Venturers, p.1
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       Venturers, p.1
 

         Part #4 of Hotbloods series by Bella Forrest
Venturers


  Table of Contents

  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Chapter Thirteen

  Chapter Fourteen

  Chapter Fifteen

  Chapter Sixteen

  Chapter Seventeen

  Chapter Eighteen

  Chapter Nineteen

  Chapter Twenty

  Chapter Twenty-One

  Chapter Twenty-Two

  Chapter Twenty-Three

  Chapter Twenty-Four

  Chapter Twenty-Five

  Chapter Twenty-Six

  Chapter Twenty-Seven

  Chapter Twenty-Eight

  Chapter Twenty-Nine

  Chapter Thirty

  Chapter Thirty-One

  Chapter Thirty-Two

  Chapter Thirty-Three

  Chapter Thirty-Four

  Chapter Thirty-Five

  Chapter Thirty-Six

  Hotbloods 4: Venturers

  Bella Forrest

  Contents

  Also by Bella Forrest

  Problems reading?

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Chapter 29

  Chapter 30

  Chapter 31

  Chapter 32

  Chapter 33

  Chapter 34

  Chapter 35

  Chapter 36

  Read more by Bella Forrest

  Also by Bella Forrest

  HOTBLOODS

  Hotbloods (Book 1)

  Coldbloods (Book 2)

  Renegades (Book 3)

  Venturers (Book 4)

  THE GIRL WHO DARED TO THINK

  The Girl Who Dared to Think (Book 1)

  The Girl Who Dared to Stand (Book 2)

  The Girl Who Dared to Descend (Book 3)

  The Girl Who Dared to Rise (Book 4)

  The Girl Who Dared to Lead (Book 5)

  The Girl Who Dared to Endure (Book 6)

  THE GENDER GAME

  (Completed series)

  The Gender Game (Book 1)

  The Gender Secret (Book 2)

  The Gender Lie (Book 3)

  The Gender War (Book 4)

  The Gender Fall (Book 5)

  The Gender Plan (Book 6)

  The Gender End (Book 7)

  A SHADE OF VAMPIRE SERIES

  Series 1: Derek & Sofia’s story

  A Shade of Vampire (Book 1)

  A Shade of Blood (Book 2)

  A Castle of Sand (Book 3)

  A Shadow of Light (Book 4)

  A Blaze of Sun (Book 5)

  A Gate of Night (Book 6)

  A Break of Day (Book 7)

  Series 2: Rose & Caleb’s story

  A Shade of Novak (Book 8)

  A Bond of Blood (Book 9)

  A Spell of Time (Book 10)

  A Chase of Prey (Book 11)

  A Shade of Doubt (Book 12)

  A Turn of Tides (Book 13)

  A Dawn of Strength (Book 14)

  A Fall of Secrets (Book 15)

  An End of Night (Book 16)

  Series 3: The Shade continues with a new hero…

  A Wind of Change (Book 17)

  A Trail of Echoes (Book 18)

  A Soldier of Shadows (Book 19)

  A Hero of Realms (Book 20)

  A Vial of Life (Book 21)

  A Fork of Paths (Book 22)

  A Flight of Souls (Book 23)

  A Bridge of Stars (Book 24)

  Series 4: A Clan of Novaks

  A Clan of Novaks (Book 25)

  A World of New (Book 26)

  A Web of Lies (Book 27)

  A Touch of Truth (Book 28)

  An Hour of Need (Book 29)

  A Game of Risk (Book 30)

  A Twist of Fates (Book 31)

  A Day of Glory (Book 32)

  Series 5: A Dawn of Guardians

  A Dawn of Guardians (Book 33)

  A Sword of Chance (Book 34)

  A Race of Trials (Book 35)

  A King of Shadow (Book 36)

  An Empire of Stones (Book 37)

  A Power of Old (Book 38)

  A Rip of Realms (Book 39)

  A Throne of Fire (Book 40)

  A Tide of War (Book 41)

  Series 6: A Gift of Three

  A Gift of Three (Book 42)

  A House of Mysteries (Book 43)

  A Tangle of Hearts (Book 44)

  A Meet of Tribes (Book 45)

  A Ride of Peril (Book 46)

  A Passage of Threats (Book 47)

  A Tip of Balance (Book 48)

  A Shield of Glass (Book 49)

  A Clash of Storms (Book 50)

  Series 7: A Call of Vampires

  A Call of Vampires (Book 51)

  A Valley of Darkness (Book 52)

  A Hunt of Fiends (Book 53)

  A Den of Tricks (Book 54)

  A City of Lies (Book 55)

  A League of Exiles (Book 56)

  A Charge of Allies (Book 57)

  A Snare of Vengeance (Book 58)

  A SHADE OF DRAGON TRILOGY

  A Shade of Dragon 1

  A Shade of Dragon 2

  A Shade of Dragon 3

  A SHADE OF KIEV TRILOGY

  A Shade of Kiev 1

  A Shade of Kiev 2

  A Shade of Kiev 3

  THE SECRET OF SPELLSHADOW MANOR

  (Completed series)

