Barbarian's Prize (Ice Planet Barbarians #6)

by Ruby Dixon

What Has Gone Before

Aliens are real, and they’re aware of Earth. Several human women have been abducted by aliens referred to as ‘Little Green Men’. Some are kept in stasis pods, and some are kept in a pen inside a spaceship, all waiting for sale on an extraterrestrial black market. While the captive humans staged a breakout, the aliens had ship trouble and dumped their living cargo on the nearest inhabitable planet. It is a wintry, desolate place, dubbed Not-Hoth by the survivors.

On Not-Hoth, the human women discover that they are not the only species to be abandoned. The sa-khui, a tribe of massive, horned blue aliens, live in the icy caves. They hunt and forage and live as barbarians, descendants of a long-ago people who have learned to adapt to the harsh world. The most crucial of adaptions? That of the khui, a symbiotic life form that lives inside the host and ensures its well-being. Every creature of Not-Hoth has a khui, and those without will die within a week, sickened by the air itself. Rescued by the sa-khui, the human women take on a khui symbiont, forever leaving behind any hopes of returning to Earth.

The khui has an unusual side-effect on its host: if a compatible pairing is found, the khui will begin to vibrate a song in each host’s chest. This is called resonance, and is greatly prized by the sa-khui. Only with resonance will the sa-khui be able to propagate their species. The sa-khui, whose numbers are dwindling due to a lack of females in their tribe, are overjoyed when several males begin to resonate to human females, thus ensuring the bonding of both peoples and the life of the newly integrated tribe. A male sa-khui is fiercely devoted to his mate, and several humans are now claimed by the males, and pregnant.

The humans have been on the ice planet for over a year and a half, and most have adapted to tribal life. Almost all have taken mates; new babies are being born of human and sa-khui pairings, and the tribe stirs with life once more. Only two human women remain single.

This is where our story picks up.

Chapter One


It’s cramped and dark. Arms and legs are piled onto me and there’s an overwhelming stink of unwashed flesh in my nose. Sleep’s hard to get, but I try, because sleep’s the only escape I have.

Not today, though. A light shines on the cage and goes right to my eyes. I instinctively whimper at the flash of pain that shoots through my head.

One of the orange aliens with the rough skin points at me. He says something in his garbled language and I hear Kira suck in a breath. Oh no.

Not me. It was just a whimper. A small sound of distress. Nothing more.

Bodies peel back from me as the guard enters the cage. He grabs a handful of my hair – wild and sticking out in every direction since I haven’t brushed it in over a week – and hauls me forward. Pain shoots through my head and even though I want to be silent, a small cry breaks from my lips.

“Don’t scream,” someone whispers.

It’s too late for warnings, though. They’re just looking for someone to pick on, and they picked me. The guards haul me forward and out of the storage bay where the captives are kept. I’m dragged down a hallway and then shoved through a door. I land on my hands and knees and when I look up, there’s another guard standing there. He smiles and shows needle-sharp teeth. His smile chills me, and when he grabs a handful of my hair and yanks me to my feet, I go.

Not me. Not me. Not me. The litany repeats in my mind as he, touches his collar to loosen his clothing.

“Tiffany,” he says, and points at the nearby cot, indicating I should lie down.

Not me. Not me. Please, not me.

“Hey, Tiffany?”

Josie’s voice jerks me from my sleep. I sit up, my heart pounding. There’s a cold sweat on my skin and my hair is sticking to my face. I push it back and try to act normal. “Mm?”