Marauder ramses, p.6

Marauder Ramses, page 6

 part  #4 of  Mating Wars Series


Marauder Ramses

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  “Computer! Stop! Calm down!” I shout. “We’ll try to get the ship off the planet once Sara brings backup,” I say. “And if you stop talking about sleep and death, I promise we’ll try even harder.”

  “Deal,” the computer says. “Goodbye! And good luck!”

  When the computer shifts into stasis, the advanced screen shuts off, and the outer hull opens up to show a thick window with poor viewing angles. I hold tight to the control stick and look through the window, but there’s still just total blackness.

  “What if the planet doesn’t really exist?” Elise says. “Or it’s not really here, or –”

  “That’s why we only have an eighty-five percent chance,” I say.

  The sound of her voice keeps me calm, even when she’s deathly nervous. Normally I’d feel annoyed that someone was talking to me while I’m trying to pilot, but it doesn’t seem as if Elise can ever annoy me.

  Suddenly and without warning, the ship goes from total calm zero-g to violently shaking.

  “Is that supposed to happen?” Elise asks, clutching the arms of her chair so tightly that her knuckles turn white.

  I look out the window and see the first signs of the heat from our entry – a red glow pulsating across the small window. On my training runs I’d see Venus below, but now I see only empty blackness.

  “Well,” I say, “at least we know there’s something here with an atmosphere, so the chances that we will float on until we run out of oxygen just went down.”

  “What about the chances of burning to death?”

  “Still up in the air,” I say.

  “Tell me that joke wasn’t intentional.”

  I grin and clutch the stick. As I watch through the window, the red turns to yellow tinged with a hint of green. The vibrations start to intensify, as well. I risk pulling back on the stick, which pulls the nose up slightly, and the vibrations stabilize.

  I keep an eye on the instruments, as I’ve been trained to do, but they are all completely dead. I’ll have to do this by sight and feel alone.

  I spare a glance at Elise and I notice that her eyes are closed. She’s mouthing something to herself – it may even be a prayer.

  “I promised I’d protect you,” I say in a low whisper, inaudible over the loud vibrations, “and I will.”

  The red glow covers the whole window, but I can still see through it slightly. In one instant, the blackness beyond the fire gives way to a wide, curved, snow-white horizon.

  “Atlantis,” I say.

  Elise opens her eyes. “Holy shit.”

  “You’ll be the first human to step foot on Atlantis in millennia. Pretty cool, right?”

  The stick jerks in my hand, and the nose drops way too suddenly.

  My stomach churns, as if I’m falling off a cliff, and I fight to pull the stick back.

  Elise shouts an impressive string of curse words, and I see the horizon disappear off the top of the window, filling my view with white. We are way too deep for a safe entry.

  Slowly I get the nose shifted so that it’s pulling up again, but I can feel the temperature increasing in the cabin.

  “Don’t touch the walls,” I shout over the deafening sound of the atmosphere as it’s trying to burn our ship into charred metal.

  Elise looks over, and the wall nearest her is beginning to glow orange. He eyes widen at that, and she crosses her arms over her chest and then shuts her eyes tight again.

  “Best if I don’t have her keep looking at shit,” I mumble to myself.

  I wanted to get a good view of Atlantis while we were still high up – to scout out the terrain – but I can’t spare any attention to that now.

  With all of my strength, I pull back on the stick, and finally the horizon – now level – comes back into view and the rumbling begins to die down. After a minute or so, it’s gone entirely, and we’re gliding down toward the surface.

  “Fuck, fuck, fuck,” Elise curses, still clutching the straps and shutting her eyes tight.

  “We’re not going to die from intense heat,” I say. “Try to help me get a lay of the land.”

  She opens her eyes, but looks at me rather than looking through the window. “Not going to die of intense heat? I can read between the lines, Ramses, so that just means we’re going to freeze to death, right?”

  “That’s your cop instinct,” I say. “I’ll need to choose my words more carefully in the future.”

