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Authors: Peyton Brittany Clarke

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Bonded (Soul Ties, #1)

BOOK: Bonded (Soul Ties, #1)
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Bonded

Soul Ties, Volume 1

by Peyton Brittany Clarke

Published by Amber Flame Books, 2013.

This is a work of fiction. Similarities to real people, places, or events are entirely coincidental.

BONDED

First edition. June 23, 2013.

Copyright © 2013 Peyton Brittany Clarke.

Written by Peyton Brittany Clarke.

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Table of Contents

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

 

To All Those Who Made This Possible.  Thank you for Sharing the Love.  

 

Cover Image by JSCreationsz

Chapter One

Z
isa
propped her legs up on the table in front of her.  The Sargent's lounge was the
one place she could relax without fear of interruption from the officers who
insisted on riding her hump and the lower ranked enlisted who tended to act
like they didn't have a clue.  Pulled from both sides, it tended to wear her
out. 

Finally
able to relax, she sighed as she rubbed the inside of her rifle with a soft
cloth.  She studied the black carbon scoring that smeared on the white rag. 
Regular weapon maintenance was the hallmark of a good soldier, for it ensured
the safety and reliability of their rifles.  But that along with a whole bunch
of other things had been put off to the side.  
Won't have to worry about
that any more.
   

“Hehehe,
can you imagine being replaced by mechans and gebeds?”Garr asked raking his
hands through hishair.  Turning up a container of mouthwash, he sloshed the
liquid around inside his mouth in between gargles.  He leaned over the
washbasin and spat into it.  Automatically the water turned on, he cupped his
hands allowing the liquid to pool into it.  He splashed water on his sand and
grit covered face, removing most of Retaya's sandy ground.  “Those things
couldn't hit a target if it was placed right in front of them.”

“I've
heard that talk before, it's nothing,”  Zisa replied.

“I
don't know, times are a changing,” he said wiping his face with a towel.

He
continued studying his face in the mirror.  In his late twenties, he appeared
even younger.  Like most soldiers, who were superstitious, he was a creature
of habit, believing if it worked the first time then it must be good luck. 
And obsessive grooming a mission was his.

“You
still look the same don't bother checking,” she smirked having no such
routine.  For her, either good things happened or it didn't.  There was no such
thing as luck.  It was clearly evident in her choice in men.

“You're
right, just as beautiful as ever.”

She
snorted, chuckled, and went back to wiping down her weapon. 

“As
I was saying,” he said walking over to a chair and picking up his shirt,
“lately the Electorate has been hinting of a change.  All they do is sing the
praises of mechans and gebeds, saying how efficient and good they are.  You
know they are no fan of the independent security forces.  They think we are a
bunch of hired guns.”

Even
though he carried a pleasant disposition, he always said he had a severe
allergy to crap.  Whether it came out the front end or the back, he wanted no
parts of it. 

Zisa
mouthed a toothpick.  She had no use for politicians or their useless ideas. 
She was born and raised in  the Borders, an area just on the edge of the known
galaxy. It was known for its own version of civil law.  In the Borders, a
person's word was the rule of law and if they didn’t live by it, they died. 

Life
was so different in the Central Systems
, she noted shaking her head. 
“Nariseerons are hired guns.  We are trained professionals.  Not a bunch of
mercenaries out for a bounty. We are legitimate members of the Security Guild
which means we are tax-paying citizens with ties to the Collective.  We provide
an important service for the galaxy.”

“Mainly
the central systems.  There's a whole lot of empty space out there.  And most
of it is untamed.  You of all people should know that.”

“Same
thing.  And I'm not talking about the Borders or the Barrens either.  That's a
whole other conversation.  Before we could even think about going out there as
a guild, we need more people from the Collective to move out there and set up governments. 
It's lawless out there for a reason.”

“There
you go singing their praises again.  You know you ought to be a lobbyist.”

“Me? 
Why?”

“Because
you're a conformist.”

