And now for something else. I'll warn you ahead of time, thought there will be a few chapters, this story isn't complete and might never be, so don't bother yourself with it if you prefer your stories to actually have an actual beginning, middle and end to them. :D Thought I'd put this up for entertainment (I hope) since it amused me enough to actually flesh it out some more when I dug it out of my hard drive. Had some false starts before settling on the characters and scenario of Anya and L'tor in Chosen, and this was one of them. I might have one or two more if anyone's interested...drop me a line to encourage me to publish them if you're okay with me putting up something else that might never be a complete story; I don't want to tick everyone off with half-assed stuff unless you want me to.

As with pretty much everything I write, the following is intended for a mature audience. If you would take offense to a human/yautja coupling and strong language, this isn't the story for you, sorry.

Disclaimer: Don't own the concept of Predator(s) and not making any money. Just doing it for the lulz.

Aw, crap. This, I hadn't planned for. Not in the least. "Can I see him?" I asked quietly, my mind working busily. No matter my need to get clear of Synsen and return to normality, this wasn't setting well with me and hadn't been what I'd intended. The yautja was quite literally a giant pain in my ass, but seeing him there on the monitor, stripped naked and locked in a small room, made me realize finally that he hadn't treated me all that poorly. Sure, life as his pet wasn't my cup of tea and therefore I fought him at every opportunity and made it my life's goal to make his life miserable, but still...I mean, Jesus Christ.

One of two things was going to happen here...or possibly both things. They were going to kill him. My kind, my people. Then his kind, his people, were going to show up and either blow the shit out of this place in particular or the entire planet in general, just for the insult done to Synsen, Honored Blood, Elite Warrior Elder, Master Trainer, Killer of Queens. Not fucking good.

"You can see him just fine," said the guy that had been assigned to keep an eye on me. And he was. Standing sideways to me and looking at me out of the corner of his eye. He had all the personality of a stone, and, I suspected and hoped, about as much intelligence.

"No, I mean face to face. So he can see me."

The guy finally looked full-on at me with both eyes. "So you can rub it in his face?" he asked, interest lighting up his dull expression. I smiled.


He snorted and passed a glance around, apparently considering it. Truth was, I had no intention of rubbing anything in Synsen's face. I needed to know where they were holding him. I needed to see the place, the layout, the guards, the surveillance and security. What I was fixing to do was completely nuts and I didn't want to dwell on it. If this idiot wanted me to chant: "One, two, three, four, United Nations Marine Corps" to convince him, I would.

"This way," he finally decided, swinging to the left and weaving through the building with me on his heels. He wore a .45 on each hip, old school, and clutched an HK pulse rifle in his hands. There was a bowie knife strapped to the outside of his right calf, and grenades dangled from his vest. Stupid, gullible and armed to the teeth. God help me.

I paid attention to the turns, my head moving left to right, searching for guards and cameras and marking the location of each and every lighted exit sign. I did not want to come out the same way I'd come in; that door exited into the heart of the well-armed camp. I needed to shoot for the south side of the building, the side that exited at the top of the cliff face, the last place they would expect. The only way that side was a viable exit was in the company of a yautja, the only thing on this planet capable enough and hopefully willing enough to take me piggy-back down its sheer face without killing us both on the rocks below in the process.

Stupid led me to a door guarded by two marines. He nodded to them and they let him open the door and motion me inside without dispute. Beyond it was a long straight corridor, then a left turn to another guarded door. These two checked his badge and credentials and I fidgeted while they exchanged some small talk about the 'big ugly'. Synsen. They were buying time to look me over and I was well aware of what was going through their heads; I'd been in Synsen's possession. No doubt there was a shitload of speculation and rumor about what, exactly, Synsen was doing with a human female. Let them speculate; I wasn't too sure what he ultimately wanted with me, either.

Finally through that door and into a full-blown laboratory, populated by white coats all looking busy. They ignored us while I looked them over with a critical eye, trying to decide on the fly if they were all egghead scientists or if there were any hidden soldiers among them.

