When the hunter becomes the hunted, the only thing left to do is run.
Lieutenant Marcus Kildud and his men are rangers for hire. They specialize in insertion, extraction, escape and evasion. He answers an urgent request from the Planet Terrus’ Prelate, the Lord Fulsam, whose son has disappeared and presumed dead.
Their task is to find the ring the Prelate’s son wore. The promised compensation and bonus offered are enough to make this their team’s final mission.
What they meet in the forest is something none of them have ever encountered before. Marcus now faces the unimaginable. He realizes too late that sometimes, running away may be the only option left to staying alive.
- 1 To Be Read list
- 1 Read list
Heat Level: 1
Romantic Content: 2
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 36-45
Protagonist 2 Age: 26-35
Tropes: Alpha Character, Badass Hero, In Uniform, May/December
Setting: Planet Terrus
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Same Universe / Various Characters
WITH A HISS of decompressing air and a metallic groan, the ramp began to slowly
lower open. Shafts of bright, white light pierced the dimness inside the cabin. Marcus
flinched, brought his hand up and instinctively covered his eyes, then turned away
from the natural brightness. Having been cooped up in the star cruiser, even for just a
few hours, had made his eyes too used to the artificial muted light. A muffled thump
and a blast of warm, moist air made him lower his hand, and he turned to look toward
the opening. Through it he saw the color green. Marcus took a deep breath, taking in
the moist, thick air, reminding himself for the hundredth time the reasons why he and
his men were on this Goddess-forsaken planet. After he picked up his carry on, he
moved toward the exit. He did not bother to look behind him to check if his men
Marcus felt rivulets of sweat roll down between his shoulder blades and he groaned
under his breath. He already regretted having accepting the case at all before
remembering again why he had. With what they were looking to earn, they could all
retire and not have to face separation from families and loved ones for days, even
months, on end. However, reading about the planet’s oppressive heat and high
humidity index and standing in it were two different things. Stopping at the edge of
the landing platform, he looked up and around him seeing no relief from the green.
Everywhere stood massive, tall trees, thick shrubs, and even thicker ferns. He
looked down when he felt his boot slide and saw that a thin layer of moss covered the
path he stood on. Taking careful steps so he wouldn’t slip, Marcus walked over to
where three pale-skinned, red haired men, dressed in light gray robes stood watching
him and his men, eyes wide and full of fear.
The man in the middle, taller than his companions by about a foot, stepped forward.
“Lieutenant Marcus Kildud?” His deep voice sounded hesitant yet curious at the same
“Yes,” Marcus said with a sharp nod, looked down at the short man before him
shifting nervously where he stood, his head barely reached Marcus’ shoulder.
“Welcome to Terrus. My Lord Fulsam sent us to escort you to Castle Brock. He has
been ill, otherwise he would have come to meet you himself. He’s been anxiously
awaiting the arrival of you and your men since you sent confirmation you were
coming in today.”
“And you are?”
“Oh, I apologize,” the man said as his skin reddened. “I am Aldin, Lord Fulsam’s
personal secretary. The two men with me are my assistants, Fenton and Wesley. We
all work for his lordship and his family. If you and your men would come with us, we
have the transporters ready to take us back to the castle.”
“Lead the way,” Marcus said, then flashed him a toothy grin. Aldin paled at the
show of teeth, but bravely put on a smile then turned back to his two companions and
joined them. The three looked at each other silently before turning around and leading
the way along a paved path between a stand of trees.
Marcus looked at his pathfinder as the taller man walked closer beside him. In his
periphery, he saw his men move as one behind them—on silent feet for all their bulk
and load. He wasn’t surprised to have seen the fear in the secretary’s face. His group
of merry men never failed to put the fear of the Goddess into those who saw them for
the first time. Their sizes and heights, plus the tattoos and weapons they displayed out
in the open were impossible to ignore.
It didn’t take long for them to finish loading their equipment and belongings into
the three transporters, and soon they were on their way. Marcus was surprised that for
all the greenery around them, the wide road they were travelling on was paved
smooth. He observed how the road curved around growths and turned to look at
Aldin, who had a look of amusement on his face.
“When my Lord’s family settled on this planet, they didn’t wish for the
environment to suffer damage from industrialization,” he said by way of explanation.
It sounded as if Aldin had read his mind. “The first lord made it illegal for any trees or
natural habitats to be struck down to make way to roads and cities. As you’ve noticed,
there are no straight roads on Terrus. Other structures are constructed much the same
“Respect for the Goddess?” The question came from Bruga, the pathfinder. He was
a tall, lean man who Marcus considered his best and most trusted friend. He was also
the deadliest fighter in his group.
“Yes. On Terrus, we respect all of the Goddess’ creations. Of course, if there is no
other way around nature, we make sure to relocate it to a safer place.”
“Isn’t that a bit expensive?” Someone sitting at the back said. Marcus turned to
look at Carson, his weapons analyst.
“Money is irrelevant when it comes to respecting the Goddess’ creations,” Aldin
said, almost serenely. Marcus wondered how much, or how deeply, religion played a
role in the people’s culture.
Listening in on the conversation around him, Marcus knew, from stock knowledge,
that Aldin was far from exaggerating his planet’s economic wealth. Terrus was not
only rich in vegetation and the governing body exporting a large percentage of their
agricultural products to the far flung and less habitable planets in the solar system, it
was also the galaxy’s sole source of sarit.
The universally valued compound, when added to fuel, it increased its potency.
When used as an additive for medicinal purposes, it cured almost every known
physical disease. Only the Terrullians knew where it came from, or how they
produced it. However, they never spoke of their secret to anyone.
From what had been taught in schools all over the galaxy, the Terrullians would
willingly sacrifice their very lives, even whole families, to keep the knowledge safe. A
hundred years before, an attack had been unleashed on Terrus by a militant race
desperate to gain the information for their own financial gain. Not only had the
Terrullians successfully defended themselves by using their advanced armaments,
they had also withheld production of sarit.
The lack of supply caused the deaths of thousands until eventually other worlds
rose up as one and defended Terrus. The result was the merciless annihilation of the
attackers. Since then, the Terrullians had been both feared and respected throughout
the known universe. And through unspoken agreements, they were left alone.
Again, Marcus wondered why the Prelate, Lord Fulsam, needed their services.
They were nothing but rangers for hire who specialized in insertion, extraction, escape
and evasion. The briefing provided to them did not reveal anything critical that would
warrant emergency action. All the information included focused only on Terrus’
historical background and the staggering amount their team was to receive as
compensation. Once Marcus replied to the private query message, an advance
payment was immediately sent to his bank account with a promise of the balance to
be paid in full once they set foot on the planet. At the end of his assignment, Marcus
and his men had been promised that they’d receive a generous bonus. The amount
mentioned was large enough to surprise Marcus, for it had more zeroes in it than the
fingers on both of his hands.
Listening to Aldin answer his men’s questions, Marcus looked outside the
transporter’s window and an unexpected, unwelcome, sense of trepidation washed
over him. There was nothing out there but greenery and wilderness. The shadows of
the forest beyond the roads revealed nothing but mystery and unknown danger.
What had he gotten himself and his men into?
The Hunt is on. Where do I began? This story had it all, action, suspense and romance. I was literally on the edge of my seat reading this story. I recommend this book to anyone who is looking for s thrilling read. I won't say much because I don't want to spoil it for others. I am currently awaiting the next book from this author.