Read Captives of New Pompeii Online

Authors: Aubrey Ross

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Captives of New Pompeii

Captives of New Pompeii

 

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Captives of New Pompeii © 2013 Aubrey
Ross

Cover art by Dar Albert

 

Electronic book Publication, December
2013

 

Other
Smashwords books by
Aubrey Ross

 

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Captives of New Pompeii

Aubrey
Ross

 

Felicia, high priestess of Venus, awakens on
a “skyship” terrified and disorientated. Her prophetic dreams
foretold Pompeii’s destruction, but no one would listen to her
warnings. A handsome young man appears at her side, insisting he’s
an agent of Venus. She is intrigued by his touch and soothed by his
charm, but she knows his story is false. If Venus had chosen
another to empower, Felicia would have sensed it.

 

Doctor Aiden Thrax is part of the rescue
party transporting the people of Pompeii to their new home on the
planet of Fedoros. He’s thrilled that so many lives have been
saved, but he’s suspicious of his employer’s motivation. And his
concerns are intensified by his attraction to Felicia. Each kiss,
each heated embrace makes him more determined to expose the greed
and corruption behind the evacuation.

 

Chapter One

 

A coffee mug zinged past Aiden’s face,
snapping his attention to the doorway of his small office. His
brother stepped inside and slammed his hand against the door
trigger, his tall body vibrating with poorly concealed rage. “That
fucking son of a bitch! I knew something was wrong the moment he
boarded my ship.”


Our
ship.” Well used to his
brother’s outbursts, Aiden calmly powered down his access terminal
and stepped out from behind his desk. “If you had misgivings about
Ambassador Xyell, why did you take the job?”

Caleb glared at him. “You’re not even going
to ask what set me off? Am I really so easy to rile?” He shook his
head and allowed a smile to curve the corners of his mouth. “Don’t
answer that.”

“What set you off this time?” Aiden leaned
down and picked up the pieces of the shattered mug.

“They’re human.”

Aiden paused, looking up at his brother
askance. “Isn’t everyone on Fedoros human?”

“Not our employers. Our cargo. Xyell hired
us to transport humans, thousands of unconscious humans.”

Suddenly understanding his brother’s ire,
Aiden pushed to his feet. “How were they rendered unconscious, and
was it done with or without their consent?”

“All very good questions. Unfortunately, the
answers he gave me are sketchy at best.”

Aiden disposed of the shards of pottery and
washed his hands as he regained his composure. Caleb was two years
older and infinitely more volatile. Their mother had always counted
on Aiden to balance Caleb’s passionate reactions to any situation.
Caleb was a crusader, a champion, a righter of wrongs. Which left
Aiden with the practical details of life—bothersome things such as
logic and rationality.

“Tell me what you know,” he prompted
Caleb.

“We’ll arrive within the hour and I needed
to configure the cargo hold, so I insisted Xyell describe the
cargo, give me basic dimensions for each ‘unit’. The contract
stated living units, but that’s all that was specified.”

“We figured it was some sort of exotic
animal.”

“They’re technically animals, I suppose. But
I’m not a fucking slaver! I told Xyell we don’t trade in human
flesh.” Caleb scrubbed his face, obviously outraged by the
quandary.

“And how did Xyell respond?” Aiden leaned
against his desk, unsure if he wanted to soothe his brother or add
his angry voice to Caleb’s outcry.

“He told me they aren’t slaves in the usual
sense. According to Xyell, this is all part of a massive emergency
evacuation.”

“A what?”

Caleb blew out a ragged breath and started
pacing. His long legs carried him from one side of the office to
the other, like a caged animal. “They come from a place called
Pompeii. Their world was seeded by the Fedorans, just like ours.
But they have only begun to develop beyond living in caves and
cooking over fire pits.”

“Go on. What does this have to do with the
evacuation?”

“The Fedoran recon team noticed temperature
shifts and seismic activity, so they did a full geological scan of
the area and found that one of the mountains was really a volcano
and it was about to erupt.”

Aiden moved back behind his desk and sat
down. Why couldn’t anything ever be simple when the Thrax brothers
were involved? The thought made him smile. He’d heard that phrase
so often as they grew up.
Those Thrax brothers did this
and
Go ask those Thrax brothers, they’re sure to be
involved
.

“The Fedorans gassed the occupants of
Pompeii and scooped them up like so much refuse?” Aiden forced his
wandering mind back onto the problem at hand.

“Basically.” Caleb plopped down in one of
the chairs in front of Aiden’s desk. “They were shuttled to a
temporary holding station until the long-range transports could
arrive.”

“And we’re one of the long-range
transports?”

“One of twelve. I told you, there are
thousands of refugees.”

Aiden paused while the facts fit together in
his mind. There were still gaping holes in the puzzle, the largest
of which was a Fedoran motivation. “Why bother? What do the
Fedorans gain by rescuing a group of primitive people?”

A buzzer sounded, drawing his attention to
the door. “Who is it?”

“Ambassador Mikko Xyell.”

His gaze shifted to his brother. Their
employer sounded impatient and annoyed. “This should be fun.”

“I should go.” Caleb started to stand, but
Aiden stopped him.

“Stay. We have a better chance of getting to
the bottom of this if we stick together. Come in.” The standard
command released the door and allowed their employer to enter.

