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Defender

Defender

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Defender

ratings:
4/5 (5 ratings)
Length:
290 pages
4 hours
Released:
Jan 21, 2016
ISBN:
9781310052026
Format:
Book

Description

(New release date! January 21st.) Two years of unimaginable abuse have left Chandar emotionally damaged. In a final act of treachery, her captor wiped her memory clean in an effort to conceal his evil. Now she's free and working to rebuild her life, but what use is a harbinger who can no longer see the future?

Raylon, the rebellion's fiercest warrior, has known nothing but hardship and pain. Rescuing Chandar awakened feelings he thought long dead within his soul, yet she sees him as her champion, a protector to drive back her fear. He, on the other hand, is tormented by inappropriate thoughts and desires that would horrify her. He has never wanted a female as much as he wants Chandar, but he knows it's impossible. She's much too fragile, too vulnerable, to see him as anything but her defender.

Note to Readers: This book contains detailed descriptions of sizzling passion only suitable for mature readers.

From Cyndi: Battle Born is a spinoff of my Shadow Assassins series. However, it's not necessary to have read the earlier books to enjoy these new stories. All of my books are cross-genre romances. They blend elements of science-fiction, fantasy, and paranormal romance. The Battle Born books lean a bit more toward sci-fi, but there is still plenty of steamy romance. Enjoy!

Released:
Jan 21, 2016
ISBN:
9781310052026
Format:
Book

About the author

Passionate Sci-Fi with a touch of danger and a whole lot of sass. Cyndi has written about rock stars, vampires, and cat shifters, but she’s currently focused on outer space. Her stories are fun, fast-paced, and seriously hot. Her books have made the USA Today Top 100, and frequently land on Amazon Best Seller lists. She is currently working on the Shadowborn Rebellion, a spin-off series set in the Outcasts universe.   She loves to hear from readers: author@cyndifriberg.com https://facebook.com/fribergc https://twitter.com/Cyndi_Friberg

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Defender - Cyndi Friberg

Defender

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Copyright © 2016 Cyndi Friberg

Cover art by Dar Albert

Editor: Mary Moran

Electronic Book Publication, January 2016

Trade Paperback Publication, January 2016

Smashwords Edition, License Notes

Version 1A

This eBook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This eBook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

Praise for Beyond Ontariese

Taken by Storm

"Taken by Storm had it all—tense action, suspense, erotic sex, humor and a wildly imaginative plot."

~The Romance Studio

"Unplug the phone and put the kids to bed; once you start reading Taken by Storm you won’t want any interruptions!"

~Fallen Angel Reviews

"For a story that will delight, entertain, and keep you on the edge of your seat, I highly recommend Taken by Storm and award it RRT’s Perfect 10."

~Romance Reviews Today

Operation Hydra

"I highly recommend Operation Hydrait’s one of the best science fiction romances I’ve ever read. Perfect 10!"

~Romance Reviews Today

"Outstanding! This segment only whetted my appetite for more. The heat between Kyrsta and Trey could cause a nuclear meltdown."

~Simply Romance Reviews

City of Tears

"WOW! City of Tears by Cyndi Friberg is one amazing blend of science fiction at its best and romance at its hottest…"

~eCata Reviews

Defender

Cyndi Friberg

Battle Born, Book Four: Two years of unimaginable abuse have left Chandar emotionally damaged. In a final act of treachery, her captor wiped her memory clean in an effort to conceal his evil. Now she’s free and working to rebuild her life, but what use is a harbinger who can no longer see the future?

Raylon, the rebellion’s fiercest warrior, has known nothing but hardship and pain. Rescuing Chandar awakened feelings he thought long dead within his soul, yet she sees him as her champion, a protector to drive back her fear. He, on the other hand, is tormented by inappropriate thoughts and desires that would horrify her. He has never wanted a female as much as he wants Chandar, but he knows it’s impossible. She’s much too fragile, too vulnerable, to see him as anything but her defender.

