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Ghost of a Machine

Cynthia Sax

Fragile. Stubborn. His.

Ghost, a C Model cyborg, has disconnected his machine from his human side. Severely damaged, he knows two things—the curvy human female on his ship belongs to him and he must keep her safe. He’ll stop at nothing to protect her, claim her, make her his.

Primitive. Damaged. Hers.

Lethe has seen the savage side of beings. The courageous Rebel captain has never met a male like Ghost. Overpoweringly dominant, he appeals to her on a primal level, filling her mind with thoughts of sweet surrender, hard kisses, and body-heating encounters against the warship’s walls.

They are two broken beings, one determined to protect, the other intent on flying into danger. Can love heal them both before they face their common enemy?

* * *

Ghost Of A Machine is Book 9 in the Cyborg Sizzle series and is a STAND-ALONE story.

It is also a BBW Cyborg SciFi Romance.





Ghost Of A Machine

Published by Cynthia Sax at Smashwords

Copyright 2017 Cynthia Sax

Ebook design by Mark's Ebook Formatting

Discover more books by Cynthia Sax at her website

www.CynthiaSax.com

Smashwords Edition, License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your favorite ebook retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

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: May 2017

For more information contact Cynthia Sax at

www.CynthiaSax.com





Table of Contents

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Epilogue

Afterword

Excerpt – Dark Thoughts

About The Author





Chapter One

Ghost stared at the far wall of his holding chamber, trying to ignore the two puny human males chattering in front of him.

“You’d think they’d design cyborgs to talk.” The smallest male gazed up at him.

“They don’t talk.” The other male nicked Ghost in the hip with a dagger. “Not unless they’re asked a question or acknowledging a command. This one is damaged. It doesn’t even do that.”

Ghost, accustomed to their torture, didn’t react. Blood dripped down his leg.

“The silence is eerie.” The smallest male’s lips twisted. “Remember when Rog stuck that dagger up its ass and sliced it to pieces? It didn’t make a sound.”

He said that as though it was a fond memory. The two of them enjoyed hurting beings, hurting him.

Hatred, pure and thick, pulsed through Ghost’s circuits. If given the command, he’d rip their heads off.

But he wouldn’t be given that command. The humans were his masters and although he didn’t know much, his organic brain shattered, he did know he couldn’t act without their orders.

“The Captain was pissed when Rog did that.” The other male dragged a dagger over Ghost’s bare ass, leaving a trail of pain. “He likes it tight when he uses it.”

Ghost’s fury expanded, encompassing every being on the warship. He wanted to kill them all, tear them apart limb by limb.

Instead, he gazed at the gray wall panels, his expression blank, his lips pressed together. The two males’ voices weren’t the only sounds he heard. Millions of beings talked inside his reinforced skull.

What’s the quickest way to kill a Mantidae?

In the Homeland, every cyborg is free.

I increased my kill rate by thirty-two this planet rotation.

Some females have golden hair.

Fe-males. Ghost silently turned that word over in his mind. Fe-males. That meant something to him, invoked emotions within his soul. He didn’t know why it was important but it was.

“We’ll have to clean it up after the battle.” The shorter male wrinkled his nose. “The captain doesn’t like it to be dirty.”

“C Models are disgusting.” The other male curled his top lip. “The newer models have been programmed to utilize the cleaning cloths.”

“This one used to do that. It is malfunctioning.”

“Why doesn’t the captain have it decommissioned and order a new one?”

Decommissioned was another word Ghost still retained. It meant pain, death.

The end of his suffering.

“There’s been an issue with supply. For now, we’re stuck with it.” The shorter male inclined his head toward Ghost. “There are benefits. I doubt the captain would allow us to use a new model for target practice.”

“True.” The taller male moved toward the doors. “I’m itching to test my new long gun. Downing the rebel battle station should earn us that reward.”

“Their commander is a female.” The other male sneered. “Defeating her will take mere moments.”

They exited, the doors shut behind them, and Ghost was left in solitude yet again. He had a vague recollection of a time when he wasn’t alone, a time when he had been surrounded by warriors like himself.

A scene flashed through his mind. A battlefield strewn with bodies, gouged faces, silver frames showing through tattered flesh, eyes with their lights burned out.

Pain surged along his circuits, coiling around his heart, squeezing, squeezing. Ghost hastily deleted the image and focused on the present, on the gray walls, the tiled floor.

There was a space inside him, as though something was missing. A part of himself had been severed. He gazed down. His arms and legs remained attached. He balled his fingers into huge fists. Physically, he appeared to be all there.

Yet the sensation remained. He wasn’t whole. He was defective.

Ghost stared at the wall and listened to the chatter in his head, the discussions of battle strategy, the musings about females and the Homeland.

The warship tilted to the right. He widened his stance, bracing himself. The floor under his bare feet leveled.

The vessel jerked, steadied, jerked again.

Were they in a battle? Ghost breathed deeply, smelling nothing, no blood, no projectile residue. No one gave him orders to attack, to kill.

He wanted to end lifespans. That was his one remaining function in the universe. Ghost remembered having another purpose, a more worthy purpose. He couldn’t recall what that was. All he knew now was death, pain, violence.

Ghost.

He straightened and growled. One of the voices inside his skull knew his name.

Ghost, are you functional? Another voice asked.

That question held the strength of an order. He had to respond. Ghost searched his organic brain for the words. It had been solar cycles since he’d last spoken. Ugh. That was all he could manage.

He’s damaged.

He might be too damaged to assist us.

Assist, Ghost repeated. If the task required action, not talking, he could complete it.

There was a stretch of silence.

He’d failed the voices as he’d failed…he couldn’t remember who he had failed. Ghost’s shoulders slumped. He stared at the wall, waiting for a command.

Ghost, we need your help. The first voice returned.

Ghost lifted his head. Ugh. He’d help them.

Open your holding chamber, warrior.

Ghost glanced at the doors. They were closed. His gaze shifted to the control panel to the right. He placed his hands on the flat surface, ashamed of how dirty, how unkempt his fingers were.

Nothing happened.

The power to open the doors was within him. He was certain of that. Ghost narrowed his eyes at the control panel and concentrated.

The doors remained closed.

Ghost, I have to hack into your machine. The voice stated an intention. Do I have your consent?

