When Nikos Dirvan's spaceship crashes to Earth near Las Vegas, he is thrust into a world he's only read about. One thing he does know is how a woman should be treated. Carla Fletcher needs two things--to escape her manipulative husband and to heal her soul. Can this strange high roller help her as he's promised?
Nikos Dirvan fought the controls of
his star runner, silently willing stealth mode to stay on-line. The small ship
shot through the moonless night like a meteorite. If he lost invisibility, it
sure wouldn’t look like one, though. Earth’s military forces would be on him
before he knew it, if that happened. He’d be captured, his recon mission
compromised, and…well…he’d sure never see his home world again.
Rumors abounded of how vessels had
been confiscated and pulled apart by Earthmen. Their captains and crews were
imprisoned like animals to be studied copiously, then horribly dissected at
their demise and kept locked for all eternity in a vault to be constantly
evaluated. Those souls never knew the peace of a final resting place…or so it
But the Talorian government never
fell prey to rumor. They lived for facts. Hence this fact-finder project. For
years Nikos’ people had been quietly monitoring those on Earth, gathering
information under the cloak of invisibility. Occasionally, Talorians would
filter into mainstream society for more in-depth analysis. The wealth of data
they’d collected was staggering. The rumors had never been confirmed or denied,
but Nikos’ coworkers were careful not to be detected. So far, so good…until tonight.
He’d hit a dense patch of polluted
air over an area called Los Angeles minutes before, clogging the star runner’s
intake manifolds. Nikos had lost power in seconds. He’d barely had the time to
switch command control into the sub-unit generator before the small ship
started hurtling to earth. Banking hard, he’d managed to keep aloft, gliding on
the thermal currents while the sub-unit kept the cloaking shield in place. That
safeguard wasn’t going to last long. Already, the violet warning light flashed
in a frantic plea for immediate attention. Any
“Warning. Shield integrity at critical
low. Evasive action necessary to avoid detection.”
The computer voice synthesizer
mimicked the panic this moment decreed. The designers had felt weaving emotion
into the program would provide solace to captains on long, lonely flights. But
at this moment, the voice was a definite irritant, digging beneath his skin
like the shrill cry of a rashuka
searching for its covey, who were likely only mere yards away.
Nikos liked animals as much as the
next person, but rashukas had to be
the stupidest avians ever created. Their nests consisted of a couple twigs
tossed precariously on the low-hanging limbs of the whisper tree, where they
were prey to everything taller than knee height. They were horribly
nearsighted, perching on anything and anyone. But they were a beautiful breed
boasting colors of turquoise, lavender, and crimson among their feathers. They
were devoted parents, friends, and they mated for life. Those qualities made
their annoyances worth bearing…most of the time.
“Warning. Shield integrity—”
Nikos punched off the screech. He
needed focus, not distraction. If Command wanted to provide solace for their
captains, they could have reinstated the soft Companion Comfort beds that gave
pleasure on command. Now there was a benefit he could stand. Though not as
sweet as plugging his cock into a real woman, the simulation would have given
him much needed relief on these long flights.
Unfortunately, one previous captain
had spent too much time in the bed and little on his mission. Word filtered
through the ranks the man had actually managed to short-circuit the device from
overuse. More tales indicated he’d been engaged in his favorite pastime and was
nearly detected. Nikos didn’t know what of it was true, if any. The story could
very well have been conjured so Command would have an excuse to remove the
beds. They wanted their pilots alert and on edge. Nikos was certainly
that—alert and on edge.
The small craft shuddered. It was
time to find a safe haven. The desolate patch of desert below looked perfect.
He pointed the bow downward, fighting gravity to glide to a soft landing.
Gravity won. Fanning the air brakes, Nikos managed to level out, but he was
still closing the parallel distance fast. He saw the outcropping of rock too
late. One smack tumbled the runner nose over tail. Sand, rock, and other debris
flew by the viewing port. A final tumble landed his craft upright. It skidded
to a stop in the cradle of brush perched on the bank of a dry wash.
