The Triad System
“Aki… you aren’t even trying.”
Aki looked across the room at his twin brother, Einarr. “Trying to what?”
Aki shoved back his chair and rose to his feet. “Because it doesn’t interest me.” He gazed longingly out of the window into the darkness of the strange planet he now inhabited. “I want to be outside. I want to go home.”
Behind him his brother sighed in a way that had begun to infuriate Aki greatly.
“There is no home, you know that.”
Aki swung around, his braided blond hair catching his cheek. “How do you know? We could be bewitched. The Gods could be lying to us.”
“For what purpose?” Einarr stretched out his long legs and tried to look relaxed, but Aki wasn’t fooled. “You have seen the pictures. The Earth is completely changed beyond our wildest dreams.”
“It could be a lie.”
“Again I ask you why would anyone want to lie to us? We defrosted four thousand years too late. We should be grateful that these people have welcomed us into their world and are trying to help us even when you are being so pigheaded.”
“I am not being pigheaded.” Aki glared at his twin. “But then I am not the fool who thinks he’s found his mate and wants all this to be true.”
Einarr rose slowly to his feet, his blue eyes narrowed. “Are you questioning my honor, brother?”
Aki reached forward and poked Einarr’s broad chest. “You won’t even fight with me anymore. Your female has your cock in a stranglehold.”
Einarr’s gaze went stony. “My female is thousands of miles away on a different planet.”
Aki pushed him again, making him rock back on his heels. “Is that why you are in such a foul mood?”
“At least I have a reason.” Einarr shoved him back. “You, on the other hand, are just contrary. Halfviti!”
“Kukalabbi!” With a growl Aki launched himself at his brother. To his surprise, his challenge was met and accepted, and within sec- onds they were rolling around on the floor, desks and chairs and equipment falling around them as they tried to choke and punch the other into inglorious surrender.
An alarm blared somewhere, and Aki was pulled off his brother by two of the security team that accompanied them everywhere. Einarr looked up at him, his mouth bloody.
“As I said, you are a fool, a halfwit. The longer you take to complete this task, the longer we have to stay here on this Mitan moon. I want to go to Pavlovan.”
Aki tried to shrug off Brown and Ilker, the two men who held his arms tightly behind his back. “You can get a female here.”
The sound Einarr made was almost inhuman as he struggled against the guards. “I want my female. If you do not care who or what you fuck, Aki, stay here. I swear to the Gods that I will finish the tasks assigned to me and leave you behind.” He glanced up at his guards. “You can let me go now. I will not touch him. I am done with him.”
“Release him,” Brown, the head of security spoke up.
Einarr stood, and after one last glare at Aki, walked out, slamming the door behind him.
Brown sighed as he surveyed the wrecked room. “Ross, keep an eye on Einarr and get someone here to clean up again.” He dropped his hold on Aki’s right arm. “And you’d better get a grip. Did you just call your twin a scumbag?” Brown tapped his earpiece. “That’s the closest translation I could get. What the frak was that all about?”
“My brother is a lovesick fool.”
“Your brother has completed his onworld training and is about to leave you here and go to another planet. Is that what you want?”
Aki shook off the second guard and swiped at his face. His nose appeared to be bleeding and two of his teeth felt loose. Experimentally, he cracked his jaw and winced.
“I want to go home.”
“You won’t be going anywhere if you don’t pass Reintegration 101,” Brown stated. “Our scientists would love that.”
“What do you mean?” Aki turned to survey the chief of security who wasn’t known for his sweetness of tongue or his inability to pull a punch.
“If you don’t get with the program, FREN will be suggesting you aren’t capable of dealing with your new world and need to be closely watched by our scientists. You think you’re in a cage now, mate, you wait until you see what they do to you.”
Aki kicked a chair. “This ‘work’ you expect me to do makes no sense. It does not test me. I already know who and what I am. I am a warrior.”
“You can be a warrior in the bloody Pavlovan army if you want, but you’ve still got to pass the tests.”
“Brown, you bore me.”
“Just trying to get the idea through your four-thousand-year-old thick skull.” Brown headed for the door. “There are always wars to fight, Viking, you will still be needed, but—”
“First I have to pass the stupid tests,” Aki finished for him.
“Do you want to go to the infirmary and get your jaw checked out?”
“It is fine.”
Brown sighed. “Bloody stubborn Viking idiot.”
Aki picked up one of the chairs and set it in front of the table with the white screen on it. He sat down and the screen came to life. The thought of any scientists getting near him and treating him like a worthless dog was enough to help him concentrate.
The voice in the box started speaking and for the first time, Aki sighed and paid attention.
“Do you really think he’s coming?”
Elli Slavin glanced at the tense face of her friend Frey as she watched the exit doors of the spaceport open and close on an endless stream of people.
“Of course he is.” Elli glanced over her shoulder. “Senator Ash has just arrived so I’d say it was a certainty.”
“He offered to put Einarr and Aki up in his apartment. He already has a group of telepathic human soldiers living there who came to Pavlovan with Neeve’s First Male. He thought the Vikings might feel more comfortable being with a group of men who are also learning to acclimatize to Pavlovan culture.” Frey sighed. “Gods, I’m babbling now, aren’t I? What if Einarr has forgotten me? Or regrets our bond or…”
The doors opened again and two huge males emerged, one blond the other dark. With a shriek, Frey ran across the concourse and launched herself at the dark-haired Viking who picked her up as if she weighed nothing and kissed the life out of her.