Machine. That was the piece of him that was missing. He’d shut that part down. There was a reason he did that, though he couldn’t remember what that reason was.

Ugh. He tried to communicate his misgivings to the voice.

The voice didn’t listen to him. His processors were poked and prodded.

They whirred, reviving. A tingling spread over him, pricks of pain, as though pins and needles were being stuck into his skin. His body tried to resist the invasion.

The voice, Ghost could now identify him as Ace, was too strong. The K Model cyborg deftly reconnected Ghost’s processors, undoing the separation it had taken the C Model almost a solar cycle to fully accomplish.

Images, memories, words flooded Ghost’s organic brain. It was too much, overwhelming.

Hurtful.

The first face to dominate his thoughts was of a young female. She had chubby cheeks, brown curly hair, had four or five solar cycles. The little female clung to her mother’s hand and stared up, up, up at Ghost with awe and wonder.

Ours. Ghost felt that truth deep in his soul. The little female belonged to him in the same way the K Model cyborg belonged to him. It was his role to protect her.

He didn’t know how.

If he swept her into his arms and ran, carrying her to safety as he desperately wanted to, he’d be disobeying orders. Worse than that, he’d be acting on his own.

The Humanoid Alliance would know cyborgs weren’t mindless killing machines. They would realize cyborgs weren’t completely under the humans’ control.

His brethren, the cyborgs standing by his side, perhaps all the cyborgs under Humanoid Alliance command, would be deemed defective and killed.

He held the little female’s gaze, watching, waiting for an opportunity to save her.

“Kill them,” a male officer told his subordinate.

The male looked at the officer and then at the two unarmed females. He gulped, his Adam’s apple bobbing. His face was pale. His gun shook.

“Fuck.” The officer grabbed his subordinate’s gun. “I’ll do it.”

It took all of Ghost’s willpower not to move, not to grab the little female.

The officer pulled the trigger. The projectile struck the little female in the forehead, killing her instantly. Her eyes, remaining trained on Ghost, widened. She fell. Her mother screamed.

The images were memories, date-stamped as occurring many hundreds of solar cycles ago, but his processors had captured them perfectly, every detail intact; he felt the death as though it had just happened.

Ghost howled through his transmission lines, bellowing with grief, the force of his failure hitting him hard. She had belonged to him and he’d allowed her to die.

The officer shot the mother and handed the gun back to his subordinate. “That’s how you do it.” He smirked.

Ghost’s urge to kill increased.

The scene changed.

A blue fur-covered female hid behind a downed ship. Projectiles zinged around her, puncturing the metal panels, blasting holes in her makeshift shield.

Ours. That knowledge filled Ghost with dread. The Humanoid Alliance officers swaggering behind him would have spotted her. She could be seen even with their ineffective human visual system. There was no way to hide her, to save her.

The female bravely fired back at them, earning his admiration. She was strong, worthy of his protection.

Again, he didn’t know how to safeguard her. His machine evaluated and discarded solutions.

Having no other option, Ghost marched toward her, his apprehension increasing with every step. His cyborg brethren were positioned to his right and to his left. They formed a line of warriors no humanoid could defeat.

His stomach twisted. She would die.

He would fail her, fail his kind. No Humanoid Alliance torture could equal this, knowing a being he was destined to protect would be harmed, killed.

When the projectile hit her in the chest, he emotionally crumpled, gutted, his insides hollowed out. The pain was acute, fresh, slicing through him like a blade.

And it didn’t end.

Failure after failure, death after death, was revisited, the agony building. The females had all belonged to him. And they were all dead.

Because he had failed them. Guilt, sorrow, grief cascaded over Ghost.

There was nothing he could do to stop it, no steps he could take to save the dead females, to reverse the damage he’d done.

Ace, the K Model cyborg, repaired his finger and palm interfaces, reconnecting the circuits. Ghost’s nanocybotics, the part of him that was responsible for his faster-than-human healing, were stimulated by the activity. Energy surged through him.

That increased his frustration over his failures, escalated his pain. Some of that emotion flowed into rage, his anger directed at himself and at his Humanoid Alliance handlers. The Humanoid Alliance had given the orders for the killing, had participated in it.

Ghost rumbled, yearning to take action, to ease his conscience.

Ace accessed the warship’s systems through Ghost’s interface. The doors slid open.

Ghost lurched forward, looked to the right and to the left. There were no guards. No one to give him commands. No one to punish.

Kill every being you see, Ace instructed.

Kill. Yes, he would kill them all. Then the pain inside him would dissipate. Then he’d be fully repaired, his human and his machine halves at peace.

Ghost flung back his head, released a roar, and rushed forward, searching for his first target. One of his handlers entered the corridor. The male’s eyes widened. He turned and ran in the opposite direction.

He wasn’t fast enough. Ghost moved at cyborg speed, faster than any human. He grabbed the male. The handler squawked.

Not having any weapons, Ghost bent his head. Using his teeth and hands, he ripped off the male’s skull, killing him quickly. That didn’t dampen the images of the females. He tore off the male’s arms and legs. The females’ faces remained in his thoughts.

He shredded the torso, the metallic taste of blood filling his mouth. It splattered over his naked form and oozed between his toes. Ghost painted the walls crimson, took the male apart until there was nothing left to grip.

The rage inside him didn’t dissipate. It grew until all he saw was red, until the only word in his processors, in his organic brain, was kill.

Ghost stormed through the warship, tracking beings by their scent. He battered through doors and walls to get to his targets, ending their lives as he had ended his handler’s life, quickly, brutally.

They couldn’t escape him and they deserved their fate. All of the males had tortured him, had delighted in causing him pain. They would pay for that, would pay for not allowing him to protect the females.

In Ghost’s damaged mind, the females’ deaths, his failure, and the males’ torment were bundled, mixed together in a volcanic vortex of emotion. Solar cycles of frustration gushed out of him, a red, heated, flow of rage, of violence.

The human warriors shot at him. He leaned toward their guns, embracing the agony. It was what he deserved. Projectiles riddled his form, biting into his skin. His nanocybotics hummed, struggling to heal him.

He continued killing. Beings screamed and begged for mercy. Their pleas didn’t penetrate his processors, didn’t reach his brain. He had been given an order—to kill every being he saw. He wouldn’t fail Ace, one of his own, not as he had failed the females. He ended the males’ lives with no hesitation.

