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Authors: N J Walters

Embracing Silence

BOOK: Embracing Silence
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Embracing Silence
Project Alpha [1]
N J Walters
Jasmine Jade (2009)

First in the Project Alpha series.

Earth 2133

Tienan is an Alpha—an assassin who has been genetically and computer enhanced. He has escaped from the lab that created him and the Ruling Council that controlled him. He is now outside the Gate—a high-tech shield that protects the enclosed city from the contaminated and lawless land outside. Tienan must constantly evade security forces sent to eliminate him, his only goal to destroy his former masters.

Silence is a tracker with the Resistance on the trail of a dangerous stranger. The hunter becomes the hunted and when Tienan kidnaps her, she thinks her life is over. But both captor and captive are enthralled with one another. Desire and need ignite each time they touch. Enemies become lovers.Treachery and mistrust drive them apart. But nothing can diminish the sexual heat smoldering between them. With enemies all around, they must confront each other one final time. With time running out, sexual longing and trust battle with betrayal for supremacy.

An Ellora’s Cave Romantica Publication

www.ellorascave.com

 

 

 

Embracing Silence

 

ISBN 9781419923326

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Embracing Silence Copyright © 2009 N.J. Walters

 

Edited by Shannon Combs

Cover art by Syneca

 

Electronic book Publication August 2009

 

The terms Romantica® and Quickies® are registered trademarks of Ellora’s Cave Publishing.

 

With the exception of quotes used in reviews, this
book may not be reproduced or used in whole or in part by any means existing without written permission from the publisher, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.® 1056 Home Avenue, Akron OH 44310-3502.

 

Warning: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. No part of this book may be scanned, uploaded or distributed via the Internet or any other means, electronic or print, without the publisher’s permission. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.  (http://www.fbi.gov/ipr/). Please purchase only authorized electronic or print editions and do not participate in or encourage the electronic piracy of copyrighted material. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

 

This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. The characters are productions of the authors’ imagination and used fictitiously.

Embracing Silence

N.J. Walters

 

Dedication

 

As always, to my husband whose support is unwavering and never-ending.

Thank you to all the readers who read my books and who wrote to me wanting to know what happened to Tienan and Logan.

 

 

 

Trademarks Acknowledgement

 

The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of the following wordmarks mentioned in this work of fiction:

Dumpster: Dempster Brothers, Inc.

 

Chapter One

Earth 2133

 

Fog blanketed the outer city, wrapping it in dampness and filtering out what little light managed to penetrate from the moon and stars that hung in the night sky. The air was thick with the stench of garbage and human waste.

It was a perfect night for hunting.

Anyone with any sense at all was inside, tucked away in whatever dubious shelter they could find. In a lawless land, even the criminals and killers weren’t out on such a night. It was just too dangerous.

Tienan waited in the shadow of a burnt-out building, the bricks darkened with soot, dirt and age. Motionless. Nothing, not a twitch or a sound, betrayed his position. He could stay like this for hours. And would, until he found out who was following him.

A man in his position couldn’t be too careful.

Tienan knew what he was—an Alpha. Alpha One to be exact. He’d been bred to be an unstoppable fighting machine. And he was damn good at his job. Thanks to genetic enhancements, his senses were more acute than a regular person’s, his reflexes faster, his body stronger. The microcomputer that was part of his brain allowed him to learn at an incredible speed, to calculate the odds and make the right decision in any situation.

In short, he was the perfect killer—intelligent, adaptable, ruthless and strong. But there was one tiny problem his creators, the scientists at the Piedmont Corporation and the members of the Ruling Council, hadn’t counted on.

He was an Alpha. That meant he didn’t take orders from anyone.

In a world divided and constantly at war, that made him a dangerous liability. One to be destroyed no matter the cost. That might have been his fate if not for the help of one of the scientists who worked for the Piedmont Corporation who’d created him.

Kathryn Piedmont. Just the thought of her made his heart skip a beat. She’d shown him kindness, treated him like a human being for the first time in his entire thirty years of existence. She’d risked her life to save both him and his friend Logan, Alpha Two, from termination.

But Kathryn was no longer here. He and Logan were alone in their fight against the injustice that existed. Wars, natural disasters and disease had transformed the planet more than a hundred years ago. When the dust settled, the world was divided into two sections. The rich and privileged lived inside the Gate—a high-tech shield, which protected the enclosed city from contamination from the outside. Climate-controlled and almost impenetrable, the Gate protected the ruling class who lived inside its safe confines. Everyone else resided outside in poverty, filth, disease and lawlessness.

