Authors: Cyndi Friberg
Tags: #Romance, #Science Fiction, #Paranormal, #Literature & Fiction
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Copyright © 2013 Cyndi Friberg
Cover art by Dar Albert
Editor: Mary Moran
Electronic Book Publication, September 2013
Trade Paperback Publication, October 2013
With the exception of quotes used in reviews, this book may not be reproduced or used in whole or in part by any means existing without written permission from the author, Cyndi Friberg.
This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. The characters are productions of the authors’ imagination and used fictitiously.
Praise for Beyond Ontariese
Taken by Storm
Taken by Storm
had it all–tense action, suspense, erotic sex,
and a wildly imaginative plot
The Romance Studio
“Unplug the phone and put the kids to bed; once you start reading
Taken by Storm
you won’t want any interruptions!”
Fallen Angel Reviews
“For a story that will delight, entertain, and keep you on the edge of your seat, I highly recommend
Taken by Storm
and award it
Romance Reviews Today
“I highly recommend
it’s one of the best science fiction romances I’ve ever read
.” Perfect 10!
Romance Reviews Today
“Outstanding! This segment only whetted my appetite for more. The heat between
and Trey could cause a nuclear meltdown
Simply Romance Reviews
City of Tears
City of Tears
by Cyndi Friberg is one amazing blend of science fiction at its best and romance at its hottest…”
Taken by Storm
City of Tears
Rage and Redemption
Echoes and Embers
Splendor and Darkness
Tears of the Dragon
Smoothing down the narrow skirt of her dark blue leather dress, Sevrin Keire shifted her weight from one foot to the other. The anxiety twisting through her only fueled her determination to remain calm. She was about to face-off with four lethal warriors, each of whom could end her life without benefit of conventional weapons. They were Shadow Assassins, feared and despised by the inhabitants of multiple worlds. The only thing that kept her from trembling in her high-heeled shoes was the fact that her visitors needed her more than she needed them. They just didn’t know it yet.
The six armed guards surrounding her didn’t hurt her confidence either. She glanced at Marat, her head of security and indulged in a tiny smile. He briefly inclined his head, signaling his readiness without allowing her to distract him. The other five members of the security team wouldn’t even divert their attention long enough to nod.
Fine by her.
They were here for her protection, not to keep her company.
She’d chosen the location for this meeting carefully, wanting the Shadow Assassins to feel isolated and dependent upon her. These men had spent the majority of their lives in an underground complex called the Shadow Maze. All they knew of the “world above” was the warped picture painted for them by their corrupt elders and the glimpses they were able to steal as they went above to hunt. She was about to change all that. She would offer them the two things every Shadow Assassin craved: freedom and access to females.
Shadow Assassins captured their mates and ruthlessly seduced them. They were taught how to use pleasure as a weapon, to systematically dismantle a woman’s defenses until her body turned against her. Sevrin shivered as she thought of a virile male utterly focused on her seduction. It was part fantasy, part nightmare, yet undeniably intriguing. What followed, however, wasn’t nearly as tempting. Once the female conceived and the child was delivered, one of two things took place. If she birthed a girl, both mother and daughter were returned to the world above. If she birthed a boy, only the mother was released. The infant son remained with his father. In either case, a “sweeper” would erase the woman’s memory, often leaving her mind irreversibly damaged.
Sevrin shook away the details. With the help of a traitor, the Ontarians had destroyed the only way of life the Shadow Assassins had ever known. So she intended to capitalize on their misfortune and come to a mutually beneficial compromise.
The warehouse was massive and remote enough to muffle the unavoidable disruption of their arrival. Though each of her visitors could teleport, they would need to combine their powers to open an interdimensional gateway. And even with their abilities networked, they had never attempted this before.
As if in response to her thought, sparks burst in the air to her right. She pivoted toward the disruption, ignoring the anxious leap in her heart rate. She’d poured time and effort into this project, refusing to give up as obstacle after obstacle was thrown into her path. Unfortunately, she’d progressed as far as possible without the cooperation of her reluctant guests.
Silver-blue flashes rent the air, zigzagging in front of her like miniature lightning strikes. The fabric of space parted and air gushed out, whipping her hair around her face. She stumbled back a step and narrowed her gaze on the rapidly expanding vortex. If four lifeless bodies were hurled at her feet, she was going to be pissed.