The shuddering of the warship stopped as the corridors and the chambers flooded with blood. It was more than Ace’s order fueling Ghost, more than vengeance. The Humanoid Alliance had manufactured him for this, had designed him for killing, and it satisfied his machine to serve its purpose.

He hunted down every being on board the vessel.

Kill. Kill. Kill. He concentrated on that command, tearing the males into pieces with his mouth and hands. Blood streamed down his chest, scented the air.

He ravaged the last male. The warship was eerily quiet. Only the voices in his head remained.

They were fellow cyborgs, his processors relayed. The warriors were positioned on other ships, on planets. Some were free. Some remained slaves of the Humanoid Alliance.

None of them gave him his next order. Ghost stared down at the gore. Ace, the K Model cyborg, was silent. He’d withdrawn from Ghost’s processors.

The images of the females lingered, haunting him. His brain forgot. His databases never did. Ghost tried to sever the connection to his machine side. Both parts of him, wanting to remain whole, resisted and he wasn’t strong enough to overwhelm that blockade.

All he could do was slow the transfer of information.

He crouched beside his last target. Needing to do something, anything, he moved body parts from one spot to another.

That action didn’t stop the images running through his mind.

The last footage he’d recorded played. It featured the death of three females belonging to him, to his brethren. One of those females had been newly manufactured, couldn’t stand, couldn’t talk. All the females were defenseless. They’d surrendered to the Humanoid Alliance, laid down their primitive weapons.

The Humanoid Alliance, having no honor, had ordered the cyborgs to kill them. His brethren, not knowing who the females were to them, to their kind, had followed those commands.

Ghost had silently watched, unable to stop the carnage, his soul hollowed out by guilt. He couldn’t communicate to his brethren what they’d done, couldn’t give them that remorse, that grief. It was his to bear alone, silently.

The image faded.

The loop restarted. It always did, the torture never ceasing. The face of the little female filled his thoughts, her chubby cheeks, her brown curly hair, her big brown eyes.

The pain was endless and unbearable, projectiles piercing his brain, his heart, his soul. Ghost squeezed a handful of guts. Blood dripped on the tiled floor. He needed more beings to kill, more outlets for the agony. That might make the hurting tolerable.

More beings would arrive. The Humanoid Alliance would retrieve their warship.

When the males entered the vessel, he would seek vengeance. Every being he killed would be one less being able to harm the females.

That might ease his guilt, stop the pain.

Allow him to remain whole.





Chapter Two

The first Humanoid Alliance warship had been destroyed. The second Humanoid Alliance warship had stopped firing on them. Lethe Vlahos, the Rebel battle station’s first officer, gripped the armrests of her chair, gazing at the main viewscreen with disbelief.

The rest of the crew on the bridge cheered.

She was relieved to be alive also. Ever since she had fourteen solar cycles, she’d been one step away from death. One planet rotation, it would close the gap, catch her.

It wouldn’t be this planet rotation.

And it might not be the next if she increased her survival skills. She didn’t have an explanation for the cease-fire and that bothered her.

Her gaze shifted to her commander. The two warriors, Ace and Thrasher, stood by the older female’s side. Lethe didn’t know who they were either. One planet rotation, they’d appeared on the bridge with the commander. Everywhere she went, they went also.

Lethe suspected they were partially responsible for the second warship’s silence.

Its image dominated the main viewscreen. The ship appeared undamaged.

Her commander spoke with the two warriors by her side, their lips moving, their words inaudible. Lethe swallowed her frustration, the taste bitter in her mouth. She was excluded, had no control over the situation, the next steps.

Her right hand slipped into the pocket of her ass coverings. Her fingers curled around the hilt of the dagger hidden there.

It was like she was fourteen again, sitting on the hilltop, watching the Humanoid Alliance ships destroy her settlement and kill her family, unable to do anything, not knowing what would happen next.

Powerless. Weak.

“Navigation, hail the second warship,” her commander ordered.

The navigation officer tapped his fingers against his console and Lethe envied him the action. He was doing something. She was doing nothing.

“The second warship is not responding, Commander,” he informed her.

“I’ll force the communication.” Thrasher, one of the warriors, tapped on his control panel.

Lethe stared at him. He dared to act without the commander’s permission. Not even she, the battle station’s first officer, did that.

“I authorize that action.” Her commander’s tone communicated her displeasure.

A chamber was displayed on the main viewscreen. Entrails were draped over multi-level horizontal supports. The walls, ceiling, floor were painted crimson. A naked male crouched on top of a body. He appeared to be transferring the dead being one internal organ at a time to a pile of gore beside him.

The communications officer bent over, retching into a waste container.

Lethe merely gasped. She’d seen worse, had lived through that horror. The planet rotations after the Humanoid Alliance attack had revealed how barbaric humans could be.

She had been one of those primitive beings.

If anyone on the bridge knew what she’d done to survive, they wouldn’t look at her with respect. They’d view her with disgust, with fear, just as they were viewing the naked male.

“Stars,” the commander whispered. She also didn’t understand.

The male’s head turned and Lethe’s stomach clenched. He was a beast, his face broad, his chin square. His shaggy black hair dripped red. His skin was covered with blood.

But she didn’t fear him. There was pain in his brilliant blue eyes, grief, anger, sorrow. He’d known loss as she had. It had changed him, pushed him to the breaking point.

It was a place she knew well.

“Ours,” he rumbled.

The sound reached deep inside her, gripping her heart, squeezing, squeezing. Her nipples tightened and her pussy grew wet. She wanted him.

He wanted the commander.

Even this primitive beast recognized they were two different kinds of female. Lethe was a female males used and discarded. The commander was a female males loved, a female males claimed forever.

“No, not yours.” Ace, the second warrior, extracted two wicked blades from the sheaths on his chest.

“You won’t touch her.” Thrasher lowered his form, assuming battle position. “She belongs to us.”

The two warriors were prepared to fight for the commander.

Lethe swallowed her envy. No one would ever fight for her. Subconsciously, they somehow knew what she’d done, what she was.

A female who could be had for a container of liquid.

Her gaze returned to the male on the warship. He was huge, tall and broad; his muscle, under all that gore and blood, defined; his form solid.

