Cyborg Stalker Knight and his four brothers in arms gathered in the woods where they’d left their sky cycles. They’d just finished their mission to help Ranger Captain Savage rescue his wife from an Eastern overlord. It was the most excitement they’d had since they’d returned to Earth a few months before.
Darken Wolf reached his sky-cycle first, and Stalker couldn’t help overhearing the conversation he was having with his wife.
“Don’t worry, Gina. I’m not going to land. It’s just a flyover.”
“Hey, Darken,” said Stalker. “Want some company? We don’t have anything pressing. I wouldn’t mind killing a few more goons.”
“Hear that, baby? I’ve got back up.”
Gina sighed. “Okay, that makes me feel better, but I will never forgive you if you get yourself killed.”
Darken laughed. “Don’t worry, love. I’m not that easy to kill. Many have tried, and I am still here.”
“Come back to me. That’s all I ask.”
“That’s my plan, sweetheart.”
“I love you.”
“And I love you.” Darken broke the connection. He would not say goodbye.
“You and the captain are lucky bastards,” said Stalker. “What I wouldn’t give for a female of my own.”
“It could still happen; they get new profiles into the system every day. Captain Savage found his own.”
“You going rogue, Darken?” Shadow Hawk asked.
“Not rogue. This is tied into Gina’s kidnapping and the disappearance of people from my territory.” Darken told them about Gina tying Wayne Stockman to Devlin White.
“Oh, yeah. Count me in,” said Max Steel followed by Falcon Rader. It was unanimous.
“We’ve got nothing better to do. It might be fun,” said Falcon.”
They all mounted their sky cycles and headed north to the coordinates Darken had shared with them.
They traveled at breakneck speed and reached Devlin’s compound in about half an hour. They did several flyovers, scanning and recording what they saw. Like the one in the desert, a new Quonset hut had been added since Darken’s last visit there to rescue Gina. It sat toward the edge of the property, away from the mansion at the compound’s center, housing about a hundred people. Beside it, the missing transport was parked.
Darken knew it was the same vehicle because he recognized its electronic signature when he pinged it. He’d only hovered above it for seconds when an ion rifle bolt whizzed by his head. Only it was no ordinary ion rifle. It was a stationary ion repeater mounted on one of four towers.
They know we’re here. Let’s go! As eager as his cohorts were for action, Darken reminded them they had no jurisdiction. This was strictly recon.
Only, just as Darken was about to gun his throttle, two bolts hit him in the back. Max and Stalker pulled their rifles and took out the shooter and the whole tower.
Holding on to consciousness by a thread, Darken sped away into the night, and the other four team members followed. They made it to the mountains in Enclave Territory before Darken’s cycle landed, and he fell to the ground, landing flat on his back, unconscious.
Stalker was the first to reach him, while the other three landed nearby. A quick scan of Darken’s diagnostics revealed severe damage to his right lung, left kidney, and liver.
Stalker opened the emergency pack on his belt and shot a full bolus of auxiliary nanites up Darken’s nose. He took out a second bolus, turned his friend over, and pumped more nanites into the gaping wounds. Had Darken not been in full armor, he would probably be dead.
As things stood, Darken had lost a lot of blood, enough to render him unconscious.
“We need to get him out of here. I tapped into one of our satellites, and flyers are heading this way,” said Max.
“Help me get him on his cycle and strap him on it. I’ll set it to fly him home, then we’ll take care of the flyers.”
Easy money, Neely Albert thought as she sent her Class Two flyer upward vertically. Fly a cargo hold of ion rifles an hour and fifteen minutes south of Farringay, unload and fly back. It was probably not legal, but she was doing it anyway.
Payment for this run would give her enough money to move West out of overlord territory. Alexander Berke would be paid off for the repair of her flyer. She planned to leave after she got the hover plane from her father, but it needed a major overhaul.
Neely went to Berke for a loan, and he gave her two choices. She could either go back to work in the brothel or fly for him once the plane was repaired. Neely chose the latter. She was done whoring for Alexander Berke.
He had a nice racket for himself. By paying them a set rate for their services, Berke then charged them for everything so that they made only a pittance above their expenses. They were protected in his compound from the gangers in the city ruins, but they might as well be in prison.
It was a beautiful night for a flight. The sky was clear and filled with stars and a quarter moon. Neely loved being in the quiet serenity when it was like this. Her time in the air seemed to end too quickly as she neared the drop coordinates.
Berke had assured her that cyborg Colton Price was expecting her. She would land at the overlord’s compound, and he would take delivery.
Only when she slowed her approach to hover and land, someone started shooting and hitting her plane.
“Price! What the fuck?” she yelled into the com as she banked her flyer left and flew off to the west. The next thing she knew, two armed flyers were on her tail. She maxed out her speed and zigzagged as much as possible to avoid getting hit, but it didn’t work.
