Taunting Krell Page 22

“I ordered them to follow us. They have recovered some functions. Their hull didn’t breach and they didn’t fire on us because they recognized the Bridden. Release the controls, Cyan. The pilot is taking over.”

She hesitated before reaching for her belt. “We need to get out of here, change course once we’re far enough out of range for them not to be able to track us and put distance between us. We need to keep changing course to avoid them finding us while your other ship makes repairs.”

“We’re aware and have a plan.”

She hesitated. “Would you mind sharing it with me?”

His dark blue eyes narrowed. “No.”

She removed the belt, frustrated and angry, and stood. Tears stung her eyes. He didn’t trust her regardless of how many times she’d shown him she was on his side. She avoided touching him as he stood, made a point of jerking away, and stormed back to her original seat. The pilot passed them on his way to the front. She avoided looking at the other cyborgs. Krell sat too close next to her and she scooted away from him to make sure they didn’t touch.

She felt his attention but ignored it as she stared down at her hands resting on her lap. He was always going to question everything she did. She needed to stop hoping for any other outcome. Movement drew her attention as Gene stood with another cyborg.

“We’re going below. Minimum damage was caused by the impact and we can repair it,” Gene announced.

She glanced up at him. “How do you know?”

He met her gaze. “We’re controlling all the systems on the shuttle to avoid being hacked. We have since we came within range of the Markus Models. We’re each in charge of certain functions.”

She wished she’d known that. She almost shot a glare at Krell but that would mean having to look at him. He’d have saved her some worry if he’d told her that bit of information. She wondered if that’s how the Vontage crew had kept the Markus Models from taking over control of their ship. Probably. Her shoulders sagged and she closed her eyes, leaning back against the seat.

Mavo was probably safe on the other ship but it had suffered damage. She hoped that at some point Krell would inform her of his friend’s health status since she wasn’t about to ask him. He’d just accuse her of something else nasty. It really hurt and that made her mad.

“Are you well? The impact was jarring.”

Oh now he cares how I feel. “I’m fine,” she muttered.

“You’re being so still. Are you assessing your injuries?”

She nearly glanced at him. Krell sounded worried if his soft tone was any indication. “No. I’m fine. I’m trying to cool my temper down so I don’t bitch slap you if you want the truth.”

“Excuse me?”

Her teeth clenched. “You can be a real ass**le, Krell. Leave me alone. Don’t you have paranoid accusations to think up to accuse me of next? That should keep you occupied.”

She was glad for the resulting silence. Her shoulder still tingled from his bite and her body remembered his touch. She was a little sore in the best way from the sex they’d shared. Sex. Just sex. Remember that and don’t let him get to you.

Regret was an emotion Krell began to hate, something he seemed to feel often in Cyan’s presence. He’d obviously angered her when he’d given the order for her to return control to the pilot. She’d done extremely well, her piloting skills better than the male currently at the helm, but it had been difficult for him to put the lives of his men in her hands.

She’d done exactly what she’d promised to do and had been successful. The plan had seemed crazy yet brilliant. He admired how her mind worked. It also left him slightly unsettled that her extreme plan had been something he would never have come up with. The Markus Models hadn’t considered it either and had been temporarily taken out of commission.

Pride also tightened his chest as he watched her. His female possessed great courage along with her intelligence. She swayed toward violence—ramming another shuttle wasn’t exactly clean or smooth, but effective. He reached for her but hesitated inches from her arm. Her closed eyes and tense body revealed she still remained angry but as time passed, her breathing changed and her body slackened.

He touched her gently, pulling her against his chest, and she didn’t jerk away or protest. Her cheek rubbed against his shirt, her hot breath fanning through the thin material to his skin, and his arm wrapped around her waist to secure her in place. He leaned back slightly, adjusted his body to be more welcoming, to pillow her sitting form, to allow her to sleep. The males returned from below.

“Is everything in order?”

Gene gave a sharp nod. “Minimum damage was done and the repairs were easy.”

The stares of the other males registered as he glanced at them. Gene shook his head.

“She is a paradox.”

Krell kept his voice low, not wanting to disturb her rest. “Expand your definition.”

“She appears totally human yet she is not. She seems harmless but she is dangerous. We may want to trust her after what she just did but we cannot. She is a paradox. Odd, unique, but deceptive in her packaging.”

His jaw clenched. “Understood.”

“You need to remember she’s treacherous.” Gene paused. “Some of the most beautiful things are the most deadly. Do not forget that. You had no authority to risk our lives by entrusting them to her.”

Anger gripped Krell at the rebuke from the other cyborg. “Do not forget she’s my female. I am her primary male and therefore make all decisions concerning her. I head this mission, not you, and I don’t wish to hear any more of your input on the matter.”

Gene leaned closer, studying him. “You’re engaging in physical intercourse with her. She’s from Earth, the females there will use sex, and have for centuries, to convince males to do their bidding. You’re far too intelligent to be easily misled by her attractive body.”

