Authors: Mardi Maxwell
Tags: #General Fiction
Soren Valanson's mating fever has reached its limits and his death is eminent. As a Zarronian warrior he's determined to die in battle. He searches the Universe for a war and finds one on the planet of Krystali.
Skye is a Krystali enchantress. She can conjure the most deadly substance in the Universe but she can't use it to defend herself. For that she needs a worthy mate.
What are the odds that two people with the same problem will meet on a small frozen planet in the middle of nowhere?
Published by Mardi Maxwell
Copyright © 2015 by Mardi Maxwell
All cover art © Copyright 2015 by Mardi Maxwell
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED: This literary work may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, including electronic or photographic reproduction, in whole or in part, without express written permission by the author.
All characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is strictly coincidental.
For centuries the peace loving inhabitants of the Xenti Galaxy passed down the tales of the fierce and relentless Zarronian warriors. According to the elders the warriors were the guardians of the galaxy but they only appeared when the Xentians were threatened. After centuries of peace, the younger Xentians had dismissed the tales as myths until the bloodthirsty Wrothians attacked and the Zarronians appeared.
The war between the nearly equally matched opponents lasted for ten annuals but ended when the Wrothian leader, Selik ad-San, discovered the Zarronians most closely guarded secret—the warriors were plagued with a mating fever and could only share it with a Zarronian female. If they didn't find a mate by age thirty-two the fever burned out of control, ending the warrior's life. Selik ad-San and his first in command Gorm ad-Jai attacked Zarronia with a virus designed to kill the females but leave the warriors alive to suffer and die alone.
Enraged and grief stricken by the deaths of their bondmates, daughters, and sisters, the Zarronians planned a final, ruthless battle. After ten cycles, and the loss of many Zarronian warriors, the Zarronians were victorious. Ever honorable, they allowed two damaged Wrothian worldships filled with children and females to escape.
The warriors returned to Zarronia believing they would soon be extinct. Eventually though their warrior instincts forced them to find a way to survive and they began searching the universe for compatible females. After eight annuals a genealogist found a diary in which his ancestor revealed he'd bonded with a Wrothian female. When he reported this to the High Council they swore him to secrecy and ordered three of their older starship commanders to find the Wrothians. The search took two annuals but eventually they were located on the planet of Zhang where they'd been forced to settle when their damaged worldships disintegrated.
The High Council immediately informed the warriors that compatible females had been found and revealed their identity. For two moon phases the warriors refused to take an enemy female as a bondmate. Finally the High Council declared that any warrior who refused to bond would be stripped of his warrior status and exiled to die alone in dishonor. Rather than lose their honor the warriors reluctantly relented even as they continued to search for other compatible races.
After many annuals more females were found on Earth but the use of ZL3, a drug created to help the warriors control their mating fever, had changed their DNA and now there were levels of mating. The first four levels depended on the female’s DNA.
At level one, a female could relieve a warrior's fever but she couldn’t bond with him or conceive. This was a female only a warrior on the verge of death would choose as fatherhood was coveted by every warrior.
A level two female could relieve a warrior's fever and carry his sons but she could not bond with the warrior. A level three female could share a warrior's fever, carry his children and bond with him but the connection was weak it was nearly non-existent. The mates could be away from each other for long periods of time and their fever could be controlled with ZL3 and meditation.
Level four females were the most coveted as they were comparable to the traditional bonding between Zarronian warriors and females. The female could take a warrior's fever, bond with him and have his children. The mates needed to be together and could only be away from each other for one to two moon phases.
Level five depended on the warrior's and the female's DNA. It occurred when a warrior with the right DNA met a level five female. This is what the scientists called a True Mating. The female triggered an intense mating response in the warrior and the bond was so intense the mates were unable to be without each other for more than two cycles. There were several dozen level five bonded couples on Zarronia.
Level six was the only ranking based solely on a warrior's DNA and it was a death sentence. There were several known level six warriors on Zarronia but no level six females had ever been found on Zhang, Earth, or anyone else.
Zarronian Time Terms:
Micro-unit: minute (80 nano-units in a micro-unit)
Unit: hour (80 micro-units in a unit)
Cycle: day (30 units in a cycle)
Moon phase: month (Forty cycles in a moon phase)
Annual: year (twelve moon phases in an annual)
Sun rising: dawn
Sun zenith: noon
Birth cycle: birthday
Moon rising: evening
Female: a woman
Kourtisan: a mistress
Male: a warrior usually, sometimes other males
Bond: the act of a warrior sharing his mating fever with a female
Bondmate: a female who has accepted a warrior's fever
Mate: a bondmates' warrior
Saber-cat: a large ferocious cat-like creature, bronze fur with bluish-green eyes
Stinkgoat: a stinky goat-like creature. It produces pungent milk and cheese
Versnake: a small colorful snake, aggressive and deadly
Wolfen: a huge wolf-like animal, black fur with purple eyes
Tor: Zarronian god
Krystali – Skye's home planet; has two continents, Crimeryn and Edyn.
Edyn – smaller continent on Krystali; home of Skye.
Crimeryn – large continent on Krystali; home of the evil warriors.
Tundra – small frozen planet that orbits Krystali.
White krystal – used as weapons or to create useful objects such as shelters.
