Redeeming Zorus Page 7

“What is your request?” The computer had a masculine voice.

“Display a layout of the shuttle’s interior.”

A blueprint of the shuttle appeared on the screen above the panel. It even detailed where she’d been dumped.

“Show me where nonpersonal is.”

One room lit up since the computer had been fooled into thinking Charlie had full access. Zorus had been assigned a room on the same level of the three-floor shuttle but his quarters were located on the opposite end, one corridor over.

“Now display all heat signatures.”

The crew seemed to mostly be grouped together on the lowest deck in what appeared to be the mess hall. Two signatures showed near the engines but none shared the same level she and Zorus were on. The cyborg’s stationary heat signature assured her he wasn’t moving around the ship.

“Track me and verbally warn me if anyone attempts to enter this section.”

“Confirmed.”

“Give me full voice command.”

“Confirmed.”

“Open the doors.”

The doors slid open to reveal a dim hallway. Charlie stepped out, confident that she wouldn’t run into anyone, steered right, and used the wall to keep her upright as her still-sluggish legs struggled to carry her forward. She paused in front of the door where Zorus was quartered.

“Open the door.”

The second it slid open Zorus whirled to face her, his big body going into a defense posture. She gripped the open doorjamb to stare at him. “Hi. I’m the cavalry so don’t attack me. My body is still too messed up and my reflexes are too screwed to block any punches you may throw. Are you all right?”

“I locked the door.” His body relaxed but he looked distinctly surprised. “What are you doing here?”

“Saving your ass if you need it.” She cleared her throat. “I’m escaping but I wanted to check on you first. If that son of a bitch brother of mine lied to me about our plans then I wasn’t sure he really intended for you to be returned to your people. If he set you up too then I sure wasn’t going to leave you behind.”

Zorus’ dark gaze widened. “Why didn’t you just escape?”

Charlie frowned at him. “Do you need rescuing or not? I’m sure someone will realize I hacked the computer sooner than later. We need to be off the shuttle before they do. We’ll be screwed once they take back control. At the moment, I can get us out of here and disable them long enough for us to put some distance between us and the pod I plan to steal. I’m going to have their computer run diagnostics. It will lock it up for a good twenty minutes with this old shuttle. That will give us plenty of time to make good on our escape.”

The big cyborg gaped at her, mute and shocked.

“Time is not our friend now, Zorus. Do you need to come with me or are you cool?”

Her words seemed to shake him. “What if I were in danger?”

“We’ll find the nearest space port and I’ll hack into a secure line for you to contact your people to pick you up. I’m heading for Saturn to have a little family reunion once I’m sure you’re safe.”

“You are truly concerned for my well-being?”

“Duh.” She closed her eyes, attempting to fight off a dizzy spell. It took a lot to look at him and remain standing. “We need to go if you want out of here.” Her eyes snapped open when the worst of it passed.

“You’re pale and shaking.”

“I’m drugged still and I feel as though my body weighs four hundred pounds. It’s all I can do to stay on my feet. Time is wasting.”

“Movement on lift two,” the computer voice stated. “It is headed for this level.”

Alarm jolted Charlie. “We’ve got to go, Zorus. Someone is coming. Stay on my ass and I’ll get you out of here.”

She turned and her knees collapsed from the sudden movement. Pain had her cursing when metal and skin slammed together with only the thin barrier of her pants to cushion her. She ended up crouched on her hands and knees inside the hallway without the ability to push back up to her feet. She hated the weakness that gripped her.

“Go,” she called out. “Head left and you can’t miss the lift at the end of the corridor. They have two life pods docked in the secondary cargo hold. I’ll transfer over control to you to enable you to escape. I’ll cycle the diagnostics once you’re clear.” She gasped in air. “Computer, I―”

“Unbelievable,” Zorus muttered as he bent to her and his arm slid around her waist. His other hand griped her shoulder. He lifted her carefully, easily rolled her over into the cradle of his arms, and scowled down at her while he hoisted her against his chest. He straightened to carry her within his strong arms. “You want me to leave you behind?”

“I’ll slow you down. Drop me and run, damn it. Save yourself.” She stared up into his beautiful eyes. “I’ll get away later. There’s not much I can’t hack.”

He didn’t move. “I’ll keep that in mind for future reference.”

He didn’t toss her aside to flee. “You have to go, Zorus. Someone is going to be coming any second from the right side of the corridor. Head left toward the other lift.”

He carried her back into the sleeping quarters he’d been assigned to and strode to his bunk. The doors closed firmly behind them. Charlie couldn’t believe his stupidity. She’d given him a chance to escape but he’d refused. It was a hell of a time for him to find a conscience if that’s why he wouldn’t leave her behind.

The tall cyborg bent and gently eased her smaller frame down on top of the comfortable mattress. His arms slid out from under her quickly before he straightened. “You’re amazing.”