Table of Contents:

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Coming Soon

Battle Born 1: Crusader

About the Author

Other Titles

Chapter One

Damn, it feels good to finally get this thing started. Raylon Lasenger matched the long, purposeful strides of Garin Nox, his best friend and commanding officer. We’ve been on standby for the past six months.

It’s been longer than that. Garin paused for a quick look around. They stood on the wide concourse, one of two extending from Lunar Nine’s main entrance. Though many aspects of the outpost were rudimentary compared with current technology, the structure itself was an engineering marvel. Built inside a massive cave on the dark side of Earth’s moon, Lunar Nine followed the cavern’s natural curve, creating a wide, multi-level half-circle that seemed to embrace the docking area. The concourses could accommodate forty ships. At present, there were only six. "The Venture exploded almost two years ago. We’ve been making preparations ever since."

Raylon nodded as they continued their trek toward the Crusader.

As usual, Garin was right. Discontent had run rampant among the battle born for decades. They were an oppressed underclass, forced into military service or used as menial labor, trapped by the circumstances of their birth. Their grievances weren’t new, but losing the Venture with over nine hundred battle born soldiers aboard lit the fires of rebellion. And they’d burned brightly ever since. But a successful revolution needed more than angry men. It needed competent leaders. As one of only four generals in the Rodyte military, Garin had the authority and connections to bring about change. He wasn’t the rebellion’s only leader. He was, however, its most powerful.

At the top of the access ramp they were scanned, confirming their identities and clearance before being allowed onto the ship. I know you went to the palace to announce our intentions, Raylon prompted as they headed for the nearest elevator bank, but I want details. Did the guards put up much of a fight? Describe the look on Quinton’s face when you stopped being nice.

A smile slowly bowed Garin’s lips, the expression as indolent as his movements. He’d just declared war on the Rodyte elite. Raylon wasn’t sure he could have been this composed. "I can do better than that, my friend. Crusader, access Phantom One. Authorization, Garin Nox 92123."

Ready, General Nox, and welcome aboard. The Crusader’s operating system responded in whichever language it had been addressed and sounded slightly female, a popular option on a spaceship full of unmated men.

Activate a viewscreen at my current location and play file 289-82.

One of the walls beside them flickered with internal light and then the garish opulence of the throne room in Keirestine Palace appeared within the display. Raylon turned toward the image, curious about the events yet already resentful. He’d never been to court. Images from news feeds and entertainment vids were as close to royalty as he’d ever come. Quinton Keire sat on the ancestral throne, his thin body nearly lost in his colorful robes. Rather than looking regal and imposing, as a monarch should, Quinton reminded Raylon of a child playing dress up. The eight massive guards flanking the throne only accented the waifish appearance of the man they protected.

Raylon glanced at Garin. Who recorded this? How’d you get a camera past security?

Garin chuckled, clearly pleased with himself. "The vid is courtesy of Phantom One."

The Covert Strike Ships or Phantom class shuttles were brand new and loaded with all sorts of interesting features. Garin had snatched the six ships from the manufacturer several months before their scheduled release so the rest of the star system didn’t even know they were operational.

I can’t wait to pilot one, Raylon muttered as his gaze drifted back to the display.

In the recording, Garin knelt before the throne. Zilor, his youngest brother, was at his side.

Danvier stayed out of sight. Raylon nodded as other elements of the mission fell into place. That was smart.

No need to endanger a harbinger, Garin agreed. There’s been too much of that lately.

Harbingers were powerful clairvoyants who could see into the future and often a whole lot more. It would have been foolish indeed to risk Danvier needlessly. Still, his knowledge of Phantom One had been needed for the mission.

Before Garin could say more, the confrontation began. Quinton came down off the dais and approached the Nox brothers. Stand up and look at me, Quinton demanded. They obeyed, then Garin stepped forward, drawing the crown stirate’s attention.