The insensitive thought made her smile and soothed her frayed nerves. She’d seen recordings of Ontarian Mystics as they “Summon the Storm” but the
hadn’t captured the joint-jarring vibration or the intoxicating rush of energy. The opening curved, becoming more tunnel than slit. Colors swirled within the portal, bending and twisting as the wind howled.
Finally a figure emerged, stepping into the warehouse with bold confidence. He was dressed in the solid black uniform of an Ontarian cadet. His hair had been shaved, leaving little more than a dark shadow against his well-shaped skull. With brutal features and piercing eyes, he emanated arrogance and challenge. This had to be Nazerel, descended from the South, strongest and most aggressive of the alpha hunters. The majority of her correspondence had been with this man, but she’d never been in the same room with him until now.
She was about to greet him when the next two hunters arrived. They stumbled into the warehouse, appearing far more disheveled than their leader. They too wore black uniforms and their hair had been shaved. Her gaze shifted back to the gateway, but South made a sharp motion with his hand and the vortex collapsed.
“Who’s missing?” She looked at South and their gazes clashed. Bright blue rings separated his irises from his pupils, attesting to his Rodyte heritage. But unlike her dark gaze, his irises were grayish blue.
A legacy from his Ontarian mother?
She shook away the speculation. Trivialities would have to wait. She had an alliance to negotiate. “There were supposed to be four of you.”
“Sorry to disappoint you.” South looked her over with insolent interest, his gaze lingering on her breasts. “Allenton has always been Varrik’s bitch. It was obvious he’d go running to his master if I told him anything, so I didn’t risk it.”
She fought back a snarl as resentment and frustration coursed through her soul. The crusading do-gooder had cost her more than he would ever know. She’d been on the verge of realizing her dreams when he liberated the Shadow Maze and completely unraveled her plans.
“And no one else fit the criteria?” She ignored his rude behavior, refusing to be intimidated. “I made arrangements for four separate teams.”
“We haven’t even decided if
going to participate in your project. For some odd reason we’re finding it hard to trust a Rodyte.” South moved closer, towering over her and blocking her view of the other two hunters. “All of your messages were cryptic and lacking in detail. We’re curious enough to make the trip, but don’t fool yourself, sweetheart, we’re far from forming an alliance.”
The sarcastic endearment made her teeth clench, but he was right. She knew her offer would be basically irresistible, but these men had yet to hear what she’d learned in the past six months. She swept her hand toward the adjoining office, or actually the smaller, less dilapidated space where she’d set up a table and chairs for this conversation. Facing-off as they spoke felt adversarial and she wanted nothing to distract them from the facts she was about to present.
South just stared at her, so she turned and walked toward the makeshift office, hoping beyond hope that he’d follow.
She didn’t look back, didn’t dare reveal her uncertainty. Halfway to the doorway she heard the muffled shuffle of booted feet, so she allowed herself to relax. They moved quietly, considering their size. Each one was easily a head taller than she, and she was tall for a Rodyte woman. Her security team shifted into a new formation, covering the Shadow Assassins as they moved toward the other room.
She’d arranged the table presentation style, four chairs lining one side and a single chair on the other. Rather than take her seat, she moved the chair out of the way and waited until the three Shadow Assassins sat down before she began her explanation. The room was gray and dingy, furnished with a mismatch of office castoffs. It didn’t matter. This was not their headquarters, just a momentary stop along the way.
“I know the elders became quiet secretive toward the end of their reign. How much do you know about your history and genetic makeup?” She looked at South. When dealing with pack mentality, it was best to focus on the alpha.
“The past cannot be changed and the future has yet to be written. We live in the present.” His inflectionless tone revealed the conditioned nature of his response.
“I understand that, but to have any control over the future one must understand the past.”
“We know what we are. Why are we here?” He looked around, curiosity sparking through his glazed expression. “For that matter, where is this place?”
Beginning these negotiations had required a leap of faith on the part of these men. They’d followed an energy beacon to the warehouse without fully understanding the destination. “This planet is called Earth. The inhabitants are human. Genetic similarities between humans and Ontarians indicate a common ancestry.”
“Is this common ancestry the reason you’ve brought us here? We’re well aware of your fondness for experimentation.” Already he was sounding impatient. Sevrin tried not to let it bother her.
