Yakira feels safe and cherished with Wulf, but he is a Coletti--the ultimate predator with a taste for blood, a passion for battle, and the need to control everything in his life. The big question is: how does she make Wulf understand she’s a powerful psychic with kick-ass bionic limbs and quite capable of taking care of herself?
Coletti Warlords 6: Wulf and the Bounty Hunter
Copyright © October 2016 by Gail Koger
I was ten years old, alone on an alien planet, and desperate. I hadn’t eaten in two days, and I was so hungry I could eat a deet worm. I knew sneaking into a spaceport tavern was a bad idea, but if something went wrong, I could outrun a drunk male easily. I gathered my courage and slipped inside.
A gasp escaped me. The bar was full of Coletti and Askole warriors. Stealing from one of them was beyond stupid, but I didn’t know what else to do. Father was locked up for assaulting an enforcer, and my brothers were on the outer rim fighting in the latest war. The port authorities had impounded our ship, locking me out. All I wanted was a hot meal and my own bed.
The interior of the crowded tavern was dimly lit, making it easy for me to blend into the shadows. A tremor of alarm shook me. The warriors carried more weapons than my father, but I was a ten-year-old kid, and they wouldn’t shoot me. Would they? I froze in horror when one warrior eyed me curiously. His face and battle suit were splattered with blood. Had they just come from a war?
Leaving suddenly seemed like a good idea. My gaze fixed on the grimy counter. Oh, thank the Goddess! Some fool had left his credit chip lying out. Edging closer, I mentally scanned the huge Coletti warrior sitting on the bar stool. The chip was probably his. One of the dancers was rubbing her breasts all over his face. The warrior really liked it. I frowned. Huh? He wanted his snake thingy inside the dancer’s tunnel? He had a snake? And why would he want to put it in her tunnel?
I eased out of his mind and with a practiced move swiped his credit chip.
A big hand clamped around my wrist. He growled in Galactic Basic, “Put it back.”
“No.” I bit his hand and kicked him in the shin with my bionic foot.
The Coletti warrior roared in fury, dumped the dancer on the floor, and grabbed me.
The indignant dancer jumped up and threw the warrior’s drink in his face. “Bastard.” She flounced off.
Taking advantage of the distraction, I punched him in the belly with my bionic right arm and tried to break free.
The warrior hooted. “You think you can beat Wulf the Mighty, small one?”
Balock’s balls! I turned on the tears and wailed loud enough that everyone stopped drinking to stare at us.
“Tears won’t work on me,” Wulf sneered.
My temper flared to life. The big bully was about to get the surprise of his life. Bracing myself against the bar, I reared back and kicked Wulf in the chest. He flew backward and slammed into a table full of Askole.
The enormous Askole warriors jumped to their feet, and the fight was on. Chairs, tables, and bodies flew in every direction.
I grinned in delight. My bionic legs had gotten me out of more scrapes than I could count.
The Askole were moving so fast all I could see were black blurs as their terrifying claws flashed in a dizzying display of death. Those who didn’t get out of the way fast enough got cut up.
Wulf simply teleported in and out, avoiding the Askole warriors’ deadly claws and fangs. Teleporting looked like so much fun. I wanted to do it too. I bet my father could find someone to teach me. I mean, I was psychic, and so was Wulf. How difficult could it be?
Ducking a warrior’s flying foot, I slipped out the back door. My psychic senses flared to life. I rubbed my head. It felt like hundreds of fire ants tromping across my mind. It was great having an early warning system, but did it have to hurt so much? Plus, all I knew was something bad was coming my way. I hid behind a large metal trash bin.
The sky was suddenly full of armored shuttles. A glittery blue light engulfed the street. When it faded, a dozen enforcers stood there. They rushed into the bar.
Ha! Wulf the Mighty would get his butt tossed in jail.
Weapons fire and shouts sounded from inside the bar. A minute later, battered and bleeding enforcers were tossed headfirst into the street.
My relief was replaced by shock. I psychically scanned the bar. Holy Goddess, the enforcers were definitely losing the fight. Father had said the Coletti and Askole warriors were almost impossible to defeat. I hurried down the walkway.
Wulf teleported outside the bar and pointed at me. “You! Stop!”
One look at his bared fangs, and I fled into the busy marketplace. Weaving around the vendors’ carts, I scooted under a peddler’s table.