The following conversation was fast and hostile. In the span of a few sentences Garin established himself as the focal point for the battle born rebellion. When Quinton ordered his guards forward to apprehend the brothers, only half of them responded. A scuffle ensued. The physical exchange wasn’t even long or violent enough to be called a fight. Raylon’s disappointment was soothed somewhat by the final image. Quinton Keire, Crown Stirate of Rodymia, crouched behind his thrown, cowering like a child.

I’ll upload the file tomorrow morning and let the data stream do the rest. Garin deactivated the display and continued down the corridor, Raylon at his side. Images speak louder than words and that last image says it all. Quinton is unworthy to rule our world.

Raylon nodded. They’d needed a strong statement to motivate people to action. Statements didn’t come much stronger than open defiance against a planetary leader. Unfortunately, Quinton’s response had been just as strong. You’re not worried about the bounty? Five million credits is a lot of money. And that’s for each one of you.

Bandar wasn’t even there, Garin flared. How can Quinton justify a bounty on someone who played no part in the disruption?

They reached an elevator bank and both men stepped inside the first available car. Deck One. The car was set in motion before Raylon spoke again. Everyone knows you Nox brothers are thick as thieves. You’re not battle born yet you support the rebellion. That in itself demonstrates your family’s dedication to each other. You’re an elite general, one of the most powerful men on Rodymia. Why would someone like that dirty his hands with our traitorous rebellion?

"Because it’s the right thing to do. Quinton has mismanaged our planet to the brink of ruin. The mistreatment of the battle born is a tragic symptom of a much larger problem. We need a ruler who will listen to his advisors and then lead. One corner of Garin’s mouth twitched as he added, And I love my brothers."

The elevator opened and they walked out onto the topmost level of the midsized ship. If someone managed to bag all three of you, they’d earn fifteen million credits. Raylon paused and looked at Garin. There are many who will be swayed by such a sum.

It’s not going to change my mind. We’ve come too far for regrets or second guessing. This needs to be done, and clearly no one else is going to do it. The guild masters are almost as useless as Quinton.

Can’t argue with you there. Raylon motioned toward the Starlight lounge, which was down the corridor behind him. You want a drink before you turn in?

Sure. Might actually get me to sleep for a change.

A noticeable hush fell over the room as they walked in. The phenomenon made Rayon smile. He used the lounge as an unofficial office, so everyone was used to seeing him. The legendary General Nox, on the other hand, was a rare treat indeed.

Raylon led Garin to a kiosk and selected one of the alcohol-based beverages. As with most battle born soldiers, they both preferred g’haut, a potent, gut-burning liquor.

I’ll never get used to bars on battleships. Garin shook his head as Raylon handed him a shot glass filled with g’haut. Only the most recent line of ships had been equipped with the kiosks and the lounges in which to enjoy the drinks. The concept was still experimental.

Quantities are strictly controlled and it decreases the need for shore leave, Raylon quoted.

Yeah, I got the memo. Garin chuckled.

Suspecting they wouldn’t be here long, Raylon sat down at the nearest table.

Garin did the same. He sipped his drink for a moment then pity clouded his gaze. Chandar still remembers nothing?

Raylon tensed. Chandar was the female harbinger Raylon had helped rescue from her abusive captor, Akim Farmon. Raylon hadn’t set out to become her protector, but the poor thing had been so traumatized by her captivity that she’d latched on to him like a lifeline and wouldn’t let go.

Her distant past is more or less intact, Raylon explained. It’s just the last two years that were wiped clean.

A particularly vile curse escaped with Garin’s breath. Akim will pay for what he did to her. There is never an excuse for that sort of brutality.

All we have to do is find him.

"We can’t detect the Relentless," Garin muttered. Akim’s ship had a covert shield generator just like the Crusader. Both were undetectable to even the most sophisticated Rodyte sensors. Our only hope is to catch him interacting with someone we can see.

Zilor came damn close the other day, but Akim streamed out before Zilor could do more than watch him disappear. Bio-streaming was another new technology. Being able to teleport personnel and supplies from one place to another saved so much time and solved so many logistical problems, Raylon had no doubt every ship in the fleet would soon be retrofitted with the equipment.

