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Steel (Dark Monster Fantasy Book 2) by Cari Silverwood (1)

Chapter 1

 

Find a princess. Rescue one if you wish to be fully repaired. He’d tried for years. In this universe, let alone this galaxy, princesses were rare. Most places went for mixtures of tyrannies, socialocracies, or democratic messes.

Find a princess, the cybermonks had said. And today, maybe he’d found one.

Baz tapped a dash light that was stuck on red, careful not to smash it with his fingers. Over the past three years, controlling the force of his cybernetic parts had become second nature. With his right, cybernetic hand and arm, he could pluck the petals from a flower or do the things that needed doing badly, like killing, crushing, maiming.

The princess memory segued into those others. It always did.

Pain, loud noises, bright lights, more red-raw pain. Rocking in a corner, when they let him have a place to sit.

The torture at the hands of CESS agents had gone on for days. Baz Rutland remembered it well. How could he forget the events that had made him what he was? Part machine, part man, part lost soul. Part spacejunker captain with a mortgage on his dick. Part rage.

The bouts of rage were a glitch carried over from a head wound. Pain could set him off...and other things. Moderation was a neverending task. Dial it down was his mantra.

He’d also been left with a strange affection for metal. Those first few mornings after the surgery he’d woken to find himself licking his metal palm and fingers. The smell of burning metal could set off his rage.

Still... If not for the resuscitation of his torn body by the cybermonks on Omm, he’d be rotting in some forgotten grave, or a scatter of bones on a forest floor, left to be eaten by animals. He’d never quite worked out how or why the monks had found and saved him. Those omnipotent little bastards kept most data close to their steel chests.

“Got a signal from down below still, cap’n.” His 2iC, or second-in-command, Rangoo, looked eager to do something.

“Good.”

They’d been circling the war-ravaged planet below in a low, fast orbit for several hours, hoping for business, hoping someone below would beg for rescue...

They did it at a price, he and his ship of fellow lost souls and star-worn spacefarers – all of them addicted to the rush of watching local wars go down and zooming in like knights of olde. They slew no dragons, and normally saved no princesses, not like on Old-Earth. A man paid, they rescued. No pay, no passage.

This place below was teeming with Xatar warriors on a Healthsome Crusade to rid the universe of evil. Nasty sorts. Waving blasters, lasers, and banners, they saved the sullied population from immorality – often by granting them death. If only he’d known. All that fuel wasted to get here.

He toed the base of the dashboard before him, while angling a peaked brow at the fleet of blipping red dots populating high altitude airspace. “All those Xatar Battlesnarkers...”

“I know, cap’n. Bad news. We are faster though.” The pitch of his voice slid up in a teensy bleat of hope. The orange-skinned Elurian grinned, showing off his face-spanning mouth and rows of triangular teeth.

Baz grunted. He needed reminding not to hang around above doomed planets when the Xatar might be involved.

“And less deadly, Rangoo, excluding those fangs of yours. Okay.” He sighed and slid his back lower in his seat then wondered what the squishy thing was his boot had encountered beneath the dash. “Play the message.”

It couldn’t hurt to hear it, again? He could ignore it.

Except...

 

Princess in need of dire extraction. Emergency message for any CESS ships within the system. Please respond.

 

A princess.

A principle data extractor for CESS was, technically, called a princess, but did that count?

He’d needed one ever since the cybermonks repaired him with metal, sxsynth-flesh, a few plas-rivets, and a prayer. They’d also left him devoid of a good dick. The CESS torturer had cut it off, thrown it to a pack of whatever rat things he kept for amusement.

Three years now...and his screams had never left his ears.

Instead he had a dick that barely functioned and the monks refused to gift him with one of their top-model cyber cocks. Those were far, far better than the original variety, or so he’d heard. They guaranteed them, stamped them with the CM trademark.

The monks were the best at this, unsurpassed. The gods of cybernetics. Gods of the universe, if you listened to their crazy followers.

He’d paid for his life and the repair work with every disgusting coin he owned. Paid with info on his past crimes, past everything.

No CM cyber-cock until you rescue a princess, were their exact words.

He’d gone silent at that. Tsked at them.

Then he’d debated.

Then begged, a little.

The monks had not budged.

Though they had given him a ship to use – this one, the Floating Leaf.

She was a space junk. The solar sail that inspired the name of her ship class rose above her hull and ran from bow to stern. If the photon drive ever failed they could sail to the nearest system, though it might take a few hundred years. The antique Leaf was worth a few billion coin and likely more than he’d paid the monks.

Somehow, the logic of this would be making sense in the heads of the unblinking, if you didn’t count their on-lights, dick-absent cybermonks.

Would they count this person below as a princess? It could be male or female. Or some other sexual type. The sound of the voice meant zero.

It had sounded female.

Something about potentially getting his hands on a female CESS operative was making his perfectly normal balls get in a tizz. He’d swear they were humming at the prospect.

“To fuck and beyond if I know,” Baz muttered. He leaned forward to eye the plethora of battlesnarkers again.

And if he rescued this person?

Small point, but could he restrain himself from hoisting this princess onto the solar sail and leaving her, him, or it there while the Leaf spun into hyperspace? Maybe not.

So would that mean he’d wasted his effort if he terminated the aforementioned princess before taking them to Omm? That was assuming he could rescue them without Leaf being turned into shredded metal.

Today was a bad day for decisions like this. His absent cock had been giving him phantom spikes of pain. Baz lowered his right hand...

He halted. No, make that his left hand. And he squeezed his balls. Just for luck.

“Cap’n?”

“Calculate a high velocity route to that signal. We’re going to rescue us a princess, Rangoo.”

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