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Authors: Viola Grace

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BOOK: Chaos
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Zora felt like a surreal goldilocks with her two bears. The forest moved and swished around them, wind whipping the trees into a swaying chorus. She kept her hood up and her eyes on the display, tracking the water table under the surface to the spring.

Zora didn't bother trying to talk. Her early life on the prairies of Earth gave her a practicality about weather. Wind this cold would make any attempts at speech a stuttering mess.

The bears on either side of her provided a windbreak. Carser was slightly in the lead, so when he stopped, she saw him. Wayk froze as well, his hackles rising.

Balls.
She switched scanners and saw a gathering of predators. Similar to wolves, the beasts were hunting the strangers. She dropped her mittens onto their cords and pulled stunners from her belt. Her fingers were rapidly getting icy, but if it kept her alive, she could warm them later.

Carser
whuffed
and Wayk turned to face their attackers. Zora watched the rear and checked her charges.

The beasts emerged from the dark of the forest and Zora had to concur with the assessments. They looked like wolves. Scrawny wolves.

She fought her talent as it tried to run a diagnostic on the animals. She knew that they were thin due to lack of food, but at this point, she didn't really care if it was environmental or because their prey had gotten smarter.

She could analyze it later. Right now, she was worried about surviving the assessment phase. The bears behind her were snarling and roaring, but only half of the wolves yelped and ran. The tougher ones stayed to attack.

Zora shot a few with her stunner, but one managed to grab her arm. A huge furry paw shattered its skull a second after she cried out.

Wayk roared at the few wolves that were left on her side and they ran. Pain was radiating in waves and she fell to her knees.

Zora raised her face to the sky and instead of the clear blue with occasional clouds, a roiling dark was covering the skyline. She knew those clouds. This was not going to be good.

"We have to get to shelter. A storm is coming. Can we make it to the shuttle in an hour?" She sheepishly realized that she hadn't been paying attention to how far they had travelled.

Blood splashed her white suit where the teeth had ripped through the fabric and into the flesh of her left arm. It was freezing rapidly, which would slow the bleeding, but that much blood wasn't good.

Carser nudged her to her feet.

Wayk shoved her up onto the general's back.

She weakly gripped his fur with her left hand and clung for her life with her right. Her legs straddled him in an untidy sprawl, but he began to run in a rocking gait and she stopped worrying about how she looked and focussed on hanging on.

The world around her suddenly got darker and the wind ceased pushing her off Carser's back. Hands pulled her off instead.

"Come on, Zora, let go."

Wayk's voice was determined and he pried her hands free of Carser's fur. The moment she was loose, Carser shifted into a dimly lit collection of hard muscle and flesh. She wished she had more inclination to watch the men move around her without their clothes, but the pulse in her arm was distracting.

"There are emergency supplies in my kit. Flares, medical that kind of thing." She bit her lip as Carser slid the pack off her back and over her mangled arm. "I am so sorry I got bit. Really."

Wayk gave her a serious look. "It wasn't your fault, now relax, I have to expose the bite."

She smiled weakly. "Good luck. I am wearing three layers."

He smiled back. "I am up to the challenge."

With deft movements, Wayk removed her outer suit, then her thermal barrier and finally her ship suit. She was naked from the waist up and no one even cared.

She shivered in the cold air, her nipples formed tight points and her skin roughened with the temperature. "I don't suppose a fire is on the to-do list? I don't have whatever insulating powers you Oefric seem to."

Wayk smiled. "Carser is working on it. Those canine teeth are exceptionally sharp, aren't they?"

She took a deep breath as he turned her arm to examine it in the light of the white curtain of snow. "Excellent. Unfortunately, they are an important part of the balanced ecosystem. Mind you, the Oefric engage in hunts, right?"

"We do."

"Then you will be replacing them as alpha predators, kill 'em all." She winced as he examined a flap of skin that had torn loose.

