Taunting Krell Page 7

“Cyan.” She paused. “My official name is Cyan Eous.”

The tall cyborg crept a little closer. “You’ve caused quite a stir in our community.”

“I bet.”

“Are you a cyborg?”

“No.” Cyan paused again. “I don’t know. I don’t think so but we have similarities.”

“Were you cloned?”

“No, I know I wasn’t cloned, but I wasn’t given many details.” A headache stated to throb in the back of her head. “Talking about it causes pain. We’re bordering on me screaming in agony. Can we change the subject?”

“We’re very curious about you.”

“I know.”

“Did Earth Government send you to track us down?”

“No.” The pain eased. “They sent me after Markus Models. They are a defense android line that didn’t work out so well. An Earth company made them too smart and the creepy things think they are alive but they aren’t.”

“The same has been said of us.”

“They are totally different from you. I’m aware of your kind. These things are not people. They are cold, killing machines that have decided they are alive but they don’t have souls. They share mind links, don’t even have their own personalities, and decided to kill anything breathing since they believe their so-called race is better than any other.”

More council members and the doctor entered the room but they hung back, allowing Jazel to be their spokesperson. Cyan glanced at them but focused on the cyborg female.

“The government doesn’t know about me.” Cyan paused. “Only my father and his team knew I was no longer fully human.”

“Who was your father?”

Pain throbbed. “I can’t say. I’m supposed to say his name was Edward Pack, there’s an entire history created for me to assure my past is covered, and every fifteen years it changes.”

“Why?”

“I don’t age.” Cyan tried not to show the relief she experienced over being able to tell someone, anyone, something true about her life. “Every fifteen years I retire from Earth Government and take a few years off before I reenlist in another branch. They believe I’m my own daughter.”

One of the council members moved forward. “I am called Coval. You expect us to believe this? They do intensive scans.”

“I’m an excellent hacker.” Cyan met his curious gaze. “And I have access to a lot of their hive information networks thanks to my father’s connection to the government. They don’t change passwords often and they are slow to add new technology. It’s not difficult to upgrade the information they keep on me, switch out the files, or erase them. When I reenlist nothing is triggered.”

“Why do you work for them if they don’t know what you are?”

Cyan sighed, staring at Jazel. “What else am I going to do? I’m stronger than most humans, I have been trained to fight, and for the most part I don’t draw any attention as a soldier.”

“Are we your enemies?”

“No,” Cyan stated sincerely. “Can I talk to…?” She was half afraid she’d set someone off in a rage once again. “Mavo? I knew him from before this was done to me.”

The doctor inched closer. “She claims this was done to her while she was an adult. We couldn’t get much else out of her without triggering the pain implants. She stated yes when I asked if she used to be human.”

Jazel gasped, stunned, and gawked at Cyan. “You were once fully human?”

“Yes. My body suffered traumatic injury during your rebellion from Earth.” Her head started to throb again and she reached up with her free wrist to rub her temple. “This was done to me to save my life.”

The council members backed away and the doctor spoke. “She claims she helped us escape. I requested Mavo be sent here but it was denied. Onyx said Krell is convinced it’s a trap.”

It hurt that Mavo wouldn’t arrive any time soon, if ever. Cyan tried to hide the tears that threatened to spill. “I need to see Mavo. I gave him the launching override codes to the shuttles. We were friends.”

“That’s impossible,” a new male voice sputtered.

A tall black-haired cyborg entered the room. Cyan regarded him warily. He appeared angry, out of sorts, and glared at her. She hesitated.

“Mavo needs to talk to me if you want to figure this out. I did give him the codes. Tell him that and he’ll know who I am. He can figure out what I can’t say.”

The new cyborg paled. “Impossible. That young human was Emily Pleva.”

A sharp jab of pain shot through her brain but she managed not to scream. A few of the cyborgs reacted to the name, or what had once been her name. They knew of Edward Pleva. He had started the cyborg project, created them to be a disposable workforce for Earth Government, and he’d been feared by all.

“Yes,” Cyan admitted carefully, trying to word things in a way that wouldn’t set off her implants, waiting for the pain to strike. “You know how insanely smart he could be with creating living beings with his research.” She carefully avoided saying the name Pleva. It would have sent her into convulsions instantly. “He couldn’t stand to watch me die. I’d been ill for a while and he’d started a special secret project to find a way to extend my life. He and his team rushed me inside his lab after I was critically injured during the escape and I woke weeks later with this.” She waved at her body. “Six inches shorter, totally not the same in appearance, yet here I am.”

The dark-haired cyborg continued to glare at her. “I don’t believe it. You somehow accessed the information and are trying to fool us.”

“Zorus,” the female cyborg warned softly, “listen to her.”

