Undaunted, p.1

Undaunted, page 1

 part  #6 of  Battle Born Series

 

Undaunted
 


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Undaunted


  Undaunted

  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

  Copyright © 2016 Cyndi Friberg

  Cover art by Dar Albert

  Editor: Mary Moran

  Electronic Book Publication, June 2016

  Trade Paperback Publication, June 2016

  Edition One A

  With the exception of quotes used in reviews, this book may not be reproduced or used in whole or in part by any means existing without written permission from the author, Cyndi Friberg.

  This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. The characters are productions of the author’s imagination and used fictitiously.

  Praise for Beyond Ontariese

  Taken by Storm

  “Taken by Storm had it all—tense action, suspense, erotic sex, humor and a wildly imaginative plot.”

  ~The Romance Studio

  “Unplug the phone and put the kids to bed; once you start reading Taken by Storm you won’t want any interruptions!”

  ~Fallen Angel Reviews

  “For a story that will delight, entertain, and keep you on the edge of your seat, I highly recommend Taken by Storm and award it RRT’s Perfect 10.”

  ~Romance Reviews Today

  Operation Hydra

  “I highly recommend Operation Hydra…it’s one of the best science fiction romances I’ve ever read. Perfect 10!”

  ~Romance Reviews Today

  “Outstanding! This segment only whetted my appetite for more. The heat between Kyrsta and Trey could cause a nuclear meltdown.”

  ~Simply Romance Reviews

  City of Tears

  “WOW! City of Tears by Cyndi Friberg is one amazing blend of science fiction at its best and romance at its hottest…”

  ~eCata Reviews

  Undaunted

  Cyndi Friberg

  Battle Born, Book Six: General Garin Nox swears he has no time for a female. One by one his brothers and friends have all found their mates, but he has stayed focused on the rebellion, determined to win freedom for the battle born.

  Then he meets Berlynn Tandori, a feisty canine shifter born on Earth. She defies him, yet attracts him, challenging him at every turn. He’s used to having his orders obeyed without question, but Berlynn isn’t one of his men. She’s turning their courtship into a battle of wills, which suits Garin just fine. He thrives on strategy, and someone should have told Berlynn that General Nox has never lost a battle.

  Contents

  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Chapter Thirteen

  Crusader

  About the Author

  Other Titles by

  Chapter One

  “Stop wasting my time!” General Garin Nox slapped his hands down against the conference room table as he came up out of his seat. “When you’re ready to take this seriously, com me.” He shoved his chair back so forcefully it toppled, then spun toward Berlynn and held out his hand. “You’re with me.”

  Berlynn’s heart flipped over in her chest as his penetrating gaze bore into hers. She placed her hand on his and allowed him to pull her to her feet. If she hadn’t been equally frustrated by the negotiation, she might have taken offense to his autocratic tone. She’d made it clear from the start that she was not part of the battle born rebellion and would not be ordered around like one of his men. She was an official ambassador for Tandori Tribe and her people’s needs would always come first.

  Trying hard to ignore the sudden rise in her pulse, she moved closer to Garin. Everything about him was big and strong, from his battle-hardened body to his commanding personality, yet he was careful whenever he touched her. Which wasn’t often enough for Berlynn’s liking.

  The general led/dragged her from the conference room, his jaw set, eyes blazing. “I don’t have time for this diplomatic nonsense and Morgan knows it.” His boot heels rang against the gleaming white floor of one of the Bunker’s endless corridors. The secret compound in the desert of Arizona was part army base, part research facility.

  Morgan Hoyt directed the human taskforce stationed at the Bunker. Her mate, Nazerel, was Garin’s cousin, but Nazerel’s loyalty clearly rested with his human mate now. Their primary mission was dealing with nonhuman visitors to Earth. Until now, the taskforce had approached each situation with discretion and secrecy. Unfortunately, that approach was counterproductive to the battle born rebels’ goals, which created an impasse for the negotiators.

  The battle born rebels had come to Earth hoping to free the magic locked inside them. Each transformation process required a human female, which necessitated access to human females on a mass scale. Political unrest raged on Rodymia, their home world, and the warriors were pursuing every possible advantage as they neared the final confrontation. It had been Garin’s hope to quickly solidify an alliance with the humans so he could get back to planning the war. Obviously, that wasn’t going to happen.

  “I’m not sure Morgan can authorize the actions you’ve proposed,” Berlynn pointed out. He still clasped her hand, though she wasn’t sure he realized it.

  He glanced down at her, hand shifting until their fingers interwove. “What makes you say that?”

  Awareness arced between them, hot and electric. They’d been together continually for the past three days, a fact Berlynn found curious. The trip from the Bunker to Lunar Nine, the Rodyte outpost hidden inside Earth’s moon, took less than an hour. So why did Garin choose to hide in the desert and spend each night alone with her in the Phantom? The covert class shuttle was fast and its shields rendered it undetectable to sensors and human eyes. Still, it wasn’t designed for long-range missions. The accommodations were rudimentary at best. Rather like a camping trailer, two rows of center-facing seats slid forward and transformed into padded benches. The benches were separated by a narrow aisle, but Garin’s nearness had fueled Berlynn’s dreams and made her unusually restless.