“Garr
look around,” she gestured at their cramped lounge.  A boxy room with one
window, two couches, a table and some chairs, it was the only place in the
entire base where she and the other non-commissioned officers could relax. 
“You make a living maintaining the system.”

“Correction,
I make a living protecting others.”

“Semantics,
six in one and half-dozen in the other.” 

“I
still think your time with those gebeds of yours warped your mind.  They made
you soft.”

She
tried not to wince at his sharp remark.  Though she was not one to gab about
her life, it didn't take long for people to find out she was involved with a
gebed.  They had a reputation of being scrawny book nerds with a penchant for
reading your mind.  Claiming to do it only to facilitate the search for
knowledge around here every body believed it to mind control with an obsession
for information.  Second only to the Political Guild, the gebeds held the most
power in the galaxy.

“If
anything I am wiser,” she stated.  “Besides, unless the electorate expands
their mandate, gebeds will stick to their jobs- assimilating the knowledge of
new colonies and enforcing the Collective's Code and we will do our maintaining
the peace.  As for mechans, they may be cheap but they're not skilled
warriors.  No mechancan replace a real thinking person.  In short we have
nothing to worry about.”

“By
the way, have you heard from them lately?”

She
frowned.  “Where did that come from?”

“Answer
the question.”

“No. 
Why do you care?  You don't even like them.”

“Do
you think you will?”

She
rolled her eyes.  Sometimes he reminded her of a meddling parent.  “No.”

“I
just need to know in case I have to bell your ass out of another booze soaked
self pity party.”

“Screw
you.”

“You're
not my type.”

“Whatever,”
she said hating that he was right.  In fact, he warned her about dating best
friends.  Never mind the fact, that the other one for all she knew had dropped
off the face of the galaxy, refusing all communication.  “Is it a heavy burden
being the smart one?”

“It
has its moments,” he grinned.

“You
are too much.  You really are.”

Two
short knocks at the door silenced their conversation.

“Could
you get that?” she asked.

“What
are your legs broken?” he asked walking by her.

“I'm
busy,” she said gesturing to her disassembled weapon.  “I got to keep it
cleaned.”

Garr
placed his hand on the door and leaned.  “What do you want?” he groused.

“Message
for Tech. Sgt. Daroh,” the man replied.

Garr
glanced her way. “Are you home?”

“Who
is it from?” she asked attaching the last section.

“Who
wants to know?” Garr asked. 

“Visitors.”

“What
kind?”

“They
won't say,” the man replied.

Zisa
shrugged her shoulders and replied, “You know the drill.” 

As
a rule, she didn't respond to messages from people who couldn't identify
themselves.  She aimed the rifle at the wall in front of her.  She pulled the
trigger, it responded with a sharp click.

Perfect,
she thought smiling.

“She
ain't home,” he replied opening the door then slamming it in the man's face. 
He strolled toward his belt and pistol on far right table.  “You know that
could have been important.”

“Whatever.”

Another
knock on the door, caused her to roll her eyes. 

“What
is it?” she and Garr yelled.

“They
said their message was urgent and that she should come immediately,” the man
replied.

She
scratched her head.  Placing her rifle aside, she stood up and sauntered
towards the door.  “Thanks but I got this.”

Bowing
graciously, Garr sat down. 

“What
kind of visitors?” she asked standing in front of the door.  It was late and
she was in no mood to receive visitors. 

“Diplomatic
I believe.  They look like gebeds,” he replied.

Her
heart skipped a beat.  Feeling a bead of perspiration form on her brow, she
glanced at Garr.  His lips curved into a twisted grin. 

She
sighed and closed her eyes. 

Just
when things were starting to get back to normal, they decide to come back.

She
wiped her brow with the back of her hand and considered her options.  She could
ignore their request and go to her quarters or she could speak with them.  It
had been a long time since their last meeting and after wards she swore to
herself she would never deal with them again.  Losing them was a hard lesson
about love that she had to learn. 