She doubted even two warriors fighting as one could defeat him.

“No one is touching anyone.” The commander spaced those words out, emphasizing each one. “And I don’t belong to anyone. I’m your commander.”

“Ours.” The naked male stalked closer to the viewscreen. “Ours.” He rubbed his fingers over it, smearing blood across the surface. He squinted, his nose almost touching the surface. “Ours.” He wiped his face, removing some of the grime from his skin.

Revealing gray skin and a model number.

“He’s a cyborg,” the weapons officer yelled.

“It’s C345925.” The commander sat with a thump in the captain’s chair.

“Ours.” The naked male, the cyborg, pushed against the screen.

Cyborgs. Lethe had heard of them. Everyone on the bridge had. They were the Humanoid Alliance’s perfect killing weapon, half man, half machine, supposedly under their control.

She stared at the male, her attraction toward the male undiminished. He was no emotionless machine. She saw that in his eyes. And, judging by the carnage, he was under no being’s control.

The commander was talking with the warriors again, a private aside Lethe wasn’t part of. Every so often, the cyborg would repeat that one word, “ours”, his gaze trained on her superior officer.

It irked Lethe. She wanted him to verbally claim her, look at her.

But he wouldn’t. No male ever would.

The cyborg rubbed his hands over his face. Flesh had been gouged from his cheeks. His silver frame shone, reflecting the light.

Sympathy overwrote her irritation.

He must be in so much pain.

And he was alone. As she was. As she’d been after the Humanoid Alliance attacked. He wasn’t defenseless. An A Class Warship was under his command. And he’d clearly killed everyone on board with his bare hands.

But he was in a state of shock, had reverted to a savage place where he couldn’t recognize anything or anyone. He required assistance.

Or time. Time had partially healed Lethe.

Her commander felt otherwise. Her right hand hovered over the controls.

That was the missile launch override. The commander was thinking about blowing him up

Panic surged through Lethe. The male had saved them. He was a living, breathing, feeling being. She opened her mouth to protest.

The commander’s hand moved away from the controls.

Lethe exhaled, relieved. She wasn’t certain she could change the commander’s mind. The older female was known for being decisive.

“Ours,” the cyborg repeated, standing.

Lethe blinked. Even flaccid, the male was huge, his cock proportional to the rest of his body.

“This warrior, this cyborg, saved all our lives this planet rotation.” The commander pointed out a fact Lethe already knew. “He brought us one step closer to victory over the Humanoid Alliance, his former masters.” The female locked gazes with Ace. “And he saved my life those many solar cycles ago.” Her gaze moved to Thrasher. “Although, at that time, I didn’t want it to be saved.”

“Ours.”

“And now?” Thrasher asked.

“I’m glad he saved me.” The commander loved the two males. Lethe saw that in her eyes.

And they loved her in return.

Because the older female wouldn’t have traded her body to convince the cyborg on the warship to save her. She also wouldn’t have taken a seat meant for a mother and baby.

The commander was resourceful. She would have found objects to trade and she would have figured out a way to save other beings while saving herself.

“Ours.”

Lethe surveyed the cyborg’s big form and her mouth dried with want. She wouldn’t have hesitated to spread her legs for him. Physically, he was everything one could desire in a male.

Emotionally, he was hurting but he would eventually heal.

“Is that the only word he knows?” The commander winced.

Lethe stifled her glare. The male was in shock, in pain. She hadn’t spoken for half a solar cycle after she escaped the surface.

“Ours.”

“He’s been severely damaged.” Ace came to the cyborg’s defense. “He’s also violent. He might attack any being who approaches him.”

He was in agony, Lethe wanted to yell. But to contribute that insight might mean talking about her past and she didn’t want to do that.

Ever.

“I see the proof of that.” The commander’s tone was dry. “What do you advise—we leave him on the warship?”

“Ours.”

They wanted to abandon him? They would leave the cyborg on the warship as many humans had left her on the planet, uncaring if she, make that he, lived or died?

“He could regain enough functionality to fly it. Eventually.” Ace sounded doubtful.

Because he’d never been that severely damaged. Lethe had. She knew the cyborg could recover. Anyone who could survive whatever he’d experienced also had the strength to heal.

“Eventually.” The commander’s lips twisted. “The Humanoid Alliance could find him before that happened. They’d enslave him, might kill him. The warship would be returned to their fleet.”

“Ours.”

“Give me command of the warship.” Lethe suggested, wanting to save the cyborg, save the ship. “I could fly it, Commander.” She could fly anything. She’d ranked at the top of her Rebel training program.

“Mine,” the cyborg bellowed. “Mine.”

At the moment, she was his sole chance at survival. Lethe looked at the viewscreen. He gazed at her, only her, his eyes blazing. She would help him heal as others had once helped her.

“Great.” The commander pinched the bridge of her nose. “He’s learned a new word.”

“Mine.” The cyborg rushed at the viewscreen. Primitive warrior and advanced technology collided. Lethe winced. Fracture lines feathered from the point of impact. That must have hurt him. “Mine.”

Thrasher looked at Ace and then at Lethe. “She’s his.”

“His female.” Ace said that as though it were significant.

“No.” The commander held up her right index finger. “Don’t start with that ‘my female’ business again. The warrior has clearly lost all control. None of my crew are going near him.”

“Mine,” the cyborg roared. He was fully erect now.

Lethe gulped, daunted by his size.

“Communications, mute him,” the commander barked. “He’s not adding anything useful to the conversation.”

He might add value. Lethe frowned. And he should have the ability to speak. They were deciding his fate.

The cyborg continued to attack his viewscreen. The skin on his fists cracked. Cyborgs repaired…healed quickly, she reminded herself. The pain should be temporary.

“He won’t hurt her.” Thrasher turned to the commander. “We would rather die than hurt the being or beings meant for us.”

We would rather die. Lethe’s eyes widened. “You’re cyborgs too.”

She looked at Ace, at Thrasher, and then back at the male on the viewscreen. They were cyborgs and the commander trusted them, cared for them.

“Yes, they’re cyborgs too.” The commander’s voice rose to encompass all of the bridge. “No one, and I mean, no one, speaks of our alliance with the cyborgs.”

They had an alliance with the cyborgs. Lethe stared at her, stunned. That was the first she’d heard of any pact.

