Rules of Engagement [Cyberevolution Series Book 4]
Click on image to enlarge.
by Kaitlyn O'Connor
Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance/Romance
Description: War is all that any of them have ever known, but the strategies the cyborgs, Kameron, Damien, Gavin, and Kyle, are familiar with don't seem to work nearly as well in their campaign to win Zoe. She's human, after all and completely unpredictable. Zoe isn't certain what to make of the cyborgs--beyond the fact that they're seriously big and dangerous--and quite possibly four of the most handsome males she's ever seen. She's their enemy. They've made that abundantly clear. So why is it that they've suddenly taken the notion to convince her to contract with them? More importantly, why is that she finds herself wanting to when it's probably the worst idea she's ever had?: Rating: Carnal-multiple sexual partners, adult language and situations, menage a trios.
eBook Publisher: New Concepts Publishing, 2008
eBookwise Release Date: March 2008
632 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [453 KB]
Reading time: 304-426 min.
Police work could be tedious, especially on stakes outs, but this went beyond the pale. Zoe realized she was well past bored, also beyond uneasy. She'd always been a nervous space traveler, and that was when she was traveling coach on a commercial line. If anyone had ever asked her if there was any circumstance that would make her consider traveling solo, and well beyond the frontier, she would've told them to be sure and send her for a psyche evaluation if she announced such a thing.
"What the hell am I doing out here?" she muttered to herself for the umpteenth time.
"You are searching for your sister, who was kidnapped by rogue cyborgs," the computer responded promptly.
Zoe glared at the console. "Half-sister," she muttered after a significant pause while she tried to decide if responding to the computer constituted space dementia.
"You are searching for your half-sister, who...."
"Shut up!" Zoe said irritably. She drummed her fingers on the console for a few minutes. "How far are we from the nearest habitable planet?"
Silence greeted the question.
Zoe rolled her eyes. The computer, naturally, was equipped with AI. Unfortunately, even with artificial intelligence, it tended to take everything literally. If being alone for so long didn't tip her over the edge, she thought the damned computer was going to drive her insane. "Computer respond!" she snapped.
"The last habitable planet surveyed is seventy two hours, thirty three minutes, ten seconds earth standard time, from the current position of the Evening Star 9120, traveling at full hyper-drive. Folding would reduce the estimated time to reach the habitable planet to twenty hours, five minutes, thirty seven seconds. In the event of damage to the Evening Star 9120, it would be necessary to re-calculate the time required to reach the habitable planet according to the drive status."
Zoe narrowed her eyes. Unfortunately, the computer hadn't been programmed to react to a glare. "Didn't I tell you that I wanted you to survey everything and search for anything even remotely habitable?"
"I was ordered to survey worlds we passed close enough to to utilize long range sensors."
"And?" Zoe demanded, holding onto her patience with an effort.
"The last habitable planet...."
"What about around us? In front of us?"
"Would you like for me to do that now?"
"Now would be a good time, yes," Zoe snapped, infuriated to discover, after nearly three months of traveling, no less, that the damned computer had interpreted her command to mean only the bodies they passed. If she hadn't known better, she would've suspected the thing was deliberately trying to thwart her efforts to find Bronte. Slumping in the pilot's seat, she resumed drumming her fingers on the console, trying to bring her irritation under control. It was singularly pointless to rail at the computer, although a rousing good argument right about now might help to blow off some of her steam.
She missed her partner, and that was saying something because he rarely had more than two words to say to her--'let's go' and 'want donuts?'.
Truthfully she supposed she didn't miss him nearly as much as she missed the life she'd flushed down the toilet to come on this wild goose chase.
She didn't even know Bronte. She didn't understand why she'd felt this compulsion to throw everything away that she'd worked so hard for and go after her.
She'd always meant to meet her half sister--at some point.
She'd told herself that for years anyway, almost ever since she'd discovered her biological father--the randy two-timing bastard--had been contracted and already expecting a child when he'd been pumping her mother.
Well, not quite that long, she supposed. She'd been eight years old before she had actually discovered her background, not that it had required any sleuthing on her part. Her mother had gone ballistic when the old bastard's woman had died and she'd discovered he still didn't mean to contract with her. She'd spilled the whole tale then, and Zoe had discovered that, not only did she have a name and face to put with 'father', but she had a sister, too, one that was only a few months older than she was.
