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Authors: Viola Grace

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ShakenandStirred

BOOK: ShakenandStirred
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Shaken and Stirred

Tosha wanted a nice day off with her cousin, but a homicidal bug wave forces her to expose her talent to the others on her tour. Before her government can lock her up, she is swept off by a tornado and whisked into the stars. Joining the Sector Guard had never been an option, but now it was her only choice. Her name is changed to Shake and her first assignment is a doozy. With Vortex at her side, she accepts the emergency assignment and finds herself facing a proven killer who has no problem adding her to the roster.

The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.

                               

Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage the electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author's rights is appreciated.

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.

Shaken and Stirred

Copyright © 2011 Viola Grace

ISBN: 978-1-55487-858-1

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.

Published by Devine Destinies

An imprint of eXtasy Books

Look for us online at:

www.devinedestinies.com

Shaken and Stirred

Sector Guard Book 19

By

Viola Grace

Chapter One

Tosha was breathing heavily as she tried to keep up with her cousin as they brought up the rear of the tour group.

"Whose idea was this anyway?" She was fighting to keep a cheerful attitude while the instruments of a horrific death chased them across the plains.

Alara grinned and kept her speed up. "I think I said we should do something different for a weekend."

Tosha leapt over a shrub and staggered as she landed. "I think we could have just painted our hair green."

Alara barked a laugh. "It's already green."

"See, huge timesaver."

Tosha could hear the insects chittering as they pursued the Dalpha Moon tour group. It had been a good idea to tour the moon in the offseason, but there was a reason that most tourists didn't go into the open wastes. Once a year, for one day, flesh-eating beetles hatched. Today was that day.

A light whirring noise was approaching from above. Tosha kept running, no time for watching to see if the beetles had learned to fly.

A cliff face was looming in front of her, the rest of their tour group were milling against it like stunned sheep.

Tosha stopped and let her cousin run past her. She turned and faced the field of writhing beetle bodies. They were closing in, less than three hundred meters between them and her. The whirring noise sounded again and Tosha watched a tornado touch down and violently throw the bugs in another direction.

It was good but not good enough. Tosha concentrated and the ground beneath her feet started to shake. A fissure opened in the ground at her feet and ran the width of the field. It widened to a space two meters wide and she sighed in relief.

The bugs that got past the whirlwind ran until they hit the fissure and then they tipped into oblivion.

Alara's hand on her shoulder made her whirl in shock. "Oh, Tosha. I am so sorry."

Tosha patted her cousin's hand. "It's all right. It was time that someone knew. I am sure that life in the labs won't be so bad."

"Maybe the tour group won't report you." Alara's hope was touching.

Tosha looked to the crowd of folks who were watching her with a combination of relief and horror. Talents were welcome on Dalpha, but only if they gave themselves over to the government for experimentation. With this many witnesses, Tosha was only going to have one destiny ahead of her. Life in the lab. Her hidden talent for shifting a planet's crust was now out in the open.

The whirring windstorm lifted off and did the most peculiar thing. It pressed against the wall of the cliff and began to throw dirt and debris from inside the cliff face outward. It was making them a pathway.

With the beetles finally turning around to raid their normal food sources, having lost half their number to the fissure, Tosha and Alara joined the crowd waiting until the wafting air of the higher reaches came through the opening.

None of the previously friendly tourists was willing to speak to her, so Tosha grimly faced her fate as soon as they reached the shuttle and returned to Dalpha.

The whirling windstorm was off to one side, humming idly as it spun. It was not a force of nature but rather one of will. Tosha could tell.

Alara smiled at Tosha. "I think the tornado has a crush on you."

She looked at her cousin and tried to determine if the stress had cracked her mind. "You have to be kidding."

"No, I am not. I called ahead."

Alara J'tak's cryptic words would not make sense to the other tourists waiting to get on the shuttle, but Tosha knew what she meant. "You can't be serious."

"Yes, I can. I think you should be standing ten feet to the left, however. Don't worry, I will see you soon." Alara smiled as Tosha started backing away from her.

Tosha knew that she was not the only talent in the family, but for Alara to go on a limb for her was touching. She would be questioned, but she was ready for it, the surety blazed in her eyes.

The moment she was clear of the crowd, the mysterious whirlwind started moving. Tosha closed her eyes as the wind threw grit and dirt into the air. She lost her breath for a moment before two strong arms lifted her in the air. She opened her eyes in surprise to see a man in the centre of the storm.

"Hello." It was silly, but there was nothing else to say as his solid blue eyes smiled down at her.

"Greetings. Hold tight, we are going airborne."

She held perfectly still as the whirling surrounded them. With her eyes focussed on her rescuer, she kept herself calm as they passed above the shuttle and into the hills beyond. When they touched down, she was able to breathe again.

Tosha was trembling uncontrollably. "That was…"

He chuckled. "You get used to it. I am Vortex. May I confirm your name?"

"Tosha C'sar. Thank you, but where are you taking me?"

He let out a sharp whistle and a ship appeared in front of them. A shuttle with sleek and graceful lines gleaming in the daylight.

"I am taking you to safety. Your cousin sent an urgent message to the Sector Guard requesting that someone be here today. She was vague, but our own seers confirmed that something would happen here to benefit Teklan base. Here you are."

