Haunting Blackie Page 7

“What about your men?” Blackie had a lot of questions and he would get answers.

Danica held his gaze. “There were never any males. All canine units were created female. The project leader wasn’t willing to risk nature taking hold. It was feared that alpha traits might surface in males and he wanted our complete loyalty, without question. Canine DNA carries inherent traits that recognize distinct hierarchy, like the structure in a wolf pack. He feared a bond with a male would activate our instinct to defer to a canine alpha male, make us impossible for him to control us. We were designed to serve but we’re naturally aggressive.”

“What does that mean?” Blackie was confused.

The woman hugged her middle. “Humans wanted to be our masters. A male canine might command the loyalty of a female if he was her mate. She might listen to him over anyone else, including so-called ‘masters’. Nature.” She paused. “They never considered we’d bond with cyborgs but that’s what happened. We gave you our fidelity. We served you above all else and we would make any sacrifice for those we cared about. Things went wrong, though, because cyborgs had to flee before we reached the pick-up sites. We were trapped on Earth and the security forces slaughtered our kind.”

Blackie felt his chest constrict upon hearing that last part as a memory of Hellfire promising to be his bunkmate flashed through his mind. It hadn’t been a lie. She had planned to escape with him. The strong emotion wasn’t pleasant as he identified grief and regret. He couldn’t form words but Gene didn’t have the same affliction.

“Why were you and Eve spared?”

She glanced at her sister on the floor. “Cameron Henderson was our creator and Eve belonged to him, at least he wanted to believe that. She was an obsession of his. I think he fell in love with her but the bond was his alone. She did not love him. It also could have been because he was a conceited ass**le and he refused to destroy what he believed was his biggest accomplishment in life.”

Danica stared at Blackie. “She said she’d die if she was left alone without at least one of her littermates. He spared me to make sure she didn’t die of a broken heart. Canines are known to completely lose the will to live when they lose someone they love if their sense of loss is too great. He wasn’t willing to risk that happening to her. We escaped about eight years after cyborgs fled Earth. It was a harsh existence but she got us out of there. Cameron made her suffer greatly for refusing his advances during those years.”

Another unfamiliar emotion caused Blackie’s heart rate to accelerate and he became aware of feeling overheated. He suffered an urge to get his hands on the Cameron she spoke of just to commit a violent act upon the human. Rage. He identified it quickly. It was of little satisfaction to logically assess that the human was already dead of old age.

“You’ve survived in deep space ever since?” Gene scoffed. “That’s highly unlikely.”

Danica shook her head. “No, it isn’t. We appear completely human and we’re good at adapting. We moved around our home solar system for a few decades but it was getting harder to stay concealed as technology evolved. We took jobs at mining operations on our moon and some of the moons of Saturn. Security measures requiring identification are more lax off Earth and we watched each other’s backs. About eleven years ago there was an explosion at one of the jobsites with mass casualties. We made it to this transport freighter and took it. The crew had died and no one tried to reclaim it. We’ve been doing what we do best since then.”

“What is that?” Blackie bent down, making sure Eve still breathed. It worried him that she hadn’t come around. Her chest steadily rose and fell.

“Chasing down criminals and helping save innocent lives. Law enforcement is kind of what we were created to do. We became bounty hunters. It kept us far enough away from Earth to avoid detection but earned us enough credits to resupply our home.” She glanced around. “This was all we had besides each other.”

“We need to return to the Bridden.” Blackie glanced up at Gene. Rage still burned inside him at the deception of the council. They had left a race of women behind to die on Earth for some reason. There had never been any mention of anyone going with them so logic supported the obvious. The council had used the women, lied to them and made false promises. Worse, they’d done it to Hellfire. Canine women had given their lives so the cyborg race could survive. “I want words with the council.”

“I’m as angry as you are,” Gene whispered. The cold, infuriated glint in his eyes indicated they had come to the same conclusion. “How could they do that?”

“The council is going to pay for what they did and for keeping it classified. We should have been told and given a vote.”

“What vote? What are you talking about?”

Blackie held Danica’s curious gaze. “We were never told about canine units. No one asked us if we were willing to sacrifice your lives. We all should have fled Earth together.”

“All of them women.” Gene’s voice reflected his outrage. “While so few of ours were created and survived. Do you know how that could have changed our evolution?”

“I can think of nothing else.” Blackie studied the beautiful face of the woman on the floor. She had promised to be his bunkmate. He might not have always been alone if she’d been allowed to leave Earth with him. Flashes of his life since leaving Earth streamed through his thoughts and it only enraged him more. His hands clenched and he wanted to hurt someone, preferably every member of the Cyborg Council and all high-ranking cyborgs who had been privy to the secret.

“I want to spend five minutes with the members who are responsible,” Gene admitted. “I’d do some serious damage.”

“Agreed. We need to go,” Blackie ground out. “Before they send another team or one of the seals we created fractures. They don’t have suits and mine has been compromised.”