The Coletti hurled the heavily loaded table across the courtyard.
Screams, shrieks, and curses rang out as everyone ran for their lives. I couldn’t really blame them; Wulf had big, scary fangs.
Whoa! I scrabbled backward as Wulf lunged for me. His hand missed me by inches. I rolled under a vendor’s cart.
“You cannot escape.” The vendor’s cart was abruptly heaved upward and launched at a squad of enforcers. Smack!Down they went with their arms and legs wriggling frantically under the heavy weight.
Goddess save me. I quickly crawled under another table, flinching as it also went flying.
Wulf seized the back of my jacket and yanked me to my feet. “You kick or bite me again, and I will put you over my knee.” He shook me like a rag doll. “Do you understand?”
“Yes, my lord.”
“Give me the chip.”
With a submissive nod, I held it out. When the dumbass reached for it, I grabbed his outstretched hand and tossed him over my shoulder.
Splash! The Coletti landed in the wishing pool. He shot to his feet covered in long red weeds.
It was the funniest thing I had ever seen. Giggling hysterically, I ran down a narrow alley and slammed into a very wet Wulf.
He laughed as I fought to break free. “You cannot outrun a Coletti, small one.”
I made a rude noise.
Wulf pulled a device off his weapons belt and scanned my body. “How did you lose your limbs?”
“Tai-Kok,” I spat.
His fierce scowl melted away. “How old are you?”
“What’s your name?”
“Yakira.” I wiggled, testing his grip. Father had decreased the power in my bionics because I kept getting into fights. If I was at full strength, the Coletti would have never caught me.
Wulf patted me down and took the chip back. “Why did you take my chip?”
My stomach growled. “I’m hungry.”
“Where’s your father?”
I glared at him.
Wulf thrust into my mind. I threw up my shields, stunned at how easily he breached them. “You are strong for one so young.”
“Get out of my head.”
A shudder shook me. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t stop him from sifting through my memories.
Wulf vanished from my head. “The male you call your father is not taking proper care of you.”
I drew an angry breath and snarled, “I’m a warrior. I don’t need anyone to take care of me.”
Amusement lit Wulf’s eyes. “My pardon. You are a truly ferocious warrior.” Taking a firm grip on my hand, he led me over to an outdoor café. “What do you want to eat?”
He was going to feed me? Why? I had stolen from him. I eyed him suspiciously. “You aren’t going to kill me?”
“No. I do not harm children.” He plopped me on a chair.
Huh? Who knew?
A Hus Ping waitress, who I thought resembled a five-hundred-pound Earth teddy bear, rushed up. “Ready to order?”
“Skil cakes with Ru sausage,” I said quickly before Wulf could change his mind.
She cast a jittery look at Wulf. “And you, my lord?”
“I’ll take an Ome steak and your best ale.”
“Yes, my lord.” She scurried off.
Wulf’s amber gaze studied me. “Your father is Bjarke, a Norse clan warrior, but you appear to be human.”
I shrugged. “Never heard of humans.” A memory skittered across my mind. Screaming. Awful cries that seemed to go on forever. Blood. I shivered. There had been so much blood. Gutted bodies scattered over the ground like broken dolls. A red-haired woman desperately fought her way through the Tai-Kok. Her green eyes were focused on me.
Wulf was suddenly there, examining the images. “Is that your mother?”
The memory vanished abruptly. “My mother is dead.”
“Who told you that?”
“He’s not your blood kin,” Wulf stated.
“Father rescued me from the Tai-Kok ship and raised me as his own. I owe him my life.”
The waitress placed our food on the table. I stuffed an entire skil cake in my mouth and chewed frantically.
“Easy, young one, you can eat as much as you want.”
I kept on munching. He wanted something from me, but what? I swallowed and reached for a sausage. “Really?”
He nodded. “A Coletti never lies.”
“Can I see your snake?”
Wulf choked on his drink. “My what?”
“Snake. The one you wanted to put in the dancer’s tunnel. Is it in your pocket?”
He stared at me for a long moment in utter disbelief. “Impossible. Totally impossible.”
“It’s not in your pocket?”
“Where is it?”
“On my warbird,” Wulf said curtly and began mucking about in my head.
“Stop! That tickles.”
He halted abruptly, a baffled expression on his face.
I looked at him hopefully. “I’ve never seen a snake before. What color is it?”
