Authors: S.A. McAuley
Tags: #Erotic Romance Fiction
A Totally Bound Publication
©Copyright S.A. McAuley
Cover Art by Posh Gosh ©Copyright March 2014
Edited by Sarah Smeaton
Totally Bound Publishing
This is a work of fiction. All characters, places and events are from the author’s imagination and should not be confused with fact. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, events or places is purely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any material form, whether by printing, photocopying, scanning or otherwise without the written permission of the publisher, Totally Bound Publishing.
Applications should be addressed in the first instance, in writing, to Totally Bound Publishing. Unauthorised or restricted acts in relation to this publication may result in civil proceedings and/or criminal prosecution.
The author and illustrator have asserted their respective rights under the Copyright Designs and Patents Acts 1988 (as amended) to be identified as the author of this book and illustrator of the artwork.
Published in 2014 by Totally Bound Publishing,
Newland House, The Point, Weaver Road, Lincoln, LN6 3QN
This book contains sexually explicit content which is only suitable for mature readers. This story has a
The Borders War
Book three in The Borders War series
He was built to be invincible.
Merq and Armise return to the States after their mission to assassinate the remaining Committee members only to find the leadership of the Revolution isn’t as stable as they had thought.
Outside forces come crashing down on a Revolution stronghold, leaving two of their soldiers gravely wounded. Merq’s history with his brothers in arms Simion and Neveed forces him into making decisions that will impact his future with the Revolution.
Merq has always identified as a soldier first. Always known who deserved his loyalty and who didn’t. But with the uncertainty surrounding the leadership of the Revolution, the mysterious disappearance of the jacquerie and increased activity with the PsychHAgs, Merq knows there are few people he can trust.
The only man Merq wants or needs at his side is Armise Darcan. But his reliance on his former enemy may be a miscalculation that will threaten everything Merq stands for.
To wifey and the Doc.
Thank you for making the walk through hell just a bit more passable. And for the drinks along the way.
The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of the following wordmarks mentioned in this work of fiction:
Colt: Colt’s Manufacturing Company, LLC
Winchester: Winchester Repeating Arms Company
February, Year 2539
I pressed my eyes tightly closed, anticipating the sting of contaminated salt water even though I wore goggles. I slowly dribbled the air out of my lungs, a line of fine bubbles issuing from my lips, as I allowed gravity and the weights on my suit to drag me towards the ocean floor. The currents twisted lazily at first, then more insistent as I dropped deeper, the tides sweeping pockets of acidic water past me that bit at the tips of my exposed fingers and lips. I knew I would be emerging from the water with minor but tangible chemical burns in both places. Which meant I was going to complete this module as fast as I could, despite the trainers’ insistence that this exercise would be repeated until I was finally broken of my habit to use my natural speed before my brain.
My rash nature would be my downfall.
At least that’s what they told me.
I saw my instinct to strike fast as more of an asset than a detriment. Unfortunately, the two Peacemakers in charge of Lim2—Limitation Elimination training—didn’t agree. And I didn’t give a shit. It was the President, not my instructors, who would finally decide if I was fit for active duty as a Peacemaker. I had one, maybe two years of training remaining before that determination was made. Time that I believed was being wasted with me in classes instead of on the battlefield.
I, and my class of seventeen students, had three more months of Lim2 in the Outposts of Singapore then we would head back to the States’ capital for a year with the PsychHAgs. For now, this island—less than a kilometre from north shore to south shore—was our base of operations. And it wasn’t as if we were flying in and out within a day or two… Our entire Lim2 training—four months’ worth—would be completed here in enemy territory.
We were on an island technically within the boundaries of Singapore’s vast reach, yet on the cusp of States’ control. It was a risk for any Continental States soldier to be on Singaporean soil while the Borders War still raged, but that was the entire demented point of this facet of our training—to negate what we saw as boundaries. If we were discovered, we would have to fight. Regardless of the fact that none of us were officially soldiers yet and regardless that most of the trainees were fifteen years old, just like me.
While some trainees struggled with the pull between the supposed innocence of youth and being forced into adulthood in the midst of active combat, I’d never had an issue with putting childish considerations to the side. The Borders War was my bedtime story. The sonicrifle was my playtime companion.