  The Secret of Spellshadow Manor (Book 1)

  The Breaker (Book 2)

  The Chain (Book 3)

  The Keep (Book 4)

  The Test (Book 5)

  The Spell (Book 6)

  BEAUTIFUL MONSTER DUOLOGY

  Beautiful Monster 1

  Beautiful Monster 2

  DETECTIVE ERIN BOND (Adult thriller/mystery)

  Lights, Camera, GONE

  Write, Edit, KILL

  For an updated list of Bella’s books, please visit her website: www.bellaforrest.net

  Join Bella’s VIP email list and she’ll send you an email reminder as soon as her next book is out. Tap here to sign up: www.morebellaforrest.com

  Copyright © 2018 by Bella Forrest

  All rights reserved.

  No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

  Problems reading?

  If you experience any problems reading this ebook—such as pages skipping, etc.—it’s a Kindle glitch. Just delete the ebook from your device and re-download it, and the problem should solve itself. If not, contact Amazon’s customer support; they’re usually very helpful and efficient.

  Chapter One

  My hands were covered in blood. It oozed between my fingers, snaking down my wrists and pooling across the floor of the
small room. No matter how hard I scrubbed, I couldn’t get it to budge, the viscous liquid turning everything a sickening shade of scarlet.

  I flinched as something bit into my skin, and looked down to see a tiny shard of glass sticking out. Cursing under my breath, I pulled the fragment out and tossed it into the trash, listening for the clink of it as it fell. I reached for yet another damp cloth, desperate to get everything cleaned up as quickly as possible. The sooner I was done, the better. I’d already worked my way through a considerable stack of cloths, most now piled high in a laundry bag to my right, which looked like the remnants of a murder scene.

  The stench was overwhelming, filling my nostrils with an acrid, metallic tang. Had it been normal, human blood, it would have been horrifying, but at least I would have known where it came from. This was something different entirely. Several shades of red, a patch of blue, and a funny streak of black flowed together to make one nauseating puddle of grossness. I didn’t want to touch it, let alone clean it up, but here I was, stuck in the stuffy confines of the ship’s storeroom, crouched down in a pool of alien blood, wishing every kind of pain imaginable on the woman who had caused this mess.

  Pandora had dropped a tray of vials earlier, and though she claimed it was an accident, I suspected foul play. Naturally, she hadn’t bothered to clean the aftermath up herself, but had demanded I get down on my knees and do it instead. No doubt she thought herself too important to do any grunt work. That was certainly the way she was acting, strutting about the ship like a peacock, keeping us all busy to the point of exhaustion while she messed around with a few dials and controls.

  We’d been on the Vanquish for a week already, heading for Zai, and it felt like the longest week of my life. Around every corner, there was something else Pandora wanted us to do. She never gave any of us a moment to ourselves. Each morning, there was an enormous list to plow through, but we knew there would only be more jobs if we ever reached the end of it. Not that we ever did.

  I understood why she was doing it, but that only served to make me more annoyed. Pandora was keeping all five of us—Navan, Bashrik, Angie, Lauren, and myself—as busy as possible, to prevent us from congregating in secret or stealing a moment to discuss plans with one another. She wasn’t an idiot; she had to know we had other reasons for wanting to be away from Vysanthe, and she was making sure we didn’t get a single second to put those reasons into action.

  After all, we’d been shipped off in such a hurry, the five of us had barely had the chance to speak with one another about what we might do when we reached the Fed outpost near Zai. Queen Brisha had demanded we leave the day after my stunt at the new alchemy lab, perhaps fearing another manic attack involving an explosives belt and her beloved generators. It wasn’t ideal, since it meant we had to miss out on the mission to Queen Gianne’s underground hangar to destroy her new fleet, but there was nothing we could do about that. Navan had tried to persuade her to let us complete that mission first, but Brisha wasn’t having any of it. With guards flanking us, we’d been frog-marched from our quarters down to the waiting Vanquish.

  And now, we were far away from that world, piercing the eternity of space, headed for Zai. Much to our irritation, we’d been forced to tell Pandora about the deep-space tech in the underground hangar, knowing her rebel resources might be our best bet at keeping it secret. With surprising solemnity, she had promised she would get Orion to see to it—whatever that meant. Even so, I worried what might happen if Brisha discovered the technology and the lies we’d told before Orion could do anything about it.

  It was funny, the way my mind settled on certain things while I was in the middle of some menial task Pandora had set. In solitude, scrubbing for hours, it was hard not to dwell on fears and errors.

  Still, at least I wasn’t in the engine room polishing the thousands of pipes, big and miniscule, that crisscrossed all over the thrumming chamber, running in labyrinthine tracks across the ceilings and walls, and even under the floor. Navan and Bashrik had been sentenced to that particular duty today, and I knew they’d come back at the next mealtime shouting at the tops of their voices, their hearing muffled by the roar of the engines. The Vanquish was not a sleek, state-of-the art machine like the Asterope, with silky smooth, purring engines—it was a military beast, built for might and power, not deep-space speed.