Still
a part of her ached for them, to be with them once again.  Strolling back to
the chair where she had sat, she gathered her things from the table and headed
towards the door.

“I'd
like to tell you not to go but I know you won't listen,” he said. 

Gebeds. 
The words echoed in her mind.  “Do me a favor and put away my rifle,” she
replied.

“Will
do.  And Zisa?”

“Yes?”

“Good
luck,” Garr replied. 

“Thanks
I'll need it.”

Chapter Two

Z
isa
stared at her reflection in the lavare's mirror.  Her long deep chestnut
tresses were coiled in thick intricate braids firmly affixed to the crown of
her head.  Her deep blue eyes sat back in a full round face covered with fair
skin.  Hints of red burnished her cheeks, evidence of her life as a soldier on
a desert planet.  She licked her full lips hoping to soothe the chapped and
cracked skin.

“Damn,”
she said washing her hand and splashing water on her face.  Looking back in the
mirror, she was only marginally pleased with what she saw.  She wished she had
lip balm. 

Only
twenty-seven years of age, she felt like she'd lived twice that because of the
things she had experienced.  War, famine, and strife were nothing to courting a
gebed.  Monks, scholars and warriors, gebeds held the highest esteem in the
Collective, second only to members of the Political Guild. 

But
life with Doyen Kellam Vachel and Senior Gebed Feran Jurah had been anything
but easy.  Best friends since childhood, they did everything together.  Except
date.  Sure, it wasn't uncommon for there to be triple courtships .But when
that happened everyone knew about each other and agreed to it ahead of time. 

She
closed her eyes and recalled the horrific day on Botheeine in the gardens at
the Gnosis' Guild's chapel.  Two friends who loved each other like brothers
fought over her angry at the other's betrayal.  If the other gebeds had not
intervened, she did not think either would have made it out alive.  It was a
mistake, she swore, she would never make again. 

Maybe
seeing them is not such a good idea.

She
exited the washroom and walked down the hall.  Not eager to see them, she knew
their visit would  reopen old wounds that just recently healed.  Feeling her
hands quiver, she decided to go her quarters instead.

“Turn
right,” she heard a voice say.

As
clear as if someone had said it right next to her, she looked around.  There
was no one in the corridor but her. 

“I
must be tired,” she said.  “I'll be fine in the morning.”

Her
field of vision blurred.  A haze dropped over her mind dulling her thoughts.

Turn
right,
the voice said again. 

Compelled
to obey she turned and walked towards the door leading outside.  Stepping out
into quadrangle, the warm night air hit her like heat coming from a cookery. 

Enter
building C.

Doing
as the voice commanded, Zisa turned toward The Spousal Visitation Center.  The
two-story structure was home to a few offices dealing with soldier affairs and
quarters for service personnel and their visiting spouses.  Everyone called it
Conjugal Heaven.  She knew why but had no cause to use it for herself. 

She
was greeted by a rush of cool air as she entered the building.  A few personnel
walked by with their faces buried in files as she skirted passed them.

Meeting
room 5B.

  The voice instructed hypnotically. 
Walking down to the end of the hall, she stopped in front of the door. 

Zisa
enter.

Waving
her open palm across the interface, the door opened.  She walked inside feeling
the fog in her head lift.  She blinked. 

Two
men in long floor length dark grey cowls stood in front of her.  A mixture of
emotions swirled inside of her.  Hurt, angry, scared, lonely and in love, she
did not know what to do. 

“Doyen,
Senior Gebed,” she said shifting her stance uncomfortably.  “Thank you for the
mind games.  I thought I was the only one skilled in that area.  Or so you both
claimed.”

Stiffening
his posture, Kellam folded his arms slipping them into the sleeves of his
robe.  “I'm sorry but I did what was necessary because we needed to talk.” The
older of the two, he always did the talking for the both of them whenever they
were together.  Whether this was by Kellam's insistence or Feran's natural
acquiescence to Kel's personality, she did not know, it worked for them. 