"Here he is," Stupid said, coming to a stop. I'd kept walking since I was paying zero attention to him, scanning the workers scattered at various tables, apparently engrossed in whatever the hell they were doing. "Oh, he recognizes you, alright," he murmured, and I turned.

Synsen was behind glass in a small, climate-controlled white room. When I'd seen him through the monitor he was standing in the back corner of it, arms folded, feet shoulder-width apart, staring defiantly. Now his thousand-yard murderous stare was focused hotly on me, and as I met his gaze everyone could hear his harsh, low-frequency growl through the speakers on either side of the glass.

"Sorry dude," I said nonchalantly, aware of two of the white-coats coming closer to observe. "You snooze, you lose." Nonsense words. I was pretty secure that, while the words conveyed mocking to those around me, Synsen had no fucking idea what I was saying. His backlit amber eyes were locked on mine and his slick tresses flared as he lowered his arms and stormed at the glass. I steeled myself to not move, though I couldn't help but remember that the last time he'd come at me like that it had ended in a backhand that had lifted me off my feet and sent me flying backwards. Yeah, that whole thing about yautja not hitting females? Turns out that if you pissed them off good enough they had no qualms about it.

"Thei-de syuit'de," Synsen rumbled, and I paled.

"What's he saying?" one of the white coats asked.

"He's a little pissed." Minor understatement. He'd just told me I was a dead traitor. Now I was reconsidering my plan to find a way to let him out of there. I didn't think it was right, him being captured in his attempt to protect me. Maybe I had it all wrong, that the truth was he'd been captured trying to get me back. I chewed my bottom lip and met his hellacious stare as I mulled over how much of a difference that would make to me.

"Can he hear us?" I asked, looking at the scientists, taking an extra second to check for weapons.

"Oh, yes. The two-way intercom is on," one of them nodded.

"Ellosiday pock," I said evenly, looking back at Synsen and lifting my chin. Actually ell-osde' pauk, but I was nowhere near fluent in speaking his language, leaving out the hard, guttural stops and grunts, and incapable of recreating the authoritative click of tusk against tusk. His golden eyes widened and he put his hands on the glass, showing us the lighter coloration of his palms as he etched the glass with the tips of his claws and growled, his shoulders bunching as he attempted to push his way out while he killed me with his eyes. Fuck you, I'd told him in mangled yautja, angry that he was angry at me. Wasn't my fault he was where he was. If he'd just let me go he wouldn't be in the mess he was in right now. "Middy suit day." M-di syuit'de: not traitor. My grasp of the yautja language was stilted and childish at best but he read me loud and clear.

"You speak their language?" the scientist asked, startled.

"Little bit. Just asking if he's okay." Complete and utter lie. My eyes slipped sideways as I noticed that the soldier, Stupid, had fallen silent. I wondered if he was maybe smarter than I'd given him credit for. Hoped not.

"Kwei lou-dte kalei," Synsen snarled. I schooled myself to show no reaction. "M-di h'chak, aseigan." Knowing my limited grasp of his language, he was keeping his words simple and direct to guarantee I was reading him right. He'd just called me a sly baby maker, followed by vowing to show me no mercy. Oh, and that I'm a servant. Insult upon threat upon insult upon threat. And I was still debating getting him out of there?

"He sounds pissed," Stupid commented warily. Synsen always sounded pissed. It was part of his charm. These threats and the name-calling, however, were something new, at least him to me.

"What'd he say?" the nearest scientist asked, fingers hovering over a laptop keyboard.

"He's having some trouble with the air mixture. What'd you do with his stuff?" Meaning, his mask, armor, power supply, gauntlets and weapons. If they didn't know what he was saying, all the better for me.

"He doesn't look like he's having breathing issues," the other scientist said, frowning as he stared at Synsen. The yautja ignored him to continue trying to stare me to death. A pissed off yautja was no small matter, and I suspected that if there wasn't a four-inch thick pane of glass between us he'd have his hands wrapped around my throat right about now. There were other ways to kill, but that one was particularly personal. He wouldn't be quick about it, either, I was willing to bet; he could snap my neck one-handed but the slow throttle while he stared into my eyes and watched as he slowly squeezed the life out of me would be much more satisfying, judging by the look he was drilling me with.