“This can’t be happening.” Wulf drained his drink and motioned to the waitress for another. “You’re too young.”
A crackling red energy beam struck Wulf in the back. He fell to the floor as violent muscle spasms shook his body.
My brothers Colburn, Ivar, and Loki strode toward me, wearing body armor. Their long purple hair was braided for war.
My message must have finally reached them at the battlefront. “How did you find me?”
“We followed the trail of destruction,” Loki answered.
I stuck my tongue out at him.
Colburn scooped me up. “Time to leave. You have attracted the Overlord’s attention.”
“Me? Why?” I grabbed the last skil cake.
Loki ran a gentle hand over my hair. “Because you are one of a kind.”
Wulf struggled to rise. “She belongs to me. I can protect her.”
“No. You can’t.” Ivar kicked him in the face, slamming Wulf’s head back against the pavement.
I winced. “Why does he think I belong to him?”
“Coletti warriors are insane. You see one. You run.” Colburn raised my chin and looked me dead in the eye. “Do you understand?”
“Yes.” I glared at him when he took a bite of my skil cake.
I didn’t see Wulf again for ten years. Not that he and the Coletti didn’t try to find me, but my family was very, very good at hiding me.
I became a bounty hunter at the age of twenty. It wasn’t like I had a choice. My father and brothers had been arrested again. This time for smuggling. To my utter disgust the enforcers impounded our ship again. I tried to explain the ship was in dry dock for repairs and hadn’t been used to smuggle Avici, a banned ale, but they didn’t care. They simply arrested me too.
Big mistake. I kicked my way out of their transport vehicle and led the enforcers on a merry chase. When their stun nets failed to trap me, the rat bastards started shooting. Like I was some kind of big-time criminal? My family smuggled ale for Goddess’s sake, not Shivet warheads. Tired of being shot at, I gave the enforcers a bigger prey to deal with. A very dangerous weapons dealer-slash-terrorist. The rather spectacular shootout was featured on the news vids for days.
I needed a quick way to raise a million credits for my family’s bail, and bounty hunting was the logical choice. I had helped Loki on several of his hunts, and it didn’t look all that hard. I sneaked back into our ship and logged into the hunters’ database. Twenty minutes later, I found the perfect target. Gulog the Mad, and oh, Goddess, his bounty was three million credits. I’d even have enough left over to get my bionics upgraded.
My eyes widened in horror. “Balock’s balls.” He was wanted for twelve counts of murder. No wonder most hunters avoided him. Only the truly insane or desperate went after someone that lethal.
I let out a long sigh. Just call me desperate. Hmmm. According to the report, the enforcers had been summoned to the Sagas Inn for a fight. They’d found Gulog the Mad kicking the crap out of several patrons. When the enforcers tried to arrest him, they quickly found out Gulog was truly mad. He killed twelve enforcers before fleeing. The enforcers’ error was in using force.
Me? I wouldn’t make the same mistake. I had a nifty blowgun disguised as a necklace. The long black metal tubes held darts guaranteed to knock out a rampaging Gourman, a nasty wolflike creature. With my very best friend Ziyad’s help, Gulog the Mad’s bounty would soon be mine.
Finding Gulog the Mad shouldn’t be hard. I thought about where my brothers would go if they were horny and thirsty. The Sharqi Pleasure Palace, of course. It was a male’s wet dream. Species from every corner of the galaxy swarmed the dimly lit, disgustingly gaudy interior. All with two thoughts on their feeble minds. Sex and booze. Not a problem since the joint had plenty of willing females and a fully stocked bar. All I had to do was wait for Gulog to show.
I approached the bartender and asked for a job. His lecherous gaze crawled over my long purple hair with its red roots, my petite frame and full breasts. He spit a stream of brown liquid on the floor. “Pay’s fifty credits a day.”
What a cheap bastard. “We keep our tips?”
The bartender nodded. “You can change in the back.” He tossed me a costume and a link to input drink orders.
I hurried into the back room. After a quick look around to make sure I was alone, I stripped off my tunic and loose trousers and squeezed into the costume. The scarlet corset pushed my breasts up until they threatened to spill out of the low-cut blouse. The itty-bitty skirt barely covered my ass. None of the shoes fit, so I left my boots on. One look in the mirror, and I grimaced. All I needed was a sword, and I’d look like that slutty warrior princess on the vids.