By the time she'd gotten into her teens, she'd been too resentful over the fact that her father refused to acknowledge her to look kindly upon the 'accepted' one. At the same time, she'd yearned to get to know her. She'd spent her entire childhood wishing she had a sibling, desperately in need of a playmate and friend that would be there when no one else was.
There'd been no chance of that, though. Her father had taken care to keep his two families separate. The closest she'd come to meeting her sister was a chance glimpse now and then while she was growing up. She'd lost track of Bronte completely for years, until she'd shown up to take over the old man's practice.
That shouldn't have bothered her, but it did. Even though it was completely logical and understandable that Bronte, who'd studied to be a doctor, would step in their father's shoes, and yet it had resurrected all the old feelings of having been shunted aside, the feelings of unworthiness.
She'd let those feelings keep her away, and now she'd missed her chance to get to know her sister.
She pushed those thoughts aside. She wasn't going to just accept defeat.
It had been a blow when she'd been called in to investigate the abduction and discovered it was Bronte that had been taken. The rogue bastards had taken her with them, though. She didn't know why, but she knew damned well there wouldn't have been any reason to take Bronte if they'd meant to kill her.
She was alive--somewhere.
If it had been anyone but Bronte, she would've accepted that it was a closed case, impossible to bring to a satisfactory conclusion. Officially, she'd done just that, closed it on orders from her superiors. On a personal level, it sure as hell hadn't been a closed matter, however, and when she'd found out about the reward the company was offering for information leading to the stronghold of the rogue cyborgs, she'd taken leave from the force, sold everything she had to come up with the money she needed to pursue the case....
And here she was in the middle of no fucking where, running out of patience because she could see she wasn't going to crack this case and find her sister.
In a matter of a few weeks, the company she'd leased the Evening Star from was going to report it stolen, and that was the least of her worries. She'd taken two month's leave, and she'd been gone for three already--no job. She'd sold everything she owned to finance her jaunt--which meant she was flat broke because failure also meant she wasn't going to get a dime of the reward money she thought she'd get to put her life back together.
"Shit!" she growled, surging out of her seat and prowling the small cockpit area of the Evening Star. "They've got to be out here somewhere! They need basically the same things we do, damn it to hell! It isn't like they could just live on a rock!"
Ok, so technically, they weren't 'alive' to begin with, but they'd been designed and manufactured by humans and she knew from studying the information on the 'borgs that they had been constructed from almost as much biological material as inorganic and that meant, as far as she could see, that they needed a lot of the same things to sustain them. She'd seen the vids of the abduction. There was no deterioration of the skin or flesh that sheathed their titanium chassis. She might not be a scientist, but it didn't take that to figure out that the organic materials would've been damaged if they'd been living under conditions detrimental to humans.
That comforted her because she knew it meant Bronte had a better chance of staying alive until she could rescue her. It also limited the options insofar as where the rogues were holed up.
She still didn't quite get that.
She wasn't buying the story the company had spun on it.
She'd watched the security vids and she damned sure didn't see anything, beyond the kidnapping itself, that pointed to 'crazed'. They'd planned and executed a virtually flawless abduction.
She wasn't buying the 'wrong place, wrong time' scenario. Bronte had been clueless. They could've gotten in and out and she would never have tumbled to what they were doing.
It didn't escape her that they took Bronte after the alarm had been tripped and the private security force had arrived on the scene. Maybe they'd taken her as a hostage, thinking that would stop them from trying to shoot them down, but not only did something like that require logical thinking, but they also hadn't made any attempt to utilize her as a hostage, hadn't tried to contact the ships firing on them at all.
They hadn't used her as a shield when they were fleeing across the roof either. They'd been protecting her from fire.
She stopped pacing when she reached a view port, staring out into the vast ocean of space. She didn't believe it was wishful thinking to interpret the abduction as she had, although she was aware that she wasn't as completely subjective as she needed to be. There were just too many things that pointed to a predetermined abduction to dismiss it.
The cyborgs had hit the med center with the intention of taking 'a' doctor, if not Bronte in particular. They'd gone straight to her offices, emptied it, and taken her, as well. They hadn't even attempted to access any of the other offices. There was nothing even remotely random about it, regardless of what those assholes at the company said to the contrary.
The question was, why? Why Bronte? Why a doctor at all when they were nothing but machines? Why hadn't they hit the company and made off with records regarding their construction? Why not carry off a tech from the company if they thought they needed something?
"I have determined that there is a sixty percent probability that there is a habitable star system just beyond range of my sensors," the computer announced abruptly, breaking into Zoe's thoughts.