Her company is about to go galactic!
Lily’s main priority is to steer her family’s import/export company toward altruistic pursuits. That is, until her Nana starts talking about doing yoga with a little lizard person from outer space. Lily’s new goal is to help her Nana see through her delusions. But then, the alien in question actually shows up in the green-scaled flesh, dragging along a doctor that Lily would love to have examine her.
As field medic for the Coalition soldiers stationed at the Earth base in Florida, Rin is pretty non-essential. His job is to smile and distract people while med-tech takes care of whatever issue they’re having. So why is a Vegan—the creators of that technology—coming to him for help?
Throw in some desperate Antareans wanting to start a trade agreement with Lily, and an attack by dozens of fanged, furred Earth-monsters called “cats”, and Rin’s going to need some of that med-tech for himself. Or maybe he’ll just let Lily tend to his wounds Earth-style…
Export Duty contains a sneak peek at Pack, book one of The Blades of Janus. Buy Export Duty and start reading today!
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(THE DEPARTMENT OF HOMEWORLD SECURITY, Book Nine)
Copyright © 2019 Cassandra Chandler
All rights reserved
Rin tried to keep his focus on his mission, despite the myriad distractions all around him. The beautiful Earthling staring up at him wasn’t making it easy.
She had golden hair that was held up in a messy ponytail. Her skin was tanned from the sun and her eyes were a stunning blue. She wore a pale pink T-shirt with a V neck and cut-off denim shorts. Her legs were long, with curves that made her look soft and…
He cleared his throat and glanced at the house. “You know, I bet it’s cooler inside.”
“What?” She blinked a few times, then seemed to come to her senses. “Oh, right. Of course.”
She dropped his hand and stepped back, wiping her palms on the back of her shorts. Perspiration was beading on her chest. He watched a drop trickle down between her breasts.
Rin needed an objective. Something to harness his thoughts.
He remembered Cyan tucking a small satchel into the seat between them in the car before they left. She hadn’t been able to grab it earlier.
“Hold on a second.” He trotted to the still-open driver’s side door, then reached in and picked up the bag. A small cylinder fell from it. When he picked it up, it made a rattling sound.
He turned it over in his hands, walking back toward Lily after kicking the door to the car shut. The cylinder had strange drawings on it that vaguely resembled the creature that Cyan had saved. “Freddie.”
“I wonder what this is,” he mumbled to himself, shaking the cylinder to make more of the rattling.
Lily was standing near the house, and when she heard the sound, she turned toward him, her eyes wide.
“Don’t shake that!” she yelled.
Rin froze. Why the hell shouldn’t he shake the cylinder? It couldn’t be some sort of bomb, could it? From Lily’s reaction, he wasn’t sure.
“Oh, crap,” Lily said.
He didn’t know what was upsetting her until the first of the creatures came shooting out of the house, making horrible yowling noises. It was followed by a dozen more. They bolted right for him.
Nana had told him that Lily wouldn’t bite, but what about these screaming beasts?
He turned and ran.
Only then did he realize that Cyan’s bag was filled with the cylinders.
The rattling noise intensified with his movement, but he didn’t dare slow down.
“Don’t run!” Lily let out an exasperated sound.
More of the furred beasts appeared from the foliage surrounding them—from under the vehicles and from the back of the house. Climbing wasn’t an option for escape. He’d seen how agile Freddie was when climbing the tree.
“How many of these things are there?” he yelled, dodging a couple of brown and black striped creatures. They swiped at his legs as he passed, revealing curved, needle-sharp claws. “Holy shit! What are these?”
“Drop the cans and run,” Lily said.
“You just told me not to run!”
No matter what she said, Rin wasn’t about to stop. Not with these things chasing him.
“Drop the cans and then run!”
A gray-furred beast leapt on him, digging its claws into his leg and using them to climb up his body.
“Shit!” he yelled.
Pain stung its way along his nerves as he spun in circles, trying to dislodge it. Another latched onto him, joining the first in its climb, and adding to Rin’s agony.
If he tripped and fell, with so many of them in pursuit… They would eat him alive.
The thought was enough to keep him moving, even with the beasts attached to his leg. And his back. Damn, they could climb quickly! Their claws tore at his clothing, digging into his flesh.
“Rin, stop,” Lily yelled.
“There is no fucking way I’m stopping.”
One of her instructions finally registered, and he chucked the cylinder he was holding as far away as he could. Half a dozen of the razor-clawed things ran after it. A dozen more kept chasing him, no matter how hard he tried to dodge. Another leapt and managed to latch on to this cargo shorts, its claws scoring searing lines down his thigh and calf.
He wanted to kick them or swat them away, but Cyan… Shit, Cyan liked these things. He couldn’t hurt them, even if they seemed determined to hurt him.
“Drop the bag,” Lily yelled.
Rin had forgotten he was holding it. He dropped it, then bolted away from the house. He wouldn’t lead these monsters toward the others.
Something appeared in his path. Something green. No, someone green. Cyan.
“Stop,” Cyan said.
He skidded to a halt, sand spraying up from his boots as his feet dug furrows into the ground. It was either that, or risk trampling Cyan.
The thing on his back jumped off as soon as he stopped. Cyan stepped forward and gently plucked off one of the wretched skeelbats still clinging to his legs, whispering soft words to it as she did. Someone else was detaching the last one. Lily.
“I’m so sorry,” Lily said. “They go crazy for those treats. Nana has them trained to come when she shakes the cans, but she normally has plates ready for them so they head right for the food. Most of them started out as feral strays with no one to care for them. They don’t have the best manners toward people.”
Rin was shaking from adrenaline and pain. He glanced down to see lines of red crisscrossing his legs. The wounds looked shallow for the most part, but there were dozens of them.
“What are those little monsters?” he said.
“They are not monsters.” Cyan snorted an indignant breath from her nostrils, setting the thing on the ground gently. “They are indigenous life forms who have evolved to be companion creatures.”
“In what fucked up world are these companion creatures?” Rin said.
“Companion creatures?” Lily said. “We just call them ‘pets’.”
“Why?” Rin looked genuinely confused.
“I don’t know,” she said. “Because we pet them?”
“These specific life forms are called ‘cats’.” Cyan ducked her head, and said, “And I am sorry they hurt you.”