Authors: Mina Carter
Tags: #Sci-fi Erotic Romance
“Gotta love a bit of kick. Makes life interesting,” she quipped, slipping into the co-pilot’s seat to the left of the cockpit. She got one arm looped into the harness before the engines fired and slammed her back into the seat. Used to the high-speed ascent, she closed her eyes and waited it out. Several long seconds later, gravity started to release its clutches. She twisted and looped the other arm through the harness in the half second before the gravity systems engaged.
“Aye, it does indeed.” The pilot grinned at her over his shoulder. Automatically she returned it, lounging comfortably in the padded co-pilot’s seat as the transport turned in the high atmosphere and headed back toward the
A wave of weariness washed over her. It felt as though the last month had lasted a lifetime. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d slept in an actual bed—if the hard bunks on Coalition ships could be classed as such—as opposed to grabbing catnaps on whatever transport she found herself on.
Sometimes she got lucky and could grab a straight six hours if a transfer was long enough. Like most soldiers, she’d learned to grab sleep as and when she could, because she never knew when she was headed into battle again.
The Kiinarsi had stepped up their activity a hundredfold, leaving the Coalition scrambling to shore up the gaps. Which meant that any able-bodied soldier was being pressed into hard service with minimal down or recovery time.
When Wynter’s unit had bought the farm three weeks ago on the Moons of Deltarian Four, she and the two other survivors had had their wounds glued up, been washed off, and shipped out to other units. An experienced battle sergeant, with a background in weaponry and explosives, she’d been a prize transfer. Even though she was well versed in “fuck you” when it came to the higher ups, some units were so low on bodies that they’d screamed and begged the powers that be for her. So far she’d spent time covering for injuries on the
before being perma-transferred to the
to take up command of a weredog squad.
My, how the mighty had fallen. Her ex would be laughing his ass off, if he hadn’t already gotten shot there in the Suvarian Reaches just before their divorce. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer person.
Wynter’s lips pursed as she ran a thumb over her ring finger. She could still feel the bite of the laser as it burned away the marriage tattoo. Good riddance. The only thing she liked about having been married to that two-timing, bed-hopping, lying asshole was the fact that she didn’t have to use her maiden name anymore.
Because once people found out that her father was Admiral Daniels, Commander in Chief of the Coalition Forces, then shit changed. She got yanked right off the front line and wrapped in so much cotton wool she could BASE jump right off the top of the Command building on Terra Two and fucking bounce.
Nope, she’d stick with Ferris, thank you very much, and carry on being able to do her job. A sigh trickled from her lips as she leaned back. Then she caught movement out of the corner of her eye. A screen to the pilot’s right showed what looked like… She tilted her head to the side. It was an ass.
A very naked male ass.
The pilot reached out and snapped it off.
“What the hell was that?” Wynter demanded, sitting straight up in her seat. She always liked a bit of ass, and damned if that hadn’t been a very nicely put together example at that. What she didn’t like was damn-fine, naked male ass doing that sort of dance on a troop transport heading out of a hot zone.
“Um, nothing, Sarge. That screen’s always been a little dicey…”
The pilot was lying, sweat beading on his temple and sliding down the side of his face in fat, wet droplets of guilt. She sat back, watching him with the snake-like gaze her father had always accused her of having. It was the only thing he’d been right about. She didn’t speak, just waited for the pilot to fill the silence.
“It’s nothing. Honest, Boss. Just Rennick and Camden blowin’ off some steam. They’re good guys, honest.”
Wynter lifted an eyebrow. Yeah, blowing looked to be one of the activities likely to be going on in the loading bay all right. She turned her wrist to access the data link built into her forearm bracer. It was a really fancy piece of kit, but she couldn’t deny how useful it was in combat. Not only did it relay information about her surroundings and the locations of her team within them, but within range of a Coalition ship, it allowed her to uplink to the central database.
A few taps of her fingers and she had the personnel files on James Rennick and Drew Camden scrolling over the screen. Her lips pursed. A corporal and a specialist. Not newbies by any stretch of the imagination. Rennick, the corporal, should know better. Wait… Her eye caught on a designation as it flicked by, so she paused it and scrolled back.