“You’re far too interested in her body and what she does with it,” Krell rasped, his temper cooling. “You can’t have her, Gene. The answer is no.”

“It’s her decision to add males to a family unit.”

“As you pointed out, she’s unique. The council assigned her to me and I am fully in charge of all decisions made on that matter. I’m the one you need to seek permission from and I’d rather kill you than allow you to join into a contract with Cyan after you nearly harmed her.” He closed his eyes, held her a little tighter, and accepted the possessiveness that gripped him. He may not have wanted a female in the beginning but she was his now.

Chapter Ten

A bump woke Cyan, surprising her that she’d drifted to sleep in the first place. She became aware of things. She leaned heavily against a warm, big body, and an arm was firmly secured around her back and waist to keep her in place. She inhaled, identifying Krell’s scent instantly, and jerked her head off his shoulder to stare up at him.

“You drifted to sleep. We’ve just touched down.”

“Down? Where?”

He hesitated.

“Never mind. I forgot that I’m the enemy.” She wiggled out of his hold and stared around the shuttle. Her two cyborg monitors sat in the seats across from her watching her intently, probably still wary that she’d try to send mental signals to create some kind of trouble. “I’m awake now. I didn’t sleep too well last night.”

The engines shut down and the unusual quiet was a little disturbing. She tried to judge how long she’d slept but had no idea. Her body’s sluggishness implied it had been a long, deep sleep, and she felt well rested. Activity from the front drew her attention as the pilot left his seat to walk toward them. He paused, addressing Krell.

“They set down safely. I’m going to help with repairs.”

“We’re coming along.”

The pilot checked his weapons strapped to his thigh. “It’s dangerous out there.”

“Understood.”

Krell rose to his feet and Cyan stared up at him. “What is dangerous? Do you plan to clue me in at all?”

He held out his hand for her to take. “Stay close to my side. We’ve landed on a planet we once considered a possible home but changed our intent quickly. The air is a little heavier than what you’re used to but the oxygen is breathable. The inhabitants are barbaric and warlike. We quickly assessed that we’d have to battle them often and didn’t wish to have to kill them off entirely. They would have left us with no choice.”

Dread clenched her belly. “For real?”

He bent, gripped her hand, and pulled her to her feet. “I would not joke about this. Stay at my side and you’ll be safe.”

“You’re going to protect me, huh?”

He stared into her eyes. “Yes.”

“I don’t suppose I get a weapon?”

“You won’t need one.”

“Great,” she muttered under her breath. “Lead the way, great warrior. I can’t wait to see what heavy air feels like and check out some alien world with warlike inhabitants. It sounds fun.” She wasn’t sure if he noticed her sarcasm.

The six cyborgs converged on the lower deck to open the back docking doors. The second the seal broke, an odd hiss sounded through the room and warm air pushed inside the shuttle interior. Cyan breathed in and nearly choked. Her lungs ached instantly and she staggered but Krell grabbed her around her waist to steady her.

“Easy. Just take shallow breaths.” His features had paled. “You’ll adjust within a few breaths.”

She forced more air into her lungs. They struggled a little and she realized why he called it heavy air. It wasn’t pleasant but she could breathe. Her body adjusted.

“I’m okay now.” Her voice sounded slightly odd to her.

“Are you well?” He gave her a concerned look.

“Is it just me or do I sound kind of weird?”

“Your pitch has deepened. It’s the planet. We’ve visited a few times since our initial discovery. It becomes easier to adjust to. You’ll also notice your body feels a little strange. The gravity isn’t consistent with Earth. It’s slightly off.”

“Great.”

The first view outside stunned her. The sky was a bright lime color and everything around her was shades of orange, brown or deep green. Vegetation surrounded the area in heavy clumps but they’d sat down on a flat, very dry area of shit-brown ground. The feel of it under her boots wasn’t pleasant either. It was a little slippery, almost similar to glass, and she didn’t protest Krell keeping a firm hold around her waist.

They rounded the shuttle and her jaw dropped open. The Vontage was huge and had landed on the planet’s surface. The large underbelly doors were slowly opening, creating ramps to the ground, and as they approached she saw dozens of cyborgs wearing black uniforms emerge. They were heavily armed. They took positions around the ramps, their attention focused on the vegetation surrounding the huge, flat, barren area. A second wave of cyborgs came down the ramps carrying large containers.

“Is all that firepower needed?” Cyan hated the worry that suddenly ate at her.

Krell kept advancing. “Yes.”

She shot a nervous glance toward the ugly trees, not seeing much since they were too dense. “What is out there?”

He hesitated. “Large, angry inhabitants who had to have seen us come down. We’re going to quickly work on the Vontage to get her fully operational. We could have made the repairs in transit but it would have slowed the work. This is faster. The space suits make us sluggish if we’d had to do the repairs in transit.”

“That big sucker is going to lift off the surface again?” She studied the huge ship, a hotel with thrusters, and doubted it. “You know Earth space-docks them during repairs, right?”

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