Intimidator (Preyfinders, #2)
by Cari Silverwood
This is Book 2 in the new Preyfinder series. Book 1, Precious Sacrifice, is currently in the anthology, Kept. Willow has her hands full scraping out a life in a grungy neighborhood where drugs and crime are the norm. Life is hard, but it's about to get harder. Being transformed into a sexual pet for an alien warrior may be her only way out. But Stom, the man she's been awarded to as a battle honor, has no use for a female, not when his heart is still in a million pieces. Though the need to be Stom's mate is overwhelming her, mending his heart isn't going to be enough. His enemies are searching, looking for the women who are more than they seem, but she's in their hands before she discovers she's more-than-human. Sometimes it sucks to be a chosen one.
Book 1, Precious Sacrifice, (which is part of the Kept anthology) can be purchased here: http://www.amazon.com/Kept-Erotic-Anthology-Sorcha-Black-ebook/dp/B00IR33PVS/
On the planet Grearth.
The wind came from where the sun bleached the horizon, fluttering the ashes higher off the scorched ground, a bitter flock of blackness that clouded the sky for miles. Stom sucked in a breath through his mask. Unlike the trail of ten fighting men who swept out to his left and right, he’d removed his helmet – the goggles and the mask with a breathing filter was it. He needed the touch of the breeze on his face, no matter how acrid.
On his retinal map, there was a tiny green triangle at this spot. This had once been his home.
Nasskia, little Bon, and her older brother Septis would lie here, somewhere, buried underneath the ash at his feet. Unless they’d been unlucky and the Bak-lal had taken them, changed them; if so, they could be anywhere on Grearth. Their nerves hard-wired. Their skin armored, their brains pumped with instructions from the nearest factory queen. Their personalities gone. Even the little ones like Bon. His throat tightened, his eyes stung, and a small muscle beside his eye twitched.
Despite the tight-held ball of emotions inside him, Stom treated his environs to another careful visual sweep. Nothing moved.
Elger’s voice buzzed in his ear comm. “It’s clear, Stom. We haven’t seen a Bak soldier for days.”
With their leader dead three days ago, Stom was filling in. He grunted affirmation to Elger. Other patrols had been ambushed; theirs had been relatively lucky for three days running. “Rest. Keep your eyes up.”
He hunched down onto his heels but kept his mech rifle in his hands. The last Baks on this part of the continent had been a weedy, damaged force. Maybe they could cleanse the whole planet. Never been done before, but gods, they needed to.
There’d never been a starfarer home planet invaded before. How the Bak-lal had achieved this was a mystery. In one night, the Bak-lal had appeared in armies of converted people and insect beast machines.
Once, above his head would’ve swayed a tangled canopy of trees. Grearth, forest planet.
He felt his hand move on the padding inside his glove. His skin was striped with black, his color the mark of the Feya, a people born under trees.
When it had happened, he’d been off planet. A few million had been evacuated. Some higher up had held off using the Planet Breakers and instead ordered Grearth razed by flame. The difference had seemed miniscule. Turn the planet into dust, or burn it. He’d watched from holoscreen as they’d detonated the bombs, the firestorms rendered in deep reds, oranges and black. The superheated carpet of fire had crept silently across the world, burning everything to nothing.
Yet the evidence before his eyes had meant zero. He hadn’t believed, not until they’d been dropped in to clean up remnants.
At least someone would have a future here, maybe not for a hundred years, but the world would recover. He stared bleakly outward, vision blurred. Nasskia was gone. His bond mate. His heart. His soul. His one and only Nasskia who could never be replaced, and his little ones. May demons take the Bak-lal; his little ones were gone too.