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Alpha King's Challenge
by: Rayna Star

Chapter 1
- Escape -

Chapter 1: Escape

Welcome to Dëskarda where the weather is always dank and dreary. Humans are at the bottom of the food chain on this planet and we serve the Kardax like the little slaves we are. My people spend most of their time farming the fields and gathering wood from the forest surrounding our village. But it doesn’t change anything. We once lived on our own planet with all kinds of freedom. Now we serve these creatures that demand we provide incubators for their children. All because somewhere along the way, their race lost the ability to provide females to procreate. 
 

That is why we have this day. The Festival of Ritu. It comes around every five years when women become of age. When I say they come of age, I mean they are eighteen or older. Like myself this time around. I’m luckily twenty-one this time and I’m up for the auction block so to speak. But I’m not alone, there are several other girls in my village getting wrapped up in finely crafted dresses to be presented to the beasts that roam these lands.
 

They say it is the least we can do since the Kardax warriors keep us safe and fight the Slargs that attempt to invade our new world. We weren’t so lucky on Earth. We were blind then and believed we were the only species in the galaxy. Well, we were wrong and many paid for that horrible mistake with their lives. Luckily, other planets stepped in and pulled refugees from the planet before it exploded and took us to their planets to live. My father and I were separated from the rest of our family when we came to Dëskarda. And there is no way to find out if they are on this planet, too. As far as I know, my relatives could be scattered across the galaxy, never to be seen again.
 

My father and I only had each other for the longest time. Until last fall when he got ill and died not that long after. I’ve been kind of on my own since. The other villagers always thought my father took liberties with me and never disciplined me properly growing up. Which made me very vocal on my beliefs and stubborn to a fault. This, of course, got me in trouble with authority figures all the time. I lost count of how many times the village elders put me to punishment because of something I did. My father would always make excuses for me but the truth is I’m not meant to follow. I’m meant to lead and living like a slave sucks. There has to be something more to this life than serving something that is a beast. 
 

Now is the day I’ve dreaded my entire life. Today is the day I’ll get presented to the warriors that come to collect us. Then I will walk the path to the fortress where the Alpha King lives. We will get lined up and honestly, I don’t know from there. Some of the girls came back stating that they just stood there and the warriors walked past them. Occasionally, one would stop and pull one of the girls from the line, then disappear into the crowd. And the girls that aren’t taken are left to leave for home. It seems like a weird process but, apparently, that is all we have to do in order to pass this test of theirs. 
 

But no matter how easy this test is, I have fought with the elders of this village to stop this stupid agreement since I was sixteen, but they won’t go against tradition. They don’t want to draw negative attention to the village and bring the wrath of the Alpha King down on them. Whatever. That doesn’t mean I’m going to sit around and let my life be dictated by another. That is why I have a plan. I plan to escape this hell and live on my own in this world by myself. Only have to get past the guards today and I’m home free.
 

“Cati, what are you doing?”
 

I turned to find the village chief standing across the table from me. Before I answered I looked back down at the garlands I was putting together with pine cones and some orange poof-balls I thought were pretty from the forest. I looked back at him and arched a blonde eyebrow in question.
 

“What does it look like I am doing?”
 

His eyes narrowed.
 

“It looks like you're disrespecting this holiday, little miss.”
 

Great, here we go. I’m not off frolicking with the other chosen girls, getting all dressed up for their future husbands. They all act like this is some great honor or something. But they are downright stupid if you ask me. Who wants to marry some strange creature and be bound to them with one look. I don’t know about you but I don’t believe in this whole love at first sight crap. These girls are being sold for our safety and that is it.
 

“I’m making better use of my time,” I snapped back.
 

Justin, the village chief, frowned and crossed his arms over his slender chest. I couldn’t help but notice he was wearing a finer-cut vest than usual. Probably trying to show the wealth of the village off to the Kardax when they come. 
 

“You know where your place is.”
 

I rolled my eyes. He is gearing for punishment, I’ve made a play plenty of times in the past that embarrassed him and I can do it again today.

“Yes, sir. But unlike the other girls, my value is in my work ethic and my ability to think for myself. So, if you don’t mind, I would like to finish these garlands before the dead walk the planet and I have to hear someone complain they aren’t hanging accordingly.”

Someone gasped nearby to confirm there were people listening in on our conversation. From the way Justin’s lips thinned and his eyes narrowed, I could already tell he was going to be glad to be rid of me. But he is the fool, because not everyone gets chosen, some get to come home after being presented. If I was lucky that would be my fate. But I wouldn’t even get to that point if my plan worked in my favor.

Justin stepped closer to me and leaned in to whisper something in my ear.

“Step out of bounds again, I will make sure you never come back.”

A shiver ran down my spine at his threat. He wouldn’t do anything to hurt me. But I wouldn’t put it past him, too. The idea made a ball of thick dread fill my stomach but I showed no sign of weakness on my face. I learned after my dad died it wasn’t safe to show emotions. It was always best to be as thick as steel.