I blinked slowly and deliberately then widened my eyes on him, then flicked them toward the soldier standing to my left. Flick. Flick, flick. Synsen's upper tusks lifted and he eased back from the glass a bit with a throbbing rumble as I got through to him. Primitive in some ways but advanced in so many others. Terrifyingly violent but just as intelligent. His kind were most certainly not to be messed with. These idiots around me, my people, thought they had everything under control but they didn't realize that all they had was temporary possession of a bomb that could go off at any second, given the slightest provocation or opportunity. If Synsen didn't kill them, others of his kind would come and do the job, and from what I knew about them it would be horrifyingly easy for them. I was afraid they wouldn't stop with exacting direct retribution, that they would feel the need to attack other people, too.

With that thought in mind, I had to take the chance to free him myself, even if it ended with me gagging and choking while he muttered simplistic insults while slowly strangling me. Because even if that happened, it would mean that Synsen was free to exact his own revenge and go, without the need for others of his kind to come here to either rescue or avenge him.

"Hullidge pee," I murmured, pointing to myself. H'ulij-bpe, actually. Crazy. I'm pretty sure he knew that already, though, and that it was part of my charm as far as he was concerned. "Da tay kaydee." Dtai'kai'-dte, fight. Then another flick toward the soldier. Synsen's heavy, overhanging brow furrowed over his steady glare, then he blinked and chuffed in disgust. I could almost hearing him ordering me to stop trying to speak his language, since my every mangled attempt to do so in the past was revolting to him.

"Hko." His mandibles flared wide, his tusks flattening to point their tips at each other with a good thirty inch gap in between. No, he'd said, then backed it up with a threatening and pissed expression, his thick elbow-length greying tresses flaring around his impressive crown as he hissed his displeasure. The flaring mandibles displayed their bright red insides to human eyesight; to yautja eyesight, based on the infrared spectrum, the insides would also flare bright red from heat. A very visual warning, if the bared sharp teeth of his mouth and the three-inch tusks weren't warning enough. It surprised me, to be honest. A second ago he's threatening me for his predicament, and now he's emphatically trying to back me down from trying to break him out. I supposed he was worried that someone else besides him would get to kill me.

"See?" I said, smoothing the frown from my brow as I looked at the scientists. "He's gasping a bit. Where'd you say his stuff was?"

"Why do you care?" the soldier demanded. The nearest scientist had hooked a thumb over his shoulder as he started to respond but was cut off from answering.

"He kept me alive," I shrugged, thinking fast. "Least I could do is return the favor." He narrowed his eyes on my face and I turned away to pass a glance across the lab. Shit. Synsen's things were scattered everywhere and being worked on. There was no quick way to gather it all up. "His mask? The power pack he wears on his back?" I asked. Bare minimum I could do was secure a good air supply for him; all the oxygen in earth's atmosphere was poisonous to his kind, who required a stronger nitrogen mixture. He could tolerate breathing it for awhile, but without weapons or a communicator it wasn't like he could get off-planet in the next few days, or to anyplace where the air was more conducive to his system.

"The power supply is nuclear," one of the scientists informed me. Well shit, I didn't know that. "A miniaturized cold-fusion reactor." This news set me back on my heels, and I looked at Synsen. His expression was decidedly less hostile, though he still leaned his huge clawed hands against the glass a few feet away from me. So confusing. They were big, dumb brutes. Big dumb brutes with advanced weaponry, ships that could cruise the universe, complex systems and nuclear backpacks for field trips. Fuck me.

"It also supplies power to the mask, which filters the air for him," I said weakly.

"Oh, the mask is extraordinary," the other scientist said, excited. He pointed and I looked, then deflated. Synsen snarled as he followed what we were looking at and saw his mask being pored over by no less than three scientists. "We can't let him have that until we understand its capabilities," he continued. "We believe its used for more than air filtration."

Well no shit, Sherlock. Dead end. Common sense told me I had to get Synsen out here and now, that this facility was temporary. They were in the process of preparing to move him into a more secure facility that would be like Fort Knox and I wouldn't have a hope in hell of breaking him out. His clan mates could, no doubt, but it would involve blowing a lot of shit up in the process and would be far from subtle.