That had to change.

It was a daunting task, but one he was determined to accomplish or die trying. There was nothing else for him.

He had no home. He’d been hatched in a lab and reared under the tutelage of scientists whose goal was to make him strong and impervious to pain. He’d breathed recycled air and had never been outside the confines of the Piedmont Corporation labs until he was sixteen. That was when he’d gone out on his first mission.

The contrast between the sterile, pristine world he knew and the one outside the Gate had been startling. The air had been thick and hard to breathe until his body adjusted. Occasionally, smog coated the outer city, making the air quality even worse, burning his lungs and irritating his eyes until he’d become acclimated to it. The sights and sounds and colors had almost overwhelmed him. But he’d done the job he’d been sent to do and returned back to the lab. He’d been too young, and too well-trained to do anything different.

That changed as he grew older and began to work and train with Logan. He’d known other Alphas existed but he’d never had any contact with them up until the moment he’d met his new sparring partner. Their handlers liked to keep them separate, except when they were training. And even then their contact was carefully controlled.

A muscle twitched near the corner of his mouth as he remembered his first meeting with Logan. They were a study in contrasts. Although they were both six-foot-two, the similarity ended there. Logan had short blond hair, a muscular build and a craggy face. Tienan had seen himself in a mirror enough times to know his body was leaner, his face more aesthetically pleasing, his hair longer and darker.

But the real difference was in their eyes. Tienan’s eyes were green, his expression flat and dead. Logan’s eyes were a vivid blue and filled with emotion. Logan might be schooled at not showing his feelings, but they were there for all to see. If one cared to look.

Tienan might not officially have any family, but Logan was his brother. Over the years they’d sweat and bled together. Then they’d escaped together.

They’d split up for safety’s sake when they returned to the world outside the Gate, meeting at a prearranged site every few days to check in. The security force that policed the inner city and beyond would be searching for them. Their orders simple. Destroy them at any cost.

The security force was led by General Caruthers, the coldest, most ruthless son of a bitch Tienan had ever known. Known for his brutal ways and iron fist, the General, as he was called by one and all, was a man to be feared. He didn’t take losing lightly. They had struck a blow to the man’s reputation by escaping a secure facility and getting beyond the Gate to the outer city. Nobody crossed the General and lived.

A scuffing sound, so faint a normal person wouldn’t have heard it, alerted him that his quarry was creeping closer. Tienan would give whoever was trailing him credit. His tracker wasn’t rushing to chase him but following him in a methodical manner. It was as though his nemesis was secure enough in his tracking skills to know he wouldn’t lose Tienan.

That might be the case if Tienan were a normal man, but his skills gave him something extra. He could easily use his strength and cunning to evade whoever was after him. It would be a simple matter to scale the side of the building and disappear in the shadows if he chose to do so.

But this tracker had gotten dangerously close on several occasions over the past month. He’d never seen who was after him but on more than one occasion he’d sensed his presence. Most folks would laugh, insisting there was no way he could know it was the same person.

But Tienan knew.

It was in the way the tracker moved, the way he went about his business. There was a methodical pattern that never varied. Plus, Tienan knew it in his gut and, when he felt something that strongly, he listened to his instincts.

The two of them were locked in a deadly game of hunt-and-evade, which neither of them would abandon. But the game was about to come to an end. The hunted had become the hunter.

It was time to discover who was following him and why. Which was the reason he’d led the tracker to this particular building. Tienan had stayed here two nights ago and decided it was as good a place as any to bait his trap. There were no other squatters living in or around the building. It had been abandoned by all but the rats years ago. Although it was falling down, there were a few areas that were strong and solid. He’d taken the time to set up an interrogation room in what had been the basement. That way he wouldn’t be disturbed as he
talked
to the tracker and uncovered the truth.

The most likely scenario was that his pursuer was an assassin, sent by the General to terminate him once and for all. However, Tienan didn’t like to make assumptions. He much preferred to work with facts. That meant he had to find out exactly who was after him and why.

The cool, damp air penetrated his clothing, the leather pants and jacket not quite heavy enough to keep out the cold. Tienan ignored it the same way he did everything else. His focus completely on the person tracking him and his surroundings. There was always the possibility the tracker wasn’t alone.

