Read Lost Star Online

Authors: Morgan Hawke

Tags: #Romance

Lost Star (2 page)

Aubrey screamed with him. His array slammed all channels closed to protect the biological mind attached to it. The world receded to a pinprick of light at the very far end of a long black tunnel. He didn’t even feel his chin smack hard on the engineering panel or his cheek hit the crash-littered deck plates.

Interstellar Service & Discipline: Lost Star


Chapter Two

Aubrey gasped awake, strapped on his back to a table with the smell of antiseptic in his nose. He groaned. His entire body was one big mass of hurt. He tried to open his eyes and realized that they were already open. He’d been blinded. Someone had gotten into his internal array and turned off his eyes.

“Good morning, tech-engineer.” The voice was masculine, richly cultured, cool, and amused.

Aubrey blinked, but the blackness remained. “Where am I?”

“You are on my ship. I am Moribund. I’m sure you will prove a very valuable addition to my company.”

“Huh?” Aubrey jerked. He couldn’t move an inch. “I can’t be in your company.

I’m penal indentured.” He scowled. He was a convict, a legal slave until he finished his sentence. The tattoo marking the data-chip in the back of his neck said so. “You have to go through the Agency penal board.”

“The chip has already been removed.”

Aubrey froze. No way! They exploded when tampered with. “Then how come I’m not dead?”

“Because I have very talented staff.” Moribund chuckled right next to his ear. “Of which you may count yourself a member.”

Aubrey flinched, and every hair on his body rose. There was something very wrong with this man. He had no clue what, but he’d learned long ago to listen to those small hairs.

Moribund’s boot heels thumped as he walked around Aubrey’s feet to the other side of the table. Fabric rustled right next to Aubrey’s left elbow. “Shall we discuss the terms of your service?”


Morgan Hawke

Aubrey sighed and relaxed on the table. There wasn’t a whole lot else he could do.

“Sure. What do you want from me?”

“I want you to steal ships, the same way you took mine.”

Aubrey’s blood turned to ice. He was in the enemy’s hands. He’d known he couldn’t be anywhere else, but… But the last transmission he’d intercepted had said

“no survivors.” Aubrey turned his sightless eyes toward Moribund. “How many survivors from my ship?”

Moribund drew in a slow breath and released it. “You.”

Aubrey struggled to interpret that another way and failed miserably. Him. He was the only survivor. His chest clenched, and he drew in a shuddering breath. “You killed them.”

“Your ship did.”

Aubrey closed his eyes to keep in the fierce ache that threatened to spill. “Damn it,
” He failed. Tears leaked from his eyes.

“I’m afraid that the ship’s sentience did not survive the act. My nav-pilot tells me that it was deliberate.”

Aubrey stilled.
had committed suicide? Then the ship had remained true…but everyone that had been on him was still dead. He gasped for breath and shuddered with the sobs he refused to release. All of them…gone forever, except him.

“Some ships are that way. You make a capture only to lose the ship in the process.

Very wasteful.” Moribund paced at Aubrey’s side. “The best way would be to erase the crews without the ship having to do it. That way I can keep the ship-mind intact.”

Moribund leaned close to Aubrey. “And that’s why I want you. Somehow, you succeeded in usurping not only the nav-pilot but the sentience as well, taking complete control of my ship. With your talents, I could keep the ships I capture.”

Aubrey jerked at whatever held him to the table. “I am not killing people for you!”

“How old are you, boy?”

Aubrey stilled. “Why?”

“My medic says you’re below legal age.”

Aubrey clenched his jaw. “So?”

“So?” Moribund’s voice dropped to a whisper. “You cannot legally walk into a bar or a brothel. I doubt you’ve even had sex yet. Are you sure you want to die before you’ve even lived?”

Aubrey drew in a deep breath. “I will not kill people.”

“Are you quite sure?”

Aubrey turned to face Moribund with blind eyes. “Fuck you.” His voice vibrated with the hate that burned in his heart. “Go ahead and kill me. I belong with my murdered ship and crewmates.”

