Across the Stars by Lauren Smith & Noah Chinn

 

 

Title: Across the Stars
Series: Cyborg Genesis #1
Authors: Lauren Smith & Noah Chinn
Genre: Sci-Fi Romance
Release Date: January 23, 2019
Blurb
“We wait, we hide, and watch Earth burn across the
stars…”
– From the lost pages of the ARK Diary
She’s one of the last free humans. On the run… And
running out of time.
Laina Roberts has been on the run for ten
years, a freeborn human hiding from the cyborgs of the Silver Legion who now
controls what’s left of humanity. Moving secretly from planet to planet and
space station to space station makes for a damn lonely life—and don’t even get
her started on how long it’s been since she last had sex. Sometimes she thinks
it might be worth turning herself in to the cyborgs just to end the loneliness.
That is, until she’s caught!
Captured by a hot-as-hell Legion officer, the
cyborg Ronan makes her think being probed by him might not be
so bad. But becoming a cyborg’s slave—sex or otherwise—isn’t high on her to-do
list. She doesn’t trust him and doesn’t understand his constant questions about
Earth—especially those about her long-dead relatives. Ronan can just kiss her
ass—oh yes, please—because she is not going to let her desires or his
incredibly perfect body weaken her resolve. She now has a new mission, to
convince the cyborgs and the rest of the galaxy that all Terrans,
humans and synthetic humans like cyborgs, have the right to be free.
If only he didn’t make her feel like melting
into his arms and never leaving. Being captured by a cyborg might not be so bad
after all…

 

 

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Excerpt

 