Stupid asked the scientists what they'd found so far and they went back and forth with excitement. The scientists, because they were scientists. Stupid, because he was a soldier and no doubt hoped that the technology they unlocked would be usable by him one day. I flexed my hand, spreading my fingers, watching Synsen from the corner of my eye while I pretended to be paying attention to their chatter. His fierce gaze had caught my movement and his attention fell to my hand. I flexed five times, discreetly keeping my hand low, then pointed to the soldier, hoping the yautja got the message I was trying to convey: twenty five soldiers, give or take. Five in the building and easily another fifteen to twenty outside. I started to sweat as I realized I had to make my move, and now. Time was a-wasting.

Synsen remained quiet, watching as my hands closed on the laptop on the table in front of me as I pretended to casually lean my weight on my hands and stretch my back. It was a nice metal MacBook, thank god, not a cheap-shit plastic PC. I shifted my weight back slightly, using Stupid's reflection in the glass in front of me to judge my swing, then I just...did it. Jerked back and gritted my teeth as I full swung the closed MacBook, aiming for Stupid's head. He was quick, but not quick enough. His hands had remained on the pulse rifle and when he saw me make my move he started to bring it up. Fortunately I connected with his temple before he could pull the trigger; there was a sickening crack that stung my hands and he poured to the ground from the ankles up like a bag of sand.

"What...?" one of the scientists squeaked.

I wasted no time in collapsing on top of Stupid and clawing for the pulse rifle. It was attached to a strap that was slung over his shoulder and I started wrestling his dead weight to find the clip so I could unsling it. One of the scientists jumped me but Synsen's roar gave me enough warning to shift aside and dodge the worst of the attack, letting him roll off me as I tugged one of the .45's off of Stupid's hip, thumbed off the safety, and started shooting. All the while I was keening, my teeth bared in a grimace as I adamantly refused to allow myself to see my handiwork or to think about what the hell I was doing. The gun bucked in my hands and I turned away from the bloom of red on the jumper scientist's lab coat, up high between his shoulderblades. One. I swung the gun and squeezed the trigger as the other scientist started to raise his hands like he was surrendering. His head kicked back, red streaming like a ribbon as a slug tore through his forehead. Two.

Now there was screaming around me and I rose and spun in a solid shooter's stance, letting out a slow breath as I picked my targets and applied myself to the task. My time with the yautja had honed the analytical side of me and I used it to my advantage, eyes sweeping as my hands remained steady. Everything went into a sort of slow motion, a lot of hysterical screaming and running around in the small white room. The threats closest to me had been eliminated and I swung the gun toward the scientists heading for the door. Three. Four. Five. Part of me kept my attention on the door, knowing there were two soldiers on the other side of it. It stayed shut, and I wasn't sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing.

The other part of me was focussed on the remaining scientist who had ducked behind a far table to take refuge. I pocketed the .45, keeping an eye on that table and using my hands to feel around for the other one. I tugged it from its holster on Stupid's hip, flicked the safety, and started to move, drawing a bead on the scientist's hiding place and creeping across the room. Synsen growled behind me, no doubt annoyed that I wasn't letting him out of his prison, but I didn't let him draw my attention away. I needed that scientist, alive. I had no idea how to open Synsen's cell. If I did, believe me, I would have done that first and let him do what he did best: kill, so I didn't have to do it myself.

"Up!" I barked. "Let me see your hands!"

"Don't kill me!" a quavering voice begged.

"Get up!" I roared, pissed now. Time was ticking. Taking on a platoon of soldiers was a whole different ballgame than shooting unarmed scientists. I would need Synsen out before that door opened and they started pouring through.

Hands appeared over the table first, followed by arms then head as the scientist stood. He was young, and he was crying. Fuck. "Get over here! Open the cage!" I demanded.

"I-I don't know how," he whined. Fuckity fuck, I thought, then squeezed the trigger. He shrieked, a high-pitched sound as the slug tore through his raised forearm and knocked his hand back.