The shuttle opened at Vortex's approach. She was a little surprised to find herself enjoying the novel sensation of being carried. He placed her gently in the nav station and she buckled in out of reflex.

"Not that I am not grateful, but what the hell is going on here?" She turned and faced him.

He laughed as he struck a few keys to start the atmospheric action of the shuttle. They lifted off with no sound and he filled her in. "You are being invited to join the Sector Guard. But, given the Dalpha propensity for caging its talents, we thought to get to you before they did."

"What of my cousin?" Their height was now such that she could see the tour shuttle on the ground. One lone figure staring up at the sky with patience.

"She will be seen to but through other channels." Vortex banked sharply and struck a few toggles. "We are going to stealth now. It makes the ship rather twitchy, but she can handle it."

Tosha scowled, "What do you mean
other channels
?"

"I don't know. It is what I was told. You don't need to worry about her. She will be alive and well in no time. You simply need to have a little trust."

Her frown increased in severity. "How am I supposed to trust someone I just met?"

"I suppose you will just have to take it on faith." He hit the thrusters and they shot past the incoming law enforcement.

Her ire died in that moment, fear of the labs in the forefront. She held her breath as they passed those who wanted to shackle her in a cell.

As she watched the stream of ships coursing from the planet to the moon, she made a decision. "Faith is good. I will take this on faith."

Vortex chuckled and slammed the thrusters into high gear. "I will take it."

Chapter Two

The jump was unsettling to say the least. On the ground, Tosha's talent would have gone wild, here, she throttled it back to keep the shuttle in one piece.

Her breathing was audible. The meditation that her mother had walked her through was coming in handy.

"Are you all right?"

"Just trying not to shake the shuttle apart. I have flown in a shuttle plenty of times but never jumped before." Her hands gradually unclenched on the harness and she relaxed into the seat.

"Well, breathe deep. The next jump is in twelve seconds." Vortex's sure hands moved swiftly on the controls and Tosha noticed the halo that crowned his head start to flash.

Twelve seconds later the light was constant and she concentrated on staring at her host as space folded around them.

She took in the width of his jaw, that hypnotizing curve to his lips and the vibrancy of his eyes as he moved them from jump point to jump point. The broad swath of his shoulders was rather nice as well. She had always been a sucker for broad shoulders.

Blushing, she looked out the view screen before he could catch her staring. "Is saving damsels from their governments your regular line of work?"

Vortex laughed. "You are my first damsel. Normally, I simply arrest and detain. I was working for the Nyal Imperium for years before one of my superiors suggested I join the Guard."

"What species are you?" He didn't resemble any of the races she had seen before.

"A Nyal mix. My mother was a noble and my father was a visiting Oshanic delegate. She went into heat and he cooled her off."

She laughed out loud before covering her mouth.

"It's all right, you can laugh, it is a family joke. My mother had herself altered for life under the sea and she moved to Oshanic to have a family. I was born of two worlds and mastered waterspouts when I was a child." His grin invited her to share in his memories.

"And from there you entered service?"

"After my time as an Oshanic peacekeeper, yes. There is nothing water breathers hate more than being bound up in an air spout."

"I can see how that would be a problem." It was hard not to smile, but she thought of Alara and her grin faded. She went uncharacteristically silent. Not knowing exactly what going to the lab entailed was the most horrible part of it. Alara may be fine, but they may be torturing her for information while Tosha was busy flirting with her rescuer.

He seemed to be tuned into her thoughts. "She will be fine. She promised us she would be fine and knew that you wouldn't be if you stayed."

"How did you know I was thinking about Alara?"

"Oshanics are telepathic and I got the empathy portion of that. You were putting out unhappy and guilty vibes." He looked at her with those incredibly blue eyes and her heart skipped a beat. He smiled. "I felt that, too. I should pick up damsels more often."

A blush fired her cheeks as she was caught lusting after the man next to her. "I am sure it's a worthy hobby."

He flashed slightly pointed teeth and flipped the com on. "Teklan base, this is Vortex. I am bringing in the new recruit."

"Vortex, glad you made it back. Dalpha is up in arms. We were afraid they had intercepted you." The voice was cheerful.

"Nope. We are fine."

"Excellent. Plant yourself on a pad, you have your choice."

"Coming in." He disconnected the link and smiled. "We check in every time, or the guns on the satellites train on the incoming ship. No one in their right mind sneaks up on a Guard base."

The world beneath them looked pleasant enough, but the base loomed ominously to Tosha's perceptions.

She replayed the conversation in her thoughts. "Wait. Recruit?"

He chuckled. "I will fill you in when we land."

That sentence sent her mind into another vein entirely. His laughter was embarrassing, but it was an effective distraction. She tried to think of bland sand and not the strangely addictive feel of being in his arms. Her hormones needed to get under control, or she would never be able to look Vortex in the eyes again.

Tosha dug her nails into her palms when nothing else was working. The pain calmed her and she was able to absorb the reality of being on a Guard base.

There was a pleasant hum of activity on the base. Ground crews attended to a small gathering of shuttles and a deliberate intensity was everywhere.

BOOK: ShakenandStirred
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