Jessminda Patel was one of four hundred Earth women kidnapped by a rogue Dazon scientist who used her and the others for his breeding experiments. She’s devastated to learn she’s pregnant with an alien’s babies, and the father is equally surprised. Valkor Tosh is a decorated alien war hero whose DNA was stolen to fertilize Jess’s eggs. They’re strangers brought together under the strangest circumstances, but their mutual attraction and his insistence that she’s his mate might do the impossible—bring them together to fall in love and create a real family for their babies.
Each book in the Dazon Agenda series focuses on a different couple while expanding the overarching plot. It is recommended to read the books in order.
“I’m what?” Jessminda Patel looked across the desk at the golden-skinned alien doctor who’d just uttered the most ridiculous words ever. “I can’t be.”
Dr. Wy looked regretful, but insistent. “There can be no mistake, Ms. Patel.” He looked down at her file contained on something that looked similar to a tablet, though semitransparent. “I did check everything three times, though I worked quickly when I was informed you were one of the women who refused to stay at this facility for the next few days while we sort out this mess.”
She crossed her arms over her chest and glared at the doctor. “You’re darn right I refused to stay. I was kidnapped and taken from my home, and I’ve been out of touch for two weeks. I want to get out of this place now, and there’s absolutely no way you’re going to hold me.”
The alien doctor arched his brow ridge, his golden-brown eyes shining, though it was difficult to tell with sympathy or frustration at her recalcitrance. “I understand, Ms. Patel, but I’m not trying to hold you here. I have no reason to do so.”
She snorted. “That’s not what I’ve heard or overheard, as the case may be. Since my DNA is highly valued by your people, don’t expect me to trust anything you say.”
The doctor sighed, and then nodded. “If you would allow me to show you then?”
She nodded, though her insides were a twisted mass of nerves. She knew part of her defiance and overall lack of cooperation was simply a front to disguise how distraught she was. That, and she was clinging to the belief the doctor was lying to her for some nefarious purpose because she needed that. What he claimed was unthinkable, and she couldn’t face it on top of everything else she had been through the last couple of weeks.
The doctor used his tablet to call up whatever he was looking for, and a moment later, a 3-D image popped up from the screen, filling her field of vision. “This is from the full-body scan we performed less than an hour ago, trying to ascertain if there was any damage from Dr. Ha’s experiments.” He moved his fingers on the tablet, and the picture went from showing all of her skeletal, muscular, and vascular system in layered slices to just her abdominal quadrant.
She reared back slightly when the image of her own ovaries and reproductive system loomed in front of her face far larger than life. Literally. As a retired nurse, she knew exactly what she was looking at, and her heart sank as her eyes focused on three little dots that shouldn’t be there. Not that they were small dots at this magnification. They were almost as large as they would be in real life in a few months.
A wave of nausea swept through her, and she shook her head as she wanted to stubbornly cling to her rejection of the truth. “It makes no sense. I heard Ryland…Inquisitor Breese…say Jorvak Ha hadn’t even gotten to making blastocysts yet.”
“That’s partially true, but the inquisitor hadn’t had the opportunity to fully explore the facility. There was another, smaller room farther from the main lab. That’s where we found remnants of his experiments with fusing human eggs and Dazon sperm to form blastocysts. Some of those beings are still stored in frozen tanks, but the ones he tried to grow in exo-wombs didn’t thrive.”
She let out a little moan of denial.
“According to Ha’s notes, he couldn’t quite adapt the exo-womb to the same environment as the human womb without his full laboratory facility back on Dazonia Major.” The doctor looked disgusted when he said, “He decided to bypass the exo-womb and go straight to the source. Unfortunately, you aren’t the only woman in this position, Ms. Patel. Of the twenty-one fertilization and implantations Ha undertook, fourteen were successful, resulting in a pregnancy.”
Jess refused to cry, but it was tenuous for a moment. “I’m surprised he only did fourteen,” she said scathingly.
“I have no doubt he would have succeeded on a far larger scale if Inquisitor Breese and his human mate hadn’t managed to stop this operation and call in Commander Darvig and the armada.”
Jess slumped in her chair, no longer able to pretend like the alien was lying to her. Her gaze focused sharply on the three little embryos displayed so prominently by alien technology. They were growing inside her at the moment, and it was a bewildering and terrifying prospect. “They’re so much farther along developmentally than they should be. I was his prisoner for roughly two weeks, but these appear to be somewhere around six to eight weeks in development.”
The doctor looked impressed. “I concur. During our genetic manipulations undertaken the past few generations in an attempt to keep our species alive after the biological weapon destroyed most of our women’s ability to reproduce, our geneticists have increased the rate of fetal development by a factor of five. What used to be a fifteen-month gestational period for Dazon women has been safely reduced to three months.”