After five long hours of dodging grabby paws, claws, and slimy tentacles, Gulog the Mad finally showed. About friggin’ time.
Gulog the Mad reminded me of an ogre from the book of Earth fairy tales Father had given me. He had a lumpy scalp, burning red eyes, sharp pointy teeth, and was the size of a small mountain.
I summoned up a seductive smile and sauntered over to Gulog with a tankard of ale. My psychic senses suddenly went on red alert. Holy Goddess! Wulf was nearby. How in the nine hells had he found me?
It had been ten years since our little battle. Would he look the same? Would he remember me? I placed the tankard of ale next to Gulog the Mad and eased into the shadows.
Wulf stalked into the room, every inch a warlord and literally bristling with weapons. My gaze roamed over him. He seemed bigger. His battle suit displayed his heavily muscled form to perfection. He wore a bronze communications bracelet on his left wrist, and a bronze chain was woven into his ebony warrior braids. Wulf’s goatee emphasized his high cheekbones.
Man, was he hot! For an old guy. I wanted to run my hands over that awesome chest. I shook myself. What was I thinking? He was the crazy Coletti who thought I belonged to him. Like that would ever happen.
Wulf’s gaze fixed on Gulog the Mad, and fangs filled his predatory smile. “I have come for you, Gulog. Surrender or die.”
I gasped. He was after my bounty! Do I stay or do I run? If I ran, my family would be locked up for the next hundred years. This was their sixtieth arrest for smuggling, and the judge had warned them if they got caught again, he’d sentence them to life. I couldn’t allow that to happen, and besides, Wulf hadn’t captured Gulog yet.
“I have killed many of your kind,” Gulog the Mad bellowed. He picked up his table and hurled it at Wulf.
At the last moment, Wulf teleported out of the way. The table crashed into the wall, shattering into a million pieces.
The room exploded into pandemonium as everyone ran for the exits.
With an ear-shattering roar, Gulog the Mad grabbed several fleeing patrons and tossed them at Wulf.
Wulf dodged the flying bodies and threw four tables at Gulog the Mad in quick succession.
Smack! Gulog’s head jerked back.
Smack! Right in the kisser. He staggered and almost fell.
Smack! Several of Gulog’s teeth went flying.
Smack! Gulog crashed to the floor. The entire building shuddered.
I had to admit I was impressed.
Wulf pulled thick metal cuffs off his weapons belt.
Out of sheer desperation, I burst from the shadows and yelled, “No! He’s my bounty.”
Wulf’s stunned gaze surveyed me from head to toe. “Yakira. I’ve searched the galaxy for you.” A sudden frown creased his forehead. “Your bounty?”
“I found him first.”
Wulf snorted. “You think you can capture Gulog the Mad?”
“I know I can,” I stated confidently, trying hard to ignore the fear knotting my stomach.
He cocked one dark brow. “Your males let you hunt?”
“They’re in jail, so they don’t get a say in the—”
Gulog the Mad erupted to his feet and tackled Wulf. They rolled around on the floor, exchanging blows.
If Wulf got hurt, it would be my fault for distracting him. A cry of alarm broke from me when Gulog managed to pin my warlord to the floor. My warlord? Where had that come from?
Gulog wrapped his massive hands around Wulf’s neck and began choking him.
Poor Wulf tried unsuccessfully to buck him off. My warlord’s face turned an ominous purple color.
Oh Goddess, I couldn’t let Gulog the Mad kill Wulf. I lifted one of the blowgun’s tubes and blew.
At the same instant, Wulf rolled Gulog beneath him. The dart hit my warlord in the back of the neck. He turned his head and looked at me in disbelief.
“Sorry, I was aiming for Gulog,” I said with an apologetic shrug.
Wulf fell facedown on the dirty marble tiles.
Gulog the Mad laughed triumphantly and grabbed Wulf’s laser pistol. “Now you die.”
“I don’t think so.” I put another tube to my mouth and exhaled.
The dart hit Gulog the Mad in the throat. He jerked it out. “Stupid female, I’m going to rip your legs off and beat you to death with them.”
“I bet you say that to all the girls.”
His face twisted with fury, Gulog threw the laser pistol at me when it wouldn’t fire. It was safety coded for Wulf’s use only.
Ducking it, I scooted around a table. “Not real bright, are you?”