Nikos slowly peeled his fingers
from the steering column and dared a breath as he assessed any damage to
himself. Other than shaken nerves and a desperate urge to relieve himself, he
seemed fine. A green flicker caught his eye through the viewport, a clear sign
the shield was failing.
“Re-route all systems to shield
integrity,” he told the computer as he unsnapped his seatbelt and punched the
audio back on.
“Shield integrity holding,” the
computer calmly replied.
“How long will the sub-unit
generator keep the shield intact?”
“Twenty-hour Earth hours.”
Normally, that would be enough time
to clear the intake manifolds, but with the landing he’d just had…
“Computer, damage report.”
“Ruptured fuel line. Fuel
dissipating rapidly. Other damage is cosmetic and will not interfere with
flight. Generator is charged for twenty-four Earth hours. Using stored power in
the mobile pack will give an additional six hours.”
“How much fuel is gone?”
There was a moment of silence.
“Fuel tanks are now empty.”
Nikos closed his eyes and leaned
into the headrest. “Is the rupture repairable?”
“Affirmative. A laser torch will
fuse the edges.”
Then it was probably a good thing
the tanks were empty; he would have had to purge them anyway to avoid a fire.
As long as he hugged the ship, the shielding would also hide his presence and
He shoved to his feet and snagged
the laser torch from its lock-hold on the toolbar as he walked to the hatch.
There he paused at the door, hand poised over the access panel. His first taste
of Earth air. Nikos wished he could be happier about it, wished he could
explore and indulge his curiosity. If he made it back to port after this trip,
maybe he could convince Command to promote him out of Overflights and into
He pushed the panel and inhaled the
fresh scent that drifted through the open portal before hurrying to his task. A
dark patch in the sand spread out from his vessel, a telltale sign of leakage.
The warmth from Earth’s sun would evaporate it come daylight. Running his
fingers on the underside of the hull, Nikos quickly found the breach and sealed
He slipped inside the ship,
returning the torch to its designated spot. “Computer, please scan for the
nearest source for fuel.”
“Nearest source is fifty miles
northeast. City of Las Vegas. Scanners reveal a profusion of rich fuel
transportable in multiple containers. However, acquisition must be made with
Earth coinage and in heavily populated areas. Protocols call for—”
“Acknowledged.” Nikos knew the
directive by heart—assume Earth attire, identity, and mannerisms. Hopefully, the
monetary denominations his predecessors had acquired would be sufficient to
purchase his fuel and be on his way.
He retrieved the Earth clothing, so
much more binding than his pasfa-soft flight suit. At least the colors were
similar—midnight blue. He tucked the cap on his head wondering what the
significance was of the image on the front—a pirate from early Earth days named
“Raiders.” The white shoes were comfortable enough and were called “Nike.”
Earthlings seemed to be fond of naming their clothing. The shirt had a symbol
over the heart. The pants were named Dockers. A strange custom, but who was he
Nikos looped the thin, webbed
mobile pack around his waist, tucking the laser torch into his pocket. It could
make an effective weapon if necessary. He prayed it wouldn’t be.
“Warning,” the computer nagged.
“Use of mobile pack will diminish energy reserves.”
“Note to Command,” Nikos replied.
“Mobile pack needed to acquire fuel. Assuming Earth protocol to do so.
Computer, if the sub-unit generator should fail before my return, your
instructions are to notify Command and self-destruct. Acknowledged?”
“Affirmative, Captain Dirvan. This
vessel will self-destruct in twenty-three hours, thirty minutes.”
“Instituting Earth Protocol Omega.
“Acknowledged.” The computer’s
console faded to black.
Nikos stepped into the desert night
once more, sealing the hatch behind him. He activated the mobile pack, sealing
himself from view as he moved away from the vessel. Safely away, he lifted into
the sky and aimed for the halo of lights called Las Vegas.