  From the window, I can see an icy coastline and liquid water. Either it’s not as cold as my father said, or the water is extra salty.

  “I want to land us on the coast,” I say.

  “You think we can drink the water? Fish?”

  “I doubt we can drink the seawater,” I say, “but we may be able to fish. My main reason for wanting to land there, though, is that Sara needs to be able to find us. We have some crude communications equipment on the ship, and telling her roughly where we are will be much easier if we are on a coast.”

  “Won’t that make it easier for Grius to find us, too?” Elise worries.

  “There’s always a tradeoff….”

  Elise points out the window and says, “Hey, there’s a big frozen sea. That probably means it’s fresh water, right?”

  I unstrap myself – the planet’s gravity is in full effect now as we coast through the lower atmosphere. I lean forward.

  “Yeah, good,” I say. “There’s a mountain range above, too, and a peninsula jutting down into the frozen sea. It will be easy to describe this spot, and we might be able to cut through the ice and get water.”

  I take the stick and guide us toward the peninsula.

  6 Elise

  The ship has landing gear, but since Ramses doesn’t know how deep the snow is, he says it’s smarter to just glide across it like we are a sled.

  “Are you sure?” I ask. “What if –”

  “If the snow is deep, the landing gear will dig in and cause drag, and it could rip off pieces of the ship.”

  “Fine, Mr. Know-it-all.”

  “I did get us safely through the atmosphere,” he says, “so it wasn’t just all ego.”

  “And now you’re gloating about it,” I snap.

  “I’ll have more to gloat about after I execute this sled landing.”

  I bite my lip and watch through the window. We passed the mountains already, and I can only see the sea on one side now. We’re very close to the ground, and the ship has no engine that can power it in the atmosphere. We have one shot at landing, and if Ramses overshoots the target, there will be no second chance.

  When the white snow comes right up under us, I hold my breath. I want to hold Ramses’s hand, or his arm – or embrace his whole fucking body – but I also don’t want him to botch the landing, so I settle for holding on extra tightly to my harness straps.

  “Here goes…,” Ramses says, and then I feel the ship catch the snow and begin to drag. It’s much gentler than I expected, and it really does feel as if we’re on a sled. A really big sled that just flew through space.

  “Hmmm,” Ramses says, still holding the stick and looking through the window with narrowed eyes. His high cheekbones are illuminated by the sunlight bouncing off the snow. “I just realized, the ship is probably still really hot, and I just landed on snow –”

  The gentle gliding sensation suddenly becomes a horrible, gut-wrenching grinding, and I feel the ship rotating around, but still sliding forward in the same direction. My stomach churns, and I feel dizzy as we begin to spin and slide.

  Ramses’s hands are off the stick now, and he grabs my hand and holds it. “Just for the record,” he says, “the landing gear wouldn’t have solved this problem….”

  I feel the speed slowing down quickly; the friction from the solid ground is much stronger than from the snow, and soon we come to a complete stop.

  Ramses lets go of my hand, rips off his harness, and then helps me out of mine. He pulls me up to my feet, and we start grabbing the gear. We both suit up into the heavy coats,
which feels ridiculous, as I’m still sweating profusely from our entry through the atmosphere.

  “Remember this feeling,” Ramses says. “This might be the last good heat you’ll feel for days.”

  I raise an eyebrow at him, and he smiles wickedly at me. There’s another kind of good heat I might be able to feel, and he knows it.

  I take a glance out the window and see the coastline. The entire coastline – and we’re on the wrong side of it.

  “Ramses,” I say. “Are we on the sea right now?”

  He presses his face to the window, and his ears perk straight up.

  Without warning, he grabs me by the hand, kicks open the hatch, and then throws me over his shoulder.

  He leaps out of the ship with me still hanging over his shoulder. He slides down the side of the hull and crashes onto the ice in a low crouch.

  He starts to run, but slips.

