Authors: Viola Grace
Tags: #Science Fiction, #Space Opera, #Paranormal, #erotic Romance
Surviving a brutal disaster, Lee finds her calling and passion with a man whose touch can kill.
Blown up, healed and grafted were things Lee never expected to see in her medical records. Waking up after a terrorist attack, she finds her father has signed her over to the Volunteer Project as long as they can keep her alive.
Grafts, implants and slow regeneration are now her life, and she is assigned to the Guardian emergency response dispatch. Having no base, they travel from world to world and do whatever needs to be done from rescues, small incursions, to escorting treaty brides.
Lukar has worked alone for quite some time, but the scientists at the Guardian Project assured him that he and Lee were a good match. He had no idea how right they were.
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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2014 Viola Grace
Cover art by Martine Jardin
All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, is forbidden without the written permission of the publisher.
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Terran Times Second Wave
Recruiter Norz watched the Terran news report and fought the rage welling inside him.
The explosion killed nineteen humans in the Volunteer Centre on Nineteenth Street. The number of injured is estimated at thirty-four humans and an undisclosed number of aliens.
Resistance groups are claiming responsibility for the destruction and law enforcement is seeking the truth behind the claims.
A knock on the door brought his head up. “Yes?”
“Recruiter Norz, there is a man here who wishes to speak with you. He has been searched and scanned.”
Norz settled himself and nodded his head. “Let him in.”
A burly human male of approximately sixty years came in and sat across from him. His hair was dishevelled and his cool blue eyes were red from weeping. Signs of grieving were all over him.
“Sir, my name is Andrew Kellner. My daughter, Lee, was in the explosion this morning.”
Norz slowly blinked and lowered his head. “I am sorry for your loss.”
“She isn’t dead. Not yet.” Andrew ran a hand through his hair. “She is on life support and badly injured. If there is anything you could do, I would sign her into your custody and send her into space in a heartbeat.”
Norz blinked. “Did she fill out an application?”
With tears seeping down his cheeks, Andrew reached into his coat and pulled out a bloodstained sheaf of papers. “They found this when they found one of her arms.”
Norz took the papers and flipped through them. He quickly went to his tablet and drew up a custody transfer. “Sign this and come with me.”
Norz got to his feet, and when the human had signed the document, he walked with him. “Now, take me to your daughter.”
As they left his offices, he called his assistant and ordered full medical transport to meet them at the hospital. If the protestors didn’t want humans leaving, they were going to have a fight on their hands. This woman was destined for the Nyal Imperium Guardian Research Station. He just hadn’t told the Imperium yet.
Kellner was calm on their drive. He watched for the hospital and tensed when he saw the crowds. “Why won’t they just stop protesting?”
Recruiter Norz smiled, “Because they are afraid, and fear generates aggression. While your Champions managed to gain your entry to the Alliance, they were not able to return. Nor were the other members of the two thousand. It is why we insist now on applications that indicate willingness to depart and aptitude for life away from Earth.”
“Have you run into this before?”
“The terrorism? Yes. It is usually a small portion of the population. Since this event, we thwarted four other attacks that were supposed to occur at the same time of day across the globe.” Norz sighed. “The locals in the areas under threat have reacted accordingly.”
Their escort vehicle pushed through the crowds, and they followed. Bodyguards kept the crowd back as Norz and Kellner left the transport. Norz was used to the Terrans towering over him, and he waited for the med team to join him before they pushed into the hospital.
Kellner led them through the halls where staff either tried to stop their progress or stood aside against the wall to let them pass.
Norz winced at the chemical smell of the building and rode in the lift with members of the med team and Kellner.
They arrived at the floor where Lee was obviously being treated.
When they saw the human with them, the doctors rushed toward Kellner.
One said, “Sir, you must decide.”
Kellner nodded. “I have decided. I have turned her care over to those who actually want her to live.”
He pushed past the physicians and led Norz to a room where a bevy of machines were pumping, wheezing and scrubbing the blood of the creature in the bed.
Norz had seen battle wounds before, but the devastation of the body was incredible. He walked to the head of the bed and called the healer forward. “Stabilize her and get her into stasis.”
To his shock, the single unwrapped eye opened at his voice. There was pain in that eye, but also clear thought.
Kellner came up beside him. “One blink for yes, two for no.”
The lid slowly closed and opened.
Norz said, “Do you wish to leave as a Volunteer?”
The lid slowly closed and opened.
Norz leaned forward and whispered, “Do you know who did this?”
She slowly closed her eye and opened it.
To Norz’s amazement, Kellner recited the alphabet slowly and when he reached a letter she recognized, Lee would slowly blink. Kellner started again.
When she had selected three letters, Kellner cursed. “Cory?”
She blinked affirmative.
