Authors: Bevan Greer
by Bevan Greer
The System at risk, and only love can save them
On planet Bylar, the Bylaran civil war has pitted Bylaran settler against Fenturi native for over three centuries, and the Fenturi have all but been exterminated. Rumors abound that the destructive Ragil Horde has returned after a millennia of absence, and they are stronger and more evil than ever before. If the System is to survive, the Mari—a Fenturi born under the Mari moon—must be found to power the Legion's only defense against the Horde's superior firepower.
Ren, fierce Captain of the Bylaran Legion Stalkers, has been charged by the new king to find the Mari. But the Mari—Dare—doesn't even know who she is, and she has more than enough reason not to ever trust anyone Bylaran. Destined to work together, Ren and Dare struggle to overcome their prejudices and pain-filled pasts in a race against time to stop the Horde. In the process, the two do more than save the System, but save themselves with a love brighter than blue Starfire.
Other Titles by Bevan Greer
This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and plot points stem from the writer’s imagination. They are fictitious and not to be interpreted as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locations or organizations is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © December 2014 by Bevan Greer
Edited by NBB Editing
Cover by Syneca of Original Syn
All Rights Are Reserved. None of this book may be reproduced or used in any manner without express written permission from the author, except in the case of brief quotations used for reviews or promotion.
The cries and screams of her slaughtered people made five year old Darel N’alen cover her ears, begging through tears for her mother to take her home. Shalyl, one of the rebel Fenturi, was doing her best to ensure safety for her child by killing those who would harm her. After dispatching yet another Bylaran warrior, she glanced back at her daughter and noted a puddle of blood snaking toward Dare’s bare feet.
She stared in horror as she spied the source of so much red, a scream frozen in her throat.
Just beyond the puddle lay her love, her mate, his arm outstretched to their daughter as he lay gasping for breath.
nother shot burrowed into his body, the blue tag of the laser creating a new hole in his torso.
His gaze met hers before the light slowly faded from his eyes.
“I love you,” he whispered, and passed.
Shalyl couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe. Emptiness consumed her, and the pain struck her mute. Poor Dare sank to her knees in the reddish mud and touched her father’s dark hair, hair that still appeared soft and springy despite the lack of life left in his body.
A strong arm yanked the girl from the ground.
“Hurry, child, to your mother.”
An elderly Fenturi shoved Dare toward Shalyl, in the direction of the dark woods. Behind them, flashing lights and curling screams filled the air.
Like a sleepwalker, little Dare moved slowly. Her stuffed doll slipped from her fingers and fell next to her father, another comfort lost.
She walked on unsteady feet toward Shalyl, who even now grappled with a bastard warrior until he uttered a blood-curling scream. She showed him no mercy as she commanded energy that burned his eyes until they smoked in their sockets.
As Dare continued toward her, something large and furry nudged the girl from behind. The mystic feline then lifted her by the back of her smock and moved swiftly toward Shalyl.
“Mama?” Dare asked in confusion.
Shalyl wiped the tears from her cheeks. Her daughter’s bright violet eyes looked so much like her own, but without the taint of violence buried deep inside. Taking a deep breath, Shalyl forced the fierce energy within her to dissipate.
nother volley of fire and light burned through the dense forest around them, so she grabbed her child from the guidecat and raced for the security of the Forgotten Fields.
She easily outdistanced the men pursuing her, her Fenturi blood raging, urging her to release control and surrender to the primitive need to run and hunt.
“I love you, baby,” she whispered and cradled her daughter’s precious head to her breast.
As the shots pierced her legs and her back, Shalyl released a small beam of starfire around her daughter to protect her from harm.
The heat of the Bylaran rifles melded easily into the blue energy as Dare sobbed, unharmed, against Shalyl’s body.
Unable to keep the blood loss and pain from affecting her, Shalyl lurched to her left into a clump of trees.
ired and wounded, she still thanked the Goddess she’d made it out of harm’s way and into relative safety at the edge of the forest.
“Please, M’chre,” she said to the silent feline that had paced her thus far.
“Take Dare to the vessel.”
Doing her best not to cry,
Shalyl pried Dare’s dirty arms from around her neck and groaned as the pain she’d been suppressing finally enveloped her weary body.
“You have to go with M’chre.” Shalyl felt her heart slow and her lungs begin to collapse.
The energy within her stuttered, telling her she had little time left.
“I love you, Dare, with all my heart.
I’ll always watch over you.” She could no longer keep her tears back. She gave her daughter one last kiss good-bye and watched as M’chre dragged her unwilling child through the brush.
Shalyl tried but couldn’t close her ears to the wailing of her terrified child.
he blood drained from her body into the thick, dark black soil of the Fentra woods while her daughter’s cries added to the nightmare around her. So much needless death and destruction. And all for what? A power-hungry king?
A single shot pierced her skull, and she saw her mate, Radilen, float before her, his hand outstretched, his dark blue eyes thick with sadness.
As she reached for him, they watched together as the small glint of light that was their world blinked out of sight into the darkness of space.
“Come, love.” Radilen cupped her cheek. “Our time is past. Hers is just beginning.”
“We will watch over her.”
“We will. With love.” He nodded, and they continued on their path into eternity.
“Isn’t that a sight to behold, boy?” King Zedrax boomed with enthusiasm, the scene of his finest victory sweeping before him, a majestic vision of his absolute control.