"I will need to wash your arm before I start working on it. I can scent water further down the cave. Come with me and we will get you cleaned up before I put you back together." He kept up polite chatter as he lifted her in his arms and carried her into the darkness.

"Are you sure there is water?" She cradled her arm against her chest and tried not to concentrate on the pain.

"Positive. If there is one thing our shifted senses can tell us, it is where to eat and where to drink. This water smells sweet and wholesome."

"Wonderful. I am thirsty already." She smiled and enjoyed the feel of her naked back against his arm. The pain in her arm was a dull throbbing in the back of her mind, but she worked very hard at pushing it aside with a flickering of lust.

It didn't work, but it was fun to try.

Chapter Three

Phosphorescence lit the interior of the cave, a slow dawn in the darkness. Carser had a fire going behind them and it threw the sparkling water into a glittering frenzy.

"It's very pretty." Zora was shaking with cold.

"Shush. You need care. Hold still." Wayk lowered her to the floor and supported her arm as he dipped it in the water.

She watched the crimson of her blood swirl away into the depths and her skin became visible, it was slowly cleansed in the lightly lapping waves. The water felt warm on her flesh and for water that clear, it was unusual. "Where is my scanner?"

"Back with your pack. Why?" Wayk lifted her arm and nodded to himself.

Carser brought the med kit with him and stroked her hair, the black curls springing under his palm. "How are you, Zora?"

"Fine, a little weak. Why aren't there any animal dens in this cave?" Something was wrong, her senses were on alert and her talent was trying to fight her for control.

"I don't know. It is completely clean though, a safe place to stay."

Zora knew that Carser was trying to distract her and considering that she was looking directly at his semi-hard shaft, it was working. Being eye-to-cock with a man was not something she was used to, but when he reached to hold her still, it brushed against her ribs and kept her mind off the cauterization that Wayk was engaging in.

She kept her gaze locked with Carser's while Wayk sealed her flesh and when he wrapped it lightly, she blinked and blushed. "Pardon the staring contest."

She wanted to drop her gaze, but it really wasn't safe for her peace of mind.

"We will dress if you would like. Or we can shift into our other forms to block the wind. Whatever you prefer."

"I will leave you to do what you will. This will be your planet, so begin as you mean to go on." She smiled and simply closed her eyes before turning her head toward the pool. Something about the pool made her talent surge to the fore. It was bizarre. She was reacting as if it was a living being, part of the ecosystem and not a body of water.

Zora started to shiver and Wayk packed up the kit while Carser lifted her, bringing her back toward the entrance. A cheerful fire with her survival lamp gave bright illumination. Her bedroll was out and near the fire, her pillow and stuffed teddy bear arranged for her.

"Ah, so you saw him."

"Your toy? Yes. He is very charming. We had a lovely conversation." Carser's voice was serious.

"I was only allowed to bring two kilos of items from home, so my friends gave him to me on my last day on Earth. He was the lightest bear they could find for the biggest size." She was blushing. There was no way to get into her bedroll with her outer layers on and she wasn't sure that she could manage to strip them off so she would fit.

"He reminds me of Wayk, but with different-coloured eyes." Carser grinned and set her down on the makeshift bed. He immediately started removing her boots and she tried to pull her foot back.

"I can do that."

"Not without reopening your wound. Humour us and let us tend you so that we can resume the assignment as quickly as possible. Modesty is fine, but expedience will see you covered in very little time."

She agreed with his logic. "Please help me get into bed."

"I thought you would never ask." He chuckled and Wayk re-joined them, stowing the medical kit on one side of their little shelter.

"Don't tease the Terran. It should be a rule." She snorted as Wayk unsealed her layers and Carser pulled them off.

Naked and blushing from head to toe, she scuttled under her covers until her breasts were hidden from view. "Thank you for your help."

They were both looking at her in surprise, sharing looks of amazement before taking seats on the floor.

"Why do you think the wolves were after us?"