  He manages to lodge himself under me as he falls – even when he falls over he’s still trying to protect me – and I collide into his solid body. I look down and see that the ice is wet. When I look up, the bottom of our ship – the part that is touching the ice – is still visibly burning hot.

  The ice below us begins to crack. It’s a loud sound, like thunder mixed with an earthquake, and I shout over it. “Run! Like a penguin!”

  I do a few small shuffle steps in front of him as an illustration, then look back to make sure he’s following me.

  He follows me, mimicking the steps.

  “Oh,” he says, “I see, keep the center of gravity straight and don’t spread it across both legs.”

  I roll my eyes as I waddle forward. The snowy coast is near enough that I could probably run to it in thirty seconds, but waddling across the ice, I’ll be lucky if I can reach it in a full minute.

  Ramses quickly overtakes me – he can even waddle fast – and he snatches me up as he shuffles past me. He throws me over his shoulder and carries me as quickly as he can toward solid land.

  “You really like throwing me over your shoulder, don’t you?”

  “Sure as hell do,” he shouts.

  The wind is blowing hard, and the cold sucks the heat right from my cheeks. My head is insulated from the thick cloth, but it’s a Marauder beanie with ear flaps, so it does not protect my human ears. My ears feel frozen solid after only a few minutes on the surface,

  He holds me tight, and I look back at the ship as he waddles me toward land. The cracks in the ice start to spread, and I see the ice breaking open. Chunks of ice start to spread apart, and the ship begins to move.

  Suddenly it starts descending nose-first into the sea, and I see a crack in the ice racing and winding toward us, like lightning in slow motion.

  The crack goes right between Ramses’s legs, and he leaps onto one side of the crack as the ice parts, exposing the colder-than-freezing water just below us. Another crack hits the other side, and soon we are on a floating island of ice, only about ten meters from the safety of land.

  When we are about five meters away, our island of ice begins to drift away from land, back out toward the sea.

  Ramses shuffles faster toward the edge.

  “Shit, you’re going to jump, aren’t you?”

  “I’m going to throw you first,” he says.

  “Wha –”

  And then he throws me. I fly through the air, the deadly water churning just below me, but he’s strong, and I land on the snowy coast, falling into a deep pile of the soft, white powdery snow.

  I look up and see Ramses leap, but the island has drifted further away, and only one of his feet hits land.

  I reach up and grab his hand, but he slips and topples backward, right into the water.

  There’s a big splash, and Ramses disappears into the water. A few drops of the water splashes on my exposed face, and it feels so cold that it burns.

  I consider – briefly – jumping in to save him, but then I remember those anatomy lessons in school. Not the part where the girls were snickering about Seraphim cock, but the part where we learned how Marauder genes dominate human ones, and most of the Marauder traits – such as ability to thrive in incredibly inhospitable environments and extreme temperatures – were passed down to the Seraphim.

  If I jump in, I will die. If Ramses is still alive to be saved, then he’ll have to risk his life to save me.

  “Just wait,” I say. “Count down from ten, see if he adapts and swims back up.”

  I don’t know what I’ll do when I hit zero, but I start to search the surrounding area for anything I can use to help. There’s a snow-covered shrub, which I run to while continuing my countdown. I grab at the branches through the pillow-soft snow and start to break off the longest ones I can find. They don’t seem very sturdy, but it’s better than nothing.

  4, 3, 2….

  I get to the edge and dip the branch into the water. Right then Ramses explodes out of the water, and he grabs hold of the shoreline. His hands slip, and I throw the branch aside to clasp onto both of his hands. I anchor myself well into the ground, and Ramses uses his strength to pull himself out of the water.

  Once he’s out of the frigid water, he collapses onto the ground and laughs.

  “Shit!” he shouts. “That is cold!”

  I fall down to my knees and put a hand on his cheek, but it’s burning hot.

  “What the –”

  “My body warmed up to compensate,” he says. “Marauder genes. But it still feels fucking cold!”

  I’m shivering myself, and I didn’t even take a dip in the ice cold water.

