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DarkWind [WindDemon Trilogy Book 2] [MultiFormat]
eBook by Charlotte Boyett-Compo

eBook Category: Dark Fantasy
eBook Description: Having crushed the Rysalian Empire, only one task remains as far as the Amazeen are concerned-to track down Kamerone Cree and execute him with the last remaining Reapers, five of whom are his bloodsons. The crew of The Orion are drawn unknowingly into the war for supremacy when Khiershon Cree, in a last ditch effort to survive, telepathically summons the woman destined to be his mate. Dr. Caitlyn Kelly has no idea why this, dark, dangerous and strangely beautiful alien man has such a powerful appeal for her, but she can no more resist than she could simply cease to breathe. Rating: Contains graphic sexual content, adult language, and violence. (Please note: this title was previously released elsewhere but has been revised for its NCP release.)

eBook Publisher: New Concepts Publishing, Published: 2006
Fictionwise Release Date: December 2006


127 Reader Ratings:
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PART ONE
Chapter One
On Board the United Space Alliance Medivac Ship, The Orion

Dr. Caitlin Kelly sighed deeply as she sat up and swung her legs from the bunk. She was tired ... more exhausted than she could remember being of late ... and wished she didn't have to get up. She sat there for a moment, staring blankly across her cabin and sighed once more, closing her eyes against the weariness that made her want to lie down again. She rubbed her aching eyes then forced herself to stand and stretch, feeling the pull of stiff muscles as she did.

"What you need," she mumbled, "is a tall, dark, handsome space pirate to come along, sweep you off your feet, then..."

"Dr. Kelly?" the ComLink clicked on with a soft, pleasant male voice that had been designed to soothe. The intership communications system could be a nuisance at times for it seemed to have a mind of its own.

"Aye?"

"Captain Wellmeyer requests your presence on the bridge, Ma'am."

Caitlin pursed her lips in annoyance. "Tell the Captain I'll be there in ten minutes."

"Understood. Were you able to sleep, Doctor?" The ComLink was also programmed to be solicitous of Caitlin's well being.

"Afraid not, Coni."

"I am so sorry," the ComLink replied with an almost-human sigh. "Perhaps you should seek a med for the problem."

"I don't think that will be necessary. Thank you for you concern, Coni."

"You are most welcome, Dearling," was the reply.

Caitlin winced. Lately, the A.I.--the Artificial Intelligence unit--inside her ComLink was beginning to show human male traits she had not included in its programming. The terms of affection was one such trait that, should anyone else hear it, could cause a raised eyebrow among the crew.

She made a mental note to make a few adjustments to Coni's programming.

But as tired as she was, re-programming affectionate ComLinks wasn't high on her list of priorities. Heaving another weary sigh, Caitlin stripped off her outdated and threadbare flannel gown and stepped into the sonic shower, wishing she could bathe under a cleansing, refreshing hot water cascade instead.

When she was dressed in her dark blue medical jumpsuit, she rode the elevator up two decks to the bridge, nodded politely at the Com Officer, Helen Bryan, as she passed and went to Captain Wellmeyer.

"You rang?"

Captain Herb Wellmeyer scowled. "We've got a problem with the oxygen scrubbers and I've sent two crew members to sick bay." His frosty gray eyes slid from Caitlin's dark cinnamon hair to the tips of her polished boots. "While you were getting your beauty rest, I had a crisis."

Caitlin didn't bother to comment on his remark. Herb Wellmeyer's definition of a crisis could be anything from a lack of sufficient coolant in the warp drives to a lack of sufficient foam on his glass of replicated beer. With his stubborn neo-German pragmatism, anything that didn't fall directly in line with his way of thinking and his conception of an orderly universe was a matter of utmost importance in his mind even if it was nonsense to everyone else.

"What does engineering say about the scrubbers?" asked Caitlin.

"Did you hear what I said?" Wellmeyer snapped. "I sent two crew members..."

"To sick bay," Caitlin interrupted. "Aye, I heard you, Sir. I assume it was with minor headaches and dizziness due to insufficient oxygen levels in their work stations?" She locked her dark green eyes on his narrowed gray orbs.

"Naturally!"

"And I also can assume they are feeling better or you would have had Coni wake me earlier?"

