Out-take from 'Scales of Empire'
This is an earlier version of Scales. Interesting notes here:

1. Jian's last name is Oni. I changed it to Choumali to honour a fantastic African photographer.

2. It's in third person point of view, and the POV character is Richard. The story originally swapped between Jian's and Richard's POV. I decided to pull it in to first person POV when it was about a quarter done (during the 'big quarter-done roundup and sort out' that happens with all my books) because I feel it's wayyy more intimate. A casualty of this more intimate-n..ess is the intimacy.

3. He's not a cyborg. This was added later, when I was lying awake at night after watching Justice League, and how Cyborg has so much potential and One Really Big Issue that's never, ever mentioned for any cyborg.

There's a more graphic sex scene around here somewhere, that doesn't fade out at the juicy bits, I need to find it. What's really interesting here is that you see what Richard sees, when Shiumo changes.



Richard had asked Marque to expand his quarters, and he now had a small sitting room with a couch and a screen linked to the Earth network as well as a bedroom and bathroom. The blind was open, giving an impressive view of the nebula and tinging the light inside his quarters slightly blue. He sat on the couch, nervously waiting for Shiumo, and jumped when the door chimed.

He leapt to his feet and went to the door, then hesitated because he’d never had to open it himself in the past; Marque had always done it for him. 

Say “open”, Shiumo said.

‘Open,’ Richard said, and the opening appeared in the white wall. Shiumo stood on the other side, and hesitated as if she was shy.

Richard stepped back. ‘Enter, please, Princess.’

‘You humans keep calling me that, but I’m not really that…’ Shiumo searched for the word. ‘Royal.’

‘You are to me, lady,’ Richard said, and guided her to the couch. ‘What did you want to talk to me about?’

Shiumo hopped up onto the couch and curled her tail around her legs. ‘Marque, put us on private mode, please,’ she said. ‘The restart word is “Marque”.’

‘Understood, Shiumo,’ Marque said. ‘Richard, if you need me, just say my name. Otherwise I'm not listening to, or viewing anything you say or do. Marque out.’ 

‘So what did you want to talk to me about?’ Richard said, unsure of where to begin.

Shiumo looked away from him, then back. ‘You know why I travel.’

‘You seek love.’

Shiumo put her claw on Richard’s hand, and he took it. He held it in both of his. 

‘I think I’ve found it,’ she said, gazing into his eyes, her voice breathless.

‘There are many kinds of love, Princess,’ Richard said, terrified that this conversation would escape him and go in the wrong direction. ‘What sort of love do you think you’ve found?’

‘The sort that makes me want to stay with you forever,’ she said. She rubbed the side of her face on the back of his hand. ‘You are wonderful, Richard.’

‘I think you’re wonderful too,’ he said. He brushed his hand over the side of her head and she made a throaty sound that pulled at his heart. He surrendered to the urge to touch her, and ran his hand down her neck and over her body. Her scales didn’t overlap; they fitted neatly together, and were warm and silky smooth. 

She collapsed sideways on the couch, making soft squeaks of pleasure.

‘You’re petting me,’ she said. ‘Like an animal.’ She put her claw on his hand to stop him and gazed up into his eyes. ‘But I want you to love me like you love a human woman. As an equal, a partner.’

‘In what way, love you?’ he said, still not sure that he understood her meaning.

Her claw went to his crotch and she delicately stroked him in a way that made her meaning absolutely clear. ‘I want you without your clothes. I want you screaming my name.’

‘I wish I could do more for you, lady, I see you as an equal and a wonderful companion,’ he said. ‘But we’re not physically compatible.’

‘If we were compatible, would you physically love me?’ she said, her eyes full of yearning.

‘In a second.’

‘Even though it is not my nature to limit myself to a single partner? Could you accept that I would love others while I love you?’

He pulled back for a moment, and she released his hand. ‘Shit. That ruined it. Sorry, Richard, but dragons aren’t monogamous. I’d love to fuck the hell out of you but I can’t commit to just one man.’

