The Barbarian Prince

By: Michelle M. Pillow

Dragon Lords: Book One



Dedication:

To my mother.





Chapter One



Wanted: Galaxy Brides Corporation seeking 46 fertile, able-bodied Earth females of early childbearing years and A5+ health status for marriage to strong, healthy Qurilixian males at their annual Breeding Festival. Possibility of royal attendance. Must be eager bed-partners, hard workers. Virginity a plus. Apply with A5 health documents, travel papers, and IQ screen to: Galaxy Brides, Phantom Level 6, X Quadrant, Earthbase 5792461.

The idea had been simple. Uncover illegal virgin trading practices by Galaxy Brides. For years it had been rumored that Galaxy Brides used outlawed medic units to restore women’s virginity. Virgins meant more trade with the numerous barbaric, male-populated, humanoid planets eager for fresh, young Earth brides. If the story broke, it would be huge. It was just the sort of thing to make a star reporter’s career. It was just the thing to bring down evil breeding corporations that sold women to the highest bidder.

Morrigan Blake was just such a reporter--or so she thought. However, the medic units where such procedures took place were nearly impossible to find since they looked like any other medic unit. It would take a series of diagnostic tests to reveal the chip sequencing necessary for virginity replacement. She would just have to get the women to talk to her, which hadn’t been easy either. The brides were being compensated well for their participation.

All right, thought Morrigan wryly, as she stared absently at her bare feet in the pedicure basin. Breeding corporations aren’t exactly evil and virginity replacement isn’t illegal in all quadrants.

The small metallic hands of the beauty droid worked frantically at her toes, as another pulled her dark hair into a traditional Qurilixian upsweep. Curls were left to hang down her back in long, thick waves. The droid had used a hair extender to get her normally short locks to grow. The weight was heavy on her neck and hard to get used to.

Morrigan was in the spaceship’s expansive beauty parlor with the rest of the prospective brides getting ready for the official docking later that evening. They had spent the last month being pampered and primped for tonight. Looking down at her legs, Morrigan gave a half smile. If nothing else, the trip had given her a lot of free benefits--permanent hair removal, a body enhancing lift, and time to contemplate the perfect color for her toenails.

Galaxy Red number one or Galaxy Red number two? Okay, she was definitely getting bored.

According to her editor, she was to do a soft, romantic piece on the four Qurilixian Princes and their possible attendance at the festival. It had been sixty years since royalty attended a festival in search of a bride, and women on earth were always eager to devour details of far off royal romances and intrigue.

The last piece she did on the Lophibian royal wedding had boosted newspaper chip sales nearly forty percent and the Lophibian were a slime-dwelling species covered in scales. She had spent four months in the swamplands covered in bluish-green goo. Though the tinting effect it had on her hair had been lovely, Morrigan would not relive that trip for the world.

This was definitely a better assignment. If she could uncover a scandal and interview at least one of the four Princes, she could get two stories from one trip. Not to mention, she would be in for a huge promotion and pay raise. Plus, it did help that the men were rumored to be healthy, virile specimens and would photograph particularly well. Cute men sold chips.

It wouldn’t be easy. There were no known pictures of the men on file and they were notorious for not giving interviews, especially about their private festivals. Oh, if she could pull this off! Maybe then she could get that vacation back to her own apartment she so badly deserved. She wondered if she remembered where exactly her apartment was.

"What about you, Rigan? Have you finished your Qurilixian etiquette uploads?" asked a nearby woman from her beauty seat. Her voice was soft and polite, matching her kind blue eyes. Her light brown hair whirled around her head in a frenzy caused by six robot hands. She was very careful not to move.

Morrigan turned at the sound of her name and gave Nadja a light smile. No one on the ship knew who she really was. They all thought her to be another excited bride in search of virile, warrior males Qurilixen was rumored to produce. To be chosen was an honor, or so the other women claimed. Morrigan’s thoughts, on the other hand, went to a meat market, and they were the prime cut.

"Didn’t you know?" laughed Gena next to Nadja. Her red hair was finished and her beauty droid was placing the customary short veil over the curly auburn locks. "Rigan finished her Qurilixian uploads first. It would seem she is most eager to please her new husband."

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