  “Marauder genes or not,” I say, “you have to get these soaked clothes off –”

  “And we need a fire,” he says. “Shouldn’t be too hard.”

  He unzips his wet coat, then yanks it off and throws it to the ground. He pulls off two more layers of wet clothing, and suddenly I see his not-quite-purple skin. His muscles are bulging, and his eight-pack abs are glistening with beads of freezing water. I watch captivated as he continues to strip down. He grew up naked in a jungle, so it’s probably no big deal to him, but it’s a big deal to me.

  His pants come off.

  A really big deal.

  As he removes his underwear – the last piece of clothing –a rock-hard teal dick springs to attention. It’s huge, bigger than even some Marauder dicks I’ve seen in photographs. Anatomy textbooks...of course.

  “Ramses,” I say, staring down at his gorgeous cock. “Were you...looking at porn down there, or what?”

  He looks down at his dick and laughs. I notice his muscles are even bigger than when he first stripped down. His biceps have become positively massive.

  “Oh,” he says, “my body is adapting to the cold. Increasing blood my stave off frostbite. The increased blood flow makes my muscles get even bigger, though my dick is always this big, it’s just hard to keep it warm. But yeah, the blood flow increases everywhere...makes me hard.”

  I stare at him in dumbfounded silence. How can I even respond to that?

  He smirks at me. “I’m not going to say it, but you’re probably thinking it.”

  I grit my teeth at him.

  “Okay,” he says, “I guess I will say it. It wasn’t all ego. Everything I said I’d do, I did. And now I say I’m going to build us a shelter.”

  I reach into my bag and pull out a rolled-up thermal blanket. It’s made of some type of nanofiber that allows almost no heat to escape.

  “Oh,” he says, “you got the blanket?”

  “What do you mean? We gathered everything we needed….”

  I look out to the sea, at the gaping hole our ship sank through.

  “Yeah,” Ramses says. “About that...I didn’t get my bag. It’s underwater.”

  “What was in your bag?” I ask.

  “All our food and water,” he says. “Good thing I’m one of the most skilled hunters on Venus, which probably means one of the most skilled in the solar system.”

  “What if there
s nothing here to hunt?”

  He points to the shrub. “There’s vegetation, so there should be animals.”

  I throw the blanket to him and he catches it. “So, you want me to cover up, huh? Feeling shy?”

  “No,” I say. “You lost all our food, and you’re probably burning even more calories to keep your big dick hard. Bundle up so you don’t have to chow down all the food we do get when we finally find something to eat.”

  “All right,” he says, pulling the blanket over his shoulders. “I’ll keep this on for now, but I won’t be able to hunt or do any real work with this thing constraining me.”

  I roll my eyes.

  “Food would be good,” Ramses says, “but it’s a luxury at this point. First we need water. I swallowed some of the seawater, and it’s fresh. It might be full of deadly bacteria that will kill me, but there’s at least not any salt in it. Unfortunately, all the water bottles and jugs were in the bag I forgot.

  “So…,” I say, “we just stay within walking distance of the coast?”

  He looks up at the sky, and we see the sun is fairly low in the sky.

  “I have no idea what the day and night cycles are like here,” he says. “Or how much colder it might get at night. Ideally, we’d find some kind of cave.”

  He looks in the direction of the mountains. They are incredibly high, and the terrain even half a kilometer in front of us begins to fill up with sharp ridges and foothills.

  He points toward one of the ridges. “Even if we can have one rocky wall sheltering us on one side, it would help.”

  As he turns to point to the ridge, the wind gusts, and his blanket blows up and exposes his chiseled ass. I stare down at it, but he doesn’t even seem to notice.

  “So water is covered,” he says, “shelter is urgent, but can wait a few hours...we need sharp sticks.”

  “Sharp sticks?” I ask.

  “We hope we’re going to have something to hunt,” he says, “but it’s also possible something will hunt us.”

  “You’re not making me feel better, Ramses,” I say. “What about the stun rod?”

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