Authors: Anna Hackett
On a Rogue Planet
On a Rogue Planet
Published by Anna Hackett
Copyright 2014 by Anna Hackett
This book is a work of fiction. All names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, events or places is coincidental. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form.
AT STAR’S END
At Star’s End
is a fun, thrill ride of a science fiction romance…Did I mention how much I enjoyed the action? Booby trapped rooms protecting treasures, starship chases, shoot-outs, and giant monsters.” – Mstcat, Goodreads review
At Star’s End
is a very fast-paced action filled story. It is a thrill to read.” – Nas, Romance Book Haven
At Star’s End
by Anna Hackett sizzles with tension, action and danger, all while adding the sparks of a sometimes sweet, but always exciting budding romance.” – Dii, Top 500 Amazon reviewer
“Science fiction romance and treasure hunting, so basically we get an Indiana Jones-Han Solo mash-up with a hot smart chick as the heroine.” – Marcia, Bookswagger
IN THE DEVIL’S NEBULA
“A wonderfully written space adventure full of treasure hunts, history, excellent world building, fun characters, assassin fighters and intriguing mystery. Oh, and there’s also a great romance!” – Corrinthia, Amazon review
“I found Ria and Zayn’s story exciting, passionate, and thrilling, and I found myself wrapped up in the adventure. I look forward to see what is in store for the Phoenix brothers.” – Jen, That’s What I’m Talking About
In the Devil’s Nebula
is a fun read with a lot of romance set in a Science Fiction Universe.” – J. Jones
“A fun and sexy space adventure. I'm watching for the next installment!” – Elizabeth, Goodreads review
~ Official Document ~
Centax Security - Planet of Centax
CenSec Record #5A69312-B
Subject: Training Acceleration for Trainee X941 – Xander Saros
It is the recommendation of the Centax Security Enhancement Team that the training for security trainee X941, Xander Saros, be accelerated.
The trainee shows physical and mental abilities that far outstrip all security trainees—past and current. His ability to absorb bio-mechanical enhancements has never before been seen.
The trainee is of a much younger age than our protocol for accelerated enhancement allows, and at risk of emotional deadening, but the Enhancement Team believes the reward far outweighs the risks. We recommend he be removed from his family unit into the care of Security. He will truly be the crowning glory of the CenSec program. We cannot allow
to jeopardize his training and abilities.
She loved the smell of starship fuel.
Malin Phoenix grinned to herself and hitched up the well-worn tool belt around her waist. She took another deep breath, breathed in the fuel and the scent of metal and engine grease.
. What more could a girl want?
She also loved the salvage yard at Haxx. The capital city of the planet of Centax had
good stuff. She spun slowly, eyeing the hulks of retired starships, the engines of smashed planetary transports and…a few wrecks even she couldn’t identify.
. She spotted an intact Centaxian Infiltrator. She crouched and ran a hand over the side of its dark, obsidian hull. It only seated one pilot and was made to go in fast and stealthy. Centax was renowned throughout the galaxy for designing some of the best tech—starships, computer systems, armor and biological enhancements. The Infiltrator was a beauty and she wanted it.
Mal stood and swiped her hands on her coveralls—only to remember she wasn’t wearing her coveralls since she wasn’t at home in her salvage yard on Khan. She stared at the grease stain on her tan cargo pants.
. With a shrug, she grabbed her personal Sync communicator off her belt. She had a buyer who’d pay top e-cred for the Infiltrator’s shield system. She tapped the screen, adding the Infiltrator to her list.
Her long list.
Stars, she loved going on salvage trips. She smiled again. Okay, she also loved being at home in her starship graveyard, stripping parts, tinkering with engines, and arguing with her cousins. But her father had put a love of wandering in her blood. A pang hit under her ribs. It had been four years since he’d died and she still missed him so much. But she also knew he’d be thrilled she’d found a home with her rough-and-tumble, treasure-hunter cousins.
She pictured them now. Her oldest cousin, Niklas would be in his study, hunched over a console studying some sort of ancient historical record. He had astro-archeology running through his blood. Her cousin Dathan and his wife, Eos would be either arguing or locked in their bedroom. And the youngest of the Phoenix brothers, Zayn, was off-world, spending his honeymoon with his bride, Ria, amongst the waves of the beach resort world of Duna.
Mal rubbed a hand between her breasts. A year ago she’d never have guessed that two of her macho cousins would be married. And so in love.
She sighed. Damn it, she envied them. She was so happy for them but—she glanced around the salvage yard, at the silent hulks of ships and engines—it underscored her own aloneness.
The gruff voice made her turn. The salvage yard superintendent, Traxan, was stomping toward her with his young offsider, whose name she’d forgotten.
With a shake of her head, Mal threw off her melancholy. Centaxians were a tall race with dark hair and skin, thanks to the close proximity to their sun. Their skin tone ran the spectrum from Traxan’s space-dark ebony to his offsider’s deep bronze.
But what interested her most were the circular metal implants visible on both men’s necks. The Centaxians intrigued her as much as the scrap around her. Centax was a cyborg planet. Man and machine, implants and enhancements to increase strength, speed, brain function and who knew what else. Centaxians had made enhancements a way of life.
