Home > The Akseli (Aldebarian Alliance #4)

The Akseli (Aldebarian Alliance #4)
Author: Dianne Duvall




Simone swung her treasured katana with smooth precision, cutting down one opponent after another. One imaginary opponent, that was. The small training room she occupied was empty, save for herself. But back on Earth, she’d battled enough psychotic vampires over the centuries—and enough heavily armed mercenaries in recent years—to create some vivid practice scenarios.

She paused.

Back on Earth.

Smiling, she shook her head. Most days, she still found it hard to grasp her new reality. The old adage that life was what happened while you were making other plans had never been more accurate. Not that she’d had much in the way of plans.

Her mortal life had been a harrowing one. Like her father, she had been born in fourteenth-century France with unique gifts she’d hidden so others wouldn’t think them demon issued and try to kill her. She’d then lost her whole family to the Black Death and had been ready to succumb herself when a vampire attacked her and infected her with a virus that had rendered her virtually immortal, bestowing upon her extraordinary speed, strength, and regenerative capabilities coupled with photosensitivity and a frequent need for blood transfusions. A virus that caused progressive brain damage in ordinary humans and swiftly drove them insane.

Fortunately, the advanced DNA that lent her empathic and telepathic abilities also protected her from the progressive brain damage the virus caused in ordinary humans. So she’d spent the next six centuries hunting and slaying psychotic vampires every night with her immortal brethren to protect humanity.

Simone hadn’t learned until recently that aliens called Gathendiens had created the vampiric virus in a lab, then released it on Earth to eradicate humanity so those reptilian bastards could claim the planet and its resources for themselves. Had Immortal Guardians like herself not banded together under the leadership of Seth—the eldest and most powerful amongst them—to keep the vampire population in check, Gathendiens would’ve succeeded.

She smiled, thinking of Seth. Five months ago, the monotony of doing the same-old-same-old night after night had been weighing heavily on her when Seth had placed Simone in a room with four other Immortal Guardians and ten gifted ones (all female) and stunned the hell out of them by announcing that the petite redhead he loved like a daughter was an extraterrestrial from the planet Lasara. An extra… terrestrial.

Even more astonishing, he had revealed his intention to form an alliance with the more advanced Lasaran people and asked if she and the others would be interested in traveling to Lasara and seeking a new home there as part of a trial.

Um… hell, yes. Simone hadn’t even had to deliberate.

She glanced at the training room around her. Though it loosely resembled those often found in Immortal Guardians’ homes, it couldn’t be more different. This one was aboard an enormous Lasaran warship that currently hurtled through space at mind-blowing speeds, carrying her across the galaxy. A computer panel that doled out refreshments to thirsty warriors in response to verbal commands adorned one wall. And—

The door abruptly slid up.

As Simone glanced toward it, a small silver globe zipped into the room like a floating tennis ball. The door slid down, shutting her inside with it. Her eyes widened.

A Bex-7 stun grenade? “Merde!”

She swung her sword.

Bright white light filled the room, blinding her. Her body froze mid-swing, muscles locking as electricity crackled through her, making her brain feel like it was boiling inside a cauldron.

Pain seared her for several interminable seconds. Then the light dimmed, the energy surging through her ceased, and Simone toppled to the floor like a fallen statue. Her hand clenched convulsively around the katana’s handle.

The door rose, allowing a hulking male to enter. He must have been at least six and a half feet tall to her five feet five and packed a ton of muscle. His skin tone labeled him a Yona warrior. Tan with a hint of gray, it almost looked as if someone had used photo editing software to desaturate his image. Dark brown, formfitting pants and a matching shirt with a leathery texture hugged his big body. A lightweight vest that served as astoundingly efficient body armor protected his chest and back. Multiple weapons—advanced firearms of various sizes and numerous blades—adorned the rest of him.

Gritting her teeth against the pain, Simone stared up at him as he moved to stand over her. He wore his jet-black hair shorn close to his head. The dark pupils and gray irises in his emotionless eyes were larger than a human’s, almost eclipsing all of the white as he studied her.

“M-merde,” she said again.

His face remained an expressionless mask, not that she expected otherwise. Yona warriors were incapable of feeling emotion.

With preternatural speed, she swung a leg and swept his feet out from under him. In the second it took him to hit the floor, she lunged up onto her knees, filched one of his daggers, and drove it down toward his chest, stopping an inch away from making contact.

No fear filled his features. Neither did chagrin or dismay. “The Bex-7s do not affect you,” he said stoically. “Feigning injury was a wise strategy.”

Smiling, Simone backed off a bit and drew his attention to how vigorously the hand holding the dagger shook. “Oh, it affects me.” When she rose stiffly to her feet, she felt every bit her age. “That hurt like a bitch,” she groaned, arching her back. “But now I know I can still function if a Gathendien ever hurls one at me. Thank you, Valok.”

The Yona warrior issued an abrupt nod as he rose. “Your argument for wanting to test one on yourself was a compelling one.” That argument being that a good warrior prepared for any eventuality.

While the Lasarans were a peaceful people with many friends in the Aldebarian Alliance, there were untrustworthy and warlike aliens. Understanding the weapons those unsavory characters might employ made sense. Unfortunately, her many attempts to coax a Lasaran into hitting her with a Bex-7 so she would know whether or not it would incapacitate her the way it would a mortal had met with refusal. All had been too worried they might hurt her.

The Yona, however, didn’t feel emotion. They weren’t plagued by worry and would feel no guilt after the fact. They knew only duty and logic. So when she’d cornered Valok and asked him to hit her with a Bex-7, he had viewed it purely from the standpoint of a warrior determined to win all future battles.

She smiled as her body swiftly shook off the effects of the stun grenade. “You get bonus points for catching me off guard.”

He tilted his head to one side as though trying to discern her meaning. “Bonus points?” The translator chips implanted in Lasaran and Yona brains didn’t always translate Earth slang correctly.

Simone lacked one of the fascinating translator chips. When she had transformed, the vampiric virus had basically destroyed her immune system, then taken its place like a symbiotic organism. And the damn thing had viewed the translator chip the Lasarans tried to implant in her head as shrapnel and pushed it right back out again.

Talk about pain.

As a result, she had to wear a translator that fit in her ear like an earbud instead.

“That just means you did extra well by catching me off guard instead of giving me a warning.”

“Ah.” He motioned to the control panel on the wall. “If you still feel the effects, nutrient water will help.”

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