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STRIKER

 

Paranormal meets Sci-Fi and Steamy Romance

One man thrust into an uncertain future. One woman who seeks the truth. A race to save the known universe

Captain Vivien Demazi didn’t believe in aliens. Having spent a lifetime in the military tends to beat out such fanciful notions. But being abducted by giant Reptiles and crashing on a frigid alien planet, the last thing Vivien expects is to find herself in the protective arms of a golden-skinned, drop-dead gorgeous alien.

Striker’s first mission upon his promotion to Commander of Starlight is to rescue the human female last seen smuggled onto the planet Callisto – a planet long occupied by the malicious Reptiles. He must stop her from falling into their hands at all costs. The fate of the known universe rests on his success.

What he doesn’t count on is, the fragile and scared human female he expects to find cowering and waiting to be rescued is a no-nonsense, experienced soldier who takes him prisoner instead.

Striker is drawn to this fiery woman, and against his better judgement, he finds he can’t stop himself from kissing her. What he doesn’t expect to find is the depth of connection between two war-weary soldiers that has the power to heal bodies, minds and hearts.

After the amazing discovery of what happened to the planet’s original inhabitants, the faint hope for a future free of Reptile tyranny and an undeniable attraction, Striker’s first mission may become his most impossible.

Together, Vivien and Striker must fight for their survival, not only for the fate of the planet, but for their destinies, before everything is lost.

CHAPTER ONE

 

He hoped to hell he was doing the right thing.

Chances were, he wasn’t.

Chances were, he’d be caught by the Reptiles and there’d be a space of time, say, two point four seconds where he’d retain control of his mind, then…

He didn’t know what then, actually. No one had ever come back from being a mind-slave.

Until recently.

It was that definition of ‘recently’ that had given him hope, and that hope that had driven him here.

Strange, what hope did to a person. Thin hope that might, only possibly, save the universe from the worst kind of scourge known to creature-kind. Hope that might have sent him on what might yet be a suicide mission. Such a slim chance of success, but it was hope he clung to with nothing more than his fingernails as he dove through the noxious outer layer of Callisto’s atmosphere.

It was hope that drove him to such desperate measures as to steal into an occupied planet and find the Earthian contained in the POD the Reptiles had shot through the wormhole for an unknown reason. The Earthian who just might have the answer to save the known universe from the Reptilian occupation and mind-enslavement. An Earthian who might save dozens of planets, as well as billions of lives.

It was those reasons that gave real meaning to the word hope.

The thin layer of gases kicked and gouged the outside of the little one-man Starjet, Striker expertly manoeuvred through the outer layers of Callisto’s atmosphere. It never failed to amaze how such small, sparsely distributed particles could potentially cause so much damage. Then again, something foreign pushing through skin of any kind was cause for the planet’s defences to kick into gear, no matter how small that foreign particle may be.

So small he needed to be. Small enough to enter undetected. It wasn’t just the planet’s ‘skin’ that would fry him at any chance.  Not much could crack through the cyber net the Reptiles surrounded their occupied planets with. Except for something as small as a one-man Starjet. Still though, he had to make it quick enough so he only looked like a meteor, or space junk. Thus the bone-crunching ride he was not so very much enjoying.

Sparks and flames flashed all over the outside of the metal casing like Earthian blinking Christmas lights – a tradition he quite liked to enjoy on their home planet. As second in command of the Starship Starlight, he was part of a top secret crew that was responsible for keeping Earth protected from threat of Reptile invasion, sent on mission five years ago from the Federation many planets had formed against the Reptilian threat. An intergalactic federation of common planets made from a vast mix of species.

Thankfully, Hexonians were close enough to human beings to pass off as one of them at a casual glance, so he and the crew had enjoyed leave on the surface of the planet to let off some steam from their mission, and Striker had learned he liked the company of human females. Several of them. Unlike his commander – now ex-Commander Jo’Aquin, who seemed to have found the love of his life under almost highly unusual and impossible circumstances.

 

After shooting through a wormhole, he and Lauren had single-handedly saved the Flornian from the Reptile occupation. He’d negotiated the Starlight through a tiny wormhole after receiving an obscure emergency comm from Jo’Aquin. They’d landed expecting – well, the worse – only to find the natives, although largely confused, freed from the spell the Reptiles somehow managed to infect and control them with - and fighting back.

The find was ground-breaking. Never before in the history of Reptile occupation had a mind-slave been freed. All thanks to Jo’Aquin’s little human. He was still in awe. It was the first hope anyone had had in all the years of progressive Reptile occupation. Planets invaded were never freed. Until Florn.

After falling on love with his human woman, Lauren, Jo’Aquin had promoted Striker to command the Starlight, as Lauren couldn’t leave the planet. Although Striker loved women, a lot if his history was to be believed, giving up everything for just one was a little too serious for his liking.

He couldn’t imagine spending any more time than one night with that sort of intimacy. A little fun from two consenting adults was all he was after. The war between the Reptiles and the rest of the known galaxies had cut too many lives too short. He’d seen that firsthand. Many comrades had lost their lives prematurely. The lesson there was to pack in as much fun in what time you did have because you never knew when your number would come up. Life lived. Fun had. And that was that.

He was glad he had his fun. Striker’s first action in his newly promotion position as commander was to go on this rescue mission with only a small chance of success. Not the most positive outlook he would have liked, but one that was vitally necessary for the hope of the entire known universe. Knowing that, he was glad babysitting Earth had also had its enjoyable times.

