Saving Verakko (Clecanian #3) by Victoria Aveline

Chapter 1


Nope. Nuh-uh. Nein. Nyet. No way. There was only so much a girl could take. Lily watched as a large alien hefted Alice over his shoulder and sprinted away at an inhuman speed, leaving her and four other furious women screaming at his retreating back.

So far, these aliens had made a crappy first impression. Being snatched out of her own backyard by disgusting, bulbous, purple creatures had been bad enough, but then waking up in a cell and being ignored by even more aliens had been infuriating. What kind of ass-backward place was this where the men felt they could lock up a bunch of women like lab rats? Lily sure as shit didn’t know, because they’d refused to answer any of her questions.

Luckily, she’d only been fuming in her cell for a couple of days before Alice’s soft yet frantic voice had echoed through a speaker in her ceiling and outlined an escape. Lily and the four other women who Alice had freed had managed to find one another and run. They’d made it almost to the exit when their path had been blocked by their abductors.

That was when the crazy, black-eyed alien had appeared. The wild-looking man had helped them fight off their captors and had led them out of the underground prison they’d been trapped in. She’d give him credit for that at least. But then, just as Lily had begun to trust the guy, he’d hoisted Alice over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes and hauled ass. The bastard.

As soon as the man and Alice disappeared from sight, the women began to argue. Lily remained silent and listened, trying to let her reason overcome the icy fear prickling her senses.

“Should we go after her?”

“Are you kidding? Did you see how fast he was?”

“We should run before he comes back.”

“Run where? Back into the bunker from hell? Or down into the forest of death?”

Lily’s ears pricked at the word forest. She scanned the dark tree line to her left and quickly worked through the pros and cons of venturing into the wild. The night air was humid and warm. Hypothermia wouldn’t be likely. Even if it took her longer than expected to start a fire.

It looks like any other forest, she reasoned. Sure, the leaves were a little odd and the colors weren’t quite right and the dense canopy blocked out a surprising amount of the bright light cast by the two moons. But it was basically a forest. And if there was one thing Lily knew for certain, it was that she could survive in a forest. She’d spent a large portion of her life doing just that, after all. Albeit not of her own volition.

A tall woman with dark brown hair the same color as her intelligent eyes shouted, “It’s better in there than it is out here!” She threw her hands up and looked at the other women as if they were crazy. “Are you suggesting we stay here and wait for that guy to come back or worse, more of the assholes who locked us up?” They all stayed silent for a moment, and she gestured to the opened hatch in the ground. “That isn’t a random bunker. That thing was made to imprison people and be hidden. Do you really think we were able to get free without tripping any alarms? Reinforcements are probably on their way right now!”

The hair rose on Lily’s arms, and she glanced around, searching for any evidence of an approaching cavalry. She agreed with the woman wholeheartedly.

Vanessa, a sarcastic raven-haired woman and the only one who’d taken the time to introduce herself during their escape, spoke up. “We’re on an alien planet! You have no idea what kind of crap is waiting in the wild to eat you. You won’t make it a day.”

She might if I went with her.

“How do you know these aliens don’t want to eat you?” the tall woman fired back. “I don’t care what you guys do. I’m going.”

“I’ll go with you,” Lily said calmly, drawing all eyes to her.

Vanessa raised her brows and looked Lily up and down, studying her manicured nails and small stature. “You? You think you can survive out there?”

Lily frowned. She was used to people underestimating her. It didn’t bother her anymore. All that mattered was that she knew what she was capable of. “Probably. We’re not going to thrive. It’ll be tough, but I know enough to survive.” She glanced back into the woods and spoke aloud, more to herself than to the group. “I’m not saying it won’t be hell. We have no tools. No food. No water. We’d have to use primitive techniques, and we wouldn’t even know if the resources we scrounge up are safe until we consume them and see what happens.”