  “Why do you question Morgan’s authority?” He prompted when she didn’t explain and his hand slipped away from hers.

  “Sorry.” She gave herself a firm mental shake and hurried to keep up with his agitated steps. “Morgan has seemed almost as frustrated as we are. It’s like she’s trying to keep us talking until she hears from someone else.”

  Garin paused and turned toward her. His hands settled on her waist, his thumbs stroking up and down against her ribs. Was he really so anxious that he didn’t realize he was touching her, or was he using his distraction as an excuse? His rugged features revealed only frustration and thoughtfulness. But that wasn’t unusual. Garin’s expressions were always closely guarded.

  “I’ve wondered about her evasiveness too. She hates games almost as much as I do.” His intense gaze locked with hers. The endless black of his irises would have flowed uninterrupted into his pupils if it weren’t for the sapphire blue rings separating the two. Phitons was the Rodyte word for the luminescent rings, she reminded herself. She might be full-blooded Rodyte, but she’d never been to the distant planet. In fact, the farthest she’d been from Earth was Lunar Nine.

  “Should we confront Morgan with our suspicions?” she asked after another tense pause. “If she can’t authorize human interaction on the scale we need, we really are wasting our time.”

  His shoulders squared and his chin lifted, giving him that resolute air that fascinated her. He was dressed in the black-and-gold uniform required of the Rodyte military, though all the official insignias had been r
emoved. They were rebels, outlaws, no longer officially anything but fighting for the battle born.

  “I’ll give her the benefit of a doubt,” Garin said, “for now. I’d rather negotiate with someone I know I can trust.”

  It was easy to understand Garin’s position. He was surrounded by enemies and spies. He’d been born to his father’s morautu, his chosen mate, which meant Garin was elite. Garin’s two brothers, however, were battle born. Their mothers had been war brides, Bilarrian captives who were forced to bear children for their Rodyte masters. Berlynn shivered at the thought. The only consolation was that the barbaric practice had been so vehemently criticized in recent years that the tradition had been abandoned.

  Not wanting to dwell on such a disturbing topic, Berlynn asked, “What’s our next move?”

  He released her waist and motioned her onward. “Let’s go for a ride. If Morgan needs time to secure authorization, let’s give it to her.”

  Berlynn smiled, though she already missed his touch. They walked briskly toward the elevator bank at the end of the corridor. She hadn’t seen much of the Bunker during the past three days. Each morning they’d arrive as if they were commuting from Lunar Nine. The empty parking lot parted so they could land in the underground hangar and then they took an elevator to sublevel three. A short distance of tiled hallways led to a conference room. It was all disappointingly ordinary, but Berlynn suspected there was much more to the Bunker than what she’d been allowed to see.

  Morgan had offered them overnight accommodations when the negotiations hadn’t concluded the first day. Garin declined. The only reason Berlynn could find for his decision was so he could be alone with her on the Phantom.

  So why hadn’t he taken advantage of the opportunity?

  He’d been attentive and polite, the perfect gentleman. Their conversations had been casual, light, never venturing near anything personal. Despite the intimate setting, it had all been annoyingly proper.

  Retracing their steps from that morning, they returned to the hangar bay. Garin brought the ship out of hibernation with a series of voice commands. Then he alerted the humans to his imminent departure. His phrasing made Berlynn smile. General Nox didn’t ask permission for anything. He issued directives, knowing they would be obeyed.

  “Where are we going?” Berlynn waited until she was strapped into one of the two forward-facing seats before she asked the question. The six covert class shuttles were identical. Garin knew which one this was, but the name on the hull was simply Phantom.

  “I’d like to visit Stargazer Ranch.” He activated the control matrix with a precise wave of his hand. The holographic grid came to life in a complex pattern of colored light. “Do you know the coordinates?”

  “How did you hear about Stargazer Ranch?” The facility in the foothills west of Boulder, Colorado, wasn’t exactly secret, but what went on there was never spoken about in human company. Tandori Tribe had been exiled to Earth after refusing to participate in the endless, bloody war with the Bilarrians. The peace-loving tribe blended with humans, doing everything they could to make themselves indistinguishable from their unwitting hosts. Toward that end, Tandori children were allowed to believe they were human until their abilities began to surface, usually around puberty. When that happened, their phitons became visible and masquerading as human became more difficult. So the adolescents were taken to Stargazer Ranch for an “awakening”. They were taught their true history, shown practical ways to alter their appearance and received in-depth training on how to control their abilities.

  “Danvier was intrigued by the place,” Garin told her. The powerful psychic, known as a harbinger, had served with Garin for many years. “It made me wonder if it might be perfect for our needs.”

  “Our needs?” She hadn’t meant to make the question sound sexy, but the words came out hushed and breathy.