Cyan sighed, wary of the headache. “I understand your suspicion. I really do. I don’t even blame you but that’s the truth. I used to be that girl you mentioned but now I have this body. I’m the same inside, for the most part, but they messed with my brain to protect me from revealing who I really am. The Government instantly ordered me to be executed as a traitor since I helped with the escape. My father wasn’t about to lose me again. They conditioned my mind and used implants for anything those didn’t cover until it’s a landmine of triggers for certain words and information. Of course I never wanted to tell anyone the truth until now. I may not have had much of a life but it beat dying.”

“If this is true, which I doubt,” Zorus growled, “why didn’t you seek us out beforehand?”

“Earth Government kept reporting that none of you had survived. I never heard any conflicting reports besides scary space stories that tended to be bullshit to keep humans from venturing out into pirate-controlled regions of deep space. You can bet I would have tried to find Mavo if I’d known he had survived.”

“Zorus?” Jazel tried to get the dark-haired cyborg’s attention. “Order Mavo to report for duty. We need him to talk with her to verify this story. We need confirmation if she is the human related to Doctor Pleva. He has information only she would know.”

La la la, Cyan thought, trying to block out the conversation to keep her implants from inflicting pain. She remembered a trick Bella had taught her to use when hearing her father’s name caused pain and tried it. It’s just a history lesson. Not personal. Not about me. The pain eased and she relaxed, hoping hearing them discuss the past wouldn’t hurt now.

“I won’t do that to him. This is deception.” Zorus glared at Cyan. “I won’t subject him to your cruel game. He loved that human and her death devastated him. He’s never emotionally recovered. You may not have any compassion but I do. He thought of her as a friend and perhaps even as his child. It took him a long time to find peace from the guilt of leaving her behind.”

It made Cyan’s heart ache to think of Mavo suffering year after year. She could relate. She’d never stopped thinking about him. Every sleep cycle she’d imagined his face inside her mind to keep his memory alive. He’d been the only man she ever loved despite him not returning those feelings in the way she’d hoped.

“I don’t want him to suffer.” She stared at Zorus. “Don’t make him come here to talk to me.”

Coval cleared his throat. “We have a dilemma. She’s not human and she may be more cyborg than she admits. What do we do with her?”

“Keep her locked up,” Zorus ordered. “When she’s cleared from Medical send her to detention. We can’t have her running around. We aren’t sure of what she truly is or what her actual motives are. For all we know, she could be a spy sent from Earth. I’d like to believe her but we can’t risk the lives of our people.”

“I protest,” one of the male cyborg council members sputtered. “She’s an attractive female and if she’s a cyborg despite her coloring, we can’t ignore that.” He glanced at the doctor. “What is the condition of her reproductive system?”

“Healthy,” the doctor announced. “She can breed.”

Cyan’s mouth dropped open. “Excuse me?”

Jazel sighed. “It’s law on Garden, our planet, that every cyborg breeds at least one child to help the advancement of our race. Our females are fewer in numbers. You need to take at least two males into a family unit if you are a cyborg. You will be ordered to produce at least three children, one for each of you.”

“No way in hell,” Cyan hissed, shooting a glare at the guys in the room. “Anyone touches me and I’ll slice your nuts off. I’m not a baby factory.”

Jazel gave her a sympathetic look. “I understand but it’s a necessity. You are probably a cyborg and a part of our community. You need to follow our laws.”

Rage burned in Cyan. “This is what you’ve allowed your society to become?” She fixed her anger on Zorus since he seemed to be in charge. “Earth Government told you what and when to eat. How to live. Even who you had to have sex with. You wanted freedom and real lives,” she raged. “You fought for the right to make your own choices. Earth used to be the enemy. When did you decide to use their playbook to force people to be breeders?”

Zorus paled.

“You escaped, risked everything, and you’re telling me you make others go through that same bullshit now? You order them how to live and even how many kids they must have? Even Earth banned those breeding tests.”

The cyborg leaned forward, still pale, and stared at her. “You’re really angry.”

“You bet I am.” She wanted to lunge at him and do damage. “I…” She paused, her headache grew worse, remembering the past. She had to avoid personal detail. Anything she discussed with the cyborgs had to be nonspecific to her former life, her actions. She took a few calming breaths. History lesson—use that trick, she ordered her mind. It helped ease the pain as she carefully reworded what she wanted to say, trying to pull her memory away from vivid details, focusing on her anger instead.

“A human betrayed everyone who trusted her to do the ethical thing. It seems she cared more about granting you rights than you did if this is what you’ve done to the society you built. What is wrong with you?” She shot venomous looks at every cyborg in the room. “They used to tell people that you couldn’t think for yourselves, that you needed them to do it for you, and maybe they were right.”

“We don’t need humans,” Coval grunted.

Thinking so much about the past caused severe pain and she grabbed the back of her head but kept glaring at them. “Someone didn’t suffer all that, risk her ass, and lose the life she had just so you could do this to your own people. Shame on you.”

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