The Captain clenched his jaw. "I have told you before that I did not approve you giving your ComLink a name. It is--"

"--they are all right?" she stressed. She heard his teeth grinding and didn't need to look down to know Herb Wellmeyer's beefy hands were clenched into fists at his chubby sides.

"They will survive," he acknowledged.

A slight smile tried to escape Caitlin's tight control over it and she had to turn away.

"That's good." She arched a titian brow at him. "Is there anything else?"

Wellmeyer's chin jutted out. "Your lack of respect is starting to wear thin, Caitlin," he said beneath his breath. "And I am beginning to--"

"--I'll be down in sick bay if you need anything else, Captain." She saw a flare of irritation dart across Wellmeyer's face, but she ignored it.

Turning away, she winked at the Com Officer who tried unsuccessfully to hide her own amusement. Taking the elevator down to the fourth deck, Caitlin walked to the computer and punched up the med notes on the two crewmen who had been admitted for observation. As she suspected, neither had been in any immediate danger and both were sleeping peacefully beneath pure-oxy domes. Nevertheless, she checked their vitals.

"I spoke with engineering," Jax Vance, one of her four corpsmen, explained to her. "A simple malfunction in an o-ring. It's been taken care of."

"Thanks," Caitlin replied, then asked if he would get her a cup of black coffee.

"Still not sleeping?"

"Nope." Caitlin sat down behind her desk and leaned back in the form-fitting chair. "I jolted awake at oh-three hundred sweating like a big dog."

Jax grinned at the Southern expression that always brought back fond memories of visiting the Americas when he was on leave two years earlier. "Another bad dream?"

"I guess so," Caitlin answered, shrugging. "All I remember is sitting up with a gasp, my heart pounding. I was trembling so it must have been a real doozie."

"Perhaps you should speak with Counselor Rema."

Caitlin shook her head. "I don't believe in that headshrinker crap. It's a bunch of mumbo jumbo. Besides, Rema is an idiot."

Jax couldn't argue with the doctor. He felt the same way toward the psychic from Old France. "You should talk to someone, though," Jax told her. "I hate to say it, but you're starting to look a little ... well--" He blushed. "--rough around the edges," he finished, his blush deepening.

"Hell, Jax. Don't mince words!"

"I just hate to see you--"

The sick bay ComLink clicked on. "Dr. Kelly, report to the bridge immediately!"

"On my way!" Caitlin responded.

"What's going on?" Caitlin asked the Com Officer when she reached the bridge.

"We have a medical distress signal from Sector Nine," explained Helen.

"Sector Nine?" Caitlin questioned. "Isn't that in the middle of the Sinisters?"

"Right near the edge," the First Officer, Linwood Dixon, reported from his console.

"But there shouldn't be anyone in the Sinisters. A downed ship, maybe?"

"Bryan?" Wellmeyer demanded. "Try hailing them."

"There is no answer to my hail, Captain," Lt. Bryan informed him, giving the Captain a look that said he should have known she'd already tried that.

"Damn!" snapped Wellmeyer, running a hand through his thinning hair. "I don't have time for this!"

"We are a Medivac ship, Captain. If we get a distress call, we are obligated to investigate and render aid," Caitlin said needlessly and was rewarded with a glower from her commanding officer. She smiled brutally. "The Directive states..."

"Shut up! Plot a course to wherever that distress beacon is coming from, Dixon," the Captain ordered. He narrowed his eyes at Caitlin.

"You're about one insult away from having a note put in your jacket, lady."

Caitlin's smile became hateful then she turned around. "I'll be going down with the away team," she announced. "Where exactly will we be going, Lieutenant Dixon?"

"It's a small planetoid just inside the Sinisters, Ma'am."

"Completely out of our territorial assignment," Wellmeyer complained. "Who the hell knows what kind of situation we'll run into beyond the No Man's Land boundary!"

"What's she like?" Caitlin asked, ignoring Wellmeyer's statement.

"Breathable atmosphere and sufficient gravity. No need for anything special." Dixon typed in some numbers. "I've done a diagnostic and there doesn't appear to be any problem with going in."

"Life forms?"

"I'm only reading two: very faint. According to the data I pulled up on this hunk of rock, there is no indigenous life. There is water, but very sparse vegetation. She's just a big old piece of granite lolling there." He looked at Caitlin. "There's never been any life reported in the Sinisters, Doc. A mining transport ship from Gemini Prime was by there this morning at oh-three hundred and didn't report anything out of the ordinary."