Because the commander didn’t trust her. The older female didn’t know about her past, about what she’d done. Lethe had been the perfect officer, the ideal subordinate.

Yet she hadn’t earned her superior’s confidence. If the commander knew how very flawed she was, Lethe doubted she would have been made first officer.

Her shoulders slumped.

“Erase cyborg from your vocabulary,” the commander ordered. “No one on my battle station will speak that word again. It doesn’t appear on communications. It doesn’t get relayed to Rebel Headquarters. The fate of the war and the lives of millions of beings depend on our discretion.”

That was what Lethe wanted to do—save others.

Her gaze moved to the cyborg. He slammed against the viewscreen again and again. She yearned to reach out to him, to soothe him, tell him she wouldn’t allow him to be harmed.

But she was merely a first officer. She hadn’t the authority to make that promise.

Not yet.

“I have the best, the brightest, the most loyal crew in space.” The commander continued her rally-the-troops speech. “That’s why we’ve been given this role. Let’s ensure we’re worthy of it.”

The other officers cheered. They weren’t concerned about the cyborg, about whether or not he’d be granted the permission to live, to heal, to find some sort of happiness.

If that truly existed for beings such as her, such as him.

“Ghost is no danger to your first officer.” Ace told the commander. “He is a danger to any other being, human, humanoid or cyborg.”

Ghost. Lethe repeated in her mind. The cyborg’s name was Ghost.

It was appropriate. The rest of the beings acted as though they couldn’t see him.

“It’s an A Class Warship, Commander.” Lethe pointed out. The commander and her fellow rebels might not be concerned about the cyborg but a ship was valuable. It might make a difference to the Rebel cause. “I don’t need a crew. I can fly it alone.”

She’d be free, in control, able to go wherever she wanted. If the enemy attacked a planet she was on, she wouldn’t need to trade her body for a seat on a ship. She’d have her own vessel, be able to transport others, not asking them for anything in return.

The commander said nothing.

“An A Class Warship, Commander.” She repeated it. “You know how rare that is in the Rebel fleet. I would kill for a ship like that.”

“You might be killed for a ship like that.” The commander blew out her breath. “Warriors.” The males by her side straightened. “You’re certain he won’t harm her?”

The commander was concerned the cyborg would hurt her. Lethe pressed her lips together. Just moments earlier, they had been staring death in the face. They were in the middle of a war, a war they were losing. They could all die the next planet rotation.

She almost died at fourteen solar cycles. Lethe would take her chances with the cyborg. He was male and she knew what he wanted. She would handle him the same way she handled the captain who had rescued her from Mercury Minor, her home planet.

Lethe would trade the only thing she had of value.

Her body.

At least this male she desired. The captain had been old, flabby, stank of sweat and fermented beverages. She had stared up at the ceiling as he had floundered around on top of her, his breath whistling, his loose flesh smacking against her.

Her top lip curled. The male before him had been worse. But he’d had a container of beverage and she’d been lightheaded from thirst, the dust from the attacks coating the back of her throat.

Yes, she knew how to handle males.

“We’re 93.4% certain.” Ace gave the commander Lethe’s odds of survival.

She’d take those odds.

The commander frowned, not as satisfied with his answer. “What happened to ‘A cyborg would never damage his female’?”

“He’d never damage her physically,” Ace explained. “He could damage her emotionally.”

Ace worried the cyborg would cause her emotional damage.

Lethe smothered the urge to laugh, bitterness bubbling up inside her. She’d rummaged through stinking, bloated corpses looking for something to drink, to eat. An angry hurting cyborg couldn’t rattle her.

“The warrior has coated the entire ship with blood and guts.” The commander shook her head. “That would damage anyone emotionally.”

“Not me.” Lethe lifted her chin. Nothing had that ability. Not anymore. “It won’t damage me emotionally, especially if I receive an—”

“An A Class Warship in return.” The commander tilted her head back, stared up at the ceiling. She did that when weighing the pros and cons of an action. “You’re my best officer. You’ve clearly set your mind on this.”

“I have.” Lethe smiled. The commander would agree to her proposition. The warship and the cyborg would be hers.

“And you deserve the opportunity.” The pride in the commander’s voice warmed Lethe’s chest. “Congratulations, Captain. You’re in command of an A Class Warship.”

“Yes,” Lethe shouted, pumping the air with her fists.

Finally, she had her own ship. Never again would she be trapped on a planet, unable to leave. She would control her own fate, would rescue whoever she wanted to rescue.

Lethe glanced at the C Model cyborg.

The first being she’d rescue would be him.






Chapter Three

On board the warship, Ghost waited in the chamber where he’d seen his female. He stared at the viewscreen, concentrating on it with all of his shattered soul, willing her to reappear.

Its fragmented surface had been dark for half a planet rotation. He hadn’t moved from his post in front of it. He would stand there for a solar cycle if that was necessary.

The viewscreen was his only link to his female.

She would return to it. She had to.

And he’d be ready. Ghost’s muscles flexed. His fists were clenched.

The other female, the older one, had belonged to his brethren. The golden-haired female belonged to him. His gaze remained fixed on the device. He wouldn’t fail her, not like he’d failed the others.

His wounds healed. The blood on his skin dried. Ghost continued to wait, his entire focus on the viewscreen. His female’s image flashed through his broken mind.

She was the most beautiful creature he’d ever seen in his long battle-filled lifespan. Her face had no sharp angles. Her curves were lush. Her eyes were the brown of freshly blasted dirt. They sparked with intelligence.

“Mine.” She was his to protect, his to claim. Ghost knew that in his big cyborg heart.

Panels in the walls opened and cleaner bots rolled out. They buzzed and whirred, removing the blood and the gore from every surface.

They irritated Ghost, distracted him from his monitoring of the viewscreen. He didn’t like them for other reasons, reasons he’d rather not recall.

One of the bots moved toward him. Ghost stomped on the floor tiles.

It squeaked and sped away from him.

Once the bot had put a safe distance between them, it turned and beeped, chirping its admonishment. Ghost narrowed his eyes. The bot flashed its lights, taunting him.

Ghost was a warrior. Warriors didn’t tolerate disrespect from any being. He stepped forward, determined to teach the insolent bot a lesson.