“Get up,
freeborn.”
The bark of
his order made the woman flinch, and she began to unwind, as though forcing
herself to relax. Her body uncurled, and she pushed herself into a sitting
position, wiping dust from her face and hair. She looked helpless. How ironic,
given what her ancestors had done to him and his kind.
Her lovely
gray eyes—yes, even he could admit that much about them—shone like the hull of
the Orion. Pure. Beautiful. When her
gaze finally settled on his face, her eyes darkened. Like the Scar on Jupiter,
they clouded and churned.
“You.” She
let out a whisper, only audible to him. She shoved herself to her feet and
wobbled unsteadily before regaining her balance. Did she recognize him?
“Under the
regulations of the Sol Patriation Act as set forth by order of the Galactic
High Council, you are hereby detained by the Silver Legion. You will be
returned to Terran space, where you will spend the rest of your days in the
service of the Terran Colony Fleet. Ensign, restrain her.”
The moment
Julian took a step toward her, she swung a fist at him. He easily caught her
wrist and twisted it until her legs buckled, and she fell to her knees at his
feet with a cry of pain.
“Why did
you think that would work?” Julian asked.
The woman
gasped, face still ravaged with the pain of his tight hold.
He leaned
in closer, anger growing. “I’ve been fighting tougher opponents than you for
three hundred years. I once took down a gorg with my bare hands. Why did you
think such a feeble attack would succeed?”
The woman
shut her eyes, wincing with pain as she took a deep breath.
“Answer me,
freeborn,” Julian demanded, gripping
her more forcefully.
Ronan was
about to tell Julian to stand down when she struck, driving her other fist into
Julian’s groin. He cursed as he released her. The woman dove past a shocked
Alanna and ran for the door. Ronan aimed his pulse gun and fired, striking her
between the shoulders. She went down hard, head smacking into the floor.
The control
room went silent, except for the electric drone of computers, as Ronan walked
over to the unconscious woman. A cut above her left eye from where she’d hit
the floor was dripping blood onto the deck.
An emotion
wormed its way to his chest. Pity. He
pitied this woman. She was so frail, so breakable, like the rest of her doomed
people. And yet she was brave enough to evade him and his team, even if the
attempt was ultimately futile. It was a pity that freeborns had so many
failings. It ruined the few strengths they had.
Ronan knelt
and slid one arm behind her back and one behind her knees to lift her up in his
arms. He carried her body to his chest and walked back to Alanna and Julian.
“Have the
boarding party return to the ship,” he said to Alanna. “Notify the commander
that we are returning to the Orion.”
He then looked at the Nubran captain. “We have acquired your ‘stowaway,’
Captain. I have no further interest in your vessel. You may resume your
course.”
Zore
nodded, carrying a mixture of relief and sadness. “Thank you.” Her eyes strayed
to the human’s face. “Please, don’t go hard on her. She is a nice person.
Always polite. Worked hard. She never caused any trouble.”
Julian
groaned. “I beg to differ.”
Zore
frowned, her amber eyes darkening. “You would have done the same in her
position. Any one of us would.”
“What’s your point, Captain?” Ronan asked in irritation.
“My point
is that she is undeserving of whatever fate you have in store for her. I would
think, coming from a race once persecuted like they are now, you would be more
merciful.”
The
Nubran’s words were bold and unafraid, her determination to stand up for the
freeborn an unexpected turn. Ronan couldn’t help but wonder what hold this
female had over Zore that she would risk her life and the lives of her crew.
“They
receive all the mercy they deserve,” said Julian.
Zore’s head
dropped, and she looked away. “You have the law on your side, and I have
complied, but if you cannot see that justice must be tempered with wisdom, then
there is nothing left to discuss. I will thank you to leave my ship in peace.”
“As you
wish. Safe journey, Captain.” Ronan nodded to his subordinates, who flanked him
as he left the control room and returned to the Orion, his prisoner still
in his arms.
Commander Alaric Corvus stood waiting for them on the other end
of the airlock. His eyes zeroed in on the prisoner.
“So, you
were right. You did see a woman on board,” Alaric mused. At two meters in
height, he was slightly taller than Ronan, but he held an air of command about
him that made him seem more solemn than the rest of the crew. A silver star sat
on both of his epaulets, but with his service record he could easily have three
if he desired. He was one of the first cyborgs to command a warship, and one of the leaders of the Cyborg Rebellion three hundred years ago.
“She gave
us a bit of trouble.” Ronan tilted the body in his arms so the woman’s head
rolled away from his chest and toward the commander. The wound above her eyes
had caked and clotted.
“Doctor, we
need you,” Alaric called over his shoulder. A woman appeared from the group
that had gathered around the airlock. Dr. Valeria
Schedar was the Orion’s chief medical
officer. She wore the uniform of the Legion, only with a silver caduceus on
her shoulders instead of a rank insignia. Her long blonde hair was pulled back
at the nape of her neck and bound with a strap.
“Minor head
trauma… Stunned with a pulse gun, I take it?” Valeria reached to take the
woman’s body from Ronan.
He felt a
strange urge keep her in his arms. Valeria looked up at Ronan and sensed his
reluctance. Her lips curved in a soft, understanding smile.
“She won’t
require a stretcher. Bring her to the infirmary. I still have to tend to her
wounds.” Valeria headed for the sickbay, and Ronan followed. He felt his
commander’s eyes on his back the entire way. He wasn’t behaving abnormally, was
he?
The sickbay
was a large room with multiple beds and various medical instruments. Though the
cyborgs on board could regenerate from most injuries quickly without aid, the
majority of the crew were synths, and as such they required more traditional
care.
“Where
should I put her?” Ronan asked, looking at the multiple beds. None of them
looked particularly comfortable to him.
Valeria
waved at the room as she searched for her instruments. “Anywhere is fine.”
The metal
surface of the nearest medical exam table gleamed in the artificial light,
looking cold and hard. Ronan had no desire to place the woman on that.
“Do you
have something to lay on the bed to cushion her?”
Valeria
chuckled. “Haven’t you been here since the refit?”
“I rarely
need to come here.”
“Just lay
her down and press the panel next to the bed, where it says ‘New Patient.’”
Ronan did
so. As soon as he pressed the button, what he’d assumed was a metal surface
slowly ballooned out, raising her up a few centimeters and cushioning her on
all sides, raising her head up to a natural resting position.
“Elysian
design,” the doctor said matter-of-factly. “Customizes the bed to the patient’s
body, plus provides readings of basic body functions.” She pointed to the
diagnostics panel above her head, which now lit up with her heart rate, pulse,
and brain activity.
“I should
have guessed.”
“Well, as
you said, you rarely need to come here.”
Ronan’s
attention returned to the prisoner. His fingers threaded through her hair. The
chestnut strands felt like watered silk. A frisson of pleasure went through
him, and he felt a surge of reluctant tenderness for her. That tenderness
quickly turned to anger, then into something else. He pictured her looking at
him not with fear but desire, and that desire being returned in kind. What
would he do if…?
“Ronan?”
He blinked,
Valeria’s call jarring him back. He shook his head and controlled himself.
“What?” His hands were still deep in the soft coils of the freeborn’s hair. He
freed his hand of the strands that clung to his fingers.
“You can
daydream inappropriately on your own time, not mine. I need to wake her.”
Valeria cleaned the prisoner’s head wound and covered the cut with a clear
cream, which disappeared as it was absorbed. “She probably has a concussion. I
need to make sure she didn’t suffer from any other injuries during her journey,
and for that I’ll need to wake her.”
“Fine. Do
it.” He waited as the doctor injected her with a serum that would pull the
prisoner back into consciousness.
The woman’s
lashes fluttered, and then her gray eyes, fogged with pain and confusion,
locked onto his and held.
“You,” she
gasped. Again she’d said that.
“Me,” he
agreed. He forced himself to scowl, though part of him found her bewilderment
amusing. But she was not a source of humor. Despite how she appeared, she was
the enemy. He could never forget that.

 

Lauren Smith
Lauren
Smith is an Oklahoma attorney by day, author by night who pens adventurous and
edgy romance stories by the light of her smart phone flashlight app. She knew
she was destined to be a romance writer when she attempted to re-write the
entire Titanic movie just to save
Jack from drowning. Connecting with readers by writing emotionally moving,
realistic and sexy romances no matter what time period is her passion. She’s
won multiple awards in several romance subgenres including: New England
Reader’s Choice Awards, Greater Detroit BookSeller’s Best Awards, and a
Semi-Finalist award for the Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Award.