Blood & Steel
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by Angela Knight
Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance/Science Fiction
Description: Description: Fleeing in terror wasn't something Elyn Castel did. People usually ran from her, not the other way around. Besides, after she'd spent fifty years as the slave of a sadistic sociopath, there wasn't much anyone could do to inspire terror in her. But Elyn ran now, and she ran hard. She darted down the concourse in long bounds that made the humans gape, leaping over tables filled with diners, spinning around astonished space station security guards, ducking the angry clawed swipe of a huge A'vi warrior. Her sensors revealed Jarl "Blade" Bladin was still behind her, matching her stride for impossible stride. But when the ill-tempered A'vi tried for him, one swing of an armored fist sent the massive alien down with a crunch and a started, agonized "Chik!" The pursuing security guards had to stop to help the injured A'vi. Never piss off a guy named Blade. Her own master could have told the A'vi that, had Blade left the vicious fuck alive. Elyn had heard that Blade did a very thorough job on Kruz. She would have thanked him for that, if only he hadn't targeted her next. Just that instant, Elyn's cyplant whispered, and she shot in the direction it indicated, a service corridor that snaked out to one of the station's ten huge cargo holds. She could lose Blade there if she got lucky, or kill him if she had to. Or die if she failed.
eBook Publisher: Red Sage Publishing/Red Sage Presents, 2011 2011
eBookwise Release Date: January 2012
16 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [63 KB]
Reading time: 34-48 min.
Fleeing in terror wasn't something Elyn Castel did. People usually ran from her, not the other way around. Besides, after she'd spent fifty years as the slave of a sadistic sociopath, there wasn't much anyone could do to inspire terror in her.
But Elyn ran now, and she ran hard.
She darted down the concourse in long bounds that made the humans gape, leaping over tables filled with diners, spinning around astonished space station security guards, ducking the angry claw swipe of a huge A'vi warrior.
Her sensors revealed Jarl "Blade" Bladin was still behind her, matching her stride for impossible stride. But when the ill-tempered A'vi tried for him, one swing of an armored fist sent the massive alien down with a crunch, and a startled, agonized "Chik!" The pursuing security guards had to stop to help the injured A'vi.
Never piss off a guy named Blade. Her own master could have told the A'vi that, had Blade left the vicious fuck alive.
Elyn had heard that Blade did a very thorough job on Kruz. She would have thanked him for that, if only he hadn't targeted her next.
Just that instant, Elyn's cyplant whispered, and she shot in the direction it indicated, a service corridor that snaked out to one of the station's ten huge cargo holds. She could lose Blade there if she got lucky, or kill him if she had to. Or die if she failed.
Odd. A few months ago, Elyn would have viewed the prospect of dying as a relief. But Kruz still trapped her then, vicious blight that he was. Now, she had no interest in dying. She was curious about what life would be like as something other than a vampire's slave.
Elyn might not deserve to live, but she wanted to give freedom a try.
As she ran for the service corridor, she was acutely aware of the distance between her and her target. Cold, star-flecked blackness lay beyond the towering transparent walls of the Kring Station concourse, along with the elegant white shapes of the great passenger liners and cargo vessels that orbited alongside the space station. Beyond the ships lay the vast blue arc of the planet Cameron, with its landmasses in a hundred shades of green and brown. A thoroughly beautiful view had she not been running for her life.
Elyn had always been fast. She reached the service corridor and plunged into it like a bucktor diving into its burrow. She knew that Blade was much bigger, since he'd been engineered for heavy combat, which made him slower and a fraction less agile. Still, no human and damned few aliens would have had a prayer against him. Elyn, however, was not human, and could run him into the ground. She'd already proven that. In the months he'd been pursuing her, Elyn had always outrun him.
Unfortunately, now there was nowhere to run to. Her ship didn't board for hours yet, and she'd have to shuttle over to it. Blade would be on her long before then.
She had to either lose him or fight. Elyn really didn't want to fight. He'd kill her. And he'd do it bloodily, as the newsies said he'd killed Kruz. If the reporters were right, if Blade really was powerful enough to slay such a monster, Elyn had no chance whatsoever.