The doors opened, diverting his attention. He lowered his form, prepared to leap, to attack the intruder, rip him to pieces, killing him as he had killed the Humanoid Alliance officers.

Ghost took a deep breath and all thoughts of killing evaporated. A scent, the most tantalizing aroma he’d ever smelled, filled his lungs, short-circuiting his processors, making him weak in his knees.

His female had arrived.

“Mine.” Ghost gulped air, taking that part of her into him, his body vibrating with excitement, his cock hardening.

“Yours.” She entered the chamber, her generous hips swaying. Her long blonde hair was no longer pulled away from her beautiful countenance. The tendrils were loose, wafting against her golden cheeks. Her lips were pink, her chin rounded. Her lush breasts and hips were encased in a dark-blue flight suit. She carried a large pack.

“Mine,” Ghost bellowed, overcome with joy.

He rushed toward her. She stiffened, bracing herself for his approach, but she didn’t retreat. He swung her into his arms and burrowed his face in the curve between her neck and shoulder.

She was warm, tiny, fragile, soft, so soft. He trembled, humbled that she was his, grateful she had survived. Not all the females had lived to meet their males.

Guilt jabbed at him. That had been his fault. He had failed to protect those females.

Alarm gripped him. He could fail to protect his female.

Ghost lifted his head and gazed around them. The chamber appeared to be secure. It had only one entrance, the entrance through which his female had walked. Those doors had closed behind her.

But there were horizontal supports, chairs, other structures littering the space. There were large compartments behind the wall panels. Some of those spaces could conceal a small warrior.

The enemy could be hiding, waiting to harm his female.

The chamber wasn’t safe.

Ghost slung his female over his right shoulder, strapped one of his arms over her legs, pinning them to his body. That left one of his hands free to fight any attackers.

“Set me down.” His female smacked her pack against his back.

Ghost ignored her protest. He exited the chamber, ran along the corridors at cyborg speed, carrying her. She weighed almost nothing, smelled exquisite.

“Where are we going?”

“Mine.” He tried to reassure her. She was his and they were relocating to terrain he knew, a chamber he was familiar with. He jumped over a dead body, avoiding the pool of blood.

She gasped and gripped his back.

His female was touching him. Ghost turned right and increased his speed, determined to protect her.

“We should talk first.”

Talking wasn’t a strength of his. He entered his chambers, smacked his palm on the control panel. The door closed.

Cleaning bots rolled around the small space. He stomped on the floor tiles and growled at the annoying machines. They beeped and retreated, disappearing into the wall panels.

Alone, safe, Ghost lowered his female, sliding her curves over his muscles. “Mine.” He splayed his fingers over her back, holding her to him.

“My name is Lethe.” His female mumbled against his chest. “Lethe,” she repeated slowly. “Captain is acceptable also.”

“Mine.” He turned her, placing his almost indestructible form between his female and the door. Any assailants would have to get through him to damage her. He’d die before he allowed that to happen.

“Or you could call me Mine.” She sounded breathless. “That works too.”

Even pressed against him, she was too far away. Ghost lifted her higher on his body, rubbing, rubbing, rubbing, seeking to be closer.

Her scent intensified. He pressed his face between her breasts, searching for the source.

“I doubt you can understand me.”

He could understand her. He merely couldn’t find the words to respond.

“But I have to try to communicate this or I’ll feel guilty.” She grasped his shoulders. “More guilty.” Her hands on his bare skin excited him. “Here’s the deal. You can use my body, fuck me anywhere, anytime you desire. I won’t fight you.”

Why would she fight him? Ghost mouthed over her left breast, sucking on her fabric-covered curves, drawing a moan from his female’s lips. He’d never damage her.

He was her male.

“But-but.” She shook her head as though trying to clear it. “I get the warship. It’s mine. I’m the captain. On the bridge, you answer to me.”

He didn’t want the warship. “Mine.” She was all he desired.

“I’ll assume that’s a yes.” Her tone was smug.

Ghost wasn’t as satisfied as his female. He nudged his chin against her taut nipple, hampered in his explorations by her flight suit.

She wiggled, escalating his frustration. Ghost gripped the fabric and pulled. More of her tanned skin and her full curves were revealed. He repeated the action, shredding the garment. A dagger clattered to the floor tiles.

“I suspected you’d rip off my garments. That’s why I didn’t wear my uniform.” His female held on to him.

He needed both of his hands to touch her. Ghost surged forward and pressed her back against the wall. She hooked her legs around his waist. Her hot wet pussy connected with his stomach and he shuddered, his abs rippling against her.

She felt good, right. He dragged his lips over her neck, tasting salt and female.

“I’ll uphold my part of our agreement.” She tilted her head to the side, granting him more access to her. “Take whatever you want.”

Take. He lifted his head and gazed into her brown eyes. That wasn’t what he wanted. “Give.” That was the word.

“I’m giving.” She pushed against him, misunderstanding his communications.

Ghost stared at her, frustrated. He had never been comfortable with words, even while he had been fully functional. C Models were designed for battle, not chatter. And it had been solar cycles since he’d last spoken.

He had to show her.

Ghost sank his fingers into her blonde curls and pulled her head back. She gasped. He claimed those parted lips, surged his tongue between her teeth. His flesh twined with hers.

She dug her fingernails into his shoulders. He welcomed the pain, delved deeper, demanding more, grinding his lips against hers.

Her musky scent intensified. She opened wider to him, submitting to their kiss. Ghost pulsed his tongue into her, breeding with her mouth, giving his female that part of him that would protect her.

She moaned, lifting her chin. He dragged his lips over her skin, coating her with wetness.

“I’m tingling.” Her chest heaved, her breasts rising and falling against him. “Are those your nanocybotics?”

He grunted a ‘yes’. That was the word he’d been seeking.

“Are you transferring them to me?”

She understood. He gave her a quick, hard kiss. “Give.” He drove his hips forward. “More give.”

Once he bred with her, once he filled her with his nanocybotic-infused cum, she would have his healing abilities. Even the normal wear and tear of aging on her body would be repaired. She would live forever.

She’d be safe.

A new sense of urgency, a desperation, raw and primal, swept over him. “Give now.” Ghost had seen what a moment’s delay could mean for a human female. It could be the difference between her living and dying.

He prodded her pussy with his cock, searching for her entrance.

