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Authors: Mardi Maxwell

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BOOK: Soren's Bondmate
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"There are two Prezon warships approaching us. They'll reach us in ten micro-units."

"Acknowledged," Soren said. "Vandar, have half of your warriors cover the Venturer and the other half cover Rune and Alpha squad while they dock. As soon as they've boarded have Beta dock."

Vandar acknowledged the order with two clicks as his squad moved into position. Soren flew around the starship making sure there were no gaps in the defensive line.

As the battle continued the area around the Venturer became cluttered with debris. Pieces hit the shield causing small bursts of sparks before they bounced off and floated away. Soren continued firing on the drones as Vandar's warriors returned to the starship but his thoughts weren't on the battle. Rather they were on his mating fever. Even though he'd been drugged and confined the desperation he'd felt to find his mate had driven him into a killing rage.

He couldn't control the fever any longer and that made him extremely dangerous. His warriors had accepted the danger he posed to them and they'd protected him. They'd stood by him and had come on this journey knowing it would be his last. His death was only a cycle or two away, and he'd already written a letter to his family with a special note to his little niece, Rose. She was the closest he'd ever come to having a child of his own. He wanted her to know how much naming her had meant to him.

Rune hailed him, interrupting his thoughts. "Commander, my warriors are docked and I'm docking now."

Soren shook off his melancholy and acknowledged Rune's communication as he fired on another enemy pod. "Rolf, report."

"We have two more Prezon warships approaching," Rolf said.

"Have we received any information from the drone we sent into the wormhole?"

"No, Commander."

"Then, plot a course away from here that puts the Venturer on a course back toward Zarronia." Soren held his place at the end of the line.

"I've already done so but we'll have to go to warp drive to do it," Rolf said.

"Then do so," Soren said. Directly in front of him was the unknown wormhole they'd discovered.

The Prezon fighters had shown up just after they'd sent a probe into it. Since he didn't know where it led he didn't want to take the Venturer through it. His starship's purpose was exploration and it was made for speed and evasion not battle. They could take on one Prezon warship, maybe even two, but four was out of the question. He wouldn't risk his warriors' lives when he had a way to avoid the confrontation. Better for them to live and fight another cycle.

"Rolf, have you notified Zarronia that the Prezons are gathering in this sector?"

"Yes, Commander," Rolf said. "The Prezons have sent out four more fighters."

Soren piloted his ship toward shuttle bay one but stopped outside the entrance while he waited for the last of the starfighters to dock. "Rolf, how far out are the warships?"

"They'll be within range in two micro-units."

"How close are the fighters?"

"Twenty nano-units," Rolf said.

Soren flew his starglider several kilometers out from the Venturer and held a position between it and the approaching ships. "Rolf, get the Venturer out of here."

"Soren—old friend—," Rolf said before his voice ground to a halt.

"Rolf, may you find your true mate and live long." Soren didn't look back. Instead with a fierce war cry he engaged the first two fighters, using every skill he had to evade their weapons. He took a very brief moment to glance at the Venturer. One split nano-unit she was there and the next she was gone. He smiled then flew a loop around one of the Prezons while focusing his weapons on another. His target exploded and he looped back in a counterclockwise pattern and took out the enemy he'd just passed. With a victory cry he aimed his weapons at the third ship and fired. Before he could locate the fourth fighter his glider took a hit to the side and began tumbling in space.

The seat formed to his body, holding him secure. He tried to regain control of his ship but before he could the enemy fired again and the violence of the explosion tossed him around the cockpit. He landed hard against the control panel, hitting his head and cracking his helmet. Grunting with pain, he maneuvered his body back into the seat and looked up as he reached for the controls. His hand froze when he saw the enemy closing in for the kill.

He thought about his family. His parents, his twin brother Thorn and his bondmate Daria, and their children, Dane, Dev, and Rose. The vision of little Rose smiling at him forced his survival instincts to kick in. Without thinking he pushed the toggle that would release the escape pod from his ship even as he acknowledged it was too late. It separated just as the enemy fired again and his ship disintegrated.