I knew from the stories my fellow trainees told that their childhoods had been considerably different from mine. But I had no quarrel with my upbringing. The President had given me every opportunity to succeed with a goal my parents had set for me before birth. They were no longer a part of my daily life, but their expectations were a palpable weight on my shoulders, as if even from thousands of kilometres away I could feel the touch of their hands urging me forward. But even as the thought came I realised how insane it was. I couldn’t remember my parents ever hugging or touching me, let alone providing words of encouragement or strength. And the President had never taken on that role in my life either. I’d obviously been listening to the other trainees’ homesick stories for much too long.
I finally opened my eyes as I descended farther into the blackness of the night-time ocean. I’d made the mistake of diving into the water head first without any gear when we’d first landed on the island, and it had been a painful error I wouldn’t repeat again. Which, I supposed, was another point of Lim2. Ingraining within us the drive to act, or not act, without thought or hesitation, based solely on someone else’s orders.
I was outfitted in a drysuit of synthetic materials that wouldn’t melt from the onslaught of the chemically corrupted water and goggles to protect the soft flesh of my eyes from being eaten out of my sockets. It would already take months for the eyelashes I’d lost in that first fateful plunge to grow back. Ricor would have teased me ruthlessly, but unfortunately, Ricor Simion—a soldier in training like me and one year younger—wasn’t a part of my training class. There was a chance he only wanted me around to interrogate me for insider information on the training stages I reached before he did. Even if he did, though, I was okay with it. Unlike just about everyone else on this island or back in the States’ main barracks, I liked Ricor. He was going to be a great soldier someday. And if I kept him around partially because we’d started to find ways to relieve our physical stresses together? Then that was of mutual benefit.
“Grayson, you’re descending too fast,” a trainer chided me through my comm chip, the sound clear as the waves were translated and delivered directly to the auditory portion of my cortex instead of being heard through my ear.
I didn’t answer him with the required hand signal.
“Is this comm working?”
“He can hear you,” another voice—with that distinctive southern drawl—came over the line. Neveed Niaz was older than me by five years, smaller and shorter in stature, and if I continued growing at the same rate I would be significantly larger than him soon. But that didn’t seem to matter to Peacemaker Niaz. Unlike the other students and trainers, he wasn’t intimidated by me.
“You sure about that?” the trainer asked, likely directing the question to Niaz since I wasn’t responding.
“Look at his brainwaves,” Niaz noted. Then he spoke to me. “They’re just going to make you do the exercise again, Merq.”
Niaz sounded bored. But his familiar use of my first name set my blood boiling.
He wasn’t officially a trainer for Lim2. He didn’t seem to officially be anything. Well, except for an asshole who didn’t bother to hide that he was watching me specifically despite his bullshit cover story that he’d been sent in to test the effectiveness of the Youth Peacemaker programme.
The trainers used a remote trigger to tighten the suit around my chest and constrict my straining lungs even more. I continued to descend at a rapid pace.
“He’s going to kill himself,” I heard the trainer say, but his voice was fuzzier. A part of my oxygen-deprived brain realised it was because my lungs were squeezing painfully and my vision was beginning to fade in and out.
Just before I lost consciousness I thought I heard Niaz sigh and mumble out one word with a frustrated bite—“Hamartia.”
* * * *
December, Year 2540
The Continental States
That training session was the first time I’d heard the term, but it was one on a list of words that I clung to. It evoked the feeling of something greater than me that was, without my choice, ingrained within me.
I hungered for words and concepts in the way that I watched others around me hunger for the feel of a rifle or a knife in their hands. It was the unseen and the unknown that propelled me forward. An irresistible need to know.
The beach had filled with trainees as they’d ripped my unconscious form from the ocean. I would be told later that Neveed had stood over my body and whispered that speed would be my fatal flaw. It was my only hint to understanding the meaning of the word, since I’d never been able to confirm its origin or the truth of its meaning in any biocomp database.
It wasn’t as if he’d tell me if I asked either.
Even though he was currently lying naked at my side.
As of hours ago, I was officially a Peacemaker. Tomorrow Neveed and I would meet with the President to discuss my career track.
It had been a month since I’d left the PsychHAg facility. My body was whole again—even if my fingernails hadn’t grown all the way back in yet—and any hesitation about my abilities, about my strength, was now absent.
“Are you sorry you survived?” Neveed asked, as if he could hear the dark thoughts that swirled through my head. Although, he had talked about little else besides the PsychHAgs in the last month since I’d been the only student in my class to live through the year of torture training.