Redeeming Zorus Page 5

“I’m sorry but first class seats inside one of those luxury liners happened to be booked solid and, oh yeah, people would scream and totally panic if they got an eyeful of a cyborg. According to the government, your kind murdered humans on sight after you fried the circuits that kept you under their control. People pretty much think cyborgs were killing machines taking out anything within sight.”

“I was not lodging a complaint. That is also untrue. We only killed the humans we had to kill during our escape.” His gaze narrowed. “You are unpleasant with your sarcasm.”

“You’re not a joy to be around either.” Charlie shoved open the door and exited the vehicle. She resisted the urge to watch the cyborg get out of the car, figuring it wouldn’t be easy for him, but would amuse her. “Hurry up,” she ordered.

He met her at the front of the car. She scanned the area, not seeing any movement. Her heart raced from fear but she also felt relieved they’d made it that far without being arrested. That actually surprised her. She’s been half sure this mission would be suicide. She assumed he followed as she kept in the shadows of the buildings to head for the docking area where the shuttle should be waiting.

She froze in place when a door suddenly opened. Ten feet in front of them light poured out onto the dark pavement and boots struck concrete. Charlie watched with dread as the guy exited the building and knew if he turned his head there would be no missing the sight of Zorus. They had nowhere to hide, nothing to crouch behind, so she moved on instinct.

The guy didn’t see her until she rounded him to keep his attention on her instead of behind him where she’d come from. Her hands rubbed her h*ps and she directed her sweetest smile at him.


The man wore the uniform of a dock supervisor. Surprise lifted his eyebrows but his green gaze roamed from her face down to her boots. “This is a restricted area. I’m going to have to notify security.” He reached for the communicator strapped to his wrist.

Charlie grabbed his arm, careful not to seem too aggressive. “I just came looking for some food.” She used her other hand to motion Zorus to move around the building out of sight. “That’s all. Please don’t call security. I’ve got a few credits to pay you if you just look the other way. Sometimes the auto loaders drop a package of rations, they break open, and you guys just toss them into your trash disposers. I sneaked in to grab a few for my family before they are incinerated. Please have a heart and don’t turn me in for raiding your garbage.”

Movement from the corner of her eye assured her that Zorus followed her silent order to ease around the building out of sight. Once she bribed the worker, she could meet him there and get him to the shuttle. As soon as she got paid, she’d head for the official space port to meet her brother. Russell’s contacts, who’d ordered the rescue mission, had arranged passage on one of the coach liners heading for Saturn where their new lives would begin. She tried not to wince over the idea of living inside biodomes for the rest of her life, breathing recycled air.

The guy hesitated and Charlie knew she had him. No one in their right mind would pass up a bribe over trash. If she were trying to steal the good stuff, then no way would he take it for fear of losing his job, but it wouldn’t be any skin off his nose if she wanted the stuff they destroyed. She eased her hand inside her pocket, released his arm, and pulled out some credits. She held them up.

“Thank you.”

He grabbed her hand instead of the money, twisted her wrist painfully, and knocked her off balance enough to spin her around. She cried out as her body left the ground when his other arm wrapped around her waist, and after a few long strides, he slammed her into a tall crate that acted as a wall for him.

“I won’t turn you in but I don’t want money,” he panted.

Pain stunned her where her forehead had struck the unforgiving surface. He hoisted her higher to push against her body with his and a knee slammed between her thighs to pin her so he could free his hands. He tore at the back of her pants. It sank into her dazed mind quickly that he planned to rape her.

Heavy breathing fanned across her skin when he tore her shirt with his other hand to bare her shoulder. That action and the rough tug on her waist shook her enough to push back the pain and react. She slammed her elbow into the guy’s ribs and threw her head back in the same action. More pain stabbed through her brain, this time coming from her skull when it met his jaw, but it worked. His hold loosened and he staggered away enough for her to drop to the ground.

“You perverted prick,” she hissed, twisting to face her attacker.

A hand wrapped around her throat, revealing that his years of dock work had made him strong enough to easily yank her off the ground. Pure panic gripped Charlie. She clawed at the arm attached to the fingers choking her. She kicked at him but he seemed immune to the blows or her nails digging into his skin. He kept her dangling from the ground and unable to breathe with his fingers wrapped around her neck.

“You’re going to love what I do to you,” the man cursed. “Stop clawing me, you little bitch.” He gave her a shake.

“Actually,” a deep voice suddenly stated softly, “she doesn’t appear to enjoy your handling in the least.”

The dock worker released Charlie, dropped her onto her feet, and rotated to face who’d spoken. Zorus punched him in the face before her attacker could get a look at him. The sound of breaking bone made Charlie inwardly wince while she rubbed her throat, choked a little, but forced air inside her starved lungs. She watched when Zorus bent over the fallen man, grabbed his neck, and with one more horrible sound of bone breaking, released the lifeless body.

“You didn’t have to kill him,” she rasped. “But thank you.”

Zorus straightened to shoot her an icy glare. “I have no tolerance for a ra**st who interferes with my escape.”