“Kill you.” Gulog the Mad stumbled over a broken chair.
I looked around frantically for another weapon. I could easily outrun Gulog, but if I did that, Wulf was a dead man.
Gulog the Mad lunged for me.
My heart pounding rapidly, I evaded his outstretched arms and blew again.
The dart struck Gulog the Mad between the eyes. He howled angrily and hurled a chair at me.
I dodged it and peppered him with darts, but the monster just kept on coming.
Why wasn’t he unconscious? My back hit the wall. I sucked in a horrified breath. He had me trapped.
As Gulog the Mad reached for me, his eyes rolled back in his head, and down he went. Boom! The building shook.
A hysterical laugh escaped me. I was alive. How awesome was that? Bounty hunting wasn’t as easy as I’d thought, but if my family didn’t stop breaking the law, I’d be doing it full-time. Ugh.
Wulf moaned. I hurried over to him and checked his pulse. Whew. It was strong and steady.
A harsh voice demanded, “Is Wulf injured?”
I looked down at Wulf‘s communications bracelet. From the viewscreen, a pair of disturbingly hostile amber eyes examined me. One look at the burn scar on the warlord’s right cheek, and I smothered a groan. It was Voss, the Coletti battle commander.
“Not exactly.” I patted Wulf’s face. “The old guy’s just taking a nap.”
I shrugged. “He’s way older than me.”
Voss asked grimly, “What did you do to the old guy?”
A brief dangerous smile crossed Voss’s mouth. “Do not lie to me, child.”
“Child? I’m twenty, you jerk.”
“A very great age.”
I glared at him. “I’m old enough to be a hunter, and it wasn’t my fault Wulf jumped in front of my tranquillizer dart.”
Voss was starting to get on my last nerve. “Wulf was losing the fight with Gulog the Mad. I was simply trying to help him.”
Alarm flared in Voss’s eyes. “Gulog the Mad is there?”
“He is.” I tilted Wulf’s arm so Voss could see the ogre. “See? I have it all under control. Gulog the Mad never had a chance.”
Voss sighed. “You are a Jones.”
“Jones? Never heard of them. Oh, by the way, I’m claiming the bounty on Gulog.”
The battle commander tapped his control console. “How do you propose to get him out of the tavern?”
I smirked. “That’s the easy part.” Little fire ants danced across my mind. Hmmm. Since my internal radar never failed me, that meant Voss was up to no good. “Whatever you’re planning, it won’t work.”
Voss grinned. “I think it will.”
“Think again.” I punched a key on my communications bracelet. A glittering blue light blossomed around Gulog the Mad and me.
“Even using the Visio crystal, you can’t hide from us forever, Yakira.” The relentless purpose in the battle commander’s voice sent a chill down my spine. He knew how my family had been hiding me. My Visio crystal blocked all of the Coletti telepathic abilities.
Ten seconds later I was standing on an icy-cold transporter platform. My best friend, Ziyad, stood at the controls. She looked like a creature some mad scientist had dreamed up. She was half Askole and half Rodan. She had a face like the Earth dinosaur called the T-Rex, tentacles, and the black armor-plated skin of an Askole.
Ziyad grinned, exposing a mouthful of serrated teeth, and spoke to me telepathically. “Our plan worked perfectly.”
“Sorta. The Coletti sent a hunter after Gulog the Mad too.”
“Oh Goddess. Not what’s his name? Buff?”
“Wulf,” I corrected. “He is one of their top hunters.” I knew because my family kept track of him. I was never quite sure why they were afraid of him.
Ziyad’s hands flew over the transporter console. “They must have a warbird close by.”
“If they do, it’s cloaked. We need to get Gulog the Mad to the magistrate before the Coletti take him from us.”
Gulog’s legs twitched.
I jumped about a foot. “He’s waking up.”
“I’ll move the ship and contact the prison.” Ziyad zoomed off.
Ziyad had also inherited the Askole’s speed and the Rodan’s ferocious hunger. If she went too long without food, it wasn’t pretty. Due to her heritage, Ziyad’s ability to communicate was limited to telepathy. Few species could actually speak the Askole’s complicated language. I could understand bits and pieces of it, but then I lived with her. I took her spot at the transporter controls.
“I have contacted the prison. We have permission to transport Gulog into a holding cell. I’m sending you the coordinates,” Ziyad advised.