His female’s spine straightened. “Ghost—”

He heard the alarm in her voice but he couldn’t stop, couldn’t calm her. Ghost aligned himself properly. Safeguarding his female was his only thought, his only need.

He thrust into her, the action smacking her ass against the wall. She screamed, clawing at his shoulders, arching her back, bucking, trying to free herself. He pinned her with his hips, not allowing her to escape him.

Ghost’s chest rumbled with satisfaction. His cock was encased in her wet heat. She was tight, fitting him like a garment, a second skin softer than the first.

Being inside her eclipsed any pleasure he’d ever known but it wasn’t enough. He needed to come, needed to transfer his nanocybotics to her.

Not waiting for her to adjust to his size, he pulled out to his tip, drove back into her.

“Fuck,” she cursed.

It was breeding, not fucking. Ghost gritted his teeth and repeated the action again and again, pounding into her.

Her wetness splattered over his balls. Her breasts slapped against his chest.

“Too. Fast.” She panted, her skin flushed.

“Fast. First.” He rode her hard against the wall, intent on finding release quickly. They’d breed slower after she hosted his nanocybotics, after she was protected by that part of him.

His chest and hips heated. Beads of sweat glistened over her form, reflecting the light, making his golden female sparkle. She was a star, warm, glowing, pulling him into her orbit.

He would never leave her.

Ghost grunted. It wasn’t with exertion. He was a cyborg, had inhuman strength. Those were sounds of satisfaction, of acknowledgement. This was where he was meant to be.

Her pussy constricted around his shaft, increasing the glorious friction. Tension formed at the base of his spine. His balls drew up tight to his body.

“Mine.” He sucked on her chin, coating her with his nanocybotics, with his scent. She trembled, shaking in his arms. “Mine.” He laved her neck with the flat of his tongue.

“More.” She urged. “I need more.”

He didn’t have more. He had to claim her now, protect her now. Ghost drove into her. “Mine,” he roared. Cum shot out of his cock, the release frying his processors. His vision system shut down. The chamber was cast into darkness.

His female screamed, her inner walls clenching him. He hollered, pushed deeper, finding release a second time. Her form convulsed. Her hips collided with his. She raked his chest with her fingernails, writhing against the wall.

He emptied all of himself into his female, the scent of their breeding clouding his senses. She’d marked his skin, leaving crimson trails on that gray terrain. The scratches would heal. Her emotional branding of him would remain.

“Mine.” He rested his forehead against hers. His vision system flickered, restarting.

“Fuck.” Her chest heaved.

Energy coursed through his circuits as though giving her his nanocybotics had stimulated the production of more, making him stronger. He flexed his biceps. “Safe.”

The connections between his processors and his organic brain multiplied. The information freely flowed but speaking remained a chore. He wasn’t accustomed to expressing his thoughts. It felt unnatural, forced.

“I’m safer.” She eyed him. “Now that I have a warship.”

“Me.” He frowned. She had him.

“And I have you, a cyborg.” She nodded, her blonde curls bouncing against her cheeks. “That might come in handy.”

Handy? Did she view him as a weapon? “Not machine.”

“Oh, I know you’re a male with all the usual male needs.” She rolled her eyes. “I gave you what you wanted, didn’t I?”

He stared at her. “You wanted.” He wasn’t the only being to reach fulfillment.

“Yes, well.” Pink pigment colored her cheeks. “You pleased me too. That was unexpected but it doesn’t change our arrangement. The warship is mine.”

Was that why she bred with him—to obtain the warship?

“Yours.” Ghost smothered his irritation. His intentions weren’t any less mercenary than hers. He had bred with her primarily to protect her.

To protect her.

Fraggin’ hole. He had been so caught up in his female he’d forgotten the Humanoid Alliance officers would have sounded the alarms before they had died. Enemy ships would be heading in their direction, intent on recovering their warship, recovering him.

“The warship belongs to me.” She nodded. “I—”

His female yelped as he set her bare ass on the cool floor tiles.

“Safe.” He marched across the chamber and smacked his right palm on the control panel, ignoring his guilt. Safeguarding her was his first priority.

Once he accomplished that, they would have their long lifespan to talk, for him to explain.

If he was able to do that.

The doors opened. Ghost rushed into the corridor, locking the doors behind him.

His female yelled his name. Flesh smacked against the metal door.

Ghost paused, tempted to turn back. He was restricting her movements as the Humanoid Alliance had tried to restrict his.

But if she couldn’t leave his chambers, others also couldn’t enter them. He ran along the corridor. She’d be safe where she was.

He had to find the tracking devices hidden on the warship. Ghost reviewed the schematics loaded in his databases, meshed it with the information other cyborgs had loaded. There should be five tracking devices on board.

There were three additional tracking devices hidden within his manufactured frame. Those had to be removed also.

He would require time to recover from that painful procedure. Two of the tracking devices were hidden in his wrists. His hands might not be functional for a few moments after the removal.

He wouldn’t be able to protect his female.

The third tracking device was attached to his simulated spine. He couldn’t reach the spot, couldn’t remove it by himself.

The other cyborgs hadn’t been alone when they had rebelled. They also hadn’t been as damaged as he was. He suspected if he’d been a fully functional cyborg, he would have already derived a solution.

To safeguard his female, he had to repair himself.

First, however, he would find the warship’s tracking devices.

Even a damaged cyborg could do that.





Chapter Four

He was done with her.

Lethe glowered at the closed door.

The other males had used her and tossed her aside as though she had been worthless, as though they could see all of her compromises, all of her mistakes, all of the prices she’d paid for survival.

She, foolish being that she was, had thought the cyborg was different. Ghost had been so blasted happy to see her, rushing toward her, sweeping her into his big arms, pressing her face against his warm, muscular chest.

He’d kissed her reassuringly hard. Her lips still hummed from that. He’d fucked her wildly and she had come. She hadn’t come when the other males fucked her.

But then he plunked her ass on the freezing floor tiles and left, locking her in the storage chamber. She gazed around at the empty space with disgust. There wasn’t even a chair to sit on.

Lethe searched through her pack, found a cleaning cloth, ran it over her naked body. No cum dripped down her legs. The fizzing sensation continued. It was almost as though he remained inside her.

He hadn’t. She glanced at the door. He was gone.

She was alone as she had been after the attack on Mercury Minor, her home planet.