The force of the explosion slammed into him and threw him toward the wormhole. He fought to stay conscious but lost the battle when a large piece of debris crashed into him. The rescue pod floated at the edge of the wormhole for a nano-unit then suddenly disappeared into it and reappeared in a new and unknown galaxy a micro-unit later.

Two planets and two moons lay directly ahead of him. The escape pod drifted toward the smaller planet, picking up speed as it entered its gravity. The pull on the hull triggered the automatic landing procedure and managed to slow its descent just before it hit the surface of a frozen lake.

Shards of ice flew into the air and sprayed out behind it as the pod skidded across the lake and finally came to rest against several large boulders.

# # #

Skye leaned against the cool wall of her habitat while she watched the familiar but dreary terrain of her sanctuary. Loneliness ate away at her soul while the need to find a mate burned through her veins increasing the beat of her heart and the rhythm of her breathes. With every cycle that passed she felt herself weakening and had to fight to keep from giving into the hopelessness that filled her. Like many Krystali enchantresses she would die young without a mate to love and sustain her. She'd never be the mother of a strong son, or a precious daughter who would carry on her line. Only her twin brother, Berit, would honor her memory but eventually she'd be forgotten. As was right, she thought, then said, "Screw that. I don't want to be forgotten. I want to live."

Catching her reflection in the krystal window she stared at the black tattoo that surrounded her left eye. The damn thing marked her as a krystal enchantress and was the reason she lived alone and isolated on Tundra. Seeing it brought back memories of the times she'd tried to remove it by scrubbing her skin until it was raw and bloody. Of course when it healed the mark had always remained.

Resigned to her destin, she breathed on the krystal window, creating a haze of fog and cursed the males who kept trying to abduct her. Especially Merykh of Crimeryn. After his third attempt her brother, Berit, had hidden her on this frozen planet while he searched for a mate for her.

"Merykh, you bastard," she muttered while she drew a crude gesture in the fog on the window. "It isn’t my fault you're a disgusting bastard."

As a young child she'd believed it would be exciting to be wanted and pursued by handsome, strong warriors but the reality was a nightmare. She hadn't known about the deep feeling of repulsion she'd have to the wrong male. With a slight shudder she wished again that she'd been born a krystal healer or even a krystal conjurer. They didn't have this much trouble finding a mate which meant they didn't die young the way she would either.

On Krystali a healer could heal common injuries or illnesses but she couldn't conjure white krystal or heal herself. A krystal conjurer could conjure white krystal as a weapon. She could also heal any wound made by white krystal and manipulate it into needed items such as shelters, clothing and food.

Skye, though, was the rarest of the rare. She could do everything a healer or conjurer could do but she could also conjure dark krystal, a substance so deadly that the smallest sliver would kill a person within micro-units. If she'd been able to find a mate she would've given him the ability to cast dark krystal. That ability alone would've made him one of the most invincible and powerful warriors in the galaxy, perhaps in the universe.

She drew a circle around the crude drawing then fed up with her pity party she stuck her tongue out at her reflection, and mumbled, "Stop being pathetic." The action drew an involuntary smile from her. With a laugh she began to turn away when a silver object falling from the sky caught her attention. Dark smoke trailed behind it as it seemed to slow down just before it hit the middle of a frozen lake, skidded across the surface and crashed into the shore. A geyser of ice flew into the air but she didn't see it settle as she was already scrambling into her outdoor wear. Black leather pants, shirt and boots covered by a black hooded cloak and gloves to protect her fingers from the freezing temperatures.

Excited, that something was happening to break the intolerable boredom, she leapt down the steps of her shelter to the lower level. With a sweep of her hand she conjured a door, hurried through it and ran as fast as she could toward the crash site. As she followed the path she thanked the gods for breaking the monotony of her existence then remembered the dangers of her isolated home and searched the area around her. Spotting a line of figures moving down the side of a distant mountain, their dark furs a sharp contrast to the snow and ice of the path they followed, she knew she wasn't the only witness to the crash.