“Got them.” I entered the data. The transporter whined to life, and a few seconds later Gulog the Mad was gone. I fidgeted as I waited for confirmation from the prison. If this didn’t work, I’d never see my family again. After twenty minutes had passed, I checked my communications bracelet again. What was the holdup?
There was a flash of black, and Ziyad stood next to me. “The magistrate has confirmed Gulog the Mad’s identity and transferred the funds into our account.”
Utter relief flooded me. “Thank the Goddess.”
Ziyad cocked her head to one side. “You ready to visit the most dangerous prison in the galaxy?”
I grimaced. “No, but I don’t really have a choice.” I pulled off my Visio crystal bracelet and placed it on the console. I hated leaving it behind, but the prison officials would confiscate it. “How long do you think it will take the Coletti to pounce?”
“Not long,” Ziyad stated. “Their pride has been damaged. You have eluded them for over ten years. That has never happened before.”
“Like I care. Let’s go kick some ass.”
Ziyad’s roar reverberated around the room. “Death to the infidels.”
“You really need to stop reading those Earth books.”
The glittering blue transporter light faded, and we stood on the Igator prison’s visitors’ platform. Or as I liked to call it, the kill zone. We were surrounded by dozens of automated laser canons. If we failed the prison’s body scan, we would be incinerated.
A mechanical voice commanded, “Do not move until the scan is complete.”
Ziyad and I exchanged worried glances as a yellow beam rolled over us. Igator prison was carved out of a mountain of pure Rhyolite obsidian. One of the toughest rocks in the galaxy. Add in a grade ten force field, and it became an impenetrable fortress.
Even if we made a run for it, we wouldn’t last ten minutes in the hellish wasteland that encircled the prison. The warden had left the remains of escaped prisoners rotting on the black sand. The message was clear. The only way out was in a body bag.
“You are cleared to proceed to the visitors’ booth,” the mechanical voice announced.
“I told you my disguise would pass muster.” Ziyad chortled. The holographic image she projected was of an elderly Bjarke female, complete with purple hair and long black tunic.
“Yee-haw! I get to live another day.” I eyed the laser canons warily as we walked over to the plastisteel cubicle.
“It’s an Earth term of exhilaration.”
“I like it.”
“Why am I not surprised?” As soon as we stepped inside, a computer console appeared.
The mechanical voice said, “State the nature of your visit.”
“I’m here to bail out prisoners 888888965, 888888966, 8888888967, and 8888888968.”
“Their bail is one million credits. Insert your chip into the second slot.”
I did as it instructed. The computer clicked loudly and spit out my credit chip.
The voice warned, “The prisoners will be released into your custody. Failure to appear at the district court at the appointed time will result in credit forfeiture.”
“We wouldn’t dream of missing our appointed time,” I assured the voice solemnly.
A door appeared out of thin air.
“Proceed to the waiting room,” the voice commanded.
Ziyad and I walked through, and the door vanished. “If something goes wrong, getting out of here is going to be a bitch,” I groused.
“Not a problem. I haven’t eaten today,” Ziyad informed me gleefully.
Oh Goddess. With Ziyad, mayhem and carnage was always a possibility. “What made you think that was a good idea?”
“I fight better when I’m hungry, and I’ve always wanted to taste an enforcer.”
I rubbed my suddenly aching head. Ziyad was ten years older than me, but it always felt like I was the adult and she was the kid. “You eat or even taste an enforcer, and they will hunt you forever.” I patted her shoulder. “But look on the bright side—you can eat all the Tai-Kok you want.”
“They give me indigestion.”
“Spit out the metal parts, and it won’t be a problem.”
Ziyad came to an abrupt halt.
Bam! I crashed into her armored-plated back. “Ouch!” I massaged my nose. “Why did you stop?”
“Isn’t that Pindick, the galactic terrorist?”
I peered around her and examined the wizened male standing in the middle of the room, tufts of orange hair protruding from his wrinkled yellow skull. His frail body was draped in a loose white tunic. “Hmmm. Kinda looks like him, but I thought he was younger, bigger, and meaner-looking.”
Ziyad sniffed. “He smells like Pindick.”
His mental shields sucked. There were all sorts of interesting information floating about in his sick, twisted mind. “It’s Pindick, all right, and he’s got a holographic device in his pocket.”
