Authors: Angela Castle
By Angela Castle
An Imprint of Whiskey Creek Press LLC
Whiskey Creek Press
PO Box 51052
Casper, WY 82605-1052
Copyright © 2014 by
Warning: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 (five) years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.
Names, characters and incidents depicted in this book are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental and beyond the intent of the author or the publisher.
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Cover Artist: Gemini Judson
Editor: Dennis Hays
Printed in the United States of America
Other Books by Author Available at Torrid Books:
Warriors of Kelon Series
Blue Bloods of Archalon Series
Moon Shadows Series
Dragon Down Under Series
Dragon Down Under
Dragon Down Under: Two Plus One
For the fans of my Kelon series, you help me keep their stories going. Also, thank you to Kerrie, who helped me work out plot issues on this story. Rest in peace, my friend. And thank you to my Angels, who lift me up when I’m down. We are there for each other no matter what life throws at us!
Every muscle in Te-Commander’s Vallarr’s body tensed, his breath held as the warriors in front pushed open the compound door. It had taken them too long to track the human women to this place. Anger burned in his gut. He wanted to tear out the throat of every lowlife, bottom-feeding Xerson. He exhaled, holding back a shudder, trying not to think of the things the Xersons would have already done to the fragile, helpless human females.
He took to heart his orders to find these women after meeting the small, golden-haired beauty, Sara. She was mated to Solron, head healer of Kelon Prime.
Vallarr listened to her soft voice, saw the sadness in her blue eyes as she told him and the council about the other women taken by the Xersons to use as breeding slaves. Sara was used as a torture slave because they could not use her for breeding. They left her to die in an abandoned war station where Solron had discovered her.
Despite the surrender of the Xersons and the end of the war, the wounds throughout the galaxy still ran deep. Extracting information from the Xersons as to the whereabouts of these human women proved difficult and lengthy. Xersons were stubborn, hiding the truth until the threat of attacking their head military installation on the Xerson home world made them surrender the information.
They had sent the human breeding stock to a remote planet on the edge of Federation space. Without proper jump coordinates, and not knowing if the area was safe for a space jump, it had taken them far longer to reach this place.
“Commander, the hallway is clear.”
Vallarr shook his head to clear it. His warrior’s braid fell over his chest armour.
“Healer, are you picking up anything?”
He glanced behind him at young Kelon, who Solron had trained as an expert in human healing.
He tapped his scanner, his lips tipped down in a frown. “The planet’s heavy, ionic atmosphere is interfering with the signal. I am afraid, Te-Commander, we are going to have to do a search and see.”
Vallarr growled. He did not like going in blind, but they did not have any choice. It was his duty to save these females.
“Be careful of foot, this whole place could be rigged with traps. Pair up and search the compound. Nothing is to be left unsearched, even if it looks like mounds of dirt.”
Vallarr remembered how Solron explained the warriors almost missed seeing his Sara because of the filthy state she was in. Vallarr’s warriors would not make the same mistake when so many lives were at risk.
“What worries me,” Vallarr’s second in command, Nyl, nodded towards the long, dark corridor, “is the lack of any Xerson guards. If these human women were so vital for their breeding program, why leave them unattended? It’s almost as if–”
“They were abandoned like Sara,” Vallarr finished.
Growls from the other warriors met his ears, their anger filled the air. They all agreed, the Xersons were nothing but the scourge of the universe. No one, especially frail creatures such as human women, should be at the Xersons' mercy.
No more waiting. Vallarr raised his light, the strong beam cutting into the darkness. “Go!” He surged forward, the men in threes behind him, his second signalling to pair off and search doors as they passed.
Unease filled him, making his fingers sweat, his breathing in and out in measured breaths. His spine tingled with awareness. Something was not right.
“The air feels... stale, the smell of...” the healer whispered, but a step behind Vallarr.
Many ground battles had taught Vallarr the scent. No longer concerned for his own safety, he cut around one corner. At the other end was a door, twice as large as the others they passed.
Vallarr marched up and examined the hinges and locks. “Fire down!” he called and the men backed up as he raised his weapon. A single shot fired at the lock and a swift, heavy boot to the centre of the door made it fly open.
They heard crying, whimpers and moans of pain. Vallarr bolted forward. His vow to Sara and Solron was to save the human females. Blood pounded in his ears as his flash light caught the cages, the women on the floor.
He paused, his gaze following the healer's—right by his boot was a motion trigger, an internal explosion device, the type the Xersons favoured.