Dark krystal – deadly weapon conjured only by a krystal enchantress.
Krystal healer – female who can heal but can't conjure krystal.
Krystal conjurer – female who can conjure white krystal and heal white krystal injuries.
Krystal enchantress – rare female healer who can conjure white and dark krystal and heal both.
Krystal warrior – the mate of a Krystal conjurer.
Dark krystal warrior – the mate of a krystal enchantress
Farg – fuck Fargen- fucking
Groaners – indigenous people on Tundra
Soren fought the hands holding him down as his arms and legs were bound with heavy restraints. Sweat poured from his body as his fever intensified and the air above him glowed with a dark blue mist. His primitive growls of rage echoed in the stark room as he attempted to regain his freedom.
Rolf Stenson and Rune Haldorson tightened the restraints and stepped away giving Doctor Burlson room to move forward and press an injection gun against Soren's neck.
"This is the highest dose of ZL3 I can give him without killing him," Doctor Burlson said. "If it doesn't bring his mating fever down then, well, he won't make it."
Rune and I will stand watch tonight," Rolf said. As first-in-command, he and Soren had discussed this very scenario and he'd agreed to take command of the Venturer if Soren succumbed to his mating fever.
"I'll stay as well," Doctor Burlson said as Soren continued to fight against the restraints and curse them until heatwaves formed above his body, increasing the temperature in the room.
Rune slammed a fist into the open palm of his other hand, paced away from the bed holding Soren then returned and stood watching him struggle against the restraints. "Tor, why'd he have to be a level six warrior?"
"He's calming down," Rolf said. "Maybe it's helping."
"It won't help enough." Doctor Burlson shook his head. "Only finding his bondmate can save him now and we all know how impossible that is at his mating level."
Rolf cursed then settled into a warrior's stance, feet apart, arms crossed over his chest. "I promised him I'd let his father know when—." He couldn't finish the sentence. He and Soren had been like brothers since they'd first met at the warrior's academy when they were ten.
"He might make it through tonight," Doctor Burlson said.
"What happens if he does?" Rolf asked.
"I wish there was something I could do but this is the third time he's lost control of his fever in the last twelve cycles and the only treatment I have is no longer working," Doctor Burlson said with a sad shake of his head.
"So we just stand back and watch him die?" Rune's face was dark with anger.
Rolf planted both palms on the end of Soren's bed, looked at his friend for a moment, then focused on Rune. "No, he wants to die in battle so we're going to find him one."
# # #
Lost in a world of fire and ice, one moment Soren felt as if his body was on fire and the next he shivered with a cold so intense he thought he'd never be warm again. He knew he was dying as the fever consumed him. For a few nano-units it cooled then the flames increased as his need to find and bond with his mate overwhelmed him. He raged against his fate as the high dosage of ZL3 burned through his blood stream. His life would end here, in space, alone and yearning for his mate.
In a dream state, he found himself lying on a soft mat of blankets. The night sky shone above him yet he knew he was enclosed inside a shelter of some kind. A warm body rested next to him. He drew in a deep breath, caught her scent, and his fever rose but this time he welcomed it as he turned his head and looked at her.
Golden blonde hair in an intricate braid shone in the light that came through the walls. Soft breasts pressed into his side and a slender arm rested on his chest. He squeezed her hand and examined her long slender fingers before placing a kiss in the center of her palm. She woke and looked at him with solemn bright teal eyes. "I need you." Her voice was soft with an unfamiliar accent. "You must find me soon."
"I'm coming, little heart. Wait for me." His dream faded along with his fever and he slept at last.
# # #
Two cycles later, Soren flew his starglider toward an enemy fighter. At the last nano-unit he adjusted his course and flew beneath it while he fired at a second approaching ship. It disintegrated and he flew through the debris field with the sound of shrapnel pinging against his shield. With another quick thought he directed his starglider to perform a loop and the ship he'd passed appeared in his sights. He focused on it and ship's weapon system followed his eye movements. A burst of light shot out and the target exploded into a ball of fire. "Yes," he shouted before piloting his ship back into the midst of the battle.
Rune chuckled then said, "Your new mind-control weapon system is fast and deadly, Soren."
"Don't get too confident," Soren said. "Were still testing it."
Rune moved in behind another enemy and fired. Off in the distance dozens of shiny objects appeared and grew in size as they rapidly moved toward the fighting.
"Rune, take Alpha squad and handle the targets coming in behind you. Vandar, move Beta squad into a defensive line around Venturer. I'll handle these last two then I'll join you."
"If this is the best they have to offer they're in trouble," Vandar said.
"Keep your guard up," Soren warned. "You know how quickly things can change."
"Tor, don't say that," Rune said as he and his warriors fired at the approaching targets, destroying several of them. "These things aren't like any ships I've ever seen before."
Soren dealt with one of the two fighters then evaded the other one as it fired on him. With a curse he flew after it. "Just stay alert." He'd barely finished speaking when Rolf hailed him.
"Commander, we've scanned the approaching objects. There are no lifeforms on them."
"Damn it, they're drone decoys. Scan the area around the Venturer, Rolf. Look for anything unusual. Blank spots. Displacements." Soren fired again then hailed Rune. "No playing around. Take the targets out then get back to the starship." He fired on another target, disabling it but not destroying it. "Rolf, report."