Zilor told me. Garin’s expression turned grim yet thoughtful. If Akim’s ship won’t lead us to him, we have to figure out something that will.

Agreed, Raylon grumbled, though I have no idea how to identify that elusive ‘something’.

Apparently ready to change the subject, Garin asked, How much did you tell Nazerel?

Not much more than he knew already. Nazerel was a Rodyte/Ontarian hybrid who was now bonded with a human female. His mate, Morgan, directed the Top Secret taskforce in charge of alien interactions. Nazerel was also Garin’s cousin and they’d always been close. I wasn’t sure how much you wanted them to know, so I just told them we needed a meeting tomorrow morning.

It’s probably better that way. No need to go over it all twice. A moment of reflective silence followed, then Garin sighed. "If I hope to be coherent in the morning, I have to get some sleep. Did Kotto assign a cabin to me or should I just crash on Phantom One?"

Kotto was the ship’s commander. Cabin 1-12 is ready for you, with Kotto’s compliments.

Despite his obvious fatigue, Garin lingered, clearly enjoying his drink and the company of his best friend. According to the gossip, I’m finding mates for all of my friends and family. Shall I find someone for you?

Raylon laughed, though the subject was far from funny. I’ll pass. Just like you, I don’t have time for a mate. Three hybrid females had been recruited for various reasons since their arrival on Earth and all three had been claimed by high-ranking officers. Two of the three were Garin’s brothers. None of it had been intentional, but it was easy to understand why the men were suspicious. We have to expand the transformation program, and fast, or we’re going to have a full-scale mutiny on our hands.

One of many things I intend to discuss with Nazerel in the morning. Garin turned his empty glass over and rolled his shoulders. If there’s anything else I need to know before the meeting, you’ll have to update me on the way. I’m fighting to keep my eyes open.

Understood. I’ll see you tomorrow.

Raylon walked with Garin as far as the elevator banks, then Garin continued down the corridor while Raylon summoned a car for his descent to deck four.

Most humans were unaware of the alien outpost tucked away inside their moon, but all that was about to change. Rodytes had been interacting with select humans for centuries. Human genetics was unusually tolerant of alien DNA. This had proved true during genetic engineering as well as attempts to interbreed the species. So Rodytes, and other explorers, returned to Earth again and again.

The outpost had been built in the 1970s in response to the space race. After several expansions, however, Lunar Nine was abandoned when hostilities on Rodymia forced the planet’s leaders to reassess their priorities. So now, after nearly forty years, the outpost was being reopened. Renovations were nearly complete and it was time to bring humans up to speed.

Raylon had never met Nazerel, though he’d heard a lot about him. All three Nox brothers had been shocked when Nazerel claimed a human female as his mate. And not just any human female, the one who led the taskforce that attempted to capture and prosecute Nazerel.

Strong females had always intrigued Raylon. There was nothing more appealing than a woman who knew exactly what she wanted and wasn’t afraid to go after it. Besides, Raylon was a warrior to the marrow of his bones. His entire life had been one battle after another, and he didn’t see that changing in the near future. A gentle, easily frightened woman would be horrified by the savagery that was an inescapable part of his existence.

As if to mock his conclusion, a pale face appeared in his mind. Chandar. His heart whispered her name, which was utterly ridiculous. Most claimed he didn’t have a heart. Silver-blonde hair framed her delicate features, making her look ethereal and innocent. Eyes, bluer than Earth’s sky were accented by silver phitons, the reflective rings separating a Rodyte’s pupils from their irises. Her expressive eyes said so much without the need for words. He knew when she was sad, or frightened, in need of comfort, or would rather be left alone. Chandar was the exact opposite of what Raylon wanted in a mate.

So why couldn’t he stop thinking about her?

Forcing her image to the back of his mind, he ducked into the express tunnel that circumvented the commerce district and residential sections of the outpost, leading directly to the Pavilion where he’d been staying for the past few days. He’d thought having a suite separate from Chandar would be a relief. Instead, he spent even more time worrying about her. It had been easier when they shared a cabin and he could see her, hear her, and know for certain she wasn’t in crisis.

