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The Fin by Marteeka Karland and Shara Azod

The Fin

Badland Savage, Book 1
by Marteeka Karland and Shara Azod

Changeling Pres

eBook BIN: 06142-01972

The time had come for Que, King of the Fin, Raf, Right Hand of the King, and Kor, Master of the Guard, to find a queen. Not from the corrupt lands ruled by humans striving for a second chance to ruin the Earth for once and for all. Their queen has to be pure of heart and as courageous as any warrior. Like the Rebels, the humans who reject the lies of their own kind to carve out a new life in lands rife with danger.

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Chapter One

“He is going to be pissed.”
Kor didn’t answer Raf as they made their way toward the throne room. There was nothing he could say. They had failed, but Que, the King of the FinFolk, would already know that. Thanks to those damnable seeing pools inside the royal chamber, their king had likely seen the whole debacle. They should have been more careful; or better yet, they should have never attempted to take the woman from those creatures the humans created, the Warriors. Under normal circumstances, the Fin were stronger, faster, smarter than the unevolved ancient throwback humans who had crawled out of their hidey-holes under the earth after thousands of years. But the Warriors… well, they were a different story.
In the past, the Fin had been able to capture some women from the settlements of humans and Warriors. These days it was becoming increasingly harder. Raiding the shores of the lands controlled by the WCGA was no longer an option. The Fin raids had to go deeper and deeper inland, which was dangerous for them.
While they all had homes and lived part time out of the water, the longer they were on dry land away from the seas and oceans, the weaker they became. It wasn’t clear how long they could stay out of water; no Fin had tested the theory they could survive for indefinite periods of time away from the seas. The call of the waves was too strong. After a week on dry land, the urge to return to wetlands drove them nearly insane.
Through the clear walls of the passageway they could see men of the Fin darting to and fro. Some seemed to have a destination in mind, but most swam without anywhere in particular to go. The Fin loved water — needed it, craved it. Whether in their dolphin or human form they captured fish, treasure hunted, and played deep under the surface for hours at a time. However, they all kept homes on the land. Their island was hidden from most and offered complete privacy where they kept the secrets of their race. There were rivers and water tunnels that allowed them access to the seas at any time. The castle where the king resided was mostly above the water. Unlike most of the homes the Fin kept, the king’s castle had chambers and passages under the sea. Even the rooms above the surface held pools that led straight into the ocean.
Raf and Kor swam through one such passageway, which led into the castle from the portal pools. This particular pool separated them from the savage world beyond their island. Raf noticed a few women swimming along with some of the Fin. Humans all. Most of the creatures in the Badlands who managed to produce female offspring were not biologically compatible with the Fin. For example, the Anzu of the skies would never be happy grounded close to the sea. Humans seemed to be the only species capable of adapting and living happily in their world, and even they had had to undergo subtle changes. Thankfully, that seemed to happen naturally.
Raf gritted his teeth. They were going to die out, slowly. Many other species already had. If they didn’t manage to “persuade” more women to come to their kingdom, they would simply cease to exist.
Kor stopped suddenly just in front of the wide, double door that led to the king’s chambers. “We must impress upon him the need to venture out farther, where the human rejects hide.”
The statement surprised Raf. While Raf ranted on a fairly regular basis, Kor rarely said a word. He didn’t question orders given, but when he spoke, Raf and Que listened. “I know he wants our queen to be of the highest breed, but the humans outside the cities are hardy. They might have been rejected by their own people at one time, but they’ve survived — thrived, even.”
“You know he’s not going to settle for anything less than the very best he can find. And I don’t blame him. Our mate must be strong, worthy of the title of Queen, or the Fin will never accept her. Hell, I wouldn’t accept her. I seriously doubt a reject is what we need.”
“I’m telling you, Raf, I’ve seen the humans near the sea. They are hard-working, standing tall and defending their own when the soldiers come to take their women back to the city. They always manage to protect a few, and they live on. These are the type of people we need to mate with. They are not the created Warriors, but they are warrior-like nonetheless.”
The rest of the journey was up a long flight of stairs to the king’s private receiving chamber. The guards outside the door bowed and opened the door silently, closing it again once they’d entered. The king’s residence was high above the surface of the island, a place few but Kor and Raf ever ventured into.