“I’ll carry her,” Danica offered, tentatively approaching. “I’m stronger than I look. She’s my littermate, a sister.”

Blackie’s head snapped up. “Back off. I will do it.”

Danica stepped back, startled.

“I knew her,” he admitted. “She rescued me.” He carefully gathered Hellfire into his arms and cradled her against his chest. He hated that his bloody shoulder cushioned her cheek but it couldn’t be helped. “No harm will come to her.” Not without someone dying if they attempt it, he silently added.

“He won’t hurt her,” Gene whispered as he used his elbow to open the bulkhead doors they’d stabilized after reaching the command center. “I’d be more worried about our commander on the Bridden. Do you need assistance walking, Danica? I could carry you.”

“I can make it unaided,” she responded. “But Eve doesn’t leave my sight.”

Blackie kept his objections silent. He’d deal with that once they returned to the shuttle and a medic checked Hellfire. Her name is Eve. It was going to take time to adjust to that.

Chapter Three

Nightmares tortured Eve as images of mutant humans rushed at her, their eyes sunken and their skin blistered with open sores. One of them touched her cheek and she attempted to punch him. Strong fingers clamped around her wrists, pinning them next to her head.

“Wake!” It was a deep, masculine voice giving her a direct order.

Her eyes opened to stare into a gaze that had haunted her forever. She’d gone from a nightmare into another dream. This one she welcomed as she stared into deep, dark-blue eyes. His dusky gray skin only emphasized their color. The jet-black eyelashes framing them were thick and long.

She breathed him in and the masculine aroma made her want to curl into him. His blood had once stained her clothing, touched her skin. It was a scent she was strongly attracted to, one she’d never forget. He was hurt and every protective instinct inside her homed in on his needs.

Shit. This is how it started and I know how it ends.

Emotion choked her until she couldn’t speak while she stared deeply into his intense gaze. Once she had believed her thoughts were completely hers until she’d become aware of someone else. A presence lingered in the back of her mind, its identity a mystery. It had taken her days to figure out that sensation of being watched, of someone in the room when she was alone, came from one of the chips that had been implanted inside her head. She remembered everything about that day…

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

She was picking up faint signals from a cyborg. The more she focused, tried to search it out, the clearer it became. He was in pain and Eve became obsessed until she got a fix on his location. He was somewhere close, inside one of Cameron’s original genetic research rooms. The cyborg was near enough that their shared ability to remote-access computers had somehow crossed each other’s links.

It was a huge risk going after him. It was easier to rescue the ones awaiting duty activation. Security was lax in the development labs where they manufactured cyborgs. Many of them had been created before it was decided the cyborg units were a failure. When she freed those cyborgs, she could easily program the computers to indicate that they had expired due to flaws. They went on record as having been automatically dumped into the incinerators but no bodies were ever actually burned. She woke them from the growth tanks, smuggled them out of the building and sent them to 895589 for safekeeping.

He was an active unit and she had no way of concealing it if she took him. Through their link, she felt his pain increase. She would risk everything to set him free. Cameron Henderson would punish her but she doubted he’d terminate her life. She was Eve—the first prototype of the canine unit and he always stated that she was his favorite pet.

Her first glimpse of the cyborg made her heart do funny things. It wasn’t just the fact that he was so badly abused. Someone had really damaged him. That pissed her off, was horrifying. Cuts, bruises and even some burn marks temporarily scarred his beautiful, gray-toned skin. He’d heal but that mattered little. She just wanted to touch him, couldn’t resist. Tears she rarely shed had come unbidden just from staring at his handsome face. He hurt and she suffered with him. The mental link became a physical one the second her fingertips touched his cheek.

There was no time to waste though. She released his bonds and got him to the roof as quickly as possible. Though she realized that he had no reason to trust her, it wounded her feelings when he latched on to her throat as they waited for his rescue. For a few moments she feared he’d kill her. She had never considered he’d see her as an enemy.

She straddled his lap and used her body to distract him, managed to soothe him and urged him to listen to his instincts. Doesn’t he feel our connection? Isn’t his heart racing as wildly as mine is just from looking at me? Doesn’t he long to pull me close and hold me the way I do him? All those questions flashed through her mind while she waited to see if he’d end her life.

He was one of those sexed-up cyborg models. New thoughts filled her mind. Want. Take him. Mine! He’d be able to keep up with a canine’s sex drive and he had passion. Most cyborgs were reserved but he wouldn’t be with his enhanced libido. That knowledge heated her blood enough to make her break into a sweat. She’d never craved sex the way others in her line did. She avoided physical contact with men at all costs, considering Cameron kept trying to seduce her, but she wanted to climb on her cyborg’s lap and ride him until they both passed out.

The smell of his blood only made her want him more. She longed to kiss each injury and tend to him in every possible way. She explained to him exactly the type of cyborg he was to help him remember his genetic design. The sexual interest he showed made her nearly lose her mind. Her body rubbed against his eagerly. She knew she’d be embarrassed later. She was practically humping his lap.

Prev Next