Xyell took two angry steps into the room
then froze when he spotted Caleb. With a toss of his
mahogany-colored hair, his bearing turned from regal to haughty. He
pivoted toward Aiden, hands on his hips. “I was hoping to speak
with you about your brother’s behavior.”

Caleb laughed. “Aiden already knows I’m a
pain in the ass.”

“It will take us three weeks to reach
Fedoros.” Xyell ignored Caleb and offered his explanation to Aiden.
“Those three weeks are invaluable to me. I cannot be hobbled by a
temperamental captain, especially when he is supposed to be
my
employee
. It is my understanding that you are half owner of
this ship. If you cannot keep your brother under control and out of
my face, I will prorate your fee by thirty-five present and move my
headquarters to one of the other ships. The choice is yours.”

“What if we choose to turn back without
participating in the evacuation?” Aiden asked.

“Return the funds I prepaid and you are free
to go.”

Aiden pushed back his chair and stood. They
had used the money for some much-needed repairs before they’d left
the space station. They wouldn’t be solvent again until after they
were paid for this job and Xyell knew it. “I have a few questions
before I give you our decision.”

Xyell scowled for a moment, nostrils
twitching. “Proceed.”

“Were the occupants of Pompeii asked if they
wanted to be rescued?”

“There was no time for diplomacy. We had to
make a choice and implement a plan. That’s what leaders do. In this
case, the choice was simple. Save thousands of lives or stand by
and watch them die.”

Caleb made a soft growling sound that often
preceded an angry outburst. Without shifting his gaze from their
wily employer, Aiden gave his brother a telepathic nudge.
Let me
handle this
.

“As I understand it, these are a primitive
people,” Aiden said. “How will you explain what has happened to
them?”

Xyell smiled, but his eyes were cold and
calculative. “I won’t. That’s part of your job. You will examine
each passenger, make sure they don’t carry any infectious deceases,
and you will tell them you’re an agent of Venus, the goddess they
worship. The full explanation is in your mission briefing. I’m
disappointed you haven’t read it yet.”

“I will do so immediately.”

An agent of Venus
? Caleb’s laugh
sounded in Aiden’s mind.
Now there’s a title you’ve never been
given before.

“Pay special attention to anyone in cleric’s
robs,” Xyell told him. “Legitimate priests and priestesses could
prove problematic.”

“We’ll be infringing on their
territory.”

Xyell nodded. “Twenty people will need to be
examined every day on each ship for all the passengers to receive
orientation before we reach Fedoros. Obviously you do not need to
conduct all of the orientations yourself. I presume you have staff
members at your disposal. If not, well, that’s not really my
problem, is it? I’ve explained what must be done. It’s up to you to
make it happen.” Xyell’s civilized veneer slipped even more as he
looked at Caleb. “Any questions?”

“Yeah, why not move them to somewhere else
on Earth?” Caleb’s shoulders squared and his gaze narrowed. He was
obviously spoiling for a fight. “What’s so special about the people
of Pompeii? No one saved Atlantis or the Myceneans. What are you
getting out of this?”

Turning back to Aiden, Xyell ignored Caleb’s
angry outburst. “If I hadn’t interfered, these people would be
dead. That’s all you need to know. Your only choice is whether or
not to participate in the evacuation. Are you reneging on our
contract?”

“No,” Aiden said firmly before Caleb could
respond to the provocation.

We have no choice. We can’t pay Xyell
back and he knows it.
Aiden paused for a frustrated sigh.
Slavery is illegal on Fedoros and that’s where we’re headed. I
say we play along and find out what this is really about.

I say we cram him out an airlock and get
good and drunk,
Caleb countered.

That’s still a possibility.

“Are we all in agreement now?” Xyell’s smug
tone made Aiden want to smack him.

“Yes. We will fulfill the contract as
originally negotiated. If you need something from Captain Thrax,
please communicate your request through me.”

“Gladly.” With another toss of his dark red
hair, Xyell turned toward the door. “At least one of the Thrax
brothers is civilized.”

Caleb came up out of his chair as the door
closed behind their employer. “I really hate that piece of shit,
but damn, have you seen his wife?”

Laughter burst from Aiden with unexpected
force. He rested his head against the back of his chair and enjoyed
the harmless release. “Only you could say those two sentiments in
one sentence. I don’t care if Xyell’s wife is the most delectable
creature ever to grace our ship. Keep your hands off her!”

“Just my hands? What about my tongue and my
cock? There are all sorts of positions that don’t require hands if
the woman is flexible.”

“I’m not kidding. Xyell won’t refuse to pay
us, he’ll make you disappear.”

Caleb offered him a lazy grin. “Careful,
bro. Sounds almost like you care.”

With that parting shot, Caleb sauntered from
the office, leaving Aiden to figure out what it would take to
become an agent of Venus.

* * * * *

Light stabbed into Felicia’s brain, making
her moan then whimper. She draped her arm over her eyes, hoping to
block out the punishing light, but the radiance seemed to come from
all around her, from within her. She floated in an endless void, no
longer grounded by the forces she drew upon so frequently.

She was alone, truly alone. She could not
panic, refused to give in to the fear welling within her. Too many
counted on her to be strong. She must—

Something warm and damp brushed against her
cheek. She cried out and twisted away.

“It’s all right,” a female told her. “No one
will hurt you. Venus sent us to comfort you.”

Venus? Suspicion burned through her mind,
nearly as painful as the light.

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