So she listened to the ring of boots on the corridor behind her with dread in her heart. The nanotekker made no other noise, said nothing, barely seemed to breathe hard, while Elyn sucked air in desperate gulps. It was like being pursued by a hunting cat, with a beast's utter focus and lethal determination.
Reasoning with a man like that wasn't possible. She could only get the hell away from him. If she could.
The corridor's gray walls blurred past, and with each gazelle spring, her armored boots banged furiously on the deck in a drumroll of terror. Her heart kept time with the beat, pounding desperation in her ears.
At last the great double doors of the cargo hold loomed, locked against anyone who did not have the entry code. In seconds, Elyn's cyplant electronically hacked the code, and the doors slipped soundlessly open. She charged inside, immediately ducked left and leaped to the top of a stack of cargo crates ten meters high. Without hesitating, she began to bound from stack to stack, each leap carrying her further into the hold's poorly-lit gloom.
It was a huge space, long and narrow, running almost the length of Kring Station. Cargo and supply containers were stored here before being transferred to the ships that would carry them to their destinations. Thousands and thousands of containers of every imaginable size, arranged in great stacks to form a city of crates.
The perfect hiding place, with countless nooks and crannies to tuck herself into.
By all rights, the hold's doors should have stopped Blade. Elyn wasn't surprised they slid open for him too. Since he was a Tekker, his nanoplant system was even better than hers when it came to hacking.
As the doors finally rumbled closed, she spotted the hiding place she was looking for and leaped down to duck into a narrow gap between two crates. It was barely wide enough for her shoulders, so she turned sideways and froze with her back against one stack.
Stealth field, she ordered her cyplant.
Processing, the cybernetic implant responded, before adding, Stealth field in place.
Implants throughout her body now generated a jamming field that should confuse Blade's nanotekker sensors. The field was designed to make her body's assorted readings blend into the background data. Even the sounds she made would be tempered. There was a lot of equipment in here, along with organics from a hundred worlds, including living creatures in stasis. With luck, Blade would be unable to pick her out against the noise.
She worked with ruthless discipline to control her breathing. Had she run far enough into the hold? Elyn scanned for him. For a moment, her sensors picked him out plainly as he moved slowly through the hold, searching.
And then he was simply gone. He'd raised his own jamming field.
Elyn had expected as much. They'd had only one night together six months ago, but she'd learned a hell of a lot about the big warrior in those few short hours. Intelligent, skilled, and determined, Blade knew how to get what he wanted and didn't stop until he had it. He was also big, as powerfully built as Kruz, yet with a certain elegance of muscle and motion her master had lacked, with long fingers that had made her body sing. As many lovers as she'd had, none had been Blade's match.
She suspected she wouldn't be able to kill him even if she got the chance. Not even to survive. He'd gotten too far under her skin.
Now it was time for a brisk game of cat and mouse as she tried to get out of the hold before he could track her down. Luckily, her cyplant had already located a servoid passage. Used by the small maintenance servoids that kept the hold clean, the passages were barely wide enough for Elyn's shoulders. Blade would never be able to get his brawny torso through an opening that small.
The trick, of course, was reaching the passage before he found her. Get that door open, she told her cyplant, and leaped down from her hiding place.
She landed in a four-point crouch, knees bent, rolling on her toes, fingertips spread on the floor. The stealth field quieted the soft thump to a bare whisper. Pausing, she listened, but heard nothing except the hum and buzz of stasis units and other assorted equipment. Silent as a ghost, Elyn headed for the servoid passage as her comp worked to hack it. Sweat trickled down her spine as she slipped shadow-quiet between the towers of crates.
She spotted the passage door through a gap in the stacks, a circular indentation in the curve of the bulkhead. She ghosted toward it. Twenty meters. Ten. Five. Two. Sweat beaded her upper lip. Have you unlocked the passage? she asked her cyplant.
Blade should know one of the passages was her objective, otherwise she'd trapped herself in here, and he'd know she wasn't that stupid. But there were six of the passages scattered around the enormous hold, and he had no way of knowing which one she'd pick. He'd have to guess, then somehow determine her approach to it. Not being an idiot, she'd chosen a circuitous route.
Open it, Elyn thought, and dove, buctor-like for burrow again.
Stars exploded in her skull, and she went down in a hard skid, so stunned she barely even felt the pain. A massive weight landed on her back, smashing her into the deck. "Got some bad news," a deep voice rumbled in her ear. "Your stealth field is not as good as you think it is."
