Authors: Cynthia Sax
Tags: #Romance, #Military, #Science Fiction, #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Genetic Engineering
A forbidden love. An undeniable passion.
* * *
Vapor is the most advanced cyborg the Humanoid Alliance has ever developed. He’s a finely honed weapon, a warrior without parallel, half man and half machine. No lock can contain him. No being can stop him. Whatever he wants, he takes.
He wants Mira Breazeal, the Designer’s daughter.
She’s his one temptation, his sexy target. Vapor shouldn’t crave her caresses, steal her kisses, make her scream with ecstasy. The cyborgs want her dead and they would question his loyalty if he didn’t kill her. The humans would shoot him on sight if he dared to touch her.
Their love is forbidden. Their desire could be lethal. One human and one cyborg will risk everything for a moment of passion.
Copyright 2015 Cynthia Sax
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All Rights Are Reserved.
No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this story are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
First edition: November 2015
For more information contact Cynthia Sax at
Honesty was part of the cyborg code. Vapor and his cyborg brethren were unable to tell a lie. They also believed in freedom and honor and seeking vengeance on those who harmed them. They’d been manufactured with these traits.
That didn’t mean they didn’t have differences of opinion.
Vapor leaned against an interior wall of the final stage holding structure and watched Ace and Thrasher argue. His friends, one driven primarily by logic, the other primarily by instinct, faced each other, standing closer than two males would normally stand.
They were surrounded by K model cyborgs. Half of them supported Ace. Half of them supported Thrasher.
Vapor stayed out of the discussion. He’d known the two males his entire lifespan. They liked to disagree, didn’t appreciate any interference in their spats, had levels to their conversations that he didn’t understand.
Talking was their forte. Killing beings was his. He spun his favorite daggers.
We should escape now when the humans don’t expect it,
Thrasher shouted through their private transmission lines. His group of cyborgs cheered.
The humans had given them the ability to communicate without making a sound. The foolish beings hadn’t devised a means of monitoring the cyborgs’ transmissions.
They didn’t believe there was a need. Cyborgs, in their opinions, were processor-free weapons of war, command-driven machines, devoid of motivation, of independent logic.
They’d never witnessed a confrontation between Ace and Thrasher.
And how would we escape, genius?
Ace’s tone was level, less emotional.
We don’t have a ship.
We’ll steal one.
Thrasher was undaunted.
From where and from whom?
Ace shook his head.
That plan has too many variables. I say we keep it simple and wait for deployment. In four or five planet rotations, the Humanoid Alliance will deliver a ship to us.
We’ll use their own ship against them.
Strive, one of Thrasher’s supporters, nodded, approving of that idea.
The rumblings from both sides indicated a win for logic.
Is that all of the vengeance we’ll have against our foes?
Thrasher held out his arms, appealing to the group.
They torment us, kill our brethren, and we retaliate by stealing one of their ships?
We’ll kill every being on board.
Ace might be more logical but he had a cyborg’s thirst for violence.
And what will happen to the beings here? In this compound?
His opponent turned, surveying the chambers. Except for the model numbers inked under their right eyes, they looked like the enemy, their skin tanned rather than the cyborg gray, their physiques large yet in the range of human possibility, their eyes appearing human.
Are the humans who tortured us to suffer no losses? I say we return here and kill them all.
The cyborgs cheered. They had suffered at the hands of the humans, had been humiliated physically and mentally, part of the so-called training to toughen them for battle, and they wanted revenge.
Ace’s lips flattened.
By all, are you referring to every being on the planet? Because we can conceal the deaths on the ship. Ships disappear every planet rotation. But we won’t be able to hide the killings within the compound. The humans will realize we’re not under their control, and they’ll strike back at us. They’ll target not only us…
he waved at the cyborgs around them
…but the millions of cyborgs stored on battle stations and planets throughout the universe. None of us will escape. None of us will reach the Homeland. We’ll all die.