She stared up at him, a chill going down her spine. “Are you going to have no tolerance for me when I’m no longer useful?”

“I have no plans to kill you.”

She pulled her frayed emotions together, dropped her hand from her sore throat, and nodded curtly. “Good. I’d like to survive my first, and hopefully last, venture into doing something this dangerous.”

“I take it you usually steal items that aren’t such a priority as I must be.”

“I’m not a thief if that’s what you’re implying.” She refused to glance down at the dead body near her boots. She headed for the building, certain Zorus followed. “I’m just a programmer who happened to land a job at that facility you were kept in. I ran their security systems until my brother volunteered me to break you out of there. Now I’m going to be a fugitive from Earth Government.” She paused long enough to peer around the corner. She moved when the coast looked clear. “We have being wanted by the government in common now too.”

A hot hand clamped down on top of her bare skin along the curve of her shoulder. It startled her. She swiveled her head to stare up at the cyborg when his gentle hold brought her to a halt.

“You’re bleeding. He scratched your skin but its minor.” His fingers released her. “Why didn’t your brother free me? I can’t understand why he would send you on such a dangerous mission. Males are protective of female relatives.”

“You haven’t met my brother.” She turned her gaze forward to scan the area again. “There was money involved and he didn’t care how risky it might be for me as long as the price was right. He’d never endanger his own neck for anything. He’s got me for that.” She realized the bitterness probably wasn’t hidden in her tone but she didn’t care. Zorus had saved her from a bad fate, she still felt shaken at how close she’d come to being sexually assaulted, and she doubted she’d have been able to get away on her own. “Let’s go. I don’t see anyone and this is our building. Stay close. You’re almost to safety.”

Chapter Three

Charlie tried to hide her terror when they faced the men inside. They looked pretty badass, the types she’d grown up with in the wrong side of classification. They might as well have worn signs stating they were vicious criminals. She kept her body between them and the silent Zorus behind her.

“Captain Varel?” She tried to sound fearless and just hoped it worked.

A blond, tall man who looked to be in his forties stepped forward. His piercing green eyes met hers and his blood-chilling smile made her want to whimper. “You made good time.”

“Thanks.” She cleared her throat. “As you can see, I brought the cyborg to be returned to where he came from.”

The guy flicked a glance at the cyborg, nodded, and then turned to one of his men. “Go get her payment.” He faced forward and addressed Zorus directly after his man left the building quickly.

“Your cyborg council hired me to rescue you. Councilman Coval sends his regards. We will transport you to the edge of the solar system where another ship will meet us for your transfer.” The captain bowed. “I’m Barney Varel, the captain of the Cutter, and it’s a pleasure to meet you, Councilman Zorus.”

Charlie could tell Zorus wasn’t happy when he frowned. “Why didn’t they collect me?”

“The council didn’t want to be too close to Earth, for obvious reasons.” Captain Varel kept the frosty smile in place. “My business is transporting things away from Earth safely. No one searches my shuttle. I’m the best at what I do and today that’s getting you the hell off the surface.”

“Understood.” Zorus crossed his arms. “I am ready to leave.”

“If you’ll come with me.” The captain waved his hand toward the shuttle parked outside the open back cargo door. “We have clothing that will fit you and food waiting. I also have a doctor onboard if you need medical assistance. Your health and welfare are my main concern.”

Charlie reached out and gripped the cyborg’s arm. “He doesn’t leave my side until I get paid. That was the agreement. You’re supposed to contact the trustee and have it transferred to me.”

She half expected Zorus to argue but he didn’t pull away, something he could have easily done. Sweat beaded her brow and she feared something would go wrong. She wasn’t stupid enough to blindly trust a career criminal to keep his word. It was his business to prey on the weak and screw over anyone he could. She tried not to think about her ex-boyfriend, who would have to complete the deal.

Boots sounded from the docked shuttle and Charlie gasped when her brother and three other men entered the building. Russell should have been waiting for her to meet him on the passenger shuttle at the space port. He waved at her and didn’t look injured.

“Hi, baby sis.”

“What are you doing here?” Her fingers tightened on Zorus.

“Change of plans.” Russell stopped a good ten feet from her. He held an electronic pad under his arm. “They paid us for the cyborg.”

Someone suddenly grabbed Charlie from behind to tear her away from Zorus and hauled her off her feet. A sharp jab in her arm instantly had her crying out in pain and then a weird sensation quickly spread throughout her body that made her lightheaded and dizzy. She tried to struggle but her limbs didn’t respond. She hung limply in someone’s hold.

“What is going on?” Zorus moved in front of her. “Release her immediately.”

“I’m her brother.” Russell came forward. “It’s all cool. Nobody is going to hurt her. I just knew she wasn’t going to take this well and asked these guys to sedate her a little. My baby sis has a hell of a temper along with a mean right hook.”

“What did you do?” Charlie’s voice sounded strange and her lips were numb but she managed the ability to lift her gaze to stare at her brother.

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