“It isn’t as good as mine. See?” Ziyad pointed as Pindick’s clothes changed from the white tunic to battle armor and back. “The image is fluctuating.”
“Big-time. What I want to know is why he’s here.”
“To break his brother out.”
“He’s here? In this prison?”
Ziyad rolled her eyes. “Where else would they put a dangerous terrorist?”
I tried to calm my jumpy nerves. She had a point. Since I was the one who sicced the enforcers on Pindick’s brother, the nasty gunrunner, this could get ugly real fast. “But…no one has ever escaped from this place.”
An explosion rocked the prison. Pieces of the ceiling rained down on us.
“I think that’s about to change,” Ziyad said as we backed slowly away from Pindick.
The wizened guy was suddenly replaced by a tall, brawny yellowed-skin male.
“He’s got a thermal grenade!” Ziyad shoved me to the floor and jumped on top of me.
Boom! The left wall blew outward. Smoke filled the room.
I kneaded my ringing ears. I could barely hear the prison’s wailing alarms. Ziyad’s heavy weight made it difficult to breathe. “Get off.”
Ziyad moaned and rolled off me. “Did he blow himself up?”
“We can only hope.” I crawled over to the shattered wall and looked out. Pindick popped up from behind a pile of rubble and fired at several of the prison’s enforcers, forcing them to take cover. “We aren’t that lucky, and he has a laser pistol too.”
“Pindick had to bribe a lot of high-ranking officials to get weapons into this prison,” Ziyad growled, picking a piece of shrapnel out of her leg.
“It’s just a scratch.”
Across the debris-filled courtyard a door opened, and three turncoat prison guards ran out and blasted away at the enforcers.
“Look, your brothers,” Ziyad exclaimed, pointing at the doorway.
I caught a glimpse of Loki inside a holding cell. My entire body shook with fury. Pindick was going to get my family killed. “We’ve got to get them out of there.”
Glittery blue lights abruptly engulfed the courtyard. When they faded, a dozen armored planetary enforcers stood there. They unleashed a deadly volley of laser beams.
The traitorous prison guards’ bodies disintegrated into a million fireflies when the laser beams struck them.
Pindick made a mad dash through the open doorway. Thirty seconds later, the corrupt prison guards turned on the laser cannons. Red energy beams flashed wildly. The courtyard became a kill zone, the cannons incinerating anything that moved.
Ziyad surveyed the debris-laden courtyard. “I’m not fast enough to beat the cannons.”
“There has to be a way to save them.”
“There is,” Wulf announced in my head.
I glanced over my shoulder and groaned. Wulf, Voss, and about twenty Coletti warriors filled the room.
Ziyad licked her lips. “Yum. Fresh meat.”
Voss laughed. “Who is this delightful creature?”
Delightful? Ziyad usually scared the crap out of people. Maybe the big, bad battle commander thought he could handle her. I grinned. This should be fun. “Ziyad, this is Voss, the Coletti battle commander. Battle Commander, may I introduce you to my best friend, Ziyad.”
“It is a pleasure to meet Yakira’s partner in crime,”Voss replied politely.
He had no idea. I looked Wulf dead in the eye. “Let me guess. Out of the goodness of your heart, you’ll teleport my family to safety?” I threw up a hand. “Oh wait! Coletti warlords aren’t benevolent do-gooders. There is always a price for your help. So, what do you want?”
Wulf’s mouth tightened into a hard line. “My mate.”
Mate? Was he talking about me? One look at the burning need in his eyes, and I knew he would do whatever it took to possess me. No wonder he had my family in such a dither. Coletti never, ever stopped hunting their prey. But I wasn’t prey. I was as much of a predator as he was. I let my gaze roam over the room. “Gee, I don’t see another female here. Oh Goddess, you don’t mean Ziyad, do you? You might want to rethink that decision.” I leaned in closer to Wulf and whispered, “She bites.”
Ziyad snapped her jaws at Wulf.
“Surrender is your only option.” Wulf’s menacing tone made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.
Talk about cranky. Maybe he had what my brothers called blue balls.
“Surrender now,” Grumpy repeated.
“Not a chance. I can take you,” Ziyad said. She turned and gave the other warriors a toothy grin. “And them.”
Every warrior’s right hand immediately dropped to the hilt of his sword.
I suppressed a smile. Ziyad was such a tease.