  Garin looked at her and a rare smile tugged at one corner of his mouth. The mini-response was all he gave her, however. He simply continued on as if nothing had happened. “Rather like a Tandori awakening, the human females who are interested in participating in the transformation program will need an in-depth orientation before they’re allowed to see Lunar Nine. Morgan’s right about one thing. We need to protect our secrets until we’re sure each female is serious about allowing herself to be claimed.”

  “That makes sense, but can we digress for a moment?”

  “Of course, but first I need the coordinates to Stargazer Ranch.” She told him the address, which was as close as she could come to actual coordinates. It took him a few minutes, but apparently he found what he needed using the address. He engaged the covert shields and flew away from the Bunker, moving so fast the land below them blurred. “Now,” he pulled his hands out of the control matrix, “what did you want to talk about?”

  It was a loaded question. There were all sorts of things she’d like to talk about if she had any concrete indication that the attraction she felt for him was returned. But all she had were flashes of interest and the occasional undefined spark. So she focused on their joint mission and did her best to keep things professional.

  “I know the point of the transformation project is to free the magic locked inside battle born males,” she began. “What I don’t understand is why this transformation requires a human female? To my knowledge the vast majority of humans can’t manipulate magic.”

  “I’m not a geneticist, so I only understand the basics.”

  She smiled. “I’m not a geneticist either, so I wouldn’t understand anything but the basics.”

  He glanced at her and another smile made the corners of his mouth twitch. “Are you familiar with human blood types?”

  She nodded, trying not to allow her mind to rush too far ahead or to be too distracted by his handsome face. “I know they exist and it’s dangerous for humans to receive blood that isn’t the same type as their own.”

  “And yet, a person with type O blood can donate to all the other types.”

  “Universal donors.” She nodded again. “I’ve heard the term.” She narrowed her gaze and tried to make a connection. “Then you’ll be recruiting human females with type O blood?”

  He shook his head. “It was just an example. Human DNA blends well with other types of DNA. As a species, humans are like universal donors. Their genetics are more tolerant of manipulation than most other species, and human DNA is well tolerated by other species when the two are combined. This is also why humans are able to reproduce with other species, which is extremely unusual.”

  After pausing to absorb the facts, she said, “That explains why the couples survive the transformation. But why is the male able to access his magic after the process is complete?”

  “That’s more complicated.” He glanced at the master control before continuing. “It has to do with the specific chromosomes that are altered during transformation. Basically, the male’s DNA is recoded using the template of a person with magical abilities.”

  “And what does the mating bond have to do with any of that? I’m not sure why the female needs to be involved at all.”

  He finally lost the battle with his smile. His lips parted, framing even white teeth. The expression made him look younger, and even more attractive. Which shouldn’t have been possible. “Don’t sound so affronted. The new formulas are safe and each female will volunteer for the program. We’re no threat to human females.”

  Even with his perpetual scowl, she found him handsome. So she tried not to be dazzled by his smile. “That didn’t answer my question.” Her tone was sharper than she’d intended and his smile vanished. Haven, her aunt, warned Berlynn that she turned “bitchy” whenever she wanted attention from Garin. Berlynn thought Haven had been exaggerating, until she heard the cutting snap in her own words.

  Garin triggered the seat release with the heel of his boot and swiveled around to face her. “The mating bond is a delivery mechanism. As I’m sure you know, when a Rodyte male claims his mate, the couple goes thr
ough a metamorphosis. Their genetics change, making each more compatible with the other.”

  “I’m with you so far.” Out of necessity, Tandori Tribe had been interbreeding with humans for years, so she understood the bonding process.

  “The coding needed to free the male’s magic is smuggled into his body during this natural biological function. His body is already changing, so the new sections of DNA are accepted as part of that natural process. Every time it’s been attempted outside the mating bond, the new DNA was rejected and the volunteer died.”

  “So the male gets access to his magic. What’s in it for the female?” Though her tone was softer now, she didn’t quite suppress the challenge in her words.

  He released his safety straps and grasped the armrests of his seat. His fingers tightened until his knuckles turned white. Was he trying not to caress her or strangle her? “You’ve never wondered what it would feel like to be claimed by your mate?”

  She shrugged though her heart was pounding so hard she could feel it in her ears. Rodyte males recognize their mates by smell, but the female often required taste and touch to activate the connection. “I’ve never encountered a potential mate, so how would I know?” It was another challenge and they both knew it.

  “Are you sure about that?” He slid to the edge of his seat and took her face between his hands. For a long, tense moment, he stared into her eyes, revealing a hunger that sent tingles down her spine. Then his mouth settled over hers, warm and caressing. He paused, allowing her to accept the contact before he deepened the kiss.

  His lips felt wonderful and his tongue gently teased rather than intruding with brutish demand. She parted her lips and touched the tip of his tongue with hers, inviting him inside. He didn’t hesitate. Soon their tongues curled around each other and his taste mixed with hers. She tried to move closer, but her safety restraints were still fastened.

 
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