BioCybe by Imogene Nix
Published By: Beachwalk Press
Release Date: May 18 2015
Can a cyber-enhanced warrior and a ship's captain find love together?
Levia Endrado never wanted to be a warrior, but at seventeen she was deemed suitable for battle. After intense training and multiple enhancements, which gave her superior strength and healing ability, she was sent off to defeat the enemy—a killing machine with a mission.
When the war was over, she had to find a new life. At twenty-seven she's a washed-up veteran without a future. Or she was, until she met Sandon Daria.
Serving as a pilot aboard Sandon's spaceship the Golden Echo makes Levia long for a different and gentler life. But old hurts and even older enemies aren't so easily forgotten. Particularly when they come back for her.
Sandon is determined to show Levia that she's more than just a BioCybe…she's the woman who completes him. Getting close is just the first step, keeping her alive is an even bigger challenge, but one he's willing to take because the prize is their combined future.
Content Warning: This book contains a broken heroine, a sexy hero, and a happy ever after that'll melt even the hardest heart.
Regret and sadness filled Sandon. He liked Secombe. A lot. He’d been talented, but unpracticed, when they’d met. Now he was seasoned, knew instinctively what Sandon needed, and best of all, he wasn’t caught up in the Juran Commonwealth and Independent Planetary Authority wars.
“So how do I replace you?” He took another long draw of the ale, hoping it would dull the scratchy sensation that swelled in his chest.
“I heard that the war is over.” Secombe cleared his throat and waited a beat.
Sandon jerked up out of the slump he’d dropped into. “What?”
“I heard they’re signing an agreement. Not quite a truce, but the two factions are looking for common ground. A way to end this damned war.” Secombe relaxed into the red leatherette covering the chair. “If that’s so, you won’t need me anymore. I hear the best pilots are already looking…”
Sandon shook his head. “Why the hell would I want some dried-up old warrior to pilot my ship? They’ll only bring all their own problems and prejudices with them. No. I need you.”
“I’m not staying past the first of the month. So, now that we’ve cleared that up, how about we start the process of looking for my replacement?” Secombe smiled, but it was brittle, as if the emotional distancing had already begun.
Frustration filled Sandon. It was so simple for Secombe to walk away. He had his family, his farm, and a future already mapped out. Sandon only had the ship and the crew; his parents had died a long time ago. The Golden Echo was his home, and those aboard it were his family. Secombe just expected to leave when he wanted, without thought for anyone else.
Anger and sadness welled, but Sandon shunted the emotions. “So, how do you…”
The door to the mess hall opened. Johnson, the cargo superintendent, ducked his head around the corner, his face conveying both confusion and caution. “Secombe? That pilot you invited aboard? Uhhh… The captain…uhh, person is here.”
“Excellent.” Secombe turned in Sandon's direction without a shadow of embarrassment. “Sandon, this pilot is the best of the best. Take a moment and see for yourself. Send the captain in, Johnson.” Secombe smiled, as if pleased to have already found his replacement.
An itch took up residence in the back of Sandon’s neck.
Johnson gazed at Secombe owlishly. “Are you sure?”
Sandon frowned at Johnson’s uncharacteristic actions. Something’s wrong…
Secombe’s eyes narrowed. “Send him in.”
Johnson gulped, the sound loud in the sudden silence. “O-okay…” His discomfort radiated, and Sandon leaned forward, ready to meet the man Secombe considered an adequate replacement for himself.
When the door opened all the way, silence reigned. A woman stood on the other side of the door, her gaze set. Her body, still and tensed, was arrayed in the combat browns many of the fighter pilots had adopted. Sandon could feel the tension rolling off her from the distance between them.
She has green eyes. He couldn’t control the thought. As his eyes scanned her body—toned, taut, and curved in all the right places—the liquid in his mouth dried.
“Captain Daria? I’m…” She blinked, and he wondered if the flash of insecurity he thought saw had actually existed.
Probably not, he told himself. Why would a flyer feel any level of insecurity?
“I’m Levia Endrado. Pilot Secombe requested my presence.” She held out a hand, in friendship or entreaty, he wasn’t really sure.
Sandon turned in the direction of Secombe. “Well?”
Secombe opened his mouth then closed it again before shrugging. She obviously wasn’t what he was expecting either.
The woman, Levia, stepped into the room and the door closed silently. For a moment, he caught a hint of anxiety before it disappeared and instead in front of him stood a confident woman. “You require a pilot. Someone with long haul experience. I’m a pilot seeking a placement. So far, our objectives are aligned.”
“No. I don’t want a woman piloting the Golden Echo.” His voice was strangled and hoarse, and he watched as she blinked slowly. “I don’t want issues with the crew.”
“It’s an all male crew, I understand?”
He nodded, numb at the thought of this woman, this gorgeous female, somehow interacting with the other men on his ship. Of her forming an alliance…
“I’m not interested in a bed partner. Just a home and employment. That is what the advertisement offered. You had an opportunity to vet my credentials—” She stopped and her eyes narrowed.
“What?” The words cleared the fog that had settled in his mind. “I haven’t seen…” Now, he turned to Secombe, who’d slouched further down, horror clear on his face.
“I… Your dossier didn’t say you were…” Secombe’s mouth dropped open, and his eyes widened further.
“It didn’t have to. Captain, I take it you didn’t scan the dossier then?”
As Sandon shook his head, the woman’s nostrils flared slightly and he caught sight of a deep emotion in the depths of her eyes. “Fine. Then I fear this has been a waste of your time and mine.” He heard the husky tones as she turned away. “I’ll leave immediately.”
The door slid open, and she was about to step through when he bellowed, “Wait!”
The woman stilled, but didn’t turn around. He wasn’t sure why that bothered him, but it did.
“Your dossier. Could I…” He let the words hang in the air between them.
“I don’t think…”
“I don’t pay anyone to think for me. Your file?”
When she spun back, her face was a mask of icy resolve. She located the screen command on the table and shoved her arm against the reader slot.
Information appeared; a brief overview of her skills and awards. She was trained to fly an MX5, the same model and make as the Golden Echo, also the GSL-23 and even the LD-5 mini-destroyer, he noted with surprise. She was classified as competent on all land based conveyances and even a variety of aquatic ones.
“What is your planet of origin?”
She stared at him, then her tongue flicked out and wet her lips. “That’s need-to-know, Captain.”
“Fine. You’re obviously ex-military forces. What rank did you hold?”
Her eyes narrowed at his question. “Is this somehow relevant to our discussion?” She cocked her head to one side and he wanted to gulp. She had an air about her now of leashed ferocity.
“Uh, I thought…”
“I was a commodore, but have been released from active duty.”