  Sometimes, Navan and I would pass in the corridor on the way to our next tasks, and I would tap the spot just above my heart, where my climpet still flashed, the light showing my love for him was still as strong as ever. He would smile and tap his, or lift his shirt to show me, if he was feeling particularly defiant to Pandora’s surveillance. I usually preferred the latter, though I wasn’t all that keen on Pandora looking in, getting a cheap thrill out of it. Besides, knowing her, she’d probably think we were communicating in some peculiar Morse code, though she hadn’t said anything about it just yet.

  Drawing my mind away from Navan, I thought of Lauren, who was in the supply closet down the hallway making an inventory of every little thing the ship had, while Angie was stuck in the laundry room cleaning every scrap of material for the dozenth time. I could already visualize her emerging from the humidity of the laundry room, her already-curly hair frizzed up into an unruly blond mass, her face deeply unimpressed. The inventory would go missing at the end of the day, meaning someone would have to do it again tomorrow, but we’d grown used to that annoyance. Pandora saw to it that every task needed repeating, purely to keep us away from one another. “The devil makes work for idle hands,” and all that.

  I know what I’d like to do with my idle hands, I thought bitterly, wondering how it would feel to smack Pandora hard across the face. Delightful, I imagined.

  She just would not leave us alone, to the point where she’d taken to sleeping in the same room as us. Not only that, but she was monitoring our every move with recording devices that were dotted all over the ship. Wherever I walked, the devices moved to follow me, their camera lenses glinting like eyes, surveying every corner, every walkway, every room. One was watching me right now, at the far end of the store cupboard, peering down over my shoulder. I thought of Pandora sitting in her control room, chuckling to herself as she watched the camera feeds, and felt my hands tighten around the damp, blood-soaked cloths. She really was insufferable.

  Just then, the alarm on my wristband beeped, telling me it was almost three o’clock—not that time had much purpose or meaning out in space, where there was no sunlight or moonlight, only the endless expanse of stars stretching through the darkness. Even so, it felt nice to have something routine, to keep my grasp on earthly, normal things.

  I hurled the last of the sodden cloths into the laundry bag, knowing Angie would hate me for dropping off so many, threw it over my shoulder, and headed out of the store cupboard. A few unsightly streaks of crimson marked the ground, but they would dry. Besides, if Pandora didn’t like it, she’d just get me to do it all over again.

  Keeping my head down, I walked briskly down the hallway toward the observation deck, leaving the sack outside the laundry room on my way. I rapped on the door to let Angie know it was there, but I didn’t stay to see her irate face. It was almost my turn to check for any updates on the Note, and I was determined not to be late because of Pandora’s spillage.

  I had just reached the main space of the vessel when a jolt vibrated through the ship. With the gravity drives enabled, there was no graceful floating, just the hard impact of being weighted to the ground, as though we were on land. Stumbling to one side, I knocked into the wall, grasping for a handhold to keep me upright as a second shudder rippled through the vessel, shaking it violently. Still gripping the side of the wall, I peered into the main space, trying to see what was going on. There were no windows in the main chamber of the Vanquish, but the cockpit was on the other side of it, the door wide open, revealing Pandora in the captain’s chair, her hands darting over the control panel, struggling to steer the ship.

  I turned as the sound o
f erratic footsteps echoed in the passageway behind me. Navan, Bashrik, Angie, and Lauren were all running toward me, swaying from side to side with the jarring movements of the ship.

  “What’s going on?” Navan asked as we moved into the main space and headed for the cockpit.

  “We’re passing through a field of metal debris. It came out of nowhere!” Pandora yelled, her fingertips moving so fast they were almost a blur. “Bashrik, take the second set of controls and help me navigate! Lauren, Angie, secure any loose items in the cockpit. The last thing we need is something crashing down and hitting one of us while we’re trying to steer. Riley, Navan, man the force guns—we need to push this debris away from the ship before it does too much damage!” she barked, her eyes never leaving the screen in front of her, where objects kept popping up, flashing red when they got too close.

  “I don’t have any training with weaponry like this. I’m used to two-man fighting vessels, not giant military gunships!” I replied anxiously, while the others hurried to their posts. Only Navan hung back, waiting for me.

  “Just figure it out, Riley! We don’t have time for your pathetic insecurities!” Pandora bellowed back, her eyes narrowing as she took us past a particularly aggressive block of compressed metal.

  With my cheeks flushing angrily, I turned and took off through the main space of the ship, with Navan in hot pursuit. We were headed for the weapons control section on the floor beneath the one we were currently running across. Turning down the corridor, we sprinted to the end, where a stairwell disappeared into the metal ground. With our booted feet clanging on the winding, steel steps, we reached the bottom of the ship, sprinting in the direction of the gun-pods, the vessel still jolting back and forth, knocking us off balance. Well, knocking me off balance. Navan seemed to figure out how to run in a straight line, despite the jarring movements.

 
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