There was silence. No one wanted to put other batches of cyborgs in danger. And reaching the Homeland, a planet where cyborgs ruled, was their shared goal.
When freed, Vapor would continue to fight. He was designed for battle, enjoyed the thrill of it. But he could decide whom he killed.
Until then, he and his brethren would be forced to hone their skills on beings the Humanoid Alliance had sentenced to death. They had no input on choosing their opponents and refusing to fight resulted in immediate decommissioning, the most painful of deaths.
Vapor could tolerate ending the lives of the violent criminals. They had some skills, though not enough to challenge him. He was the most advanced warrior ever designed. But they had killed others in the past. And a bloody death for a bloody lifespan was fitting. He’d wish to die the same way, with his weapons in both of his hands.
He doubted the chubby-cheeked, innocent-eyed kid he’d killed last planet rotation yearned for such an end. When he faced Vapor, the youngster had dropped to his knees in the urine-soaked dirt and pleaded for his life.
Vapor hadn’t had the option of granting him that wish. He’d made the death as fast and as painless as possible, but it had left a bad taste in his mouth. He was a warrior, not an executioner.
Some humans here must die,
We can’t allow them all to go unpunished.
The other cyborgs nodded.
The humans will seek revenge.
Ace’s reply was weak. He wanted vengeance also.
Another stretch of silence followed.
Fraggin’ hole. The solution was obvious. Couldn’t they see that?
Vapor pushed himself away from the wall, reluctantly joining the discussion.
They’ll seek revenge if we’re caught, if the kill is traced back to us.
Heads turned, the cyborgs looking to him for leadership.
It won’t be.
His blades turned faster and faster, blurring in his hands.
Because I’ll make the deaths look like accidents.
There won’t be multiple deaths. We’ll have one kill only.
Ace didn’t question his ability. The cyborg knew Vapor could carry off an assassination and not be caught.
We make a strategic kill, taking out one of the humans and that’s it.
Vapor straightened to his full height.
Assign me a target and he’ll die.
The cyborgs looked at each other.
Raw was the first to supply a name.
Heads dipped. The Designer was the mastermind behind the entire cyborg program. Every system, every abuse linked back to that human. He approved the hiring of their sadistic trainers, treated cyborgs like pieces of machinery, decided which of them would be decommissioned, orchestrating that brutal process also.
During decommissioning, the humans harvested all possible parts. To ensure these parts were functional, cyborgs were dissected alive, given a prolonger to keep them from losing consciousness. They felt every slice.
Vapor didn’t wish decommissioning on any being. If killing the Designer would stop it, he’d support that death whole-heartedly.
The kill wouldn’t present a challenge. The Designer was an older male, an engineer, not a warrior. Ending his life would be easy, too easy for his liking. A couple flicks of his wrist. Vapor slashed his daggers through the air. And the human would be dead.
A bomb could then be constructed, using materials in the Designer’s laboratory. Vapor would leave the body there, detonating the improvised explosive, and the death would look like an accident.
The Humanoid Alliance would lose one of their most valuable council members.
Though not all humans thought the Designer was necessary. There were council members who vocally opposed the use of cyborgs. They preferred weapons without traces of humanity—robots lacking the instinct that was necessary in battle, missiles launched and controlled at a distance. Given the opportunity, they’d eliminate all cyborgs.
Kill the Designer and the anti-cyborg contingent within the Humanoid Alliance will triumph.
Ace voiced the same reservations.
They’ll decommission all cyborgs. Millions of our brethren will die before we have the opportunity to free them.
Cyborgs rumbled, shaking their heads.
Then we kill Hun
, was the next suggestion.
Hun was the final stage trainer. The would-be warrior reprimanded the cyborgs for the slightest offenses, stole supplies meant for them, pitted them against opponents with greater numbers and better weapons, hoping the cyborgs would die during training.