She shook her head again as another wave of nausea swept throughl her. Abruptly, she realized she’d felt nauseated off and on for at least the last four days, but had attributed it to her captivity and perhaps whatever drugs they used to keep her compliant when she was taken to the lab for testing—testing she could never recall afterward, and now had a better picture of what it involved.
“How long do you think I have until…” She trailed off, barely able to say the words. They felt strange in her mouth, as though her lips and tongue wanted to reject them as much as she did. “…the birth?”
The doctor lifted a shoulder. “If it accelerates similarly to a Dazon pregnancy, I would estimate three months. Of course, that’s if you choose to continue. Termination is certainly a viable option, especially in your situation.” The doctor looked pained to offer her the choice, and his body language seemed to be imploring her to reject that option.
Jess refused to do so just to placate him. She understood, at least intellectually, how valuable viable offspring were to the Dazon Empire, but she had been given no choice in the matter, and she wasn’t an incubator for an alien species.
In an attempt to distract herself from his imploring gaze, she forced herself to ask the question that had been hovering at the back of her mind since she had started to reluctantly accept the alien doctor who had arrived with the rescue party a few hours ago was telling her the truth. “So who is the father? Was it that mad scientist, Ha?” The idea chilled her, and she was certain she would lose the battle against the surging nausea creeping up the back of her esophagus for a moment.
“No, it wasn’t him. Dr. Ha was methodical in his pairings, selecting the optimal genetic match for each of the women whom he experimented on from the Dazon DNA database.” The doctor tapped on his tablet again, and the picture of a golden-brown alien appeared before her.
She caught her breath at the handsome male specimen before her. The skin color was a little strange, as was the fact he had no eyebrows or hair on the sides of his head, but his features were pleasing, if a bit roughhewn, and he had an impressive physique from what she could tell from the image that showed him from mid-chest upward. He wore the same silky black jumpsuit as the others, and she knew that allowed him to transition to the Mr. Bland disguise, as her friend Jada called it.
It was an apt descriptor. In his current form, there was nothing bland about him, and she was startled to realize she found him attractive. She grimaced at the thought. “He’s the rapist, huh?”
Dr. Wy frowned at her. “Valkor Tosh had nothing to do with violating you, Ms. Patel. That was all on Ha and his team. Valkor is a distinguished warrior, and he had no knowledge of his DNA being used for such a purpose.”
She arched a brow. “And how does that work? Someone jerked him off and didn’t tell him?” She took a small bit of pleasure in the doctor’s flinch at her crudity, though she wasn’t entirely certain why she was being so blunt about it, other than it distracted her from the reality of the situation. Or perhaps it was because lashing out exercised her verbal control, which felt like the only kind of control she had over this crazy situation at the moment.
The doctor looked slightly offended as he touched his tablet yet again, removing the image of Valkor Tosh to bring up a picture of a laboratory that appeared to be a hybrid of alien and human technology. “Ha wasn’t able to transport his full laboratory and technology with him on his supposed hiatus when he sneaked here to Earth, because it would have been too suspicious.
“What he did manage to bring easily allowed him to manipulate Dazon DNA. All he needed was Tosh’s genetic profile, and he was able to manufacture cloned sperm. Valkor Tosh was nowhere near Earth or you when your eggs were stimulated to overproduce, and then you were implanted with the three most viable blastocysts a few days later. He was as shocked as you to learn about the existence of the offspring.”
Her eyes widened with shock at the news, and then a second wave of shock hit her. “You told him? What about my patient privacy?”
Wy looked confused. “He is the male contributing genetic partner and has as much at stake as you do, Ms. Patel.”
She shook her head. “Oh no he doesn’t. He’s not the one who was forcibly impregnated with an alien kid. Three kids,” she corrected as her eyes scanned the embryos forming in her womb when Wy brought up the image again. Damn his manipulations. It didn’t matter if she was staring right at them. She wouldn’t be forced to continue this experiment unless she chose to do so. “I want to go home now. My friend Jada and Inquisitor Breese are waiting for me, and I’m leaving.”
Dr. Wy inclined his head. “Of course, but I hope you will permit me to monitor your progress, should you decide to continue with the pregnancy.”
She was surprised that he offered no attempt to dissuade her from leaving, and she was moderately grateful for that. She got to her feet with a nod in his direction without promising anything. And then she walked quickly from the makeshift office they had set up to speak with and examine each of the four hundred women being held in this facility before they were released.
It felt amazing to walk again after spending three years in a wheelchair, and at least one good thing had come out of all this. As soon as she exited the room, she saw Jada pacing in the antechamber, while her apparently alien mate—that was the strangest concept ever, considering her friend had barely known Ryland for little more than a couple of days, but had already seemed to form a deep attachment to him—stood slightly off to the side, watching Jada’s curvy form tear up the same path as she paced back and forth, her kinky curls bouncing with each step. As soon as Jada saw her, she paused midstride before turning and detouring to hug her again.
