An Excerpt From: ASSASSIN MINE
Copyright © CYNTHIA SAX, 2012
All Rights Reserved, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.
I’m being watched.
The fine hairs on Sabria’s bare arms lifted and her skin tingled, early warning signals that had saved her life in the past. She curled her fingers around the handle of her gun, the cool metal reassuring her, her skills honed from a lifetime spent hiding on hostile planets. Show no fear. She inhaled, counted to five, exhaled, and pivoted on her booted heels.
She saw nothing, the illuminated walkway devoid of life, the citizens of Symrah III honoring the newly established curfew, the Federation at war with the vicious Balazoids. Sabria peered into the shadows, cocked her head and listened for the rustle of cloth, the whisper of shoes against simulated stone or the telltale click of a trigger.
“I’m armed,” she called out, hoping to scare her stalker away. No one replied.
Traz, where are you? Sabria glanced at the night sky, searching for her brother’s ship. Vessels shot across the darkness, the small specks of light too far away to be identified. The three moons hung low on the horizon, casting a pale glow over the rooftops.
There was no sign of Traz. She scanned the area. Or her mysterious watcher.
The streetcrawler positioned at her feet broke the silence, beeping and whirling as it awaited much-needed repairs, its lights flickering and its shell dented.
“Yes, yes, Bits, I’ll fix you up.” Sabria crouched by the cute little bot. “What happened to your shell?” She extracted the suction tool from her work belt. “Did some mean Federation man kick you?”
Sabria applied the mouth of the tool to the foot-sized dent. “There are some bad men in the world.” She pulled and the metal popped into place. “People say my brother is one of them because he looks and acts tough…and because he escaped prison.” As she removed the suction tool, the bot chirped happily, its appreciation gratifying. “But he’s not. He went to prison to protect me.”
Sabria flipped the streetcrawler over. “And you’ll help me purge his records yet again,” she whispered. She slid a card into the slot she’d modified during the previous round of repairs. “For a few months, maybe even a year, he won’t be persecuted. He’ll be free, equal to any other Federation citizen.” She righted the bot. “You’ll do that for me, won’t you?” She patted its shell and the machine cooed contentedly, rubbing against her legs.
“And as a thank-you, I’ll replace all of your lights.” She pulled the filaments from her pocket. “My boss says you don’t need lights, they’re not necessary for you to work, but I know you like to be fully operational.” The bot pushed against her hand.
As she fiddled with the front beams, installing and aligning them properly, the feeling of being watched intensified. Hoping to distract her stalker, she deliberately dropped a straighter. The tool clattered on the manufactured rock and she spun around.
She caught a glimpse of moonlight reflecting off an inhumanly pale male hand before her watcher disappeared into the shadows once more. He’s a harmless android. Sabria relaxed, tension easing from her shoulders. “Are you broken?”
There was a long pause. “Yes.” That single word echoed as though it traveled over a long distance, the android’s voice low and deep and arousing.
He’s a machine. Sabria shook her head, banishing her instant attraction to him. “I’ll fix you.” She straightened. “Stay still.” The streetcrawler at her feet obediently froze in place.
Sabria approached the shadows, her body trembling with awareness. He must be a companion android. That’s why I’m having this strange reaction. She fumbled in her tool belt for her diagnostic device, androids being more complicated than streetcrawlers to fix. “Have you identified your malfunction?”
“No,” he growled, expressing an impressive degree of emotion.
Red eyes blazed in the dark. Sabria blinked, confused. Why would his visual system revert to such an inhuman setting? The only species with red eyes is—
Shoes scuffed against the pedestrian walkway behind her. “Shit.” Sabria drew her gun as she turned. A beam arced before she could fire and her weapon flew from her hands, her fingers throbbing with pain. She reached for her daggers.
“Don’t even think about it, bitch,” Rium sneered, the greasy-haired Symrah soldier flanked by two of his henchmen. All three men held guns in their multiple right hands, leering grins plastered across their ugly faces. “After General Camur’s assassination, we were given orders to shoot any suspicious characters.”
“I’m not a suspicious character.” She raised her hands in the air, defiantly meeting the power-high soldier’s gaze, Rium grasping onto any weakness, any reason to torment her. “I have authorization to be here. I’m repairing the streetcrawlers.”
“That’s a perfect cover for an assassin.” Rium’s gaze drifted down her body, lingering on her breasts and groin, his perusal making her skin creep. “And your brother isn’t exactly an upstanding citizen. No one would question your guilt.”
Sabria stayed silent, recognizing the truth of his words.
“But we’ll make you a deal.” Rium licked his plump lips, leaving a trail of saliva on his flesh. “You be nice to us, all of us.” The men grinned, their flight suits tented around hard cocks. “And we’ll let you go.”
“No.” Sabria edged away from them, coiling her body, preparing to run, to risk her life to avoid that fate. “You’re not touching me.” She sprinted.
They lunged in a synchronized assault. One man yanked her arm and she spun. Another man ripped her top, cool air hitting her skin. She extracted her daggers and attacked blindly, slicing her blades across the closest assailant’s chest, digging two deep stripes into his flesh. He howled in agony and dropped to his knees, blood gushing between his fingers.
Rium’s other henchman fell backward, gurgling, a black throwing star lodged deep in his throat. Sabria glanced behind her. No one stood there. She was alone. How—
“You bitch.” Rium advanced, knives in all four of his hands. “After I fuck my fill of you, I’ll kill you slowly, painfully. You’ll beg me for death.”