“Did he know you would be there?”
She blinked twice.
The healer moved in and looked for a patch of exposed skin to press his hands to. Finally, he slid a hand under the sheets and pressed it against her back.
Norz leaned in. “Do you give us permission to rebuild you by what means are most effective?”
She blinked once.
He smiled. “Then, dear Lee Kellner, welcome to the recruitment office of the Nyal Imperium, Guardian Division.”
She closed her eye and relaxed into the touch of the healer. When she woke, she would be in the Imperium.
* * * *
The blast played in her mind as she woke. She put her hands up in front of her face and nothing happened. No blast. No hands.
Adora Lee Kellner opened her eyes and looked around. She was in a medical facility; her body was no longer wracked with pain, but she wasn’t able to move. “What?”
A man in a red tunic with bright blue-green skin and a wicked smile came forward. “Welcome to the land of the conscious, Lee Kellner.”
“Where am I?” The last thing she remembered was seeing her father next to a man with silver skin and huge black eyes.
“You are at the Guardian Research Station in the Nyal Imperium. We are building you a framework that will help you regenerate a close approximation of your original limbs.”
He got a sympathetic look to his strange features. “Your limbs were lost in an explosion, as was a good portion of your upper torso and one eye. We are rebuilding you with the intention of your skills being used as a Guardian or peacekeeper. You are going to be one of the most heavily armed beings in the Imperium.”
She blinked. “I can feel my arms.”
“We are in the process of grafting the bases to you. Once they have integrated with your nervous system, you will have the full range of movement you previously enjoyed.”
She was feeling panic welling inside her. She fought to move limbs that weren’t there.
“Breathe deep. Exhale. Breathe. Exhale.” He came and touched her neck.
She relaxed and did as he suggested. When she finished her surge of panic, he touched her forehead, brushing at her hair. To her shock, she could see every pore in his palm and down to the microscopic level. “What is happening to my vision?”
“Your eye was destroyed; we used available technology to rebuild it; we had to remove the other one to match your vision, but they have your original colour and responses.”
She swallowed, and with effort, she managed to reset her eyes.
“I understand that this will be difficult for you, Lee Kellner. We will have counsellors for you, and your father has a com unit. You may speak with him along sealed frequencies.”
“My father knows where I am?”
The doctor stroked her cheek. “He is the one who ran to the Recruiter and signed you over to the Imperium before your people unplugged you. He saved your life.”
She smiled weakly. “That sounds like him. When can I speak with him?”
“When we get your limbs working properly. You are in the harness right now, but we have to wait until the attachment and regeneration units are confirmed before we seal you up. You will have to return here every six months for adjustments to the limbs, but in four years, you will have a new set of arms and legs.”
Lee had to ask. “How are you so good at Terran physiology?”
“We have five pilots and bonded ships under our belts, so to speak. We have given them sight, the ability to walk, healed devastating scars and other adaptations. They gave us their bodies, and we gave them the ability to live as they wished to.”
“Are they here?”
“They are on their rounds. One at a time will come in for maintenance for either themselves or the ships.”
“Could I meet them when they come in?” The idea of meeting one of the first wave of Terrans was tempting. It might help her for what was to come.
“Of course. I have noticed that your species likes to cling together. I will make sure to let you know when one is coming in. I believe that we have Gadget due in in a week or so.”
Lee smiled. “I look forward to meeting her. It is a her, right?”
He chuckled. “For her mate’s sake, I hope so. Not that he couldn’t adapt and thrive.”
“What is your name?” She bit her lip.
“Ah, Dr. Eikanior. You can call me Dr. Icky.” He twisted his lips. “It always ends up that way anyway.”
Lee chuckled and tried to scratch her nose. To her surprise, a silvery hand lifted and the shockingly warm metal performed the action.
Dr. Icky grinned. “It seems we are on our way.”
One month later, Lee was ready for action. She had gotten control of her limbs, the installed weaponry and the framework that encased her living tissue. She had initially balked at the webbing of metal, but when it was explained that the exoskeleton would allow her to lift nine times her body weight, she accepted that she would be strong and look a little slutty.
The most difficult part of her new look had been her hairstyle. She had access to manual triggers in case the weapons jammed, but the overrides were along her scalp. She went for tight cornrows, and the rest of her hair was brushed over to one side. Brushing her hair and braiding it was one of her exercises. Fine motor skills were something she had thought long lost, but she gained them with remarkable swiftness. The prosthetics moved with her normal reactions, and she had been informed that if her body had gotten used to the lack of limbs, the transition would have been much more difficult.
She was taller than she remembered. They had extended her limbs to get her the best return on exertion. The extra length in her legs contained minute struts and pistons that could propel her upward with no notice. After the first few disastrous landings, she had gotten the hang of it.