“You finished deciding what you want?” Traxan growled.
If Traxan were a starship, he’d be a battered starfreighter. An older model. Bulky-looking, full of quirks, but always reliable.
“Yep, Trax.” She held up the Sync. “Got the list here. Hey, how’s Xalla and your son?”
Traxan’s plain face softened for a second. “Pax was accepted into the Xeon Academy here in Haxx. Starship design. Xalla’s proud as a Deltan hen. He’s also just received his first enhancement.”
Malin knew enhancements were a source of pride here. Most kids got their first around sixteen. “Congratulations.”
Trax took the Sync from her and handed it to the younger man without looking at it. “Laxon, get what Ms. Malin wants loaded onto her ship. And make it quick.”
Malin watched the younger man’s face. It was far less expressive than Traxan’s. But Laxon had far more implants and—if she wasn’t mistaken from his gait—mechanical legs. She’d heard that the more enhancements Centaxians had, the less they felt. That all that tech dampened their emotions.
Mal shivered at the horrible thought. Maybe once or twice in her life she’d wished for the ability to not feel, to numb the pain and hurt. She’d had her heart trampled on more times than she liked to admit—but she knew she’d never permanently give up feeling for anything. Without the lows, you couldn’t experience the highs life had to offer.
She focused back on Laxon. If he were a ship, he’d be a newer-model freighter. No quirks for him. Touch the control and he’d do exactly what was asked. As if to prove her right, Laxon spun without a word and went to do his boss’s bidding.
“Trax, as always, it’s a pleasure doing business with you. I’ll transfer the e-creds into your account and—” she waggled her eyebrows “—have your man offload that sweet Argylian scoutship you wanted.”
Traxan’s lips quirked. “You do know how to tempt a man, Ms. Malin.”
If only that were true. Her stomach turned sour. How long had it been since she’d dated, let alone had a good, sweaty session between the sheets? She had zero ability to tempt a man. Aston ‘son of a bitch’ Granger certainly wouldn’t agree with Traxan. The charming, cheating salvage dealer had been only too happy to cheat on her and then dump her. She’d thought he’d loved her.
Boy, had she been wrong.
And before Aston, it had been Ben and before him, Tarr. All of them had taken great pleasure in showing her just how easy it was to walk away from her.
Mal squashed her thoughts. Hard and ruthlessly. She wasn’t going to give Aston, or the others, another wasted thought.
But Aston’s words echoed in her head.
A man doesn’t want a woman with grease under her nails, Malin. No one likes a woman who smells like starship fuel and whose wardrobe is filled with coveralls.
I don’t feel anything for you, Malin.
Snotty bastard. She straightened.
Better off without them, Mal
. She managed another smile for Trax, but inside she wondered if she’d ever find a love like her parents had shared. Her father had pined for his dead wife until the day he died. Just once, Malin wanted to be the center of someone’s universe.
An explosion in the distance had them both spinning. Mal saw a huge, mushroom-shaped cloud of smoke rising above the central part of Haxx.
Her pulse tripped. “What in stars’ name—?”
Trax was frowning. “An accident, maybe.”
Haxx was a beautiful city. Graceful towers of glass and metal speared into the sky, wide at their bases and tapering to elegant points high above the ground. In between were the lower academy buildings where the planet’s designers worked and trained their apprentices. The academies were sprawling structures of gleaming white, with rounded metallic domes.
There was a roar as a formation of black Infiltrators screamed overhead.
“Ms. Malin, something is very wrong. I think you should get back to your ship—”
Another explosion. Not very far away.
The ground beneath them shook and Malin grabbed onto the ruined ship beside her to stay on her feet.
Laser fire sounded. Really close.
the salvage yard.
“Go!” Trax yelled as he sprinted toward the sounds of fighting.
. Mal spun and raced back toward the small landing pad beside the salvage yard where her baby—a Norian starfreighter she’d named the
—was waiting. She ducked around the wrecks and engines, running as fast as she could.
She was in good shape—she yanked parts off ships, swung tools and lifted heavy things every day—but she heard the distinctive sound of laser fire getting closer, accompanied by deep shouts of multiple men in a guttural language her lingual implant didn’t recognize.
She stopped and pressed her back against the rusting hull of a ship that had obviously been in the yard longer than she’d been alive. Air sawed in and out of her lungs. What the hell was going on? Centax was an orderly planet and they had Centax Security.
No one messed with CenSecs.
Everyone in the galaxy had heard of the deadly, emotionless CenSecs—heavily enhanced cyborgs, they were said to be faster, stronger and more intelligent. The ultimate fighters. Nobody was crazy enough to go up against CenSecs.
Sudden silence. Okay, the laser fire had stopped.
Time to get out of here.
She took one step and then was jerked backward.
Strong, black-clad arms wrapped around her and she was yanked back against a hard body.
Mal went wild. A childhood spent traveling the galaxy with her father as he collected scrap meant her dad had taught her to protect herself. She shoved an elbow back, which met with a rock-hard abdomen. She dropped her weight, twisting as she did, trying to break his hold.