One of his sabbaticals planet-side had been to the capital of New York, where he had witnessed the season the Earthian named ‘Christmas’, as well as enjoyed a nice little redhead who was also celebrating at the time. He’d loved the decorations, the snow and the huge tree in the inner city square that had been decorated like some sort of showcase, bright enough to light up a landing strip for the Starlight to land from outer space. So much like the twinkling sparks that lit up the outside of his Starjet, just not quite so deadly.

The Starjet bucked, and he gripped the control tighter, bringing his thoughts back to the moment. They vibrated enough to send shockwaves through his body. No matter how hard he gripped the control handles, the Starjet had to stay on the same steep course as that of any meteor burning up on entry to make it look realistic; otherwise, he risked being blasted from the skies.

He wiped a trickle of perspiration from his temple and double checked the readouts on the panel in front of him. Altitude was high, trajectory sharp, and he was just about due to clear the upper level cloud. He slid though the haze and sparks and heat and into the rarefied slipstream of denser particles that left his stomach behind as the Starjet lurched downwards, catching on a violent breeze.

The jet rolled until he fought enough to right his path. A dip of the nose sent him plummeting to the surface. To make the effect worthy of being realistic, he spun in a tight spiral, fighting the urge to bring up breakfast. The console flashed with red lights, and an annoying beeping sounded somewhere behind his head.

Thick blue-green trees rose quickly in the horizon line. He fought the pull of gravity for as long as possible before pulling the jet out of the spin with everything he had. The nose lifted, and the body of the jet slipped into a steady horizontal path, the belly scraping the tips of the highest trees.

Striker quickly hit several buttons. Lights flashed green, signifying the tracking lock onto the POD. Now all he had to do was keep low enough to remain undetected and try and find the POD – wherever the hell that may be.

He’d once seen a vid of historic Callisto. It had been a thriving metropolis. Once. Before the invasion. Vast cities, towns, technology. The people here were of the highest intellect. Advanced.

But not now.

Now, the trees had grown over whatever there was below and regained the planet. The civilisation was lost. That was what the Reptiles did to a planet. Raped and pillaged and destroyed until there was nothing left of the people who once thrived on its surface.

Striker pulled his thoughts out of that never-ending spiral and concentrated on the view in front of him. Wondering at the senselessness of Reptilian occupation never got him anywhere. He headed towards a jagged line. As he drew near, he could clearly see where the POD had crashed.

Branches were severed, tops of trees at unnatural angles, bare pink wood splintering through the rough bark, bursts of fire were dotted here and there. Through the jagged scar, Striker could see the deep blue earth far below. It hadn’t been a soft landing, and he could only hope whoever was inside had survived.

Striker slowed the jet and angled the direction to follow the path until it narrowed and gouged deeper into the surface. Bursts of fire now traced the edges of the path. Black smoke spiralled from burning flames.

There, half-buried beneath the damp, navy ground, the silver projectile-shaped POD gleamed red, reflecting the surrounding fire. The sides were severely damaged, scraped and dented. It didn’t look good. This might be a failed mission after all. Although there was a high chance whoever was in there didn’t survive, he needed to get down there and check. And quick.

Destruction like this wouldn’t have gone unnoticed by the Reptiles. They’d surely be on their way here. The trick was just to beat them to it. Striker swung the jet around. There was nowhere to land but in the pathway of destruction the pod had taken through trees. He delicately worked the controls, only nipping the wings a few times on the way down.

He quickly shut down the engines before it was safe to lift the plasti-glass cabin door up. Soot-filled air, tainted with the acrid taste of wet, burnt trees assaulted his nostrils.

Coughing as the smoke hit the back of his throat, he unharnessed and slipped down the side of the Starjet, using the narrow divots moulded into the shell for just this reason.

The ground crackled underfoot. He stumbled over the turned up earth, adjusting to the planet’s gravity, not quite over the muscle-melting ride to the surface. He didn’t matter, though. The poor soul who was captured in the pod was surely in much worse condition. That the Reptiles had sent the POD to the planet and risked the life the POD contained under such circumstances was also very telling. There was no doubt the individual was very important to them, and thus very important to Striker.

It was a high possibility the Earthian was a female. Reptiles preferred to abduct species weaker than themselves, but knowing human females, he also knew they weren’t as weak as the Reptiles might think. They were quite strong. Strong and beautiful, if his time on the Earthian surface was anything to go by.

Just thinking one of the beautiful creatures was stuck inside that damned coffin was enough to make him want to rip every head off every Reptile he could find. That would only be counter-productive to the mission. If what they all hoped was inside was an Earthian who had the capacity to end the reign of the Reptiles, he could take out far more of them than with just his bare hands.

Keeping a watchful eye into the deep shadows of the forest, he jogged toward the pod, but as he crested the still warm ground, he stopped in his tracks. The lid was thrown off, revealing the dull interior of the pod. Empty bindings hung over the lip. Rust ringed the outside. Wait, that wasn’t rust. A bloody handprint was smeared on the side.

Whoever was in there was hurt! Badly if the amount of blood was anything to go by.

But where?

Striker spun around, his gaze darting about. Divots and upturned dirt signified where someone had struggled up the side of the crater. There was a soft noise behind him. He turned. A skull-splitting crack on the back of his head. White hot jagged pain through the roof of his skull.

Then nothing.

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