He chuckled sadly at her change in tone. The romantic moment was absolutely gone. ‘We can’t do it anyway,’ he said. He waved one hand over her. ‘As I said, we’re not physically compatible.’

‘Remember when I docked my ship with yours?’

‘Your ship is pan-connective, yes.’ Richard eyed her. ‘I don’t think you are, Shiumo.’

‘What if I was?’

‘You’re not.’

‘Let’s say for the sake of the hypothetical,’ she said. ‘If we could share physical pleasure – let’s not mince words, if we could have sexual relations – would you do it?’

‘As I said, in a second.’ He shook his head with wonder. ‘I can’t believe I just said that.’

‘Would you still do it if I cannot limit myself to one partner?’

‘You’re not even the same species as me. Just being able to do the act would be surprising enough.’

‘I think I love you, Richard.’ She lowered her voice. ‘How do you feel about me?’

He put his hands on either side of her head. ‘I love you, dragon princess.’

She bunted his forehead with hers. She ran her front feet over his torso, carefully keeping her long claws away from his skin. ‘I love the way you feel. It’s all I think about, wanting to feel…’ She unbuttoned his uniform shirt. ‘All of you.’

He took her claws to stop her. ‘Shiumo, we’re not physically compatible. You have sharp claws and I don’t have scales. You’ll probably hurt me accidentally.’

‘Oh, yeah,’ she said, and hopped down off the couch. He stood to show her out. Even though they couldn’t do anything physical, they still loved each other and that was enough for him. 

‘Can I stay with you forever?’ he said.

‘I will never leave you,’ she said. ‘Always.’

Shiumo rose onto her hind legs and towered over him. Her joints clicked and rotated, and she was in a two-legged configuration, three metres tall, that looked surprisingly normal. Then she changed into a beautiful – human – woman. Naked and lovely. She had dark brown skin, the same colour as Richard’s, and black straight shining hair down to her knees. Her lush, sensuous mouth curved into a sweet smile and her large silver eyes had dark lashes that went forever. She was full-figured, with round generous belly and broad hips. 

She bent towards him, her breasts jiggling with the movement, and smiled. The silvery gem was still present on her forehead, and she had red scales on her temples, visible between the silken hair.

‘I will never leave you, my love,’ she said, and her voice was the same.

‘Is that an illusion?’ he said, trying to control his reaction. He wanted to reach out and touch her, to see if that glowing skin felt as good as it looked.

‘Yes it is.’ She took his shoulder with one hand and gazed into his eyes. ‘I look human, and feel human, but I am still a dragon. It is an illusion.’

‘I don’t believe it,’ he said, breathless. He stood and put one hand tentatively on her arm; she really did feel one hundred per cent human. Her breasts were level with his eyes and he looked up into her face. 

‘We’re compatible like this,’ she said softly. ‘We can share everything. Do you want to?’ 

‘Yes,’ he said.

‘Even though I may have other lovers?’

‘Yes,’ he breathed, and she moved closer and covered his mouth with her own. She felt human – soft, warm lips, an exploring tongue, and a sweet taste of tea and honey. She pulled him gently down to sit on the couch as she kissed him, and her hands explored him, running over his arms and back.

He hesitated, unsure, and she took his hands and put them around her. He stroked her back and her skin was cool and smooth and wonderful.

Her hands slid down over his butt, and then worked around to the front of his pants and undid them. She pushed him onto his back as she removed his clothes, and he was helpless gazing in her eyes.

‘Are you sure that you want this?’ she said.

He lay for a long moment, feeling her surround him with warmth and love. He tried to tell himself she was a red-scaled reptile, but the magnificent woman with the dusky skin enveloped him in a need he hadn’t felt in a very long time.

‘Yes,’ he said, put his hand behind her head to twine his fingers through her hair, and pulled her in to kiss her hard.