So this was a Siren. Captain Jeff Holst studied the latest opponent in his government's game of intergalactic domination. The intelligence reports had indicated the incursion into this sector might have come from Teles. This woman's appearance--the skin-hugging uniform, the long plait of thick, brown hair tied in leather thongs, the elaborate ornamentation around her eyes--confirmed her identity. A Siren commander, likely to prove as warlike as she was beautiful.
The Siren turned from the huge portal she'd been gazing out, trying to pretend she hadn't noticed his arrival. She squared her shoulders. A calculated military posture, but one that only served to show off ample breasts under the snug fabric of her uniform.
"And you are?" she demanded.
"You know who I am."
She walked to the desk and made a show of punching up some information on a console sitting there. "Wing Captain Jeffrey Holst of the Alliance High Command."
"At your service."
Her eyebrow arched. The movement made the pattern around her eye dance. Feathers or leaves in jeweled black made her threatening and tempting all at once. Some men might not take her seriously because of her stature, barely clearing his shoulder. But more than one Alliance captain had forfeited his rank by underestimating a Siren's cunning. He wouldn't. The stakes were too high.
"Greetings from the Mothers of Teles," she said. "We watched your ship approach. What is it you want?"
"Iridium. This moon is loaded with it."
"My crew and I will sell you some if you can meet our price."
That figured. Most governments wouldn't find it unreasonable to pay well for an element crucial to water purification systems. Unfortunately, Jeff didn't report to most governments. Alliance High Command had issued orders for Jeff to get the iridium. They hadn't authorized him to pay for it.
"You don't understand," Jeff said. "The Alliance owns this moon."
"No, you don't understand," the Siren answered. "My government doesn't recognize your claim."
"Well, isn't that too damned bad?" he said. "Because my ship has enough firepower to blast this place into shards."
"That wouldn't get you any iridium, would it?"
Damn, why did he have to play these games? Pulverizing this godforsaken moon wouldn't get the Alliance any iridium. But Jeff had far more deadly methods that would work, if he had the stomach for them. He didn't. There had to be another way to get the iridium.
And he might just have one. The commander's home planet, Teles, took its name from a creature in ancient Earth stories who lured sailors to their doom with her song. The matriarchy in charge of Teles had a twisted sense of humor about settling disagreements. They'd go and squat on some piece of valuable interstellar real estate and then make opponents answer a Challenge to get it back.
If he could get her to issue a Challenge, he could beat her at it and save a whole lot of lives. Trouble was, you never knew what kind of tournament you faced when you encountered a Siren.
"Why don't you think up some kind of sport so I can win it and get this over with?" Jeff said.
"A Challenge. You know our customs."
"Not hand-to-hand, please," he said. "I hate hitting women."
"How very admirable of you, especially given your size."
"That's me, all right. Admirable," he said. At six-two, he wasn't exactly a giant, but someone as small as she was might not see things that way. "Name your competition."
"Sexual intercourse. You've heard of it?"
Well, shit. "Lady, you're out of your mind."
"Not at all. We'll do sexual combat. The victor wins this moon."
He stood there, staring at her like an idiot. Unfortunately no more than the suggestion of a few rounds of sexual combat, as she put it, was enough to get the attention of his dick and effectively turn his mind into mush. She knew what was going on in his pants, too, damn her. She looked very pointedly at the front of his uniform--at the hard-on already swelling there--and her smile grew broader. In another minute, she'd be licking her lips. Those lips held quite enough appeal on their own. He didn't need to imagine them on his body, sucking on his cock while her tongue circled the head.
Damn. He'd been in space too long. Whatever kind of carnal game she had planned, he'd probably end up surrendering the moment she touched him.
"You have so little interest in my Challenge?" she said after a moment. "I think I should be hurt."
Jeff studied her. She didn't look hurt. In fact, her expression bordered on smug. "Lack of interest isn't a problem."
"I'm deciding whether I should put up with your game at all."
"You will," she said.
"You sound pretty sure of yourself."
"The rules of the Challenge will be this." She walked to the desk and sat on the edge. "Successive rounds of play. One each day-period until one of us has won four out of seven."
He crossed his arms over his chest. "And how do I win a round?"
"You sound pretty sure of yourself."
He shrugged and kept looking at her.
"Either of us wins by bringing the other to orgasm," she answered. "You climax first, you lose."
"I see." The game sounded straightforward, but with a Siren nothing was as it seemed. They never engaged in competition they didn't stand an excellent chance of winning. Their martial artists could rain kicks and blows so fast you could hardly see them. Their games-masters practiced eight hours a day until they were unbeatable. And they trained their young women in sex with every bit as much devotion as they gave to battle and games. If Jeff accepted her Challenge, he'd probably get the fucking of his life. Could he really beat her at that?
He wouldn't let her see any doubt, though, just crossed his arms over his chest and stared at her. "Anything else?"
"We'll alternate setting the rules for each session. I'll make up the first game, and you'll have to do everything as I direct you. Then it'll be your turn."
"That simple, huh?"
She gave him a predatory look, as if she hadn't eaten for a week but she was going to eat him now. "I imagine it'll get quite complicated, don't you?"
"Depends." Even if she'd had no training in sexual games--which she most likely did--she'd stacked the odds in her favor. Most men, especially insensitive ones, came pretty quickly. Women had more orgasms, but it generally took more time to make them come. Luckily, he'd learned a lover's sensitivity a long time ago, and in the meantime, he'd discovered a few tricks to bring a woman to climax quickly. And often.
Still, with the way he was feeling right this minute--as if he could come in his pants--he couldn't know for sure how well he'd perform. Besides, how did he know she'd react the same way a human woman would? Beating her face to a pulp might be easier, after all, than resisting her seduction.
"What if I refuse this Challenge?" he asked.
"Then you get no iridium."
Oh, he'd get his iridium, all right. One way or another. Unfortunately, her way was the only one that didn't curdle his guts to imagine. "When do we start?"
"When the smaller of the two suns rises over that horizon," she said, with an incline of her head toward the viewing portal. "I'll have everything ready."
"Sunrise it is," he answered.
She smiled, not altogether pleasantly. "Sleep well, captain."