He mentally chastised himself. He had not made commander by being foolish. He scowled at the sensors on his wrist, the heavy atmosphere interfered with more than the medical instruments. They did not picked up on the specific electrical signature of explosive devices.
The urgency of rescuing the women, and the slight possibility one would look upon him with favour clouded his judgment more than he cared to admit. Ever since meeting Sara, he entertained the hope of claiming a soft, human female for his own.
Swiftly, the warrior behind him crouched down and deactivated the motion trigger with a device of their own, called a
. It disabled smaller explosive devices.
Vallarr let out a relieved breath. “Each take a cage. We have to get the females to the safety of our ship.”
Vallarr approached the first cage, his focus on the trembling female, and he crouched down, trying to appear non-threatening. The woman scuttled backward, pressing her back against the far wall, her big brown eyes wide and her small human body trembling in clear fear.
“We are not here to harm you, but to save you. Do you have a translator? Do you understand?”
She whimpered, but nodded, tears running down her dirt-smeared face leaving a streak of clean, pale skin. “Do not fear us, little human, you are safe now. We will take you home to Earth.”
He gripped the bars and went to pull, he needed to get her out of this demon hell. “No, don’t! Don’t touch the—”
The warning came too late. A sudden beeping sounded all around them. Realisation and dread raced through his veins like liquid ice—there were explosive devices hidden on the hinges of the cage doors. He cursed his malfunctioning wrist sensor and himself for making a basic error. It was too late as the others jumped back in alarm.
“You’ve killed us, you’ve killed us all!” the female screamed at him. She huddled down, her slender arms covering her head.
“Fires of Elron, abort, abort, run now!” His bellow echoed through the halls and into the communicators of all the men. It would not be only the cages rigged to explode, knowing the Xerson propensity for cruelty, the whole compound would blow. Some warriors already carried women in their arms, some struggling, some limp. They obeyed the command, running full pelt with their cargo for the exits.
“Please, please help us.” Another soft voice pleaded. “Don’t leave us here to die.”
He knew Xerson detonators. There was only three milrons until everything exploded. It was impossible to save them all. He was in command, he should have stopped to check the cage doors—this is his fault. Adrenaline surged through his body, giving him the strength he needed to rip the door from its frame. He roughly yanked the woman into his arms, ignoring her startled cry, cradling her against his chest as he turned and ran.
Fire and metal twisted, roared and deafened him. Hit from behind, the last sound Vallarr heard was the scream of the woman still in his arms, her voice echoing in his head while he fell forward, sheltering her body with his.
‘You’ve killed us, you’ve killed us all!’
Emily Morland paused outside the doors of the Colonel’s home office, somewhat confused as to why she was here. Ever since the public announcement from the Australian government about the Colonel heading the Kelon-Human initiative, she saw less of him than, well, her usual glimpses.
It was huge, splashed all over the world media, how the Australians were pioneering by accepting the aliens on their soil in a more permanent arrangement. It put out the nose of some of the northern countries, who thought the aliens should be dealing with them rather than Australia.
The Kelons flatly refused to set up an embassy, or work with any other country. Humans and Kelons would work side by side. The deal was they would share and help advance human medicine and technology, and new ways of creating sustainable, green power.
The debate over what the aliens got from the deal still raged. Humans had mixed feelings which they expressed in various opinions from utter disgust and issuing death threats to women openly wanting to ‘save a pony and ride an alien'.
Emily saw no problem with them wanting human women as wives. As long as both parties were safe and happy, it was no skin off her nose.
She sighed, staring at the office door.
Better get this over with.
She loved her father, but was tired of his guilt-driven need to see to and fix everything in her life.
She shifted, leaning more heavily against her elbow crutch while she raised her hand and knocked.
“Enter.” The rough, snapped command came from the other side. Her father was a mix of contradictions when it came to his only daughter. Sometimes he tried to treat her like someone under his command, other times he was only a caring dad.
She reached for the door knob, only to have it swiftly open before she could get it.
“Emily.” The Colonel’s blue gaze softened when his eyes swept over her. “You’ve changed your hair again, and it’s longer.” He stepped back as she put her weight onto her good leg and moved into his office.
Emily raised her right eyebrow. “Hi Dad, nice to see you, too.”
“Sorry, Em. Come in love.” He stepped aside.
Her gaze fixed on the chair as she made her way to it, and with a little sigh, she sank down, easing the pressure on her leg.
“So, why the sudden call in? I doubt you did it to discuss the length of my hair and the new highlights.”