“I don’t think he’s forgotten you, Frey,” Elli murmured as the other Viking, the blond, navigated around his twin and came straight for her, a scowl on his handsome face. He wore his long hair loose around his shoulders apart from three small braids on his left temple.
She couldn’t have moved even if a wall had been about to crush her as his vivid blue gaze scanned her face.
His voice was deep and made her feel very female indeed. She stuck out her hand. “I’m Elli Slavin. We have met before.”
“I remember it well.” He took her hand and bowed over it before bringing it to his lips. “It is a pleasure, my lady.”
She wanted to giggle and flutter her eyelashes at him.
She never giggled.
Turning slightly, she gestured at Ash, who was walking toward them. “My cousin, Senator Ash, is here to welcome you to Pavlovan. You will be staying with him.”
“We have also met before. He is a powerful mind talker.”
“Yes, he is quite exceptional.” She risked a glance up at the Viking’s austere face. His cheekbones were to die for and his eyes as blue as the Pavlovan oceans…
“You have this gift as well.”
Gods if she’d thought his speaking voice was compelling, his thoughts were even more intimate.
“Pretty much everyone on Pavlovan is telepathic.”
“But not quite like you.”
“Aki Bloodaxe.” Ash bowed. “Welcome to Pavlovan. As soon as your twin stops kissing his female, we can be on our way.”
Aki scowled. “Then we had best settle in. I fear he means to kiss her all night.”
“He’ll need more privacy at some point.” Ash smiled. “Perhaps you might mention that to him.”
Aki sent Einarr the thought and was relieved to see his twin pay attention for once and come closer, one hand joined with his mate’s. Both of them were grinning like besotted fools.
Aki went to follow Ash out, and then realized Elli Slavin was saying something that sounded like a farewell.
“If you like, I’ll come and say hi once you are settled in at Ash’s. It’s been so nice to see you again, and I hope—”
He took hold of her elbow. “You are coming with me.”
“But I don’t think—”
He met her anxious brown gaze. “Please.”
“Are you sure?” She bit down on her lip and he found himself staring avidly at the small indentation her teeth had left. He wanted to lean down and lick that small groove before it disappeared, and then replace it with his own teeth, marking her as his own.
Her cheeks flushed, and he wondered how much she’d picked up of his curiously errant thought. Lifting her hand to his mouth he slowly bit down on the fleshy mound below her thumb. Her whole body quivered and her breathing hitched. Were all females on this planet so susceptible to a man’s touch, or was he the problem? He hadn’t touched a real woman for four thousand years…
He looked up to see that Einarr and Frey had reached the exit.
“Come with me, Elli Slavin.”
She sighed. “Okay.”
The vehicle Ash led them into was large and appeared to need no horses to make it work. Since being catapulted into a different time and space, Aki had seen many wonders. He tried not to think about them too much or else his longing for his home overtook him. The idea that he could never go back, never kiss his little sister or his mother, or live the life he had always assumed would be his was terrifying.
Beside him, Elli shifted in her seat, her worried gaze fastened on his face. How many of his thoughts was he inadvertently sharing with her right now? He still hadn’t learned to shield his mind very well. It hadn’t been necessary at home when only he, Einarr and a handful of their male relatives had the power of mind talking. Here, he felt other people’s thoughts beating con- stantly at him like raindrops.
“Are you all right, Aki?”
He looked down at her. “Aye. This is all a little strange still. That is all.”
“I should imagine it must be quite a shock.” She shivered. “If I’d been in your place, I think I would’ve gone mad.”
His smile was grim. “I have considered it. But Einarr was there to guide me. I am lucky to have him.”
He looked over at his twin whose mind was now so entangled with his female’s that Aki might as well not have existed.
Elli gave him a sympathetic glance. “The first few months of a newly mated pair can be a bit intense. Your brother will be more like his old self once he has gotten through this first mating phase.” “I hope so,” Aki grumbled. “He is behaving like a lovesick calf.”
Ash who was sitting opposite Aki chuckled. “I was just as bad when Esca came to my bed and even worse when we completed our triad and found Soreya.”
“You bed both of them?” Aki inquired.
“Good.” His gaze moved back to Elli who was still watching him. She was very beautiful, her hair the rich yellow-red of gold and her skin freckled. He wondered how far down her body the freckles went…
Her cheeks flushed and she swallowed hard. Were his thoughts that obvious to every female on this planet? He would have to be more careful.
“Where are we going, Ash?” Aki asked.
“To my apartment. I have a large duplex within the building that’s spread over two floors and three levels. I live in one suite with Esca and Soreya and the floor beneath that is for our guests.”
The words made no sense, but Aki persevered. “Who else is there?”
Ash sat forward, his hands clasped together between his knees, his almost white hair streaming over his shoulder. “Currently, there’s a group of ex-military telepaths from Earth.”
“My planet?” Aki still found the idea that his world was not the only one ridiculous, but he’d learned to hide it. “Are they as old as Einarr and I am?”
“No one is as old as you two. They only arrived recently on Pavlovan.” Ash hesitated. “They were in danger from their own government on Earth, so we offered them a home. Most of them intend to stay here and join the Pavlovan military.”
Aki nodded. “Good. They sound like excellent companions. I like to fight.”
“So do they. Their commander will enjoy matching his strength to yours.”
Aki instinctively flexed his biceps and caught the flash of interest from Elli. He smiled at her. “Do you like to fight, Elli?”
A sudden image rushed into his head of her naked in his arms as they fought their way through an intense fucking. His cock hardened and he sat upright, his gaze locked on hers as he realized the salacious image had come from her.