Across The Stars (Dazon Agenda #5)

Titus Varg has an unusual gift among Dazons. His sense of shea guides him, and it has led him to his mate, curvy Earth woman Amelia Whimsby. He finds her near death from ROMKS and injects her with nanotechnology. At first, she’s resistant to his mating claim, but promises to keep an open mind. Amelia isn’t the only reason he’s come to Earth though. He has to warn Commander Darvig and General Monash about the emperor’s next move and hope his revelation doesn’t end up with him thrown in the brig and separated from his mate before he can win her heart.

This is a novelette that bridges the gap between books four and six.

Excerpt

Titus Varg approached the small cabin warily, since he was unable to activate his disguise that would have made him appear human. The mechanism had been damaged when the ship crashed. It had taken him nearly three days to cover the distance from where the Serinda had impacted with Earth to this location, slowed as he was by his inability to blend in with his suit’s chameleon function malfunctioning. Trusting in his shea, he had allowed it to guide him as it had done all his life.

It was difficult to move slowly, as excitement rushed through him. Finally, he was going to meet his mate. He could feel the mating flare beginning already, and he hadn’t even seen her yet. He only hoped she would have an open mind and listen to him before she threw him out of her home.

Not that he would be deterred. He was stubborn, and he would fight for her no matter how long it took. Titus hadn’t folded across the stars just to end up deprived of his mate. He was hoping she would experience something similar to the mating flare, but he wasn’t familiar enough with humans or their culture to know if they had such an experience.

Emperor Aryk and Dr. Ha had been little help in preparing them for dealing with human culture. Their sole goal was to assimilate and conquer, removing the viable human females for breeding, and leaving the rest of the humans to rot.

With a small sigh, Titus pushed aside his disgust with those two as he stepped onto the rickety porch. He held his breath for a moment as the wood shifted underneath him, waiting to see if he was going to fall through it. He let out another deep breath of relief when it appeared to stabilize, and he wasn’t certain if it was in great disrepair or simply couldn’t accommodate his larger frame and weight compared to a human.

Either way, he moved gingerly across the last few steps until he reached the front door. He lifted his hand and knocked firmly, holding his breath as he waited for someone to answer the door. There was no response. He waited a moment before knocking again, and there was still no response.

His shea was prompting him to open the door, and he sensed his mate was in danger. The cabin door was locked, but that required little effort to bypass. He simply used a particle rearranger, one of the things he had scavenged from the crashed ship, to force the lock open. The device emitted a small glow as it worked, and then the door yielded.

He slipped inside, feeling a wave of relief wash over him to be out of sight. It was too conspicuous for a Dazon male to wander around without his disguise in place. In his case, it was particularly noticeable, because the crash had burned away more than half of his uniform. The skin underneath it had fared poorly as well, but thanks to the nanotechnology inside him, he had healed almost fully during the last three days. There were still rough spots on his skin, which was a lighter shade than the rest of his golden-brown tone and would be until the regeneration was complete, but he didn’t look as much like he had just stumbled out of a fiery crash as he had done days ago.

He paused for a moment, straining to hear any sound that could indicate why his shea was encouraging him to enter her cabin. It came to him after a moment—faint groans. Following their direction, his heart squeezed in his chest as he imagined finding his mate injured or on the brink of death. He had twenty doses of nanotechnology in his kit, but if she was too far gone, it might not be enough to save her.

His shea couldn’t predict the future. It could only guide him, so he had no clue if he was going to end up finding his mate alive or dead. He had no idea how his future would unfold. Shea didn’t work that way. It was simply a highly developed sense of instinct with flashes of precognition, and in his case, he retained shea due to a larger-than-usual latrael gland. The gland had withered among most Dazons due to genetic manipulation over the past three generations, but shea and the mating instinct used to be common among his people.

Realizing he was distracting himself from checking on his mate in case he found her too far gone to save, he forced aside his thoughts, squared his shoulders, and opened the bedroom door in front of him. He braced himself for whatever he would find. At least she had been alive a few seconds ago, and even if he was only with her long enough to ensure she didn’t die alone, it would have made his journey across the stars worth it.

He entered the dim room, pausing to click on a light. That elicited another groan, and using his scanner, he evaluated her condition. He pulled back the sheet and blanket to look at her face as the equipment did its job. The mating instinct flared to life, as he had expected, at the first look at her beautiful face.

She had high cheekbones, a rounded face, dark lashes, pouty lips, and dark-brown skin. Her hair was a tangled, matted mess at the moment, but he was certain when she was feeling well, it was a beautiful mass of kinky curls. He wanted to run his fingers through them, but he was sidetracked by the readouts from his device.

He frowned with concern when he saw how slow her pulse was, and how low her blood pressure had dropped. She had been ravaged by ROMKS, Dr. Ha’s retrovirus. It had clearly done its job and reprogrammed her DNA, but it had left her with devastating side effects.

Wasting no further time, though he would love to spend hours just staring at her face, he pulled the blanket down the rest of the way and turned her onto her stomach. He blushed a bit as he lifted her nightgown, which was sticky with sweat, and injected the nanotechnology into her spine. It was the fastest delivery route—aside from the brain stem, which, due to inherent risks, could only be utilized by someone with full medical training that he lacked—and she needed it done quickly.

Medically, that was all he could do to counteract the symptoms ravaging her, but he couldn’t leave her as she was. He got to his feet and went to her bathroom, connected to her room, and brought back a stack of damp and dry towels. With loving precision, Titus washed away the sweat and the sticky residue from her skin, averting his eyes from her breasts and the intriguing triangle between her thighs.

Like most Dazon males, he was a virgin, since he lacked sufficient rank or income to acquire a retiring female. He had been forced to donate genetic material to the breeding facilities once Dazon scientists identified his highly developed latrael gland, since it was a sought-after trait. Even their most brilliant (and depraved) scientist, Dr. Ha, couldn’t explain why the gland had withered over the ensuing generations.

No scientist, Titus didn’t know for sure, but he was certain it had something to do with both the way the doctors had been forced to manipulate DNA to ensure the survival of the race, and also a lack of feminine exposure. It was simply a theory of his own, but he believed the men’s latrael glands had shrunk over the generations because they hadn’t been exposed to enough women to stimulate the glands.

Latrael glands were naturally larger in males than females, though females had also experienced shrinkage. It was speculated the primary function of the latrael gland had been to help one find a mate, so if there were no mates available, or far too few, it seemed logical the gland would shrink.

Having been treated as a science experiment most of his life, Titus was careful to preserve his mate’s modesty and dignity as he bathed her and dressed her in a fresh nightgown he found after a little searching in the dresser across the room. He flushed even hotter when he realized he was holding a pair of her panties, and he quickly discarded them before reaching for the nightgown. He wanted her to wake up, but not right that second, or he feared she would think he was some sort of sex-mad pervert.

After he had cleaned and dressed her, all he could do was wait. His own injuries had taken a toll on his energy reserves, and he found it difficult to keep his eyes open. Somewhere after midnight, he surrendered to the need for sleep and lay down beside her on the bed, careful not to disturb her, and not presumptuous enough to get under the covers with her. If she woke before him, he wanted her to feel safe and secure, at least as secure she could with a strange alien in her bed.

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