Authors: Gail Koger
Tags: #Science Fiction & Space Opera
Coletti Warlords: Vexing Voss
Copyright © September 2013 by Gail Koger
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Editor: Kierstin Cherry
Cover Artist: Mina Carter
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This book is dedicated to my parents.
Dawne and Darcie, you are the best support team ever.
In 2015 something nasty found our world. They call themselves the Tai-Kok. They are malevolent, depraved ghouls who live to eat. The image of these tall, hairless, skeletal humanoids with mouths full of sharp metal teeth is forever burned into the mind of every man, woman, and child left on Earth. Completing the nightmare are their three bloodred eyes that glare out of skin so transparent you can watch as your loved ones are being digested.
No one knows how they found our world, or why they consider us good eating. The few peace delegates that tried to communicate with them got butchered. After that, everyone was too busy running for their lives to find out why.
The one good thing that resulted from the monsters’ attacks was they unified humanity. For the first time in recorded history, every country on Earth joined forces to fight the alien invaders, and Central Command was born.
The Tai-Kok ate their way across Europe and the Middle East until they had the bad luck to capture a suicide bomber and take him aboard their ship for snack time. He blew himself up over the Pacific. Luckily the ship crashed outside Tucson, Arizona. We salvaged their technology and have been using it against them ever since.
Four years ago, my cousin Kaylee Jones mated with a Coletti warlord, which proved to be a mixed blessing. The Coletti and their allies now protect Earth from Tai-Kok and Rodan raiders, but this protection came with a price. They demanded we turn over all psychic women to them. Seems they need us as breeding stock.
Why, you ask? Six hundred years ago, the Coletti race was almost wiped out in the Great Galactic War. Unfortunately for the females, chemicals used in the war created a genetic anomaly, and only one female baby was born for every one thousand males. The Coletti women were going the way of the dodo bird.
Facing extinction, the Coletti Warlords started raiding other planets and species for their prized psychic women. It didn’t matter one bit if the woman protested. They took her anyway. Once Zarek, the Overlord of the Coletti clans, discovered the Jones family’s unique psychic powers and our blood’s ability to heal cellular damage, he promptly seized control of Earth. Any woman who displayed psychic capability was immediately taken to their home world to be converted. Doesn’t that sound like fun?
My name is Zoey Jones, and there is no way in hell I’ll let them turn me into a broodmare. Am I psychic? You bet your ass I am. My shields are impenetrable, and their friggin’ mind control doesn’t work on me.
Any Warlord stupid enough to try and convert me is going to get his snake penis thingy whacked off. No, I’m not suicidal or crazy. I’m pissed. This is the United fucking States, and slavery was outlawed over a hundred years ago. Women have rights too. It’s time someone stood up to them and said no. They want a fight? They’ve got one.
“Zoey, in my office now,” my father, General Thaddeus Jones, snapped over the intercom. The general made my name sound like the foulest of cuss words. I’d been a disappointment to him since I came out of my mother’s womb female.
The general figured with his mind-control abilities and Mom’s clairvoyance, they would produce a child with off-the-charts powers. He had little use for a sickly baby who showed no signs of psychic ability. Hooyah!
He was equally unhappy with my mother, Grace, for not giving him a male heir with the traditional Jones-family powers. A botched C-section during my delivery left Mom sterile, rendering her useless to the general’s plans and the Colettis’ breeding program.
My mother actually loved the general. Why? The only reason I could come up with was daddy dearest used mind control on her. Being an ace investigative reporter, she soon discovered her not so loving husband was actively searching for her replacement. Mom divorced him when I was two and took me with her on assignments.
For fourteen years I never received a birthday or Christmas gift or even a phone call from the bastard. Once a year we got a nice letter from his attorney requesting that I be retested for psychic abilities. Father of the Year he wasn’t.
When I was sixteen, the Iraq incident triggered my psychic powers. Mom had been doing a story on the Khamisal Al-Dari, and, terrorists being terrorists, they started shooting at us infidels. When I saw Mom get hit, I totally lost it. I unleashed such a burst of power that my cousin Quinn, the head of the Siren program, felt it all the way in the Bunker, Central Command’s top-secret base.
Central Command and Coletti hunters swarmed Baghdad looking for the female responsible for taking out twelve heavily armed terrorists. Sirens’ psychic abilities make them a hot commodity and prime breeding stock. The hunters were more than a bit pissed when they couldn’t locate me.
