Surrender To The Cyborgs(7)

By: Grace Goodwin

And if I didn’t win, if the system failed? I’d either be shackled and jailed for decades or be sent to a new planet where I would be at the mercy of not one huge alien, but two.

Sounded like, one way or the other, I was already doomed to serving a life sentence.

Chapter Two

Maxim, Governor of Base 3, Prillon Colony Planet, Sector 901

The crush of heavy combat boots filled the narrow hallway with a loud, clomping sound. My steps were eager, too eager, and yet I could not force myself to slow my pace as I hurried to the communications center. Warden Egara, the female in charge of the Colony’s new Interstellar Brides Processing center on Earth, waited to speak to me. I had to assume she had news, news of a matched mate for one of the soul-weary soldiers under my command. News those of us condemned to live out our lives on the Colony very much needed to hear.

“Ryston.” I nodded, my expression grim as my chosen Second, Captain Ryston Rayall, my friend and brother-in-arms for many years, fell into step beside me. Covered head to toe in the mottled black-and brown-armor of a Prillon warrior, I was both relieved and worried by his presence.

“I hear there is news from Earth.” His expression was grim. Despite the pale golden color of his hair and eyes, his gaze was dark. Rejected by his family after his rescue, he’d become a shadow of his former self. Mean. Bitter. Reckless and unpredictable. Bad news would not improve his temperament nor his current mood.

“I am on my way, brother. Patience. I do not yet know what Warden Egara will say.” I thumped him on the shoulder in affection. He was my most trusted friend and closest ally on this base. I would trust no other with a mate, despite his recent sullenness. He was a fierce fighter, honorable to the core. I had no doubt a female’s sweet touch could banish the darkness from his heart and bring my friend back to life.

“She is probably going to tell you that none of you fuckers have a match and we’re all fools for hoping.” His growl was full of pain, but he could not hide his hope from me. If he did not hope, he would not have rushed to be at my side to hear the news from Earth.

“That would imply that I am not perfect, Ryston. We both know that is not the case.”

Ryston’s soft chuckle was his only response, but some of the tension drained from my shoulders and neck. It was good to face whatever might come with Ryston at my back. As Governor of Base 3, it was my duty to set an example for the other contaminated warriors here. All good men, the warriors on the Colony had served their planets well, fought the Hive menace and suffered at the enemies’ hands. Everyone on the Colony carried the scars of that fight, for what the Hive captured, they tried to make their own. Hive Integration Units tortured Coalition fighters, converting them into new machines for the Hive to deploy, new Hive-controlled soldiers, walking weapons. Those of us lucky enough to survive and return to our units with our minds intact were sentenced to a fate that, for some, was worse than death—banishment. For as advanced as the Interstellar Coalition’s technology had become, there were still things that could not be undone.

Microscopic cybernetic implants, living cyborg flesh, optical implants, brain stem filaments, enhanced muscle fibers, artificial intelligence that merged with our bodies on a cellular level, with our very DNA. For centuries, Coalition fighters rescued from Hive Integration Units were simply executed. But nearly sixty years ago, Prime Nial’s father had established the Colony, where contaminated warriors could live out their lives safely and away from potential Hive interference or control. Away from those untainted.

Safety was highly overrated. The Colony became more a prison than a mercy, warriors doomed to live out their lives without hope of a home or a mate, fighting a never-ending battle to live a life filled with purpose, with honor. Few women fought in the Fleet. Fewer still were captured by the hive. For those females who were captured and survived, they ended up here as well. But they were so few, so very rare, that a man could go months or years without ever setting eyes on female flesh. We were feared by our own people, and forgotten by the other planets, by those we sacrificed so much to protect. Forgotten until the other worlds began sending their warriors here as well.

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