“Shit, Rennick’s Vesuvian?”
“Hmm?” The pilot’s attention was only half on her as the bulk of the
loomed up ahead.
“Oh, yeah. Big bastard when shifted.” He chuckled as he tapped the console in front of him to lay in their approach course. “Big when not shifted as well. He’s not one you’d want to take on in a bar brawl, that’s for sure.”
Wynter nodded. The performance reports contained some stills, so she flicked through them. Big was right. All Vesuvian weredogs were, but Rennick was possibly the biggest she’d ever seen. They were mean as fuck on the battlefield. Perhaps she’d gotten lucky with this assignment after all.
“Just the one? Or is Camden as well?”
“Nah, Cam’s a wolfhound type. Fast as all hell though.”
The pilot flicked open a comm channel as the maw of the
’s landing bay opened in front of them. “Control, this is India-five-seven-nine on final approach for landing. We have minor wounded, so requesting medics on standby.”
“Roger that five-seven-nine, you’re cleared for bay seventeen. Medics on standby. Bring her in nice and gentle if you would please, we’ve only just managed to hammer the dents out of that bay from a hot landing last week.”
Wynter sat back to let the pilot do his thing. Despite her relaxed sprawl in the co-pilot’s seat, her mind rolled with activity as she flicked through the rest of the squad’s information. As she read, the smile on her face spread. The squad was full of reprobates and hardened veterans, all dogs. She flicked the screen off and sat back as the runners hit the deck in bay seventeen, a sense of satisfaction and glee surging through her.
When her father found out she was kicking it back with weredogs, he’d have kittens.
The only thing on Cam’s mind as he and the rest of the squad poured out of the back of the troop transport was getting himself and Ren into the showers as quickly as possible. First because his stomach was as sticky as all hell and second because the climax Ren had stroked him to was nowhere near enough to calm his raging libido.
“Hey, what’s the hurry, Cam?” one of the guys shouted from behind him. “Anyone’d think you had a hot date!”
“Screw you, Perez.” Cam twisted to flick the bird as he clattered down the boarding ramp. Ren’s deep chuckle told him that the bigger man, now clothed, had caught the gesture.
“You fucking wish, Camden. I’m way too much man for you!”
“Ignore him. He’s just jealous…” Ren stopped in his tracks as their unit commander, Major Cooper, appeared at the doorway in front of them. Since they’d lost their combat sergeant last week, the corporal’s stripes on his arm meant Ren was it when it came to chain of command. He stiffened up, his deep voice ringing around the bay. “Form up, officer on deck!”
Even though they were tired from battle, and in some cases bleeding, the weredogs scrambled into formation: three straight rows, an arm’s length between each dog, with Rennick in front at attention.
“Very good, at ease.”
The major strolled forward. His gaze swept over the troop in appraisal, and then he smiled. Approval radiated from him like heat from the exposed pipes that ran under the corridor grills throughout the ship. No need to shield them when they could be used to heat a monster like the
“I know you’re just back shipside from the field, so I promise not to keep you long—” His grin spread wider at the collective sigh of relief that whispered through the unit. A dog himself, Cooper hadn’t been driving a desk long, so he knew what it was like. “I’m aware that you guys have been flying solo this past week since Travis ended up in med-bay, and I’m proud of you all for keeping it together. Now, I have both good and bad news. I’ll go with the bad first.”
Cooper’s face dropped, solemn, a muscle in his jaw ticking. “Unfortunately Sergeant Travis will not be rejoining the unit. His injuries proved too severe for him to return to front-line duty, so he’ll be transferred out to long-term rehab.”
Cam released the breath he’d been holding since the words “bad news” had crossed the major’s lips. He’d been expecting Cooper to tell them that Travis had succumbed to his injuries. While the fact that he wasn’t coming back was a bit of a kick in the bollocks, it was infinitely better than hearing the ornery, old sergeant had bought the farm.