"Farg," she mumbled as she identified a hunting party from the local tribe that she called Groaners because of the grunts and groans they made when they communicated. They were primitive and believed that by devouring their enemy they would be given his or her strength. Something that made her gag every time she thought about it. She watched them for a moment and decided she'd reach the object and have fifteen micro-units to examine it and leave before they arrived. She certainly didn't want to get trapped by them again as she had the last time she'd been out and hadn't paid attention to her surroundings.

She'd been forced to conjure a shelter around herself in front of them. They'd hung around for three cycles and poked at the shelter with their spears while they'd tried to figure out where'd she'd gone. Smiling, she remembered how each night she'd moved her shelter a few feet closer to their fire and puzzled them even more. When she'd grown weary of the game she'd snuck away while they slept. Now, they actively hunted her and she always had to be on guard.

Frowning at the memory of how everything always went wrong she ran around several large boulders then squeezed through a crevice in the rock. When she stepped out her boot slipped on a patch of ice and sent her tumbling down the path. A sharp screech of pain echoed in the valley when an inconveniently placed rock at the edge of the lake stopped her fall. Winded, she lay there for a moment then forced herself to get up. She held her bruised side while she hobbled toward the object unaware that several dead weeds were tangled in her braid. Finally reaching it, she bent over and moaned with pain while she caught her breath.

The object was about the size of a small glider but oval in shape. She made a circuit around it with the ice cracking beneath her feet. Finally, she approached the ship, touched it and jumped back. When it wobbled then settled again she laughed at herself and made a fist and tapped on it. It sounded hallow.

Heat rose from it filling the air with steam and forming a puddle of melting ice beneath it. Standing back, she chewed on the tip of a gloved finger and decided it must be laying on the door. She pushed and rocked it until it rolled over and revealed another rounded and dented surface but no door. Frustrated, knowing she was running out of time, she ran her hands over the scorched surface and found a small area that felt different. She pressed on it and with a hiss a section swung open revealing a cockpit filled with smoke. Wires hung from a smashed panel sending out a shower of sparks toward the lone occupant.

Gasping with fear, she stepped back, expecting to be attacked. When nothing happened she took a cautious step closer and looked at him and for some reason tears filled her eyes when she saw his lifeless body. "Get a grip Skye."

She waited another moment then reached out and touched him. He was huge, perhaps almost seven feet tall. He had long black hair but the sides were cut shorter revealing an intricate tattoo. She ran her finger down several of the tattooed lines then traced over the black swirls and other shapes between them before turning his face toward her. Smears of blood covered his forehead and coated dark brows that curved above closed eyes outlined with thick, straight lashes. His mouth was beautiful. The lower lip full. The upper lip sharply sculpted.

An object stuck up behind his head and was probably the cause of some of his head trauma. She gently rolled his head to the side and determined it was the handle of a beautiful but expensive warrior's sword. Sighing with regret that he'd died so brutally she turned his face toward her again. High cheekbones and a firm, stubborn looking chin led to a strong muscled neck and broad shoulders.

He was dressed in an open black vest that left his massive, muscled arms and chest bare except for the blood that covered him. Wide gold and platinum armbands with bright red gems circled his upper arms. Black leather pants covered his legs and black boots protected his feet. Even in death he was the image of what she'd dreamt a warrior should be—strong and handsome and she couldn't help but wonder if he would have made a worthy mate.

She began to lower the door and let his ship be his tomb when he shivered, startling her. With a small cry of surprise she moved closer and ran her gloved hands over him, identifying multiple broken bones and deep cuts over the parts of his body she could see. Dark red blood flowed from gashes on his chest and temple. She removed her gloves, laid her hands on his cheeks and felt his life force slipping away.

Glancing at the sky she wondered if the gods were watching. "I hope you know what you're doing. We all know this is going to get me in trouble." She didn't expect a response so didn’t waste her time waiting for one. Instead she grabbed his arms and pulled even though she knew she was hurting him. He didn't moan or pull away from her but he also didn't budge so she pulled harder and he fell toward her. She let him land against her belly before she slowly stepped back and let his weight roll the pod until the opening was closer to the ground.

BOOK: Soren's Bondmate
4.86Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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