Jada hugged her in return, realizing they had exchanged quite a few in the last few hours, but it seemed to be providing a healing touch for both of them. Like her, Jada had been ravaged by Kaiser’s syndrome and confined to a wheelchair until Ryland had given her the dose of nanotechnology that kept the effects of Kaiser’s syndrome in check.
Jess had also taken that injection when Jada and Ryland had freed her and the other women from captivity. Had it only been a few hours ago? It seemed impossible, considering everything that had happened.
Her mind was awash with conflicting facts and confusing feelings, and she vowed to push it all out of her head for the time being. “Will you please take me home now, Jada? I can’t stay here any longer.”
She didn’t share her bombshell news with her friend just yet. She would soon enough, but for the moment, she couldn’t even bring herself to mentally phrase the idea that she was pregnant, let alone speak it aloud. Verbally acknowledging it gave the idea credence, and though she didn’t really believe they were lying to her any longer, she still wanted to confirm it with more conventional, human methods before she spoke of it or tried to decide what to do about the situation in which she found herself.
It was early the next morning before she was able to leave her apartment long enough to acquire a box of pregnancy tests. Jada and Ryland had brought her home the previous afternoon, and her friend had stayed with her for hours, though Jess had not been the best company. Jada seemed to respect that, and her alien boyfriend was equally respectful.
They hadn’t probed her for information, other than asking how she had been kidnapped. That happened when two Mr. Blands came to her apartment and literally carried her, wheelchair and all, out the front door and into the van. Her experience was almost identical to Jada’s abduction. Apparently, sensing her need to be alone, they had left her after a few hours, though Jess knew she could call Jada any time of the day or night.
Before going to bed and relishing in the experience of curling up in her own bed again, she had briefly called her brother to let Pradheep know she was safely back home. She hadn’t given him the details yet either, though she supposed she would have to.
The truth sounded insane, and as far as she knew, the Dazon had not yet made their presence known to the Earth government. They’d better do it quickly, because as the four hundred women were processed and cleared medically to leave, they would start speaking out about what had happened. Jess would have done the same, and probably would have already started, if she didn’t have her own personal drama to deal with.
After she returned to her apartment, it was a simple matter to use the tests. They worked the same as they always had, though she hadn’t taken one in approximately six years, not since a scare in her sophomore year of college, when she had not been pregnant. Back then, she had been relieved, and now, she prayed for the same negative outcome.
She discovered there was a slight change in tests from the old days. There was no longer one or two lines to indicate positive or negative. Instead, the digital display simply read “Pregnant” or “Not Pregnant.” It took less than a minute for the digital display to reveal the word “Pregnant,” and though she had been expecting the outcome, it still sent her dropping to the floor in a semblance of a panic attack as she drew in deep, gasping breaths that seemed to do nothing to oxygenate her.
Jess curled her arms around her legs and laid her forehead against her knees as she struggled to breathe in and out, trying to calm herself and control the reaction. She hadn’t really doubted Wy was telling her the truth, but she had stubbornly clung to the hope that either he had been lying or mistaken, and perhaps it had been a different woman whose results he’d shown her.
She put a hand to her stomach, mentally envisioning the three embryos growing there. Three? Human women weren’t meant to have triplets, though she supposed with Ha’s hubris, she should consider herself lucky that he hadn’t implanted eight fertilized hybrid blastocysts inside her after consulting the human literature to realize a few multiple pregnancies of that magnitude had made it to term.
What the heck was she supposed to do with three alien babies? The most obvious, and most convenient, answer was simply to arrange termination. She doubted many people would blame her in the situation, considering she’d never met the father of the offspring, and he was an alien. Fear of the unknown would motivate most people to terminate, wouldn’t it?
It was a sensible solution, but she couldn’t help remembering how it had felt just a few days before this whole incident to see a child playing in the park, or a new baby in another woman’s sling, and long for that herself. Crippled by Kaiser’s syndrome, she hadn’t been in a physical state to sustain a pregnancy, and she had been frightened of passing on the disease to her offspring. There was still no cure and very little known about Kaiser’s syndrome, at least with Earth technology.
Ryland had offered her a treatment, though he only had a limited number of doses. She wondered briefly what the other women, those who hadn’t been given the nanotechnology, would have thought of the situation. Each of them had likely made the decision not to have children or more children after their diagnoses, so would they approve of the option of terminating an alien pregnancy, or would they be envious that she had one and the option to make the choice?
Briefly, she allowed her thoughts to wander as she speculated on whether the women who were currently impregnated would be offered the same treatment Ryland had given her, perhaps as a reward or incentive to carry the offspring to full term. Ryland had explained to her everything that he knew yesterday, and he had shared his concerns that his government wouldn’t part with the healing nanotechnology until Earth and Dazonia Major reached an agreement about human women making themselves available for breeding purposes, whether in the form of donating eggs, or perhaps in a situation like Jess found herself.