As they entered the great chamber where Que waited, both fell silent. Their input wouldn’t do them any good, anyway. Que would have his way no matter their opinion. It wasn’t that he didn’t listen to them or didn’t value their opinions; he simply made his own decisions. The king decreed; they obeyed because he was king and because, in all the years they’d known each other, they’d never once beat him in a fight. Fair or otherwise. Que could — and frequently did — kick their asses.
The chamber was completely silent. Nothing moved except them, their footfalls echoing heavily in the silence. In front of the massive, floor-to-ceiling window that took up the entire west side of the room, Que stood overlooking the island city below. A king surveying his land. Though he stood straight and tall, Raf could see the disappointment in the set of his shoulders. Well, that, and the fact that he didn’t welcome them as he normally would have.
“We will set out at first light. Be well rested.” Que didn’t turn around. Didn’t look at them. In some ways, that was worse than his open displeasure. He’d simply given an order.
They didn’t have to ask where they were going. Both Raf and Kor knew the king would now lead the party to find a mate. Not for the first time in dealing with Que, Raf was reminded of an old human proverb — If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.
It prickled at Raf’s pride to admit it, but he and Kor had failed. Grandly. Thankfully, they hadn’t started a war with the Warriors. At least that was something. Given the current population problem, a war was the last thing the Fin needed. Not to mention no one was quite sure what these genetically altered human hybrids were capable of. They had certainly beaten the Fin in hand-to-hand combat. That was quite a feat.
Both Kor and Raf saluted, hands in fists over their hearts, and left the room. Que would come to them later. He always did. No matter how grave the circumstances or how pissed he was at them, Que always came to them and welcomed them back into his embrace. The mantle of responsibility and duty weighed heavily on the king. Raf had always seen it as part of his duty to ease that burden in any way he could. Unless he missed his guess, the king would need more than soothing words and companionship this night.
* * *
Que, King of the Fin, stood overlooking the island kingdom of Atla. From the great window in his private chambers, he could meditate and put his actions into perspective. Everything he did had an impact on these people. His people.
Sending his two closest advisors and friends out to do what he knew deep in his heart they couldn’t accomplish had not been wise. Sometimes Fate, or the universe, or whatever, allowed members of the royal line a glimpse of either past, present, or future in the royal reflecting pools, which were actually passageways out to the ocean should he feel the need to escape. The queen who would bind himself, Kor, and Raf together was indeed a member of the group of renegade humans their government called Rebels. Que just hadn’t wanted to believe it. Call it arrogance on his part, but he truly believed only a human female carrying the DNA of a Warrior could give him and his people the one thing they all so desperately needed — female young.
Que’s own mother had been one of the many dying breeds that had evolved after the Great War, and she had been unable to bear more than one child. Her people had eventually disappeared, a victim of a world that had grown increasingly male, and no one knew why.
All across the earth, many species suffered from the lack of females. The Asteriosians were going extinct, with maybe one woman for every ten men. It was simply too much, and as a result, very few chose to co-mate; it was just too hard on the females. He didn’t want that for his people. Too many were becoming antisocial, swimming off by themselves for weeks at a time. It would rip their society apart.
Pride was not a thing Que could afford any longer. He must do what was right, not follow some dream of his own making.
“You knew we would not bring back a suitable mate.” Kor had probably known from the beginning it was an impossible request. He’d only done as his king had instructed. He and Raf always seemed to know when Que was grasping for something he couldn’t have. Why deny it?
“I did.” It was a difficult admission, but Kor deserved the truth.
It was so hard not to lean back against the wall of hard muscle as Kor moved behind him, pressing himself against Que’s back. The hard outline of Kor’s cock made Que’s own cock jump in anticipation. Fights did that to his Master of the Royal Guard. Aggression seemed to be the ultimate aphrodisiac. From what Que had seen in the pools, he and Raf had battled the Warriors fiercely before being forced to retreat. What would that mean for the fisherwoman who would soon belong to them?
“Does having a Warrior’s woman mean that much to you?” Kor moved in closer, pressing his hard cock against the cleft of Que’s ass.
The Fin rarely wore clothing. They needed to be able to immerse themselves in water at will, and clothing was simply a nuisance. There was nothing between the two of them but opportunity. Que pressed back, swallowing a moan as Kor’s large hand rose to caress Que’s chest. His own cock stood straight up, firm and ready.
“Where is Raf?” Que refused to reach down to stroke himself; the anticipation was too sweet.
