Zoe is five feet, six inches of green-eyed, red-haired militant activist. A deeply ingrained need to help those who can't help themselves -- human and otherwise -- motivates her every move. She snuck into the Mailon research facility to investigate rumors of experiments being conducted on a rare and highly intelligent species of sentient mammals. Now she finds herself in need of help to rescue one very sick little battle rat.
Greyson is six and a half feet of ruggedly muscular cyborg with a penchant for violence. He loves to fight, and he fights to win. What he hates is being sent to the Mailon research facility on a petty errand. When he catches a glimpse of a former lover flitting around the facility like an impossibly sexy cat burglar, he is intrigued. What is the saucy little wench up to, and why is she stalking him through the corridors of the alien laboratory?
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Her Cyborg Champion (Terras Five 4)
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2018 Anne Kane
"I'm sure you will find our new process fascinating." Greyson tried not to let the ingratiating tone of the scientist's voice get under his skin. How had he managed to land himself an assignment where he had to tolerate this ass-kissing lump of alien-bred flesh?
He was a warrior, a fighter. His place was with the Terras Five Outer Rim Defense Fleet, not wandering down the halls of some obscure research facility with a fake smile pasted on his face. When he returned to Terras Five he'd make damn sure his name never came up for one of these assignments again.
"Here we are." The ass-kisser stopped in front of a gray metal door and motioned Greyson to precede him into the room.
A split second before he moved, a flash of color in the very edge of his peripheral vision caused Greyson to turn to the left, but whatever it was had disappeared before he could see it more clearly.
He walked through the doorway, replaying the movement on his neural net, slowing it to a tenth of the speed. The replay showed a female, most likely human, gliding silently across the open space between one corridor and the next, her attention on some object beyond his vision.
Now that was interesting. There was an intruder in the facility. Certainly didn't do anything to impress him with their security. He replayed the snippet again, studying the female.
She didn't look like the usual type of intruder, a burly thug intent on stealing assets or secrets and able to fight their way out of the facility if necessary. She was small and pale skinned with a mass of shining red hair flowing down her back. The angle of view made it impossible to see her face. The vid clip was short, and the female moved with a silent speed and grace that reminded him of a dancer. Something about her stirred his male instincts.
What in the stars would such a creature be doing skulking around a Mailon research facility?
"We've created a process that allows us to improve the response speed that the synapses use to transfer messages to the muscle tissue, and I'm sure your government would be happy to have exclusive access to the new technology." The smile on the Mailon's face could only be described as oily.
Greyson repressed a shudder. As a cyborg, he'd long ago learned to ignore emotional response but a gut reaction was different. In battle situations a gut reaction could mean the difference between survival and destruction. His gut was telling him not to trust the man in front of him.
Then again, this was hardly a battle situation, unless you considered it a battle to keep his attention focused on this creature's inane chatter.
Smile pasted firmly in place, he silently retrieved a still image of the intruder, studying it on his neural overlay while the Mailon continued to prattle on about the supposed improvements his cohorts had made to neural net technology. Even from behind, the female looked familiar. He deftly cross-referenced the picture with his database relay. Within a nanosecond he had his answer.
Zoe Calhoun, a sentient activist. She made the newsfeeds on a regular basis with her crusade to set galaxy-wide laws banning the sale or ownership of sentient beings. The latest story had her raving about the ape-like population of a planet that had been found to be rich in several high value minerals. The apes were pressed into service to mine the ore, under conditions that could be best described as slave-like. Activists such as Zoe were horrified, and had made such a media circus out of the practice that the mine owners were promising to revise their operating procedures and treat the primates as employees.
She was also the only female who'd ever enticed him to break the unspoken rules of the cyborg race and have unprotected, potentially fertile sex outside of the cyborg breeding protocols. His only excuse was that he'd been young and stupid and much too idealistic.
He'd actually fancied himself in a state known on the human worlds as love at first sight. Sheer stupidity.
They'd spent two sweaty, magical, exhausting days exploring each other's every nuance, every quirk, every secret guilty pleasure on a vacation planet just inside the outer rim of the galaxy. They'd had sex in every position, on every possible surface, in every possible place on that planet. It had been the most educational and most character-forming weekend of his life. On the third morning, he'd awoke to find himself alone, a note on the pillow all that was left of the supposed love of his life.
Got to get back to work. It's been fun.
He'd felt so incredibly stupid. He'd meant absolutely nothing to her beyond a warm body to pleasure her for a day or two. He'd returned to Terras Five and taken his assigned place in the military. For the last decade he'd done his duty with a dedicated ferociousness that had seen him rise steadily through the ranks until he now captained his own cruiser. The downside, an occasional assignment such as this one, served to remind him just how much he enjoyed a good firefight.
He hadn't seen Zoe Calhoun since she'd deserted him a decade ago, other than random snippets on the galactic news network.
So what was she doing sneaking around the Mailon research facility? So far, he'd seen no signs of gorillas or monkeys, and he doubted she was there to further her love of science.
It wasn't that he was under any illusions about Zoe, or that he had any residual feelings for the human female. He just loved a good puzzle...