"They are starving. Something has changed the migratory path of their normal prey and they were after anything large and remotely edible." She cuddled her teddy and held him against her neck. She was shivering, even with her proximity to the fire.

Wayk went to her pack and rooted around until he grabbed her ration packs. "You need to eat. Carser, go and get some water."

He pressed the rations to a rock next to the fire and he lifted her out of her bedding. "You can be embarrassed later. You need body contact."

She didn't fight him. "I am aware that I am hypothermic. I just didn't know how to ask for more. You two have already done so much for me today. I have been a royal pain in the ass."

Her teeth chattered as he draped her over his lap. His cock rose under her thighs and prodded her with heat. She cuddled her cold cheek against his shoulder and tried to ignore the other sources of heat that were flaring to life in her body.

Carser raised an eyebrow at her new position and the exposure of her body, but other than a tightening of the skin across his cheekbones and the rise of his erection, he didn't say a thing.

He held the water container out for her and she sipped cautiously. Again, a peculiar warmth ran through her to her toes. Each sip heated her. "Is that just water?"

"Yes. I borrowed your scanner and there is nothing peculiar in it, perfectly clear from melted mountaintops." He held the bottle until she had her fill and then placed his lips precisely where she had while he drank.

There was some significance to the action, Wayk stiffened under her. He took the bottle in turn and repeated Carser's action. The two men glared at each other across her and she broke the stalemate. "Are the rations warm yet?"

A visible shiver had Carser lunging for the ration pack and unsealing it with a practiced flick of his hand. He handed her eating prongs retrieved from her pack and she sat and shivered her way through a hot meal.

She sipped at the water when Carser passed it to her and the men fought a glaring battle for who would take the next sip every time she finished. It was almost a relief when they finished it.

"Dinner is done, now you need some rest. Carser, get the emergency blanket from the kit. She needs both of us right now."

Zora did a personal assessment. She didn't need a bathroom, which was peculiar in itself. That much water should have demanded an exit. She allowed herself to be pinned between two aroused males on her bedding and they covered themselves with the emergency blanket to turn their gathering into a small oven, with Zora as the potato getting roasted.

Sighing, she let her fatigue take over and allowed herself to drift off.

Hours passed or it might have been days, but Zora felt her soul lift from her body. A light was calling her back to the pool. She stepped away from the silver blanket and her companions and followed the call.

Out-of-body experiences were not unknown to her. Usually, it was her talent dragging her out to investigate something that had skipped her attention the first time. This time, it was different.

The water glowed with a white light, so Zora held to her instincts and walked right in.

Who would drink the water of life?

Surrounded by white sparkling water, she had one deliberate thought as an immortal mind pressed on her own.
Oh hell.

Chapter Four

This is not hell but the light everlasting. Who are you that you do not know this?

She looked around her and a peculiar temple took shape. A glowing figure sat on a throne at the peak of the temple, so Zora began to climb the steps toward it while she kept up the conversation.
I am Zora Berger, Biological Assessment Officer for the Alliance, of the Protectorate of Terra. Who are you?

Shisala the eternal, the everlasting, the light within. Why are you here on my world?

Wonderful, it was sentient and the Alliance scans had missed it.
The Oefric wish to begin a colony on your surface.

Why did they not ask me?
The tone was plaintive.

They tried. You did not answer.

I was sleeping. Your blood woke me, so I thought it was best that I speak to you. The men who cared for you also drank from my waters. What will they do with eternity?

Zora couldn't make herself understand.
What?

The waters. They change you, make you one of mine and all of my chosen live as long as I wish it.

Can't you wish for them to have normal lifespans for their kind?

I could, but then you would be lonely when your mates departed.

What?

You are not a very bright thing, despite the power I feel within you. I will take you as my avatar. I have not had one in a very long time. How long has it been since I restructured my surface?

Zora racked her brain for the information.
Ten thousand years. Your world changed shape ten thousand years ago.

BOOK: Chaos
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