“Here.” The answer came from the far side of the room, where Que’s bedchamber was located.
Enough talk; soon they would head out and capture their mate. Right now, Que needed to blow off steam and help the two most important people in the world to him unwind from their arduous journey. Turning suddenly, he stood nose-to-nose with the towering soldier.
“You will show me how sorry you are your mission failed.” Although the words were harsh, the husky overtones made the king’s intention clear. Besides, deep down Que knew it was he who had failed Kor and Raf, not the other way around.
Kor’s shaft bobbed up and down, brushing against Que’s equally eager cock. Grasping the soldier’s long, turquoise locks, Que yanked Kor’s head back, leaning in until their lips were almost touching. “Show me you will not fail me again.”
He didn’t kiss Kor; it wasn’t what the other man needed. He let the statement hang there before turning abruptly to stride to his chamber, certain the other two would follow.
He wasn’t disappointed. Kor and Raf did indeed follow, but not as they normally might, as servants of the king. They might be master of the guard and right hand to the king, but they were still his subjects and beneath him in the eyes of most. Que didn’t see it that way.
The two men caught him quickly, Kor bolting the door to the great chamber while Raf led him to the bed. Que was content to let them lead this. They needed it as badly as he did. He allowed Raf to push him back on the bed, sliding his body along Que’s just like Que liked it. He loved to feel Raf’s smooth skin along his. Kor’s body was sprinkled liberally with hair along his chest, arms, and legs and created its own glorious sensations, but Que needed the silken glide just now.
Raf found Que’s lips with his own, darting his tongue in and out of Que’s mouth. If he lived forever, Que would never get enough of the taste of Raf. The masculine spice that seemed to surround the man seeped into Que’s very soul to heal something fractured inside him.
As Raf deepened the kiss, Kor slid his hands up Que’s legs to find his cock. Que groaned, tangling his fingers in Raf’s hair. His other hand slid to Kor’s head, and he urged the other man to take his aching shaft into his mouth.
Moist heat engulfed him, Kor taking him to the root. Que surged upward, driving himself deep and hitting the back of Kor’s throat. The sounds of their groaning and moaning filled the vast chamber. Que added his own throaty cries unashamedly.
With one last lick at Que’s lips, Raf joined Kor at his cock and the two of them proceeded to give Que more pleasure than he could remember having in a very long while.
He looked down at the two men pleasuring him. Their lips moved over his shaft lovingly with long and sure strokes. Some of the tension in him eased. No matter what happened, he’d always have this. These men were his home as much as the island his people shared. As king, he had to try to provide for his people. As a man, all he had to do was make sure the ones he loved most were happy. Right now, in this moment, they were happy.
Que took a shuddering breath, his eyes burning, throat raw. These men meant so much to him. His failure to send them to the woman he knew was meant for the three of them was a betrayal. He knew he showed weakness now, which he’d normally never do. But this was Raf and Kor. If he couldn’t be himself with them, he was forever lost, cocooned in the mantle of leadership until he smothered.
“Tell us,” Raf whispered, his lips feather light on Que’s cock. “Whatever it is will only eat you up inside until you do.”
“I know where to find our queen. I just didn’t want to believe it.”
“On the fringe? In the colonies by the sea rejected by humanity?”
Que’s eyes snapped open, and he was sure Kor saw the pain in his eyes. “You know, then.”
“I suspected. I’m drawn there. Every time you send us looking in the other direction, my instincts tell me to go to the sea. I’ve seen women there who are strong and fearless, doing what it takes to feed their families. Their numbers are few enough, but they are hardy and intelligent. I can think of no other more worthy to be queen of the Fin.”
Raf took Que deep then, sucking and pulling hard. The sensation combined with the shock of Kor’s revelation was too much. Que’s balls tightened and his shaft thickened, his orgasm imminent. Raf seemed eager for his seed, pulling even more strongly as Que’s cock swelled. In a burst of stars and spasms, Que came, spurting jet after jet of semen into Raf’s waiting mouth. The other man swallowed, gulping every shot, not letting a drop escape.
Neither Raf nor Kor made a move to relieve themselves, but lay down next to Que, stroking his skin in a soothing manner. “You need –” Que started.
“Nothing,” Kor whispered. “This is for you. We’ll take our pleasure later. The weight of your responsibilities is heavy. You’ve been looking out for your people, thinking a peasant couldn’t possibly be strong enough to rule by your side.” As usual, his friends knew his needs better than he did.
“Trust in your mate, Que,” Raf murmured. “You wouldn’t be guided to her by the pools if she weren’t up to the task.”
“I hope you’re right.” Que sighed. “Because I don’t see another choice. If she’s not strong enough to face the sea, our people will have lost their last hope.”

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