The engine took a hit, and her flyer was going down smoking. The emergency harness held her fast in the pilot seat as Neely slowed her descent as much as she could without engine power. Even then, she was pretty sure she was going to die. The ground was coming up way too fast.
The plane hit nose first, and airbags deployed. At least dead, Neely would have no more worries about the future, she thought just before everything went black.
Two flyers came their way only minutes after they sent Darken on his way, one in pursuit of the other. The cyborgs quickly determined that one was pursuing the other as the one behind was firing ahead. The flyer in front had a human pilot while the pursuer was a cyborg not on their internal net.
That meant he was a natural convert, a natural-born human converted to a cyborg to repair catastrophic war injuries. Not all of them were enemies, but many had gone rogue after the war and allied themselves with the overlords.
They used their ion rifles to shoot down the pursuers, but not before the front flyer took a hit. Seeing that it was headed for a crash landing, Max and Stalker slung their rifles over their shoulders and ran for their sky cycles. The flyer had crashed a little over a mile away. The battered wreck was smoking when they landed about fifty yards away, and the two cyborgs ran to free the pilot. With airbags and a safety harness, he probably lived through the crash.
When the butterfly door wouldn’t open, Stalker punched out the window, and Max helped him rip the whole door off. The flyer’s engine compartment started to flame. There was no time for finesse. Stalker ripped the harness away from the pilot, pulled him out, slung him over his shoulder, and ran toward the cycles.
The flyer exploded, spewing engine parts and cargo out the back. A change in wind direction stoked the flames toward the cockpit. Stalker carried the pilot another fifty yards further from the wreck, signaling his sky cycle to follow. He knelt on the ground, cradling the pilot over his lap.
Carefully removing the pilot’s helmet, “A female,” he rasped in surprise. He glanced up at Max, then back at her. “My female.”
Mentally shaking himself, Stalker started scanning her for injuries, thankful she was at least breathing. Apparently, the harness and airbag saved her life. However, the speed and the sudden stop caused bruises from the restraint on the outside, internal damage, and a significant concussion, but no brain bleed. Stalker reached for a bolus of nanites from a pouch on his belt. With her head cradled against his forearm, he uncapped it and squirted it up her nose.
“What do you think they wanted with her?” Max wondered.
“Maybe they thought she was with us.” Stalker turned his head as he caught a movement in his peripheral vision. “Someone’s coming… The cyborg convert….”
Max ran to his cycle and yanked his ion rifle from its sling. Raising it to his shoulder, he moved to a spot between his friend and the male approaching. When the cyborg came closer, Max demanded, “who are you, and what do you want?”
“Colton Price. I came to see that the pilot got out of the flyer after it crashed and to find out why he was flying over Overlord White’s compound.”
“The pilot is female… My female and she is unconscious.”
“So, she was with you?”
Stalker wanted to say yes, but it was an outright lie. Manufactured cyborgs were incapable of direct lies. “I can’t tell you that. We were investigating a series of kidnappings in old Texas and New Mexico.”
Stalker surmised from Colton’s expression that the natural convert knew he was evading the question. As a war veteran, he would know that no manufactured cyborg could lie in answering a direct question. He would also know that Stalker would fight to the death for his female.
“Since she was the pilot, she is not the person we were after,” said Colton cryptically. “Now, I have to go back and tell the boss why we lost a drone, and my flyer is wrecked. You and your female should probably make yourselves scarce. I’m sure we’ll meet again.” As he spoke, he turned and started walking away.
Twenty minutes later, the pilot still hadn’t regained consciousness, but Stalker’s repeat scan told him her vitals were stable.
“Max, I’ve got this. You can be on your way. I’m just going to give her a little more time to regain consciousness, then we’ll be leaving.”
“If you are sure…. If anything deviates from your projection, call me on our net.”
“Thanks, I will.” Stalker nodded. “I’ll let you know how things turn out.”
As Max flew off on his sky cycle, Stalker studied his female’s face, amazed at how she so closely matched the avatar he’d known in his virtual life in stasis. The only major difference was that the avatar had long brown hair, whereas his actual female had short-cropped brown hair tipped in bright red and piercings in her nose and ears with small silver rings. Her facial shape, mouth, nose, and cheekbones were like the avatar.
She was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen in his eyes. He so wished she would wake. He wanted to know everything about her…. To kiss her soft full lips and hold her in his arms… To strip her bare and worship every inch of her body with his lips and tongue.
His cock went hard as he just thought about breeding her. Only, he knew that she might have other ideas. Just because she looked like the avatar didn’t mean she would instantly accept him as her mate. They had all been warned that their genetic mate would not adhere to the behavior of the avatar mate.
Since she hadn’t regained consciousness, Stalker got up, lifting her in his arms, deciding he needed to find shelter where she could rest and recover. Someone else could come along to make trouble before his female awakened.