"Open the cage!" I demanded again as he cried harder and cradled his arm. Hunching, he shuffled around the table then downright scampered toward the glass wall of Synsen's cell. Lying little bastard, I thought, suddenly feeling a whole lot better about shooting the crying little shit.

He was sobbing as he tapped at the keypad, leaving bloody smears on the buttons. I held him at gunpoint long enough to see the door slide open, to watch him as he croaked and moaned when Synsen, downright bristling with rage, reached through to grab him by the throat before the door even opened enough to permit him to escape.

The gases of Synsen's enclosed environment hissed out into the lab and I coughed and backed away, returning to Stupid's body to retrieve the rest of the goodies he had on him before all hell broke loose. There was the wet, hollow snapping of bone as the last scientist's shriek cut short and I distantly thought, six, before wrestling with the soldier's deadweight to finish getting the vest off of him.

My head was spinning as I kept part of my awareness on what I was doing, part of it on the door to the lab, and part of it on Synsen as seven and a half feet and three hundred pounds of blotchy green muscle dumped the scientist to the floor like a sack of taters, then rumbled as he strode past me. He made a beeline for his mask and I kept part of my awareness on his movements as he made his way from table to table to retrieve his possessions.

With a little time and breathing room, I checked the size of the clips on Stupid's .45s. Seven rounds apiece. I reloaded and rechambered, then checked the vest for more ammunition to calculate how much I had. I pulled the vest on and put the .45s in the pockets, then hefted the pulse rifle, taking a few seconds to familiarize myself with it and check its energy level. There were two rechargers, giving me enough firepower to take on a damn army. I strapped the bowie knife to my calf and patted Stupid down, pulling the communicator from his belt. He'd turned it off. I powered it up and listened to the chatter, shocked to hear no alarm calls, no indications of a mobilization of the unit to converge on the lab. I glanced to the door again, seeing Synsen in my field vision as he strapped his greaves onto his mammoth calves. The lab must be soundproofed. And there was a god out there somewhere, because no one had time or thought to hitting a panic button, if there was one.

"Loody kallay?" I asked, daring to raise my voice and turning my attention to Synsen. One huge foot on the edge of the table as he clamped a greave onto one massive calf, he stilled, then lifted his masked face to look at me. I raised the pulse rifle and ratcheted it, activating its charge. It powered up with a low whine and the light on its side went green. "I don't think so."

He trilled, completely dismissing the bad-ass threatening picture I'd attempted to make. A lou-dte kalei was a derogatory, disrespectful yautja term for a female, calling her a baby-maker, as if that was all they were good for. Their females were more bad-ass than the males, and that was saying something. No male yautja would dare to call a female that to her face, unless he wanted her to kill him. And Synsen was a more progressive, cerebral male than most of his brethren. He was respectful to a fault, even to his opponents, enemies, and prey choices. But the sonofabitch had stood there spitting insults at me and I wanted him to know I was plenty pissed about it.

The light trill he'd made was a sound of amusement. Believe me, I'd heard that sound directed at me often enough to know what it meant. It got my hackles up, even more so when he moved on to the next table and slipped his gauntlets onto his forearms, settling them comfortably and making believe he was completely oblivious to me. He wasn't, and I knew it. And despite the pulse rifle in my hands, charged and activated, he had deliberately dismissed me as a threat and continued to don his dark metallic armor.

"Ass eagan?" I pressed. Aseigan: servant, in yautja. Technically I was a pet, not a servant. In my experience, it was a hell of a lot better to be a yautja pet than a yautja servant. Pets were only taken by yautja with the means to house and care for them, always the highest ranked and wealthiest. Pets were property, yes, but they were also indulgences. Though my relationship with Synsen was complicated and, at times, contentious, I'd seen how the servants lived and how they were treated, and I wouldn't trade my status as a pet to join their ranks for anything. Servants were at the mercy of every yautja, often beaten, starved and overworked. Most aseigan were yautja, creatures built to withstand tremendous brutality. I probably wouldn't last a day as one. As a pet, on the other hand, I was under the protection of the yautja who'd claimed me; in this case, Synsen. And Synsen was diligent about protecting me, if nothing else. A yautja who merely looked at me wrong would receive the pounding of a lifetime if Synsen caught it.