“In part, but let’s start at the beginning. Shall we?” She smoothed her skirt down over her legs, a habit she couldn’t seem to stop when she was nervous. “The Shadow Assassins were founded by an outcast Rodyte.”
“All hale Master Vade!” Each of the three men slammed a fist against his chest as they chanted the phrase in unison.
Were they programed to do that every time someone mentioned their long-dead founder? How bizarre. Unsure how else to respond, she continued on as if the outburst hadn’t happened. “Many races are combined within the Shadow Assassin population, but the strongest and most powerful seem to be Ontarian/Rodyte hybrids. Each of you is this variety.”
“We are alpha hunters. Of course we’re the strongest and most powerful.” South’s voice became a menacing growl. Then he leaned back in his chair and crossed his brawny arms over his chest. “Tell us something we don’t already know.”
“Your generation is also equipped with nanites.”
South’s chair snapped down against the concrete floor as he leaned halfway across the table. “Are you inferring we have tiny robots crawling around inside us?”
Though his question indicated shock and disbelief, the gleam in his eyes was pure cunning. He obviously wanted her to think he was a dumb brute. She knew better. The elders kept detailed files on each person born into the “world below” and they’d shared the information with her father. South’s intelligence assessment was one of the highest she’d ever seen. He also had several unique and dangerous abilities. She likely knew more about these men than they knew about themselves. “Functionality scans were run on your nanites with each of your yearly physicals. Would you have me believe you were unaware of them?”
South just grinned as the other two exchanged amused glances.
They would have to do better than that if they hoped to outmaneuver her. “The nanites, for the most part, are responsible for regeneration and healing. They also increase your strength and stamina.”
“Wake me when the review is over.” South locked his hands behind his head, arms bent,
bulging. Damn, the man liked to pose and he knew exactly how to position that amazing body so rational thought became a challenge.
Dragging her gaze away from South’s biceps, Sevrin focused on the other two men. One was
, the other West, but she had no idea how to differentiate between the two. They looked similar, both lean, aggressive men in the prime of their lives. A decadent shiver raced down her spine and she gave herself a firm mental shake.
Pull it together
They obviously suffered from minuscule attention spans, so she dove to the heart of the matter. “The purpose of a hunt was to locate females strong and healthy enough to bear your offspring.” Three sets of eyes suddenly focused on her. Finally, she had their attention. “The Ontarians, in all their self-righteous wisdom, have deemed you unworthy of permanent relationships. If their females are intrigued by the forbidden and want new toys to play with for a while, the Joint Council will not stop them from offering you social alliances. But Ontarian females should not be subjected to the demands of vile criminals indefinitely, so they’ve forbidden you from claiming life mates. The only problem with this stipulation is that without mating bonds Shadow Assassins cannot breed.”
“They don’t want us to reproduce,” South snapped. “They think of us as a pestilence. They don’t have the stomach for genocide, but they have no intention of allowing the infection to spread beyond our generation.”
“Rodymia doesn’t want you because of your paranormal abilities; Bilarri won’t tolerate you because most of you have Rodyte blood; and Ontariese is treating you like a contaminated underclass.” She paused and let their anger simmer for a moment then said, “I’m offering you an alternative.”
“Go on,” South sounded a little less impatient, though his posture remained tense.
She took a deep breath and moved closer to the table. “There cannot be a mass exodus. That must be clear before we begin. The success of this project depends on secrecy. Each participant we include must be absolutely trustworthy.”
“Only the hunters are discontent,” South told her. “The soldiers are conditioned from birth to follow orders. Why should it matter who issues the commands?”
She’d expected more of a fight regarding the limitation and she wasn’t convinced his easy agreement was sincere. Still, as long as the descriptions of their abilities were accurate, she should be able to control how many came through the portal. Rather than belabor the point, she continued. “My family has financed the Shadow Assassins nearly from their inception.” Her uncle was Crown Stirate, the ultimate authority on Rodymia, but the Shadow Assassins didn’t need to know who she was until it benefited her to tell them. “We have learned many things during our study of your unique society.”
“You’ve studied more than our social structure.” South’s tone cut like a knife. “My men were never the same after they were summoned to your laboratory.
If they were lucky enough to return at all.”