An immense power rippled the air. A second later, the biggest, meanest-looking warlord stood there. His black battle suit emphasized his huge frame. He wore large gold warrior’s bracelets with an elaborate design. An etched gold headband held back his gray warrior’s braids.
Holy Goddess! Zarek! The vids didn’t do him justice. He was definitely scarier in person.
Zarek’s ruthless amber eyes surveyed Ziyad and then me. “You will come with us willingly. If Ziyad makes one aggressive move, we kill her, take you, and leave your family here to die.”
Horror rocked me. He meant it.
My crazy best friend jumped in front of me. “I won’t let you hurt her.”
“If I truly wanted to harm Yakira, there is nothing you could do to stop me,” Zarek answered coldly.
Multiple explosions shook the building. The roof buckled, and pieces of obsidian crashed down.
Wulf pushed Ziyad and me to safety. A large chunk of obsidian missed us by inches.
Ziyad’s tentacles danced madly around her head. “Pindick isn’t going to stop until he levels the prison. We surrender now and live to fight another day.”
Now she had common sense?
A growl issued from Voss. “Pindick?”
Kaboom! A fireball rose high into the sky.
I flinched as a laser beam sizzled past my face. “Yes, Pindick. And if he realizes I’m the one who got his brother arrested, it won’t be good. Can we go? Now. Please?”
“Yes.” Wulf grabbed Ziyad and me in a bone-crushing grip. There was a fleeting instant of blackness. The next thing I knew, Wulf had shoved both of us into a holding cell and engaged the energy barrier. Awesome! Now we were trapped on a Coletti warbird.
“Don’t go anywhere.” Wulf smirked and vanished.
“Now that’s just rude.”
Ziyad grinned evilly. “The idiot forgot to search us.”
I grinned back. “Or take our communications devices.”
“If you make any attempt to escape, your family pays the price,” Zarek warned in my head.
“Yes, my lord.” I sagged down on the narrow bed. “They have us right where they want us.”
“For now,” Ziyad said complacently. “We do have a very large ace up our shirt.”
“Sleeve, and is it still tracking us?”
Wulf teleported in with my brother Colburn slung over one shoulder. Wulf tossed my brother in a cell and vanished.
“Huh? He didn’t even engage the energy barrier.” I ran my gaze over Colburn’s bloody form. Of course, my brother wasn’t in any shape to make a run for it. “Pindick better be responsible for his condition.”
Ziyad sniffed the air. “Pindick’s blood is on Colburn.”
“Good. I hope my brother killed him.”
With a groan, Colburn pushed himself into a sitting position. “The Coletti grabbed Pindick before I could do any serious damage.”
End of this sample Kindle book.
Zoey Jones is determined to find her mother's killer. Surrendering to a fierce Coletti warrior is the last thing on her mind. When Voss is determined to make Zoey his mate, she unleashes her own brand of whoop-ass to discourage his pursuit. When her clever disguises, skunk perfume, stun gun, and smoke bombs fail to stop the ruthless warlord, she's forced to negotiate her surrender: she would mate with him if he would help her find her mother's killer.
To Zoey's surprise, Voss agrees, and the hunt is on. Their quest to bring the villain to justice leads to unlikely alliances in an interplanetary war, and more surprisingly, to love.
The chase comes to an abrupt halt when the Tai-Kok attack Tucson, forcing Bree to team up with the Coletti warlord to stop them. Suddenly plucked from Earth by a crazed Tai-Kok commander, Jaylan and Bree find themselves stranded on a hostile alien world, and being tracked by a deadly Askole assassin. Neither of them expected to find love.
Flash forward nine months to a very pregnant, insanely hormonal and cranky as hell Kaylee. If the pregnancy wasn't enough to drive her crazy, Talree's enemies are tap dancing on her last nerve. The Shani Queen Mother, a psychotic alien with a bone to grind against Talree, decided she wanted the planet Tartum--a barren piece of crap loaded with Ditrum crystals, and part of the Coletti Empire. Her master plan? Kidnap Kaylee and hold her for ransom. If the Overlord refused to give Tartum to the Queen Mother, she would feed Kaylee and her son to the Tai-Kok.
She thinks Kaylee will beg for mercy. Boy, is the alien bitch in for a surprise. She's about to meet a woman suffering from hormone overload and a serious lack of chocolate. The only one begging for mercy will be the Queen Mother.
Copyright © Gail Koger
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