Welcome! Here there be Cyborgs … and other fabulous beings.
Be sure to keep reading after my excerpt for more from these other SFRB authors.
CYBORG PLEASURE; THE SPACE MADAM'S WARRIOR
In space, there are even more ways to lose your lover
She lost everything …
Ilya Mondas once lived her dream—life with a band of space gypsies, the freedom to use her tech savvy to wreak mayhem on pirates and slavers, and most of all her big, soft-spoken warrior Var, who adored her. Then she lost him, and the life she loved.
She'll do anything to get it all back …
Now on her own, she must take over The Pleasure Palace, a ragtag space-station casino, home to hookers, gamblers and rogues. But one or all of them want her dead, and they have the monsters to do it—human-cyborg gladiators, created for the illegal fight ring hidden deep in the center of her new home. Where the biggest, baddest cyborg of all looks eerily like her dead husband.
But can she trust him again?
‘She didn't know where anything was in this place.
Resentment churned in Ilya Mondas' stomach along with embarrassment. She was in this huge, quarking maze of a space station that she didn't know and didn't understand, she couldn't find her way around, and she didn't know a single living soul on the Pleasure Palace.
But damned if she’d let it get the better of her. She had spent the months since Var's death feeling angry and helpless, she was done with that.
Especially with the helpless part—she wanted, no, needed to be in control. That was why she loved tech—it was brilliant, it was useful, and it was something she could control, could forge into pieces as bright and sparkling as stars, and loose them on the galaxy to do her bidding.
When she powered up a spybot, a new program or a protection like the invisicreen around the cata pens back in camp, and at night around the camp itself, she felt important. What she could do counted for something in the vastness of the universe … even though she no longer had her man at her side to tell her so, and show her how much he meant it.
So here, now, in this place with all its tech mocking her with silence, and her ignorance of how to make it give up its secrets, make it show her the inner workings of this place—that had to end.
These holoscreens should all be operational right now. If they were, she'd order a snack, kick back in the extremely comfy looking throne—because that was far too grand to be called a chair—behind the desk, and commence surveilling every venue, employee and customer in the station.
She paced restlessly over to the divan where she'd dropped her old duffel, pausing to shift uncomfortably. Ugh, she needed a nice, hot showerdry and some clean clothing. Hers felt as if she'd slept in them, which come to think of it, she had … for the last two nights, if she remembered correctly. She was sticky, itchy and a surreptitious sniff of her under-arm made her wince. She didn't smell real good, either.
Shame niggled through her as she suddenly pictured the look in Var's hazel eyes if he were here. He would not be happy, and it took—had taken a lot to upset her gentle giant. Worse than angry, he'd be disappointed in her.
Thinking of him made the fine hairs on the back of her neck rise, as if he really were watching her. Right. he was dead, dead and gone. So gone she hadn't even gotten to see his body, see the proof that his mighty spirit was really snuffed out like a fuzzed hololamp. She squeezed her eyes shut, swallowing hard against the hot press of tears.
“Skrog poo.” She was all emo because of this big leap into space, that was all. She sniffed loudly, and swiped her eyes with the heels of her hands.
Then, as she lowered them, the prickle on her nape intensified. She was being watched.
Ilya whirled, moving into a defensive crouch, laser weapon already in her right hand, flashbomb in her left.
But at the sight of the helmeted man who stood across the room, all thought of defense left her mind, leaving it a fizzing, sparking blank.
Holy hells. He was quarking magnificent. The living embodiment of raw, virile manhood. Nearly two meters tall, and at least one hundred-and-ten or twenty kilos, he was tall and broad, with shoulders like a battle cruiser, muscle upon muscle, from his feet to his head.
His skin was burnished golden tan, his body hairless except for a narrow trail that began at his navel and disappeared beneath his low-slung belt. He wore only a brief garment of some silky, pale cloth that belted around his waist and hung half way to his knees, a length flung over one massive shoulder, more of a tease than a real covering, and a pair of soft sandals on his feet, the same bronze leather as his belt.
Was this how the casino guards dressed here? If so, she was all in favor.
His arms hung at his sides, his huge hands relaxed. Hands that looked as if they could lift the huge desk behind her and break it like kindling. And his arms were … poetry. Thick, with biceps bulging with raw power, his forearms thick and corded with sinew and veins. His legs were sculpted works of art.
Oh, great God beyond, he looked like all her sensual fantasies of the perfect male brought to life.
Like Var, only … well, Var had been human and this male was—she didn't know what he was. He was scary—in fact if this were a dark corridor she'd have shot first, gaped later. But he was also the sexiest male she'd ever seen.
She finally shook her head, to break out of the fugue state that had come over her. Gah, she was so hot she might melt in a puddle right here on this carpet. Sheer lust, the likes of which she hadn't felt since she first saw Var smiling at her across the bar on Quol-Ray Station, a smile that had burned away her initial fear of him.
Only this attraction was far worse, because now she knew exactly what she was missing. Then, she'd only hoped. Var had taught her everything she knew about sexual satisfaction.
“Okay, enough,” she mumbled to herself. Unaccustomed heat crawled up her throat and over her cheeks. God, she was gaping like a lust-struck idiot.
She forced her gaze up to his face. Which was the weirdest part, because the helmet was more of a mask.
Silvery cerametal, pale as his garment, the headpiece covered his skull and face, flaring to accommodate his wide jaw, and curving down under his chin, leaving only his thick neck bare. There were two apertures for his eyes, two smaller ones for his nostrils, and a screened one over his mouth, as if he was some kind of dangerous predator who must be muzzled.
Ilya barely noticed it though, because a strange feeling was rushing over her, chasing the lust before it like a wind over the Frontieran prairie. It felt strangely like terror mixed with … hope.
He had beautiful eyes, long and thickly lashed, with heavy lids. Eyes that she'd seen before—on a beloved face, of the man she loved. Var's eyes.
On a strangled gasp, Ilya forgot her fear and glided across the room to him, her gaze locked with his.
“V-Var … ?” she choked. She lurched to a stop, ice filling her.
These eyes were enticing, but this close, they no longer seemed familiar. Even in the shadow of the mask, they were the wrong color.
Var's eyes had been light, the pale blue of sun-burnished Frontieran skies, startling in his tanned, weathered face. This man's eyes were a deep, dark brown. And they didn't droop at the outer corners as Var's had, they pulled taut, as if this man had Tauryan blood.
Also, those eyes were inspecting her raptly as a prairie gyrehawk, cataloging her reactions, searching out each weakness and vulnerability. A predator, eyeing his next kill.
Ilya retreated a step, then stopped, anger flaming in her chest to replace the alarm.
“Who are you?” she demanded, her voice trembling with disappointment and gathering rage. How dare this perfect stranger invade her space, breach her privacy, even her emotions?
“And what the hells are you doing in my office?” Had he been sent to frighten her—which unfortunately had worked—or even to get rid her?
Finally, he spoke His voice was a deep, smoky husk of sound that shivered through her like a caress, even with his measured, nearly monotone delivery.
“I am VX-900. I am here to fulfill your needs.” * * *I hope you'll join Ilya and the gang for a wild space opera adventure! Warning:You may never look at casinos the same again.
* * *
Best-selling author of sci fi romance
… it's hot in space, red hot!