Finished suiting up, Synsen boldly walked the center of the lab and headed straight for me. He was a formidable being. Add armor and weapons and he was simply terrifying. I gripped the pulse rifle harder but knew better than to put my finger anywhere near the trigger, much less to point it in his general direction. I had the temper, the means and the ability to shoot him, but not the right. If I dared to cross that line and actually do it there would be pain, I was sure. Disarming of my recently acquired weapons, most definitely.

"Ell-osde' pauk?" he trilled, coming to a stop right in front of me, towering over me a good foot and a half and out-massing me by at least double. I paled. He was reminding me that I'd told him fuck you. It had just tumbled out of my mouth with false bravado, easier to imagine when he was disarmed, stripped naked and locked behind thick ballistic-grade glass. He chuffed, then followed up with a drawn out and badly mangled, "Ell-o-see-day pock," mocking my attempt to say the words. I scowled; he sounded kind of like John Wayne when he did that shit, though where the hell he got the western drawl from was anyone's guess. Sure as hell wasn't from me.

He lifted a huge hand and lightly touched the mark he'd put on my cheek, tilting his head a bit, his faded once-black dreadlocks sliding across his broad back to dangle beside his arm. More words came out of him but I didn't know what they were; like I said, my knowledge of his language was limited, even more so when he didn't speak slowly and carefully. "Genaquavil bezab'a tdo."

Now I blushed, going absolutely crimson as he deliberately enunciated each word to ensure I followed him: I would like to. Turning my intended insult into invitation.

"Ha ha," I muttered, turning my face away and stepping back from the huge clawed thumb still lightly touching the mark on my cheek, sweeping my eyes past the lab's door. He shared his bed with me but he'd never made me uncomfortable with any sort of sexual advances or groping. He was more than capable of forcing me to do whatever he wanted, but in my time with him so far he concentrated on laying out the rules. I had my suspicions regarding what he ultimately wanted me for, but no concrete ideas. As far as I could tell, his having possession of me was a point of pride for him, and he trotted me around the others frequently like he was showing me off. Whether he ultimately meant to kill me or he was just enjoying my discomfort at my captivity and exulting in making a pet of the combat soldier who'd shot him three times and stabbed him once, I wasn't sure. Thing was, I just couldn't get around the thought that there would be only one reason an aggressive alpha male would take possession of a comparatively much smaller and weaker female, especially if said female had had the gall to injure him. In front of witnesses, no less, other males of his kind.

There was an element of what I considered torture to my captivity. Yautja time wasn't human time, and I was expected to keep to his grueling schedule. He dragged me everywhere with him, oftentimes literally. I was sleeping? He'd rip me out of his comfortable fur lined bed and toss me bodily into the bath, chortling in amusement as I sputtered and protested. I was expected to sit quietly in his lap like a docile lapdog when he met with others of his kind, eat whatever he gave me, match his ground-eating strides or risk being tossed over his shoulder and carried ass-facing-forward in the tiny little clothes he dressed me in. I was an ornament, a plaything. And if my temper got too hot he'd put me in a kehrite, a fighting pit, and amuse himself by what he called sparring with me. It was more like a slap-down, a way to put me in my place, burn my head of steam off, knocking me around until I was good and subdued.

No, there'd never been any remotely sexual element to my stint as a yautja pet, so his admission shocked me. And yet, from the little I'd so far learned about them, it made a weird kind of sense. Having a human pet only added to Synsen's status in the eyes of the others. Especially, apparently, one that was so cantankerous and difficult. The females watched, paying attention. Synsen had the patience to deal with me and the restraint to do it without causing me real harm, curbing his immense strength and reining in his awesome temper. He had a kind of sense of humor, too, usually taking me in stride with good-natured least as far as the others of his kind were concerned. Far as I was concerned, my captivity and humiliating subjugation to his alien whims had been torture.