Lethe’s fingers lingered over the spare flight suit in her pack. That disposable garment wasn’t necessary now. It might not ever be necessary.

He’d had her once. The other males hadn’t wanted her a second time.

She donned her uniform, slipped her dagger into the front pocket of the ass coverings. The weapon, along with the structured chest covering, gave her confidence. Lethe tied her hair back, away from her face.

She was no longer the scared female with fourteen solar cycles, wondering if she’d live to see another planet rotation. She was the captain.

And this was her warship. Blast it. That was their deal. She allowed him to fuck her and he relinquished all claims to the vessel.

Lethe placed her palms on the control panel. Nothing happened. She didn’t have access to the warship’s systems.

He had access. That was why he had been able to exit. She didn’t have access. He hadn’t given her those rights.

Because he hadn’t thought of her needs. He hadn’t thought of her at all.

Moments passed.

Lethe paced back and forth in the small space, growing more concerned with each step.

Humans, after the invasion of Mercury Minor, had thought only of themselves, fighting, stealing, killing to stay alive. Ghost was a primitive C Model cyborg, had been damaged.

Would he remember her, return for her?

Her father’s friend hadn’t. Dazed, confused, shocked by the settlement’s demolition, Lethe had been relieved to see Uncle Daewon in the chaos. The male had always been friendly to her, to her siblings, insisting they view him as their uncle, as part of the family.

The Humanoid Alliance had continued to pummel the area around them with missiles, some strikes dangerously close, the sound deafening. Uncle Daewon pried her off his left arm and told her to stay close to the piece of wall remaining behind them. He would find a safe place to wait out the bombardment, would return to lead her to that spot.

She trustingly gave him her handheld, the only possession she had. It could be utilized as a light, would make finding shelter easier.

He smiled at her, walked away, and had never returned.

Ghost might not return either.

Lethe wedged her dagger’s blade under the control panel, tried to pry it off the wall panel. If she did that, she could access the circuits directly, might be able to trigger the doors to open.

Her palms ached. Her arm muscles strained. She lacked the strength to remove it.

She glanced at the doors. They were sturdier than the control panel and the seal was tight. She wouldn’t be able to jimmy them open.

The tension across her shoulders intensified. She was stuck inside an otherwise empty chamber, unable to leave.

But she had liquid. She opened the compartments specially built into the heels of her boots. The packets of liquid remained hidden there, her emergency rations.

And she had other supplies. Lethe looked in her pack. There were three nourishment bars and one small container of beverage in there.

It wasn’t enough, not nearly enough, but she’d make it last.

She gathered her shredded flight suit into a pile and used it as a seat. The thirst would hit her first. Lethe swallowed, remembering the dryness of her mouth, the desperation in her soul.

The bombings during the Humanoid Alliance attacks had set fires. The smoke in the air had been thick with ash, aggravating her thirst, turning any uncovered liquid acidic, undrinkable.

After two planet rotations of waiting, she was forced to move away from the wall. She rummaged through the debris, seeking containers of beverage, searching beverage outlets, domiciles, eventually dead bodies. The stronger survivors stole from the weaker beings.

The weak with nothing to offer the strong died.

She had survived.

And she would survive this. Lethe wiggled, trying to get comfortable. She would remain still, preserve her energy.

Try not to die.

She closed her mouth, protecting the precious moisture within her, breathed through her nose, concentrating on that action. Calm. She must be calm.

Panic killed. Lethe had seen beings rush toward falling missiles, not away from them.

She wouldn’t be one of those beings.

She would live to see the next planet rotation and the planet rotation after that and…

The doors opened, blowing Lethe’s serenity to bits. Ghost rushed into the storage chamber, his expression frantic, a capsule in his right hand.

He’d returned to her.

Lethe jumped to her booted feet and ran toward him. He skidded to a stop, his bare feet squeaking on the tile. She wrapped her arms around him and pressed her face into his chest, relief overwhelming all sense of caution, all remnants of her pride.

“You came back,” she murmured into his warm skin. None of the others had ever returned.

“Safe.” He hugged her to him. The capsule pushed against her back. “Safe.”

“Safe?” Lethe tilted her head back, glaring up at him. “You locked me in this storage chamber. I couldn’t leave. If you had forgotten about me, I would have died from dehydration.”

The cyborg frowned. “Mine.”

“There would have been little I could have done to stop that death.” She shoved against his chest. The male didn’t move, wouldn’t allow her to move. “I was stuck here, as I was stuck on that blasted planet,” she grumbled, aware that he likely couldn’t understand her. He had been too severely damaged.

“Look.” Ghost handed her the capsule.

She opened it, gazed inside it. “These are tracking devices.”

“Bad.” He slipped his hand into her pocket, removed her dagger.

“Hey, wait.” She reached for her weapon. He turned, protecting his prize. “That’s mine.”

He howled. Lethe circled him. Blood gushed from his wrists.

“What are you doing?” She snatched the dagger away from him. “Are you trying to kill yourself?”

She’d considered doing that when the thirst had become too much, but she hadn’t been able to take that step. Her survival instincts were too strong.

“It hurts now.” Softening her voice, she put the dagger back into her pocket. “I know it does. But it gets better, bearable.”

He wouldn’t ever be completely healed. As she would never be completely healed. Lethe stroked his right arm, trying to comfort him. But he could add value to the universe.

Save lives as she planned to do.

Ghost probed one of the wounds with his fingers. Crimson coated his ash-colored skin. She gulped, having seen that combination in her nightmares every rest cycle.

“Safe.” He held up another tracking device.

Lethe took it from him. “You’re not trying to kill yourself.”

“Cyborg.” He extracted a tracking device from his other wrist.

She placed both blood-soaked bits of metal and circuits in the capsule with the others. “Cyborgs can’t kill themselves?”

He shook his head.

“I couldn’t kill myself either.” They were alike in that way also.

Ghost took the capsule from her. He shifted, positioning himself with his back facing her. “You.” He gestured over his shoulder.

“What do you want me to do?” Lethe was confused.

“Cut.”

“I’m not hurting you.” She’d hurt enough beings in her lifespan.

Ghost held up one finger and pointed to his left wrist. He held up two fingers and pointed to his right wrist. Then he held up three fingers and tried to touch his back.


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