His home outside of Los Angeles ruins was on the other side of the country. Stalker carried her to his sky cycle and harnessed her in the passenger seat, then he picked up her helmet and stowed it in the cargo compartment. He took his seat in front and converted the vehicle into a mini-flyer complete with a closed cockpit.
Sending it straight up into the air, he headed west above the treetops for about fifteen minutes, scanning for an unoccupied house that could shelter them while his female recovered. He found an empty farmhouse by an old road with some windows intact and no neighbors nearby.
Stalker set the cycle down by a side porch one step up from the ground. Extracting the woman from the bike, he carried her inside through an old kitchen and into a sitting room containing a couple stuffed chairs and a ragged sofa. Everything was covered in a layer of dust. Balancing her over his shoulder, he took a small cylinder from his pouch belt. As he opened it, a tab popped out so he could pull out the compressed plastic blanket within. Spreading it over the couch, he laid his female on top of it.
Stalker secured his cycle from his internal computer and paced the room while he rescanned her because she was not waking up. Cross-referencing the result of his scan with medical protocol internally, he determined another bolus of nanites might help and definitely wouldn’t hurt.
After giving her the second nanite bolus, Stalker sat in the chair perpendicular to the sofa so he could watch her. He was too anxious and excited to rest, alternating between sitting and pacing and rescanning her to gauge her recovery progress.
Every minute seemed like an hour, although each scan showed improvement. Meanwhile, Stalker contacted Captain Savage and the other team members to let them know he’d found his genetic mate. That was a formality to let them know he needed time to work out a relationship with her.
He paused in his pacing and stood by the sofa, looking down at her. Unable to help himself, Stalker bent to stroke her smooth cheek with his fingers. The woman sucked in a breath and opened her eyes with a start as he touched her.
“What are you doing? Who are you?” She struggled to sit up, so Stalker hunkered down and helped her, gripping her forearm and slipping his hand behind her back.
“Waiting for you to regain consciousness. I just wanted to see if your skin was as smooth and soft as it looked,” he told her honestly.
“Who the hell are you, and why did you shoot down my flyer?” She started to get up and lost her balance as she stood, falling back on the couch.
“Wow, so dizzy,” she muttered.
“We didn’t shoot you down; it was the flyer behind you. We shot him down.”
“Where is my flyer? I have to get the cargo out.” she struggled, trying to get up again.
“Sh, sh, sh. Take it easy. You have a concussion and were shaken up pretty good.” He squatted in front of her to be closer to eye level. “I am Stalker Knight, your cyborg.”
“What!? What do you mean?”
“You are my genetic mate, the one female I can breed and make a family with.”
“Oh, I don’t think so,” she asserted. “I’m not anyone’s breeder, and I don’t even know you.”
Stalker sighed. He should have known it couldn’t be that easy. Darken was lucky. His female had asked for a cyborg mate, so she accepted to bond with him right away.
“I understand that getting to know me will take time,” he said, meeting her gaze. “I’m sorry to tell you; your flyer is a total loss. It was on fire when it crashed, and I pulled you out just before it exploded and finished burning up. Whatever you were carrying was destroyed as well.”
“How do I know that you aren’t just saying that?”
“I can’t lie. Everything was recorded on my internal computer.” Stalker stood and took out a small computer tablet. Sitting beside her on the sofa, he brought up the hologram of the crash starting where her plane was hit.”
“Omigod, they’re going to kill me,” she murmured.
“Why, what were you carrying?”
“I can’t tell you that. I am in enough trouble.”
“No one is going to hurt you. They will have to go through me, and I am not so easy to kill. Many have tried.” He paused, putting his arm behind her on the back of the couch. “Will you at least tell me your name?”
She took a breath, scowling at him. “Neely Albert.”
“Neely, I am a law enforcement ranger for the Civil Restoration Enclave, which governs the territory from the Appalachians west. I will help you any way I can, but I need to know what’s going on. Who were the rifles for?”
Neely pressed her lips together in a thin line, frowning at him for several moments. “Overlord Edmund Stone,” she said finally.
“What do you mean?”
“He’s dead. Captain Savage killed him yesterday.”
“What about his cyborgs? One of them gave me the order… Colton Price.”
“Then, he probably shouldn’t have shot down your flyer. He walked up to the site after we shot his flyer down, and he saw that you were the pilot he shot down.”
“What the hell did he do that for?”
“No clue. He just said you weren’t who he was after. We decided he was after us instead.”
“That doesn’t make any sense. He knows the electronic signature of my craft. Price doesn’t make that kind of mistake.”
“It doesn’t seem logical to me either. But until Price shot you down, we thought all three of you were after us. Then we shot him and the drone down. Give me a minute while I check his records.