“Go ahead and try. We will see how the elders respond to the village chief threatening a young woman.”

He gave me a smirk and retreated from my side. I didn’t know what the smirk meant but I did know if I stayed there any longer, I would start to have severe issues. It was definitely time to move on from the village and start over somewhere new. I just had to get past the Kardax guard they sent ahead to prevent any women from running or family from hiding their daughters.

My eyes watched his back until he was out of sight, then I turned back to my task at hand. Before I realized it, someone was standing next to me. I looked over my shoulder with a pine cone in one hand and a needle with thread in the other. A large, bulky form stood next to me, a form I had never seen before. The man must have been between 6’4” to 6’7” with his height. I have never seen a human so tall. Then it hit me. I was looking at the bare chest of a Kardax warrior. Hesitantly, my eyes trailed up his golden skin with bulging muscles that turned into a massive chest with scars up and down his arms. The chiseled jaw and pointed nose stood out but didn’t really attract my attention or make me gasp until I looked into his icy blue eyes. Holy shit. This guy was built and his eyes were gorgeous.

“Can I help you?” I asked hesitantly.

His lips curled under in a frown as he looked in the direction of the village leader leaving. I didn’t know why he walked up to me of all people. But his cold gaze turned back on me and I couldn’t help the slight gasp that escaped my lips. 

“Was he threatening you?” he said in a deep, rugged voice.

His voice alone could make a girl come, but I held my head high and tried not to give in that I found him attractive. He watched my eyes drift from his lips to his eyes until a small smile formed on his lips. Uhhh…right he asked me a question. I stared at him like some love struck fool and I needed to force myself to answer him. Come on, lips, move.

“No, he was just being the village leader. Normal bossiness comes with the territory for him.”

His eyebrow arched. The muscles in his eyebrow made me envy whoever spent the nights staring into those beautiful eyes. Then he spoke again and shivers ran up my spine.

“Glad you’re okay. If you need anything let me know. I’ll be watching the village with my companion for the duration of the festival.”

I looked at him confused when he pointed in the direction of the town walls. At the entrance stood another Kardax warrior with his arms crossed over his chest, watching us. My hackles rose instantly, realizing that escaping the village was going to be harder than I planned. But I could see that his friend was built similarly to him from the looks of it. I see why these girls are going bat-shit crazy over these warriors. It was a shame I couldn’t join them but my pride wouldn’t allow it. I wasn’t going to rely on anyone again. The only person I could count on was myself or my dad, and he was gone, so no one was left but myself.

“I’ll definitely come get you if I have any issues,” I said with a smile.

He nodded his head in a bow and turned to walk toward the town square where everyone gathered for the festival. I let loose a sigh and turned my attention forward. My eyes connected with the warrior across the way and I couldn’t help but freeze in his gaze. It was like I was trapped or something and couldn’t break free.

His eyes narrowed on me and my hands started to sweat. The needle started to get slippery in my hand, so I placed my things back on the table and broke my gaze from his. It felt like my chest was being ripped open and something was being torn out just from his eyes on me.

I turned and gripped the table trying to control my breathing. Why did I have this reaction to one of them? It was totally barbaric. Yes, the one I talked to seemed normal enough and almost looked human besides the whole being ginormous thing. I needed to get my head back on straight and get back in the game. I planned to run far and wide to live my own life, under my own rules, and that is still my mission.

Slowly, I turned my head to take another glance when I realized he was gone. I turned to find he was, indeed, gone from his spot and nowhere to be seen. A sigh of relief left my lips and I turned back toward the far side of the village that I called home. If seeing one got me all hot and bothered then I needed to move my plans into motion sooner than I thought.

I ran back to my cabin and pulled open my door. The inside was minimal with a family room and one bedroom off to the side. There was a small galley kitchen in the back of the building with a tiny bathroom. It wasn’t something to brag about but it’s been my home since I was born. I walked by a picture of my father from when he was first married to my mother and smiled. It always puts a smile on my lips. I snatched it up and took it into my room and placed it in my bag. Then I gathered all my belongings I could handle on my back and put them into my travel pack. 

It took me about ten minutes to gather all my stuff and supplies I would need. I stared down at the meager possessions and realized I didn’t have much of a life after Dad died. It had gotten down to where I just didn’t want to enjoy life anymore. Today that changes. I’m going out into the world to find my place and no one is going to stop me.

Grabbing my pack, I threw it over my back and walked to the back door. I cracked it open to see if anyone was around in the back toward the walls. To my luck, no one was in sight. I slid out the door and ran toward the wooden walls that protected the village from prey in the woods. Hard to believe all my life I have been trapped in these walls only to break free now—on the cusp of having my life sold away to be some wife for some beast. Not this girl, that is for sure. I threw my pack over the fence and jumped onto the dead stump, giving myself enough leverage to reach the top with my hands. I gripped the wood in my hands and lifted myself off the ground into the air and over the side.

Then I was home free, for now at least.

Chapter 2 Coming Soon...

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