Hun might have proven a challenge to kill solar cycles ago. Now, he was older, flabby, addicted to fermented grain beverages. Loud sounds made him jumpy and put a fear in his eyes.
Vapor would kill him slowly, repaying Hun for the torture he’d inflicted on others. He twirled his daggers. A slice here and a slice there. The humanoid would bleed out, whimpering, pleading for a speedier death.
When the trainer’s last breath had left him, Vapor would strip him of all identification and toss him onto the pile with the deceased convicts. The corpse retrieval unit would dispose of him. He’d be ground into feed for the animals, a fitting end for a male who wasn’t much more than a beast.
The Designer would replace Hun within heartbeats.
Thrasher dismissed the trainer as a possible kill.
There’s a long waiting list of humans wishing for his position. He isn’t important enough for his loss to make an impact.
The cyborgs offered names of other trainers, of guards, of council members currently residing on Tau Ceti. Vapor devised a different death for each of them, the kill suiting the crime the target had committed against his fellow cyborgs.
He didn’t debate the merits of each choice, allowing the others to argue for or against the target. All of the targets deserved death. He would kill any of them without hesitation.
, Ace expressed his preference of target.
The Designer’s daughter. Vapor froze, his daggers becoming still. He’d stalked Mira since he could walk and considered her to be his, his female, his target, his obsession.
In public, she was cruel and heartless, doing and saying horrible things with a cold look on her beautiful face. But under the cover of darkness, when she thought she was alone, Vapor had seen yearning, sadness, anguish in her pale blue eyes.
His instincts said there was more to her than he knew, that she had secrets, that she might be worthy of life. That she belonged to him, his heart whispered.
His processors reasoned that she was evil and should be killed.
Ending her life would be a challenge. Although Mira had no fighting skills, she was cunning and strong and she lied constantly, something no cyborg could do. It was a dishonorable tactic, a form of cheating, but it was also an advantage he couldn’t ignore.
Mira wouldn’t be defeated without a battle. His body hardened, the thought of touching her, even in that way, arousing him.
, Thrasher argued.
Her gender was a consideration. Cyborgs were designed for two purposes—killing and breeding. The breeding program had been deemed unsuccessful and female cyborgs became unnecessary. There hadn’t been a female cyborg manufactured in twenty human lifespans. Mira was the only female any of them had seen.
She was special. She was rare. Vapor tightened his hold on his daggers. She was his.
Yes, she’s female.
The humans will feel her loss.
Her death would hurt the Designer
, Grin added.
There was a murmur of approval. All of the cyborgs wanted vengeance on their maker, the being who brought them into this universe simply to use them, to hurt them.
Vapor was uncertain that the death of offspring would hurt the Designer. He’d never seen the male show any emotion other than impatience while he was in Mira’s presence.
She’s not innocent
, Ace pressed.
This planet rotation, she plans to sell one of the newly manufactured units.
That cyborg is slated for decommissioning
, Thrasher pointed out.
He’ll die if he stays here. Being sold gives him a chance at a lifespan and possibly freedom.
That was the challenge with Mira. There was no purely evil or purely good act with her. She sold cyborgs for credits but the cyborgs would have died otherwise. She mocked them to their faces, knowing they couldn’t respond or they’d risk being decommissioned, but that cruelty saved them from Hun’s harsher reprimands.
She’s not selling him to save him
, Ace scoffed.
She thinks only of the credits and of herself.
Thrasher stepped closer to his opponent.
And you know that because?
They call her Mira the Merciless for a reason.
Ace’s gaze dropped to Thrasher’s lips.
She’s like her father.
She’s nothing like the Designer.
Thrasher’s eyes glittered.
She’s never killed or harmed any cyborg.
Not with her hands.
Her tongue is her weapon.
They argued back and forth, focused on the issue and on each other. Vapor listened for several moments and determined that his friends would make no decision this planet rotation. The cyborgs were equally split for and against killing Mira, but they had also discarded any other possibilities.