Fucking Tekker sensors.
Elyn twisted, slammed an elbow back, connected with something hard, heard a grunt. Tried to eel free, but he'd hooked a thigh over her right hip and an arm under her left shoulder. Going for a headlock, she realized, and slammed her head back. Another grunt as she connected with his jaw, which was apparently solid tritanium, because the blow didn't even rock him.
"Dammit, I'm not going to kill you!" he snarled.
She didn't dignify that with an answer. She was too busy writhing in his hold, bucking hard against his strength. Anybody but a nanotekker would have had a hell of a time holding on to a desperate, pissed-off vampire, but Blade controlled her furious struggles with ease.
"Elyn, if you'd just--"
Rage popped her fangs, and she turned her head and sank them into the palm of his hand.
"Gaah! Bitch!" His right arm released its python grip on her shoulder. She barely had time to realize that was a very bad sign before blackness exploded in her skull.
The little vamp went limp. Blade shook his stinging hand and ordered a scan. Unconscious but uninjured, his nanoplant told him.
How long will she be out?
Estimated three-point-two minutes
He jerked field restraints out of a belt pouch, and went to work twisting them around her wrists. A nanoplant-transmitted order activated the flexible coils, and they snapped rigid, tightening barely enough to dimple the skin. He dug out a thigh set and wrapped them around her upper legs above the knees, then followed that up with an ankle pair. Sedation field, he ordered them.
Sedation field activated, they chorused.
There. That would keep her out until he told the restraints to allow her to regain consciousness.
His captive safely trussed, he got to his feet and considered her, rubbing his jaw. Between the head-butt and that elbow strike, tomorrow he'd have a set of impressive bruises. A human would be dead.
Vampy could hit.
He surveyed her grimly as she splayed face-down on the floor, reluctantly noticing her very nice ass. Actually, the whole package was gorgeous, which was how she'd seduced him and gotten his team killed. He stuck his foot under her body and flipped her over on her back.
She wore a gleaming dark blue skinsuit piped in crimson, with red and blue armored boots. The snug armor hugged Elyn's long, delicious body, with its high, full breasts. Her waist was smaller than the spread of his big hands, and her legs went into next week. She had an oval face and not much in the way of cheekbones, dewy, unlined skin, and a delicately long nose above a full mouth. Her eyes were huge and green when they'd been open, lashes long and feathery as a doll's, with a tumble of bright golden curls to match.
She looked at most twenty-four, a pretty neat trick for a woman pushing seventy. She'd been just nineteen when that bastard Kruz had assassinated her mother and enslaved her. That was fifty years ago. Fifty years as a slave to one of the nastiest assassins in human space, a fate Blade himself had escaped only because she'd warned him Kruz was hunting him.
He owed her for that. But by playing sexual bait for him, she'd gotten both his team and his protectee killed, and he owed her for that too.
So he'd killed Kruz, who had murdered all of Blade's people so bloodily and spread his protectee's guts all over the man's house. Those six deaths were only the latest of Kruz's total. The bastard had been killing for three centuries, many of them murders for hire. Others had apparently been for the sheer joy of it. The vampire had particularly enjoyed butchering women.
Which was why Blade had taken more than an hour to finish him. Kruz had deserved every instant of blood and agony.
Now, he meant to deal with the others responsible starting with Elyn Castel. After her, he'd hunt down No'bin Urthar and Stig Daven, Kruz's vampire henchmen who had directly participated in the murders. Regardless of what he did with Elyn, Daven and Urthar were dead. And he fully intended to take his time killing them.
Now, Blade bent and picked her up, draping her across one shoulder. She was surprisingly heavy. Despite her delicate build, she was more muscular than she appeared, and her vampire nature gave her bones and muscles an extra solidity.
He started for the nearest door, one hand cupping her delicious ass. It was a very talented ass too, as she'd demonstrated during his seduction that night six months ago. Elyn knew how to use that lush little body of hers in inventive, skillfully erotic ways. Nanotekker that he was, Blade knew his way around a female body, but she'd still shown him a thing or two. He was looking forward to finding out if she had other tricks up her luscious sleeve.
She owed him another night, and he fully intended to collect.