Sam Mackenzie stared out at the swaying trees beyond the compound. The tall red, green and blue leaves swayed gently in the cool night air, but Sam still felt hot, sweaty and unsettled.
Sam, her two friends, Mika and Rachel, and Sam’s older sister, Amy, had been taken by a large alien race called the Koroks from their father’s cabin in Washington.
Amy had found a home for herself with the large, enhanced cyborg warriors called the Iron Militia.
Sam couldn’t be more happy for her sister to have found love and family in such a far away, desolate place.
Sam hadn’t been so lucky. Where Amy had found and bonded to two oozing black symbiotic creatures that also joined her to two large black cat-like creatures called the Desert Night beasts, Sam had spent the last three months in an alien prison.
They were beaten, starved, tormented and paraded in front of other aliens like some kind of livestock. They were kept in dark, cold cells in the belly of the large fortress the Korok's used as a stronghold, not seeing the light of day for weeks at a time.
It still bothered Sam when it got too bright outside. As Raka, the planet they were on, was mostly a desert planet with little to no clouds, the two suns in the sky made it hard for her to see when she was outside.
That is why she loved the night. As bad as things had been for them, there was no denying the beauty of the night sky. Three planets could be seen hanging under a blanket of bright, twinkling stars. The most distant planet looked about the size of the moon on Earth. It was a glistening white color that sparkled like a diamond at times. The next planet was a brown and grey ball with no atmosphere.
The last planet was the closest to this one. It was much larger in the sky, it’s deep dark red sands seemed close enough to touch at times. This was where Amy’s symbiotic creatures had come from a long time ago. Over the last few days, Sam had learned that Kisma and Maku, the two living oil-like organisms, had fled their home when an ancient race of aliens came to strip the once mostly ocean covered planet of all its rich water.
As a medical student, Sam was fascinated by the relationship between host and organism. From what little she understood, the symbiotes needed a host to survive, and in return gave the host a number of amazing abilities.
A small smile spread over Sam’s lips when she thought about the day Cane and Cole, Amy’s two cyborg mates, had shown her the huge wings the symbiotes could morph for them. But there was more to the creatures than just the qualities they possessed. They also needed the warriors to survive. As the last of their kind, it was up to Kisma and Maku to ensure their race survived. In order for them to do that, they needed a strong, noble race to bond to. At first they had thought it might be the night beasts, but all of the beasts that roamed the desert had been poisoned by the Koroks years ago, leaving them savage, mindless hunters.
The only reason Emi and Tope, the two large black beasts that called this compound their home had survived, was because of the symbiotes.
Shaking her head, Sam let out a long breath. It would take her a long time to understand her new home.
There was no way back to Earth. As far as Roam, the technical genius of the Iron warriors could figure out, Earth was over sixty million light years away. From the information they were able to gather from the attack on the fortress, the logs of the Koroks slave ships showed the temporary worm hole they had gone through and the rough location of Earth.
No one had the technology to travel that far. So, this was their home now.
Sam didn’t mind. As long as she had Amy, Rachel and Mika with her, she could make any place her home. They were safe. They were no longer in the cells, and no one here would hurt them. That was what she told herself every time she woke up in a cold sweat from the nightmares of the time spent locked up.
A soft caress brushed over her leg, making Sam look down to see Emi, the large female black beast join her outside. Not only were they huge, deadly and a little scary at times, but they also spoke.
With the help of the symbiotes, Emi and Tope were able to communicate with the others, as long as they had the thin black bracelet on their wrist, like Sam did now.
“What is wrong?” Emi asked in her mind.
Sam smiled, unable to believe that she could talk to a huge cat as though they were besties.
“Hey, Emi,” Sam said, leaning her arms on the railing of the balcony, “Just needed some air.”
Sam frowned down at the beast, “How do you know I have nightmares?”
Emi’s glowing green eyes softened, “Night beasts have excellent hearing. I hear you struggling while you sleep.”
Sam gave her a weak smile and turned to stare out at the trees.
“Sometimes I wake up and forget where I am. I know it’s silly, but I feel so alone sometimes. He’s still out there, Emi. Shadow's out there somewhere, and no matter how hard I try, I can’t stop thinking that he will find us again. I can’t go back to that cell. I won’t.”
“Why do you not go to your mate? He will help you fight your fears. He is a warrior.”
That was another thing that happened over the last few days. At some point, two days ago, a thin, intricate tattoo had magically appeared on her wrist. Ice and Amy told her that it was the bloodline mark of a mate. That she now had a mate somewhere on this compound.
The day it had appeared, Sam had spent most of the morning with Smoke, the head scientist and doctor for the Iron compound, learning about the medical techniques they used. As a med student, she wanted to find her place here and it only made sense to fall into the medical field once more. Also, Amy was pregnant with twins, so she wanted to know everything she could to help Smoke when it came time to deliver and care for the babies.
There had been dozens of warriors coming and going from the building all day, and she had helped Smoke with anything she could. Amy and Ice said that the mark appears when a male touches you skin to skin, but she had touched over twenty males that day. How the hell was she supposed to know who her mate was.
Not only that, but Sam wasn’t sure if she was ready to have a mate. She had a whole new life to get used to. She needed to find her place here, and figure out a way to get over the fears that kept her up at night.
Glancing down at her wrist again, Sam ran a gentle finger over the stunning writing etched on her skin. It was beautiful, with delicate twisting lines that formed the alien language of the Arusians.
Even though Sam kept her mark hidden from view when she moved around the compound, there were a few males that liked to hang around her and the other human women when they went out to the gardens.
Mika still had a hard time around them, so they kept their distance. The only males Mika didn’t seem to be deathly terrified of, was Cane and Cole, and one member of their team.
The large, scary looking alien didn’t have any enhancements on his body, and Sam suspected that was why Mika felt more comfortable around him.
Her eyes stung when she thought about the things that happened to her friend while in the cell. The cyborg named Shadow had taken a liking to her in the most perverted and twisted way imaginable. Sam could still hear her best friend begging the huge male to please stop hurting her when he came down to the cells late at night. They were all kept in separate cells, so none of them could help her.
His harsh words, his disgusting threats and the pained cries of Mika as she was chained up to the bars and either beaten, molested or just disgraced by the male.
Fury rose in Sam like a volcano. She wanted to get her hands on that sick son of a bitch and rip him apart.
On Earth, Sam had taken an oath to do no harm. But Earth was a long way away, and she knew a lot about a body to cause intense pain without killing him. That thought calmed her racing heart many times over the last few days. Just imagining the things she would do to that monster gave her a small piece of comfort.
No, Sam thought, I need to put my own demons to rest first. Then, maybe, I can think about finding out who this mate of mine is.