It would make more sense for them to send a team to take him down. The General knew what he was capable of. It would take more than one man to kill him no matter how skilled at killing he was. No one was as good as him. He wasn’t just any Alpha, but Alpha One, the best of the best.

He felt no sense of pride in that admission. Nor was there any sense of conceit. It was a fact, much like the cold and damp that currently enveloped him.

He had a blade strapped to his back, a dagger in each boot and another one in a sheath at his waist, but his hands were empty. He didn’t need weapons to kill. A heavy strand of wire was tucked up his sleeve. He’d garrote the tracker when he found out whatever he needed to know from the man. It was a quicker, quieter method of disposing of his problem.

Tienan felt no sense of remorse at the thought of killing. The man had come after him. Death was inevitable.

His sharp ears picked up another sound. The tracker was damn good. If he hadn’t had enhanced hearing, he would never have heard the subtle sound of breathing just a dozen feet away.

Still motionless, he waited for his tracker to come closer. There was no sound to give away any movement, but his nostrils detected the lightest scent of…

Disbelief filled him. Impossible.

He let the perfume drift into his nose once again. There was no mistaking it. The faintest trace of honey and soap was there for sure. But underlying it was the unmistakable scent of a woman.

 

Silence stood next to a Dumpster, her stomach roiling as the stench of years of garbage and excrement assaulted her nostrils. Nothing. She strained her ears, searching the darkness for even a hint of sound out of the ordinary. The wind blew gently between the dilapidated buildings, whistling through broken windows and shattered walls. Rats scurried along the dirt and bricks, their nails scratching as they went in search of food and shelter.

She felt a kinship with the rats. She’d been like them once. A shadow, a forgotten child rummaging through the trash at night, hiding to stay alive during the day. If she’d had parents, she didn’t remember them. Her earliest memories were of being alone, of scratching and clawing to survive.

Then he’d found her. Tall and strong, Adrian had been eighteen when he’d found her sick and huddled in a dank corner of a burnt-out building, much like the one before her.

She shuddered as memories threatened to swamp her. Those were dark days she didn’t like to remember. Hunger and thirst had been a living entity, eating her from the inside out. And the cold. God, how she remembered the cold. Her clothing had been little more than rags, as it had been months since she’d been well enough to fend for herself and pilfer some new ones.

She’d been certain he was going to kill her. To her twelve-year-old eyes, he’d seemed much older. And her experience on the streets had taught her that the strong took what they wanted from the weak.

Instead, he’d lifted her into his arms, taking her away from the squalor. Even as he’d fed and nursed her back to health, she hadn’t trusted him, refusing to talk. He’d taken it with good humor, giving her the name Silence. She liked it. She’d never had a name before.

Eventually, he’d broken down the walls she’d built around herself for protection. Then he began to teach her how to take care of herself. Adrian had become the brother she’d never had. He was her family and she’d do whatever it took to protect him. And right now the man she was tracking was a danger to Adrian and the entire group he led and protected. She wasn’t the only stray he’d taken in over the years.

Adrian was the leader of the Resistance. They were an organized group of rebels who lived to bring an end to the reign of terror headed by the Ruling Council and General Caruthers. They wanted the same rights and privileges as those inside the Gate. The same access to food and medical care and security.

Over the past twelve years, Silence had earned a reputation as a tracker. She could slip in and out of anywhere without anyone knowing she’d ever been there. She was silent as a ghost, never leaving a trace behind as she flitted in and out of dangerous places, seeking information on the security force and those inside the city. Knowledge was power and she was very, very good at obtaining it.

She’d literally almost stumbled over the man she was tracking more than a month ago. There had been rumors of two men living in the ruins just beyond the inner city. Ghosts, some said. Demons, claimed others. That was news, and not necessarily good news. These men were strong and cunning and not known to any of her usual sources.

Rumor was that they were spies for General Caruthers. A more sinister rumor was that they were actually Alphas. A shiver went down her spine. Alphas were legendary. They were efficient killers. Totally focused with no emotions. They’d believed them all dead, killed by their creators. But still, the whispers remained, circulated between friends and allies around fires over a mug of cheap ale on a cold night.

Those who lived in the ruins kept tabs on all the comings and goings from the city. Their lives depended on it. The security force from the city was always rounding up those they could find and taking them back to the city to interrogate them or put them to work in their factories as slave labor. No one ever returned.

BOOK: Embracing Silence
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