“He is a converted natural from devastating injuries in the war, which I expected. His wife Tessa was taken while he was recovering and sold at an illegal human trafficking auction. Colton went berserk after he found out, and he was discharged back to Earth just before the war ended.”
“Well, that would explain why he is such an asshole,” she muttered.
“Moody and angry. Other times he doesn’t seem to give a crap. But he goes out of his way to cater to all the Overlords.”
“Since the overlords are behind most human trafficking, that’s a logical move. He’s trying to find her by infiltrating the Overlords’ operations.”
“I still don’t understand why he would shoot me down.”
“Maybe to slow us down to find out what we were doing at Overlord White’s compound.
“What were you doing?”
“Recon. People were kidnapped from the villages out west, and we were trying to find out who was doing it.”
“They are all involved….”
“And technically, we are not supposed to enter their territory. The Overlords have a treaty with the Enclave, but they broke it first, taking people we are sworn to protect.”
“What good is a treaty if both sides are breaking it?” Neely asked, trying to inch away from him as he moved closer to her. His unique scent filled her nostrils, a subtle spicy musk that was intoxicating. The flutter between her thighs startled her, something that rarely happened.
Stalker leaned toward her, and she leaned away, but she had nowhere to go because she was sitting against the armrest. His face was only inches from hers, and he was staring at her lips. She started to lean toward him but turned her head and jumped up off the sofa.
A wave of dizziness hit her, and she staggered, trying to maintain her balance. Along with the dizziness, her whole head was throbbing. Her stomach was starting to feel queasy as well.
Then Stalker was in front of her, grasping her upper arms to steady her. He steered Neely back to the couch. “Here, sit down. You have a concussion. You need more rest while the nanites finish repairing the damage. Stay here, and I will get you some water off my sky bike.”
Neely moaned her ascent and leaned her head back, closing her eyes against the spinning room. He was back in less than a minute with two water bottles and a couple of wrapped bars. She didn’t realize he was back until she felt the cushions shift as he sat down beside her. She opened her eyes to find him holding a plastic bottle of water in front of her.
“Here’s a meal bar in case you are hungry.”
Accepting the bar and the water, Neely drank several swallows. She couldn’t remember when she last had some. Dehydration could make her feel lightheaded and queasy. She wasn’t quite ready for food.
She hated feeling weak, especially with this cyborg ranger who could do anything he wanted with her, and she wouldn’t be able to stop him. Would she even want to?
Glancing at him, she couldn’t deny he was incredibly attractive. All bulging muscles, sandy hair, and midnight blue eyes with soft-looking full lips. And he smelled so damn good. It was all too easy to imagine fucking him.
It had been a long time since she got laid by a male she enjoyed. She felt her cheeks heat at the turn of her thoughts, and she frowned. The last thing she should do is encourage this guy. She would never get rid of him.
“Neely, look at me,” Stalker said.
She hesitated, then turned her head to look at his face.
“I don’t know how much you know about cyborgs, but nothing will happen that you don’t want. It is not in me to do anything deliberately that would hurt you.”
She stared into his eyes, wishing something there would give her a reason not to believe him. There wasn’t.
“Even if I believe that it doesn’t mean I want to be your breeder. I don’t want to be anyone’s breeder or mate. I don’t want to be tied down like that,” she asserted. “I’m a smuggler and sometimes a spy. I don’t stay in any one place for very long.”
“It doesn’t have to be that way.” Stalker reached up and stroked her cheek with his fingertips. “Your flyer got shot down because you were in the wrong place at the wrong time. You won’t be much of a smuggler without transport.”
His tone was gentle as his caress on her face. Why did he have to be so damn sexy? How could one cyborg male be so intoxicating that her nipples tightened and her core clenched at his slight touch?
Neely had an intense urge to straddle his lap and rub herself against him. Just as intense was the urge to jump up and put some distance between them. Only she had already tried that and nearly fell on her butt.
“What have you done to me? I never feel like this around a man. You are all trouble that I don’t need,” she said, pushing his hand away from her face.
“You mean because you are aroused?”
She huffed and said, “No—”
“You are. I can smell your arousal.”
Of course, he can. He is a cyborg. All of his senses are enhanced. Neely looked away, feeling the heat rise in her cheeks.
“Neely, it’s not your fault.” He applied his fingers lightly to her cheek, coaxing her to meet his gaze. “We are genetic mates; our pheromones make us want to breed. It’s biological…. At least for you, it is. Cyborgs are programmed to love our genetic mate in our virtual lives before awakening. I interacted with an avatar that looks very much like you.”
“You mean I don’t have a choice?” Her eyes filled with angry tears. This time she got up slowly. She needed to think, and she couldn’t think clearly so close to the cyborg playing havoc with her libido. “I’m the one who has no choice. It’s you or nobody. If you reject me, there will never be anyone else. That’s how we are made.”
END OF EXCERPT
Copyright©2022 Christine Myers