A railed walkway spanned the short distance between the express tunnel’s end and the archway leading to the Pavilion. With six identical suites arranged around a small courtyard, the Pavilion was surprisingly luxurious compared to the rest of Lunar Nine. A three-tiered fountain sat in the middle of the common area and the simulated sky arching high above reflected the actual time. At present, the sky was nearly black and a multitude of tiny lights represented stars.

He crossed the courtyard and stood before Chandar’s door before he realized what he was doing. His hand rose, almost of its own volition, then he lowered it to his side. Instead, he activated thermal imaging within his cybernetic eye. The device was so convincing, most people didn’t realize it was integrated tech. Chandar was in bed, yet her restless movements assured him she wasn’t asleep.

Sleep was a precious commodity for both of them. He should probably just leave her to it. Pavilion, announce me.

One moment, Enforcer Lasenger.

A short time later, Chandar’s sweet voice replaced the emotionless drone of the computer. I’m not really dressed. Can it wait until morning?

He closed his eyes, fighting back the rush of heat and the unwanted images. I was just checking in. Are you doing okay? He forced the words out as his imagination rebelled against his good intentions. He hadn’t wanted to see her naked, had tried to avoid the temptation. But that first night she’d been terrified of being alone. So he turned his back while she showered. The bathroom was small and several of the walls defaulted to a reflective setting. One glance into the mirror on his right and her image had been seared into his mind. Her skin had the most amazing pearlescent gleam, and her long, lean body— He jerked his mind away from those thoughts, those images. She was completely unaware of her sexuality, her appeal as a woman. For all intents and purposes, she was a child again.

I’m fine, Raylon. You don’t need to worry about me anymore.

The strangest sensation rolled through his being, part anger, part possessiveness. He couldn’t explain the urgency, but the thought of her not needing him any longer upset him, badly. That’s good. His hands folded into fists even though his voice remained calm. If you need anything, I’m right next door.

Thank you and sleep well.

You too. He turned from her doorway with a resolute nod even though his heart was still racing.

Chandar sat up in bed, sheet clutched in both hands. He knew. She had no idea how he’d realized but it was obvious he knew.

Hearing her own panicked thoughts, she shook her head and lay back down. Fantasizing about someone wasn’t forbidden. They were both adults. If she chose to have lustful thoughts about an acquaintance, there was no harm done to anyone. And who wouldn’t have lustful thoughts about Raylon? He was strong and brave, fiercely protective, yet kind. His outward appearance might seem stern, his scarred face harsh at times, but she knew the real Raylon.

She rolled onto her side and tucked one of her hands beneath the pillow. Little by little her old self was starting to find her way through the darkness. She now remembered the majority of her past. There were still missing images and scrambled events. Still, for the most part she remembered. The two years she’d served Akim Farmon, on the other hand, were still missing. Indigo, her therapist/healer/friend referred to those years as Chandar’s captivity. But harbingers weren’t prisoners to their masters, they served willingly.

The conclusion didn’t sit well with Chandar. She might not remember her time aboard the Relentless. Still, all the external indicators pointed toward abuse and degradation. Even if she’d been willing in the beginning—and she wasn’t even sure about that—she’d wanted out badly enough to break her telepathic silence and endanger those she loved as they rushed to her rescue.

The two-year gap in her memory was a mercy. She understood that. Even so, it made her feel incomplete, broken. Besides, whatever Akim had used to wipe her memory had also interrupted the flow of her magic. She hadn’t been sure there was a direct correlation, but a few minutes after Indigo repaired a tiny section of the damage, Chandar had a prophetic vision.

So there was no denying that regaining her magic would come with a terrible price. If she wanted unhindered access to her magic, she would have to allow herself to remember exactly what had been done to her. The prospect was daunting and terrifying. Indigo would help Chandar manage

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