jealous king and he didn’t let his people leave.

Especially not his soldiers.

Mad passed a market stall and paused when he saw the flyer posted on the flaking wood. There was a picture of a young man with dark hair and a cheerful smile.





He’d seen dozens of flyers like that in his six years on the planet and ignored most of them. Guerran was a land of exiles, and no honest Kru’dari would choose to land there.

But Kru’dari weren’t the only people on the planet. The city was made up of beings from all across space.

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And more than a few fugitives.

Outside the Green Zone, which was controlled by the Kru’dari king, Guerran was a lawless place. And fugitives from nearby systems, and the especially desperate from Krudare, tested their luck in its narrow alleys.

Reward considered.

Those two words echoed in Mad’s head, and he tore the flyer from the post and folded it up before stuffing it in his pocket. Every year, the king pardoned some exiles on Guerran. There was no specific number or reason.

But perhaps returning a fugitive might earn Mad the favor he needed to return home.

His nephew was nearly two years old now. He’d missed his birth. Not to mention his sister’s wedding to Arbyn. His family survived without him, but he wanted back in.

A ship zoomed overhead, its engines loud enough to make Mad wince and remind him that a pardon wasn’t his only way off of Guerran. The guards did little to stop exiles from leaving for other planets.

But those who chose to leave could never be pardoned. They were as good as dead to everyone back home.

Mad had to put thoughts of a pardon and home out of his mind as he approached Jadirel’s palace. This building wasn’t in disrepair. The walls outside gleamed, and colored glass covered the narrow windows in swirls of red, purple, and blue. The entry was a stone archway with door made of solid metal, as thick and tall as two men. It was wide enough to let four Kru’dari warriors brimming with armor and weapons walk in side by side.

And inside, the palace was even grander.

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Mad walked through a narrow hall, the walls carved in white stone, the carvings depicting Kru’dari myths and legend. The hall was easily defensible. No army could storm Jadirel’s fortress without being picked off in this passageway.

Mad nodded to the two guards standing at their posts. More could be called at a moment’s notice. Jadirel kept strong fighters on hand at all hours.

It was all for show. No one would use an army to take out an exile king. If Jadirel ever fell, it would be in a one on one challenge against one of his men. It was how he’d claimed his throne three years before.

Mad wished that random lieutenant luck.

He had no wish to rule.

The throne room was grand, with large windows swirling with that same colored glass. They looked out into the courtyard in the middle of the palace, and the air was sweet and perfumed.

Jadirel sat on his throne and spoke with two of his trusted advisors. On either side of his throne knelt a human, one man and one woman. Each wore a metal collar around their throats with thick chains that were tied to rings on the sides of the throne.

His human pets.

Kru’dari could take energy from a lot of aliens, and humans were some of the best. The brimmed with energy at all moments and barely noticed when it was gone, their bodies quickly making up for the deficit.

Jadirel didn’t look like a tyrant. He would have been at home among the Krudare Senate back home. He’d been born into one of the old families, and his accent spoke of it. He was high born and educated, and loved to make others bleed.

No one knew why he’d been exiled. He’d been on the planet for a decade when Mad had arrived. And he’d slowly worked his way up to becoming an exile king.

Mad would never have chosen to work for Jadirel, but now he didn’t have a choice. He was determined to keep his head down and do what he needed to do to either earn his pardon or move to another territory.

At the moment, both options felt equally insurmountable.

Jadirel brimmed with power. He sucked it down from his humans without a care for their health. Humans had a lot to give, but even they had their limits. Jadirel was the only man Mad had heard of sucking a human dry of their energy.

The pets looked healthy enough for now. Mad’s hands itched to unchain them, but he forced himself to look away. Trying would get him beaten or killed, and the humans might be punished, even though they were innocent of any scheming.

“Madn Damari!” Jadirel’s voice boomed across the throne room, gregarious and welcoming. He waved him forward with a broad smile. “What news have you brought me?”

Mad bowed swiftly and rose again. Jadirel liked when the formalities were observed, but he hated too much deference. So far Mad walked the line, but he’d seen others beaten for not bowing long enough and for bowing too long.

“I simply come to report that the message has been delivered to Oron. He was on his way out of the territory when I last saw him.” That was mostly true. The man had been facing towards the road that would lead him out of the territory. If he was smart, he was already gone. If he wasn’t, Mad didn’t want responsibility for him.

Jadirel nodded. “Always nice when a boy can see reason. Thank you for acting so swiftly.”

Mad accepted the thanks with a nod. “Is there anything else I can do for you, sir?” He didn’t want to be there a moment longer than he had to be. He was lucky to have caught his king in a good mood, and he didn’t want it to shift.

“Yes,” said the exile king.

Mad didn’t wince, but he swore internally.

“I have not seen your friend Jaek in several weeks. Is he dead?” The question would have been callous on another planet, but people died fast and easy on Guerran.

“He was alive a few days ago when I last saw him.” Jaek hated all of the exile kings equally. He lived on the edge of Jadirel’s territory and was technically his subject, but he did his best to stay out of everything.

Jadirel didn’t like that. And today he was tugging on the leash.

“Tell him to come see me,” the king commanded. “I miss his captivating wit.”

The advisors laughed, and Mad forced himself to smile. If Jaek wasn’t careful, Jadirel would cut out his tongue.

They both needed to get off of Guerran.

“Of course, sir. I shall seek him out and give him your invitation. I suspect he’s gone hunting in the out lands. He’s likely to be back in his quarters by the turn of the moon. Would you like me to seek him out before then?” Mad held perfectly still and spoke in a tone he’d once reserved for his father. He didn’t want to think of the similarities between his sire and Jadirel.

“Let him hunt. Just see that he reports in to pay his respects. That’s all.”

Mad bowed again and backed out of the room before Jadirel could change his mind. Then he turned and headed towards the edge of the territory where Jaek kept his quarters.

He had the feeling that Jadirel was up to something, and he had to warn his friend. He looked up at the sky and sent a prayer to the stars. He wanted his home.

But if the stars were listening, they didn’t respond.

Continue to Chapter Two

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