“Very well then.” He stepped back.

Interstellar Service & Discipline: Lost Star


Aubrey was unbuckled and hauled from the table. He hit the deck hard and groaned. Painfully tight hands jerked him up onto his knees. His wrists were pulled behind his back and cuffed. They lifted him onto his feet and practically dragged him out of medical. After a fast walk down a long hall, he was yanked to a halt.

The mechanical sound of an airlock door opening crashed in his ears. He nearly dropped to his knees in shock. They really were going to kill him.

He was brutally shoved sideways and fell onto a very cold floor. The bare skin of his hands tried to stick to the metal. He fisted his hands and came up on his knees listening as the airlock door closed.

The air hissed, thinned, and chilled to razor sharpness with incredible speed. He sucked in one last breath and tried not to scream. He didn’t succeed.

* * * * *

Aubrey awoke curled on his side, shaking on a bare but warm deck. His mouth was full of thick, copper-flavored liquid. Blood.

A booted foot pushed him onto his back and his cuffed hands. “Alas for your suicidal wishes, I am not inclined to let you die.” Moribund’s voice was politely regretful, but the humor behind it was blatantly obvious. “You may visit the airlock again, if you wish?”

Aubrey couldn’t draw a full breath. His lungs were too full of liquid. He suspected that they were bleeding. He had to whisper. “Fine, put me back in, asshole.”

They did.

Determined to kill himself outright, Aubrey tried to suck in the blade-cold air and screamed it right back out.

* * * * *

He woke up on the deck again. He coughed, spewing hot, wet liquid that tasted strongly of copper and other things. He winced.
Lung damage
. He wasn’t dead, but he would be soon.

“There are faster ways to gain compliance. Pity I need your mind intact.”

“Fuck…you.” Aubrey barely got the words out.

Another trip to the airlock.

This time, he couldn’t scream. His lungs were too full of ice for breath.

* * * * *

Aubrey awoke blind and floating in the warm, heavy liquid of what could only be a medical tank. He’d been in one once before after a nasty glider spill. The thick fluid 8

Morgan Hawke

labored in and then out of his lungs. He couldn’t move, and his mind didn’t want to process properly. He could barely think. He was still alive. Damn it.

Sleep crushed him under. He didn’t fight it. Awareness was something he was not interested in having.

* * * * *

He dreamed, of sweeping starscapes and a gentle female presence. “Stay with me,” she whispered. “Don’t leave me. I don’t want to be alone.”

Out of sheer reflex, he reached out. He didn’t want to be alone either.

She folded around him with lithe grace and warmth.

His body responded to the comfort she offered. He reached for more, knowing it was a dream and wanting it to be more. He reached until he could almost feel softness under his hands and against his skin. The dream shifted, becoming a body intimately entwined with his. He could almost taste her mouth against his. His cock hardened.

She responded with shuddering delight and opened, offering herself.

He held her tight and arched into her. The impression of tight, wet warmth blazed hot down his spine and concentrated around his cock. He clutched her to him, relishing the feeling of physical delight with another, something he had yet to have.

She moved against him, delivering the most riveting and delightful sensation he’d ever felt.

The sensation was so strong, he could feel his sleeping body bucking in response.

He moved against her, begging for more.

She complied with enthusiasm and reached for him. Abruptly, part of her entered him.

Delight speared through him and urgency tightened within him. Somewhere in the back of his mind an alarm went off, but the pleasure of her touch was so intense, he didn’t care. She was going to make him cum.

She touched him deeper.

Delight crested and release took him violently. The feeling of his balls emptying in something warm burned up his spine. His howl of release was muffled by the liquid in his lungs.

Then she took him again.

And again.

* * * * *

Aubrey awoke, still in the liquid tank and still blind, but he wasn’t alone. Someone was in his head with him. “

Interstellar Service & Discipline: Lost Star


Hello, Aubrey
.” It was the female presence that had been in his dreams. “
I am

Awake and aware, Aubrey suddenly recognized the presence for what it was. He reeled in shock. It was the ship. He had made love to the ship. And it had been incredible.