“Don’t touch her.” Behind Rium, a tall, lean figure stepped into the light, his muscled form clad in tight black leather, his garment accessorized with daggers and guns. “This breeder is mine.” He had pale skin, even paler hair and eyes as red as the blood he’d spilled. “Find your own female.”
Sabria swallowed a gasp, fear coursing up her spine. He lacked the tentacle hair of his kind, the male’s baby-fine human tendrils attesting to his mixed heritage, but she recognized the threat he represented. This was no android, programmed not to harm. This was a Balazoid, a cold-blooded killing machine, an enemy to the Federation, and the assassin Rium hunted.
The Symrah soldier faced Sabria’s unlikely champion. “I’ll kill you even slower, Balazoid.”
The Balazoid arched one eyebrow. “Will you?” His top lip curled. “This will be interesting.” Blades spun in his long fingers, the weapons extensions of his arms.
Rium’s Adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed hard. “Fuck.” He dropped a knife, the metal clinking against the stone walkway, and he pulled his gun.
Sabria blinked once and the Balazoid had sheathed his blades. She blinked twice and he gripped Rium’s weapon. “Guns aren’t slow.” The assassin tossed the gun into the street. The weapon shattered with the force of his throw. “We’ll fight hand-to-hand.”
Rium gaped at his empty fingers, as though he disbelieved his eyes. “Who are you?”
“My enemies call me Dreck.” The Balazoid ran his palms over his white hair, pushing a wayward strand back into place, showing no emotion over the derogatory name he’d been given, Dreck, a slur on his mixed parentage. “And I don’t have friends.”
“You won’t have anything after I’m through with you.” Rium circled Dreck. The Balazoid didn’t move, remaining frighteningly still and calm, his body loose.
Balazoids have heightened senses, Sabria’s brother had told her. If you see one, leave immediately. Don’t try to fight them because you won’t win.
I should leave now. Sabria glanced at the male the Balazoid had killed…for her. No, I have to stay in case he needs my help. She wiped her blades against her pants, smearing blood onto the fabric. I owe him that.
Rium aimed a knife at the Balazoid’s unprotected back. “Dreck!” Sabria yelled a warning as the knife whistled through the air. The assassin turned and deflected the blade with his own dagger, metal bouncing off metal, sparks flying from the contact.
The Balazoid leaped toward Rium, vaulted off the Symrah soldier’s shoulders, flipped over, twisting his torso, and landed behind him. “I assume this is what you were attempting to do.” Dreck stabbed the oblivious male, his jab lightning quick. Blood spurted and Rium stumbled forward. “See how the wound pains you, yet doesn’t kill?” The Balazoid nodded, his expression smug. “Slow.”
“And you.” The assassin’s gaze shifted toward Sabria and she straightened. Swallowing her fear, she lifted her chin, meeting his gaze directly.
“You should remain silent, female,” he haughtily informed her.
“Silent?” Sabria glared at him, a flash of righteous anger overriding her terror. “I was warning you, you ungrateful asshole.”
“Warning me.” The Balazoid’s grim lips twitched. “Warning me,” he repeated, humor bubbling in his words.
Sabria’s face heated. Condescending bastard. She transferred her attention to Rium. His expression darkened, his intentions transparent. The fool isn’t giving up. Rium’s knuckles whitened as his fingers tightened around his blades.
“Dreck!” Sabria screamed as the Symrah soldier swung.
The Balazoid stepped to the left, closer to her, and with a flick of his wrists, he calmly sliced off two of his attacker’s hands. Rium howled, his severed hands falling to the walkway, knives rolling from the Symrah brute’s jerking fingers. Blood gushed from his wrists.
“Using the word Dreck on a Federation-controlled planet isn’t recommended, female.” The Balazoid continued serenely speaking as though their conversation hadn’t been interrupted. “Next time, if you insist upon warning me.” His crimson eyes glittered. “Screech Darius.”
Screech? Sabria opened her mouth. The pool of red grew around Rium’s black military boots, and she pressed her lips together, opting not to irritate the Balazoid, Darius, further.
“I wounded him too severely.” Darius waved his hand at his Symrah opponent. Rium fell to his knees, his face pale, his body drenched with blood. “I made a mistake. I never make mistakes.” Darius frowned, looming behind the fallen male. “I’m broken.” He ran his blade across Rium’s throat. The Symrah’s eyes widened and he folded into a heap on the walkway.
Darius sheathed his daggers and approached her, his lips pressed into a thin white line, his face lean and angular, not handsome but aristocratic and regal. Sabria backed up nervously. Shit, he’s deadly to the senses. He studied her as she studied him and she warmed under his perusal, her body flushing with arousal. “H-h-how are you broken?” Her fingers fumbled clumsily as she secured her daggers.
“I’ve been watching you. I can’t stop watching you, and when the inferior males touched you, I felt anger. Here.” Darius tapped his chest. “I think of you as my breeder, even though that is forbidden, and I yearn to release inside you.” He stood close, warmth rolling off his body in enticing waves.
This magnificent male wishes to fuck me. Darius was a finely honed killing machine and the sexiest being she had ever met, her desire for him elevated by the thrill of a battle fought and won. Her body hummed with awareness.