Raven is on a suicide mission. Jex is a biomech on a mission to save humanity. Together, they discover their mutual passion to destroy the enemy isn't their only desire.
A war against the Darch has raged for years, and humanity is on the verge of extinction. Scientists have created biomechs to supplement as warriors, but it's just a temporary fix on what appears an insurmountable problem. One desperate scientist injects JXS241, a biomech warrior, with what he hopes is the solution for mankind's survival. But the biomech is captured by the enemy.
Raven Nirvanni survives on the fringes of a shattered culture. While on a self-imposed suicide mission to annihilate an enemy destroyer, she encounters the imprisoned biomech. Realizing the fate of humanity far outweighs the destruction of a single ship, she rescues him and decides to ensure he reaches his destination.
With the enemy anticipating their every move, Raven is completely taken aback when she realizes she's falling for JXS241. But can she really love a machine? And if so, can he reciprocate?
The needle slid between the third and fourth vertebrae in his neck. A flash of heat shot through him. More pressure was exerted to penetrate the synthetic cartilage of his neurospine. Accessing his internal response center, he raised the pain threshold, but not so high he couldn’t monitor the procedure. Immobile, he waited for it to be finished.
“Done.” The doctor stepped back. “JXS241, system check?”
“No change.” He reset his pain threshold. “As you said, Dr. Mechins. Just a pinch.”
“Good.” The doctor made a note on his techpad. “There are three biomechs just outside the lab, waiting to escort you and the information I implanted into your neurospine to the planet Altaiga.”
“Give me a ship, doctor. I’ll get myself to Altaiga.” Taking three biomechs away from the station’s defenses to act as escort was a waste of resources.
“The information you carry is critical to the war effort.” Dr. Mechins tapped the techpad. “You’ll take the escort.”
JXS241 rose from his chair. The decision was illogical, but, sometimes, humans determined situations based on feelings rather than sound military strategy. He yanked a black shirt over his head then shrugged into his military-issue jacket.
Without warning, the science lab shook, equipment toppled, and assorted paraphernalia crashed to the floor. Alarms barked to life, an alert the base was under attack. Dr. Mechins’ reserved manner morphed to terror. His gaze rolled toward the ceiling.
“They’ve discovered us.” He grabbed JXS241’s arm and dragged him to the lab door. “You’ve got to get out of here. Take the other biomechs, commandeer a ship, and go to Altaiga. The fate of humanity may very well depend on you.”
JXS241 stepped through the doorway. Three heavily armed escorts awaited him. One shoved a pulse rifle into his hands. He grasped the familiar weapon, glanced at it, and toggled the setting to kill.
“Wait.” The doctor clutched his shoulder. “You may notice some changes—”
The lab exploded. Hot twisted metal and glass missiled through the air, spiking everything in its path. A rush of heat shoved Dr. Mechins against JXS241, and they tumbled into the outer hallway.
Hands grabbed the biomech, lifted him to his feet, and propelled him away from the lab. JXS glanced over his shoulder. On the floor lay the doctor, ripped metal and shards of glass jutting from his back, blood pooling beneath him.
“Medic required at lab, level seven,” the tallest biomech said into his com-band. His gaze shifted from the doctor to JXS241. “In line, soldier. Primary objective is to obtain a ship and fly out.”
JXS moved behind the other biomechs, and they hastened to the hangar where pilots scrambled to their fighters.
Scattered throughout the bay, sparks of light appeared and stretched into beings. Six-and-a-half to seven-foot men and women materialized, graced with flaxen hair and beatific smiles. Immense gossamer wings protruded from their backs, spreading wide, while, with a serene facade, they surveyed the hangar.
The enemy had arrived.
Biomech and human soldiers responded. Yellow pulse fire whizzed through the air. The lithe demons twisted and jumped, dancing clear of injury with frenetic speed. Several laughed, avoiding the hot electrical blasts as if it were a game. The Darch possessed great beauty but enjoyed playing with their food.
In two long strides, a male demon towered over a soldier. Before the man raised his gun, the demon’s wings spread, swooped around, and encased him. JXS241 fired on the Darch but with little effect. A look of bliss on its face, the demon closed his eyes and, a moment later, his wings relaxed. The skinless remains of the soldier sank to the floor, a quivering crimson mass.
The male Darch turned an intense blue gaze on JXS241. He stalked across the floor, his gossamer shroud spread wide. A biomech fired, but, having just fed, the demon ignored the direct hit. The Darch smiled, spikes glistening in an unnaturally wide maw.
Across the bay, a panicked soldier tossed a sonic grenade toward two Darch.
The explosion sent JXS tumbling across the bay by floor. Ships flipped like toys tossed from a child’s hand, absorbing the brunt of the shockwave and crushing three additional Darch and several soldiers. Rolling to his knees, JXS located his escort and noted two of them inactive. The third pointed toward the fighter they intended to procure, took three steps, and collided with a female Darch. The huntress gathered him in her wings, her face enraptured with the feeding.
JXS241 sprinted to the ship. The battle would have to be fought without him. His primary directive was reaching Altaiga.
He strapped himself into the pilot’s seat, lifted from the bay floor amid a hail of pulse fire, and turned toward the exit.
MechMan in paperback at Amazon