A second presence, dark and sharp-edged, pressed against the edges of his mind.

Aubrey flinched away, but it remained at the limit of his thoughts. “
What is that

Don’t look there
radiated sharp fear. “
It’s the nav-pilot. She will hurt you if
she finds you looking

?” He writhed away but couldn’t gain any distance. “
What is the nav-pilot
doing inside my head
?” He shook his head in the tank and felt the pull of a data-jack plugged into the back of his head. Fuck. They had jacked into his mind and somehow gotten in past his firewalls and alarms. Anger burned. The firewalls weren’t his only defense. He had other ways of dealing with intruders.

No, you can’t fight her

Oh yes I can

No, you can’t. You’ve been mapped. If you try to fight her, she will use your own
programs against you

Mapped? I don’t remember…

Yes, while you slept. You seemed to find the experience pleasurable

?” He flinched in shock.
The dream…
His mind had been mapped by a wet dream, giving Moribund access to his programs.


Fury seared through him. “
Anything else I should know about

You’ve been slave-drived and configured as an executable

?” He sucked in a hard breath, and his lungs labored with the additional liquid. “
I’m an executable program? I’m something to turn on and shut down when you feel like

She pulled back from him. “
To the nav-pilot you are

No! I’m not a fucking program
!” Something shifted in the back of his mind. He scanned the data being accessed. It was the hijack code and the breaker code.
! “Niobe,
are we attacking a ship


No. I won’t kill people

Aubrey, you are not killing anyone, the nav-pilot is

It’s my program—

You’re not executing it, the nav-pilot is


Morgan Hawke

It’s still my program, and it’s being used to kill people
!” Aubrey gathered himself for a hard shove. “
I will not do this

No, don’t! You don’t want to touch her mind

Why the hell not

Aubrey, she’s insane. She could kill you

He grabbed for the stream of data. “
Then I die. I’m supposed to be dead anyway

The stream was pried out of his hold.

He used every trick he had to stop the data flow…and couldn’t. He tried to erase the code. It was one of his favorites and he hated the idea of killing it, but he would not let his code be used in this way…and couldn’t. Despite the fact that his programs were in his own encoding language, somehow a passcode had been tacked on, sealing it off. He didn’t have access to his own data.

No! I won’t do this
!” Aubrey fought the restraints that held him, jerking hard and twisting to dislodge the jack in his head. Something rushed into his veins, numbing his brain and slowing his thoughts. Sleep began to press hard against his mind. He was being drugged.

whispered. “
You’re being given a sedative

It’s to keep me from fighting them

You cannot fight them. It’s to keep you from hurting yourself

The data stream stopped. They had gained access. Somewhere out there, a ship was killing her crew. And it was his fault. Thick black guilt squeezed his heart, even as his body stilled in response to the drugs in his blood. “Niobe,
if I can’t keep them out, I
need to die. I won’t be used to kill people

You will not die

Aubrey fought to hold on to consciousness. “Niobe,
I can’t live this way, as a
program to be used

You will live

I can’t—

You will

Sleep crushed him under.

* * * * *

Aubrey awoke, still blind, still in the tank, with someone rummaging around in his head. He slammed doors closed, only to have them pried open. He changed passcodes and rearranged his files, only to have them changed on him. He pulled every firewall and blocking trick he could think of…and they still got in.

He howled in fury and slammed a thick wall of anger at whoever was digging in his head.

Interstellar Service & Discipline: Lost Star


A fist of moldering, acidic rot closed around his mind. “
Bad boy
,” it hissed. “
!” Barbed burning things squirmed through his wall of anger and burrowed deep into his mind, eating their way into his thoughts.

Other books

Reckless (Free Preview) by Cornelia Funke
Suspension of Mercy by Patricia Highsmith Copyright 2016 - 2023