Abruptly, she realized she was still sitting on the bathroom floor, and she grimaced as she sat up before getting to her feet. The test sat on the counter, mocking her. There were two left in the box, but she didn’t bother to take them. This test confirmed what she already knew based simply on changes in her own body, coupled with the proof Dr. Wy had shown her yesterday.
In a fit of frustration, she swept the positive test off the counter with the back of her hand, surprising herself by her true aim when the stick landed in the trashcan. She doubted she could repeat that motion and have the same outcome again.
After washing her hands and face, she left the bathroom and began to walk around her apartment. It was good to use her legs and to feel vital again, but she wasn’t entirely certain it was worth the tradeoff of what she had gone through for the last two weeks to be able to do so.
It enraged her to think that the other women, at least three hundred and eighty, still hadn’t been healed and might not be offered the nano treatment unless or until they acquiesced to participate in the Dazon breeding program. To the aliens, they were little more than a womb with legs, or perhaps an egg production factory was more accurate.
Dr. Wy had seemed confident that exo-wombs could easily be adapted to support hybrid children with the right resources, and there would be no further need for the unpleasant task of human women having to actually carry the hybrid offspring. Pardon her for not doing back flips at the prospect. In a way, it was even worse to be so removed from the process of creating children.
She must have made a circuit of her apartment at least three times by the time the doorbell rang and interrupted her. She bit back a groan as she walked over to the door, expecting either her brother or her best friend. She was hoping for Jada, because though she still had to break the news of the pregnancy, at least her friend was aware of everything else that had taken place. Pradheep was still in the dark, and she hadn’t yet decided whether to tell him everything or put him off.
After her abduction experience, and combined with having spent all of her life living in New York, of course she checked the peephole before she made any move to unfasten the multiple locks and opened the door. She gasped at the sight of a nondescript man in a black suit standing on the other side. “Go away,” she cried out through the door.
“If you are Jessminda Patel, I must speak with you.”
A sharp edge of hysteria rose in her, and she shook her head though he couldn’t see it through the wooden door offering a barrier between them. “I want nothing to do with you people. Just go away now.”
Mr. Bland didn’t waver, and his voice grew deeper and more authoritative. “You must open the door now. We have many things to discuss and decisions to make, Earth woman.”
Just the way he spoke, and the words he said, clued her in to his identity before she even asked, “Who are you?”
“I am Valkor Tosh, and we have a mutual problem.”
With a sigh of reluctance, realizing he probably possessed the same technology that had allowed the first Mr. Blands to pop her locks and open her door without her consent, she started undoing the locks before stepping back to open the door and allow him to enter. For some reason, it grated on her nerves to hear him call it a problem, and she was surprised to discover she was feeling even slightly protective of the three offspring growing inside her.
As soon as he crossed the doorway and entered her apartment, she closed the door and put on a couple of locks, not bothering with all the rest. By the time she turned back to him, it was in time to see the last glimpse of his Mr. Bland disguise morphing into the real Valkor Tosh. The light around him shimmered and flickered, and a golden-skinned alien with bronze undertones stood before her a moment later, where the human had been.
She had to look way up at him, since he was at least a foot taller than her, and probably more like a foot-and-a-half. He was solidly built and even more impressive in person than he had been on the video display. That technology hadn’t done him justice. She was particularly hypnotized by the way his copper eyes, underscored with a hint of golden luminescence, seemed to darken and fog over. That was a strange way to describe it, but she could think of no better description for the way the colors seemed to surge and shift in his irises.
When he took her hand a moment later, a surge of heat shot through her, triggering a complex well of emotions, with desire predominantly among them. She didn’t think she’d ever been so attracted so instantly to someone before. It had been a couple of years since her last lover, when her health started to fade to the point she could no longer keep up with his physical appetites, and though she had admired Baljal’s persistence in staying with her, she had released him from his promise to marry her.
His promise was given before her health deteriorated, and she had realized she wouldn’t be having children or much of a life at all. He had protested and tried to change her mind, but in the end, she was certain he had felt relief rather than regret when he had walked away from her with her blessing. She had loved him with gentle affection, but not a burning passion that made it impossible to release him. It still felt like the right decision even now that her health was restored. It reinforced that she hadn’t loved him the right way.
It crossed her mind that she would never give the strange alien her blessing to just walk away from her. Her eyes widened at the realization, and his eyes darkened again as his hand tightened around hers, pulling her closer.
“Another problem,” he muttered under his breath, though his body language suggested eagerness rather than the annoyance reflected by his tone.
“What would that be?” she asked, feeling dazed. This was incredibly awkward, and there was no way in heck her body should be practically thrumming with desire, her nipples pressing tautly against the fabric of her silk sari.