I was a prey animal to his kind, considered intelligent, potentially dangerous and way too emotional for them to ever understand. Humans were considered a very high caliber of prey, second only to kainde amedha, xenomorphs. Sizable aliens with hard exoskeletons that were supremely adaptable to nearly any environment, utilizing native species for food and breeding. They formed hives ruled by queens that laid eggs containing a parasite-laden larva to be implanted in a host; this method of reproduction allowed the xenomorphs to adopt the characteristics of the host organism. Every yautja was required to hunt kainde amedha at least once in their lives, during their Blooding hunts or chivas. You don't become a Blooded yautja without having killed at least one, and if you weren't Blooded you weren't considered an adult in their society.

Hunting humans, however, was reserved only for the highest ranked Blooded warriors, to avoid the risk of discovery or capture. Yautja respected the human race enough to know that for one of them with their technology, falling into human hands would be disastrous for their kind. Even their most experienced warriors avoided heavily populated areas to reduce the risk of discovery or capture, and they carried with them self-destruct devices as a failsafe last-ditch weapon.

For Synsen to catch me alive and keep me was an impressive feat, one the ladies took note of. Female humans, it was known, weren't ever the focus of any yautja hunt, and not normally found in any number in the remote areas where yautja hunted. If they were, they were overlooked and hunted around. Leave it to me to put myself out there as a mercenary for hire, putting me as a trained and armed female right smack dab in the middle of prime hunting ground. He'd had the right to kill me...especially after I'd shot him. He'd chosen instead to run me to ground, beat me into submission, disarm me and capture me. I'd had the barest hint of what Synsen was capable of doing to me and it was enough to subdue me, forcing me to be marginally less combative at times than I normally would be.

As for the sexual element, yautja mated seasonally and it was the females who decided who got lucky and who didn't. They looked for strength, for smarts, for experience. The more status and trophies a male had, the better chance he had of being chosen by a female in heat. And a pet was considered to be a living trophy, the hardest to obtain and keep of all. Better yet for Synsen, a human pet to show off and trot around, the rarest of the rare on a yautja clan ship. I'd seen some of the other pets: a beast that was a hunting hound that would kill me as soon as look at me, and another thing that was lizardy and flat and spiny and the size of a VW Beetle. That thing wanted to eat me in the worst way imaginable. I hated that damned thing. Then again, the hunting hound wasn't on my friends list, either.

The short and fiercely competitive breeding season meant that yautja males had limited opportunity to get their rocks off, and I'd had the sneaking suspicion, with the sexy barely-there clothing he dressed me in, the demand that I share his bed, and his insistence on regular physical contact were all an attempt to get me accustomed to him, and him to me. Like everything else Synsen did with me, it was a sort of training. He established his dominance over me at every opportunity, but reserved his most painful lessons for the kehrite, never for his quarters and especially never for his sleeping pallet. Boundaries, then. I had learned that climbing into his huge bed was sometimes the only way to escape his wrath, and since I'd figured that out I'd made full use of the knowledge. Shameful female tactics in a trained and seasoned soldier to be sure, but nothing I'd ever trained for had prepared me for a yautja. If me in his bed indicated submission to him and cooled his temper, so be it.

It was just that I had a sneaking suspicion that I was unintentionally broadcasting more each time I did that. Even more shameful because I knew damn well that, for his kind, females controlled the males, at least when it came to sex. Being larger and more aggressive than their males, there was no such thing as rape in yautja society. The males didn't even have much control over the sexual encounter itself: where, when or how often it occurred. Females had the exclusive rights to call the shots in that area and the males were along for the ride, so to say. Synsen was maintaining his cultural respect for my femininity by not forcing himself on me, by not making a single pass at me, by not pressing me when it came to his sexual wants, needs or desires. I'd had a niggling fear that that would only go so far for so long, though. It was my understanding that as his pet, it was his right to do whatever he wanted with me. If part of his reasoning for taking me as his pet in the first place was an attraction to me as a female and the opportunity to utilize me as such in the offseason, no one would think less of him.

