Seducing Stag Page 28

They made a quick stop and he got her some power bars and water. He led her into Control after she downed them and pointed to a seat in the corner. “Sit there.”

She spun, walked to it, and seated herself. He noted Kelis, Parqel, and Hellion appeared astonished by her presence. Stag took his own seat and laid his hand on the pad, reading the information they’d assembled for him, double checking their calculations.

“Hello, Nala.” Hellion broke the silence. “You look lovely today.”

“Silence,” Stag ordered. “She’s not here. Ignore her.”

Hellion frowned at him. “But she is.”

He shot him an infuriated look. “I decided she’d be safer here than in my quarters. This area is more protected if we suffer massive damage. Now face forward and pay attention to your station. Today is not a day to become distracted. Am I clear?”

Hellion nodded, turning in his chair. “Of course. Don’t say it. I know. Turn off my emotions.”

Stag sighed. “We need to be at our best.” He had the countdown show on the main screen. “We’d all like to see home again. Do not forget our number-one priority on every mission we take.”

“Agreed,” Kelis stated.

“Protect our people,” Hellion grunted. “Against those skin droids, in this case.”

Parqel spoke softer. “I always expected to die, but not like this, trapped in dead space. We’re getting out of here. I swore I’d be taken out during battle.”

“You might get your wish,” Stag reminded him. He placed his hand on the pad again, calling the rest of his crew to Control. They came, expecting the order.

Yammer and Veller had two large bags each slung over their shoulders and took positions at the back of the room, near the doors. They touched the emergency panels and buckled themselves against the bulkheads, standing. Stag noticed the confusion on Nala’s face.

“They aren’t here for you,” he informed her. “We’re going to leave the dead zone. I have faith in our skills.” He said that to all of his crew. “The Markus Models could be out there waiting for us the moment we exit. Every weapon aboard our ship is here for us to use if we’re boarded.”

The doors opened and Maze entered, two large kits in hand. He nodded at Stag and took one of the chairs, securing his medical equipment against his console so they wouldn’t move if they took heavy damage or lost gravity.

Stag faced the front screen. “Buckle in tight.” He noticed Maze had followed his directive, two weapons strapped to his thighs. He held the medic’s gaze. “You know your orders.”

Maze jerked his head in the affirmative, grim.

“Don’t shoot me twice,” Hellion muttered. “Make the first one count if you have to kill us to avoid capture.”

“I promise,” Maze swore.

Stag didn’t envy the medic’s position at that moment. He was supposed to save lives, not be ordered to take them if they were going to be captured. “We must protect Garden at all costs.”

 

Nala swallowed hard and tightened the belts that strapped her to the seat. She had followed the conversation—and wished she hadn’t. The cyborgs weren’t next to the doors to keep her from escaping. They were there to protect Control if those skin droids that had murdered her crew managed to dock with Stag’s ship. And Maze was under orders to kill them all if he was left with no other choice.

As a captain, she understood. She’d given her crew the same order if they’d ever been boarded by pirates and all hope was lost. Nala had decided a fast death at the hand of one of her crew would be more merciful than being raped and held captive to birth a mutant. All reports stated most captured women died during childbirth, but some lingered for months after, dying agonizing deaths from radiation poisoning.

Stag’s reason for giving that order was different. Cyborgs had information that would put their home planet’s location at risk. It was Stag’s job to make certain that never happened.

They had a countdown showing on the main screen at the front of the small room, though their Control was bigger than the one on her ship. She watched the time pass, keeping her word to be silent. The cyborgs spoke in hushed tones, checking systems and preparing for whatever they were going to do.

The Cyborgs were very different from her crew. Her men would have been filled with nervous chatter, sharing raunchy jokes to break tensions, and lots of cursing would have gone down if they believed an attack was imminent.

Part of her was filled with awe. Stag’s calm attitude set the tone for his crew. He was a great captain. Her respect for him grew.

“Prepare,” Stag finally stated. “We don’t know what will await us out there but I have faith in every single one of you. Be aware of the systems under your control. They will attempt to hack us, and they have a habit of targeting nonessential systems. Are you ready?”

The mood changed in the room and Nala could sense it. It wasn’t fear but more of a determination. Every cyborg was prepared to die defending each other and the ship. Maze would only take their lives if they were overrun by those flesh bots.

A shiver ran down her spine, wondering if he was under orders to shoot her too.

She hoped so. Those things probably wouldn’t tie her to a bed to use as bait a second time. Stag had told her they’d killed one of her men by dissecting him while he was still alive. Being shot sounded kind in comparison.

She gripped her belts as the engines came online, the vibrations growing stronger.

“On zero.” Stag paused. “Be prepared for some jarring. Our stabilizers will experience a slight delay.”

Hellion spoke. “They weren’t designed for this.”

“No, they weren’t,” Stag agreed. “The Varnish is tough though. We’ve keep it in excellent condition.” He paused. “Mark. Three. Two. One.”

In the next instant, Nala was thrown back against her seat. The floor under her and the chair shook, and she realized what they’d done. Stag had powered up the engines and they’d gone from a dead stop to a full burn. That maneuver would have been impossible on the Pride. Her older transport would have incurred massive damage.

The stabilizers kicked in and everything stopped shaking, restored enough so she didn’t feel the forward motion.

“One solar panel broke loose but it’s nonessential,” Kelis stated. “No other damage registering.”

Prev Next