“Overpower whoever comes.” She nodded at his body. “You can kick some serious ass. Get off this shuttle and save yourself. I appreciate your honor but don’t be stupid. You’re worth a lot of money to the ass**les running this ship. They could sell you on the black market to earn a fortune. I never would have turned you over to them if I hadn’t believed you’d be returned to your people. I know a little something about being under someone’s control. It sucks dirt. Now go, damn it. I’ll find another chance to escape just as soon as I catch my breath and regain my strength.”

He crossed two thickly muscled arms over his chest and Charlie realized for the first time that he’d changed his clothes. She’d been too busy in the attempt to save his ass while fighting to stay on her exhausted legs to really take a good look at him. The tank top revealed broad, dusky shoulders, two very muscular arms, and the pants he wore were black, snug breeches. His damp hair told her he’d used the room’s cleansing unit to bathe.

“Your assumption of the crew is incorrect. They are returning me to a cyborg ship in less than twenty-four hours.”

“Oh.” Damn. I could have gotten away. “I just assumed we’d both been screwed.”

“I appreciate you giving up your freedom.”

A buzz sounded and Zorus crossed the room quickly, before the door opened. Charlie winced, waiting for whoever stood on the other side to enter the room to retrieve her. She hoped Gerald had ordered the men on the ship not to beat her down. While drugged, she knew she wouldn’t be able to defend herself.

“You never said a word about tampering with my computer.” Captain Varel’s angry voice shouted. “I’d suspected you cyborgs were talented at that shit but I don’t appreciate it. Return control to me now. I was notified of the change of command the way it’s programmed to do the second you breached it.”

Zorus’ big body blocked the door. “I didn’t do it. The female is well-versed in reprogramming, obviously. She’s here with me and I’ll have her return your systems to normal.”

“Move,” the captain ordered. “I’ll teach her not to hack my ship.”

Two big silvery-gray hands gripped the open doorway. “No. You won’t harm the female for what she’s done. Consider it a tradeoff for the pod she won’t be using during her escape from the shuttle. I will need food for two sent immediately. Her body is in a much weakened condition.”

“I don’t give a damn,” the captain huffed. “She took over my computer.”

“No damage has been done.” Zorus took on a bored tone. “She will reinstate order the second you leave to fetch food.”

“Son of a bitch,” the other man swore. “Fine. Don’t allow her to do it again or I’ll go through you to teach her that no one f**ks with my ship.”

“She will need clean clothing as well.”

“What do I look like? Your employee?”

Zorus hesitated. “You are until your job is over.” He backed up and the doors slid closed. He turned to stare at Charlie, meeting her confused gaze. “I’ll fix what you did. Rest.”

Charlie gaped at him. “But―”

“I have it.” Zorus closed his eyes and seconds passed. He frowned but then slowly smiled. “Very intelligent. You short-circuited the identity scanner, pulled up the stored imprinted identifications, and recoded it to deceive the computer into believing you were Varel.” Dark eyes snapped open. “I reset the system to ten minutes before you broke into the program to delete the changes you made. They will have to repair the physical damage to the panel you accessed but that is their problem.”

“You can do that?” Charlie pushed up on wobbly arms. “How? You didn’t even go near the access panel.”

“I have remote abilities.”

She bit her lip and then stared at him suspiciously. “Then why did I have to break you out of the medical facility? If you can hack at will, you easily could have freed yourself.”

“They created me and were aware of my abilities. They kept me heavily drugged until they secured me inside a room with signal jammers. If you’ll remember, they also kept me contained with chains. They weren’t willing to risk electronic locks in case I was able to transmit shortwave signals strong enough to bypass the jamming.”

“You should have told me that. If you had, I would have just escaped knowing you could take care of yourself if you wanted off this shuttle.”

Broad shoulders shrugged. “You didn’t tell me you could hack their systems either. We have that in common now as well.”

Charlie gaped at him, astonished. “What is it with you and mentioning that?”

“I just find it fascinating that we share similar traits.”

She took a deep breath and tried to ignore how her muscles quivered just from the struggle to hold her back above the mattress. She hated how weak she remained from the drugs. “Yeah,” she said sarcastically. “It’s like we’re twins.”

Zorus shook his head and folded his arms over his chest. “Your attempt at humor is definitely not a characteristic we share.”

“That’s true. I have a sense of humor and you don’t.”

Chapter Four

“True.” Zorus admitted.

He couldn’t stop studying the small human female reclined on his bed. Logic dictated that Charlie should have fled the shuttle when given the opportunity but instead she’d wasted her chance to escape with an attempt to rescue him as well. It greatly surprised him that a female would do that but the fact that she was human left him deeply disturbed.

His gaze landed on her shoulder where her shirt had been torn open by the human male on the docks. Dried blood caked her pale skin. He moved toward the cleansing unit. In a few steps he retrieved a small mobile unit and returned to the bed.

“I’m going to clean you.”

Charlie watched him silently until she sank back onto the bed flat when her arms gave out. “Why aren’t those guys dragging me out of here?”

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