"Somebody's obviously there now!" grumbled Wellmeyer. His face paled. "Or something."

"Something evil, maybe," Bryan said beneath her breath.

Ensign Thommy Loure's big eyes lit up. "Remember that old video we saw last week? The one with the alien that gets inside people's stomachs."

"Stow that kind of talk, Mister!" Wellmeyer pointed a finger at Loure. "There are no monsters in outer space."

Loure and Dixon exchanged glances then looked away, both trying to hide their amusement.

"Dixon, Loure, you'll accompany Dr. Kelly to the surface," the Captain ordered, "since you find this so damned amusing!"

"Aye, Sir," the two crewmen agreed, eager for adventure.

"How far away are we from our target, Dixon?" asked Caitlin.

"Ten minutes, Ma'am." The lieutenant's fingers moved like lightning over his keyboard. "You'll just about have time to get your little black bag before I get us there."

"I've told you before," Bryan chastised, "she doesn't make house calls."

"Knock it off!" Wellmeyer shouted, his patience almost at an end. He hated this ship. He hated this assignment. But most of all, he hated his crew who were loyal to Caitlin Kelly and most of the time ignored him, though he outranked the female doctor. The crew--to a man--believed Kelly should have been given the command and their attitudes were beginning to wear thin.

"Eight minutes to target, Dr. Kelly," Dixon said formally.

"Get your asses to Transport," Wellmeyer ordered his away team.

"And don't dawdle down there. We have to be in Sector Four by twenty-one hundred tomorrow with that shipment of antibiotic!"

Caitlin shook her head and walked to the elevator, went inside and waited until the two men joined her. When the titanium doors slid shut, she turned to Loure, her face perfectly solemn. "In case we encounter eggs or pods of any kind while down there, don't go poking at 'em, okay?"

"No, Ma'am," Loure replied, shaking his head. "I will not."

"And keep your big mouth shut," added Dixon. "Can't get in if your mouth is shut."

"Avoid vines, as well," Caitlin put in.

"And siren calls that might make you want to wander off in search of strange kitty," Dixon added, wagging his brows lewdly at Loure.

"Kitty?" Caitlin echoed, knowing full well what Dixon meant.

Dixon shrugged. "Never know about alien critters, Doc." He swiveled his head toward her and locked gazes. "Their anatomies may be different from ours."

"Understood," she replied.

The elevator settled at the Transport deck and she preceded the men from the cage. She nodded politely at the Chief Engineer, Thom Christopher, and then took her place in the Transport modules, Dixon and Loure flanking her on the pedestal.

"Ready, Doc?" asked Christopher.

"As I'm gonna be. What are you registering down there, now, Pete?"

"Two diminishing life forms."

"Humanoid?"

Christopher shook his head. "Can't tell."

"Pod people," Loure said softly. "I knew it."

"Just our luck," Dixon sighed. He rubbed his stomach and belched.

"Engage," Caitlin ordered, her lips twitching but her eyes wary.

Chief Christopher watched as the away team faded from his view, their molecules flung toward the barren planetoid where no life had been reported before.

Barren, Caitlin thought, wasn't a sufficient word to describe the gray plateau on which she and her away team formed. The sky was a darker gray, the vast wisps of fog that defined the interior of the Sinisters obscuring what light could pass from the distant sun. Massive, jagged rock formations jutted upward like hands reaching toward the gods. The rocks gave off a faint milky glow that suggested veins of embedded quartz. A wind skirled over the vast plain below them where only a few mounds of tumbled scree littered the miles upon miles of wasteland.

"A real hospitable place, huh?" said Dixon.

"Hope you brought your vid-cam, Linwood," Loure responded.

"This would make a nice postcard."

"Yeah," Caitlin agreed. "A postcard from hell."

She saw nothing to indicate a landing site or--for that matter--a crash site. Behind them was a sheer cliff of wind-beaten stone and off to one side was a succession of what could pass for steps leading down to the plateau.

"Just where in the blazes are we supposed to be going?" She reached up to touch the small ComLink unit attached to her jumpsuit.

"Matheny?" she said, irritation clear in her tone. "Where are our patients?"

"Below you, Doc," Matheny reported. "Chief couldn't get you inside the plateau. Some kind of interference."

"Okay." Caitlin headed for the weather-carved steps. The steps didn't look treacherous, but she cautioned her men just in case.


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