“We've
done enough talking.  And you were right the first time.  What I did was a
betrayal and I'm sorry.  That's why I vowed to never see either of you again,”
she replied feeling a lump grow in her throat.   

“My
words were harsh that day but I was hurt,” Kellam said trying to mask his
anguish.  “I see things differently now, that's why we are here.”

Tall
and strong, Kel's taut muscular physique complimented his nearly two meter body
height.  Along with his silky shoulder length chestnut hair, which fell loosely
to his shoulders, she recalled why there was an immediate attraction.

Six
feet two, Feran was a man of intense passion and a brusque personality.  Lean
and muscular, his caramel colored skin perfectly contrasted his wavy, neck
length, jet-black hair.  His fierce gaze and brusque disposition added to his
intensity. 

“That's
nice for you.  But I still recall the pain I inflicted on you both and I have
no desire to relive that.”

To
love both men, best friends, was a costly mistake.  That date made in the
cantina blossomed into a wonderful romance, which Kellam quickly dropped after
realizing he'd be unable to nurture it fully.  During your final date, his
exact words were, “My work will not allow me to give you the life you
deserve.”  And then he left.

Though
she sent message after message to the main sanctuary begging to speak with him,
he refused.  And when she managed to get him to agree for one last meeting, he
insisted he could make no promises.

And
he was right for telling her that, for on that date he sent Feran instead.  The
man you thought that hated you from the start.  After a curt greeting, he gave
you Kellam's final departure message.  “Friendship only and best wishes.”

Feran
spoke with her for hours on that fateful day.  Filled with sadness he stayed
with you.  Though nothing happened at first, the relationship developed. 
Dinner. Lunch. Flowers. Holding hands.  A tiny kiss.  Then a trip to
Tundoloth.  She spent her entire leave with Feran and discovered that he was
not the heartless machine she thought him to be.  Love was inevitable.

Stoically
she turned and headed towards the door.  In a flash, Feran was behind her. 
His tall and lean body pressed against hers as his hand kept the door from
opening. 

“Please
stay,” he whispered his desert clan accent clipping his words.

No!
You've got to stop this.  You've got to pull yourself together. 
She
closed her eyes. 

Tears
formed, trying to hold them back, she failed.  They streamed down her cheeks.

She
sniffled and opened her eyes.  Feran gazed at her.  His mahogany eyes were
filled with a love.  She missed his touch, his strength, his heart.  She had to
hear them out.

Stepping
out of his way, Zisa turned around and leaned against a wall.  “All right
speak.”

“We
have talked,” Feran said nodding to Kellam.  “And we acknowledge that we both
love you.  But we do not know do you still love us?”

She
sniffled and swallowed.  The lump in her throat refused to go down.

I
am so tired of crying over this.  “
We've covered this,” she growled,
“There's no in need picking old sores,”

Kellam
stood.  His muscular six-foot four-inch frame was formidable in spite of his
gentle nature.  “Little one—,” he said his face full of worry.

Her
heart melted as he called her by her pet name. 

“Please,
we must know.  Do you?”

“Yes,”
she replied quietly.  “And that's why I won't see either of you.  I can't have
you both, so I chose neither of you.”

Sensing
a flood of tears, Zisa decided it was time to go.  The last thing she wanted
was to let her fellow soldiers see her crying like a baby.  Feeling the urge to
drown herself in a bottle of whiskey, she closed her eyes and sighed. 

She
heard Kellam approach.  He gently caressed her cheek.  “Says who?”

Zisa
opened her eyes.  They felt itchy and sore from the tears filling up within
them.  Kellam leaned forward and tenderly pressed his lips to hers. 
Responding just a little, she pulled away conscious of Feran's stare. 

She
looked at the men who had captured her heart.  They smiled and gazed at her. 

“Can
we try?” Kellam asked softly. 

BOOK: Bonded (Soul Ties, #1)
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