He frowned down at the quiet child. Garen stood as still as stone, unresponsive. They stood in a large open tent with a clear view at the battlefield down the hill from their vantage. The blood and chaos of battle always filled him with a fire that stirred his blood. Nothing had ever come close to making him feel alive.
Except for the boy’s mother, he thought, his mood darkening.
Zedrax cuffed the boy solidly on the ear, pleased to see a small flinch. “Come now,” he said in a loud voice, causing those in the command post around them to look away. None of them liked being the center of his attention, and their fear pleased him.
“You’re old enough to appreciate this.
War is powerful.
Something to glory in, to revel in Bylaran might. It is our due as victors.”
He smiled, gratified by the blare of victory horns echoing across the battlefield.
The boy continued to stare at the carnage in silence.
Garen had recently passed the tenth anniversary of his birth.
hough he had come of an age to join the Legions as a trainee, Zedrax feared the little bastard had not the stomach for what he now saw.
Tears of weakness streamed down his face as the Bylaran warriors slaughtered what was left of the animal rebels—men, women, and children alike. None were to be spared, their base presence offensive in the extreme.
As offensive as Garen’s apparent fondness for the hated breed. The Fenturi. Beasts, every last one of them. Zedrax knew more than most how beguiling their coarse natures could be. How they could seduce and weaken that which made a man strong.
He grabbed the boy by the shoulder and hauled him into a private corner of the tent where they would not be overheard.
“Tears are weakness. How many times must I tell you this?” He backslapped Garen soundly across the mouth, drawing blood.
But as Garen recovered, Zedrax looked into features too similar to his own to deny the boy’s paternity. Only Garen’s skin tone—a more golden brown than cream—and the exotic slant of his eyes had come from his mother.
By the grace of the stars, his
eyes turned a deep green shortly after his birth.
Now the boy only appeared to be a Bylaran royal by-blow.
An indiscretion, but one that could be overlooked in time.
Yet as Zedrax stared into his watery eyes, he saw in them the entreating gaze of Garel, his beautiful Fenturi lover.
Don’t leave me, my love
. He could almost hear her crying out to him, the way she did in his dreams, tormenting his ravaged heart. A witch, too beautiful for her own good. She’d trapped him with her looks and her love, and earned nothing but tragedy in the end.
He jerked the boy until the lad showed a stirring of fear.
“Aye, be afraid.”
“You’re more than that whore who spawned you. You’ve got my blood in you, boy.
But no one’s going to know it because I’m not going to
you. I don’t
weakness, I burn it out.
You want to keep tearing up over those savages?”
He nodded his head toward the window, where Morux, his trusted man, stood guard.
Not twenty feet from the command tent stood a group of tattered Fenturi prisoners too proud to beg for release. “Being strong means you feel no pain. No tears, no show of emotion over what we must do in war.” Zedrax wiped blood off the boy’s mouth with a gentle hand.
Looking puzzled by the contradiction in manner, Garen
stared at the older man warily.
Zedrax had from a distance overseen the boy’s upbringing and knew his raw potential.
If only he could subdue the child’s natural instincts. The existence of the damn Fenturi made it difficult for his son to grow into the leader he could be.
“Give Morux the command to kill one of them,” Zedrax ordered.
He noted a young boy Garen’s age in the group, saw the boy make eye-contact with Garen.
“If you don’t give them the order, I will give it to kill them all.”
Still Garen said nothing.
After a pause,
Zedrax said, “Morux, kill—”
of them,” Garen shouted, his defiance plain even if he had finally complied. “Only one. Let the rest go.”
Zedrax met Garen’s gaze. “So be it. Morux, the young one.”
Morux aimed and shot, an easy squeeze of the trigger. The young Fenturi fell, polluting good Bylaran soil with his blood. Garen didn’t turn to watch, focused on Zedrax, his gaze surprisingly inscrutable.
That wasn’t so hard, was it? You think I enjoy this, but I do not.”
He waved a hand at the guard and watched Garen shudder as the rest of the Fenturi thudded to the ground amidst screams and gunfire.
“This is war.
f we do not do this, the Fenturi will continue to spawn and one day overtake the planet. They will not hesitate to kill anything Bylaran. You, me…Zebram.”
Ah, there. Garen tried and failed to suppress more tears. Compassion for his younger brother, a weakness. Yet Zedrax couldn’t have been more pleased. The boy would be loyal, if for no other reason than he loved Zebram.
“Do you really want the royal prince to die of a Fenturi claw across his throat? I think not.” Zedrax willed the lad to understand.
Normally he didn’t call attention to the relation between royal prince and bastard brother. But desperate times called for desperate measures.
“No, you don’t want that.
You love Zebram, don’t you?”
At Garen’s nod, Zedrax eased up on him
“As do I, Garen, as do I.
his work we do here is ugly but necessary.
ne day you will understand these rough lessons I teach you.” The same lessons taught to him by his father, another casualty of the hated Fenturi.
Garen stared back at him, and Zedrax watched with fascination as a hot flash of hatred burned deep in those forest green eyes.
Raw, wild, untamed. A strength inborn, though the child warred with the wrong side. Then he blinked, and those same
green eyes dulled. Garen was once again a scared child, obediently chastised.
“May I go now, my king?” Garen asked in a low voice and bowed his head.
Zedrax nodded, a bit uneasy at his surrender. Then he shrugged off his disquiet, disturbed to have been worried about a mere child. He’d made his point today, better than he might have hoped.
The future protector of Bylar left the battle tent
calmly, as if Garen had not just witnessed the execution of his youngest cousin and last living Fenturi relative.