"Ngot, Pet," he purred, pulling me back to the present. Ngot was good. Pet was self-explanatory. He'd taken to calling me by the human word for what I was to him, stripping me of everything I used to do, be, and have, including my own name. The past didn't matter; to him what was here and now was important, at least when it came to me. I was not a soldier, I didn't run my own business, I didn't have employees or family or a house and property. I was property. More to the point, his property.

"I'll get you out of here," I said tightly, annoyed. "Then you go your way, I go mine."

He cocked his head again and I stared up at his expressionless mask, waiting. He chuffed, then turned from me and I scowled, unsure. Was that agreement, refusal or dismissal? Shit, I wasn't sure. Then I decided it didn't matter right now; what mattered was getting the hell out of here before the army came down on our heads.

Both of us were armed and ready, and I pointed to the door, then held up two fingers. Synsen nodded that he understood, a curt motion of his chin. Yautja maintained discipline and silence during the hunt. I should know; he'd brought me to tag along on a few. Couldn't decide then and still didn't know now if his intention was to traumatize me or piss off the others in the hunting party. I was never armed or armored, and it seemed to me that my part was to stroll along, alone and oblivious, until something that was usually huge, aggressive and toothy popped out of the woodwork and tried to eat me. That was when Synsen and company would make an appearance, shoving me aside so they could gleefully kill it.

Prickling with nervous tension and anticipation, I headed for the door. When I hit the mechanism to open it, Synsen's huge hand shoved me aside. In his other huge hand was his double-edged naginata, a wicked collapsible hunting staff with razor sharp blades on either end. Apparently if there was killing to be done, he wanted to be the one to do it. Fine by me; I'd had my fill of shooting my own kind in the effort to break my alien captor and tormentor out of prison. At least he was consenting to my being armed. Surprising, actually.

Synsen stepped through the open doorway and the naginata flashed in the fluorescent lighting of the hall. I heard the squelchy impacts, the gushing of air from punctured lungs, and the perfectly timed thudding of two bodies hitting the linoleum. He paused, knees flexed, body held still, then he straightened and shook off his blades. I'd seen it before but it never ceased to amaze me, this creature's sheer speed, stealth, power and ability. All yautja were deadly to be sure; some were deadlier than the rest. Synsen was held in awe by younger generations, respected by his peers, impressive even to his fellow Elders. Now he was going to mow through a squad of twenty-five soldiers like a hot knife through melting butter.

He lifted his head and looked at me. I held my arm out straight, then indicated a right turn, held it out straight again, then showed him two fingers. He gave me another quick nod, then headed out. I followed, my eyes darting as I held the pulse rifle at the ready. The cameras were going to pick us up sooner or later. The trip out just wasn't going to be this easy the whole way, was it?

Realizing I'd lost sight of Synsen, I picked up my pace. He was waiting around the bend, looking for me expectantly. Clearly, he wasn't planning on leaving me behind. I motioned down the hallway to the door on the end, held up two fingers, then shrugged to indicate that I wasn't willing to bet there were only two out there anymore. He cocked his head and I pointed to a camera up high by the ceiling in the corner of the hallway. Seeing it and apparently recognizing and understanding what it was spurred him into action and he moved faster now, aware that the more time we gave our enemy to set up a trap, the harder it would be for us to escape.

He moved silently and smoothly for such a large creature, though he wasn't bothering to be cautious. There was an elegant grace to Synsen, I had to admit. He was probably closer to three times heavier than me than two, and I was making more noise in the corridor than he was. If I wasn't so nervous that fact would make me furious.

Again he waited for me to touch the panel that opened the door, and this time I cleared the way for him willingly. Good thing, too, because there was a hail of automatic weapons fire the second the door slid back. Synsen roared and charged out into it like it was rain, leaving me gaping and pressed up against the wall. Then the screaming started. The firing became more erratic and the communicator on my vest was transmitting garbled commands to form up intermingled with cries for a medic.

Holy. Shit. No one did that. I mean, who the hell ran out into pulse rifle fire? With a fucking spear, for christ's sweet sake? That was nuts.

The sporadic firing trailed off into silence and I straightened in my position against the wall. That was it, then. Synsen took himself on a suicide mission rather than be captured again, and now it was all over. My turn.