That was about the same time the general started demanding his visitation rights. He wanted to get to “know” me. My father figured if he could prove I was a Siren, I would be his ticket to a job at Central Command. The bastard got a court order forcing me to go to his military base in Arizona for two weeks a year.
That was when I came up with the wonderful idea of a grown version of the sickly child. Along with Hollywood-quality makeup that made me appear to be on death’s watch list, I added padded clothing to give me a grotesquely deformed figure. To really piss him off, I assumed the demeanor of a timid mouse who was afraid of her own shadow.
He has this vein on his forehead that pops out whenever I’m around. I love driving him nuts.
If daddy dear had done any research on me at all, he’d know what I really look like. I’m a Scottish throwback just like my cousin Quinn. Instead of red hair and green eyes, I have black hair and silver eyes. I’m pretty sure my unique psychic powers rival or exceed Quinn’s and Kaylee’s. My shields are my biggest ace in the hole. I appear to be a normal human without any abilities at all, and I used my acting skills to become whoever I need to be.
When I was eighteen, Mom obtained information that three high-ranking military men were aiding the Tai-Kok and Rodan. These traitors were giving the Tai-Kok the codes to shut down our planetary defense systems, allowing them to swoop in and slaughter thousands of people. Seems human flesh is considered a delicacy and sold for a fortune at their version of supermarkets.
We tracked the traitors to Dallas, where I met the love of my life. Paul was a fighter pilot assigned to protect Texas. The minute I saw him, Cupid struck. Paul was a tall, handsome warrior with the cutest dimples and a terrific sense of humor. After a whirlwind romance, he proposed, and I said yes. A week later we were at the base chapel, and I was about to become Mrs. Paul Hennessy, when the warning sirens sounded, and all hell broke loose.
The western US defenses had been disabled, allowing dozens of Rodan ships to attack the base. The ground shuddered under our feet as the armory blew. Paul gave me a hard kiss and said,
“I will always love you, Zoey.”
With a grin, he grabbed his rifle and stepped out the door. A laser beam flashed out like a fiery snake and vaporized him.
Every nerve in my body twanged with shock and denial. No! He couldn’t be gone. He couldn’t. It wasn’t possible. Mom grabbed my arm and tried to pull me to the bunker. That was when the pain hit me, and my mental howl of fury and grief was heard all the way to the moon.
Screams of terror jerked me back to reality. I bolted from the church in my white silk wedding dress and destroyed the mind of the Rodan raider trying to disembowel a panic-stricken woman. The Rodan are ugly sonovabitches. With their scaly purple skin, they kind of remind me of a weird combination of rat and dinosaur.
Unleashing my psychic power, I slaughtered every Rodan and destroyed every one of their ships. Unfortunately, my rage also brought down the Coletti hunters. How Mom managed to smuggle me out of Dallas, I’ll never know. I was almost catatonic from overusing my powers.
It took me six weeks to get back to normal—whatever that meant. My heart had been ripped from me, and all I had left was vengeance. I would find those murdering bastards no matter how long it took.
The trail went cold for almost two years until one of the traitors got drunk at a Mexican drug lord’s hacienda and hit on his wife. Not a smart thing to do. In a desperate attempt to save his life, the snake in the grass told El Jefe, the drug lord, about his dealings with the Tai-Kok. Being a splendid fellow, El Jefe decided to join forces with the traitors. The drug lord’s supermodel wife knew Mom from an interview earlier in the year and eagerly ratted the creeps out.
Mom was in Tucson following up on the promising lead when I felt her die. My mental wail of grief had every hunter in my vicinity searching for me. I was too busy evading them and the general to do a proper investigation of my mother’s car accident for almost a week.
I soon discovered her death wasn’t an accident like everyone claimed. It was murder. Mom had gotten too close, and the traitors had silenced her. Those murderous bastards had made one fatal mistake. They thought I wasn’t a threat.
“Zoey,” the general bellowed again. “Get your ass down to my office.”
My father expected instant obedience. After Mom’s murder, he used his military might to force me to live with him. Could his sudden concern for my safety have something to do with his Central Command ambitions? Ah, yeah. The fact that I was twenty and an adult didn’t matter either. Martial law gave him the right to do pretty much anything he wanted.
The only reason my timid-mouse charade worked as well as it did was Marie. She had been Mom’s photographer and best friend. Marie and her son, Alejandro, had traveled the world with us on assignments until he turned ten. That was when her jerk of an ex-husband got custody of him, and I lost my best friend.
Marie managed to get hired as the general’s housekeeper to keep an eye on me. She was afraid I’d shoot the ass. It had been close a few times. She also kept me from doing anything too stupid.