The question remained though, were they going to promote Ren to combat sergeant finally? Cam’s gaze slid sideways, touching on the broad shoulders of his lover. Ren didn’t want it; Cam knew that. They’d argued over it time after time, with Cam urging him to put in for the promotion. It wasn’t like he didn’t have the experience, but Ren always argued he was a front-line sort of dog.
Cam turned his attention back to the major, listening with baited breath. Were they finally going to take the decision out of Ren’s hands and promote him anyway?
“That being said, there is now a vacancy for combat sergeant, so I’d like to introduce you to your new lead…”
Cam started to grin. This was it. They
going to promote Rennick. About fucking time.
“Combat Sergeant Ferris.”
What the fuck? Who was Sergeant Ferris?
The sound of booted footsteps rang out behind them, from the direction of the troop transport. Cam frowned. There hadn’t been anyone new in the transporter, not that he’d seen anyway.
He made the connection just as the female form passed by in his peripheral vision. Of course. The female voice on the fish-guns as they came in. Nice voice, cute. Shit, he’d called her “doll.”
Cam tried not to let the stunned look show on his face as she came to a halt next to Major Cooper and turned to face the squad.
was their new combat sergeant? Around him, the rest of the mostly male squad perked up. Backs straightened as nearly twenty sets of eyes zeroed in on the newly named Sergeant Ferris.
She. Was. Hot.
No, hot was not the right word. Fuckably hot, totally fuckably hot, was nearer the mark. Less than average height, she verged on petite, with a slender, curvy little build that just begged for further exploration under the uniform. And if the body was a leveller, then the face was a knockout. Her dark hair was pulled back at her nape to reveal high cheekbones and a pair of feline-set green eyes positioned over the cutest button nose he’d ever seen. Then there were her lips. Full, pouty, kissably soft… Yeah, his brain took a little joyride right there.
The enviro-controls switched the direction of the fans in the bay, those behind the major and sergeant kicking in. Cam dragged a deep breath in, savoring the slight scent of perfume that must have been from the weekend gone still coming through her pores…
. She was human.
What the hell were they doing putting a human in with a dog squad? She wouldn’t last five minutes before one of the alphas claimed her and fucked her silly. And as humans broke way too easily, that meant that they were back to square one, without a combat sergeant.
Fuck, fuck, fuck, and just for a change,
“Thank you, Major.”
Oh God, even her voice was hot—soft, with a husky edge that had his dog sitting up and taking notice. Cam wanted to melt into a little puddle on the deck just hearing it. If she wanted to play with dogs, then that was cool, he’d play fetch all right. He’d fetch her right into his bed and roll over so she could rub his tummy…and other things.
“Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. As the major has informed you, I’m Sergeant Ferris, and I’ll be your new combat sergeant.”
Even though her voice was soft, it was pitched to carry, easily reaching Cam on the back row. She looked along the lines, meeting the eyes of each and every dog in the squad.
“Since you all have an excellent sense of smell, I won’t bother with the bullshit. You’re all aware that I am not a weredog. Which means I’m not as strong, or as fast, as any of you.”
Cam kept his face impassive as her gaze reached him. He had to give it to her; she had balls to list her shortcomings up front like that. There was no nervousness about her manner, or trepidation as she looked at them.
“Now, if you think that gives you leeway to fuck me about, think again.” Her voice hardened, the expression on her face more so. She looked every inch the experienced soldier the stripes on her arm said she was.
“I didn’t gain three stripes by being a pussy. I’ve sixteen years hard-battle experience in shitholes you lot would have nightmares about, and there isn’t a trick in the book I don’t know about or haven’t tried. There is just one thing you guys have to remember. I know how quick you guys heal. So fuck me about, and no matter how fast you are…” She took a few steps forward, looking right up into Rennick’s face. Then she smiled. “A bullet’s faster.”
* * *
“So what do you think?”
Cam tried to pitch the question nonchalantly as he and Ren headed for the showers. The barracks had been abuzz with chatter about the new combat sergeant, the new
, combat sergeant, since they’d gotten back from the loading bay. Half the squad was already in love, while the other half had decided that she wasn’t going to last more than a week before getting herself killed.